Sunday, November 15, 2015

So much to be thankful for

The best advice I was given about My Cancer Adventure was from my mental health therapist, who I've been seeing for about three years. She knows me very well. And she said, "Treat this as if you were pregnant."

She told me this at the very beginning of My Cancer Adventure (it's not a journey. It's an Adventure. More on that later....).

And for the most part I have treated myself as though I was pregnant in that I had a health condition, I was trying to rest as much as possible, eat what sounded good, including candy and salad and fried anything and chocolate and whatever sounded good at that particular moment.

But also, as with a pregnancy that will eventually end, I tried to live each day with the knowledge that someday, I will not be in Cancer Land any more.

That day is coming.

Tomorrow I'll start the last of the radiation treatments.

Only four more.

During My Cancer Adventure, I've done my best to give myself things to look forward to. It helped keep me healthy. It helped keep me sane.

In April, Jen took me to Swedish Medical Center in Seattle so that I could get tested for the breast cancer genes. We walked around a beautiful garden, had lunch and rode The Great Wheel. Oh--and I tested negative for both the genes. Got to keep my boobs--that's huge in Breast Cancer Land!

Also in the spring I walked on the waterfront trail on Saturday mornings with my dear friend Carrie. We only stopped because I started having complications from chemo...and needed to be close to a bathroom. And while I was sad to let the walking go, and not spend time with my friend, I knew she understood. We'll start walking again soon. 

During the summer, while I was going through chemo, Randy was able to teach a few classes and they were on-line. I could not imagine getting through each day without his love and support. I have more on this...but I am not ready to type that yet....

Pretty much every week this summer, yes, while I was going through chemo, we went as a family to the water--either East Beach at Lake Crescent, or Salt Creek Recreation Area. Being at the water was very therapeutic for me. And the boys got a ton of exercise--bonus! And. let's face it, there's a bathroom there if you gotta go!

We spent a LOT of time together as a family this summer. I hope I helped to create positive memories for my boys and my husband. I know they will remember Our Cancer Adventure. But I also know they'll remember times at the lake and at the ocean.

We always met Christine and her boys. She is the very first person I was ever brave enough to go with--with my children--to the lake and the ocean. And I'm really thankful we started doing that in the summer of 2014! Because, let's face it, trying to watch the boys near water is crazy insane! I have fond memories of one day in particular where we met up with Christine and her boys, Laura and her boys, and Becca and her girl.... It was a beautiful sunny Pacific Northwest Day--one of the many reasons to live here!

My little brother Sam came up from Phoenix for a week! It was seriously the best part of my summer! We are 12 years apart--it was the first time we'd been alone as adults, without our parents. It was the first time we'd seen each other in 8 years. While Randy and I were establishing our careers and having babies, my little brother Sam was in college and then went to law school. He's a public defender and gets to help a lot of people. I admire him probably more than he will ever know. But I know the feeling is mutual. I love him deeply.

I had the opportunity for two of my dearest friends, Jen and Pam, to do a photo shoot of me. It was an incredibly humbling, but also empowering and raw experience for me. And thank you Chandra for letting us use your house. Then we painted! That was a lot of fun!

I went to my book club meetings as much as I possibly could and even hosted them one summer evening--it was fantastic! These women are my extended family. Jen, Christine, Bonnie, Caitlin, Teresa, Stacie, Nicole, Tory, Heidi, Tennille, Kim, Amy. You complete me. Thank you. Can't...starting to cry.... But I cannot wait till Wednesday night! We have so much to celebrate!

I am thankful for my dear friend Wendy who happens to be a member of the American Cannabis Nurses Association. (No shit, click the link.) She has taught me more about this amazing medication than I ever thought possible. Thank you, Wendy. Hugs to Nick & Raul.

Last month I went to the annual fundraising dinner for the OMC Cancer Center--thank you Carrie! It was a lot of fun!

Today, I got to spend time with my friend Rachel, who is due with her second baby; it was her baby shower. I also go to see Shawnda and Jen K. and Priya and Kim...and meet a few new ladies. Making new friendships and keeping old ones is so important. And Rachel and Shawnda and Jen K. get it because we're all special mommies--we have kiddos that have some type of developmental disability. You much goodness. And, Rach, I am looking forward to meeting your beautiful new baby--it has helped keep me looking forward!

I am thankful that my dear friend Teresa came to clean my house every other week out of the goodness in her hear and because she loves me and she knows that my immune system is compromised and didn't want me to get sick--and I didn't (knock on wood!). Never has it sparkled so!

And I am thankful to the amazing people who cooked for us and delivered meals! Thank you so much for the generosity. Thank you for understanding that we have texture issues and that we don't eat meat that has bones. Thank you for accommodating my special needs family. Thank you for feeding my children and my husband, because there were times I simply could not be around food, let alone prepare it.

This week is a big week for me, for my family, for my extended family. And there are things I'm looking forward to each day...

Monday, get to see Dana at Nathan's Speech Therapy appointment.

Tuesday, get to see Meghan (and hopefully Emily, Michelle, and Vanessa!) when I drop off Nathan at Hapkido. I also get to see my mental health therapist--she helps me feel grounded. Teresa is coming to clean and help me change the sheets on my bed. No, really, it's not something I am able to do myself right now because my breast hurts. You'd be surprised what you use your pectoral muscles for! AND, we get a dinner delivery from Carrie!

Wednesday, I hope to get to take Isaac to Hapkido in the afternoon. And book club meets that night!

Thursday November 19th is the last day of radiation AND my 43rd birthday! I think I'll probably bake some cupcakes, too. Because it's my day. And I want cupcakes. Bitches.

I have so much to be thankful for. I have a family that loves and needs me. I have a wonderful group of supportive and loving friends.

I have to look forward. I have to get through the next four days.

So far, my skin looks good. And my breast hasn't caught on fire.

I'm earning my lasers. They will be shot from my nipples and I will defend the health care rights of women everywhere.

And, through most of My Cancer Adventure, I've been able to laugh. I've cried a lot too. But I've laughed.

And for that, I am thankful.

So stop. Count your blessings. There is goodness in the world. There is goodness in each of us. Thank you for reading.


Faith, hope, peace, love

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