Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Beautiful Day in Seattle

We went over last April 16th, just me and Jen.

It was a beautiful spring day. 

At that point, we'd been friends for 8 years. Since Nathan was 6 months old and Max was 3 months old.

I remember the day we met, at New Family Services' drop in clinic. Susan and Austin were there too. And Nurse Kelly.

I don't remember parenting without her.

Every birthday party.

That book club we started that kinda...fizzled out.....

The Life of Pi.....that about 30 moms, and many children, came too...and only like four of us read the book--and I pissed people off by sending an email that basically said if you're going to be in a book club you need to read the book. I didn't curse. I don't know why people got so upset. Oh well.....Not the first time I've upset people; won't be the last.

An additional pregnancy for each of us--both boys, Carter and Isaac, two weeks apart.

More boys! More birthday parties! Legos.....

Another book club; new and improved!

We all became Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

And then we became Moms Who Drink and Swear....

Well, some of us. Me, mostly. Shocking I know. Because I have a mouth like a fuckin' trucker.

Learning to survive and navigate this crazy life with boys together. Being the only females in our respective homes. And thinking that perhaps Swimming to Antarctica would be an easier task. And that would be leaving from the North Olympic Peninsula...and swimming down the coast. Or maybe up and over the top of the world. Either way, it's a haul.

Jen's been with me and my family through diagnosis...

after diagnosis....

after diagnosis....

At my biopsy. She was a shining light. Beautiful. Blonde. Glasses. She gave me a kindness coin. Pink. Plastic. To hold during what was hands down the scariest part of My Cancer Adventure. Gratitude.

Bonnie was there, she is at most major medical milestones in my life...Isaac's birth.....Gratitude.

But Jen, after we found out that I needed to get to Seattle and get tested for the Breast Cancer Genes because my breast cancer was the biggest baddest nastiest type of breast cancer a girl can get....

Jen was there. And we went and it was glorious. And sunny. And we walked onto the ferry. We bumped into Teacher Bob, who was Carter and Isaac's preschool teacher. And, in these parts, Teacher Bob is legendary. We took it as a good omen.

Spring in the Pacific Northwest. Day trip to Seattle. Alone. No boys. Such a treat! Green everywhere! I know why they call Seattle "The Emerald City."

She used to live in Seattle, when she was in undergrad at U-Dub. And then she went on to earn her Master's Degree. She's a smart cookie, that Mrs. J.....Oh so clever! She gets to work with kids all day long. And write reports; which is kinda like grading for me...not the best part of the job...but it has to be done.

We got off the ferry and we walked to the bus stop. I had no idea where we were going, but JJ did, because she's awesome. No GPS. No maps. She just knew where we were going.

So I just let her lead me around. Or maybe push me. It was a scary day and I was, and am, so thankful that she had her shit together enough to know where we were going and what we needed to do. My brain was fried from the sleepless night.

We took the bus to Swedish Hospital, where I was scheduled to meet with the genetic counselor and possibly get a blood test. We stopped in, because we wanted to know where we were going; we're both planners. And the security guard was fantastic! He sees lots of scared people walk through the Cancer Center doors. He was as cool as a cucumber, and even posed for a picture with me--CLICK! JJ on the spot! She's a badass photographer, too.

Jen's so amazing that she took the time to research a peaceful place for us to spend a bit of time. We ended up walking around enjoying the beauty of Seattle University. The magnolia trees were in full bloom. It was amazing!

Unbeknownst to me, Seattle U is a Jesuit Catholic University. I'm just thankful the ground didn't start shaking when I stepped foot on campus..... Seriously.

Then we had lunch at some little restaurant, near a hotel. I don't recall the name. And I don't recall what we ate. But the company was fantastic....

We walked over to Swedish Hospital, made it to the appointment with plenty of time to spare. The genetic counselor was supportive of me getting tested for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. She thought I'd come back positive.

I remember telling the genetic counselor that if I did test positive for either Breast Cancer gene, I was willing to undergo a double mastectomy--with reconstruction (duh!) and an oophorectomy (fancy way of saying "removal of ovaries"--and you bet your ass I know how to say it correctly!)  Because that's the current treatment for a woman who tests positive for BRCA1 or BRCA2.

I told her that I'd rather my kids grow up with a mother who tried everything she could to save her own life so that she could be there for them. Not that I was willing to go through this for them; I was willing to go through it for me.

Not because of being afraid to miss something they did; but because I didn't want kids like mine growing up without their mother. Not that they're bad or they're "bad" or whatever. But because of abilities and disabilities. Because in a small community like ours, with so few supports for kids and families with special needs....

I'd rather loose both my breasts and both my ovaries than to die. Bottom line. Because when you're facing cancer, you do whatever you can to ensure you don't end up a statistic. Another life lost. Too young. Only 42.

The genetic counselor decided to test my blood. I was scared. Horrified. Jen held my hand through the entire day. She lifted me up. 
When would I get the results? In a week or so. Would they be positive? Would I have more surgeries? Who would do those? Surgery would be in Seattle, because in Port Angeles, we just don't have a surgeon who can do a double mastectomy and reconstruction.  

But there' probably a YouTube video out there on how to do your own oophorectomy. Get me a melon-baler! I'll do it myself! Kidding...even I set limits.

When we were done, we went over to the Seattle Public Library's central building, which is an architectural marvel! They have an awesome gift shop. We each purchased a pair of earrings--Jen's were two Scrabble tiles, J and J...her initials, which collectively are worth 16 points. But she's far more valuable than 16 points. I got a pair of yellow socks, which look like the old school library cards. We each got a magnet--Where the Wild Things Are. 

Then we walked over to the Seattle Great Wheel and rode it. Something new for both of us to do. She'd lived in the city for 6 years and had never ridden it. I get it; it's like living in Vegas and never riding the roller coaster on the Stratosphere tower. 

The views from the Great Wheel were amazing. We could see all the way across Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains.

We walked back to the ferry and then drove over an hour to get home. Getting to Seattle and back in a day is a long haul. The day was so emotional. Fun. Scary. Beautiful. Horrifying. Thankful that Jen was there for me and my family. 

And the results came back early. The genetic counselor called me. She was excited because I was negative for both BRCA1 and BRCA2. 

Thankful I didn't have to go through however many more surgeries. 

Thankful I got to go through radiation, which was a walk in the park compared to more surgeries. Because that's the deal: a positive BRCA1 or BRCA2 test meant surgeries and no radiation; a negative test meant no surgeries and go through radiation. 

And even though my right breast tried to fucking kill me, I'm glad I got to keep it. 

And I'm even more thankful that my friend Jen is my friend. I love her beyond measure.

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