Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Haiti has always held a large piece of my heart, and yet nothing, absolutely nothing has changed over the years. It's beyond my comprehension why some suffer so by fluke of birth. And why, why I am so very blessed.
Yes, even with cancer. Even with sickness. Even with death. I am blessed.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
When Jenn first told me Eric wanted a hamburger cake for his right of passage birthday celebration, my first thought was, how gross! I envisioned a pile of ground beef with onion icing, yuck! Jenn shocked me yesterday when she sent me a photo of Eric's hamburger cake. I tried to tell her it was well worth bragging about, but not sure that she agreed. So I will brag on her behalf, here is my sister's creation, I think it is amazing!
Not a speck of ground beef or onion! Perhaps she has been hiding her culinery prowess from us all this time?
Life is like a piece of hamburger cake, it has many layers and it's not quite what you were expecting, but you can get through it if you have enough people around you. Jenn, we are here for you and thank God for your giving heart. Pass the fork please!
Addition by Jen: Thanks Jess ... The problem is this is a ONE TIME OCCURANCE. Because as I have said HERE and HERE I really have bad, bad luck in the kitchen. What I haven't admitted to anyone else is that this is the Hamburger Cake Part Three ... first one ended up half raw, Part Two ended up upside down in on the kitchen floor. Eventually I got it almost right. PS. Jess has the "power of blog" will also be responsible for updates during my hospital convalescence, which I recently found out will be a bit longer than I anticipated.
Re-Addition by Jess: Thanks for the heads-up about the "power of blog", I had no idea. LOL. Also, you have made my whole point here, that dispite everything going on in your life right now, you are a giver. You have created this for your son, even though you can't eat it yourself and you ended up sweeping up the first couple of cakes. You stood at the front of the line to give a part of yourself away and have saved yourself by doing so. How can I say thank-you for that?
Re-Addition-Addition by Jen: My sister made me cry. Thanks Jessica. I love you and all you are to me. We couldn't get through life right now without each other. You're my sister by fate and my best friend by choice.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009
Admittedly, I am sure I have said the wrong thing many times over the years in people's times of tragedy, but somewhere along the way I have picked up that a SAFE response to finding out about other's bad news is "I am sorry" and alternatively "Is there anything I can do?" and many, many have shared their thoughtful sentiments with me. And I thank you, but what would blogging be if I didn't have something to complain about?
I am learning that there is one thing in particular that I DO NOT want to hear. Ever. Again. And yes, I realize that approximately 350 people have said this to me in the last 3 weeks, and so no, I am not talking about YOU, and yes of course I forgive YOU for saying it. JUST DON'T SAY IT AGAIN.
When I recount the TWO cancer diagnosis and a death that befell my family in a two week period, more people than I can count have said "Well God won't give you more than you can bear".
Bull Shit. Bull Shit. Bull Shit.
First off, the verse that everyone is referencing (1st Cor. 10:6-11) has NOTHING to do with bad stuff happening in our lives, it has to do with resisting TEMPTATION. You know, the desire to DO bad stuff - meaning that God will always provide us the strength to RESIST doing that which we shouldn't (like possibly the swearing above). In other words, God won't allow you to be tempted more than what you can handle. That 6th piece of chocolate cake that would definitely catapult you over into the "glutton" category? You CAN resist that, its not too much to bear. See the difference?
Instead well meaning people toss these words out, twisting them, and instead of comforting, it hurts. A verse that has to do with our choices, and consequences, gets used to essentially blame God for the bad things that happened and tell me I should be tougher because obviously I can handle this just fine. Which means, at least to me when I hear it, its my fault if I am not sailing through grief, or fear, or loss. Because, you know "God" thinks I can handle it so he hasn't sent more than I can handle. .
Crap happens people.
Babies die. "Good" people get cancer. Wonderful mothers struggle with debilitating diseases. Innocent children get abused.
I choose to not believe that a God that loves me, made me, and that I worship and believe in is putting me through this to because "I can bear it". I can't. I am terrified of dying and leaving my sons. I need, in a primal way I can't explain, my dad. The loss of my Nan from my life has ripped my heart into two. And yes, some days I want to break under the weight of my problems, and you know what? Other people are daily facing things that ARE unbearable. Completely, totally, and thoroughly unbearable and unfathomable.
Mental illness. Death. Rape. Murder. War. Disease. Loss. Poverty. Racism. CANCER. Unbearable ills because we live in a broken world. A world in which evil wishes to rob of us of everything.
And MY GOD doesn't "do" this to me because I am strong. I can't bear it alone. And that is the point I think. I cannot bear it alone.
2 Corinthians 1:8.9: "For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself...But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God."
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Don't get all excited, I am wearing a gown!
Whole lot of fuss for something so tiny, eh?
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
My complicated, fun, smiley, amazing, difficult, challenging, bright, witty, active, intense, emotional baby boy is now a teenager. And I love him with all my heart. Happy Birthday Sunshine.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Hockey season was ending and because life with 4 boys, a husband, one dog and a job apparently wasn't active enough, Jen got an idea. A dumb, dumb, dumb idea.
Why not get another dog? Ok there are about ten thousand reason I can think of NOW for not getting another dog, but at the time? Logic escaped me. Annie was getting fat and I was worried she was lonely while I worked. Apparently I thought getting a pet for my pet was smart. Did I mention the dumb, dumb idea?
WE (this implies someone else was involved in the decision, that would be a lie, but don't tell my husband I said so) scanned the SPCA website looking for a "rescue" pooch that might suit our family.
WE found a cute, little Jack Russell pup listed. The fact that the add said "Breed Experienced Owners Preferred" should have been a warning. The fact that his previous owners dropped him off, an expensive pup to buy, with nary a second glance, might have been my second warning. The fact that when I called to inquire about him the SPCA director apologized for the poor picture in the add because "we couldn't get him to stand still" might have been my third warning. The fact they were willing to ship him to us and assume all costs for transport if we were willing to take him within 48 hours might have been my fourth. I, apparently, am a bit slow.
And so we have Trip. Or actually TRIPPY as his name has morphed into. Because there is something completely trippy about watching a dog seemingly high on crack destroy your home.
He arrived seemingly healthy but harboring GERMS. Nasty, nasty contagious germs that resulted in chronic puking by both dogs for two weeks. Oh and hundreds of dollars in vet bills. You know, because I had this good idea that my pet need a pet.
Trip didn't sleep. Ever. He whined, he licked, he dropped balls on your head, he chewed, he ate my dirty underwear but what he didn't do was sleep. In absolute desperation last week, we found the solution thanks to Dr. Google. One half sleeping pill stuffed into his mouth. Wait one hour. Hide all toys. Turn off all the lights in the house. Ensure children understand they are not to make a single sound. So now, just maybe if we are really lucky, and only if he is wrapped around my neck and in my bed, will he sleep.
I have a hard enough time sharing my bed with the six and a half foot giant I married. I hate - absolutely HATE - sleeping with a smelly, scratchy, snugly, licky, noisy dog. This dislike is now irrelevant because if I don't, none of us sleep. Now I skip giving him the pill, take one for myself and hope for the best.
(A kennel you say. Been there. Done that. A kennel is no match for a Jack Russell. )
Then there is the pee. How a ten pound dog can manage to daily pee three gallons of urine spread over 2 levels of house is a mystery I do not comprehend. It would be bad enough if I told you his favorite target is the laundry.
But its worse.
Because although yes, his favorite target IS laundry, technically I am not sure if you can call it laundry when you are still WEARING the clothes. There really is nothing more heart warming than to have your cute, bundle of energy dog leap onto your lap and douse you with a warm spray.
The dirty underwear fetish has created a few embarrassing moments. So has the fact that he can escape from our yard with ease. We are now the only home on our street with rolls of chicken wire spread across our yard. We do not live in a Chicken Wire sort of neighbourhood.
He's active. He's crazy. He has impulse control issues. He needs medication. In other words, he fits right in. Welcome to the family Trippy. You're stuck with us for the long haul.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Why must I read them? Why must the be so different?
None of them say I am guaranteed to be alive in 5 years. I want that guarantee. And yes I know, no guarantees in life, but at 35 I feel like I have a bit of a cushion. Or I felt like I did.
Even at 90% which is the number I cling to, why are 10% of the people dying? Nothing says. Does the cancer come back? Are they old? Are 10% dead because they had something else wrong? Were they young too? Were they mothers?
It's horrible. I feel awful for even thinking that because I know I don't deserve life anymore than anyone else. Just because I am young-ish and because I am a mother doesn't mean that this is any worse for me than anyone else.
I just don't want this. I don't want to be a statistic. I liked denial. I want to go back to feeling young and invincible.
I wait now. May 11th is my day. My day of surgery. My cure? And then I will wait again, a week or two to find out my pathology.
For some reason I am craving chocolate like you wouldn't believe.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I have a tumor. A tumor with a blood supply that the surgeon says looks to him like a malignant cancer. There IS a chance, however small, that upon removal we will find out that the tumor is benign. However, the course of treatment is the same and there is no way to determine if it is benign or malignant prior to removal so the point at this time is moot. Kidney Tumor = Removal. Benign vs Malignant simply affects my chances of recurrence long term.
So Jen, what type of cancer do you have?
Primary kidney cancer, also called renal cell cancer, refers to a malignant tumor that originates in the kidney. The most common type of kidney cancer in adults is renal cell carcinoma, which arises from the small tubes within the kidneys.
So Jen, why did you get it?
Although no one knows all the causes of kidney cancer, the following factors can also increase the risk of developing this disease:
- being male
- being obese
- being over the age of 60
- high blood pressure
- a genetic risk
- being on dialysis
- being an iron worker
In other words I HAVE NO FREAKIN' IDEA WHY I GOT IT. Read that list - I don't have a single risk factor on it. Last week, the transplant team told me I was in "ideal health". Before this news, my blood pressure was (and I quote!) "that of a child". In other words finding out I had cancer in my kidney's was the shock of the doctor's life, and mine as well.
So Jen, what are the treatment options?
There are a couple of options. I am choosing, so far at least, to opt for a partial nephrectomy. Partial nephrectomies are relatively new in the treatment of kidney cancer, and what it means is that I will have the tumor, and surrounding kidney tissue removed but the majority of my kidney will remain. The cancer is in my left kidney, which also happens to be my STRONG kidney (oh the things you find out when you are donating a kidney!) and because there is a chance of recurrence I want to retain as much kidney function as I can for future options, if they are needed. At this point in time it is assumed that I will not need follow up chemo unless the tumor turns out to be severely aggressive, which is highly doubtful, although possible. Surgery will be sooner rather than later - what that means in reality I have no idea.
So Jen, are you going to live?
Hell yes. Am I freaking out? Yes. Have I have written my own eulogy, planned the music and got myself dead and buried? Yes, admittedly I have had those moments. For goodness sakes its only been 5 days allow me to freak out a little! Google slays me at the moment and has brought on more than one panic attack. I am praying for a "peace that passes all understanding" right now. This cancer IS curable through surgery. My chances of survival at the 5 year mark are, as far as I can tell, above 90%. The overall chances (since I know you are all going to go off and google) is around 45% with this type of cancer HOWEVER I am young, healthy, with a VERY early diagnosis. The odds are in my favor.
More than ANY of that though, I have 4 little boys that desperately need me. I will fight and do anything - absolutely ANYTHING to beat this.
Ah Jen, is this going to turn into a cancer blog? What happened to your musings on adoption and life as a multi-racial family?
Yes, cancer is now part of my life - and the lives of my children. But I know (Thanks Judy) that by no means am I the only adoptive parent dealing with her own mortality, while trying to be there for her children who have faced way too much loss in their lives already. Telling my boys was the hardest part of this journey. Maybe, in someway it will help someone else. Right now I have to figure out how to support my kids and promise to them that despite the fact they have lost two mothers before me, that I intend to be here a long, long time.
So Jen, how can we help?
This is where I want to say thank you to my friends and family; Meals, flowers, thoughts, prayers, holding my hand, crying with me - or crying for me because I am not shedding very many tears right now. To those of you who commented or sent emails, I thank you. To those of you who have added me, my dad, my family to your prayer chains, I thank you. I suppose the chance to be heard through this means the most. If you still choose to read, despite the fact I might get obsessed and boring, if you give my kids an extra hug, or drop off a casserole, listen to Shel's talk it through. To understand that right now, my life is absolutely insane and I might forget the odd birthday or cry unexpectedly and to also understand that my life must go on, and if I seem "happy" that's ok too.
So Jen, how are you feeling?
I am OK. I am overwhelmed by how this has affected those whom I love, and whom love me. Go read here http://ticksandtrust.blogspot.com/ This is written by a long time, best, sister friend from my youth who faces a struggle WAY bigger than mine, and yet she cries for me. I am scared for my husband and my boys. I am scared for me. I worry about my sister and my dad. I now understand however what hearing that "C" word does. The clock stopping, the world shrinking, the overwhelming horror that overtakes your life. Mostly though, I am trying to remember I Am Blessed. It was found. I will be free of it. Why me? Why am I so lucky?
So Jen, what about your cousin?
She is currently off the transplant list right now due to another health complication but she will need a kidney. Soon. I trust that she is in God's hand but would ask that you pray for her too. Please. I don't know why I was asked to walk this journey that in turn gave her and her family some hope, only to have it shattered in a way we could have never anticipated for both of us. Am I thankful for myself? Not yet. Just pray for her.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
Wednesday March 4th - a peer calls Greg a racist slur at school. School finds out (along with Greg). Kid's girl-friend decides that if she makes up story about Greg this will get her boy-friend out of trouble.
Thursday March 5th - Girl has told friends and family that Greg pulled a knife on her at school and that is why her friend called him the racist name. Her sisters, cousins, brothers, uncles and friends show up at the school to threaten Greg and his best buddy. Oooops her little lie is now threatening my child. School does not inform us of this gang showing up at school to "get" my child. School ejects these kids from the property and tells Greg to "watch his back". No phone call home.
Monday March 9th - threats continue at school. Parents have still not been informed, nor has Greg mentioned anything. Principal decides to "deal" with situation by meetin with the girl and telling her they know she is lying so to call off her posse. Meets with Greg as well continues to tell him he is under threat and to "watch his back" but that things should be fine. Still no phone call home to parents.
Monday Night March 9th. Parents find out. Parents call principal. Parents demand action.
Tuesday March 10th. Girls, associates and friends suspended or expelled from school. Greg pulled from the high school for the day as teachers, parents and staff meet to discuss their lack of protection offered to my child and how failing to inform the parents was a huge big deal. Principal is a friend, this makes it worse as he KNOWS that we would wish to be involved.
Friday March 13th - High School put on "lock down" when a gun shows up at school. Greg is totally fine but Jen has a break down.
Friday March 13th - Thursday March 19th - We attend hockey tournaments. Eric's team wins bronze, Greg's team finishes 5th in the province at Provincials. This a great place for him to finish as our town is small.
March 20th - My dad tells us he is diagnosed with something very, very serious. We tell the boys. We cry. We scream. We fall apart. Hope seems beyond our grasp. I have one of the hardest conversations of my life. Papa. Cancer. Serious. Chemo. Papa. We hold a photo shoot that night. It seems surreal.
March 25th and 26th - I am in hospital taking tests at the final stage to be a kidney donor for my cousin. Yeah, I know I haven't mentioned that on here yet, but I was waiting to know for sure. Lots of tests, meetings etc. I have a CT Scan and a Nuclear Renal gram. Things look cautiously optimistic for a donation to happen in late May or early June.
March 27th - I and the boys return home
March 28th - My Nan dies. I feel like I cannot handle anymore. My Nan is more in my life than I can adequately describe, although I have tried. We cry. We scream. We fall apart.
April 1st - I return to Vancouver to plan funeral.
9:30 am April 2nd - My cell phone rings. Its my transplant surgeon. Something is wrong, they have found something. When can we meet. I explain I am already in Vancouver, he goes on to explain its a tumor, probably malignant. We agree to meet at 8 am the next morning.
9:33 am - Call Shel and tell him
9:35 am - Meet with my Nan's lawyer to discuss will, estate. Descend deep, deep into shock.
10:00 am Call my dad. Make him cry. My dad who hasn't shed a tear over himself cries over my news.
10:30 am Shel leaves work and decides to immediately come to Vancouver with boys.
Rest of day. Google. Cry. Shock. Call. Google. Get Scared. At that point I realize that a tumor on your kidney means you have Kidney Cancer.
8:00 am - At hospital with Shel. Run into surgeon in elevator. He looks serious. I am sweating. We meet. He utters the words "Malignant Kidney Cancer". Its small. Its manageable. I need surgery. Donation is not possible. Small chance its benign but either way it needs to come out. Chance of re-occurrence. Terminal if not discovered. Surgery in Vancouver. Need a new surgeon. Chemo? Don't know yet. Radiation? No.
Shock. No tears. Just Shock.
1:30 pm Meet with boys and have one of the hardest conversations of my life. Mommy. Cancer. Going to be ok. I have to be ok. I love you. I will be here for you. Cancer.
Saturday, April 4th. We bury my Nan. I feel. All I wanted was to feel and I felt. I was worried the shock was going to freeze my emotions, but as much as I could I was present. I greeted, I hugged, I shed tears. I smiled.
Saturday Night - I crash. Have never, ever felt so emotionally and physically exhausted in my life. Sleep. Weep. Laugh.
Sunday - Drive Home. To exhausted to think.
Monday - I let you know. I get dressed and I am heading to work. To face the first day of my real life with Cancer. Please Pray. Sometimes life feels like too much.
Being willing to be a kidney donor probably saved my life. I just dont know how to come to terms with that yet.
Friday, April 3, 2009
I have had a hellish month, that only got more awful yesterday. I am going to process for a few days before I share with you my news. I am sorry but need that space ...
Please, please keep us in your prayers.