Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Adoption Thoughts: The Birthday Dilema

I have two sons that joined our family through adoption. Both have the same biological parents, both experienced much the same in the way of history before they joined our family. And they are as different as two kids can be.

One son expressed immense grief and loss right from the beginning of his adoption, baring his soul in gut wrenching sobs of the pain and reality that was his difficult life. From almost day one in our family he expressed a desire to know more about his first mother and to understand where she was and if she was ok. He talked about adoption, his feelings and processed it all. When something was bothering him, he asked. When he wanted to go meet his first family, he let us know. In other words, he thinks about adoption, we talk about his adoption and I know exactly what is going on in his head, at least most of the time on this topic. And as a result, it does not affect his behavior.

The other son denies adoption even is a passing thought in his head. He "NEVER" wants to meet his first family, "NEVER" wants to communicate with them and "NEVER" voluntarily talks about adoption with us. Now, if I wasn't an adoptive parent that knew better, I might assume that means he never thinks about it either.

We have just come through a period of time that I refer to as our annual "Birthday Hell". "Birthday Hell" is the period of time after the beginning of March when we celebrate Caden's birthday until the middle of April when we celebrate Eric's birthday. "Birthday Hell", for the uninitiated, looks like a tornado of rebellion, disrespect, mood swings, aggressive behavior, emotional outbursts and general insanity wrapped up in the body of my child. In other words, it's NOT FUN.

On the actual Birthday DAY, year after year we face the same dilema. Things aren't good enough. We are paying too much attention to his birthday. We aren't paying enough attention to his birthday. The gifts are wrong, or too right, or not enough or too much. To give you an example, last year on his birthday we went to DISNEYLAND. D-I-S-N-E-Y-L-A-N-D. You can't get a much better birthday than THAT and still, misery reigned.

This year was no different. Fits and Pouts. Fits and Pouts. And no, he isn't just a spoilt brat, despite what he acts like. This is different. Profoundly different than a kid having a fit because they don't get what they want.

Now of course, I KNOW that birthdays can be tough on adoptees. If you are an adoptive parent and do NOT know this, time to crawl out from under the rock and do some reading. But this son? If you asked him if he was thinking about adoption or his first/birth family his adamant response would be a "NO! They are in the PAST mom and I don't even THINK about that".

Now some parents might believe their child when they say that and drop the subject, but I know my kiddo. And so, over the next week or two he and I had a couple of conversations about his life. His first family, their strengths, their weaknesses and whether or not I thought they were thinking of him. His Story. Questions, thoughts and discussions. And once again, peace reigned.
My son doth protest too much. Adoption? Yeah, even he thinks about it too.

And Birthday Hell passed just in time for Birthday Celebration, held a bit late this year because of all the DRAMA of the past month, but still held in his honor. My son loved every single moment of his special day.
His Rite of Passage Party we hold for the boys that turn 13 in our family. The party that brings the most important men in his life into our home for a time of support, encouragement and love. An Uncle, a God-Father, a Pastor, a Friend, a Dad and a Grand-Father. And my son enjoyed his birthday. Finally.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Grief Shared - A Perfect Moment Monday

It was the very end of a very long day at the end of a very long week.

I had honored a woman who meant the world to me on this beautiful spring day surrounded by friends and family. We had laughed and shared stories. We had wept and embraced. Hours and hours had passed and we were at the very last moment of the day. I was completely spent, exhausted in a way that only such an emotionally draining experience can create.

It was time to say a final goodbye. Her ashes had been lowered into the strangely small hole. Everyone had laid their carnations on the spot that would be her final resting place. The crowd was dispersing and I quietly made my way to her grave to have a final moment alone.

I crouched over the spot. Tears finally falling freely and I shared some private words with the woman who was my Nan. I was alone and strangely felt very young and vulnerable.

Without looking up, I felt a presence and the warmth of a small arm stretch to wrap itself around me and the gentle pressure of a small body pressing into mine.

"Mommy, are you sad?" asked my gentle hearted and caring youngest son.

There he stayed, whispering endearments and words of comfort as only an eight year old can. "Mommy we will really miss her, won't we? She loved us very much Mommy. Are you still sad?" Finally sitting in silence, he held me close.

And then he began to weep along with me, and I in turn wrapped him in my arms and comforted my son. Together in our grief sharing tears for a woman who loved us, and whom we loved.

It was a moment I will never forget and I was oblivious to the fact it was being caught on film by a dear friend who recognized the beauty in the moment. My son, who loved me enough to join me in my grief and share his own with me. My son, who loves me and wants to be with me in my loss. My son, who I comfort and protect and love for the gentle boy he is. My precious, precious Caden.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

An example

You wonder if sometimes some people must carrry too heavy a load? This burden is just too much to bare. How can someone ever be strong enough for that?

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

Life is a Piece of Hamburger Cake (a guestpost by Auntie Jess)

Okay, seriously, I really should just call myself Jessica, but heck, my kids even resort to calling me auntie Jess at times. Well Jenn has been on my case for a long time to write a guest post, so she might be surprised to find this here today. I hope she wont be too mad that I remember her password from many months back.

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

Spreadin' The Love

It's crazy here and I will have a houseful for Eric's "Rite Of Passage" party this weekend (our family tradition for our sons' 13th birthday's).

I thought I would share this little bit of love for Love Thursdays

This photo was taken in Powell River, BC back when life was good, and easy and relatively cancer free. That would be 4 weeks ago.

It was, of course, an illusion because It was there, the death, the fear, the pain and the sickness just around the corner.
Somedays I wonder if it wouldn't just be easier to have this, a heart of stone.

Monday, April 20, 2009

What Not to Say...

Warning: The following post is going to be a blog post where I alternatively preach, and swear. So if you can't deal with the mix of Faith and Reality, quit reading. If you can, read on.

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

More of me than you ever wanted to see!

Although some may complain about the Canadian Medical System, I want you to know that I have NO complaints about it at all.

None. Zero. Zilch.

Currently, my family is reaping the benefits of a medical system that will help the poor guy down the road or the rich guy up the street. It is saving my life. It is giving my sons a mother for many more years and I pray to God a grandfather too. I dont have to worry about paying for A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G. My house isn't in jeopardy, only my health, and that's just the way it should be. I will happily, HAPPILY pay my taxes this month and realize that I love my Country and I love our Universal Medical Program. I LOVE IT.
Now, for an example of how they aren't saving any money, the doctor sent me a copy of my CT Scan and a computer program to read it. And for your reading pleasure, I am about to share more of myself than I ever thought I would.
Ladies and Gentlemen .... I present to you my skeletan.

Don't get all excited, I am wearing a gown!

The rude and offending kidney whom I will love and cherish in THREE MORE WEEKS, until then it scares the crap out of me (yes so much for long waits for surgery in Canada EH!)

And then, finally - IT. Or at least what I think it is because, well I am not a doctor nor do I pretend to be on in real life. And you now, CT scans are really, really difficult to read when you don't know what you are doing or what you are looking for. But, if I remember correctly, that's the cancer there at the end of my left kidney. Its about the size of a grape. I am one very, very lucky woman. I talked to a lady today who had a kidney tumor removed from her that was the size of a human head! A HUMAN HEAD. She was asymptomatic except for flank pain. I am very, very lucky.

Whole lot of fuss for something so tiny, eh?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

My Second Teenager

It seems like only yesterday he arrived in my life and in my heart. A tiny, snuggly, overwhelmingly hard to parent toddler that taught me more than I ever thought I could learn about what it means to be a mom, a REAL mom, to a child that REALLY needs you.

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

You ever have one of those days?

Our life, to be blunt, has been somewhat in the hellish range of fun for the last month or so. Stress. Cancer. Death. Surgery. Funeral. Sickness. You know, all those fun words that suck the very life out of you.

Shel and I decided that we needed a FUN day. Somehow, someway we needed a day with the boys that was not the same. We needed to just forget, even for a little while, that which is all consuming at the moment.

We packed up the boys (and their associated 6 bags of snacks) and the dogs, called some good friends and headed out into the local wilderness. Farwell Canyon, found down a lonely ranch road, is a place of amazing beauty where a hundred or more years ago some Pioneers set up a homestead, and for many more hundreds of years before that, the First Nations People of the Chilcotin River have dip netted for salmon there. Its a majestic place surrounded by hoodoos and pictographs and to be along the river inspires awe.

From down below along the river we could see tiny people on the edge of what appeared to be a sand dune. We have heard of the mystical sand dunes of the area from other locals for many years, but neither my friend Max who has lived in the area most of her life, nor we, had ever been able to find them.

To all of us that sounded like an adventure we could not resist. And without a doubt it was worth every single moment. What we found, nestled in the wild mountains was something that I can not describe in a way that does it justice. What it was was a natural sand dune in the middle of a range of mountains that cradles a gorgeous, winding river. Follow the trail through the sage bushes (watching for ticks the whole way!) and what you discover is this amazing, glorious, absolutely unmatchable piece of wilderness that makes you remember how Glorious a world we live in. And remember we did.

And I didn't think of cancer once while I was there and that is a gift in itself.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It sounded like a good idea at the time ...

We had a dog already. Annie, quirky, fun and a tad mentally ill but overall a good dog. Two years of intensive training and she was now a loved member of the family.

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

Survival Rates

Survival Rates

Why must I read them? Why must the be so different?



over 75%

aproximately 80%

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

The Low-Down on My Cancer

So Jen, are you SURE you have cancer?

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
  • smoking
  • 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 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

We made her proud

The funeral was hard. Very hard and at the same time very wonderful. I think, I hope, we honored her memory in the way she would have wished.

I cannot begin to express my gratitude for my friends and family that made the effort to be there for the day. To stand beside us at the graveside. To listen to her eulogies. To hold my hand. To pass me kleenex. To make sure I napped and ate and laughed.

She is free of pain and age and grief and we will carry on in her honor because she wouldn't expect anything less from us.

I am who I am in so many ways because of the woman she was.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Where in the World has Jen Gone?

Let's recap shall we. It might help if you read all the way to the end because the disaster that this month started out to be, it ended with quite a bang.

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

Saying Goodbye

Here she is. I hope what I wrote in her honor shares a little bit of her spirit with you.

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.