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Friday, December 09, 2016

Five on Friday (Dec. 9)

I feel overwhelmed in the best possible way by all the comments and messages I have received in the past couple of days. Thanks for letting me get the news out via Facebook and a blog post. It's so much less emotionally taxing to tell everyone at once instead of repeating the story over and over in person. Thank you so much for making our family feel loved and prayed for!

1. Both Camden and Rory had recitals this past weekend. My parents were able to be here for Camden's guitar recital, and it was fun to share that experience with them. That old phrase, "Practice makes perfect" is so true. Maybe not perfect, but you can certainly tell the kids who had practiced and those who had not. Rory played Angels We Have Heard on High and The Twelve Days of Christmas (yes, the TWELVE days of Christmas). Camden played How Great is Our God. I actually have a video of him playing. Required viewing for family only. :)

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2. We found ourselves with no practice, no games, no events Tuesday night. It was amazing, and I realized anew how much we all need a little white space in our calendar (and how little space there has been available for the past months). I walked upstairs at one point and Camden was laying on the floor playing with Legos (those Legos have not made an appearance in quite some time).

3. We had a quick visit with Gram and Gramps this week and celebrated Christmas a little early. They were able to attend one of Camden's basketball games, and he played a significant part of the second half. Long enough to get in a foul and miss at least three goal attempts. He is loving the whole team/community aspect of basketball. Basketball skill hasn't come quite as quickly to him as many other activities he's tried, but he's working hard and having a good time.

4. Camden is working on a cloud project for science, which essentially means he asks for our phones non-stop so he can snap pictures of the exact same clouds over and over again.

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5. My reading time has been much more limited than I'd like (basketball games and Christmas activities have completely taken over), but here are just a few good reads and listens from the past several weeks:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi - easily the best book of 2016
Russell Moore's interview with Rosaria Butterfield
The Knife of Never Letting Go - I got this book recommendation for Camden and he flew through it. After reading it myself, it is a compelling story but has a bit more language and violence than I usually would allow for him. Still debating about the second book for him (but I'm definitely going to read it!).
Jamie Ivey's interview with Ann Voskamp

A haircut (I just couldn't make myself cancel my final haircut even though it will be all gone in 3-4 weeks), shopping for photo shoot outfits, a full day of freezer cooking prep, hunting (for Camden and Brian), and a viewing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 are all on the agenda for the weekend. It's hard to believe, but we don't have any holiday events scheduled. Happy weekend, friends!


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Here We Go Again

I put off making the phone call as long as I could. I made the beds, cleaned the counters, scrubbed toilets, wrapped Christmas presents, browsed social media, ate my weight in Chex party mix.

And then I pulled on the big girl pants and called Vanderbilt Ingraham Cancer Center to let them know I was choosing to participate in the Taxol clinical trial that will turn our everyday life upside down, make me bald again, send me retreating to my recently refreshed bedroom with joint aches, nausea, and fatigue.

It also just might kill the cancer that is apparently continuing to grow in my abdomen. To be perfectly honest, I mostly just feel like a hypochondriac because growing cancer doesn't seem quite real, but actual medical doctors and bloodwork and scans tell me otherwise. 

The next 10-12 days are be jam packed with Christmas parties, music recitals, holiday programs, baking, celebrating. Fast and furious even under the best of circumstances. Details to iron out, logistics to manage. I don't know that I feel actual gratitude for this clinical trial or solid peace about the upcoming months, but I'm not falling apart either. Small victories.

From last Sunday's sermon right before we saw Dr. C:

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, 'my grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong. II Corinthians 12:8-10

Lots of required tests and appointments next week, then a full day of chemo on December 19. I actually wrote this post last Wednesday, but have had a hard time making myself publish it. Sharing the news makes it feel like reality.

While a part of me rebels against needing to be thankful about any part of cancer, doctors, or chemo, it would be so ungrateful not to acknowledge that God has worked out many, many details in the past week as well as blessed us through our friends and family. Here are just a few ways:

  • This clinical trial is very small (as in, only 45 slots in the entire U.S.); it is no coincidence that there was an opening the exact day that I saw Dr. C. 
  • Instead of having to change oncologists, the clinical trial team has granted Dr. C permission to continue as my oncologist. This feels significant to me not only because continuity of care is important but I also just flat out hate change.
  • I have a bazillion appointments/medical tests next week. The research assistant was able to schedule everything in one day (on my regular day off) even though she insisted it would be impossible. It's going to make for a crazy long day, but I won't have to miss my last week of work for these tests.
  • The first 4 weeks of the chemo cycle will be grueling (four days in a row during the first week alone). Brian's Christmas break starts earlier than usual this year, and he will be able to accompany me without using sick days. Still working out logistics for future cycles.
  • We do not have to cancel our Christmas trip. Missing our family Christmas would have been devastating.
  • Our dear sweet friend Kellie is making a special trip to Clarksville Monday so that we'll have updated family photos before my hair falls out. Seriously, don't put off family pictures. They are a treasure and should be a priority. I am so thankful to Becky for arranging this and so thankful Kellie is willing to sacrifice her time for these pictures.
If you want to keep up with me and our family, scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign up for email updates. Fair warning: I'll be back on the heavy duty steroids that keep me up all night writing many words and publishing long lists.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

SIx on Saturday (November 19)

1. I think I've mentioned the What Should I Read Next podcast before, but if not, here is official notice that this podcast has become a must-listen for me. This week the podcast aired a 5-part series on kid and YA literature, and Camden and I both have enjoyed making a new list of must-read books. Camden and Rory have slowed down on recreational reading in recent months, but I think this will get them back on track.

2. Thanksgiving break could not come quickly enough. We are limping along, and I am looking forward to a break.

(after school Thursday afternoon)
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3. Camden's official basketball debut was . . . uneventful? Uneventful isn't totally true since all 4 games were nail biters, but he didn't play. Not surprising since he and the 2 other 7th graders are low men on the totem pole. It was still fun to watch, and he looked official. I did not take a single picture.

(from tip-off last week)
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4. My parents were here for a visit this week, and I did not take a picture. Again. Which means I don't have photographic evidence of the fact that Camden was *not* taller than my dad when they visited last month, but has now passed him up. I cannot get over how tall he is.

(notice where his shoulder is in relation to my face!) 
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5. The Lewises have been passing around sore throats and colds this week. I spent 2 days with absolutely no voice. As a result, I canceled my scheduled activities for Friday and worked around the house completing all domestic chores so that we could have free time today. Last night we made pizza and watched The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings. All 1600 hours of it. Today, Camden is working on a team building community project planting 82 trees at his school; Brian is spending the morning at a local coffee shop working on lesson plans so he doesn't have to work during Thanksgiving break; Rory and I are having ourselves a little shopping trip so she can spend the birthday money burning a hole in her pocket.

6. We've been waiting for scan and bloodwork results, and when they finally came in late Wednesday night, they were not as good as we hoped. How *not good* they are remains to be seen, but the wording from the radiologist was definitely different and unfortunately included phrases such as "new spots," "increased size," and "lymph nodes." I see Dr. C on November 28 to discuss how we want to proceed. Big sigh. There's always something to be thankful for: I am feeling physically better than I have in a while and my mind has been at peace, even after the news.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Five on Friday (November 11)

1. So the election was weird, right? Brian and I were not with her or for him, which leaves us in a strange position. Obviously, someone had to win, but I feel an odd sense of sadness. In the few days since Tuesday, I have personally seen the ramifications of someone in power using angry, harsh, and offensive language. I have seen it embolden young people to speak their mind, and it hasn't been pretty. It's all well and good to push away the crazy you see on social media and decide those situations must be extreme, not the norm. It's entirely different when people you know and love are experiencing racial tension made worse by the words of our president-elect. It was one of my proudest moments when Camden spent several hours working on a way to address racial slurs in his classroom. It was one of my saddest moments as a parent when he cried in frustration after talking to other 7th graders in his homeroom. Instead of making headway, they turned their ridicule on him. Standing up for right against the crowd is not easy for anyone. Standing up for right when you are 13 years old is almost an impossible task.

2. Camden's first basketball game is tonight (just an in-school scrimmage to gear them up for the bona fide first game next week), and he has officially declared baseball to be dead to him. Basketball now holds his heart. Late practices are less than convenient for family life, but we're making it work. Instead of basketball practice wearing him out, Camden comes home from 13-hour days invigorated, chatty, and full of more energy than when he left. Aunt Liz coaches the girls team at school and, because of scheduling, he has been participating with the JV and Varsity girls (sometimes having an aunt at school is a very good thing). If you're counting, that's 4 hours of practice per day. And he's loving it. Rory? Not loving that he's gone every waking moment.

3. I don't think I mentioned it here when it happened, but in September my CA125 went up significantly. This week I had an endoscopy, scan, and bloodwork. I'm sure I will hear results today, and I'm hoping it's all much ado about nothing.

4. My stance on Christmas music is firmly in the camp of only after Thanksgiving. However, this week, I've found myself listening to new Christmas music from Christy Nockels (The Thrill of Hope) and Leslie Odom Jr. (Simply Christmas). Both albums are beautifully mellow. They also remind me just a bit of our day at the silos last weekend (which had lovely Christmas music piped throughout the space).

5.  Brian is off work for Veteran's Day (but our kids have regular school) so we're going to take the opportunity to go out for lunch, begin sprucing up our bedroom (hurray!) and making Christmas lists. I am looking forward to a weekend full of family with some birthday cake and Mexican food thrown in for good measure.


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Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Food Network/HGTV kind of birthday

So, this happened last week.

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(this whole selfie thing is not nearly as easy as everyone else makes it look)
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I don't know what you think this bottle looks like, but it is actually the most delicious cold brew I have ever had the pleasure of drinking.
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Not only was it the annual birthday weekend, but Becky and I took it to another level by visiting not just Ree Drummond's (otherwise known as Pioneer Woman) new Mercantile but also the silos (as in the Chip and Joanna Gaines Fixer Upper silos)!

The Pioneer Woman can make a mean snickerdoodle cookie, and the Mercantile was as cute as it could be.  While we didn't see Ree herself, we did see many of her family members. Despite encouragement from the fun greeter, we refrained from asking for a photo because we are absolutely not comfortable with our selfie game. See photo proof above. Our friend Loren went with us (it has become somewhat of a tradition), and we finished out the afternoon with dinner at Frank & Lola's.

Friday involved shopping, standing in line for an hour for Burn BBQ (absolutely worth it), plenty of coffee, and more shopping. We finished the day with pie at Antoinette with Micah, William, and Xavier. Do you see a theme here of food, coffee, and dessert?

Bright (and much too early) Saturday morning, Becky and I drove to Waco to visit Magnolia Market. I have to say that the silos did not disappoint; the grounds were immaculate and just as beautiful as I had imagined. Everyone else in the state of Texas was there with us, and we stood in a lot more lines for lunch and cupcakes. Because we're not as young as we used to be, we crawled our way back to Dallas to crash overnight and then managed to make a trip to not one but two airports Sunday morning. Thank goodness we had just enough time to drop me off at the correct airport.

Next year's trip destination is Nashville. It will be hard to live up to Pioneer Woman and Fixer Upper, but I have all year to plan.