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Friday, September 30, 2011

Chocolate Makes Everything Better

With the exception of the fatigue factor, yesterday was a pretty good day. Camden and Rory spent the day (and night and today) at Gram and Gramp's house so it was a quiet day to sleep, catch up on many emails and Facebook messages, and basically just spend the day camped out on the couch. I even found the energy to use the treadmill not once, but twice yesterday in between naps. 

I woke up this morning, however, feeling like a truck had just flattened me. On top of that I made the mistake of taking pain medicine (as well as a host of other fun pills) and not waiting for it to settle on my stomach before trying to get a few things done around here, and let's just say that was a mistake.

Despite the rough start to my Friday, I am looking forward to getting caught up on my photography class lessons today and then having a nice quiet evening with Brian and Rory. It will be just the 3 of us because Camden is going on his very first sleepover and is so excited. 

And my day just got a little brighter as this cute box of chocolates arrived on my front door courtesy of my friends Kari and Jenne. They're almost too pretty to eat. I made myself wait until I took a picture to dive in. There also might possibly have been a teal chocolate ribbon (as in the cancer symbol), but I didn't wait to take a picture of it before diving in. :)


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I don't know what your 8 year old does outside, but mine can almost always be found digging in the driveway.
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And one more quick one of Rory from Monday night. Yes, her hair is messy. I kind of like it. I also used a photo action, which I don't do too often, but I thought it was fun.
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sick Boy

Despite having spent the first 3 years of his life in our pediatrician's office with recurring ear infections, RSV, asthma, and pneumonia, Camden has not been sick since he was 3 and a half. Well, maybe a brief fever last year sometime and the always present allergy issues, but not sick. Which explains why when he complained of a headache yesterday afternoon right after I told him it was time to clean his room that I completely brushed him off. Imagine my surprise when I found him an hour later laying in bed and running a fever of 100.2. Bad mama!

Anyway, he spent the the last couple hours of Wednesday in bed and watching Survivor with me. He woke up this morning fever free and is now happily playing at Gram and Gramps house. Or at least I guess that's all true. I slept until 7:30 and the house was quiet and empty when I finally dragged myself out of bed. And I do mean dragged because as soon as I took a step out of bed this morning, I completely crashed to the floor because both legs were asleep. Don't worry - I wasn't hurt and laughed at myself.

By the way, chemo brain is still in full-on mode. Yesterday when I dropped a prescription off at the pharmacy, I gave the pharmacist the completely wrong phone number. I am so not kidding when I say chemo turns my brain to mush.

And because I don't say it enough, this boy is my favorite 8 year old in the world. Notice the purple blanket and giraffe. My friend Tina's mother gave him this blanket when he was a baby, and he has slept with it every night since. Same with the giraffe. My aunt and uncle brought him this giraffe when he was 2. He promptly named it Lazarus and it stayed with him from that point on. I know it's only a matter of time before he puts away these last few remaining baby items, but for now they just make me smile when I see them.
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And just in case you're interested in the settings (and because I'm pleased that I pulled it off at night): 50mm lens, f1.6, 1/80 SS, and ISO 800

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Girl With a Feather

I didn't pull the camera out too often yesterday, mostly because we were running a whole host of errands while still trying to keep it fun for Rory. (please ignore the bad and inconsistent white balance in these photos - they were taken in all sorts of light, none of which was ideal)


Starting the morning off with Miss Jennifer getting a feather in her hair. She wasn't excited at all as you can tell. Jennifer had chosen a sweet petite pink feather, but Rory wanted nothing to do with it. She had her mind made up that it was going to be the electric blue/purple feather.
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Waiting for our lunch at McDougals. Yes, she chose the same place Brian and I ate at last week. She said they have the best dips and she wanted to eat outside. Funny. She only used ketchup yesterday.
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Daddy and the birthday girl.
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We were driving along when Brian slammed on the brakes and pulled over and said to take advantage of this cute door. Once again, not great lighting and I snapped 5 pictures in about 15 seconds so I didn't get to take full advantage, but we were on a schedule (not to mention Rory was convinced we were going to be arrested for trespassing).
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Because I typically have chemo on Thursday, I spent all day yesterday thinking it was Thursday and today would be Friday. Woke up this morning thinking it was Friday. But it's Wednesday. On today's agenda is a Neulasta shot at the doctor's office and spending a few minutes with my friend Barbara who finishes up her 6 rounds of chemo today.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Scoop

Our meeting with Dr. W today was fine. Not encouraging, but fine. I don't know why I expected better news, but I think it's hard not to hope that the bad news you hear is somehow wrong; that they've somehow made a mistake. Basically, the cancer is still the same as prior to chemo. Possibly a little larger, but he said it was hard to tell. He was glad that it had not returned to my bowel or colon (because that was a large part of my initial surgery), and my chest and lungs are still clear (apparently, this is the next place the cancer would go). It does not change my stage of cancer (still 3c), and remission is still a possibility, but he said that it would be very tough to get there. 

There are several more drugs that we can try, which is good, but unfortunately they each have a success rate of only 25%. It's a little too early to be considering clinical trials because hospitals who hold the trials like for the patients to have tried the more main-stream drugs first. They will be keeping a much closer eye on my blood levels and if they don't go up, we'll change drugs as opposed to sticking with it for a full 6 rounds.

We plan to contact another local cancer center with a good gynecological oncology department. It's a little hard for me to do this, because I feel as if I'm betraying Dr. W or implying that I don't trust him, but Becky assures me that it's a very normal thing to do. I don't expect better news from a different doctor, but I do agree that it's helpful to have a second doctor review my chart.

Honestly, we feel quite discouraged tonight. It is hard to digest news like this, and I find myself wondering how in the world we got to this point. It still seems so unreal. Prior to today, I felt like I had not let myself hope too much or plan too far in advance past the first 6 rounds of chemo, but it was clear to me as I broke down while the nurse accessed my port that I had, in fact, allowed myself to hope. I look at the blog post about my "last" chemo day on September 1, see the pictures, even the title of the post "Kill Cancer Day" and feel as if they are mocking me.

Physically, the chemo went well. It only takes about an hour, which is a huge improvement over 4-6 hours. I'll go two Tuesdays in a row, still have the Neulasta shot (which makes me feel almost worse than the chemo) then have a week off. I'm already feeling sick tonight, but in general this chemo drug should not be nearly as debilitating as the other. Dr. W says the best thing I can do is to get plenty of rest, exercise regularly (which was impossible with the other drug) and eat healthy. Oh, and take a multi-vitamin. Remember when your mom always made you take your vitamins? Apparently, she was right.

I really do covet your prayers. I know that I could not have stayed positive without your help over the last few months, and while I am not feeling much positivity tonight, I do believe that it will come back. I do believe that God is good, and that He has a plan even when that plan isn't easy or what I would have ever chosen.

And because we need to end this on a much lighter note, here are a few Rory-isms from her birthday.

"Mama, what is your favorite part about my birthday today?" This was at 7:25 a.m. She then turned to Camden and asked him. I cut him some slack and told him he didn't have to answer. So she asked Brian.
"Mama, you sound like a weally, weally nice witch." Honestly, I have no idea where this came from.

While browsing the little girl's section in Target today, she was a few steps away from me behind looking at another rack, and I hear. "Mama! This. Is. E.Dorable." She was holding a pair of plain grey knit leggings. 
This whole E thing is new, but I noticed three different times today that she said a word that begins with A as an E. For example, E.dorable, Edults, and Essignments. 

"I weally want to be a UPS man when I grow up. That would be so cool."

While I was in chemo, Brian picked her up from FWBBC (my workplace for many years, as well as my alma mater) where a few of my friends (thank you!) were watching her for us and took her to Starbucks. He had to be a little creative about the bathroom situation when she needed to use the potty, and naturally she wanted to just go by herself. He told her that she was too little, and we didn't want a stranger to grab her. She paused and said, "Yeah, I would really miss my kitties." But apparently not her family?

Pictures coming tomorrow of Rory's new hair accessory, our lunch date, and even a cool little doorway that Brian discovered. 


Tuesday's Tidbits - Rory Edition

Today is Rory's 5th birthday. I realize that I say this every time. But SERIOUSLY! How did this happen? Where is this little munchkin?

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And a few tidbits about Rory recently:

"Mama, I weally, weally want a CD that says wock and woll on it."

And speaking of rock and roll, she LOVES to sing. Unfortunately, the child has got no musical talent whatsoever, but she sure loves to make a joyful noise.
And there's no reason to actually spend time teaching her songs. She doesn't care. She just wants to make up her own music. I literally think she knows the words to approximately 2 songs. And that's only if you catch her on a good day.

The other day I heard Rory literally screech/scream very unkindly at Camden, and I immediately called her in to see what was going on. Camden came up behind her and put his arms around her as if to protect her from my wrath. Turns out they were just playing, but I thought his protectiveness was very sweet. I don't see alot of physical affection from him towards her very often.

"When I'm a grown up, I'm going to be a weal pwincess. Like Cindewella. With a blue dress." And she would probably rock the princess dress while carrying around her brother's light saber and would be spouting off Star Wars nonsense that she does not even begin to understand the whole time.

Rory is having a very hard time understanding why we're not having an actual party on her birthday. We celebrated with family, presents, cake and ice cream a couple of weeks ago when my parents were here, but she has spent a little too much time pouting about the lack of party on her birthday. Never mind that she's got mama and daddy all to herself (thanks to Brian being off work for my doctor's appointment), she's getting a feather in her hair, her choice of lunch, and I hear there might be a little celebration while she stays with my friend Tina during my appointment. The girl wants another party.

"It's not a good day for your birthday when someone you weally, weally love has chemo."

Happy Birthday #5, Sweet Girl.
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Superman Was Adopted, Part 3

Rory's turn :)
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This "I love you" sign is something she always does with her daddy.
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Are you sure you want me to jump?
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Yes, close your eyes and wait for the ball to hit you.
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No, no, no! No more!
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Thousand Gifts 570-600

Settle in. This is a long one. :)

I'll be honest. After the way our weekend began on Friday afternoon, I was doubting I'd ever feel good again, but we actually had a nice weekend. Not that there weren't hard moments, but I can think of lots of good moments as well. I am continuing to struggle with the "why" of it all, but surprisingly enough there were even moments where cancer did not cross my mind.

We sat the kids down Friday afternoon and told them the news about my scan; they reacted just like kids - like it was no big deal. I think the first words out of Camden's mouth were, "I feel like I'm still wearing my blue teeth." (a prize he'd gotten from school that day and had worn ever since) Clearly, he was devastated. And Rory informed us later that night that the worst thing that happened to her for the day was that she was hot while roasting her hot dog at Brian's dad's 60th birthday party. I thank you for your prayers because I am sure they contributed to the kid's less-than-compassionate calm reaction.

Saturday Rory had a soccer game, and she spent at least half of the game sitting on the bench chatting it up with the assistant coach. Oh, yes, she completely asked to sit down over and over simply because she wanted to chat about stickers. And, yes, her mama and daddy had a little chat with her about chatting at inappropriate times.

After the game, we headed south of Nashville to the area's largest shopping area for an afternoon of shopping and lunch at Chuy's. This was one of the few things left on our Summer List, and it wasn't really on the weekend schedule, but we decided to go for it since we don't know how I'll feel later on. Saturday evening we even managed to tackle both kid's closets and cleaned out the summer stuff and brought in the fall/winter clothing. Pretty sure Brian had no idea that was going to turn into a 2 hour ordeal when we started, but what can I say. I overshop and like to dress them well.

Brian and Rory at Chuy's. Clearly I did not bring out the big girl camera for this trip.
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Me and my big boy.
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I think Rory enjoyed the music more than the food.

Sunday was Rural Heritage Day at our church, and there were lots of animals and fun activities, but I took a total of 3 pictures. By the afternoon I was really tired, and honestly, it was emotionally draining to explain over and over again about my scan results.

(side note: General rule of thumb #1: you should not tell someone with cancer about all the people you know who have died from cancer. Believe me. I am well aware that cancer is serious. General rule of thumb #2: the sad, pitying looks from across the room that insinuate I have one foot in the grave do not make me feel better about myself.) 

Taking a ride on a mule-pulled wagon. The very happy couple in the back seat are Uncle Michael and Aunt Liz.
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Brian insisted on this picture.
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Okay, I lied. I actually took 6 pictures. Here are Camden and Rory with their pumpkins after they came home.

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On today's agenda is about 3 weeks worth of activities. Okay, not quite that much, but I do have a very long "to-do" list as I try to tie up loose ends, get the laundry under control, stock up on groceries, plan ahead, etc. now that I have chemo, bloodwork, shots, and doctor's appointments back in my schedule.

570. breakfast at Dunkin Donuts with the kiddos before school
571. the pearl-like water drops on the basil plant
572. and Camden who pointed them out
573. "God is in his holy temple. He is a father to those whose fathers have died. He takes care of women whose husbands have died. God gives lonely people a family." Psalm 68:5-6
574. Salted Caramel mochas from Starbucks
575. for the 12 (!) cards that arrived in my mailbox last week
576. for Rory's red face after soccer
577. for Korean food with our family
578. for my two Korean kiddos
579. when the kid devotion I read to the kids every morning speaks to me as well
580. smelling the tobacco smoking in the barns
581. the sight of the tobacco smoke curling from the top of the barns
582. the sounds of guns blazing, screams, and uncontrollable giggles from the living room as the kiddos 583. wage war against Brian
584. the smell of fall throughout the house in the form of homemade pumpkin pecan granola
585. aching muscles that come from exercise instead of chemo side effects
586. peach fuzz
587. blue crayons
588. new shoes that come with the reminder of God's faithfulness
589. short wait for scan results
590. celebrating a 60th birthday
591. so many encouraging messages that I can't keep up
592. "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23
593. Rory's head bobbing in time with the music
594. a Saturday spent doing family activities
595. new music and parenting books courtesy of a gift card
596. successful Rural Heritage Sunday
597. playing the piano again
598. "Praise be to the Lord, to God, our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. "Psalm 68:19
599. friends willing to help
600. Superman was adopted pictures

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Superman Was Adopted, Part 2

And here is Mr. Camden cooperating rather reluctantly in the photo shoot. :)

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This is always Camden's default when I pull out the camera.
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Holding up muscles was Brian's idea.
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I'm taking a photography class titled Snapshots of a Good Life taught by Karen Russell, and in the first week she talks alot about emotionally perfect photographs and how we (as mothers) are our family's best photographer because we know our family better than anyone else. That really resonated with me because I easily get caught up in how other photographer's blogs are filled with beautiful, perfect pictures. But no one else would know that Camden pushes his glasses up like this approximately 3,000 times a day.
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Or that he immediately follows the glasses adjustment with hiking his pants up. Every.single.time.
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Or that this is his very silly, but very real grin.
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Playing football with his daddy.
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Switching from a football to a frisbee.
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And one of my favorites from the day.
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2011 Project 365 - Weeks 37-38

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