Showing posts from December, 2014

The Year of the Advent

I've debated long and hard on the the title of Christmas 2014. To review:
Christmas 2011 - The Year of the Preemie Baby and Gallbladder Attack Christmas 2012 - The Year of the Flu Christmas 2013 - The Year of the Purse
This Christmas season in general has been busier and more difficult than I remember, although it came to me about 2 weeks ago that this is the first holiday season in about 7 years that I have been a working mother. Simply making that distinction helped me feel a bit better about the craziness. It is also the first year we have been involved in a church Christmas program in several years (and while I loved it, the practices certainly consume a certain percentage of your holiday season). Missing basically a week of December for chemo was also not helpful on the whole "keep your holiday simple" motto.
So it was with a sigh of relief that we loaded into our rented van last Monday morning (thank you, 180 Church) and traveled to Illinois to be with family - wh…

Caught Off Guard

We arrived home last night after 7 days away with my family for Christmas (recap coming later). Today has been spent catching up on laundry, unpacking, putting away the multitude of Christmas blessings that came home with us, grocery shopping, making lists for the rest of the week, etc. etc. etc.
Unfortunately, a call earlier today changed my plans for the week. I was scheduled to have chemo December 31 (which was perfect timing, by the way, since Brian is still home from school and my office is closed - thus, no missing work for either of us). I experienced a pretty bad reaction last week - think blisters and rash covering about 75% of my body that needed steroids to fix - from my current chemo drug, and my oncologist has decided I cannot have treatment this week. In fact, I may have to skip this particular drug altogether.
This development has the possibility of being terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad news. I don't know what drug Dr. C will recommend next, but this one had …

Merry Christmas 2014

The few cards I sent barely went out before Christmas, so if I missed you this year (and that is a very definite possibility), Merry Christmas from the Lewis family!

Radiant Orchid

Let's all pretend that I chose Camden and Rory's outfits based on the 2014 Pantone color of the year - Radiant Orchid. 
There was a time in my life when I would have planned that, but this is not the year.
Notice Rory's surprise haircut? If it's possible to get cuter, she did. And she knows it.

The Color Teal

Friday's schedule included meeting Brian and his co-workers for their annual Christmas luncheon at Outback Steakhouse. Shortly after arriving, I noticed the teal shirt Brian's 4th grade partner was wearing and asked why he didn't have that color. And then I spotted more and more teal . . . it is the official Ovarian Cancer color, after all. Teal manages to stand out on its own, much less when nearly everyone present is wearing it.
And then I noticed that some of them said "Love for Lewis" on them, and I started to think this gathering might be a little more than a Christmas lunch.
Turns out one of Brian's co-workers was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and the subsequent treatment was fresh on her mind. When she heard about our family and started reading the blog, she organized the teal, collected money, gift cards (totally almost the exact amount we unexpectedly had to spend on Tamiflu and van repairs last week, by the way) and notes of encouragement.…

Snapshot #17: Tis the Season

Kids are at school attending the school party (God bless their teachers). Christmas cards are finally addressed and ready to go in the mail. Brian finishes up at noon today. Presents are bought; baked goods have been made (and mostly sent out the door for parties). All photoshoots are finished and delivered. Plans are made tonight to surprise the kids with a Christmas light tour and a harp concert from "our Claire!!" as they put it.
What I'm saying is that it finally feels like things can slow down, and we can start soaking in the experience of celebrating Christ's birth. Even if we are hopelessly behind with our Advent reading.
Outside my window: Oh, so gray. I think the lack of sunshine in the past month has been contributing to my lower-than-usual mood.

I am thinking: about all the people in my life going through tough times. And feeling so convicted about the day-to-day complaining I do. I double dog dare you to watch this or this and not feel inspired as well as …

Isaiah 45:3

I've run across this verse twice in the last 48 hours so I'm sharing it in hopes it will bless you like it did me.
I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you m ay know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. Isaiah 45:3

On the Mend

The flu crisis of December 2014 is over.
Knock on wood.
Brian and Camden both went back to school today, and since Rory and I have yet to show any sign of the flu, I'm going to just assume we're past the danger zone.
Knock on wood.
While Brian was doing this . . .
and Camden was doing this . . .
Rory was doing this.

And this.

And this.

And this.

While I nursed 2 patients (have I ever mentioned that I am about the least compassionate person ever?), Rory's energy was through the roof. It was an interesting 4 days to say the least. My sanity was saved by the 8 hours of play practice on Friday/Saturday because there were plenty of high school girls and college boys (she is so smitten before she even really knows what smitten means) to entertain her.
Camden, who is always my sweet kid when sick, had a tough time with the strep throat swab and flu nose swab. The solitary tear that rolled down his cheek broke my heart. Not enough that I got any closer to his germs than rubbing …

Tis the Season

When I heard on the news this week that this year's flu shot had missed the mark, I didn't think it was going to be that big of a deal.
As of this afternoon, however, Brian has a confirmed case of the flu, and I picked Camden up from school today with a fever. Hurray for us!
Let me just go ahead and apologize to everyone our family has come in contact with over the past 48 hours. The doctor was proactive by calling in a prescription for Tamiflu for me, and I have already taken the first dose. (Did not know Tamiflu was so expensive!)
We've quarantined both boys upstairs, and Rory and I are disinfecting and washing our hands like it's our job.
Here's hoping for a Christmas miracle. Two miracles actually: that Rory and I don't get sick and that Brian and Camden are well enough to participate in the Christmas play Sunday.

Good Reads, Part 2

I've had several friends tag me to list my top 10 books. I thought this list was going to be hard. And I thought there would be a lot more fiction on here, but I decided to just quickly jot down what came to mind and this is the result.
There Is No Me Without You
Same Kind of Different As Me
Revolutionary Parenting
Family Driven Faith
The Firm my very first John Grisham book - I tore through these in college
Gone With the Wind my very first historical fiction. I read it multiple times throughout high school and college.
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
Hunger Games series
Harry Potter series
And here are a few blog posts I've read recently that stuck with me. What My Love Affair With Coffee Taught Me About Marriage
A post by LosWhit (I will not type out the actual title of blogpost)
Five Ways to Fight Entitlement in Your Child
When You Don't Get the Answer You Wanted

Shine as Lights

Tuesday Tidbits

It's been a week since my first chemo, and I think we're going to just pretend it never happened. And because I woke up Sunday feeling very close to normal, I think pretending it never happened is possible.
Am I the last one to jump on the Serial bandwagon? If you're not listening, go subscribe right now. It's incrediblyfascinating. Even Brian, who generally has no time for entertainment, is hooked.
Also. Michael Buble's instagram account is quite entertaining. His band does warm-ups every performance and takes requests via instagram.
I went back to work yesterday, and it felt so good. If I would have known how good it felt to get back in the work force, I would have done it long ago. Actually, probably not because I am fairly certain it is this specific job that works.
This week is a marathon, not a sprint with work days, play practices, lab appointments, Christmas programs (times 2), etc. etc. etc. I am taking it one day at a time and focusing on feeling gratefu…

Happy Birthday, Brian

Today is Brian's birthday, and because I was kind of stuck on the couch with massive doses of nausea I didn't make him a cake or even buy him a card. (I did, however, purchase a gift.) I wanted to just publicly wish him a Happy Birthday along with (yet another) list of why I love him.
1. Coffee. He wakes me up every morning with the coffee ready to go. Obviously, this isn't really about coffee - it's just one of the ways he shows me he loves me. I could list many more.
2. He makes me laugh. Most people don't know how funny Brian can be. He's a pretty reserved guy so all the goofy is saved for those he is most comfortable with. We've spent a lot of time laughing over the last 17.5 years. I hear that his 4th grade class often gets a glimpse of this goofiness in the form of math rapping. I pray often that these stressful days will not make him lose his sense of joy.
3. He's a great dad. Brian is the parental unit in this family who is patient, who is kind…

Another List

Just in case there is any misunderstanding going on here between me and my blog readers (especially my new internet people):

1. Cancer does not turn someone into a saint. I am very cranky.

2. Having a mom with cancer does not turn my children into saints.They're still just regular kiddos with some rotten mixed in with the sweet.

3. I think I might have underestimated what starting chemo would be like. I kind of laser-focused in on the fact that my oncologist said most people tolerated this chemo well, but you just can't ignore that it's still chemo/poison.
4. Brian and I have already had our first fight over who should do what. Working with 4th graders all day trumps chemo in my head, but chemo trumps working with 4th graders in his head. And so we argue over who does what around the house. The real argument, of course, is not about the actual work. We're just each trying to take care of each other.
5. I'm not a big fan of naps in the middle of the day or acceptin…

Pretty Pictures

Well, I may not have achieved 8 hours of sleep last night (more like 4), but it allowed me to keep nausea meds in my system, and I am so happy to report that I'm feeling significantly better this morning.  My hands are no longer swollen or feel like they're on fire, which is a very good thing. It's a gray, dreary day outside and I'm going to take full advantage by binge watching season 3 of Suits and possibly trying to do a Project Life layout or two. No promises.
I may not had been taking pictures of my own family, but here are a few from recent photoshoots, as well as just a couple of non-people pictures.

Unfortunately, we had horrible weather for this shoot, but these kids were so cute and well-behaved. My own two were running around like wild banshees in the midst of it all. When we got back to the van, Camden said, "Well, I think that went well." LOL

It's too bad she has no personality whosoever.
One reason I love my new camera? This is straight out…

13 things

A few more things from my first day back in the thick of cancer.
1. The medical fellow who is working with Dr. C right now (this means she has completed medical school, 3 years of residency, and is now studying oncology for 3-5 years as her specialty), very narrowly avoided the terms late stage cancer and last ditch effort. She caught herself in time and was very kind and professional for the rest of the visit. She was also wearing a short skirt, black tights, and VERY high heels. Brian and I both commented after she left that she must have a shorter day than the other doctors because how could she possibly work a 12 hour shift in those shoes!
2. My only reaction to the chemo drug yesterday was swelling in my hands. Could have been worse! The swelling is actually still around, but I'm assuming it will go away as I start the lose the fluids they put into my system.
3. The very specific feeling in the back of my throat and pit of my stomach that accompanies chemo (I can only descri…

Kill Cancer, Take 4

When Becky was going through treatment for breast cancer, Micah always called chemo days Kill Cancer Days. I adopted the term and now here we are almost 4 years later starting my fourth set of chemo treatments. As a review:
May 2011-September 2011: the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mix of Taxol, Carbo, CistplatinSeptember 2011-December 2011: the not-so-bad GemzarJuly 2012-December 2012: the hotly disputed and very expensive Avastin with the milder TopotecanDecember 2014 - ??: the we-have-high-hopes-for Doxil
My very awkward attempt at an infusion selfie that did not involve a nurse walking in on me. Because, hello, embarrassment.
On the positive side, Vanderbilt has some perks when it comes to infusion. Not only do I have my own room with 2 recliners and a personal TV, they have snack and drink service as well as automatic Ativan with infusion. Score.
On the negative side, We were here before 8:00 this morning. It is now 10:46, and we have been to 5 different check-in points a…