Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Don't Count Nolan Out...

Well, chemo was chemo. It sucks, but I got through it. I had one tailspin however. Mason wanted to see pictures of himself BEFORE he was born, so I got out the pregnancy journals. I showed Mason his which is a bit different than your normal pregnancy journal. Mine is filled with shot schedules, extra ultrasounds, blood counts, etc. The joys of infertility, but it was cute and sweet and I have to say I did a darn good job in it. So, Mason runs about the room and I start to thumb through Nolan's. While I am smiling, my smile fades as I am reading all the entries and they are all about how I was sick and weak. How I got another sinus infection, got the flu, and towards the end, it got worse. I compared pictures of the day I went to the hospital with Mason with the pictures pregnant with Nolan. My second to last entry was..."I feel so weak, I am losing weight, but you (Nolan) are gaining. You will be fine." The last entry was a letter apologizing to him. It was written in April of 2007. (I was diagnosed in May of 2007.) It read that I was sorry that I didn't have the best pregnancy as per the entries in my journal, but I assured him that he was loved and wanted and that he should never question that. Pause. Pause. CRY A LOT. Pause. He has never known me well, but you know, I think he will be okay. He is a healer and a fighter. He was a perfectly born baby boy from a body that was really sick. He was always been a trouper. Rarely cries from pain - more from hurt feelings. In fact, he told me today he needed to stay in bed for hurting Mason, but he did clarify in painful detail that he didn't technically throw the train at Mason..." just dropped on his face Mommy..." I replied with, "Nolan, it isn't the throw or drop part you got in trouble for. It is the 'on Mason's face' that is the problem." "OOOOHHHHH......" with a gotta-figure-that-one-out-for-next-time sort of look. Let's remember, he is 3. I think he might be a healer too. He is CONSTANTLY applying Vitamin E to his forehead or lavender oil (which is a bit expensive!) to me or Jane or Daddy. He cares about everyones boo boos. He is also doing EVERYTHING himself. Probably because he is 3, but I also think he is trying SO hard to pull his weight for me. He follows six step instructions to the letter and is amazingly self sufficient. Nope, don't count him out - EVER. He may just sneak up on you and "drop" something on your head!!!!! Happy Wednesday, Ang

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mason's First Movie

So, a few months ago, Kari, a friend of mine, emailed me this AMAZING DEAL where between coupons, membership rewards, etc. you got Toy Story and Toy Story 2 movie for like $8 each (including a Blu Ray Disk) and two FREE movie tickets to Toy Story 3. I didn't understand the email she sent me at first and emailed her back saying I was going to pass so I don't need the coupons. She, who is like me with the "deals", called me and said, "I am sorry, you must not understand what an amazing deal this is and I am not going to let you pass on it." She was right. So, after watching Toy Story and Toy Story 2, I took Mason to his first movie at the theater on Saturday. We even went to the 3D version with the glasses and everything. Okay, I should give you a bit of history. I LOVE THE MOVIE THEATER. I used to go ALL THE TIME, but what else was there to do in Burien growing up besides sports and movies?!?!?! I went in college a lot too and then I met Grant. Grant doesn't like movies because they are not interactive. If you know us, your head should be tilting to the left in total confusion. He doesn't like movies because they are not interactive enough and I love movie because, with that logic, they not inactive. Yep, it's a head scratcher. I can count ON ONE HAND how many movies Grant and I have seen in the theater. Sixteen years this October we have been married. Anyhoo, so I am with Mason, telling him the rules like pee before because we ain't leaving the movie, NO TALKING, no getting up, NO TALKING, no kicking the seat in front of you, NO TALKING, etc. I was taking pictures, we bought snacks (I never buy snacks!) - we were all set. Mason did AWESOME. The only time he spoke was right at the end when he was so into the movie he had NO IDEA he was in a movie theater. He said, "Is he going to leave him????" Everyone around us was VERY sweet because it was a tender moment and Mason is my tender child. I had a great time. Over the past week, I felt better and better, I got out of my pity party/depression that I have to do this (chemo) AGAIN, I went to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and bought BROWN jeans (what were the chances of BROWN JEANS being the rage THIS SALE??!?!?!), and really got my groove back. If I am gonna do this, I am going to do it both hands up and fightin'. So, I was having a blast at the movie. I had never been to a 3D movie and was SO FUN! I was happy to be alive, lovin' the fact that Mason was lovin' movies in the theater, and then I crashed. WHY DOES THIS ALWAYS HAPPEN?? Toy Story 3 is the last of a trilogy about Andy and his toys. In this movie Andy is going to college and he has to decide what to do with his childhood toys. So, there is a scene when his room is all cleaned out and Andy's Mom comes in and exhales. She realizes that he is leaving and what that will feel like. And there is it - the reason I wear waterproof mascara ALL THE TIME. Will I ever get that moment? Will I ever get the opportunity to feel that? What college will he go to? What will it be like? What if I am not there? How will Grant deal with it? Grant needs me to help him. I slowly look over at Mason who is happily munching on his popcorn, I close my eyes, wipe the tears, grab his hand and go back to the movie that is very touching, the moment that is precious, and the memory-in-the-making of Mason's First Movie. Happy Monday, Ang

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wow - it is already Tuesday...

I think the thought of chemo again was easier than chemo again. Everything went exactly like it always did. For some reason, I thought I would have better control over it. I have been out of chemo for so long (15 months), I have been working out and I am strong. Here is the secret....chemo is stronger. I got through all the usual suspects constipation, not really remembering much, etc. I even remembered when I was on the phone to check interest rates for refinancing the house, I thought, "Wow, maybe I should not be doing this right now" and I handed the phone to Grant. He was like, "Who am I talking to??" I replied, "Wells Fargo to refi the house." And he was like, "O-K-A-Y." He willing took on that project. I also remembered that I should not do anything with Visa Cards or bill pay. There were some very questionable purchases/payements last time and me saying, "Yes, I know I bought this, but now (in my right mind) I really want to return it." Donna did a great job with the kids at her house in Stanwood. She even had to go to the ER with Nolan for a gash in his head. Darn coffee table! Yep, Donna got the first trip to the ER with Nolan. She did great and Nolan didn't even cry - stitches and all. It may have been a blessing in disguise. He has been batting at his ear and I have been checking for ear infection for about a week. So while he was there, Grant told Donna to have them look at his ear. No ear infection (which I was confident in), but guess what?!?!?! He had a bead in his ear. I am not kidding. I suspect it has been there for a while.....nice.....great parenting. So, ear saved and forehead stitched. Poor Donna, but even poorer Krista, my cousin, who was stopping my my Aunt's house and was quickly whisked away to the emergency room since she is a seasoned parent of two. She was extremely helpful to Nolan talking him through what was going on and what was going to happen. Nolan told me that she said, "rista say it will be all better Mommy!" Thank you Krista!!! Then Monday came. Physically I was better, but I couldn't shake the nausea. I was nervous about taking anti nausea because of their side effects on my bowels, and finally my Mom said, "Ang, this is not the chemo. I think you need an anti-anxiety pill. You are worried about everything - Nolan, how you will cope on chemo, how you will do this time..." This is where she stopped, but I went on in my head with....being a burden on Grant, not being able to support Grant in the business, not being able to cook and "save" money, not be able to work [I was planning on getting a real job with clear scan results], how are we going to make ends meet with a new business, etc.)" So, I thought about it and thought, "Crap, it is worth a try." I was a little concerned about how many of those I was taking. I am such a nilly, I took less than 12 in a year - four of which were in the last month. Yeah, a real addict!!! I remember getting a refill on them, but he only gave me 12 the first time, so in my mind I didn't have that many, but when I reached for the bottle I found that I got 30 this time! So, I popped one of those suckers and nausea GONE. Anxiety - what a bitch. It is amazing what happens when you calm down. All the sudden everything is okay. It may not be perfect, but is manageable. Nolan was fine with a huge band aid on his head and able to hear me saying, "Is it a good idea you are on the counter....I can still get your milk you know...." We decided not to refinance the house because really, Grant and I are in a very good financial situation. We did it right for 16 years and now we are benefiting from it. We took Jane up on coming out to help for a few weeks and we paid for the ticket (first class even!) with miles (thank you - you know who!). At about that moment, Mom says, "Honey, I found dinner on your porch but there are no instructions." I think, "Crap, it is Monday and I slept through someone coming." I checked the calendar and it was Danielle - bookclub, steady helper in this - and I say, "Mom, can you go the computer. Danielle would have emailed me. Damn, I missed her. She will have instructions, ingredients, how her kids liked it or not, etc." So, my Mom says, "You don't need a computer! Try my new IPAD!" glowingly. I mean - GLOWINGLY! Of course, she has an IPad. My Mom is the most techie "senior" around. So, with a flip of the switch, I am connected, checking email and there it is...Danielle's email with everything. Such an organized girl! And, just like her kids, my kids ate it up, it was the first solid food outside of toast I ate, and all was right with the world again. We are going to be fine - because of medicine, because of proper planning, because of friends, because of family, because of help calendars, because Happy Tuesday, Ang

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My week of freedom

I am exhausted. I have frantically run around trying to get everything ready for my internment and, of course, in Angie fashion, I did. Unfortunately, the stress came out on my Mom and on Grant. Get was about sheets - like bed sheets. I know, it wasn't really about bed sheets, it was about, "Why me?"; mourning my new life that I had for the last 12 months, feeling like a burden on my husband, children, family, friends; wondering what I did wrong (which I don't think I did); wondering how evil I could have been in a previous life to deserve this (which is stupid to think about, but I do sometimes), etc. etc. etc. I was the perfect example of insane as I was SCREAMING the "F" word in my Mom's car. The best part - the windows were all down. Yep, class act that Angie Clarno. My Mom's response you ask? "Okay... Are we done with that dear???? No, honey, I know, it is fine, and I know it is not about sheets." I give it a 10 on the supportive Mom scale. On the 4th, I was at a friend's house and an older woman came out onto the street to watch the fireworks. She told me that it was her birthday, but she couldn't celebrate it because she lost her daughter to cancer on the 6th of July four years ago and that is all that she thinks about. She went on and on about the treatment and how bad it was, on and on about how in the end her daughter told her it was okay and that she (the daughter) was fine. Bored out of their minds, my kids left to watch fireworks across the street and, because I was raised right, I stayed and talked to her. Finally, the fury, anger, stress, and anxiety of spending time with her and not my kids during fireworks right before chemo was killing me. I managed to nicely (not like the screaming "f" word incident) tell her that I was a little familiar with the cancer process as I am, once again, a cancer patient. (Maybe I am a bad person?) Bob (cancer buddy that past two years ago this month) would be pissed at me for that. I am to say, "Cancer Survivor" always. But, I didn't feel like saying that, plus "cancer patient" drove the point home. The conversation turned naturally with a tilt of the head and a narrowing of the eyes, ended nicely, and I went to the kids. I love fireworks - next year - BIG ONES! In the end, I did have a good week. I wish I could have gone a little slower, a little less coordination, a little more easy time, but I will get that now BY DESIGN. My Mom called this morning from Las Vegas. She and my Dad had made plans to go away for just a few days MONTHS ago and I made them go. She was willing to cancel the whole thing. (Hello - Las Vegas in July??? There is a reason to cancel or never make the plans!!!) This is tough for her and as she told me that she loved me her voice started to shake. I wanted her to because if she didn't, cancer would have won and I just can't stand for that. I am taken care of. The boys are in school today and tomorrow and, for the first time, they will see me with my pump on tonight. Mason asked all sorts of questions and I just said, "You will be here tonight and Mommy will feel okay, but you can't and I mean can't play on me, wrestle with me, etc. Tomorrow after school you will go to Auntie Donna's for the weekend. That is when Mommy will feel bad. We will come get you when I feel better." All Mason heard was AUNTIE DONNA and responded with a resounding, "YIPPEE!!!" Funny how they filter..... Off to chemo with Shelly, Ang

Friday, July 2, 2010

Chemo starts 7/8

So, after my odyssey tour of two colorectal surgeons, my radiation oncologist, and my oncologist, we have made a plan. Three of the four agree that we should try chemo first. The cancer is small in my rectum and, since I responded so well last time in my pelvis, we should give her another go. The other surgeon said, "Full colostomy, no options, but reconstruction, no chemo and after it is over you can do anything but be a line backer." Pause. O-K-A-Y. With colorectal surgery, you have a few options so you want to talk to more than one surgeon. They are a K-pouch, a J-pouch, and a full colostomy. K and J are just the way they are shaped. They are reconstructions of your lower colon and rectum and allow you to "go normally". They actually reconstruct it with part of your colon since you have yards and yards of it. K is not very popular and when I asked about it, they were like, "Yeah, no. Stop reading the Internet." J is a possibility with one of the surgeons because, and I quote, "Angie, I mean this in the kindest of ways. (Pause) You have large hips, so there is a lot of room for me to work and have the possibility of a J-pouch working." I was like, "Well, there is the first thing they have been good for. Clearly, they weren't for child birth since I had two C-sections!" Another "humorous" conversation I had was with my radiation oncologist. He said, "Ang, I can't give you any more radiation to your pelvis. The damage I would do would not be reversible and as you now know, the healing process is long in the pelvis. (Yeah, buddy, I know, we are 2 and a half years out!) BUT, I was looking at your lungs....... and I think......yes, I believe I would like a shot at technology....cyber knife....blah blah blah blah." I am thinking, "My pelvis is saved! WHA??? Do I have a target on my back???? 'Shot at my lungs'??? You know, it takes a special (bordering on warped) person to want to be a radiation oncologist...." More quotes..."This is early. We have time to play with this a bit." Play. O-K-A-Y. "Ang, you are not going to die for this. We have some time before the tumor in your rectum burrows through your vagina and stool come out." That is pretty much when I took the anti anxiety pill. Heck, poop coming our your vagina makes chemo sound easy! So, chemo it is! This will be a different schedule for me, but it affords me 90% of the summer fun I already had planned and I get to go with Shelly. She, by the way, is in complete remission. She will continue chemo through the summer as a precaution, and will do Avastin for a year after that. I couldn't be happier for her and will enjoy her last four sessions with her. I am not sure the chemo floor will know what hit them!!!! Last thing, as many of you have asked, I will have a help calendar. If you are interested in helping, please email Sarah at I think I will do the same process and need help with meals and housecleaning. Thank you for all the emails, thoughts, prayers, and love - your support helps me push through those doors and holds me up when I want, well, you know..... Enjoy your 4th, we have great plans and I am going to enjoy my last few days of freedom - love, Ang