Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

As a lot of you know, I used to hand stamp over 100 cards and send a micro Christmas letter. Not any more. This is my Christmas letter and it is being sent on Christmas morning. So, here goes.....2010 was a interesting year. Grant started his own business with long time coworker Mike Byers. They named it CRETE and with all of the good work and marketing they did they are still in business and now concerned about having done too well. I consider that a GOOD problem. Seriously - how is that a problem???? WHATEVER! Next year will be a lot different because they are moving out of Mike's house (free rent makes any bottom line seem wonderful)and getting office space. Here is to Grant GETTING OUT OF MY OFFICE!!!! But seriously, I am really proud of the success of CRETE and how Grant and I handled the year. Clearly, June and July were a shock when my cancer was back and the end of the year has been stressful because, count them, BOTH of my medical insurance companies have been fighting over who is primary and NEITHER were paying my claims and still are not, but I wrote the right letter to the right people and now we are just waiting on one piece of paper - nice. I offered to create, forge, do anything to get the peice of paper they need, but apparently I can't. Now, it is Christmas and we should not dwell on that crap! Moving on.......Mason and Nolan have had a great Christmas - despite their requently questionable behavior!!!! Here is a story.....We have the Christmas Elf that visits us every year. He watches the boys during the day and then flies back to Santa EVERY night to report their behavior. Well, one night we were out for a Christmas adventure with Karissa and her kids and Nolan wasn't eating his dinner, so I said, "What will the elf think?" and he, without missing a beat said in perfect English with perfect grammar, "The elf can't see me. He is at home." I was dumbfounded - speechless - what do I do with that??? Quickly Karissa took over, "Oh yeah buddy, well Santa knows EVERYTHING and you want presents don't you?!?!?!?" Shockingly, he ate. In addition on the way home, Mason was trying to crack jokes which all involved underwear, pee, poo, etc.. At the same time, Nolan was taking about his favorite planet - URANUS. "PEE PEE POOP POOP UNDERWEAR!" "We live on Uranus! Santa is coming to Uranus! Uranus - Uranus - Uranus!" I have to say, my kids are all class. I am SOOOOOOO proud. So, there you have it a typical Christmas in an average family. I do have medical updates but I am not ready to talk about those. They are fine, and I will be fine. It is nothing that can't be managed and luckily I got alotta good managers. The first week of January the decisions will be made and I will do what I have to. So, a little prayer between now and then will not go unnoticed and would be GREATLY appreciated. Forever grateful for so many things, Angie, Grant, Mason and Nolan

Monday, December 20, 2010

Off and then back on

I haven't blogged in a while mainly because I don't know how to get all that I am feeling onto the page without it being a multi page rant, but I must get my words down, so here goes...... December started out great - Disneyland and great memories. Yes, the puking, but, all in all, a huge success. We got the Santa visit in, got the pictures, checked off our list, etc. Then, as you may remember, I got the flu. Chemo was rescheduled and another week was gone. I was a little miffed, but what am I going to do. My parents were great. They took the kids both times to let me get well and outside the new addition to iron with my chemo, I did well. Here is what didn't go so well. First, why am I so lucky to always have chemo when we have cold snowy winters???? Luck or bad timing? I don't know. I haven't felt my fingertips in weeks and the bottom of my feet are in and out depending on massage, essential oil usage, etc. The iron that was added to my IV this time has helped out a great deal with my tunnel vision, almost blacking out when I stand up, etc. with the one minor draw back. For 36 hours after treatment, I believe that I am actually chewing on an iron pipe - YUMMY. And then, I got a taste of freedom. This was the worst thing. There were a few days between the flu and chemo that I felt, well, normal. I even had a martini - regular strength. Grant and I were working well together, things were busy, but I was on my game. Then chemo with iron and Grant and my bad twins came out (we are both Geminis). Grant was tired and taxed. This is the bad side of winning his huge contract - yep they won the one I mentioned in AUGUST. We are very thankful, but we are also VERY busy. It wasn't supposed to be this way. My cancer wasn't going to come back, but it did, and we were aware of this and then we got to Christmas and HOLY COW. Grant took me to unhook and snapped at me a couple times. I came home and cried and said, "Remember dude, I am on steroids and chemo, and I just lost my freedom AGAIN. " Poor guy - really not much winning that argument. He felt bad, but things didn't get better until Saturday afternoon. I left for the play with my Mom (I was suppose to go on a good week, but we all know how that went). I left with the boys in bed after screaming my head off at them. It was a beautiful Mommy moment. It was good for me to go. Grant got himself together with the kids, I relaxed and enjoyed "A Christmas Story The Musical" which was about a family with two little boys and all the excitement around Christmas. Guess who felt like crap, yet thankful, tired, yet hopeful, and defeated yet determined to make this a good Christmas? Yeah, that would be me. I came home and Grant wanted to do a little shopping, so it was me and the boys that night. It could have been horrible, but THEY WERE GREAT. I WAS GREAT. GRANT WAS GREAT. We were back - thank God. I put the boys to bed and Nolan threw his arms around me and just hugged me. There is nothing like a three year old's arm around your neck when it is just for the joy of it and he is not choking you. Mason's special prayer was that he was glad we were all alive and that we had Christmas this year. I was a little puzzled by the "having Christmas this year" - didn't we have it last year? Oh well, he also has "America's Freedom", Christmas, and Santa ALL MIXED TOGETHER. Patriotic little thing he is. Grant came home after they were asleep and I was collapsed in bed. I was still having trouble tasting anything but I knew I needed to drink more fluids. So, get this, I asked him to get me a Lemonade Capri Sun. I know, but it had been going down okay this round. Each round of chemo I have different things that I can/want to eat/drink, I search through the pantry every time to see what will "work" this time - it is kinda funny actually....anyway, I digress.... Grant gets the Lemonade and brings it up to me. With it, he has a glass of wine for him. I was looking at him like, wine in the bedroom? I was thinking he was just going to give me the Lemonade and go downstairs to watch TV, but he doesn't. He sets the wine down and gets on the bed getting comfortable. I drink my lemonade and he starts talking to me about, you know, anything......everything. I am just looking at him. I am exhausted, but I realize........he still LIKES me. I am not sure if I like me, but he is just wanting to be with me......after everything - 42 treatments of chemo, two lung surgeries, six weeks of radiation (which change our lives for two plus years)......I finally asked, "Grant, I know you love me, but do you really still like me?" He looked at me annoyed because this question was not in context of the conversation and he doesn't like that and says, "Yeah, of course I do." (under is breath I am sure he said something like, "Weirdo.") He still likes me. Sixteen years of marriage, seven years of infertility, three and a half years of chemo, one business, two kids, one house, two cars, family, multiple jobs, friends, bills, health insurance, births, deaths, toys everywhere, Santa hysteria, and he still likes me. Victory. Here is to the week before Christmas - loves, Ang

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Okay, who is the prankster that sent Mr. Hankey?

Feeling MUCH better and having a nice weekend, and then the Postman brought me a package. It is what looks like a BIG piece of poop (toy poo) with a Santa Hat and a face that saying things like, "You know something pal? You smell an awful lot like flowers!" and "Crap is everything!" and "I reckon this could be a job for Mr. Hankey!" Okay, the funniest part in all of this is that it is a piece of poo and my oncologist's name is Hank. I have my thoughts on who sent this and it starts with my sister in law, but I am open to others!!!! Stilling laughing and trying to hide this toy from my kids!!!! Loves, Ang

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Here is to falling like a sequoia.....

I was supposed to be in chemo today, but on the way in I started thinking, "Something ain't right." I got there, called before entering the office, they told me to come anyway, I did, but they would not access my port because, and I quote, "you don't look right". Grant took me home and the puke fest has began and I am officially off schedule......I hate being off schedule.......Loves, Ang

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Our trip to Disneyland

Okay, so overall the trip was great. The only question I have is why do we always get sick when we go to California????? Mason was sick Tuesday night, Grant on Friday night, and last night after tucking in the kids for bed at home, Nolan puked all over. Not being a regular puker he hasn't "clued in" that you puke IN the toilet, not all over your bed and then when you run out of space, puke on the floor, then on the door of the bathroom, cabinets of the bathroom, in the sink and then FINALLY in the toilet. Really? Do I look like I love to clean puke?? We go to Hawaii, don't get sick; we go to North Carolina, don't get sick; we go to Toronto, don't get sick, but the meager two hour flight to CA is fatal for us. And here is the funniest part......I only got a mild head cold. Now, I am still waiting, but you would think I would fall like a sequoia, but NOPE, or not yet anyway. Today, we are on lock down - trying not to spread it to the rest of the world. GOODNESS! So, here is what went not so great....I lost my camera and for a scrapbooker that is like a death, but my Mother, as she always does, got a disposable and had an extra camera in her room. WHO HAS AN EXTRA CAMERA .........LIKE EVER???? She had an extra camera when we went to China too - good thing, because mine stopped working the day we got there. We got sick, but we made it to the park everyday even if it was just for a little while. And, apparently, my name is Julie, but we will get to that soon. Now, here is the good stuff. Mickey Mouse decorated our room for Mason's birthday which was over the top amazing. We brought most of it home except for the singing balloon (that Grant and I wanted to murder at a couple points) and the GIGANTIC box that everything came in. We had banners on the door, banners on the windows, Mickey's footprints on the floor, an autograph book signed by Mickey dedicated to Mason, a Mickey Mouse toy, stuffed animal, book, special birthday ears, necklace, etc. etc. etc. Mickey REALLY spoiled Mason. Apparently, Mickey also did fireworks for Mason, according to him. IT WAS PRECIOUS. We went on bigger rides like Big Thunder Mountain and enjoyed the Christmas Decorations and Parade. It was amazing. I almost cried when we walked out onto Downtown Disney at night. The lights started there and went all through the park. New Orleans' Square was particularly beautiful. Nolan could talk this time, so I loved his commentary. Like, "he didn't like the Pirates of the Caribbean because they were bad pirates........" Yeah, I know. I had to break it to him that all pirates were bad. He looked at me like, "Whaaaaaaat???"and then dismissed me as if I didn't say it. O-K-A-Y. I would have to say my favorite part was when we saw the tree lighting. We didn't plan it. We just happen to be there. In the tree lighting there was a dialogue of choosing to believe.......and it all came rushing back to me. I had lost the choosing to believe concept when I went into remission, Grant started his business, etc. I was normal.......a realist........I really starting to read the stats and really started to believe that I was just a result of good medicine and luck. But to believe, have faith, hand over control, and live everyday? Disneyland gave that back to me. Pixie dust and stars, Mickey Mouse and fireworks, and Good and Bad Pirates, and my family (Mom, Dad and Auntie Donna) all asking me, "Where is the garbage? Where is the bathroom? Where is the entrance to that ride?" (hence Julie the tour guide comment)...........I rediscovered my belief again in NOW, today, joy, family, and faith. Because as goes the saying, "Once you enter these walls, you leave the world behind and believe in what is possible and fantasy." I didn't get that quote totally right, but you get the jist. So, let the puke fest begin again on our next trip to Disneyland (scheduled for 2013, but you know, that could change.....)!!!!! Loves, Ang

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Do you still have treatment???"

Mason asked because Nolan slipped and let it go that Nolan went to see Mommy's doctors on Monday for some extra tests to be sure I am okay after, well y'know, 41 treatments of chemo. "Why didn't you take me?" "I really don't want you to die and why you do you STILL have cancer." Slowly, I take each question - one by one. Yes; you were in school; I don't either, but sometimes we don't get to make that decision; I have NO IDEA, but we are workin' hard to get rid of it! Snow day yesterday was good and bad. I haven't been sleeping enough and with the steroids, if I don't go to bed by 9:00, I am up till 11:00 and then up at 3:00. So, the earlier I go to bed the longer I sleep and the better it is for EVERYONE. Grant stayed home and worked while I did little things while working with the kids. I cooked - that felt good, but sometimes I have to move the chair over to the stove, so I can sit down. Then, the kids want to help, and they need their own chair, so we have three full size chairs in front of the stove. By the afternoon, I was tired, but something happened in my head and I really looked at my know, their thigh bones, and their teeth, you hear their laugh, and see the joy in there eyes, you answer their questions with a couple word you can only understand, you help them with their homework and really see when they are "getting it". What amazing little creatures. Sometimes you forget how precious they are when you have asked them for the 76th time to wash their hands and you threaten them with "mean Mommy voice" and then they do it, because listening to nice Mommy voice is apparently blissful - even 76 times later. Grant took the Focus out for a test drive in its new tires and got a couple movies at RedBox - my new favorite thing - BYE BYE NETFLIX!!!! So, we watched a Disney movie about the true meaning of Christmas. It was full of magic and sadness, orphans, and no toys, but as usual all is righted in the end. Mason was crying at one point and I just kept saying, "Have a little faith - no matter how bad it gets, I guarantee you, it will turn out happy in the end. Life can be joyous even when you don't think that is possible." The movie ends well and everyone had a family, toys, believed in Santa and Mason was over the moon happy. I tried having a teachable moment with him after the movie, but all I got was, "In the end, EVERYBODY HAS TOYS!!!!" Oh well - maybe next time! Enjoy what is left of the snow...... Love, Ang

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I read in Oprah Magazine

that you have a 50% better chance of living if you have a strong social network. Having one actually increases your chances of living as much as quitting smoking, not that I smoked, but y'know that is big and after a weekend full of people driving me to hair appointments, cleaning my house, feeding me, etc., I think I got that one........CHECK. ;) Happy Sunday, Ang

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Something miraclous happened to me last week...

I felt good. Like really good. I went to the Childhaven Auction. I have never seen money like this. My new lifetime goal is to be able to open the bid at that event. It would be unrealistic to actually think I could "win" something. I went to the end of season soccer party for Mason. I went to the mall with Nolan. Nolan and I even went to the Toys R Us to look for things for his Christmas list. I went to a Martini Bar with some girlfriends to celebrate a milestone birthday. It was a banner week. I guess with the pneumonia gone and I kinda back. And now I have two weeks between treatments through December! I am so excited for December - I can hardly wait. So, get this, the same day that Grant said the business was doing well and we will get a dividend soon, I thought, oh, well, I got the big expenses, like COBRA, house payments, IRA, etc. covered for next year, maybe I should put more money in GET (children's college fund) and then Mason came into our room and said, "Mommy, I don't want a birthday party this year." SHOCKED AND AMAZED, I said, "But why?" "Well, I want to go to Hawaii." HISTORY: Due to my poor prior planning I accidentally (forgot would be a better word) scheduled a trip to Kauai during my youngest son's birthday). I know BRILLIANT. GREAT MOM. I replied in a not so nice way, "Mason that is a pipe dream that ain't going to happen, BUT I haven't planned your party, so if you think about it for a couple days, and come up with something doable, I will check into it, but don't tell anybody about it until you and I talk" Okay, this is where I am going to brag a little, I have created this relationship with my son that he actually goes away and thinks about. He believes that I will and he knows that I will. I am SOOOOOOOO proud of that - it is crazy. Okay, so off my soap box. So, two days later he comes into bed with me and waits for Grant and Nolan to go downstairs to start breakfast and says, "I have decided where I would like to got for my birthday." "Okay, so where..." "I heard you and Dad talk about how pretty Disneyland is during Christmas and I have a Christmas birthday. Do you think we could go there?" My eyes fill up with tears, but I keep my voice steady and say, "Let me see what I can do. I will need sometime with the computer, so let me do the research. But Mason, I think you have made a very good choice." I did tell him that if we do this there is no "birthday party" just us and his grandparents and he said, "That is all I need." I am like, that is funny because your brother wants two tickets to Hawaii (for him and Carter - his best friend) and a Batman Birdday cake. I try to explain to Nolan that he can't do that for so many reasons, but it is futile....... Anyhoo, after three days of researching and purchasing, not only are we going, but so are my parents and the surprise guest is Auntie Donna too! Auntie Donna had me book her room, so I booked it for two beds hoping one of my precious angels will be sleeping with her!!!! :) So, I guess we put off college savings, but I remember going to Disneyland and Disneyworld during Christmas when Mariella and Gaby were staying with us. It was magical (except for getting stuck in "It is a Small World" which happens EVERY time and I not going in that ride even though I have been told it has been rebuilt - whew - got that off my chest! Evil evil ride....) Anyhoo, Disneyland is amazing - the lights, the costumes, the decorations, the fireworks, and now I get to show them to my boys. College can wait. Loves, Ang

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Of couse Michelle finished!!!!

I know, I was lame and didn't post, but Michelle did finish the NYC Marathon. Her time was JUST over 4 hours (by 16 seconds). She called me at the end of it and quite frankly I was so moved by her words to me (and this is after running 26.whatever miles!) that I didn't think much of anything else. I am so lucky to have some many wonderful people in my life - so, as we hung up crying for joy, goals achieved, courage, and life, I remembered how much I really want it. Love to all and THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for your support - in all ways, Ang :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

So proud of myself....

For the first time in over a month, I went out of the house on the Saturday after chemo. I wasn't feeling perfect, but I was doing better than I had done in a long time, so I decided to run a couple errands to the bank, and, of course, Fred Meyer. Once in Fred Meyer, I picked up what few items I needed, and then I decided to hit the toys. Mason and Nolan have been going on and on about Beyblades and Bakugans. I didn't even know what they were, but they wanted them on the Santa list which means they are SERIOUS. So, I am meandering through the toys and there is this kid there. Articulate and way too interested in talking to me, BUT, he knows all there is to know about Beyblades and Bakugans. He was like my own personal shopper, my Mom stuck in a eight year old boys body, you know what I am saying...... Finally, I disengage from the eight year old with my four items - one of each for both boys in their stocking, but he is very interested in telling me the ENTIRE history of both toys. Sweet kid, but NOT INTERESTED. I came home exhausted, but I proudly showed the bag of Beyblades and Bakugans to Grant. He was like, "Oh, they weren't making it up. These things actually exist?" I look at him and say, "I know!!!!" Up in the closet away from little eyes - now remember to put them on the Santa list....... So that was the excitement of Saturday. Weekends after chemo are slow - little happens in the house and with all the rain we had, the boys never got out of their pjs. You know, those days are nice. The world goes on spinning, but we have a little life right here. We talk about school and movies, I told Mason about Michelle running her marathon for the American Cancer Society and he showed me how fast he can run, I completed a Santa dream, Grant started working on the home movies and he said to me, "Ang, we have the same amount of time of Nolan's first year as we do Mason." I never asked him about that, but I guess when you are married for 16 years he knew I would want to know - especially with all the distractions we had when Nolan was born. Grant and I talk. I ask him if I remembered things correctly from the past few days and he corrects me if I am wrong. We talk about my fear of a blood transfusion, a new cancer patient that may be calling me, and cancer. And, then, he looks at me and says, "Lung surgery sounds a lot worse than a blood transfusion." FINE. Point made. Personally, I think, lung surgery sounds better!!!!! I know that is just stupid........ Anyhoo, now I sit here at 3:30 in the morning. I couldn't sleep anymore, but I think it is because Michelle is running today and at 2:30 when I woke up, she had to start her way to the race tent. I got up and checked email - the last one was from her - "WE DID IT! Off to the American Cancer Society race start. Talk soon." Michelli met her $4000.00 goal for running the NYC marathon for ACS. For those of you spared by my mass email last week, I have a very good college friend that is running the NYC marathon for me and her Mom. She had always wanted to run the NYC marathon, but decided doing it for a cause was as important. Her goal was a steep $4000.00. I was like, "What?!?!?!" Holy cow!" So, I put out my own plea to meet her goal and, in perfect time, it was met. Thank you. Wow. Thank you. Now, in truth, I had to call Karissa last night and tell her to donate to put Michelle over the $4000.00, but those are details you don't need to know!!!!! ;) Michelle told me she would text me when she completed the race, so I will let you know when I do. For more information on Michelle Czech and her dream of completing the NYC marathon, see her personal page, at ACS.... Now, back to bed!!!!! Loves, Ang

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Scan results - the offical ones

So, I went for chemo and met with my oncologist before the meeting. I said, "Well, I know you are happy with the scan because of all the adjectives (Scan way much spectacularly better), so yeah! He turned to me and said, "I was trying to portray that message, but lets be clear (and he looked me straight in the eyes and said) I am THRILLED with your scan. Then, with a quick hug and a a couple of tears - still don't have waterproof mascara that I have found that doesn't make me itch! We continues on with my being anemic and believes, at some point, I will probably need a blood transfusion. Not excited about that, but I will continue to try and manage it with red meet, spinach, and my friend mentioned liver extract pills. So, I am getting those cleared now. Okay, so here are the specifics of the scan. Originally I had two spots in my left lung - they are now barely detectable. My right lung has been struggling with infection/pneumonia etc which looks a lot better Ithey don't believe it is cancer) and my rectum has reduced by 2/3rds and the rectal wall thickening is gone. We have do to chemo through December, and then a scan in January to see where we are are. Do I know what all this means? Well it sounds good to me and I gave you the non doctor words. I try to stick to "THRILLED" cause that dude doesn't anything he doesn't mean. More hugs and off to chemo to hear Elaine's horse ride story that she has been dieing to tell and it was worth it - I laughed all the way through chemo. Thanks Elaine!!! Love, Ang

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Scan and good news.....

So, yesterday was my PET scan. I wasn't thinking that much about it, but did have a fit just before bed on Wednesday night. That usually is because I can't eat any carbs for the day before the scan and then I can only have water until after the scan which they pump you full of glucose contrast dye and radio active dye. Good times. In addition, I have been feeling SO much better that I have been trying to do real Mommy things like go to the store or clean out the kids closet with the clothes that are too small, replace them with clothes that fit, and box up the small stuff for the next Mommy. (That sounds bigger than it really is. See, I have a hall closet FILLED with hand me downs from my cousins' boys, and Sarah's boy, so they want for nothing. I call it "shopping" and they pick their clothes. I usually have to buy shoes and jeans just because boys wear those out, but not much else!!!) So, I go to the scan which I prepared for perfectly and was thanked for doing so. So many people screw up the prep for those scans it makes me NUTS. The scan is $5000.00 and they can't be bothered with doing it correctly because they are not paying for it??? No wonder insurance is so high!!!! Anyway, I going into this scan I know that I am most likely going to have to continue on chemo because it is not GONE from my backside yet. We know that from my monthly "exams". So, I race home because the glucose makes you go to the bathroom - a lot!!!! I go to the bathroom, and then eat what I want and I just lay on the couch, watch a movie, go to the bathroom, and slowly feel normal again. Then, at about six pm, I get a call from my endocrinologist saying that my thyroid is normal for my thyroid and she is not worried about it. She would like a biopsy before she gets back from maternity leave (Feb, 2011) and I agree that I will do it in January. So, now I know the scan is done, so I email my oncologist with my schedule desires and concessions hoping to have two weeks between treatments in December so that I can have Mason's birthday week off, Thanksgiving off and Christmas off. New Years is getting hosed again, but I don't really care about New Years. I almost immediately get a response back of, and I quote, "Scan way much spectacularly better". Good thing he is an oncologist and not an English teacher. We banter on email for a couple hours, he agrees to my December schedule request, and ends the emails with, and I quote, "You doin goooooooooooood". At that point, I told him to go home and get some rest - clearly he needed it!!! He loves doing crazy emails to me because it drive me NUTS. So, I don't know the specifics of my scan, but I do know that it is way much spectacularly better and for that I am very happy. He and I can talk specifics on Tuesday before chemo. Now, I just want to plan my life and all the good stuff around all the bad stuff (that is saving my life for the good stuff - thankful, very thankful), and enjoy Halloween weekend. Happy Halloween!!!!! Love, Ang

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Not my proudest round

Last week, I went in for chemo. I was okay. I was on antibiotics for my "lung infection" and they didn't make me feel great, but I was okay for chemo. My port didn't work so they injected it with an enzyme (snake venom) and said they could start my chemo in my arm while that worked away at my port. This process take 2 hours - adding 2 hours onto your treatment. I met with my oncologist and asked if we could reduce my chemo because of my weight loss. He looked at me quizzingly and said, "Let's see....sure a little..." and then he looked at me and said the fateful words, "What is really going on?" Well, where do I start? I feel like crap because of a "lung infection" which I am pretty sure is a more palatable word for pneumonia, I have lost 16 pounds and only gained back 8, I want to puke every time I have a full stomach, I HATE CHEMO and how I have to schedule my life around it......I am just tired. And then the tears came and me in all of my vanity says, "I can't cry today - I ran out of my waterproof mascara!!!" And in my oncologist's wonderful way, he checks and says, "It is still on - don't worry!" And then I cry harder because I should be thankful, instead of this weak, pathetic mess. My chemo is working. I am alive because of chemo. I should be thankful. I should kiss the floor every time I go into that place. I should be thankful for all the meals, help, ushering Mason to school, cleaning of my house, etc. etc. etc. I should have the guts to be able to do this with all the support I have, but I don't. I feel like so much of a self absorbed loser. I say, "I know, I should have a better attitude." as I dry my tears. My oncologist replies with, "You need a better attitude????? No, you need more of this. Maybe we should take a break?" I respond with, "My scan is next week." and he wheels start goin', "Okay, let's do this week, scan nex,t and then we can see if we can take a break. Okay?" Okay. So, you would think it would get better right? Nope. I am still the self absorbed mess I was. I go up to chemo. They start my chemo in my arm which HURTS like a *(&(*&(*&! Susie comes by and that distracts me, Elaine has an scan so she leaves and then I have to take my last antibiotic for my lung infection/pneumonia and I want to puke - LIKE PUKE HARD. I tell my nurse and she goes into serious mode with anti nausea, cold cloths, buckets, etc. It passes and then she just looks at me and it happens all over again. I have felt sick for a month, I have had three good days in 27 but who is counting? I love the fall and my anniversary got SCREWED up again because of this crap. I finally stop crying - mascara gone by now - and I say, "I know, I should have a better attitude." She gave me the lip pierced, side tilt thing like, "No, you need more of this.", but all she said was, "Ang, all you need to remember is that it is WORKING and it is NOT forever." I think in my head, "Promise?" but I know she can't do that. I get myself together and Elaine come back. Poor thing has missed all the drama, but knows what to say and what to do. We go home and she says, "Cry more - it helps and by the way, great job on sticking it out today. You showed great strength." Not a direct quote because I was heavily medicated, but I think close. I came home ate dinner, puked up everything, and went to bed. I am doing better now - anxious of course for my scan and crossing my fingers for a little break so that I can get some good WEEKS in, recharge, and do it all over again. It is working and it is NOT forever...... Love, Ang

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Quite a Friday

Friday I had three appointments up at the hospital which turned into five and blood work. I don't know how to explain this, but every time I go up there, I am a mess. It is probably PSD, I don't know. I take my pill, I do meditation, I fill up on positive energy, but nothing can totally break the hell of just been done with them. I got there at 10:15, did my ultrasound on my thyroid that they have watched for years. I have an enlarged thyroid. Then blood work for the thyroid. Then upstairs, to my colorectal surgeon and had an exam to see how my rectal lesion was doing and my surgeon was really dower. Like, he walked in with my chart, says, "Why didn't you get a scan last month?" I told him that we pushed it off because we just started to have momentum in the rectum (no I didn't mean for that to rhyme), and thought we would give it a couple more chemos to see how far we could get it. I responded with a "AGRGGMMMMM". I have no idea what that even means. He does the exam and says, "It is 3mm by 3mm." I reply with, "Smaller, right?" "Uh Uh." Okay, I am thinking this is good, but by the way he is acting I almost let myself spin out of control. "Okay, get dressed and we will talk." He comes back in, sits across the room from me which he never does and I say, "Okay, you are freaking me out a little bit with this whole dower thing you got going on. My news is great, yes? We went from the size of you thumbnail (which is abnormally large BTW), to 3mm by 3mm." He then relaxed, exhales, and says, "Angie, I got a lot on my mind. No sweetie, I am euphoric about you." His "euphoric" and my euphoric - VERY DIFFERENT. Well, okay then, THAT'S is more like it. "Well, then on to them, I am fine, and I will get you result of my scan in two weeks." And then out of what seems like nowhere he gives me the biggest hug like he is trying to suck the energy (what little I have) out of me. I think it probably really sucks to be a doctor sometimes. I think he had a bad thing happen that day. Off to the endocrinologist for my thyroid, which apparently is not getting smaller like it does on chemo, but larger and starting to concern to my endocrinologist whose is 8 months pregnant. I told her about the scan coming up and she liked that, and she totally gets that she is second fiddle to my pesky Stage IV Colorectal Cancer, so we agree to this: She will get special thyroid pictures at my scan which will tell us if it is cancer or not, if not, we will probably biopsy it just to be sure and then talk about removing it after a six month review when I have this pesky cancer wrapped up, and she is back from maternity leave. And then we talked Mom stuff......she is having another little boy. Two boys 26 months apart. She said, "Mason and Nolan are 26 months apart." I was like, "What sort of freakish memory do you have????" So, we talked for a while. I gave her advice and that the first two years will be HARD (just eat out, get a house cleaner, don't plan on anything cause someone with be barfing, you are ALWAYS at the pediatrician, etc), but that I love 3 and 5. I really do. They play together, they say I love you to each other, they miss each other at school, it is really precious - way more than I can stand sometimes. SIDEBAR - when I was pregnant, I always said, "I just want a 3 and 5 year old. Why do we have to have babies....." I maintained that statement until the cancer diagnosis and then I cherished (almost) everyday, but now that I am staring down the barrel of their 6th and 4th birthdays, I am so grateful, happy, and mystified, I cannot even put it into words. Okay, I am back...she told me to remind her of all of this when I see her in six months. I gladly agreed. Then, I go to lunch and call my oncologist and tell him I cannot beat this cough and that I am a little bit worried. So, I get more appointments! I go in for a chest xray where they have to always do it again and again because I have freakishly large lungs. The tech this time said, "Were you athletic growing up?" I was like, "Sure, but not like marathons or anything. I always played sports, ran, and then played soccer as an adult, but not now. Why?" "Well, it shows and that is a good thing. You have huge lungs. You should really tell us that before we xray you next time." I am thinking, good thing I have huge lungs since they took 10 pieces out of them! So, I get the results and it doesn't look like cancer, but I have or still have that infection in my right lung. My oncologist is not concerned, but offers to push off chemo to do a scan and see for sure. I don't change the schedule - too many cogs to alert, change, etc. Plus, pushing off chemo just means more chemo later and we are not doing that. I get an rx for a antibiotic that cost me $30, so I hope it is a good one!!!! I am used to $1.80. So, as I leave First Hill it is 3pm. I have just wasted a beautiful sunny day at the cancer center. The question I guess really is, did I? Or did did I have a great day knowing that it is working, my thyroid is my thyroid and my exhaustion isn't chemo, it is just an infection. I am not sure until I come home. My one goal today was to put up the Halloween decorations before the boys came home. They LOVED it and then Nolan came up to me and said, "How were your doctors appointment?" I told him that I got my medicine it is wasn't the kind where I get sick - this one makes me better. "Good!" he replies and then he looks up at me and says, "Mommy, you are beautiful and I love you for all the days." And there is it - my day was PERFECT. Sometimes when I think of cancer as a job I hate and can't quit, those little boys shift my world and make it all okay. Happy, Ang

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Well, I think it is finally catching up with me. I have had 7 hits of full on chemo with shots to boost my white blood cell count every other time. The shots make my spine and pelvis ache. I still have a cough and can't seem to sleep for more than seven hours straight without taking two hours to cough and spit up crap. I go to sleep when then boys do, or if I have the energy, Grant and I watch a movie in bed on the DVD player that was initially for the kids. I am slowly getting better, but it is a lot slower than I would like. So, if I haven't answered your emails or phone calls, I am is truly just an energy thing. Yesterday was the first time out of the house (by myself) in a long time. I had a few errands to run, but most importantly, I was "required" to go to a Reiki clinic. My massage therapist told me about this clinic. It is once a month and she said, "You have to go. Period. Done. No arguments." She is a feisty little thing, so I wasn't going to argue and I was planning on it, but then I got sick, got tired, didn't feel like coordinating childcare for Nolan because I was pretty darn sure you don't go to a Reiki clinic with a three year old, etc. For those of you that don't know (like me) Reiki is defined like this, "A Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive." So, this is how weird the world is. The clinic was yesterday. And, just by happenstance (sp), Karissa wanted to have a special day with Nolan so she offered to take Nolan all day that Tuesday. They have a special relationship - Karissa is one of Nolan's handful of people that he loves. So, childcare - check (without even trying). But then I still didn't call for an appointment. Thinking, I better try or I am in big trouble, I call on Monday (the day before the clinic) and was like, "I don't know if this is the right number or the right place, but I am trying to sign up for a Reiki Clinic somewhere in Burien..." and she responded with, "Yes, this is the right place, and we have three openings left." I reply with, "Well, I can only go in the morning....." She said, "10, 10:30, or 11:00?" I was thinking...the universe is NOT letting me out of this. "10:30 would be great - where are you located?" thinking I could get lost and not go....oh, the old Burien Library (where I grew up and studied at). There goes that excuse. So, knowing that I am really not going to get out of this I go. I leave late, but of course there is NO TRAFFIC and I arrive on time with exact change for the service, but I am KEYED UP. I don't know why. Maybe it was that I didn't know what to expect, I didn't know if I was going to cough or have to go to the bathroom. You know, generally make a fool out of myself. I don't know. It was totally silly, but my reality. I looked around saying to myself, "Please don't let anyone be here that I know. I can do this and if something goes wrong, I can never come back." Well, here the thing....after the treatment, I was calm, centered, and was able to do way more than I thought I could. I ran my errands, I had lunch out at the Nordstrom Cafe after my errands at the mall and I even had the energy to take Mason for a haircut after school. WOW. What an incredible day and all from a little Reiki. Happy Wednesday, Ang

Monday, October 4, 2010

In one day....

And in one day I can be that normal Mom again. Taking Mason to school, going to the store because I forgot bananas, picking up mittens for a hat and mitten drive, turning in Mason's fundraiser, cautioning him on whether he is really ready to to the self imposed "see and say words test" yet, cross my eyes because Nolan is STILL TALKING (does he really think I can process all that he has to say??). Scary part is - I love that normal and I am thankful to have it even for just one day. (I have been in bed 11 of the 14 days this round.) Chemo tomorrow and I think I am healthy again. I even gained back six pounds - whew! Love, Ang

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Life is gross....

WARNING: This post is not for the weary, but it is funny or, at least, it is to me. ;) Okay, so today is the first day that I have not puked. I actually got two "meals", more like heavy snacks, down with little yogurt to get my system back to "normal". I have lost 14 pounds and if I talk, I cough, so I try not to talk. Yep, Grant is going to be happy about that one! Okay, here is where the gross begins, so don't read it if you can't hack it. Go on....shut down the can do it - you don't need to know this..... Okay, you know when you are sick, you get a very close up view of your toilet. And, when you live with three males, that can get very, well, educational. Since Sunday at 12:30am, I have been puking and it is always that first puke that you say, "God, I hope that is hot cereal." By Tuesday, I think I was just puking because when I got to the toilet it was so gross. You know, the fabulous combination of vomit, poop, pee - can they aim better?, and other things that grow in that environment. Cleaning it would are been an option if I wasn't winded going up the stairs. Wednesday was especially precious. My Mom had Nolan and she was picking up Mason from school. I had until 3:00 to rest. At 1:00, I vomited all over my bed, got the toilet and realized the bucket was downstairs so, I puked and afterward did a "special" load of laundry. As the washer was going, I drew a stiz bath and got in. Oh, here is some 40 year old and older bath etiquette. Go to the bathroom before you get in even if you (apparently) already did - more to follow. Okay, while in the bath, drain, refill, exhausted, lay back, fall asleep and in my stooper wipe my forever running nose and, yes, PUT IN THE WATER like I was in the shower. That is number two - do not confuse shower habits with bath habits. Screw it - I don't care I am getting out and I will rinse off. So, as I get out of the water, I am shocked, but then I remember, oh yeah, that is where I lose hair when I am in chemo. NICE. This is why people use bubbles. So, my Mom comes at 3:00 with the boys after taking care of Nolan all day, and finds me on the bed with no sheets, no mattress cover, and the duvet over me. (This a classic NO NO in my family. You never get on a mattress without at least the cover on it. I don't know why. I imagine it had something to do with resale LONG LONG ago.) Mom took one look at me, I told her what happened, and said, "Angie, I can stay until Grant gets home. Come on, let's make the bed (translation - let ME make the bed, you go pile yourself over there somewhere) and I would stick with showers......" Slowly on the mend, Ang P.S. I did a cursory cleaning of the toilets today and I think it was hot cereal (bath off the kitchen). ;)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Well, this sucks..

Chemo went pretty well and I even went to a party on Saturday night. I only stayed for 90 mins or so, but I showered and did my hair, so it counts! The food was great, but I thought I might pay for it that night. And I did, but then the vomiting continued into Sunday. I didn't feel badly, I would just eat, then vomit, eat, them vomit. I know, I finally figured it out and stopped eating. I thought it might be anxiety and then the fever came. It broke early Monday morning, so I thought I was on the mend. Monday I layed (sp) low with Nolan, Mason when to school, and Mom picked him up for me. Then the headache. GEESHH - can this get more sequential? When Mason got home he told me his ears hurt. I get my scope out and, yep, he has an ear infection. I make an appointment for Tuesday afternoon. Grant stayed home today to help with Nolan, take Mason to the doctor, get the rx, coach soccer practice, and take care of me. Sometime on Monday I got a cough. Mason has been fighting a cough for a while and so has my Mom. GREAT. Tuesday comes - no food in my system for now two days and I vomit. How is that possible? Time to call the oncologist. So, I call down playing everything but asking if I am missing anything. They come back with OTC cough syrup to calm the cough so that I can keep food down. Why didn't I think of that? I even have the cough syrup they recommended. I am SUCH a loser. So now, I am doing better, but not still not eating a lot actually pretty much nothing, but the fever is gone, headache gone and I can go two minutes without coughing. So, this is when I usually get mad. This is suppose to be my good week. When my good week is "taken" from me, I get really upset and wonder how much longer I can do this? I get sick to my stomach thinking about going to chemo without having some good days in between. I think am I ever going to be free of my bed? Will I ever be normal again? I know....I was normal for a whole year. I think I just have to focus on the next whole "normal" year. If it would just get here already!!!!!! ;) Love, Ang

Friday, September 24, 2010

As summer comes to an end....

As I finish up this round of chemo, I have been thinking a lot about summer. How I really only missed a couple things and how thankful I was to have a really great summer despite the weather and the chemo. The only two nice days - I was in chemo. NICE. We had the normal camping trips and, as usual, we got in trouble with the park ranger. This is actually a good story..... So, at Mt. Rainier campgrounds, you can bring bikes for kids to ride on. No trikes, no scooters..nothing but bikes. Well, we got in trouble last year because we brought scooters anyway. This year, Karissa and I decided to be good and we brought bikes. However, Karissa's kids brought a thing, that I don't know the name of, but you lay on your back and go under a car to fix it with. They didn't bring the big one of that, but the little wheeled cart that you put parts on and roll under the car with you. They also brought a jump rope. This is how it went - they tied the jump rope to the back of a bike, put a helmet on, and sat on the little wheeled cart. Looked like fun to me, but I was like, "How long is this going to last?" and "How many years - in a row - can we get in trouble?" Well, as our kids are WHIPPING around the campground gleefully screaming with delight other parents are looking at us like we are NUT BARS. News flash - we are NUT BARS! The ranger didn't catch us until day two. That was the funny part - this "ranger" that looked like he was twelve stopped by the kids in his golf cart and says, "Kids, this is not allowed and not safe." Get this - NOLAN counters. Not Quinn, not Grace, not Emma, not Mason, NOLAN - the 3 year old. I was going to jump in, but then I hung back thinkin' this could be fun.......and it was. Nolan looking up and explaining to the "ranger" that it was safe because they had helmets on. "It's okay! We got helmets!" The "ranger" actually started discussing it with the 3 year old negotiator and not so quickly realized that that was kinda....well, not going to work. There is no winning with Nolan. At three, he is a better attorney than most attorneys. He started looking around for the parents of this crew. I think Karissa dove behind the tent because it was pretty much me and five kids all of the sudden. Husbands gone too. I took pity on the child ranger and in my best, whatever-could-be-the-matter voice said, "They are mine. What can I do you for?" He explained to me that this was entirely unsafe and not allowed. I love it when twelve year olds tell me what to do with my kids. I told him that I would take care of it and with a "Kids - their park, their rules" the ecstatic screeching around the campground ended. If I had a picture of Nolan with his hands on his hips explaining it though it would have been perfect. But then that would have given me away with the flash and all..... hehehe We did attend the Puyallup Fair this year and we did do Mutton Bustin'. No champs this year, but Mason and Nolan got on those sheep like they owned them and their Mama was very proud of their bravery. And, after all, Mason did get second place in the tractor pull to a seven year old which I think it pretty darn good! So, all in all, it was a great summer and I was glad to have it. Here is to getting in trouble next year!!! Love, Ang

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Update - on me

Well, since I did so well on my "exam" with my colorectal surgeon saying, "I am very happy, and this is noticeably smaller", my oncologist and I decided that while we have this thing on the run, but not gone, we would give it a couple extra shots of chemo before my next scan. So, my scan has been moved to next month and I will do two more hits of chemo (not including the one I am in right now) and then we will see how this all comes out. Thought I should let you know...back to the, me

Friday, September 17, 2010

Survey and Great News

Okay, so when you live this long with a "terminal" condition, researchers like to talk to you and, well, I love to talk, so it is a win win. My last call was last week. They asked me the same questions - lifestyle, eating habits, exercise, and the emotional stuff. For example, "Are you depressed some of the time, most of the time, a little, not at all?" Most of my answers go like this - a little, not much, NO!, that is crazy - life is terminal!, SERIOUSLY?!?! And then the dreaded "support" questions come. The support questions always are hard for me because I again realize how many people support me to do what I do......and I choke up. A LOT. Are there people to take you your appointments? Do you feel like you can ask someone to help you out? Do you have the financial resources to "afford" your condition? Do people bring you food? Do you have adequate child care? Do you have a supportive partner? Now, let's step back....these calls are scheduled calls that take 45 mins to an hour. I complete them in 35 mins, but then, by now, I should be a pro. Before I get on these calls, I typically refocus my brain to NOT CRY during the support questions. Sometimes that is in addition to a wee bit of wine if I can stomach it or medication. When I get off the call I am so grateful for my situation and then I cry. Not for myself, but for the person to says, "No, I don't have someone to drive me, feed my family, or help out. I don't have adequate child care, friends, or a supportive partner." Exhale. Breathe. Pray. Pray for them, be grateful for me, and try to feel the feeling rather than use humor to hide it. On my last call, I said, "You know, I think people are like, 'God! Will she be cured or die already - I am sick of bringing her food!'" Just to clarify, yes mother, that comment was VERY timely and appropriate in our conversation. Mind you, she (my Mom) will march into a school and slam everybody for what is wrong with a lunch, but she is concerned about my sarcasm with a research associate. I know, but I digress. I do love her so. Anyway, when we ended the call it ended with, "Angela, it was great talking to you again, we will talk again soon - you know, you are REALLY lucky." And I ended it with, "And you don't even know on how many levels." Click. Cry. Breathe. Exhale. Wine. Cry. Move on. Okay, let's shift gears..... Here is the great news. I got to see my colorectal surgeon and get an exam WITH HIS INTERN, but that is not the great news. The great news is that my RECTAL lesion is "considerably smaller" and he is "very happy." Chemo is working - thank God - again, it is working - thank GOD. Happy weekend - love to you all and again, thank you for your love, your support and for making my life possible. I couldn't do it without you. Love, Ang

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mason's First Day

So much has happened since my last post.....I had a mini vacation from chemo (changed schedules from Thursday to Tuesdays which afforded me Mason's first day of school, Labor Day Weekend and even a drink with ice in it because the side effect wore off enough). I loved my mini vacation, but on the 7th it was back to the grind. This treatment was a bit rough, but things are back to normal and I am up at 4:00am again. I have one more treatment now before my scan, but that is not why I am writing. I am writing about Mason. The last month has been nerve wracking for me. This kindergarten thing is not for the weak. There is "testing", there are supplies to be purchased that are quite specific, there are lunch boxes to be chosen, lunch items to be obtained, backpacks to be labeled, etc. I guess it was just really difficult for me because I have such a predetermined schedule that has about 72 people all going in the same direction taking care of, well, my "everything". Mason, Nolan, Grant, the yard, the house, the list goes on and on. So, the first day of school comes and we are ready - camcorder, camera, the entire family walking to school, the weather is perfect, Mason is STOKED, Nolan is confused and already missing his brother, and I am talking to Mason saying, "Okay, so you are going to meet your new teachers today. They are there for your education and your safety - listen to them - Okay? As long as they don't ask you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable, you listen to them." Now, as you know, I have already "checked" these teachers out, I have been to the school, talked to everyone I know, done all that I can before I let go of his hand and give him over to the Kent Public School System. Did I cry? No. Did I panic? No. I thought I would do both. Now, remember Mason has been in daycare one to two days a week since he was 16 months old, and here is he funny part, when I dropped him off at daycare, I never called, I never worried, I never was concerned. Mason got hurt, I would sign the form. Teachers would have meetings with me about "goals" and I would say, "Can you teach him to love learning?" I didn't care about 1 to 100 or the alphabet. I just wanted him happy to be there. To have the opportunity to learn and be taught. I trusted them completely. Maybe it was because I understood how it worked after working for a "daycare". I knew how they counted, how they kept tract, all the things they looked for, and all they things they did. But this, this was different. Now, I was giving my walking, talking, smart, kind, amazing, little boy to a system where you throw your backpack by the outside door and go play in the school yard until the bell rings - HE IS FIVE! Okay, so fast forward, he does great. He has his backpack and lunchbox, he marches up to the teachers, shakes their hand (I am not kidding), introduces himself and sits where directed in the multi purpose room. Then, after getting all the kids, for lack of a better term tagged and branded, they took them to their classrooms. It was chaos, but he just followed, giving me a kiss on the way by. He marched into his classroom, found his desk, sat down and looked........comfortable...........relaxed..........thrilled.............ready and BIG. There are people everywhere. It is noisy and confusing (for the parents). I am taller than most of the people so I can see pretty much everything that is going on. Cameras, flash, a beautiful day, my boy in school, Nolan climbing on his Dad for any bit of attention, and then the realization that I am done here and there is nothing for me to do for Mason until 2:53 when I pick him up. I don't cry, I don't even want to. I am actually so proud just looking at him, seeing him, seeing his first day of school. Grant and I look at each other and exhale. Now, this all sounds like a nice story and all, but if you have been reading my blog for a while you know that there is a cancer, here is it. At 2:53, I picked Mason up. I have Nolan with me and Mason is thrilled. He is talking 200 words a minute telling me all about school and how great it is. There is again chaos, noise, kids everywhere, buses, children crying, lost, parents, etc, but it is all silenced by these words, "But Mommy, I wasn't allowed to eat my lunch. It was rejected. We don't make good food choices." I shake my head like I am trying to get the words out of it. I get them in the car and ask for Mason's lunch box. It was full. I am frantically thinking of what just happened as Mason tells me that he had to order an "Uncrustable" (which he doesn't like nor do I - do you know what are in those????), grapes, and chocolate milk. I think, well, maybe everyone gets lunch on the first day? No, that can't be. Oh well, maybe they missed the cheese in his lunch. Wait a minute, why are they looking at his lunch? There are lunch police? No one told me there were expectations about this and, WTF?!?!?!?!, we eat better than 90% of the population!!!" (My Mom and Grandma were WAY ahead of the curve with antibiotics, hormones, organic, etc. - in the 70s - however, I do have a weakness for fries...but I digress....) Now, lets remember, I have a fair amount of steroids in my system from the cancer treatment. I get home and I am stuck in this place of "they just didn't see" to "where was the lunch expectations memo" to "how is an Uncrustable a good food choice?" etc, and then I get the phone call from the school district with a recording of essentially, "YOU OWE US MONEY FOR LUNCH." REALLY. SERIOUSLY. Let's see, I provided a perfectly good lunch, you refused to let my son eat it, you ordered him a lunch which I would not consider a good food choice, and now I have to pay for it. OMG. So, who did I call? My Mom...yep, and the hell storm that came from that was earth moving. My Mom then emailed me all the nutritional data from my lunch and from the lunch provided, she advised me that I should go back to the school, throw the lunch on the table, and demand to know what is wrong with it and demand that I am not charged for the lunch that was ordered for me. Okay, so noted. So, then I call my friends with kids in school. NO ONE has heard of this and all say, "Ang, you gotta get this worked out...this is nuts...YOU? Bad food choices for your kids???" I am like, "I KNOW!" Then, my Mom calls back, and my Dad takes the phone..."Angie, you will take care of this. They were wrong. You will smile nicely, explain, and they don't have a leg to stand on. This will all get worked out. You know you provided a good lunch." And then it happened, I started sobbing. It was more than the lunch, it was Mason now questioning all of our dinner choices. It was him believing that he was doing something wrong and if you know him, he is the best eater bar none in the five year old category. He eats well and even tells me that he needs to stop eating junk food (which he considers popcorn). I KNOW! I cried off and on to the point that Grant said, "Ang, you gotta step back." I am thinking steroids, mixed with the lack of control of my life with cancer, mixed with a Mom's desire to provide food for her child. Yeah, that is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. The next morning I take Mason to school with a packed lunch and arrive a bit early. I take an anti anxiety pill as to not verbally vomit all over the teacher and knock on his classroom door and she comes. In perfect time, I explain what happened, she apologizes to me, but more importantly to Mason, and we agreed that we will differ to "Mason has a lunch". So, within 24 hours, I went from telling Mason to listen to his teachers, to telling them, "No thank you, I have my own lunch." I am out $20 because you can't pay the school district any less for school lunches, but oh well, and thinking to myself, you know, my Mom takes care of Mason every other week and God help you, if you "reject" her lunch! ;) Love, Ang

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My mole, or so we thought...

Okay, so here is one of the stories that I has been brewing for a LONG time......a while back, like October of last year, I was going to an GYN Oncologist because of some fluid that was found on an ultrasound that was in my privates (that are not very private...anymore or ever again). Many of you probably remember my physical therapy around that and that I had to get genetic testing because there is one form of colorectal cancer that is linked to uterine and ovarian cancer (which, after testing, I didn't have). Okay, so I caught you up, but one thng that came up was a "mole" down there and I mean right on my pooper. I talked about it in an earlier post and how my GYN oncologist made me go to my colorectal surgeon who then asked me, "Where is it???" and I was like, "I don't know!!!!" He and I both started laughing. I KNOW. Like I look there EVERYDAY! Anyhow, the colorectal surgeon said, "That isn't cancer. If you want it removed we can do it, but it will be a seven day recovery time." Since I was going to NC, to visit Jane and Ty, we decided against it and he reassured me it wasn't cancer. I believed it wasn't because my dermatologist said it wasn't. Yeah, I am lucky. My dermatologist gets to look there too now since I got radiation there. Will no one NOT SEE MY BUTT?!?!?! She, my dermatologist, sent over the report and everyone was happy with my "mole" not being cancer. Okay, FAST FORWARD to three weeks ago. So, I am at my dermatologist's for my annual review and she looks at my pooper and says....."What? This isn't a mole - this is......OMG....this is blue.....that is weird....why did I say it was a mole????" AND THEN IT ALL MADE SENSE TO ME. I know, me, like I am a doctor, but I said, "Dr. K_____, could it be my tattoo from radiation?" Light bulb on. It was my tattoo from radiation. Okay, so, when you go into radiation they tattoo you and line you up everyday on those tattoos making it very exact. My radiation treatment was right there and hence so was my tattoo, but my skin had so much damage in that area until now, it looked dark - LIKE A MOLE. Well, so much for my mole. No worries there. WHEW. Hey, and now I can walk into a bar and say to some tatted dude, "You think that is impressive!?!?! Try getting one on your ASS!!!!!" :) Have fun today - love, Ang P.S. My skin is perfect and my teeth are perfect too - good to know I have two perfect things!!!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Last Round and Summer Adventures

Last Thursday was chemo and I did really well. Like REALLY WELL. I don't know what happened, but I was really okay. I didn't cry before I left, I didn't have a hard time going through the doors, I was mentally back. It could have been because it was Shelly's last round, and for that there is victory, maybe it was because Susie came and we (Elaine, she, and I laughed so much my sides hurt) but I think it was something else. I am not sure what, but maybe, just maybe, I can do this. My treatment recovery time was better also. I didn't vomit - I did have my bouts with being close the bathroom, but I did okay. My bloody nose is back as I have already lost the lining in my nose, my skin near my eyes and mouth are splitting due to dryness, and my tongue swells up so much I can't use my mouth guard at night, but hey it is chemo. I stayed at home on Monday alone with the kids (that is a feat), and I even went to the zoo yesterday. The zoo was the last scheduled "Angie's Summer Adventures" with Karissa and her kids. I am actually very proud of myself. I made every adventure week (outside the first which was my colonoscopy). Now, we didn't do all the things we had originally planned. For example, we passed on the hike (not much hiking with potty girl these days), and we stitched harder ones for easier ones on certain weeks, but all-in-all, I we did it. Oh, and for those of you that follow the blog with great enthusiasm and detail - Karissa's idea on the GRAND FINALE was Remlinger Farms and was a total hit! Nope, I didn't have to throw her under the bus - YEAH KARISSA! I did give her credit, although the kids really don't hear that. And for some reason, Emma (one of Karissa's twin girls) panicked like this was the last summer we were doing "summer adventures" and strongly questioned, "We are doing this next summer, right?!?!?!?!" Now, if you know Emma, that is actually a compliment. I replied with, "Yes dear, but lets be thankful for THIS summer. I have 9 months to plan next summer" with a "got it, chickie?!?!" in my voice. I also gave Quinn (Karissa's eldest boy) a small gift for all his help this summer. He was SO awesome all summer. Get this, he took my boys to the bathroom on EVERY SINGLE adventure without complaint, even offering to do it. I know like what 11 year old does that??!?!?! (Quinn knows that I am sick without all the details, but most importantly he is sensitive and kind enough to know that I need help.) He was just great all summer - no negative attitude, helped with all the kids, really, just awesome. When I was explaining why Quinn got a special gift, Grace (Karissa's other twin child) said, "So, how am I suppose to get a gift when I am a girl and can't take them to the bathroom." Karissa swooped in with, "Grace, it was more than just that Quinny has just been polite, helpful, and never complained, etc." I was thinking, "even when not getting gifts.....", but I thought it would be better to hold that one back. It was a good question and, clearly, she is a disadvantage with the bathroom thing, but now that Grace knows that gifts can happen, she will be on it next summer - don't you worry! She is smart that way - cunning girl! So, I did it. I have some stories, but I will wait for next time for that. I am just basking in the glory of accomplishment right now. I am also basking in the fact that my schedule is going back to Tuesdays for chemo starting September 7 which means I get TWO good weekends. I am going to enjoy them with all my being. I get to see Mason's first day of school, I am going to the cabin, I am going to the dentist (I love the dentist), I am working for Heather, I am going to get a massage.....I am going to live.....yeah, me. Enjoy yours, Ang

Monday, August 16, 2010


Remember in my last post where I said that I was checking out this weekend camping? Well, I really did check out. As soon as we hit Mt Rainer National Park, my sick stomach went away, my anxiety melted away, and I was, well, me. Not worrying about my schedule, how is it going to work when Mason is in Kindergarten, how will my parents cope with driving him to and from, how hard will be be on Nolan without his brother, etc. I forgot it all. We went with Karissa and her family. It was a pretty lazy weekend and even though I had a few bad hours where I was close to the campsite and closer to the bathroom, we had a great weekend. Grant even took the rain fly off the tent (which is like an act of GOD - it is like he needs to always have the rain fly on and I am like, "Really? This weekend? Really?") and I got to just look up at the trees because the top of our tent is all screen. There is actually no better place in the world then in our tent on my air mattress with all of our sleeping bags, blankets, etc protecting me from the great outdoors (ground, rocks, tree roots, etc.), but being in the great outdoors looking up at the sky. I was just there - no worries, no cell phone, no hospital, no doctors, no Kindergarten, nothing. Nolan and I spent a long time looking up, talking about the shapes of the branches, what there story was, and how life was going to be for them. Don't really know how he got there, but hey, I went with it. When Jane was here, she read an article on the importance of "forgetting". We talked about it a lot and what it meant for both of us. I was so checked out that when I came home, I just started doing my thing. I got tired, but rested and then kept going. This morning, I thought nothing of taking Africa to the vet for her teeth cleaning, taking the boys to Joannes to pick up a couple thing Jane and I talked about, and then going to Old Navy to get jeans for Mason. (ALL of his jeans have a hole in the right knee, not the left, all on the right. He is also past the point of accepting patches on his pants. He used to love them - now, NOT GONNA HAPPEN. Whatever!) I got home exhausted, but I wasn't nervous, or anxious, or anything, I was just me. I even started thinking about what I was going to make and then I saw a cooler at my front porch and I was like, "OMG, it is Monday and dinner is already here." I totally forgot. Good thing Jill was on top of it, with a cooler and everything. She even brought what I thought about having. Now, that is WEIRD. Well done Jill - you are now clairvoyant!!! So, what do I think about all of this? I think I need to forget more. Let go. Hang it up. Forgetaboutit. How do I plan on doing that? Well, being the type of planning/project manager person that I am, I am going to reinstate "No cancer days" where I don't talk about it, I don't blog about it, I don't do anything with it. It really worked last time. So, if you call me and want to talk about, I may have to tell you that I can't. If you come by and want to talk about it, I may just change the subject. I need to forget. The blog is good for that. I can put my feelings down and then I am done. People can see them if they want and if there is no new post, please assume that everything is fine, that I am just forgetting, or perfectly happy being with my boys and trying to suck every last minute out of summer. If I am in chemo that week, assume that I am sick for at least four days usually more like six. I love the emails that people send, I love to posts to the blog, I love the visits when people drop off food or clean. The part that is hard is when my phone calls and conversations are dominated by cancer. That exhausts me. I know that people are curious, they want to know, help, etc., and I can talk about it for hours - there is a lot to it! When I go somewhere and all I do is talk about cancer, I leave feeling defeated like I don't know anything about the real world - their world, but everyone knows everything about my butt and, worse that "it" is winning by dominating my life. And that I just cannot tolerate. So, here is to NOT talking about cancer, here is to the blog being my engine, and here is to forgetting more!!!! Happy Monday, Ang

Friday, August 13, 2010

Update - Me

Yesterday I had a bunch of appointments and one was with my new colorectal surgeon. I am one of those lucky cancer patients where you can see a tumor site from the outside. Yes, "lucky" is relative. After three chemo appointments, my original tumor site has not changed. That is good. We don't know if it has killed the cancer, but we know that it isn't any bigger because of a thorough exam yesterday. YEAH/yeah. I am happy about it, don't get me wrong, but do I sometimes wish I got a cancer where they can't "feel" it?? You bet! So, the plan now is to do three more treatments of chemo, then do a PET scan and see where we are at. My oncologist was like, "So far so good!" Spare me if I am not as excited as he is, but at least I know what I am doing from now through the end of September. What I think is funny is I am like, "So, when are we going to fillet me like a fish and get'r done?" and they just look at me like, "There is no right answer." I am like, "Yeah, there is. Cut is out - I can be ready like tomorrow....." And they look at me with a mix of, "Wow, nice to have someone so willing to do whatever...." What they don't know is that I am having a harder time going through the chemo center doors. I know - I should be thankful, but it is darn hard. I will get through it - I have to just keep my eye on the prize. What is the prize?? Well, life, but I like to be more is 10 years from now tearing my hair out with two teenage sons threatening that I am going to make them drive an Orange Gremlin if they don't shape up (I would do it too!).....the prize is going to Hawaii for a month (Kauai for three weeks in Hanalei Bay renting a house and the Big Island for one week to see the volcanos), Europe the summer before Mason starts working as a family, Kentucky with my Mom and Aunt, an cruise of Greece or Alaska or Scandinavia to St. Petersburg - I am not picky or anything, the Ol' Lahaina Luau on Maui with Grant (someday Honey we will get to Hawaii again for an anniversary. NOTE: Our anniversaries since cancer have been ruled my chemo. Looks like this one will be too. Except last year, we went to visit Jane and Tyrus. I know like WHAT!??!?! Technical failure on that one! I think airfare was cheap....), etc. So, I need to really focus on the prize, fight my hatred of chemo because, after all, I am here because of chemo, and move on, move through, and keep going. I can do - I know I can. Enjoy the sun this weekend! Love, Ang

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Big Big Day

So, today is chemo day and I am trying to get the boys out the door without bothering Grant because Grant has the biggest meeting of CRETE's history today at 1:30. So, I am trying to not have a breakdown before chemo until after he leaves. The kids are in the car and he comes over to me, tells me I am going to do great, I tell him he is going to do great, he kisses my forehead and the tears run down my face. Mason sees and he starts crying. Nolan, as usual, is, "YEAH, we are going to Grandma's after school!" I comfort Mason and he is fine. So, I come in and start getting ready. I have a few things to do and I get the call......(Grant) "It is camping week at school and we forgot to bring Mason's sleeping bag. If you put it out I can swing it by tomorrow." He sounds defeated - Grant hates disappointing Mason like that. I reply with, "No, Jane I and I can swing it by on the way to chemo. Don't worry. I can take care of this." "Oh, great!" with relief in his voice. "Can you surprise him with his lantern also (battery operated)?" "Sure - absolutely." Think about this - I have chemo and Grant has the biggest contract meeting today that will determine whether or not he is just a guy with a shingle hanging out his door (getting by) or a guy with a company that has a future and all we can think about is whether Mason's is the blue sleeping bag or the red one. (They switch all the time and you can't keep it straight!) So, if you happen to read this, can you send out some good karma for Grant/say a little prayer for him/whatever. Whatever happens it will be just fine, but he wants it SOOOOOOOOOOO badly, and, in turn, I want it for him too. What a day and it is only 8:30! Ang

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Just too much.....

So, I have been going along with Jane here. We have gone on summer adventures, I have told Grant to go play golf, I went to my aunt's cabin with the boys and Jane to give Grant a break, I helped with the neighborhood BBQ, etc. etc. etc. I am exhausted. Please don't get me wrong - people are helping me. Without the dinners and Jane, I think I would be dead, not just tired, dead tired. What I realized (with Jane's help), is that I am trying to be me. Active, constantly moving, taking care of everyone......but me. Then Nolan steps in being Nolan. Testing boundaries, testing me, testing Jane, and I LOOSE IT. I am going around with Jane is only here for a couple weeks - so let Grant play and rest, let Mom and Dad rest, so that we can go again. Karissa is busy with three out of school - she needs a rest from me. Problem is - I am not resting. I am having fun, trying to get everything done before Jane leaves and it is actually working against me. GO FIGURE. The cabin was easy - Donna brought everything. All I had to do is get there.....which was okay, but it was the lack of sleep putting two kids back in their sleeping bags, on different schedules because one napped and one didn't, etc and me getting 5 hours or sleep that killed it. Jane offered, but I wanted to be the one that put Nolan back in his sleeping bag. The trip back was hard because Mason got car sick three times. Poor thing - what five year old can grab a ziploc, open it, puke in it, zip it up and continue driving?!?!?! Y'know - it is like, I hadn't LET GO. I did today and Jane did awesome. I still have a little to do before tomorrow hits, but we hit our stride and today is blissful. Nolan in check. I hate cancer. I hate that I have to be sick for days, I hate that it take the precious summer from me, I hate that my friends and family are held hostage with it because of me, I hate that it wins (sometimes). But now, that wouldn't be counting my blessings would it.....because if I turn it around, I wouldn't appreciate my health, I wouldn't have ever known what it is like to be loved THIS MUCH, I would have never know how much I love summer, how badly I love life, and how beautiful life really is.....even with cancer. Jane is taking me to chemo tomorrow....we will have TONS of visit time there. I will miss that girl, but cancer gave me another summer with her. Love, Ang

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