Saturday, June 28, 2014

Thoughts On Loved Ones Telling You They Have Cancer

My Best Friend has Cancer.

She has a private blog and recently shared what it was like to tell her loved ones she has cancer.  It moved me to write this post, with her blessing.  Her account is so hard to read.  The part where she told me, well, I have a hard time remembering it.  I still feel like we are looking at someone else's story, not hers, not ours...

The girl I have grown up with.  The girl that knows my inner most secrets.  The girl that I spent countless hours with laughing, watching movies, gossiping and having sleepovers with.  The girl that stood next to me as I said my vows, the girl I stood next to when she did the same.  And then there was the day she told me she has cancer...

She had already battled with herself over surgery.  It would change her life, hopefully for the better. She questioned her choices the last time I spoke to her.  But that surgery was never completed.  "They found something on her liver.  They couldn't complete the surgery," her husband texted me.  My mind raced.  What could it possibly be?  Cancer NEVER entered my mind.  I spoke to her that night, her raspy voice sounding worried.

The next morning I went to my monthly scrapbooking crop.  I hadn't been there long and I started explaining the situation to my good friends, Susan and Sylvia.  Just moments after we started talking about what could possibly be going on, my phone rang.  It was my bestie.  I could hardly hear her over the buzz of women talking.  I walked over to a more secluded area and that's when the word came out.  CANCER.

To say I lost it, well that's a complete understatement. I can hardly remember much of it, honestly.  I know I shot my two crop-mates a look of, well, a look.  I ran outside.  I may have screamed, I know I cried.  I paced, I ran around.  But then again, maybe I didn't.  I just know the feeling of my whole self being crushed inward. I couldn't breathe. I couldn't think.  This cannot be happening.  I had to get to her, and quick.  At that point Susan was already by my side.  Sylvia was packing my car with my belongings.  I don't how they knew, but they did.  I called my husband and then my aunt (who was due to meet us at the crop). I don't know what I told them.  I just told them I was driving to L.A.  I remember everyone agreed I couldn't drive, so Susan joined me.

We spent the day with her and her parents.  Listening to each conversation as she relived to diagnosis over the phone with her siblings and their spouses.  We tried to make light of everything, but that dark cloud was there, over the room.  At that point, the type of cancer was still unknown.

I don't remember driving home, going to bed or getting up the next morning. Except that all of a sudden we had a dog.  A dog?  A sweet little dog followed my husband home from his morning run.  His name was Lucky.  I truly believe this little four-legged guy to was sent to my family to bring some joy that morning. I even took pictures to send to my bestie, as she is a huge animal lover.  As soon as Lucky's owner claimed him at our home, reality truly returned.

I needed to be with her again, as much as possible.  I would eventually tell her I was afraid she would get tired of me because I couldn't get enough of her!  My aunt accompanied me that day back to Cedars, which I was again, grateful for.  I bought some nail polish to paint her toes and some cute socks for her hospital stay.  Somehow my aunt and I took a wrong turn on the way and ended up at the red carpet at the Golden Globes. Again, another distraction, a moment of laughter.

We would spend the day with her and she would receive more information about the extent of where the cancer was while we were there.  Again, as I held her hand, this was not our life. It wasn't the plan. We didn't talk about this on those long walks through the jr. high field after school each day.  We talked about our weddings, kids, what we would become.

See the thing is, cancer is not a new thing in our family.  My dear Father-in-Law, whom we saw dying in his home, hadn't been gone but about 8 months. He fought for many years, but the end was ugly to watch.  He outlived the odds.  We had many more years with him than we ever thought possible.  And yes, it was his time to leave this earth, but it still wasn't easy.  It was way too fresh at the point of her diagnosis.  During his last months, a good friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. I got to know a family where the mother was fighting the same disease.  A CHILD we know was diagnosed.

When my Father-in-Law was diagnosed, I felt so much hope.  I really did.  I clung to that and I think the whole family did. At the end, I think I started feeling a bit jaded about the whole hope thing.  The more people that were diagnosed around me, the more I felt anger and confused.

What I find interesting is that of the cancer patients I have spoke with on a deeper level (including my father-in-law), they have all said that they feel worse for the people they love and  have to share their diagnosis with than for themselves.  The people on the outside take it harder.  It makes them sad to see their family and friends hurting.  This thought hurts my heart- it's such a rollercoaster, crazy, cycle of emotion, isn't it?

My best friend has adopted the motto of, "Ain't Nobody Got Time for This."  She proudly totes a zebra striped bag (the "ribbon" of her type of rare cancer) and frequently reminds us of her ROAR (Katy Perry, anyone?).  She has always had a great sense of humor and that surely hasn't changed.  A recent text included a selfie of herself after treatment and an appointment with the biggest Debbie Downer of a doctor.  She had a sad, not impressed face. (Dr. Downer has the worst bedside manner!  I met her and she makes me very nervous!)

Her attitude has really helped me adjust mine.  I am following her lead.  We will make plans and they may look different than when we were 14, but that's okay.  Besides, did we really think we could start a successful band?

My Best Friend has Cancer, but cancer is not who she is.  She is still the hilarious, smart, pretty, fun and loving girl that has always been and always will be my BFF.

And that is the plan that I'm sticking to...
Our new best friend necklaces!

If you heard hoofbeats, what animal would you think of? A horse, right? It’s the most obvious answer. Unfortunately in the medical world not all diagnoses are horses, or the most likely possibility, and sometimes physicians need to look for the zebra, or the less likely scenario, when making a diagnosis. In the cancer world, neuroendocrine tumors are the zebras. Represented by this analogy because of their rarity, neuroendocrine tumors make up just 2% of nationally treated cancers. (From Roswell Park Cancer Institute)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summer Reading Program for Moms

I am excited to share a little something I found in my Pinterest journey this week.  Over at, there is a summer reading program for moms of at least one child.  There are even prizes!  Check it out:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Things I'm Working On

I'm working on cleaning out the garage for a garage sale.  I am realizing it will take me more than a day to accomplish this!

I'm working on sorting through baby clothes and gear.  We are not having anymore babies, so it's time to let these items go.  It's hard, so hard.  I was able to give our crib and changing table to a family that was in need.  I plan on keeping a few items, including the boys coming home outfits.

I'm working on sprucing up a few areas in our home.  I started with our art supplies and moved on to the laundry area in the garage.  I spend A LOT of time doing laundry, why shouldn't I make it cute?

I'm working on embellishing tote bags for the library books for the boys.  I was gifted some adorable cowboy fabric a year ago and was waiting for the right project to come along.

I'm working on planning some special birthday celebrations.  Two milestone birthdays are coming up and I hope I can help make them memorable.

I'm working on moving my body in exercise again.  I have really let this area of my life go.  And my sugar addiction is in full force again.  And I know exactly why.  More on that later...

What are you working on?

(inspired by Ali Edwards)

Monday, June 16, 2014

On Being Bored...

We are on Day 2 of summer break from school.  On Day 1, I heard the "B" word.  You know the one.
Do they really miss school so much already that they can't entertain themselves at home?  Or do they really expect me to entertain them All.The.Time?

On Day 1, I declared on our agenda would be NOTHING.  No meeting up with friends, no outings, no housework, no crafts.  Nothing.  It started out well enough- The World Cup was on and they wanted to design their own jerseys on a printable template I had found.  They spent time in the yard recreating the soccer they had just been watching.  They played a little Lego.  But then it happened...Boredom.

I decided we would have a chat about boredom.  We talked about what summer will look like for us this year.  I don't need to entertain them every waking hour of their day.  They WILL be bored and they WILL have to figure out how to remedy this by using something amazing called "imagination." I reminded them that there are times that I would like to enjoy reading or working on a craft project myself.  Or that there will be days when I need to do laundry or we need to run errands or do housework. I also informed them that I had plenty of things for them to do for me if they were truly bored.  Those little faces showed they were not pleased.

I saw this article this morning on Facebook and it made me happy:

Someone on the same team!

As Mamas, we are constantly bombarded with 101 Things to Do in the Summer and Build a Backyard Water Park. We are told we need to plan every minute of every day and make it magical and memorable. We need to have perfectly staged lemonade stands with chevron-striped paper straws.  We need to buy 100 pool noodles to create our own foam pit.  We need to create a bored jar so they can pick an activity on a stick when they are bored.

Listen, I am a planner and I LOVE Pinterest and I do have a Summertime board.  I love planning for them and executing fun outings and activities.  But I also know that they NEED to be bored.  They NEED to use their brains for play.  They NEED to use their hands and bodies for more than electronic devices and games.
I NEED to have my own summer bucket list, which includes finishing 3 classes that I am enrolled in.

So, what happened after our talk?  They went outside, again, but for hours.  They re-discovered our chalk bucket with a neighbor girl and drew a castle, village and traced outlines of their bodies (kinda looks like a crime scene on our patio right now).  They made a propeller type thing out of found wood and screws.  They ate popsicles and got really sweaty.  It was a good day...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Just a thought...

How have you followed your own choice lately?