Friday, October 30, 2015

Bye Bye, Pink Month

On the eve of the last day of the dreaded “Pink Month”….I find myself hating cancer today. Of missing my mom.  Of being just kinda ticked.  I have those days.  Guessing we all do.

I had my checkup this month…And while all is well from an "oncology" standpoint, all kinda isn’t well. I try not to talk about cancer often. But the fact is…that I have to. Its my therapy, y’all. And this month, along with its races, and pink ribbons, and anniversary dates, etc, I find myself reliving it. Cancer…is a mean, mean beast. Mean. 

And it’s cure? Even meaner.

When I walked out of my last chemo session three years ago, the sweet nurses (turned sweet friends) who shepherded me through the previous 7 treatments pushed play on the virtual boom box and the song, "Hit the Road Jack," filled the air. With smiles, hugs and tears, we said goodbye and the refrain, “don’t cha come back no more,” couldn’t have been more on point. However, there was no similar ceremony at the oncologist’s office after the termination of chemotherapy, as the message was clearly delivered, “I am your doctor now, and we are going to be friends a very long time. We will continue to follow your care.” The idea of trading in a primary care physician for an oncologist still brings a knot to my stomach. I’m well aware that the biannual blood tests and frequent X-rays have one purpose: scanning for the return of the monster. 

As a result, I always feel strange sitting in the waiting room of my oncologist’s office. Three years out, I can still recall the feeling of being in active treatment, waiting for my name to be called so I could take my chair and get hooked up for the next five hours. I cannot help but scan the room these days and feel deep empathy for those who I know are only starting their journey. As I’ve said a million times, I feel a twinge of survivor’s guilt as I sit with my head full of regrown hair, full blood count, and absence of chemo-induced fatigue. I want to SCREAM to everyone…I am still affected. Still tired. Still have chemo-brain, and am probably almost as scared as they are. 


But I’m not.

During these times, I remember what it felt like to be starting this challenge and how I felt when survivors showed up, aglow with a radiance that comes from having survived the perfect storm of physical and emotional traumas. To ease this guilt, I imagine that I’m being seen as an inspiration — living proof, with a huge emphasis on the living part — that treatment can work, the beast can be tamed. However, part of me is aware that others may be thinking, as I did on occasion, “How dare you look so healthy!” 

The sobering moment arrives when I see that person who I know may never get to have a final appointment, who may never know the relief of a clear CT scan or blood work. To say that one is humbled by this awareness falls short of the affective response deep within one’s heart. As a faithful Christian, I want to reach out and hold that person’s deepest fears while they regain, if even for a moment, the ability to breathe freely again. I want to tell them that I know the demons they face and assure them that, despite how it appears, all is well. Instead of opening up my therapist tool kit, however, I choose to sit as a silent patient who’s simply waiting her turn to be called to see the doctor. Often, I recite a silent prayer or healing mantra to the others who wait with me, as there are moments when no words can be just as powerful as any cliché: “Hang in there,” or “It will get better.” 

As the dreaded PINK MONTH ends, I always meet and have a newfound kinship with new survivors in my life….or the dreaded “newly diagnosed” in my life. For really…they are the ones who “get it.” Sure, we’re all connected at that moment by the label “patient,” but it’s a deeper connection one senses; a communal sharing of the fragility, humility and resiliency of the human spirit. While I still hate having an oncologist as my PCP, tempered by this experience of community, it’s a hate I hope to have well into the future.

This month is about awareness. I’m kinda cranky when I hear my dear loved ones and friends complaining about the discomfort of a mammogram. Trust me! It’s not as bad as chemo. So….hush it. And get ‘em. Just get them already.

Thanks for letting me have a little “cancer talk” today. I'm pretty sure I earned it.

God bless those fighting. Hug them. Love them. Pray for them.

In Him,

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bonus Blend

Just lazy in bed in this morning. The alarm clock will go off shortly...and the "sweet blessings of chaos" of the day will commence. But for now, all my "littles" are still sleeping soundly and its soooo quiet.

Happiness consumes me. I guess I'm showing my age, but I'm just reflecting this morning. I started out writing a Facebook status and after a few lines in, decided I better open the blog app. This one is gonna be a bit long for that! Haha. So here I am.

An update. My Sam is LOVING college. I have been THAT mom who downloaded snapchat so I could just see his face. :). He is right where he needs to be. This transition into adulthood is heaven-sent, I tell ya. Where life lessons are taught lovingly. He is meeting and making great friends, settling in with the team, adoring his coaches, engaging in church and life group activities, and his grades are just fine. Midterm grades are in and I'm pleased. God granted me the best kiddo in the world to flee the nest first. He loves his momma so he pacifies me with some sort of daily communication....and he is making me proud. He also has a new "friend" (of the female nature) that is simply preccccioussssss. Had is first game last Saturday....and headed back to watch him again this weekend. I'm getting to know his friends, their parents, and its good. All of it. So very good.

Syd. Still a mess. With all the change, she is adjusting slowly. But outside of the teenage hormonal "mouth" ....(I'm convinced if it were possible for God to have made a mistake, that it was allowing teenage girls to talk at all).....she is becoming very independent, thriving in all her activities, and still my best friend. She and her dance team are going to Disney to compete in the National Dance competition in a few when they aren't at a game or school....they are practicing. They work so hard. I've never been to Disney or in a place to be able to take my kiddos. And have NO idea how I'm gonna afford to go, but somehow, we are gonna make it happen so that I can be like all the other moms and be with her. I pray everyday that we can make this happen. Kinda hard to hit the lotto when ya don't even play! ha Sydney doesn't stray far from me. There is no way she will get on a plane without me.

But... I am SO proud that they are being honored and rewarded and being able to represent our town in this way. Join me in prayers for their efforts and fundraising endeavors. They so deserve it.

Here is an update to my previous post..."I'm Nobody..."

The boys are settling in perfectly. They smile the kind of smiles that show ALL over your face! Eyes light up....the whole bit. I look forward to hearing from and talking to each one of them....each and everyday. While our "legal issues" are still in process, I can tell ya that those boys are my sons. No, I don't have a right to them in the eyes of the law....but in my heart....they are my sons.

We DID have our court hearing. Or rather.....we showed up for the court hearing. God moved! The "other parties" never filed the proper paperwork so there never was a guardianship. The case was closed years ago. So the judge said..."take your boys and go home." It was the most wonderful day. The boys were so were we.

Bonus Son #1:
For the first time, the he just gets to be a kid. He gets to worry about "kid stuff," not raising his brothers. Homecoming dates. Grades. His first job. Football. I'm watching the sadness in his eyes....slowly disappear. Oh how my heart is happy!

He is also struggling with his knee. Age 16, and two knee surgeries under his belt. Unfortunately, he didn't receive the physical therapy that was needed to bounce back. We are working through those issues now. All he wants to do is play football. All WE, as parents for him to be happy. And will do whatever it takes to achieve that. Please pray for him.

I love my relationship with this one. How he knows he can come to me for whatever. How he talks to me about prayer. And his future. (He wants to be a doctor. And no doubt, he will be!) And his new girlfriend. Shopping with him for the perfect homecoming clothes. His disappointment of the past....and his knee....all of it. We are building trust. And love. And it is good. Real, real good. I strive everyday to be a mom to that makes him proud. One that he can love. And count on. And trust. Just be a kid, sweet boy. Be a kid.

#2: This one is a funny, funny kid. He makes me laugh....every single day. I do worry about him...and how his heart must have been so shattered the past few years. My fix that. And fast. Grades were iffy in the beginning....but whether he knows it or not....the accountability we have given him, and the incentives placed before him to get them up??? Are working! After the first 9 weeks....they are up! He is working hard...and it shows. And when we have the roundtable "checking of the grades"....his eyes are fixed upon us as we check. He knows his hard work is paying off. I am so proud. I just love him so.

The first to say "thank you" for the meal we prepare. And "love you" as he gets off the phone. This one is special.

Since the "custody stuff" is settled....he (and his brother) can now dress out for games on Friday nights. My boys are Panthers. In every sense of the word.

#3: This one....has my WHOLE heart. I probably worry about him the most. (It's a momma thing....). Although....great strides have been made. I can't wait to write about those. He is my buddy. The first one to help me unload the car on grocery day. The first one to offer if I say "I need a volunteer...". Other than the STINKIEST feet on the planet....I cannot say a cross word about this one. I've watched this sad, sad child, open up and just steal my heart. When the others are playing Xbox and watching sports....this one pads into my bedroom and snuggles in with me to watch whatever "chick flick" I have playing. This one...says "I love you" (and says it first) and gives me a hug before he leaves every morning....and before he goes to bed....EVERY night.  This one points out the houses along the Arkansas River that he plans to buy us one day when he makes it big in the NBA.  I asked him about his backup plan if the NBA doesn't work out?  Well....the NFL... then.  :)  He is my dreamer.  Dream big...kiddo.  Dream big.

This one...gets a tummy ache...when he thinks he has disappointed us. He frets over always doing the right thing. If only he knew....that NOTHING could make us not love him. Or be disappointed in him. Time will fix that. This, I know.

His grades are good, except for a struggle in one class. But we have faith in him. And let him know this daily. My goal...for the sadness to leave. And forever. And ever. I adore this child.

#4: Oh goodness....our baby. God broke the mold, y'all. This one is a the family clown. The class clown. He is the extreme to every emotion. A little love bug...that we hold our breath each day to see if there were any "issues". haha A frequent flyer in DH....we are working on this one. Severely, ADHD....we have finally starting the counseling process and have appointments forthcoming to have him evaluated. It was found that he was diagnosed years ago....but so many "missed appointments, sessions and evaluations." they closed his case. So we are starting over. I'm good with that. Fresh start. We WILL make sure he has all of the tools he needs to be successful.

His grades are for the most part, good. We have a great working relationship with his teachers, counselors, etc. and he is in a situation to be his best. I have noticed that things are settling down for him. No real issues in a few weeks. He knows he is home. And to stay. What a weight lifted for this child.

He tugged at my heart recently. When someone asked him who takes him to church? He said, "my mom and my dad...." I had to leave the room and take a moment. "My mom....." <3

For prayer purposes, here are some ways you can pray for us....

Protection of the boys hearts. They have been repeatedly placed in the middle of "adult stuff." And some were continuing to try to do that, but thankfully that is better. We are protecting them at ALL costs.

We are still trying to get the order for stopping of child support. SOOOO, that said...we are still paying for them (going on week 12) while they are living with us. I cannot begin to tell you what a financial struggle this is.  In addition, we are not receiving from their biological she is TOO paying to the grandmother. Or rather....supposed to be. We have no way of knowing that, yet. Our attorney is working on that. Thank GOD for him. A blessing.

Pray for my family. That we can create a home for them....a loving home. Where they have the tools....not to "survive"....but to THRIVE!  That I continue to get to know these little things about them. Like a momma should...

All six of these kids are so incredibly easy to love. My home is alive with laughter. And silliness. And love. Are we perfect?  Nope.  That means they are comfortable.  There are no "steps" in my house. None to enter our home...and none withIN our home. Family isn't defined by blood...only love. Love of the Lord....and each other.

My cup overflows.

God is good, y'all. So good.  His timing is perfect.  He is HEARING our prayers...and responding to our calls. So many ways I can back that up.

In Him,