Friday, July 30, 2010

My sister's keeper

My world has just been flipped upside down in a month. It's so hard to type the words. It's this irrational thought that I have. Maybe if  I don't type them, then somehow it won't be true. It won't be my new reality. So I just have to say it. 

My sister has cancer.

I'm hurting. I'm hurting for my sister. I'm hurting for her pain that she's about to encounter. I'm hurting for my mom and what this must feel like to have this happen to your child. I'm hurting for my brother-in-law and how he's going to manage taking care of a sick wife, three girls, and an autistic son. I'm hurting for my nieces and hate that they're dealing with this at such a young age.

I got a call from her in the middle of June saying she found a lump when she was putting on deodorant one day and brushed against her breast. It was one of those "you better go and get that checked out" conversations. She was so diligent about getting it looked at right away. 
She went to have a mammogram and they knew right away it was cancerous. The weeks that followed consisted of test after test. The biopsy confirmed it. A mastectomy was to be scheduled soon and followed up with chemo a month later. I just wanted it out of her. The surgery couldn't be scheduled fast enough.

We made light of the situation as much as we could. "You're going to look so hot. You'll have a sassy wig with cute new perky boobs."

A glimmer of hope surfaced when we got back results of the CT scan. It looks like Stage 2 and it's contained. Relief…momentarily. They wanted to do a PET scan just to make sure these tiny spots on her lungs weren't anything. Panic began to creep in even more. We had to wait another week. We prayed and prayed. My goodness, did we ever pray. 

My motto has been be strong, be positive…for her. I would talk to her on the phone and one day on the phone, it just hit me. 

Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry. Be strong for her. The tears welled up so much my jaw began to ache. The harder I fought it, the more the tears came. And she heard it all, every blubbering sob. 

Then, last night our worst nightmare was confirmed. It's in her lungs…both of them. And the PET scan saw that it's actually in her lymph nodes. And just like that, she went from Stage 2 to Stage 4 in a week. Surgery is canceled. There's no time to wait, we need to do chemo right away. How did this get so serious, so fast?

I think I cried for hours yesterday. I've been a mess. 

I wish so much that I was one of those women that could take trials gracefully, but I just might be the most ungraceful person when it comes to life's challenges. I break into the ugly cry at the drop of a dime. I cuss. I yell at my children for no reason at all. I'm a wreck and there's nothing about me that's strong or graceful.

I just want to play fast-forward on the tape of my life and see that everything is going to be okay, and I made it and she made it. How do you go on with "regular" life when your life has been flipped upside down and this is all-consuming? 

Here's not what to do. DON'T google "My sister has cancer" because that will totally give you a panic attack. Bad idea, very bad idea.

Yesterday was a lot of questioning. How do I help? What does this mean? Do I call her everyday? Does she feel enough support from me? Am I being the best sister I can be?

Then I came across this quote and it's my new motto:

"Cancer is a word, not a sentence." 

I'm not going to let it be all-consuming. She's not just my sister with cancer. She's my "Hey come over and let's bake cookies with the kids" sister. She's my "Do you want to come watch Nolan play t-ball?" sister. She's my "The kids are driving me crazy, did this happen to you?" sister. She's so much more than cancer. It's a word and nothing more. 

I'm scared. Cancer is what happens to grandparents and strangers…not to my 39-year-old sister and mother of three girls. The fear is almost paralyzing. 

If I'm feeling scared, I can only imagine her anxiety and I started thinking how can I help her make it through that? Several of you have asked if there's any thing you can do and there is. I desperately need your help. I'm not one to beg for comments on my blog but I'm shamelessly begging for them now. I want to give her story after story about survival, about people who've made it. I don't care if it's your neighbor's dog's 2nd cousin removed. SHARE IT!  Not just breast cancer, any kind of cancer. 

I've heard from others who've gone through chemo that it's going to feel like they're killing her rather than helping her when she's going through chemo and radiation. I want those feelings of utter despair to be suppressed as much as possible with a book she can open with stories of survival and hope. 

So please send me your stories. Comment at the bottom of this post or if you want them private, send it to me directly. Please only share positive and uplifting stories/advice that can help and encourage her to fight for her life. 

And there's one more thing. Pray. Pray and pray and pray. I am such a firm believer in the power of prayer and what it can do. I will continue to keep everyone updated on how she's doing. I found such a great quote that reminds me to "Let Go and Let God". 

Every evening I turn my worries over to God.  He's going to be up all night anyway.  ~Mary C. Crowley

But for now, I'm going to go to have a fabulous weekend with my "let's go to Six Flags and scream like teenage girls on rollercoasters" sister.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Kentucky summer

I'm so out of order with my posts from this summer. But it reminds me how ADD I can be. 

After our pit stop in St. Louis, we packed up and keep on truckin'…a total of 8 hours that day. With kids, stops are inevitable. I'm thankful that we haven't attempted to potty train Campbell yet because that diaper saved us a lot more stops.

Our next pit stop was to see Justin's grandmother, Rosie, in Louisville. The exit to her house was literally on the road we were already on so it's would have been just plain rude of us not to stop if we were that close. It was good timing because once again, the boys needed a car break. And just like every time, she had treats and snacks ready for those boys. Their love for her grew even more.

Rosie is amazing. She's about to celebrate her 90th birthday in November and has more energy than I do. We video conference with her and she's up on the blog. She and my grandmother are some the hippest techie grandmothers I know!

Campbell played us a little diddy on the piano and then we headed out to our final stop…Lexington.

Justin and I had our anniversary night. We went and saw a movie and checked in to a historic hotel in downtown Lexington. We walked around downtown and had a delicious dinner. I mean a lick-my-plate-like-a-dog dinner but it was upscale so I refrained, but it took everything in me to do that.

Later when I was trying to fall sleep, I kept hearing a door slam over and over again. Then Justin casually mentions how the place is haunted. Awww, the romance.

Next, we had some catching up to do with the family. After what felt like 40 days and 40 nights of rain, we knew our boys had enough of being inside. So we parked our ark right by a park and let them run like crazy.

There was frisbee throwing, swinging, climbing, sliding, and see-sawin' to catch up on.

We even had time for adult conversation!

We weren't there but an hour, but I loved that time. Letting the boys be boys and be loud and rowdy, being with family and being outside without too much sweat. It really is the small things that we remember most.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Swagger Wagon

When I went on my girls' trip, my friends showed me these videos and I was laughing so hard. My favorite is the Swagger Wagon because I could completely see Justin and me making a video like that. And I can completely relate now that we drive a minivan. I fought it kicking and screaming at first and now don't know what I would do without it.

This is for all my fellow peeps who drive swagger wagons.

And this is from a church in Tulsa that they did for Father's Day. Another one if you need a laugh for the day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sense of Accomplishment

Warning: this may be a boring post for those of you who don't scrapbook.

Sometimes I wonder why I spend so much time on these darn scrapbooks, especially with boys. They probably couldn't care less. I, on the other hand, could look for hours at pictures of my grandmother or parents growing up. I think it's the fact that I hardly have any pictures of myself as a little girl, so it's this overwhelming need of mine to OVER document my children's lives minute by minute.

But then, when I'm feeling nostalgic and look back at the albums, I'm really glad that I do it. I feel such a sense of accomplishment, and it really does help me remember little details of the event.

So, in an effort to feel like I didn't just spend 4 days scrapbooking just for them to go sit on a shelf, I'm sharing them with you.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Back to reality

You know that feeling when you come back from vacation and you're already sad that it's over and wishing that it would just last a little longer? Yeah, that's where my head is today. Some girlfriends of mine booked a scrapbooking weekend a year ago because this place was booked until then. And now I can see why…talk about deluxe. I've been on scrapbooking trips before and they were so much fun, but this one just had it all.

Let me first say, that the day before I left for my girls trip was terrible. I'm talking about one of those oh-my-goodness-I-can't-make-it days with the kids. I felt like I screamed at them ALL.DAY.LONG. I hate those days. Besides them exhausting me, they make me feel like such a terrible mom. I even texted Justin one of those "Hey are you coming home early?" texts. So, this getaway could not have come at a more perfect time.

We headed to McKinney, TX pretty much in the boonies to Memory Lane Inn. I was as excited about this as a little girl going to camp because that's totally what it felt like. It was so quaint and the perfect set up. We had views of horses, bunnies and even a few goats. Do you see the little cottontail bunny in the bottom left?

We ran through the house like it was our own version of Extreme Home Makeover…like we owned the place or something.  There's room to sleep 12 and there were 6 six in our group. Here was our Lofty Ladies room.

And our bathroom.

And that's when completely lost our minds like we were at Disneyland. We jumped and laughed so hard because Angi hit the fan with her hands.

Angi's been my best friend since we were in 5th grade and we've definiely had about a million sleepovers at each others' houses. But this hands down, was our funnest sleepover ever.

After we took our Retalin, we checked out more of the house.

We checked out the work room and you couldn't wipe the smiles off our faces. We had everything we needed for four days.

So we got to work…fast.

And watched chick flick after chick flick including Glee: Season 1. My addiction has begun.

Battle wounds didn't even slow us down.

Oh, and did I mention that we had a chef come and cook our meals? And that they served and cleaned up every meal too? I think I gained 10 lbs. It was a good thing I wore elastic pajama bottoms all weekend.

We stayed up late every night. I'm talking 2-3 a.m. each night. It's like we were on scrap crack. You lose all track of time and it's just so much fun that you don't want to sleep to miss any of it. We laughed so hard about stories of our husbands and children. Normally when I do these trips, I'm up and ready to go home early Sunday, but we stayed every possible second we could this weekend. It was hard to say goodbye and I can't wait til we get to go again.


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