Thursday, April 28, 2011

Whatever it takes.

While I was home the goal was to do whatever it takes to make her feel better and just relax and enjoy herself.

This included pedicures and manicures....

But it also included some unwanted loss. 

A couple of years ago when someone else very close to me battled cancer I offered to her that I would cut my hair and donate it to locks of love. Anyone who knows me, knows that my long hair has been my thing, it's my look. Well solidarity won over and this was the result...

My lovely roommate also joined me in haircuts. She is my support who listens to me while I am stuck in Virginia always on the phone getting updates from everyone and pacing because nobody else is taking care of her the way I would, so she said she couldn't let me do it alone. We both took off about 6 inches.

I would have done more, or shaved right with her, but one I had to fight with my mom to do it anyways, but also it is my family's private burden, and anything more drastic and I'd have to explain to everyone where it came from, and that is only something I want to share when I feel comfortable with it.

The funny thing is that I know have the "Lisa Haircut".

Happy Easter

It will take me a feel days to get caught up from the days that I was gone, but I promise I will because a lot has happened since then that simply must be shared. I will warn you now, some of it might be a little bit ugly, but some of it is amazing.

We had a lovely Easter dinner together as a family, and just tried to enjoy the little bit of time that we got together for the weekend.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Today I stumbled upon this Blog, Family "Bonding" Time and I couldn't help but read for an hour. This couple is amazing both going through serious bouts with cancer together while fighting to be there for their 18 month old daughter. The wife has breast cancer too so some of the things she is going through are similar to my mom and she is pretty much right on the same time frame as my mom.

Their blog spoke to me because of one specific part:

Don't get me wrong.  If I had the choice for Nathan and I NOT to have cancer, I would take it.  In a heartbeat, I would take it for Sadie's sake, for our parents and for all those people who love us and worry about us.   We didn't choose our diagnoses,  but we do choose to be in a state of gratitude.  There is too much love and healing coming our way not to feel blessed.    

I have said these same type things all along, is that while this situation is horrible, we have been SO blessed by the love and support of our little community. So, thank you. 

Florida or Bust

Just a fair warning, I am Florida bound tomorrow evening as of 5 pm! This may or may not reflect in the amount of posting I do, but there will be a full update when I get back, and since I'll be there to encourage her maybe my mom will muster it up to post.

I am thrilled to be going home to spend some time with her and try and lift her spirits and I have a few surprises up my sleeve and there will be plenty of pictures.

Monday, April 18, 2011

We're Outta There

I suppose when you face something that you know you need to anticipate many difficult days with, you try and celebrate the milestones no matter how big or small.

Today we are shouting for joy over the fact the she is now OUT OF THE HOSPITAL!

We don't know what will happen in the days to come, or the next time she has to receive a chemo treatment, but those are not what is important to focus on at this moment. What is VERY important is that she is no longer dependent on being in the hospital, so we are going to focus on this moment.

The Florida count down is 3 days and some odd hours, and I have a flippin cough STILL left over from that bout with the flu a month ago. Which is awful not because I sound disgusting to be around(although the annoyingness of sounding like I have the plague is a factor) but because I really can't be around her with this. I don't feel sick, but it is important to be very careful with germs so my first stop on my tour de Orlando will be the doctors office and possibly to get a doctors mask to cover my cough.

We may be spending the whole week at the house, but all I'm sayin is it is better than spending the week at the hospital!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Don't Judge a Book by its Cover

From the moment we learned of her diagnosis the first steps was to figure out a game plan for how life was going to continue in our house and who would help her. The most obvious choice was my brother, Omeed.

We all knew it would come with challenges, he is twenty, a college student, and busy with his life of friends and being young and has never had to have responsibilities of this nature.

However, despite all of that he is one of the most compassionate people I know. There have been plenty of times when I have been hurting and in his attempts to comfort me I could tell he was taking on part of my pain. Sure it may come off awkward because he doesn't know what to say, but he listens and he cares. He is so loving that every time I have spoken to him since I have moved to Washington he insists on telling me he loves me before he'll hang up. Yes even in front of his friends.

So yes he is loving and compassionate, but lets not forget the challenges we already discussed. Twenty. College kid. Life with friends.Without the details lets just say it was a rocky start.

I am here today though to tell you that the kid who I knew was full of compassion really is. He has been there this week rushing from school and work to home all hours of the day to care for her.

This week he has cleaned up puke without being asked. Been her cheerleader to make her drink to the point that he said he was holding the cup up to her lips to make her drink. He has driven to appointments. Made phone calls to everyone she has ever known. And spent most of his Friday night in her hospital room.

Through all the things he has done in his life to this point or will ever do again, not a single thing would make me more proud that the devotion he is now showing to her.


8 Days Later...

Eight days after getting her first full chemo treatment on April 7 my mom is now in the hospital. About two and a half days after the treatment she became very ill saying that her body was just heavy and achy, then came the nausea, then came the vomiting a few days after that.  Which is really where the problem came in, because she became severely dehydrated so after begging to go to the doctor because her body hurt they hooked her up to an IV and she felt better for a little bit until the vomit set back in.
Thursday evening after a quick call to the on-call doctor by Mrs. B informed us that this really is not normal, because at first we contributed it to being the first treatment(the actual first time she was hooked up to a chemo drug it was Herceptin only, which is known for not having as strong of side effects as the other parts of her "cocktail") however as the days went by it was clear this was not normal. Every time she even had a sip of water she would complain of cramps in her stomach.
Yesterday morning after an early trip to the doctor they admitted her to the hospital to keep her and monitor her. We have not gotten a clear answer as to WHY it has been this bad, because the one thing that has been made to us clear to us is that it SHOULDN'T be like this. In the afternoon they moved her to a more permanent room, but we have no idea for how long.
From the pieces we have been able to put together(because I guess maybe for liabilities purposes the doctor can't say as much) is that they were trying to treat it aggressively and she perhaps received too much. 
It is hard not to be able to be there to take care of her, but my Aunt Sheila drove up for the weekend to help since she was admitted, Omeed is there with her, and in just a few more days I'll be there too.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Speak of the Devil

Having JUST made a post about Susan G Komen, imagine my surprise when I get to work today and find that it is their lobby day on the hill. Once they made their way to our office I sat in on the meeting with them

Most of what we talked about I knew, however they had a couple of extra things to say that made my day!

1. The breast cancer stamp was started in 1998 and has raised over 71 million dollars for research. It is up for re-authorization and it is SUCH an easy way to raise money it should continue to do so!
2. A large part of their research funding is going towards creating a breast cancer vaccine. How amazing is that? It hasn't made it past rats, however none of the rats developed tumors whereas those without the vaccine did. It would be given to women in their 40's who are no longer nursing and are beginning to be more susceptible due to age. It still has a long road ahead of it but I think that it is fabulous that it has made it to this point. Article on the Subject

3. The average 5 year survival life expectancy when the organization was founded 30 years ago was 70%, now it is 98%.

4. And as another encouragement to everyone to participate in the Race for the Cure, all proceeds from the local races go right back into the local communities to support education and early detection services. The 3 Day for the Cure funds the national organization- all are important. BUT if those funds remain local in part, then it could be one of your friends who needs to use those community services.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Race for the Cure

This June I will be running in the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure. I have done it before, but right after all of this started I knew I wanted to do it again and make it an annual event.
I have been trying to focus for awhile on making lifestyle changes to be healthier; you know eating better and working out more. So my goal is to run, but the goal is just to cross the finish line, so I encourage all of you to join, fund raise, and crawl across the finish line!
The race is a 5K, which is only just over 3 miles, easily comparable to a marathon shopping trip(well the way we shop anyways). In other words it's not that far!
As far as fund raising goes, ask each of your friends or coworkers if they could spare just a couple of dollars, just one skipped coffee from Starbucks is a five dollar donation and even if it's just 10 people who give, well that is fifty dollars!
I happen to be doing the MS Walk in DC this weekend and I have been amazed by how gracious my friends have been when donating when all I asked for was 5 dollars from each! (For those of you reading...again THANK YOU!) I received a donation from my cousin last night and it led to her letting me know that she planned on walking for my mom in the race in Tampa this fall. This touched my heart and I knew it would touch my moms as well. Today she had been having a horrible day(her and food are not exactly friends right now, however she has become BEST buddies with the nausea medicine!) When I called to check on her I mentioned that my cousin would be participating in the race this fall and I'll tell you out of the entire 20 minute conversation we had it was the only time I heard a glimpse of hope or happiness out of her.
I'll be walking for my mom, but she is not the only one who deserves to be walked for. Everyone has a connection to someone and if we don't make efforts to support organizations that donate to research it could be one of us who is healthy today that is finding out tomorrow it's our turn to fight.


Race for the Cure

Savannah, GA     Saturday, April 16, 2011
Atlanta, GA     Saturday, May 07, 2011 
Washington DC, DC     Saturday, June 04, 2011St. Petersburg, FL     Saturday, October 01, 2011
Jacksonville, FL     Saturday, October 22, 2011
Miami, FL     Saturday, October 15, 2011
Macon, GA     Saturday, October 15, 2011   

Sunday, April 10, 2011

In Recent News

This past Wednesday my Aunt Phyllis made the trip down from Georgia to help my mom get through the first week of full on chemo treatments, which she received on Thursday. Being her friendly self she made friends with the people in the waiting room, and a couple who have both had, and the husband currently has cancer they offered their support to check on my mom and already called later that day. Again with the massive amounts of generosity from everyone even strangers in their case.
She seemed to be okay for the first two days, just normal tired. Friday she got her booster shot, and then Saturday she had to get a brain scan done. She has been complaining of headaches at a severe level of pain so the doctor said she didn't expect anything to be found but she had to take the necessary steps because she was feeling them enough to mention it.
Then Saturday evening hit and when I called she said she felt like she had the flu, meaning the symptoms had finally hit.
Sadly my aunt left this morning, but she was so helpful while she was there, picking up, cleaning, running errands, all the things my mom no longer has time or energy for.
Unfortunately the rest of the day didn't go very well, between our morning phone call and our evening update apparently a break down occurred.
I was out driving to run errands while we were chatting, and while she sounded like she felt better than she had all day, she admitted to her rough day, and it killed me. One thing I can say for my mom is that since day one she has had nothing but positive things to say, and wouldn't ever admit for a second that she might let this get the better of her, but apparently that resolve just wasn't as strong.
Every night I not only pray for God to heel her, but to  let her know how strong she is, and today she just wasn't feeling it. It just seemed easier to give into the pain she was feeling and wallow in the uncertainty of how on earth she was gonna make it until July feeling like this.
A few weeks ago we happened to find out that our next door neighbor also had breast cancer a few years ago, and today she had perfect timing calling at the exact time my mom was needing a friendly face to tell her she'll make it through. She found comfort in the fact that she is right next door and said she would come over any time day or night for any reason at all. Again with that reoccurring theme of generosity from all corners of the world.
And in better news only ELEVEN days till I'll be back in Florida to administer cheer and happiness even if only for a few days.


A Hairy Situation

Everyone knows when they see a woman with a bald head it means she has cancer, it is like a billboard that says "I have cancer." Which is distressing because who wants everyone to know that business? However on the other hand it says "I am fighting hard and I want anyone and everyone to know it."
Everyone has a different approach. Bald is beautiful. Wig. Scarfs. I guess you could compare it to the personal preference each person has for what kind of shampoo they use.
We got a wig(well okay she got a wig) however I haven't seen it yet since it has been since the last time I saw her. The American Cancer Society was nice enough to give her one, because I don't know when the last time yall when wig shopping was but those puppies are not cheap unless of course you are looking for the "I just climbed off my pole" look.

When this first started one of the doctors told us that the best place in town to go was Ritzy Rags, the local drag store. Makes sense after hearing it because, well who else would want to look as good and believable in their wig as a woman? Well a drag queen of course. They were so nice there and they looked SO much like her real hair and they offered plenty of discounts, and I feel like we both left feeling better. (Well and to be honest I felt like I might want a wig too because who wouldn't want to have perfect hair every day of their life for the low cost of 300 dollars?!)
The other thing I have been doing is buying scarfs like crazy, any time I see one that looks pretty or bright I pick it up which has started quite the collection!
Every day of my life my mom has done her hair. She gets that blow dryer out and does her bangs and she makes the same movements to do her hair, it never changes. I have always kidded her that she needs to change up her look and update it, not that it is out of date, just something other than the lovingly termed "Lisa cut" which I remember her having for at least the 25 years I have been alive.

Not being there on a daily basis I have been having a hard time coping with the fact that sometime in the near future I am gonna take a trip home and she is not gonna look like her. No auburn hair, with bangs, cut to the chin and flipped under. It's either not gonna look like that, or not be there at all. And for her sake I just don't wanna cry, because I know it has got to be hard enough to lose your hair, something that women really identify themselves by. Not to mention the fact that you're losing your hair because your other womanly feature(ya know the boobies) are waging war on your body.
It is all hard to grasp when you've spend your life priding yourself on being a lovely lady, and I think she is the loveliest of all ladies.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Save the Tatas

Our family obviously supports breast cancer research, because that research lead to a trial that is now helping my mom.
One of my favorites is Save the tatas! Lets face it, it is mainly because they have a fabulous slogan and who doesn't want to wear a t-shirt that says tatas on it? (I own one. It is a tank top that says fabulous tatas.)

Every 50,000 dollars worth of donations they raise supports a researcher for an entire year, research that makes a difference every single day in survival rates.

Save the tatas

A lesson learned.

The one biggest lesson I have learned from this whole adventure is the generosity that everyone has blessed us with. Over and over again I feel truly blessed that we have a life with so many loving family members and friends.

The part that truly touches my heart is that those who have no need or obligation to give have given more than I could have ever expected. To see how many people care about my mom, even those who may not know her hardly at all, want to give.

They give gifts to make her comfortable, gifts to distract her, gift cards to help with groceries, or money to help with doctors visits. More than anything else they give their time through endless phone calls, assistance with going to doctors appointments or the grocery store, helping to clean up the house or yard, anything she could possibly need. It warms my heart and makes me feel better than anything else has, and it is because it makes me feel better about being far away.

Thank you everyone for your endless generosity, it is humbling to remember in the midst of such a difficult time for our family how truly bless we are with amazing people in our lives.