Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October's 10 on 10

If you've been anxiously wondering what I did every moment of the 10th day of of this month, wait no longer!  ;)

10 pictures on the 10th day of the month (Friday)!
{Document a snapshot of your life & find beauty among the ordinary things in your day!}

6 AM
Always a good the best way to start the day.

 8 AM
Walking to school.
 9 AM
With race day tomorrow, hydrating is the order of the day!
 10 AM
Good morning!
 11 AM
With warm sunshine streaming through the windows, we had to do school on the porch.
 1 PM
Half day for the girls.
 We took a family field trip to R's parent/teacher conferences.  We only needed to talk with his English teacher, but he wanted us to meet his art teacher as well.  She was sweet to answer questions from the kids about the different projects around her room.
 2 PM
A special pre-race delivery!
 3 PM
Another pre-race delivery!
 4 PM
And another.  Oh my!

Not pictured...many cards and texts of well-wishers for my marathon the next day.  So incredible!
 5 PM
Shaun and Avery are working on taking over the grocery shopping.
 7 PM
Football...home game, so R had lots of fans.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Doing Battle, Week 4

Last Monday kicked off the week with an answer to prayer.  We'd been trying to get the NY and CT oncologists to talk and we were not sure if the CT oncologist would go for the change in treatment plan, set forth by Sloan.  But finally on Monday Shaun spoke to the CT oncologist who said "no problem".  He said Sloan just needed to fax over the treatment, then he needed a couple days to get it set up and we'd be ready to roll.  That was our best case scenario and we were relieved to have it resolved!
Cancer life and real life weaving together in strange ways.
Sloan must have sent it over because on Wednesday we were sitting in a doctor's office doing a consult for a port placement and on Friday I had the surgery to implant it.  My first surgery, my first stitches.

On Thursday we had a lengthy consult with an oncology nurse, who went over the specifics of how the treatment would be administered and the possible side effects.  We also got a quick peek into the treatment room.  It was an intense meeting and we were both spent after.  Shaun went to play basketball and ended up re-injuring a muscle bruise he'd gotten the week before.  It was bad enough he had to be carried off the court and driven home.

The next morning he tried to power through, but his leg was too swollen to cooperate.  At the last minute he conceded that he would not be able to bring me to the hospital for the surgery, which I'm sure is one of the harder things he's ever had to do.

Thankfully, my sister flew out of her house in five minutes time and was able to sit with me pre and post op.  Several nurses asked us if we were sisters or friends.  What a gift to be able to say "both!"

The surgery was easier than I could have imagined and from the time we were in the billing office until the time we were in the car headed home was only about four hours.  I've had very little pain, just an awareness that there is a foreign object under my skin and a feeling like I did way too many push-ups (I wish!).  I was happy to be able to report to Amanda that the device is purple.  In case you were curious...

The night of the surgery, Shaun slept across the hall in the spare room so we would not accidentally hurt each other in our sleep.  The spare room, that we've used to house many foster kids for respite care.  I wondered to God about His plan in all of this.  To my human thinking, it would make so much more sense for a foster kid who need some love and care and safety to be sleeping in that room and for my husband to be by my side, working together to pour into other people.

I was reminded of the verse:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

I do trust He has a plan and that someday, or maybe piece by piece, I will have an "aha!" moment when it will make sense.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. 1 Cor 13:12

This morning we go for my first of eight treatments, which we'll do every two weeks.  I'll sit with an IV for two hours, then we go home with a pack I'll carry around for 46 hours.

My uncle, operating in the Western Branch of Team Lisa, as he says, texts me most mornings with a verse in the Uncle Lee Standard Version.  This morning my aunt sent her own version:

This is the day that the Lord has made.  Let us rejoice and kill cancer in it!  :)

Amen!  Let's do this!

I am flooded with peace and my mind is steadfast.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Is 26:3

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Project 365, Week 42

Seriously...these weeks are so difficult to sum up.  So much is happening and also not enough.  

This week we were so blessed to have my aunt and uncle here from upstate New York.  We had a lovely time of being together and because they were here we got to see other family as well.  They are in some of my earliest childhood memories and I love them to pieces.

On Wednesday evening Shaun took R to the emergency room because he'd hurt his ankle in practice the day before and it was still bothering him.  It ended up being a sprain so he came home with a brace and crutches. 

On Thursday evening Shaun went to play basketball (much needed after our lengthy meeting with the oncology nurse to go over the ins and outs of the upcoming chemotherapy).  He injured his lower thigh and had to be carried off the court and driven home.  The next day he was scarcely able to walk on it and definitely couldn't drive so on five minutes notice Amy ended up driving me to my port placement surgery.

Crazy stuff.  I'm happy to report though, R is able to jog on his ankle and Shaun is getting around better and better.

October 12
Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Lee came down for the weekend, just to be with us.  Our agenda was to lay low, and we accomplished it!  On Sunday afternoon we watched some football and Aunt Bonnie did enough cooking that we'd have food all week.  It was such a sweet time.

 October 13
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Ps 19:1

Our annual trip to the orchard.  This year Shaun joined us for the first time ever (to keep an eye on me and so we could take phone calls together).   I feel so many emotions when I look at the family in this picture.
 October 14
Its a good day when you can be playing out in the mud in summer gear in the middle of October.

Aiden's recently become more aware of the value of money and knows what each coin is worth.  He's decided he would like to plant a flower garden for me in this hole he's been digging....for pay.  We shook on it and he's very excited about his new employment opportunity.
 October 15
School on the go...sight word flash cards while waiting in the doctor's office.  This was a consult with a thoracic surgeon (I'd never heard of that before and he's doctor #10 involved in all this) to discuss the port-a-cath placement.

A highlight of the day was when the nurse made two attempts to take my blood pressure before asking, is your bp usually really low?  Yes, it is.  I may have cancer, but darn it all, my blood pressure is shockingly low.  So there.  :)
 October 16
Sending my girls off to school in crazy rain.
 Incredibly grateful to be the one doing my family's laundry.
 October 17
Aiden went to three different nursing homes in three days.  Grandma took him to visit Great-Grandpa and then two services with Pop.  In their downtime, Pop let him mow the lawn, as only a grandparent can.  :)  If he goes to school in Boston I think he could totally put himself through college working on the Sox grounds crew.
 October 18
Back in the days when I had a 9-5 job, I worked hard to get to the point where I liked all days of the week the same.  I didn't want to dread Mondays or wish the week away waiting for Friday and the all-too-short weekend.

In the last month I have found myself digressing on that a bit though.  The weekends are the days we are not huddled by the phone or sitting in a doctor's office or getting a procedure done.  On the weekends I feel like a soccer mom who gets to watch her kids doing their thing.

Conveniently, this day the games were back-to-back at the same park.
 The girls got a pre-game warm-up and pep talk from their dad and Avery ended up scoring two goals in the game and Amanda got to have her coveted keeper position all four quarters.

 Aiden with the ladies.  Dirt + water bottles = hours of fun

 After church we taught R and Avery Setback.  Avery marveled that we knew something she didn't know we knew.  She kept asking, did you learn this game at the hospital?  Ha!  No, Girl....we had a whole life before you were born.  :)
One month ago today I received the cancer diagnosis over the phone.  Since that moment we've been in full-on cancer mode and I still have not gotten one treatment.  That all changes tomorrow as I begin Round #1 of chemo.  Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Hartford Marathon

Race recap time!  The day started out rainy...and cold and then didn't let up until the last mile or so.  So wet.  So cold.  It was actually comical to look at the weather because the day before and the day after were beautiful and even that afternoon.  There was just this four-hour section in the morning, that was wet and cold.  Have I mentioned the day was cold and wet?  :)  But not by a long shot was that the biggest theme in my race.

It began the day before with encouragement streaming in, in the form of cards, flowers, fruit, colored pages (some texted from as far as Germany!), words of inspiration and love.  It was incredible!

Another amazing piece of the day was when my sister (in law) and brother jumped into the race with me.  They both paid lots of money and were majorly inconvenienced (no race day bib pickup) to make it happen.

Sarah is running the Marine Corp Marathon in two weeks.  When she first signed up she thought she would be running with two its just down to her.  :(  To run a marathon when you are the mom of a six-month old is just astonishing.  Anyway, she joined me at Mile 14.  We chatted until it wasn't chatting time anymore.

Tim joined us at Mile 20, which is just about the time the marathon becomes really not fun.  He and Sarah flanked me and offered words of encouragement or silence, as required.  They were textbook supporters, just exactly what I needed.  

I also felt the prayers and support of so many.  It felt like "Team Lisa" was at work, not just me and it was very powerful and emotional.

Fans stood out in the cold rain for more than four hours just waiting.  Amazing love!  (the sign looked beautiful at one point, but got mangled in the hours of rain).

Shaun and I cried in each other's arms for a was powerfully emotional on so many levels and the symbolism of this marathon and the health one we are embarking on was not lost on anyone.

These two were my heroes this day.
 Shaun and the girls did "the half"...half of one mile during the kids fun run.  The stories about who beat who and who cheated were pretty hilarious and the girls came away with their first bib and medal.  I can't wait to run with one or both of them someday.
I felt so good and so strong, even though I missed nearly three weeks of training, including a crucial long run and the all-important taper.  Even though my results didn't show it on the clock, I believe my coach brought me to a new level of fitness and endurance.  I can't wait to try it out when I am whole again.
Thank you, "Team Lisa" for rooting for me, encouraging me, and supporting me, even if you didn't understand my need to run.  My heart is so full.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Doing Battle, Week 3

How can it feel like so much happened this week and also not nearly enough?  Let me start back at last Monday where I left off.

In the morning on Monday, Aiden and I drove out to see my brother and company, who live in Rhode Island.  I've been there enough times that I should know my way, but the GPS has taken me so many different ways over the years that I'm still not confident, so I always turn on directions for the hour drive.

In that time, I received about five phone calls...offices confirming appointments, someone checking on an insurance something, and the one I was most waiting for, the results of the CT Scan and MRI from Thursday.

All this while, in between phone calls, Aiden is in the back telling me about plankton and coral reefs and which animals use the holes that woodpeckers make and getting exasperated because the phone keeps interrupting him and I keep missing my turn because I am a distracted driver.  I wasn't sure I would ever get there.

But we did!  :)  And on the way the surgeon called to say that the chest scan was CLEAR and the MRI supported what they had seen with the other scans, meaning the course of action we had set forth (the chemo and radiation) was right on target.  Also, the tumor is a T2 (in a range of 0-4).  Really good news!

On Tuesday, we were at the radiologist where I got lined up on the table in preparation for the radiation treatments to come.  I got three very small tattoos and the whole thing was quite painless.

From there we went upstairs to meet with the oncologist for the first time.  He is a character!  His information seemed pretty straight forward and I liked that the first round of chemo would be in pill form, taken at home and I would just need to check in once a week for a blood draw.  I say "just" like its no big deal, but in reality I'm a bit of a sissy about needles.  So far in this process I think I've had six needle sticks between blood and IVs and every one of the techs has complained about my small veins.  I suspect that soon I will get used to it and I'll laugh at myself for ever making a big deal out of it.

Where was I before I got started on needles?  (What world do I live in, by the way??)  Oh yes.  The oncologist.

We asked him about running me the Marine Corp marathon that I signed up for in February and have been training for since June.  He admitted that I was his first patient to ask about running a marathon, and while he supports my efforts to stay active and exercise through treatment, he discouraged me from attempting the marathon while in treatment.

When we got in the car, we got the wheels in motion for me to run the Hartford Marathon, which was that coming Saturday.  I would have been heart-broken to have trained all those months, working towards a very specific goal and then not be able to do my "training victory lap".  I thought it was so cool of God to arrange it so that there would be a race available, right in my own back yard, that would work.

Based on standard practice and at the nudging of our doctors, we chose to get a second opinion.  Amazingly, we live within easy driving distance of two of the top four cancer centers in the nation.  What a gift!  We decided on Sloan Kettering in New York City because they have surgeons who work very specifically with my type of cancer.

We used a generous gift to stay the night in the city and take in a show and dinner.  It was really good to get the time together and some of it even seemed normal.

The next morning we walked to Sloan, getting there 50 minutes early, just in case.  In the end, we were there 10-4 and to make that six-hour-visit and this getting-to-be-long-blog-post story short, we  talked with the surgeon, had more testing done and then met with an oncologist.  The end result is we've decided to switch the order of the treatments around, so instead of beginning with the chemo/radiation, we will start killing the cancer with heavy-duty chemo, beginning later this week or early next.

We believe in this new path and are so thankful to feel like we have the best people working on our behalf.  And God just continues to orchestrate things like the marathon and the Sloan visit and the support we feel by the hour to show us that He is working for our good.

I have been receiving some beautiful, heartfelt cards.  I laughed at a line in this one from Avery, I will never forget this time.  No truer words were ever spoken.  :)  Shaun and I have wondered aloud if one of our kids will end up being a doctor after all of this.  If nothing else, I pray that they would learn and know compassion and, within their depths, know that God is their refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble...and that He is faithful and can be trusted.