Thursday, February 16, 2012

Third Time's the Charm

We got the results from the biopsy and it's as we expected, cancer is back.  We have a plan of action, and I'm willing to face it, though I know I could not do it without support.

As I mentioned before, I am trying to keep my health stuff separate from my family blog, even though they are obviously intertwined.  All the details of the cancer updates can be found on my other blog, Tessa's Cancer Journey #2 (it should say "3" now huh?).  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!!

The kids woke up this morning to special Valentines from Mommy and Daddy at their seats at the table.  Mykelle was given a box of chocolates and a beautiful pink rose from Dad.  Evan was given a box of redhots hearts and a chocolate rose from Mom.  They have been revving up for Valentine's Day by making Valentines for their classmates in Joy School and going to the dollar store to help Adam pick out a nice present for me :)

Mykelle's rose from Dad
Adam and I decided that $5 was about right for what we could spend on each other for Vday.  So you know how he got around that?  He bought me flowers to welcome me home from the hospital yesterday, NOT for Valentines!  What a good man huh?  They're beautiful.

My "Welcome Home" flowers
Then, Adam made me cry.  He put this beautiful video on Facebook for me to see-

What a beautiful video.  He picked some really great pictures.  And he didn't even have to spend $5!  :) We probably won't do much to celebrate the big day today but we do plan on going to a movie just to go out and be together for a bit.  Maybe I can convince him to throw in some Coldstone ice cream too...

As I mentioned, I just got back from the hospital last night after going in on Friday for the biopsy.  It was a longer stay than I'd initially planned with the doc, but I spiked a fever so they kept me another night.  It turns out the surgery was not the straightforward mediastinoscopy I'd initially said it was going to be.  I had to have the doctor write it down for me, but he did a left mini thoracotomy, an anterior mediastinal dissection, a frozen section, and a pericardial patch.  My left lung had to be collapsed during the surgery and I had a tube draining the area around the heart until yesterday morning so it's been painful breathing and moving around much, but I'm getting there!

Adam brought the kids in with balloons and presents for me on Saturday.  It was so cute to have them come in!  I was worried they'd be nervous or scared, and at first they did look a little nervous, but they seemed to come to terms with me being in the hospital quite well.  We talked to them about what it means to go in for surgery and prepped them as best you can a 3 and 4 year old.  They've been really great!  They each made me a get-well card and I had to take pictures of them, they instantly made me feel better :)

Mykelle & Mommy holding hands, with lots of crazy hair.   She told Adam what to write.  
This was my favorite part of Mykelle's card!  On the back of her drawing she drew this spiral and I asked her what it was. She said it's infinity, because she loved me more than infinity and that's how our love is, it never stops, just like infinity
I was very proud of Evan's card!  I've never seen him draw a person before so this is a huge step!  You CAN see the person right??  I didn't at first, but he pointed out "Mommy's smile" and it all came together!  
Mykelle also sang to me to help me feel better.  Isn't she sweet??

Random Everyday Life

I'm proud of you honey!!
Adam's been trying to help ease my stress and anxiety by helping me with things around the house more often, and it's been wonderful!  One of those things he's helping with is dinner a couple of nights a week.  Adam came up with the best dinner idea the other day!  We had some turkey burgers  that had been in the freezer for over a year or so and we decided to eat them, but we didn't have any bread or buns!  So we chopped up the turkey burgers and all our veggies and made turkey wraps with tortillas.  They were so good!  And the kids loved them.  I think we might have just added a new dish to our rotating menu !

Mykelle was very proud of all the hair clips in her Barbie's hair.  She can now "Do hair" just like her Mommy does!  If you'll look closely at the dolls face you can see it's covered in pink make-up.  I think that's where she received her inspiration for the next picture...

Mykelle's beautiful makeup!  Would you believe she did this all by herself??

Our Joy School "Crazy Cake" made out of smashed bread, no crusts, peanut butter, and honey, with a candle on top!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Health Update

My scans once again don't look great.  My docs want to get me in next week for another biopsy, a mediastinoscopy- where an incision is made in my chest and a scope is inserted under my sternum to take out a biopsied tissue of a small mass/tumor.  In two weeks they should have the results and I head back in to work out a plan of action.

The appointment went very similarly along the lines of the last one, after which I wrote the "Seriously Bad News" post.  However, instead of total shock and overwhelming discouragement, I felt strangely calm today.  It was nothing more than I had expected, but definitely not what I had hoped.  One doctor used the phrase, "highly suspicious" for cancer recurrence, and he told me he is almost never wrong when he suspects the cancer has returned.  But of course we want to see the biopsy results before we plan the treatment.  Following that comment the head doc came in and told me it was not the end of the world, that I'd get through it, even though it's a pain in the neck.  That I'd get 3 or 4 cycles of the new drug Adcetris, and then do a bone marrow transplant (hoping one of my brothers will be a donor match).  I voiced my concerns of the 20% mortality rate associated with a BMT and the doc told me that was ridiculous and outdated- that I was a great candidate because of my youth and relative health, and I'd be fine.  At least he tried to be encouraging!

I'm having a hard time facing the possibility of going through all of this again.  The stem cell transplant was the hardest thing I've ever had to go through in my life, and a bone marrow transplant is supposed to be more difficult.  I would not be able to face it at all if it weren't for my amazing husband and all he does for me and our family.   I'm grateful to be receiving treatment from some of the best doctors in the world.  I'm especially grateful for the network of friends and family I have to support me and our family through all of this.  It IS a pain in the neck, but with the help of family, friends, and faith, we can do it... again.

Joy School Experiments and Field Trips

I taught Joy School last Thursday and it was a full day of learning about interests and curiosity.  So we did a lot of "experiments" where we played with magnets, colors, Jell-O, sugar/salt/dyed water, seeing what items float and which sink, and doing all sorts of interesting things.  The kids were most excited about their yucky-looking brown colored pineapple Jell-O they colored with food dye then were able to eat as a snack later.  The next best part though was playing with food coloring in water trays and seeing what different colors they could make.  I was a little concerned about their clothes getting stained but they were really careful!

Then on Tuesday, to continue with interesting things to spark our children's curiosity, we went to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.  It was a really great field trip!  I wish I would have taken more pictures but I was having too much fun with the kids and all of the neat exhibits!

January & Wonderful Kids

January has been busy!  We came home to NJ during the 2nd week and haven't slowed down since!

First of all, we found a new place to live!  And we are very much looking forward to it, even if we aren't too excited about the move...  We need to be out of our current place by March 1st.  Our new place is going to have so much more room to live and it will end up costing about the same, though the two downsides are that it adds forty minutes onto Adam's daily commute and there is little to no storage.  The good parts- we are going to have 3 bedrooms so the kids can have their own rooms again, a dining room with a REAL table (that's embarrassing to admit actually), a living room, and a huge kitchen with a bar and stools!  I am most looking forward to having a large kitchen for our family and a separate dining room.  It's a duplex where the other half of the house will be shared with another family from our ward, so cool to have such a great family close by!  I will definitely be posting pics and video of the new place once we're in.

I've been busy with Primary, Joy School, doc appointments, showing our apartment (since we broke the lease 2 months early), and trying to be a good mom and wife.  It's no more than you're average woman has to do, but I've been feeling the stress.  And I always think, maybe after this "event" or that "thing" is over I'll feel more at ease.  Shouldn't I know better by now??  I have noticed however that Mykelle and Evan ARE getting easier to handle.  Adam and I would always talk about how much easier they were going to be when they are 4 and 3 and we're finally there.  There are days where they will play together for hours just using their imaginations and enjoying each other.  It's nice not to have them demanding every minute of my day as they did when they were babies.  Yes, I do miss having a baby sometimes... but then I take a minute just to REMEMBER... and I'm content once again :)

Mykelle is growing into a wonderful little girl.  She's so excited to be "growing up."  I told her I never wanted her to grow up and to stay my little girl forever and she responded with, "Well Mom, we grow!  Maybe you will need to cut me in half!"  :)  She talks constantly of things like Princesses, friends, being a mom someday, and turning 5.  A day doesn't go by that she doesn't mention getting to meet the REAL Rapunzel when she turns 5 and Papa Skip takes her on a Disney Cruise.  We keep telling her she needs to be aware it might not happen when she's 5, but she seems to think the day she turns 5 is when all her dreams will come true!

Mykee has also decided she does not want to be called "Mykee" anymore.  It is Mykelle (with a heart at the end).  Though she's never complained when I call her Mykee, she has said quite bluntly to strangers and relatives both that her name is Mykelle, NOT Mykee.  We had to have a chat about her making her requests more polite and about the fact that "Mykee" is an endearing nickname that people sometimes use because they like her and feel close to her.  She seems to understand, but still prefers her full name.

Another really exciting thing about our big move... Mykelle will be able to start Kindergarten in the fall! I am SO excited for her.  I haven't felt that she's ready to start full day Kindergarten so I was going to keep her home another year.  But, in our new county the schools have 1/2 day Kindergarten and are really good schools!  And she is READY!  Just this morning she saw a box and told us it said, "Oh-pen" on it.  We had to have her say it several times before she figured out it said, "open."  And the other day she asked me if a garbage can read, "wast."  She hasn't yet figured out the complexities of words like "waste."

Another sign of Mykelle's readiness to read- she drew this picture of her holding my hand and I'm holding baby Evan.  She drew it while I was cleaning and came out to tell me she'd written, "I Love Mommy."  Sure enough, it's on there!  She wasn't sure what the first line was, the IME, but the next few letters spell out I  LV  MOME.  It says "I love Mommy" if you sound it out!  I was so proud of her! 
Evan and Mykelle are now in different Primary classes, Evan in his first real Primary class- Sunbeams!  Mykelle and I talked about CTR4 being called that because she is 4 years old.  I could see the wheels turning in her head... "Mom, how old are you?"  I told her 30 and she promptly asked if I was in a "CTR30" class.  So cute!  She really likes numbers and counting too- she may have received that strange accounting gene that seems to run in my family!  Her goal she made in Joy School was to learn to count to 120.  Evan's was to put his shoes on by himself (yeah, they're velcro, and he still can't do it yet...)

Evan is still being a little whiney and throws fits on occasion but he too is getting a little better behaved as he gets older.  But he does occasionally have problems with going to the bathroom...  For example- the other day he started yelling from the toilet.  I went in there and he was sitting on the pot holding his face and screaming, "PEE in my EYE!!  I got PEE IN MY EYE!!"  Yeah, that was totally laugh out loud funny!

Everywhere we go Evan wins people over with his contagious smile and happy nature.  Especially the ladies.  If he spots a pretty woman you can be sure he is making eyes at her and smiling to get her attention.  I have a feeling his dad may have been the same way when he was a little guy!

I know this blog post has been mostly about my kids but I have felt like I've neglected documenting their cute personalities and how quickly they are growing.  They are wonderful children and make me happy every single day.  I love being their mother!