The leaves outside the nursery

November 11, 2007

The leaves outside the nursery window have changed from green to yellow to yellow-tinged-with red.  The acorns have fallen off the trees at the playground, and the sidewalks in our neighborhood are littered with maple and oak.  We have had a long and pleasant autumn in D.C. this year, and I have enjoyed almost every moment of it. 

Defying earlier expectations and the outcomes of some with my disease, I have not only survived but become more healthy this fall.  I can now go to playdate in the morning, and, after nap, play with my children and perhaps do a load of laundry in the afternoon.  I can feed my baby formula — from a cup — and pick him up and cuddle him when he’s done.  I can cook him bite-sized vegetables (he just started eating peas and carrots today — and he loves them!), and play with both the boys over a long lunch.  I can go out to dinner with my husband, and put my baby or little boy to bed when we come home.

My tumor is shrinking.  The inflammation is much less, the redness subdued, and the weight much lighter.  The swelling is going down.  My chest still hurts, but the pain is more controllable and has lessened greatly.  I’m still nauseated, but nothing like I was in August.  I’ve lost my appetite, but I remember what foods I like and I can certainly make myself eat when I must.  My nose and stomach are not yet healed, but I can keep food down now and I’ve stopped losing weight. 

My hair — even my hair — is starting to grow back.  This afternoon, as I was putting Widget down for nap, he pulled my cap off, looked critically at me, and asked, “Mom, is dat new hair?”  I smiled and said yes, for there is new peach fuzz all over my scalp, coming in thick and strong.  He looked again, thought, and asked, “It grow long again?” 

Yes, honey, it will.

As I rocked your little brother to sleep tonight, I noticed that the leaves outside the nursery are still changing.  I am determined to be here to watch them come back in the spring.

fallleaves


Zachary

November 6, 2007

There is a woman in my cancer yoga class who has a child.  A six-year-old child.  And when I heard that, my heart momentarily leapt, thinking of the playdates that we could have, and the moments over peppermint tea and apple slices, and the relaxing in the back yard as we both recovered from chemotherapy sessions and watched our children play.  My mind raced with both happiness, in finding a fellow mom there at The Wellness Community , and sadness, for the child whose mother has cancer, and the mother who must explain these things to her child.

But, as it turns out, it is not the mother in that family who has cancer.  It is her child.  Little Zachary, age 6, has cancer that is not responding to chemotherapy.  He has no more chemo options, and his mother is … well, distraught would not be an exaggeration.  She held it together well, but as we talked, walking to the twin minivans in the parking lot, it was evident that she has a lot on her mind.

And now I have a lot on my mind too.  I’ve been thinking a lot about her today.  About how hard it must be for her, her husband, and child.  About whether Zachary has little brothers or sisters at home, and what it’s like for them.  But mostly about her.  What must it be like to be the mother of a child who is very ill?

As it turns out, it’s easy enough to find out, in these blogging days of the internet.  There are heartbreaking stories everywhere, about the nephew with a terminal illness, the son with cancer, the daughter with lymphoma, the mother with brain cancer.  Then there are the stories of loss.  Of infants taken too soon.  Those born too small to thrive.  Those who were lost in the womb, labeled “miscarriage,” perhaps.  Those who never got to rest in their mama’s arms and smile beguilingly at their daddy with newborn coos.  And what is the greater tragedy?  Where is the greater pain?

As I realized in reading bon’s post earlier today, this is a senseless question.  We all have tragedy in our lives, and we all have loss.  No hurt is trivial.  And yet, they all are, compared to love. 

Today, let us focus on the love.


Kindness

November 5, 2007

Were I to use this blog only to recount the kindnesses of friends and strangers, I would still post every day, and it would be cram-packed full of stories.  I would write today of the kindness of my friend Mike, who picked us up yesterday when our car stalled and I was stuck with a carful of groceries and a toddler — who was NOT going to ride in the front seat of the tow truck, despite how happy it would have made him.  I would write of the kindness of Stimey, who watched my kids this morning while I went to cancer yoga to work on the pain and weakness in my upper chest.  I would write of Jacquie, who brought over dinner and special treats from Trader Joe’s.  I would write of the elves that quietly leave me a bag of goodies every morning I go to chemo, cheering me on the days I don’t want to step outside and go down to the hospital for treatment.

I would write of the kindness of my parents and my husband’s parents, who have put their lives on hold to care for us during this time when I am having trouble caring for myself.

I would write the first paragraph over and over, until it became boring for you, for every week, a mom helps me with the kids while I go to cancer yoga.  Every week, a mom brings over dinner, to give our caregivers a bit of a break.  Every week, a mom calls to see what she can pick up for me at the store, to see if there’s an errand I need running that I can’t pull myself out of bed to go and do.  Every week, I get cards and letters from cousins and aunts and friends, bringing a bit of cheer.

Every week, you, my blogfriends, leave me comments and send me email, checking in, asking about me, letting me know that I am not alone.

And because of you, all of you, I am gathering the strength to go on, to pick myself up, and to get back to the business of living.

Today I am stronger than I was yesterday.  The chemo is working.  The tumor is shrinking.  And my spirit — my spirit is stronger than it has ever been.  Today I am reminded of all the good there is in the world. 

Whatever your day brings, I hope that it brings you as well a moment of kindness, and a moment of peace.


Yep, we’re aware!

November 1, 2007

Today is the last day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2007.  I’ve been collecting links to your awareness posts all month and linking them over at the BCAM link over on the left over there if they mention inflammatory breast cancer.  60 of you have played along and posted something about IBC and breast cancer on your own sites this month.  You are awesome.  Here’s a recap of what you’ve written, with links of gratitude to each of you. 

To kick it off, I’d like to share something neat that Canape’s friend Boo is doing to celebrate this month.  She’s playing in the Symphony of Hope, in memory of her good friend Wendy, and in honor of me and another friend.  Canape herself has “pinked” her blog and added “ask me about IBC” to the header.  I’m moved beyond words. 

BonCandyGirlFlies, Jenn, Jessica, C.E., and other blogfriends are walking and talking to raise awareness.

Here are some posts celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

Hopes and Prayers for a Cancer-Free-Tomorrow (9/24).  Two Shews hit a double-header (9/26) with her post against Facebook’s censorship and for breast cancer awareness. !

MultiTasking Mommy says, “My blog is going pink for you this month!” Kristen at Motherhood Uncensored went pink tooThe Hatfields went pink for October in honor of their mother’s very recent breast cancer diagnosis.  Colloquium urges us all to go pink.  I wish I could, but on wordpress.com, I’m sadly limited.  My review blog, Review Planet, tried to go pink, but it’s really rather purple instead.  Temporarily Me, Gaining Balance, and a ton of other blogs went pink successfully!

Here are some other great blog posts for Breast Cancer Awareness month; every single one talks about IBC: Joy in Chaos (9/28); Dr. Savta (10/1); The Lady Speaks (10/1); The Tardy Teacher (10/1), Gift of Green (10/1) and Mom Chatter (10/1) also went pink; It’s An Insane World (10/1); A Hug Around the Neck (10/2); Tales from the Carpool Lane; Alpha+MomToddler Drama (10/4); The Individual Voice (10/4);  Twintastic (10/5); Phoenix Says went pink for me (10/7); Mamanista (10/7); Lipstick to Crayons (10/8); Fitlinks (10/9); Imposter Mom (10/11); Mommy and the Marine (10/16), Verb (10/16), The Dairy Wife (10/19); Skywritings (10/20); I’m getting finger cramps trying to keep up with all of you wonderful people!

Magnetobold dedicated her 100th post to me.  Mommy’s Getaway is talking about the Virtual Walk, which is way cool.  Not Just a Working Mom joined Team WhyMommy and wrote about it recently.  The World Through the Eyes of Me is walking and writing in support of her mother, fighting recurrent breast cancer.  The Life and Times of a First Time Mom hosted a pink playgroup, and let me know about it because she went to get a lump checked out because of (little old) me! 

The Hotfessional is doing something fun!  She also wrote thisMy Little Drummer Boys and Baby Talkers joined Team WhyMommy on 10-7 and posted the 7-23 post on IBC!

MSN had an interesting article on The Pink Campaign; thanks to my friend Joanne for including my comments and the words inflammatory breast cancer both there and on her Pundit Mom site!  She also asked her blogfriends to click for her birthday (10/15).  Way cool.  Marlene on the Run joined Team WhyMommy and posted the 7-23 post on 10/18.  

My friend at And Then She Said wrote a great post on 10-5.  Her mom died of IBC, and my heart breaks for them, that she never got to know her beautiful grandson.  He is adorable.  Go click and see!  StrollerDerby celebrated Breast Cancer Awareness Month on 10/10 by posting links to many of us fighting for our lives.

Fizzledink is back.  On 10-10, in one of her first posts, she joined Team WhyMommy and talked about IBC.  Welcome back, Fizz!  My virtual friend Lynn actually started her blog, Organic Mania, on 10-11 with a post about us, IBC, and her friend Susan.  Also on 10-11, The Ramblings of a Woman posted a cute one about Waddling for the Cure and Imposter Mom reminds us to take joy in the little moments as she goes pink and donates to help find a cure.  Changing More Than Diapers did a nice post too — and check out her cute kids!  Mountain Momma went pink and has a link to IBC research on her page.  On the other hand, Moms Speak Up wonders if going pink is enough (10/25) and remembers her friend who fought breast cancer for 8 years.

Crunchy Domestic Goddess reminds us that breastfeeding can help lower your risk of breast cancer — and your baby girl’s risk too!  MommyK in the Great Walls of Baltimore just had a 26-year-old friend diagnosed, and she wants us all to do our self-exams or remind the women in our lives to do them.

Killer Boob gives props to the Breast Cancer Site and publicized our Fox 5 media clips on 10/24!  Gorge Mamas and Papas saw the blurb about me in Parents Magazine, visited Toddler Planet, and wrote a nice post for their readers on 10/25.

Stimey wrote a beautiful post about me on the DC Metro Mom Blog (10/25) and the media attention that IBC is getting on Fox news.  Her piece was crossposted on the Chicago Moms Blog and the Silicon Valley Moms Blog too!

A series of strange coincidences have reintroduced me to a woman near me who gave birth at about the same time I did, in 2004.  I just recently re-met Mel from Stirrup Queens, and I am grateful for that and the posting on her blog (10/27).   Whirlwind used ME as her pink item for Photo Hunt Saturday (10/27)!  What fun! Amanda at Incredible Life also posted my IBC post (10/29) and has a note about a woman she knows who was diagnosed with IBC soon after being pregnant.  My heart goes out to her.  Slacker-Moms-R-Us is on the ball with a post about breast cancer and IBC and motherhood, all wrapped up into one (10/28)  She’s also doing a Pink for October giveaway on Halloween, so go check her out if you haven’t already. 

There are some really great links and activities in the comments on this post!

Thanks for playing along for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, everyone!  Don’t forget to do your breast self-exams, this month and every month!  I’ll leave this little doohickey over in my sidebar to remind us.

friskthe15th

This page and all its links will also remain posted on my sidebar, under “Read This!”