Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reunited and it feels so good!

I can't get that cheesy Peaches and Herb song out of my head now. I makes me want to go to the roller rink (all you gen xers will know what I'm talking about). I was reunited with my boyfriend Joel the Pole yesterday. In other words, I started targeted therapy yesterday. I am so glad to finally get this show on the road. This is supposedly the new lymphoma wonder drug, SGN 35, that will hopefully put me in remission so that I can move on to my transplant. It is in the stages of getting FDA approved but they have seen excellent results from it. Chemo will attack the bad cell but also the good cells hence, the unpleasant side effects. SGN 35 is targeted therapy meaning that it attacks the antigen in the Hodgkin's so I will experience very little side effects. I get to keep my Fonz looking hair but may experience fatigue, tingling in my fingers and feet, and maybe a little nausea. I've tolerated everything they've given me pretty well so far so hopefully, this will be the same except I want it to kill this thing once and for all! Another big blessing is that it is infusion instead of in patient and only takes thirty minutes. I'll go once a week for three weeks and then have a week off. I'll be on this therapy for at least 2 months. However, we are hoping I stay on it for the maximum time which is six months. Personally, I think that I just haven't been on treatment long enough and that is why this stubborn cancer keeps coming back.

When Doug and I first started dating, I used to get very frustrated when we would go to parties, showers or anywhere there was a big group of people. He would go off and leave me. I wished for a boyfriend that would stay by my side and be my boyfriend/date for the night. Well, be careful of what you wish for. I now have Joel the Pole at my side the whole time during chemo and he'll be by my side during my hospital stay. After five years of dating and nine years of marriage, Doug now stays pretty close to me when we're at a crowded function. Good boy!

Some days I still have to pinch myself to remind me that this is really happening to me. I never thought that at forty (yes, I had to check a new age box this year) I would be battling cancer for the third time. I am the one that never got sick. Until I had Abbey, I had never used all my sick days at work. I never called in sick to work. I can count the number of times I've gone home sick on both hands and not use all fingers. I am the first person on both sides of my family to have any type of cancer- except for an uncle that got prostate cancer at an old age and my great grandmother that had colon cancer, surgery and lived to be 86. Remember the old phrase never say never? I never thought this would happen to me. But then the optimist in me turns it around to something positive. Here are some things that I never thought would happen to me but have turned out to be a pleasant surprise:

1. I never thought my marriage would have to endure a test like this. Yes, we rattle off those vows of "in sickness and health" without really thinking about it. I will say it has made our marriage stronger and our love, admiration and respect for each other grows every day.
2. I always new I would love my children but I also really like my kids. Now I can hear you all rolling your eyes. No, I am not one of those moms that think her children are the end all be all of children. I know they are not perfect. But I also think they are funny, creative, smart and good people. My prayers continue to be answered when I see them growing into loving and kind individuals.
3. I never dreamed I would live in a neighborhood that has given me an real sense of community. I know I sound like a broken record, but we could not be getting through this ordeal without the help of the kindness and generosity of our community.
4. I never thought I could feel such fierce love for someone. We all know of the primal mother instinct but I feel that way about my family and my friends. Say what you want about me but don't you dare try to say something about Doug or my girls. Or anyone else I love for that matter!
5. I never thought I would develop such a love for volunteering. It is one of my true passions.
6. I never thought I would be so happy to drive a mini van. Doug and I had a mini van pact when we got married. I would not ask for one and he would not buy me one. After we had our third, Anne Renee, I begged for one. I figured I was going to look like a mom no matter what I drove so I might as well drive something that has all the modern conveniences for a mom- remote controlled sliding doors, DVD player, and is a height that all three can get in by themselves.
7. I never thought I would pay more for tickets to the Wiggles concert than I did for the Rolling Stones! Truth be told, I probably had a better time at the Wiggles than I did at the Stones!
8. I never thought I would be the type of mother who would let her three year old eat girl scout cookies for breakfast. But you have to pick your battles and this has only happened once.
9. I never thought I would have so much respect for my mother. As a mom now, I realize what she went through with my parents divorce and what sacrifices she made. I love you mom!
10. I never thought I would love the silence of my own home but miss my kids so much at the same time.

This list could go on forever so I'll just wrap it up right now.

Many of you have gotten tested to see if you're a match. Words cannot express how grateful Doug and I are for our friends and family. Please know if the tables were turned, we would do it for you in a heart beat! If you would like to get tested, there is still time. Yes, we have found the 3 9 out of 10 donors but they really like to have 10 out of 10 so we are still searching. My wonderful friends Robin and Sue have organized a stem cell match drive at West U Methodist on March 9th. A representative from the national registry will be there for testing. No needles involved- it's four swabs of the mouth and takes about 10 minutes. You will be tested to match me first, and if it is not a match, then you will go in the registry and hopefully, help someone like me! If March 9th does not work for you, I will send out a code where you can do it on line. If you want to get tested but don't want to go in the registry please see my first blog entry. All the info is there.

Doug is still known to socially abandon me from time to time. It usually involves his college or high school buddies. But when it comes to the important times, he's just where I need him to be- right by my side. And I am so grateful for that! Because "We're reunited and it feels so good!" Sorry! I just couldn't resist and I have this darn song stuck in my head!

Friday, February 13, 2009

What do I want to be?

My eight year old has started telling me what she wants to be when she grows up. I give her the standard girl power response- "you can be anything you want with determination and hard work." Then she turned the tables on me and asked me "Mommy, what are you going to be?". I told her that my job was to her mother and to run our house." But it started making me think that this is one goal that is never quite finished. At anytime in your life, you can ask yourself that question. The answer can vary or change but there is always an answer. Let me demonstrate for you.

My earliest memory (and I do have a fantastic memory)of being asked this question was when I was 5 years old. A family friend asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. My response was "My daddy is going to buy me my own TV show." I used to dream of being on television. I did not want to be on the Brady Bunch or the Partridge Family- they had too many kids (did I mention I was an only child for a long time?). My two most coveted shows were The Bionic Woman and Charlies Angels. I would devise some plot that would make my character a weekly regular. For instance, on the Bionic Woman, I was her niece Janie (her name was Jamie). My parents had died in a car or airplane accident but there were able to save me with bionics. Since she had two bionic legs, one arm and an ear, I would have one bionic leg (don't ask me how I thought I was going to run with one regular and one bionic leg), two bionic arms and the first bionic nose. Now, do you want to know the real irony of this story? In '97 I had nose surgery for a deviated septum (yes, I had them smooth down the sides too). I can smell pot roast being cooked down the street. Doug and I say I have the bionic smelling nose! Charlie's Angels was kind of the same scenario where I was orphaned but I was either Bosley's or one of the angels niece and I ALWAYS found the clue that solved the crime. This went on until I was about 9 although sometimes it was the Love Boat, Three's Company or some other cheesy show. The only show I would have turned down was Little House on the Prarie. That time in history did not seem like a fun time to live in. Refer to my previous blog entry on why.

When I was 10 we moved to Brenham, Texas. Brenham has a German celebration of spring called the Maifest. They have a junior and a senior Maifest with each having their own king and queen. If you have never been to Maifest, you are missing out. It is like a G rated Mardi Gras. I wanted so badly to be the Maifest queen. We moved to Brenham when I was too old to be the junior queen. But I thought I might have a shot at being the senior queen. I had my theme picked out. I had my train designed. I would practice walking around the house with a crown and used a baton as my scepter. Well, we moved again the summer before I was to start high school which blew any chance of me being the Maifest queen. I have never gotten over this. My girls now participate in Maifest. They love it. But the funniest thing is that they will ask me if they will ever be the Maifest queen.

When I was 12, I asked my dad what he did. He told me he was an investment banker. I had no idea what an investment banker did but I thought it sounded really cool. So I would play investment banker. Mainly, I pretended to be on the phone and tried to find babysitters for my imaginary children.

When I got into high school, I either wanted my own clothing store or to be a news broadcaster. I went off to college and ended up majoring in communications. Like many of my fellow gen xers, I ended up in a career that had NOTHING to do with my major. It took me a while to find myself. I did retail and hated it. Went into sales but hated that too. Stumbled into supply chain and LOVED it. Whenever I was frustrated at work, I would think maybe law school was the answer. I just think I would like saying I was an attorney and yelling "OBJECTION" every now and then. I also think I was more intrigued with the image and ego that came with having a law degree than the degree itself. But in the back of my mind, my long term goal was always to be a stay at home mother and wife.

I love my career. I love the messy kisses. I love the fact that I have complete and unconditional love for my girls. I love the fact that they are the product of both Doug and me. I love that I can see characteristics of both of us and then some that are unique to themselves. I love the excitement in their little voices when they've been in school and they climb in the car and say "Hi Mommy!" And I love the fact that Doug and I provide a safe place for them to fall when the world is a scary place.

But still, I ask myself "what do I want to be?" I want to be healthy. I want to be a cancer survivor. I want to be an inspirational voice for those who need someone to cheer them along in their cancer journey. I want to be a good friend. I want to be a person that people can speak highly of and know that I would walk over hot coals for the people I love dearly. I want to be here when my girls graduate from college. I want to be here to dance at their weddings. I want a deeper spiritual relationship with God. My cancer journey has deepened it some. And I do believe I had a good foundation before I was even diagnosed. But I think this might be a good blog topic to write on at another time.

On a lighter side, Doug has told me that all he ever wanted to be in life is tall (for those of you who don't know him, he is only a couple inches taller than I am and I'm 5'5''). I just laugh and tell him that he is so much more- smart, kind, considerate, grounded and a fantastic husband, father, and provider. I'm still holding out for that TV show, but for right now when Abbey asks me "what do you want to be?" my reply is "just what I am!"