Friday, April 27, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Feelings on Beating Cancer

So it looks like Chris is done with cancer! Even the big mass that the after-chemo-CT scan showed in his chest  is apparently just dead or scar tissue since the PET scan did not show any signs whatsoever of active cancer in his chest.  What?! This news was so different than what I was expecting that I found it really hard to believe. This means that all the prayers and the fasting and everything way back in February and March were answered even though for most of April we've been under the assumption that the fight wasn't quite over and we were rounding up the emotional and physical troops to rally for a month of daily radiation. Foward.....March! Wait, nevermind. Stop, go home, the war is over....so I guess that means its time to party, right?

This really is amazing news and I have spent a long time offering prayers and entertaining thoughts of gratitude.  I'm sooo glad our doctor thought to check with all the other lymphoma oncologist to get a consensus for Chris' next step (PET scan or radiation), before just going straight to radiation like he thought.

I was feeling a bit down on myself for having such a hard time accepting this good news, this miracle. Its hard to describe. I think this situation has been hard to trust partly because I was quite prepared for bad news (I had even found and pre-appreciated some silver linings) and also partly because I was wanting the "cancer free" news to come in a very definite, momentous way.  This amazing news was also clouded by the PET scan showing some "uptake" in Chris prostate and the thought that maybe Chris had beat lymphoma cancer only to face prostate cancer was quite heavy.

Chris had an exam with the doctor on Monday to check the small "uptake" visible on the PET scan and thanks to one of my running friends who watched my kids at a park I was able to go with Chris.  I'm really glad I went because the visit gave me a chance to talk with the doctor and ask all my questions and really start to feel like we're done, like we survived cancer.  The exam itself went well and since he didn't feel any bumps or lumps and since Chris doesn't exhibit any symptoms, I feel fine with believing the small amount of "uptake" to be caused by some other normal-ish circumstance and to believe Chris does not have more cancer!

Plus, while we were waiting, Chris located some article in some magazine that talked about post-treatment feelings. Apparently its extremely normal for people in our situation to have mixed feelings about everything.  Some people even find it to be one of the tougher times. Throughout this whole process, Chris and I have jokingly drawn a parallel between his cancer experience and pregnancy: long term nausea, tiredness, certain muscle atrophy, emotional ups and downs etc. And so right now we'd be entering the postpartum period (I guess he gets to skip Labor and Delivery!) and no one really loves being postpartum -- of course setting aside having a new, sweet baby to love.  Oh and speaking of new babies, we also got a chance to ask the doctor all of our questions about fertility at the exam on Monday, and we didn't really get any good or definite answers except he usually recommends waiting 6 months to a year before even thinking about having more kids.

Anyway. Lots to think about, lots to be grateful for, lots to be happy about. It is slowly starting to sink in. I'm not sure how to end this post and Alec is getting impatient to start his reading lesson so I'll just be brief and end with a general and yet truly heartfelt:  Thanks to everyone for everything.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Alec's turn at work

As I walked in from my run this morning instead of finding everyone asleep still I was greeted by a fully dressed Alec, from shoes to backpack. He also wanted to make his own lunch: a creamed honey, butter and jam sandwich.

Again we waved goodbye to father and son as they rode by on the bus. He played with cars and colored/drew for most of the morning. Apparently at 10:45 he said he was hungry and ate his lunch and found he was still hungry. So he said he wanted to go get some hotdogs. Chris, of course, was happy to oblige.

This was a fun idea and we have to credit our good friends the Talbots for it! I think we may try and repeat this every month or couple of months.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Charlie goes to work

For a self proclaimed Take Your Child to Work Day, we sent Charlie on the bus with Daddy this morning. He was dressed, ready to go and worried about missing the bus even before Chris was out of bed!

We got a backpack special for the occasion and filled it up with cars, lunch and a workbook.

I picked him up just after lunch. He seemed like he had a really good time and I enjoyed the practically fight/quarrel-less morning with just Alec and Gwen. Tomorrow is Alec's turn.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Science Center

I've been feeling a bit trapped up here. Back in the Bay Area we had unlimited outings of varying sizes within an hour's drive: San Fransisco, tons of open space preserves, hikes, rock climbing, farms, Santa Cruz, or even Monterrey Bay if we went a bit further. But here, we don't know much else besides things in the city or along the pretty river paths within 5 minutes of home, and neither of those really feel like 'day trip' worthy enterprises. I hear there may be some dinosaur bones or museum just north of the city, so I'll have to figure that out. I think mainly I'm just missing a good family car trip. We haven't gone anywhere as a family since we moved here more than 8 months ago. We used to make the 14 hr drive to UT about every 4 months it seems for the last 5 years. Needless to say we are all SOOOOOOOOOO excited for our next family trip (Utah here we come!) coming up in June.

Until then, I'll try to find new places to explore around here. I think we're off to a good start since last Saturday we went to the Science Center just 5-10 minutes North of Chris' work. It was really fun. An annual pass more than pays for itself after 3 visits so, we splurged (thanks Tax Refunds!) and got a pass. There is an IMAX theater and 4 or 5 other exhibits and a full dome theater and a really cool kids exploratory place.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

I didn't feel up to putting together daily activities to celebrate the whole Holy Week this year. But by Thursday we started showing the kids some of the cool new Bible Videos depicting Christ's life the church put out. I think they are really neat; quiet and realistic. Chris especially likes the way the angels are shown.

The children sang a song in Sacrament Meeting and Charlie, for his first time, got to be included! He was so happy! Alec, had to be partially enticed with money towards a lego set. I say partially because I was pretty vague with my wording and its possible he forgot about it (cross your fingers). Charlie also gave the scripture, prayer and theme in Primary, which he also loved doing. He has such a cute way of speaking, and although even I, his own mother, had a hard time understanding one part of the scripture, it was beyond adorable and everyone loved his participation.

We made a yummy ham dinner, a little egg hunt downstairs and of course, my families traditional Easter Egg Roll Competition. See last year's post for an explanation....uh.. nevermind I guess I've never explained online what it is. So here goes: Everyone dyes their own eggs (we like to do 3 eggs per person) and then take turns rolling an egg against another person's egg. You sit across from each other on the floor and count, 1...2.... and on 3 you release your egg, rolling it across the floor to hit (hopefully)the other egg mid-pass and when two hard boiled eggs hit each other, only 1 cracks. Whoever's egg doesn't crack is the winner of the match-up. Usually Chris will make up a family bracket with everyone's eggs and we do all of the matchups until someone is the family champion.

This year the winner was . . .

CHARLIE! He actually won first AND second place since he had two eggs un-cracked at the end.

Inspired by my sister-in-laws, I tried to make this really involved coconut cream cake and it turned our pretty good. Now we just have to figure out who to invite over for FHE tomorrow to finish it off! I reduced the recipe by a 1/3 and we still hardly dented the egg-shaped, 7 layer cake.

It was my week to teach all the women in Relief Society again and my assigned lesson was on, "The Immortality of the Soul." A perfect Easter lesson and I really enjoyed preparing and even giving this one. One of my favorite quotes from President George Albert Smith helped me better understand the different between my body and my spirit:
The physical portion that we see (our bodies) is of earth, earthy [see1 Corinthians 15:47], but that portion which leaves the body when our lives go out is that which is spiritual, and it never dies. The physical tabernacle lies in the tomb—it is a portion of the earth and goes back to mother earth—but the intelligence that God has placed within it, that which has power to reason and to think, that which has power to sing and to speak, knows no death; ...
At the end of my lesson I talked about how I felt at my Grandpa's funeral two summers ago and in speaking I felt incredibly sure of my declaration about the reality of an afterlife and of every person's eventual resurrection, stronger than I've ever felt before. The whole 45 min lesson was a pretty cool experience for me. I felt like every (or at least every other) word I said, carried a lot of meaning for me. Anyways, sorry to go off on this but it was really interesting to me. Happy Easter!

snow day

We got the most snow fall yet this year a few days ago. It wasn't snowing when we went to bed at midnight, it wasn't even cloudy and when we woke up we found this:

It was perfect snowman snow, wet and heavy. So the kids and I built snowmen for the first time. They each wanted their own to decorate so I was quick about it and didn't focus on quality too much, which meant they all three fell down within 2 days - Charlie's didn't last an hour!

They used carrots, celery, graham crackers, sticks, pine cones, berries and snow hats for the accessories. It was really fun.

I think one of the things I liked most about that experience was that it happened at 4:30pm. Usually, I'm distracted with dinner prep and the kids just go crazy cranky and I dread that time of day. But on this day, we were having Chris' boss and his family over for dinner and since Chris would be at a late meeting with his boss until 5:45 leaving me to do dinner by myself we decided on a menu that I could prep slowly over a few days. I don't mean to brag but this meal turned out EXACTLY as I'd dreamed (that doesn't happen very often!) The pulled pork just shredded beautiful and was mild but yummy. The home made BBQ sauce was dark, thick, tangy and slightly spicy. The home made rolls (they call them buns here) were stiff and slightly crunchy on the outside and soft and airy on the inside. The home made mac n' cheese was gourmet seeming and the homemade baked beans turned out just like Chris' grandma's makes them. The oatmeal cake was pretty good too. And Shayna, Mike's wife, brought a fruit salad with all my favorite fruit. I was in heaven for almost 20 hours because of this meal... just ask my running buddies!