Monday, July 19, 2010

Heavy

This evening Rebecca came up to my computer because I had promised her she could play games on Facebook.  She began hugging and kissing me, professing her love, and said, in a happy, light-hearted way, "I hope you never die, and I hope I never die."  I laughed, and told her that we'll all die someday, but hopefully not for a long, long time.  I was reading email, specifically from my kidney-onc list.  She saw what I was reading, and asked me the following:

"Do you like having cancer?"

It was an honest question, asked without any agenda or motive, just simple curiosity.  I told her no, I don't like having cancer.  I wish I didn't have it, but since I can't "un-have" it, I just deal with it. 

Then she asked me,

"Is there anything good about having cancer for you?"

It was on the tip of my tongue to say no, nothing.  Then I glanced over at my monitor, where my email program sat open, filled with messages from my kidney-onc friends.  I told Rebecca that she had just asked a very good question, and that I wanted to say no, there's nothing good about having cancer.  But actually, I have met a lot of really nice, really wonderful people because of my cancer.  These people are willing to share information with each other to help all of us.  And I am glad I've met them, so that is something good.

I asked her if she is scared about my having cancer.  She said, "Nope!" which was an excellent answer.  I told her that I was glad to hear that.  As she knows, I reminder her, I get treatments when they find something, then I just get to live my life when I don't need treatment.  It's just how it is right now, I told her, and she seemed to accept that.  I hope that when we tell her and her sister that I'm going into the hospital, that she can be this calm about it.  She is maturing, for sure, though.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

At least I'm doing better than THAT guy

On weekday mornings, I generally wake first and take a shower before waking Jim and the girls.  The other morning, I stumbled into the bathroom and started the shower.  As it warmed up, I idly took a look into the toilet bowl to see if it needed cleaning.  (Rebecca is learning how to clean toilets among other chores to earn rewards.)
Imagine my surprise when what I saw in the bowl was one small dead mouse floating on the surface of the water.  

Yes, he was dead, and yes, I was still way creeped out anyhow.  I ran back up to our bedroom and woke Jim.  He stirred a little until I said "I have a problem and I need your help."  THAT sat him up quickly.  He looked at the mouse and laughed.  We decided to get the girls up to see the spectacle before getting rid of it.  They both have that kid-fascination with dead things and animal things, so we knew they wouldn't be too grossed out.  Carly wanted to know if he was still alive, and we explained that he wasn't.  "Why are his eyes open then?"  Fair question.

Jim gave our rodent buddy a burial at sea and we all moved along with our day.  Not a typical morning at our house.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Back to life

Thanks to all for the nice comments here and on my Facebook page; I really appreciate them.

While I wait again for the next chapter in this story, life goes on.  Work is work, home is home, never enough time to get done what I want or need to do.  As I was afraid, the girls' enthusiasm for earning marbles by doing chores has totally waned.  Tonight Rebecca sat with me at my computer bugging me to let her play games on some site the kids at day camp play on in the late afternoon.  I told her that she should go downstairs and unload the dishwasher to earn a marble while I finished what I was doing online.  She doesn't have to put away anything she can't reach; all of that stuff goes on top of the stove.  No dice... she didn't want to go downstairs.  I just had a talk with both of them and reminded them that if they want special items they have to work on some chores, and that if they aren't going to do any chores for marbles, then we'll start making a list of chores for them to do just because!  I also think we have too much TV time going on; it's time to limit that and then the TV goes off.  Because when they get into the mode Jim and I call "eyeballs glued to the TV" there's no talking to them.  I've been assured by other parents that my kids are not the only children in the world who have this affliction, but it's still pretty sad to see.


I've been thinking of up-sides to my upcoming surgery, to cheer myself up.  Here is a list:

- I get to stay home and take naps
- When I'm not napping, I can go onto Facebook and hone my mad Bejeweled Blitz skillz
- If they take out my ovaries, no more pesky periods!  Ironically, I just bought a big box of tampons at Target the other day; if that doesn't seal my fate, I'm not sure what will.
- Maybe if they have to resect some of my small intestines, it will have the effect like a weight loss surgery... without all the co-pays.  Okay, that actually wouldn't be a good thing, but shhhh... just looking at the sunny side of the street here
- If they have to do an open procedure, and I get to be a guest of the fabulous Cleveland Clinic, Jim can bring me asiago bagels from Au Bon Pain in the hospital
- Get well cards!  Need I say more?  
- I can feel like I'm REALLY getting my money's worth out of my health insurance... as if I didn't already get that satisfaction from how much they spent on my IL-2

Is there anything else I'm forgetting?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Speaking of sensitive subjects

This weekend I learned a lesson.  As a person with stage IV cancer and a young family, watching a movie that includes the death of a parent is not wise.  I watched a movie that has been on my Netflix queue for a while, a movie that will remain nameless so as not to provide any spoilers.  However, in the film, the main character dies, leaving a spouse and a young child behind.  The movie was based on a book that I read a few years ago, pre-stage IV-ness, when these situations would make me sad, but not overwhelm me.  That is what the film did... I was overcome with emotion while watching it, thinking that this might be me before too long.  It's certainly a fear that lives in a piece of my brain all the time, but a fear that I try to calm whenever I can so that I can remain positive and focused on if not defeating this cancer, at least beating it back so that I can enjoy life.   I decided that for the time being, I will not seek out films that I know have this kind of subject matter... there is plenty else out there to watch.  I do enjoy dramas but I think that laughter would probably be my best medicine right now.

Two years to the day

I have a date... for surgery.  Today Jim and I met with Dr. Drake, who will be performing the surgery on August 6.  That happens to be two years exactly from the date I had my first resection of a metastasis,or in other words, had kidney cancer removed from another part of my body.  

He plans to do the surgery via laparoscope if possible.  I will most certainly have the right ovary removed, as that is the side where the largest mass is.  The mass might be involved with some loops of my small intestine.  If that is the case, he may have to "open me up" to remove some of the small bowel and repair it.  He will also get the mass by the left ovary.  I have a cyst on the left ovary and it's possible he might remove the left ovary as well.  If that happens, I officially will be in menopause... weird thought.  Lastly, there is an additional mass in the mesentery, that Dr. Olencki had mentioned in Columbus, but nobody in Cleveland seemed to see until now.  Dr. Drake will try to remove it, as long as it's not attached to a major blood vessel or anything.  If that is the case, he'll take a sample for pathology.

If everything goes well and I don't need to be opened up, I could go home that day.  On the other hand, if it becomes a more invasive, major procedure, I could be in the hospital for 3-5 days.  Oh joy; how I so love being an inpatient.  But, I do what I have to do... and the more he can get out, the better.  I'm not thrilled about possibly losing both ovaries, though there are upsides to that as well as downsides, and being alive and well while hormonally challenged beats many alternatives.

We will not be telling the girls about my surgery until that week, so that they don't freak out and obsess for weeks about Mommy being gone.  It's been a great several months and we've gotten used to being together again.  Carly is showing some signs of her difficulty with my hospitalizations, more so than she did when they were going on.  She is more lovey-dovey with me, telling me often that she loves me, and wanting to cuddle more than she used to.  Rebecca still likes to come up for a hug at random times, but has been overall more accepting of everything as she has matured.  Carly continues to talk to us about death.  Over the weekend she has mentioned that she thinks Jim and I will die before she grows up.  I asked her if she was afraid that was going to happen, and she said she was.  We talked again about the idea of trying to be as healthy as we can so that we don't die for a long time, and she accepted that.  I might just be extra sensitive to this topic, while for her, asking these questions and considering these possibilities may just be a part of her growing up process. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Beat off my feet

Whew... it is nice to be off my feet.  I spent the day on household chores like laundry, picking up, a couple of errands.  There's one load left in the dryer, after which all clothes not currently being worn, or hidden away somewhere, will be washed.  I don't mind laundry, except my energy peters out toward the end with the "putting away" phase.  Not sure why that is, and it is annoying to have a basket full of clean clothes blocking my path in the bedroom.  Apparently it's not annoying enough for me to put everything away most of the time, though I am working on finishing what I start.  (Now there is a theme I could take off and run with, but not tonight.)  The girls were very helpful earlier today, and so the first few loads are all hung, folded and put where they belong.  We're trying a system of earning marbles for various chores, with the goal of getting some special treat (toy, outing or some such) once the marble jar is full.  Unfortunately their desire for marbles didn't remain high all day, but hopefully they will pick up a little steam.  I think I need a marble jar, now that I think about it.  Jim will have to help me decide on what would qualify for how many marbles!

My plan for today had been to work on really clearing out and cleaning up our living room.  I also wanted to work on washing our deck with the power washer Jim bought a while back.  Didn't get to either of those things but I am still satisfied that I didn't waste my day.  Tomorrow we have an early birthday party for my niece, then grandma wants us to go to a local art show with her.  I am seriously considering having her take the girls and I would stay home to work.  Not only do we have the two projects above, but we decided this evening to take the rest of the d@mn mulch pile and put it under the girls' playground set.  That should go fairly quickly, but still needs time.  We'll see though; I do enjoy walking around an art show.  I think the weather is supposed to hold for most of the week, so I could defer the outside stuff until a weekday evening.

There is a part of me that really wants to get all our home projects done, so that if at some point I am not feeling well for an extended period of time (like if I have drug therapy) then I will be able to rest comfortably and not stress about my house.  It also occurs to me that if the worst happens, I don't want to leave Jim with a cluttered home to deal with on top of everything else.  But really, I hope and plan to keep living life like I am now, and want to have a nice, comfortable space in which to do that.  Rebecca has commented a few times that we should try to get on the program Clean House.  Uh, not... we're not as bad as some/most of those folks, but I would die of mortification to have all my crap displayed on national television!  I certainly don't plan on applying to be on the program.  A while back she and I were watching The Biggest Loser, and she was aghast at the thought that if I were to apply to be on that show, and be accepted, that I would be away from her for more than 2 months.  So, she kept telling me I couldn't go on that show.  It was never something I really considered, as I kinda need to keep my job and so forth, but I will admit, the idea of getting to just focus on myself for an extended period of time is very appealing!

Friday, July 09, 2010

Calmer

This breathing stuff helps... it really does.  Whenever I start to feel nervous or fearful about what may lie ahead with my health, I try to remember to focus on my breathing.  It's keeping me calmer and saner than I might otherwise be.  Imagine what some actual meditation might do for me.

Despite the stress of the day on Wednesday, it was also a wonderful day.  We have a new nephew, born to Jim's brother and his wife.  He's the second boy of eight grandchildren in Jim's family.  The first grandchild was a boy and then we've added six girls to the clan over the last seven years.  The new parents didn't find out the baby's gender before he was born, so it was a fun surprise for  everyone.  Yesterday I stopped at the hospital after work to visit with them.  He is so cute and tiny, with a full head of hair.  When I held him I realized that I've forgotten just how small a newborn is.  For a while after Carly was born, seeing a baby like this would have given me a dose of baby lust for a while.  We knew that we were finished with our family after Carly, but as she got older and bigger, I longed to have another baby in the house, someone tiny to hold and to cuddle.  It took a while, but finally I stopped feeling so nostalgic around babies, and now I just enjoy them when I'm with them.  Seeing photos of the girls at younger ages still makes me wistful at times, but I'm focused more on enjoying them now and on looking forward to more adventures with them as they continue to grow.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Facing fear and anger

Today I went to see the therapist who I have seen at various times over the past couple of years.  I hadn't seen her since last fall maybe... but realized recently that it was time to get some perspective, to help me get back to mindfulness.

What brought me to wanting to reconnect with her is my eating habits of late.  One good thing about being sick from my IL-2 treatments was the weight loss I achieved during that time.  Of course it isn't a diet I recommend, and it wasn't lasting, once I got back to feeling more like "myself".  Then in late March I was given a weight loss goal to meet by October 1 in order to lock in a lower premium on my family's health insurance for next year.  Unfortunately, they based the goal on the last recorded weight in my medical record in 2009, which was about 10lb lower than when I was in March.  Since then I've gained 10 more, and it was just the other day that I realized that I've been unconsciously sabotaging myself.  It's why I don't join any organized weight loss programs; I've been there before and I always feel pressure, which leads to over eating, and then feeling even more hopeless.  I did join our "shape up and go" program at work, but made sure not to commit to weight loss as one of my goals, instead focusing on positive things I can do.  That is working out well; I feel good and healthy and while I am still more sedentary than I would like to be, am definitely getting more exercise than I used to.  But still I find myself eating by myself, eating things that I shouldn't (usually salty stuff, a big no-no for a hypertensive one-kidney wonder) and more than I should.  At one point I was in the car, desperate to stop for some kind of snack, when I heard my therapist from a previous session... asking me what would happen if I didn't eat during that commute, what would I feel?  what would happen?  Good questions, those, and when I was more mindful, I was able to use those questions to stop myself.  But when I heard them in my mind's ear recently, I said, eh, screw it.

These were the things I was planning to discuss this afternoon.  But as therapy goes, we ended up not talking much about my eating at all.  Instead we talked about how I am doing, and how my family is doing, at this point in my cancer journey.  I got teary talking about it, and finally R, my therapist, pointed out to me that I am keeping track of Jim, and of the girls, but not myself.  She asked me if I am angry at myself about my situation.  At first I didn't think I was... I don't feel like I did anything in particular to bring about cancer, but I am angry that the cancer could rob me of my life with my family, which is so precious to me.   R told me straight out that I need to get off the "anger train" because all it is doing is feeding my fear.  How true that is... and how draining the anger can be, even when I didn't know that was exactly what I was feeling.  We talked some about meditation, which is something I am becoming increasingly interested in, and happens to be something R teaches.  I want and need to let the anger and fear go, and replace them with kindness and grace.  This is important not only for my personal state of mind, but for my immune system.  I've been reading more and more about the importance of building up one's immune system, whether you are currently sick or not, and I know that I want to be kinder to myself, rather than as critical as I tend to be.   A life filled with fear is not what I want for myself.

I got an opportunity to face my fear and anger shortly after my appointment.  Back at my office, I got a call from my gynecologist, who had received the results of the pelvic MRI I had last week, in preparation for my consult with the gyn-oncologist next week.  I don't have the written results yet, and probably won't until tomorrow, but three masses were noted.  The first and largest is at my right ovary, and is the one we've been watching.  It was unclear from the MRI write-up whether the mass is involved with the ovary or just next to it, but there also may be growth into loops of the small bowel.  A second mass was noted in the mesentery; this was something that Dr. Attaran had read to me last week from the CT scans in May, but we didn't see any mention of it in prior scans.  As she read the word "mesentery" I remembered Dr. Olencki in Columbus mentioning this mass last fall. OK, so that wasn't really new either.  But there was also a small mass noted on the left side of my pelvis too.  Great... super news.  Dr. A. said that it would be up to Dr. Drake and me as to how we proceed since there is not just the one mass to deal with.  I don't know what to think... and am consciously trying not to think about anything in particular.  Shortly after I got this call, I had to attend a meeting, one in which I really didn't have anything to contribute.  Because I could be silent, my mind was able to wander to bad places.  Then I recalled R telling me today to keep noticing my breathing, so I did that, and kept taking deep breaths.  Before too long the panicky feeling dissolved and I was able to focus on my meeting a bit more.

How lucky was I to have that experience so soon after my therapy appointment????

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Question

What, if anything, does it mean when your four-year-old walks around, singing to herself,

"Bow-chicka-wow-wow..."

Granted, she's not singing it in THAT way, but where the heck did she get it?????

Yikes!

I lost a day in the long weekend at home.  It was nice to have an extra day without work, commuting, etc. even though it was incredibly warm.  Very hot weather is not my favorite; I tend to hibernate indoors when it gets too warm.  My lack of heat tolerance seems to have increased since I went through two full hot summers while pregnant... the bad luck of having fall due dates.  We did end up going to see Toy Story 3, and luckily I had bought our tickets online on Sunday, because the show was sold out when we got there.  Since we are never early for anything these days, while we did get to the theater before the show started, we were relegated to sitting in the second row.  It wasn't as bothersome as I had anticipated, though.  The girls were delighted by the movie and Jim and I really enjoyed it as well.  I did cry at the end, as many other parents have mentioned doing... whenever I think ahead to when the girls will leave for college it makes me really sad.  It's a natural part of life, having your children grow up and move out on their own, but it is still sad.  I remember how hard it was for me during my early days of college, and that feeling makes me more apprehensive for my girls, even though college is years away... and who knows, they might just go to school locally and live at home... and I might just want to kick them out by then... it could happen!  Rebecca has already told me that she doesn't want to go away for college.  This is her separation anxiety talking, but is still king of sweet to hear.  These are the moments I plan to cherish when she is a teenager and seems to hate me.

Rebecca had a softball game last night, so we all got to brave the heat to see her play.  Her grandparents came to see her play, so we sat in a row under the shade of a big tree while the girls played.  It's almost the end of their season and we can really see their improved skills.  Rebecca had two good hits and made a nice play at first base.  After the game, Grandpa invited us all out for ice cream.  I didn't think we would be able to go at first because as we left the field, Rebecca started complaining that she felt sick to her stomach.  I decided we should at least drive to the ice cream parlor and see how she felt then, after some time in the air-conditioned car.  She started to perk up in the parlor, and when she announced that she wanted cookie-dough ice cream I knew she was feeling better.  Grandma noted that she had drunk the entire juice box she received at the end of the game in record time, so she was probably feeling the effects of gulping down a lot of cold, sweet liquid when she was pretty hot.  I was relieved that she felt better because when she first started complaining about feeling poorly, I was a bit concerned that maybe she had heat stroke or something of that nature.

For once I went to bed right at 10:00, which is something I always intend to do, but never actually follow through on.  It was strange though... I had vivid dreams all night and so every hour or two, I woke up.  I was able to go right back to sleep, but why my sleep was so broken is a mystery to me.  My dreams didn't have any particular theme that I could discern, so I guess they were just indicative of the tangled mess that is my brain these days... too much to think about. 

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Holiday... eh...

Feeling very low-key today.  When I woke up this morning, my legs, feet and especially my ankles, were pretty sore from yesterday's labor.  Moving around helped and I am not feeling like a cripple anymore.

We have done very little today, lots of laying around watching tv or reading.  The girls went outside to run through the sprinkler for a little while, and we decided to go to see Toy Story 3 as a family.  I checked to see where it was playing and we took off for the theater.  Unfortunately when we arrived at the box office, the attendant told us there was a problem with the projector, and they weren't sure when it would be fixed.  He suggested we go to another theater in their chain, but that place is 20min away, and includes a freeway trip, so we nixed that.  The other theater near us showing TS3 is in a shopping center where they were having a bunch of July 4th festivities, so that would be a zoo.  So plan B became "let's go to the movie tomorrow, and just go get dinner now".  

The girls and I are going to leave in a bit to see our local fireworks.  I have no interest in trying to go to the park where they are actually putting on the display, as it will be extremely crowded... we would have to be there already if we wanted to be at the park, I'm sure.  Instead we'll do what we did two years ago; we'll camp out in the parking lot of a close business and watch them from a distance.  We had a nice time when we did that, and were able to get home without any traffic nightmares.  Last year the girls and I went with family to a summer orchestra concert where fireworks end the show.  It's a really nice display but Carly was terrified.  It wasn't the noise that bothered her, but the optical illusion that the colors were going to fall onto and burn us.  She has agreed to go see the fireworks tonight, but isn't convinced that we'll be far enough away for safety.  I've had to promise to hold her hand, and if she gets too scared, to go sit in the car with her.  Once we're there she will see that we really won't be that close.  When I was a little girl, we sometimes viewed the Independence Day fireworks from the side of a road, at the top of a big hill, where we could see across the city, and therefore view more than one community's display.  Other years we sat on bleachers at various local high schools to catch a show, depending on who was having them.

For myself, I don't really care if I see fireworks or not.  I enjoy them, but if I missed them, it wouldn't bother me at all.  Jim hates the noise, so much so that he refuses to go to any event where he knows fireworks will be included.  Pre kids, it was our tradition to go to a movie during the evening on the 4th.  But, the girls want to go, so Mommy is the one to take them... and that is okay with me.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Weekend wars

I wish I enjoyed working in the yard.  I do enjoy nice landscaping and I love flowers.  But the work that goes into creating and maintaining the outdoors has never appealed to me.

Of course, I'm particularly biased today, because I spent a long time this evening trying to conquer Mount Mulch in my driveway.  Two years ago, we had landscapers spruce up our yard, and last year we didn't put down fresh mulch.  I wanted to order the mulch from a local company, because we need quite a bit, and I know it's cheaper overall than buying bags of mulch.  Unfortunately, I had no clue how much we needed.  So I volunteered Rebecca to go outside with me and a tape measure, so that we could measure the area of each bed or spot.  To that, I added a strip on the north side of our house.  For some reason the previous owners never did anything on that side of the house, and more mysteriously, it never occurred to me to have the landscapers put a bed in on that side in 2008.  I added the square footage for a bed there to my total, and the girls and I went to the earth company to place our order on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.

The woman at the counter didn't know how much we would need either, but did some calculations on her adding machine and we agreed on an amount.  They were so busy with other deliveries that they couldn't bring the mulch until Memorial Day itself.  It was a huge mountain, sitting nicely on the tarp Jim had laid on the driveway.  I hoped to get it knocked out that day, but... he has a cart that attaches to the back of the tractor that we use as a wheelbarrow.  He had to fix something with the wheels of this cart, and so we did not get any mulching done.  The next weekend we went outside and managed to cover the three front yard beds before the heat drove us indoors.  Since then some family members have come over to help out, and got the south side of the house completed.  All along the south we have burning bushes that I just love.  The previous owners had rose bushes all along that side.  I love roses but definitely didn't want to have to deal with them, so one fall Jim and his cousin pulled them out and planted the burning bushes, which have flourished.

We still had to put mulch down around the deck and in the back bed.  It seemed like either weather, softball or other scheduling conflicts were always in the way.  Today we decided that once the sun had passed overhead, Jim and I would see what we could get done.  Unfortunately, he got caught up in applying for a couple of jobs online, so I went out by myself to see what I could get accomplished.  Mind you, I don't drive the tractor, never have, so it was manual labor all the way.  I shoveled mulch into a wheeled garbage can and pulled it to the back yard, over and over.  I learned quickly that working with a full can of mulch is very difficult, and so filling it no more than 2/3 full was much more productive.  I kept plugging along, and eventually got all of the back yard done.  Then I surveyed the remaining mountain of mulch in the driveway.  There is still a LOT there... damn.  Apparently I ordered WAY too much.  Before I petered out for the evening, I dragged mulch across the front yard into one of the previously mulched beds, because I decided that we didn't put enough down in the front beds initially.  I think if I re-mulch the other front bed, we'll be in better shape, and then we can store the remaining stuff in the back yard until we get the north side bed built.

My pedometer has passed 10,000 steps today, but I fear that tomorrow I will feel all of those shovel-fuls of mulch in my arms and shoulders.  The heat is supposed to be intense here the next couple of days, so I won't feel too guilty about not working outside.  I'm actually hoping we can go see Toy Story 3 as a family.  

But, this work has to get done and since I was the one with the bright idea to mulch, I feel that I need to make sure I am doing the work, as much as possible.  Time for physical work is short for me, since after surgery I will likely be on restrictions of some kind.  Next I need to turn my focus to my house, which is in abysmal shape inside.  If anyone came by for a visit right now, I would probably die a thousand deaths.  So we need to at least get the public areas in order so that we can have folks in at some point.  Good luck with that, as they say.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Maturing... questions are coming...

Jim and I have always been open with the girls about bodies, bodily functions, health and the like.  We've never used euphemisms but instead used the real names for body parts.  We have matter-of-factly answered the girls' questions as they've asked them.  They both know that babies come from mom's body; their only confusion being that I gave birth to both of them via Caesarian section, though I have pointed out that most moms don't give birth that way.  Recently Carly, who has repeatedly told me that she never wants to have a baby, asked me the following:  *if* she did have a baby, would they have to cut her open like they did to  Mommy?  I explained that they probably would not, that instead the mom pushes the baby out.  Out of where?  Her vagina, I answered.  GROSS! exclaimed Miss Carly.  She is starting to wonder how women have babies, in so far as how they have them when they want them, and don't have them when they don't want them... but she doesn't ask further questions so I've let it go until she does.

Both girls have been told all their lives by various people that one of them looks just like me, and one looks just like Jim; which child favors which parent depends on the person offering the opinion.  Last night at supper Rebecca asked me why everyone says she and Carly look "so much alike",  I answered "because you DO look alike! More so than other siblings you know" and gave some examples of families we know in which the siblings share very little resemblence.  Rebecca sees the differences between herself and her sister more than their similarities, so it's hard for her to see how much they do favor one another.

Later she was looking at a Lady and the Tramp Golden Book and asked me a question.  On the last page of the story, Lady and Tramp are sitting with three of their puppies.  Two of the puppies are miniature sized Ladys, and one is a dead ringer for Tramp.  Rebecca wanted to know why one of the puppies looked like Tramp.  Because Tramp is his dad, I answered... waiting to see what she would ask next.  She considered this, and then said, "OK, but Lady gave birth to him, right?".  Yes, I responded.  She looked thoughtfully at the page, then shrugged, saying "that's odd..." and went on to something else.

So, we may be having a more in depth talk before too long.  Maybe it's time for me to invest in a book or two to help out.  I will note here that I have had more in-depth conversations of this type with my kids at this point, than I had with my mom during my entire lifetime.  My mom was not open about these kind of subjects, not at all.  She bought a book for us to read, and left it on a shelf on her nightstand for a long time before actually presenting it to me.  Being a nosy kid, I had already read it when she wasn't home... having a lot of trouble understanding the mechanics of sex given how it was described in the book.  When one of my friends got her first period, my mom gave me some supplies for when it would happen to me; lucikly pads with adhesive backing had just come out, because I was aware of her wearing the elastic pad belt and did not want to deal with that.  She never showed me or discussed tampons; in fact when my sister was a teenager my mom refused to buy them for her, saying she was "too young" to use them.  Anyhow, after presenting me with the pads, my mom handed me the book and told me to read it.  And that was it for our discussion of sex and babies.  I'm glad that things are more open between me and my girls.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

New month, new promise

So I joined NaBloPoMo.  I like the idea of pledging to post daily, to get me to actually DO it rather than make excuses that I'm too tired, too scattered, too whatever.  This isn't the first time I have thought about joining NaBloPoMo but is the first time I have remembered it at the actual beginning of a calendar month.  They don't forbid bloggers from enrolling mid-month, but I'm just compulsive enough to have to do it the "right" way.  So here goes, the first of hopefully at least 31 days in a row of posts.

Let's start with my latest health update, since that's one of my recurring themes here and elsewhere.  On Monday I  had a consult with my gynecologist about the ovarian mass that isn't shrinking.  She went over my recent history with me, beginning with an ultrasound she performed in the spring of 2009 for other reasons, but during which, nothing unusual in the area of the ovary was detected.  In April I had a clean CT scan, but by July this thing had appeared, along with the 'spots' in my liver.  Those spots seem to have responded to the IL-2 while my ovarian friend has actually grown, and apparently has picked up a  new friend, according to the last CT, which noted a second lesion on the uterus.  ???  She and I discussed what plan of action makes most sense at this point.  A biopsy seems like a waste of time, since whatever is in there, needs to come out; she and I agreed about that.  Besides, a biopsy can have misleading results, whereas they can do better pathology on the whole mass.  Dr. Rini is convinced that ths mass is not RCC since it has not responded to IL-2 in the same way as the other lesions.  If he's right, then what is it?  We don't know right now and none of my medical professionals has offered an opinion, not that I have asked.  I have already given some thought to the fact that it could be ovarian cancer, or another cancer; unfair though it seems, it is possible for people to have multiple cancers, not only within their lifetime but sometimes at the same time.

After we talked, the gyn took the information and hunted down a gyn-oncologist on the floor, to get his opinion.  He wanted to know if I was willing to have surgery, rather than a biopsy... great minds think alike, I guess.  She told him I was, and he asked for me to set up an appointment for a consult at his next available clinic day, which is July 12.  He told my gyn that he believes these masses ARE RCC, because he has seen RCC metastasize to this area of the body before.  So now in my head I picture these two doctors in a battle of the Pathologies... who will be the victor?  Of course in my fantasy, the masses turn out to be benign, though in reality I know that's not really likely.

So again I wait... get a little bit of information, and wait for the next step.  I am so not looking forward to another abdominal surgery, even though he does these procedures laparascopically.  I assume that I will have to stay at least one night in the hospital, which I dread, but I know it's necessary so I will get through it as I always have.  The girls do not know about this surgery yet; we are not going to tell them until we know when it will be, and even then, I think we will wait to tell them until close to the actual day, so that they don't have to feel the all too familiar upset about Mommy for any longer than necessary.

Lately Carly has death on her mind as a topic.  It's probably just a stage of her development, but the timing feels weird to me.  The other day she asked me if Jim and I would be dead before she is big.  I told her that I hope not, that I plan to be here for a while yet.  That answer seemed to satisfy her.  Then last night after her bath, she asked me if she will die some day.  I explained that we all will die some day; she asked if she could live forever, and I very lightly told her no.  But, I said, we want to life a long and healthy life, so that's why we try to eat healthy foods, and get exercise... like a walk around the block I was able to persuade everyone to take that evening.  I told her that our doctors try to fix us up if we have anything wrong.  How do they know something is wrong? - she wanted to know.  I said, well, when we don't feel well, they figure out why.  Like when Mommy had blood in her pee, and the doctor figured out that it was because of Mommy's kidney and took it out.  Again, Carly accepted that answer as what she needed to hear, and changed the subject.  

It's important to me to not make any promises to the girls, to tell them that I promise not to die.  If something does happen to me while they are young, I don't want them to remember some promise and feel the ultimate betrayal by their mommy.  On the other hand, I try to keep conversations about my cancer minimal and light; they both know I have cancer, but both see me living life fully and seem to believe that cancer is something families can live with.

What a shitty lesson for little girls to have to learn, eh?