Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wah, wah, wah

Thats what I feel like I need to tell myself today.

I was a tough girl this morning - didn't take any pain meds last night, just tylenol this morning so I could drive the kids to school & go to the grocery store.  That was a rude awakening.  I guess the grocery store is a lot farther than the walk around 2 blocks I did yesterday because when I got home I was exhausted and hurting.  Had to relent and take a pain pill.  What is it with those things?  You know you need them, you know the doctor gave you them for a damn good reason and yet you don't want to take it.  I don't feel bad when I take them, not loopy or sick or dizzy or anything.  They switched me to a different one so I don't get the "hangover headache" anymore either.  And still I fight myself about taking them.  You better believe I'll be taking one tonight.

So, here's a story.  Last night was the night to change the bandage for the first time.  We go to CVS to get supplies for that.  One would think that all the wounds in the world are square.  Ever noticed that?  Every single freakin' bandage on the market is square - like everybody is bandaging a gunshot wound or something.  Every surgical incision I've ever seen is long & skinny.  Of course that sample size is pretty small - the 3 I've had - but still, come on.  So anyway we don't really find the right supplies but we are making do.

So here I am splayed out on our bed on top of garage towels - like I'm going to have surgery right there & its going to be messy!  Kendall is the designated physician with his two deputy dogs.  One, Eriana, who is curious as can be.  The other, Emilia, who insists she doesn't want to see the wound or have anything to do with it, but who is sure as heck not going to miss this event.  So Emilia is standing at my head holding my hands (not sure if that was for her or for me but I'm darn glad she was).  Eriana right by my side.  Kendall at my feet doing the work.  I took off the old one but I didn't look at the wound until this morning.  Kendall took one look & said "Wow".  I'm still not sure if that was "Wow Good" or "Wow Holy Shit" or "Wow Bad" or a little of each.  Eriana said Gross.  After I looked at it this morning I know why.  Emilia said nothing just squeezed my hands.  Kendall did a great job patching together a new bandage with a bunch of tape & gauze.  Not the same as the nice smooth one I had from surgery though.  And I'm back in the game.

This morning I had to do it myself because the tape was driving me nuts & nobody was home to help.  Its nasty. Gross.  Repulsive.  Disgusting.  I wasn't expecting to feel that way about seeing the darn thing.  I feel like I should think its amazing since its where the cancer was removed.  But I don't.  Its going to leave a hideous scar (as if anybody will be staring at my bikini line anyway).  And I hate it.  I think my friend, Lisa, is right.  I hate it because it represents cancer.  Normally wounds & stuff don't really bother me.  So there is something to this hate beyond just an icky wound.

Kids & pets.

So, I thought today I'd include a photo that will provide a smile.  Unless you're not a dog lover or you think dogs are dirty - then just hit your back button & come back & read tomorrow!  But if you love pets, you will love this picture.  This is Eriana at 1 year old playing with Jessie (the Weimeraner) & Cedar (the Dalmatian).  I just love that Eri is getting a huge kiss from Jessie and is so happy about it while Cedar, whom we often call "Grandma Grouper", is sort of watching everything.  And in one of the next images in the sequence, the roles are reversed & Cedar is doing her time with Eri while Jessie keeps watch.

Have a great day!  and, Karla, thanks for being you.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Doing fine!

If you don't count the emotional basket case courtesy of the pain meds, I'm doing just fine.  Eriana helped me take a shower this morning - I think they must've used an entire case of betadine on my left leg.  The wound looks okay, some swelling we will keep an eye on.  And then there's the pain.  I'm not going to say much about that.  Anybody who's had major surgery knows that feeling.

My sweethearts.
Eriana is cracking me up - she is taking FULL advantage of Mommy being out of commission - sees it as a reason to get extra snuggles and watch a lot of movies.  Emilia is the sweetest of the sweet, helping so much.  And Kendall is truly the best husband anybody could dream of having.  He really doesn't want me to lift a finger which is nearly impossible for me.  So he's finding things I can do without too much difficulty.

The girls are fighting a lot.  I can't attibute that to anything except stress.  My temper is shorter than normal (I know, thats scary) and they are at each others' throats.  Today I had to send them both to their rooms to watch TV. 

Its a beautiful, sunny day here today.  I am considering taking a short walk aorund the block in a little while.  I wanted to say here how much I appreciate the phone calls and emails and text messages.  I'm not feeling like talking on the phone so I apologize for not answering very often.  I'll get there, just need a few days.

Not looking my best!
 Emilia took this pic of me yesterday with my blankie that my dear friend, Stephanie, gave me.  So, you can see I'm alive, I'm sitting up and I'm even smiling a bit. Eriana asked me this morning if I was going to the Y.  Of course I wasn't but I'm kind of wondering how soon I can get back to some form of exercise.  Hopefully in a few days I can go & at least stroll on the treadmill or do something.

My little brother, Mike, is coming on Saturday.  We are all looking forward to that.  My Dad is coming next Wednesday.  Its been a long time since we have had all the DeBocks in the same place - what a treat.

Makes me think of this picture of zebras I took last winter at the Nashville Zoo.  I like to think of these four zebras as the 4 DeBocks - me, Mike, my Dad & my Mom.  We're missing one now, obviously, but for the majority of my life, this was us - sure we weren't technically always looking the same way or focused on the same thing but in the broader sense we always were.  I am so lucky to have grown up in such a wonderful, loving family where we all cared about each other and about our family.  I think that this model has transcended itself from the DeBock family of my youth to the Musgrove family of today and, for that matter, to the DeBock family (my brother's family) of today.  There are so many fascinating parellels between the family in which I grew up, my family now, and my brother's family.  But the most important and powerful is that all 3 of our families function like this zebra family - side by side, focused on the big picture, and there for each other.  Its interesting to me that the instincts which cause this zebra family to line up like this are the same instincts that cause our human families to line up side by side and look out for each other.

Off to try to stroll around the block!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Back home!

Well it's been quite a 24 hours. I wasn't allowed to eat after midnight Thursday. Surgery wasn't scheduled until 3 pm yesterday so Kendall & I made good use of a free morning. We ran some errands & had nice long massages! Got to the hospital about 12.30. They are experts at Vanderbilt on every aspect of the experience. They have surgery processing down to a science. So they called us to the pre-op area around 1. Said they were ahead of schedule - never heard of that. Anyway, they had it going in pre-op. fantastic nurses. Gorgeous, I mean excellent, anesthesioloists. Spent about 30 minutes there then off to the OR. The last thing I remember is them making me crawl from the gurney to the operating table. I'm sure my hiney was flapping in the breeze. Next thing I knew I was waking up in the Recovery room with more awesome nurses. It was hard to talk from having the tube down my throat but they gave me some sprite. I hate sprite but it just may be the best thing I ever drank! Then the pain started. Good drugs for that in recovery but after I left there just plain ole Percocet. Spent the night last night in the observation unit. Pretty cool concept for those not quite ready to go home from surgery but not needing a full on hospital room. I finally started feeling human around 4 or 5 this morning. Kendall came back, ate some breakfast & they sent us on our way. The girls had a blast with Holly last night. And Christine took EB to her last swim meet today. And our great neighbors watched Eri this morning. I've learned I suck at asking for help. I'm equally bad at sitting around doing nothing. Need to improve at the former. No desire to be good at doing nothing. Gonna be a long two weeks! The girls and Kendall are being so sweet to me. Kendall doesn't want me to lift a finger. EB made me some fresh, hot, gooey chocolate chip cookies all by herself. And Eri wanted to see the bandage & ask a lot of questions. She likes Mommy being immobile - lots of snuggle time! So, I have a pretty big incision it's well bandaged. Doc said I can take a shower tomorrow & remove the dressing Monday. I go back in 2 weeks to get the stitches out & hear the pathology report. Seems likely radiation will follow. Chemo not sure that jury is still out I think. To sum it up, I'm glad L.U.M.P. is no longer a part of me, I'm thankful to live so close to such a fantastic, world-class health care facility with doctors, nurses & caregivers who are second to none, and I feel like one lucky chic. I have the most supportive family and friends beyond anything I could ever wish, dream or hope for! Now to heal!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ready to say goodbye

To L.U.M.P. tomorrow afternoon!  My surgery is at 3; we have to be there around 12.30 so it will be a long 24 hours waiting for that to get here, but I am ready.  Bring it on.

I will try to get Kendall to post when we know I survived.  They told me today the surgery will be about 3 hours plus an hour in recovery and that they are pretty sure I will spend at least tomorrow night at the hospital.  Better pain meds that way!

Appreciate all your prayers & well wishes.  Talk to you on the "other side".

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stories, Stories, Stories

Several people have asked specifically what type of cancer I have.  What I have been diagnosed with is called a "synovial sarcoma".  Sarcomas are very rare - there are 20-30 different kinds so each kind occurs pretty infrequently.  This type of sarcoma generally involves a tumor near a joint.  So mine is somewhat unusual.  This type also typically occurs in males and more often in teenagers.  Again, I'm unusual.  No surprise there.  There are only a handful of centers in the country with specialists in sarcoma.  I'm lucky that Vanderbilt has both medical and radiation oncologists who specialize in sarcoma.  The size of my tumor is pretty small - about 2.5cm x 1.7cm.  We will know much more about the pathology of my tumor after surgery, when they have had time to thoroughly study it in a lab.  That is the information they will use to determine what treatment comes next.

Me with Julianna & Caraline a couple years ago.
 Today I'm thinking about funny stories about my brother for some reason.  Goodness knows there are plenty of them.  Mike is 3 years younger than me.  And in many ways we are as different and night and day.  He is extroverted, social, loves to be the life of the party.  Me, not so much...  I'm really really smart.  Him, not so much.  Just kidding about that one.  In high school Mike used to change clothes a half dozen times each morning and spend an hour doing his hair.  Me, not so much.  I've always loved animals of almost all types & vice versa.  Mike has never met an animal that likes him.  I wonder why - he pulls out cat whiskers and tortures dogs.

Cara & Mike with Kendall & I.

Once when we were kids we were walking thru a sports store.  Mike was probably 5.  He picked up & put on this massive boxing glove, turned around & punched me in the stomach.  Nice.  Still hurts 30+ years later.

Anyway, I thought I would include a picture of Mike & his family.  His wife, Cara, is one of my biggest cheerleaders and I treasure her words of encouragement in all things I do. 

Julianna, Mike, Caraline & Cara in Spain
  They have two daughters who are right in between Emilia & Eriana's ages.  I love those 2 as much as my own kids.  I am so proud of the fact that our families have grown to be very close even though we don't live near each other.  The four girls are hilarious when they are all together.  Its really hard to pick just a couple of pics that symbolize the times we've spent together.
A couple years ago in Cape San Blas
Emilia & Julianna.

Same year - Eriana & Caraline.

Mike and I have always been there for each other through all the trials and tribulations of our lives.  So, when I got my cancer diagnosis, my second call (after Kendall) was to Mike.  Now, Mike is pretty high strung - again we are as different as night and day in that way - so it was a bit of a risk telling him.  But I knew he would be right there with me through the whole thing. 

Beautiful Julianna & Emilia.

Mike's coming up next Saturday for a week to spend with us.  I'm looking forward to having him around - I know the girls are too.  They adore Uncle Mikey.  Wish the rest of his family were coming too but I know they have school and lives to live.

Again in Spain, sharing (a rare site!).

Playing in the creek.

So, anyway, I will keep it short today - every one of these pics makes me smile.  Here's hoping that our kids' sibling relationship is as strong thoughout their lives as mine & Mike's.  Love you, Shitty.

Caraline, Eriana, Julianna & Emilia at the Carousel in Madrid this summer.  I LOVE THESE GIRLS!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 23, 2012


Spoke to the best nurse practioner ever who apologized and totally "got it" with how I was feeling.  My faith in medical humanity is hereby restored.

And more good news, surgery will be Friday!  Yes, this Friday.  I'm excited to get this moving.  I'll be home for a couple weeks after that then we will figure out what next in terms of chemo & radiation.

And guess what, it gets better - we had already planned for the girls' favorite person of all time to spend the night Friday, so she will be there to keep them distracted and help Kendall.  God was planning that one, I'm pretty sure.

So, now I'm feeling the image (I'm a bit slow these days).  This is a picture of my "new" Mom's Mom - "Nana" who passed away a couple of years ago.  This morning, Maryann sent me a story about how determined Nana was, how she faced tough situations with not only grit and raw determination but with grace and elegance.  The story made me appreciate how difficult situations come along to challenge us, to change us, and to make us better people.  I can only hope to be as determined but graceful and elegant through this challenge as Nana was through some of hers.  Nana, Maryann, and her family have been a wonderful blessing to us and our family.  I love all of them!

Now I'm Really Really Mad, I Mean Happy

WARNING:  Rollercoaster Post Follows....
 So, for the most part the long & torturous wait for results is over.  The PET scans showed nothing else in my body except for the one malignant tumor in my left upper thigh.  At least thats the best I can tell from the very short and impersonal electronic messages I get from my physician's nurse.  Really?  How about a damn phone call people.  This is my life we are talking about.

OK, deep breathe, I'm okay.  Really I'm thrilled that they found nothing else - no tumors anywhere else in my entire body.  That is fanastic news! 

But, I kind of feel like we're right back where we were two weeks ago though when we first met with the Orthopedic Oncologist.  One tumor, so now what?

Here is the verbatim I got from the nurse today:  Dr Holt says, "let her know that the disease is limited to her thigh and we will arrange surgery soon".
So, now all of you are as fired up as me right.  I mean talk about a rollercoaster of emotions.  Thank God there is nothing else.  All of your prayers and positive thoughts worked!!!

But, the clear question - now what?  Surgery - what will that consist of?  What will the recovery be like?  How long will I be out of commission?  What happens after that?  Chemo?  Nothing?  What are the follow ups for the rest of my life like?  What does "soon" mean?

Rational me says they are being very methodical, not over-dramatizing the situation as much to keep me calm as anything else.  Rational me also says, as a woman and communciations professional, they SUCK at communicating.  No empathy, not even a remote sense that they can relate to how I'm feeling.

OK, another deep breathe, what else am I feeling?  Why am I not feeling the relief I expected to feel at this news?  Probably because that sense of relief is so overpowered by all the unanswered questions I still have.  I never imagined this would be so difficult.  I never before appreciated the power of the unknown.  Its far more powerful than the known, even when the known is something you've been hoping for with all your might.

So, no picture today, I'm not feeling it!  But I did want to share this glorious news with you all as soon as I could.  I promise as the story unfolds to fill you in -- and not to vent so much next time.  Well, maybe I shouldn't make that promise!

Thank you, a million times over, for all you all are doing for me every day.  For your thoughts, for your prayers, for your smiles, for your emails and comments.  Stick with me, please!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

No news is good news?

So the saying goes... For now, that's my story & I'm sticking to it. We are looking forward to hearing from Dr Holt Monday with good news and clarity on next steps. I told Emilia the "cancer" part of the story last night. She is so much like Kendall & I. Pretty much her reaction was, well, not much of a reaction. She said she hopes I don't lose my hair because it's beautiful. I'm glad she knows. She & I had a fun overnight to Chattanooga; she did well in her meet today. Kendall & Eri took the Mini & traded it for a gorgeous candy apple red Taurus with lots of cool technology. End of an era... In a month we will be a 2 car family again. More when I know more. Don't stop praying, chanting, drinking wine, or mustering up positive karma however you do that! It's going to work, I just know it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


The vial that they bring the injection in

Well, my first PET scan is behind me.  Really, it wasn't so bad.  They put you in a little room in a recliner of sorts, start an IV & shoot a radiotracer into you.  Its really pretty cool how it works - the radiotracer rides on sugar molecules to the parts of your body that are "active" (I think translates to where the cancer is).  Evidently cancer likes sugar more than other parts of your body.  So you wait an hour for it to get all into your body then they put you on the table - much like a CT scan but the machine is a lot bigger and it takes a lot longer.  This is pretty much what it looks like.  We were there for about 2 hours total.  You can't eat or drink for 6 hours beforehand - I guess so your blood sugar will be good & low & the sugar will move fast!

A PET/CT Scanning Machine

Now, we wait.  This part is really hard - sitting and waiting.  I jokingly told someone today that I'm blissfully ignorant right now...  That, I suppose, is partially true.

While I'm on the subject of Pets, thought today would be a good day to talk about our menagerie.  We have a not-very-well-enforced rule in our house that we can have no more than 4 pets at any one time.  Right now we have 2 dogs, 3 cats, and 3 fish.  So much for rules - they are made just to be broken anyway right!  Pets have always had a special place in my heart; Eriana asked me yesterday morning why dogs are man's best friend.  How do 5 year olds know what man's best friend means?

Today's image is another from my collection.  I took this Bald Eagle photo while I was on a boat tour of Naples last spring.  It was pretty far away but luckily I had the right lens on at the right time!  He is so gorgeous.  See how he's sitting patiently at the top of this dead tree waiting?  Thats me today.  Just not quite so majestic.  Or patient.

More when I know more!  Thanks again to everybody for your wonderful comments about my writing.   You keep me motivated to keep it up!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Well, a little over 24 hours until I am in the PET scanner.  I can't wait.  Its the next step in tackling this thing head on.  Kendall told me yesterday that he will go with me which made my day.

There really isn't much else to report in my life right now.  I'm good today - over yesterday's funk and back to warfighting mode.  I have been truly touched in the last few days by all the people who have reached out to me.  Some people I barely know have bared their souls and their emotions.  Others have offered to help in any way they can - I just don't know what help I need at this point.  Its been already such a positive outcome of this situation. 

One thing I realized today that I think is worth sharing (hah, you may disagree completely when you get done!) is that we never know the impact any given situation or interaction is going to have on someone else.  My dad shared a story with me today about when I passed the fitness test to get into West Point.  Fitness has never been exactly my strong suit (that probably qualifies as "major" in the understatement category).  At my best I am marginal in everything athletic. 

The first time I took the fitness test was early in my senior year of high school.  I was out of shape and overweight - the results showed that & I don't think I passed any of the 4 events.  I decided to change that and my parents supported me 100%.  They hired a trainer and we made it our mission in life to pass that dumb test.  It was dumb too - you had to do a flexed arm hang, a basketball throw, a standing long jump and a shuttle run.  Really?  What do any of those have to do with anything?  Should've known right then it was just step one in the harrassment that defined West Point! 

Anyway, the day came to take the test again - I don't actually recall that test day with any clarity.  But I do obviously know I passed the test.  My dad told me today that he remembers that moment with perfect precision - that I gave him the biggest hug he ever had in his life and that day he decided I was one of the toughest people he'd ever known.  My mom was one tough chick and my dad has always been one of my heroes - so that is a pretty monumental compliment.  The point of this rambling is that I had no idea what I was doing would have the impact it did on my dad.  I didn't know it would frame his thinking about me for the rest of our lives or that he would remember that hug with the acuity he does.

So, my challenge to myself is to try and remember this - remember that what may be an offhand comment or a passing moment in my life could in fact be transformational in someone else's.  Thats pretty powerful.

And ties into today's image.  This is Kendall and me at my West Point Ring Weekend dance.  Ring Weekend, for the non West Pointers out there, is early in your Senior year - a really big deal to get your ring.  Gosh were we young.  In many ways we don't even look like the same people.  This picture makes me think - because if I hadn't passed that test, if I hadn't decided I wasn't going to let that get me down or if I had given up - not only would I not have had that impact on my dad, but I wouldn't have met Kendall.  So, while the day in the gym during the winter of my high school senior year didn't seem like that big of a deal at the time - really it was, not just in my life but in others as well.  We just never know...

Monday, January 16, 2012


Well, I knew eventually I would get here to this point - I'm mad.  Not at any individual or any particular thing, just mad at the world.  Feeling a bit sorry for myself too.  Bad combination for a Monday morning.  If I stop & actually think, I have no reason to be mad.  I'm going to beat this damn thing, but it sure is inconvenient.  Its disrupting my life, my family's life, my work.

So when I got to my office this morning, I had a card & an adorable Willow Tree Angel of Prayer.  The words on the card cracked me up - it says "Even if you didn't have kids, you'd be the toughest mother I've ever known.  If I were cancer I'd be nervous."  It was exactly what I needed to start changing my outlook from anger back to aggression.  Another thing happened this morning, I have this on my wall in my office - I haven't looked at it in ages but this morning it jumped out at me as if it were surrounded by neon lights!  I can't remember when Eri wrote this (I have never been good about putting dates on stuff).  Its a little hard to read but it says "All you need is love and a blankie."  Amen Sista!

Strange thing happened on Friday.  For probably the first time ever, I asked my boss to just tell me what to do.  I'm sure he is terrified at this character alteration, but boy did it feel good to let go of a decision and have somebody else take it on.  I'm not sure I can make a habit of it, but every now & again letting things go might be okay.

We had a wonderful weekend - not doing anything special, just this and that, errands and stuff.  We painted pottery yesterday with Mindy & her daughter Kyra.  Kyra spent the night last night.  My heart smiled this morning when I looked in Emilia's room & saw EB, Kyra & Eri all lined up in a row sleeping like little angels.  No school today for them - and a big day for EB as her new bed is due to arrive.  She's waited a month for it so she is pretty excited.

Saturday morning breakfast!

We cooked & baked a lot this weekend.  Emilia made her beignets on Saturday for breakfast.  I didn't cook them quite long enough so the larger ones were doughy inside but we ate around that & they were delicious.  Yesterday I made cookies and coffee cake and a really yummy pork tenderloin with mushroom mustard sauce for dinner.  Have to empty the fridge tonight - its leftovers night.  Not my favorite!

So, for today's image. back to my photography habit.  I took this picture of the blue heron on an airboat ride in the Everglades with my Dad & the girls last spring break.  I have to say I never appreciated how challenging bird photography is.  Darn things usually move before you can close the shutter.  This particular bird is so majestic even though its surrounded by predators.  Its balanced rather precariously on this twig in the middle of a swamp - one wrong move and it might fall.  One moment of lost awareness and it might be alligator dinner.  Relates rather metaphorically to how I'm feeling today.  I'm balanced on this twig - I know there are alligators around me but for right now, I have the upper hand.  I have the advantage of height and sight.  And I can fly to escape them, just like the heron in the Everglades.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Oh, The Places You'll Go

A friend sent me this Dr Seuss poem last night.  Its really long so I won't include the whole thing here - you can easily google it.  This section in particular seemed relevant to our current situation.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl.
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike,
And I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

Funny how a kids' poem can speak to a 40 year old Mom!  Maybe the next few months will be "Hakken-Kraks howl".  Even though I'm pretty sure I'm going to be pretty sore (for real!), it won't stop me from hiking and going places I'm intended to go.

The kids & I have been busy cooking since we got home.  We have created homemade chicken enchiladas for dinner and a yummy looking country pear & blueberry cobbler.  And Emilia & Eriana made the dough for our beignet breakfast tomorrow all by themselves.  This is funny - Emilia is going to teach our nanny to cook on Monday.  I don't think I have to worry about starving while I'm out of commission - EB is an excellent cook and so is Kendall.  Lucky me!

So, for today's picture, this is my Uncle Richard, my Mom & my Uncle David at our wedding in 1997.  15 years ago on February 15th.  My Uncle Richard lives in the north of England with his wonderful wife, Anne.  They have an amazing farm there; we spent spring break with them a couple years ago - neither of my kids wanted to come home & Eri was only 18 months old.  We need to go back soon.  Richard has beaten cancer a couple times already.  I'll leave my Mom for last.  My Uncle David passed away 3 years ago.  He fought a lot of types of cancer with his beautiful and amazing wife by his side.  He lived a pretty awesome life, as an entrepreneur & executive in advertising.  I didn't really get to know Marlena & David until I went to West Point.  Developing a relationship with them was one of the most important things that came from my West Point experience.

Last, but not least, my dear old Mom.  She was English.  British, if I'm to be proper.  She & my Dad met in Budapest while each working for their respective embassies.  She didn't hesitate to leave everything and everyone she knew and move to the U.S. with my Dad.  My Mom was fiesty - no doubt about that.  She was also highly intelligent, meticulous, hilarious, and sometimes mean as hell!  Nobody ever wanted to be on her bad side.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was a senior in college.  She fought it viciously and survived for 8 years before it finally got the best of her.  There are a lot of traits I got from my Mom (obviously the "mean as hell" one!).  Thats the one I'm going to use to beat this!

So, thats today's musings.  Looking forward to a relaxing weekend doing something creative with my friend Mindy and her daughter on Sunday!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Time moves slowly

Why is it that when we want time to fly by it doesn't?  And when we want it to crawl, so we can savor every moment, it moves at the speed of lightning?  So, the question is at what pace does it move when you want both those things at the same time?

I'm tired today...  There's a lot on my mind at night these days and when the house is quiet and everyone is sleeping peacefully, its a good time to think.  Or play scrabble on the ipad.  Doesn't make for a very well-rested Judy in the morning though.

Today's picture is Kendall running a half marathon this fall.  I love this picture because both of his feet are off the ground at the same time.  He is literally suspended in the air and I caught it with my camera!  He kicked butt in that race, but then I think he kicks butt in every race.  Merely finished 13.1 miles is kicking butt to me.  Doing it as fast as Kendall does is something I can't even process.  For him, running is therapeutic I think.  A time to think, clear his mind, challenge his body.  His dedication to it and enjoyment of it are inspirational to me.  Especially since I have to literally force myself into the gym every day to exercise and then tell myself the whole time that its really not that bad.  Talk about opposites!

Tomorrow I'm going to work from home.  It makes me smile when the kids get SO excited about me taking them to school and picking them up.  Like, whats the big deal?  Emilia's home today not feeling so well.  When did my first baby get old enough to stay home from school by herself? 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

everything happens for a reason...

What the hell?  Really.  Could someone please tell me what the reason is for this current challenge?

Today's another day (duh).  This morning I let my parents know.  Kendall said to me this morning - you need to tell them.  He was right!  Dad was a real trooper, very realistic about just go get this thing and beat it.  I needed that encouragement and I feel good that I have that off my chest. 

One thing I have already learned is that I have to listen to people.  Not that I necessarily have to do what each person advises, but in this short time, I have discovered that most people have the need to give their perspective, advice, or experience as much a coping mechanism as anything else.  And I have already started treasuring those conversations.

Wow, I never knew that people actually read the stuff you write and put on the internet.  Its not really my style to share my deepest personal thoughts with people, but my dear friend encouraged me to do this.  And I'm so thankful she did.  I didn't really think anybody would read what I wrote, so when I put the link to this blog on my Facebook wall yesterday, I didn't consciously think about telling everybody I know that I have cancer.  So I was somewhat astonished to get so many comments and words of encouragement last night.  But as I reflect on that, who am I kidding?  Of course I knew it was putting it out there for the world to know.  I am going to continue reading every single comment and listening to every single piece of advice or input.  It will take a team to fight this thing.  I need everyone I can get on my side, rowing in the same direction, pulling for me. Pick your cliche, doesn't matter, I need and want it.

We didn't get to the chocolate peanut butter muffins last night.  But I did see 3 pairs of eyes light up about making the beignets this weekend!  I enjoyed relaxing last night with the family.  Eriana and I took a bubble bath with her 2 geckos, purple alligator & mermaid.  She laughs like crazy when you count down from 10 to 0 and one of them blasts out of the bubbles.  Thats the best sound ever!  Emilia is a little emotional right now.  Tried to get her to disclose to me what was going on, but she's just not ready to open up yet.  She will in time.

I'm going to try & post one of my favorite pictures every day.  Here is today's.  I just love this picture of the giraffe - I was standing near him while someone fed him lettuce - his beautiful face against the perfect blue sky is inspiring to me.  And his little grin cracks me up.

So I am going to take his crooked grin and happy face and enjoy the rest of this day.  Please continue to send me your words of encouragement, your tidbits of advice, your perspective, your stories.  They are genuinely uplifting to me.  They help me hold my head as high as this giant giraffe!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Where to start...

Where do I start...  At the beginning I suppose but that seems so far back, so I will start with the present and work backwards.  Today is another roller coaster day.  This morning during a meeting I actually, for a few minutes, forgot about my diagnosis.  When I realized that it was like waking up to a splash of cold water.  For a few minutes this morning, everything was just like it used to be.  And then it wasn't.

Its hard to believe that less than a week ago, I didn't know I have cancer.  For those who don't know, here is my story.  In August I noticed a tiny pea-sized lump in my left groin.  I had my primary care doctor, whom I adore and trust beyond all trust, check it out.  She was unconcerned, thinking it was a little cyst & would go away on its own.  I realized in late November that it was significantly larger & she said she'd like to check it out again.  By the time I could make an appointment to see her, it was mid December.  She didn't like how it had grown but still seemed fairly unconcerned.  Regardless she wanted me to have a Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) to put our minds at ease.  Mine was already not at ease - I knew something wasn't right.  Those who know me well know that my family history is a series of cancer landmines.  So I've known all my life pretty much that one day I would have cancer.  The big question was when.  That one has been answered...

The pathologist who did the FNA was awesome - she reminded me of one of the characters on Grey's Anatomy.  She said used a teeny tiny needle and a big ass metal handle to remove cells from the tumor four times.  It was mildly painful.  No I should say more uncomfortable than genuinely painful.  She cheerfully told me that my regular doctor would have results in a day or so.  That was in between Christmas & New Years so I didn't expect to hear anything quickly.  A week later, I still hadn't heard anything so I called my doctor.  She said the cells were not what they were expecting, which was a benign cyst, so they had to do some additional stains.  That sounded scary.  I put it out of my mind.

Thursday morning, January 5 she called me around 8.  I missed the call, called her back.  She was with patients but called me pretty quickly.  What she told me was that there were sarcoma cells in the tissue they sampled.  She said a sarcoma is a muscle tumor & I needed to see an Orthopedic Oncologist next.  The term oncologist threw me so I asked it was cancer.  Her response "most likely." 

To be perfectly honest my first thought was, damn, this is inconvenient.  I asked her how fast I needed to do anything about it & she told me, "Judy, you need to put other things aside and get this taken care of."  I think that was the wake up call I needed.  It gave me perspective.  She also ordered a CT scan for the following day to ensure there weren't any other tumors in my pelvis, abdomen & chest.  That, I learned early yesterday morning, came back clear.  Small victory #1.

Telling Kendall was difficult - especially since I had to do it over the phone - I couldn't hold news like that until I saw him.  Thats not how I'm wired.  But our partnership is so strong, we will fight this as a team like we do all the other obstacles in our lives.  Stupid cancer picked the wrong person to pick on this time!

Yesterday Kendall & I met with the Orthopedic Oncologist.  A week ago I had never heard of that sub-specialty.  Vanderbilt is an incredible place.  Next week I will have a PET scan there that will, if all the powers of hope and prayer work, find the primary tumor that is causing the inflammation in my lymph node.  There is no doubt that this period we are in now, the period of knowing a little but not a lot, is difficult.  I find myself quickly saying that not knowing is the hardest part.  But is it?  I don't have the perspective to answer that yet.

Last night, we told the girls that Mommy is going to have an operation to remove a yucky spot from her leg.  We told them everything will be fine; I hope we told them the truth - that above all is important to me.  Emilia was predictably quiet.  She put down her fork & looked deep into my eyes like she does.  She was looking for assurance that her mom is going to be okay.  She must've found that because she pretty quickly picked up her fork & went back to eating.  Eriana was more curious.  Can I see it, can I touch it?  How will they take it out?  That will hurt, she said!  She wanted to know if I am going to stay in the hospital and for how long and if she can come & see me.  I wanted to say - I have all the same questions baby and none of the answers.

This morning I told my "work husband".  That didn't go so well...  Bob is the opposite of Kendall on the emotional scale.  Kendall is all logic, data, and reason.  Bob is all emotion.  Its a very strange and surreal feeling to tell someone, "I have cancer."  I told my boss this morning too.  And my team.  I don't really want to tell people because sympathy isn't something I do well with.  On the other hand, I do want to tell people because I don't want them to wonder what is going on with me.  Soon, everyone at work will know and this phase will be over.

We haven't told my parents yet.  I hate the thought of putting my poor Dad back thru what he endured with my Mom years ago.  He doesn't deserve that.  I feel the need to protect him as long as I can - until I have enough information to put his mind at ease.  I just hope that day comes before I end up just blurting it out one day on the phone!

So now I'm setting about the task of keeping myself busy - hoping for more of those wonderful moments like this morning where I forgot, just for a little while, about this beast.  JAM's Jams may be kicked into full gear as cooking and baking are such wonderful forms of therapy for me.  All my friends and neighbors may get sick of being given my various creations. Last night we made cranberry orange muffins - they were pretty delicious!  Kids didn't like them because they weren't sweet enough.  But they were sure popular at work.  I think today I might create some peanut butter chocolate muffins.  And Emilia has been dying to make beignets so I'm gearing up for us to do that this weekend.

From every challenge comes an opportunity.  And I fully intend to capitalize on every single one that arises from this one!!!