Tuesday, August 12, 2014

End of Summer

Summer ends for me on Friday. That's my first day back at school. Monday and Tuesday are teacher work days, with kids coming back on Wednesday. With that in mind, here's what stands out from my summer.

1. Camping. Zane accuses me of a bait-and-switch with regards to camping. He claims I said I loved camping when we were dating, but then never wanted to go. Here's the deal: I am sure I never said I loved camping, and even if I did, it can easily be explained away by dating insanity, which is different from lying. Then we got married. Then I was pregnant, had a newborn, pregnant, had a newborn, pregnant, had a newborn, had cancer. So we didn't really have a good time to go camping until this summer. We went to Goblin Valley and to Zane's family reunion. Now I can happily not go camping for a few...okay, fine, I'll do it again next summer. If I have to.

2. Having really cute kids. I love two-year-olds when they're not throwing tantrums. I love how Raiden runs, his little words, and the excitement in his eyes when I understand what he says ("Donut? You want a donut?" "Yes!") Sasha is getting so big and self-sufficient. He dresses himself with shoes on the wrong feet only about 50% of the time and can help a lot with cleaning up once he stops pouting. Sabrina is getting so big. I can't believe she's a little martial arts student and will be testing for her yellow belt on Friday. Although she occasionally torments her brothers, they also cry when they can't be with her. She's always planning games for everyone to play.

3. Being done with treatment. I've been looking forward to the end of this summer since I was diagnosed. When I charted out my treatments, I knew by the time school started in 2014 I'd be done with Herceptin, be reconstructed, and have hair. Check, check, and check. It's been tough to get back on any type of routine this past week since school is starting soon, but I think I'm getting used to my new non-cancerous, perky life. It's actually pretty paradigm-shifting to be done with treatment. My life has largely revolved around treatment for the past 15 months, so being done is weird. Good weird, but still weird.

So that's it. I'm back to work in three days, and my legacy of the summer is camping, cute kids, and being done with treatment. Not bad, but next summer look for the post titled "Molly accomplishes world peace through Being Fabulous."

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ogden Temple Open House

Finally, after many long and difficult years of having to drive to BOUNTIFUL to go to the temple, the Ogden temple is about to open. Today was the first day of the open house, and I volunteered to help out. I was assigned to "disability services" which meant pushing wheelchairs. Now, I probably wasn't supposed to do that, what with only two weeks since my reconstruction and all, but it was totally the best assignment. Other people put booties on patrons, pushed elevator buttons, or pointed with a smile. I got to go through the temple with cute old ladies! Also, there were a few places where the wheelchair route diverged from the cattle corral, so we could spend as much time as we wanted looking at the floor, mirrors, stained glass, paintings, or whatever. It was great.

When I didn't have a patron needing help, I fluffed booties. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably not that. The little plastic booties that everyone has to wear in the temple for the open house came in packs of 10 -- nine booties inside another one. In order to expedite the process of getting them on 2000 people an hour, we volunteers would take the nine booties out of the tenth and fluff it up, as it had been vacuum packed or something. Since they need 4000 an hour, it's an ongoing job.

One of the other volunteers had clearly had a boob job. In looking at her, I noticed that her breasts looked unrealistically perky for a 60-something woman. Then I realized, Hey! MY boobs are unrealistically perky for a 36-year-old breastfeeder of three! Awesome. May that be the most lasting physical effect of the past year and four months.

Oh, and incidentally? Today is my first day of not having Herceptin. That is, it's been three weeks since my last dose of Herceptin. Yay for me!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Happy Birthday T-Bone

About five years ago, my cousin Emily said something about Sabrina to her husband. He was confused. "Who?" he asked. That's because for the first year or so of her life, we called Sabrina "Tiny" or "T-Bone" because she had tiny bones. Well, that tiny girl is now six years old!

This past year has sucked for me on all kinds of levels. Sabrina is not one of them. She fights with her brothers, yes, and cries when she doesn't want something or wants something she can't have. But she is tender and sweet, and loves fiercely. She hugs me when I'm sad, protects me from the enthusiastic excesses of her brothers when I'm recovering from surgery (all too common!), and bands with her brothers when they are challenged by any outsider. Sabrina is learning to read and is sometimes giddy with her newfound skill, nascent though it is. She loves her friends and can always be found in the middle of the big group of kids.

Sabrina starts first grade in three weeks. I know she will be loved by her teacher because she wants to be good and do well. She will be loved by her friends because she loves them. (Although as the oldest child of two oldest children she comes honestly by a certain amount of bossiness!) And she is loved by me because she is my precious girl, my Squanto Oglethorpe, my Tiny Bones. Happy birthday baby girl.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Surgery Update

Content Alert: I talk about my breasts in this entry. You have been warned!

I'm home from reconstruction. Expanders out, implants in. The pain here is really not bad, as they basically just opened up the previous incisions and swapped out basically the same size fillers. The left side is really fine. The right side is where the cancer was and therefore has been radiated, so they needed to do what is called a latissimus flap. That is, they made an incision along my back of about five inches and pulled the muscle over to my right side so the reconstruction would have good blood supply. Apparently, due to the radiation damage to the skin and tissue, there's about a 50% complication rate if you don't do that flap. I don't have time for complications. School starts in less than four weeks. I need to be healed, danggit!

Anyway, I'm home with food from the Relief Society, help from my mom, and babysitting from all. Oh, and Percocet. What more could I possibly need?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Like mother, like daughter

I remember reading something my mom wrote about me when I was 4 of so. She said every time she did my laundry she needed to check my pockets because they were invariably full of rocks, sticks, little toys, and other treasures. Every night before I go to bed I check on my kids. Raiden is usually on his belly with his little bum in the air. Sasha is sprawled out on his back. Sabrina...Sabrina is in a bed shared with books, stuffed animals, My Little Ponies, and other treasures, occasionally including rocks, sticks, and other little toys. Like mother, like daughter.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Product or Process?

There are two types of people in this world: product oriented and process oriented.

Product-oriented people are concerned with getting the job done, emphasis on done. We want to finish the hike, get the laundry put away, do the report.

The process-oriented are less concerned with finishing something. They are more concerned with the doing, not with the finishing. If they are doing the dishes and the kids want to play a game, they play a game. Even though the dishes are four minutes from being finished and now won't be done for another hour. No, that doesn't matter to them.

I guess you can tell I'm a product-oriented individual. My mother (a process-oriented person if ever there was one) once asked me to turn off the vacuum to ask me a question. In the middle of the question she stopped and asked me what my t-shirt meant. I wanted to finish the dang vacuuming, so I was highly irritated with her. My response made her justifiably irritated with me.

ANYWAY, I think most people believe their way of being is the best way. I believe my way is best, myself, but that's because the thought of spending three hours to clean a light fixture makes me crazy. Get 'er done! On the other hand, my fixation on "finishing" things is sometimes a problem. I'm trying to enjoy the process more, especially when the product is not important.

Today I took my kids to Beus Park. This is a big park with a playground, but also a big duck pond and some little hiking trails. A product person (i.e. me) wants to walk around the park, perhaps stopping once to feed the ducks illicit bread, then get back in the car and go to Burger King. Process people (i.e. every kid ever) want to check out the little river, throw leaves in the stream, play on the playground, take a hiking trail, throw some more leaves in the pond, walk backwards, check out the bird feather, and so on into infinity.

So that's what I'm working on. Enjoying the ride. I'm trying to remember that we didn't go to the park so I could walk around the duck pond, but so the kids could have an experience. I'm getting better at focusing on that!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Last Treatment

Yesterday was my last Herceptin, my last cancer treatment FOREVER. (It had better be forever!) The nurses sang me a song to the tune of Happy Birthday and presented me with a blanket and a certificate. My friend and social worker Lisa pointed out that certificates are few and far between when we're adults!

Finishing treatment is bittersweet. It makes you think and reflect on your past one year, three months, and six days (or whatever) since diagnosis. I've had some scary thoughts that I remembered yesterday, as well as some really amazing experiences. My family and ward really have been amazing. One cousin cooked me so much food it took Mom two trips to bring it to me, because Mom only has one cooler. My ward provided meals and babysitting and so much love. My mom was amazing in how much support she offered me, and my dad did whatever was needed in his quiet way. I am everlastingly grateful to you all.

I think the love that I received was my greatest cancer gift. I feel such a part of my ward and neighborhood after getting so much in time and words. People would just send me notes to tell me they were thinking of me. What! I'm going to try to do that too. I'm not very good at it because it's not really something I've done in the past, but I'm going to make the effort.

The hardest thing was worrying about the future. I don't want to dwell on it now, but those moms with young kids will know what I mean. Moms with older kids -- that's different. At least you know your kids will remember you. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm just saying it's different. I've really enjoyed my bonding with other moms with cancer who have young kids.

Overall, assuming I just had the last cancer treatment of my life, or at least of the next 40 years, I would say my experience with cancer has been more positive than negative. I lost my hair, but that's temporary. I lost my breasts, which really sucks, but at least I'll get some pretty ones next week, although they won't have any sensation. I lost my sense of security, but security is an illusion anyway. A beautiful illusion, but unreal nonetheless. I gained lots and lots of friends and love. Awesome. I spent time with my mom and appreciated my kids and husband more. I found out I can do hard things. Now, if I can just have an easy couple of years, that would be great.