Friday, September 28, 2007

Two Years and Counting...

Me & Courtney 4th of July

September 28, 2007

I’ve been trying to decide how I am going to post my yearly cancer update, if I’m going to go back and relive what happened to me or if I’m going to update what has happened since my treatment. Last year I posted what few journal entries that I had made while going through treatment, and please let me say that what I posted last year was not nearly all that I went through (it was only three entries) but it kind of gives you a sample of some of the things that I went through and you can find that post here. What I’ve decided to talk about this year is what having cancer has meant to me, and some of the side effects that have occurred in the past year since my treatment ended in January 2006.

A couple of weeks or maybe even a month into my treatment I thought about the all important question, “Why me?” but probably not in the context that you would think someone in my position would ask that question. I was lying in the hospital bed when that question came to mind, and I wondered why I had not yet cried out “Why ME?” and then I thought about my husband, my children, my mother, my family, my friends, and I thought why not me? I was healthy, and if I do say so myself I can be a very stubborn person, a person who never let’s anything get the best of me. Simply put I’ll just say that I have a very strong will and we’ll leave it at that.

So now the question becomes “Why not me?” Would I have rather my husband or my children suffer the things that I had to go through to be considered “in remission?” Absolutely not!! My husband’s mother had cancer during the time of my diagnosis and treatment, and he was already so stressed out, all of the men in my husband’s family have never lived to see the age of 40 so he already feels as if there is a curse on the men in his family, Would he have fought as hard as I did? Or would he have considered the diagnosis his fate or the fate of his family? Would I have rather seen one of my children so sick we wouldn’t know if they were going to live or die? Is that even a question to ask a mother? Of course I would never have wanted to see that, I would gladly go through everything that I went through ten times over to spare my family the things that I had to go through.

Did I ever want to know why God chose me to go through that when I was only 33 years old? The Bible says that he would never give us more than we can handle, and that God is always with us, and through the hardest times it is he that carries us through it. Do I think that God had a message for me and my family? The answer to that question is simply YES!! I now know that I am a stronger person than I ever knew. I know that every day that we are given is a blessing, and we should be thankful for the air that we breathe, the beautiful sunrises, to be able to hear the birds in the morning. To watch our babies sleep, and to smile, to live and to grow. To know that there are still people out there some of whom you don’t even know who are willing to come forward and make sure that your family is taken care of, my friends at work chipped in and raised $500 for our family, people brought my husband and children dinners, groceries, and even Christmas gifts while I was sick. They took care of things Rick probably wasn’t even thinking about while he was working, going to one hospital to see his mother, and another hospital to see me, stopping by my mothers house to visit with the children before going home to get a couple of hours of sleep before he had to go back to work for a 12-14 hour shift. But yet we all came though it, and were closer because of it.

Was I ever scared? Of course I was, but was I determined to get through it? For the sake of my family, that was never even a question. Do I think that I deserved the right to be here above someone else? NO. Am I delusional in thinking that Cancer was never going to get the best of me? I never thought that for a minute. I only prayed that I be given a chance to watch my children grow, to be a mate to my husband, and to be the kind of friend that people would want to be a part of their life.

I was actually scared quite often, there were at least two nights that I would not allow myself go to sleep, because I knew if I fell asleep I would never wake up. How horrifying is that? My children’s ages at the time of my diagnosis was Khrystyne 14 years old (she turned 15 my first week in the hospital), Courtney 12 years old, Breanna 5 years old, and Ricky was just 3. I was so sacred that if I died my two youngest children would not even remember me. They would just have to go by what people would tell them about me, and how can you tell a child how much their mother loved them? How her heart swelled every time she looked into their faces, how she would sit and hold them when they were asleep just to be able to hear them breathe and to smell their scent. You can’t tell a child those things they have to experience it.

How blessed have I been that the Lord has seen fit to let my children experience a mother’s love, to be able to live another day, another month, another year, another two years? My oldest daughter will be 17 years old next week. I got to put my son on the school bus for the first day of school last month. I got to see Breanna’s smiling face minus her two front teeth. I got to see Courtney start high school this year. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the point. Everything smells crisper, everything looks brighter, and I’m still here. How amazing is that?

So to everyone who has included me and my family in their prayers over these past two years Thank you.

August 30th of last year my mother-in-law lost her battle to cancer, but not without an amazing fight for no other than reason than to be here just one more day for her family. What a wonderful reason to want to live; for the love of your family. We have all had a difficult time with her passing as can be expected, but I think with the trials that our family has faced these past two years that everything was put into place to help us through our loss of Judy, to give her death more meaning to us, and to make her life and her fight for her life more beautiful.

The beginning of this year I made the usual New Year’s Resolutions, to lose weight, to become a healthier person, but this year I also resolved to volunteer for the Leukemia Society. And for the first year ever I have finally kept a New Year’s Resolution… Not the weight thing, who can stay committed to something like that? I did however start to volunteer this year. In May me and my friend Ange worked at the Indianapolis 500 mini marathon at the Gatorade station, and can I please say you have no idea how much work goes into setting up Gatorade for over 30,000 people. I have some physical problems from my treatment one of them being extreme pain in my hip and lower back. So after the marathon I was laid up in bed for over three days, and I ended up having to get another cortisone injection, but it made me feel good to be a part of something outside the normal realm. I’ve also done some other things for the Leukemia Society over the course of this year, and I have attended some Cancer survivor functions such as the Cancer Survivor Celebration, and the Relay for Life. I also planned on being a part of Light the Night, but some things came up, but there is always next year. It’s nice to be able to say that and know that with God’s grace there can be a next year. This weekend I will be attending Camp Bluebird a retreat for cancer survivors, it’s someplace where you are not the odd man out. You have other people there who can relate to the stories and trials that you have to tell, it’s just comfortable.

I mentioned that I have had some back and hip pain, and I have also experienced joint pain, memory loss and a host of other things, but if that is what I have to deal with to be here another year it’s well worth the trade. I was never told of some of these side effects during my treatment, but as things have come up I have been able to associate them with my treatment through research (the internet has been a huge help). So if you are going through treatment for cancer ask the doctor for a list of the Chemotherapy drugs that are being used to treat your cancer and go online to find out the side effects. I found one drug that they used to treat my Leukemia will most likely cause another cancer later in life such as breast cancer. It also has the ability to cause neurological problems, one woman undergoing treatment using the same Chemo Drug that was given to me fell into a coma and almost died, to the extent that her husband and her parents came to her room to say their goodbyes and to disconnect her from life support, to their surprise and amazement she started breathing on her own and after years of rehabilitation she is on her way, but she will never be the same because she has brain damage. There is more than one person that I have read about that within 10-20 years after treatment they have had to have a hip replacement as a side effect to the Chemotherapy. So please be sure to study the side effects of all of the drugs that are administered to you and talk to your doctor about anything that hurts or that is bothersome to you from the start. That is what he/she is there for. Right now I cannot walk around the block without being in severe pain for days/weeks, but I can’t complain because at least I am here to feel that pain. So it’s a good pain because I know that I am alive.

In closing be thankful for every minute that you are given to be with the people who love you. Make sure you tell them as often as you can how much they mean to you. Be thankful that God has seen fit to let you live another day, another year, another two years, and just think about all of the things that you could have missed out on in your life in two years time. You truly have much to be thankful for. Just take a moment and think about it.


Whirlwind said...

What a great outlook. We lost my daughter's great-grandmother two years ago to cancer, two years (and two great grand daughters) later than what the doctors gave her.

It looks like your doing alot to help out and give back when you can.

Thank you for posting this - I will definitely be thinking about all the little things.

Whymommy said...

Congratulations on your anniversary! This was a wonderful post, and I am celebrating with you today.


The Hotfessional said...

Here from WhyMommy's site, celebrating with you too. Congratulations! And on to the next year and the next that you'll be with us, celebrating the little things.

Amanda said...

Congratulations. I am blessed to be cognizant of how very much I have each day. Thank you for another reminder.

Ana said...

What a beautiful tribute to your 2nd year anniversary! I found out about your blog from WhyMommy.

chichimama said...

Congratulations! And what a wonderful post.

Bon said...

here from Whymommy's too...just wanted to say congratulations and well done.

NYFriend said...

Congratulations! I'm here from WhyMommy's site. Your comment about holding one's sleeping child - it brings such a wonderful smile to my face. So good to remember how much they grow and change in a year, and to treasure every day.

A toast to you - may you continue treasuring every day.

Anonymous said...

Congrats Baby! I'm sitting here now with tears running down my face. Because I, for one, knows what it feels like to see your child in that shape. I know what it takes to keep my tears from her children seeing. To send her older three off to school, and while her son is napping, then being able to let the tears flow. To stand strong, to be there when needed, to do what I can where ever I can, to make things go easier, so the one I Love can have time to heal, and get strong. It was a long hard road for all of us to take, but we made it, 2 years.. I was just thinking about it yesterday myself, before I called you last night and found out you were at camp this weekend. I will always Love you, and I want you to know, I will always be here for you and your family. I wished from the moment you found out, that is was me, not you. With all My Love

clayton said...

amen and amen. april, your clear thinking about the bitter providences of your life are an encouragement to me. of course i am guilty of wondering, "why?" (though i've never had to face a cancer diagnosis) at times. only one life, so soon it will last. only what's done for Christ will last.
so, congratulations on your anniversary and thanks for sharing this part of your life with others. as a mom, you should check out some of my wife's blogs -you'd get a kick out of them.

Ally said...

Hi there, I've popped over from the link on WhyMommy's page. This was a lovely post. Your description of a child needed to know his/her mother's love first-hand made me cry. Congratulations on your second anniversary. Here's to many more happy years with your family.

Mrs. Chicken said...

this is so moving. You know I lost my own dad to cancer three years ago. I understand what you are saying here. Life is precious, so live it as best you can.

As you so clearly do.