Sunday, March 27, 2011


This week we got our acceptance letters for Camp Kesem. When we first broached the subject with our children, they were apprehensive. One of them even said, "Why are you trying to send us away?!"A few more winter months of indoor activities has led to to a different response. Now they are more happy and glad to go. L is anxiously awaiting the packing list, and C is wondering how he should act when he is there.

Baby is looking forward to visiting her relatives the week her siblings are at camp. I am arranging for more rounds of swimming lessons before we go. My husband is pretty sure his job will have slowed down by then. We are all excited to go and thankful for this opportunity for our kids.

It is the little things

I have been cutting my nails short and painting them dark and glittery. This is to hide the fact that the fingernails have separated from the nail beds in some places. Every time I use my fingernails to peel something, I think "Am I giving up my fingernail to get this price tag off?" My children with their glorious firmly attached nails are my helpers.

Baby likes to pull hair. It is not really a problem for me, mainly just for the unsuspecting ladies in our ward. She looks at them and smiles, they lean close - captivated by such an adorable baby, and faster than you would think she reaches out and pulls. Also surprisingly, most of them let her keep doing it. She sometimes fingers the back of my scarf like a she would a blanket. But no, hair pulling has not been a problem for me.

C keeps thinking that I have had cancer three times. He gets confused when I tell people that I have had cancer twice, because he still feels like we are in the middle of cancer. We keep discussing it, about once a week. After we talk I think he understands, and then he will say something about cancer three times again. Maybe when he does not feel like we are in the middle of it will it be easier to comprehend.

Baseball practice has started. There is a mom of one of the other players who reminded me at this last practice that we knew each other already. I met her last time I had cancer and L was doing ballet with her daughter. She looked familiar but C has done baseball a few years. I just thought I had seen her around. Chemo brain is just another good reason to be nice to everyone, because you might be friends with them without remembering.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Another in a long line of follow up visits

I saw my doctor again this week. He said I am still healthy, and should start getting more energy and hair back in about two months. At the end of the visit he started talking about a proposed screening regimen my daughters should begin when they are 18 (10 years before I was first diagnosed).

Looking back, I can see how it is nice that he is concerned about my whole family. It was kind that he recognized the importance of my children and their health to me.

At the time though it was too much for me to think that not only does my having cancer negatively impact their life now, but also in the future whether I have another recurrence or not. I tried to talk about how going on the high risk screening plan has worked out for my younger sisters (not that well considering they have been pregnant or nursing most of the last five years). He was trying to be as gentle about it as possible and I was trying to deny the fact that my daughters may have a higher risk of getting breast cancer. In the end I said I was going to try not to think about it for the next 5+ years until I had to, and hope in the meantime cancer was cured.

So of course that was all I could think about on the hour drive home.

Marching Past

I read somewhere that it was Women's History Month. I have been to the cancer center a few time recently, and I was reminded of the terrifying measures that they used to employ on women who had breast cancer. As rough as things are now, there is so much more consideration and support for all people who have cancer.

Also this week, C told me a story about his class. It seems in the Weekly Reader there was an article about a women's rights issue. His class had a discussion about it, and all the girls and C were for the rights, and the other boys were not. In C's interpretation the substitute teacher even tried to persuade him that his view was misguided, and tried to appeal to him emotionally. He resolutely stood steadfast, stated his refutation to the sub, and even convinced another boy in his class.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Of scarves and struggles

Last weekend, like all of Nevada, we had stake conference. On Saturday night I met my husband at work with Baby and we went to the adult session. Just as we were sitting down a couple came up to us and started talking about chemotherapy treatments. This conversation is not that unusual except that we had never met them before. The wife said she knew we would understand because she saw the scarf on my head.

I think how anyone deals with the loss of hair is a personal decision and is based on many distinct and specific factors.

This week in particular several kind strangers have come up to me and talked about their or their loved one's chemotherapy treatment. I like to pretend that I just wear a scarf on my head for fun, but somehow all these people found me out.

I remember when I was first diagnosed the second time with cancer. I had gone to Costco to stock up, and I saw a lady also there with a scarf on. It reminded me that even cancer patients have to go to Costco sometimes. Their whole life is not doctor appointments and feeling sick and tired even if sometimes it seems that way. I felt not so alone in what I was going through.

The scarf on my head lets others know I am having a specific kind of struggle in my life. There many other people who also share that struggle, and want to talk.

I know that I would not be willing to wear an identifier of my other struggles in life. It is hard to even imagine talking with a stranger, even a kind fairly anonymous one who is going through a similar situation, about those struggles.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Last time I had chemo it lessened my desire for sweets. I felt like they did weird things to me and did not taste good anymore. Even fruit that was too ripe was too sweet for me.

This time around I joked maybe it would switch back. I felt like I could tolerate sweets better from the Tuesday I had chemo to the Sunday after. By Sunday night though they were not tasty anymore.

I still make sweets for my family, and others. My husband and L have a definite sweet tooth. Everyone in our family though cut back on sweets when I stopped liking them. Now they all get to the too sweet point faster than they used to.

Tonight I making cookies with the Young Women. I would say the others I make sweets for almost always includes them.

Blue and Gold Dinner

We have tried keeping up with C in Cub Scouts. He would usually attend the weekly den meetings. We were unable to have him participate in the Friends of Scouting breakfast. Mostly his Cub Scout shirt has been ironed when it needs to be, and we've kept track of his assorted Scout paraphernalia.

For the annual Blue and Gold dinner I thought I could handle bringing rolls. I made them up to the second rising and baking stage, then froze them. That day I thawed them out and put them in the oven. They burned on the bottom, so I kept those ones at home and bought some others at Smith's to bring. Then right before we are going to leave C announced that he did not know where his neckerchief slide is. We looked around a little bit with him, and then I found the multicolored ball in the picture above and told him to wear that instead. He did, though not until after a meltdown. It was the right size and held his neckerchief firmly.

On the way there I thought about what a tired scattered mom I had become. The effects of cancer treatments were reaching long arm into this special time for C. I thought well at least we are getting him there.

While we were at the dinner, I was talking to my friends and they mentioned someone had brought store bought rolls. They wished they had done that, because apparently I was not the only one with roll problems that day. One friend detailed her three attempts to make rolls. They were surprised when I said I was the one who brought them. The other Cub Scouts did not mock C like he feared about his neckerchief slide, but told him it was cool. While there I realized we would have to buy him a new slide soon anyway when he has his birthday.

During the dinner L shredded the part of the plastic tablecloth hanging on her lap. I joked about her relieving her stress from the past few months. Between C's meltdown, L's shredding, my worrying, and my husband coming late from work it is a wonder that the evening was as pleasant as it was.