Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hump Day

Dad and Sam ended up having chemo on Tuesday.  Good, because one trip to Huntsman Cancer Institute is better than two.  Bad, because, well...chemo.  Interestingly, it was kind of a big day.  It just so happened to be the half way point for both of them.  For Sam, it was the sixth of twelve treatments.  For Dad, it was the third of six treatments.  All day long on Tuesday I kept thinking that we needed to do something significant to commemorate this point in their journey.  You know, like go base jumping or get a tattoo or something.  Oddly enough, nobody seemed too hip on my ideas.  My family doesn't understand my sentiment.   But we did manage to get together on Wednesday for an Easter party.   Did it get out of hand?  Why yes, yes it did.

My sister Minda and her husband Scott sent Mom and Dad a box of wigs to play with.  It's all fun and games until Dad is too tired to go to work and just so happens to have an excellent disguise sitting in his closet..  Really, I blame Scott and Minda for Dad's resorting to other tactics to pay the bills.    

I think it's the shoes that give him away.  They're much too shiny.

Thanks Scott and Minda for providing us such fabulous entertainment.  Not to mention the fodder that we will have for years to come.

On a more serious note, Easter is one of my favorite holidays.  Like, on the same level as Christmas, favorite.  I used to love it because it meant that my birthday was coming up (which it is...just sayin), but now I love it because of what we celebrate.  The Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ.  His story is not just a legend passed down through time.  It is the truth, and it's the greatest miracle the world has ever known.  It brings me such peace.  Especially this year.

My "serious notes" never seem to last very long...

Oh I'm in so much trouble.

Friday, March 22, 2013

No Chemo = Happy Grand Children

Yesterday threw us a few curve balls, the biggest one being no chemo.  Dad's white count was too low.  They'll wait for a week and see if his white cells cooperate.  He wasn't exactly excited about chemo yesterday, but now his schedule is thrown out of wack and he'll most likely be tired and sick over Easter weekend.  Bummer.  To combat the woe, he and Mom bought last minute plane tickets to California for a weekend getaway.  I'm a little bit embarrassed to tell you that I let them take my two oldest sons with them.  I know I know, I tried to talk them out of it, but I knew I wouldn't win.  Needless to say, I'm very very grateful that they get to spend an entire weekend with their grand parents.  I have a hunch that Mom and Dad will have some interesting stories to tell upon their return.  But for the record, I thoroughly threatened my children to behave on this trip.  I just hope it worked.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Updates and Ear Hair

Sorry for that week long hiatus I just took.  My 2 year old got sick, then my 11 year old got sick, and then my husband got sick just in time for my 2 year old to get infections in both ears.  We had an awesome week.  Let's talk about cancer now, shall we?

So.  Updates.  Sam had chemo #5 last Thursday, which went well.  Huge fist bump to my cousin Nate who made the trek up to Huntsman all the way from Provo to be with Sam.  Thanks bud.  Also, Dad had his white cell count checked on Thursday.  It was fine.  So fine in fact, that he and Mom loaded up the car and drove down to Zions National Park for the weekend.  I got to tend the dog.  Somehow she managed to double her weight in like, 3 days, which probably explains what happened to all the meals my kids SWEAR they ate last weekend.  Sorry Mom.  

Anyway, we had a little shin dig at the folk's house tonight, and I seriously can't even tell you how good Dad is looking.  He hasn't gained much weight back yet (maybe he just needs to come hang out underneath our kitchen table for a few days), but he looks so much healthier.  Even from the day they left, to the day they came back, I noticed a huge improvement.  A weekend of fresh air and good food did him good.  Now he just needs to start gaining weight.  I'm getting a little worried that he might call and ask to borrow my jeans sometime soon.  I'm even more worried that they might actually fit! 

Dad's 3rd chemo treatment is scheduled for Thursday.  He's going into this one much more prepared than he was for the last two.  He's been researching and reading about things he can do to get through this round more easily.  He started a meditation class too.  The second class is tomorrow night and I'm hoping he'll let me tag along.  Two hours of complete silence.  It sounds too good to be true.  

Sam has had a few bad days since his last treatment, today being one of them.  He saw me eating an almond and almost hurled tonight.  Days 7-9 are usually the worst for him, so I'll try to keep my consumption of tree nuts to a minimum over the next few days.  Sorry bro.       

And before I forget, we need to discuss something else of great importance.  Hair loss.  Did you know that chemotherapy causes people to lose not just the hair on their heads, but everywhere else too?  I speak the truth my friends.  Dad recently revealed that his leg hairs have been mysteriously disappearing, only to be followed by his eyebrows.  I'm guessing his nose and ear hair didn't stand a chance either.  But this raises an interesting question.  Where did it all go?  Did it fall out onto his dinner plate?  Did he inhale it?  Personally, I think ear, nose, and leg hair needn't be mourned, but I would love to know where it all ends up.  If it was smart, it would make it's escape in the dark of night and march itself over to the dog bed where it would find the camaraderie it deserves.  Much better than being blown into a Kleenex and thrown in the garbage can.  Or dropped into a chicken caesar salad, only to be chewed up and, um...swallowed.  Just a little food for thought.

A few shots from earlier tonight...

The grand kids looking all bright and shiny.  Except for the one in the yellow shirt, who spent the vast majority of the evening in exactly the state you see here.  Happy birthday to the one in the green pants.  The best St. Patrick's Day present we ever could have asked for 7 years ago. 

My two faves.

And finally?  Dad's selfie.  I'm thinking the lack of nose hair is a look he might want to continue post-chemo.  

And remember how we came up with a solution to the eyebrow situation?

It's looking very promising.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Another Act of Solidarity

And we have yet another member of the Shiny Heads Club.  My uncle Shahram climbed aboard in support of Sam and Dad last weekend.  If you don't have an Uncle Shahram, I highly suggest you try to locate yourself one.  Let me explain.

I hear stories of people going through cancer treatment who actually have friends and family members hang them out to dry.  For whatever reason, they back away and become distant.  Maybe they feel depressed because of their loved one's condition.  Maybe they can't think of anything encouraging to say.  Maybe they just aren't equipped to handle the drama.  I don't know.  But hearing stories like that makes me even more grateful for the people in Mom and Dad's lives.  They have been the recipients of more love over the past month than most people receive in a lifetime.  I'm not just saying that.  I've been blown away by the things people have done.  Especially the people who have ditched their hair in the name of solidarity.

My uncle Shahram is one of those people who always seems to know what Dad is really feeling.  He has been a calming and comforting influence that I don't know how to put into words.  Not just recently, but for as long as I've known him.  He's also uniquely qualified to have conversations with Dad and Sam that nobody else can really have.  He watched his wife Christine battle stage 4 Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma while she was pregnant with their first child (who is now a beautiful, brilliant, amazing 16 year old girl).  You guys, I've only heard stories, but I know it was a brutal experience.  Four words: twenty eight spinal taps.  TWENTY EIGHT.  And I thought an epidural was bad.  Shahram and Christine's presence in our lives is not a coincidence.  No way.  We are so lucky to know them let alone have them in our family.  The Lord truly works in mysterious ways.   


Friday, March 8, 2013

Normal Is So Overrated

I've noticed something weird lately.  I've noticed that  all the stuff that comes with chemo (bald heads, tubes sticking out of chests, counter tops covered in medications, etc. - believe me, the list goes on and on) is starting to seem...normal.  I mean, I know that nobody is actually supposed to have a giant bubble thing under the skin on their chest, but it's not the first thing I notice anymore (oh the irony of that sentence).  I know that my family member's heads don't usually have any reflective properties, but when Mom sent me this picture, my initial thought didn't have anything to do with cancer at all.  It had to do with very rich men and little red headed girls who like to tap dance.  Wow.  I think you'll all agree that this blog post is going downhill quickly.  
What I'm trying to say, albiet not very eloquently, is that we're adapting.  I remember occasionally seeing pictures or news reports about someone who was going through cancer treatment and thinking how depressing it probably was for them to be suddenly surrounded by all the stuff that comes with a cancer diagnosis.  I've always thought that there's no way I could handle seeing someone I love go through something like that.  I guess I was wrong.  For the record, it's not exactly pleasant, and that sense of worry has yet to dissipate, but I've been amazed at how resiliant people can be.  I think we have all gone through the process of mourning the loss of life as we knew it, and there will probably be times when that sense of loss creeps back in, but at this point I think we've all accepted a new kind of normal.  Embraced it even.  Besides, the old kind of normal was getting a little blah anyway.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Waiting Game

I've started and not finished about 10 posts over the past few days.  I'm hoping they come in handy at some point but none of them seemed like quite the right fit today.  When I started this blog, my goal was for it to be as honest and real as it could possibly be.  I don't want to over or under dramatize anything.  I don't want to write about things that make this whole experience seem like anything other that what it is.  So that's what I'm going to do today.  I'm going to tell you exactly what I've been thinking about.  My parents just got very nervous.

It's been so strange to be "that" family.  You know what I mean, right?  Cancer is the kind of thing that happens to other people.  Not us.  It feels like we've suddenly become the main characters in a book or a movie or something.  Some days it still doesn't seem real, and some days it's so real that I can't seem to remember what life was like before this.  Wherever I am on the scale of reality doesn't matter though, because I never stop thinking about it.  Never.  Not during the day, not at night, not even when I'm happily engrossed in my tree pose at yoga class.  It's always there, tempting me to consider the unthinkable.  Freaking cancer.  You suck.

Lately I've found myself constantly trying to resist the urge to call or text Dad a zillion times a day to find out how he's doing.  I've texted and deleted the same question about eleventy million times.  How are you feeling now?  How about now?  And now?  Somehow it seems like if I can just grab hold of that next little piece of good news, it will allow me to wave off the dark cloud of worry that follows me around incessantly.  News flash, it doesn't work that way.  This is cancer we're talking about.  It doesn't just stand up and say, "well folks, my work here is done, carry on".  We literally have no idea what's going on inside Sam's or Dad's body.  They get chemotherapy, and then they wait.  Have you ever heard the phrase, "waiting is the hardest part"?  Because it's the truth.  At least when they're up at the hospital getting their chemo it feels like they're doing something.  You know, being proactive.  But then they get home and we all just sit around staring at each other, twiddling our thumbs, watching for some sort of confirmation that it's working.  It's like we think that somehow red lights will start flashing, and confetti will fall from the ceiling, and the Star Spangled Banner will be blasted over giant speakers when the cancer cells start shrinking.  So far, we've experienced nothing of the sort.  BUT the tumors that were found on Dad's neck are completely gone.  Certainly that means something, right?

And so, we wait.  We wait to find out if the Doctors got it right.  We wait for two or three weeks in between every treatment to see if anything changes.  We wait day in and day out hoping and praying that this works.  But Dad?  He has resorted to visualization techniques.  Hey, it can't hurt. 


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Cardboard A La Carte

So, I guess chemo changes your sense of taste.  Please tell me that I'm not the only one who's never heard of this before.  After Sam's first treatment, he began complaining relentlessly about everything he put in his mouth.  I remember thinking, "hey, Mr. Whiney Mc-Whinerson, cool it with the complaining yo".  Well it turns out that he actually had something to complain about because Dad confirmed shortly thereafter that all foods really do taste like cardboard.  Huh...go figure.

I thought it might be interesting to keep a record of all the different ways they describe how their food tastes.  Here's what I have so far:

Cheese: rubbery cardboard
Bread: soft cardboard
Chips: crispy cardboard
Popcorn: chewy wood chips/cardboard
Cereal: crunchy-turned-soft wood chips
Nuts: crunchy cardboardy wood chips with a dash of metal
Water: ocean water

I think Mom is planning to serve cardboard for dinner tomorrow.  Who knows, maybe it will taste like pizza...