Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What Boys Are Made Of

"Snakes and snails, and puppy dog tails - that's what little boys are made of."

Trying to figure out what to blog - and when to blog it - is a ongoing struggle.  There are things going on that I'm not comfortable sharing with the world at large - much of it having to do with my family.  I try to remember that just because I have cancer doesn't meant that they should lose their privacy.  My husband has been very supportive of my writing here, but I think my boys struggle with it.

They're at difficult ages - 18 and 20.  They are dealing with something I never had to face at their ages - the prospect of possibly losing their mom to cancer.  I don't know how to help them deal with it as I have no experience at that age to draw on.  As they have gone through other things growing up, I always had *something* that I could draw on - but this?  I'm clueless.

My mom is still alive and well and healthy.  My dad as well.  My beloved Aunt Linda passed away when I was in my mid-twenties, and let's face it - we're a lot more grown up and settled at 24 or 25 than we are at 18 or 20.  At 18 and 20 we are still trying to figure out who we are, and what we want to do with our lives, and how we want to do that.  Those are tough things to figure out - and I would imagine even tougher to really think about when your mind keeps turning to "my mom is sick...my mom might die...my mom is better! my mom's cancer is coming back..." 

We have offered counseling to both of them.  But they are boys, raised in redneck country, and I get the feeling that they feel like it wouldn't be "manly" or something if they went.  So as far as I know, they talk about it with their friends, and I hope and pray that it's enough.  And I hope and pray that if they need more, that either one of them will feel comfortable enough to come to me or their dad and ask.

I get the impression from them that they are tired of mom worrying about them so much.  Both do their best to reassure me when they can that they are fine, that they are handling the chaos that comes with a parent with cancer just fine.  Being just 18 and 20, they can't begin to understand the love that a parent has for a child.  They just can't - no more than I could until I had children of my own.  They think I'm worrying unnecessarily.  The love of a parent for a child cannot be explained to someone who doesn't have children - either of the body or of their heart - it doesn't matter.  It's just a different kind of love.  It can be overwhelming at times - for the parent as well as the child.  And it is oh-so-hard to let that child go out there and make their own decisions and choices.

But we have to - the whole idea is to raise them so they are able to make it on their own someday.  I have to trust that everything their dad and I tried to teach them over the last 18 and 20 years will find fertile ground in their hearts.  I have to trust in their choices, even if those choices might not be *my* choices.  I won't lie - it's hard - so very hard.  It's doubly hard when you're aware that you might not be around when they finally get it all together.  That you might not see them finish college, find a career that they love, marry, or have children of their own.

Sometimes that is what hurts the most - the possibility that I might never know my own grandchildren.  I am almost positive that I'll never know my own great-grandchildren.  It pisses me off.  Except for my grandmother who passed away from ovarian cancer in her 50's, the rest of my relatives were fairly long-lived.  My dad's father is in his 90's and still kickin'.  I had every expectation of living to be a sorta sweet little old lady, spoiling her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Now?  I'm not so sure.

So I try to trust in our raisin' of them.  I pray for them every chance I get.  I try to be available to them in case they want to talk - and if they aren't comfortable talking to me, or their dad, I'm supportive of them talking to anyone else that might help them get through all this. But most of all - I just try to love them without smothering them.  It's hard to do when you don't know if you'll have months or years or decades to show them how much you love them.  I just hope for the best.  I hope that what they are made of is strong stuff.

And maybe - just maybe - if all of y'all reading this can drop a prayer to the deity of your choice, maybe my boys will be ok.

It's not too much to ask, is it?  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Being Aware

I haven't written lately.  Here it is, September, Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, but I haven't written.  I should have.  I should have been writing about the things I've been trying to do to raise awareness for ovarian cancer - making bracelets, having an awareness get together at my office for other ladies in my college, attending the Teal Out pep rally at my son's school and speaking, getting his school to have an ovarian cancer awareness football game, raising funds for ovarian cancer research, and even getting that game mentioned on the local news. 

It's been crazy busy, and so gratifying.  Thanks to some help from wonderful ladies at work and in Hicksville, we raised over $500 for ovarian cancer research.  Seeing everyone wearing the Team Teal tshirts for the pep rally and game just about undid me.  My son's speech at the pep rally literally brought me (and just about every other mama there) to tears.  So why haven't I been blogging about all this as I went?

Because my CA-125 went up. 

I'm no longer considered in partial remission.  At my check up at the end of August, it had gone up to just a few points over normal.  When we re-tested last week, it jumped another 26 points.  Scans have been done, and those were clear (woohoo!) so whatever is going on in there is smaller than a centimeter.  But something is going on.

Recurrence less than 6 months from the end of chemotherapy indicates platinum resistance.  And that makes my cancer a little harder to treat.  I have an appointment with my oncologist this coming week and we'll know more then. 

I've always known that recurrence was a real possibility for me.  Those of us with ovarian cancer that don't recur are the exception.  In a way, I had been preparing for that since the beginning.

I just hoped it would be a little later on, you know?

When I first learned that my count went up again, I spend my afternoon worrying about what it meant, then came home and broke down.  I try to keep a brave front going the majority of the time, but sometimes you just need to let it all out.  So that evening, while my son was at band practice and my husband wasn't yet home from work, I wept and wailed and felt sorry for myself.  My poor husband came home when I was almost done, and he did his best to comfort me.  To be honest, I'm not sure I really wanted to be comforted at that point.  I wanted to just take the time to feel bad, to mourn my dreams of a long first remission, to find some way to come to terms of what this first recurrence will mean for me 

Does that make me selfish?  Whiny?  Maybe.  I think sometimes those of us with cancer feel like we have to be so damn brave and noble all the time.  You know what?  I didn't want to be brave. Or noble or a freakin' inspiration for anyone.  I just wanted to be healthy.  I just wanted to not have any freakin' cancer, damit.

Being an inspiration is over-rated y'all.  You know what you have to do to be an inspiration?  Have something god-awful happen to you.  So. Not. Worth. It.  If I had my druthers, I much rather be a nobody.

But we don't get to pick and choose with cancer.  Oh sure - some cancers are directly related to lifestyle choices you've made.  With ovarian cancer, not so much.  It most likely was destined to be because of who my family was.  Since it's so hard to detect, and there is no screening, it's just the luck of my draw. 

Just when my hair gets long enough that I start thinking of getting it shaped and colored, it may end up falling out again.  Or it may not - depending on when my doctors decide it's time to go back on chemo, and on what chemo they decide to do.  Luckily there are lots of different treatments out there, even for us most-likely platinum resistant folk.  This is no where near the end, but just a new chapter.  And I am gearing up to kick cancer's butt - again.

So that's what's going on with me. 

Out here in the boonies, the tomatoes are finally ripening, so I've been making hot sauce and canning it, as well as canning green beans and black eyed peas.  The cantaloupe is finally ready, and they are HUGE and oh so tasty.  I tell ya - west Texas grows some awesome cantaloupe.  We grow an heirloom variety and save the seeds.  If you are ever wondering what a good heirloom cantaloupe variety is to grow in this area, we highly recommend Hale's Best.  We literally have to use the largest 18 quart Tupperware bowl to keep it in, as many of them are nearly a foot long.  Since you can't really can cantaloupe, we are eating it with every meal, as well as enjoying fresh green beans, peas and tomatoes.

We are already eying a couple of our watermelons - we'll have to decide later this week which one is the biggest so we can enter it in the fair.  Last year, before I got sick, one of our watermelon's got third in the biggest watermelon contest.  This year, our volunteer (as usual) watermelon is a different variety, and those suckers are getting big.  I'm hoping for first this year!  I'll also be entering one of my jars of jelly because it was so darn pretty. 

The chickens went on an egg laying strike last week.  We're not really sure what their problem is.  I suggested to the hubs that we inform them that fall is a great time to put chicken in the freezer if they're not fulfilling their egg-laying duties.  I'm not sure why he keeps rolling his eyes at me.  It started when I began referring to the cow as Lactation. Wait until he hears that I've named the roosters Fricasse, Nuggets, and Fried.  Heh.

Tonight I'm watching some pre-season hockey, after enjoying some college football earlier in the week.  Our Mid-Size University has a new coach this year, and he's been doing really well so far.  It's fun to watch those games again.  Unfortunately, Hicksville lost their game last Friday.  My son took it very hard, but we were playing the #3 ranked team in the state.  To me - the fact that we had such a great response to the Team Teal concept made it a win in my book.  As I've said before - Hicksville folk are awesome.  I love their heart.  I'm so glad we moved out here.

It's good - this Living in Hicksville.  I intend to keep on doing it.