Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving was normal.  I woke up and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Julian freaked out (in a good way) over every balloon or float he saw with a character he recognized.  We went to my parents and ate Thanksgiving dinner like we normally do.  And then Friday morning I woke up and watched 6 straight hours of Gilmore Girls.  This is going to sound totally cheesy but I told my sister while watching it was like hanging out with an old friend and completely comforting. Saturday we went to my in-laws to celebrate Thanksgiving and then Sunday we went to my parents to celebrate my birthday.  When we got to my parents the house was covered inside and out with Christmas decorations.  My mom had decorated 4 trees.  Julian’s reaction was less than I expected.  He honestly was more excited about Halloween.

And now it’s over and as it got later into Sunday evening I could feel a bit of anxiety creeping in.  Today is a double dose of chemotherapy.  Its the start of cycle 2.  Two of six cylces, 14 more weeks of chemo after today. Last week Julian had a runny nose and we told him he couldn’t hug Mimi (because of that whole chemo destroying the immune system thing) and he says, “Oh, I can’t hug Mimi because she has a little bit of cancer” and we just laughed because it was just so sweet.

For My Mother on Her Birthday

Over the past (almost) 5 months cancer has taken over our lives.  My mom is so much more than her cancer, it does not define her.  And I feel like too often our loved ones leave us before knowing how we feel about them.  So as we celebrate another year, mom this one is for you:

56 years ago today my mother was born and my grandma’s tailbone injured her lung and she was put in the NICU. So ya she came out a fighter.

While we were growing up in the cul-de-sac she was a stay at home mom which meant she looked out for all the kids in the neighborhood and wasn’t afraid to chase after a car going too fast with a newspaper. She’s a protector. You could find her sitting outside in a lawn chair on a nice day, even during winter she just wraps up in a warm blanket.

She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty pulling weeds or cutting the grass. There was once a railing that separated the kitchen from the family room in my parent’s house. That railing no longer exists because one day while my dad was at work my mom removed it. Speaking of the house she has a real eye for detail and every room looks like something out of a catalog. And she’s on a first name basis with the woman that works at Home Goods.

She should’ve been an event decorator.  She would get big tents for our graduation parties and rent linens and have fresh flowers.  She did all the centerpieces for mine and my sister’s showers.  And she did the bouquets, table arrangements and all the decorations for both of our weddings.  And they were beautiful.

The holidays are magical. She does 6 weeks of Halloween, decorations inside and out.  Christmas music starts in November and the Christmas decorations go up the day after Thanksgiving like clockwork.  She now has the 3 trees.  In the sunroom is the “kids” tree which we will decorate this year and she will probably ask us to move ornaments around.

She is spontaneous.  There have many trips that have been planned at the last minute.  November 2001 we were watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at my grandma’s house and the next day we were walking the streets of New York City.

She changes the radio station a lot and it takes her a while to find a song she likes.

She’s always the last to get in the car.  I never understood this before I was a mother.  The four of us would be sitting in the car waiting for her ready to go somewhere.  I get it now though. When you’re the mom you have to make sure the house is in order before you lock it up and leave.

She’s always there to push us even when we don’t want to necessarily hear it. And now that I think of it I don’t remember her telling us “I told you so” when she was right and we fought her on it. She’s the reason I went away to college. She knew I needed to get away and grow as a person. And she was there everyday on the phone when I would cry about how hard my classes were.

Family is everything to her.  She has always wanted the three of us to be close and I think she succeeded with that.  She wants to make sure that we will always be there to look out for one another. Be nice to your sister was something I was often told.  She has always encouraged us to go to everything.  If a family member is having any sort of celebration we went because that’s what family does.  They show up for one another and she taught us that.

And lastly she is the toughest person I know.  There have been days where I absolutely have no idea how she does it.  But she just keeps fighting and her strength gives us strength.

I love you mom and thank you for shaping my life in the way you have.

The Little Things

Today my mom drove her car and went to the grocery store. To some it may sound crazy that this is a big deal but my mom has not driven a car in 6 weeks. She wasn’t allowed, she wasn’t allowed to do anything because of surgery. But today she went to the grocery store and she shopped for things for Thanksgiving dinner. She bought the special dinner rolls I like and smokey cheddar cheese that she warned my brother not to eat before Thanksgiving. Yesterday she had chemo and I know tomorrow she will probably feel like garbage but today she got to go to the grocery store and be a person and for that I am thankful.

New Normal?

Today my brother got tested to see if he has the BRCA2 gene mutation.  Today I sat in the waiting room with my brother as we have done many times since June.  The only difference is that he was the patient and I was there to help him out with any questions the genetic counselor may ask.  This is my third time going to the genetic counselor within a 3 month span.  I mean I feel like I could practically run the appointment myself.  It’s always a fun time (sarcasm) at the genetic counselor, discussing our family history of cancer and talking about the grandparents we have lost. There was only one question that tripped us up….how old is your sister?  We both looked each other and replied 27? (Sorry Lex).  And now we wait to see if he has the BRCA2 gene mutation and we just pray that he doesn’t.

Meanwhile my dad and mom are over at a different hospital while she gets her double dose of chemo. Today is Day 1 of Cylce 1 for this course.  The point of chemo the first time around was to shrink the tumors in order to do surgery.  Because she was able to have surgery the point of chemo this time is to kill any tiny cells that could’ve been left behind after surgery. While today feels like a major day, at the same time it feels like a normal day.  It just feels like this is what we do now.

**UPDATE** On November 9, my brother received the call that he does not have the BRCA2 gene mutation