A tribute to Mom and Dad.

My parents 50th wedding anniversary was a few weeks ago and we were able to sneak down to their house in Florida  to celebrate with them after all! It was a quite the feat to get there, between trying to manage appointments and chemo in the special Desensitize unit, and trying to make sure Cora was all set and all the while praying I would feel well enough to travel. And… it all went well. Yes, finally!!! I sent Cora down with my brother ahead of time…I had my 12 hour infusion and hopped on a plane at 5:45am the next day. We had a great time celebrating with family and enjoying some warm sunshine on our faces. Of course we made a quick trip to have breakfast with a few princess, so Cora was thrilled! We arrived back home last week and are settling back down for the long haul of what’s ahead. It been an ok two weeks since I last wrote. If you’ve seen me on Facebook, then you know chemo has been going great in the new unit. I figured I would sit back and enjoy smooth coasting and try not to think about the obvious… That I have F-ing cancer again. So I guess I have been pretending I am really not sick. But that can only last for so long, before the truth catches up. Back to chemo, minor surgery for a port placement today (we are in the waiting room now editing this blog to pass the time) and my hair is starting to thin. So yeah, here we are.

50 years!!! Can you believe it? Doing anything for 50 years is hard, never mind staying married for that long! With the divorce rate being so high these days I think the amount of people celebrating 50 years of marriage is dwindling, almost extinct. A rarity, but when you see a couple who has been together that long how can you not think how magnificent that is. Like a bengal tiger or a sea turtle, you instantly know when you see one how special they are. Its been making me think a lot above love and relationships. Like all couples, my ‘rents have experienced the gamut of challenges that arise in marriage. Might even be fair to say they have experienced more than the average couple since they have been together for so long. They have seen each other through richer and poorer, sickness and health and definitely for better or for worse and a whole lot more shit that isn’t stated in marriage vows, but gets thrown at you anyway. Yet here they stand, stronger than ever 50 years later. So cheers to you Mom and Dad for 50 years! Thank you for teaching us kids to never give up on love, even when things got too hard, you taught us that’s when we fight harder. You taught us that no marriage, nor one’s marriage partner is perfect. In fact we pretty much will fail each other at some point in marriage and through God’s grace we extend love and forgiveness and by doing so will only make the marriage stronger. You taught us how to have fun with one another and enjoy life together and always eat good food!!!!

How lucky am I to have such an example to learn from. I know my parents are far from perfect but have been a great example for me to learn from, an example for Nate and I to learn from. 

The truth is, marriage is work. Hard work. But it’s wonderfully hard work. Both of us have felt more pain than we ever knew was possible, and more deep joy than we ever realized existed. We love more than we have ever loved anyone or anything (except God, of course).

Our love has grown richer, deeper and better over time, as we face challenges (cancer), kids, loss and learn from mistakes. Through it all, Christ has kept us together and brought us a more wonderfully fulfilling relationship than either of us knew was possible. On the other side of deep pain is deep joy. You’ve just got to make it there and know you can’t have one with out the other. 

It’s so wonderful that we get to pass this life knowledge onto Cora and Baby K. And like I said no one is perfect… nobody’s life is as great as they make it out to be on Instagram. Shit happens man… everyday that shit flinging monkey is at it. And know this, it’s ok to be poor, it’s ok to be the worst partner at times, it’s ok to be sick, or even weak. It’s just like what Forrest Gump says “it happens.” “What? Shit!?”. “Sometimes.”

It’s how you get through it that makes you who you are at 50 years and counting.  So thanks Mom and Dad, Happy 50th Anniversary. I pray I get to see 50 years… that would put me at 77 years old … I think I can make it. 

We get to check in on baby K Thursday via ultrasound after chemo… we already know what we are having but will tell everyone this Thursday. What do you think it is??? Boy or girl? If you know already don’t spoil it.

Today’s prayer…

Please pray and share… I could use the love today!

Dear God,

Today, please continue to be with me. Please help my body cooperate while I get the medicine I need to live a long healthy life for me and my baby. Protect my baby from these medications. Please be with the doctors and the nurses. Give them wisdom to care for me and keep me safe during the infusion.

Also God, please be with my brother and sister in-law as they are currently on a plane with Cora today. Grant them safe travels, grant them patience and good will to care for her when I can’t. Please Lord, give Cora good listening ears today!!! And I pray that I am well enough to meet them in Florida tomorrow or Saturday. Lastly God, just help me deal with my mom guilt; that I am stuck here in a hospital bed instead of being on that plane experiencing her joy and excitement to travel and do new things.

Thank you for being here for me always and never leaving me. Thank you for showing up in my darkest moments. To you be the glory.


The Shitshow

I started out yesterday psyching myself up, thinking- it’s just one more.  You have done this before Jodi, this should be a cakewalk. You got this!  Just do what you did last time when you were preggers with Cora. No surprises right?  At least I know what to expect. These are the mantras people have been telling me, and what I’ve been telling myself. Well… guess what!  We were all wrong people, ALL WRONG!!! My cycle 2 chemo session was nothing like last time. Nothing at all.

Yesterday was a complete and total shit show. Nothing, absolutely nothing went as planned. I didn’t get to finish the chemo session because I kept having a reaction to it. At one point my throat had become all scratchy and phlegmy. I had never experienced an anaphylaxis reaction.  But I guess now I know— an itchy, scratchy throat is no good. That whole, my throat is closing up on me feeling is no good.  My nurse Sandy stopped the infusion.  The medical team didn’t want to push it and see what would happen.  So they pumped me full of even more steroids and Benadryl. We waited an hour and then tried restarted the chemo again. This time my heart started racing.  We then had to stop the chemo all together.  At that point I was on the verge of some serious ‘roid rage. Of course my heart rate was elevated! I had more steroids in me than Derek friggin’ Jeter or A-Rod or whoever.  I knew the steroids were meant to enhance my performance but instead all they did was jack me up so much I felt like my heart was going to burst out of my chest.  The team said we had to stop because the baby’s health was in danger at that point.

And while all this was happening my veins were totally blowing it.   Trying to get an IV in my teeny tiny Jodi sized veins was no picnic. Dana Farber actually has a limit as to how many sticks you can give someone. I had limited out for the day. So, now I need a port. A port (which can be hooked into any time without a new needle stick) is usually something simple, but because I am pregnant, not so much.  I can’t get the ‘twilight meds’ (think Michael Jackson) that keep you awake but In La-La Land.  So now I get to have my port surgically installed. Flippin’ great!

My heart rate wouldn’t come down for the longest time.   I almost won myself a night in the cardiac ward…gurrr. Like I said, total shit show. The cancer monkey was flinging it everywhere! I did get to leave the hospital though.  I left feeling discouraged, defeated.  I left with a whole new set of anxieties. Yesterday (for the first time ever in the last 4 years) I felt like the cancer won. I have never felt this way.

When I was in the waiting room yesterday, before chemo, there was a woman who was also waiting.  I noticed her right when she was wheeled in by her husband (I assume its her husband, or male companion of some sort). I noticed she had no hair; she was covered in blankets and could barely speak. Her lips were dry and cracked. She had no fat on her body. I could see all the bones in her face. I could see her cheek bones, her temporal bones. I could see the outline of her jaw bone. I’m could see she was close to my age, maybe a little older. I know I have bitched about how awful my chemo day was. I know that for now, I will be ok. My chemo day was just bumps in the road, getting things off to a rocky, extra spicy start.  I know that I’m not out of tricks.  But, I could see the woman in the waiting room’s bag of tricks was almost, if not completely empty. I could really see her.  SHE is fighting for just one more day to be with her husband, to be with her kids, her family. Just one more. I’m asking everyone reading this to pray today (now!) for that woman and not me.  I don’t know her name but God does and I’m sure he is listening. I know my chemo day didn’t go to plan, but I believe I’ve got plenty more than one day left.  I hoping I have thousands and thousands more.  Time is precious people. You never know when you might be praying for just one more. 

Dr Google….

Last night I was thinking about today. I went to write and the page just came up blank. I couldn’t find any words that made sense. My head was swimming with endless thoughts. These thoughts, they bubbled up quick and then scattered only to be replaced by another thought, another feeling, another angle to this predicament in which we find ourselves. My head was spinning…going too fast for me to grasp one concept or one feeling and just write it. I had so many racing, compounding thoughts and feelings and they all needed me to hear them, feel them. Last night, while I contemplated today, I was afraid, unsure, confident, strong, feeble and weak all at once. So I just went with it. I gave each restless thought it’s time, time to be felt and acknowledged, then onto the next one. A pool full of next ones, and somehow I eventually drifted off to sleep.

Then I woke up to chemo, day one. I’m home now, and we officially have one round of chemo on the books — only 15 more to go! Woot woot!!! It was a loooong day. We left the house at 6am and walked in the door around 6 pm.

Here’s the rundown—

7:30 am: labs,

8:30: oncologist visit to review the master plan,

9:40: 19 week ultra sound to measure the baby for growth (and see if it’s a boy or a girl)

10:45: visit with high-risk OB

11:30: chemo

Needless to say, we are wiped out. Over all, things went well. The baby is growing and is right on schedule. No issues there at all. The chemo went smoothly. And by smoothly I mean, I had a reaction to one of the drug components in the chemo… that was fun. My nurse pushed the “oh crap” button and people came running. Poor Nate got kicked out of the room, I hate when that happens. I had no clue what was going on. I kept asking the nurse, and she kept saying “you will be ok, this is just protocol”. They gave me more Benadryl, more steroids, and restarted the infusion 30 minutes later. Yeah so, at least they figured that out on this first round. It went GREAT!

We are home now, resting. I have a new arsenal of mess (I mean meds) to take to help fight the side effects. I like a clean bedside table and these pill bottles aren’t helping with that. You know, the type of meds that when you google the name, Dr. Google says none of them are safe during pregnancy. Well Dr. Google, I’m pregnant and I have to take them you asshole. Damnit Dr. Google, I was pregnant before and took the same meds then. My child is just fine—she is perfect, a little miracle. Dr. Google doesn’t know shit!

For all you ladies who don’t eat lunch meats during pregnancy… well, here are my thoughts: if I can get chemo, take all these meds and still have a perfectly fine (even perfect) baby… a #7 turkey sub done ‘Mike’s way’ with lettuce, pickles, no cheese no onion is the last thing I or you need to worry about. So if anyone wants to bring me Jerseys Mikes for lunch! YES PLEASE!

So enough… I’m pretty tired and maybe a little wasted off of Benadryl and steroids, and who knows, maybe the chemo too. Probably best to put this down and get some rest.

Our prayer for tonight: that this chemo stamps out this nasty cancer tramp inside of me. Be gone you nasty parasitic hobo! We’re done with you! Thanks for listening everyone. Lots of love, and goodnight!

The Waiting Room.

So how are we doing? Seems to be the next big question folks are asking me. My answer: I have no clue how we are doing. I really can’t answer, because it depends when you ask me and what emotion I am feeling at the time. We are seriously on a bipolar roller-coaster of emotions. They are everywhere. 

I remember sitting in the waiting room last week. We were waiting for the scan results, my doctor was running over an hour behind. The waiting room is always a weird quiet. No one wants to talk because we all know someone there has received bad news, about to receive bad news or just plain doesn’t want to be there because at some point they received bad news. There are only chairs and big floor to ceiling windows over looking the roof tops of the other hospitals that surround us. No tv, no fish tank nothing for some distraction. I could hear the fan in the ceiling… never heard it before, but last week it was howling, running a high pitch noise. Trying to keep my fear in check. At one point I leaned over to Nate and I said ‘ how about, lets just leave. Let’s just walk out and pretend this isn’t happening’. Do any of you like roller coasters? Remember my blog from years back about roller coaster face? Well Nate and I were rocking the full on roller coaster face waiting for the results. 

Neither one of wanted to be on the ride.  We were sitting there, in the waiting room, going up that first big hill, listening to the clickity clack of the track pulling us up, thinking to ourselves, “I made a mistake, I want off. I don’t really like this as much as I thought… it’s to late to get off now… bad idea, bad idea”. We were about to crest the hill, 400ft in the sky before we just fall…fall straight down and we’re just praying that the ride down wouldn’t be too terrifying.

We got the results… stage 3 cancer. We were ‘enjoying’ the ride down the roller coaster! Nate and myself were high fiveing  each other on our way out of the hospital. As my friend put it “best BAD news ever”. We had never been so happy to only have stage 3 cancer.  At least we think it’s stage 3. Because I’m pregnant, they couldn’t do a PET scan to say really for sure, but hack – stage 3 sounds better than the alternatives.

So here it is Tuesday, 1 week from the second diagnosis. We start chemo on Thursday. The excitement from last week is wearing off as we are gearing up to start chemo. The plan is chemo for 12 weeks. However that brings me up to 31 weeks in my pregnancy. My doctor does not want any dead time in my treatment. So what do we do with the weeks from 32-38??? Maybe try to squeeze in surgery to remove the tumors?  That’s fun… surgery on my lymph nodes to hurry up and heal to then have a c-section 2 weeks later. Or we have the option of 4 more weeks of chemo? But who knows where I will be and if I can tolerate 4 more weeks of chemo after 12 weeks already! 

There is so much in the air right now. Waiting for everything to start and the pieces to fall into place, the rollercoaster to glide out onto the track.