Monday, August 30, 2010

Future Blackmail

The hazards of having an older sister.

Josh is never going to live this down!  We had our friends, the Tuellers, over for a playdate on Friday.  Ben and Elliott were busy playing the Wii and Emma and Ava were playing dress-up.  Where does poor Joshie fit in?  Well, Emma was more than willing to let him come play with her and Ava, so he joined the fun.
  Then once he found the Spiderman costume, he quickly took the dress off, had me zip the Spiderman costume on... and wore it until bed time.  He cracks me up.

Saturday, August 28, 2010


I've thought a lot this past week (well, really, the past few months) about life, priorities, etc.  Sort of happens when someone tells you you have cancer.  On Tuesday night I was lucky enough to hear Julie De Azvedo-Hanks, an LDS singer/songwriter and marriage and family therapist, speak to women in my church.  I just want to say, I aspire to be Julie.  She has 10 CDs, plays beautiful piano and of course sings like an angel.  Not just that, she is a mom, and also counsels others and helps them get through their rough times.  Wow!  What an inspiration.  After her counseling session with us women, I felt the overwhelming need to be more gentle with myself.  It reminded me of a song written by Michael McLean called "Gentle."  I used to play this song all the time when I was younger, even performed it a time or two.  The whole song is very simple, but so powerful.  As I sing it now, as a grown woman and mother nearing the big 3-0 and contemplating my life and my priorities, I realize the lyrics are so right-on.  We go through so much in this world, especially us women, and we need to be Gentle.  Be gentle with others, but more importantly, with ourselves.  Too often I know I try to be superwoman.  I want to be 100% at everything I do.  Then when I'm not 'perfect', I feel like I've failed.  How many do that?  Lots of us.  I need to remember to be gentle like my Savior is with me.  He knows what I'm going through.  The times when I struggle, I just have to remember He is always there.

So, as a reminder for me to slow down and be easy on myself, I pulled out this old song of mine from my past, tried out Garageband for the first time, and pluncked down a few tracks.  Don't judge me.  I sang it once, didn't like the key, changed it, then just kept my first takes on both the piano and vocals.  I have no standup mic, so just used the built-in on my iMac.  (I did mix my vocals up a little with some "Live performance" editing option, to add some spice.)  I've missed singing.  It used to be such a huge part of my life.  Hopefully this will motivate me to do it more (and to learn the program so I can make it sound more professional. ;) )  So, to all of us, me included... let's be more gentle with ourselves.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Goodbye Summer

It's hard to believe the summer is drawing to a close.  This definitely hasn't been our 'typical' summer, to say the least, but I think the kids were still able to have a lot of fun the past 3 months.  They had a blast at Grandma and Grandpa Call's house in Oregon for 2 weeks.  Jake and I spoke to the kids on the phone nearly every day they were gone and it seemed they never missed us.  Grandma and Grandpa were just that fun.  In fact, it took nearly a week to get them to stop calling me "Grandma."  (My mom got a kick out of that!)  I had a cute request from Emma a few days before they came home.  She asked if I was going to hang up a "Welcome Home!" sign for them, since Jake, my mom, and the kids made one for me when I got home from the hospital.  I told her it would be there when they pulled into the driveway, so the night before they came home my awesome friends helped me paint the banner and Wednesday morning I got it taped up and ready for them.  (Like the painters tape?  We were out of masking tape and (Click below to read more)

2 Months Ago

June 23rd.  It's been two months since my surgery... which means today is the day Dr. Reid has lifted ALL restrictions!  He reminded me that doesn't mean I can go out and be crazy today, but I do have some wiggle room now when I want to attempt something I wasn't supposed to attempt over the past 60 days.

I want to say thank you to all my caring friends out there who posted and/or e-mailed to give me some words of encouragement over the weekend.  Saturday was rough.  It actually took me by surprise, how emotional I was all day.  The tears wouldn't stop coming, and that's just not me!  I took the rest of the weekend to re-charge.  I gave myself a few pep-talks.  Like my friend, Ashley, (and cardiac rehab therapist) said "Tomorrow is a new day."  I'm feeling better.  I just have to get it into my head that this body of mine is different than the one I had two months ago.  For one, it's CANCER-FREE!  And two, it's healing.  My lung capacity probably will never be what it was, which I'm still trying to wrap my head around... but at least I'm alive.  It will get better.  It's easy to forget how far I've come when I keep comparing myself to, well, myself.  This morning I went back and read the posts I wrote in the hospital and right after surgery.  My first mile on the treadmill post-surgery, 5 weeks ago, was 18:39.  Today I went one mile in 12:40 and then my second mile in 11:48.  With my set-back last week I decided today to have no expectations, just do what I felt I could do.  I ran 4 minutes straight at 5.5, and then the last minute at 6.0.  I was on the treadmill a total of 30 minutes (including warm up and cool down), and sweat dripped down my forehead.  Euphoria.  Today was a good day.

I have had a few people ask to see all my surgery pics since Jake only posted 4 or 5 of them while I was still in the ICU.  So, for all you medical junkies (like me), these pics are for you.  Enjoy!  (Click the link below to read more.  I don't want to make everyone see these pics if they don't want to.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Facing Reality

Today is the Hobble Creek Half Marathon... my favorite race.  I anxiously watched the clock on April 30th, waiting for midnight on May 1st to register online and secure my spot.  Last year the race filled up in less than 2 days.  This year it filled up in less than 10 hours.  I was so excited to run HC and my goal was to PR and get sub 2 (my time last year was 2:05.)  Here is my post from last year's race

When I woke up this morning, my first thought was "I should be at mile 6 right now, almost halfway done."  Instead, my good friend Heidi, is running in my place.  I found this e-mail from her today:

I just made a white and purple ribbon to pin onto my bib tomorrow.  White for lung cancer, purple for surviving, or as I like to think of it, kicking it in the butt.  I'll get you your sub 2:00.

And she did.  She came in at 1:56 despite dealing with GI issues.  She's a rockstar.  (Thanks so much, Heidi!  Means more than you will ever know.)  Reading her e-mail this morning made me bawl.  One, because I was so touched by her doing this for me, and two, because I was sad it wasn't me.  I don't expect many of you to get this.  If you're not a runner, it's hard to understand.  Why would someone want to pay to run 13 miles? or 26?  And all the training.  The long runs.  Speed workouts.  Hills.  (I could spend a whole post on that, and maybe I will sometime, but not today.)  My point is, I'm sad.  Very sad.  It's hard to even talk about it without getting teary-eyed.  Running, exercise, it has become apart of me.  It's my therapy.  Some people take Xanax, I run (and do Body Combat!)  I love how I feel when I sweat a little every day.  And to not be able to do that the way I used to kills me.  I didn't get to run even one race this year!  It is painful, realizing my body is so far away from where it was a year ago, and that I might never be at that level (or better) again.  Jake tried to remind me that I just had surgery 2 months ago, but I guess I just thought by 2 months I would be back to my normal self.  A few days ago I had a goal to run at a 10 min/mile pace for 5 minutes.  That's not that fast, or that long.  I thought for sure I could push myself long enough to get to my goal.  I cranked up the speed and realized 6.0 was too fast, so went down to 5.8 and couldn't even keep it up for two minutes.  I felt like I was sucking air.  My lungs couldn't handle it.  I'm worried my lungs will never be the same again (silly to say, because obviously they will never be the same with nearly 40% of my lungs gone.)  I guess I just thought I would defy the odds and be the one person who would bounce back quickly and be better than I was before.  Reality is quickly sinking in.

Sorry to be such a Debbie Downer.  I'm human, though, and have hard days.

Today is a hard day.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Alive and Kickin'

Yep.  Still alive over here.  I really haven't forgotten about all of you, my loyal readers, it's just been a busy few weeks.  After Josh's birthday on the 26th, my mom packed our van and drove home to Portland, taking our three kiddos with her.  Yes, I know... she's awesome.  She told me she thought this would be a nice getaway for the kids, since making multiple trips to the hospital doesn't exactly count as a great summer vacation.  She also wanted me to have two more weeks to recover, before school starts and "normal life" begins.  I can't thank her and my dad enough for all they have done.  As tough as it has been to be apart from the kids, Jake and I really needed this time to focus on us, something we haven't done in a very long time.  I'm a tad concerned now, though, that my kids won't want to come home in two days.  Grandma and Grandpa have spoiled them rotten.  They went to Washington for a few days to see Aunt Ashleigh and Uncle Chad and play with cousins, Jayden and Ryleigh.  Ash had them do a lot of fun things while they were there, one of them painting canvasses and then displaying the pictures as art in her playroom.  Mom and dad have taken the kids out to eat a lot, went to my dad's work party (balloon animals and cotton candy galore), let them buy a bunch of stuff at garage sales, took them to the Children's Museum, went on walks, played at the park, went swimming, and so much more.  I'm afraid I can't compete with grandparents and the kids are going to be pretty bored come Thursday morning.  Jake and I are glad they have had so much fun in Oregon with Grandma and Grandpa.  Only about 50 hours until they are home.  Counting down...
While the kids have been away, I started my new job working part-time for my friend, Polly.  I'm an account rep for her company, Dr. Hess Udder Ointment.  I'm learning the ropes and feel this is a job I can easily do while the kids are home.  This is a huge blessing to us, as we have been trying to come up with ways to make some extra money to help pay the bills.  The hours of this job are flexible, and I can do it from home, which is an added bonus.  Thanks so much, Polly!
My best friend, Naomi, came to visit July 29th to August 1st.  I loved having her here and just wish she could have stayed longer.  We always have such a great time together.  Seeing each other once or twice a year just isn't enough!  I wrote a whole post about Naomi HERE.
Jake and I have been enjoying our late night strolls with our dog, Truman.  We have seen a few movies, gone out to eat a few times.  We went to his co-worker's house for a BBQ last Thursday which was really fun.  I met Jake's boss, Denise, who was very kind and friendly.  Jake and I decided since we probably won't get any vacation the rest of this year (and since we didn't have to worry about what to do with our kids), we would reserve a night at the Hotel Monaco downtown and act like we were on vacation for the weekend.  We checked in Friday night, dropped off our bags and headed to the movies.  After that we had a nice dinner at the Bambara, a pretty spendy restaurant in our hotel.  The food was exquisite.  Jake had the steak and I had the halibut.  After dinner we went on a walk downtown.  Within minutes of getting back to our hotel we both became very sick.  I puked violently 3 or 4 times.  Let's just say, it made for a very romantic evening.  Oh well.  It makes a great story.  Maybe we will try it again someday, without the food poisoning.
Jake leaves for Scout camp tomorrow and I need to get in a few hours of work, clean the house, and stock up the refrigerator before the kids get home.  It's going to be a busy week.

As for a post-surgery update, I met with my surgeon on Monday, the 26th.  He said everything looked good, my incision is healing well.  My x-ray showed my body has changed dramatically.  Only 30% of my right lung remains, but when looking at the x-ray it looks like 60% is there.  My diaphragm takes up the rest of the empty space, and my heart has shifted over a little.  It looks like a quirky jig-saw puzzle.  It still fits, but just doesn't look exactly "normal."  Bodies are amazing.

Last Wednesday Jake and I met with Dr. Samuelson, an Oncologist at Utah Cancer Specialists in Salt Lake.  He basically told me what I've been through is very rare and he is hoping surgery has cured me.  There is still a chance that this can come back (which we have been told a few times), even 5, 10, 20 years down the road, so observation and follow-ups are very important.  Possibly 2 CT scans and/or 2 bronchoscopies a year for awhile.  If we can catch it early next time, surgery won't be as invasive.  Treatment could involve a number of things next time around, including chemo, but we will cross that bridge if/when it comes.  Overall Jake and I feel really good about the future.  I have great capable doctors who are watching out for me.  And of course we have family and friends all over who are ready and willing to help, which means so much to us.  We are just crossing our fingers and praying hard that the cancer is gone forever!

This morning was my first day back at the gym.  I took it easy, which was super hard to do.  There was a powertone class going on at the same time I was there and at one point everyone in the class came up to the cardio area and jumped on the treadmills.  I vaguely know most of these girls since we have been in a lot of the same classes.  The girls started pumping up their speed on the treadmills and I was sandwiched in-between them.  Most were running 6.5 MPH to 7.5 MPH for a few minutes.  My brain was screaming at me to crank up my speed, but my lungs were shouting "NO!"  I kept it at a brisk 4.2 MPH, ran at 5.0 for 2 minutes, then back down to 4.2.  My accomplishment for the day was running 5.5 for 2 1/2 minutes straight.  I know I could have gone longer, but right now isn't the time to push my limits.  I did 20 minutes on the elliptical, nice and easy.  Then I did 100 crunches.  I attempted my first push-up since the morning of my surgery (yes, I did a mini-workout in my hospital room... call me obsessed ;) ) and I think I need to still wait a little bit longer until I attempt to do more of them.  My lat muscle isn't completely healed yet and I could definitely feel it.  To be honest, I was a little worried that because of my surgery and all the physical, mental, and emotional stress the tumor has caused, that it would affect my motivation to stay healthy.  It hasn't.  In fact, it has done the opposite.  When I asked Dr. Samuelson, the oncologist, what I needed to do or not do to keep from getting cancer again, his response was "You are my prime example, proving that sometimes cancer just "happens."  You're a very healthy 29-year old woman.  Just keep taking care of your body.  That's the most important thing you can do.  In case this comes back, you need a healthy body to help you fight it and recover from it."  So, that's what I continue to plan to do.  I had a moment today, as I held my body in plank position.  It was my third round and by this point my arms were wobbly.  I didn't feel strong.  I kept looking at my watch and thinking "No one will know that I didn't hold it for the full minute.  Just drop."  But I didn't.  Those last 15 seconds my body started to shake, but I knew to dig deep.  I've done this before.  The strong me that used to be there is still in there, and she came out today, and I couldn't have been more proud.  I'm coming back, slowly but surely.



Naomi (Nom) and I have been best friends for 16 years, over half my life.  She knows me probably better than I know myself.  We have shared so much together over the years.  Sleepovers.  Girls camp.  Movie nights.  Nights on the roof.  Nights on the trampoline.  Nights in my room telling secrets.  Boyfriends.  Breakups.  More boyfriends.  More breakups.  College.  Graduation.  Dating.  Marriage.  Babies.  Now we can add one more to the list... Beating cancer.