A great day to be alive!

Some days I wake up with a song in my heart.  Today’s song is “It’s a great day to be alive”.  This song has always made me smile and I have lots to smile about today.

-Treatment number 5 has begun! While this week was a little crazy, I am glad to be here today. I have made it to the 5th treatment, something that seemed so far away in August.  The fact that I am here today means that I am almost done with this part of the journey!

-Tomorrow brings two of my sisters and one of my nephews! Yay! Although it isn’t a carefree weekend of festivities, it is time with my family to laugh and smile.  That, in itself, makes me feel better.

-I’m going to beat this. My best friend messaged me yesterday and told me that this treatment is going to be one of the hardest because it is going to be the one that takes over the cancer and kills it off, making progress on this tumor & lymph nodes. Ya know what? I believe her. And with all of the people supporting me this weekend, even if it is the hardest one, I know I’ll get through it.

-I dropped off the Love Jars today!!! It took a little longer than I anticipated but I was so excited to drop them off this morning. Everyone loves them and within 30 minutes, someone had already taken one. Yay!  I hope it brightens someone’s  day the way it brightens mine.  I’ll post pictures later!

-At the end of this year, I’ll be able to ring the bell to indicate that I am done with this portion of treatment! Just typing those words brings tears to my eyes!  How awesome is that?!

-Did I mention I won’t be sick on Christmas? My 6th treatment will be the Monday after, which means I should feel good that day!

So today, my friends, is indeed a great day to be alive! Enjoy this beautiful day  and hug someone you love for me today.

New traditions

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Over the years, Thanksgiving has taken on many different forms.  When I was a child, my family would sometimes spend the weekend in Rhode Island & Connecticut with my father’s side of the family. All of the cousins would stay up late the night before, sharing stories and giggles. We would sleep in on Thanksgiving morning and wake up just in time for appetizers at noon. The adults would sit at the main table and the kids would have their own table or two.  We would eat all day, having second and even third dinner, with naps & snuggles on the couch in between.

Other years, my family would spend the day with my mother’s side of the family. We would all gather at my grandparents house for dinner promptly at noon. There were so many aunts, uncles and cousins that we ate buffet style. We would line up with our plates and serve ourselves heaping helpings of food and then sit wherever we could find the room. Sometimes the table, sometimes the couch and sometimes the stairs going up to the second floor.

The first Thanksgiving after I met Joe, he wasn’t planning on celebrating the day because his family was in Florida. Him and his roommate were going to stay home and order a pizza. I immediately invited them to my grandparent’s house and after a little hesitation, they both agreed. “The Joe’s”, as my uncles called them (something they laughed at for years), were welcomed into my family gathering without question.

After moving to Florida, we spend the first few Thanksgivings at my in-laws, with the exception of the year we bought our house when we hosted for the first time ever.

The last four years though, we have taken on a new tradition that has been named the Brown-Hall-Rivers-Thanksgiving-Extravaganza. It started with my younger sisters coming to spend their first Thanksgiving in Florida with the windows open and wearing tank tops. This first year was also the infamous year that I dropped the freshly baked apple pie that my little sister made for dessert. The following year, we decided to head to Georgia and experience a cooler fall Thanksgiving, where we were able to bundle up and snuggle to keep warm in the chilly air.

Last year, my baby sister and her (now) fiance traveled back to Florida to spend little man’s first Thanksgiving with us. Jacob, despite only eating milk at the time, was the head of the table (something that seems rather fitting!).

This year, we caught an amazing sale on plane tickets early in the year and we are back in the beautiful late fall that Georgia offers. Though, instead of celebrating today, we are waiting until tomorrow so that my soon-to-be brother-in-law can join us. Today, he is in uniform protecting this wonderful city.  Tomorrow ee will join his aunt & uncle, who are kindly hosting us in their home for a feast and celebration.

So today, though we won’t have turkey and fixings, we are thankful. We are thankful for all of the amazing Thanksgivings that we been blessed to have, for the incredible family & friends who love and support us more than we could ever have imagined, for it being a “good” week that allows us the ability to travel and eat well, for this gorgeous fall weather, for each other and for each year that brings a new spin to our Thanksgiving traditions.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Enjoy this beautiful day with loved ones! I’d love to hear what traditions you share!

Losing time

The morning following the accident that I mentioned previously, I woke up unsure of where I was or what happened. I knew that I needed to ask about Joe & Mike somehow but the details of that night are lost somewhere deep in my mind. I once pursued the possibility of hypnosis to recall those memories but eventually decided that my brain was hiding them for a reason. The moment in time is lost on me.

Though the effects of treatment on my memory aren’t quite as severe as that, it is my closest correlation to the time I seem to lose during chemo. The week of treatment is a period of slight chaos as we try to ready ourselves for the upcoming week.  Trying to catch up on passed due chores, paying bills, and organizing our life the best that we can. It is necessary for my own peace of mind to know that our household responsibilities are ready to be put last for at least a week.  While the world continues around me, I am at a standstill while recovering. 

We have been incredibly blessed to have family travel from out of state to help care for me during each treatment, in addition to the help we have received locally through meals and help with little man.

My sweet husband has been a sense of strength for me throughout this, as he cares for all of the day to day responsibilities to keep our home – and our life – afloat during these times.

So while we ready ourselves for the big day tomorrow (number 4!!!), I am reminded that each moment that I feel good is a blessing and that I am one step closer to recovery.

Tomorrow

The days leading up to treatment are bittersweet. Food tastes better, the weather is more appealing, the minutes seem to matter more and the days seem to move too quickly. Yet there is a list of to-dos that haven’t been done and treatment approaches too quickly. The anxiety that I feel is a mixture of “I don’t want to do this again” and “Let’s get it over with!” You can imagine the battle in my head.

I have spent many days in my life waiting for tomorrow. These tend to be happy occasions – Payday is tomorrow! Or – We leave for vacation tomorrow! Or – My birthday is tomorrow! But sometimes they are less exciting– I have a big meeting at work tomorrow. Or – There is a parent / teacher conference tomorrow. Or – I need to schedule an appointment tomorrow.

These tomorrow statements tend to be a point of anticipation. This anticipation can be exciting or sad, thrilling or nerve racking. Having a week of vacation – and an extra week in between treatments – has allowed me to put off the thought of treatment day a bit more than usual. The last day or two, as treatment quickly approaches, my thoughts have continuously returned to Thursday morning, when I will begin my third round of treatment.

The thought of the approaching treatment causes a little anxiety because I don’t know the extent of the side effects and how they are going to affect me this round. The first treatment went easier than expected and the second was harder than I anticipated. Third round could show the compounding effects worse, or it could be better than I imagine.

Tonight, as little man reached up to me so he could sit on my lap at bedtime, I am reminded of why I shouldn’t be concerned about the days ahead. Regardless of the hardships that this treatment causes, or the discomfort following, it is allowing me the opportunity to live a longer life. To eventually be healthier and stronger, so I can continue to raise my son and be around for all of his “firsts”. So that I can dance with him on his wedding day. So that I can be a wife to my incredible husband and cry happy tears when we watch our son graduate college.

So, my friends, remember that as frightened or uneasy you may be about tomorrow…it is helping to build a better future. Tomorrow, I am halfway done with the first 6 treatments.