Monday, September 10, 2012

Peter's Journey to Survival

This weekend was filled with fun! First of all I got to help plan my little sister’s 14th birthday party, which is just so hard to believe. She has the most amazing little group of girlfriends that support her and love her and it was so great to see that. 

Secondly, I surprised Pete with a party for completing radiation. And it was a real SURPRISE! This is a big deal considering I haven’t had much luck keeping secrets from him over the course of our relationship, and Izzy knew about it. She was actually with me when I ordered the cupcakes and she continually said, “And I’m not going to tell dada.” And she didn’t! Way to go Izzy and thank you to everyone that attended (or wanted to!) and those near and far who sent him messages to lift his spirits and to spur him on during this next phase. It was such a blessing to see the joy overflowing from his spirit on Saturday night. So, thank you again for your support and love.

The party really was a fun event and left us feeling so loved by all our friends and family. The fact is, that with the move to Red Bluff the attitude around here has not been that great. In fact, I’m ashamed to say it’s been really poor. Pete and I have had a tough time coming to terms with the change, yet at the time the decision was made, it was necessary. However, now we’re here and settled and there is no choice but to come to terms with it.

My father-in-law was kind enough to come up this weekend to celebrate with us. Over the course of this journey he has been keeping a journal. As an engineer, he is not manufactured to create anything but thorough documentation of anything! And that’s exactly what he’s done. The document is filled with almost 200 pages documenting Pete’s journey; everything from doctor’s appointments, medications, CT scans, blogs, Facebook posts, texts, messages, and pictures. This is a complex document and I am so thankful for his dedication and perseverance to continue its compilation despite his hectic work schedule and travels. So, thank you Charlie!

But, when he handed it to me for review, something caught my eye, the title page. It was entitled, Peter’s Journey to Survival. When I first read that I immediately thought, “Is he getting something I’m not,” or,  “Am I missing something?” Last I heard we were running out of options. Every night I go to bed listening to Pete’s labored breathing and awake every morning to Pete grimacing in pain. It’s not a pretty picture and it pretty much makes it impossible to maintain as much hope as I once had of his eventual survival.

I remember one of my first Facebook posts back in December 2011, which read, “Please pray for our family but specifically for Pete. They discovered a tumor in his colon this morning and are pretty sure it's cancerous. He'll have a CT scan tomorrow and we'll know the results of the biopsy on Friday. The good news is that it's one of the better cancers to have as it is very curable. This is a very tough time for us so any prayers would be appreciated.”

I keep rethinking those last words, “…it is one of the better cancers to have as it is very curable.” Wow, if we only knew back then what we know now. Would we have fought harder? Would we have made more of an effort to live our lives to the fullest? Spread joy? Do more for others? The truth is, I have no idea. But I do know that we are where we are today, for a reason. 

The truth is that we have to keep hope alive and that means something different to everyone involved. Last night I finished a book by comedian Robert Schimmel who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is now cancer free. At the end of the book, he shares a list of lessons he learned over the course of his treatment. One of them that stood out to me was, “Create a purpose, a focus, and never take your eyes off it.” This is true of anything, not just cancer. It reminds me of the story of the woman that was determined to win the lottery. She meditated on winning the lottery everyday and guess what, she won! So maybe my father-in-law has the right idea; believing that Pete will survive despite having all the cards stacked against him. And, although my faith waivers day-by-day, today I’m back to believing survival is possible. So, as always, keep the prayers coming. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Every Rose has it's Thorns

Nothing exciting here; no waxing philosophical today, just an update of whats been going on the past couple of weeks. We've had to make a few sacrifices as of late to accommodate the changes our life has brought us. Leaving our house in Chico that we have worked so hard on to make our home and has become our refuge was hard, is still hard. I'm still not happy about feeling dragged out of it unwillingly, but it's for reasons I know we need to let happen for the time being. As hard as change is for me to take usually, this was a big step to force myself over. My mind can't process and accept alot at once right now. I feel like an autistic child must; easily overwhelmed by noise and multiple stimuli. I don't like it and try to shield myself or hide from it when confronted by it. My head just can't handle it. Getting our house in 'showing' condition wasn't easy, but it gave us the chance to finish all the details and finishing touches on the renovations we did in the beginning when we bought the house that we hadn't gotten to, so really our house looks better at the moment than it ever has. I'm glad for that, but not for the loss of the comfort of 'home' that our new house lacks. We had tons of help between getting the Chico house packed and cleaned, moving into our new rental house, and getting settled by touching up the details and landscaping at the new place to make it feel more like home. My father and step-mother, Kathy, stayed for a week to help get things settled for us. We're settled in, but Chico is still our home. Circumstances could have necessitated that we moved much farther away, which would have still been hard, but it would have seemed more preferable than having had made the move to somewhere so close but giving up so much.

I finished the final treatment of radiation last Thursday, August 30th, and now start the 5 week pause to allow my body to heal itself before I abuse it with any further treatment options. I have an MRI scheduled on Oct 5th, to map the primary tumor area, to see if surgery will be an option or if it has intruded in areas that would make it inoperable. I then have follow-up appointments with both a local surgeon and with the surgery department at (UCSF) U. of California San Francisco teaching hospital. Alysha surprised me last night with a party at the house to which she had invited many of our friends from our church group in Chico and other friends and family. It was a welcome surprise and uplifting event to make me feel supported and loved. Thank you to all who attended and who wrote encouraging letters about their encounters with me over my life. I can't thank you all enough for all the support and encouragement now and always and hope to keep you all informed as things continue to develop over time. We love you all for helping us through this all in your own ways. We are eternally grateful.