Monthly Archives

June 2011

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Headed To Poland

When I was diagnosed with my brain tumor, I was four days away from a trip to Poland with my father to visit my Polish family. Obviously, the trip never happened. Once I was diagnosed, I was wrapped up in doctor’s appointments, planning for surgery, having surgeries, and then working on the long road of recovery. I honestly wondered if I would ever get the chance to reschedule. In fact, at the beginning, I didn’t even know if I would survive everything. Fortunately, my Mom cashed in some frequent flyer miles recently and my father and I are headed out in the morning! Woo hoo! Over a decade ago, my dad was at a hemp symposium in Poland (it was for work – our company sells hemp twine, cord and yarn, among other products) and had the opportunity to track down our relatives over there. They embraced my dad, with open arms, and ever since we’ve been in contact. On the second trip, my dad returned with my mother, and on the third trip it was my father and my older brother. Now, as the youngest member of the family, it’s my turn to go with my dad and meet the family. Several years ago, my Polish cousin Kasia came to stay with my parents for a summer. Now, several years later, I get to see her again and hug the rest of the family. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it! I remember my parents telling me, while I was at the hospital just before the first brain surgery, that the entire family in Poland, and their congregation were praying for me at a special mass. I was so touched! There’s something about prayer, whether or not you believe in God, that warms you from the bottom of…

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Love For The Childless Fathers

Yesterday, as I was driving home from Portland, I started thinking about all of the men that never get the chance to be fathers. I’m not talking about the men that don’t want children, I’m talking about the men that yearn to find the right woman, or right mate, who due to lack of fertility or life circumstance, are childless. Before I was diagnosed, Danny and I had talked about the concept of having children. Not a talk about getting started quickly, but in the way you joke about it. I have a mini puffed-up-arm-muscle-flexing caricature that I do whenever we mention children. I’ve always teased him about what a little Danny would look and sound like (the cutest imaginary boy in all of the land), but when you’re not expected to live much longer than five years, your life choices and dreams change. Life becomes fluid, in fact, you become fluid. Expectations change and your definition of happiness evolves. Instead of figuring out when to start a family, you wonder if you should start a family or if you will ever be able to have children. It’s not a simple choice. Danny constantly tells me that his number one goal is to keep me healthy and alive as long as possible. He has reassured me that he’s not worried about the lack of children, but I know he grieves for the alternative future, one that wouldn’t include the brain tumor. It’s scary to think about getting pregnant. What if the tumor grows and doctors want to administer radiation, but can’t because I’m pregnant, leading to an earlier death. What if I die and leave a child behind. What if I’m unable to care for the child because I deteriorate. How could I care for a child if I have…

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Typical Portland Night

I’m back down in Portland. I just can’t keep away from the boy. A six hour drive in each direction doesn’t deter me. Even though Danny studies for several hours each night after class, I find a way to keep myself entertained. I’ve finished two books in the past week and that’s a new post-surgery record. I highly recommend both, Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie, and Lottery by Patricia Wood. This is what we do. Danny studies, and I read while staring at him trying not to talk. What a life! 🙂

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Recharged

I’m back, and recharged. It’s funny, or I guess not “ha ha” funny, but ironic, that I always considered myself to be thoroughly independent. Even when Danny and I did long distance for the first year and a half of our relationship, I cherished my alone time. Things changed after the diagnosis, the surgeries, and all of the therapy though. Danny and I literally spent the past year together without much work. We took walks, went to the farmer’s market, we cooked together, we read together, we worked out together, and laughed constantly. We still did various social things without each other, but we came together after a few hours or couple of days, refreshed, missing each other. We were spoiled. We were able to downsize, minimizing our financial obligations, just focusing on my medical bills and things like that. Anyway, I’m realizing that I’ve been incredibly spoiled to have Danny around all the time. I’m strong when I need to be, and I know that this career change for Danny will be fantastic for our future. People do long distance every day, sometimes most of their lives. The problem is that I have a sense of urgency to enjoy each moment, and that makes me want to with him. The only solution, in my opinion, is to distract myself. I’ve gotten back in touch with the brain tumor support group in Wenatchee, seeing what I can do to volunteer. I’ve become a volunteer with the National Brain Tumor Society. I’m distracting myself with other people’s lives, trying to figure out how I can help. The best thing I can do is to get outside myself. I think it’s finally time to focus on others. I won’t forget the necessity to take care of myself and rest, but I can’t…

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First Portland Roadtrip

I’m headed out in the morning. I can’t stand it. Danny was going to surprise me and drive all the way home to see me, but I can’t have him taking his only day off to drive 5.5 hours to see me, then quickly get home within 24 hours. When I was on the girls weekend a few days ago, I shared some of the highlights from the way Danny treats me. I told them that I feel like I’m living a love story more romantic than the book and movie, The Notebook. While I was recovering from the brain surgeries at Laura’s house, Danny would scoop me up into his arms. He would carry me to the couch, tuck me into a soft blanket, put a Sex In The City series disk on and cuddle me. For the record, he can’t stand the series, it was all for me. He would lift me back up and take me for a nap. Each day, since I couldn’t wash the scab and staples, Danny would carry me and place me in the shower. He took a soft bristle toothbrush and he would gently clean as close to the incision as possible. There was an absurd amount of blood that was constantly coming off in my hats and scarfs and Danny didn’t want me to have to see it. He knew I would prefer to be clean. I never asked him to do such gentle and kind things. He even took the initiative to draw baths, where he would sit on the side of the clawfoot tub and shave my legs and armpits for me. It was unbelievable. He has nurtured me, spoiled me with kindness and love. When I’m around him we laugh, and laugh. Then, sometimes we sob, and sob….

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More Valuable Than Gold

Last weekend I had a girls weekend up in Lake Chelan. We talked a bunch, laughed hysterically, and at one point, sobbed about the details of this diagnosis. With the right women, life isn’t dramatic, it’s just sincere, easy, funny, safe, and therapeutic. It was women who are married, married with children, divorced with children, divorced, single, and dating. It was diverse. The main similarity was that they are all warmhearted and beautiful from the inside out. They’re all strong, hard working (whether it’s referring to their corporate life or their corporation which is their family), intelligent, powerful and thought provoking. I have been so blessed by all of the beautiful people who continuously surround me with love and kindness. I’m grateful for wonderful listeners who, I believe, will take their knowledge from my illness and their experiences with me and carry them to continue to fill this world with love and empathy. Without Danny I’m finding myself much more emotional. Maybe it’s because I always talk things out with him. Now that he’s gone I’m alone with my thoughts and emotions. Usually it comes out with laughter, but Dan is my sounding board, who also pipes up with thoughtful insight. I’ve always been very independent, but I’m starting to wonder how long I can keep it together. With Dan by my side I’ve been able to keep everything in perspective, I’ve also been able to be strong because I didn’t want to cry very much. Now, while he’s gone, I feel very vulnerable with my thoughts. I don’t even spend the time to cut up veggies. I don’t want to eat. Tears fall off my face and I can’t stop it. I’m not sleeping. I have IBS (too much information, I know). I’ve always thought myself to be incredibly…

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Thank You Malones!

Hello All. I’m exhausted so I don’t have the energy to catch you all up. I do, however, have a photo of the day. Danny is off in Oregon for his training, and we’ve been blessed with the gift of housing at the Malone’s. It’s saving us a ton of money, and now Dan has company! Thank you Meghan, Mary & Kevin! Seriously, it was heaven sent, or technically, it was Meghan sent. Mrs Malone took a photo of Dan on his second day of school, which was today. It was so nice to see his face. What a cutie!! I wonder if he was going to give that apple to his teacher 🙂

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WHO: Cell Phones May Cause Cancer

Today, the top story on cnn.com is that cell phones may cause brain cancer/tumors. Specifically, the article mentioned gliomas, which is the category that my astrocytoma falls beneath. WOO HOO! I have been waiting for scientists to prove that cell phone radiation is dangerous, even lethal. I truly believe that my brain tumor was caused by my excessive cell phone use. I bought my first cell phone in 2000 while I was in college. Since then, I’ve logged millions, maybe even tens of millions of minutes. I was far from home, and used my cell phone to keep in touch with my high school friends, family friends, my brother, my parents, and all of my friends locally around TCU. I was the girl who always had a cell phone stuck to her ear. If I was driving, I was talking. If was on my patio, I was talking. If I was grocery shopping, I was talking. It’s embarrassing now, looking back, how I behaved. When people are on cell phones they think other people can’t hear them. I’ve heard some pretty inappropriate, odd phone conversations just perusing the grocery store, and I’m sure I was no different. My extreme cell phone use continued when I moved back to Washington. I was in a new city, often spending several hours every night talking to friends. I’ve used my cell phone as a lifeline. I’ve counseled many a friend, and likewise been counseled. Most days I logged 5+ hours. Many times when the conversation/conversations ended, my face and ear area were sweaty and hot. 90% of my cell phone conversations were placed on the left side of my head. When I first saw the image of my tumor, I noticed the location. It was exactly where the little antenna of the cell…

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