Archive for January, 2008

Busy as a bee

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008


As always when I feel good I pack my schedule with visits and activities. It is either to my advantage or not. I have yet to decide. In the meantime the last few days have been fun and busy. Monday I went to physical therapy and did some time on the treadmill. I totally prefer this to walking around the neighborhood. Mostly because if I feel sick I am safe on the treadmill and close to a bathroom. After my little workout I headed home and hung out with Jenny. She brought us a new dvd/vcr player since ours were broken. Later when we tried to hook them up we found that because our television was 15+years it was not compatible. Alec said, “Go on craigslist right now and get a t.v.” I did. And within 30 minutes made plans to pick up a sony 27″ for $60. Sold. We drove over a few hours later. Alec actually went and got the t.v. from the apartment, he said it reeked of weed. He was glad that I did not go in. The t.v. has a universal remote and it is totally awesome. I have never owned a nice television. I feel like a suburbanite.

Today (Tuesday) was busy as well. Megan came by this morning and we had a mini playgroup with the her son Ian and Clay and Shelley’s daughter Maya. Maya was not thrilled to be here, so our visit was cut short. My friend Gina came by to help me with Clay. I still feel like I can not watch him all day by myself. Whether it is because I get too tired or have sudden waves of nausea. Or because I am not supposed to do a lot of heavy lifting…Clayton is 28lbs. After a day of carrying him from the house to the car and up and down my arm is often very swollen. So today Gina and I decided to take him to the mall. And it was great. We went to this huge outlet mall. It was almost empty. He loved being there. He loves people and stuff to look at. He is quiet and content in the stroller. He did the $ .50 rides. He had a wonderful time. And we walked for about a mile or more. That was really good for me. Just being out and moving. It was also fun.

When we came home Mariko and baby Owen brought us dinner( it was great). After the kids came home Gina bathed Clay and they ate dinner. After a long day with us Gina took her leave. I was so thankful for her. She makes it easier for me to spend the day with Clayton, which is what I really want. We all played with Clay until it was bedtime. I put him down around 7pm. Alec and I spent about an hour doing a bunch of online R.I.T. stuff. He had to do this long survey about housing. He wants to live in the engineering house. It is seperate from the dorms. It is just for engineering students and it is really nice. They asked him all these questions like..if you had three wishes… He was struggling to answer them. In the end I will say we collaborated to give them some articulate answers. It wasn’t a test or anything. And he “wrote” it I just had to pull teeth to get it out of him. He was very happy for the help and kept saying I love you Mom..I love you. They always love you when you are doing stuff for them.

Then I still had to pick up Kelly from work.

Today felt like a huge leap forward. All these steps toward independence and normalcy. Yes I am on chemo…but I am starting to actually feel well enough to take a more active role in my life. I drive. I clean. I do dishes and make dinner. This all feels so good to me. I guess this all seems kind of goofy. But honestly I was doing so little for the last 7 months that it feels really major to me. I look forward to being my family’s care taker again. All the way. The last chemo was not that bad. Thursday,Friday and Saturday were bearable..I was just fatigued. But there is no way around that. But the fatigue lifted by Sunday. I am enjoying my life…quality of life. I have a lot. Actually, it occurred to me on Sunday night that I am pretty freaking happy.

I used to let myself cry for 1 minute every day. Anymore than that and it would just feed into depression and I was determined not to be depressed. There was no time for depression. I do not cry at all anymore. Seriously. Its like there is nothing to cry about anymore. I feel like either way it is all good and I am content with exactly what I have. It is like for the first time in my life I want for nothing. I do not need Kelly or the kids to be any different than they are. I do not need anyone to do more. No one is a disappointment. I feel like I can finally just be ok with whatever. It no longer bothers me that certain friends and family have retreated. I am happy with the ones who are here. I also realize that I am so damaged and flawed that those of my children and husband seem less glaring.

Maybe these observations are a result of “near death” experience. Or maybe just from all the praying I have been doing. I don’t know. I am happy and at peace. That is good enough for me.

Ask Andrea…

Monday, January 14th, 2008


Ginger commented that I should do a parenting column…ask Andrea. I seriously would love to write a parenting book. If only because I have done all these wacky non mainstream parenting things that have worked out pretty well. ( Prospective title: Never fight with some one shorter than you)I have 4 teenagers who all like us (Kelly and I ) and want to be around us. They are honest, smart and kind. And they are flawed as we all are. I think that as challenging as parenting has been at times it is the best thing I ever did. I do not regret having 6 kids. Or not getting to travel as much as a result. I would rather spend a week on the couch with one of my children than a week somewhere without them.

Being a mom has been the best and hardest part of being sick as well. I think the greatest sorrow is thinking of their lives without me. But instinctively I go back to the knowledge that God is good, merciful and just. And others would step forward if I was not here. I think it is a challenge to be less available than I would like. Or to have less energy. I still want very much to do more for them. Nothing makes me happier. Spending the day with Clay in the park last week was awesome. Pushing him in the swing. I needed help, Amanda came with, but it was a great day. I am making adjustments. And when I say the kids have helped me through this I mean it. I know that they give me a reason to fight. They give me a reason to get up in the morning. They make me laugh. And I say all this knowing that I yelled at 2 kids before they left the house this morning. I am flawed mommy. I do not really think I can achieve perfection, but I can try.

I think that in life we can choose to be a victim or not. I did not have the ideal or even good childhood( but i love my mom!) . But I chose to learn from it and make totally different mistakes than my parents. My children are happy healthy thriving people as a result. And hopefully when they blame me for their problems in therapy it will be for all of my mistakes not my parents. I chose to have a big family. I chose to make certain sacrifices, like sleep and a world free of lice and puke. I think that taking this stance has helped me be a better parent. Possibly a better person. Knowing that I am not a victim of circumstance has aided me through a lot of life’s trials. I may have been influenced a lot by Kelly in this area.

As far as cancer it is the same thing. I could sit around feeling bad for myself. But I do not. I think this is all part of a plan. God is the only one with the details I am along for the ride. I do not really feel cheated in any way. I am not a victim of anything. When I hear the grief and sadness flowing from the mouths of other cancer patients I know they feel like a victim. Great sorrow and fear. I empathize with them. But at the same time it is not my walk. My joy and peace , about the situation, are really a blessing. Mostly born out of that idea that I am not a victim. This is life. Some of us get a long one, some of us do not. It looks to me that mine may be longer than I had anticipated. That’s fine with me. It gives me more time to figure out all this stuff.


Saturday, January 12th, 2008


Today is the 12th. I have not written anything since returning home from the hospital on Thursday. Mostly because I am tired/busy/have a toddler/feel a bit sick but not really.I saw Ed ,my acupuncturist, on Friday. And then immediately went across the street to have lunch with Cindy. My stomach actually is not that bad now. A bit unstable is all. But ultimately I feel a lot better than I did a few weeks ago. So the lowered dosage and acupuncture the next day are very helpful. I am however extremely tired. Sometimes I just feel like I got unplugged. No energy. And it is sudden and intense. I do not like this symptom either. And I have been taking frequent naps. But I am still pretty beat.

Cindy and I trekked over to Faith and Hope store on Friday as well. It is a store for cancer survivors. I am not a survivor yet…I am an endurer. In any case I purchased a few things and the shop is awesome and so are the owners. While Cindy and I were out she told me that I am doing so well I should stop talking about death. OK fair enough. I decided to take her advice and last night told Asa that my treatment was working very well and we had every reason to believe that I might be around for a lot longer. He replied, “Nobody tells me anything.” I am telling you now I replied. In fact I am telling you first. “I hope to see you graduate from high school.” “I hope you get to see me graduate college.” he commented. “Asa you want to be a doctor that is asking for a lot.” We giggled. And I took the time to tell the other kids how well I am responding to treatment. It was news to only my younger children. The older boys gave me a look like yeah we already know this. So much love. Well there was a few tender moments and I got a hug. Jesse felt that I told other people first when I should have told them. I know what he means. I think everyone should just read the blog if they want to know how I am. This doesn’t work with them.

I do not want to forget to mention that on Friday night our friends at twenty manning restaurant (20th and Spruce) sent over the most amazing Vietnamese food. The food was incredible. And we are still eating all they sent over. Please feel free to visit my friends there, they were so good to me. This was quite a special dinner. And I did get to eat a bit. It all settled pretty well. We played a game of Apples to Apples afterward. It was a very nice time.

Today we had a visit with a few friends from church and their new baby who I was dying to see. We went to get him a present in the morning and then Trader Joe’s. The visit with Matt and Emily and baby Levi was wonderful. He is adorable. And Ruthie was here to cook up the hors d’oeuvres. Thankfully because I was starting to not be interested in food. It was a busy day. At the end of our visit I was nodding out and apologizing profusely. My guests of course understood. And as soon as they left I took a 2 hour nap. And I woke up disoriented and still quite tired. And of course I felt compelled to write a blog entry since I really did not want anyone thinking I was sleeping on the bathroom floor. I am even eating.

Alec got into his first choice for college. Rochester Institute of Technology. He will be majoring in Biomedical Engineering. This is a really awesome thing. He applied for early decision. Now we know where he is going and we are done with applying. They have a 5 year master’s degree program and that’s his goal. To be 24 with a master’s degree in engineering. That is a good thing. We started to look at RIT two years ago. And even though other schools seemed promising his heart was always set on Rochester. It seems like time just flew by and now my oldest is getting ready to go away. We have spent the day checking out dorm room facilities and meal plans. I have no idea how we are going to do all this but we are. And I am excited. Thank God I went to college recently and have more to offer in practical experience than I would have otherwise. Sick to my stomach and tired this is golden.

I need to spend some time doing nothing. I think that will be what I do tonight. Nothing. Wish me luck in my pursuit of rest. I love you all. Andrea


Thursday, January 10th, 2008


Sometimes I feel like having cancer is like being on an episode of Jackass. So let me get this straight I am giving you my permission to poison me. In this episode Johnny Knoxville and Steve O get chemo. Then they puke all over the place. This is my life. I let people make me sick in the hopes that it will make me well. And here I am dreading the next dose. I am thinking about lying on my couch holding my stomach and wishing and praying for the nausea to stop. But like any other victim of abuse I usually go in thinking maybe it won’t be so bad this time. Maybe the medicine/acupuncture/whatever will ease the pain. And maybe it will. I am in denial. It is a survival thing.

So here I am, two weeks since my last dose. I feel great. I am happy. I ate all week. And tomorrow I let them make me sick. I try to keep my mind on the positive. I have little/no pain anymore. My cancer is being eradicated. I am poisoned girl. Did you know that chemotherapy ages your organs. Your kidney and liver are damaged by trying to rid the body of these impurities. Years of chemo does damage like years of drug use without any of the “benefits” of drug use. This is only a problem if you live. If you live long enough on chemo you may end up needing dialysis or medication to combat the damage of chemo. Tonight on Jackass we watch Johnny and Steve get transplants.

But this is my choice. I do not want to see a naturopath to cure my cancer. Or eat apple seeds. Or take supplements. Or do yoga. When you get cancer you can do that. I believe that chemo really is the option that will keep my cancer at bay. It is my decision to let them poison me to make me well. Tonight I ate sushi like a condemned man. I called it my last meal. And it was for awhile. Because for the next 2 weeks I will feel like I have a stomach flu. Tomorrow on Jackass watch Andrea sleep on the bathroom floor.

* I am home from chemo.I am sucking on a queasy pop cola flavored lollipop (thank you Dina). I felt okay at first, now I am a mess. I threw up when  I got home. I am getting acupuncture tomorrow. I pray this resolves soon.

Perks of cancer

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008


I am a bit overwhelmed by all the comments. I guess it is a shock to think about people all over reading about me and thinking #1 that it is even interesting and #2 that it is inspiring. I guess I just write about what is happening in our lives and do not give much thought to its impact. But thank you so much for caring. If we are strangers I appreciate your taking the time to tell me you are out there. If we are friends then thanks for loving me and taking such good care of me.

A lot of people write about their cancer. Or the cancer of a loved one. I know it is devastating to have to go through treatment and fear the future. I pray for you all. I have inflammatory breast cancer , a particularly aggressive form of cancer. Instead of forming tumors and lumps it spreads out in nests and sheets. This makes it virtually undetectable. Most women just experience pain and swelling that can be attributed to other medical problems. In my case because I was breastfeeding and I thought it was mastitis. By the time I got it checked out I was stage 4 and had metastasized th my bones. I was never given the option for a full recovery or cure. It is all about prolonging my life. I chose to do that with chemotherapy and surgery. So far it is working. I still have cancer. I will always have cancer. In the future they may call me “stable”. ( I do not think anyone has ever called me stable) They will not call it remission or cured. I respect all the advice about specific diets and supplements but I am going to stay on the chemo.

I think with six children it is my duty to do everything I can to stay alive. Right now that means enduring the rigors of chemotherapy. Which at times I think is barbaric. But as of now that’s the best option. There is research being done with nanotechnology and with bone marrow replacement for inflammatory breast cancer. That technology is years away from common use. But it is in my mind to try whatever I can.

In the meantime, I try to have a positive attitude about it. This is my experience with terminal illness. I accept that this is my situation and I am not able to change it. Sometimes I am sad but most of the time its just the new normal. And sometimes I think there are some perks to cancer. Stuff people don’t talk about.

#1 People are nice to you when you have cancer. People who used to hate you and not talk to you are your friend again. For better or worse.

#2 You get to rest a lot. All my adult life I wondered when I was going to get a minute to relax. Now I have plenty. Granted I am pretty darn tired but at least I get to sit down.

#3 People want to see you. I used to go long periods of time without seeing close friends. Not any more. If I call someone they want to visit. Its great.

#4 You don’t sweat the small stuff any more. You don’t usually find yourself upset by much. And when you do you feel pretty foolish.

#5 you can lose weight without trying.

#6 people are constantly asking what they can do for you. I usually have an answer. I never say nothing. Yes you can cook a meal. Yes I need help with the kids. Yes I need help with the housework. Yes I need a ride. And well I really appreciate it too. It has helped me be a more thankful person.Plus it gives me a reason to visit.

#7 People pray for you. I love this.

#8 You become motivated to be a better person. A better friend. A better wife and mother. I am trying to evolve..a lightning pace if possible.

#9 it has been a good excuse to try all kinds of alternative medical treatments.

That’s all for now. But honestly this is not all bad. I am happy most of the time. I have gotten to meet amazing people. I have a daily opportunity to be grateful for all the things I do have and the beautiful people in my life. I am eternally grateful. I do not worry about the future. The future takes care of itself. I do not worry about today either. It seems to take care of itself too.

I am sitting in my living room typing away with the sounds of my crabby toddler in the background so I will finish this. Love to you all. Andrea

More good news

Monday, January 7th, 2008


Thanks to everyone who took the time to wish me a happy birthday. I really appreciate it. If you read the comments you might find this interesting…The article that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer also was re-published in newspapers across the country. Monterey California, Jacksonville Florida, Anchorage Alaska, Arizona, Rochester Mn., Charleston South Dakota and Dallas Texas. Now I had no idea that they could do or do do that. I never would have guessed that people around the country would know about my situation. In fact my recent check of who has looked at the blog revealed that people as far away as China and Israel have logged on. My word. I can not begin to imagine how they found me. But I guess a hello and thank you is in order to everyone who has taken the time to comment and wish me well! And I especially appreciate your prayers.

Today we found out the twins did indeed get accepted into Saint Joesph’s Preparatory Academy. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the school it is an all boys prep school that is run by the Jesuit’s since 1812. It is a rigorous academic institution. When I was diagnosed in May it suddenly became very important to me where the twins go to high school. They are very smart, but more than that they are excited about learning. I knew that if I died while they were in high school it could be very detrimental to their high school careers, further impacting where they went to college, etc. I knew I wanted them to be somewhere safe, loving, protective, and in an encouraging environment. I felt that St. Joe’s was the place where they would not fall through the cracks. A place where their grief would not be ignored. Now to be honest I hope and pray that I see them graduate. And that may happen…God willing. But in the meantime I am protecting my investment. Now we really do not have the resources to send our children to St. Joe’s. We are well, financially considered poor. And St. Joe’s tuition is $14,400 per student per year! That’s almost our entire income. But they offered us a considerable scholarship based on need and the twins academic ability. Like I said they are smart boys. Honestly, I could just cry. God is so good. I know that this is an amazing blessing and I feel that the boys future’s are secure no matter what happens to me. That is a huge comfort when you are a mother with a terminal illness.

And as an aside I want to say this. When the twins were young, up to say 6 or 7 I was convinced that they were very deficient. I mean I used to ask our pediatrician what was wrong with them. They couldn’t talk. They did all sorts of strange things. Asa had a partial paralysis in his face so he drooled constantly. I envisioned years of “special education”. And in 3rd grade when they were admitted to the mentally gifted class I was astounded. I just did not think they would ever be normal. Normal may be a stretch, the twins are unique. They are funny and interesting, and maybe a bit geeky. So do not judge your little ones to harshly because you never know.

My friend Kristine has loaned me her car for the next 5 weeks. I forgot how awesome it is to just have a car. Get in and go. Freedom. I feel 18. Today I took myself to physical therapy. I had coffee afterward by myself. I was on my own time so I did not need to rush. I picked up Alec from school and took him out for lunch. We talked over tacos about his world. I walked the fine line of adolescent parenthood…I don’t want to tell you what to do but…. And I made some suggestions. And laid down a few if /then scenarios. It was a wonderful lunch. He will be 18 in July and leave for college a month later. Time slips by so quickly. I remember his first breath, first step, first tooth. Now we talk about things that I can not repeat here in any way. Private stuff. Big open conversations in which I assert my parental influence tempered with respect for his budding adulthood. Whew….cancer might be easier.

And today began a new process in my cancer recovery. I will be doing some treatment for my cancer fatigue. In physical therapy I will be exercising with supervision. It is hard to imagine but I have been virtually inactive since starting treatment. And there are long term effects of chemo, radiation, surgery, pain medicine. I have lost muscle tone as well as mass. Now they are going to show me what to do and how to do it to gradually build up my stamina. I am looking forward to being more active. Up until now my big concern has been that even walking seemed daunting because if I got sick half way through a walk then what? I would be away from home with no place to go. So I stayed in. And with the removal of my lymph nodes from under my arms it is essential to do very little weight bearing exercise with my arms. That means even certain yoga poses are out. Swimming would be great…but my fear of being in a bathing suit is pretty intense. For now I will be working with my physical therapist twice a week and I am really looking forward to it. I will be the strongest chemo chick around.

That’s all for now. I hope you are all well too. Tomorrow and Wednesday I will be own my own (more or less) with Clay. Then Thursday is chemo. I will let you know how it goes. I pray that I will not get as sick as I have in the past. Talk to you soon,Andrea

My birthday

Sunday, January 6th, 2008


Today is January 6th. It is in fact my birthday…or some proximity thereof. I say that because all my life I was told I was born on my mom’s birthday, January 6th. That’s what my birth certificate says. But when I was 18 my biological father told me that in reality I was born a few minutes after the 6th but the doctor and he conspired and fudged my birth time to indicate that I had been born on the 6th instead of the 7th. All this was done to bring my mother a bit of satisfaction in my being born on her birthday. Now at the time the revelation was a cruel blow. Like finding out one is adopted. But now I just think of it as an excuse to celebrate for two or three days, why not?

Yesterday we had cake that Lhianna made. It was delicious. I even ate some. Today we are going to lunch with our dear friends Ruth and Fred. Just Kelly, Clay, and I. I feel physically pretty good. I can eat…lightly. I am happy. I have been doing a lot with the baby. This is all a wonderful birthday present. I am content. Kelly keeps asking me what I want for a present. And honestly I can’t think of anything I want. I can think of a few things we “need” around the house ( a dryer, a car,etc.) I would like someone to wash the dog. Other than that. Nothing comes to mind.

Now I am not sure but I think i used to want stuff. Anymore I just see things I want to buy others. I just don’t seem to be super excited about anything material. I am more excited about the idea of spending time with friends. Or playing a game with the kids. Or a nice night out with Kelly…..ohhhh that’s what I should ask for! But honestly I am just happy to be here. With the new changes in my condition, regardless of the chemo side effects, I feel very hopeful. Not like I am going to live forever hopeful. Just well as long as this works and I taking Navelbine I am hopeful. And I know that means possibly years of continuous chemo. But the alternative….a raw food diet….a wait and see….do nothing…all that seems daunting as well.

I don’t like being on chemo, but from what I have observed people dread being off treatment as well fearing the cancer will come back. I will never have to worry about it coming back…just making visits to all my bones and internal organs. I pray my cancer does not decide to take a vacation to other parts of my body. I pray that the Zometa fills in all the holes where my cancer is. I pray my cancer will lay dormant for years before it inevitably erupts some place new. These are my birthday wishes. I pray they come true. Today I am hopeful, happy, and content. Happy Birthday to me.

C’est la vie pas le paradis

Saturday, January 5th, 2008


Yesterday ( Friday) Naomi and I spent an hour in the car alone. It was amazing because I think in the 10 years we have been friends it is rare that we have had an hour uninterrupted by the needs of small children or the call of housework. We talked about some important things. Some not so important. It was just great to spend that time with her. She has been taking care of me a lot this visit. Much of the time I just relax and let her organize and tell me the plan. This car ride was just a nice scenic ride through Mt. Airy and Nay loved it. Trees. She is from Virginia she likes trees. Go figure. I can take em’ or leave em’.

We drove to Glenside for acupuncture. Even though I did not get chemo on Thursday I was still dealing with the nausea. Ed worked on me for over an hour. When I left I felt so good. So good that Kelly and I went to Rittenhouse Square with the baby (he was well bundled). I felt so good that I met my friend Kristine (who has recently finished treatment for stage 4 leiomyosarcoma) for lunch. And I ate. Half a salad and half a sandwich. It was delicious. I also did dishes and made a nice dinner for my family.I felt so good that last night Kelly and I went to Target to get a few things we needed and I stayed awake until 11pm! I felt so good that I woke up this morning with Clayton and made a big breakfast of eggs,bacon,and biscuits for my family. I just ate a biscuit. I guess I didn’t feel that good.

But here it is Saturday. And Kelly is at work. And I am watching Clayton all day. This is major to me. I was in so much pain after surgery from the cancer in my bones that I was unable to watch the baby or do much of anything. Either because of the pain or the pain medicine. And the nausea from the Navelbine is awful. But it has been more than a week since my last dose so I feel pretty good. And writing it down may not help you a bit, but in a week when I am holding my stomach and moaning about how awful I feel I might go back to today and remind myself that there is a cycle to all of this. Good days and bad days.

But that is life right. Ups and downs. Good days and bad days. If we are in the midst of a bad one..we may feel like it will never end. Especially if we have a bunch of bad days in a row. But the good days come back around. Relief from burdens ( emotional or financial). About 6 months before I met Kelly I cried my eyes out in my friend Jenna’s car. I was bawling. A year later I was on top of the world engaged to Kelly. And just a few years later this cancer diagnosis. Our lives are a series of highs and lows. And we must take the good with the bad. I had a good day. I have a lot of good days. My cancer diagnosis does not overshadow the simple joy of spending time with family and friends. It is no less sweet than it was 7 months ago. And next Thursday when I am sick on my couch it will suck. C’est la vie.

That’s life… not paradise. Paradise awaits us. Heaven.Nirvana. The truth of this world I think is just that the lows help us learn. And see where we need to grow. Or teach us things through adversity. The highs make us thankful. Maybe the lows do to. In any case I am seeing the cycle in my chemo treatment of good and bad. And I see how that is reflected in the greater scheme of my life. All our lives.

Beast of Burden

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008


With all the whirlwind of the new year and the show and the newspaper article its been hard to sit and focus on writing. It is difficult to get the right space for it. But I think I am there so here goes. The holiday season was a bit crazy. The media attention regarding the article was also a bit crazy. It seems that everyone saw it. I feel very exposed….over exposed. I keep thinking what did I do to deserve any of this attention? I got cancer. Anyone can get it. I just hope that someone out there will learn about IBC. That’s the most important thing for me.

I saw Dr. DeMichele today. She is going to lower my dose of Navelbine just a little bit. This is in an attempt to reduce my nausea. She thinks it will help. They have also changed my medicines. So maybe this will improve my quality of life. I lost 5 more lbs. Now granted I am not a little person, but I would like to be able to eat a little something. My doctor also felt my neck in an attempt to see if there was an improvement with the lymph nodes and the lymph node at the clavicle. She can not feel them anymore. She could a few weeks ago. This is another sign that this chemotherapy is really working. Praise God it is truly a miracle.

Now I love to think the worst but it really seems that I may be here a while. One day people will see me on the street and think,”My God is she still alive?” “What a drama queen with her stage 4 cancer.” I hope so. I hope I live long enough to make you wish I was dead! I am kidding of course.

Other things. I feel like I have not talked about my boobless existence in a long time. My scar is very thin and runs across my chest. I am not bothered by it at all anymore. I am fairly used to not having breasts as well. I like not having to wear a bra too. Interestingly a woman from the cancer society told me that I need to buy prosthetics and a bra because it will be beneficial. Something about body weight and proportion. I don’t know. I am pretty happy without the boobs. Faking it seems strange. I felt really pressured in the conversation. Mostly because she had facts and data. I only had a sense that I did not feel like wearing prosthetics. We’ll see.

The Rock School fundraiser raised the exact same amount of money as we need to send the twins to St. Joe’s next year. St. Joe’s sends out the letters of acceptance on Friday. It is not 100% the twins got in but we had a good feeling about it. So the money is there if/when they do. That is a huge burden lifted off our shoulders.

Naomi has been up from Virginia for about a week. And she has been incredibly helpful. Bailey and her daughter get along really well, and Naomi likes to help me run my life more efficiently. I need a wife! I love my husband but wow she is amazing. I am so thankful for this help. My mom came over and cleaned on Wednesday as well. Which is great because I needed a nap. I want to clean but it just seems to daunting. The chemo makes me tired. I do things in bursts. When I have energy I try to do everything. The rest of the time…..oh well.

There are many ways that I know I am still important in the house. Cleaning and cooking used to be a major one. Like it or not the burden of house work still felt somehow empowering. I am making feminists cry I know it. Now my way of proving that I am still important comes in other ways. Sometimes its quiet time. Game time. Or good talks with my kids. Today it was making my twins and Bailey stand out side without coats because they came home with no hats, scarves, gloves, or zipped up coats on. I said ,”Oh we live in Florida no need to zip up its so warm out!” And then I made them stand outside with no coats. Tucker still claimed he was warm. I was so mad. This is the burden of parenthood. A snot nose teen who tells you when it is 15 degrees out that he is warm in a t-shirt. Oh joy. I may be sick but I am well enough to kick their butts.

Rock Lobster

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008


Yesterday started with a whirlwind of activity. Getting all the kids together and the baby to go to the benefit. We got earplugs for Clay. Ruthie and Naomi drove us all down to South Street. As soon as I got to the TLA Alec approached me. “I got interviewed by NBC.” They asked if anyone among the crowd knew me. He tentatively raised his hand and offered that he was my son. The reporter asked him what it was like growing up with me as a mother. He commented on how I wanted them to be free thinkers, independent, to be unafraid of being themselves. They interviewed me as well. I was asked a couple questions. I was asked if I was worried for the future. I said I do not worry at all. There are lots of people who love us, and they will not disappear even if I do. I commented on how life is short for some of us, longer if we are lucky. I guess the segment did air at 5pm.We of course do not have a television. Public Cancer my specialty.

The show itself was amazing. All the bands were really good. The crowd was huge. Paul was happy and loving. So was the audience. Alec played four songs, all 80’s. He was great. I was really impressed with the fact that they only had 3 practices before the show. And they totally pulled it off. The all stars were awesome. They did a rendition of “Thriller” that was excellent. They covered some Fleetwood Mac and Heart that blew us away. It was very fun. And so many of my friends were there. We all sat in the lounge upstairs. We watched the show on plasma screens and cheered along. From that vantage point we could hear each other and sit with the baby. Clay actually slept for about an hour and a half. And when he was awake he danced/rocked out/head banged.

I felt good all day. I was free of stomach ailments so I was overjoyed to be out. We were not done partying though. We of course planned dinner for 15 here at the house. Comprised primarily of my children and several extra teens. Not an ordinary dinner. We had lobster and filet mignon and prime rib. Along with Cesar salad and pasta.The kids had a special New Year’s eve feast. Naomi and I put the whole thing together. It took days. We ordered 15 lobsters. Several of the kids had never even had lobster. Most of them enjoyed it. I was only able to eat 1 lobster tail before I felt too full. Nothing else. Just 1 tail. Pathetic. Long ago are the days in which I could eat an adult size portion of food. So sad. And people keep commenting on how good I look. I guess I have a lot of extra weight so losing 10-15 lbs. seems healthy. I wonder if I will continue to remain this sick on the medication or if I will eventually get used to it. I guess I can lose another 50 lbs. before it is a problem.

The teens dispersed. Babysitting and parties. In the end we were left with the younger children who were all primarily interested in the computer or reading. Eventually when only  the twins were awake we sat down to watch a scary movie. They requested a “slasher” film. Which I am certain they are too young to see. In any case I returned with Cujo. The tale of a rabid dog. No naked/half naked/copulating co-eds. Just a rabid dog and him tormenting a mom and son in a Ford Pinto. They loved it. Kelly did not. Before we knew it it was New Year’s end/beginning. Fire works going off outside disturbed our dog and woke the baby. After a bottle and some cuddling Clay fell back to sleep. And I soon followed. It was a long day.

Today begins a New Year. An opportunity to move forward. For me, I am trying to embrace every day as a gift since I do not know how many I have. I like to think that there will be a New Year’s day next year. And I look forward to all the upcoming milestones. I long to see my children- as many as I can- graduate from high school. I look forward to birthdays and holidays in which we are truly together. This family is so precious. I am so fortunate to be a mother to these kids. And so blessed to have such a lovely husband and amazing friends. Today begins a New YEAR. I pray that I get to spend most of it with these people. I hope that I can continue to expect more from myself than I used to. No resolution here. I am just working earnestly toward embracing the day-making the best of it- not dwelling on past failure-just giving each day my full attention. That’s my goal.

God Bless you all in this New Year with health and happiness. Much Love, Andrea