Sunday, December 25, 2011

Another Christmas

It's Christmas Day...

The boys and I had Christmas with Granny Jane and Pop Jerry and some extended family on Friday.  Yesterday afternoon Trevor came in from Weatherford and he, I, Tanner, and Cearra all had our Christmas lunch and exchanged gifts.  Then last night I went out for a drink and a few laughs and unwound from the day.

Today I'm cooking and preparing for one more Christmas tonight and then things should settle down and I can start focusing on the new year.

Now then, on to the news... Tanner has moved out and is living with his girlfriend's family.  Their home is just about five miles from my house but his leaving is an adjustment for me - some good and some bad - but an adjustment all the same.

See, Tanner is a good "kid" but he's 19, going on 20, and it's not all easy being his mom - as it's not easy, I'm sure, for him to live and deal with his issues either. 

Having and raising children is not something to be taken lightly.  The capacity for a child to hurt his parents is overwhelming - and me and my boys have been through just about everything.  When you lay down your rules, as a parent, you have to abide by the consequences when your rules aren't respected.  So, with that said, it's been decided that Tanner is going to live with his girlfriend and her mom for a while and we'll see how things go. 

He's been gone since last week and I'm getting used to being on my own.  He came over for our family Christmas yesterday and told me he noticed that I had candles on the tub and I told him that yes, I've reclaimed my bathtub. I'm actually reclaiming my life.

When the boys dad and I divorced 12 years ago, it really threw my boys for a loop.  Trevor struggled tremendously and our family went through one overwhelming issue after another with him for many years.  Tanner saw it all and it was so hard on him and I always prayed that he wouldn't make the same mistakes, but, over time, he seemed to slip into some of the same bad behavior..  Then cancer... cancer.. cancer... entered his life and we endured that journey too - and are still fighting the battle for him to remain in remisison - but he's still a teenage boy with all the issues that entails.

As Dr. Albritton told me, there is no one more at risk than the young adult with cancer.  They have cancer and then they also have all the same issues as other young adults - and very, very often they fall through the cracks.  We are doing our best to make sure Tanner doesn't fall through the cracks. 

Next Thursday we have one last visit with Dr. A at Cook's Oncology and then he's being transitioned over to the adult practice at Texas Oncology. 

As much as I love Cook's and Dr. Albritton, I think it's going to be a good thing to move Tanner to the adult practice.  They have never treated a patient with Multiple Myeloma at Cook's and, quite often, don't seem to understand what Tanner is dealing with much of the time in regards to the spasms he has in his back and hip.

After Christmas at Granny Jane and Pop Jerry's on Friday, Tanner went to the mall with Cearra and her mom and later he texted me that he was going to stay in (at their house - I guess his new home right now) because his back was hurting.  Yesterday after we had our lunch and had opened our gifts, Cearra told me that while they were at the mall Tanner's back started spasming so badly he started crying and could hardly stand straight.  She said that it scared her to death.

Dr. A is so focused on Tanner not falling back into his pattern of addiction to the pain medications, sometimes his pain isn't dealt with at all.  She once told me, "He's going to have to deal with it because I'm not going to prescribe him pain medications".   I'm hoping at an adult practice, a treatment can be settled on that will ease his pain - while controling the chance of falling back into a pattern of addiction.

Like I said, it's not easy being being a parent.  Being a parent of a young adult with cancer is a far cry from "easy"... but I'm dealing.

He's texted or called every day since he's moved out and I'm becoming used to him not being here.  I'm slowly working on building a life for myself outside of taking care of my sons.

I can only do the best I can do - but I can't control anyone... Sometimes not even myself.  I'm working on accepting that things are the way they are and simply enjoy the moments that are good - and not worry about the bad until they actually arrive. 

Life is life... good and bad...  Enjoy the good while you can and try not to worry about the bad before it actually occurs.

So... Merry Christmas to us all.  Here comes a new year.

To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return you will receive untold peace and happiness... Robert Muller

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Preparations

Here we are smack dab in the middle of holiday preparations...

I know it's supposed to be the season of joy, but it's actually my least favorite time of year.  I haven't gotten through a Christmas in years without shedding at least a few tears.  I always think of the family that I've lost on the holidays... Mom, Dad, Memaw, Dewane, Brad, Aunt Bille, Uncle Big Boy, Earl, Kelson... I've had so much love, and so much grief in my life...  I always miss the ones I've loved and lost the most, it seems, on the holidays.

Last year was absolutely the worst Christmas I've ever had but I plan on this year being a much better holiday. My thoughts are to keep it small and simple.

Yesterday, I spent the early part of the day with my friend Donna in Burleson and we shopped till we dropped.  Then, in the evening I received my first (early) Christmas gift...  It was the best gift anyone could have given me!  Something I'll use and treasure every single day...  So, it ended up being a wonderful day spent with those closest to me.  I needed to have such a day.  Today I'm spending wrapping gifts, and then I can relax and just wait for Christmas to arrive.

Tanner has been a little sick for the last couple of weeks with a cough and congestion.  Since it has been dragging on so long, Dr. Albritton had a chest x-ray done at his appointment this week just to be sure he's not getting pneumonia - and everything looked ok.  When he catches a cold, it's just harder for him to shake it off with his low immune system.

He's actually surprised me this past month with the news that he asked Cearra to marry him.  I know... He's only 19 and she's just turning 18... Very young!  The best thing is they know that they need to have a looooong engagement so that they both can finish school and get on their feet before they do anything as major as actually marry.  I guess they just want to announce their commitment to each other.

They went shopping yesterday with Cearra's mother and checked out some rings. Tanner seemed a little shell shocked with the price so, hopefully, they realize the expense of marriage... of life in general... and will stay focued on school and finding jobs before they proceed further than just the promise they've made to each other at this point.

He's finished his finals at TCC and we'll see how his grades all turned out, but this next semester he's going to go on to the technical school to pursue a Microsoft Certification.  As I mentioned before, he's ready to move on with an independent life (as is displayed by his desire to marry Cearra) and I'm ready to downsize and focus on a life of my own.

For the last couple of years I've let pain and worry overwhelm my whole existence, but no more...  I'm determined to turn my life around. A new year is approaching and it will be a better year than the last two have been. New Years is a time for "resolutions" and I resolve that this next year will be a better year.  A happier year...


The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief - but the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Weekend Trip

There's not really a lot to report right now.

I got up Saturday morning before Tanner got out of bed and went to visit one of my cousins and then, when I got back home, he was gone.  I packed and left to drive up to Paris for my Aunt Tincey's 80th birthday and then today, when I arrived back home, he's been gone with Cearra.

Now I'm about to go meet a friend for dinner and maybe, when I get home, I'll see him for a few minutes before bed... If not, maybe tomorrow.  Such is our life...

I went out to dinner the other night and was telling my friend, just because Tanner has cancer doesn't mean that all the other problems faced by parents of teenagers are magically erased.  He and I still have our issues and he still makes decisions I don't always agree with.  We are both still struggling to find our way.  He's battling for independence and I'm battling to let go... 

Being the parent of a teenager isn't always easy... Being a teenager isn't easy either, I know... Add the fact that he has cancer and you can multiply both of our stress levels 100 fold.

He had finals this last week and he was pretty intense...  I'm "me", with all that entails, and I was pretty stressed too.  It wasn't a very good week for either one of us. 

We've agreed that, in order to facilitate him getting on his feet sooner, he's going to consider going to a technical school this next semester where he can become Microsoft Certified after completing a nine month program.  I think I'm going to ask for an afternoon off this next week to take him over to visit with the school and see what we would need to do to get him started.  I told him he can still continue with his basic courses at TCC, but with this program he can, hopefully, find a job that he will be able to maintain with all of his health issues - making more than minimum wage at some fast food place.

He's ready to move on with his life and have an opportunity to move out of my house and we've decided to focus on getting him, hopefully, independent within the next year's time (he will be twenty in April and is ready to get out from under his mom's thumb) and I would like to put my house up for sale and find a small apartment for myself.  He's ready to become independent and I'm ready to downsize and simplify.

I'm just so glad that he's remained in remission so that he has a chance to fulfill these dreams of independence.  Two and a half years ago, we didn't know if he was going to have an opportunity to "move on with his life" and become an independent young man.

The birthday party for my Aunt Tincey was a lot of fun - and she was very surprised!  I was able to see lots of family I haven't seen in years so I'm glad I took the opportunity to attend!

I don't know what Tanner and I would have done all those months in Arkansas without Aunt Tincey, Julie, and her kids!!

Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worse kind of suffering... Paulo Coehlo

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Still In Remission

We went and saw Dr. Berryman on Friday and he said that Tanner's lab work looks good and that there's no sign of active cancer.  It's always such a relief to have the confirmation from the doctor that everything is still okay.  The nerves always take over, to some degree, when we are waiting to hear the results of the reports even though, if something was changing, Tanner's weekly labwork should indicate the difference. I always remember that fateful day when they did the full body scan and discovered the hundreds of lesions, the Oncologist told us that if they were just going by bloodwork, Tanner seemed to be a completely healthy young man. Since that statement, I don't trust the weekly labwork to be our only indicator for how Tanner's cancer is proceeding.

He recommends that Tan continues with maintenance treatment as he's been doing for over two years now with no changes at this time and return to Dallas next March.

He said that the platelet count was a little lower than when we were there four months ago but I guess that's to be expected.  Tanner has been undergoing chemotherapy for 28 months now.  The first six months was daily chemo with only short occassional breaks and then for maintenance he's been taking the weekly treatments for more than two years now.  Twenty-eight months of chemo...

They also ran labwork on Trevor to see if he's a match for Tanner but they have to wait to send it off until Monday so it will be a while before we get the results and discover if he's a stem cell match.  Dr. Berryman said that MM is "prone to relapse" so, if Trevor is a match, he wants to go ahead and collect and have the cells frozen for future use if it should ever be needed.

He explained that if Tanner were to relapse, we would want to do something different than the treatment that has already been done in the past.  He said that Tanner's own stem cells are the "flawed" cells that allowed him to get cancer in the first place.  If he should ever need another transplant, he feels it would be beneficial to use his brother's cells rather than his own cells that were frozen in Arkansas.

We came home from the doctor's appointment and I packed up a backpack and went and spent the weekend with my cousin Kathy.  It was going to be just an overnight visit but I ended up staying the whole weekend and just got back home this afternoon.  It was a much needed break.  Just what I needed...  A chance to get away for a couple of days and let all my worries go for a while.


You can close your eyes to the things you do not want to see, but you cannot close your heart to the things you do not want to feel...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Good Days and Bad

Good days and bad days... heck, good moments and bad moments... that's my life  right now - and for most of the past two and a half years.

I'm getting stronger every day and learning to let go of  worrying about things I can't control.  I'm learning to get out of my own mind and actually participate in the world around me... At least that's what I'm trying to do.

I went to bed the other night and, as usual, that's when my mind really kicks into gear and the thoughts started going around and around in my head.  Thoughts about some issues in my own personal life, Tanner - his life and cancer, Trevor - and all we've been through with him, my family that has slipped away - and I found myself curling into a fetal position with the weight of it all.  Why do we curl up like a baby when we are in pain?

But...  today is another day and I'm alive, Tanner is alive, Trevor is alive and we are all going to be okay today... Tomorrow will take care of itself... and tomorrow we head back to Dallas to see Dr. Berryman.

"They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel"... Carl W. Buechner

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Good Thanksgiving

All in all, it was a good Thanksgiving holiday.  The boys and I went our separate ways on Thanksgiving with Tanner going to Cearra's family, Trevor with his dad and Janet, and me spending the majority of the day with Donna, Hillary, Paul and some of their family, but I think it ended up being a nice day for all of us.

Yesterday, I wasn't sure how the day was going to turn out since I was fighting off one of those "moods" early in the morning but it ended up being a very nice day.  One of the nicest days I've had in a while.  The boys, Cearra, and I all went to Granny Jane and Pop Jerry's house and had lunch.  We spent the afternoon with them talking and laughing, and then last night I got to have mexican food.  There's just something about Thanksgiving and all that turkey and ham.   As soon as the holiday is over, I have this craving for mexican food!  So I'm all good now!!  I've had my turkey and dressing - and my chips and hot sauce!

I don't really know what all was said to Tanner at his doctor's appointment on Thursday.  Dr. Albritten visited with him alone but I do know that she called a counselor while they were in the exam room together and scheduled him an appointment for next Thursday.  The nurse told us he just has "too much to handle on his own" so I guess we'll see how he does with counseling.  He told them he "doesn't like counselors" and they asked him to at least give it a try. 

He's been taking his medicine like he should since the appointment so he's back on track in that regard.  We just need to keep him there!

Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coal, deep-burning and unquenchable... Bruce Lee

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Parting With Your Illusions

Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live...

Mark Twain.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Big Boy Pants

I went with Tanner to his doctor's appointment on Thursday and when Anita (Dr. Albritten's nurse) came in the room she was asking him her regular questions, one of which was how he was doing taking all of his medications.  He glanced over at me and then told her, "Well, I take them when I think about it". 

Her answer was, "Tanner, I already know" and she went on and explained to him that Caremark told them when Dr. Albritten attempted to call in his next round of Revlimid that Tanner had admitted to them that he has a bottle of medications that he still hasn't taken.  She said that Dr. Albritten wasn't there in the office and she was going to talk to one of the other doctors but that she thought it just best that he doesn't try to take any more at this point and they would consider this his week of "rest" and then he could start a fresh new round next week.

She went out of the room and a minute later, Lisa, the "counselor" over the teenagers at Cook's Oncology came into the room and she was just generally talking with him as she always does and then she asked the same question about his medicines.  When he gave her the same answer, she told him she was going to "come down hard on him" and she went on to explain to him about how hard it was going to make things if he relapses, how "tired of his medical stuff" he was going to get if he had to go through the aggressive chemotherapy all over again.  She told him it would be much worse than the first time.

She asked him if he realized what happens if a person gets sick and the doctor prescribes an antibiotic and the patient only takes them every once in a while? She explained that the "illness" learns how to overcome the medication, to become resistant to the medication, and the patient becomes sick all over again.  Sometimes even more ill than they were originally.  She explained to him that the same thing can happen with cancer.  She told him that she realized that he wants to be "normal" and "just like all the other teenagers" but that if he relapses things would be much, much harder on him. 

They told him that they have a program through Cook's where the teenager can get a daily text that reminds them to take their medicines and when he goes to his appointment this next Wednesday morning they are going to set him up to receive the texts - and while we were sitting there, he sat a daily alarm on his phone to also give him another reminder.

He told Lisa and Anita that he was going to do better, that he was going to "put on his big boy pants" and commit to them that he would start taking his medications like they are prescribed and would show up for his weekly appointments.

We are going to get him another one of the weekly pill containers (the one we had broke) and I'm going to help him get organized and we'll leave it on the kitchen counter so that he sees it every time he goes to the refrigerator.

Their dad took Tanner, Cearra, and Trevor down to Clyde on Friday and they all visited with their grandfather.  They fished, shot rifles, and had a great time.  While they were gone, I took the opportunity to paint Tanner's room on Friday night and then Saturday I went down to the lakehouse in Palo Pinto and spent some time with my cousins.  I think Tanner and I both just needed a short break this weekend and this next week we'll regroup and get back to working on getting him back on track with his treatment.

I can't begin to describe how hard it is on me as his mom to handle all of this... I really can only imagine how hard it is on Tanner to live with this disease. 

I wish it had been me, instead of Tanner, who was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma... but it wasn't... instead it struck my 17 year old son so now he's going to have to "put on his big boy pants" and deal with treatment for the rest of his life.  Hopefully, with treatment, that life can be a long, long time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Not A Good Day

It's not a good day.

Tanner's girlfriend had a medical procedure yesterday and I knew most likely wouldn't feel like taking him to his doctor's appointment at 10 a.m. this morning so I told him that I would be taking him.  I woke up this morning to find a note under my door telling me that Cearra had decided that she felt like she could drive him and that I could just go on to work because he had his alarm set.

I called him at 9 a.m. and he told me he was up and that Cearra was taking him.  I texted him at 10:20 to ask him if they had made it and he said yes and that it "was crowded".

11:00 a.m. The receptionist called to ask me why Tanner hadn't made it to his appointment!!  We've rescheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning and needless to say, I will be taking him myself.

I've called and texted and can't reach him right now but I figure he's asleep.

I'm just so very frustrated!  Quite bluntly, I'm angry!!

This past week while we've been texturing his bedroom and moving things out of the room to make way for all the work being done, I found his last prescription of Revlimid (the med that is prescribed to help extend the remission period) and he hadn't even taken it out of the bag.  It was still sealed and not even opened.

He's been sick to his stomach and experiencing lots of stomach acid.  He's been having deep depressions and mood swings....  But when you get down to it, he's not taking care of himself at all.

He wants to be like all the other 19 year olds.  He doesn't want to take medicine... He wants me to leave him alone.

He has cancer... an incurable form cancer....

I'm in a fragile state right now...  One wrong word at this point and I will be in tears... again...    On my own with a shattered heart looking the dreaded holidays in the face and Tanner has decided to just stop taking care of himself.

How do I address this?

So... He's finally answered my texts, "I just am tired of my medical stuff..."
I've emailed Dr. A that Tanner is struggling. Wanted to give her a head's up so they can address the issues at his appointment Thursday.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Timshel

Broken and shattered and trying to put the pieces back together...
to be stronger on the other side...

This song moves me...

Timshel - Mumford and Son

Cold is the water
It freezes your already cold mind
Already cold, cold, mind
And death is at your doorstep
And it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance

But you are not alone in this
and you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand
Hold your hand

And you are the mother
The mother of your baby child
The one to whom you gave life
And you have your choices
And these are what make man great
His ladder to the stars

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand
Hold your hand

But I will tell the night
And whisper, "Lose your sight"
But I can't move the mountains for you


The Hebrew word Timshel - 'thou mayest'
we have a choice... for if we 'mayest' so too then we 'mayest not'
triumph over "sin"... "ignorance"...
Choices... every day...









Thursday, November 10, 2011

MMRF Gala

Everytime I stop and read publications dealing with Multiple Myeloma, I become frightenend all over again.  I survive each day by believing that Tanner is going to be one of those in the small minority of MM patients who are going to beat the odds of the five year life expectancy.  I have to believe that he's going to have a chance to live many years... to experience LIFE...

I urge him all the time, to live life to the fullest.  To live with joy, abandon, and love... to put the negativity and darkness aside and just try to relish every moment... 

About Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma is an incurable blood cancer. The five-year relative survival rate for multiple myeloma is approximately 38 percent, one of the lowest of all cancers. In 2011, more than 20,000 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with multiple myeloma and nearly 11,000 people are predicted to die from the disease.
About the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF)
The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) was established in 1998 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization by twin sisters Karen Andrews and Kathy Giusti, soon after Kathy's diagnosis with multiple myeloma. The mission of the MMRF is to relentlessly pursue innovative means that accelerate the development of next-generation multiple myeloma treatments to extend the lives of patients and lead to a cure. As the world's number-one private funder of multiple myeloma research, the MMRF has raised over $170 million since its inception to fund nearly 120 laboratories worldwide, including 70 new compounds and approaches in clinical trials and pre-clinical studies and has facilitated more than 30 clinical trials through its affiliate organization, the Multiple Myeloma Research Consortium (MMRC). As exceptional stewards of its donors' investments, the MMRF consistently surpasses its peers in fiscal responsibility. For more information about the MMRF, please visit www.themmrf.org.

More than 1,000 People Brave Historic Winter Storm to Champion Cancer Research at Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) Fall Gala Raising $2.1 million


Stevie Wonder, Michael McDonald, Darius Rucker and Javier Colon Wow the Crowd with Astounding Musical Collaboration
Norwalk, CT — November 7, 2011
October’s historic snowstorm could not stop the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) from bringing together over 1,000 supporters, including many myeloma patients and their loved ones, as well as celebrity guests, at its 15th Annual Fall Gala on Saturday Oct. 29, in Old Greenwich, Connecticut. Despite road closures and power outages, Gala attendees were determined to make it to the event – evidence of their dedication to the mission of the MMRF. The premier benefit raised $2.1 million to support MMRF efforts to develop next-generation treatments for patients with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, and find a cure.
Music industry legend Stevie Wonder received the MMRF’s Spirit of Hope Award in recognition of his extraordinary humanitarian efforts, philanthropic leadership and generosity of spirit which truly encapsulates the word, “hope.” As an activist, Stevie spearheaded the effort to make Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national American holiday, and has performed benefit concerts for a vast array of worthy causes. Stevie currently serves as the United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on persons with disabilities. Grammy-Award winning artists Michael McDonald and Darius Rucker and winner of NBC’s “The Voice” Javier Colon wowed attendees with their powerful performances as Featured Artists in a Tribute Concert to Stevie Wonder.
“It is an honor to be recognized by the MMRF – an organization that has helped so many families affected by multiple myeloma,” said Wonder, a close personal friend of MMRF Board of Directors member Michael Reinert who is currently battling multiple myeloma. “Cancer has touched someone in all of our lives. It is my hope that, by continuing to raise awareness and research funds through events like this, we can play a role in helping the MMRF bring patients new treatments that will extend their lives.” Stevie Wonder made the evening especially memorable by joining the event’s Featured Artists to perform several of his classic hits.
As a testament to her commitment to patients and families living with cancer, Deborah Norville, Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist, New York Times best-selling author and a member of the MMRF Honorary Board of Directors, served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the 10th year. Dennis Gillings, CBE, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Quintiles, was honored with the MMRF Corporate Leadership Award for Quintiles’ leadership and vision in delivering new drugs and cures for the world’s most challenging diseases. Other special guests included MMRF Honorary Board of Directors members Ann Curry, Co-Anchor of NBC’s TODAY show, and Carl Quintanilla, CNBC’s Co-Anchor of “Squawk-Box.”
“Thanks to the amazing generosity of those who have supported the MMRF Fall Gala, we have made incredible progress developing the next generation of lifesaving treatments—providing great hope and changing the outlook for patients fighting this still-fatal disease,” said Kathy Giusti, Founder and CEO of the MMRF and a myeloma patient. “I have been given an amazing gift – a legacy to leave behind, a tribute to the amazing work we have all done together. It started as a pledge to two young children to stay in the fight. It continues as a pledge to help as many patients as we possibly can.”
PepsiCo served as the event’s Presenting Sponsor and the evening’s Leadership Circle was comprised of Paula and Warren Berliner, Celgene Corporation, Karen and Michael Reinert, and Debby and Peter Weinberg. MMRF Fall Gala Vice Chairs were Angelique and James Bell, Richard Bellas, Elizabeth Donald, Kathy and Paul Giusti, Elizabeth and Traver Hutchins, Keno Graphics, Kathleen McCabe and W. Dana LaForge, Lori Marcus, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, Anne and David Ogilvy, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Chuck Ortner, Anne-Marie and Paul Queally, S.A.C. Capital Advisors, L.P., and Marcie and Miles Stuchin.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Calm

Well things are fairly quiet and calm right now.

Tanner has seen the Physician's Assistant at his chemo appointment the last couple of weeks and he says that everything is still good with no changes.  I don't know if Dr. Albritton is out of the office or if she's decided she doesn't need to always see Tanner at his weekly appointments since his MM is stable at this time.

We go back to Dallas to see Dr. Berryman the first week in December and after that appointment, they are going to initiate the changes to move him to the adult practice at Texas Oncology on 8th Avenue.

I've actually barely seen Tanner the last several days.  I work all day and when I get home he's at school.  Most any free time he has he spends with Cearra - though yesterday he did work all day with his dad.

My niece, Beth has come to Texas for a weekend wedding and has been staying with me.  It's been wonderful having her home.  She's out visiting friends this morning and I finally got the back yard mowed and am hoping that's it for the winter.

It's been calm for a short while now, but if there's one thing life has taught me, that can change in an instant.  I find myself just waiting for the bottom to fall out again. 

It's not if....  It's more like when...

In the meantime, I'm trying to enjoy each moment, lately, to the fullest.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Granny and Pop Jerry came over yesterday and finished texturing Tanner's bedroom walls and we can start painting tomorrow.  I can't wait to see the finished product!

It already looks so much cleaner and brighter in there without all the posters on the wall.  He's decided to use gray paint with a highlight wall done in black.  Then we are planning to go with some framed brightly colored posters (in good taste this time).

Granny and Pop Jerry are going to give him their leather recliner so he'll have a sitting area in the room so that he doesn't have to sit on the end of his bed when he's playing video games (which is not good on his aching back).

I'll be sure and post pictures of the finished product.

I told Tanner and Cearra that I would take them to the movies yesterday and asked that they pick out a film they wanted to see.  My only restriction was that I didn't want to see a horror movie.  They came up with Puss and Boots - which ended up being an amusing end to a loooong day.

They are spending the day today with Cearra's family so I think I'll go and mow the lawn.  I've been told that I should only have to mow one more time before winter arrives and since it's such a beautiful day, I think today is the day.

“When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.
For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I'm feeling most ghost-like, it is your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I'm feeling sad, it's my consolation. When I'm feeling happy, it's part of why I feel that way.
If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget, part of who I am will be gone.”
Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Switched Moods

It seems that Tanner and I have switched moods.  I've started to pull out of my depression and Tanner has sunk into his own dark mood.

He has been very low all weekend and told me that he doesn't know what is wrong with him; that he just feels very sad.  He said he hasn't felt this depressed since his and Trevor's friend John committed suicide when Tanner was only nine years old.

I went out after work yesterday and didn't see Tanner when he got in from school last night so I didn't have a chance to talk to him and see if things were any better. 

I talked with him earlier and he said his doctor's appointment went okay - but Dr. Albritten wasn't there today so it was just his routine chemo appointment this week.

He's amazed me for more than two years now with how well he's handled this whole process so I'm not surprised that he has low days occasionally. He's actually done better than his mom when it's come to strength in dealing with everything since his diagnosis.

Granny Jane and Pop Jerry came over a couple of times this weekend and are helping us textureTanner's bedroom in preparation for a new coat of paint.  I think taking all the posters off the wall and moving out some of the old furniture was a little overwhelming for him but I hope that when it's finished and he has a "grown up" room, he'll be glad for the changes.

What is life without change?

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”.. Steve Jobs

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

On My Own

So, it's worked out that the psychologist wanted me to see either a psychiatrist or my family doctor - but either appointment would cost over $300... So, I'm going to continue to do this on my own.  I've been doing it on my own all my life and I see no reason why I can't continue that way.  It's going to all be okay eventually... One way or another...

Hurt, heal, and move on.... learn to live again.  Do what I have to do... 

I've started the process and I've come a long way from where I was a year ago... a month ago...

Tanner continues to do great.  His Multiple Myeloma is under control, he's going to school, doing his homework, dating Cearra and, as he puts it, "loving life".  What more could we ask for?

He's learned to live in the moment.  He has a terminal illness and he's "loving life"... Really, what's more amazing than that statement from a 19 year old with cancer?  If he can face what he's been through and learn to live in the moment... If he can find his way back to loving life again, it's time for me to learn from him.

Sometimes the answers we seek lie in the silence...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Balancing Act

So, I started my day with an early morning appointment with a phsychologist.

On the way there, I kept telling myself I was fine.  I was thinking "Why am I doing this? Everyone gets drepressed sometimes. She will wonder why I am even here".

I arrived and she took me back to the room and told me that this visit was going to be a little more "formal" than future visits and that she needed to gather some background information.  Then she started asking me about my family, my childhood, my marriage, my relationships, my sons, and myself - and the tears started flowing....

She says that with my family history, I am chemically predisposed for depression and asked how in the world was I coping everyday with all the extra issues in my life - and I told her that I don't have a choice.  What do you do?  It's just me and I have to get up and go to work; I have to function.  She said that they "see that all the time in women".  That just because you keep functioning every day doesn't mean that you arent' depressed.

We talked for over an hour and at the end of that time, she told me she thinks I'm having some significant depression problems and that she wants me to commit to a year of working through some of these issues... of getting the help that she thinks I need.

She said that depression, for many people, is an hereditary illness... like diabetes, or any other illness.  It isn't something to be ashamed of - and it isn't something you can wish away - and it isn't something that is often understood by the vast majority of people who don't have any experience with it in their lives. 

I told her that I've tried counseling off and on through the years and that I'm not good at it; that opening up to people doesn't come naturally to me... but I also told her that with Trevor's mental issues and Tanner's cancer, I've reached a place in my life where I know I have to do something. 

I told her that I have a friend, Donna, who has been there for me for over thirty years.  She's my family - the one I can always count on no matter what - and I have to force myself to talk to her.  I have to force myself to go out with her to eat, to the movies, just out...  because my instinct is to just hide in my bedroom... to withdraw... but I have been trying.  I have been going out - and I have been reaching out to my friends.

I know all the positive things I need to do.  I know that it could be worse... I know that I have so many people who love and care for me and the boys... I know I need to live in the moment...  I know all of those things, but I'm struggling...

I've reached out to my friends and have been going out with them, I've been visiting churches, and I've admitted to the doctor that I'm struggling.  I've been doing what I can to pull out of this.... but I am who I am....  and I'm doing what I need to do...

So, since I don't have insurance, she's going to talk to the psychiatrist on staff and see what they feel my next step should be.  Commiting to a year of treatment isn't going to be cheap...  so believe me, I'm back to telling myself I can do this on my own.  I've always been able to do this on my own.

Please don't think I go around all the time in tears... I laugh every day, I enjoy the people I work with, I spend time with my friends and family, and I especially enjoy spending time with my grandson Beckett (my granddaughter lives out of town and I don't get to see her very often).  I find enjoyment in life almost every day... but at the same time I also struggle on an almost daily basis...  It's a balancing act...

I guess we'll see where it goes from here.

In the meantime, Tanner is doing great!  He says he's doing good in school in all subjects except math and when I talked to him about a math tutor, he says he has a friend who has been helping him. 

His health has been stabilized, school is going well, and his relationship with Cearra seems to be moving right along.

He's come so far in the last year!  It's been nice to have my sweet Tanner back these last several months!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

50/50

I had my grandson, Beckett, over to spend the night last night and it was wonderful!  We went to Jesse's house and I cooked dinner and he played with Eva - running and jumping and giggling... It was an almost perfect night...  I blew up the air mattress (thinking it might be a little less scary to say we were going to watch a movie in the living room than telling him let's go to bed) and we put in "Rio" - and he spent his first night alone with Maw Maw..

This morning Alicia and I met and visited the First United Methodist Church in downtown Fort Worth.  The Sunday School class was good - and they discussed forgiveness...  and it touched chords in my heart.

We attended the contemporary service that they call "11:11" and it was really nice. The music was wonderful... a cello, mandolin, tubas, flutes, and guitars... and wonderful vocalists...  The speaker was in no way your old fashioned minister, but his message, too, dealt on forgiveness - and I left feeling uplifted and glad that we went.

Church was followed by lunch with Alicia and, following a night spent with my grandson and family, it was a good start to my Sunday.

Tanner is in Corpus Christi with his dad and grandfather and judging by his texts and pictures, he's having a wonderful time...  A much needed break for all of them...

I came home from lunch and thought I would have just a lazy day at the house but the walls started closing in on me.

Dr. Albritton had recommended that Tanner and I go and see the movie "50/50" and I started thinking about going - but then thought, "No, I should wait and go with Tanner"... and then I thought, "No... no - it would probably be best that I see this movie on my own."

It deals with a young man in his twenties who's diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and is given only a 50/50 chance of surviving.

A young man with a rare form of cancer and low odds of beating the disease...  I decided seeing the movie on my own would be best - so off I went for a Sunday evening at the cinema...

It was a very good movie...  but not for everyone... Lots of cursing (and medical marijuana).  Being the mother of two sons, I could handle the reality of much of what was dealt with and how it was presented. 

I sat in the dark theater and I would think, "Oh, that's how I felt"... "I wonder if that's the look that was in my eyes??"...  I would wonder,"Is that how Tanner felt?"...  "Is that how Tanner feels?"

A scene where the young man is sitting in a car and he screams...  He screams for all he's worth...  till there's no more scream left in him... and I thought, "I've done that... I wonder if Tanner's done that?"

It dealt unrepentantly with many of the aspects of a young person who is diagnosed with cancer...  How their young friends, who love them deeply, might not know how to express their love and concern...  How some of their friends might leave them because they just can't deal with the reality...

I sat in that darkened theater and I wept...

I got in the car and plugged in the IPOD and put on my Hallelujah playlist and drove home emotionally wrung out...  I put my earphones in and listened to the same playlist and went for a long walk on this beautiful, cool, and rainy evening... and here I am.... 

It was a hard movie for me to watch.... I'm glad I went.... and I'm glad I was alone...

I don't know if I've mentioned it (LOL), but I've been struggling lately... Donna at work made me "pinky promise" that I would email Dr. Albritton and let her know about some of my issues... So I did... and she emailed me back - and then followed up with a calll. 

She said that with all the issues I've had, it's not unexpected that during this "calm" I would have some sort of a breakdown...  She said they've been worried all along how well I was handling "everything" that we've endured these last years....

She asked hard questions and I gave her honest answers and she told me that I wasn't unusual... that I'm not crazy - and that the good thing is I reached out... I reached out and asked for help....

I've committed to see a psychologist over at the Moncrief Cancer Center - and I'm going to call to make the appointment this next week.

I keep telling Donna that "it's going to be okay", and I'm sure it will be, eventually, but it's just hard...  It's hard...

I know I'm not the only mother who's had a child with a terminal illness... I know people who've lost a child...  I know it could be worse.... it could always be worse.... but this is our journey... this is where we're at now - and it's hard... 

No one can fix me; make me happy, change my reality... except myself...  I've reached out and Dr. Albritton responded and I'm going to get some help, because like she told me, I need to deal with my issues while things are "calm" because it won't remain this way...  There will be another catastrophe, more problems, more health issues - and I'm going to need to be strong.

So, it will be okay.

Baby I have been here before
I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you.
I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Survival

So... I logged onto Facebook and saw an entry from Tanner (he's not home from school yet) and it says that he did his Powerpoint presentation at school tonight (about Texas Death Row) and that it went well and that the professor told him he did a good job!  Yay!!  I know he's been working hard and seems to be giving school all he can.  A mother couldn't really ask for more.  I've always told him to just do the best he can and ask for help when he needs it.

I'm so proud of the progress he's made in the last several months.  He texted me tonight to ask a question - and I became frustrated and in answering, I went too far... Said too much...   After a bit, I texted him back that I was sorry... that I've been stressed and that I sometimes "go off" and say too much.  He responded that it was okay, that he knows that I, "deal with emotions" like he does and "that's mostly alone and kept in" and that he was sorry that he "hasn't always been the son that he can be".  I told him I was the one sorry for overreacting, that he's been doing good, and that I love him very much.

See...  we often communicate via text...  Today's world! 

I work all day and then he's in school when I get home.  If we're lucky, we have a few minutes conversation before I go to bed - but since he has a girlfriend now, somedays I don't see him at all.  On most days, I'm thankful for texting!

He's 19 and it's not all perfect, but what a sweet son he is...  I hope and pray every day for his health - and that he will make good choices...  I'm sure that's what most parents of 19 year olds do on a daily basis. 

He's actually been doing so well on all fronts of his life for quite a while now...  I find myself spending a lot of time on my own...  I was talking with Donna at work about it this week and I told her I was so gratelful for his continued good health and how well he's doing in his personal life, but as he's becoming more independent, I'm finding myself floundering here on my own...  I've wanted him to become independent, both of my boys, for a long time.  I've worked and waited on the day for them to become responsible independent young men and now it looks like that day is approaching...  Not toally here yet, but there - in sight...  and thank goodness for it!  Two years ago we didn't even know if Tanner would be here at this date and time!

I've spent so much of the last two years solely focused on his health...  getting him to tests, treatments, making sure he takes his medicine... picking him up off the floor when he was too sick to rise himself...  Now I find myself with all this time on my hands...

I've spent so many years pretty much solely focused on my sons.  There was so much going on in their lives - it consumed me...  Then Tanner got cancer and all traces of any life beyond taking care of him and getting as much work done as I could - simply disappeared...

Now here we are.  Tanner goes for his weekly chemo (which luckily doesn't make him sick) attends school four nights a week, does his homework, and spends as much time as he can with his girlfriend...  and here I sit... still worrying...  waiting for that other shoe to drop... the next catastrophe... and I need to stop that...

I realize how alone I've allowed myself to become.  I've narrowed my life down to counting on just a few things and people - to the point that I've largely isolated myself.  I'm not the best of friends...  I'm not "easy"...  I don't call as much as I should (I'm horrible with talking on the phone), so I allow too much time to pass before I reach out to my friends...  so much time that I'm sometimes surprised that I still have that core group that are still there for me through thick and thin - no matter how hard things become or how far I pull away.  I am blessed for you Donna, Sandy, my other Donna, Alicia, Sherry.... Thank you all for being there for me.  I love you all...

Tanner and I have been visiting McKinney Bible Church off and on for a while now and this past Sunday I went to their "adults" group.  They had a lady talking about surviving in todays world... but it dealt largely with pornography and how it's a much larger problem than most of us realize...  Not quite what I was looking for when I went to the session.  My thoughts in attending the adults group was that I hoped to make myself meet new people - and as large as McKinney Church is I thought their group might be a possible answer... but I really didn't "feel it" in the meeting Sunday.

First United Methodist in downtown Fort Worth has several groups and they break it down into ages 30-40's.. 40's-50's... and from checking out their calendar I see that they do all kinds of things...  This week they have "Meet, Eat, and Chat" at a popular mexican restaurant, Cha-Cha dance lessons, volunteering at a homeless shelter, dinner and a movie, and a patio party.... all in addition to the church events.  I raised my boys going to a Methodist church...   Maybe this will feel more comfortable to me.

Alicia at work and I talked about it and I think we are going to visit the church Sunday and attend the 40-50's class and see what we think.  I need to broaden my horizons...  I need to get out of my house - my bedroom - and try not to worry and obsess all the time... over things I have no control of.    I need to find my way back from just simply surviving the days to wanting to actually, really LIVE again.

Tanner is doing so well... It's time for mom to do better too!  I'm going to try....


Intuition is the clear conception of the whole at once... Johann Kaspar Lavater

Saturday, October 1, 2011

An Emotional Trip

Tanner is actually in Oklahoma right now with Cearra and her mom and I'm having a quiet night at home.  The weather tonight was absolutely beautiful and I went for a long walk as the sun was setting for the day.

Yesterday, I headed down to Clarksville to put flowers on the graves of my mom, dad, and two brothers and it was an emotional trip.  How do you drive to a cemetery where the majority of your family rests (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents - in addition to those from my immediate family) and not think about death?

I was 15 years old when my 20 year old brother was killed, had a two year old toddler when my mom went into a coma and passed away, had two young sons when my dad passed, and then endured the pain when my youngest brother became addicted to drugs and shot and killed himself.

I've watched my oldest son battle his demons with manic depression and drug addictions... rehabs and prisons...

I watched my baby face cancer and I thought that was the worst of my worries.  I thought, when he reached remission, that my biggest fear would be if he were to relapse...  Then the insidious disease of addiction took hold of him too... and I found all new depths to my worries and despair.

With the help of Dr. Albritten and her staff - and Granny Jane and Pop Jerry - Tanner has turned his life around.  He's beaten off his addictions to the pain medicines that were prescribed for his treatment, has started college, and has found a girlfriend (something I didn't know if he would ever have the chance to experience when he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma two years ago) and above all else, remains in full remission.

But, being me..  I still worry.... what if... what if...  I'm always waiting on the next "shoe to drop"... the next disaster...

I drove to that cemetery yesteday and I put out the flowers and I remembered my family... and I wept...  My family is almost all gone and those that remain, are largely fractured and broken... and it's so very sad... and I'm so very alone with this despair and worry...  I miss my mother, my memaw... I miss them all... but my mother and my memaw... oh how they would have been there for us during this journey with Tanner's cancer...  I miss their unconditional love...

After the cemetery, I went to dinner with my Aunt Onvie, whom I hadn't seen in a few years, and we talked and talked about the family and she gave me some of that unconditional family love that I've missed over these last few years.  I wish my boys had a chance to know her and their cousins better... the way we all were a knit family when my grandmother was still alive.

I truly don't know what me and my boys would have done, would do now, without Granny Jane and Pop Jerry... but sitting beside those graves, I wept for the loss of my family... for that love that I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they all felt for me... for all of their family...

I'm having a hard time.  My "motto" when I'm depressed has long been "fake it until you feel it"; put on a smile and eventually you will start to feel better...  but I'm having a hard time pulling out of this depression...

My friend, Shirley (that we met in Arkanasas when she was going through her MM treatment) has been emailing me and asking about me and Tanner.  I told her I'm having a hard time and that she wouldn't believe some of the thoughts that cross my mind.  She told me to ask for help... to talk to Dr. Albritten.... 

She's right, it's time for me to ask for help...  So tomorrow, I'm attending an adults class comprised of married and single adults who meet, talk, socialize, and support each other.  The man I've been emailing about the group said that a woman is speaking tomorrow about the struggles she's faced as a single mom in today's world...  Probably a good group for me to start with. 

I've always been a little introverted...  okay, a lot introverted.... so walking into that room by myself won't be easy for me to do but I'm hoping it will be a good thing for me to do...

I'm also planning to talk to Dr. Albritten this week about the fact that I'm having a hard time pulling out of this bout of depression.  I don't have insurance so I've been hesitant to seek medical help - but she knows our history the last two years and I think it's time to admit to her how I'm struggling...

When we were in Arkansas, things, in many ways, were "easier"... We were so focused on Tanner's treatment and dealing with the unbelievable illness caused by the chemo, there was very little room for any other thoughts.  Now that he's doing so much better, isn't sick from his treatment, is going to school, has turned his life around - I have too much time to think... to worry...  to mourn the loss of innocence....  the thought that "this will never happen to us"... the loss of family, security, love... of oblivion...

Tanner has seen me cry these last few weeks way too many times.  It's time to seek the help I need to pull out of this and for me to turn my life around... like he's done these last several months.





We're going to be okay.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's a Trip, Isn't It?

I took Tanner to see the Orthopedic Surgeon in Dallas today for another follow up.  He says that the x-rays look good but that Tanner has bursitis in his right hip where they did surgery and that it should resolve itself over the next few weeks or months.  If not they can inject the hip to help ease some of the discomfort.  Tanner told him he would just wait and see if it works itself out.

We were driving home and his head was bobbing around (as usual, he fell asleep on the car trip back from Dallas) and when I stopped at a red light, he roused and put his head over towards my shoulder.  I layed my cheek on top of his head and he said, "It's a trip isn't it"?  I asked him if he meant the drive back and forth from Dallas, and he said "No...  That I have cancer."

My heart ached... and has continued to ache all day.

Of course, I did the "mom thing" and talked to him about living every moment to the fullest... that we never expected something like this to happen to us... that life should be lived every day for all it's worth (some advice I really need to heed for myself) and not in darkness and sorrow...  but all day I've just felt like crying.

"It's a trip, isn't it?"

Thursday, September 22, 2011

It's Not Easy

Tanner's doctor visit this week seemed to go well.

Dr. Albritten came out and talked to us together for a few minutes and then when they took Tanner back to start his IV, she and I talked about his schooling, his medical care, and how far he's come in the last year.

She feels that it is very important for Tanner to interact with other young adult cancer patients and would like for him to attend several social events the Oncology Department is hosting in the near future.  Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending on the way you look at things) Tanner has school every night, Monday thru Thursday, so he's not going to have a lot of opportunities to attend any of their functions.

She asked me how I was doing and we discussed a late night (tearful) conversation that Tanner and I had on the porch swing earlier this week around 1 a.m.  You could see the genuine concern in her eyes and she said that she so very badly wanted to do something to help us find our way. 

When Tanner came out from having his IV placed, she told him to come with her and she took him into a room and talked to him for quite a while and when he came out she had given him some information about a program where he can be connected to another cancer patient who has similiarities to Tanner's circumstances.  Sort of a cancer mentoring program...

I'm going to do my best to see that he follows up on this information.  It's like she and I talked about, though Tanner may look like all the other 19 year olds he's friends with, he is in fact very different from all of them and he needs to have the opportunity to interact with others who can understand what he's going through.

I love Dr. Albritten...

As for me, I'm having a hard time again.  It's a journey with peaks and valleys... 

We went to a meeting at the Cancer Center a while back and the man who talked said that he has discovered during his journey with cancer himself - and counseling other's with cancer - that the people who seem to have the hardest time are parents of children with cancer.  I believe him...

I'm going to be okay.  I'm always okay eventually...  but this is a journey I never expected to have to take and it's not easy.  Worry and stress are constant companions.  Sometimes I can push it aside and sometimes I can't... I've never felt more isolated and alone than I have the last few years...

I often feel guilty blogging about how hard this is for me.  I wish I could be one of those ever positive people who always see the light... who always only have positive upbeat things to say... but I am who I am... and since I don't often actually talk to anyone about what's going on deep inside me, you get to read about it here.




Thanks for understanding.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Here we go

Tanner spent the night with Granny Jane and Pop Jerry last night and I'm about to leave and go pick him up.

He seems to be doing well - and liking school so far.  He had a math test on Thursday and told me that he thought he understood it all and did well.  He actually seemed pretty excited. Hopefully, he will continue to do well as the school year proceeds.

I had a talk with him and his new girlfriend (Cearra) one night this last week and expressed to them how very important it is for him to concentrate on school as much as he can so that he can focus on a future career that will support him with his medical condition and the limitations of his bones.

He says he's 19 and has never had a "real relationship" and that "it's time" - I told him right when he's starting college is actually maybe not the "right time" but, hey, what can you do?  You can't control love, now can you?

I just thought it was a good idea to sit them both down and talk to them together about the importance of school - and him taking care of himself.

I had another one of those nights.  I think I might have gotten about two hours sleep and I'm so exhausted, physically, mentally, and emotionally...  Sometimes, I wonder who I am to give Tanner advice... but what do you do?  You're "mother" and you keep talking and you hope some of the things you say sink through... You hope that sometimes - no you hope always - that your children succeed and make better decisions than even their parents.  It's just hard to be 19 - and all that entails - and have cancer too...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Muscle Spasms

It's nearly 2 a.m. and Tanner is soaking in a hot bath.

I came home tonight after being out for a few hours and he had one of those heating packs stuck to his back and he told me that his back is having muscle spasms.

For brief periods of time, I can put aside worries... but they always come back.

My teenage son has cancer and he will ALWAYS, for the rest of his life, have to deal with all that that entails.

A year ago he became addicted to his pain medications so they prescribe for him very little to deal with the pain... But then, what do you do when he hurts?  He's not supposed to take Ibuprofen - and Tylenol is nothing... 

So tonight, he's using heating pads and taking hot baths - and his mom isn't sleeping.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Clean PET Scan

Last Friday Tanner had a full body PET Scan over in Dallas and it showed that he is still in Full Remission!!

Dr. Berryman said that at this point Tanner should just continue with his maintenance chemo as he's been doing the last year and a half with no changes and we return to Dallas to see him again in December.  He also said that he talked with Dr. Albritten at Cook's Oncology and they are going to start phasing Tanner over to Texas Oncology during the next two months.

Dr. Albritten said they are writing a "Young Adult Protocol" and Tanner is their guinea pig.  She has been talking with him about the importance of reading and signing his own medical forms.  They also discussed clinical trials and that he shouldn't just agree to participate in any that might be presented to him in the future until talking with his doctors and investigating the trials to the fullest.  This is all part of "phasing" their young patients over to adult practices.  They don't want to just release him until they've spent some time discussing with him the importance of being responsible for his own medical care.

He's been attending evening classes at Tarrant County College for two weeks now.  He told Dr. Albritten this week that so far "nothing has scared him yet"...  Last night when I picked him up he said the work has really started and that he has lots of homework that needs to be done before he goes back to classes next week.

I talked with him about realizing that school is going to be a lot of hard work but that if he will just give this his best shot and really apply himself, in two years he can have an Associates Degree and will be able to pursue a career that will afford him a wage where he can become self sufficient and independent.  Something that we all want...

Lisa, the Young Adults Coordinator at Cook's Oncology, and I were talking the other day about how far Tanner has come from where he was a year ago.  I am so very proud of him and the progress he's made.

He and I both have been in what he calls our "mood" for over a week now.  I told him that maybe it has something to do with the fact that we were able to spend a week in paradise in Hawaii and have come back to the reality of our every day lives....  It's an adjustment....

He needs to focus on school, taking over his own medical care, and improving his chances for a successful future.  I need to focus on letting him go and improving my own personal situation.  19 or 49, we are still works in progress and both need to learn to take care of ourselves...

As Beth tells me, "we can't control anyone but ourselves"... It's time to let Tanner start to control the direction of his medical care and future and me to start controlling the path of my own life...

Letting go is sometimes a difficult thing to do, but maybe realizing you never really had control is the hardest of all...



"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for." - Epicurus

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Week in Paradise

Tanner and I had a week in Paradise!

His Make a Wish trip to Hawaii was all he could have dreamed of… 

When we arrived they shuttled us over to Avis Car Rental and the girl told us that we were supposed to have a full sized vehicle but that they were all out.  I told her that I drove a Honda Fit so a small car was just fine with me!  Tanner piped up and said “How about one of those Mustangs I saw on the parking lot”?   They said “Sure! How about a convertible”?   So… we ended up with a red Mustang convertible!  My dream car!!  LOL! 


Tanner told me he asked for it because I’ve always teased the boys that when they were grown and I was on my own I was going to have a Mustang Convertible (with car seats in the back for my grandkids)!  On our free day, we put the top down and toured one beautiful beach after another on the North Shore.  It was heaven!!


Our hotel was right on the beach with an ocean front view and I started and ended each day on our balcony taking in the breathtaking sight of the beach below!


We had a helicopter tour of the island where we got to see volcanoes, waterfalls, pineapple plantations, Pearl Harbor, and Gilligan’s Island (LOL)! 




We took a submarine ride and saw lots of fish, man-made reefs, a sunken ship, and a downed airplane.


We went out on a catamaran and Tanner made friends that he socialized with throughout our time in Hawaii.  He’s a much more social soul than his mom and, as I knew he would, he made friends right away and they took him and exposed him to parts of downtown Honolulu that he wouldn’t have ever found on his own!


On our last night in Hawaii, we attended a luau in Paradise Cove and they made sure Tanner felt special the whole night!  They surrounded him with beautiful girls (in coconut bathing suits) and took a picture (which they gave Tanner complimentary) and had reserved seating for him right up front and center of the stage. 



We met a young girl and her mom who were on vacation from Canada and she bonded with Tanner right away and they spent the majority of the night talking with each other.  It was a perfect way to spend our last night in Honolulu!!


I’ve been asked more than once, since we returned, what my favorite part of the trip was and I have to say simply spending time on the beach...  lying on a beach blanket occasionally reading a book - but mostly just watching the beauty of the waves breaking against the shore…  It was, truly, paradise!


I can’t say enough about the Make a Wish Foundation!  They give these children (and their families) a once in a lifetime experience and memories that will last forever!!


A smile happens in a flash, but its memory can last a lifetime…