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