Wow it really has been awhile and the last time I was on here life was very different. I am happy to report that I now have the most awesome job with the most amazing leaders that make me excited about not only going to work but about being apart of a company that makes a difference….shout out to EccoSelect! I’m an IT Recruiter and can be reached for anything business related at firstname.lastname@example.org My very favorite day is when I can help someone get a new job! It is so rewarding and I’m so thankful to have been given the opportunity for this career path. I’m extremely thankful for that life change that seemed scary at first but was definitely God’s plan for me! #workplug
So in a nutshell the last two years we were super focused on our oldest son. I am the Chief College Get-It-Done Girl! I do the research then offer ideas to the kid involved, my most recent customer being my son who is now a freshman in college and a pledge in Sigma Nu Fraternity at KU. Carter is living the dream but also realizing college is a lot harder than high school and learning how to utilize the resources available to him. I feel pretty ripped off to have gone to college before the internet. I want a do over!
Here is what I learned from living and surviving my first child’s senior year, graduation and launch. I created more drama and stress for myself than what was necessary. The anticipation of all of it and how I would feel and maybe a little bit of what is expected of a mom in my shoes played a big part. I love this boy so fiercely, he has turned out to be one of the most loving humans I’ve ever met and his love of Christ is unwavering and so special. He overcomes the challenge of focusing on not-so-fun stuff and balances it with seeking fun every day. He knows when he needs quiet time to refuel and has gotten into a great routine of working out so he stays fit, strong and healthy. I’m so happy he enjoys it because it will help his mind and body to fend off stress and keep him healthy. I don’t even cry anymore when he leaves because he is having the time of his life. I’m so happy for him. I might scream inside “take me with you” but there is no sadness, only appreciation for how well he handles himself and the awareness that he needs to figure out this college academic thing. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
It’s Russell’s World and we are just living in it.
Family Day September 15, 2018–a monumental day in our lives.
So here we are today, October 5, 2018. I will tell you what happened between college drop off day on August 15th to Family Day on September 15th is still unfathomable. If you told me all that would take place I wouldn’t believe you in 100 years. We were busy getting into a routine of sorts with lots of back to school events, so many exciting games to attend, lots of meetings and crazy juggling. By the end of August my husband was very sick. I was frustrated because he didn’t want to go to the doctor so I stopped nagging. Finally after weeks of crushing fatigue, an annoying cough, upset stomach, extreme weightloss and daily fevers he decided he would go. Cutting to the chase…he started with the walk-in clinic and they sent him straight to the ER because of his extremely high blood pressure. A half day ordeal and probably $2000 bill resulted in “you need to see a doctor.” I called 20 places to find someone taking new patients immediately and found one who would see him the day after Labor Day. I felt some relief but what would normally be a fun filled weekend was plagued with him just not feeling right and the rest of us standing by wondering what was really wrong with him.
Fast forward to our yearly birthday week with Brad celebrating on the 11th and Whitney on the 13th. It was a busy week so it was the usual hustle but we made time for a birthday dinner at home to celebrate Brad and had Carter on Facetime so it felt like the FamBam was all together. We laughed and listened to Carter’s stories. Brad had gone to a few doctor appointments and was treated for his stomach issues and high blood pressure but the doctor was concerned about his labs. She ordered an ultrasound of his liver to see what was behind his elevated liver enzymes. So on his birthday…which being 9/11 is hard enough…he was told he had lesions that could be cancer. A CT of his torso was scheduled for Friday. He had been pushing me out of this whole process so I begged to go with him to the appointment after the CT to discuss the results. I knew things were getting serious and it was time for him to let me in.
We met for breakfast to kill time before the office opened. It seemed like a big day but we tried to enjoy the quiet time together since that is rare. The appointment started and the doctor seemed to just be checking in with him. Since he had almost fainted a few times during blood draws she knew she needed to make sure he had gotten the scan and needed to stay close to the situation. He told her the scans were going to be sent over right away so she went to check to see if they had arrived. She came back in with two sheets of paper with wording, no images…I wanted to see images. She read the analysis…and then summarized…this is colon cancer that has spread to your liver. I looked at his face to watch his reaction. It reminded me of the time we had a hard landing on the way to Key West and his eyes got so big and I laughed and laughed at his reaction. Today I didn’t laugh but saw that child like, wide eyed reaction. She stated that none of this was from drinking. He had worried he had done all of this to himself since his first blood draw on August 27th but it wasn’t. There was no guilt here, he just got cancer and it wasn’t his fault. She stumbled around with her words and said she was calling an oncologist and that she would be in touch. It was a fuzzy day, by the end he had an appointment for a liver biopsy the following Friday. This sent me into orbit! We can’t wait another week…he needs action now is all I could think about.
So you wonder how people act in these situations. I think my head has been separated from my body since that moment. We walked outside and were like two zombies getting into our cars to go to work. He said he’d call his parents but was very much in denial and not convinced of the diagnosis. They were images, they weren’t factual. There would be testing and more things to come. I drove away and my bulldog tendencies kicked in…who could I call to get him into a specialist and away from the primary care doctor who seemed to have never had a patient with cancer. She did nothing wrong and in hindsight did her job to go through the steps of discovery. But I wanted him seen right now, let’s get this started and get him medicine to get him better. I think we both googled what we could. I didn’t as much as him just because I’ve seen cancer up close a few times and followed the journey from diagnosis to treatment, recovery and demise. He searched and looked for loopholes, any he could find that would make it not be cancer. That night he asked me, “what did you hear that doctor say?” It was a weekend of back and forth, denial and realization and I begged him to let me take over. He agreed then said no and then agreed again. I was dying for Monday morning to arrive so I could get him help. But first we had family day. We had to tell the kids. It was going to be awful.
FamBam adventures are my favorite
I bought us all bracelets with a tiny metal emblem that had a cross on one side and Mother Mary on the other. Brad’s was a little bigger. They are a little girly but the boys wore them anyway. I told them they could keep them close by if they didn’t want to wear them. Brad and I have worn them everyday since we told the kids. It reminds me of our bond no matter where we are we are together. We didn’t have a lot of detail but told them there would be testing and they were in charge of doing well in school and being positive and supportive. Leave the rest to the doctors and God. We enjoyed the day even though it was super hot and Brad was not having the best energy day. We sat under the big old trees enjoying the view and quiet. Russell hated the bugs but loved playing basketball. We tried to enjoy each other despite the heaviness.
Monday morning arrived and I was ready to get the show on the road. Thanks to my good friend Brian I was given the “red carpet hot line” to the University of Kansas Cancer Center. I later learned it was the number for people who are employees who get the inside track. However, I think anyone who is cared for by the employees of KU Med get the red carpet treatment. They’ve been amazing. Brittany listened to me, while we talked she gathered every file she had access to and said she would call me back with next steps. By the time I got to my office I literally was skipping and feeling so accomplished. By the end of the day his primary and KU Med had worked together to line up a colonosopy/biopsy, liver biopsy and an appointment with an oncologist the following Tuesday. The wheels were in motion THANK GOD!
Beautiful sky at our soccer game on September 22, 2018
The thing about our family is no matter what we still do our thing. We run and run and love every minute. Brad busted out of that last biopsy and we headed straight for the soccer field. It was a busy weekend and he was determined to go to every single game. We had beautiful weather and Russell’s team got 2nd place in a Division 1 tournament. It was a great way to kick off the first week of this journey with continued focus on positive energy and normalcy.
Week one would consist of a great meeting with his oncologist Dr. Kelly Pendergrass and then a major hustle to get him the right vaccinations, a PET scan and Port installation. I felt terribly guilty about missing so much work but my new role as Project Manager was very important so that Brad had all of the information and instructions written down and committed to memory. I found myself retelling parts of the process to him and reminding him of steps and procedures to make sure he was caring for his port and doing what he needed to do. During this time of fasting for procedures and trying to recover those missed meals created his an anxiety and resistance to proper nutrition. I’m quite used to this as my boys are big food negotiators so I will battle that resistance with authority. In the end he knows I’m right. He got a game plan from his dietitian and his Nurse Practitioner so I will be the enforcer and stay flexible for when he needs it. People… I am here to say he will not be eating Burger King chicken sandwiches any time soon! (like over my dead body) We had a major standoff in the middle of the chemo pit 30 minutes into his infusion over a BK sandwich! I’m happy to report he ate what I got him and it was a healthy sandwich that accounted for half the calories he needs in a day.
Chemo started on October 3rd and on Day 3 I am happy to report he is already seeing signs of his cancer symptoms subsiding and feels really good. He is still weak, still needs to feed his body so it can work properly but it is not a terrible situation. Between the amazing medicines to ward off nausea and the cancer killing chemo he is reaping the benefits already. The NP said the chemo will fight the cancer so his depleted body doesn’t have to. 24 hours after starting he didn’t have a fever, didn’t need a nap and only coughed a few times. I would say that is the first victory in this process! I don’t need a scan or blood work to see that incredible improvement! If he can act more like Brad I’m happy and know God is working his plan.
So now that is all caught up I want to blog going forward about funny things involved in this journey. We’ve preached normalcy and I feel that is the only way to go. We can’t all give in to what tv or society makes you believe is the way you should act. I now understand why friends who have suffered this disease seemed to go about life so normally. In fact they showed us the only way to do it. It would be too exhausting to do it any other way. Carter designed some rally bracelets for the kids to give out and people are asking to buy them. While I think that is awkward it is a sweet sentiment and everyone is excited to wear one. We just want support, prayers and love showered on Brad so he can be as strong as possible in mind, body and spirit! I’ve already been reminded of ways he has impacted kids’ lives just by being the funny dad and giving a kid a little extra attention. He has a sense of kids who might need some extra dad love and just naturally, without thinking makes that little joke with kid who may not have that with their own dad. Kids that have been around over the years have likely heard his playlist, heard his favorite joke #onetime and eaten a great breakfast, lunch or dinner served up by Chef Brad. I’m looking forward to his energy to get back to that place where he can feel good enough to cook and do things he loves without the heavy weight of fatigue. #Battle4bRad https://coloncancercoalition.org