Who would have thought a pandemic would be the ultimate gift?

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RCD tryouts, LET’S GOOOOOO! #RCJH
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our beautiful senior with so much good stuff on the horizon

Hi everyone! I’ve thought about updating but honestly our life the last 7 months has felt very normal so I just kind of skirted the idea of updating a blog that deals with cancer. The treatment Brad has been on has helped him feel the most normal since diagnosed. I say that but I’m not him and I know he battles tiredness, low appetite and doesn’t complain as much as he could have.

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living the comfy clothes life

We’ve had a great “coasting” feeling for several months but with recent test results his numbers are starting to show some instability so on April 28th Brad will add Irinotecan chemo to his Vectibix immunotherapy treatment. New treatments always bring anxiety because we have a huge unknown of new symptoms and this one is supposed to have some pretty bad GI issues that are untouched by over the counter meds. The other tricky part is I have only been able to attend appts by speaker phone due to Covid 19 quarantine so that is a challenge considering I’ve gone to 99.% of his appointments. We are making it work.

The ying and yang of this Covid situation is almost unfathomable! The gift of time with our family all together is unmeasurable. We normally would only have this if Brad was in a dire situation. To have everyone at home, healthy and thriving and working through this crazy situation together is a gift that no one would normally have. The moods pop up when there is frustration but for the most part we have all been in check, patient and positive. We’ve missed A LOT! We are sad for our kids but thankful everyone is home, we have 3 floors to retreat to and have food to eat, (don’t get me started on the ridiculousness of toilet paper) and all that we need.  I LOVE COOKING so that has been a terrific outlet for me to love on my family through good, healthy and fresh food.  I’ve been experimenting with vegan recipes for Whitney and gave up dairy and red meat to see if I felt better and I do.  It is hard, cheese is awesome! BUT I feel like a lighter version of myself and enjoy making yummy, healthy food for me and Whitney then the usual action packed food for the boys.

So as our city just imposed 3 more weeks we hunker down, reassess how we can do better in these circumstances and move on.  We are beyond thankful for our jobs to remain stable, our finances are stable if not better for all of the hotel stays we cancelled due to events and games getting cancelled.  I’m holding on tight to Whitney’s grad party and senior trip, if we can do it all safely we will FREAKING DO IT!  I’ve dubbed myself Positive Polly because I refused to get sucked into the long term cancellation of life as we know it and as unpopular as it sounds I’m dumbfounded at the local devastation on our economy for not even 2000 local cases.  I get it…I get that we’ve done a good job so far but my GOD we are NOT New York and we need to get back to work asap.  We comply but the financial devastation has to be addressed and thoughtfully tended to.  WE ARE NOT NEW YORK.

The prayer list is long…I’ll list it below.
– For Brad to gain weight so he can handle the brunt of chemo with no margin of extra weight to lose. He eats like Buddy the Elf…candy and sweets, the good stuff is a negotiation so I need him to bulk up.
– For Brad to not have the severity of GI issues expected and have the strength of mind to do the things needed to combat the issues.
– For our Whitney, for her to be her best self during Rock Chalk Dance Tryouts! The virtual format is hard but we have no doubt she will give it her very best. We pray she keeps her motivation strong to move her body, stay strong physically despite the closed in nature of this quarantine.
-We pray she can finish strong with her classes and achieve her goal of 4.8 gpa and all As in her dual credit college classes.

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– For Carter, he’s missing his friends and college life. He found out he will be able to graduate next May and to him it feels like he’s getting robbed rather than an accomplishment. We pray the shift can come where he will appreciate the fact that he will be done early and not have to be burdened with more school debt and will find a great career path and young grown up life! I don’t know about you all but Brad and I had a great time in Kansas City living the good life as 20-somethings.
– We pray for Carter to be successful in his grades this semester as it is a critical time with only 3 semesters left including this one.

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– Our Russell. He has thrived during this time and is living his best life! He had a bad stretch of getting teased at school for being small and wished everyday to be homeschooled. We’ve seen him grow into a more happy child, with a more positive outlook and loving this format. If it wasn’t for the high school sports opportunities we would consider homeschooling him and just playing club soccer.  We know that he needs to branch out and grow personally through stepping out of his comfort zone. BUT you’ve never seen a happier 13 years old. We are mourning the loss of a tremendous soccer season and missing our soccer families but they do a good job of staying in touch. They have homework weekly and get props from the social media posts.
– As for me, I just keep doing my thing and am trying to adjust to the plans we had and make new plans for our girl to celebrate her properly. Her party is set for Saturday, May 23rd and with the new stay-at-home order lifting May 15th we hope her party will just be the best EPIC gathering allowed after the lift. I appreciate her attitude but do wonder how that girl can stay in her 12 x 12 room for days on end. I guess it is practice for dorm room life.

Thank you for all who read this. Leave a comment if you’d like so I know I’m not talking to myself. I should update more often but in a way I was thinking it felt like a jinx with such a good schedule we were on.

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Recent dinner and gift drop off to my sister Jessica, she has baby boy #2 on 4/20!
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Led a Birthday parade for my awesome Sister in Law Rachael who is leading the quality efforts at our local Childrens Mercy Hospital. Can’t wait to gather and celebrate in person but the car parades are pretty fun!

 

Super Thankful This Year

In a world with so much noise I love this time of year when we turn our focus in and look forward to spending time with our family.  My perfect holiday is one where I don’t put shoes on all day and I might end up with a messy bun by the end of the day…or even all day long.  I’ve actually become quite the holiday snob in that I really don’t want to leave my house.  Our normal mode involves early alarms, racing from place to place, hauling lots of equipment, uniforms, costumes, coats, blankets, chairs, coolers and stressing about being on time, remembering everything and WINNING!  I admit I have some stress over making sure my house is clean and lost every ounce of time I had to do it over the weekend but I’ll work some magic after work this week to get it all done.

So in a year when some might think we are looking inward at problems, health issues or other things I find myself counting my blessings and thanking God for everything little and big.  The thing with cancer is you have the same exact problems you do normally but with a big heavy layer on top of everything that can either suffocate you or force you to see through it and find a better outlook.  I think in some instances I feel like I should be treated better than normal because I’ve got so much to hold up, keep on track and manage…in reality, I’m the same mom/wife/sister/employee doing the same stuff as always.  The same thing applies to the person with cancer, the kids of the dad with cancer, the mom of the guy with cancer…and all the other people feeling weighed down by the diagnosis.  I find myself taking inventory a lot because I start to get lost which turns into a bad mood or feeling down. I stop myself and have a moment of prayer and reflection to get back on track.  It isn’t easy to stop that train but if I don’t stop it the end result is not good and no one wants crabby mom walking in the door ruining everyone’s mojo.

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This brings me to my sweet kids.  Middle and High School (and College) are hard enough without extra stress.  These last few years I’ve felt like Russell is getting an extra dose of BS from kids about being small and over the weekend he got made fun of for playing soccer…while everyone was playing soccer…he got made fun of for being good.  WTF?  I’m really just OVER the way kids treat him and want to post on every social media possible how EFFING mad it makes me.  But this brings me back to being treated “normal”…kids aren’t going to stop and think “I shouldn’t call him short or tell him he’s dumb for playing soccer because his dad is sick.”  So while my blood is boiling and I want to get on the phone and start texting moms about how mad I am for the way their kids or kids in general treat him I make myself stop.  I screw down that filter and do what I CAN do which is coach Russell on how he can act or what he can do and say.  With God’s perfect timing he learned at his church retreat a great lesson about this exact thing.  Kids that say those things or act like that are “not your people.”  It is that simple.  It takes out the heat of the situation and he can just step back and be like “these guys don’t matter, they aren’t my people.”  Same thing applies to Whitney.  She went through a big thing and friends were mad at her for mistakes they made.  I talked to her about how she just had to sit back and wait for them to get over it and come back and be reasonable.  They all did as far as I’ve heard but the reaction was BS and that is also something that can teach her about leadership before a situation gets out of control.  These little lessons are the same whether someone is sick in your family or if everyone is A-OK healthy.  I hope by not making cancer the focus or using it to treat anyone differently we will benefit in the long run.  We are all just trying to make it work day after day.  Many days we are all OVER it but just have to regroup and keep going.

So today while we are savoring this family time we are also a little anxious about getting the results of a new CT Scan on Tuesday 11/27.  We also have a genetics appointment on Monday but that is more informative and interesting rather than current results we can use today.  I planned a quick one day, work trip to Detroit on Tuesday and while that will be a great distraction I will be super worn out and maybe a little stressed that I’m not with Brad for the scan.  However, it is also a good time for him to go on his own and is at our clinic so he practically knows everyone there.  We should get results from the scan and Chemo #5 on 11/28.  We will have TWO MONTHS down since his diagnosis and two full months of treatment.  Brad’s Nurse Practitioner “Big Nanner” was super happy with all of his blood test results and said his liver function levels are one of a 100% healthy person.  UNBELIEVABLE!  He gained about 6 pounds from his lowest point which is a great start.  These last two rounds he has had increasing hand and foot pain.  This is common with 5FU chemo.  It gives him a chance to rest so that they don’t get worse but he doesn’t much like resting.  On Friday after his chemo he changed the brakes on the van and was hurting pretty bad that night.  We learn each time what to avoid and what to prevent.  I don’t like to see him suffering from any symptoms so it bums me out but I’m able to do extra running around to keep him quiet and give him time to rest.

Brad had a very boring weekend at home while I drove all over two states (not really just 300+ miles) running kids to stuff.  I enjoyed my first Sigma Nu Mom’s Club event decorating Carter’s fraternity for Christmas.  The other moms are so fun and enthusiastic.  I loved hearing them gush about their sons and think we all SEE each other and know how much we love our big boys.  I hope Carter doesn’t mind me making new friends because I think I definitely will!  The current president was talking to me about serving as an officer and I think I just might do it.  Why not?!  He has found a wonderful tribe in the Sigma Nu Fraternity and makes me so extremely proud in how he owns responsibility and has fun but can be the voice of reason at times too.  He’s grown so much in so many ways and I’m grateful for his inner compas guiding him in mostly the right directions.

Whitney attended the Rock Chalk Dance Clinic the next day so I was back in Lawrence again and thankfully was able to help Carter fix his SUV Black Betty while I was there.  We were pretty proud of ourselves for jumping it on our own and getting it to the shop without help from Dad.  It was a good learning experience for us both.  The day worked out perfect as I was able to help decorate my sorority, Kappa Delta, down the road while we waited on the car repair and Whitney made it home in time for her high school dance practice.  That GIRL…she’s so busy, we need to reign her in over the holiday.  She needs to rest and organize as she’s left a path of madness in her wake over the last few weeks.  I’ll be glad to see that pretty girl relax over the next few days and we are all counting the minutes until Carter gets home!

Until our next report…Go Chiefs!

Russell Arrowhead