12.20.2013

Shopping Carts and Cotton Balls

At the end of treatment this summer, I posted a blog about reading people's "signs." The one where I asked everyone to leave the house with a little more grace in their pockets to hand out during the day.  The one where I gently asked everyone to pass out some "benefit of the doubt" to people who might not appear like they deserve it. And to look for malnourished bald girls with screaming children and give them a smile, not a scowl.

If ever there is a time of year where tensions are higher than expectations, it is now. And now is the time to put an entire handful of that grace in your purse before you head to Target for the 8th 11th 12th time this week.

All the pressures of holiday expectations aside, I had a little experience this week that reminded me of that very blog post. And now I will expanded my message and request you not only take grace with you, but simply pay attention. If you are sitting in a public place with your head buried in your phone while reading this post, I'm talking to you.

I was leaving Target the other morning with a cart stacked full of groceries. It was lightly snowing, as it so often does around here, and they hadn't come through the parking lot to clear the few inches of fluffy snow already on the ground. Fluffy snow is awesome, unless you are trying to push a stroller through it to the school bus stop or a shopping cart full of groceries.

Envision pushing your cart through a few inches of cotton balls. Now pick up 30 pounds of dead weight encased in even more cotton balls, and try to carry it in an effort to expedite getting to your truck in a timely manor. Cold temperatures have a way of making you want to hurry, and hurry is not a word in the vocabulary of a small child dressed up like a puffy marshmallow.

As I was multitasking through the parking lot, I pulled to the side so a car could pass me. There was no way to make what I was doing look easy. I was managing, and my strong-willed self was determined. But I was struggling. No sooner had I pulled over to the side and set Lachlan down than the very lady that passed me jumped out of her car and asked if she could help.

I was shocked and amazed and so close to my truck at that point that I turned her down.

Had I been the Grinch, my heart would have grown three sizes on the spot and I walked around with warm fuzzies for the remainder of the day. I even found the experience Facebook status worthy.

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we so often have only our on agenda on our minds as we push through crowds, wait in long lines and stare at even longer lists. My heart was warmed by a women who was simply paying attention to what was going on around her and her action made my day. She blessed me and touched me and helped me, even if I turned her down.

I encourage you to look up from your phone, stop trying to order something from your Amazon app while standing in line at Target and look for even the littlest way to reach out and help. Please renew someone's faith in humanity.

We're about to get on a plane and head back East, and it's not the trip I dread or landing at 12:40am with 2 little kids up way past their bedtime. It's running into all those people who think their priorities are greater than everyone else's. It's all those people who won't be paying attention and will do damage to their fellow mankind along the way. I will head to the airport with extra grace to hand out, and despite having my own brood to manage, will keep my head up in case there is some way I can pay it forward and help make someone's moment just a tiny bit easier.

It's a sad reflection of our society when a simple offer of help is far more shocking and touching than just being ignored by someone buried deep in their phone or people too isolated to want to get involved. Pay extra attention this holiday season, for your act of kindness can trump any act of rudeness. Change people's expectations of their fellow man.

12.10.2013

2 Years


As I passed my 2 year "cancerversary" a few weeks ago, I wondered if the day was even worth noting; or even celebrating. I pondered any reason to recognize the milestone joyfully since I continue to walk around with the tiny invader still in my body and a future full perpetual chemo and many unknowns.

Perpetual chemo. It sounds like such a drag. But c'est la vie.

I was sitting around in my lazy housewife attire in my pajamas on that afternoon when Lachlan walked up to me. He stood at the edge of the couch and let out a spoiled little whimper, so I picked him up and wrapped him in my blanket. Within minutes he was asleep, and I contemplated carrying him upstairs and putting him in bed. For some selfish reason, I though holding him might be hampering my non-existent agenda.

I decided to sit there and hold him. It's rare these days for my still-very-much-a-baby 3 year old to sleep in my arms. What was my rush to take this moment and exchange it for the freedom to move about my little kingdom?

So I decided that this would be my celebration. I would spend the next 2 hours just holding this baby because I could. Because I CAN. 2 years ago I laid in bed in a daze of tears, wondering if I would even be alive to hold 3 year old Lachlan. On this day, I silently celebrated with him; innocently obviously to what the future holds.

12.03.2013

Tumors Wear Yoga Pants

I drove home today from my latest chemo infusion in the snow and put my scanxiety to bed for another 3 months.

This morning we got the results from a scan I had on Friday and heard my favorite post-scan words from my oncologist: "nothing new." Glorious words, always.

I sigh just typing it.

It's all I wanted to hear today. I wanted to know that the cancer continues to be contained and hasn't decided to start growing anywhere else. And anywhere else could be anywhere, but I tend to think it would be in my abdominal area given colon cancer's fairly predictable track record.

The party in my lungs rages on, but it's still "stable" as stable can be. There are still of plenty of kids hanging out. "Innumerable" as they like to say, but they haven't done anything drastic. They haven't started to thrash the house in a drunken rage, and for this we are grateful. I like to think of them as the nerdy kids who are having more of a subdued get together and less of a full on frat party complete with beer pong.

Across the board, everything increased in size by 2 mm. Or as I like to think, the tumors just had to put on their yoga pants after Thanksgiving. And I've suggested this before, but get out a ruler and look at 2mm. In terms of cancer, that's not really worth writing home about, especially given a few variables:

1. I had a 5 week break in treatment during the move. There was a little window when mom and dad were out of town and the kids might have thrown a little party given the lack of supervision. But mom and dad are back and the kids are possibly back to being on their best behavior.

2. Until I have my next scan, there isn't really a way to know if my little "chemo-lite" is doing its job by keeping everything stable. My previous scan was pre-maintenance, so this scan will need to be compared to my next scan to see if this maintenance business is really keeping things stable or if the big guns need to be brought back into the picture.

3. Apparently being scanned in a different facility with a different machine should be taken into consideration when we're talking about 2 mm. I'm not putting any faith in this, but I'm sure any doctor would throw out minor variables to soften the blow.

So maintenance chemo continues, the pump is clipped to my hip and I'm sitting here watching the peaceful snow fall on the lovely Twin Cities. It's all just glorious.