Gotta keep on keepin' on.......

Cancer again...that's 3 times in 2 years. This time it’s not breast cancer, but a new one called squamous cell carcinoma. New cancer, same old fighting spirit! My blog is still named for one of many songs that kept me going the first time around. Driving home from an upsetting appointment, I turned on the radio just as this line from Steve Miller Band's Jet Airliner was playing: "I've got to keep on keepin' on" I did just that. And I'll do it again.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The great outdoors, here we come!

Finally! The weather is warming up enough so that we can get outside on an almost-regular basis. Poor Jesse has been cooped up indoors for too long. He'd look out the windows to his backyard playground, then run to the deck door and press his little nose against the glass. I am pretty sure he said "side?" (outside?) as he pointed his little finger and whined to Mommy.

"I'm sorry Jesse," I'd say, "it's too cold to play outside." (But he knows I mean "Mommy gets too cold when she goes outside.") So I've been entertaining him indoors, keeping him busy with trains and trucks and coloring books and sometimes a Thomas or Scooby show. He gets plenty of outside time when we walk to the car to run errands!

The other day I told John I was going to start calling the poor kid "Veal".

The Veal nickname, that's from a tasteless joke I made to a former coworker years ago. It's a long story, but I'll try to put it in a few sentences: This coworker had just bought a dog and she was complaining to me that she felt so bad having to keep him caged during the day while she was at the office. He sat in his cage all day in her basement. The basement was dark--it had a sliding door but not one that faced the sun. The woman worked long hours and if she did get him outside at all, it was after the sun went down. She told me her troubles, to which I said, "Hmmm, maybe you should change his name to Veal?" And to my surprise, she didn't think it was funny! I guess it was partly because she didn't get the joke at first, and partly because it was kind of mean of me to say. In my head, it seemed funny, but once it was out....well, you know.

I felt pretty crummy that day for hurting her feelings, and I told John about it when I got home. But because we have similar senses of humor (one of the many things I love about John), he thought it was hysterical! So Veal became a running joke for us. And fortunately, my coworker got over being insulted. Which was good for me, because she was actually my manager at the time.

So our own little "Veal", almost-2-year-old Jesse, has been very frustrated that Mommy won't take him outside. I just get so cold these days. When I lost my hair to chemo, and my neck and ears were exposed, I would get chilly so easily. Even after treatment, with my hair growing in, I'd still get cold. I still wear a scarf wrapped around my neck most of the winter, even when I'm inside. (Especially when I'm inside! Our house has a draft, I keep telling John.)

I now keep my hair short because I like how it looks and I love how easy it is to take care of. The tradeoff: cold ears, cold neck, cold Mommy who doesn't like to be out when the temp is below 70 degrees.

You wouldn't know I grew up in the north. How do these bald men do it, walking around in the winter with no hat? Even in the almost-spring months, when the sun comes out and it is in the 50s or 60s, I am freezing if there's even a slight breeze or a cloud passing over the sun. I'll borrow Emma's earmuffs, put on my hat, wind my scarf around my neck and try to brave it for the kids. But I don't last long, maybe 20 minutes at most.

It makes me feel horrible, to think that I put my own comfort before my children. But they don't want a popsicle for a mommy, do they?

So I am probably as thrilled as Little Veal....I mean, Jesse....that the temperature has made it to the 70s a few times over the last week or so. I can get the little fella outside more often.

And maybe then I won't have to wipe Jesse's little nose prints off my windows.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

another thrilling season!

Dancing With the Stars begins tomorrow night. I will be watching, I'm sure (or at least taping it). It is one of those shows that I wouldn't normally watch, but thanks to my parents I am hooked on it!

I started watching DWTS sometime in the fall of 2006. It was one of my parents' must-see shows. Mom and Dad lived with us almost the whole time I was going through chemo, from September 2006 until January 2007. They were here, working hard running the house, with few breaks. Sometimes my dad would drive home (they're about 250 miles north of us) for a week, leaving my mom here. Sometimes both my mom and dad would go home for a bit, because my mom really needed to rest. So my sister would fly in to take over. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and childhood friend also flew in to help out. But mostly it was my mom and dad, running things for they said, "taking care of everything so all you have to do is get better."

So I really can't complain that they got me hooked on Dancing With the Stars! They loved the show. Well, I think my mom liked it and my dad watched to keep her company. But they both had things to say about it, so maybe my dad secretly enjoyed it too!

It usually came on around the kids' bedtime, so we taped it on ReplayTV so we wouldn't miss anything. (Replay is kind of like Tivo.....we even watch live TV on Replay now, it is really something. But that's another post....)

The kids also learned to love the show. Little Frances would wake up the next morning and say "I want Dancing wif Stahhhs!" The girls would all dance along and would root for the cutest boy or the prettiest girl dancer.

The girls and I have watched every season since then, even though my parents have moved back to their home and resumed their normal before-Katie's-cancer life. I think of my parents every time I watch DTWS, and I've thanked them MANY times for getting me started with the show! But I also think of where I was over a year ago when I discovered the show: fiercely fighting my cancer and surrounded by the love of my family.

I realized that the other day, when I was telling John about the new bunch of celebrities that will be on this season (and he was smiling and nodding, that's nice dear), that it really is funny, what everyday things like a TV show can make you think of? Instead of despising the show and never wanting to see it again because it reminds me of my cancer, I look forward to each season because 1) I think of my parents and what they sacrificed to help me through a difficult time, and 2) I am grateful that I am around for another season, just happy to still be here!

So I'm not ashamed to say, I can't wait for tomorrow's dance!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Get Over It Day

March 9th is Get Over It Day. Last year, I posted about my own Get Over It Day. Back then, I was having a very rough time with my radiation treatment. I was a basket case and after doing so well with chemo and surgery I was surprised at (and very disappointed in) myself. I couldn't stop crying, every day before and after treatment. I'd complain about how hard treatment was for me, but I wouldn't do anything to solve my problems. People like that drive me crazy, and I had become one of them!

What I didn't mention in last year's post was that on March 9th, 2007, I happened to flip on the radio on the way home from radiation, and over my sobs I heard the DJs banter about that day being "National Get Over It Day". I actually stopped crying and listened up. It wasn't the only thing that got me back on track, but it was the final push I needed to move on.

Thanks to Get Over It Day, I came up with my own ways to cope with radiation. I did, indeed, Get Over It! And I know everyone around me was happy about that.

March 9th is coming up, and once again there are things I just need to get over. I need to get over jumping all over the kids when they do something naughty. I need to get over it and not let a messy house upset me so much. And I need to stop feeling sorry for myself when my arm hurts or I'm tired or things just don't go my way. I need a daily reminder to get over it all!

What do you need to get over? And how do you plan to do it? The spirit of Get Over It Day can come in many ways. Maybe you'll call up a friend you've been feuding with, and talk it out. Or maybe you'll stop drowning your sorrows in that Half-Caff Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte and do something about it!

Whatever it is that you need to get over, I wish you success! And now that I think about it, maybe you should celebrate with that Half-Caff Venti Cinnamon Dolce Latte! I know I will!

Monday, March 03, 2008

The absentminded professor

I had the best idea for a post the other day. It was brilliant! Scathingly brilliant! It really was. It had something to do with something Leah said while we were driving home from somewhere....or was it Emma....and were we driving? Or in the bathroom brushing teeth?

Oh, I don't remember. Wherever we were, I didn't have pen and paper to write it down. But it was brilliant. Scathingly, I swear.

Some people might think, poor Katie, she's got that awful "chemobrain", that fog that can affect people's cognitive skills for years after treatment ends. She's forgetful, distracted, takes forever to get to her point....chemobrain will do that to you.

But no, that's not what I have. I'm not saying that chemobrain doesn't exist. I have heard more than a few breast cancer survivors complain that they just can't find the right word anymore, they forget names, even just phase out in mid-sentence.

I'm sure chemobrain exists, a lovely parting gift from treatment. I just don't think that's what I suffer from. All those things I mentioned? Searching for words, forgetting names, zoning out? I've been doing that for years, and I'm no worse now than before I started treatment! Both John and I stumbled over the kids' names for so long, we eventually started referring to them as #1, #2, #3, and #4. I am always climbing the stairs to retrieve something, only to get to the top and wonder what I was supposed to get. And anyone who's ever had a conversation with me knows that I frequently go off on such long tangents that I often never get back to (let alone remember!) my original point.

I also have a long history of hiding things, mostly Christmas presents, and forgetting where I put them. It is awful. When I was home from college one summer, I hid these cute little nail polish remover pens I had purchased for my mother and sister, but forgot about them that Christmas....actually forgot about them for about 5 Christmases.....then found them in my closet when I was packing up my things to move south. By then they had dried out and were totally ungiftable! What a waste.

And poor Leah, last year she made the mistake of giving me two Christmas gifts (for me and for John) to hide for her. Christmas morning came, and Leah asked me where the presents were that she had made for us. I had absolutely no idea! I looked for weeks! Leah cried about it, I cried about about feeling like a horrible mother!

Unfortunately, I have always been a bit absentminded and distracted. It is hereditary. I am certain of it. My father, for as long as I can remember, has been an absentminded professor type. My brother always struck me as being a bit like this, too. We're not stupid people, just our thoughts are sometimes elsewhere.

Knowing I was naturally dippy, and thinking that perhaps treatment might tire me out (even before I heard about chemobrain), I was determined not to let my brain get all fuzzy from whatever was in store. So I made sure I kept my brain busy, doing the daily crossword puzzles and jumbles, writing letters, reading, playing Solitaire on the computer. The idea was to keep my mind sharp, like a friend of mine used to do with his grandmother: the whole family kept her playing cards and board games so she wouldn't get "dotty"! I thought that was a great idea.

Sometimes I even worked the crosswords during infusion, which was especially fun during the last 4 treatments when my head was spinning from the Benadryl.

So now, one full year after completing chemo, do I feel my brain has suffered? It's so hard to tell. I'm so busy, and the kids keep me going, that I'm still as distracted as ever. I can still multitask, although I do drop off mid-sentence a lot, but that is usually because #1, 2, 3 or 4 interrupts and/or demands my attention in some way. So I can't say that chemobrain has gotten me, at least not now. And that's great for me, because I don't like for the cancer to win.

And now, I submit this proof that absentmindedness is hereditary: The other day, Leah found the Christmas presents she had given me to hide last year. Apparently, Mommy didn't hide them and forget where she hid them! Leah did! She had stashed them in the pocket of her old bathrobe and forgot about it. Like mother, like daughter. Poor girl, she's got "mommybrain". ....Mommybrain, huh? That sounds like a great idea for a post! Excuse me while I go write this down, before it slips my mind again. You know how I get!