Friday, August 21, 2009

Pre-treatment reflections. Brought to you by PBS Kids.

I have a few moments to blot a few things down (blot = blog + jot... I just made that up) because I have a free moment I'm blatantly ignoring my child. (Hey, judge all you want... my 21-month-old is learning Spanish via Dragon Tales and I am maintaining my sanity. Everyone wins.)

So obviously, treatment begins soon. We're getting things ready around here, trying to prepare ourselves as best as we can. But we're also having to prepare a couple of kids who know nothing of cancer or sickness or hospitals. (Well, except for that one time.) We've decided to keep Ocean enrolled in preschool despite the germ factor, but have notified the appropriate folks at the preschool that we will likely have to pull him out temporarily once Phil has his transplant. I want things to proceed normally for the kids, and since we've been talking about school with Ocean for a long time it would break my heart to tell him he can't go. Plus, as my dear friend pointed out to me yesterday, I'll definitely be able to use a few hours a week with just one child, and it will be good to separate the kids a couple mornings a week, being that they butt heads so readily and emphatically. We've started telling Ocean that Daddy will cut his hair soon, and we talk about how Daddy goes to see his doctor in order to stay healthy so that he can keep playing soccer with Ocean. It's all very casual at this point, but it's setting the stage for more serious discussions, should we need to have them.

So that's that. 

And now, please climb aboard the Emotional Journey Express as I take you through the last 24 hours worth of thoughts in my mind. Scary, I know. Buckle your seat belts. And put on a helmet.

Yesterday we learned of someone who was diagnosed with lymphoma. My reaction wasn't as strong as I expected it to be, which bothered me. I began thinking back to each time I have received news that someone was diagnosed with cancer and I can remember feeling overwhelmingly shocked and afraid and sad. And while I still felt sad this time, I didn't feel much of anything else and I stewed about it all day, trying to figure out what was different here.

And then somewhere between making a pasta salad and trying to win another coupon on Old Navy Weekly it hit me. Our innocence was lost with Phil's diagnosis. We quickly realized that no one is immune and no one is safe and no one lives forever. Our bodies fail us and we can blame people or the environment or society or science or God or the devil or whatever but that doesn't stop the sickness or the pain or the death. At some point this all ends. Which is a crappy conclusion to come to when we're 29-and-holding and should be thinking about shallow selfish crap like what we're doing this weekend, or ridiculous parental crap like how to hide vegetables in cheese or chocolate milk, or fairly significant crap like supporting friends who are going through different but equally pressing situations, or everyday crap like washing dishes and paying the bills. All of those things still go on of course, but we exist on a different plane now. The plane where we grew up faster than we wanted/expected to and are no longer surprised when we hear terrible news. 

So then I started thinking about all of you, each of you, the people in our lives, and how you must have felt when we shared our news with you. And then I cried, because I remember very well what it felt like to hear that kind of news, back before it was our news to share, and I wanted to hug each of you because I know- I KNOW- it's a hard burden to bear. And you all have stood by us despite your own fear or sadness or anger or shock or not-knowing-what-to-say-or-do... and that's awesome. And very, very hug-worthy.

And then I started to remember how lucky we really are. Not the cancer part... we drew just about the shortest straw possible there. But most people with multiple myeloma are diagnosed at a later stage and thus need to begin treatment right away which is not the case with us; and for that we are grateful. We're pretty darn fortunate to have known about this for a year. I'm so glad we've had plenty of time to allow everything to sink in. I'm relieved that we will have had a couple of months to prepare ourselves for treatment to begin. And that I have time for this introspection and reflection. Most importantly, I'm glad we've had time to find hope in what was initially perceived as a hopeless situation. We're in a good position in spite of our circumstances and, while I've had a difficult time reconciling all of this with my faith in God, I can't deny what I recognize to be a little extra help from him in a less than ideal situation. 

It's hard to write a blog post about Feelings, not because I fear being vulnerable (If you know me, you know I hide nothing and I tend to over-share to the point of grating awkwardness. It's a gift, really.) but because I don't want to come across as a Susie Sunshine or a Martha Martyr or an Ursula Unstable as much as I just want to document this process, for us but also for anyone else who is frantically Googling (or, if you're cool, Swagbucksing) "Multiple Myeloma" like we were a year ago, trying to find an ounce of honesty or hope or reality or... something. Something.

The problem with writing it down is that it's hard to get across what's really going on internally, mostly because it changes all the time. I guess the takeaway is that I still don't see a grand Purpose in any of this, and maybe I never will. But thankfully we're Take-One-Day-At-a-Timers so that doesn't even matter. We're just continually putting all of this in our Life Lesson Bank and plugging ahead, powered by all of the Love that surrounds us.

That, dudes, is one lesson even PBS Kids can't teach.

Hope you're all shiny and happy.


Alysa said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. Please continue to do so! We love you!

Amy said...

Wow. Thanks for that glimpse into your world. Beautifully written, and so honest. I don't quite know what to say, but I am really praying for you guys!

And on a lighter note, how long did it take you to come up with "Ursula Unstable"? LOL--I am totally using that one!

Bless you guys.

Baj Family said...

I love that you "over-share to the point of grating awkwardness" because I do the same thing and makes me feel like I'm not alone. I also enjoyed how you used the word "shit" (seriously, I did. I laughed) and then proceeded to say "darn" instead of damn. You are a quirky one.

Baj Family said...

Oh, I almost forgot..I'm about to up and kill cancer...bastards!

Baj Family said...

Ok last comment I promise. If I sounded was because I was/am angry.

Becky said...

Whew, that is a roller coaster. I second Amy: I so admire your ability to describe it, Ursula Unstable and all!

And yes, bless you all to heck.

jilly kristine said...

Cassie, I've never met you, but i want to hug you. Thank you for sharing this with everyone.

Phil said...

Baj- I appreciate your realness and I know cancer has hit home for you over the last it means a lot coming from you.

P.S. I think Cassie cussed more in this post than I did all growing up. Dang doctor Chang!

Jennifer said...

I understand exactly where you are coming from. Life changed when cancer came around. I kind thought one of us would "get" cancer, just didn't expect it so soon.
Good luck with the treatments. Phil will sail through with flying colors. I am glad you are a one-day-at a time people because everyday can only get better once chemo starts. Good luck and you and your family are in my prayers.

hcamel24 said...

Dear Cassie - I know you don't know me but I enjoy reading your blogs. We went to high school together and although I was a year older, I totally admired you. I admire you even more now. Your struggle with this crappy cancer is something that I am so unfamiliar with that even though you put it into words, I still could never imagine what you all are going through.
You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers and best wishes to you and your husband as he begins his treatment. I hope only good comes of it all.
Heather Khoury-Lambert