Monday, May 27, 2013

How far we've come in a year (I guess)

And so the school year for my girls ends on Thursday. One big huge "yeah!" I'm so done with the structure of school-- waking up early, making lunches, helping with homework, and the endless after school activities that I can't keep straight or keep up with. It's time for vacations, no structure, and true bonding time without running from one thing to the next.

This Memorial weekend was our preamble of good things to come this summer. Today, my friend took the girls and I to Park City. We adults hung out while the girls spent many hours zip lining, going down the alpine slide, and doing the rope obstacle course. The sun was out, it was a little breezy, and it was just perfect.


I've already seen Morgan's grades. She's made the Honor Society (again). Four A's, one B+, and one B. She's completed two successful seasons of competitive soccer, five dance classes per week (including competition hip hop when her team took first place in its category in St George, Utah-- that was a very fun trip, by the way), and Young Women's activities galore. She's a great kid. She loves her family, is incredibly helpful, and has a ginormous heart. I am so proud of her. She turned 13 years old last month. We had her birthday party at the bowling alley and it was one of the most fun Morgan parties in memory. A lot of girls that age simply don't like their parents so much anymore. I see it with Morgan's friends. Their moms in particular are just annoying and embarrassing. I am so touched that Morgan and I do not have that relationship. Morgan actually likes me. We are the best of friends and I know Morgan confides in me beyond what her friends tell their parents. That trust is priceless and I don't take it lightly.

Siena is the funniest child I have ever met. She loves crafts, is incredibly creative, and just can't get enough cuddles and hugs from anyone. She struggles in reading so we work on her reading skills every day. She'll get there. She is ahead of her grade in math. And her cognitive skills are off the charts. She has completed an incredibly busy year of two soccer seasons, children's choir where she performed all over Salt Lake/Utah counties, four dance classes, and art classes. She loves her tumbling class and does her own intricate hairstyles. She does a better job on her own hair than I do. She is witty beyond belief and is just plain adorable, what can I say. My favorite time of the evening is putting Siena to bed where we do cuddle time (she sits on my lap and we talk), read (we're reading Little House in the Big Woods now and just finished Matilda), and say prayer.

What I hope I teach them...
I hope that whatever they learn from me, that the following make the list: be good, kind and honest; stay away from substances like drugs and too much alcohol; be nice to others; read good books- in fact, just read, read, and read some more; be intellectually curious so you can hold an interesting conversation on just about any topic; know that there are moral absolutes-- sometimes you do something just because it's the right thing to do, period; love God and try to be Christlike every day; listen to good music; see as much of the world as you possibly can-- travel, travel, travel; experience and respect other cultures; love your family, they should always come first; trust others but know that trust is earned; save your money; never stop learning; stay away from tatoos; say sorry as often as you need to (and even more often than that); don't ever let anyone treat you poorly; don't feel entitled to anything; and get off your electronic devices and learn to talk and listen to those around you.

I am so incredibly lucky to have these girls in my life. Nothing- and I mean this literally - is more important to me than them and I can't imagine going through my health struggles without them with me. They cheer me up and give me a reason to fight harder than ever. 

And in the last year...
I look back on the last year and so much has happened. Last year at this time, let's see:
  • I had finished up two rounds of four-day "chemo in a bag" treatments
  • I was bald as a Q-tip
  • I was hospitalized for four days (I don't remember a lot of it, that's how anemic I was)
  • I made it through a pick line in my neck for almost a week
  • I had a port installed in my chest that ran up to my jugular vein
  • I went through a huge chemo treatment prior to my transplant
  • Had a successful stem cell retrieval in which my body produced almost 25 million stem cells for collection!
  • Endured about 20 days of neutropenia (when I had zero immune system at all)
  • Made it through three months on a Revlimid/Dex cycle
  • Made it through even more months of Dex/Thalidomyde cycles without too much neuropathy
  • And made it through my first of two stem cell transplants!
  • And even with all that chemo, treatments and medications, I managed to gain weight! Not too many people can say that. I didn't get sick at all on all the chemo. In fact, I got the munchies
  • I moved my personal belongings from San Diego and got them to Utah safely
And a year ago this time, I was organizing a trip on Amtrak for 17 days across the country. I had nearly three months off between my two stem cell transplants to allow my body to recover a bit. My doctor encouraged me to do something fun but not too strenuous. And I wasn't allowed to fly. Well, that was perfect for an Amtrak trip, something I've never done but always wanted to do. So we headed out from Salt Lake City to Chicago to Washington, DC to New York City. We stayed in each city for several days. I came back in one piece and without getting sick. I was so dang proud of my body.

A few weeks after getting home, we went on a road trip and visited Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon and Sedona. Granted, we went to Arizona so I could get a third opinion on Multiple Myeloma at Mayo Clinic, but we made a great trip of it nonetheless.

As I look out over the year ahead, I am positive and hopeful. I have met many new and amazing people. I've reconnected with many people. I have discovered that I have the ability to heal and love and, yes, trust. While sometimes I am scared (make that terrified!) of my illness, I know that with all the love and support I have, I'll get through it.

I know that everything happens for a reason. God has a plan for me. I'm still not sure what it is, but I trust Him, I lean on Him, I am in His care. He'll carry me through. Between God and my family and my many friends, somehow, some way, it'll be ok. And so will my precious, amazing daughters.