Monday, December 31, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Tonight I sat with my mom as we enjoyed our spaghetti dinner together. We talked about her wishes, things she still wants to do, and the ways she wants to be remembered. The neurosurgeon stopped by, and wanted to talk as well. He told us about the people he knew who had passed away from the same type of brain cancer my mom has. He told her this cancer gives her a gift, to have time to say, "Goodbye", unlike his 20 year old patient earlier this week, who died tragically in a car accident and did not have that same, "gift." He explained to us, that whether she has a few months or a year, that she should go and live her life the way she chooses, while she still has the remaining brain power to do so. He looked her in the eye and said that she should not worry, that she should fight to the end and have hope. He wanted her to know that although her health will eventually decline, the end would not be painful, and she should not fear it. A week and a half ago, we never even pondered such things, or imagined we should need to.
As we ate our dinner together, and discussed his comments, I thought of Tom making banana milkshakes with the kids, of him playing football in the snow with Kyle, and of his unconditional willingness to fight this cancer battle with us. Tom has given us all his gift of time and presence. I thought of my mom raving about my mediocre spaghetti meal, and that it didn't matter that it wasn't a gourmet meal, but it was a gift of time shared together. Everyday moments with family and friends, playing football, making a milkshake, or sharing a meal; these are the gifts of time the doctor spoke of. The end should not be feared, but the time spent living should be enjoyed.
We will enter the first 6 week battle of cancer armed with radiation, chemotherapy, and hope. We will enter it, knowing time is ours to enjoy, no matter if that time is measured in days, months, or years. Our time spent with my mom, watching the kids play, of visiting and reminiscing, will be our lasting gifts. I hope you too will savor all those little moments with your family, and know that time, is your gift too.
Treatment will entail 5 day a week radiation therapy, for 6 weeks. The radiation oncologist will "blast" all those cancer cells with a laser and rid her of as many as possible. She will also have daily chemotherapy for the entire 6 weeks. At that time, she will have 3 weeks off, and can perhaps return to her home in California to get her affairs in order, and make a decision about proceeding with the next round of treatment. With each round of treatment, she will have stronger doses of chemotherapy, which will keep the tumor cells from multiplying. She will stay with us during this radiation and chemotherapy time, and social workers, home health professionals, etc...will assist us with how best to care for her.
Again, your continued prayers and support are so welcome. I have read all your e-mails, and kind comments, and they bring both my mom, and myself such comfort. Thank you!
Friday, December 28, 2007
As unsettling as it is for her to be in a new state to have these things happen, we are very confident in her team of doctors and staff. She has a cardiologist, neurologist, neurosurgeon, pulmonologist, speech therapist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, nurses, assistants, a chaplain, and a priest all working together to provide her with the best possible care. That is reassuring, especially while we wait for the results of her brain tumor, and the stage that this brain cancer has progressed to.
On a lighter note, we are having a debate to whether she is really in a hospital, or is it a hotel in disguise?! I remember hospitals being a sterile and uninviting environment. Longmont United Hospital resembles a luxury hotel. Upon entering the front doors, a grand piano plays classical music and a fireplace burns surrounded by chairs and books. A cafe, gourmet coffee cart, shopping, and a museum of art are inside. My mom has a daily room service menu with everything from varieties of salads to gourmet ice creams. Dogs are allowed to visit patients, and orchids are found on her plate when meals arrive. Hmmm....we almost thought she was in Hawaii....until we looked out the window and saw snow, and the morning temperature of 5 degrees!
Thursday, December 27, 2007
It is hard to imagine that 9 days ago, my mom arrived in Colorado expecting a nice Christmas, and instead she in the hospital with a life threatening form of brain cancer. This certainly wasn't the kind of Christmas "gift" she was wanting! She came through her brain surgery with flying colors and they removed a tumor about the size of a silver dollar. She is recovering well and is sitting up, visiting, and eating with a big appetite, all of which are good signs.
She had very few symptoms that anything was wrong until arriving here when we noticed a lot of confusion, difficulty with words, and weakness on the right side. They are hoping some of that will improve as she heals from the surgery, but again, the prognosis is poor, and that is a hard thing to digest. I don't think I will ever be able to forget the moment the doctor looked her right in the eyes and said, "You are probably looking at about a year. You've lived a good life." We are still trying to accept that, and what it means for her quality of life, and what it all means for us as a family, and the challenges to come.
Within the next few days we should know more about that prognosis when the findings are available from the removed tumor. I will keep you connected as we learn more. Thank you again for your comments, calls, and e-mails...they are sure appreciated more than you know!
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Holiday Potato Dish
Our family has enjoyed preparing this dish to accompany a ham dinner around the holiday season. It is very tastey and a crowd pleaser!
4 lbs. potatoes, cooked and drained
1 cup chopped onion
¼ cup butter
1 can cream of celery soup
1 pint sour cream
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup corn flake crumbs or bread crumbs
3 tbsp. melted butter
Pimento strips and parsley for garnish
Remove skins from potatoes; shred into bowl. Saute’ onion in ¼ cup melted butter until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in soup and sour cream. Pour over potatoes and cheese. Mix well. Turn into greased 13x9x2 baking dish. Cover and refrigerate over night.
Sprinkle with crumbs and drizzle 3 tbsp. butter over top. Bake in 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Garnish with pimento and parsley. Enjoy!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Little Observations and Life Lessons Learned...things I didn't know 5 months ago...things no one told me...things I am now happy to know!
10. When the temperature is below 20 degrees, the wise mother learns that she will have happier children if she removes her keys from her purse before exiting the building.
9. When dressing up for a special occasion, one must forsake fashion for practicality, and wear big ugly snow boots, or one’s fate will be wet feet for the rest of the evening. (Or, in the case of Tom’s company party on Fri. night, I will bring the pretty shoes in a bag!)
8. After leaving a Christmas gift for the mailman, mail miraculously arrives 2 hours earlier each day.
7. Snow isn’t as cold as you thought, unless you are shoveling it.
6. Snow is enjoyed more when viewing it through the eyes of children.
5. Observation...Little girls love those Peruvian hats…you know, the ones you used to laugh at with yarn braids down the sides?
4. Chihuahuas and cats are not happy walking through snow.
3. Children call soda, “pop” here, and make snow cones out of freshly fallen snow, flavored drinks, and flavored “pops.” On that note of cold drinks, other than beer, alcohol is not sold in grocery stores, and liquor stores are closed on Sundays. Not that we are out looking for cocktails every day, but if you want to buy a bottle of wine for dinner on a Sunday, you are out of luck!
2. I will never again take for granted a fluffy warm scarf, and a flip-switch instant fire. Sure, it lacks the charm and ambiance of a wood burning fireplace, but the instant heat is such a pleasure on a cold day!
And, the number one lesson I have learned over the past 5 months is…..
1. The friends and family we left behind when we moved, are missed more than I ever could have imagined!
That means YOU!