Thursday, January 31, 2008
The following day, we will be on a plane bound for Sacramento. We booked our flights and are looking forward to bringing Grandma Lorraine home. Being the organized person my mom is, she is getting all her "ducks in a row." We have appointments with doctors and financial planners to get all her affairs in order when we get back to Red Bluff.
She also has an appointment at the funeral home, as she wants to pay off all the expenses for the funeral, casket, etc...she even asked the funeral director if they could help us put together a DVD of photos and music for her "Celebration of Life Luau." If she pays for everything now, we hope they would let us use this one service ahead of time.
I often stop and realize we are discussing every detail that will surround her death, and her wishes when that time comes. We don't know the time or day, but we do know she will be prepared to leave this earth with everything in order, and most of all, having shared all her thoughts with each of you at the Luau.
My mom looks good and acts so chipper all the time. Yet, when I saw her balding head today, or when I see that she is out of breath over a small task, those are the signs that all is not as it was a few months ago.
Cancer doesn't give you a day off. It doesn't give you a day where everything is back to how it once was. I suppose though that it doesn't have to. If we had that "day off" we wouldn't be discussing the many things we need to have ready and in place. If she had that day off, she might miss an opportunity to share how she feels about someone. Awareness over the finality of my mom's prognosis is leading her to cherish each day and live it fully. She leads her life like the Irish proverb: Dance as if no one were watching, Sing as it no one were listening, And live every day as it is were your last. Shouldn't we all?
Monday, January 28, 2008
My driver, Paul, escorted me on the 30 minute drive through rain and traffic. We pulled into his driveway, and I ran inside hoping no one recognized the silhouette hidden under the coat. Inside, my presence would be known, so no secrecy would be necessary here. I received lots of hugs and hellos at my ‘safe house’ before the next leg of my journey. (Thank you DeClercq Family!)
Here are the Wileys! Ryan is on the left and he is 10 years old. Charlene sits beside him, (but I won't reveal her age!) and Megan, who is Ashlyn's BEST FRIEND in all the world is 6 years old. My partner in crime on this mission is Charlene's husband David, and we won't say his age either! hee hee
We enjoyed a wonderful surprise dinner at Hana Japan in Dublin! We loved watching our personal chef prepare all the food before us, and we got all caught up on the latest in our lives over dinner. I don't think Charlene and I ever took a breath...it was constant chit chatting and we enjoyed every minute of it together! Charlene and I have been best friends for years now, and when we see one another it is just like not a single day has passed! Talking , laughing, and of course lots of tears when we say, "goodbye" are now a part of our long distance friendship. Long distance or not, this friend will always be such a special part of my life!
David was a big help in arranging for me to fly in on my covert birthday mission! We were planing for months and scheming on how best to surprise Charlene! David had planned a whirlwind weekend for us girls that was full of fun!
David has a special place in our hearts for many reasons, but the best reason that Kyle will never forget took place many years ago. Kyle got his finger stuck in a plastic airplane. We had a 10 in. flying toy plane that had an opening just right for a small finger. Kyle managed to get his finger stuck in this whole when he was about 3 years old or so. It was around 10 p.m. and Tom was away that weekend. I couldn't get his little finger out, and didn't know what to do. Kyle was of course frantic, screaming and crying, and I had no idea to what to do. So I called our neighbors, hoping they wouldn't mind the intrusion so late at night, and guess who saved the day? David! He ever so patiently sawed away at the little wing on the plane, and 15 minutes later, Kyle was free! It didn't matter to David that it was 10 at night, but it sure mattered to us! His kindness helped Kyle and I during our evening of need and we will never forget it! :-)
Of course over the years, the Wiley's have been a BIG part of our lives. From family trips to Yosemite, Marine World..(there is a good story for another time!) to bringing us dinners when we sick, to hospital visits, carpooling, and caring for kids, they are there in ANY time of need. It's funny how some people are just "there" when you need them, before you can even ask. They show up ready to serve, help, and care, and the Wiley's are one of those families!
Our kids grew up together being next door neighbors for 9 years, and we have such fond memories of the boys climbing their log cabin houses to see one another over the fence! Charlene and I shared recipes over the fence, cups of sugar, and plenty of chit chatting! Our husbands shared tools, discussed BBQ tips, and we all enjoyed those years in our lives as neighbors! As our little daughers grew up, they too became the closest of friends! I know not having Megan in Ashlyn's daily life, has been one of the hardest parts of moving to a new state. I know it has one been one of the hardest for me!
I am determined not to let this family ever get away though...so I see many more visits and surprise trips in our future! It is so nice to make new friends, but there is nothing like seeing a face that has been etched in your memory for years. What a wonderful weekend I had with the Wiley's, celebrating Charlene, and spending time together!!!Megan showing me her fun Christmas toys so I could take lots of picutres to show Ashlyn when I returned home. Ashlyn was so upset she couldn't come with me on this trip, but I got lots of hugs from Megan to take back to her! The Wiley's children are just as sweet in person as they look here!
Ryan playing the clarinet for me during our 'sleep-over' on Sat. night! You played beautifully Ryan and I hope you will make a tape for me as you sounded so professional!
Thank you again for such a wonderful weekend! BIG thanks for allowing me to stay over, and for treating me like I were royalty in your home! I had a fantastic time...and will be planning my return...who knows the day or the time that Denise will show up on your doorstep... :-)
Thank you Mary for giving up your afternoon to spend time with me at lunch! I have missed you, but have SO appreciated all your uplifting e-mails and encouragement for me during my mom's illness!
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
I was feeling overwhelmed with my mom's care, party plans for the big luau, and just trying to juggle motherhood and my new role as caregiver. In the midst of personal chaos, I asked my sister in law Cindy for help with all the numerous details required to throw the "Celebration of Life Luau" for my mom. I so want it to be everything she desires, but was feeling lost trying to plan it all from 900 miles away.
Cindy graciously accepted this BIG job, (with the awesome assistance of my mom's friends' Annette, Sherry, and Beverly...thank you ALL!) What just brought me to tears was when I thanked Cindy for all her help and time. I couldn't think of what I could possibley do to repay her for such a big undertaking, and she said to me, "You don't have to Denise, this is what 'sisters' are for!"
She told me when my dad died to think of her like a sister. She told me to lean on her like a sister on Christmas Eve at my mom's diagnosis. I always appreciated this offering, but perhaps never took this gift to heart. Today, in my moment of weakness needing a huge helping hand, Cindy told me again to think of her like a sister, and for the first time...I did.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Today I got a hair cut and that felt awesome. So far no hair loss, but it will be happening. When I was on chemo before, my hair really thinned out, but I never wore my wig. This time I definitely will because my head really gets cold here. Annette, thanks for sending the hats and Lisa thanks for the scarves. Both are appreciated. Back to beauty treatments—now I’ve had my pedicure, nails, a massage, hair cut, brows done, and I feel like a new woman!
Barb, thank you so much for your offer to make the cake for the luau! You don’t know how special that makes me feel. Speaking of food, thanks Beth for the prune cake on my birthday! I loved it, and now that it was on the blog it has gotten notoriety! I shared a piece with my radiation nurses (one that had it before and loved it) and Collette, your hand dipped chocolate covered prunes also were a hit. I had my friend Annette send me the ones I got at the boutique and took some for the gals to try. They loved them.
To my stampin buddies, I wanted to pass on to you that I met a gal who does Stamin' Up. Many thanks Michelle for the nice dinner, and also the set of thank you notes. Michelle’s friends are having a stamp camp on Feb. 2nd and I want to sign up! Looking forward to more ideas. She also does Creative Memories and will be a great resource since Annette and Sheri sent all my supplies. Now I have all my "stuff" to work on my Japan album! Love you guys! My Women’s Guild is having a Mass said for me at Sacred Heart Church on Feb 2nd and Denise and I will go to Mass here at 5 pm. The church is having a Mardi Gras dinner that night as well. It will be a fun filled day. I appreciate all your thoughts, prayers, notes, cards, blog comments, phone calls, e-mails, etc... and am looking forward to seeing all of you on Feb. 24th!
Friday, January 18, 2008
You should see my space—I have the basement all to myself with all the amenities and I’ve taken over! I am one busy lady and you should see our Daily Planner. I’m getting Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy. Of course that makes Denise even busier taking on all these roles. Isn’t she amazing, wonderful? --she’s THE BEST! I love you Denise..She is juggling so many schedules and one hard thing is that every time you check something off there are 3-4 more things to do. You should see the area she has set up for my medications (about 2 ft across for all the containers and times, and that’s just between 6 pm and 11pm. We go to the Hope Cancer Center for radiation 5 days a week too. I must go for now, but I will stay in touch!
Thursday, January 17, 2008
I wanted to let you know that we have a new date and location for my mom's "Celebration of Life Luau." It will be held on Sun. Feb. 24th from 12-3 p.m. at Sacred Heart Parish Hall in Red Bluff. Feel free to stop by for a few minutes or for the afternoon! We will have lots of good food, music, and celebrating! I know my mom is most looking forward to "visiting with every single person there!" As she reminds me, so many people come to your funeral, but the person being honored never gets to enjoy the company of all those attending. This is my mom's chance to see everyone, and have that opportunity to catch up and spend time together!
Today was another busy day from start to finish. After getting the kids off to school, the home health nurse came by for a half hour visit to check on my mom's vitals and assess her progress at home. We scooted off to radiation, in 12 degree weather and used our handicap sticker for the first time. This was a huge help with my mom's mobility and to get inside the building faster with the cold! Afterwards we went to the medical supply store as my mom has graduated to a regular cane vs. the big awkward quad cane. Off to lunch, the bank, and then a visit from the nurse's aide in the afternoon to assist with several life skills. My mom is busy doing her physical therapy exercises, and getting stronger each day in preparation for her return to California!
Tonight the local grocery store is making a home delivery, and Kyle has guitar lessons. Yesterday Ashlyn had her first piano lesson, and was so thrilled to begin! The instructor was terrific, and Ashlyn is ready for this intellectual challenge having already practiced 3 times since the first lesson!
Tomorrow, someone from the local Catholic church is stopping by in the a.m. to visit with my mom and give her communion. Immediately afterwards she has a 45 min. physical therapy session, radiation, and then occupational therapy. Busy, busy...thank goodness she still has the energy to keep up this schedule...I am the one who is tired! hee hee We will be seeing the oncologist weekly, as well as all the therapists and aides. We have been so pleased with the care she is receiving, and truly feel that everyone involved in her journey has been instrumental in how well she is doing. As you can see from the pictures, my mom does not look like someone who is battling such a serious prognosis. She truly lives each day fully, and does not worry about the future. She has certainly taught me a lot about handling adverse situations with grace and dignity. What a woman! :-)
We hope you are all well, and living life fully! Treat yourself to a nice healthy fruit filled smoothie...my mom will be glad to hear you did!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Monday, January 14, 2008
Hi my name is Ashlyn, from the Brownie Girl Scouts, troop #710! I was wondering if you would you like to buy some tastey Girl Scout cookies, to support the Girl Scouts? These are the varieties of cookies we are selling in 2008:
Lemon Chalet Cremes...cinnamon ginger spice and lemon
Tagalongs...peanut butter and chocolate
Trefoils...shortbread cookies in a cracker style
Do-si-does...crunchy oatmeal cookies with peanut butter filling
Soamoas...vanilla, coconut, caramel and chocolate
I would suggest the "All-Abouts"...a vanilla cookie with rich fudge coating
Sugar free chocolate chip cookies which are just like a chocolate chip cookie, but sugar free with all it's taste.
Thin Mints...thin wafer of chocolate and peppermint
Each box is $3.25. You can pay me when we deliver the cookies, which will be delivered around Valentine's Day. Free shipping to California when we come back with Grandma Lorraine at the end of February!
Hope you enjoy the cookies!
But, if you do not care to order any cookies, and want to support the Girl Scouts, you can make a donation, and our troop will donate the cookies to our local food pantry. Thank you!
The Brownie Scout Ashlyn :-)
(As dictated word by word to Mom)
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
I am embarrassed to admit it, but with all the new developments here, we had not put our Christmas decorations away yet! Our entire formal living and dining rooms, where full of decor. Today, Tom got everything all nicely boxed, and the house is once again back to "normal." What a relief!
Last night we met two lovely Longmont ladies, and this mother/daughter duo prepared a delicious meal for us! I had been on the phone all afternoon, (literally!) with insurance companies, pharmacies, doctor's offices, etc...so their knock on the door was such a welcome sight! Thanks for such a nice visit Kathy and Sarah, and for the awesome meal! Your kindness will not be forgotten! Big thanks to the Christie Family who also generously sent us two Omaha Steaks meals! We will be covered on weekends with delicious meals now too! Thank you all for such generous gifts of heartwarming meals!
I am still navigating the medication schedule, but it will all fall into a routine I am sure. There are 11 different medications my mom needs to take and they are administered at these times...6 a.m., 7 a.m., 8 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., dinner, and bedtime. Each one has a different instruction in regards to being taken with food or not. I bought a big pill organizer so I can make sure I don't get mixed up on when my mom needs each one. We joked that between the insurance companies, and the medications, I have a new full time job! HA
My mom is doing great and feeling well, although she is very tired. She was a real trooper today and played, "Barbies" with Ashlyn! She listened intently to all Ashlyn's stories, talking animals, and watched as Ashlyn gave her a tour of all the Christmas gifts Grandma missed watching her open. They had a nice morning, but then my mom had a good long nap before the home health nurse stopped by. Her heart rate continues to be high, and she has not regained her peripheral vision on the right side, so we need to be careful of what furniture is in that sight path. The chihuahuas are in heaven as the minute my mom reclines in her chair, two dogs are immediately curled up on her lap. I think both the dogs and my mom love it! The cat continues to be scared to death of the quad cane, but will now sit and study it as if it were prey to be attacked!
Thank you again for your kind e-mails, comments, and get well cards. These lift my mom's spirits immensely! Thank you Fred and Crystal Null for the gorgeous flowers today too! They're beautiful, and brought a huge smile to my mom's face, just as all of you do, when she hears of your messages! Thanks again for EVERYTHING!!!!!
Friday, January 11, 2008
Thursday, January 10, 2008
The rest of the day was busy as the hospital had many things I needed to accomplish today. From a quad cane walker, to bathroom adaptations, to medical supplies, I was driving all over town trying to to locate just the right item. The doctor sent me on my way with a long list of medications to obtain, and the chemotherapy drug was impossible to find. Pharmacies don't carry it, as the price tag is $7,000 a bottle! Can you imagine? After insurance company calls, faxes, several trips to different doctor offices, etc...we found a company that can mail it here in 3 days.
The hospital staff is still taking safety precautions to not be exposed to the drug, but the oncologist persuaded her that as long as our children do not handle it, they should not suffer any effects from being exposed to it in the air, touching her belongings, etc...I will still be careful, as their bodies are still growing, but this is the best medication to prolong my mom's life, and slow down the progression of the cancer cells multiplying.
Tomorrow is a new day, and hopefully we will fall into a nice routine, and she will have energy and strength to proceed forward with the treatment plan. We have 15 stair steps she will need to navigate in our home so they are working hard on building her strength to accomplish that goal. In time, a hospital bed may be required for the main floor, but for now, we hope the new chair, a warm fire, and beautiful views of Long's Peak from the big picture windows will be a welcome change from hospital rooms!
Thanks again for thinking of us, and leaving your kind comments. Since we are on our own here in a new state, it is nice to know so many friends are only a blog comment away!
BIG thanks to the Wiley Family for the generous gift of prepared "Omaha Steaks" meals! That will be a big help for my mom and us, on days when I am flustered, and the kids have all their activities and chaperoning needs! Thank You!
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
We were also discouraged by the potentcy of this chemo drug. I had to put gloves on before entering the room, and we were told that I could not hug her, or touch anything she had touched. All of her clothes must be washed seperately from the family's when she comes home, and the children are not to touch her skin due to any perspiration. We cannot handle her drinking glasses, etc...Toilets must be flushed twice, and she is only to use one that the rest of the family does not use. If one of the chemo pills breaks open, the family is instructed to leave the room and not inhale any of the dust from the powder. This is so serious, that she is doubting if she wants to continue on the chemo course as she does not want to risk our children's growth and development by being exposed to such a drug. She also wants to weigh her days in terms of "quality" time vs. "quantity." We will meet with the oncology doctor tomorrow morning to discuss all of her concerns.
Please keep us in your prayers, and especially my mom as she weighs all the pros and cons of this treatment. I have told her this is a decision she needs to make for herself, and we will stand by whatever course she wants to follow. Being the organized person she is, she is already thinking ahead to returning to Red Bluff. She told the nurses that she wants to be at her party in February, and wants to feel well enough to enjoy her time! I will keep you posted as to what the doctor says tomorrow, and what she decides to do. Thank you again for your continued love, hope, and support!
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
My mom has had two radiaton treatments so far, which sound like quite an interesting experience. A mask was made of her face to enable the technicians to deliver the radiation to the precise areas where cancer cells are forming. She referred to this as if she were wearing a hockey mask, and said it is eerie seeing all the "hockey masks" lined up on a wall, awaiting each patient's treatment. Blue beams cross over her, and she must remain perfectly still for the length of the treatment. Inevitabley, an itch, funny pain, or sensation occurs when she is in the machine. In time, her hair will fall out where the radiation is delivered, but fatigue is really the only other side affect. She has begun the daily chemotherapy pill, and it is delivered at a very low dose, so side affects should be minimal. The subsequent rounds afterwards will be much stronger, but we will just take it one 6 week block at a time.
Brain tumors are an aggressively growing cancer, and a Glioblastoma, is the most aggressive of all. Completing these treatments will hopefully "buy" my mom more time. We all want more time and more memories, so thank you for helping my mom celebrate her life with you in February. Your friendship and kindness continues to bring us both joy, and lifts up our day! I apologize for not getting back to each of you personally, (I hope to do so soon!) Keep leaving blog comments as you are able. I print them all out, and read them to my mom. Hearing all your kind comments brings her many smiles!
P.S. I have been informed by a helpful editor in our home, that I have been abusing comma usage! Apologies for the poor grammar...to all the teachers out there who are loyal readers, feel free to critique...constructive criticism welcome! Ü
Aloha friends and family! As most of you know, my mom is one of the most upbeat people you will ever meet. Her optimism and positive attitude, even amidst adverse conditions, always shines through. This leads me to a special request my mother has asked us to help her organize. Since my mom does not know how many days she has remaining on this earth, she would like to celebrate life, and enjoy it with you! When we return to Red Bluff in 6-8 weeks, she would like to have a special celebration with none other, than you guessed it, a Hawaiian Luau! Having grown up on Maui, anything Hawaiian related always brings her such happiness.
This is my opportunity to ask all of you in the Red Bluff area for a favor, and to take you up on your requests to help! Ü We are considering throwing a party in her honor around the weekend of Feb. 23rd if all goes well with her treatment plan here. She would like to have everyone come to her home, to enjoy food, friends, and celebrating life! Could I ask you to help me honor her special request by bringing a dish, drinks, or helping set up? We will know more about timing once we have the A-OK from her oncologist to travel. Until then, save a few hours toward the end of February to join us in a party, that would not be complete without your presence!
Send me your e-mail address if you can help, and I will coordinate what we will need. Thank you so much! I know this “Celebration of Life” will bring my mom much joy, and will create memories she will cherish through the challenging days ahead.
Monday, January 7, 2008
Imagine my surprise today, when Dr. Pavot asked if he could pull up a chair next to me in the hospital cafe, and eat breakfast together! During our visit he said how my mom had such a great attitude, and patients with that attitude always do the best. He also took the time, to tell me that our worry really accomplishes nothing, and that if anything, all worry does is take away from the quality of your day to day life. He said that all any of us can do, is lead a healthy lifestyle, and enjoy each day, as each day is all we are really guaranteed. I walked away from our impromptu breakfast very rejuevenated, and ready to fight this cancer battle with my mom. I am realizing that we may not win this battle, (although we will certainly try!) yet we will have won valuable time together, and that is a lesson I want my mom to take with her into the cancer battlefield...her second battle with cancer begins today, with the first day of chemo and radiation...
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Tomorrow Annette will see my mom in the morning, and then she will be off to the airport to return to Red Bluff, where her power is still out due to the big northern California storm! I am sure she will be anxious to get home, and see her family, but we will miss her greatly. Miraculously, my dishwasher has been loaded and emptied, the kids are entertained in the back of the car, tears are dried, and both my mother and I have had a shoulder to lean on. How will we get by without Annette? As she reminded me tonight, she is only a phone call away, as are all of you, and we are so thankful!
Friday, January 4, 2008
Thursday, January 3, 2008
You are anxiously awaiting to hear how Lorraine's doing, aren't you? Well, I spent most of the day ... okay, all of yesterday ... with her at the hospital. She is doing amazingly well!! We never ran out of things to talk about, which is always the case with us. We laughed, cried and hugged lots.
While I was there, we met with the radiation department people, nurses, techs, and doctor. She also received physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy yesterday, which will be the norm for the next week or so. She's getting very comfortable with the use of her walker and her right leg and hand are getting stronger.
Lorraine's attitude is always so positive and upbeat. She would love to hear from you. She is the same Lorraine, but sometimes can't find the right word, or is a little confused, especially in stressful situations. Give her a call if you can and let her know you are thinking of her! Every time she heard from any Red Bluff friends via your blogs, cards, notes or phone calls, tears welled up in her eyes knowing you were thinking about her. The Longmont United Hospital's phone number is: 303-651-5111. Also many of you asked about sending flowers, so I asked at the hospital's information desk and they said to either get flowers from their gift shop (the flowers there looked nice) or, they highly recommended calling Longmont Florist at 1-800-932-4876 or order online at http://www.longmontflorist.com/
Many of you have indicated you would love to help in some way... for the moment, just keep in touch with Lorraine in the weeks to come (radiation and chemo begin Monday) so she can hear those familiar voices via phone or mail from home. Your prayers are also a comfort to everyone here.
Today Denise is meeting with the social worker to see what's needed for her homecoming and to do other errands. Ashlyn is getting worn out from all the late night activity, so I stayed home with her so she can sleep in. Ashlyn is my new buddy!! What a sweetie.
Denise is hanging in there, concerned about the future, but I encourage her to take things one day at a time. Lorraine and I are so proud of the job Denise is doing caring for her mom. There is so much to do and think about.
You should see their house! It's gorgeous!! I have the basement all to myself which is like a studio apartment. I have to admit that I overslept this morning! Denise's home is so festive with Christmas everywhere and a Christmas tree in every room!! She is so talented.
I wish I could word things eloquently like Denise (I keep telling her she should be an author). She seems to have recovered from her fall, but her knee is still tender as is her pride.
My love to all friends, Denise's friends (she appreciates your support through all this more than you know), Denise and Lorraine's family, Tom's Family, and DKG sisters... oh, and my family too!
Love to all,
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Annette came with us to the hospital this morning to visit my mom, and listen in on the appointment in the, "Hope Cancer Care Center." My mom had a mask made of her face, so they can position her in the correct position for her radiation treatments starting next week. She will have the radiation treatments daily, (keep your fingers crossed neither one of us has a spill in the icy parking lot!) and daily chemo treatments also starting on Jan. 7th.
Annette has stayed all day at the hospital with my mom, chit chatting and having some girl time! She is not ready to leave, but after a 12 hour visit, I will need to talk her into coming home! Annette's time with my mom, allowed Ashlyn and I to have a little, "Mother/Daughter" time together. We girls were on our own as Tom is back at work today, and Kyle is in California! He was so looking forward to his friend Parick's visit from CA this week, but with all the latest developments we needed to cancel that plan. Patrick's parents, and his good friend Tom's parents, all graciously agreed to have Kyle fly to CA instead! He is having a grand time, and we are so happy for him, as he has missed all his buddies from back home in Dublin.
Your blog comments, calls, e-mails, (and great care packages Lorri and Betty!) have brought my mom, and our entire family such comfort. We are blessed to have so many friends and family support us during this journey. Although many of you are long distance, your support and encouragement both in CO and CA, mean the world to us! Thank you!!!!!