Thursday, December 25, 2008

Very Merry

This will be brief. We wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! We have been blessed by an embarrassing amount of riches this year, and are so thankful to all of you who have stood by us and lifted us when we were down. Cancer didn't give us a break this holiday, but it isn't breaking us (though it comes close at times).

We wish you peace in the holiday season. Whether it's a peaceful night's sleep from illness or a newborn, a break from a stressful job or job search, the ease of the heartache caused by your team missing the playoffs because they lost to the 2 worst teams in the league, an ease of financial worries... or the peace you find in taking a few days off, finding the perfect gift or just spending time with the ones you love... we hope this holiday season brings you an abundance of joy and peace of mind!

Here is how we spent our Christmas!

Dan decorating Karl

Christmas Eve with the moose mugs, Karl & cookies

Dan's best gift ever

Thursday, December 18, 2008

One Week till...

Christmas! I just can't believe it is only one week away. When did it creep up so fast? I saw on the news tonight that an estimated 41 million people haven't even started their shopping yet! I have to admit that I'm usually part of that crowd that starts 2 days before Christmas. Isn't that when you get the best deals? So far this year, I did buy a few things, but I'm still way behind.

As someone going through treatment, it's tough. I'm notoriously a late shopper, but I just can't run out to the store like I used to. I've got to plan ahead and factor in days that I don't feel 100%. Tuesday's treatment went ok. I felt yucky as soon as I got home on Tuesday and a little nauseated and tired last night and this morning. It's Christmas though, I'll find a way to muster enough energy to participate in the fun rituals from decorating our tree and baking cookies (which Meg and I did tonight) to the not so fun rituals of sitting in holiday traffic and fighting the crowded stores in search of that perfect gift.

But as I said, I just need to plan ahead and be a little more strategic. I can't expect to last 4 hrs shopping and driving around. I need to almost map out the stores I need to visit and be in and out. In the end, I know it's about the Christmas spirit and being surrounded by the friends and family.

(Although, there is nothing better than seeing that Christmas spirit light up in your 3 year old niece when it's your gift that becomes her favorite!)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Griswald's Christmas

Saturday we set off on our quest for the perfect tree. We found the perfect tree for us- slightly crooked, a little off-center, and full of life. Dan named him Karl. It was a good day.

Below is my first attempt at playing with my flip video camera and iMac. Not perfect by any means, but you get the point. The video is bouncy and I realized that once Dan started cutting down Karl, I pick the camera in my pocket & left it rolling for 45 minutes. Nothing but complete black. Oh, and you can hear some cursing when I realized that we had to pay in cash, and we almost didn't have enough to get Karl home. We had just enough, and the kind people at Good Spirits Christmas Tree Farm let the tax slide. How typical.

We'll put up pictures later this week of Karl all decked out.

Chemo tomorrow. Keep Dan in your prayers!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Want to Get Away for Awhile

The tag line from the southwest commercial sums up my attitude towards cancer this week. It’s not that I need to physically get away, although that is always nice, but trying to ignore the constant reminders which most people don’t even notice. Every week I come across countless news articles, commercials, segments on tv, and everything else that mentions cancer.

Some are good, like the article that came out last week that says cancer rates are declining (although given the hike in population this number can be misleading). Sometimes I seek out the articles looking for the latest treatments and revolutionary studies. As for others, I just get overwhelmed and say enough is enough. This week I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to dive into these things, but it’s like the old saying – you never notice what type of car you want or that are out there until you’re in the market for a car. Well, I’m not exactly in the market for cancer, but as a survivor anytime the word pops up in a commercial, article, or tv segment it usually causes me to turn my head.

It’s tough because I don’t want to turn my head. I don’t want to be constantly reminded. I want to get away for awhile but it’s so tough to avoid. Last night, Meg and I were surfing the internet and had the show ER playing in the background. Just as you think you are escaping into the computer by reading emails and looking to buy a few online Christmas gifts, a person on the show ER needs to be treated for cancer. Ugh! Needless to say I just switched the channel. Enough is enough - let's try not to think about cancer until Tuesday which is when my next treatment takes place.

Tomorrow, Meg and I are going to a tree farm to cut down our own tree. I can’t wait! Just picture me driving out to Frederick, MD like Clark W. Griswald from Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and you'll undestand how excited I get. Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The New Normal

In the last post, I wrote about the need for normalcy. I was thinking mostly about being able to do the mundane things in life when we want to do them. But for the most part, I think that Dan and I are pretty much the most normal & grounded people that I know. However, if I take a step back and look at all the things we are busy with, and the things we are accomplishing despite tough circumstances... I am reminded how much we have in our life.

I don't think Dan set out to be an example, but he has found himself in that exact role- for cancer survivors, friends & family. He is a normal person, living his life. And we deal with each other the way normal couples would- we still have spats and are lazy about housework.

So when people say that we are inspiring or giving others hope... I am reminded that there are some things about our life that aren't normal. Some of them are not so fun, such as chemo, side effects and the impact on our schedule. But some are wonderful, such as when you receive a kind note from a friend.

I received this poem this morning from Dan's friend Craig. A reminder that I am marrying someone who is very far from normal :)

Danny’s Song

If there’s strength to be found
He’s gonna reach a higher ground
If there’s love all around

He’ll soak it in

If there’s hearts linked one by one

Then he knows his work ain’t done
Like relentless beams of sun
That refuse to grow dim

It’s all in him
Because Danny will win
Danny will win

If there’s silence in the doubt
He’ll push through, and shout it out
He’s the voice among the crowd
And the spirit within

It’ll never hold him down
Sound the bell, another round
In these worries he could drown
In our love he swims

It’s all in him
Because Danny will win
Danny will win

If there’s life beyond the clouds
It can wait ‘till not right now
There’s a story still unfolding,
Here on earth

There’s so much he has to give
Still his time to fight and live
With a motivation golden
In its worth

If there’s lessons to be learned
Hope and faith are never spurned
In our prayers and our concern
It’s where we begin

That’s it’s all in him
Because Danny will win
Danny will win

Because Danny will win

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Lists

Ever since I can remember, my family has created Christmas lists, and assigned each person an "angel" who would help coordinate gifts. The week after Thanksgiving, my dad would painstakingly (but lovingly) create a sheet for each person complete with a hand-drawn image at the top that reflected something personal about that person. For example, one year during my cycling days, he drew me (well, a stick figure) riding my bike up a hill with a Santa hat on. Now that we are in the digital age, my dad's creativity is found in the vivid imagery of an annual email announcing our family "angel" tradition. This year's was especially tongue in cheek, with dad (aka Ho Ho Ho Rodgers) posting a job listing for S. Claus Enterprises complete with job qualifications and compensation! Note that for those of us trying to find a job- it's a cold, cold world out there, but we can still laugh a little.

I've always loved Christmas. My parents weren't ones to spoil us with material gifts throughout the year, but they really blew it out at Christmas. The number of gifts bordered on obscene. But I loved it! I'd spend hours pouring over the toy section of the Sears catalogue (now I am aging myself), even going so far as writing down the page and item number for toys, dolls and even microscopes (I realize I am 1. a total nerd & 2. very anal). The scene still plays out today, though now I love shopping for gifts, always going way over budget.

It's hard to believe that this year is only the second Christmas that Dan & I will celebrate together. Last year we had so much fun cutting down our own Christmas tree (which required 2 different trips to the farm & Dan's realization that we don't have room for a 10 foot tree), finding creative gifts, going ice skating, heading downtown to look at the lights, and my favorite- creating a "25 days of giving" with our advent calendar. We bought a wooden "calendar" for the month of December that had compartments for each day. We filled it with notes- some were silly (aforementioned ice skating), some were about giving (donating items to Goodwill) and some were personal (writing a letter). It was fun trying to outdo each other, and it made our Christmas so special.

This year, we need a little Christmas... a lot of Christmas, actually. We've been getting knocked down a lot lately-physically & mentally. Even with the positive scan results, Dan's cough seems to be coming back the past couple of days. Living with the cough, and overall illness day in & day out is traumatic for both of us. The moments of normalcy go by so quickly sometimes. Take this morning- Dan gave a speech at a local high school who is raising money for NCCF. An hour later, he was wiped & feeling ill. It's a constant up and down battle. I hate to use words like that- battle- because it seems cliche. But it really is a battle- not only for health, sanity & sleep, but also for the normalcy we crave so much.

But cancer can't take away Christmas. In fact, it will make it even better to celebrate its true meaning. I'm having a really tough time coming up with anything to put on my list this year because the things I want don't come wrapped with a bow. Last year, Santa brought me Peace, Joy, Love & Hope... all in Dan. Those things are all still here, but we haven't been spending enough time reminding ourselves of them. So this year, I'd just like a little time to relax & enjoy it- kick back with the Griswalds & our moose mugs in our bright sweaters and get back to normal.

However, if someone also wants to give me a job, that would be cool, too ;)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanksgiving wrap-up

Yes, the news was the best we could have asked for last week. Thank you for all your comments. I wish we could have gone out to celebrate and had a few beers, but unfortunately the life of a cancer survivor during treatment isn’t that glorious. I’m happy to report that on Thursday I was able to put down some holiday food! There is so much to be thankful for, but just having a little turkey, corn pudding, and sweet potatoes on Thursday was all I wanted and I did. The simple pleasures!

Sunday night, my friends in Baltimore had a “Friendsgiving.” It was good to see everyone and hopefully that’s a tradition that will continue! Besides for Meg and my family, my friends have been so supportive throughout this journey. They had a bar fundraiser for the foundation last Tuesday, the day I had chemo so unfortunately I was unable to attend, but it looks like the raised over $1,000. That’s awesome – thanks guys!

My sore throat, mucositis, and mouth sores started kicking in Sunday night. It’s not nearly as bad as the first 2 cycles, but it’s still annoying and something I wish I didn’t have to deal with. The mouth rinse I have seems to be helping, but let’s hope it doesn’t last long. Thanks for your comments last week! I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!