Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Could Only Happen To Joey

Tonight our whole family went to a Jethawks game (our local minor league baseball team).

We don't often do this unless it is a special event (like Scout night), simply because doing anything with seven children is not only labor intensive, but expensive as well. However, we went to just an ordinary game tonight because we picked up some tickets from the Knights of Columbus (thanks, guys!) that made it much more feasible to squeeze our entire family into the stadium.

It started off on a good note, because we ran into Joey's football coach and two boys from his team. It continued to go well, as Natalie enjoyed climbing up and down the aisles and generally left us in peace, and Bella loved Kaboom (the giant bird mascot). Everyone was warm enough (until Natalie dumped an entire bottle of water on my jeans, that is), no one begged to go on the ever-present inflatable jumpers.

The real kicker came, however, when Lindsey ventured into the gift shop to buy a baseball with money she had brought. It was a "photo ball" and had a collage of five or six snapshots of players and fans running around it.

As we were about to leave, she asked if she could unwrap it and have Kaboom sign it for her. I said she could and she started to skip off to find him. She didn't get far before she came running back and said, "Mom, this looks like Joey!"

Sure enough, one of the photos on the ball was very clearly of Joey, getting something signed by Kaboom. We are guessing the shot is from two years ago, but are not entirely sure. Given that we go to two or three Jethawks games a year, it was absolutely shocking to me to see him on the ball. What are the chances?! Further, what were the chances that Lindsey would decide to bring money and buy that, of all things, in the gift shop? We could easily have never even known.

By this time, Sam had tuned into what was going on and said, "I almost always follow Joey, so if he's in the picture, I probably am too." Darned if he wasn't right. He is standing behind Joey, wearing his Cub Scout shirt, although his arm is in front of his face so only I would know it was him. Still, he was beaming to be included, no matter how obscurely. (I later joked with him that he was just like Mike in Monsters, Inc. when he kept getting covered up in the company's ads.)

Needless to say, we ran back in and bought three more balls. So far.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I have had the absolute pleasure of spending the better part of the last week just outside of Cancun, Mexico in a beautiful resort with my dear friend Jennifer in honor of her 40th birthday. Jennifer's very generous husband sent us away as his gift to her (since she didn't really want the big party he was willing to throw for her).

Thanks to family and friends, not to mention Jay's complete support and encouragement, I was able to spend 5 days away from home reading, relaxing, napping and eating way too much. Of course, the best part was being with Jennifer, who I have missed so much since she moved to Texas years ago. We tend, when we are together, to revert back to the age we were when we met (that would be eight years old) and end up laughing about completely immature and ridiculous things, and this visit was no exception. I laughed an awful lot and had a really good time.

Naturally, I missed my family and was thrilled to find them all waiting at the airport in a row when I arrived. I was relaxed, my buttons were all reset, and I was ready to face the mountain of laundry that I knew was awaiting me at home.

This is where things started to get a little squirrely.

About half way home I started to feel not so well. I figured it was because I had to get up really early to catch my flight and just needed to sleep, so I went to bed pretty quickly when I got home. The next morning (Monday) I went down to UCLA for my usual blood draw. My neighbor Robin went with me so I could bring the kids with me--I did not want to leave them so soon after just returning. I was feeling fine, thinking that the sleep had done me good. And this was indeed the case, until I had something to eat.

When Robin and I stopped for lunch on the way home (at a really cute kids-only restaurant, but that is another story) I started to feel really bad. I was suddenly very glad she had come with me so she could drive.

Not long after I got home I spiked a fever, so I emailed my oncologist to let him know. His nurse practitioner emailed me right back and told me to go to the ER because, apparently, a fever can be a big deal when you are going through chemo because of potential problems with white blood cells. Feeling a little ridiculous, I went.

To make a long story short, after a bunch of bloodwork and some X-Rays, the ER docs concluded that I had a fever, probably from a virus. Since my white blood counts were OK, they sent me home around midnight. Far from making me feel silly for coming in, the ER staff from start to finish was great, assuring me that my oncologist had done the right thing by sending me in, and even giving me a private room (those of you who have been to the AV Hospital ER know that this is no small thing). I was consistently surprised by how seriously my little fever was taken by all involved, and I felt very well cared for.

One might think the story ends there, but alas it does not. About a half hour after I fell into bed, exhausted, Tony began to throw up. This repeated every two to three hours throughout the night, and not once did he make it without soiling his pajamas and bedding in the process. Even with the middle-of-the-night laundry load, I had to do four loads today just to get back to the beginning of the enormous pile that had been awaiting my return in the first place.

Today my fever is gone and Tony is better too. I am reassured that all this has nothing to do with the cancer and is, instead, some sort of virus. Everyone gets sick, and not every ache or pain I have is cancer-related, although it is hard to remember this when it is happening.

So, here's to vacations...and the inevitable crash when we return home from them!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thanks Be To God

I just got the results of my PET/CT, bone and heart scans, and they could hardly be better. I am actually in shock, as I was prepared mentally for, really, anything.

There is no longer a breast mass of any kind--previously cancerous tissue is indistinguishable from healthy tissue. The bones are no longer active at all and present as "treated", showing only scarring from where the cancer used to be. The liver spots can hardly be seen and are not active at all. Nothing in these three areas is measurable.

The only remaining trouble spots are on two lymph nodes, both of whose tumors are now measured by millimeters rather than centimeters and are no longer active.

Folks, we are on our way to that NED party! Four months ago I didn't actually believe that could ever happen, but I'm a believer now. Thank you all SO MUCH for your prayers throughout (and please don't let up yet!).

Oh, and for all you financiers out there, I might look into a "buy" on Immunogen and/or Genentech stock, because this drug is, clearly, amazing. How blessed I am to have access to it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who's Educating Who?

Question on Sam's science homework: How would you describe the surface of the Earth?

Sam's answer: Fun to play on.

I love that kid.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Like Father Like Son

Tony is in a "just like daddy" phase.

Many mornings, he puts on one of Jay's shirts and a pair of his shoes, get his very own Lightning McQueen laptop, pulls up his chair, gets his "coffee" just like dad's (i.e. milk), and starts to work alongside him. He can stay there quietly working next to dad for surprisingly long periods of time, and his attention to detail in imitating his father is quite amazing.

I love seeing how content Tony is when he is with his dad, and how patiently Jay supports his little shadow. I know this phase will end all too soon, so I am trying to absorb every moment.

Oh, and, yes, Jay does work in our master closet, although we have an amply large house for him to have his own office. Why? You guessed it--it's the only place quiet enough for him to take work calls without resonant kid noise! (Good thing he doesn't mind a bit...what a good sport I married.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Poppy Fields

The hills outside of Lancaster are aflame with poppies. For those who might think of desert as barren and brown (although you are sometimes correct), I thought I would post a few pictures of our current landscape, filled with color and the promise of spring.

Natalie loved marching around the fields, barefoot. We had to help her avoid stepping on the flowers.

Our Godson Michael and his mom, our dear friend Lori. As you can see, the flowers go on forever, on all sides. It is really a spectacular sight to behold.

If you've ever contemplated a visit to the Antelope Valley, now would be an excellent time!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Breaking News

It looks like Los Angeles has a new Archbishop!

Although not yet official, all signs point to the current Archbishop of San Antonio, Jose Gomez, who happens to be a priest of Opus Dei--the only bishop in the United States who is.

Needless to say, I think this is wonderful news. The priests of Opus Dei with whom I have become acquainted have been consistently inspirational, filled with fortitude and deeply motivated by love of Christ. Goodness knows, Gomez is going to need all of these traits and more to tackle the job of running our nation's largest diocese.

I will look forward to hearing this "on the record" tomorrow. Meanwhile, good night!

You Know You're An Adult When...

You are SOOOOO excited it is raining...
...because it's watering your lawn for free.

Update: As it turns out, this is only effective if you actually remember to put your sprinklers on "rain delay." Otherwise, you're just the idiot who is paying to water your lawn anyway. (Not that I would know, of course.)

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter Blessings

As I'm sure many of you are, I am feeling a great sense of release tonight. Lent is over, Easter is here!

The eggs were dyed, hidden and found. The baskets were filled and emptied. Dinner ingredients were purchased, prepared, consumed and cleaned up. It is done.

I have been at church more over the last four days, it seems, than I have been at home. I love the Holy Triduum liturgies and have enjoyed them more intensely this year, partly due to changes in me brought on by my illness, and partly due to my increased participation as a minister of music.

Singing the Psalm at this morning's Easter mass was one of the happiest moments I can ever recall. I was overwhelmed with joy, totally humbled that I could be there at the ambo, part of it all. I could not stop smiling all morning.

How can we despair when we have faith? For from true faith comes hope and, with it, lasting peace. May this peace be with you throughout this Easter season and far beyond.