Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Sad Day Indeed

One of the things I have been enjoying about Natalie recently is how she looks at me, raises up her arms and says, "Hold you!" I have asked her so many times, "Can I hold you?" that she now has her pronouns for this sentence totally mixed up.

This morning she waited for me at the top of the stairs, raised her arms and said, "Hold me!" I did a double take and said, "Hold ME?!" She repeated clearly, "Hold me!"

Awww. I HATE when they grow out of my favorite mispronunciations.

At least Bella still says "besince" instead of "because". I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Isn't it Obvious?

Jay called me over this morning, as he often does, to ask that I take a moment out of my busy day to appreciate the dog. This is the scene that inspired his affection:

Unmoved, I said, "You know, I could do that. Lay around all day and bask in my own odor, contributing nothing to the house. Would I get the same admiration?"

Jay, looked totally shocked, exclaimed, "But he IS contributing something to the household!"

"Oh really?" I asked skeptically. "What's that?"

"Aesthetics!" he confidently replied.

Of course. Don't know how I could have missed it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Clarification, Please

It's family prayer time...the part where we all go around and state our specific intentions.

Tony says: "And I pray for mommy's cancer...."

There is silence, as the kids process this. Then come some smiles and suppressed giggles.

Tony is looking proud of himself for remembering me in his intentions.

Finally, Jay says: "You mean, that the cancer does BADLY, right? You're not rooting for the cancer, are you?"

Tony, burying his head under the covers, just nods. Everyone is relieved.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Poor Natalie. As the seventh child, she is most definitely not as well-documented as her older siblings.

As I delighted in her antics this morning, I decided to dedicate a post just to her, so we could take note of some of the things I am not writing in her baby book. (Since I haven't made one for her. YET, of course. I plan to get right on that.)

Because she is preceded by a sister with such a strong personality (I speak, of course, of Bella), I tend to think of Natalie as having a mild-mannered temperament. However, she is quite her own person with plenty of spunk of her own. She definitely has her opinions and makes them known.

Natalie, more than any of my other children, is influenced by her siblings. Now that Joey and Lindsey are old enough to help care for her, she spends a decent amount of time being carted around, bathed, changed or fed by her older siblings. Even Sam and Julia help her out a lot, and she knows to go to any of the older four children for the things she needs. If she wants milk, she asks whoever she finds first. It is really the first time one of my children looks to their older siblings as often or more often than to me. This is not a bad or a good thing, it just is what it is. I appreciate the help and she loves the attention.

As you might imagine, spending so much time with older brothers and sisters brings its own dimension to her personality. For instance, as we were sitting in church a few Sundays ago, waiting for mass to begin, Natalie stood up, wiggled her little rear and enthusiastically shouted, "Conga, conga, conGA!". I didn't have to ask where she learned that, as her older siblings nearly fell under the pew trying to control their laughter.

Similarly, last month she delighted me with her statement, "I Santa. Ho Ho Ho!" It was followed shortly by the clicking sound the reindeer make on the roof as she chanted, "Reindeer, reindeer, reindeer." I was convinced she was the smartest two year old on the planet until I realized that she had been carefully coached. Although I am still convinced of her obvious intelligence, I now understand that Julia invested a decent amount of time imparting this critical knowledge to her.

Less delightful is her penchant for coloring. On the walls, on the couch, on herself. I took her to the doctor yesterday for a vaccination and was completely embarrassed when I removed her clothes and found not one but two marker colors broadly decorating her torso and legs.

Jay and I joke that as far as candy is concerned, Natalie is like one of those pigs who can sniff out truffles in the forest. If she is silent for more than two minutes (and I am sure there are no markers in the vicinity) I can be sure that she has moved stools, stacked things or otherwise connived to locate any hidden stash of candy anywhere in the house and is helping herself liberally. You can't imagine how many times I've heard an outraged cry of an older sibling who has found their Halloween candy, or birthday treat bag, rooted through and completely looted.

Natalie LOVES Dora. I felt a little guilty about how much of it I let her watch when I heard her count to seven in Spanish yesterday (remember she is just 25 months old). I quickly buried my guilt, however, with the consolation that she will be a leg up when she begins her Spanish classes in high school.

Natalie is going to be quite the ballerina some day (the linebacker body and tree trunk legs notwithstanding). She asks me to sing the "Ballerina" Song (made famous by Miss Kitty) and twirls and twirls until I stop. Her grand finale is usually a seat drop wherever she is, be it on carpet or on tile, which never fails to crack up the rest of the family.

She is definitely her mother's daughter in that she savors her food. Every time she takes a bite of anything she says, "MmmmmMMMM!" and beams at me. She never fails to say, "Thank you!" for anything I give her. She has also learned that a well placed, "Pleeeeeeeease?" goes a long way with us all. She greets me enthusiastically whenever I return to the house (even if I just took something to the trash) and runs to me, hugging my leg. I will miss that someday. She says, "I love you!" all day long, and I never get tired of hearing it.

There are a million more things to say about her amazing little personality and her entertaining activities, but I think this serves its purpose. So, Natalie, please know that although I can not chronicle your life as if you were an only child, you delight me as much as if you were one. I love you!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Humble Acknowlegement

My last scans came in clear. Again.

This means that every scan since last April has been free from active cancer. My breast shows no evidence that there was ever a tumor in it. My liver has no lesions. My bones, though scarred, show no significant uptake on PET scan. I have one little "hot spot" on a single rib that is almost certainly a microfracture over a healed lesion . And that is all.

For some reason, even though I have had good scan after good scan, I have been reluctant to declare myself as the miracle I know that I am. Jay has been anxious for our NED party, but I have not been able to give the all clear for it. Perhaps it is because I have been quite guarded that this good news could end at any time, or maybe it is because I am waiting for the bones to completely heal (which they may never do). Whatever the reason has been, it is time to move forward.

So here is my declaration: I am a walking miracle! God has chosen to heal me, has heard all the prayers and has answered them. Apparently, I have more to do here on earth (no pressure, right?!). I am humbled and so very grateful, especially for my family who needs me.

My oncologist told me at my last visit that I have demonstrated a "complete response" to treatment. In other words, I am in remission as far as Stage IV can be in remission. He very frankly told me that he didn't know what to do with me now, that no one could know, as we sailed off the map long ago on this clinical trial. Should we go off the medicine and hope the cancer does not return or should we keep on with it for a good while? He does not know and neither do I. He has to assume, based on his years of experience, that there are still some cancerous cells in my body that are just too small to see radiologically. Yet, he also says I might be cured. Only God knows.

So, for now, we have decided to continue with the treatments since the side effects are tolerable for me (certainly versus the potential alternative!). This decision was made easier due to the fact that T-DM1 is not yet commercially available and I could not go back to it if I wanted to.

While I cannot technically have a NED party (No Evidence of Disease) since my bones show plenty of evidence, I most certainly can have a CR (Complete Response) party and intend to do so shortly. I think I will wait for one more clean scan, just to be sure, and then, with all of you as witness to this promise, will set a date and start the planning.

And there you have it.