Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Being Real

Most of the time Dor is very upbeat and positive when she is writing her blog entries. I guess to be fair, she is upbeat and positive about life in general. That is one of the many reasons why you guys love her. She has truly tried her best to make lemonade out of the lemons she has been handed the past few years. Lately though, mom and I have had the important discussion about writing for the purpose of being positive versus writing for the purpose of really showing what lung cancer looks like. I often ask her what the intent of the blog is... in her opinion. She is not "real" nearly as often as she could be. She paints a pretty picture most of the time so I often wonder if you are reading between the lines. I will stop by the house and see that she is shivering and wrapped in blankets, or sweaty and borderline delirious with a temperature of 103 (and has been most of the day), yet the blog entry the following morning will be about how she planted new flowers in the yard and had coffee with her friends. I appreciate her upbeat attitude but I try to remind her that it's ok to be "real". She tells me that she doesn't want pity from anyone. I try to remind her that she invited all of you on this journey with her and that it's ok to be honest when the flight has a little turbulence.

So here is the real story about how things have been lately. I was at my parents house on Sunday morning as we all got ready to attend a BBQ at their neighbors house. The steam from taking a shower has been hard on my mom for quite a while but I had no idea how quickly it has gotten worse. I will tell you, it's one thing to SEE her cute bald head or SEE her fatigued and say "it's sad to see the cancer affecting her", it's totally different to stand outside of the bathroom door and HEAR what lung cancer sounds like. The picture is not nearly as pretty as mom tends to paint. It is 45 minutes of coughing, gaging, sweating, more coughing, leaning over the sink with her mouth open hoping the fluid that is drowning her will fall into the sink and provide some relief. Watching someone struggle and knowing there is nothing you can do to help is one of the worst feelings in the world.

She called me a little while ago to tell me how things are going down in Seattle today. I was in a meeting and couldn't talk long but none of the news sounded overly positive. Nothing was horrible, but there was talk of her likely having a transfusion soon, and how they are only giving her one of the two chemos today because her body seems to be having a hard time with one of them. They can't figure out why she keeps having problems with a high temperature, and it sounds like her counts are starting to fall again. As of my last phone call with her, they were still waiting for news about my dad but they did know that his CEA counts have continued to climb and have now hit 35. For those of you who don't speak "cancer talk", we want moms counts to go UP and Dad's counts to go DOWN but today it was just the opposite.

We know how lucky we have been as a family over the past few years. We have been given far more time together than the doctors ever thought we would. We have had lots of good times and a few not-so-good times. I have no doubt that their positive attitudes have kept them alive so I anticipate they will continue to find the positive in everything that happens. It's the hard times that bring a family together so we will continue to embrace this time.

Fasten your seat belts, we are experiencing a little turbulence-



CFCina said...

Amy--THANK YOU for keeping it real for all of us! I'm in total AWE of not just your mom, but your entire family and all the extended family and friends in your lives. YOU ALL are amazing!

This blog has reached what I'm sure is all around the world and I'm forever grateful for your family for sharing your story with all of us. I continue to pray and send lots of happy thoughts & hugs to you all, especially your mom & dad! ;-)

Take care and give Dor a hug from Kathy & little Charlie in Oregon for us!

Continuing to Dream Big!
~ Kathy

Amy said...

I have been lurking on your blog for many months and am continually impressed with your family. I appreciate your candor, Amy, and I think it's good for everyone out there who might also be lurking who hasn't seen what cancer does to people. My brother had BAC, and although we all knew it was serious, he and his wife shielded the rest of us from much of what they were going through. Living 1,500 miles away, I wasn't aware of how bad it was for him or those who cared for him until long after he passed. I wish they had been more open with us, and I'm glad you're telling some of the ugly stuff that your parents might not be so quick share.

That said, I admire Doreen's unflappable, unfailingly positive attitude and your family's unity and love. It clearly has contributed to the incredible success Doreen and Rick have had in fighting cancer. Whoever said attitude is everything was only slightly overstating the truth. Your family's story is a lesson to us all.

Keep dreaming big.

Sara Cross said...

Amy-Thank you for being real. Thank you for the update, Everyone should read this, at least to see...this is what family is all about.

Schmidt Family-we are praying for you.
Sara (Cutforth) Cross and Family.

Anonymous said...

Thank god I have never had cancer, I have watched several family members go thru it and they are truly amazing! I thought losing dad to cancer and a year later having my husband told he had a incurable cancer was bad, i cannt imgaine going thru what your family has.Thank You for sharing your story with us, keep laughing and dreaming

Anonymous said...

You need to get your hands on the book "Living with the end in mind" by Erin Tierney Kramp. It's an older book (I got my copy used through amazon) but just a wealth of information. Don't let the title discourage you...it is one of the best books I have ever read regarding living with a terminal illness. I promise you that your family will be completely inspired & encouraged by it. It's helped me so much and I reread it often.

Love, hugs, prayer & blessings to your family,

-- Melissa Ferris

bonehead said...

Hang in there, it's a tough road.