Monday, June 18, 2007

Another 20 Years

This past weekend I had my dream wedding. Under the falls at Ash Cave, my husband and I reaffirmed our vows in front of family. My brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles and cousins attended. We looked out at a lush forest under the grand sweeping arch of the recess cave. The weather was perfect with crystal skys.
Afterwards, the lodge served a small luncheon. We had a chance to visit with little kids running around playing typical tag games. There were no gifts, cutting of the cake or dancing. Just good friends catching up.
My husband was so handsome. I am an incredibly lucky woman to have so fortunate partner through everything. Together we face autism and now we have a verbal affectionate son. We have and are facing cancer and it has only brought us closer. He is a wonderful support and I adore him.
While our 20th anniversary is not a huge marker for many -- for me it is significant. At this time, who know what the next several years will bring. I wanted to do this now while I am able. I know that I could have another 20 - and I will - but why wait? Plus, this was my dream wedding. I never wanted the fanfare. I am a flower child at heart even if I grew up in the 80's. So standing in one of my favorite places telling my husband I love him was all I needed.
I look forward to the next 20!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Comic Lessons

Bear with me on this one. I am writing out something that has been brewing in my mind and heart. I am struggling with putting it into words. Words that make sense. Words that aren't insane.

All the tools that I have used to fight cancer; advocate for autism and care for myself and my family, I have learned from cartoons.

We have been reading comics books lately. My son loves them. They are the ultimate for him - a combination of colorful pictures, words and stories. I remember reading them as a child. I loved them for the same reasons. Granted, I read Richie Rich, Casper and The Archies. He is reading Mickey Mouse and Jimmy Neutron.

I started thinking about the tools I have needed to survive this journey. Emotional, spiritual and physical tools that you need to make the right decisions - as well as to just survive. Here is the beginning of my list.

Number One - Don't take it. Remember when Whiley Coyote would shoot off the Acme rocket at Roadrunner? He would shoot it and the rocket would fall on him. Flattened coyote. Next thing you see is Whiley rolling a boulder to drop on roadrunner.

Most of the time I feel that boulder has dropped on me. To toot my own sad horn - my son has autism, lost my mother and now cancer. Poor me.

But I need to be the coyote. Not the cute roadrunner (who I adore by the way.) I need to keep on plugging away, ordering from Acme, wait for the plan to fail, hope it doesn't and then research and plan the next attack when it does fail.

That coyote is my hero.

Number Two - Friends matter. Mickey Mouse doesn't stand alone. He is surrounded by Minnie, Pluto, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and more. He never does it alone. He has help - friends who step in lend a hand. That canny mouse is not afraid to ask for help - or lend a hand either. Minnie is in trouble - Mickey just steps in and helps with a word. Goofy falls off the ladder. Who is there with a bandaid, Mickey! Mickey's kitchen is ruined from making dinner - his friends pitch in to clean up. Then they celebrate!

Without a word my neighbors and friends stepped in with meals, car rides, house cleaning and Christmas shopping. I did not know how many friends I had until the cancer. To this moment, I tear up when I think of all the incredible kindnesses.

Number Three - Forgive. Donald and Daffy always get the short end. They get stepped on, paint falls on them, hammer hits their thumb, pushed into the frozen pond and on and on and on. Then they get yelled at for not doing - well, whatever - by their friends and girlfriends. At the end of the story, they forgive the trespesser (usually Chip and Dale or Bugs) and all is forgiven.

There were many medical bloops, oops and sorry I shouldn't haves at the beginning of this journey - and I am sure that will continue - that I need to forgive. Carrying on the burdon of "If Only" is tiring and soul draining. I forgive.

Number Four - Laughter cures all. Comics are universal. Reaching back to the caveman and his first five legged horse on the cave wall. To laugh is a release of tension and experience of pure joy.

In this battle, there are not enough moments of pure joy. I relish, cherish and celebrate each and every one.

Number Five - We are all human. Even the mice, ducks, rabbits, cats and dogs. In comics we are all the same experiencing the same joys and pains of life. Their experiences mirror my own in a bizarro fashion. That takes the edge off my own life. And adds humor.

For me it goes beyond the humor. To see moments of your life documented in a comic is to connect to humanity. A popular newspaper comic has occasionally chronicled a fictional young woman facing breast cancer. Her moments are similiar to mine. I do not the author but for him to document those aha's and chuckles to a national audience tells me I am not alone.

That's all I have for now. I may add to this list. I may expand on it. I may write a book about it - or least an article.

That's All Folks.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Counting Every Day

As many can tell by reading my blog, I have been struggling with a bit of depression. Granted, it is normal and understandble. That helps a bit. The problem is that almost every hour of every day, cancer is on mind. Just like when Adam was diagnosed and all I could think about was autism. Every day, every hour, every minute.
So bear with me if I whine this time. I think that a little whining is allowed. Just a little.
I am starting to feel normal. Life is readjusting and we are having normal moments - such as not being able to find the right screwdriver; cleaning up the spill on living room carpet; juggling schedules and realizing that the summer is scheduled and it hasn't even started! Absolutely like before the big C came into the picture.
These moments come and I feel like Ann again. Then something comes across my radar and the realization of what I am facing hits me like monster truck rally. An email from struggling online buddy; fax from the doctor; recent study with poor results; sympathy looks from the nurses; med report from the doc about life expenctancy and on and on and on.
The toughest is the reports on median life expectancy of 24 to 38 months. 2 to 3 years. Shit.
And now it is finding it's way into my thoughts and I am starting to accept this as OK. And that really is shit. I can't feel that way or think that way. I need to fight in my heart and mind. I can't be thinking I won't be around for my daughters graduation. I can't give in.
But I am so tired already and the fight hasn't even begun. I need to take my own advice and count my blessings.
1. I am alive today.
2. My daughters are amazing.
3. My son is doing incredibly well and a testament to what autism isn't.
4. My husband deserves a reward for the most patient and loving man in the world.
5. I have amazing friends who are an endless source of support.
6. I am going to Hocking to renew my vows. In a beautiful dress that I look great in.
7. I am clear of tumors as of this very minute.
8. I have a faith and know that despite all that has happened, God will take of me.
This is getting hard but I need to get to 10.
9. I am alive. That is worth repeating.
10. I have doctors that are highly respected who will know what to do when.

I feel much better. Thanks for listening.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Winning the War

I have a great idea for winning the Iraq War. It is simple and cost effective. Let's send the physical therapists.
I started PT last week. Three days a week. Stretching, biking, walking - all the stuff that requires far more stamina than I have. Then they add on another set. And another exercise. One more minute. And only a day off to recuperate. Torturers.
There is a sign posted that says $5 for each whine. Torturers.
I have a large scar with large, hard immovable areas. Painful to sit on. The PTA works on this each session manipulating the scar to break apart scar tissue. Torturers.
Then I need to wear shorts. Show off the scar. Not capris but shorts. Torturers.
Not to mention that I have homework. Not just at PT but at home. Nightly. Post shower. Morning. Torturers.
So let's send them all to Iraq. One sight of them and the insurgents will surrender. Osama will run out of the hills.
Oops, my sis is a OT. Maybe I should delete this.
Nah, too much fun.