Monday, November 22, 2010

And Many More

When I think back to previous family birthdays celebrated, I remember trying to get a card together, finding the "perfect gift", and maybe spending extra time with family. Tomorrow is my mom's birthday. Tomorrow is so different from previous birthdays. My mom has always been one of my favorite people...even when I was a teenager! Six months ago, I starting thinking about, and worrying about how many more birthdays my mom might have. What if this treatment did not work? We have been so blessed. This treatment has been working - better than expected! My mom does not have a mass of cancer sitting in her body. Tomorrow is a day to celebrate. Celebrate that we get to have my mom here with us, celebrate that her body is successfully battling cancer, celebrate that due to this - there will be many many more birthdays ahead. Happy birthday mom!

Things have been going really well. Mom has been doing very well being back at work. I know she does get a bit stressed getting to radiation treatments every day, but she has been able to make it there and back each day without too much disruption. Mom is so relieved to be back with her coworkers and with kids. She says she feels "like a normal person" now that she has a daily routine and has purposeful work to do each day. Her days are long since she does a full day of school and then does after school care as well. Most of her days are eleven hour days. She has been getting through them very well and she has been blessed to have several church families prepare meals for her three days a week. This has been such a help, now when she gets home she can just warm an already prepared meal and spend the rest of the evening relaxing and resting.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Where I Came From

My maternal grandmother, Betty Morris, worked as an administrative staff member for the Church of St. Mary. I do not remember much from her funeral except that the funeral was in the main church and it was completely full. It looked like Sunday Mass, but the church community was there to say goodbye to her. I also remember the priest holding up the opened ledger and talking about the entries for babies baptized - church members that received sacrament, all in her handwriting. Three of her five children attended the School of St. Mary, my mom and her two brothers. The other two did not attend only because the school had not yet been built when they were in school. When it was time for me to start first grade, I went to St. Mary. My brother is a year younger than I am, and he was a student in my mother's first Kindergarten class as a teacher at St. Mary. She has been there since. When I was going to school there, teachers that taught my mother were substitutes for my class. I have not been a student at St. Mary for over fifteen years, but when I go to visit, many of my teachers still work there. Those same teachers came to my wedding, most have met my daughter, and they keep up with my life through my mom.

How many places do you know where many of the staff members have not changed in fifteen, twenty, or more years? To me it says a lot about the community there, the support among coworkers, and the care given to the teachers by the school and church community. The amount of support my mother has received from the school and church community is amazing. My mom has been so well taken care of by her coworkers, parents of the school, and the church community. The types of support are extensive and have included things such as prayers, cards, visits at the hospital, forming a Race for the Cure team celebrating her, dressing in pink on the day of her surgery, meals being prepared for her, and several other tangible and non tangible means of support and love. I think about all of this as my mother prepares to return to work tomorrow. She is so excited to be back, as most people would if they were so blessed to work in the type of community she does. I know that she is also nervous. This will be the most physical work she has done since being diagnosed almost six months ago, and she has been really tired with radiation. She is worried about how the students will react to her. She does not have any hair and it may not be realistic that she can keep her head covered through the entire day. She is still recovering from her surgery and is very sensitive due to the radiation, she does not want the kids to be fearful of her, but at the same time, she knows she will have to set limits with them as she can not have the kids hug her too hard. But, the School of St. Mary is where we come from, it will feel like home for her to be back. She will be so well taken care of.

As I type this, I think that all the students there, with the exception of first grade and Kindergarten have been her students in the past. Most of the kids that have not yet been in her class have been with her during Sunday nursery or have siblings that have been her students. She is in some way connected to almost every student there. For those few that have not been her student yet - they will be soon - and she will love them. Who would have thought that the place my grandmother worked around fifty years ago would be the place my mother now works. Through the day tomorrow, I will think about how blessed my mother and our family have been to be part of St. Mary and I will know that since she is there, she will be well cared for on her first day back.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A couple treatments done...

So mom was able to do two treatments last week. She said she is glad she knows what to expect. On the second appointment, she had to wait a couple hours because both radiation machines were down. She was able to get done that day. She has about 25 regular treatments and then she will need to do a series of additional treatments on her incision site - maybe 5-8 additional. Her doctor told her that she will be able to get a couple weeks in before her skin starts to burn. She will return to work next week. We are hoping that she has a decent amount of energy to get through an entire work day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Next Week

So over this previous week, mom has been to several appointments to have scans done and be fitted for a form to keep her arms in one place during the radiation treatments. The doctors will look at the scans to determine the strength of radiation. They told mom they would be very aggressive with these treatments (likely as her type of cancer is a rare and aggressive type that was at an advanced stage at the beginning of treatment). She will start treatments on Wednesday and they will be daily (Monday - Friday) for six to seven weeks. She has already started to take her medications that she will continue to take for the next 60 months to help prevent the cancer from coming back.

Mom has been doing pretty well over this previous week. She was able to get a ride to Oklahoma City over the weekend and watch Addison play soccer. She was very excited to be able to pick her up for a few seconds as she has not been able to do this for months. She stayed for several hours that day and seemed to do pretty well. I am sure this was helpful for her (and us) to feel like she is advancing in her recovery. BC (before cancer) it would not be uncommon for her to come to OKC 2-3 weekends a month and to stay for several weeks during the summer to spend time with Addison. I think this weekend was the third time she has been here since May. She was able to visit school last week and I know that she is ready to get started. She returns in just a couple weeks. She is starting to do some of the things she was able to do before diagnosis and treatment. Of course, she does get tired much more easily and you can see that she does not have the same physical strength, but it seems as though things are improving. I will keep you updated on radiation treatments.