Hi, everyone! Sorry I have been so slow in posting an update. I was so exhausted the couple of weeks before the holiday break that I just didn't have the energy and then Joe, Michael, and I were visiting family in New Jersey over most of the break.
I know the last time I posted I said I would put up pictures of Michael and his now girl friend, Brittany, from winter formal. Here they are:
We are only just getting to know Brittany, but she is very friendly and funny and she and Michael get along great. Plus, she is planning on going to NAU next year, too.
We had a wonderful Christmas. Joey came down from Flagstaff Thursday morning and then had to go back up on Saturday because of work. It was a short visit with him, but so great to get to spend time with him. I know I say this all the time, but I miss him terribly. He loves his job as a cook at Black Bart's Steakhouse and really enjoys the people he works with. We got him a new longboard for Christmas and he is very anxious for the weather up there to warm up so he can use it. Janaya and Andrew spent Christmas Eve with us. We had dinner and then played games. We are slowly getting to know Andrew more and more and are glad he is becoming a part of our family. Michael got a new mountain bike. He plans on using it a lot when he goes up to Flagstaff next year for school. He spent Christmas afternoon out riding it on South Mountain. We somehow forgot to take a whole family picture this year, but here are a couple of pictures from Christmas Day.
The day after Christmas, it was off to New Jersey! We had a wonderful visit! We got to spend time with Pam and her family, as well as Joe's parents and his brother, Sim's, and sister, Sue's families. Joe's family considers Pam and her family part of their family (she and I are kind of a package deal!). On Tuesday, Pam and Jim had arranged for us to go into New York City and see the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall. It was fabulous! Then, on New Year's Eve, Pam's family and ours went up to Joe's parents. Again, it was a great time. All of the kids get along wonderfully, though it does get pretty loud at times. We ate and played games all night. The next day, Sue and Sim brought their families down to Pam's house. It was a wonderful visit and I was sure sad to say goodbye. Here are some pics from the visit.
Not much news on the cancer front, except that when I went back for my chemo on the 23rd, I asked Dr. Wendt to not draw any more tumor markers until I've finished this current course of chemo and have had a chance for my body to recover some. I had been back to see my radiation oncologist, Dr. Tannehill, and he wasn't as convinced as Dr. Wendt that the rise in my tumor markers definitely meant cancer. There are a few other obscure things that can make them rise. So, I decided to get off the emotional roller coaster for a little bit and just enjoy the holidays. I will be done with this course of chemo at the end of this month and then I just want a chance to feel good for a little bit. Then, we can see where I stand and make a plan.
Ending on kind of a serious note today. Just a couple of days before Christmas, a mom of two students at our school passed away after battling cancer for over six years. Her family had moved here for her husband's work just a year ago and they had no local family support at all. The staff at our school adopted this family and did everything they could to help them through this difficult year. Last spring, I learned about this family through our school nurse. Since I was feeling somewhat better from my chemo and was home full time, I offered to help. I could cook, clean, do laundry, babysit, run errands. Instead, I was simply asked to be a friend to this woman; to visit and talk and be an emotional support. It took me a couple of weeks to get up my nerve and contact her; I'm pretty shy around new people. We arranged to meet and I spent about two hours visiting at her home. She shared her story of all she had been through over the previous years battling cancer. When I left, I gave her my phone number and my email address and told her to please contact me if I could do anything at all to help. However, I never contacted her again. Hearing her story at that time was just too scary for me. It is hard sometimes to not let your mind go down the road of what ifs and listening to her story made those what ifs seem all too possible. I felt bad for not being there for her like so many others at my school were. I tried telling myself that she wasn't calling me either, trying to make myself feel better. But, in reality, I had closed off a big part of myself to her. It is the same reason I haven't joined a support group or participated in the many online communities for breast cancer patients. There is still a big part of me that wants to deny that this has really happened to me. The reason I'm telling all of you this is because I want to say thank you to all of you who love me and support me and aren't afraid to make a place in your heart for me. You are all what makes life so beautiful and worth fighting for.
With much love,