Friday, February 6, 2015

A new normal

I haven't updated the blog in a while about my mom's progress on her cancer and the treatments. The last time I did she was mid way through her chemo and radiation was just beginning. It was a hard road. April through December wasn't a fun time. She missed out on a lot of stuff due to the reaction to the chemotherapy and once the radiation started a whole new set of issues began. 

Radiation treatment is different for everyone and for my mom is was six weeks of 5 days a week treatment. It was a very strong dose that near the end really began to effect her phyically. It literally burned her from the inside out. She felt a lot of pain and by the end of the six weeks we could see the burn on her skin. It was hard to watch her go through that but it was harder knowing that after this strong treatment she had to once again start up with the chemo. 

She missed out a lot on the summer time fun we all usually have. We weren't able to lay by the pool. Or go out all day and have fun. She was tired a lot and sick a lot. The fact that she was not able to be with us like she usually is during those few months was hard on her mentally as well and she did go though a brief period where she pulled away from all of us and stayed to herself a lot. She wasn't the fun, free spirited mom she had always been. She was sad and depressed and a lot of days she had given up on feeling good again. 

Chemotherapy was always a challenge and after an allergic reaction to her chemo meds she had to switch up her treatment plan a little. Her doctors had originally told her that near Thanksgiving she should be done with all treatment but after a few tests they decided to be safe and do them until Christmas. It was a struggle to keep her spirits up and keep her going for those last few treatments. Her hands and feet were having a lot of pain and numbness in them more often and the days after treatments go harder with prolonged periods of sickness. 

My stepdad's job started in Texas and with them having such amazing centers down there for cancer she decided to go there to get a second opinion and finishing her treatments if necessary. After having several scans and tests done we got the news that we had so longed to hear ever since this journey began 6 months ago. Mom is in REMISSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nothing was more of relief then to hear that!! They told her it is very possible it can come back. If it stays gone for 5 years the chance of it coming back decreases a lot! I continue to pray that she will stay healthy and that this will not be something she ever has to go through again. I know it was tough on her physically but now that some time has passed those things that were effected by the chemotherapy treatments are starting to fade away. She is starting to return to her old self physically. 

Mentally though, I'm still waiting to see my mom. I'm still waiting for her to come back to us. She left for Texas in part to be with my stepdad but she also left because she thought all the bad things here would disappear. That it wouldn't all be real. The cancer. My Grandma dying. Being alone here without my stepdad with her. But I don't think she has realized yet that what she left behind was more important then what she was trying to avoid. She has been gone for 2 and half months now. Feels like 2 years to me. I was so happy she got to come home and spend Christmas with us. It meant a lot to me. She is home this week too which is what reminded me to write this cancer update. She is here for 6 days. Doesn't seem long enough. Lots of people to try to see before she off again. She won't be back until the end of March hopefully in time for Hensley's birthday party. I am trying to be strong. To not think about the fact that my mom who I usually see everyday is just....gone. Off to another state. Only coming home for short week long trips. On this trip home she talked a lot about them getting rid of their home here in NC. Three miles from our home. A place I always feel comfortable going. Where Hensley has a room with all his stuff inside and where we all have a ton of memories. Not having a house here anymore means one thing....this is no longer home. It's hard for me to even comprehend that. I hope it's something that won't happen. I know it's something I'll have a very hard time with. 

During all of this I have tried to do one thing......not be selfish. I have had days were she calls and I don't answer the phone because I am missing her so much that I am angry and I don't want to be angry towards her. So it's easier to just not answer. Which isn't fair to her. I am happy she is able to go and see new places. Spend time with my stepdad. Meet new people and experience new things. But as happy as I am for her I am equally angry and sad and lonely. I never know from day to day how I will feel. It changes daily. I want her here with us. Attending special days at Hensley's school. Coming over to hang out with me or go get lunch. Summer is coming soon. It will be hard to have another summer without her at the pool. Taking Hensley to do fun things. Just being here. I don't want to be angry. I want to be happy. I want to be happy her cancer is gone. I want to be happy she is seeing the country. I want to be happy to see her come home. But in the back of my mind when she is here all I think about is her leaving again. I miss her. Phone calls, and video chats just aren't the same. Through this whole experience I always thought after the cancer was gone we would all move on with everything and things would go back to normal. I thought hearing the word remission would mean I get my mother back. Instead she's gone anyway. 

I guess it's time to end this post that started as a cancer update and ending in a therapy session. This too shall pass..........right? 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Homecoming 2015

Hensley going to a charter school I have noticed they do several things a lot different. And since they have a school that houses Kindergarten through 12th grade they include everyone in events such as homecoming.

When Hensley came home a few weeks ago with a slip in his binder saying his teacher had nominated him for the homecoming court I was so excited :) More excited then he was I think!!!

We invited all our friends and family and picked out a super cute outfit for Hensley. They were having a dinner at the school beforehand and a ceremony afterward with a performance by the schools band. 

They did a great job with setting things up and making it all run smoothly. Hensley was paired up with a little girl in his class named Laura Grace and she was extremely excited (and super adorable)!!! 

Hensley and Laura Grace

It was very fun and such an honor for him to on the Homecoming court. Being the type A personality I am and seeing all these pictures I think about how cute it would be for him to be on the Homecoming court as a high schooler and seeing these pictures such a long time from now :) 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year 2014

It's December and that means....IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!!! Christmas, parties, lots of food, the return of Benny the elf, sitting on Santa's lap, vacation from school....the list goes on and on of all the fun stuff wrapped up in this month!!! :)

First this month we visited the Festival of Lights in downtown Greensboro. We went last year and it was a ton a fun. This year it was a little less crowded which made it even better!!

We put up some outdoor Christmas decorations this year which we normally don't do. The boys absolutely loved the reindeer!!

We also put our tree up and this year we went back and forth between going fake or sticking with our tradition of putting up a real one. In the end the real tree won. We tried a fake tree and I knew immediately it wasn't going to work. We are just real tree people and it was beautiful :) 

We spent an evening at a local church supporting one of Hensley's favorite friends, Will, and his baseball team. They were raising money for a huge trip they are taking in the summer and they offered up an awesome dinner and silent auction :) It was a ton of fun and Hensley ran for hours up and down the stairs playing games with the other boys.

Our friends, the Williams' came over for some dinner one evening which we do often. I figured since we had all the kids there it was the perfect time to make some cinnamon ornaments. It brought back a lot of memories from my childhood. We use to always make these with my Grandma :) She would have loves to have seen these. We let the kids use some cookie cutters to make some candy canes, and snowmen, but at the end we did some handprints :) We did these a few years ago with Hensley and we still have them on our tree each year. They are a very special memory :) 

We had a pretty fun bath night pretending to be Santa and PawPaw :) 

Hensley was pretty into two things during Christmas break from school :
1. Wrapping gifts with his hand tape dispenser
2. Playing Crazy 8's

This month a lot is going on in Hensley's little mouth. He has two loose teeth and two HUGE molars coming in on his right side. I noticed them one night while brushing his teethe. He had not complained about them at all. I was shocked at how big they were :) In with the new out with the old :) 

I volunteered at Hensley's school this month in the Santa Store. It is a really cute idea they do each year where the library is transformed into a little store filled with all sorts of goodies. The kids get to bring money from home and purchase gifts for their friends and family members. The items are prices from .50 cent to 5.00 dollars. Each gift they buy is wrapped by volunteers there and they are able to take those wrapped gifts home to put under the tree and on Christmas they have their very own gifts to hand out. It's awesome to see the looks on all their faces. They are so excited and proud to be buying these for the people they love :) It's for sure something I'll continue to help with next year. 

Hensley's Christmas party at school was coming up and I was at a loss for what to get his teachers this year. I didn't want to get the usual gifts. I wanted something different....yet easy. My friend Jill suggested baking something. Sounded easy enough.......4 Hours later we had a TON of goodies not just for his teachers but for family and some for ourselves too :) It wasn't exactly easy BUT it was one of the most fun nights EVER!!! We made so many memories and laughed so much!! I can't wait to do it again next year. Even if we don't give them as teacher gifts we will for sure be making this baking session a yearly tradition :) It was too fun not too. Having my grandma's cookbook with me made it pretty special too.

We packaged them up beautifully in tin boxes, wrapped them in ribbon and attached the monogram ornaments I made for his teachers. It was a huge success. 

Mrs. Redd and Ms. Spaeth loved them!!

Andy was out of town all week and Hensley was pretty happy to have his Daddy home for two whole weeks :) 

We kept our yearly tradition of a family photo in front of the tree. It was quite the evening this time around. I love seeing Hensley grow through these pictures.

I love these two :)

Aunt Jill came over one night for dinner and a game night. Hensley is in LOVE with board games and Monopoly was right up his alley. We had a blast!

Excuse the front facing camera graininess but I love this picture after we all played Fibber! 

We spent several days at the mall which I was dreading but once we got there it was a lot of fun. It really put us in the mood for the season and Hensley loved all the decorations and picking out gifts for our family.

Christmas Eve is always a sweet time. We spent it with my parents who had come in town for a few days from Texas and ate dinner and hung out. We had missed them a lot. 
Hensley wasn't ready to say goodbye to his elf but we left him out for Santa to scoop up along with a little note some cookies and milk and of course carrots for the reindeer :) 

Finally it was Christmas Day!!!! We were having our whole family over and some friends too! We had a ton of great food and lots of gifts to open :) It was a beautiful day outside and Hensley got to play with his favorite gift from Santa, his basketball goal :) And I cooked an awesome ham :)

Hensley actually slept in until almost 9 am! We soon found out why...he threw up everywhere for about an hour after he woke up...and then he was totally fine :) 
He was so excited to see what Santa brought!!!


Jill surprised me by stopping by Christmas day. I had no idea she was coming and I was so glad to see her. She always brightens my day and she brought some pretty amazing gifts :) 
At the end of the day it was an awesome holiday season and when I looked around at everyone there to celebrate with us I felt so blessed. 

My house is a disaster. My kitchen is upside down. I am so exhausted. But none of it matters. Every single one of the people I love dearly were here today in our home. Eating amazing food. Taking photos. Laughing. Talking. Opening gifts. Showing each other how much we love them. Hensley is the happiest boy on earth right now. He was overwhelmed with gifts. He doesn't even know how much he is truly loved. I am so grateful for today and everyone in my life. Merry Christmas all.