Tuesday, 5 February 2013

It's a Good Day

Every day things can be found to label the day good. Likewise, the days surrounded by goodness can be labeled as bad if you so choose to do so. Yet the truly crappy days have lessons that can bring learning and growing, can let someone in and help build relationships, can give a reason to see where you actually have grown or what you have come from.

Today is a good day. For many reasons. My daughter and I went to a Mother Goose group. I spent a few hours painting, which is rare and very relaxing. We had a pleasant dinner with the in-laws which my daughter really enjoyed (and I am sure everyone enjoyed her). My amazing brother in law and sister in law had their second child today. And bonus, it is on my husband's birthday.

I love birthdays. If I could go big every time I would. We have celebrated in Las Vegas, we have cross country skied on Lake Louise, we have gone dogsledding. There have been big parties, always with some sort of surprise. Not always a well thought out one. Once I had a surprise party in a nice restaurant a little drive out. It was a great turnout. But I blindfolded him for about half an hour as I drove him there ("You are turning left on such-and-such road, right on such-and-such road..." He had it for a while but got a turn wrong and the resulting confusion was so written on his face even with his eyes not visible). I didn't think about the effect on his vision. After we yelled, "Surprise!" and took the blindfold off he didn't know how many people were there (or who), or really what "there" looked like at first because he couldn't see. Reminds me of a "Myth Busters" episode where they put a pirates patch on one eye and then when the "pirate" went into a dark room and switched the patch their eye adjusted instantly and they could maneuver and fight in the dark if needed. My pirate would have been ready to have his party in a dark room. Maybe next time I blindfold someone for a surprise I'll get everyone else to sit in the dark so we can slowly up the light and adjust together...

Anyway... Back to today. I was worried I didn't go big enough on my husband's birthday. Finances and time constraints have changed since previous years. I got him tickets to the "Price is Right Live Show", which he had wanted to attend in Vegas but we didn't (thankfully, as we couldn't possibly fit any more that trip). This guy can tell you the price of your grocery list pretty darn close. (So why can't I get him to budget or meal plan?) When I showed him his gift he exclaimed, "Really!?" He is pretty pumped. But then he asked what we'll do with our daughter. He's hoping she could come. Such a doting dad.

Of course, having my daughter around has really brightened up my day. Always a new adventure. She really wants to "help". Whether that be by loading the washing machine (with things like band-aids and tampons from my cupboard). Or by putting laundry in the basket (even if it is clean clothes straight from the drawer). Or by doing dishes (do I really need to explain this one? The step stool seemed like a great idea but I think the water is wrecking the floor). I don't mind things taking longer. I enjoy every moment with her.

I am so glad for the miracle of having her. Another reason today is amazing. I received an email letting me know that my cancer blood work results are back to normal. Okay, maybe the email was yesterday, but the grateful feeling is still fresh. Successful treatment. Good thing, because for years they didn't want me to stop treatment to have a baby with the worry that the medication wouldn't work the second time. I wasn't worried. I had faith. I knew there were other treatment options. I was informed on worse case. I was prepared to go ahead and have a baby but my husband was waiting for the doctor's permission.

In 2004 when I was diagnosed with Leukemia I was of course devastated but I was grateful there was a one a day pill available for me that resulted in no chemo or radiation. This pill had just been approved in Canada three years prior. Even though I was stuck on that pill I had hope of having a baby because my reproductive system was still capable. That hope lowered to almost nonexistent sometimes, but it was something I had to hold on to. Everyone who believed was praying for me. We eventually tried to adopt. An unsuccessful investment. But we had to work together to get the paperwork done and analyze ourselves as a couple, as parents. We will definitely be better parents to our daughter because of that.

In September of 2010 I told the doctors that I wouldn't wait forever. Being a mom was a priority. So they finally said let's do this. I stopped my medication in December. I was pregnant the beginning of February. We had our healthy girl in November of 2011. I had come to terms through the adoption process that I would have to give formula. But now I had the opportunity to start on breast milk. It was a painful, rocky road! A 4cm deep abscess that had to be drained daily the week of christmas. It hurt more than childbirth. Once I finally had feeding going smoothly I didn't want to stop. All that work to quit? What was intended to be just a start turned into a few months, then turned into continuing until she started food. Then it turned into going until her first birthday so that formula wasn't required. Prayer brought the baby we desired into the world, with her daddy's red hair and large hands, and I had the blessing of breast feeding her a year! At that year there was no more pushing it. They told me that my blood work was changing. I was still in remission. But it wasn't staying that way.

So it was time to return to meds. I was a tiny bit apprehensive, though I had no choice. In 2004 I was no where near fit or healthy. I had been up to 185 pounds before hit with the cancer. And the pills were hard on me. Some side effects were short lived. Others lessoned over months. Others took years. I remember complaining to the doctors that I couldn't do something during the day AND evening more than a day in a row because then I'd be out for a day. They told me to adjust my schedule. Cut things out. Listen to my body. I didn't like that idea. There was just too much to do! So I started watching my diet and exercise and getting my body stronger.

It worked. I think if you met me now you wouldn't believe I was the girl with the notes to skip Phys Ed. I was the girl with poor attendance from headaches, stomach aches, back aches, fibromyalgia. I remember in 2005, at 28 years old, my exhilaration in finally being able to ride my bike up a big hill without feeling like I was dying. And that was just a start. A life of poor health meant working through so many weak muscles that would get strained. Weak ankles. Tight calves. Pinched sciatic. Plantar Faichsaitis. Sore knees. Ugh. But I tend to be a little determined. And that determination turned into loving the achievement of something new I never would have believed in my life. An addiction to the runners high replaced... well... laziness. A thirst for adventure replaced the fear. Run a race. Check. Be a lead in a musical. Check. Fill winter with outdoor activities. Check. Camp below the peaks of Begbie and swim in the glacial water. Check.

And it paid off. Almost 9 years after starting those cancer meds for the first time I started them again. How was I going to take care of a toddler feeling ill or exhausted? (I know, I know... no sympathy deserved there as I knew the risk.) And this time I barely noticed. The occasional muscle cramp. Tiny bit of ick. But I feel amazing. Stronger and healthier than ever. And it is working. My counts are good. It's a good day.

This may sound morbid, but now that I have those blood work results post baby I don't think I would undo it if I could. My experience with cancer completely changed my life. It taught me to let people in and help. It taught me to relax and enjoy the opportunities-- or take the initiative and get out there and enjoy them. It taught me to take care of myself. It initiated the passion to discover fundraising and volunteering. My life really started then and I am excited for where it is taking me and who I get to spend time with along the way.

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