Saturday, February 28, 2009

Windows and the choices they give us.


Yesterday was cold and clear and beautiful. God was trying to make up for the snow dump on Wednesday. As I left the office I looked south and saw menacing clouds slowing creeping over the horizon. Our systems often sneak up from that direction. As I looked north I could see endless blue sky and a few wisps of clouds that would color nicely at the sun left for the day.


At that moment I decided to take the clear and sunny view as my view of the universe.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Some People Just Don't Get It

Every single day, I am thankful to the bottom of my toes that I am still a mother and that Mary-Elizabeth is still alive and relatively unscathed. She is grumpy and sleeping and leaves my shoes on the steps so I can trip. She expects to be fed and nurtured and demands attention. She was so so mad at me today because I told her she was not taking a car with her to college. She was huffy and left the car after announcing that "She was not going to discuss this with me."

We had never discussed this before. But it must be time.

All in all I would not miss a day of all this time. The moods, the expectations, the disappointments, the laughter, the tears.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Children's asked for a contribution. This is what I wrote last fall.

A Bit Removed from Treatment



Mary-Elizabeth’s story has been said, told and retold. We went to the eye doctor where he found swollen optic nerves. After many other appointments to detect the cause over two months we arrived fully into the "Cancer World" and all of its glory: side-affects, puking, fights with the insurance company and bottles of pills equal to mortgage payments. I want to talk about time away from the "Cancer World". It is a place that many people forget exists. Life after cancer is as jolting as life in cancer treatment. Cancer is like air, it is always there. Every sneeze, bump, bloody nose, strange look, craving, headache, bump, rash or anything else you can think about is the dreaded "RELAPSE". Every news story about a famous person that now is fighting the good fight again is gut wrenching. Time does make it better with each day being a little bit better than the last. Mary-Elizabeth went to bed by 7:30 every night during treatment. It took about six months or more of being off of treatment but she started to stay up later and later. She is now 15 months off treatment and is staying up until 11:00 p.m. doing homework. When she first ended treatment she was barely able to walk the dogs down the block and had to use the elevator at school. Now she takes all the stairs at Holy Names and does crew five nights a week. This fall she will row in three regattas! I realize that we have very gradually arrived back to "normal". It is more of a life similar to pre-cancer where it feels safer and healthier. It is a place where I can now plan to cook Thanksgiving Dinner this holiday and know it will happen. I also realize that I had unrealistic expectations about how long it would be before we arrived in this new place. In our experience for every two months of treatment, it took a month to really recover. She was in treatment for 30 months and we are 15 months away from it. Time in the "Cancer World" makes you appreciate so much about life, health and most of all “normal".
What does Children's mean to you, your child and your family?
Returning a phone call and hearing: “Hem/Onc Garcia here” is never good. It is not what any parent wants to hear, but having returned the phone call to Children’s was the best part of the call. I truly believed my daughter would survive treatment and would go on to live a good life after. I don’t know if I would have survived the process anywhere else but Seattle Children’s. To me Children’s is sort of medical department store with its labs, psychiatry, ophthalmology, dentistry, radiology and physical therapy all on site. There was no need to do more than take an elevator or find a new hall way to get between appointments. We only had to leave the main campus once for an appointment and that was for 12 doses of spinal cranial radiation. The Schedulers took care of making all of scheduling all of Mary-Elizabeth’s appointments and if there was a problem, they would solve it. The staff always took care of transferring records and x-rays between clinics and appointments so I never had to. Children’s is runs so well and they are so careful to make sure the patients come first. We had the luxury of having the same doctors and nurses throughout her entire treatment. They welcomed us with understanding, compassion and hints on where to find good coffee. Each cancer patient has a nurse practitioner and ours was Karyn Brundige. She was never rushed, always listened and worked with us on making cancer treatment palatable. Never can I say enough about the people, the care and the support we felt while there. Mary-Elizabeth is off treatment and she now seeks treatment for ordinary things from her primary care doctor. She loves him but we always look for an excuse to return to Children's instead.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This college thing is not scientific

We were able to find University of Portland and have directions to lots of other schools. If you don't leave the house with maps and directions, it is possible to not make good progress. M-E met one of her classmates at the University of Portland and the place is warm, inviting, people friendly, the guys passed my tests. Next time we will do a real tour and visit. She did score a sweatshirt, hooded of course.

She was sleeping both times we past St. Martins so that will have to wait. She will not even be looking at the University of Oregon. They are just too mean. We went to a couple of hockey games. The final was between Oregon and Washington. The players were a bit aggressive and very mean. The fans left something to be desired. She was not impressed.

So the search continues......;

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

So this is how it begins.

First you have to find the college and then you have to pay for it. I am going to let Mary-Elizabeth shop and I am going to work on the financing. Right now I am sorting through lots and lots of web sites and foundations for cancer survivors. Most are open to mostly everyone; some are just for certain counties in Maryland.

So the hunt begins for schools and scholarships. It is nice to have a goal that does not require waiting on the result from a blood draw.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Friday the 13th is Coming

I should ignore it so I am going to take my daughter and head to look at colleges. I will not worry, I will not fret, I will not be concerned in any possible way. On the list this trip, University of Portland and St. Martins. Maybe a quick peak at the U of O.

See I am not worried. I am just g0ing to go and have a good time.