Put out your hand

I can not believe that school will be starting in 2 weeks.  It has been a very hectic summer for us and has seemed way too short!  Megan is heading into 5th grade and my little Madison will be in 2nd.  When did it happen?  When did my babies get so big?  It seems like just yesterday that I packed Meg up for her first day at Pre-K.  She was such a shy little thing that even though I was home, we sent her for a few hours a day just to be around other kids.  I remember the first day of Kindergarten and the first time I watched the bus drive away. I was so worried about her, would she adjust and fit in?  Of course she did just fine. Before each of these first days I sent her to school with a kiss in each hand. A little something to carry from me  just incase she needed them throughout the day.

Megan's first day of Kindergarten 2009

Megan’s first day of Kindergarten 2009

There is an adorable little book called O My Baby Little One that we have hadimages since Megan was a baby.  It is about a little bird who feels sad as he heads off to school.  His Mom is also sad and explains to him that the love they share will stay with them both everywhere they go even when apart.  I have read this the night before the first day of school since Megan’s first day at Pre-K.  With Megan turning 10 just the other day I was a little worried that just maybe my girls would not be as interested in our “ritual”. The other night we were gathering school supplies together and I asked if either of them had seen the book,  (fully knowing exactly where it was :-).  Before even allowing them to answer I asked if we would be reading it again this year.  The reaction made me so happy.  Both girls looked at me as if it was a crazy question and almost in unison answered “of course”.  It made me feel good, “our thing” is just as important to them as it is to me.

I realize that I am raising two girls who in no time at all will both be teenagers.  I know that there will come a time when everything that my husband and I do will be found to be the most embarrassing, annoying things in the world.  I understand and together we will all make it through but for now I will enjoy every moment I can get where they still allow me to snuggle up and just hold on to them.

So Megan and Madison, as the first day of school draws near, when I ask for your hands, do me a favor and just accept that I am so very proud of you both.  Accept that I love the strong and confident young ladies you are becoming.  Accept that in my heart you will always be my babies so put out your hands and please allow me to send a kiss in each and know that I will always be with you and that I love you both so very much!

My life, my heart, my family

My family,  they are my life, my heart and the most important thing in my world.  There are forces around me that do not understand that and the reason is simply that they have never taken a minute to get to know me.

Niagara Falls Canada Family vacation July

Niagara Falls Family vacation July

Everyone’s priorities are different and that is one of those wonderful things that makes the world go around.  I do not judge others, or at least I try my best not to.  One thing that will immediately spike my anger are those who seem to do just that to me.

How did I get here?

My world

My world

Maybe it was a father who left when I was a baby and never looked back.  Maybe it was the financial struggles that resulted from this, losing our house, never having my own new clothes or eating pancakes for dinner instead of meat.  Maybe going through 12 years of Catholic school being told I did not have a “real” family or seeing all of my friends living “normal” lives.  Maybe it was the death of my mother after a long battle with cancer.  She was a difficult woman but one I loved with all of my heart.  Maybe it was my own decision to proactively remove part of my body due to questionable biopsies, a surgery that was life changing.  Maybe it was the fact that the pathology from that surgery showed that cancer was most certainly in my future, a future that was changed due to my decision to have the prophylactic mastectomy with my families support.  A decision that certainly humbled me!

imagesI did not get married right out of college.   Frank and I were married several years before deciding to have children.  We did the career thing and made very nice money.  I was obsessed with the next promotion and the next raise and I did very well.  We lived a life for a while where we could do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted to do it.  I was 32 when Megan was born and ready for the next phase in my life.  Many around me then could not understand how I could walk away from a lucrative and successful career to become a stay at home mom.  To me that became the most important and fulfilling job I could ever have!  Years later to be faced with the realization that cancer could be such a real threat, it made me recognize how quickly life could change and how dear I held those close to me.

I now have an understanding that a “normal” family is any that is loving, caring and provides for the needs of those individuals with in it.  It is impossible to describe what that looks like since they are all so different.  I have also come to peace with the fact that many people do not understand us, to those folks I can only wish for them a moment to slow down and enjoy what they have.  What I do not give is an apology for knowing who I am and what is important to me.  I will never apologize for putting my family first.

wdw201411267073222_6967229184Over the next many weeks I am excited for the start of the soccer season.  For Madison, it is her first opportunity to play on a travel team and at a more competitive level.  Her team will take to the field Friday night for the first of a 3 game/ 3 day tournament.  Frank is an assistant coach on her team and both are excited to hit the field.   I love watching the girls play and have admittedly become a proud soccer mom.  I plan on seeing each and every game (fingers crossed for schedules that are accommodating :-) ). Megan will start the season the weekend after in a labor day tournament.

wdw201411267000039_6967229185As the summer comes to an end and we gear up to head back to school, the calendar is filling up and I realize, I would not have it any other way!  Sometimes it is good to step back and remember what is really important to you!

 

 

Two years later

Today is a Happy Anniversary for me, the 2 year mark since I underwent the bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, a life changing day for me. I thank god that I had the strength to make such a decision.  The year prior to the surgery was filled with doctors appointments, scans and blood work. The years prior to that were filled with biopsies and worry.  Since I also had the DIEP flap procedure done at the same time, my surgery took over 14 hours and  I spent 7 days in the hospital. The entire process took a total of three surgeries and several months to fully recover.  I would say that it took about a year before I felt normal.  I had numbness in my abdomen for a long time which was actually welcome after much pain.

I remember finally being released from the surgeons care many months after the BPM, walking to my car thinking both “wow” and “now what”?  Strange right?  Doctors became such a normal part of my life for so long that it was strange thinking about life after.  For so long my entire life was associated with my “procedure” it became part of my identity.

I can not believe it has been two years since the surgery.   I have not posted much over the last few months.  I started this blog as a way to help me keep my thoughts straight as I prepared for and recovered from major surgery.   As time has gone on I am not as sure as to what this will become.  I have recently entered a political race for our local town council.  I know that I do not want this sounding board to become anything political which is part of why I have stayed off of the pages. I also think there are already too many people posting about the day-to-day life of their children.  For the moment I will stay in the background posting from time to time.

Things that I learned through the process, never look back!  Make a decision and only look forward, trust in yourself that you made the right decision.   Especially with my pathology findings of lobular carcinoma in situ, had I waited another year or two….I can’t think about it and thankfully I did not!  Sadly, I also learned that many of the people who I loved and counted on were not there for me or my family when we needed them most.  A hurtful reality but one that we have accepted.  I no longer waste my time trying to keep our circle any larger than those who truly want to be a part of it.

I enjoy my family more than ever before. There are some who do not understand and to be honest I do not spend too much time explaining myself.  I hug my children tightly and kiss them everyday. I enjoy every minute I have with my family and I never pass up an opportunity to tell them how much I love them.  To all of the women out there, get you mammograms regularly, talk with your doctor and never be afraid to ask questions!

My beautiful family

My beautiful family

Hold on Mickey we are on our way! (again)

I used to laugh at those families that went to Disney World over and over.  Was there nothing else to spend their vacation money on?  That was until we took the girl for the first time in October 2011.  The joy in the faces of my girls the first time they walked down Main street, the wonder as the music for the parade started, “Celebrate a dream come true“, we all sang it for weeks after getting home.  I remember Megan being so excited when the parade started to go by I had to hold back a tear, a mothers dream is to see a child that excited.Mickey_Mouse_Clubhouse_-_Mickey_-_Playhouse_Disney_Canada

We returned in February 2013.  That time was a celebration after my bilateral prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction.  After receiving the pathology report and realizing that it was not “if” I would have gotten breast cancer but instead “when” we knew we had to celebrate! We went all out staying at the Kidani villas overlooking the safari and enjoying 7 jam-packed days. Once again we had a fantastic time!  I really started to understand why people continue to come back, the fun had by the entire family was second to none!  We could not wait to plan the next trip, we had become one of those families.

This weekend we head back.  For the first time we will be driving and no villas. The kids are so excited because they will be sleeping in bunk beds.  I am not sure who is more excited, the girls or Frank and I.  My husband is just a big kid at heart and I have always had a loving fondness for all things Disney.  I also fill with joy watching the girls have such a great time.  The countdown has been going on for over a month with the excitement level increasing with each passing day…4 more days until Disney!

October 2011-Animal Kingdom

October 2011-Animal Kingdom

2013-Epcot

February 2013-Epcot














          I have not posted in a while for several reasons..I will get to those once we return from seeing the mouse.  Hold on Mickey, we will be there soon!

Something special?!.

Recently my husband had a conversation with a long time friend who told him that our relationship was something special.  It struck him as a strange statement which is probably why he remembered to mention it to me.  He told me about it the other night standing in our kitchen, where we have many of our chats.  When he first told me how “special” we were I laughed.

Special, what a bizarre description.  We are not a very affectionate couple and we are both very stubborn.  If you envisioned any of those made for TV couples when I used the word “special” you would be so far from who we are.  But as I have thought about this over the last few days I have decided that we are indeed very special.

We often comment to each other that it is us against the world.  Things have not always been easy for us but we stick together and find a way through.  We have had martial issues like many others, we fight, we disagree and at times flat-out ignore each other. Over the years we have faced many adversities and many situations where others have let us down.  It would be easy to cower in a corner and point fingers listing all of them but instead we have accepted that sometimes in life you are just lucky to find that one person who will always have your back.

When I was faced with the decision to have the preventative mastectomy, Frank was my rock.  He supported my decision to have such a surgery that would leave me in a hospital for a week, unable to help out for many weeks after as well as change my body forever.  He did a wonderful job with our girls, dealt with the wild swings in my mood throughout the process, and set me up a  bedroom in our family room.  After 7 days in the hospital the first thing he did for me when we got to our home was wash my hair in the sink and shaved my legs so I could feel better before the kids saw me.  Tough does not even describe how those few months were but we came though stronger and even more united.  Us against the world.

Over the years many have offered unsolicited  opinions about how we have chosen to live our lives.  Neither of us had story book childhoods so when we decided to start a family it was very important to us to give our children something we did not have.  Just yesterday I was able to catch Megan as she ran joyfully screaming from the bus stop that she had won a contest thrown out by the School Principal.  Some do not understand why this is so important to us.  For many years we have tried to explain that no amount of money could ever replace these years or the memories that we will all share forever, but especially since my surgery I no longer feel the need to explain.  My husband and I understand and that is all that matters.  Us against the world.

In the end we are basic people, home bodies who would rather sit watching a movie as a family than going out.  We would rather spend time at the girls soccer games on the weekend and spend every vacation at Disney world laughing as a family.  Things are not always easy but I guess that is what makes it special.  Wanting to put in the time and the work necessary, that makes what we have special to me!

Mark the date

keep calmI was standing amongst a group of women the other day listening to the conversation.  I am not fully sure how, but the topic of breast cancer came up.    Three of the four of us standing there lost our mothers to the disease.  As I looked around another woman close by recently lost a sister.  It is not hard to find someone who’s life has not been affected by breast cancer, it seems in my travels it is nearly impossible.

According to recent statistics, about 1 in 8 US woman will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.  As you stand in a room look around, count the woman in the room. Who will it be?  With numbers like that what still astonishes me are those who do not have a sense of urgency to be checked.  Women who find it to be too much of an annoyance to have the yearly mammogram done.  For many of us the mammogram was useless.  I used to also have yearly breast ultrasounds.  If you are not fortunate enough to have a doctor who will write the scripts together you have to wait for the alarming phone call letting you know the mammo was inconclusive or even worse saw something abnormal. It is probably nothing they say but back to the radiologists for the ultrasound, very time-consuming.  Most of my lumps never showed up on mammograms.  Many times I heard it was probably nothing.  Several of those ended up in biopsy until the day when it was the beginnings of something.

dateI was able to react, to take control of my situation because I was vigilant with my screenings.  I hated it of course but a necessary thing.  I had my first Mammogram at 22 years old and my first biopsy soon after.  Mammograms, Ultrasounds surgeries and MRI’s made it clear what my future would hold.  Because of screenings I was able to seek out advice, talk to experts and make the decision to have a preventative mastectomy before ever having to face any type of cancer battle, thank god!

Complain, whine, scream if you must but make your appointments and have the screening done!  Somethings are just too important to wait!

The winter that will not end

Before I begin to whine, I will start off by recognizing that we had very little snow over the last two winters. I also fully understand that the last winter was on the milder side. As this winter started I hoped for some snowfall. I joined in with my children doing the “snow day” dance hoping for the day off from school admittedly more than once.

ImageThe first snow day was a welcomed friend that we had not seen in a few years. The second was also embraced. The third was seen as the friend who had one too many drinks at the party. The fourth, well that one was far beyond one too many drinks and was viewed as a drunken fool. This past Monday was the fifth snow emergency closing of the year. If I were to stick to my “friend at the party” comparison, this friend was the one who stuck his face in the punch bowl, took off all of his clothes and passed out in the bushes.

Image 1We have seen temperatures in the single digits termed the polar plunge, early dismissals from school as well as delayed openings due to ice. It is only the beginning of February and according to that crazy groundhog we will have 6 more weeks of winter. I like where we live. I enjoy the experience of all four seasons. These extremes that we endure, the extremes in the heart of the summer during the 90+ degree heat waves. The humidity that you could cut through with a knife.  Or the winters such as this one that are filled with depressing grey sky, freezing temperatures and snow covered earth.   These extremes make me fully appreciate those wonderful breezy early fall evenings still light enough to walk in the park.  Or the early summer days when the pool is just open, the laughter from the kids and friends mixed with the sounds of splashing water.  Most of all I love the beginning of spring as the trees begin to wake from the harsh winter months and sprout those first splashes of green.  The blue skies and sun rays that makes everything feel new and alive.

After the last several weeks I long for the beginning of Spring and promise the first person who complains about the heat of the Summer will be smacked. :-)