Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rising Up...

There is a birthday in the house. Little Miss is very excited to be turning 9 today. I can't believe it's been that long. Some days I want to cuddle that black-haired baby, but it's so much fun to watch her grow up and see who she is becoming. She is our smart, strong-willed, affectionate, perceptive, creative, and funny daughter who also still enjoys the cuddles. We love her to the moon.

For birthday mornings we usually celebrate with cinnamon buns (not homemade). Today was no different. We got up extra early to make sure we had time to celebrate. All went as planned, however, the buns didn't rise :(

All I could think of was the lyrics to the song Rise Up, sometimes my connections are out there. Rise Up is a song I was recently introduced to by some sweet girls. I listened to it on the way to the doctor and I was then motivated to be able to face the day ahead.  

It's been a couple of rough emotional days in the Sousa house, filled with anxiety and fear. This morning, shortly after 9:00 when my oncologist walked into the room, our fears were alleviated (for now). My scans showed additional shrinkage with the brain mets and all other spots in my lungs and bones, seem to be stable. I am grateful. 

We started our day with flat, dense cinnamon buns, but it's turned out to be a day of celebrating my good scans and most importantly, the birth of our daughter. Regardless of what our breakfast did, we chose to Rise Up anyway. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Surrendering to what is....

I've been sitting in front of my computer for 15 minutes unable to know what to write. But, it's been a while, so I thought I should do my best to say something. 

I spent today at appointments getting my 12 week scans. Although everything has been going well, and things seem to be moving in the right direction, I have been quite anxious since last week when I realized I had scans this week. This diagnosis is unpredictable and with that comes excessive worry when it's time to see what's going on.

I saw something recently that I'm trying to cling to. It was an article talking about the future of metastatic breast cancer and the hopes of it becoming a chronic disease versus a terminal one. Chronic just sounds so much better, doesn't it? I also recently heard of a woman who has had MBC for 35 years, something else I can cling to.

This morning I posted this on Facebook. 

"Today we head to Boston for my "routine" day of scans. I could use some prayers and positive energy. One could say I'm a bit anxious. I'll get the results on Thursday." 

The response was overwhelming, so many comments, words of encouragement and pure love. I'm grateful for all of it. 

It's been 9 months since the dreaded phone call from my oncologist, but this all still seems so new, so fresh and still so scary. I'm working on surrendering to what is, letting go of what was and having faith in what will be, thus the reminders I give myself. It would be so much easier to go back to my previous life, but since that is not an option, surrender to my current life is what I must do. I certainly don't have it all figured out and sometimes it's quite the struggle to carry on without worry and anticipation about what's to come. I am scared, but I know I am not alone. I'm thankful for those who push me along, even on the days when I seem to be crawling.

And, to end this post with hope and faith, here are some pictures from our Easter. 

This guy...   He is my ROCK! Without a doubt I could not do it without him. xo

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Gracious acceptance...

I went to Panera with Mom last Friday as we do almost every week. There was a woman there with three young children, probably all under three. Obviously, her hands as well as her heart were full. I was waiting for the food when her name was called. She began piling the food plates, attempted to wrangle the kiddos and had her young daughter follow with another plate. Standing there waiting, it seemed I should offer to help, so I did. I can't remember exactly what I said, but the look she gave me indicated that my intent to do something kind was interpreted as a complete insult. "No, I have it", with a delayed "thank you though" after it was too late to withdraw the daggers I had already gotten.

Of course I replayed the "event" several times in my head and after venting about it to my mom, I realized I am often guilty of the same reaction I received. It is not easy these days for me to accept help. It indicates that I am unable to do something, and this was also probably what the woman thought when I asked her if I could help. Her reaction made me feel terrible and I'm sure I've caused the same to others when they've tried to help me. 

From the time my children were little, I have had one rule, "Be Kind". Their dad asks them every night what they did that day to be kind to others. We are big on that four letter word. 

I'm recently realizing that along with initiating kindness, it's ok to accept it as well. We do not necessarily help someone because they need it, we help others because we care about them, love them and/or just wish to spread kindness. 

I'm definitely a work in progress when it comes to accepting help from others, especially these days. I'm stubborn, and I want to believe I can do things on my own. Most days, that is indeed the case, but sometimes it's not, and I really do need help. Sometimes I even ask for it. Since June, I have not been able to drive. As a 43 year old mom, that is not an easy restriction. I have had to rely completely on others for driving my children and me places. I cannot just get in the car and go somewhere. It's hard to lose some of the independence I once had. However, I'm grateful I have the blessings of many who step up to the plate on a daily basis. 

"Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it."

Whatever the reason we are offered and given help from others, it seems we should be gracious and always grateful in our response. I am far from being an expert in this area, but I do plan to continue working on it and taking my own advice.

"Accepting help is its own kind of strength." -Kiera Cass 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Charmed moments...

I would like to consider myself a consistent blogger, but I don't think that is really true. I'm an as needed blogger I think. I blog when I need to.  

Sometimes I have a lot to say and other times, my mind is quiet. I'm embracing the quiet times these days because more often than not, things are quite the opposite. 

The most common question asked of me continues to be,"How are you feeling?" And I continue to respond with"Considering what's going on, I'm doing ok." Some days I feel like I'm barely managing and other days I'm doing better than managing. The symptoms I contend with are really due to the chemotherapy pills, not the Big C itself. If the pills are strong enough to destroy the "Little F----ers", then they also tend to beat the rest of my body up as well. But,the symptoms are improving.

At the end of this month I have the appointment for my scans. With that upcoming date, I become more anxious. It seems "safest" for me to remain cautiously optimistic (a phrase I was introduced to by our social worker when we were going through the adoption process). 

I will have the results of those scans by Easter. I, of course, will share them.

I followed Little Miss outside with my camera in hand the other "spring-like" day and she said, "What are you going to take pictures of?"

"Can I take pictures of you?"

"Mom, you know I like to be alone outside."

After a small dose of begging, she let me take a few. It felt good to pick up my camera, walk around the yard and snap some photos, something I haven't done much of lately. I will continue to focus on these moments.

“...there is no such thing as a charmed life, not for any of us, no matter where we live or how mindfully we attend to the tasks at hand. But there are charmed moments, all the time, in every life and in every day, if we are only awake enough to experience them when they come and wise enough to appreciate them.”