Sunday, July 31, 2011

old and new

i have stayed pretty busy since my last post. just with the usual.......playing, painting, playdates. i thought it would be nice to include random bits of myself and my family, instead of just having post after post about my fears and sadness.

last week, i made some old favorites, as well as some new, this week.

old favorites included:

lemon scented playdough *recipe to follow*
peanut butter cookies (i threw in some toasted pecans for fun)
blueberry muffins *recipe to follow*

new faves:

curried egg salad
roasted chicken with sun dried tomato vinaigrette

all of this was for a picnic with the families of two of my dearest friends. we all met up at dabney state park this weekend. it was a first for all of us. i feel there was so much in socal that we didn't do because we thought we'd always live there. i'd hate to move away from here someday and not have taken advantage of all the nw has to offer.

it was a great spot for little kids. i don't know the technical terms but there was like a little canal area separate from the river. it was perfect for the kids to collect tadpoles and dig and splash and play. my husband also pulled our kids in an inflatable boat. it made me ridiculously nervous but they loved it and he's just such a good daddy. the whole day was a lot of work from him. from the driving, to the carrying all of our gear, pumping up the boat, pulling the kids, chasing the kids, and then breaking it all down and getting us back home. he really put in a lot of effort so that i could spend one on one time there with each of the kids and have time to talk to my girlfriends.

sssh, don't tell him how much i appreciate him though. it might go to his head and he might not put forth so much effort :)

the girls who joined us are both amazing and very special to me. andrea, i've known since 2nd grade. we grew up together, had dozens of sleepovers, shared clothes and secrets and grew apart for a good decade but we both ended up here in the nw and have been able to reconnect. it's really amazing have someone here that i share such a history with. she is a new mama and makes for a lovely family with her sweet son and partner.

then there's allegra, she's newer to me. we've been friends since our now 3 year olds, were about 4 months old. we met online as part of a group for multiracial women. i took a chance and reached out to her because she lived in my city and we just clicked. she truly is my best friend, she's the sister i never had. she's an amazing person and a phenomenal mother. i love her and her family to pieces.

these two friends first met because i had them both over one day and we all had a great time. there was no awkwardness. we just meshed and laughed and i enjoyed and appreciated being able to fully be myself in front of both of them and i know they were fully themselves with me and with one another.

old and new, in the kitchen. old and new, in my life with friendships. it's important to honor both and of all the areas that i feel need improvement within myself, i can honestly say that i am a solid friend. i simply don't find it worth it to pursue friendships that i won't sincerely cultivate. there was a time in my life where i felt less than, because i didn't build a big social circle after relocating to the nw. but today, i am so thankful for the few people that i do have here. they are priceless to me.

they both know and love my mom and have been big sources of support for me, simply be listening and caring and just being there for me emotionally.

Monday, July 25, 2011

a day at the beach

i love the ocean. in my late teen years and early 20's, i'd hop in the car and head to marina del rey if i had something upsetting me or needed to think something thru. morning, afternoon, late at night. if i needed clarity, that's where i would go. there is something magical, powerful and inspirational about the ocean. it's power can also be frightening.

living in the northwest, going to the coast isn't as quick of a trip as it was back home. i've lived here six years and i've been to seaside once without visiting the actual beach, cannon beach once and then today we went to seal rock in newport. it was very accessible via a not too long path. there was a small tide pool area where we were set up, but we didn't see anything interesting in there.

the waves were crashing hard against the rocks that were farther out. my children were so happy, it wasn't crowded so i could even let my 1 1/2 year old run back and forth to me in the sand. all the kids played in the water despite how absolutely freezing it was. i buried my oldest and his friend, dug for sand crabs, built sand castles, played in the waves, explored.

it felt like it was the first time that i exhaled and actually meant it. i really let alot go with that first big breath. my shoulders fell. it was peaceful. i felt good. nowadays, as soon as i enjoy a moment of peace or bliss, i snap back to sadness about my mom. i wish she were here enjoying this with us. the waves hitting the rocks became scary and i imagined that something similar is happening inside of her body.

there are few people on the beach and none of them are within ear shot. my baby is digging in the sand with daddy. my son and his friend are playing in the waves. just sanji and i stand shin deep in the ocean, waiting for the waves to come and i just start talking to God, to the universe, to Ganesh - remover of obstacles, to any manifestation of The One.

I speak, not articulately but just desperately, "please don't take my mom, let her live, take her cancer away. let her have a miracle. please, please, heal her. let her see her apos finish high school, start families. let her live long and be happy and strong." just as desperately, i add "if you need her sooner, at least let her live without pain, don't let her suffer. let her be happy and strong. just please, i know you can do that."

i felt pathetic because these are the words of countless daughters, praying for their mothers for any number of reasons. why should my prayer be answered? there is nothing special about me. but there is everything special about my mom. i believe she can have a miracle and i will never stop asking for one.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


my mom is supposed to start chemo on august 8th. i wish i could just suddenly absorb all of the knowledge that i need to help her decide what the best course of action is for her. at first she asked me what if she didn't want to have chemo. i told her that she had to. but now, i'm questioning this path as well.

i don't claim to be educated about cancer or treatment, and, i don't even have an opinion on what alternative treatment she could/should/might pursue. but i do have a friend who lost her brother to cancer and he was just in his 20's. we discussed if it's worth her living for 5 years, with the side effects of chemo, not feeling like herself OR is it better for her to live for 3 years, fully functioning as the active, on the go lady that she is?

it's scary though because what if she doesn't have chemo and the cancer spreads rapidly and she is affected in other ways by the disease taking over. there are no guarantees. all i know is that right now, she is a woman who has been told it is highly unlikely that she will be alive in five years. and today she is walking several miles every evening, she is independent and busy and active and despite that fact that is dying, she appears completely healthy. not for someone with cancer, but for anyone in general. i'm scared that she will start chemo and then that will change.

i've been reading some cancer message boards specific to people with her stage of the disease. it's very emotional and overwhelming and alot to process. it's unbelievable how many people cancer is affecting, how many it is robbing of their lives, how many families it is ruining.

my brother is accompanying my mom to her appointments and he is going to ask her oncologists about the risks of not going thru chemotherapy and any thoughts that she has on alternative treatments. having spoken to her myself before, i don't expect her to be supportive of anything non-traditional.

i'm hoping that i can find a few online communities that i can use regularly to communicate with other cancer victims and their families and learn as much as i can to make this process a little better for my mom and our family.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

if at first you don't succeed

something about me, i start alot of things that i don't finish. or i start things in my head, have great ideas, but i never make that happen. one of those things is blogs. i've started half a dozen and always abandon them. i am hoping that this is the one that sticks. one thing i never blogged about on those blogs, is health/diet/weight loss.

and i never did it because i never had the confidence that i would succeed and i didn't want this public record of my failure. and i know, as of today, i am the only one who even knows this blog exists but someday i might share it with friends and family and i'm ok with putting myself out here, whether i fail or succeed.

i'm overweight. bigtime overweight. i won't share it in pounds but i'm a size 16 and it's super tight these days. last year after my 3rd child was born, i started a bootcamp. i did it for 2 months and lost 18 lbs. then another 9. i kept it off for a year and then suddenly i gained it all back. i am disappointed with myself but i need to focus on losing it and then starting back towards my goal from that point.

i always felt like my mom felt differently towards me when i became a plus sized gal. growing up, thru my teen years and into the very beginning of my 20's i ranged from thin to average, but never overweight. as the years passed, my mom was able to look past my size and see me as me. she always buys and sends me cute clothes and encourages me to feel good about myself. but i want her to see me back at a healthy weight, i don't want her worrying about me so i am going to commit to getting my weight down and getting healthy.

often times i won't take something on because i feel like if i can't do something 100% hardcore, then i am a loser. but i am practicing being soft on myself and i am currently doing the eat to live program. and i am doing my version of it. did i eat 1/4 of a pb&j that wasn't very ETL the other day? yes, i did. but i didn't beat myself up over it.

i started july 12th and have lost 5 pounds. this diet is good for me because i struggle with quantity and you can eat alot on this diet. it just had to be of approved foods. and it doesn't feel like a diet, it is something i can really live with. and eventually when i make a big dent in my weight loss, maybe i will have a day a week that i don't eat the ETL plan.

next week i will post daily what my meals consist of. i've really been trying to find blogs of actual people, especially moms, who are doing this diet and i haven't found that many. so maybe someone will find mine and we can connect and talk ETL together :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

the reason

so, i set this blog up a few weeks ago but things changed. well, things were briefly put on hold but i really should have been documenting things as they occurred. now i know where we stand so i am back and ready to share our journey as it unfolds.

what does this all mean? well i started this blog as an outlet for myself as my life shifts. this is where i am, and why.

my mom retired, finally, in february. she is a widow and was looking forward to spending time in the nw with her 3 apos (grandchildren). she came up for a visit which lasted several weeks, then she headed back to LA for a scheduled colonoscopy. it showed that she had a mass, it was tested and ruled as precancerous. the plan was to remove it. i was really nervous about the surgery and began to do research.

i'm not sure if it is standard procedure but her doctor then ordered a CAT scan. that showed a lesion on one of her lungs. they told her that she had cancer. even though the bloodwork did not indicate cancer, because of the mass in the colon and the lesion in her lung, that was what was concluded. she had another procedure done and then was told, yes we did find colon cancer afterall.

she was then sent for a PET scan. we were hoping to learn that the colon and lung issues were unrelated because i knew that if they were related, it was automatically stage 4 cancer. my mom was back here in town to attend my daughter's ballet recital when she received the call. they are related, it is colon cancer spread to the lungs.

my mom went home and had an appointment with her oncologist. they confirmed the stage 4 diagnosis. one day later she received a call saying, let's biopsy the lungs, something isn't adding up. my mom would appear to anyone to be extremely healthy. she eats well and exercises and takes good care of herself.

HOPE! i was so happy to get this call from her where the doctors said the diagnosis might be wrong. i cried in joy, i thought a miracle had occurred and that my mom would simply have the colon mass removed and receive chemo for the lung cancer and beat it. she had the biopsy 2 weeks ago and yesterday her doctor called me directly.

at first she spoke to me about a research study that they wanted my mom to participate in but my mom wanted my input so the doctor was discussing it with me. i was not prepared to receive the results when she shared them. she told me the cancers are related, the cancer had spread from her colon to her lungs. they can not cure her. the prognosis is that the chances of her being alive in 5 years is 5.7%

hearing this news and even now thinking of it, it's like being punched in the stomach. it is such a deep pain and sadness. i know countless people hear this news - about themselves, about loved ones, about friends and co-workers. i almost feel selfish that i am so sad. i mean, my mom is the one that has just been told that she is dying.

i lost my dad to cancer in september of 2007. i was very newly pregnant with my daughter, my 2nd child. today, we have 3 children. our oldest will be 9 next week, our daughter is 3 years 3 months old and our baby is 1 1/2. i think of the ages they will be if my mom happens to be in that 5% that survives 5 years. i think of how my 2 youngest children may never have memories of their lola as a healthy woman.

back to where i'm at. so, back when we got the diagnosis the first time, before the HOPE and then disappointment again, i couldn't control the crying. my eyes were swollen, i would cry while driving or while in the shower or while cooking. i would tell my 3 year old that i hurt my toe. she would comfort me in the sweet way that only a 3 year old can. she would tell me that lola would come visit and then i could hug my mommy - which made me cry more.

i started thinking how i would need an outlet, how i couldn't be this broken down woman in front of my children. i know there are more tears to come. i thought, maybe i can go for walks early in the morning or later in the evenings and let myself cry then if i need to. i could walk, i could cry, i could exhale. and here i am.