Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Don't Have "The Cancer"

The doctor who performed the surgical biopsy called me on the evening of June 13th, my 13th wedding anniversary. I knew it was cancer. The receptionist or assistant calls when it's benign. My heart firmed up and I was ready to hear my grim diagnosis.

"The node we biopsied is benign," he said.
"Wow, really?" I replied.

As he explained the findings and lack thereof, I listened, confused and a little disheartened. Disheartened? As he spoke, I attempted to change my thoughts from 'I have cancer' to 'I am cancer-free.' My mind struggled to make the change.

We discussed my followup for removal of the stitches and hung up.

I made all the calls to family and friends and they rejoiced, "BENIGN!" And I halfheartedly rejoiced with them. Halfheartedly? What the hell was wrong with me?

Two days later, I received word that my friend Jill and my friend Darci has positive cancer diagnosis. I was so sad for them. I felt that I had the knowledge of this disease...I was ready for it...I knew survivors and fighters and had the massive support from my Relay friends.

I was broken in two when Jill and Darci were diagnosed. Did they have support? Did they know about their disease? I wept to Laurie that I felt so scared for them. How could they have received a diagnosis that I was prepared for?

On my birthday, we celebrated Jeffrey's graduation...nearing the end of the day, I escaped the chaos to my parent's bedroom and decided to lie down. My dad came in and we talked a bit about anxiety, noise and the business of the day.

"Here's something different, dad," I began, "I almost feel abandoned by the cancer."
He smiled and replied, "You know you're really sick in the head when..."

So good. It was perfect. It was a wake up for me. Of course he was joking, but truly. How could I have wanted this for myself? I began to cry as I told him about Jill and Darci and the frustration that I, who was so prepared, (even choosing a new home near close friends who could help me with my kids), was denied this same outcome.

I am a first born, natural planner, organizer, etc. When I found the lump in late February, I began to plan for the worst. Childcare, Chris' work schedule, carpool for Flan to school...I was ready. And my mind was stuck in survival mode.

I realized this a couple days ago when Jeffrey asked me if I was still taking him with me to Moses Lake when I go visit Kelly in August. The first thing I thought was, "Well, no, I probably won't make that trip because of the chemotherapy." - But something snapped and I felt like a rush of breath in my body and told him "YES."

Programming myself to live and be joyful has been tough for me. Everyday since my negative diagnosis I have had to remember that my life is going on as normal for now. I can get excited about moving, my new craft room, simple things like The 4th of July, summer BBQs with the family and more birthdays.

As I told Laurie, I am without cancer in my body for now because I am here to help those who have cancer. As you may know, my work with Relay for Life, raising money for cancer awareness and research, is something I find so worthwhile. I was created to comfort and encourage the hurting. I know I was. And I'm finding hope in that.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Whelp...

Ok. We're moving! Next week.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jeffrey is Graduating High School!


I couldn't be more proud of my little brother Jeffrey. He was born in when I was 18 years old - I remember when my dad and Janet told me they were expecting and I was less than thrilled about it. My parents were "old," or so I thought then, and what business did they have having a child?

Well, it all worked out, and despite so many obstacles, trials and sometimes grief, he made it. He was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when he was 4, Juvenile Diabetes at the age of 9, missed a lot of school from high and low blood sugars, but luckily had many teachers that supported him and guided him along the right paths. He's graduating tonight. I am ecstatic!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Happy Birthday to ME!!!!


My husband gave me a Canon Rebel EOS T1i tonight as an early birthday present! I turn 37 on the 18th. I am so excited!!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Guinn/Collins/Goodenoughs @ CBCC 2011

We had the best time I can remember with Chris' family Memorial Day weekend. As my faithful readers are aware, we go to Cannon Beach Christian Conference Center every year with Chris mom, Susan, her husband, Wayne, his siblings, Kevin and Jennifer and their spouses, Linda and Leon and all the kids. This year, it was a total of TWENTY! Had Kial been there (Kevin and Linda's eldest) it would have been a perfect 21.

LEFT TO RIGHT: SUSAN GUINN, WAYNE GUINN, LINDA COLLINS, KEVIN COLLINS, ZION GOODENOUGH, FLANNERY COLLINS, LULLABYE COLLINS, SIMEON GOODENOUGH, ELSIE GOODENOUGH, EPHRAIM GOODENOUGH, ASAPH GOODENOUGH, CANNON COLLINS, NEHEMIAH GOODENOUGH, HAVILAH GOODENOUGH, CHRIS COLLINS, ZURIEL GOODENOUGH, ERIN COLLINS, JENNIFER GOODENOUGH, NAPHTALI GOODENOUGH, LEON GOODENOUGH

KAREN, SUSAN'S SISTER CAME WITH HER HUSBAND JOHN TO VISIT FOR THE DAY AND IT WAS WONDERFUL TO SEE THEM! (SUSAN, KAREN & JENI)
I have fallen in love with Leon and Jeni's 2 new additions, Zion & Simeon. They are sweet boys from Liberia and were adopted a year ago. I love the Goodneough kids. They are respectful, loving, sweet, gracious and love to hug. I whispered to Zuriel (9) and Havilah (14) before we left "Just jump in our van...I won't tell your mom and dad." they smiled and laughed and told me they loved me.





LEON & KEVIN ON GUITAR AND EPHRAIM ON MANDOLIN HYMNS, CHORUSES AND FREE MY SKIN
Leon and Jennifer haven't lived in town for years now...and when we see them once or twice a year, I love every minute of it. But this year was different. I spent time swallowed up in Jennifer's loving stare as I told her about my lumps. I got teary as she shared her heart to me about children. It felt kindred. Not normal kindred, but soulmatey. And my time with Leon was just as precious. He and I have some sort of radar between us and get the same signal at the same time in any situation. It's really weird. I can look at him and I'll just say..."oh man," and he will start laughing because he was thinking the same thing. So, when it was time for the Goodenough 9 to leave...it hurt.

I sat in the final service as Pastor Mike Howerton spoke on Heaven, and Jennifer was behind me. I started to almost weep. I scrawled her a note. I don't remember everything but I told her that I didn't think my soul could bear her leaving. Jennifer creates a sanctuary about her...and if she lets you close, you don't want to leave. (Dangit! I even cry as I type this!) She read it and reached up with her hand on my shoulder, and I held it and cried harder. My face was wet as was the neck of my shirt.

I went to the van and hugged Leon goodbye, and my tears began to fall again, and I said, "I just can't seem to bear it this time." I also told him I would visit X-Fest. If they will be in town, I will be there. I need more doses of Leon and Jeni.









Best family reunion ever...I truly didn't want it to end.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Surgery Update!


Well, I had my surgical biopsy today. What we thought would be a twilight surgery turned into general anesthisia. Breathing tube (which when removed, I was unable to breathe. I remmeber that. I remember then putting on a squishy oxygen mask and them asking me to take deep breaths. They also gave me a breathing treatment. See, over the past 4 or so months, my allergies have been out of control. Claritin stopped working. My eyes itch a lot, I sneeze repeatedly every day, all day and my asthma, which rarely is an issue, has become a huge issue. Before I went into surgery, I requested a breathing treatment fronm my nurse, Angel. Love that her name was Angel.


So, when I finally opened my eyes and was able to make coherent sentences, I realized that I felt wetnes on my lap. The blanket was wet. Laurie was there and started to laugh. "Did you pee?" she asked. I lifted the wet part of my gown and smelled it..."It doesn't smell like pee." I said. Well, we called the nurse over and she said that under general anesthesia, it is common for everything to completely relax, and well, sure enough, I peed myself.

Peeing myself is a common thing in my life. I pee often from excessive laughter. Always from Kristen Burns, almost always when I'm with Kim Griffith and now and again, from Kim Rickard. I gave birth in 2001 and since then, well, I pee some. I am always prepared, however. I wear a pad whenever I am going out with my laughy friends. I'm prepared. And, today, I wore one too...not sure why, but things would have been a lot more soaked had I not worn one. The clean up went like this. (Turn away now if you can't take the details.)

THIS GAME IS SO COOL. IT'S CALLED "FIND ME."

I stood up, Laurie took a picture of the pee stained sheets and began laughing until she was crying. I pulled off my underwear, and couldn't find the pad. The pad slapped the floor. Yes. Slapped. Soaked. I picked it up from the edge and tossed it toward the trash, while Laurie laughed and cried some more. It missed the trash, and she began to laugh even harder. She grabbed a glove, picked it up and hurled it into the garbage. My underwear were sopping. Keep in mind I had nothing to drink since midnight and this was all IV fluids. Clear, non-smelling, but funny, nonetheless. I put them into a ziplock bag provided by the nurse and dressed, pantiless.

From the hospital, we went to Winco, so I could get some food for the next couple days, and a california roll platter...oh, and some gummi bears. What? I just has surgery!

Now for the facts. The surgeon told Laurie that the cells are small, so if it is cancerous, it's a low grade lymphoma, something that someone wouldn't even realize they had for up to 20 years sometimes. It still may require treatment, however, just not agressive treatment. These are initial findings...it may be Hodgkin's, it may be Lymphoma of another kind, but for now, this is what we know. I'll find out the results on Monday and of course will update!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cleaning and Not Cleaning...

People are coming to look at the house today. It's clean, but not amazing or anything. Chris tells me that everything looks FINE and not to clean because we have enough going on right now. Oh man, I love my husband.

On the topic of cleaning, I have to clean the bathtub. The bathtub/shower is my LEAST favorite thing to clean. In fact, I probably don't clean it often enough. Wait. I KNOW I don't clean it often enough. I usually spray Tilex on the entire thing, open the windows and turn on the fan for about 2 hours or so...then rinse and it is spotless. Love that. But, I have to get out the Magic Erasers this time. Whoops. Good thing we never used the basement shower - (the steam would have ruined my scrapbooking paper; the ocean humidity alone made some things a little logged.)

Laundry, I love. I love sorting, pouring the detergent, choosing the right cycle...and that's about it. My laundry likes to rest a few days after coming out of the dryer. I let it rest on the couch in the front room. *New house resolution: Fold, hang, deliver to bedrooms.

Dishes, I love. I love loading the dishwasher the best because I will organize according to size and color...sometimes, if multi colored cereal bowls litter the sink, I'll put them on the top rack in a pattern: black, teal, blue, black, teal, blue. I'm an artist! Flannery is my unloader, if Chris hasn't gotten to it first.

I hate hardwood floors. Dirt can hide in carpet...not on a hardwood. Dust bunnies develop overnight. In the corners. Around legs of chairs. In my nightmares. I hate dust bunnies. And they're not really bunnies, are they? No - they are vermicious kenids. Horrible things.


Well, off to cuddle my sick boy...day 5 of cough, runny nose and fussiness. Most likely something he caught at the conference center...oh...must post about our Memorial Day weekend soon! xo - e

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Confident Expectation


Relax in the knowledge that Jesus is trustworthy. Come to Him with confident expectation. There is nothing you need that He cannot provide. - Mike Howerton

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Close Friends...please read (and anyone else, too)

We have a lot going on...a lot. And I made a dangerous decision today to share a little of what's happening with us. I do this, mainly, because I have so many close friends and family who KNOW the details, and I keep forgetting who I've told, who I trust, who won't flip out and call me (I hate the phone, so, please don't call)and well, who I need to tell so they can pray for us. Really, I forgot who I've told, so I'm just telling everyone. It's not like me to keep secrets about myself (which is the reason I am a bore to play truth or dare with. Everyone already knows everything).

In February, I found a lump on my neck. Just a random thing...I am constantly checking everything since Laurie had cancer. I went to my doc in Astoria and asked her to feel my neck. She felt it right away, saw that it was in my lymph node chain and referred me directly to an oncologist in Astoria. I instead, changed that referral to my favorite oncologist, (who treated Laurie), Dr. Steinberg, in Vancouver. I adore him.

Laurie went with me, which was fun for Dr. Steinberg, since Laurie is a hypochondriac and he and I like to tease her. He felt my neck and didn't find it. When I showed him, he recommended a CT to put my mind at ease. So, a week or so later, we did the CT and he called me. My mind immediately went to Laurie's voice, "When Dr. Steinberg calls you, it's never good."

He told me that the CT scan showed numerous lumps all around my neck and clavicle. I needed a surgical biopsy.

The following week, I met with an Ear, Nose & Throat surgeon and he showed me the CT, gave me a thorough neck and clavicle inspection (like a nice massage, really) and scheduled the surgical biopsy for June 7th.

Just so YOU, the reader, know, I am not afraid of surgery. And, if this is Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which is what Laurie had, it's a blessing. A blessing it's not something more. Even in stage 4, HL is 85% curable. I am not afraid of that diagnosis. I have a huge support system. An amazing husband. Friends and family who would take a bullet for me.

I also, wonder if this is a gift from God...this "experiencing" the turmoil of waiting for a diagnosis / or being diagnosed with cancer. My passion is death and dying...working with the terminally ill. Maybe to understand it better, I have the gift of experiencing it. Some of you might be shaking your heads, but everything that touches my life has been approved by God. I firmly believe that. Maybe you don't. But I'm not afraid right now - I'm encouraged.

Now, I could get a call that it IS cancer...I will be a wreck. There will be tears. I'll eat a bunch (like I have the past few weeks) and sleep a lot. I'll detach. These things are my typical M.O. and I just expect it. But I trust God. He knows what He's doing.

This entire cancer scare thing prompted the moving back to the Portland Metro area. I don't have the support system here like I did back there. And, Chris realized that the drive is getting a little obnoxious. It has been 2 years. We love the house, the view, the people we've grown to love, the schools, the walks...everything...but being so far from Chris' work, our family and friends.

Now, this lymph node biopsy could be benign. Dr. Steinberg said that a woman came in with almost the same thing a few months ago and it was nothing. Also, my grandma on my mom's side has gotten hard lumps in her neck from eating foods that contain Potassium Sorbate (a preservative), so that could be the culprit. We don't know anything, but have to play it safe.

Chris and I celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary on the 12th and I turn 37 on the 18th. We're trying to move, waiting on plans for a retaining wall on our (hopefully) new home and we have this cancer thing. So...a lot going on this month! AND, our plan to go to Disneyland alone for our anniversary has been postponed. How can we go to DL when all of this is up in the air?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Upstairs Downstairs


Ok..new plans. So, the seller of the house mentioned a few posts ago wants to hire an engineer to draw out plans for an amazing, expensive retaining wall to calm our fears and make the house more sound. Now, my husband is brilliant. He wouldn't buy a house that would fall into a ravine. So, we're going to keep a few other houses in the "queue" but may still go with this one! I am really relieved...great location, great floor plan and size (maybe a Christmas party?), and near to some BFFs. And I just plain like it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Float on...

Following a school bus today, I watched as a blue balloon floated from a child's hand into the sky...just beyond it was an American flag blowing in the breeze. Talk about the perfect Americana shot. If I would have had my camera.