Friday, June 20, 2014

My Family's Birthday Celebrations

Cancer and chemotherapy have a tendency to affect life events. Like birthdays.

Celebrating my brother-in-law's birthday
Three hours after first chemo treatment
    The picture looks too peaceful. I was far from sleeping. I felt icky even before I arrived at the small gathering of ten family members. The noise from people talking, the bright lights in the house, and the smell of burnt pizza all exacerbated my head/stomach/body aches and made me go blerghaAjbxQk56!0-$}(&^rzZzzzzzz. I retreated to my sister's bedroom for an hour.
    My mom and I left the festivities early and I sat in the shower for another hour letting warm water soothe me. After that I felt better.

Celebrating my youngest sister's 21st birthday
Four days after first chemo
    Don't let the smile on my face fool you; that is one miserable Amanda.
    Months before my diagnosis, Christine and I planned to celebrate her 21st b-day by getting cocktails together. I refused to let the recent chaos of my life take this moment from me. 
    My oncologist wanted me to start chemo ASAP. I struggled to withhold tears while I fought to postpone treatment and preserve my moment. In the end, I conceded treatment was more important. My oncologist and I hoped the worst side effects would wear off by Christine's b-day on Monday.
    I barely had enough energy to go out that night. Instead of ordering a cocktail, I ordered chocolate milk. I settled for having two sips of Christine's drink and felt victorious! It was worth the headache, cold burning sensation, fatigue, and chest pains that followed.
     The 21st b-day was not the moment I had hoped for, yet given the circumstances it was good enough and I will cherish it.

Celebrating my Dad's birthday 
Four days after second chemo
    Let's play "Where's Manda?" 
    (Imagine a motherese/baby talk voice)
    Where is she? 
    Is she hiding behind the photographer? No . . . 
    Is she hiding behind her sisters? No . . .
    Is she anywhere near the island with other family members? No . . .
    Is she even in this photo? Yes . . . 
    There she is! All the way in the background.
    Overall, I felt fine. My appetite was much higher than during my fist chemo. I had the most delicious tri tip and mashed potatoes with gravy and garden salad and watermelon. Yum! I only stopped myself from having a third serving because of birthday pie and ice cream cake. 
    In this photo, I was mostly too exhausted to walk across the room to join everyone else.

    That's three birthday celebrations interrupted by chemo. Oh well.

    Once in a while, a moment is better than you could have hoped for. 

Celebrating my nephew's birth day
Two hours after his birth
Four hours prior to my third chemo
    My second nephew was born at 7:42 AM. I got to be in the delivery room and witness his journey into this world. A huge kudos to Michelle for her inspiring endurance and strength, and a shout out to my bro-in-law, Ryan for his excellent support. 
    Had my nephew come just hours later, I would not have been able to witness this incredible event, nor share a few tender moments with my sister. She's done so much to help me with my healing process, it was nice return the favor in a small way.

Happy Birthday!

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