Thursday, May 12, 2016

From Friends to Family

(Though Ben objects, Emily is obviously our eldest sibling)

A little over a year ago I was thrown into a world I never wanted to enter. 
I lost connection with everything normal. 

I was deprived, devastated, and dying. 

I was thrown into the world of cancer.

(Katherine and I feasting on popsicles as she explained how my port worked)

Within minutes of being on P4, light began to shine through the darkness. Though I was still under sedation, the nurses quickly put their skills into motion. Whether explaining, comforting, or caring for my family and I, their commitment to their patients was obvious. Upon coming out of sedation, my first nurse, KatyZ, worked overtime to make sure I was comfortable. She never left the hospital that night until I was in a good place. 

Within the first week, I quickly fell in love with my new family. Their love was magnetic. It was surprising. I expected the "so-so", "typical", "awkward" nurses to eventually show up. Thankfully, I was disappointed. Not one nurse on that floor ever made me feel uncomfortable (even though I was obviously the "new kid on the block"). I was quickly brought into the family and treated like royalty.

(Never a dull moment with Jess- hence the bottle of Tea in her hand)

Throughout my year on P4, the level of love never wavered, as the level of care never slacked.  

On days that were depressing, Jess was there to crack jokes- play pranks- or have "Sing-offs". Realizing that though cancer had me down, it was only temporary.
On days that were painful, Emily was there to cheer me up with her "Oldest Sister" wisdom. She immediately became part of our family by gluing her face onto our family photo. 
On days I wouldn't eat, Katherine would cater to my demands and eat popsicles with me. Even though I'm pretty sure she wasn't hungry. 
On days that were mentally overwhelming, Jordyn was there to listen. Understanding that I didn't want people to act like they knew what I was going through, but rather just listen instead.
On days that were boring, Ashley would happily intrigue me with her adventurous tales of past trips she'd been on. Helping me look forward to a life beyond my cancer. 
On days I missed my pup, TexMeg would share photos of her dog. Then talk about home-made BBQ brisket. (She had an uncanny ability to make me hungry even when I was nauseated.) 

(Jordyn and I coloring her masks. We determined they were too gloomy for a Pediatric Floor)

You see, my nurses weren't there to put in their hours. They weren't there to make a paycheck. They weren't there for themselves- they were there for their patients. They taught me that being a nurse is much more than a job- it's a way of life.

(Ashley giving a few pointers on Nursing. You I'm practically an RN)

Nurses rarely get the credit they deserve. Honestly, I could write a book on all they have done for me. They have not only saved my life, but invested their own lives in mine. They stretched out their hearts knowing that at any given moment- this cancer has the ability to easily hurt them. 

During Nurses Appreciation Week, please remember to thank your nurses. Every nurse on P4, every nurse in American Family Children's Hospital, every nurse in the world- deserves our love, respect, and thanks. They have given so much of their own lives by daily investing in others. Saying "Thank You" is the least we can do.

(The most awesome HomeHealth Nurse in the World! Katie's skill with accessing my port is commendable. Her compassion for others is incredible!)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Promise

(The day we learned my tumor was Ewing's Sarcoma)

In the past year, my appreciation and respect for my mom has gone through the roof. This Mother's Day most people will run to the store, buy a Hallmark Mother's Day Card, and say the same-ish things they say every year. (At least that's what I did) 

However, right now I would like to take a moment and reflect on why my Mom means so much to me. As a verb, "mother" means "To bring up with care and affection." In this post, you will quickly see that my Mom has both lived that out - and blown the quaint definition out of the water . . . 

On April 14th, 2015, my Mom was with me when we received news of the cancerous mass in my shoulder. Within days, I was transferred to UW Children's to begin treatments for my cancer. At the beginning, every single admit seemed to reveal a new problem. Whether it was educating us on Ewing's Sarcoma, teaching us the rules of dealing with cancer, letting us know it was spreading, or helping us adapt to a world that every human dreads - I noticed one thing was consistent: My mom was always by my side.

Before Cancer uprooted our world, Mom had a great job. She worked at a daycare doing what she loved most - taking care of babies. (I assume that is because us four boys were such amazing kids that she had to keep working with little children!) She loved her job, loved investing in others, and loved being able to have some independence (seeing we are all older now). 

Then cancer hit. 

I'll never forget my mom promising me that she would never leave my side through all of treatment. 

She never broke that promise.

(Hanging out waiting at a Radiation Appointment)

Whether by my side as I vomited through endless nights,
Rushing me to the ER at 2 AM,
Unexpectedly heading to AFCH for transfusions,
Bringing me my slew of pills every few hours,
Traveling to P4 for treating an endless variety of chemotherapy side effects,
Driving me to radiation daily for months,
Holding my hand as I battled through transplant,
Listening to me try to explain the unexplainable pain as I watch those I loved die from cancer,
Understanding that though she couldn't feel my pain, she was there to help bear it,
Willing to go anywhere to get me anything that would help make treatment more bearable,
Loving me regardless of where I was . . .

Mom was always there

She wasn't there for the first month, the halfway, the end - She was always there.

This Mother's Day is like none other before.

The love that Mom has given me is unequalled, unbeatable, and almost impossible to adequately explain. 

Thank you Mom, for always loving, caring, and supporting me through this past year. Your actions speak louder than my words ever could!

I love you so much! 

Happy Mother's Day!!!

(My incredible parents - 4th of July)