Friday, April 25, 2008

Sadie--the baby model

No, I didn't go to a Gap casting call. My friend Ana, who used to be a product designer at Resto, is using her time more wisely developing product for herself--it's a little changing mat for Moms on the go. Sadie was the baby model for her website and my friend Susannah's daughter Zoey was the toddler model.
As to the latest--I am a bit frustrated.
I had a doctor appointment last Wednesday which was a total waste of time. I met with my plastic surgeon again, where he went over the surgery, again. Not sure why I needed him to draw me his rudimentary sketch of breasts and where he will cut, again. Or learn about the expanders and the magnet and the cadaver (oh yes, cadaver) skin they have to use to complete the procedure again.
Next Wednesday I have the big pre-op appointment. Blood tests, imaging tests. It's an all day affair. Thank God for my neighbor Linda who not only will take care of Sadie, but enjoys it while I traipse off to the Breast Cancer Center for a day of medical fun.
As the day of surgery becomes closer and closer on the calendar I am getting more and more freaked out--about the pain mainly. I used to have a great threshold for pain. In fact, I used to really be proud that I could get needles stuck in to me without flinching. Watch blood shoot in to little plastic vials from my arm without feeling the least big queasy. It was kind of my thing. My ability to not complain while I got poked, prodded and shot up. You would think with the amount of poking, prodding and shooting I have been getting lately, my threshold would have increased, but instead, it's done the opposite. It's like my body has gone in to this state of hypersensitivity. Just the thought of a needle, a knife, stitches, expanders, the whole kit and kaboodle is making me feel sick. Which I am. Sick with Cancer. And they have to cut it out, which will save my life. So, I just need to shut up.
Pics above:
1. Sadie being a model.
2. My neighbor Linda-it occurred to me I have never posted a photo of her. She's awesome. It's not lost on me that her name is Linda (my mom's name) and in some ways, she is like a grandmother to Sadie.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Face of Cancer

Because my mom died of breast cancer (we think-- my oncologist thinks it was actually pancreatic cancer, but I am digressing), I have always noticed women who look like they are dealing with it--the women wearing scarves and hats with hairless necks and thinning eyebrows. I wonder what there story is. Do they have the gene? Did their mom have it too? Is it a first diagnosis or did it metastisize? I sometimes wanted to go up to them, talk to them, get their story as if those scarves and hats weren't an effort to hide the disease but a Hello I have Breast Cancer sticker on their chest. Now that I have it, I am happy I never approached these poor women because I don't go around the world feeling like I look like I have cancer. Maybe it's because I got rid of the only mirror in my house when I was pregnant and the one mirror left is the bathroom mirror that I barely glance in to anymore. Maybe it's because these little knit caps, of which I own six or seven, have begun to feel like my hair. Maybe it's because my day to day appearance is so unimportant compared to taking care of the most beautiful little morsel in the world. I don't know. But yesterday, I was proven wrong.
While at Comforts with my Thursday chemo saviors Amber and Sarah--out enjoying the first Thursday that I should have been at chemo but am now free free free, a woman approached me. She was this little old wiry lady with a short little pixie haircut all full of life. She grabbed my arm while I was in the huge crowd surrounding the deli case and said, 'You're on chemotherapy right? I just could tell, the signs. The hat, the thinning eyebrows and eyelashes and I just wanted to say it's been twenty-seven years and and I am here after a year of chemo, twenty-seven years later and I am here'. So, while deciding between an albacore tuna sandwich and a chinese chicken salad I am faced with my own question of mortality. Ok, so she made it twenty-seven years. That's great. Congratulations and I hope I get that many years, but wait. Did she have breast cancer? Colon cancer? Brain cancer? Why was she on a year of chemo? I had eight weeks. Should I have a year of chemo? I'll take a year if it buys me twenty-seven more. But then she squeezed my arm and was off and I was left sort of blank faced and stunned and turned and hid in the corner by the shelves of fancy olive oils and mustards while my friend Amber just sort of smiled at me as if to say, 'Ok. That's over with and it was Ok so don't dwell on it'. And really, it was Ok and frankly a sweet gesture on this woman's part. She's just like me, hyperaware of the breast cancer ladies out there. She picked me out of the crowd, no problem, just like I could spot a woman with a distinctly tied scarf on her head from down the street and knew, she had breast cancer. Then the lady was back, edging her way through the lunch time crowd to warn me about the 'chemo curl' which is when your hair grows back all curly. She wanted to tell me not to get used to it, that it goes back to being straight. So I had to tell her that I already had curly hair and she said how jealous she was (hello! I am jealous of twenty-seven years) and was off again--that little survivor.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Happy Quarter Birthday

Sadie is three months old today. She commemorated the event by doubling her smiles and coos (more like ahgoos and goyaas) and reversed tradition by giving us a gift: sleeping from 9 PM to 7 AM in the morning! Unfortunately, Greg and I did not take proper advantage of this Sadie gift and opted to wake ourselves up every two hours to make sure she was still breathing.
Today because of the awesome weather we took a left on Sir Francis Drake (for once) and headed out to the town of Bolinas to hang out on the beach. Upon arrival I had a minor tantrum because I realized I had brought my newly three month old daughter to the beach on a warm sunny day with no sunscreen or shade making item (like an umbrella or little tent like all the other smart moms seemed to have). I was so mad at myself. My sister Hannah managed to find a good shady spot but we had to share it with a lady who talked to her dog like it was her deadbeat boyfriend. And Nina had some baby sunscreen. But, we all didn't think of food, except Hannah who for some reason brought a really big English cucumber. So there we are on the beach, us three Watson sisters passing a cucumber back and forth. Must have been a pretty funny sight. I would have captured the moment if the other dumb thing I didn't do was charge my camera battery. So, Sadie's (and Amara's) first trip to the beach was not captured. We are all planning The Beach Part Two maybe next weekend where will bring and umbrella (or little tent like thing), a big beach-appropriate blanket (all I had was this knit thing that had holes so sand was seeping up through it), tons of yummy food, sunscreen, a charged camera and WATER.
Pictures above:
1. Sadie at her BEST
2. Sadie at her WORST
3. Just Sadie

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sadie Has a Brother!

I mentioned before that Sadie had a brother. Greg's son from a previous marriage (from a long time ago), Jeffrey. When I met him he was 17 and I was 22. It's a bit strange to have been born in the same decade as your boyfriend's son. It was weirdest when Jeff and I would be on the same side of arguments--for example Pearl Jam was a good band and Guns and Roses weren't totally devoid of musical contribution. Little did I know then (but I sure know now) that only the Beatles, specifically Paul McCartney, even come close to Greg's musical standards. But boy did Jeff and I sure try to make him see differently.
Small digression: the other name besides Sadie Wren that Greg was REALLY pushing for was McCartney Rose. He almost wore me down too. We even had a tally going on the white board in the labor in delivery room and all the nurses voted. Sadie won by a landslide though truly I got my name because I spent three days in labor. After three days of labor, any woman should get whatever it is they want.
Now Jeff is married (to Erin) with three kids of his own, which by the way have GREAT names. The oldest is India James. She's five and a total chatterbox. We have the best conversations. Sometimes I think I forget I am talking to a five year old. Then there is Isla Joy who is three and super afraid of Frida. I have a soft spot for Isla because she is the middle like me, but I sure hope she gets over her dog phobia before the next visit because poor Frida does not like to be away from the action and I have to wipe a ton of paw prints off our living room window that she left while pleading to be let back in to the house. Isreal Jeffrey is the little man and he is SUCH a little man. Totally fearless. He absolutely LOVED Sadie and would look at me holding her, point and say, "Satie. Satie".
So, Sadie is an Aunt and it's not lost on me that Aunt Sadie sounds like a little old lady with a tight bun of gray hair. But then again, Grandma Rose (that's what the kids call me) isn't any better!
Pics Above
1. The Moors family at the Discovery Bay Museum in Sausalito. Jeff's got Sadie in the Baby Bjorn. So cute!
2. Jeff and Sadie--meeting for the first time.
3. Jeff, Sadie and India
4. Sadie, Isreal and India
5. Erin, Isla and Sadie

Monday, April 7, 2008

Maternity Leave

Today my daughter-in-law (oh yes, I have a daughter-in-law, a son and three grandchildren which yes, means Sadie is an Aunt!) asked me how it feels to be a mother. In all honesty, I didn't know how to answer. In so many ways this cancer has robbed me of my new motherhood feelings. The initial nervousness, fears, excitement, wonder and happiness have been crowded out by cancer. It eats away at more than just tissue. Sometimes I feel like I am just a caretaker for Sadie. Someone there to make sure she is warm, fed, clean and dry. The idea that I am her mother and responsible for nurturing her little mind and spirit startles me because I feel so distracted by this cancer. It's not really the bald head, or the brittle yellow dead nails (your nails are fast growing cells so you lose those too), the hot flashes from pre-mature menopause (which is hopefully temporary) and the aches and general pain and tiredness (those are probably felt by all new moms who get four hours of sleep a night and spend their days walking and bouncing a 12 pound baby in their arms), it's that when I wake up, I don't think, 'I'm a MOM! I have a baby'. I don't have that Christmas morning feeling a lot of moms have told me they felt after giving birth. When I wake up, I am just worried. Worried that my cancer will come back in 10 years (I am guessing average recurrence, but hoping I am WRONG) so that I am sick again right when Sadie needs me the most, or worse, I am not here for her at all.
So, I am doing my best to concentrate on what is right in front of me and for the time being I am grateful that for the next three weeks, it's not much. Pictures above are from what I am considering my official first day of maternity leave. I met some good friends in Fairfax for an hour in the park and then we strolled around a bit just enjoying each other's company, the antics of the kids and something warm to drink and sweet to eat at the local coffee shop. For just awhile all I have to think about is Sadie and how amazing it is to see her smile. Hopefully this break with the medical world will give me the space to shed some of that worry because truly Sadie is the most amazing gift. She has given me the best reason in the world to not wallow in this stroke of bad luck I have been dealt. She needs me to be strong and so I am.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Last Chemo!

Hi Everyone
Today was my last chemo. The day started off like any other chemo day. My friend Sarah Bott shows up at 9 AM to take care of Sadie with latte in hand, a big smile and a ton of love for Frida. I mean she gets on the floor to let my dog kiss her and paw her all over. Then when she commented on how fat she was getting I let it out that Frida's latest obsession is Sadie's dirty diapers. I could see her face fall right as Frida gave her a big smooch. Oh well. Then Greg and I rushed out the door, braved the morning traffic and I was in the lab getting my blood drawn at 10 AM on the dot. Then I raced up to the Breast Cancer Center where I signed in and took a seat. Like clockwork. And it made me think how far I have come from the timid pregnant lady all confused about where to go and what to do watching all the expert cancer patients with their hats and wigs and scarves breezing through the rooms and casually sitting in chemo chairs chatting with friends as if it was the most normal thing in the world to be bald, sick and have chemicals pouring in to their veins. I never thought I would become familiar with the Ida Friend Infusion Center. Never thought I could wheel my IV station down the halls to the bathroom without being self conscious of my sickness even while surrounded by other sick people just like me. I never thought I would walk up to the little tea and snack station and pull out a bunch of graham crackers and pineapple juice as if it was my own kitchen. But, I did and now it's all over right when I was getting used to it. Not that I am sorry about it--no not at all.
Before I got hooked up, I met with Hope and got some more clarity on why I got that second drug, Carboplatin, added. It wasn't that today may have NOT been my last day before surgery, it just may not be my last CHEMO. Meaning, she really wanted to do all she could to get rid of this tumor before surgery because during surgery, if they find a lot of left over disease in my breast tissue or a lot of nodes involved, I will have to get more chemo after surgery. That would suck. I want my hair back and I am sick of being tired and having dead nails and feeling achey.
Also, I am ready to move on to the next chapter of this saga--the surgery part. I get the month of April to recover from Chemo and then it's all about the new boobs.
I got a visit from my friend Janine who is a nurse at the Breast Cancer Center. She showed up with Mardi Gras beads and a real feeling of celebration for it being my last day. Janine and I lived on The Farm together in Tennessee. She was one of the older kids, so was closer with Hannah, but we reconnected at College of Marin when we took pre-nursing Chemistry together. Yes, I was going to be a nurse. But the white shoes scared me--well that and all the sickness and death. And so, I opted out and sometimes, when I see Janine I wonder what would have happened to me if I had stuck with it. Nurses are amazing. I still think about the ladies at CPMC who are the only people who kept Sadie's birth a human experience instead of the science experiment it threatened to become. Speaking of nurses, Pauline, my regular chemo nurse, wasn't there today and I so wanted to give her a big hug and say goodbye. Maybe I will send her a letter and a picture of Sadie. She keeps all the pictures of the babies that were born after having chemo. She pulled them out for me to prove to me that it was OK to have chemo pregnant. But sometimes, especially because Sadie is such a sleepy little baby, I worry. I am sure in a few weeks, once she hits three months I will laugh that I ever was worried that she was sleepy and wish I had enjoyed it more.
Greg had to leave me at chemo because he had to work, so my friend Sara drove in to the city, picked me up and then we went to Hannah's salon where Nina was getting her hair done. It was funny to be in a hair salon with no hair. I wanted to make some kind of joke with the receptionist, like booking a cut or a color with no hat on to see what they would say. This is something my grandmother (mom's mom) would have done in a second when she was bald going through chemotherapy because she was had such a funny sense of humor--but I didn't. We hung out for awhile and then headed over to a great sushi restaurant with my (FIRST) cousin Whitney. I was tired, but wanted to mark the occasion. Going home to leftover Trader Joe's cheese raviolis just wouldn't really put the spin on the day that I needed. Also, my neighbor Linda had offered to relieve Sara and Amber of Sadie duties after she got home from work and stay at our house and put her to bed--so I couldn't let that offer go without taking advantage--even though all I thought about was Sadie the whole time.
Anyway, I have to cut this long ramble short because I realized it's 11:22 and Sadie has been down for 3 hours which means if I get in the bed RIGHT NOW, I may get around 2 hours before she is up screaming for a bottle and a cuddle. Also, Greg is snoring on the couch and missing George Clooney on the Daily Show and I have to go wake him up before it's over.
Pics Above
1. About to get 'hooked up' for hopefully the last time. That's Diane with me... a perfectly fine substitute for Pauline just without the great Irish accent.
2. Me and Janine
3. The girls at Hannah's Salon. Doesn't Nina's hair look GREAT!?
4. My friend Amber Horen--she met me in downtown San Anselmo on Monday. I just like this picture of her and Sadie.
5. Just a cute picture of me and the little mama sticking her tongue out. She is so over getting her picture taken, you can tell.
6. Amara and sweet Sadie.