#RareDiseaseDay – Who Knew?

Today is #RareDiseaseDay. Who knew? I do now. In case you’re keeping count we have 2 in our immediate family #LongQT2 and #SynovialSarcoma. The medical field has only been aware of Long QT2 (a heart condition that causes sudden death – Sabrinna​, Gavin and I have it) for about 50 years. Want to know more about it? Go here.
You’ve been learning a little about Synovial Sarcoma from me and maybe you’ve done a little bit of your own research. It’s often over looked because it accounts for less than 1% of all adult cancers, so when it’s diagnosed the doctors’ really have very little experience in dealing with it and most treatments are trial and error and the prognosis is therefore, very grim. THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH. Here are 2 great sites for learning more about Synovial Sarcoma, or soft tissue sarcoma. http://lillypad.lilly.com/entry.php?e=6169
www.curesarcoma.org

I spend most of my days wracking my brain trying to figure out how to make our situation count. Right now I’ll blog, (www.confessionsfromthecancerhouse.com), tweet (@gpartyof6) insta (@gpartyof6) and use any other method of social media I can get my hands on until something happens.  I don’t know what that something is, but I’ll know when IT happens.

If you continue to follow me on any of the above social media outlets you will know more about both of these diseases that have impacted our lives. I hope that you join me in sharing the information and just talking more about #SADS or Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome or #SynovialSarcoma.

I think it’s really important for those fighting these diseases that we don’t ignore that they are happening.  I am guilty of that myself, for myself.  I learned of my own LongQT2 in the midst of our Trent’s initial diagnosis as we were trying to track down a genetic culprit for Sabrinna’s diagnosis.  I haven’t really shared it with anybody for many reasons, one of which being that the last thing that I have wanted to do is put my own issues in the forefront, afraid of minimizing that gravity of what anyone else in my home is experiencing.  Then I realized that by not bringing attention to my own LQT2 I am also minimizing the importance of my own health, the importance of the health and experiences of my children and the importance of the health and experiences of anyone else who has been diagnosed with a SADS disease.  And frankly, I haven’t come to terms with my own diagnosis.  Even though I know better, frankly, I feel like I don’t have time for it.  I have too much to do.  I know, I know.  “You’ve got to take care of yourself!” – but remember, these are my confessions.

As far as Trent is concerned, it’s seems like people who are close to him are having a hard time coming to terms with his cancer.  And believe me, it is his.  It’s not all of who he is, not by a freaking long shot, but he lives it. He wakes up with it everyday and goes to sleep with it – or at least tries to – every night.  And when its not acknowledged, or you’ve pushed it away, put it on the shelf or locked it away in some weird cancer-closet you’ve inadvertently done the same thing to him.  While I’m sure he doesn’t want to spend hours on end talking about his cancer woes, cancer has profoundly affected his life and when you ignore “the canca” you ignore him.  And I know that’s not what you want.

In any case, as always, thank you for reading/listening.  When you read this it makes me feel a lot less alone and when you share it, my hope is that it makes someone else feel a lot less alone.  So, if you like what’s happening here, like it, comment, share it, talk about it, reblog it, tweet it, and do whatever else there is to do with it.  We just never know how we might help someone else.

oovoo

Jeremiah 29:11,

A

PS – Before typing this post script this blog was 666 words long.  You know what I have to say to that?  Not today, Satan.

Our Fundraisers – YouCaring, Bravelets, TeeSpring

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Here is a link to all of GP6 crowd funding sites. I’m still working on the next t-shirt (kid friendly :)) Thank you so much for your giving. We couldn’t make it without your help.  I think that we are, together, bringing awareness to so many issues facing families in today’s age and to the issues we all bare when faced with long term illness.  We are working through the shame of asking for help and are motivated by the potential to help so many through our experiences – to simply, and hopefully, make it easier for the next family of survivors.

teespring Teespring – This is my personal favorite!  I just launched a new design 🙂 Just click on the link to check it out.  I love Teespring because it allows me to be creative (I fancied myself a t-shirt designer while I was coaching) and still promote our cause.  I also love seeing you in our shirts.

  I’ve been with several of our friends when they have been wearing our t-shirt design and were asked by strangers what the heck the logos mean – and your responses were exactly what I wanted to hear!  Spreading positive messages while helping us out and looking great – a perfect combination.

  So, how it works.  I design a shirt.  I set the price and goal for t-shirts sold and a deadline.  I advertise via social media and when I reach the goal I previously set for myself the company foots the bill for production of the shirts, sends you your shirt when the sale completely closes and a check with a pretty good portion of the profits comes directly to us.  They even recently added a bonus feature where the company kicks you extra ducats if your design sales take off.

youcaring imageYou Caring – This is a direct giving site.  There are no purchases or gifts that will come to you.  The funds come directly to our family for medical and living expenses through a PayPal account in my name.  The funds are made available to us through our checking account.  The funds are not immediately available, but are timely.

braveletsBravelets – This is a Texas-based company that gives you something in return for your generosity.  It’s basically an online store that allows me to choose different jewelry that I feel represents us and our cause for you to wear in our honor.  Ten whole dollars for every piece of jewelry sold comes directly to us in the form of a check from the Bravelets company.  I love this idea for so many reasons.  The jewelry is quality and pretty.

As always, thanks for reading.  Do good. Don’t quit.

XO,

A

Posted by Adrienne Gibson
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What is Synovial Sarcoma Anyway? – Not, really. Maybe next week…

This morning I was all prepared to write a blog with facts.  Facts about Synovial Sarcoma and a bunch of statistics about how rare it is and why it happens and what it does to the body and who knows what if anything.  You know, trying to give you a better picture of what we’re dealing with.  Then it happened.  Like the wave that we all ride in my house everyday, up and down depending on if Chemo feels like being a bitch or not.  The dumb tears came.  Not for anything in particular, just like Trent can’t necessarily put a finger on what makes him feel bad.  He just goes from feeling almost normal to really Trent Resting - Late Februaryshitty.  And it’s always like having a balloon popped in a neighboring room.  You know that the balloon is there, until you forget to remind yourself that it’s there. And it pops.  And you feel like you’ve come out of your skin and it takes forever to shake that rug-jerked feeling.  Duh, the balloon has been there the whole time, stupid.  YOU forgot about it.  It’s was going to pop eventually.  Yes, that.  Every time.

I was simply sitting at my desk during my conference period getting ready to write – thinking I guess – and I couldn’t even put a coherent thought together.  I wish I was someone who could say they blamed so and so for the disease, or I wish I was someone who asked why constantly.  I don’t do that.  Not built that way.    Seems like feeling this way would be ideal – no misplaced anger or no silly question to be haunted by.  So, why am I jealous?  At least those people have a focus – some kind of cancer-laser beam that they can shoot their emotions at.  Why me?  Why cancer?  Why you?  Why, God, why? Nope – not me.  I’ve even tried that, just not me.  I’m still faithful, but dammit, I am sad and I am mad.  I’m sad because as much as we try to fight this bastard, it feels like it’s winning.  Son of a bitch.

After a horrible Friday for Trent – he only knows how he spends the time when he’s alone, I just know when he’s had a rough day.  I know because the relief that I see in his face when I come home is so genuine.  Anyway, after a horrible Friday,  we made to our sweet friends’ baby’s first birthday party with the boys in tow.  We got loved on by some great people, family really.  We had a really decent weekend.  The birthday party really kind of took it out of Trent, but we stayed in Saturday and Sunday and just enjoyed our little family – trying to keep up with the girls as they came and went.  Then yesterday.  Mom either takes Lily to the bus stop on school mornings or gets her going so that someone else can take her and when the weather is rough we try to keep the boys at home instead of riding with her to take Lil.  Yesterday, was very cold here and no reason to get the littles out if we don’t have to so they stayed home with Trent, who was getting up as I was walking out the door to head to work.  My phone battery was dead all day and I didn’t have working charger in my classroom, so I went most of the day without talking to home base.  When I got home yesterday Trent was asleep on the couch.   When he’s like that I wake him from time to time to make sure he doesn’t want to eat or drink anything.  We try to keep the kids a little more quiet because as much as it would make sense for him to sleep in bed I know that he wants to be around everyone even if he’s sleeping.  He continued to sleep through dinner, through tweensies, straight through the night.  I don’t even think he got up to go to the bathroom.  He did get up when it was time for everyone to leave this morning, about 9:30a (we had late start).  I can’t explain to you what it’s like to see your spouse that way.  Especially someone like Trent, who has always been so high energy, involved – the life of the party.  Cancer and chemo,  such a lovely, winning combination.  The tumor in his back is now visible to the uncancertrained-eye.  Sabrinna noticed it last week when Trent was walking around without a shirt on and thought that his back was swollen.

“No, honey.  That’s the tumor.”

“Oh.”

I know what the ones in his lungs look like – I’ve seen them on CT scans.  They tell us not to worry about the big one – it’s the small ones that are the concern.  – The f you say.  ‘Don’t worry about the big one.’  What do you even do when they tell you that, but I can SEE IT GROWING OUT OF HIS BACK.  Bastards.  I know they’re trying to help, believe me.  Much respect for the work that they do, but they sure as hell don’t go home to it everyday or carry it with them everyday.  In their homes or in their bodies.

In any case, Trent tells me via text that he really is feeling better this morning.  Liar.  I love you, Trent, but you’re a liar.  I know you lie because you love us and that’s why we love you.  I know you lie because I love you and I know you better than anyone.

Alas, I digress.  Here is a nifty infographic to tell you a bit more about Synovial Sarcoma.     I’ll do a medi-post at some point, just not feeling it today.

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As far as treatment is concerned, Trent will likely be admitted for Round six of Ifosfamide with Mesna on Monday.  This is his last round and as happy as I am for him, I know no one is more happy about this than Trent.  Round 5 has been decent to him.  Lots of diarrhea.  Lovely, I know.  Hair is coming and going.  He’s lost some weight but he’s really doing everything that he can to combat that by eating everything he sees when he’s feeling up to it.  He’s gone from about 220lbs to about 195lbs now – not terrible, and he knows I watch his eating like a hawk.  So, it’s midnight peanut butter sandwiches and dipping into gallons of Mocha Almond Blue Bell.  Let me tell you, the struggle is not real until you’re trying to lose weight and you’re married to someone who legitimately needs to gain weight.

***Good news!  There is still a lot of it.

wpid-wp-1424813571222.jpegSabrinna attended a volleyball scouting camp this weekend and did great.  She scored a 43/50, in spite of a bum shoulder.  The school she is very interested in is also very interested in her.  Think about her this week, as she has an MRI on said bum-shoulder.

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Lily continues to be Lily.  She never stops moving.  She competed in volleyball tournament number 2 this weekend and did great.

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Gavin is potty-trained!  Minus diapers at night.  Not too bad considered I know full grown men who still have trouble with wetting the bed.  No, not my husband.  IT appears, we do however, have a gremlin.  If you come over, you know the rules…

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Coley.  Sweet Coley.  Sweet Baby Cole has 2 teeth and is working on a mouth full.  He flies around the house in his walker.  Yes, he uses a walker and he loves it!

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As always, thanks for keeping up with us.  Leave a comment if you like.  Subscribe for updates straight to your email.

Happy Valentine’s Day! 💗💗💗💗

I realize yesterday’s post was a little bleak.  While I won’t apologize I will leave you with a few things that I am very thankful for on this beautiful Saturday.

A very good family friend of ours decided to tackle graduation stuff for us!  Yes, that’s right, Sabrinna is graduating in a few months time.  Unbelievable.  Our friend has contacted the powers that be and gotten Brinna’s cap, gown and invitations ordered and donated!  Amazing!  She has also arranged for Sabrinna to have her senior pictures taken.  We are so thankful for this family and I won’t say who they are because they are so and I know someone’s neck would be red for the rest of the year if I said her name 😉 Anyway, we love you and thank you.

Lily had her first volleyball tournament a couple of weeks ago and she did great!  I hate to say it, but I was surprised.  She’s always been so big on basketball but volleyball might be her thing too.  And her teammates actually think she’s funny.  Who knew.

The boys are wonderful and Gavin says more and more words everyday.  We think Cole is just going to go from sitting to running very soon. Gavin had a play date with our friends Ebby and Bella on Monday at when they left he told them that he loved them. 😍😍😍

Last week was so rough.  I sent a text to a few people and there response to help us was immediate, without even asking for help.  I can’t even explain to these people how much they mean to me.  Sisters from other misters and I am so thankful that you care so much for me and my family.

Trent will be home tonight!  The days following chemo are rough but goodness it’s great when he comes home!  So, happy Valentine’s day…dumb lovers.

Blah, It’s Valentine’s

It’s Friday!  Hallelujah!  Trent’s been in Brackenridge for Round 5 this whole week, but will be home tomorrow – maybe!  Just in time for Valentine’s Day – the world’s dumbest holiday.  I spent my day sitting in a classroom full of Mylar, rustley tissue paper and knock-off Victoria’s Secret perfume.

This round, just like every round, is worst than the last.  He has days where it’s difficult to pick up his head or open his eyes.  We’ve hesitated in sharing this information. Actually, I was told by my husband that if anybody wanted to know what happened with him at the doctor they would ask.  Ok.  Well, what do I do with that?  I guess I just trudge around, afraid to freak people out (which happened at work, but more on that later) and hang on to what I see as horrible information.  Trent’s cancer is holding steady and the chemo “might” be breaking the big tumor down on the inside, but we don’t know for sure.  His lungs look like a starry night sky on the screen and we were told that it likely won’t get much better than it is right now.  Oh, really?  Wonderful. So we’ll just wait.  Dammitt.  I swear that’s all we do.  Wait for a phone call, wait for results, wait for appointments and prescriptions and wait for sick and cough.  Will he vomit this time?  Wait.  Was that diarrhea?  Wait.  Is he awake yet?  Wait.  Will he get up with us today?  Wait.  Are you hungry yet?  No, wait. 

Anyway,  he’s in for 7 days this time.  There is a shot called Neulasta that boosts white blood cells and he normally gets it 2 days after chemo, but after many calls and lots of asking Trent is going to be able to have someone pick the shot up for him on Monday so he doesn’t have to schlep back up to Shiver’s (the cancer center) 1 day after chemo.  It really will be great.  However, as it is with this stupid-ass cancer, things never go as expected and now we can’t get a hold of the powers that be.  Which means, you guessed it, more waiting.  I don’t doubt that it will come through though and he’ll be home by Sunday.

I missed a lot of work over the past couple of weeks with the loss of my uncle for whom my mom was caretaker, and Trent being pretty sick.  Lily and I went to the hospital to see my uncle before he died.  He was being kept in ICU with a DNR and my mom had to make the painful and difficult decision to remove him from life support.  As I saw him laying in the bed, raggedly breathing, swollen and unresponsive I could only think two things.  No human being should ever have to “live” this way and I never want to have to see Trent like this.  I know I want to make all of the moments count and I’m so afraid I’m going to miss something or not be there when I need to be.  My school has been wonderful through everything but I do have a job, and a pretty serious one.  I got a call from HR today suggesting that I seriously think about taking an extended leave of absence – unpaid.  I can still keep our benefits as long as I pay for them.  We don’t think it’s time for this yet, so I’ll continue to be conflicted daily about where the hell I need to be.   Everyone keeps saying that I need to just do what’s right for you and what’s right for your family, but what is that?!  Answer that question for me please of you don’t mind!  I get the definite impression that it is going to be somewhat frowned upon it I take anymore days.  RAHHHHHH!

We’ve actually come up with the best solution to our problems.  We’ll just go on Ellen, or Oprah will hear about our story and give us buckets and buckets of money!  Problem solved – one at least.

Oh, remember I said I freaked a couple of people out at work.  Well, I gave the people that need to know the following information that was given to us via Dr. Shiver’s.  Trent’s cancer is incurable (we have already been told that) and he gave us a chart that kind of summed up what is supposed to be the next 5 years of our lives.  It was broken down like this:

I originally included a bunch of stupid completely negative statistics and then I remembered I know little people who have access to technology and this might not be the best avenue to receive such information.  So, I’ll leave you with this – we need to enjoy everyday and it’s pretty important that Trent finish chemo regardless of how sick it makes him.  I say this because there are some people who seem to have withdrawn from him some, but now is not the time for that.  Be there for him the best way you know how because this time is important.

As always, thank you for reading. 

Happy Valentine’s Day, you dumb lovers! 

What’s With All of the Posting?

So, I’m trying to consolidate all of this business in hopes that it’s easier for everyone to keep up with us – please be patient with me.  What you’ll see to the right is past updates that I wrote for another site.  You might have read these previously, but I’ve added a few thoughts as I was sifting through the last 6 months.  My hope is that all things Gibson will be contained on this blog.  I’m going to get the youcaring.com site attached, along with a few other items.

My plan is to be as honest as possible here.  I write for so many reasons, but I really write for me and others like me.  This is quite arguably the most difficult situation a human can be saddled with and I vow to make sense of it and for me, right now, this is how I’ll do it.  Devastatingly enough, I am not alone in my struggle.  There are so many more out there who feel what we feel but cannot put it into words.  I thank God that I can!  I’m so glad that I can write!  There is so much in here, in me, and I know some of you are waiting for it to come roiling out, but it won’t.  I don’t communicate that way.  Never have.  I will put it here though.  All of the gory details because it’s real.  And there is no shame in what we are feeling.  None.  It’s sometimes ugly because cancer is sometimes ugly.  It’s sad because cancer is brutal.  It’s beautiful because strangely enough sometimes cancer is beautiful.  I promise I’ll explain more soon.  Anyway, if I ever forget to say, thank you for reading.

This Is What I Do

I’ll start by making this disclaimer.  While I know that these things are happening to Trent I think that most people who know us know that we are very close and it’s very hard for me not to say “we” and I refuse to let him go through this feeling alone.  So please pardon the “wes” and “uss.”
This whole journey began with what will heretofore be known as “the accident.”  My youngest son was 5 weeks old at the time and my husband, Trent, had been working like a typical chef.  His schedule usually consisted of 12-14 hour days with only 1 day off a week during the busy summer vacation season.  He was afforded a week of maternity leave – thank you Baby Coley.  Baby Cole, although a sweet and beautiful baby, was completely normal as far as baby behavior was concerned and was up all hours of the night, and this schedule was beginning to take its toll on both Trent and I.  I should also mention that we also have 3 more kiddos, Sabrinna 17 a senior in high school, Lily 12 at the time and Gavin Beau 2.  Our house stays busy.  Needless to say both my husband and I were beyond run down and were simply missing each other.
Trent called me at about 6:15 in the evening on Sunday, August 10 to say that he was headed home early and was going to grill burgers, a family favorite.  We were both excited that he was going to be home before the sun went down.  I hung up and began prepping the kids and the house to be ready for Daddy to be home, subconsciously keeping track of the time, knowing that it would be about an hour before he walked through the door.
At about 7:15 the oldest, Sabrinna, asked if I had heard from Trent because it was time – we all seem to have a subconscious log of Dad’s coming and going because he is often so busy with work we can’t help but jump on him the minute he’s home for longer than 5 minutes when we were all awake. I told her that she was right, he should he walking through the door at any moment so I went for my phone to see if I had any missed calls. Turns out, I did, although none of them were from Trent.  Three of the calls were from the same number and I thought that was odd, as it was a number I had never seen before and almost before I could complete my thought my phone rang in my hand.
It was the Travis County Sheriff’s Deputy calling to notify me that my husband had been in an accident.
-Please sir, tell me more. This time without the awkward excruciatingly long pauses –
These pauses were in fact so long that I so eloquently and politely asked to the man, “Well?! Is he dead?!”  To which he thankfully responded no and was then able to fumble through telling me that Trent’s arm was broken and that it was pretty bad and that Trent’s beloved 4Runner was, in-fact totaled.
-It was a rollover accident, ma’am.-
Excellent. He then gave me details about where EMS was going to transport him and who towed the vehicle.  I hurriedly jotted down the information that I could remember and then tried to collect myself enough to tell my three babies that I was headed to the hospital because Dad was in an accident.
-Is he dead?- Asked Lily, the worried one.  She get it from her mama, bless her heart.
No, baby, Thank God, but he did hurt himself pretty badly.  I then made and received no less than 6 phone calls on my way to him, one from EMS redirecting me to another hospital, one with a hand specialist.
-He’s going to need it, ma’am.  Hopefully you’ll make it before they take him to surgery.- What is going on?!
This phone call obviously confirmed for me that the accident was more serious than “a broken arm.” Once I arrived at the hospital, I then proceeded to breastfeed Baby Cole in the hospital waiting room just before the social worker led me back to Trent. Although I was beyond relieved to see him just to confirm proof of life for myself, I hope no wife or husband ever has to see their spouse in such a state. Tubes and blood were everywhere.
-Oh my God. So. Much. Blood.-
Trent lay naked covered only by a thin hospital sheet from neck brace to toe. All he could repeat after he got over the shock of me actually being there was that he was sorry. After he calmed down a bit he went back into somewhat normal Trent-mode and introduced me to his nurse as casually as if we we’re at the grocery store.
-What a weirdo. I love him so much.-
His nurse apologized to me for the mess and explained that I was under pretty strict orders not to raise the sheet enough to get a good look at his arm. I ablidged, not really being sure what my reaction would be, thinking it might not be a good idea for all 3 of us to be “in” the ER. Trent explained very little about what actually happened other than that there were some very good Samaritans who stopped to render aide, providing a belt for Trent to turnicate his own arm shortly after the accident while waiting for EMS. It was confirmed by Trent’s ER doc that this heads-up move on his part likely saved his life. Miracle #1. Thank you, God, for Trent’s desire to heal others – he helped to heal himself. I was then told that Trent would very soon be taken back for what would be the first of four surgeries to repair an open dislocation to his left arm. Trent then asked about the results of a CT scan that was done after his routine x-rays came back a little funny.
-Wait. What? Funny x-rays?-
The doctor said that we would discuss the results of the scan very soon. At this point my mom-alert was on high and I was paying very close attention to the way the medical professionals around us were behaving because even though the accident was severe there was something different in their handling of him. The doctor then went off to do doctory things and then returned shortly with what I later gathered was support staff. Kind of like “where two or more are gathered in my name…” but more like “where two or more medical professionals are gathered in my name bad news will follow.”
-Why are there so many of you?-
They then proceeded to ask so many questions. Are you returning from a trip to Africa?  Have you ever been to Africa?  Have you ever been to a strange country?  Did your parents’ vaccinate you as a baby?  Have you recently been exposed to anything strange?  Do you remember eating anything strange? Do you remember inhaling anything strange?  Was the middle name of your fourth grade teacher strange?  Did she go to Africa?
Well, the doctors were seeing something strange in what appeared to be his right lung. A tumor.
-Excuse me. A what?-
And other spots are spread throughout both lungs.
It was as if all of the air had been sucked from the room. He was brought in for a car accident but was leaving with Cancer.  Surreal. Absolutely unbelievable. God help us.
During the 3rd surgery that week his doctors’ completed a needle biopsy, the results of which wouldn’t come for nearly a week. As much as we wanted definitive results we knew that his arm came first and needed the most attention. I think we also both knew what the results would say. However, our goal in the meantime was to stay as positive as possible and focus on keeping his arm. Fast forward through 4 surgeries, 4 nights in ICU, 5 teams of really great doctors (orthopedics, plastics, oncology, trauma and infectious diseases) 3 bacteria, numerous IV antibiotics, 2 blood transfusions, scary fevers combined with dangerously high blood pressure, x-ray after x-ray, a constant drip of hallucination-inducing pain medicine, countless nurses, another hospital stay in the family for our oldest daughter due to stress, 7 nights in the hospital for Cole and I Daddysitting, a 34th birthday for Trent complete with a modified hospital birthday party and who knows what else that I might have missed along the way, after 12 nights we went home. Seven days after his 34th birthday Trent was diagnosed with Stage IV Synovial Sarcoma, a very rare cancer that appears in muscles and fibers. His manifested as a tumor showing medium growth (somewhere between fast and slow growing) that is attached to the back wall of his chest cavity in between his 2nd and 3rd ribs at the time, as I write this story now his tumor has grown and now occupies the space between ribs 2-6. It’s approximately the size of a softball, maybe a bit larger and is proceeding to destroy the attached ribs like some kind of demonic gremlin. He also has metastases in both lungs. The tumor is inoperable because of location. Radiation is also not an option. Chemo it is, for now, and that’s been lovely.
-Don’t worry, Honey.  I don’t mind cleaning up Gavin’s pee, Cole’s pee or your pee.  I’m a mom, that’s my job.-
In the meantime we’ve had ups and downs, and a lot of help. My mom has kept constant vigil in addition to being mom to everyone in our house when I can’t.  She’s even moved in during the week to care for “her boys.” Trent’s parents keep the prayer warriors going, in addition to babysitting and car-recovery (we have 2 totaled cars). My dad and step-dad also work behind the scenes to get people here and there.  Many people have come together to feed us and help to keep me sane.
As for Trent, he’s hanging in there. He had good minutes and bad minutes – that’s how we were taking this whole thing, minute by minute.  But we’ve since moved on progressively from hours and have triumphantly arrived to days.  He’s still in a lot of pain, more than he lets on. He’s faithful, but understandably nervous about the future. His arm looks great. His skin graft and skin transplant have both taken and are doing really well.
Trent’s cancer diagnosis was just the capstone to an otherwise banner year.  I had my oldest child diagnosed with a genetic heart defect.  I resigned from coaching, in order to spend more time being a wife and mother to my three beautiful babies at home, only to find out that I would become a mother for the fourth time.  We moved Gibson, party of 6, from Bastrop back to our home town of Austin.  My second born was accepted at an elite all-girls school and became a teenager.  We potty-trained a busy 2 year-old boy.  We totaled 2 cars – thank you GM.  I GREW A BABY AND GAVE BIRTH, and subsequently tore a ligament in my belly and couldn’t stand up straight for 3 weeks.  My husband was laid off only to move on to a great job only to nearly lose his arm and his life and be diagnosed with cancer and resign from said wonderful job.  I went from being on nine weeks of maternity leave from teaching to four months.  I had a husband and a daughter in the hospital at the same time, said daughter went on to have surgery to have a mass removed from her ovary – non-cancerous.  I had a two year-old diagnosed with the same genetic heart disorder as his older sister – Long QT2 syndrome – don’t look it up – it’s scary.  I was then diagnosed with and designated as the carrier of said heart disorder.  I lost 20 pounds after 3rd baby.  My present for losing 20 pounds, another baby.  I gained 25 pounds during pregnancy.  I lost it all as of 3 weeks post-deliver and gained 25 because Cancer.  I went back to work.  I teach teenagers.  Did I mention my mother lives with us?. Did I also mention I couldn’t make it through this without her and she is an amazing example of what it means to be a Christian. Servant love. Absolute unconditional love.  Thank God for Jesus because she wasn’t always so angelic.  I remember an incident involving oversold tickets to “Look Who’s Talking,” and a certain fiery bronze blonde whipping a disgruntled crowd into a frenzy behind her flurry of choice earmuff-requiring phrases, and me, 8 year old me, only wishing to be the wicked witch of the west – to melt ununrecognizably into the floor of North Cross Mall.  Yes, thank you Jesus for saving that one.
Alas, I digress.
What have I learned and am I continuing to learn from this experience?  I am a mother.  This is what I do. This is what we all do.  As I tell my kids, pimpin’ ain’t easy.  You cry, you laugh, you hug, you wipe tears, you fall, you get up, you drink wine with friends who are sisters – often – it did not cause the falling, you work – hard – you hustle, you pick up, you drop off, you drive, you wipe butts and tears, you referee, you clean up people’s crap – literally and figuratively, you HOLD IT TOGETHER, you fall apart, you hurt, you scream, you protect like some big angry irrational bear.
You pull down shower curtains in fits of rage, frustration and pain over your ability to create life but simultaneously feel it slip so helplessly from your grasp.  You do this in the privacy of guest bathrooms so as not to wake sleeping precious babies. You do this because you love – oh how you love.
My husband has cancer. They say he has it bad and they tell us he will die.  But I will not quit.  I will be strong.  I will be there.  For him, for my babies, for everyone who needs me.  We are mothers.  This is what we do.  I am a mother.  This is what I do.