Friday, March 26, 2010

The calm before the storm

My sisters and I have been planning a trip to New York for a few months now to celebrate Leigh Ann's birthday. We all love Tim Burton's artwork, and he had an exhibit at the Modern Museum of Art that we were all dying to see. We found tickets, reserved spaces at a hostel, and started packing. Our excitement about our trip had been growing like kudzu as our trip got closer and closer. Then we got word that Patrick's cancer was back. Patrick's appointments were scheduled, and it was the same week as the trip that the girls had been looking so forward to. I of course planned on skipping my trip with Becca and Leigh Ann so I could be with Patrick. I talked with him about arrangements, and he insisted that I go with the girls. He knew how much we were all looking forward to the trip, I wouldn't be able to get any of the money back, and at the hospital I was just going to have to sit around and wait for hours on end. He also said that if he was going to have to have chemo, this trip would be the last of the going and doing for a while. I felt so guilty that that I was going to be in the Big Apple having fun with my sisters while he was being poked, prodded, and scanned; but he was right.

Patrick's schedule was three day regimented blitz - fly into Houston on Tuesday, tests from 7:30am until 10:00pm on Wednesday, meet with his doctor Thursday morning, and fly home Thursday night. Mine was just the opposite - fly to NYC on Thursday, go to the MOMA on Friday, and do whatever else we wanted until we had to be on the plane on Sunday.

When I headed off to work on Tuesday, I kissed Patrick, squeezed him tightly, and told him how much I loved him. "Call me along and along so I don't worry." (and yes, that was my mother's voice coming out of my mouth). There was something I wanted to tell him, but for the life of me I couldn't remember what it was. I woke up the middle of the night and thought "Don't forget to remind him of that." Cameron gives him lots of love, and she and I load up in the car and head off. I drop her off, and then it hits me "Don't forget to get your cell phone charger." I call him to remind him, but he was already on the road. I told him to email or txt me when he got to Houston so he wouldn't use up his cell battery just in case he needed it.

Cameron and I spent Tuesday night doing girly things like packing and painting toe nails. After choir practice on Wednesday night, Cameron and I went over and picked up Becca, and we drove down to Momma's house to spend the night. (Leigh Ann met us at Momma's Thursday morning) Our flight was out of Myrtle Beach, and with Patrick gone, Cameron got to spend four days with Grandma and Grandaddy.

As we loaded up the car on Thursday morning, I couldn't help but have another twinge of guilt. Right then Patrick was more than likely sitting in a waiting room with a cotton ball taped to his arm with nobody to talk to, and I'm off to take a bite out of the Big Apple.

The flight went by very quickly. We ordered a cocktail, and I think it was just as much for the novelty than anything else. As many times as I have flown, I have never had a drink on a plane! Before we knew it we landed and headed off to our hostel. I enjoy being somewhere that public transportation is the norm. Only in the South is it uncool to take a bus or train. We got there and checked in, and what we found was not at all what we expected. We thought it was going to be three to a room which was wonderful. We found that it was really 8 to a room (3 bunk beds and a loft area) and it was mixed gender. None of this was a problem for me. All I needed was a place to sleep and keep my stuff. Becca and I had the top and bottom of one bunk receptively and Leigh Ann had the top bunk of the adjacent bed. We got settled in, and found a great Thai restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. We were all so beat that we went back and got snuggled in. The mattresses were reminiscent of a Trisket, but even that was no problem. I was in NY with two of my favorite people.

I woke up the next morning to a horrific sight. Everyone in our room was between their mid 20s to mid 30s, and mostly they from overseas. They were all beautiful people with charming accents, and interesting stories on what brought them to New York - then there was Robert. Robert was probably in his late 50s, and modesty wasn't in his rolodex. I open my eyes to see a man who's complexion reminded me of a raw Thanksgiving turkey. He was wearing nothing but very ill-fitting white briefs. He was sitting on the bunk directly across from me, and there were his man bits for the whole world to see. I was SO shocked! I rolled over just as fast as I could. I was embarrassed for me and him, but he didn't seem to mind a bit. Now if Gian, the gorgeous Italian sleeping under Leigh Ann, was half dressed, I might have said thank you; but I was looking for something to poke out my minds eye with. You (and by you I mean Rebecca) may think that is mean, but it's true.

After getting up and dressed, we headed to the MOMA for the exhibit. It was absolutely wonderful - creative, dark, revealing, and very thought provoking. (Good call Leigh Ann) After that we walked down 5th Ave and did a little shopping, and then it was off to Times Square. We looked and looked, but no sight of the Naked Cowboy. We had all intentions on taking our clothes off and taking our picture with him dressed in our new pretty underwear. He may haven't been there, or I may have been blocking out even the thought of man in tighty whities.

Saturday was filled with walking. We went to the Fashion Institute Museum, Mood Fabrics (where we all bought buttons galore), 30 Rockafeller Center where we had dirty water hotdogs for lunch, Chinatown, and we took the Staten Island Ferry at sunset to see the Statue of Liberty. It was totally breath taking. We had planed to head off to Little Italy for some authentic Italian food, but we ended up in the hood. And by in the hood, I mean we were afraid kind of hood. Once we passed two girly bars and a homeless shelter, we knew we had to get out of Dodge. Leigh Ann started to break out the map, and Becca stops her abruptly; "No Leigh Ann. They will know we don't know where we are going. There is the Empire State Building. Our hostel is on the other side of that. Walk. FAST." We hustle off as fast as we can trying hard not to look like gazelles around a waterhole full of alligators. We land in Soho, and found this great little Mexican place. We knew it was our kind of place when we saw that there was a little Chihuahua wagging it's tail at the door. Fish tacos, AMAZING guacamole, and stout margaritas completely erased the panic of Little Italy. After asking Becca's permission, we take out the map and head back to the hostel.

We had planned to go back to Rockafeller center to ice skate and to Central Park on Sunday morning. When I woke up the only thing I wanted to do was eat something and rest. It seemed like Becca and Leigh Ann felt the same way, but none of us wanted to admit it out loud at the risk of being a wet blanket on the end of the trip. As we packed up, Leigh Ann took the leap and said "Will you be totally disappointed if we don't go to the park?" Becca and I both let out a huge sigh of relief, and said "Oh my Lord, I am so glad you said that because I don't want to go either!" We set our agenda for the day. Check out, go to the airport, and hang out there for several hours (and by hang out, I mean sleep).

Becca got directions on how to get from the hostel to the airport on the cheap, and we headed off to grab brunch. We decided we would just walk toward the subway until we found something interesting. We stopped at this very cool place called the Cosmic Diner (It's on 8th Ave around 40th I think). Visualize what you see as a NY diner, this place was it - the sounds, smells, and even the waitresses that seemed a little distracted. We decided we were going to get a "New York breakfast." We asked the waitress and she said, "Well, I'm not sure really." Now if someone asked me what a traditional Southern breakfast I can give you a menu in half a second (grits with butter, eggs, bacon, country ham, and blazing hot coffee). Since there isn't a NYC breakfast, we decided to get the most Yankee food on the menu. Corned beef hash and sunny side up eggs for me, bagels and lox for Becca, and Leigh Ann got this fancy omelet with spinach. The energy in the place was great, but everyone seemed to be in a hurry. Leigh Ann kept saying "I feel like they want us to hurry up and leave because we aren't moving fast enough." We stuck true to our roots, and like true Southern ladies, we finished our meal slowly so we could enjoy it, and then we set out again.

We got to the subway station only to find that the train that we needed to take was not running. We had been told by the people at the hostel that taking a cab would be a pretty expensive way to get to the airport. We were tired, our feet hurt, our bags were getting heavier by the second. By the time I flagged down a cab, the driver could have asked for my left kidney, and I would have gladly given it to him. We were all just ready to be back in the land of sweet tea, magnolias and Spanish moss. To make a long story a little shorter (Now that I have written a mile), we hung out in the airport for a few hours of sleeping, reading, and more sleeping; then we loaded on the plane and flew home.

We got to Momma's about 10:00pm where she was waiting with chicken and dumplings and homemade blueberry cobbler. After filling up on REAL food, we hit the road. I got home about 3:00am, got Cameron out of her car seat without waking her up, quietly came in the house, and we crawled in the bed with Patrick. And just like the old adage says, there is no place like home.

Growing up in costal SC, I have been through many hurricanes over the years, and there is aways a calm before the storm. Nighttime hurricanes are always the most memorable. At dusk the sky looks like a negative, there are no sounds, and there is an electric feeling in the air. You can watch the sky and see the squalls roll in. I couldn't have imagined that the city that never sleeps would be that calm, but it was. Nighttime hurricanes are the scariest because you can't see anything. You can hear the rain beating on the windows, the trees snapping in the woods, and sometimes you will hear the droning roar of a tornado, but you cant see what is in store. All you can do is prepare - fill the tubs and pots with water, tape up the windows, bring in the animals, pull out the flashlights and have the hurricane lanterns filled with oil with their wicks trimmed.

The air is still electric as we wait to hear what the treatment plan will be. I am taping up windows, filling the tubs, and trying to keep my lamp trimmed and burning.

I can see the squalls on the horizon…

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Stilettos and a smoking gun

I grew up in a small town where nearly everyone had guns. Hunters dressed in camouflage from head to toe with orange vests were extremely common place. It was part of our small town culture. They even offered a hunter's safety program in my high school PE class. At the end of the semester someone from the Department of Natural Resources came out with a sling on the back of his truck, and the class spent an entire period shooting clay pidgins with shotgun. My first time shooting a gun, I hit 8 out of 10! (All the games of "Duck Hunt" on the original Nintendo paid off) That was more than 10 years ago.

In spite of the many gun owners in my life, when I hear people talking about gun ownership I have visions of NRA rallies where everyone seems to be angry that the government doesn't want them to carry guns that could stop a tank. The argument between "we have the right to bear arms" vs. "nothing justifies you carrying a small antimissile assault weapon" will be a never ending debate right along with border control, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and paper or plastic.

When we found out that Patrick's cancer was back, I was filled with so many emotions. The two major ones being fear and anger. I pride myself not being a scaredy cat. I wanted pet spiders as a kid. I would be the first one in line in class to hold the huge snake when the other kids were in tears; and jumping off of a high branch into the darkest water you have ever seen was second nature. (Now trap me in a room with Rush Limbaugh, and that would strike terror into my heart) But the fear of watching Patrick have to go through what he went through last year was terrifying. The possibility that he might loose his job. The fear that he might have to have God awful treatment that would heal him by nearly killing him. The fear that he ….. Well let's just leave it that there is a lot if fear in my heart. Then comes the anger. Not the anger that I am used to. I have been known to cuss the person that cuts me off in traffic, or to risk getting into a fight when I see someone being taken advantage of. Even the anger I felt the time I was fired from a great job because I did the right thing pales in comparison. No, this is rage. How dare this happen again. How dare this unwelcome intruder invade our family again. Thanks to my love affair with the thesaurus and a liberal arts education I could insert a plethora of expletives here, but seeing that there may be mixed company reading this, I won't.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that bottling up such heated emotions is bad for you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was looking for an outlet, when my twin sister asked, "What are you doing Wednesday night?" "I have choir practice. Why?" She said "Erin, you need to skip practice. I want you to come with me. I want to take you to the firing range. I want you to get extra dressed up for work, put on your sexiest black heels, and meet me at Shooter's Choice at 6:30." I rarely miss practice, so I figured I could miss one night. My three sisters (Leigh Ann, Becca, and my sister-in-love Amie) met us there. Wednesday is "Ladies Night" (which absolutely cracks me up that a firing range has a ladies night), and so there is no fee. BYOG or you can rent a gun there. My stepdad gave Becca his gun after she started working at her law firm. They keep a gun at the office, and Becca said that she would like to have one. Seeing that his hasn't used it in nearly 15 years it made perfect sense.

The gun is a 357 magnum single action revolver. It's huge. In order for that gun to be a concealed weapon, Becca would have to put it into a suitcase!

I feel pretty out of place when we get there. Dress, heels, stockings, makeup- the works. Becca is (as always) dressed to kill (pun intended). We pick out a target. There were several options - a blue silhouette, an orange silhouette, and a picture of a guy who resembled the uni-bomber. We both go with blue. She tells the man behind the counter "I need to get a box of ammunition" "Yes mam. Do you want the magnums or .38s." he replies, and as cool as if she was asking for the salt to be passed down the table, she says "I'll have the 38s. They don't kicks as bad as the magnums." We put on our protective glasses and earphones and walk into the firing area. In spite of the headphones, I jump several times as I walked past the people firing. The pops were so loud you could feel them. Becca gives me a quick lesson on the gun, loads it and I pop of the first round. The gun kicked back on me, but not nearly as much as I expected. I had an excited rush of adrenaline, and I giggle a little. I cock the gun again and again and fire off each of the 5 remaining rounds. I wasn't counting, so I cock the gun a seventh time, aim and squeeze the trigger - click. I think the fact that the gun didn't fire shocked me more than if it had. I run my target back to me, and six rounds to the chest. A little low and to the left, but still pretty doggoned good for the first time shooting a handgun. Becca takes her turn, and as she is firing Leigh Ann and Amie arrive. They were both in Becca's "dress code" of sex kitten. We all take turns unloading the gun six rounds at a time. As men walked by, they would stop and talk to us. All of them said "Oh my God! What are you girls shooting?" The four well dressed young professionals were shooting the biggest gun in the place. It was, for lack of a better word, very …. well, sexy.

Before it was over we had gone through two boxes of bullets, and we were all a little breathy. It reminded me of the time in the first grade that Jarrod Cockfield ran around kissing all of the girls on the playground. Every girl reacted the same way "EWW!!" Every girl except for Becca, Amie and me. We chased him down, fussed at him for being an inconsiderate stinky boy, and if I remember correctly, he got a bloody nose. We were strong, independent, empowered non-conformist women well before our time. Leigh Ann, in wonderful big-sister style, taught us well.

I said this all to say, that sometimes release comes in the most unexpected places. Sometimes you have to do WHATEVER it takes to maintain your sanity, There were no candles, and no hot bubble baths Wednesday night. No manicure, or pedicure. It was filled with the smell of gun powder. Tomorrow might just call for some fancy bath salts infused with lemongrass, some yoga, or maybe even some transcendental mediation. The point is, don't feel bad about getting your fear, rage, sadness, or that feeling of overwhelming helplessness out of your system in the way that works best for you in that moment.

I don't….

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A stolen sneeze.

When Becca and I were little, there were very few things that we enjoyed more than stealing each other's sneeze. I would get that tickle in my nose, suck in a deep breath ready for the cleansing explosion, and then "BOO," Becca would round the corner laughing maniacally with her successful mission of driving me crazy. A chase would ensue, and one of us would end up with a bruise. (No fears, Becca got just as good as she gave)

That was how I felt Monday. I made arrangements to work from the oncology center, get up early, and packed up my briefcase and was ready for the day. Patrick and I took separate cars because I had to take Cameron to daycare, and then I had a "lunch date" with my OB/GYN. Of course I catch every red light, little old lady, and "Sunday" driver on the way to drop Cameron off. As I am fastening my seat belt in the parking lot after dropping off fizzle britches, I get a text from Patrick that says "Come on back when you get here, I am in the exam room." I feel super frazzled because I feel late, and I hurry as hard as I can (within the traffic laws). I search for a parking space that in the same zip code as the building, and hustle into the building. Dr. Smith, and Nicole (Dr. Smith's PA) are in the exam room looking very smart in their snow white coats. Patrick is perched on the exam table. Dr. Smith and Patrick were talking about some research that Patrick had done on treatment ideas, and Dr. Smith says well "If it is operable then ...." (Insert squealing tire noise here) "If?" "IF?" If had never even crossed my mind. What are you talking about "If it is operable?" I manage to hit the mute button on the squealing tire sound, and Dr. Smith continues to talk in his super friendly voice. "If it is operable, then it may be surgery alone or surgery and chemotherapy. If it is not operable, then chemo would be the treatment plan because you can't have anymore radiation." Then he says "You will need to get things set up to go back out to TX." No tests? No blood work? No scans? Why in the world would you have us come in for "If...." and "You need to go to TX." I am not sure what his bill rate is, but I could have told Patrick that for free!

I spent my lunch taking Cam to get her shots and then I had my annual. In addition to being very handsome, friendly and funny, Cameron's pediatrician is very efficient. We were in and out of there in no time. Cameron was such a brave little champ. She didn't even cry when they did the finger prick! She impressed Dr. Willard by telling him lots of shapes that we had drawn on the paper on the exam table. He was extremely impressed with the fact that she identified an oval vs. a circle. That's my girl!! He asked how we were doing, and I said fine. Later in the visit, he asked how Patrick was doing, and I welled up a little. I told him about the reoccurrence, and he said he knew something was wrong. "I heard a sigh in that 'fine.'" I didn't cry, but I think it was more that he had good timing on going to get the nurse to give Cameron the shots.

After rushing her back to school, I am off to my doctor for my annual. One thing about my OBGYN is that it takes 3 months to get an appointment, but you are in and out very quickly. Dr. Painter is such a sweetheart. Amazingly my blood pressure was very good. As all ladies know that you have to wear paper "gown" during your appointment Dr. Painter comes in, and she said "How is that baby who isn't a baby anymore?" I brag on how funny, cute, smart, and AWESOME Cameron is. She tells me about her kids, and then she asked how I was. I burst into tears. I didn't just cry; I wept. There I am wrapped up in a paper towel crying my eyes out. I think it took her a little off guard, but after the shock she handed me a tissue (not that I needed one - I was wearing a whole box of them) and told me that she was here if I needed her, and not to hesitate to call her.

I head back to the office feeling pretty defeated. I check my email, return some phone calls, and get ready for Tuesday. I'll have to wait at least a week for answers.

Where is my sneeze?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Then comes the bad news

After days of not knowing, Patrick called on Thursday and gave me the bad news. His doctor called, and gave him his results. The abnormal spot that he saw was a reoccurrence of his cancer. As Patrick tells me this over the phone, I break out in a cold sweat, get queasy, and my day came to a screeching halt. All I could say was "Honey, its ok, and we will get through this together." He told me that he was about 20 min from Columbia, and he was going to go to his oncologist's office here in Columbia. I asked him if he wanted me to meet him there, and he said that he would be fine and to go on home.

I can't imagine what I looked like. After an I love you, he hung up. My coworker Adelle was on the phone. I just stuck my head in her office, quietly said "I have to leave," and without another word, walked to the car in tears. I held it together until I pulled into Cameron's day care, and hot tears poured down my face. I sat in the parking lot and wept. I don't know how long, but it seemed like forever. It was as though a volcano of emotion had erupted, and the tears felt like rivers of lava pouring down my cheeks burning everything in their path.

I get home, and Patrick is there waiting. I gave him a huge hug, kissed him on the cheek, and told him I loved him. On his way home he had stopped an picked up bubbles for Cameron. He had a blanket by the door, and said "Let's go outside." The three of us, Buster and Eli (our pug children) went outside. Patrick spread out the blanket in the sun, and we blew bubbles. Cameron was playing and laughing without a care in the world. Eli nearly turned somersaults to bite the bubbles out of the air. Cameron's laughter was contagious. She and the dogs played for a while, and Patrick and I just sat in the sun.

We didn't really say anything, just sat. What was there to say? The silence was not uncomfortable. It was more like a collective deep breath to calm our nerves for the next step. With all the emotions, I wanted nothing more than to sit there with my little family and pretend that it was all just a horrible dream. That the worst of my troubles was how I was going to get Cameron to stop dragging Buster around the yard by his ears, and how to keep Eli from drinking the bubble solution. I wished I could have just stayed in that sunny spot in the grass all day. The sun was moving behind the house, and there was a nip in the air, so we left the oasis of blanket in the yard and came inside.

My night was filled with very little sleep. It was in the yard I decided I was going to write, and that was just what I did. I wrote for hours. I looked up and it was nearly 1:00am. Cameron and Patrick were in the bed beside me, and they were both resting so peacefully in the light of my monitor. I watched them sleep for what seemed like hours. I knew that I had to do the same, so I closed my computer, snuggled down beside my family and prayed. Prayed for healing. Prayed for strength. Prayed that I could be the helpmate that Patrick would need. Prayed that I could be the Mom that Cameron will need when Patrick is in his healing process. Prayed that I could somehow keep all of the balls in the air without dropping them.

I just prayed....

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The worst part is the waiting - Which idiot said that?

Normally I am not the kind of person who's emotions totally get the best of them, but this week has been the exception. Tuesday I woke up when Patrick got out of the bed (and that is a little bit of a stretch because in order to "wake up" you must have slept). I laid there and listened to him shower. Cameron was curled up beside me, and I began to cry. I heard the shower turn off, and I wiped my tears and nose on the sleeve of my gown (I know, gross), and I pretended to be asleep while Patrick got dressed. When he kissed me goodbye, I broke down into tears. He gave me a squeeze, and then Cameron woke up and said "No cry Momma. No cry." which made me cry even more! I manage to suck it up long enough to make it to the bathroom. I look at the shower and then the tub and back to the shower. Time for some hydro-thearapy. I run a hot bath, and ease in hoping that when I pulled the drain that my terror would get sucked down with that little cyclone that shows up in the drain right before all of the water is gone - not so lucky.

My co-worker Adelle called as I was on the way to take Cameron to daycare because she was having some computer problems. "How are you this morning?" she asks in the super cheery voice. I just fall apart and sob. I am sure I totally freaked her out. I mean, we have only worked together for a few months, and there I am bawling my eyes out over the phone as Cameron sings "My Name is Stegosaurus" in the backseat. I park at daycare, help Adelle trouble shoot her computer, and then take Cameron into school. I set Cam down, give her a kiss and tell her I love her, and do my best not to make eye contact with any of her teachers. I bump into Phyllis (Cameron's teacher from 12 weeks until she moved up last week), and I start to cry. I just kept telling myself "GET IT TOGETHER ERIN!!" I make it to work and stay choked up most of the morning. Instead of lunch I went home and got BACK in the tub. I filled it so much that the only things sticking out were my nose and knees.

Wednesday I was drowned in work, which was nice because it gave me something else to think about during the day. I was working in Aiken, and I got back to Columbia around 4:30. I went by the house to see if Patrick was home. I knew that if he had gotten bad news he wouldn't have called me while I was on the road, but he would have come home from work. My heart raced as I pulled into my neighborhood, but when I saw an empty driveway, I was overjoyed. I changed out of my work clothes, returned my rental car, and headed across town for choir practice. I was so pleased with myself - I hadn't cried all day. Before practice our choir director asked if anyone had prayer requests and I well up with tears. I am a firm believer in the power of prayer. I think that the Quakers have a wonderful description of what prayer is - Holding one in the Light.

After practice, I drove home. I got home around 8:00. Patrick and Cameron were in our bed. Patrick was nearly asleep and Cameron was perched like a little bird on the end of our bed watching Dora the Explorer, and singing right along. Just from the look on his face, I could tell he hadn't heard anything. I gave him a kiss on the head, Cameron a squeeze, and asked him what that they eaten for dinner. - Pop Tarts. Normally he would have carried a butt cutting for that, but I just kind of laughed under my breath, and rolled with the punches. One night of a frosted strawberry with sprinkles dinner won't kill her :)

I was hoping for a nice long kid free bath to soak my back (which is full of knots and killing me), but no such luck. Cameron heard the bathwater turn on, and she lept off the bed like a gazelle. "Gee in bubble bath! Gee in tub peez!" Who could say no to "peez"? My nice relaxing bath turned into a splash fest. Oh well.

Normally I am a fall asleep when I hit the bed kind of person, but between worry and my back, I have had a hard time sleeping. After laying in bed for nearly 2 hours, I got up and took something to help me sleep, so I slept like a log which was nice.

One more night of waiting....

Our journey has begun ... again

Husband, father, young, healthy, smart, funny, quite, athletic, and strong - These are just a few words that I would use to describe my husband. Cancer patient wasn't even an blip on the radar screen.

This is my story. The story of a young woman, mother of a toddler, and wife of a cancer survivor who is now fighting cancer again.

When Patrick was diagnosed with cancer the Tuesday after Memorial Day 2009 lots of people suggested I blog about it. Really? Our daughter Cameron was 17 months old, my job was in limbo, and I hardly had time to draw a deep breath. Blog? Who has the time or energy for that. If I sat down longer than 10 seconds, I would fall asleep. My life felt like it had been snatched to a screeching halt - CANCER!! WHAT??

After one of the longest weeks of my life waiting to get into to see the doctor, The oncologist in Columbia's first question was "Can you go to Texas?" That was Monday; we were in TX on Thursday. Our entire 2009 was spent fighting the intruder into our life known as an adenocarsinoma of the sinus. Trips back and forth to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston; hours in waiting rooms; praying my way through 8 hours of surgery; long nights "sleeping" in that uncomfortable chair in the ICU; watching Patrick leave to drive to TX to begin his radiation alone; listening to Cameron ask for her daddy, knowing that it would be weeks before we could be with him; sleeping alone knowing I would kill to stick my cold feet on him; the sheer elation of seeing him in the airport; the gut wrenching feeling as I watched him so tired that he could hardly hold his head up; nearly force feeding him when he didn't feel like eating.....the journey was long, difficult, and it put my whole world in perspective. He finished radiation treatment, and I drove Patrick, Cameron and me 20 hours home from Houston, and back into normal life...At least that is what I thought.

Monday, March 1st Patrick went to his Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor for a regular 3 month check up and he said "I see something that looks abnormal. I'm going to do a biopsy. We will know in a couple of days."

All of you that know me will be able to picture this:

I swoop into the house after a long day of work and commence a monologue of my day and the excitement of Cameron successfully going to the potty THREE TIMES at daycare. Then Patrick gets the quick list of questions "What do you want for dinner?" "How was work?" "How was your doctor's appointment?" Then he gives me the news. I get hot all over and feel like I might throw up. I well up, and a few little traitorous tears escape from my eyes. I manage to keep it together long enough to get in the car to go pick up some dinner, and I wept all the way to Papa John's. I get in the house, feed Patrick and Cam some pizza, and I just look down.

The wait begins.....