Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Four Years

A lot can happen in four years, and that has certainly been the case in our family! March 2014 was a big month for us! Some of it I don't care to remember, but other parts I never want to forget!

The first thing that happened was this! Meeting Audrey for the very first time. Oh this child!
This picture, taken in Belgrade, Serbia, was the day after I was given custody of her. She was 9 years old, and about 18 lbs.

On March 14, 2014, Audrey became our daughter. 

But really? We had no idea the impact Audrey had already made on our lives. We had no idea how she would keep me going on the days I just wanted to stay curled up in a fetal position. Our shift was just beginning to happen.

These are some pictures I've taken over the last few months. I can't believe she is 13!

Audrey has grown A LOT! She's finally wearing "tween" clothes (wearing size 10 in most clothes). But, with all that growth, she hasn't changed much. She understands English fully now, so she can follow many directions. She continues to be 100% non-verbal, and uses only a handful of ASL signs to get her wants and needs met. Audrey lives for music! She will drop everything if she hears even a single note. Although she has been in school 3 years now, Audrey does not know colors, numbers, shapes or letters. Well, at least we *think* she doesn't. Everything is on Audrey's terms, so maybe one day she'll show us that she really does know all these things but just didn't want to disclose that information! We do continue to have concerns about Audrey's lack of learning, and several doctors have suggested she has more than just Down syndrome, so we will soon be meeting with a geneticist to have some additional testing done.

We cannot imagine our lives without Audrey in it. She brings with her something so special. Her eyes speak volumes when her voice does not. We will continue to help find her voice, however that may be!

Just. Move. On.

March 24, 2014.

Four years ago.

It's right around the corner, but I cannot wait.

On March 24, 2014  I posted the worst blog post I have ever written.

I would spend the next year going through four surgeries, chemotherapy, potty training the newly adopted child, feeding therapy with the same child, and learning to navigate the world of Oncology with my family.

In 2015 the surgeries continued, and in fact I just had my 16th surgery, my last reconstructive surgery in October 2017! Someday I will be brave enough to post the pictures, because I feel they are important to share. Just...not yet.

The last few weeks I have felt very tired and run down. Going back through my blog I know what it is now. It's a combination of very long Minnesota winters and Cancerversary sluggishness. For anyone who thinks people can go through cancer and "just move on", it doesn't work that way. My body knows its an anniversary. I had to look back in my blog to see what was wrong with me! Just like our adopted children go through odd behavioral phases during their adoption month, so too do I go through a bit of yuck. The body remembers trauma. Being told you have cancer is certainly traumatic. Today I just wanted to sleep the day away. And tomorrow too. And maybe the next day. Only I can't do that, because I'm MOM to a lot of people, and I thank God for them every single day, because each one keeps me going!

I make goals for myself! I probably drive Dean a little bit crazy with some of my bucket list items that he finds around the house. For example, I was going to teach myself to play guitar. I bought a guitar, and a book, and some wonky thing to attach to the guitar. Oh, it lasted about 5 minutes before I realized this was beyond me, thanks to chemo brain!...Just move on....Just move on...

So I would learn to DANCE! Yes, I've always wanted to learn Hip Hop.  I joined a class. The first class the instructor told me I have a good sense of rhythm, and he talked me up saying, "I can't believe you never danced before." (He's such a salesman!) On the third class he added the music to the steps. HA! I can dance, just not to music. Who knew? Thanks again, chemo brain. I never went back to class. ....Just move on....Just move on....

 Before we moved to the new house I bought all the stuff to become an artist. I have done some water color years ago (YEARS!) but this time I decided to try acrylics. I bought a big easel, canvases of various sizes, an assortment of brushes, and all the other things one needs to be an artist. I have yet to pick up a brush. (I had a good reason though, and maybe now I finally can get around to it?) I have yet to pick up my polymer clays again. They sit in my closet, drying out. My mind wants to try new things, and keep moving FORWARD, away from that day in 2014 when I heard the words, "You have cancer." Because "just move on" is whispered in conversations, said gently by people who don't know  how it feels. Said to myself, because why can't I "just move on"?

You see, I can't just move on. How do we, cancer patients, "just move on"? Next month I have a scheduled check up with my oncologist. It already brings anxiety. "What if I'm tired because I have cancer again?" Last week I took Dean to an appointment that is located in the same building as my oncologist. Just parking in that lot caused my chest to tighten and my stomach to turn in knots. I started sweating and my heart raced. I wasn't even going to THAT clinic! It angers me that I was so affected by the parking lot. ....Just move on....Just move on...

This check up will be like all the others: Visit with the doctor, then blood work to check for cancer markers... Just move on.... Just move on.... Well, for a long time I only had to go every three months, but then I was bumped up to 6 months between visits. While I was really excited to be at that point, somewhere inside me screamed, "Six months? That is a long time between blood tests! What if something happens between now and then?"...Just move on...Just move on....It doesn't help that at my last visit my doctor wanted me to meet with someone to discuss my treatment plan should I develop cancer again. I won't lie. I was really angered by that. I did schedule the appointment but ultimately didn't go. I felt like they were willing me to get cancer again! Or maybe they knew something about my cancer, like that I'm GOING to have a recurrence, it's just a matter of when. Paranoia much? No Leah, "Just move on"!

Yes, dear readers, all of that goes through the mind of a cancer survivor. Most days I can just shove it back, ignoring the whispers of my subconscious mind and go about my day. But there are days when I'm hiding it from the world, but I can't hide it from myself. It's impossible to hide it, really. Every morning when I step out of the shower, the scars are reflected back to me in the mirror. So many scars! Each one a memory of another surgery. Another scare. Another day of stress to my family. Another near miss. Reminder, after reminder, after reminder. Just. Move. On.

So here we are

It's March 2018 already. I haven't finished updating from 2017 and 2018 is slipping away fast. There are life events I want to tell you about, but I keep thinking "I'll finish catching up first, then I'll do it!" Only, that never really happens. There are a lot of new readers here, and return readers who want to know what's happening with us! I think I'll just do some regular posts and sneak the other updates in when I have time. And I go!