Sunday, May 30, 2010

12 Years

Hubby and I are celebrating 12 years of life and love today! Here are the top 12 reasons I'm glad I married him and why I would do it all over again:

12. He is a hard worker and a good provider.
11. He helps me look at things in a different--and sometimes better--way.
10. He loves the outdoors. I don't hunt or fish, but I sure do like the way my man looks in camo!
9. He can make me laugh. Even when I don't feel like it, he knows how to make me smile.
8. He prays with me and for me.
7. He reads a lot. Some of our favorite "dates" are spent wandering through a book store.
6. He is a master when it comes to cooking out on the grill.
5. He makes me feel safe.
4. He tells me all the time that I am pretty and that he is proud of me.
3. My cancer happened to him, too, and he is fighting for me and with me.
2. He is the father of my children. There could never be a better one.

And the number one reason I am glad I married him:

1. He is my best friend. I think I am the luckiest lady in the world to get to spend a lifetime with him.

Hubby: After all these years and all the "stuff," you're still the one. You have my heart. I love you so much...Happy Anniversary!

Monday, May 24, 2010


It's a big week in my little cancer bubble. Now that I am half way through chemotherapy, I am scheduled to have a CT scan tomorrow. The scan, like those I've done before, takes pictures of my insides to see if there is any cancer growing. Unlike the ones before, however, tomorrow's test will answer our most important question: Is the chemo working? We don't really expect to see any cancer--after all, I just had all visible cancer surgically removed a few months ago. But before we can forge ahead, Dr. M has to know what's really going on inside.

To say that I am anxious about the scan would be an understatement. The last one I had was in January, when I had two tumors growing in my abdominal cavity. The images revealed elevated fluid levels, but no shadows of those tumors. My confidence in the technology significantly deflated at that time--and now this is what we are depending on to give an accurate picture of what's going on in my body? I am uncomfortable, to say the least.

But I have confidence in my doctor, and even greater confidence in my God. Even on that day in January, before I knew what was happening, He was with me. He was in the room with Hubby and me on February 17th when the devastating diagnosis brought our world to a screeching halt. He was with me on the first day of chemo, and He was there when my hair started to fall out. God saw my tears fall yesterday as I watched my three babies playing and wondered if I would live long enough to watch them grow to be men. He knows that I am scared, but that doesn't change the way He feels about me. And as for me? I don't understand why He does what He does, but I know without a doubt that He is good.

On Thursday, Hubby and I, along with my parents, will meet with Dr. M to get the test results and confirm the course of action for the next few months. I am so thankful for the prayers and petitions you are lifting up on my behalf; this week, would you join me in praying these things?
*minimal physical discomfort
*calmness of spirit, mind, and body
*crystal clear images that reveal exactly what needs to be seen
*positive results
*safe travel for my mom and dad

"You are good, and what you do is good." Psalm 119:68

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Taste of Normal

What a difference a week makes! I spent today with my little cowboys, doing the "mom thing." We went to their elementary school carnival, then rushed to make it to Little Middle's soccer game. It was the last game of the season--I wouldn't have missed sitting in a lawn chair on that muddy field for anything! We grabbed a quick lunch at Sonic, and headed back to the carnival to play all the games that we had missed earlier in the day. We now have more Skittles and Pixie Stix than I know what to do with...not to mention the make-your-own-snowcone stand. Goliath mixed as many flavors as he could get his hands on: Tiger's Blood, Limealicious, and Blue Raspberry, to name a few. Yuck.
After the carnival, I took Goliath and Little Middle to a friend's birthday party. I loved watching them play and helping them win tickets in the arcade. Did you know that you can get a lot of those mini-erasers and Tootsie Rolls (2 tickets each) in exchange for 353 tickets? A LOT.
After all that, we finished the day with pizza and a Phineas and Ferb marathon. Phineas and Ferb is hilarious. It seriously makes me laugh out loud.
I loved this day, not just because of the quality time I spent with my boys, but because of how normal I felt. What I feel privileged to be able to do today are the same things I never thought twice about before The Sickness...and sometimes even dreaded doing. Funny how my perspective, along with everything else in my life, has been altered.
Goliath is old enough to voice his own bedtime prayers. This is what he said to God tonight: "Dear God, thank you for my fun day today. Thank you for making Mommy feel better and please help her to remember to bring socks the next time we go to Going Bonkers so she can go on the slide with me. Amen."
Normal, even a taste, is very nice.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Halfway There

It's the weekend. Weekends used to be such a sweet time around here--a time for sleeping late, big breakfasts, and taking it easy. Now that The Sickness is part of us, weekends blur together with all the other days of the week. This particular Saturday morning finds me back in bed (again), watching the clouds gather outside my window. They match my mood.
I had not expected the treatment on Tuesday to be fun, but I anticipated it as an important milestone: I am now halfway done with chemo! The treatment schedule includes six sessions, the last of which will be on July 13. My thrill at being halfway done, however, has been shadowed this week by a slow recovery. The Caretakers (Mom and Hubby) and I now believe that chemo is at least somewhat cumulative...each treatment adds to the poison that is already lingering in my body and makes it harder and harder to bounce back.
One major difficulty that I have experienced is severe and lingering leg pain. Last Friday morning, while I was at school, I received a call from Stephani that my lab work had come back with magnesium levels that were less than spectacular. I had to leave school, drive to Dallas, and sit through a 2-hour magnesium infusion. Granted, the mag did help with the leg pain, but by Wednesday it was back again. I called the office yesterday to report it, and by the end of the day yesterday I had been to the lab, had blood drawn, and had a bag of magnesium delivered to my home. I will do the 8-hour infusion today, along with regular saline hydration.
I am told that this is not uncommon. It is the nature of the chemo beast to attack not just the bad cancer cells, but a lot of good things in the body as magnesium and potassium levels. But to me, it's just one more thing in a long string of things to deal with. I am tired of not feeling well. I am tired of seeing the worry and sadness in the eyes of the people who love me. I am tired of being tired. I am tired of missing out on LIFE.
I told myself when this ordeal started that I would always look for the proverbial silver lining, even when it was really hard. This week feels darker than others, yet I still have joy. Here's how:
*Yesterday my precious 4-year-olds graduated from preschool! It was very important to me that I be there, cancer or no cancer. So I got dressed, put on some makeup and my happiest face, and went to cheer them on. I got to shake hands with each little one, give them a Bible of their very own, and tell them I love them. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. (Big props to the Caretakers for not arguing with me about attending!)
* has allowed me to enjoy the delight that is Glee with minimal commercial interruptions. Mom and I watched 3 episodes together last night. My friends tease me that my perfect life would be like one big musical where everyone breaks out into song regularly. Glee is that life, and it makes me happy!
*My children. Those 3 boys fill our home and my heart with amazing joy! Yes, they are noisy, and yes, we have to remind them over and over again to PLEASE not bounce on Mommy's bed, but when Goliath brings me a cup of hot tea that he made, or when Little Middle climbs up for a hug, or when Baby pops his head in my bedroom and says "I wuv you," I remember that every minute of this fight--no matter how hard--is absolutely worth it.
We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Live Blogging Event: Chemo #3

Good morning! So many friends, family, and even praying strangers that I haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet check in here at 3LittleCowboys regularly to get updates on me and my family as we journey down the winding road of The Sickness. Many of you have asked me about my chemo treatments, so I thought it would be interesting (if not fun?) to give you a glimpse of a typical treatment day. I will update this post throughout the day as people come and go and things happen. Check back often, and when you do, scroll to the bottom of the post to read the latest! So, without further ado, here is my first live blogging event!
5:30 a.m. Alarm goes off. I drag myself out of bed and into the shower. Shower doesn't take long because I don't have any hair on my head to wash or hair on my legs to shave.
5:40 a.m. I feel better. I dress, go to the kitchen, turn on the coffee pot and empty the dishwasher.
5:50 a.m. I sit down with my computer and 1/2 cup of coffee in my favorite mug. I check my e-mail and post this verse as my Facebook status: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39
6:07 a.m. I put on makeup, fix my "hair", and start taking my morning pills.
6:30 a.m. I bring Hubby coffee and gently remind him that we need to leave in 25 minutes.
6:40 a.m. I toast an English muffin and finish packing up my stuff to take to the doctor's office.
6:44 a.m. Goliath is sleeping on an air mattress on the floor in our bedroom. I don't want to wake him up, but it sure is hard to make our bed in the dark!
6:46 a.m. I need to brush my teeth, but Hubby has locked me out of our bathroom while he is in the shower. Grrrrr.
6:50 a.m. I am ready. Hubby is not.
6:57 a.m. We rush out the door. We try to be gone on chemo mornings before the boys wake up at 7:00. We are supposed to be at chemo by 7:30.
7:00 a.m. We are driving down our street, and Hubby suddenly pulls over and jumps out of the car. We have a flat tire. REALLY?!?
7:02 a.m. We dash back through the house looking for keys to his truck. The boys are all up. Everyone needs a hug from Mom. We are now officially running late.
7:06 a.m. We forgot to get Sister's wedding invitations out of the crippled SUV. Mom and I are going to stuff them today during chemo to get them ready for mailing. We go back home again.
7:10 a.m. Finally on the road. We have to be there in 20 minutes. I really, really hate being late! Traffic is bad. We are thankful when we finally make it into the HOV lane, but Hubby gets mad when he sees that the guy driving the minivan behind us is the only occupant in the vehicle. He blows smoke out of his big truck onto Minivan Man.
7:45 a.m. We made it! I apologize to the nurses for being late, but they assure me it's no big deal. I can't tell if they mean it or if they just feel sorry for me.
7:55 a.m. Nurse Stephani gives us a few minutes to settle into our room. The only nice thing I have to say about chemo days is that, as an IP (interperitoneal) chemo patient, I have a private room. I don't know what I would do if I had to spend these hours in the "big" chemo room with other sick strangers. Stephani starts an IV. Today my best veins are on my right side, and the IV goes in my wrist. That makes it a little harder to type/write/etc. because I am right-handed, but it's OK. 2 bags of saline fluids are started through the IV drip.
8:08 a.m. Nurse Michelle brings me a cup of water. I can not figure out how to get the straw through the lid.
8:15 a.m. Hubby has to leave. He is going to work at a customer site for a few hours this morning. He kisses me goodbye and promises to be back as soon as possible. I am thankful that there is work for him to do.
8:22 a.m. Stefani came in to hook up the 2nd IV line to my IP port. Ouch. She starts another bag of saline through that line. All this fluid is supposed to expand my belly to make room for the chemo meds later in the day. I have to lay in a reclining position for a while.
8:52 a.m. Mom just got here. She reports that the boys got off to school and that Goliath was grouchy this morning. Sigh. She figured out how to get the straw into my water. Good thing, because I was getting thirsty and I hate drinking without a straw.
9:31 a.m. Nurse Karen came in to check on me. The saline bag attached to my port is finished. She disconnected it. Yay! Mom and I are listening to a new CD she has of kid's music. One song in particular is a perfect reminder for me today of God's sovereignty and love for me. Here are partial lyrics:
Where were you when I crafted you a language?
And where were you when I filled your mind with words?
So you could cry, so you could sing
Sprinkle names on everything
So you could laugh, tell a joke
Imagine towers wreathed with spokes
So you could live and die with dignity
And shake your fist with poetry
Imagining creation from the first.
Where were you?
When I laid the earth’s foundations
Where were you when I set the stars in place?
And they all sang together
They all sang together up in space.
Allelu allelu alleluia
Allelu allelu alleluia.
9:58 a.m. My "friend" from the room next door just poked her head in to say hello. She is quite the Chatty Cathy, and is not always reassuring about what is coming next for me. Still, today is her last treatment, and I am happy for her. The lady in the room across the hall is on her 3rd phone call. She uses treatment days to catch up with her friends on her cell phone. I can hear everything she says--her grandson Braden has a sore throat that she hopes is not strep. Mom and I are about to get started on the wedding invitations.
10:25 a.m. Karen came in and started the Emend drip. Emend is an anti-nausea medication. I will also take it in a pill form at home tomorrow and Thursday.
10:50 a.m. Stephani started me on Zantac and Benadryl drips. We had better hurry up and finish the invitations before I fall asleep!
11:03 a.m. Zantac and Benadryl are done. Stephanie started the Aloxi (another nausea med) and the Decadron (steroid) drips. These are the last of the pre-meds before the actual chemo drugs get started in a little while. We are about halfway through with the invitations. I told Mom that I hope she doesn't die from licking all those envelopes, like Susan on Seinfeld.
11:18 a.m. IV pump is beeping. It does that sometimes when I move around or it just is in a bad mood. Nurse Stephani to the rescue! The last two pre-med bags are empty and she just brought in the Taxol bag. Taxol is the drug that goes through my IV port, and is responsible for my hair loss. I'm not a fan of Taxol. Stephani flushed my IV line with Heparin to make sure it is still working. It is. I can hear someone vomiting down the hall. Mom has an envelope-licking-induced headache. Hubby just called to report that he is meeting our good friend Jamie for lunch and offered to bring us Pei Wei. Yes!
11:34 a.m. Stephani came in with the lunch menu. Dr. M treats all of his chemo patients to lunch on treatment days. He's really a nice guy. I'm holding out for Pei Wei, though, so Mom went down to the vending machine and brought back peanut butter crackers and Skittles to tide me over until Hubby's return. The regular receptionist is out today because her daughter had a baby last night. The sub receptionist lacks people skills and wouldn't let Mom back in the office. She is not a favorite of ours!
12:09 p.m. My brother is on the phone with our mother complaining about the length of this play-by-play post.
12:55 p.m. Hubby is back and Pei Wei is here! Orange peel chicken--yum!
1:03 p.m. Invitations are done! All 215 of them are stuffed, sealed, and set to be mailed out later this week. You're welcome, Seester.
1:22 p.m. Stephani says it's time to start the Cisplatin. This chemo drug goes directly into my abdomen through my port. It is responsible for the nausea and all the food upset that I've experienced. I'm not a fan of Cisplatin, either, but they tell me it's saving my life. I am taking out my contact lenses and getting ready to watch one of my favorite movies: Dirty Dancing. If you don't hear from me for a while, it's because I've fallen asleep. Thank you, Benadryl.
2:11 p.m. Stephani came in to answer questions and discuss important dates that are coming up. One thing to note is that I will have a CT scan 2 weeks from today. I am a nervous wreck about this scan...the one I had in January did not show the 2 tumors that were growing, so I've lost whatever confidence I had. Plus, the scan itself makes me sick. But Stephani assured me that the scan is important, and if it raises questions, Dr. M will not hesitate take action and order further tests. The lady across the hall is on the phone again discussing speed limits.
2:34 p.m. Taxol and Cisplatin are done! Stephani took the needle out of my port. There is still 1/2 a bag of saline flowing through the IV pump.
2:48 p.m. Stephani added Lasix (a diuretic) to my hydration. Johnny Castle and Baby are practicing lifts in the lake for their Sheldrake Hotel "Mambo Magic."
3:11 p.m. Hubby just left to go pick up the boys. We will all meet back up at home in a bit.
3:25 p.m. IV pump is beeping again. The hydration is empty! While we wait for a nurse, Mom and I are reading your precious blog comments and Facebook messages to each other. What an encouragement you are!
3:28 p.m. Michelle disconnected the IV and I am headed home!
4:39 p.m. We made it home and I am safely in my own bed. Hubby is on a work-related phone call and Mom/Nana just left with the boys to get some Baskin Robbins. All is well. I feel icky, but I am asking God to show mercy and favor during the coming days.
This concludes today's live blogging event! I hope you've enjoyed following me today. Who knows? Maybe we'll do it again sometime. Thank you so much for caring and especially for praying. I continue to stand on my faith in the Almighty God and trust Him, quite literally, with my life. He is good, and He does good.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Blog Bulletin

Tomorrow, May 11, 3LittleCowboys will go live for the first time!

I will give you a peek at a day in the life of a chemo patient by blogging from my chemo treatment room. Check back throughout the day for updates.

I'll meet you back here tomorrow!

Ring Bearer

Me: Baby, Aunt Jenny got her wedding ring so you can carry it at her wedding when you are the ring bearer!

Baby: I don't want to be the ring bearer. I won't go to that wedding!

Me: Why don't you want to be the ring bearer?

Baby: Because we don't have a bear costume.

Me: (Hysterical laughter)

Baby: But we have a penguin costume, Mommy.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

I love Mother's Day because it is the perfect day to celebrate the greatest gift God has ever given me: motherhood.

I also love it because I can count on the boys to tell me what they really think about me. This is how Baby answered the annual Mother's Day questionnaire at preschool:
My mom's name is Allyson.
She is one years old,
and weighs ten pounds.
Her eyes are blue,
and her hair is brown.
Her favorite color is purple.
She loves to eat!
While I'm at school, she messes around,
and she just loves to eat macaroni.
Little Middle dictated this to his teacher:
My mom is good at dancing!
I love my mom because she is so nice.
She rests so she can play with us.
My mom loves me because we are nice to her and she loves all of us.
She plays games with me and takes me to the park.
I love my mom!
Of course, not every day is a good day. There are a lot of days I feel like I'm just barely surviving, and none of us are thriving.

Goliath drew this picture to hang on his door on one such day.

But every single night, the last thing I do before I go to bed is check on my sons. I make sure they are breathing just like I did when they were infants. (Will I ever stop doing that?) I tuck the covers in around them, gently touch their little foreheads, and whisper a prayer of thanksgiving that somehow, God saw fit to allow me to be their mom.

Camp Momanmee 2010

This weekend I got to take Little Middle to Camp Momanmee at our church! This special event for Pre-K and Kindergarten boys and their moms is something we look forward to all year long. On Friday afternoon, Little Middle got home from school at 3:15. At 3:17, he said, "Mom, is it time to go to church yet?" I had a tough time keeping him distracted for the rest of the afternoon--I finally gave up and we arrived 20 minutes before camp was supposed to start!
Ready to go!

Enjoying a hot dog dinner with his good pal Cody

This year's Camp Momanmee had a "critter" theme. If there was ever a little boy who loved all creatures great and small, it is my Little Middle! He was especially excited about seeing CritterMan and all of his unique (and icky) animals.

Excited friends waiting for CritterMan!

Rose the Tarantula
Did you know that if a girl tarantula gets mad at a boy tarantula then she will rip his head off with her fangs and eat him? Yikes.

Legs the legless lizard

"Kubwa Mududu"--Swahili for "big bug"

This Madagascar hissing cockroach was indeed a kubwa mududu. Little Middle was thrilled when CritterMan asked him to help out with the giant bug. Me--not so much.

Little Middle was not afraid to pet this huge skink...

or this enormous python!

He asked me in the sweetest voice if I would pretty please touch the snake, too. Only a mother's love could oblige a request like that! Shudder.

After CritterMan left with his pets, we had plenty of other fun things to do.

We hunted for bugs,

made smores,

jumped in the bounce house,

went for a walk in the dark with our flashlights,

and watched a late-night movie.

Finally asleep!

I had a spectacular time with my boy, and I know we will both hold on to the memories we made together for a long, long time. Hooray for being a boy mom!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

This Sums It Up Nicely

It goes without saying that cancer has turned my world upside down, but it felt like the final straw when I had to give up my morning coffee and exchange it for caffeine headaches and hot tea. I don't even like hot tea!

A few weeks ago, a long-time friend of our family sent me this delightful little gift:

I sip my hot pomegranate tea each morning out of this mug. I still miss my coffee, but I enjoy the feeling of satisfaction this disrespectful mug gives me. And let's be honest: the mug is right.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Wedding Shower Weekend

This past weekend was a fun one! I traveled to Houston to attend my sister's bridal shower on Saturday. Because of The Sickness, I had to miss out on her first shower. She and I were both heartbroken. NO WAY was I missing this weekend!

As is typical for my family, the weekend plan was complicated. Hubby was in the middle of a week-long business trip to Little Rock. Not only was he not here (which is my favorite place for him to be, by the way), he was working 18+ hours a day and suffering from some sleep-deprivation-delirium. He called me once just to tell me that he really liked his rental car. But I digress... Mom and I agreed that it would be best if the boys did not have to travel with us to Houston...but what to do with them? Hubby made a few phone calls, and it was decided that the cowboys would spend a fun weekend in West Texas with my in-laws. My precious brother-in-law loaded them up after school on Friday and drove them halfway to Abilene, where he met his mom and left them in her capable hands. The way they tell it, the change of scenery and quality time with Mema was just what the doctor ordered. Their adventures included swimming, scorpions, movie-watching, puppies, and one fabulous meal at Famous Dave's. They were happy boys.
So while Hubby was in Arkansas and our children were in Abilene, Mom and I headed south on I-45. It was a weird feeling to be separated from my four guys, but at least we had my faithful beagle as a traveling companion!

The shower on Saturday was perfect. I was so proud of my sister...she was lovely and gracious. Planning a wedding can be really stressful, but she glows with happiness. She deserves every good thing, and this day was great!

The ladies of the family: Mom, Gran, Grandmama, Chelsea (my pretty sister-in-law-to-be), me, and Jenny (the bride).

Sweet Caroline was able to tear herself away from her husband of 2 weeks to come and honor Jenny. I adore this girl!

As the shower was winding down, the bridesmaids had a quick meeting to discuss top-secret wedding things. These girls are fun, and they love my sister! We missed you, Jennifer!
By the way, I am the Matron of Honor. But I hate that title. It sounds so...matronly. And Mother Goose-ish. So Jenny and the rest of the wedding party are under strict instructions to refer to me as the First Lady of the Wedding. They grudgingly obey.

The Original Five. Love and time have expanded our hearts and our numbers. Aren't we cute?

Melinda's home was packed with women who came to celebrate my sister. Some I knew, many I didn't. But as I made my way through the crowd, person after person stopped me to hug me and share how they have been praying for me and my family. I could feel God's presence so strongly through these delightful ladies. Friends, you touched my heart with your kind words and your faithful prayers. Thank you for the love you have for our family and your encouragement.

I enjoyed a nap after the shower, and then ended the day with a yummy dinner at Pappasito's with my siblings, their significant others, and two of our favorite cousins. I haven't laughed that much in a long time! The weekend was perfect, and my sister is happy. My cup overflows.