Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cancer Sucks and Other Updates

So it's been 6 months since I've posted anything. Mainly because I didn't care even though I had plenty of time. Now I have pretty much no time and I still don't really care but I find myself typing anyway.

Cancer Sucks and Other Updates. Let's start with the Other Updates first.

1. I did not go to the Daily Show. Bummer. Instead, I went to Rome. Not a bummer. My good friend Angela convinced me that we shouldn't go anywhere until we go out of the country. After a long debate on where to go (Spain, Amsterdam, Rome, and Ireland were in the running) we decided on Rome. And when I say we decided, I mean Angela talked me into Rome. I'm glad she did cause it was a perfect place for our first European experience. We found a really nice hotel a short bus ride from the metro and found the city extremely easy to navigate thanks to our superior Metro skills learned in DC. We were gone for a total of a week and it was AMAZING. One of the long term benefits from the trip was it converted me to dresses and skirts. We read that you shouldn't wear jeans in Rome (it's a lie by the way - plenty of natives were wearing jeans) so I packed dresses and skirts and I love them now. I'll wear them on a weekday. Freak out.
2. I quit my job and went back to school. I'm in the third week of my MSW program at the U and I'm liking it a lot. I've pretty much decided that I am definitely not going to be a clinician. I didn't know what I wanted to do with social work when I decided I was going to get an MSW and I'm a little closer to having that figured out. It sucks because 99% of my fellow students want to be therapists so the program is geared around that to a degree. Every semester I have to take a practice class so by the end of the 2 years I'll have the skills to be a therapist, but perhaps not the drive. I'm thinking more on the policy level which makes sense considering my background. There's always international development too. I'm planning on emphasizing in international social work which would help out and I'm also looking into getting a women's health certificate. That one is 15 credits so it would be more intense and I would probably have to take summer classes, but it still looks really cool. I'm talking to the professor in charge of both those programs tomorrow about the reality of doing both.

3. I'm an aunt again. My sister Cecily had her first daughter in April. She and Mike named her Isabel Danger Gillis. Her middle name isn't really Danger. I don't think she has one. She's just so stinking cute though! It's amazing - I don't like babies or kids at all really and yet my nieces and nephew are the coolest things EVER! It gives me hope that someday I'll be ready for kids myself and when I do, I'll like them. I'll be an aunt for the fourth time in I think April. Leith is pregnant with her and Mack's second. I feel bad for my kids. All their cousins will be so much older than them. If I'm lucky Cecily's youngest and my oldest will be about the same age.

That's pretty much it for Other Updates. Now for Cancer Sucks. My mom was diagnosed with Leiomyosarcoma this summer. It's a pretty nasty type and we were pretty much freaking out when we first found out, but they caught it fairly early so we have hope. She starts chemo at the Huntsman Center tomorrow. She'll be doing chemo for 3 months and if she stays cancer free for 18 months she's pretty much in the clear. There's about a 50% chance of that happening. Even when that happens though (not if, when) she'll have to go in for CT scans every couple months for the rest of her life to make sure no new tumors develop. It sucks, but I'll take CT scans and the worry that results might come back not great over the alternative.

I've been freaking out since we found out and even though it's been better since that first week, it hasn't been great. I've been in Salt Lake for about a month now and I still feel weird about moving out but my mom has said time and again that I shouldn't put my life on hold. I know that's true, but I still want to. My mom says she freaks out every now and then too but I haven't really seen it. She's always been the happiest and most optimistic person I know and even though she's the one with cancer, she's been my anchor through this. Her and my Heavenly Father.

I always wondered how I'd react as far as spirituality goes to news like this. The why her, why now, she's the last person that deserves this all continually pass through my head and end up in my prayers, but this has been the biggest faith promoting experience for me by far. There's not a doubt in my mind that she can be healed permanently. I try not to wonder if she will - I just focus on my faith that she can be.

Earlier this summer I went to Las Vegas with some friends. Angela likes to play question games when we're on road trips and one of the questions was something to the effect of, if you knew you were going to die early, would you still have kids? Ben and I both said, of course. Children are resilient and they'll get over it. Angela and Michon said no. If their mothers died now they'd be completely devastated and Angela went so far as to say she'd rather go with her mom. At the time I thought, man, I love my mom, we're really good friends, and I would be devastated if she did die, but life goes on. I'd get over it. Deep down I still know that's true, but faced with what we're faced with now, I have to search to find the "life goes on" mentality.

Ok, that's my bit of morbidity. I really do have a lot of hope. My mom had her one and only tumor removed, she's going to see an amazing oncology team at one of the 26 sarcoma centers in the United States, she's optimistic and full of life, and she has the love, support, and prayers of everyone around her. I love you, Mom!