Viva Las Vegas

Sitting on a plane heading to Las Vegas this morning I wonder, can the couple next to me tell that I am a cancer patient?  I am wearing my new jeans, a cute top, my wedge black open toe shoes with freshly new light blue painted toes and my hair is finally growing out be a little like Halle Berry’s short look!  I have to admit I’m looking pretty cute today!  Who would have thought?  A few months ago, I was in the transplant unit closer to death than I ever want to be.  And now I’m heading to Vegas to meet Mike for the weekend!  Wow, life has a way of taking some unexpected twists and turns. I love the direction it is going for me right now!
I have a direct 5 hour flight to Vegas this morning.  Seeing how I don’t particularly enjoy flying I thought I would keep my mind busy by blogging a bit about how life has been going.  I feel like life is getting busy once again for me.  Mike has been traveling for business just about every week now.  So I have resumed life as a busy stay at home mom with 4 kids with endless amounts of energy.  I have enjoyed not having to make my bi-weekly trips to the hospital for my Velcade infusions.  This adds about 12 hours to my week!  The mornings are usually spent dashing out to the bus stop with the kids by 7:30 and then enjoying my morning runs with Flower.  I have been averaging about 4-5 miles about 4 times a week.  Flower is getting her sexy little figure back!  And once a week, I work out with my trainer Kim.  I love my sessions with her.  And lately she has been kicking my butt! 
Last weekend, Mike and I and the kids kicked off our spring with all participating in the Groton Road Race.  The weather was perfect, sunny and 60!  The kids all ran the 2K and did an amazing job!  They all finished strong and sprinted to the finish line.  Mike and I ran the 5K with some of our closest friends.  I am so proud of Mike.  He has never particularly enjoyed running, but he has recently added running to his daily routine.  He has really taken control of his health and fitness and has gotten himself in incredible shape!  He is looking pretty damn hot!  He ran his best 5K yet!  I am so proud of him and the kids.
At the start of the race, my friend Anne found me at the starting line.  Anne is in incredible shape.  She is a fast runner and a tri-athlete.  We decided that we would run together.  The first mile I was able keep up with her.  By the 2 ½ mile point I was struggling to keep up.  We were definitely running at a fast pace and the weather was warm.  But I knew I had to finish strong.  My four kids were at the finish line waiting for me.  At about the last ½ mile Anne (who had been ahead me) waited for me and told me we were going to finish together!  She is one of those beautiful gems in the world!  She knew exactly what I needed at that moment and I am so thankful.   We headed to the finish line together taking off 13 seconds off my time from last year! I finished 7th for my age class!   Take that Myeloma!!!   The smiles on my kids’ faces is one of those images I will never forget.  I knew right there at that moment I showed them that mommy was strong and determined.  Tears filled my eyes as my kids gave me a huge group hug!  I did it!  I was back! 
For the last couple of months, I have been battling with moments of sadness and depression.   I love the fact that I feel stronger every day and have recovered from the transplant.   It is wonderful to be able to be in public without a mask, be able to take care of my kids and the house, exercise, clean( anyone who knows me knows me knows that I am a bit of a clean freak) , shop, cook and resume all the activities that a short while ago I could not do.  I know that I should just embrace all this and feel blessed and enjoy all that is “today”.  But and that is a huge “BUT” it is still a daily struggle not to worry about the future.  I feel like I am a very informed Myeloma patient.  I keep up with the all the disease the treatment.  Although the knowledge makes me feel empowered I also have a sense of realism.  I am very fortunate to be one of the lucky ones to have had an almost “Complete Response” to treatment.  I do know however that this is not a Remission.  This disease at this point does not have a cure.  I am hopeful that being on maintenance regimen will prolong the disease progression and ultimately add years to my life.  However, I do find myself caught up with moments with my kids or Mike where I end up back on that roller coaster ride worried that I won’t be around in 10 or so years.  I try to stop myself from going on that ride, I really do.  However, sometimes I end up on it. 
Running has certainly helped me in so many ways.  Not only am I feeling my body getting stronger, but my mind as well.  I feel my strongest when I am running, almost invincible.  My anxiety level has gone done so much and my spirits seem to soar on the days I run.  I told Mike that every day I can get out and run is a great day.  So, that is what I am going to do.  Running that race last Sunday and finishing strong is exactly what I needed to do (thanks Anne J) for me, Mike and the kids.
Reflecting on life, I have noticed some things that I need to work on.  I don’t  know if it is the “chemo brain” I read about, but I find myself not being the multi-tasker I once prided myself with.  If I don’t write it down, forget it.  I am guilty of not returning phone calls, messages, and being a little bit of a flake.  Please be patient with me.  I find myself getting completely consumed by life at times and overwhelmed at times.  The noise and activity level of just my kids in the house is sometimes all that can handle.  I find myself pleading with my kids to be more patient and quieter.  Sometimes the thought of packing them all in the car and heading to an evening baseball or dance practice completely gets me stressed.  I recently explained to Mike that life seems to be moving on a fast train full speed ahead and I am not quite caught up.  I think I am trying to be the best that I can be for my kids.  I was out of commission for so long, I am trying to make up for lost times.  I know they can put their laundry away, make their beds, and get breakfast for themselves.  But you know what it feels good to do for them again.  They were doing so well being more independent and helping out around the house when my parents were here and I was in the hospital.  And now I find myself overcompensating and doing almost everything for them once again.  Back to country club living!  Is it the guilt that my kids even have to even think of cancer at such a young age?  In a way I am trying to make life easier for them again, but at times making my own life a little crazier. 
For example, before I even began packing for my trip to Vegas do you want a little insight into what mentally I needed to do?  My incredible Mother-In-Law is staying at the house and taking care of the kids.  The girls will be heading to my sister-in-law’s house to spend the weekend with their cousins.  So yesterday I packed up all their bags, sleeping bags and lined them up in the dining room.  I Packed up all the kids’ backpacks for school today and prepared their lunches.  I organized the boy’s sport bags with all their soccer/baseball gear and wrote out the sports schedules for the weekend.  And get this, I pre-sorted the vitamins, fluoride, into individual plastic bags for each day.    ( I need professional help, right?) I also stayed up folding every piece of laundry in the house and putting it away.  I think finally at about 11 PM  I began to think about packing.  So do you think I’m nuts yet or what?  I have four very capable kids, yet I find myself doing just about everything for them.  Just about the only think I don’t do is wipe their butts!!  Crazy I know.  I guess I feel like things have been so tough lately on them.  They deserve to have life be a little easier for them.  They deserve to be kids and enjoy life without all the worries and complications that come along with it.
So I guess my new challenge is finding the balance.  I know I need to empower my kids and get them doing more for themselves so that someday they move out of the houseJ  I also need to make time to spend quality time with friends family without feeling the guilt that I am away from the kids.  My friends have been so vital during the past year.  I need to nurture those relationships and keep them strong.  At times I feel like I was a burden in some ways.  They have been so supportive and strong for me.  I feel like I have been out of the loop for quite some time with what has been going on their lives.  I need to stop trying to fill every moment of every day doing, doing,  and doing.  I think for a while now, I have tried to do as much as I can today, because I fear that tomorrow I may not be able to.  It is OK to leave the dirty laundry and go out and enjoy lunch with a friend or favorite TV show with my kids. I am trying, but again it is a daily challenge.  
There is about 2 hours left to my flight.  I still cannot believe I am heading away for the weekend with Mike. I think that he is still in shock that I haven’t canceled.  Honestly, I have never been more ready or excited to get away.    I hope that he is not too burnt out from his week in Vegas because I am ready to live it up!  I am looking forward to 48 hours of fun!  I’m taking off the “mommy/cancer hat” for the weekend!    Mike and I need so badly to have fun and not worry about anything for one weekend.  I told Mike to get ready for a crazy fun weekend.  You know what they say,” What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!!”    Well time to catch up on some sleep that I won’t be getting this weekend! 
Love and Hugs,