Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Apparently, more than a year has passed since we posted an update here. While I would love to have better documented our family's adventures, we were simply too busy experiencing those adventures.
We've had celebrations:
8 years of marriage, Connie turning one, Abe turning three, a little cousin being born, potty training being accomplished, our backyard being made playable, Dan being hired for another year at Lodi High, 2 half-marathons being finished, and many others.
We've also dealt with struggles:
Months of back-to-back illnesses in the kids, multiple ER visits, familial tensions, periods of spiritual dryness, broken washer/AC/car/gas line, potty training regressions, family-planning and work decisions, anxiety/OCD issues, and others.
For the most part, though, Dan and I have been thoroughly entrenched in the thrills of parenting two toddlers.
Abe is currently 3 1/2 years old, smart as a whip, talking (loudly) ALL THE TIME, emotional and hilarious. His current loves are the Magical School Bus, numbers/letters and the United States. That last one has become a bit of an obsession for him. If the weather man shows a map of the US on the news or Abe sees a globe somewhere, he will shout, "MY UNITED STATES! THAT'S IT!" He'll either grow up to be a geography teacher or the President.
Connie is 18 months old going on 5 years old. She's using a new word at least every day, doing her best to keep up with her big brother and to keep us on her toes. Very little scares her, which she is constantly getting herself in trouble or moderate danger. Oh, and this child is even more stubborn and opinionated than her brother. Dan and I argue over whose DNA is to blame for this.
I (Ash) am still at home with the kids. Not to imply that being a nurse is an easy job, but sometimes, I yearn to go back to work just to get a break from the toddler tornadoes. Alas, we feel that this is where I am supposed to be for now. Eventually, perhaps in the next year or so, I would like to return to an infusion center or an oncology unit. However, I am volunteering as a nurse educator at the local pregnancy resource center, where I work with a team educating young people about STIs and sexual health. I hear some ridiculous things from students., some funny, some scary, many wrong. It may not be oncology or end-of-life care (my passions), but I hope that is helping young people to make smart(er) decisions in regards to their present and future.
Dan is working is continuing at Lodi High, teaching various levels of math and AVID (a college-preparatory program geared toward those with little home support toward reaching scholastic goals). He works long hours, like so many teachers, but continues to be an incredibly present father and husband. It is currently his favorite time of year: football season. Though I could do without the incessant discussions of players and statistics and the fantasy football planning sessions...it makes me smile to see him so excited on Sundays. And Thursdays. And other days that end in -y.
As for his health, that is the true reason I came back to this blog.
Dan gets imaging (an MRI or CT) every 6 months or so to make sure that his cancer isn't trying to cause new problems. For several years now, we have become accustomed to hearing that his scans show no evidence of new disease. As there is no oncologist in their right mind who could look at Dan's history or imaging and declare him in remission, "no evidence of new disease" is the absolute best news we can get this side of Heaven.
He has had relatively few symptoms or problems in recent months, though he needs to be careful in regards to his poor immune system and blood counts and cannot eat quite as much greasy food as he used to be able to do.
His latest check-up scan, however, showed a new mass on his liver. Though it was very small, his oncologist discussed the case with the GI Oncology team at Kaiser and decided that a biopsy was necessary. We had planned a trip to Harry Potter World during his Fall break and moved it up, so that he could have the biopsy before going back to work. The biopsy went smoothly and was done by a radiologist who actually trained under the Stanford interventional radiologist who has been treating Dan since the beginning! The doctor encouraged us that the spot was so small that it would be easy to take care of with a variety of interventions.
Dan had decided that he did not want to tell many people about the new spot before we had a better idea of what we were dealing with. We obviously notified our parents and a few close friends for support, but otherwise kept the information to ourselves.
Well, after nearly 2 weeks of waiting for an answer, the doctor told us that the sample had been sent off for secondary testing due to the "complex nature of the case". That did not give us much encouragement.
Blame my profession or my anxiety or realistic statistics, but I was preparing for the worst. Figuring out how much to tell the kids, thinking about going back to work so Dan could do treatment, lining up arguments as to why Kaiser had to let Dan go back to Stanford, etc.
I even told Dan that we'd probably get the results on Halloween because that's when my family got the bad news about my brother's diagnosis and that would just be fabulous timing. (Cue grand eye-rolling from my husband.)
I was right. We did get the results on Halloween.
I was also wrong. We got good news.
The oncologist wrote to tell us that the biopsy came back normal. As in, no cancer cells.
I have had to re-read it several times because I cannot convince my brain that it is real.
We are obviously rejoicing and happily shocked.
(Of course, I am still waiting "for the other shoe to drop", though I'm really trying to let it go.)
I had planned on breaking radio silence to let everyone know about the recurrence and the plan of attack, if you will.
Instead, I got to write about another miracle.
Praise God, our good, good Father.