July 19: Day 49

Greetings! Things around Chez Doyle have gotten a little crazy over the past few weeks, it feels on some level as though the rest of life has crept back to regular mock ten speed, while we still try to manage what is directly in front of us and practice some element of presence. 

Balance is tricky and elusive at best. 

I still find myself awash from one moment to the next in what feels like manic emotions: happy, sad, joy, anger, and of course just sheer exhaustion and even some numbness. 

All these feelings are garbled up in each of us somewhere and their physical manifestations are vast and varied. Sometimes we collide from differing spaces and it is not pretty. Sometimes we share tender, raw moments that we will never forget.

Mom said something a couple weeks ago in a weepy moment that has stuck with me and really says it all: 

"What this cancer is doing to my body is nothing compared to what it is doing to my family." And her body is irrevocably broken.

Somehow there are still these moments of light and laughter and exceptional kindness. 

Joanna Anderson delivered two DVDs chuck full of some of the most beautiful photography from Mom's retirement party and our family session. They will remain treasures in our family forever. 

The meals continue to show up and I believe at some point Mom has cried over each and every one of them in sheer gratitude. None of us can imagine in all our coming and going adding cooking onto our lists, and yet by virtue of the fact that there is food at our parents; we all freely gather there, coming exactly as we are. To each of you who have cooked: THANK YOU for giving us this gift.

Those of you on Facebook know what a treat Mom's friends made her faux retirement party trip to Vegas with the adventures of Flat Susan and Flat Jamie. The green "No One Fights Alone" bracelets Mom's sisters hatched are now making appearances at various concerts, events, and family gatherings. There are some 500 of these puppies around town now, and it is so awesome to see folks I do not know out and about sporting them!

Mom is touched and notices each and every Facebook tag, mention, and the cards; she is still receiving cards, she LOVES them, and is completely overwhelmed by your love. 

She also in the past few weeks shared some raw moments with the Ames Firemen and other cancer survivors at the Care Enough To Wear Pinkevent. Most recently, fellow survivor Michelle Flattery dedicated a portion of one of her marathons (yes, she ran more than one!) to Mom in the Million Dollar Cancer Run which is snaking its way across the US. Mom upped the ante after appearing in the Ames Tribune with the softball teams and this time received mention via Michelle on the Channel 8 news.

I mentioned in my last post that it was Mom's goal to get back on her bike. To that end, her BFF Peg dragged her down to Skunk River Cycles and they fitted her for a new bike which will be delivered sometime this weekend. Mom still isn't sure how she'll balance or how it'll all work (she had enough trouble balancing when she was 110% so this should shock no one!), but it is her initial goal to do a hot lap near their house. 

She laments often these days at her concern over how quickly she seems to be losing her strength despite continuing to take walks every day. Please pray that she is able to enjoy some time in the saddle and that she will be patient with herself as she does so.

We've been trying to keep her eating and she has been enjoying a disproportionate share of Snickers and Big Macs. We all have individual ideas about how to pack on the pounds and several of you have suggested she borrow a few of theirs (me included), however, at this point, Dr. Karwal should be pleased that she has not lost any additional weight since her last visit.

For those of you enlisting the help of prayer warriors, Mom's next appointment in Iowa City is July 30. We will specifically be praying that the tumor marker continues to drop, and that she maintains strength. We are starting to see come side effects from the drug creep in, including some rash and headaches, so will hope she can adjust if needed and get a bit of relief there too. When the humidity rises, her ability to breathe decreases, so we'd sure like the weather Gods to gift us with some less than humid days so it is easier for her to get out and about.

Again, I close with the thought that I am making a hundred glaring omissions in gratitude. Everyone's overwhelming kindness and love in this winding journey have taught me one gut punching thing: I can always do better, be a better friend. I will do things differently when someone else is on the reciprocal end.

One last final side note: Some of you may have heard that Cale took a nasty fall from the roof of he and Amber's new house last week. He cracked three vertebra in his low back, sustained a concussion, bruised kidneys, and lots of external bruising. In many ways, he's very, very lucky. A huge thanks goes out to my Uncle Dick, his kids, and also to all the Ames Firemen who rallied and pulled things back together for Cale and Amber in those first couple days while he was completely laid up and his roof was exposed to the elements. 

We are so blessed by our immediate family and yet another great gift of Mom's diagnosis has been the sheer acknowledgement and wonder at those 'families' we individually have surrounded ourselves with by choice. 

You are all absolutely amazing and we will continue to 'lean in'.