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I'm a down to earth girl who loves to laugh at others...I mean make others laugh.
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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
30 Rock


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Truth Be Told

As I sit down to write this post, I'm taking a deep breath. This is the post I've been putting off writing for sometime as I haven't really known what to say. I guess in a way I still don't, but here I am, full steam ahead, attempting to say it anyway. It's no secret that this blog is a shell of what it used to be and to be honest, there's a number of factors that have contributed to it's slow demise. When I started AOGB, it was was an outlet for me in so many respects, personally, professionally and mentally. Now it's more like an old friend, one I hate neglecting, but one that when I do get the chance to visit, things fall right back into place as if no time has passed at all.

Before I proceed, I realize as I write that the tone of this post is hinting that I am giving up on AOGB and no, this is not the case. I've toyed with closing its doors completely, but instead I've opted for the alternative, the understanding that those of you can accept that my posting is sporadic at best are going to be with me regardless of how often I post. I know that blog readership itself is fickle and I've seen its effects first hand. Maybe one day I'll have the time and the energy to get this blog back to where it used to be, but in all honesty, as many of you already know, truly running a good blog is like having a part time job. So instead I settle for second best. This blog might be winning any additional awards or even any new readers, but I've made peace with that. The fact that I haven't folded completely while other good blogging friends have come and gone over the years is in itself, a reason to be proud.

So why is it so hard to update AOGB as often as I used to do it? I have examined the reasons before myself and I've come to a variety of conclusions. Simply put, when I first started this site there was just less on my plate. In the last year or so the cup has overflowed so to speak and it's made it hard to catch up. It all started with my getting engaged and having a lot of my time, at least initially, devoted to planning a wedding which is, as many of you know, no easy task. With the planning of the wedding came the staging of the house my fiance has yet to sell and all that entails. A dismal housing market caused him to take the house off for the winter. Now, with more work being put into the house and less of a profit to be made, he's poised to put it up a second time in the hopes that we can still get it off our hands by the wedding in August. Needless to say we're cautiously optimistic.

From there, last fall I received my first student teacher which allocated my time differently as it was an additional responsibility. I'm not complaining about this responsibility in the slightest however, considering I learned a lot, had a great time and made a new friend in the process. I was so happy with the experience, in fact that when asked if I wanted another student teacher for the spring semester I happily agreed. But factors in and out of work have made this experience far different from the first one. There's more pressure for one thing the second half of the year and there are extenuating factors outside of school that have made this harder.

Which brings me to this week and another added pressure, the big state test. It's something I prepare for every year, but this year it really seemed to sneak up on us. All of us are feeling the pressure because it's a bit earlier than it usually is and the kids feel less prepared than they normally do. This compacted with the fact that the percentage of kids that need to be proficient each year increases and you realize the outlook doesn't look good. Still for better or worse, the test is almost over now and by this Wednesday I can heave a big sigh of relief that it's done for the time being, until I have to hone in on a new batch of kids, that is.

So now you have a taste of what I've been going through the last year or so. Maybe you think this already seems like a lot, maybe it's nothing compared to what you go through on a daily basis. Regardless of what it is, it's a lot all at once. Which makes the fact that one more thing getting added to my plate last fall truly pushed things over the edge. That's because on New Years Eve my mother was diagnosed with cancer.

It all started in the fall when she felt what she thought was a swollen lymph node under her arm. It triggered her to make an appointment for a routine mammography that was a bit overdue. Results from the mammography were inconclusive and after a series of tests, including a needle biopsy, it was discovered that she had Stage One breast cancer in both breasts.

The good news is that it was Stage One which makes it very easy to treat and the prognosis was excellent. But as any of you who have dealt with cancer directly or indirectly before know, it's still not an easy thing to deal with. The process itself is amazingly a long, drawn out one all things considered. Perhaps if she had a more advanced stage of cancer everything would seem to go faster, but they haven't. She went in to have a lumpectomy on both breasts in early February. The process of being in the hospital all day was a grueling one at best and disheartening, too. But really that is a post in itself that I won't bore you with here. Needless to say we were there from 8:30 in the morning and didn't get home until after midnight. The wait was worth it though when we got the news that her lymph nodes were clear and that the cancer itself had been removed. Had the cancer been present in her lymph nodes the battle would have been far greater, but thankfully and luckily, it was not.

My mom's recovery from the surgery itself was a relatively painless procedure, her words not mine. They do something now where they can hook you up to a pain ball which sends medications locally to the site where you had the surgery. In essence, the surgical site was numbed without her having to feel the side effects of pain meds throughout her body. It made her recovery much smoother and more pleasant. But after the surgery, we had entered the next phase, the hurry up and wait of treatment.

See we figured that since her cancer was stage one and for all intents and purposes had been removed, she'd have radiation and then move on. But unfortunately my mother was a rather unusual case, something you don't want to be in circumstances such as these. For whatever the reason, she had stage one cancer in both breasts, however the cancer she had in each breast was different. The good news is that meant that the cancer itself hadn't spread from breast to breast as it seems that it would have. The bad news is that she technically had two different types of cancers which effects the course of treatment they ultimately suggest.

So as a precautionary measure, it was suggested that my mother have four cycles of chemotherapy spaced twenty-one days apart to be followed by five weeks of radiation for five minutes each day. In addition, she also will take some sort of pill. The doctors showed her a chart that mapped out her chances of reoccurrence decreasing with each form of treatment that was added. They were the experts, so she trusted what they said and that's where we are now as she finally starts chemotherapy tomorrow.

As a bystander the whole experience has been surreal at best. As a family we are known for being worriers and over analyzers and even at times can be accused of seeing the glass as half empty and that would be right. But I must say it's true that you don't know how you'll deal with things until they happen. It's also corny and cliche to say, but God does not give you more than he thinks you can handle. I know she's my mom, but I must say that she has handled this whole process amazingly well. She has maintained a positive attitude and most importantly, her sense of humor. She has a great group of friends, lifetime friends and work friends, that have been extremely supportive, too. I also have told only a few close friends up until now and have seen first hand how others react to what you are going through. In general this has been a bittersweet experience because it can sweeten or sour the experience as the case may be. I wish I didn't take such matters to heart, but going through something like this and seeing where you truly stand with people is quite the eye opening experience.

My mom has continued to work while all of this has been going on, only taking off days as necessary for various appointments. She doesn't have to work at all, but she chooses to do so and I think it's great she has that outlet for her mental health. Just recently I started to see her show signs of being more scared now that she knows that she has to undergo the chemotherapy. After all, up until now she hasn't really felt sick. The chemotherapy and radiation however may change all of that and it's the unknown that scares her, not the fact that she's not really "sick" anymore. She also gets sad when she thinks about the possibility of losing her hair, especially since that means that she will have to wear a wig most likely for my wedding. I suggested postponing the date but there's no way around it. If the date is changed she'll always look at pictures and remember her sickness was the reason why. If the date isn't changed she'll probably always look at the pictures and remember what was going on at the time. One thing we can't change is the fact that cancer itself changes things, period.

So why am I telling all of you this now? Well it's not so much avoiding sharing it with all of you, it just hasn't seemed necessary or appropriate up until now. But for those of you who have been loyal enough to stick with AOGB through highs and lows I felt I owed you something. This isn't an excuse, merely an explanation and a disclaimer that the highs and lows continue indefinitely, until further notice. Regardless of the fact that I've never met any of you, many of you are like an extended family of sorts, knowing me in different ways than some of my own friends and family do. Only like minded bloggers know what this sort of experience is like. It's hard to explain to people who haven't experienced it for themselves, but needless to say I'm glad I'm still along for the ride.



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