Friday, April 29, 2011

Flash Mob

I found this on The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's fan page on facebook.

Almost 200 people gathered for Baltimore's First Glee Flash Mob to raise awareness for Blood Cancer on Saturday, April 23, 2011 at 12 noon.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Fun

We had a great Easter.  The girls and I headed to church - ohhhh we were ten minutes late - but we got there.  The only available seating was in the back in the fellowship hall.  We sat next to Mark and the kids.  In fact there weren't even any hymn books left.

Usually, our church services start at 10:45 during the school year and 9:00 during the summer.  Easter - we have two services 7:00 and 10:00 with some sort of breakfast in between.   Every Easter, there is a family or two who are late.  This year - there were about five families who came into church who gave me a very confused look.  "Don't worry - it happens every Easter - you're in time for communion" I give them a hug - because of course, they come in at five different times - We all smile - because it's confusing - we're used to the routine - and laugh at ourselves because change is odd. 

This Easter, we decided to go to the waterpark.  We all chipped in some money and bought a birthday package.  Mark's grandpa just had a birthday, so we put "Happy Birthday Great-Grandpa" on the cake.  The kids ate pizza, sloppy joes, and chips. 

We played all day long. 

We lazied ourselves in the lazy river. We squealed down the slides. We relaxed in the hot tub.

And oh!  We ate cake!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Internets

One piece of advice I've clung to since my mom and sister were diagnosed is to stay clear of the internet medical sites. They are not up-to-date.  Medical sites can not keep up to the research.

When Missi or mom visit their oncologists, the oncologist is always positive and says "The prognosis is good."  And so I take my cue from them - the experts on my mom and sister at the time. 

There is no website, other than Missi's caringbridge site, that has expertise on HER leukemia.  There is no website that has expertise on my mom's cancer.

There is no reason to read through those websites and scare the snap out of myself.  I can only look forward and make sure Missi's family has a healthy meal at the end of the day and some clean clothes. 

I can only find comfort in the kids who sing and dance in my kitchen and humbly pray before dinner.  I can only look forward and make sure I get my daily walk and do my best to get the right amount of sleep.

I have to trust in God and those oncologists who say the "Wow - the prognosis is good."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Plan -

Missi and Mark left for Rochester this afternoon.  Last night, I told the girls we would need to figure a better way for having five kids around. 

We made a plan.  I told the kids they would bath at 7:00 starting youngest to oldest.  Mykayla, Mariah, and then, Allison took their showers.  Natalie will have her shower at 8:30.  Ethan will start the round of showers in the morning starting at 6:30 sharp!

I had the kids help me set the dinner table.  We prayed before dinner.  Natalie and Ethan washed dishes while Mariah and Allison were sweeping and swiffer mopping the floor in the dining room.

The four big kids finished the evening chores in ten minutes.

That would have taken me at least forty.

How's that for cooperation?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

In Black

There 's a big difference between ...


Filling my Cup

I've been busy taking care of my sister's children and updating her caringbridge site while teaching and taking care of my own family.

I need to make sure my own cup is filled.  I've been continuing my journey to better health by exercising and eating right.  I feel healthy and that is good. 

For the past lenten season, I've been attending Wednesday services.  Usually, one of the groups at church provide a light supper with some yummy bars or pie. 

When Missi told me about her coming battle, I was shattered because I knew it would difficult with my mom having cancer.  I also thought of Missi's three children.  I went to the Wednesday service.  I don't remember what the visiting pastor said or what the bible text was - but the congregation sang this song...

My heart was filled such peace. It sounded as though angels were singing to me.

One Year Ago

I was struggling with my own battle. I was laid off from my school.  I wasn't sure to be mad at - and that was frustrating.   But at the time, I was in a big funk.  I knew I would be okay financially.  I even knew I'd get over the initial pain.  My brain was very philosophical, and I knew that God had a plan for me somewhere else. 

I taught at the ALC last summer.  I subbed at various classrooms and found out that subbing wasn't for me.  Then, I heard about a courageous woman who was losing her battle with cancer and wasn't only having to leave behind her kids but her Spanish class as well.

I ended up teaching that Spanish class.  I'm at the best school I've ever taught at.  I love my job.  I'm so happy here.

Sometimes, it's really hard to understand the journey.  I have to learn to stop trying.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gifts and Strengths

About a month ago, our Girls' Basketball team were in the section finals to go to state!  OMG!!  I was pretty excited for them.

It's not a pretty sight when I'm excited.  I work myself up into a tizzy and jump up and down.  A LOT!  Every day closer to the big game I found myself dancing in the hallways and in front of the classroom - and stopping with my hands in the air shouting  "MUSTANG FEVER!"

Much like Molly Shannon's Superstar

When it came time for the big pepfest, I was bummed because the kids just sat there talking like it was no big deal that their fellow classmates were going to the BIG GAME the next day.

So - I started to randomly shout out "MUSTANG FEVER"  with a lunge and my hands in the air.

At first, a lot of mouths dropped.

Then, they started to laugh.

When the band started playing a song, some of the teachers told me to get up and dance.  OK!

So - I tried to remember some of my cheerleading moves and put on a mock-straight face.  I danced like I do in front of my girls.... ridiculously. And everyone stood and started to dance too and shout "MUSTANG FEVER'

When I told my students about my mom and my sister, they were silent.  They understood how scared I was.  They had just lost their Spanish teacher to brain cancer.

I brought Missi in for her bone marrow biopsy on Thursday.  On Friday, there were beautiful drawings some of the boys had made from art class waiting for me on my bulletin board.  And they told me how, the night before, they thought of me as they were singing at their choir concert.

"Yeah Mrs. Aakhus - some of shouted out - "CHOIR FEVER"

We all laughed.

And I realized "You know what kids - I'm going to be my mom and sisters cheerleader - aren't I? "  I went down in a front lunge and put my hands in the air and said -


And we all laughed.

Thank goodness for the kids - they reminded me of what I was good at.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Eviction Notice: Cancer has 7 Days to Vacate

 Missi and her husband went down to Mayo Clinic last night and went to her first appointment this afternoon.   Missi has Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  The doctors at Mayo figured that Missi has been battling MDS - or pre-leukemia for the past six years.  MDS is such a rare disease that no one looked for it until it was too late.

 Chemo will start Friday and watch out Cancer because she ain't takin' no prisoners.... 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Prayer Shawl

While I wait for my sister's results, I decided to make my sister and my mom a Prayer Shawl.  A church friend of ours had been diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia AML this past fall and and heard the story of another church in town providing her with a prayer shawl.  This morning on my break, I googled prayer shawls and found a nice pattern book to download on Annie's Attic.

According to the pattern, a prayer shawl is an excellent way for people to work out their worries as they pray for the recipient. Some of the suggested prayers include "God Bless you with his healing heart."  Or  "May God comfort you in your time of sorrow."  Or "Peace be with you."  I liked the concept of crocheting because it reminds me of my grandma teaching me to crochet - and that will make my mom and sister smile.

I found a pattern that fit the yarn they carried at Oklee Quilting   - a nice soft cotton bulky - intended for a baby blanket - so soft for comfort.  I picked out a sage green that looked like a lot of the shirts Missi wears, brought it home, and started crocheting my little heart out.

I found that as I prayed the simple words "God Bless You" my crocheting looked better.  The pattern book explained that crochet or knitting is a lot like meditation or praying in itself -- over and over repeating a pattern to calm ourselves.

It turns out I didn't have to pay for any prayer shawl pattern - there are many excellent recources with free patterns and prayers online.   There are plenty of people wanting to share their ideas.

I know my mom and sister will be all right.  I know that colon cancer has an excellent prognosis since it was caught at an early enough stage for my mom.  I'm in awe of the science involved with leukemia and the added hope science brings to my faith.

I think your prayers are working. I'm laughing at corny jokes again.  Faith is blooming in my heart.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Why I haven't Written much or Cancer is Still a MoFo

Still - sorry about the swears.  I'm just mad.  I'm white trash-truck-driver mad.

Just as we are getting used to mom's diagnosis of colon cancer, my sister was diagnosed with cancer this morning.  Thursday morning, she will go in for a bone marrow biopsy.   A week later she will learn if she has Myelodyplastic Syndrome, a pre-leukemia,  or in fact, has leukemia.

I took the news pretty hard.  I couldn't return to school.  I wasn't ready to face the students who just lost their previous Spanish teacher to Brain Cancer.

I know that in this day and age the prognosis is good - but it seems like a sick joke.  Life is already hard enough for my sister with three children, of which two are diabetic.

I'm not sure how to be deep and put a silver lining on this one, but I know I'll have to.  I'll keep eating healthy and going to bed on time.  I'll take those walks and kiss my girls on their foreheads at night.  Somehow, I'll follow my sisters lead and have a good outlook and stop being so scared for her and her family and my family.

In the meantime, I'm going to need some prayers from all my dear readers as I try my hardest to be strong and take care of my mom, my sister, my sisters' children, my children, my husband, and maybe even myself somewhere in between.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cancer is a MoFo

Sorry about the swears.

The past few months, my family has taken various turns bringing mom to the doctor because of stomach issues. Mom knew something was seriously wrong.  She didn't feel like they were taking her seriously. A few weeks ago, she called the doctor and insisted they gather all her records and transfer them to Mayo Clinic.  That morning, they scheduled a CT Scan - she was admitted into the hospital on March 18th and given antibiotics by IV.  They told her she had diverticulitis.  On the 25th, they gave her another CT Scan.  On the 26th, they told her they wanted to remove the part of the colon that was infected. 

She wanted to be transferred to Mayo immediately. We helped her weigh the options as the doctor showed us all her CT scan reports.  She realized she would have to have the surgery in either Rochester or Grand Forks or wherever she went.  She met with the surgeon and asked him a bunch of questions and decided to stay in Grand Forks.

As standard procedure dictated, they biopsied her colon.  A few days later, the results showed there was cancer.

From what we know, the prognosis is good.  I can't help but think that it's still a bummer.  Cancer really is a MoFo.