Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fight of A Lifetime - My Stepdad's Battle With Melanoma

It’s been said that without tests in life you can’t appreciate the blessings.  Without dark days you don’t realize how beautiful the bright ones are.  Without trials and tribulations you never know how sweet victories taste.  Life………………. Moves……………….. Fast. It’s easy to take days for granted.  Effortless to get caught up in the swiftness of each passing hour and forget to slow down and appreciate the small things.  The sun on your face, the wind through your hair, the hug from a child, dinner with your loved ones….. 

If you keep up with my blog, if we’re Facebook friends or if you follow me on Instagram you will see a lot of happy.  Lots of joy and great things.  It’s what we share right.  We tend to showcase our very greatest moments to the world and kinda leave out the tough stuff.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for my happy things because there are so many of them.  I’m thankful and I know I’m lucky.

However, every family goes through things, and currently my family is getting a lesson in life.  The value of life that is.  These moments we have so carelessly taken for granted are on the forefront of our minds as now the future of some of these moments are threatened.  In January of 2015 my step dad had a skin spot located on his side looked at by a dermatologist and he was subsequently diagnosed with a type of cancer called melanoma.  In June we discovered that despite removal of the tumor from his side, along with removal of his lymph nodes and radiation the melanoma had spread to his brain and produced in the words of the doctor “too many tumors to count”. 


Really the only word that can describe the moment.  In one literal second all those carefree and fast moving moments in life we rush through suddenly became so precious. The last 60 days have been a rollercoaster of bi-polar emotions.  I talk to my mom a lot and though this is more her and my stepdad’s fight than mine I feel changed. I feel different. Things that once seemed so clear are less clear.   I can see that there are days my mom and stepdad simply try to block it out and forget its all happening and enjoy themselves and then days where they are handed more bad news and the reality of the situation again settles into their minds and we are all aware.  These are really low days.  Some of the lowest in life. There’s really not much in between the two scenarios…it’s a rollercoaster ride with an unknown ending.

 We’ve all known someone that has been effected by some form of cancer just like the way you are now reading of my family’s story.  We attempt to imagine how we’d feel if their situation was happening to us and we empathize with what they are going through. It wasn’t until that phone call from my mom on that June day that I realized until it’s your family……you don’t know how it feels.  I certainly didn’t.

What I’ve learned is that this specific type of cancer is relentless and unforgiving. There is no good news…ever.  It doesn’t react to treatment so there is really nothing even MD Anderson can or will do.  The fact of the matter is that there is no cure. No one has survived it.  No one beats it.  There is little to no chance of prolonging life.  There are no options.  No clinical trials.  No nothing.   

To live that is unlike anything you can put words to.  My best attempts at describing the day to day life of dealing with a family member going through this starts with extreme sadness and carries into fear.  Anxiety is prevalent every time you sit to think about what is going on which leads to, hopelessness, helplessness and then back to sadness.  And like I said…this isn’t even happening directly to me so I cannot imagine how anyone lives with this.

In the big scheme of the world the logical me knows that lives are lost every day and new lives begin every day.  The world doesn’t value life as much as we wish it did. Life and death go hand in hand and our lifespans are not awarded evenly or fairly.  The length of your life seems to be completely arbitrary.

Nothing I’ve gone through in life and nothing my family is going through on this cancer journey is unique to us.  It’s happened to others.  Logical me gets it.  Yet within the realm of MY world the loss of life of one our family members seems so devastating and detrimental to our family it’s almost unbearable.  My stepdad wouldn’t hurt a fly, he’s law abiding, he’s genuine, he would do anything for anyone and this just isn’t fair.  It’s not fair.  Sentiments I am sure families dealing with deadly diseases worldwide share.  Life and death isn’t fair and we are getting a good hard dose of that reality.

I fall back on Jesus.  I pray. A lot.  I realize that even Christians die from cancer.  I realize that even Christians have tragic endings but just knowing that through Jesus this all could go away helps me to sleep.  I realize that the most likely outcome is that we will soon be living a new normal but I also believe in miracles.  And if ever it was time for one…..  Lord Jesus, if ever there was time for one.

I worry for my mom, but I know no matter what she is going to be okay.  I know that this year we are going to have a lot happen. While we band together as a family and continue to fight to save my stepdads life, we will soon have two new ones join us.  It’s the way the world works I suppose. Life continues on.  Greyson Nottebart will be born in November and my sweet Baby Girl Davis will arrive in February.  Though admittedly with everything going on it seems like a lifetime away.  It’s hard to be excited right now.   I know the excitement and happiness will come.  I am not taking anything for granted.  I’m grateful for my daughter.  It’s just hard.  I’m not sure anyone can understand the emotion of being happy but sad until you live it.

While we continue to stay prayerful I ask that everyone join my family in prayer not just for my stepdad but for all the families of cancer patients.  Pray for cures, pray for miracles, pray for strength, and perseverance.  Our days right now are overcast and threaten darkness but we know that this won’t last forever.  There are sparks of sunshine on our dark days with the upcoming births and there are cancer breakthroughs every single day.  We know if we can endure for the night that joy will come in the morning.  I’m hopeful for that and I’m praising Jesus while I wait.

I’m sharing this because I like to be transparent.  My blog is my outlet.  I share many joyful things on here and I feel to be authentic the unhappy moments should be shared as well.  I also hope that someone going through something similar may read this and know they are not alone and lastly I hope that the prayers of friends, family and strangers can cause God’s hand to touch us with a miracle. 

And for the time being…those are my inside thoughts.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Back to School: Trying to Think Happy Thoughts

It’s back to school!  So much going on this week in the Davis/Johnson/Mullins household (we’re such a modern family huh).  My daughter is good to go. Supplies and uniforms purchased, new backpack and lunchbox in hand, school lunch account refilled and she’s got a fresh haircut.  My step-son is in full football mode and ready to get the season started, all football apparel has been purchased and he’s ready to get back in the swing of things in high school.  Meet the teachers is this week and the anticipation is killing us! Hubs only notices this is all going on by the number of debits coming out of the bank account and the number of shopping bags left lying around the house and well, I’m left staring at the dog like….it’s about to be back to you and me! Soon the hustle and bustle of summer and the countless friends coming through the revolving door that is our home will dwindle.    

With the fall semester prep going on and the first day of school looming, I have barely had time to sit and reflect on it all.  My son is about to turn 16…..OMG 16. That’s like…driving and girls and high school dances and parties and college apps and all that real world stuff…..This little one came into my life when he was 12 and I just can’t believe how time has flown by.  Every time I see him he is more and more like a little man. He’s tall, he’s muscley (made that up) and he is worried about how his hair looks.  My sweet girl is entering the 5th grade.  In the blink of an eye she’ll be driving and doing all the college stuff her older brother is doing, and then one day she’ll leave me L.  It makes me cry just thinking about it. 

With the fall semester also comes the challenges of day to day life in school….well in life really.  Each morning as my little pudding pop hops out of the car and through those big double doors at the front of her school, I sit for a sec just watching as my heart aches.  I never want her to go (okay I sometimes can't wait for her to go. lol. But I always worry).  It’s a whole day away from me. I just send her off into a world full of the caddy girls, bullying and the striving to fit in.  Things that make moms want to push a mean kid down on the playground and scoop your babies up and hug them tight and never let go… Sending your kids out into a world comprised of so much MEAN is so difficult sometimes but in my heart I know it is so necessary.

I often talk to God about the growth of my kids.  I remember high school and college well.  So much personal growth happened in those years yet so much hurt did also.   I think the best thing my parents ever did was not to hover, not to coddle and to kind of just let me go. Let me fall and learn how to get back up.  That is one of the single hardest things in the world for me as a mother.

 I read an article once about how Americans tend to over praise and overprotect their kids which in actuality can cause them to be susceptible to so much more hurt and damage as a young adult and as they enter the real world. You know the fact of that matter is that once they leave our little protected cocoon, not everyone gets a trophy in life.  To give our children a false sense of what they are good at and to make them feel like everything is just above and beyond fantastic is really in a way hindering their growth.  After all growth and strength stem from failure and defeat.  How can one get better if they are never allowed to fail?  How do they progress if in their mind they never lose…they are never second, they are never wrong.  It’s the reason we don’t push the mean kids down on the playground for our child .  You have to let your kids learn how to deal with conflict, how to stand up for themselves, how to be strong, how to walk away and how to cope. 

I think about this often.  Everyone knows I am a momma bear.  There isn’t anything I won’t do for my kids. The scariest thing is the world is a mother on a mission for her child. However, I think sometimes doing NOTHING is exactly what I AM DOING FOR them if that makes sense.  Sometimes you just don’t step in when you easily could. I try to let them fail in a controlled environment while they are young so that when they leave me…and sadly I know they will leave me…they are equipped for the world. 

It hard but to equip them with the capability of responding to failure is invaluable.  I have let them fail, have heartache and deal with meanies while I am able to oversee the situation so when they deal with these things in college, or wherever they may go, they can fall down…and get back up… and keep it moving. I need them to know that even though momma bear isn’t overseeing their lives anymore, it’s ok.  Cause they got this… Love them enough to let them fail and learn. 

You know I always knew it’d be hard for me to send them off to kindergarten, but I never anticipated the growing apprehension and sadness that I would feel with the start of each new school year as they near the end of childhood.  The older they get the harder the social aspect of school gets.  That’s what I’m preparing for this week.  I’m staying prayerful for strength, for knowledge and for courage to be Mom.  Cause we all know that job ain’t always easy. 

And those are my inside thoughts.