Sunday, April 28, 2013

Two more to go......

What a week this has been. I have found myself trying to play "catch up" with the normal things, laundry, bills, phone calls, as well as fit some fun in between. Today just happens to be my Birthday. I am 53 years young and all of the wonderful wishes I received from friends and family near and far, again remind me of how much I am loved. 

This week started out with us attempting to live the "normal" life. Work has been great. The weather was perfect for Frank to get in an entire week, cleaning, repairing and re-designing water features. Zack went to the Cancer Center on Monday for lab work. His counts were too low for him to begin the next chemo treatment on Tuesday, but luckily not enough to warrant transfusions. They wanted to schedule the chemotherapy for Thursday and Neulasta for Friday, but I didn't want to miss work and since it was okay to wait a couple of days he is scheduled for this coming Tuesday (April 30th). This will be the next to last treatment and will last all day. This is also the one that takes his hair away, so after this whatever grows back, he will keep!!! This is the one thing he has missed.... his hair! I am scheduled to donate platelets again as they called and are very low. Zack usually has something to help him sleep during these all day treatments, so he won't even miss me. After my appointment, Louis and Celia  (friends / family for over forty years) and I are meeting for lunch. I haven't seen them in quite awhile, so it will be nice to spend a little time with them. 

Zack was feeling well enough this week to work with Frank Tuesday, Wednesday AND Thursday. It was so good to see him get out, get fresh air and some sun (though he must use heavy duty sunscreen, his skin is fragile due to the chemo). Frank was even surprised at how long Zack lasted at the job sites, the first and second days, they worked all day together and the third  day he worked half with Frank and the second half with a friend on his new job. His mood has been great and he has been thoroughly enjoying his week. In the evenings he spends time with his friends either at their house, here or playing pool at the bowling alley. Several of his friends went to Senior prom Friday night and a part of me was sad that he wasn't able to go, but then I am reminded how he has never liked to go to dances and I quickly laugh. The "pressures" of being a teenager, to conform, I guess MY High School issues came back to haunt me, I'm relieved that he doesn't put the same pressures on himself. He does what he wants and doesn't care what others think. He is way ahead of the game and I learn from him daily. 

Since it has been so long since Nancy and I have had one on one time, we spent most of Tuesday together , just being two "girls". It was the first time in quite a while that there weren't any appointments so she and I took full advantage. Nancy and I went out for a nice Thai lunch (she treated me early for my Birthday) and continued the rest of the day with stores around the area. We had a great such a great time together. 

Wednesday and Thursday were full work days for me. It was a nice, easy couple of days and it was so nice to report back to everyone at how great the fundraiser was. Each time I shared, I had a huge smile on my face. What a celebration it was!

Friday, Zack had labs scheduled. This time his counts were good, so we are going to proceed with the chemo next week. We ran to get my hair cut as I couldn't stand it any longer and met Rhonda for lunch. Again, another surprise, as she bought lunch for us both to celebrate my Birthday! We had fun catching up for about an hour and half and were on our way home. I had already decided to go and spend the rest of the day and night at Mom and Bobs house. Bad weather was coming in and I wanted to get Mom's water feature cleaned out for the Spring. Zack was planning on coming and helping, but he was set to help Frank install a statue he made and I didn't want him wearing himself out. It took me a couple of hours and the water feature was crystal clear!

As Mom, Bob and I head back into the house, he decides to order Sushi for Mom and I to pick up and we have yet another celebration for my Birthday. (I told you I am spoiled!!!) We settle in for the night and watch an old Mel Brooks movie (Blazing Saddles). As we watch, I can't help but think how totally politically INcorrect this movie was, but back in the time, that was the humor everyone loved. I almost felt guilty at times laughing at certain parts, but what can I say, Mel was a genius and we all needed a good funny movie filled with laughter!

Saturday, Zack was spending with his friends, Frank was fishing ,so Mom and I headed out to some shops, just to get out. It was pouring rain and not the best day for shopping, but I didn't want my time with Mom to end yet. We haven't had much quality time so we were going to make the best of it!! She took me out to lunch at my favorite Thai restaurant (can't get enough of my Chicken Pad Thai) as an early Birthday present... (more spoiling.. geez) We didn't realize what time it was until we felt hunger and exhaustion, it was 5:30 and we had been running around all day! We went for a Belgian break and headed back home. Once I dropped her off and stopped to pick some dinner up for Frank, I arrived home in time for Zack and I to watch a movie together. Frank glanced over every now and then, but was totally engrossed in a new novel he had picked up at the library. Once he starts on a book, you have to cover it with your hand and stand right in front of him to get his attention! He LOVES his books!!! Of course, we could say the same about my shows.... but we won't!! (smile)

Sunday, today, I wake up around 7am and decide it is way too early to get up on my Birthday! I'm not sure what THAT has to do with, but what the heck... I'll indulge myself! I finally get out of bed around 10 am. The house is a mess, laundry, dishes piled up, dirty floors and reality is back to bite me in the butt! Zack is half asleep, but the first thing out of his mouth is Happy Birthday Mom!! Frank is gone, but I know where he is... his annual "surprise" is to go to Lowes and pick me out a bunch of flowers to put in my flower boxes along the back of the house. As I finish up on the dishes (not in the best of moods about it) he walks in with frozen waffles and syrup. He tells me to STOP everything!! He and Zack are going to do it all, they just didn't want to wake me up! I realize right then and there that I could spend the rest of my day mad, or I could lighten up and realize just how lucky I am!! 

The rest of the day was wonderful! We all had our frozen (hey they were good!!) waffles, talked about the rain, which will be with us until Wednesday and I started in on all the Thank You notes for the fundraiser. As I read out the long list of people and business' that helped Frank is amazed. He really didn't have a lot to do with any of it and I wanted to make sure he knew just who and how many people stepped in to contribute. He looked at me and said "I had no idea how many people helped!! how nice is that!" I had to agree!! Once finished addressing all the notes and stamping them, I started in on the invitation to Zack's graduation. WOW with everything he has been through, now graduation, another celebration! They have set the date for Friday, May 31st at 6 pm. A friend of mine emailed me yesterday and said the gowns are to be delivered to the High School tomorrow. My plan is to go and pick up his gown, take his picture and include it with most of the invitations. Of course, as soon as I have one, I will post it here for the world to see!!! Every young man and woman crossing that stage has a reason to celebrate. I am so proud of each and every one of them.  Knowing what Zack has been through and how much he has grown and helped those around him grow, will make this day even more special and memorable to us all. 

The best Birthday gift I have received is Zack out there with his friends, having fun and being himself! Life is pretty damn good right now!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

"A great time was had by all!"

A great time was had by all!!! That was the consensus from everyone present at Saturday's Fundraiser for Zack. The day which followed Friday's double blood transfusion, assuring Zack would be better protected.  A day that was filled with old friends and new friends. 

The weather couldn't be more perfect if we had "ordered" it! Friday was full of rain and overflowing rivers, we weren't sure what to expect and here, it was perfect! The view, breathtaking. The Pavillion was closed in on three sides and open in the front, overlooking a man made lake filled with ducks splashing around and entertaining the little ones. Picnic tables spread out around the grass for those who wished to take advantage of the warm sunlight and the smell of grilled hamburgers and hotdogs filled the air.

Six young men from Zack's old Boy Scout Troop 701, set up chairs, tables and did everything from parking duty, poster placement and  pouring drinks to trash collection and break down at the end. They were so eager to help and though I offered to sign off on community service hours, they all said "they were here for Zack and us!" It was especially touching when one of the younger Scouts, at my request,  led us all in the pledge of allegiance while standing in front of the two flags they had brought. 

Tables were set up inside with chips, beans, drinks and desserts. On the other side were tables filled with donated items for the silent auction. Three bands were present, each taking an hour set to play their own special music. "The Bishop Brothers" were a group of three men which Frank and his Brother Mitch had grown up with. They are as Southern Gentlemen as they come, with every sentence followed with "'Mam". Their voices blended in together in such harmony, you couldn't wait for the next song. There were several occasions to dance and Nancy, Jamie, Shawn and I took full advantage!! We didn't care who was there watching us, we were going to loosen up and have a great time!! There was plenty of dance floor and plenty of good music! At one point the band members father asked if I "two stepped." I said that I never had, "well, here we go then!" He took me all around the floor, teaching me the two step while his sons played and sang. I haven't laughed so much in a long time.

As people followed the bright red balloons that marked the long winding pathway, they were greeted by Jessica, (my associate and dear sweet friend from work) who would take their ticket and stamp a smiley face on their hand. Most of the time I was standing beside her to be the official "hugger." Nancy and Sue would walk around greeting folks and showing them where everything was, while thanking them for coming. Behind the grill was Doc Steve and another great friend Mike. They worked endlessly preparing all the food, which was then brought to Romona ( a long time friend from Boy Scouts) and Sue's friend Jennifer who was collecting food money and handing out desserts. Jamie stood by the silent auction items and  had a home for everything by the end of the party. 

The turnout was great! All of Zack's closest friends were there as they have always been, supporting him and making sure he was having a good time, which he did!! As I watched the picnic table where he choose  as his home base, there wasn't a time he wasn't surrounded. My routine when someone would ask about him was to point to him and smile. I would share the latest news, that he only has two more chemo treatments and is cancer free! Music to everyone's ears! Frank would be found milling around from one person to another. Not being one for small talk, he remained close to those he knew, friends, clients, business associates and family members. He almost didn't come, as he was embarrassed about the whole thing. "We were raised to pay our own bills and not ask for help!"  I would have to explain several times that this is more about Zack and our friends wanting to to do this for us. It is a celebration of the end of his treatments!! He did have a good time and was finally able to relax and appreciated all the effort and hard work that went into making this an amazing gathering. 

The Bishop Brothers
Frank conversing with several guests

Zack's shirt pretty much tells it all!
BFF Nancy and I with Boy Scout Will

Franks sister and brother, Jamie and Mitch
Several items offered for silent auction

Zack surrounded by friends
Landon leading us into pledge

Doc Steve and Mike M. "Chefs"
Mother in law (blonde) and guests

Three bands played! We had Dust n the Wynn,  two men who played and sang their original music. Moon Shine Babies with folk songs and the Bishop Brothers singing Blue Grass, older rock and roll, southern type music with lots of pep! At one point I looked at someone and said  "I need to have one of these bands just follow me through life, while I sit by the lake, go camping and whatever else we need to do. They can be my "backround music", just like in the movies. 

Mom stayed close to Linda, my mother in law. I had mentioned to her earlier that Mom couldn't hear and that made her very uncomfortable around large crowds. Linda immediately said "I'll keep her with me!" She has (as do all of my friends) a soft spot for Mom. Linda and Mom have an especially close bond, since they were both caretakers of their husbands for so many years. 

A reporter from the newspaper came out and told us that the local paper has decided to do a feature on Zack following his journey from the beginning to graduation. I told him that three kids in our small town have cancer and something good has to come out of all of this. I want to make sure that childrens cancer is getting the attention it needs. Breast cancer is getting a lot of attention, I understand how important that is, but no one seems to know much about childrens cancer and the lifelong effects it has on our kids. I also shared the importance of donating blood and platelets. I explained that Zack received two to four units of each a week and we don't know what we would do if the supply weren't there! He promised to help get my message across in the article. 

Franks sisters Jamie & Shawn with me
Friend Lawrel enjoying the weather

Nephew Curtis and I playing on stairs
Zack was surrounded by friends the entire day!!
Our master photographer "Mom"!

Troop 701 Boy Scouts 

long time friends
Larry & Debbie

The day was long and exhausting at the end. But the memories it created for us all, including those who came will last a lifetime  We are so grateful for who we have in our lives and wouldn't trade one of our friends for their weight in gold!!  Without the Love and Support this past year, I don't know where we would be! As Zack was pulling out of the parking lot to bring Mom home, I ran after the truck yelling for Mom. Zack stopped the truck, Mom opened her door and hugged me as I lay my head on her lap sobbing! I was finally able to release the pressure cooker inside of me. I'm not all the way there yet, but I am well on my way. I know, just as Mom has said, that I must give myself time to recover from all of this, but with each day Zack gets healthier and can again live his life in a normal way, so will we. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Good news, Bad news, Happy Face, Sad Face I'm soo confused!!!!

Rhonda and I at Neo Cantina
I seem to take a couple of days in between blogging. It's not that life is back as it was, it will never be, it is simply exhaustion setting in. One would think the closer we are to the end of treatment (not the journey, it still has a long way to go), we would have more time and less anxiety. Not true! Zack, Donald and I headed to the Cancer Center on Tuesday morning. I, for whatever reason, am very anxious and Zack can tell. This irritates him, he wants me to be calm all the time, be quiet unless a question comes up and just be there if he needs me. Well, at least that's how I felt on that particular day. We arrive at the Center early this time, I have told the boys no more being late, it is rude and simply unacceptable!! Zack's blood is checked and soon after we are told that he will need both blood (two units) and platelets (also two units). His counts are down very low and with the infection he had earlier, they need to make sure he has everything needed to get strong again. I'm not really surprised at this news, he rested most of the weekend and that is not really like him. We are told to go get lunch and be back in a little over an hour (it will take that long for the blood and platelets to arrive). The GREAT NEWS!!! NO MORE LOVENOX (blood thinner shots). Rhonda agrees to meet us at the Mexican restaurant in Biltmore Village, again, I go more for ambiance than anything else. The restaurant is relaxing, with large booths, great food and we have "our" booth at the back of the restaurant where we are away from crowds so it is safer for Zack when his counts are low. Even Rhonda can tell that I am on edge, rushing through lunch and hearing half of what is being said. I am again on overload in my mind. 

   We finish up lunch and I drop off the boys at the Center while I run to the office supply store for a few items. Let's face it, it's an excuse to do something alone, without anyone talking to me, rushing me, making comments or asking me questions. I am alone and it's quiet! I am even irritated when the sales person asks if I need help, but then decide, why not? I don't really feel like looking through a thousand items, so they direct me to what I need and I'm on my way back to the Center. The boys are settled in and Zack has already had the port accessed and the platelets transfusing.  He is in a bad mood and when I ask him if there is anything I can do, he responds with "get me the f.... out of here!!", "I DON'T want to be here!!".  I look at him and say "well, I'm just having a grand ol' time! I don't know what YOUR problem is." There are times in this journey where the punching bag, punches back! This is one of those times. I then calmly let him know that I DO understand and wish there was something, anything I could do to make it better, but I can't. The longer I stay in the room the more rambunctious the boys get, playing their ring tones louder and louder, Donald is finding the most irritating noises for his ringtones and I am ready to snap. I ask for a little more quiet and it falls on deaf ears. Angie and the other nurses, seeing that I am getting claustrophobic come and get me and place me in the room right next door, but with enough space in between the two rooms. There is a heated recliner and it is quiet! Before I know it, I'm sound asleep! At one point Zack comes in and smarts off to me, and I tell him, he may be frustrated, but STOP giving me a hard time!! ENOUGH!!!! He got the message and left me alone for most of the afternoon. He of course apologized later in the evening, but I wasn't in the mood to accept until later. We stopped for dinner on the way home, yes another $..... and that's when we all lightened up. We were done for the day and on our way home. Knowing we were going to be later than usual (we got our at 6 pm) Frank went ahead and ordered a pizza and (I'm sure) enjoyed the peace and quiet after a long days work.

Wednesday and Thursday were full days of work. Zack was going to help Frank, but still not feeling well enough to do so, simply stayed home and did some small things around the house. We are getting closer to the fundraiser on Saturday and the excitement is building up now. So many donated items for the silent auction are arriving (I'm going to share it all on another blog page), it is getting exciting!

 Nancy and I were going over all the great food that was donated by Brian Long (Sysco foods) and determined that we still needed to get a bit more. I went online to Sams Club and found hamburgers, buns, ketchup and mustard as well as beans. I called and the sweet guy on the other line said that he could not only get it all together for Zack to pick up on his way back from the Cancer Center (he had labs today), but then the manager gave us a $50.00 gift card to go towards the cost of the food . All on the fly!! Not bad at all!! Zack went by, picked everything up and we are now set to go!!! While at lunch I got the "bad" news. Zack will need another double units of blood and possibly platelets tomorrow. This last round of chemo at the hospital really knocked "it" out of him. He is angry and smarts off that HE had plans, again, I let him know that we all did, it sucks and it will all be over soon!! He changes his mood by late afternoon and is a bit more relaxed about the whole thing. He knows that this will help him feel better and he will be much safer around everyone on Saturday. Luckily most of it is out in the open.

Today was rough. I'm on overload with Zack's moods, my emotional state and well just about everything. I ended up being very stupid and jumped from our upper parking lot to the bottom one, landed on both feet at the same time and fell forward landing on my hands. Luckily Doc Steve adjusted me, but let's just say, the mind may be 16, but the body sure as hell isn't. I can barely move tonight from the tight muscles and my legs feel like I've been kicked by a donkey (not that I would know what THAT feels like).  Lesson learned?

Mom has been working very hard on her five necklaces she is donating.Each one is so beautiful! Is it "proper" for the fundraisee (I know it's not a word!) to bid??? Ha Ha !  So, I'm going to end with a beautiful display of her works that will be sold on Saturday. In the mean time I'm going to go home and chill until tomorrow, when we start this all over again

 Going once, going twice...
SOLD to the highest "silent" bidder!!!!!

 Tomorrow, will post pics of all the other awesome silent auction items and gifts!!!

Monday, April 15, 2013


Sunday started with Zack waking me from a sound sleep "Mom, we have a problem!" I bolt straight up in bed and for the first time am thinking "it's the plumbing... the washer... "  I think of everything, but him!! How nice to do that! Wrong!! As he stands in front of me, blood is running down his stomach, from his belly button. Since he is on blood thinner shots every morning, I'm not surprised at how fast he is bleeding, just the fact that he is at all. I have him lay down on the bed and cover the area with a towel, I immediately pick up the phone and call the Cancer Center. While waiting for her call, Zack starts to tear up, "Mom, they are going to make me go to the hospital, I DON'T WANT TO GO TO THE EFFIN HOSPITAL!!!" The phone rings and it is Dr. Bottom, she is surprised. She said at first she was trying to think of a baby "they would have this issue, but not a young man, not Zack!" All we can figure is he has some sort of infection that is bleeding easily due to the blood thinners. She tells me there is no need to come in, it is not related to the treatments and to simply clean the area and keep it bandaged. She is perplexed, but not worried. I tell her "Well... I haven't REALLY cut the umbilical cord yet, could it be that?" She laughs and says, "It''s entirely possible." We are advised to keep an eye on him for fever or any other symptoms that are not "normal". Zack is finally calm, realizing we don't have to rush out. I clean and dress the area and he returns to bed to rest. 

Still a bit shook up, I settle on the couch in front of "24". It is a great distraction for me and slowly I am working through the fear. I know he is okay, but man, enough is enough already. This kid needs a rest from all of this! The emotions take over as soon as I see Frank, who had been fishing with Matt, I comes up to me and I start to cry. I explain what happened and that Zack is okay, it just freaked me and HIM out! He goes into the house to check on Zack and offers his support. By this time, Zack is calm and resting. He doesn't have the energy to do much and continually has a headache. This is unusual after a double transfusion  but I think it's more the fear of what happened. Fear is debilitating and can drain you very quickly, this is something I have found from personal experience through this journey of ours. 

Zack spends the rest of the day in his room, resting and watching television. I get a burst of energy and decide to mop and wax all of our floors. It's amazing how a relatively "small" 1500 square foot house, becomes 3000 sq. foot. It sure felt like it. The funny part is, I finished seven loads of laundry and the floors and THEN realized at 9:30 pm, that I forgot to wash our on suite bathroom floor. Naturally, I couldn't go to sleep without that one being done as well. There is something about having clean floors, what can I say, I'm barefoot all of the time!! Frank and I check in on Zack throughout the day. He is upset because some kid owes him a refund on a defunct car part, for 8 weeks now and keeps making excuses. He will learn, money first then return!! Life lesson! Again..... I finally settle in around 10 pm, watch "The Atlanta Housewives", yes I'm one of them. Frank is comfortable on the couch with the two animals, or maybe they are comfortable with him! "They love their Daddy". 

We awake early Monday morning. Both Frank and I are ready for a full days work. We let Zack sleep in and rest. With the headaches and the bleeding (which was off and on all day yesterday), we know he needs the rest and possibly another transfusion tomorrow. (Headaches are usually a sign of that, although the pollen count in our small town is pretty high). Our days went quite nicely for both of us. Zack did get plenty of rest, which pleases me. Once finished at work, I head over to the Boy Scout meeting to see if we can borrow their grill for the fundraiser. It has served it's purpose many times when Scouts had their family cookouts and will be perfect for the expected crowd (75 tickets sold so far and many expected at the door). It was a lot more relaxing this time around to see everyone. They had arranged for six boys to help on Saturday as well, they will bring the American Flag and Troop 701 Flag as well.  The leaders told me there were even boys that didn't care if they got service hours, or that they didn't know Zack, they wanted to be there to help!! These are some amazing young men..

Zack and Donald (yes, he's back in the picture again) met me at the church where the Boy Scouts meet. They were there to pick up the grill, so we could get it cleaned up and ready for the big event! Things are coming together so smoothly (or at least from where I am sitting). I arrive home to a wonderful meal, I started the stew last night and Frank finished up with the "fixings". 

As I close the blog for the night, I would ask that everyone reading this send positive energy to Boston. We may not know for awhile what happened, but one thing is for sure, they need positive thoughts!! We have dear friends , Lee's daughter Benna, her husband Seth and their children and family there. I have heard word that they are all okay, but this must still be so frightening to them. Let's hope this mystery is solved quickly without more incidents. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

What is Normal?

I just realized today, how many days it has been since I last wrote in the blog, my apologies. We have enjoyed several "normal"  days, which has truly been heaven. Wednesday and Thursday were spent working for Frank and I. Zack stayed home and rested, tired from the latest chemo treatment. He didn't feel quite as bad this time around , but is more tired than usual. It hasn't really hit us yet that we don't return to the hospital, I'm sure we will realize it when next month comes around. 

Friday, we were scheduled for labs to see if Zack needs a transfusion.  It is harder than usual for me to wake him up. Knowing this is one of the signs that he may need blood, we make arrangements to take Mom shopping today, no matter what time it is.  Zack knows that he will feel more energetic if he does get blood, he can't even tell this time whether he needs anything or not. 

TGI Friday's, one of Zack's fav hangouts
We arrive fifteen minutes late, not something I'm proud of, but they are understanding and they immediately take him in. His port is not accessed for labs, instead they take the sample from his arm, just in case he doesn't need anything, it is less invasive. Twenty minutes later we are told he needs blood, but his platelets count is very good! Our nurse tells us to go ahead and grab some lunch as it will be at least an hour before the blood arrives, so we head out to one of his favorite places.  

As soon as we return, about a little over an hour later, they are ready for us. We go back into Zacks favorite room  #8 and get comfortable, well as much as having a needle stuck in your chest is comfortable. Since we are still planning on getting together with Mom, I take a short nap, while Zack texts his friends and looks up funny stuff of youtube. He shows the nurses all these funny stunts guys are doing with their trucks and they are all hysterical. It doesn't take much to entertain him, that's for sure. We were able to talk the Doctor into waiting until the week following the fundraiser to start his next round of chemo, as this is the one that tends to make him pretty sick. He really wants to go to the fundraiser so this way, we will do labs next week and ensure that his counts are high enough to protect him. 

Gorgeous Meme / Mom
We finish the transfusion by 4pm and are on our way to Mom. I'm so glad we brought the Bumble Bee this time, as Mom has started with her gardening and needed four bags of soil and eight bags of mulch!  We were both glad to have some time with her, grocery shopping, eating dinner and going to my favorite hang out , Lowes, though it's too early for me to start planting, so I left pretty much empty handed. Since shopping is not one of Zack's favorite things to do (unless it involves truck parts or hunting and fishing)  Zack stayed in the truck. By the time we were wrapping it up, Bob calls and tells us that the vet contacted him and Courage's ashes were ready to bring home.  I tell Zack, one more stop and we have accomplished everything on our agenda for the day! The vet presents a hand carved box  holding our sweet Courage and a card for Bob. 

We bring Mom home and I present Bob with the box, we  then all unload the truck. Mom is exhausted, but what a trooper! Zack all of a sudden has a ton of energy, I guess the blood kicked in! Once we arrive at home, around 9pm, he helps me put away our groceries and as Frank and I head to bed, he decides to go outside and chill in the evening air. It turns out that he fell asleep outside on top of his four wheeler and woke up at 2 am, coming into the house and crawling into his bed.  

It is now Saturday. Frank has to go out early for work, I slept so well, that I wake with a day full of ideas, none of which panned out. As the day progressed, I got more and more tired. Zack slept in and once awake, he too just wanted to sit and chill. I find out from my sister in law, via text, that we are going to Steve and Karen Ann's for dinner and poker tonight and confirm this with a phone call to Frank, who is now fishing. He had forgotten to tell me, since Zack and I came home so late last night. This is one of the many things I have learned through this journey, something I NEVER was good at prior to the diagnosis, when something comes up, it's okay, just go with it. What a gift this is for me, I'm less uptight about needing to know things in advance and in the long run, have so  much more fun with "surprise" get togethers. Zack has no plans and since none of his friends know how to play poker (and he starts to really enjoy the game), he came with us.

Steve, Tammy and Zack (at the poker table)
The evening was so much fun. Frank, Zack and I joined Steve his wife Karen Ann and Franks brother Mitch and his wife Tammy. Steve fixed a delicious wild boar sausage and ribs on the grill, with steamed vegetables, potato salad was brought by Mitch and Tammy and pies for dessert. Frank had picked out an h'orderves platter to snack on while we wait for dinner. The whole thing was impromptu  even Karen Ann didn't know until last night that we were all coming over. (Steve is a last minute kind of guy, and we love it!) We stayed outside and caught up for several hours. Everyone seemed to enjoy Zack's company as well, he was raised with adults (in our Antique Shop). so he is equally comfortable in their presence  not to mention, these friends have been in our lives since High School and he adores his Aunts and Uncles.  We move inside the house to play poker for a couple of hours and had a blast! Tammy and Karen Ann decided not to play , so I was included as "one of the guys." Zack is becoming quite the player and at one point had a pretty big pile of change, but in the end, Frank and I took all the money home with us! 

Brothers being brothers, Mitch and Frank
This week has been filled with so much laughter and fun here and there. I was spoiled by my sister who paid for an early Birthday present (2010 Ipad) one of Zack's friends sold to me at a very good price. In fact, while we were at the party tonight, I managed to sneak in some time to type almost half of the blog. Yes, I can multi task (not at the same time though... smile).  

As the fundraiser gets closer, we are all getting more excited! A lot of work has gone into this and the more I talk to people, the more excited everyone is getting. It is going to be a celebration of what Zack has accomplished! His treatments will be done soon, he is cancer free and a High School graduate all in the same year!!! That's a hell of a lot for a kid his age and I for one am one PROUD Mama!!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Elvis has left the building"

"Heading towards the exit "
The time has come to say goodbye to the Hospital staff. Zack had his final day of chemotherapy today. Yesterday went well, Zack slept and played his video game most of the time. He had Leah come by to visit with her boyfriend and little man. Later in the afternoon, shortly before I arrived, Mom had surprised him. She has never been able to get to the hospital to see him and was determined to do so before the end of his treatments. Finding a ride for groceries for her is one thing, but finding someone to bring her to Asheville is quite another. My brothers friend came up from Georgia and told Mom she would take her anywhere she wanted to go. Meme (Mom) brought Zack all sorts of treats and he was glad to see her and spend time with her. Amy (our nurse) was able to meet her as well, and simply fell in love with her. I arrived around 7 pm with dinner in hand and before long was spread out in the recliner and fell fast asleep. 

This morning, Zack was still asleep when treatment started at 8am. They have been moving the time up by two hours each day in order for us to get out early today (we usually are not out until 9 or 10 pm). 

Amy is right on top of things and once we are halfway through the treatment, Zack has asked for Benadryl so he can continue to sleep through the day. He is anxious about getting out and prefers not to watch the clock all day, not to mention the fact that as each day progresses he is more nauseous. 

As he sleeps, I eat breakfast and start to pack the things we no longer will need throughout the day. Around lunchtime he awakens. His appetite has been off, as is usual with his Hospital stays, so he tells me just to grab anything in the Cafeteria. I return a little while later with two kinds of sushi, knowing he would not have liked anything else they had. We split the variety and neither of us could finish, it was simply horrible this time! He was up and sitting in the recliner this time, so I finished the packing and took a couple of loads to the car. It was 1 pm and we were scheduled for release at 4:30 pm. 

The Doctor stopped by to check in on him, scheduled a 10:30 am appointment for the Cancer Center tomorrow for his Neulasta shot and congratulated him on his last day!! Amy had purchased him a small elephant and named it Alf (short for Alfredo). I got teary eyed a couple of times and she would tell me to stop or she wouldn't be able to finish out her shift. Karen stopped by as well to congratulate him. 

By 4 pm everything had been packed and all that was left to carry out were a couple of bags and a rolling suitcase. Zack finishes up with the Mesna (Mesna assists to detoxify these metabolites by reaction of its sulfhydryl group with the vinyl group. It also increases urinary excretion of cysteine.) and by 4:30 his port is de-accessed, a cute little Dora band aide is put over the area and we are out the door. We meet Amy at the entrance to Peds and turned around to say goodbye. Everyone was waving, wishing us luck and saying they will miss us, they made Zack promise to return for a visit with hair!!! Since last month, the policy is (or is again being followed)  to be escorted downstairs to our vehicle. Amy offered to roll the suitcase and walked us to the  second floor exit.  As I hugged her goodbye, thanking her for everything, we again got teary eyed. She laughed and said "I told you to stop that!!!" I still have to work!!!

My emotions are all over the place. I am feeling relief, fear, anxiety and disbelief that we are at this part of our Journey. Trying not to show any of these emotions, we listen to music on the way home, grab dinner at a drive through and I lighten up a bit on the way home. I am tired and Zack for some reason (he thinks because he slept all day) was wired. Unfortunately when we arrive home, none of his friends are returning his texts or coming by and he is bummed. I remind him that this is a school night and they probably have homework (knowing full well, that has nothing to do with anything). We try and protect our kids at every turn and if that helps him through today, then that's what I have to say. We all know teenagers they have one track minds... even Zack does that, tomorrow he will be surrounded!!!

As I settle in for the night,  after a short time of catching up with Frank, (we haven't seen each other except for a couple of minutes during changing of the guard) I crawl into bed. Frank totally understands my exhaustion, saying he came home yesterday and was sound asleep by 8 pm. Some might think sitting in a Hospital is rest, but the emotions are what's draining. I lay in bed and write the blog. It is my way of processing everything that is and has occurred. I'm now seeing that I will need to read everything from start to finish one day, to see what we did, 'cause I have no earthly idea!!! The rest of this week should be easy. Mesna and perhaps transfusions later in the week, with Zack one never knows. His body is fast at healing and his mind is strong. 

How do you say Thank You?

How can two simple words be so hard? According to Hallmark there are millions of ways to say Thank you. But can you really say it enough when it comes to the care of your child?

With this being the last hospital stay, I have spent many days pondering on how to Thank the amazing nurses for being such great care givers of our son.

Because of their unselfish care, my son continues to be Cancer free. Because they give 200%,  Frank and I have been able to continue with our work, KNOWING he is in the best possible hands. 

When you go through a "tragedy" like this, you become close to those caring for you or your loved one. You get to know their families, their ups and downs, they become family. You can't help but connect with them in a special way. These nurses are the ones that devote their entire 10 hour shift caring for and ensuring the safety and comfort of their patients. In this case, my child, my only child, my most precious gift from God. Add to that, your care!! There hasn't been a time that I'm not asked if they can help me with, or get me anything. They have been my listening board for my fears, advised me on how to cope through certain feelings, situations and they have been spot on!

I haven't "allowed" myself much time to really think about this past now, ten months. You are so busy making it through each day and surviving the next treatment or the next blood transfusion (or pneumonia).  You don't really take the time (or have the time) to stop and reflect. This week, I have forced myself to remember and give thanks. Without the nurses giving such care and connecting with Zack, this could have been a totally different experience. Pediatric nurses are a special breed. Add to that Pediatric oncology nurses. They put themselves at risk by administering the chemicals to their patients. So much care must go into administering just the right amount, at the right time, in the right order. All of this must be with extreme caution for both patient and nurse. For a cancer patient, it means survival, for a nurse should they spray or spill on themselves it is toxic, yet they take this risk every day for so many. 

I would name each awesome nurse by name, but just as the Oscar winners, would fear of leaving someone out, not because I don't remember them, but because so many have been here for us. They are a team and one by one as they have stopped in this week to congratulate Zack and share their experiences of caring for us, I realize what a large family we have here. 

So, to all our astonishing, astounding, remarkable, wonderful, incredible, marvelous, miraculous nursing family. We give THANKS!!!!!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Bikers of the world unite!!! with UPDATES!!!

The butterfly is for chemo patients,
This is one Sign I will not miss seeing!!
Sunday started out with a nice breakfast in the Hospital Cafeteria with Rhonda.  Well, the company was nice, the food was okay.  Zack was again sleeping in and I didn't want to disturb him. He had a decent night, with the help of Benadryl, which makes him go into a deep sleep. Each day he has been more and more nauseous. He has been playing his game most of the time and when not playing he sleeps. 

I noticed this time he really liked the room to be quiet. When I would have to make a call I would go out into the hall, so as not to disturb him. It also forced me to sit, relax and not do a whole lot. This is not something I am used to, but enjoyed the "time off" from the rest of the world. Zack has been in a good mood considering everything and every now and then would look at me and raise one eyebrow, then the other (his version of  a funny face). 

The chemo treatments are again being moved up two hours each day, so that we can get home early evening on Tuesday. Several of the nursing staff have stopped by the room to say how much they will miss seeing us, but are glad the treatments will be over for him. I want to do something special for each of them, but haven't come up with anything yet. I'm brainstorming and maybe will come up with something before we leave on Tuesday. Lord knows, I don't want to have to go back up there unless absolutely necessary. I did find out that, God forbid, should we ever need to go back in after Zack is 18, since he started in peds, he would go back there again. They don't like to let go of their kids either, just like the Cancer Center. I hope and pray this never happens again, but it's nice to know we have some options, other than throwing him in with the adults right away. Yes, these are things a mother thinks about. 

We had Amy, her son Barron and Bill come by for a visit. It's always good to have a visitor, it breaks the monotony and they are so fun to talk to, we all three like sharing our teenager stories, though I'm not sure why Bill keeps wanting to trade his kids with mine... (smile). We are all three blessed to have the kids we do, they are all great and your typical "try and push the limits" kids. Bill took the tickets I had in my purse for the fundraiser and promised they would all be gone. He is going to a meeting with his Biker group (The Defenders) tomorrow and told them whether they go or not, they are buying a ticket!! I think he said there was a big biker tour that day. Too funny!!! If Bill tole ME to buy a ticket I would!!

Since Frank was arriving around 6 pm, I went ahead and took a short nap. Knowing I would be doing a few things around the house when I got back tonight, I wanted to grab a few minutes. Frank came right at 6 pm, dinner, guitar and chips in hand. I tuned Zack's guitar and with a great big hug and kiss to the guys, told Zack I would be back to bug him tomorrow and bring him home Tuesday. He was half asleep until Frank walked in, so I'm sure he was in bed pretty soon after. I showed Frank the new sleeping arrangements and was out the door. 

Nice, easy short day. Two more to go and we say good bye to the Hospital (at least for overnights!!) Yeah!!!

Update!!! It is now Monday night and Bill met with The Defenders. This is his exact message to me: "You gave me 7 tickets, I sold 14, I have 5 now in my possession to sell, you do the math."  Thank you so a group of awesome guys and gals, who not only "enjoy the ride" but do so much for others in the name of their group!!! You guys are awesome!!!! Stay safe on the roads and to those non bikers, please keep an eye out for them!!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Never underestimate the pain of another person.......

It is Friday and we are headed to the Cancer Center first for labs. Zack is not really in the mood to go in, so we make a deal. IF the lab work shows that his counts are good enough, we go in and get it over with (sometimes they will let him skip a week just to give him a break), if the labs show his counts are down, then the decision has been made for us both. He reluctantly agrees as he knows once it's over he will be that much closer to the end. 

Zack and Richard
Sure enough, his counts are good, they access his port and within an hour of arrival time, we are headed out the door to first grab a to go lunch and then come into Hospital. We arrive to a clean room, welcoming room, with towels folded in a fancy pattern and sign marked "Your room has been cleaned especially for you". It is again one of the two we usually get, in the very back of the Pediatric Wing. First thing I spot when we enter is the couch and chair. First thing I request is a recliner. We were told last month that we would no longer be able to get mattress' for us to sleep on, so we would have a choice between the couch (chinese torture chamber) or a recliner. As we are unpacking, Zack asks when the guitar man is here? He had spoken with Karen (social worker) this morning and asked if he could see him, she simply said just ask and he will come down to your room. Zack really wanted to be taught banjo, but when Richard came into the room, he advised us he only played guitar. He brought out a rather small guitar (we are in peds after all) and started to show Zack notes and chords. He was impressed with Zack's knowledge as we told him the various musical instruments Zack has played during school..(the stand up bass, saxaphone and bass guitar) none to perfection but well enough to be in concerts in both elementary and middle school. The fact he was able to pick up the notes made it easier for Richard to teach.  They spent the first hour and half playing, talking and getting to know each other. Richard and his wife are also geologist, so he was explaining how he will bring in geodes and show the smaller children how they float, and shine. He volunteers a couple of times a week and I thank him for spending so much time with us. I enjoyed just sitting there watching them play so much that I hadn't even unpacked anything. Once he left, the couch went out and the recliner came in, I unpacked everything and got settled in. Kim (head nurse) came by and asked if I had received the letter showing the timeline from last month, when "someone" messed up and got the chemo to Zack four hours late.  Wishing to move on, I simply thanked her and said I had received it. She said "we learned a lot from that experience and Thank you!! (you know when someone is feeding you a line of bull and you know it?" Yea, well...... whatever! I am determined to make this stay as calm and relaxing for Zack as possible and we are off to a great start.

As we settle in our day nurse arrives with the scale and everything else needed to get Zack prepared for his first days (of five) chemo. The nurse, whom I have gotten close to, was all smiles and sweet. She had "heard" about last month and embarrassed  I told her everything was good and not to worry. Wanting to put some focus on her I asked how she was doing and when her due date was, only to find out she had lost the baby. Here she was just a month later caring for my child and smiling. I promised her God had a plan and pointed to Zack, calling him my miracle child!! 

Rhonda ended up going into work yesterday, as her computer came up with a virus (she works from home as a phone operator for Gunther Renker... Wen, Proactive, Victoria Secret..etc..) She asked if Peter (my nephew 14 ) could come and hang out with us after school. I picked him up around 4 pm and we headed over to the local grocery store for this weeks supplies. Zack isn't quite sure what he wants so when we arrive I call him while standing in front of the drinks and chips isles as he tells me what to pick up. Peter is a huge help, pushing the cart and asking questions about his cousins treatments. As we go into the bakery I see the lady with whom I spoke last month. Her daughter has severe health issues and I couldn't help but ask how she was. She remembered me as well and told me her daughter is now in a nursing home (in her forties) and on Hospice care. I offer my prayers and Thank her for taking such good care of us when we are in town (she will grab anything she can find that is fresh for us in the freezer). What else can we do?  I find myself more and more looking into people's eyes when walking around. "The eyes are the windows to the soul" has always been my favorite quote. It is true! How many of us really look into another persons eyes? This lets them know that we are really there, really present and interested in what they are saying or how they smile, or say good day!! The smallest and easiest thing to do is look in someones eyes, even those you don't know, and acknowledge that you know they are here!!! I make it a routine and it's so much fun to see someone light up. I have met so many wonderful people this way, they have learned of our journey and have been able to share theirs with me. I found this quote by Will Smith on FB the other day and it is so true!! 

Peter and I return to the hospital, bags in tow. Zack was finishing up with his chemo treatment. Thank goodness Peter was here to help me, it would have taken me three trips with drinks and food without his help. He gets settled in as the three of us eat dinner. Tonight is pizza for the boys and spaghetti for me. Zack is playing his Xbox games and Peter, having played this particular game before is 'advising' him along the way. The boys are having a really good time together and once Rhonda arrives to take Peter home, Zack is ready for his nightly Benadryl. By now it is 11 pm and Zack gets into bed and I move into the recliner.

Around 2 am, we are awakened by the smell of something burning. Not knowing where it was coming from, I ask the night nurse, who says maintenance is trying to locate the source. They are not worried though, as no alarms have sounded and there is also sprinklers in each room. I walk out into the hall where the scent was stronger and try and follow it, to no avail. I then locate the fire extinguisher and exits closest to our room. When I go back into the room, I ask the nurse what the procedure is if there were to be an evacuation. She says they first take care of each patient and have back up nurses to come and help. Zack teases and says he can pick up the "tower" and carry it down the stairs if he needed to. SO, In my eyes we had a plan. I also put all my jewelry in my purse and had it all ready so that was all I would need to grab. Hey, I'm still practical!!! 

I was able to go back to sleep once I had calmed down and woke around 8:30 am. Dr. S came in to check on us  and the "theme" is "Hey, this is your last in house!!!". Everyone is excited! It has been a long haul and at times it never seemed like it was moving anywhere, but here we are! The Doctor decides to let Zack sleep after I told him of our exciting evening. He has ordered the chemo to start two hours earlier each day, that way we can get out of here early Tuesday afternoon instead of the evening. I get ready as Zack continues to sleep. Once he is up, I fix him a plate of cheese danish and orange juice and settle in for a couple of hours. My appointment to donate platelets isn't until 11am, so I have a little time to hang out. I find out from the day nurse that the fire smell was from two buildings not far from here that had been torched last night. It turns out they have an arsonist going around Asheville burning old abandoned buildings and unfortunately, he got another two last night. Luckily no one was injured.

Rhonda calls me just as I'm getting ready to leave and Peter is being your typical teenager, giving his Mom a hard time. Frustrated and having about thirty minutes until my appointment, I head over to her house and play the "tough Aunt." I take his laptop, which is his favorite thing and tell him I will return it when he can be respectful to his mother! Stunned, he all of a sudden is yes mam this and that!! Knowing (as most teenagers can be) that he could be "playing me" I follow through and exit with his laptop. Being a single parent, at times I will step in to help her out. 

I arrive at the Red Cross, I am anxious, but ready to do this!! I will need to have some way of feeling I am helping others after this is all done, so what better way to pay it back. I see how much Zack has been given because of others, so it makes me want to give back even more. The young nurse is very bubbly and we are immediately comfortable together. She is trying to figure out my accent and asks where I'm from. I tell her NJ, California, Belgium, Spain, NC... She then proceeds to laugh and says, I can here my Uncle (from NJ) my friend (From Boston) and my Italian grandfather (with the hand motions) all in one sentence from you!! I have NEVER heard anyone talk like you, it's so much fun!! I tell her I'm one of a kind!!! It takes about an hour before I'm seen, but the nurse makes it seem like everything is going to be smooth sailing. They offer me a movie of my choice (from 100+). There is a long reclining chair, large flat arms rests, headphones and a television with cable or movie right over the chair. Since I am going to be there at least two hours (which is normal) they want you to be as comfortable as possible. Usually they insert a needle in each arm, but for me, since my veins are large enough, she used a "double needle" in my right arm.She did a great job, as I never felt a thing! I am fitted with a blood pressure cuff to increase blood flow and given an inflatable ball. My instructions are to squeeze the ball each time the cuff inflates (counting to about 25 on and 15 off). That part was exhausting, as I don't have strong arms and am working muscles I didn't even know I had. The bags hang next to me (you can see in the picture) two with blood one with the platelets. This is exactly how Zack's look when he received the transfusions. The blood is pumped out, platelets sorted out with this machine and then at the end of the process, all the blood is then returned back into your system. THIS is when it was weird! The blood was cold and I got major chills when it was returned, but that only lasted about ten minutes. The entire time I am in the chair, someone is coming by to check on me, offers heated blankets (it gets cold in the room), drinks and snacks. They are very appreciative of the donations, especially now, they are very low all around the Country. Once everything is finished, the needle is removed, my arm bandaged in a bright red tape and sent on my way with a big Thank you!!

I arrive back at the Hospital by 3 pm, tired, hungry and ready for a nap. Zack is doing really well. He was already started on his chemo and playing his video. His mood has actually been very good. He has asked Frank to bring his guitar to the Hospital tomorrow night, so he can practice some more and maybe play again on Tuesday, when Richard returns. I take a short nap and fix him hot wings for dinner.  I went down to the Cafeteria and saw the young man that delivers the food trays to the rooms. He has also been a constant through all of this and even if we don't have the trays delivered anymore, he still manages to pop his head in to see how we are doing. I tell him this is our last stay and he gives me a big hug!! Everyone is celebrating! He tells me he is going back to school to get another degree. He currently has his bachelors in business and went to law school for one year, but hated it. He is going back to get his nursing degree and wants to work in pediatrics.  I told him I couldn't think of a better place for him, he is wonderful with people and has a kind heart. He will not only be an asset for the kids, but the parents as well. He told me he will miss seeing us but is glad Zack will be able to move on with his life. 

I am now back in the room. Picked up a couple of heated blankets for Zack, who was burning up last night (ac was at 62) and now is freezing cold (heat on 68). The chemo drugs do that to him each month. He is still in very good spirits and as the night nurse comes in to mark his board, she crosses out the 2 and puts a 3 for day 3 of 5!! We had the same day nurse as yesterday and now the same night nurse from last night, both amazing and both very good at what they do. This week will end as I envisioned, peaceful and easy. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"It's Five days of Hell Mom!"

It was on Tuesday that I realized, how many weeks, no months it has been since Mom and I have had a full day together, just the two of us. Zack was scheduled to have his lab work done to see if he needed blood or platelets. We "knew" he was in good shape and as always had a back up plan in the event he needed some. He was spending the day with Drake, Leah and "lil man".(Leah's baby). He was going to tell them he would return on Wednesday if he did indeed need blood. He wanted the day off as well and was going to take it! 

As usual, there were a few obstacles before I could actually get on the road to see Mom, once they were completed I was singing all the way to Hendersonville. Though Mom and I haven't had as much time together, our bond is still as strong as it was before the diagnosis. She is my rock, though at times throughout this journey, she was more like a broken rock that had fallen. She has been devastated by everything Zack has gone through and luckily she is able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and is coming back around. We started out with lunch, a delicious variety of sushi for Mom and a "bento box" of Teriyaki chicken, brown rice and steamed vegetables for me. We then proceeded to hit all of our usual thrift stores. Zack checks in with me and lets us know his counts were good, so he is on his way home to hang out with his friends and chill.  Once finished with five or six stores, we get the urge for our usual  "Belgian break". I won't go into that detail! (smile) On to WM (they don't deserve free advertising). The experience in that store was less than stellar. We were unable to find a lot of the groceries we needed and then waiting in line for 25 minutes because there were only 4 out of 20 registers open.. Customer Service be damned at their place! It is now 8 pm, Bob has checked in to see if he must fix his own or if we are bringing him dinner. "Fix your own it is!" Mom is finally getting tired. This woman is amazing, she is 81 years (young) and because of her constant walking of the dogs up and down her hill and around the cemetery several times a day, she can outlast me!! In my defense, I have been told to rest a lot!!! I know.... I know... don't tell me!! Spring is just around the corner (the calendar may say it's Spring, but the weather doesn't agree) and with that, I am outside a lot more. I check in with the guys and tell them Mom and I are having dinner together, then I will be home. They have ordered a pizza and are in good shape, so no worries. Mom and I arrive at her house, unload the groceries with Bob's help and I jump in their shower in a hurry. Our water heater has arrived just today, but will take a couple of days to install since the floor needs replacing. By the time I arrive home it is 10:30 pm. What a great day we had together! I'm so glad that Zack was able to go with his friends and have some time AWAY from his Mama and I some time WITH my Mama!!

Wednesday is a day of work for us all! Frank has started a new water feature and Zack is up to working and eager to make some money. I am the first out the door at 6:30 am, followed by the guys, who must get everything loaded and out the door around 8 am.  Frank told me later that there was one point where Zack started to loose steam, took a 15 minute break and bounced right back to finish up the day. He said he tried to get Zack to go home, but he was determined to work the entire day. This was an especially physically challenging day as they were moving big boulders in place. I had a lot of fun at work. I love my job and still can't wait to get to work in the mornings, as long as I know Zack is fine, I'm fine. At one point today the "egg man" delivered four dozen eggs to our office. He hands me a dozen and says "check out THESE eggs". Anticipating they were green or some other odd color I open the carton. Within seconds I screamed and cussed, yes I said a cuss word TWICE!!! In between 11 eggs was a little chic, I'm not sure what I thought it was, but it scared the living daylights out of me AND my reaction gave everyone in the office a big laugh! 

When I arrived home, I went into Zack's room to say hi. He had COLOR!!! He was not pale, he actually looked really good, even without eyebrows (which are already completely gone again). He had been working all day in the sun and didn't wear his hat, so he had even color on his beautiful bald head. At first I was worried because the medicine he is on, makes it bad to be in the sun, but he wore 70 SPF sunscreen and it gave him some color and vitamin D! He had advised us that Chris F was coming over to spend the night and hang out the next day. We haven't seen Chris in a long time. He has had to work on his Senior Project, is in band (one of their first chairs), golf, sports, etc.... Basically he is doing everything a Senior should be doing! It was so good to see him again. Frank was exhausted and apologized in advance if he fell asleep while talking to me. I just laugh and tell him we can carry on better conversations when he is sleeping. I know, the ultimate smart ass! 

It is now Thursday and the mood is slowly changing as the day progresses. Zack and Chris have spent the day with Sam J. These three boys have been friends since kindergarten and though they haven't spend a lot of time together, reconnect easily when they do see each other. They are all Seniors and going to cross the stage together. Sam who walks in with bright orange/red hair is the lead singer / songwriter in a band and I have made him promise to buy me a house (as his second mother) when he makes it big! The three together are a sight. Zack, of course, is the tallest, most casually dressed with his camouflage pants, matching jacket and hat, Chris is the "dapper" dude who loves to play golf and always looks like he is ready for an important meeting. I have such a soft spot for these boys, having watched them grow up and knowing their families closely. We are all Moms and Dads to these boys and that's as it should be. (It takes a village) The day is nearing it's end. Frank has managed to replace the floor and install the new water heater. Yeah!!! A shower tonight!!! Life is good!!! Zack is showing signs of frustration and anger. He doesn't want to go back into the hospital tomorrow! Even though I try and cheer him and tell him this is the last one, he still says, "but it is five days of hell Mom." My usual reaction is always to make a joke, so I tell him "three of those days I'm there with you!!, oh wait maybe THAT'S what you're talking about." He quickly laughs and tells me I'm nuts!! I have been anxious all day and finally realized it's because I am going in to donate platelets on Saturday. It's not the actual needles in the arms thing, it's my past coming back to haunt me. I had suffered from panic disorder for many years and could not do things like this. When I would go to the grocery store, I needed a list of what I needed by aisle, if I missed something I couldn't even go back for it. I haven't had this for at least 7 years now, but whenever I am challenged with something new, the old fears tend to pop up. It is then that I must talk to myself and remind myself that I don't do that anymore! On the long way home from work,  I stopped at several business that aren't open during the day. One in particular "The Quarry" is a quaint restaurant/ bar which strongly resembles the set of "Friends". Sofas and big fluffy chairs are all around. There is a small stage where live music is played six days a week. I ask the owner if I could put up one of the posters for the fundraiser, she stands up and we immediately hug. She is the young lady that Sue (my friend who is working on the FR with Nancy) had asked to originally play at the event. Her band was unable to, so she helped Sue get the other two bands together. It felt as if we had known each other our whole lives, she introduced me to her wife and other band members, who were all rooting for Zack. With a promise to return and a couple of menus in hand, I stop at five more places and all were thrilled to help us out! Each stop gave me another opportunity to not only share our journey, but to help some of them share theirs as well. Before I know it, I'm pulling into our driveway and it is 8:30 pm. 

For the rest of the evening we will pack, load up the car and be ready to head out early in the morning. This will be our last hospital stay and THAT is something to celebrate!! We will make the best of the week and hope that Zack doesn't have a strong reaction to the chemo. As more beautiful items arrive for the silent auction, we are all getting excited about the upcoming fundraiser. It will be nice to celebrate "surviving" this past year and opening new doors for the changes ahead. Until Tomorrow my dear  friends, thanks for being in our lives, being our support system and being YOU!!!!!