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Living Outside the Stacks

Navigating through life away from the library

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You Have Cancer {In the Cafe}

You Have Cancer {Living Outside the Stack

A friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer today. I listened to her cry on the phone. Wishing I could reach across the miles and hold her hand. Hug her. Physically be there with her. Let her know that I understand. I’ve been there. She’s a wife and a mother. My heart aches for them. My heart aches for her. But her story is not mine to tell, so here’s my story:

Am I going to die? Will my kids remember me? Does Tony know how much I love him? How long do I have left? Will I go peacefully? 

Why me?

Those were just some of the thoughts that tumbled through my head as I stood there holding the phone. Did she really just tell me I have cancer? Over the phone? I couldn’t deal with that right then. At that moment, I had to start preparing for the possibility that I might die. That I’d leave my husband to raise 4 small children alone.

My husband stood there looking at me. I told him what the doctor said: “I have ‘a little bit of cancer’.” Her words: “You have a little bit of cancer…” What does that even mean? Don’t deal with that right now. You’re going to die. He grabbed me in his arms and held me tight. So tight that it hurt to breathe. But I wanted him to hold me tighter. Squeeze the tumor out of me. Smash it. Squish it. Just don’t let it kill me…

I went into “Mom Mode”. I grabbed a floppy disk {a bright orange floppy disk, the color of the sun, the color of life, something I was going to lose} and wrote letters to my kids, I made a list of songs I wanted them to hear, movies I wanted them to watch, books they needed to read. The pens they should use. The only pen they should ever use: Pilot Precise V~5. I wrote stories about my life. I wanted them to know me. To see me as more than a picture or a vague memory.

I organized their closets. I washed everything and hung them on color coded hangers so the hubs would know which clothes belonged to whom. I arranged their drawers in birth order. I didn’t think about what he’d do when their clothes got dirty and were washed. He’d have to hang them on his own.

I bought their favorite shampoos and foods in bulk. I made sure he was fully stocked with laundry detergent. I made lists of everything. I, the woman who hates lists, became obsessed with lists. All of this in less than a week’s time.

I cried.

I stared at my babies and cried.

I held my husband and cried.

The hubs saw the desperation in my eyes. “You’re going to live.” He talked to his aunt, a Surgical Head Nurse, and she was able to get me in to see an oncologist at her hospital. They calmed my nerves. They told me I was going to live. I was going to live. I had to have surgery and radiation therapy. I was going to live.

It’s been nearly 14 years since I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a total thyroidectomy {removal of the entire thyroid}. My parathyroid and lymph nodes: gone. “Diseased” tissue was removed from both breasts. Cancer gone.

In that time, I’ve watched my children grow into adults. I’ve become a grandmother, completed two Master’s degrees, run several 5Ks, and started training for a 10K.

I lived.

I continue to live.

I’m not sharing my story because I want sympathy for what I went through or praise for surviving. I’m sharing my story because I want you to understand that there is no “normal” reaction to a cancer diagnosis. Some people fall apart. Some people go into fight mode. Some go into denial. Everything that you feel is real and it’s normal. But don’t wallow. Find a reason to fight. Hold the people you love close to you.

If you’ve never received that diagnosis, be aware of your body. You know when something is “off” or doesn’t feel right. And even if nothing feels wrong, do your breast examines every month. Go to your doctor for yearly check ups. Do what you can to stay healthy.

You have to take care of you in order to be able to take care of everyone else.
Daenel T

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I’ve Been Bitstripped {In the Cafe}

Bitstrips {Living Outside the Stacks}
Bitstrips courtesy of Miss 16

Daenel T

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Throwback Thursday: Handwritten Treasures {In the Dark Room}

#throwbackthursday {Living Outside the Stacks}

Folded in my wallet are four letters that my sweet little babies wrote to me when I left home for my first business trip. At the time, they were 4, 6, 6, and 8. The notes were neatly tucked in the side pocket of my suitcase, to be discovered when I unpacked.

What’re you sharing for Throwback Thursday?

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Happy Birthday to Twin A and B {Repost for their 18th Birthday}

Happy Birthday to My Babies {Living Outside the Stacks}

I gave birth to Twin A and Twin B 18 years ago today.  But, really, their story began nine days earlier…..

On 11 September 1995, the hubs and I showed up at the hospital for a routine OB visit.  The baby was due in nine days and, almost overnight it seemed, I had put on about 15 or 20 lbs and my pregnancy gait had shifted into full on waddle.  Furthermore, the baby was bouncing all over the place. Don’t babies normally slow down the closer you get to the due date?

Anyway, the hubs and the two~year~old sat in the waiting room while the doctor pulled out the measuring tape and measured my belly.  ”Hmmm,” he flipped through my chart, “where’s your ultrasound?”  I noted the apprehension in his voice and replied, “I only have the confirmation ultrasound but they haven’t done one since then.  Why?”  He looked at me over his paperwork, “Well, you’re measuring a little large.  How about if we get you in for an ultrasound?”

I rolled off the table {at that point, that’s all I could do}, got dressed and told the hubs that we were headed downstairs to get an ultrasound.

Insert cold belly jelly here

I looked at the ultrasound and started to panic.  My baby was going to be a freak!  There on the screen were two baby heads, one pointed up and one pointed down.  I asked the tech what I was looking at and she replied that I’d have to wait for the doctor, in the mean time, she was going to get my husband.  This did not sound good.

The doctor and the hubs both walked into the room at about the same time, the hubs looked at the screen and started backing away as the doctor announced “TWINS!”  What?  You have got to be friggin kidding me?  Nine days before they’re due and now you’re telling us that we’re having twins? But wait, it gets better…

The doctor went on to explain that the hospital at Fort Polk, Louisiana didn’t deliver twins {especially high risk twins ~ who knew what condition my little monkey babies were going to be in when they arrived?} so we’d have to drive to Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas to have them.

The next day, we drove the two~year~old to Mississippi to my parents’ house and then drove down to Texas.  With me having contractions the whole way.  If you think pot holes are a pain in the butt on a regular day, try hitting them when you’re in labor.

We arrived at BAMC, just in time for them to decide that it would be too much to have the babies right then, so they stopped my labor.  Yes.  They stopped it.  I could have cried. I did cry. Then they started doing ultrasounds and stress tests to see how the babies were doing.  The entire time, we could only hear one heartbeat.  Finally, the doctors decided that I needed an amniocentesis but they didn’t really want to do it because they didn’t want to put the babies in any harm with a double stick {anesthesia and the hollow needle}.  I told them to do it without the anesthesia. What was I thinking and why didn’t my husband slap me straight?  PAIN!!!!! Worse. Than. Child Birth.

The amnio showed that the babies were developed enough to survive outside of the womb.  So on my original due date ~ 20 September 1995 ~ the doctors induced labor.  At this time, I would like to stop and thank my anesthesiologist because I felt absolutely nothing! I have a picture of him and his wife in the twin’s baby books, that’s how much they mean to me.

Jazmine Danielle was born at 11:40 AM and followed ten minutes later by Brandon Anthony.  Their birth was witnessed by the hubs, the seven doctors and nurses  who worked on me, six doctors and nurses for the babies, as well as fifteen to seventeen residents who watched from the observation platform.  I know this because we met one of the residents in the elevator when I was being discharged.  He proudly stated in the elevator before a group of onlookers, “Hey, I saw you have your twins!”  Yuck!

Eighteen years ago today, I was surprised and doubly blessed with two beautiful babies who have grown up to provide me with love, laughter and a healthy dose of humility.  I love you guys and it has been an honor and a privilege to be your mother.

Now start packing your bags, ’cause this is your last year!

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Weekend Wrap~Up {In the Family Room}

Are you ready to begin a new week? I am. Kinda sorta. This is the first full week that the students are going to be back on campus, so things are gonna be kind of crazy for a minute. My own kids have been back at school for a week now, so we’ve pretty much settled into a routine which is pretty nice. Our weekend was pretty non~eventful but there were a  few hiccups, some laughs, a triumph, and a new beginning…

1. Can’t Multi~task

Weekend Wrap~Up {Living Outside the Stacks}

Yes, this really happened. Lesson: I cannot talk to my aunt and cook dinner at the same time. Between the laughing, sharing memories, and catching up on life, I totally forgot that I was cooking dinner.

2. Finished Week 2 of C210K

Weekend Wrap~Up {Living Outside the Stacks}

This running thing is really working out for me. Who knew I could enjoy something that is so physically, spiritually, and emotionally demanding? And after 40 years of having absolutely no color to my skin or muscle definition in my legs, I now have both!

3. Miss 19 Turned 20

Weekend Wrap~Up {Living Outside the Stacks}

We’re not big on parties, but what we do like to do is find the most randomly decorated birthday cakes we possibly can and buy them. I don’t think anyone will ever be able to top the line dancers.

4. Serenity in a Cup

Weekend Wrap~Up {Living Outside the Stacks}

Because no weekend wrap~up would be complete without a coffee shot!

5. Finally Gettin’ It Done

Weekend Wrap~Up {Living Outside the Stacks}

So I promised a friend of mine a blanket at the beginning of the Summer. I’m just now getting started. Total slacker, I am.

How was your weekend?


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