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It is the end of August, 2013. I am still here. They told me I would not be. I still remember the words delivered to me along with my diagnosis, December 28th 2011. “This is a tragic diagnosis for a perfectly healthy 57 year old man to receive.” Non-small cell, non-squamous metastatic Adenocarcinoma of the lungs. Stage 4. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I exercise and eat well. I work at raising my children and loving my husband. I try to do right and well by all the humans and animals in my world, though there is always room for improvement. So why me?
That was followed by a flurry of activity, tests, scans, biopsies, crying, shock, disbelief, more why ME’s, chemotherapy, radiation, crashing immune system, violent allergic reactions, blood clots, bone issues etc. etc. ad nauseam. Much of that was in the first three months.
It is now late August 2013 and I just left my two sons (8 and 10) and my husband on the first day of school at a brand new school. Because of the precarious nature of my health John and I decided we needed him home more and preferably less stressed when he came home. His Principal career was getting ready to move to the next level and the time and stress were only going to ramp up. The boys need him now, not later. I need him now, will there be a later for me? Besides he is a truly gifted teacher who loves the profession, especially at a school where he has the freedom to soar as a teacher. That is the kind of place St. Francis seems to be. Bonus, the boys will be with John at this new school. We left the comfort of relationships we had built at our old school and some really great teachers, staff and a great principal as well. So even though we will have to budget a little bit better and the kids have to start over at this new school, this is truly the best choice for our family.
We had the most amazing summer this year. The boys were old enough to be a little more independent, but we still did most everything together. We had camps, vacations, and wonderful suppers with friends, late night swims. Lots of reading and movies. Lazy summer days where we did nothing at all. We had the most amazing vacation in California, seeing friends and making memories as a family.
We also became legally married in California with our boys as our best men and ring bearers combined. The day we got married our friends Sam and Jenn took the kids swimming and to a movie so John and I could have a peaceful afternoon together followed by dinner at a very special place in Santa Cruz. Sam told us this story the next day: While the boys were playing with their children that afternoon our youngest was swinging in the park with some kids he didn’t know. He turned to them and said “My Dad’s got married today. You heard me right, I said Dads. I’ve got two dads”. He was both proud and aware that it was something that not all kids would expect so he was disarming them with a smile. There was nothing but pride and a smile on his face, it was pretty awesome!
All this is to demonstrate to that in spite of being a stage 4 cancer patient, and in spite of what the odds are, I am living a truly amazing life right now. Many days have hard challenges. Brain radiation is particularly unusual and debilitating. I have been living this new life for 21 months, and what a privilege it is to still be here. I intend to coexist with this cancer as long as I have an ounce of energy left. I am not looking at it as a fight right now, but more of a dance competition, a ballet. The happy music is playing right now! I will still dance through the dissonant music as well. Buyt now, what should I make for dinner when my boys get home tonight?

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