Home with Two Sick Kids

My back is starting to scream its painful cramp. I am curled on the couch, literally curled. In my lap is my sick four-year-old daughter. She has a bad cold paired with an ear infection. My two-year-old is conked out in the rocker chair not far away from us.

Today would have been the first day back-to-school from Spring Break. When my oldest said she didn’t want to go to school I didn’t argue. It is serious when she states that. I try to not look at the clock for the millionth time to see if I need to get lunch ready or a snack or a medicine dose.

Dang-its only 11am. What should I do? Normally I love home days. I love not rushing us three out the door so early. On the TV is a Barbie movie and my mind is starting to turn to zombie. The sleepless nights with the girls is catching up big time.

We have baked muffins. We have colored. We have watched three movies. We have been on every floor in the townhouse. No one is bugging to go outside despite the sun bursting through the drapes.

I ignore the stack of work sitting by my desk. Nothing too late, I tell myself. This is why I work-at-home so I can be here for my kids in sickness and health.  I do crave a freshly brewed coffee and time to savor it. There is no one to call and beg for a delivery.

My oldest girl opens her eyes for a hug. Ok. Sometimes you do need to just stop and hug.

*There are grammar mistakes, I know. I am typing with one hand. Need to feel productive.*

Fun Friday Facts

For the lighter side, here are some fun facts about me. Please feel free to leave a fun fact about yourself.

1. As a kid I loved margarine and ketchup on saltine crackers.

2. I still have a crush on Bryan Adams. My kids know all his songs.

3. Leftover from pregnancies, I can’t eat raw tomatoes.

4. I have over 100 purses/wallets/tote bags. (no idea on exact number.)

5. Six years ago I never thought I would be living in Surburbia. I never thought I would not miss the big city. 🙂

6. The books I read over and over again are: Tara Road by Maeve Binchy and Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald.

7. My favorite dish to cook is take-out! I would rather play with the kids.

Ok. Now your turn….

A Field Trip Gone Awry

This past Friday I was on a field trip with my girls. My oldest was participating with her pre-school friends at the local music school. In the dance portion of the visit I noticed a new face in the crowd. I introduced myself. The mom reciprocated. I asked her what she did as I have never seen her before. She replied that she stays at home so she can make sure the housekeeper does her job. The nanny always had taken the boy to school.I nodded trying to absorb it all. The room was done and going to move to the music portion.
One mom pulled me aside from the others to say that mom has never been around. She does not show up at play dates. I asked if there was maybe an illness as to her full time help at home. The answer was no. I felt sad for the situation. She seemed to not want to be here. She was not taking any pictures or giving words of encouragement. The mom was glued to her phone.
My youngest was running to me to be picked up. The class had been mixing up instruments. It looked like my oldest was having a great time. I saw on the outer corner one of the pre-schoolers wandering from the circle looking for his mom. She bellowed at him to get back in line. He did until the circle moved into his mom’s corner, and he stepped out to stand in front of his mom.
What happened next still rings in my ears and my heart.
When the boy broke off from the circle, his mom yelled at him to listen to the teacher. She then reached behind him and gave him a fast and hard spank. The room came alive with parents and kids running around. I crouched in front of my girls to give them a big hug. My shaky nerves and hot cheeks advertised my shock. The teacher dismissed us. I got the girls settled into their car seats with snacks in hand. I stood outside the car wiping tears off my cheeks. For the first time my girls saw a child get hit. That makes me feel sick.
Growing up I was subjected to many horrors of discipline for things that in hindsight were not my fault. The anger from my dad and the emotional and physical abuse made me protect my children even harder. I don’t know anyone who would have spanked their child so publicly in front of their kid’s peers. In fact, I don’t know many who do spank.
I realize that I am not judging what other parents do in the own homes. My heart aches still as I write this for that little boy who was publicly humiliated in front of his peers.
That night, the situation still bothered me. Something was not right. I called RCMP and was told they already knew of the situation. I have since heard from the other parents in class. The venue where we had the trip had called as per their policy and two other parents called the cops. There is much more to this story sadly. The kids are at their grandparents.
It was hard to witness two examples of extreme parenting: one not into their kid and one who felt nothing to spank in the classroom.
My instincts are never wrong. I wish I knew much earlier if there was a problem. I hope the family can heal and repair from the toxic environment that had become their home.
I originally posted on Facebook when I was in the heat of the moment. It caused a lot of uproar. For those who really know me know that it must take a lot for me to speak up. Just as those who read this have a voice, I do too. That boy needed someone to speak up for them.
I have not had a mom break in four and a half years. I am with my kids 24/7. I do not have any help due to finances and small family. I know I am not supermom. I also want to be here for them as much as I can. I work-at-home which adds to the already filled to-do list. My housework always comes last or forgotten. Sure I wish I had a sitter or a cleaner occasionally. I have had my anger times with my kids. I have locked myself in a bathroom to cry or scream into a pillow. I count to ten. I go online to vent.
When my anger has cleared, I realize that what made me angry was not my child but me.
Our motto is hands are for hugs and high-fives only. For me and my kids. Now I am going to go deliver a hug.

The Waiting Is Not a Game

As a kid you wait for the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. As a teenager you wait for the school bell and to grow up. As an adult you wait for the promotion and Fridays. A soon-to-be parent waits for the stick to turn blue and to teach their child to tie their shoe. As a parent you wait for the sleeping nights and for your kids to be safe.

As a big sister, I wait day after day for my sister’s results to come back. We wait for her to be healthy again. We wait for the cancer to go away for good this time. She waits for what was normal once before. This is the blemished reality of more tests, more waiting and more surgeries.

Whoever said the expression ‘waiting game’ must have been kidding. The agonizing waiting eats away at our daily lives. The unknown plagues our hearts. To be in limbo stalls the ability to move forward, lighter and better.

Well let’s just face it, waiting sucks!

My Sister’s Other Cancer Attacker

Medical Details of my Sister’s Attacker. For What Its Worth

Intraductal carcinoma is a condition in which abnormal cells are found in the lining of a breast duct. The abnormal cells have not spread outside the duct to other tissues in the breast. In some cases, intraductal carcinoma may become invasive cancer and spread to other tissues, although it is not known at this time how to predict which lesions will become invasive. Also called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

Causes

The specific causes of intraductal carcinoma are still unknown. The risk factors for developing this condition are similar to those for invasive breast cancer.

Some women are however more prone than others to developing intraductal carcinoma. Women considered at higher risks are those who have a family history of breast cancer, those who have had their periods at an early age or who have had a late menopause. Also, women who have never had children or had them late in life are also more likely to get this condition.

Genetic mutations (BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes), atypical hyperplasia, as well as radiation exposure or exposure to certain chemicals may also contribute in the development of the condition. Nonetheless, the risk of developing noninvasive cancer increases with age and it is higher in women older than 45 years.

Treatment

The main treatment for intraductal carcinoma used to be mastectomy. This treatment therapy consists in the removal of the affected breast and until recently it was the only way in which this condition was treated. The rationale for mastectomy includes a 30% incidence of multicentric disease, a 40% prevalence of residual tumor at mastectomy following wide excision alone, and a 25% to 50% incidence of breast recurrence following limited surgery for palpable tumor, with 50% of those recurrences being invasive carcinoma.

Another treatment option consists of breast-conserving surgery along with radiation therapy. This type of treatment is usually considered in patients with non-palpable lesions and microcalcifications that may be seen on a mammography Breast-conserving surgery, also referred to as lumpectomy, is considered nowadays a reasonable approach in the treatment of intraductal carcinoma. A lumpectomy consists in the removal of the tumor and a part of the surrounding tissues of the breast. Sometimes, lumpectomies are also referred to as partial mastectomies because they mainly consist in the removal of a part of the breast tissue. My sister has already had 5 lumps removed.

According to the results of the trials carried out by EORTC (EORTC-10853), radiation therapy has a consistent efficiency in treating intraductal carcinoma. This clinical trial showed that the recurrence rate of breast carcinoma may be reduced with 10%, from which invasive cancer recurrence was reduced with 5% and noninvasive cancer recurrence with 7%. This study also concluded that the risks of recurrence are greatly dependent on the age of the patient, the type of carcinoma (intermediate or poorly differentiated), the indeterminate margins of the tumor and the growth pattern.

Mastectomies however remain the main treatment option in patients with persistent microscopic involvement of margins after local excision or with a diagnosis of intraductal carcinoma and evidence of suspicious, diffuse micro calcifications.

A clinical study carried out by NSABP revealed that Taximofen may reduce the incidence of contralateral breast neoplasms (invasive and noninvasive) from 0.8% per year to 0.4% per year and the ipsilateral invasive breast cancer with 2% at 5 years.

Chemotherapy is thought to be inefficient in treating this type of noninvasive breast cancer and the role of hormonal therapy in this matter is currently being researched.

My Sister’s Genetic Attacker

What is germ cell cancer?

Germ cells are the cells in the body that develop into sperm and eggs. They are mainly found in the ovary or testicle. But they can sometimes be left behind in other parts of the body from when you developed in the womb.

Germ cell tumours can develop from these cells. They most often develop in the ovary or testicle, as that is where most germ cells are. But they can develop anywhere there are germ cells. The most common germ cell tumors are teratomas or seminomas of the testicle in men.

Women can develop ovarian germ cell tumors. Many of these are non-cancerous (benign). But some are cancerous. Only about 1 or 2% of cancers of the ovary are this type. Most ovarian germ cell tumors occur in teenagers or young women, although they also occur in women in their 60’s.

Cancers that develop from germ cells in other parts of the body are rare. They may grow in a part of the chest called the mediastinum. The mediastinum is the area between the lungs, which contains the heart. Germ cell cancers may also start in the brain, or at the back of the abdomen. This is called retroperitoneal cancer (which just means behind the abdomen).  

Doctors usually remove germ cell cancers with surgery and this may be all the treatment you need if the cancer is small and easy to remove. If there is a chance of the cancer coming back, you may have chemotherapy after surgery. Germ cell tumors generally respond very well to chemotherapy and most people are cured. Even cancers that have spread are still very treatable.

Are we fighting a losing battle or winning soon?

My Sister’s Attacker

As soon as I hit end call on my iPhone my tears poured   down my face like it was in a race. My nose began to drip. My heart feels ripped in half. My grief rushes through my whole body like salt in an open wound. Here we go again.

It is the night before my 34 year old younger sister will go through a full mastectomy. Due to cells in her lymph nodes, our family history and her prior battles with cancer, this surgery is necessary. There are no other options to kick cancer.

The reason why she has no other choice is two germ cell tumors removed from her. One from 14 years ago and one 2 ½ months ago. And once again like a broken record the powerful dejavu clouds my soul.

Sitting by my sister’s hospital bedside year after year gives my empathy to what my aunts felt holding vigil by our mom’s hospital bed. Our mom lost her second battle with cancer at the age of 38.

I poured through the internet looking for answers on the type of cancer.

This post is to be continued.