Sunday, June 9, 2013

Blood is Thicker than Chemo

There are many cliche statements that tend to bubble up in conversations when you go through something like cancer.  "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger"  or "You're only given what you can handle" come to mind.  I've come to despise these for a variety of reasons - though I know they are said with good intention.

But the longer I do this, the more I resent comparisons to those that do not make it through.  There are so many implied judgements in the term "survivor" that I cringe inside every time I hear it.  As though there is something inherently better about what I've done versus someone else - when so much comes down to luck and genetics.  And my own personal belief system does not align with gods who dole out "just the right amount" of suffering - and not an ounce more.

I don't buy it.

But that's just me.  I know it works for many, many people.

Along the way, I've snuggled up to my own cliches for making it through tough times - namely "It takes a village".   And I even coined one of my own:  "blood is thicker than chemo."

I could not have made it through this year without the love and support of my family.  My mom, an elementary teacher and maker of the world's best soup trekked the three-and-a-half hours to our house each chemo round to feed, comfort and (gently) nag me through.  There were days I was not strong enough to lift a cup of water to drink and weeks when I didn't make it out of my "nest" - the corner of the couch I staked a claim to throughout treatment.  I needed her to be there on even the most basic level - to help me survive.  But of course, mom being mom - she gave so much more than that.

Family is such a gift - whether you are lucky enough to be born into one as great as mine - or if you pluck them from along life's path.  Having people in your life that stand by you through thick and thin is what makes life worthwhile.  My family -  from both the born into and constructed categories - is my most prized possession and I am so grateful for them.  Thank you for being you - and for being part of my world.

These photos were taken by the wildly talented Jenny Borst who spent a practically perfect day with our family at my parents home in the Yakima Valley.  It was one of the first warm days in early Spring and we were all finally well enough to converge to play music, take walks in the sunshine and just enjoy each other.  This is something we had done on countless occasions - but perhaps never before with such conviction.

My brother and I 
Justin is possibly the only person who can make me laugh so hard food comes out of various orifices.  He's one of my best friends and an all around great guy.  

He's so great, it almost makes me regret the time I convinced him to stick a red hot up his nose as a child.
The lovely Madeline, soaking up the sun.

Is there anything better than this?  I can still hear her laughter.
I love our little family so much!
Ugh.  Seriously Mads?  May need to reconsider the fine art of "shotgun cleaning." 

Hunky Hubby
Holding up the sun.

Possibly my favorite photo from the day.
Nope.  I stand corrected.  This is my favorite.

We were going for "tough" in this photo.  As in "bad a$$ family who made it through a hell of a year."
Nailed it.
But in all honesty, this is how we really made it through:  With love and humor and perseverance.  
Almighty Family.   

I feel I must put in a shameless plug for my friend who does so much for us.  Find more of Jenny's work at or message me and I can put you in contact with her.