This year I am obsessed… well with quite a few things, but one of them is not (directly) medical.
This year I am focused on a high quality, everyone looks their best, everyone is smiling, family photo.
We are a family of three. Immediate family that is. (Not including our furry friends Allie, and Lucky.)
Our extended family includes his parents, two sisters, a brother-in-law, and three nephews. On my side, there are my grandparents, (Mom’s parents, my step-dad’s Mom, and my father’s mom) as well as my mom and dad, my father, my two sisters, a brother-in-law and a half-brother, and two nephews. That list doesn’t begin to address aunts, uncles and cousins galore on both sides. Yes, they are all family, but reality will never put them all in one place at the same time, and there are probably some blessings to that. While I love them all dearly, I often say you shouldn’t mix drinks, or extended family!
We have been fortunate enough that we have been able to travel to Walt Disney World in Florida for the past 4 summers. We will be making it a 5th this year. We save and budget all of our “fun” money for a Disney vacation because for their extremely high pricing, we get “allergy safe” meals wherever we eat, and unlimited access for Meghan’s push chair, which she often needs when we travel more than about a half mile. It is the best week of the year for all of us.
It is usually the week of Meghan’s birthday. It is doctor free, no needles, just be “normal” week. We take LOTS of pictures. Usually it is of Meghan alone, or of one of us with Meghan. They are great photos and I treasure them. The few photos we have gotten of all of us in Disney usually have us in sweats, and sneakers – SWEATING. This year we are going to go to the photo studio, and I don’t care how much it costs. Meghan and I have dresses picked out, and matching sandals too. (We just need to pick out something for Daddy who after deciding “stress eating” isn’t the way to go, is down over 20 pounds!)
There are so many reasons why I am focused on this photo. It is FUN to focus on something FUN.
I have been smacked in the face with the reality of the frailty of life. In March I was given a “second chance” as I was told the breast cancer that was “sneaking up on me,” unbeknownst to any doctor – was gone. Gone after a “prophylactic bilateral mastectomy.” Gone before it had a chance to wreak havoc on my life. Gone. But I will not forget the words of my surgeon, “If you had waited until July to do the surgery you would have likely been in a fight for your life.” Instead, I will go to Disney World.
Not lost on me is the reality that 15 years ago next month my Mother finished up treatment for bilateral breast cancer. She is strong, a survivor, still here, enriching our lives.
Not lost on me is the cancer scare AGAIN in May, as they worried about a malignancy in my uterus, before performing a hysterectomy.
I am vividly aware every moment that the thyroid specialist who monitors Meghan’s “precancerous” thyroid nodules, took back his invitation to come back in a year, and said, “we better see you in 6 months. One nodule is starting to dominate.”
I am painfully aware every moment that after one of the strongest, and longest battles I have ever witnessed, we lost GGPa in June to cancer.
My stomach, and my heart hurt for the victims of the senseless attack in Colorado this week. Families out to see a movie – life ended so tragically.
I love to look at pictures. In an age when people have stopped printing them, I have shelves FULL of albums. I love reliving memories, and smiling at al the good times. The albums remind me, that no matter how tough things seem, there ARE LOTS of good times.
Cowden’s Syndrome, PTEN mutation, cancer, NOTHING can take away the memories or the good times. So since 2012 has been quite the year, we will take a “fancy” family photo. One that will hang somewhere in our house and remind us that we can endure the tough times. One that will remind us to hug each other tightly, and to kiss each other when we leave, and to never stay angry over nonsense.
One that will remind us that we are defined by our spirits, and not by the sum of our parts.
We are family, and a pretty special one at that.