First, a little back story. If you’re just hearing about this, you might want to start with Leslie’s Cancer.
3/9/2023 four days before chemo
With chemo on the horizon, Sarah (16) starting spring break, and only a couple weeks before Bethany (19) would be gone to Thailand to teach English for 3 months, I felt an urgency to pull together one last family fling before things got crazy.
However, we had considerable trouble finding time when all our local kids could take time from work or school to enjoy a vacation. The best we could manage was a day trip to Sedona to enjoy an ATV tour together Saturday.
3/11/2023 two days before chemo
I could not have imagined how fun it would be. I was worried about whether I had the energy to make it happen or even participate once we got there. But it was perfect, and I had a great time.
The kids decided that they never want to do Disneyland again – they would much prefer to go off roading from now on. Every one of them gushed about how amazing it was, and how glad they were that we made it happen. (In the past, we have found it difficult to pick family activities that everyone enjoys.) Truly, a bonding experience that we have needed for a long time.
I wasn’t able to capture any of the super speedy or more treacherous moments (because we were busy trying not to die), but we zoomed through rivers, climbed rocky ridges, and sped through straightaways.
3/13/2023 chemo day 1
Last night Trevan and Nick gave me a priesthood blessing that I would feel pleasantly surprised and even giddy at how well I tolerated my first treatment today. I’ve had to take this a bite at a time so I don’t get discouraged or overwhelmed about what may lay ahead. Despite my plan I still had some anxiety going in this morning, because of all the stories and reports of how awful it is. I know, Stickman. But still, it can be a challenge rejecting data input and focusing instead on the dream of desired outcomes. I wondered if I would feel like poison was pouring into my body.
The lidocaine really helped numb the port access, and gratefully, receiving my infusion felt as easy as getting saline. I finished writing the next lesson in MMS as I sat there and Trevan and I even had time to watch an episode of a favorite show together on his laptop.
When we left four hours later, I even felt normal enough to go with him to check out some used cars in the Toyota lot, with a list in mind of what we were looking for in a vehicle. We’ve had more car repairs and shop visits in the last year than maybe we’ve ever had and it was time to trade in at least one of them. Cars have never been much of a focus for us, so when we finally get one we like we tend to drive it into the ground because we’re so busy focusing on other things. But there comes a point where the vehicle situation calls enough attention to itself that it can no longer be ignored.
The big question was whether we should replace his car first or mine. We both work from home so the need isn’t what it used to be, but he does want a 4 door, 4WD with a truck bed, tow package, roof rack, hybrid, and something he can do adventures in. I want something more simple and comfortable for the daily errand or long trips, something that could seat at least 7 people. We thought, maybe we could find something to share for now that has enough of both our lists?
We thought maybe we’d find that in the Sequoia. But when I finally sat in one it was a no… it felt too much like our old Suburban – I wanted something smaller and peppier.
Something More to Fight For
Part of my problem going into chemo is that I’ve been struggling to find something to look forward to, something to motivate me to fight this. Something to think about instead of dread. Obviously, I fight for my family, but because I truly believe families are forever even beyond the grave, and that my children and husband are amazing and will find their way just fine with God’s help even if cancer eventually takes me, I needed a dream that was smaller, closer, more “check-offable” than just enjoying more time with them. I needed to know how that time would be spent.
But as we sat in that dealership for four hours trying to figure out what we really wanted or needed in a replacement vehicle, a model we hadn’t considered was presented to us: The Jeep Wrangler.
Trevan has been researching sport utility vehicles mostly to help him with his cycling treks, but he had ruled out the Wrangler because it was too small for what he had in mind. He was really interested in the Gladiator because of its truck bed.
But after test driving the Wrangler he fell in love. I was waiting in our van to leave because I thought we were done for the day, but when he came back he invited me to test it with him, and I fell in love too – not because it matched what I had in mind, but because it felt surprisingly perfect for the both of us, AND it wasn’t as noisy as I thought it would be.
It got me thinking about the adventures we would take together, camping, cycling, hiking, off roading…. things we haven’t been able to do for a while but things we love. Considering the possibilities unexpectedly choked me up. It just felt right and we agreed that purchasing the vehicle was our next right step. I realized I didn’t need space for 7 passengers any more. My kids are all grown up and driving their own cars. Trevan realized he only wanted the Gladiator because of the fear of missing out on everything a vehicle could possibly have.
The clincher for us was when we felt the God-wink. The Jeep was small enough for me to comfortably use for daily errands, quieter than we thought it would be for roadtrips, it came with the full package, so Trevan doesn’t have to feel like he’s missing out on anything (for that model at least), and as new as it looks, it’s actually a 2020 model bringing it under budget and our awesome salesman Destyn pulled some strings for us to bring it down even more so we could feel great about the price. It’s not a color we ever expected to want (red), but the fact that it is brings my thoughts back to our family ATV trip and the totally unintended red color theme (the tour guide outfitted us with all red bandanas and Trevan brought red coats for me and himself), a perfect memory with my loved ones, a perfect reminder of all my reasons I want to be well again soon.
I can see myself adventuring with the family, and also just with Trevan sometimes. I can see running SAG for his cycling adventures in it. I can see getting a rooftop tent and camping together in fun places across the country. I could see visiting our kids up north in the snow and feeling safe. As I considered all the possibilities, my spirit was rattled awake and the tears began to flow (I had to quickly stop the tears though, because I think chemo was making the tops of my eyeballs start to sting. That was weird.)
After seeing how well our salesman was already living the principles, we started talking about my work. He’s excited to receive a copy of The Jackrabbit Factor and will let me know how he likes it. 🙂
I thought we were at the dealership just to do some research today so we could soon replace at least one of our vehicles. After all, our best cars right now are 15 and 18 years old. But what I really came home with tonight was something to look forward to, and without trying to be too dramatic, I think that may have just saved my life.
We decided not to tell the kids. We’re just going to wait and see how long it takes for them to ask where the van is, or who’s Jeep is in our driveway. I think they are going to freak out. They’ve been rolling their eyes every time they ask where one of the cars is and we have to tell them it’s in the shop again. They keep telling us how badly we need to replace our cars, and I keep telling them that we’re planning on it, but first we will pay the medical bills. They’ve been understanding, but still wished the cars would be replaced. One down, one to go.
Anyway, if you know my kids don’t say anything. And if you’re one of my kids reading this… I’m impressed! Thank you for reading. Surprise – we have a Jeep! Let’s go off roading again soon! 🙂
Why not throw in a movie night?
While Trevan was completing the dealership paperwork, I texted a friend who had invited us to do a movie night as couples when I felt up to it. With the new dream alive and having said goodbye to my old 2008 minivan, I told her I was feeling surprisingly well and asked if we could we come for a movie tonight. She said yes, so we laughed and cried through Ghost Town, and I’m now getting ready to hit the sack. It’s been an amazing day.
Indeed, I was giddy today as promised, despite the chemo treatment, and for reasons not previously anticipated.
When I finally got home at 11pm, my kids asked how I was doing and I said, “Honestly, I do feel a little strange, but I’ve experienced a worse buzz just from eating donuts. So… make note: donuts are worse than chemo, haha.
I’m kidding. I know chemo is no joke and I’m still on a pump right now so things may feel a lot worse tomorrow. I’m just grateful that I’m not as nervous to go back and get infused again in two weeks after having an uneventful experience in the chair today. My first day, as I hoped, wasn’t bad as I thought it would be.
UPDATE 5:35 am Tuesday – I haven’t really slept yet. My legs are restless and I haven’t been able to relax… so I’ve been writing instead. That’s why this post exists! I decided at 3:30 that just laying here tossing and turning wasn’t doing any good. Eventually I’ll crash, I’m sure, and I’ll be grateful that I cleared my schedule in case I wasn’t up to doing anything on day 2 of chemo. God willing, I’ll be sleeping.
Thank you for your continued prayers.
I didn’t fall asleep last night until after a second hot bath at 6:30 am. I turned on the Unshaken Saints podcast and fell asleep until 10:30 am. I got up and had a room temperature shake (since the cold sensitivity has set in). It’s noon now and after having some wonderful conversations with my mom, daughters, and a friend, I’m feeling good. Here’s to a new day. ❤️