Leanne, Ryland, Kaitlin, Jeff & Maryn

Friday, September 12, 2008

Is the summer really over???

Holy cow! Where has the time gone? I really can't believe that we are solidly into September, and before I know it, it will be winter again. We had a very action-packed summer. Kaitlin came to stay with us for the standard 6 weeks, and tested my mom skills. ;) I'm just joking...she's actually a very amazing kiddo. She had two weeks of soccer camp at UC Berkeley, and managed to sprain her ankle on the very FIRST day of camp. In the second week of camp (while Jeff was away on business), she re-sprained the same ankle on Wednesday, and landed us in the pediatrician's office, then the hospital for x-rays. Luckily it turned out just to be a bad sprain...but she got doctor's orders to take it easy. You don't have to tell a 15-yr-old to take it easy twice...boy was she milking it! LOL!

We did get an amazing opportunity to take Kaitlin onboard the Coast Guard Cutter EAGLE for a day out on the San Francisco Bay. Kaitlin is officially convinced that she needs to become a cadet at the Coast Guard Academy...Jeff and I are encouraging her to do just that...and so are our pocketbooks. =) I also was able to catch up with a few friends from the Academy while onboard. It's amazing how nice it seems, once you have been removed from the cadet lifestyle for over 10 years...all of those bad memories have seemingly disappeared, and I am starting more and more to only remember the good things.

I started my new job in July and am loving every second of it. Everybody is in great spirits and all of my co-workers get along so well. I am very fortunate to be in such a positively energized place! I love being back "in action" but the long work days take a little getting used to. Jeff is taking both of the kids to daycare now, and I am commuting the other direction through tons of Bay Bridge traffic. Ugh - I didn't miss that at all! I am thoroughly enjoying the weight of responsibility and the trust that my supervisors have in me...it feels great to be "needed" again at work!

Maryn and Ryland - wow. They are getting big (well, not Ryland)! Maryn is nearing the 3-yr-old mark, and is bound and determined to stretch the terrible two's to the very end. She had a good 6 weeks of misbehaving at school...just happened to coincide with me changing jobs and her moving up to the big kids' classroom. After many trials and tribulations, I finally found something that works...the reward of Special Mommy Walks after bath time when Jeff is putting Ryland to bed. She and I go for a walk in the neighborhood, usually not making it more than three houses down the street (the neighbors have a wonderful tire swing hanging from a HUGE tree in the front yard). We swing and play for 15-20 minutes, then return home for some snuggle time. So, that was the fix. Ryland is finally cutting all of his teeth - at once! I was worried that little guy was going to have 5 teeth forever. Fortunately (or unfortunately??) the teething is all happening at once now - including the ever-painful molars. He is running laps now...it looks so weird to see him walking. He's still tiny as ever and looks too small to be walking/running as well as he is. The babies have started to fight! My parents are laughing their heads off at the payback I am receiving. Who knew that a 2 1/2-yr-old and a 16-month-old would fight and bicker?

Jeff and I are doing very well. We took vacation in August and went home to Idaho for my best friend's wedding. She married the love of her life, and I'm so glad we were able to be part of it! Maryn was a flower girl, and I shared the bridesmaid duties with another girlfriend. Following the wedding, Jeff and I crashed their honeymoon and joined them on a 3 day/2 night white water rafting trip on the Snake River through Hells Canyon. What an AMAZING time! Jeff's parents took care of Maryn and Ryland (Kaitlin had to return to school and didn't get to partake) while we enjoyed a Mommy and Daddy vacation. It was EXACTLY what we needed! Class IV white water, fabulous fishing (I caught 7 small mouth bass in 30 minutes!), luxury camping....ahhhh. I can't wait to do it again next year!

AND....for the big news. Drum roll please........I am DONE DONE DONE! I completed my last Herceptin infusion at the end of July, and had another clear PET/CT scan! Woohoo...I am cancer free after almost two years of roller coaster treatment! I really can't believe it's almost been two years since my D-Day (diagnosis day). September 21st will mark my two year anniversary of the day that changed my life forever. What a tumultuous two years it has been. I certainly wouldn't be here right now (and wouldn't be a happily married mother of two!) if it weren't for my amazing team of doctors, my family, and friends. THANK YOU to all of you! It's sad that it takes something of this magnitude to firmly plant your feet back on the ground and smack a little reality into you. It's not the paycheck, the time at work, or the high stress environment that I used to thrive off of that matters. It is the phenomenal people I am surrounded by - the ones who took the time to call me, email me, send me care packages, came to the house at a moment's notice to take care of me or my children, those who cooked us meals, and those who stood by us through all of the good times and the scary moments of the last two years. THANK YOU!

Jeff and I are also signed up to do the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in San Francisco on September 21st (my D-Day ANNIVERSARY...wouldn't you know it!?!). If you haven't had a chance to swing on over to our page, please do so. And as always, if you are in the area for the event, we would love to have you join us!


Many hugs and much love!
Leanne, Jeff, Maryn and Ryland (and Baxter!!)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Summer Update....

Pictures: Left - Ryland and I playing in the bubbles (look how curly my hair is!!); Middle - Ryland eating his 1st birthday cake! Right - Maryn on a ride at the zoo

It has been so long since I last updated my blog!! I'm a little embarrassed that I've fallen so far behind! Things are going well, and we are keeping just as busy as ever. I have been working a lot, both in my office and volunteering in Maryn and Ryland's daycare. It seems that I don't really have much time off after it's all said and done, but I don't really think I'd have it any other way.

Jeff has been traveling again, and was gone most of March and the first part of April, then again recently. Two kids are sure a lot to handle when you're all by yourself! Luckily, we had many visitors in March and April to help out in his absence. Ryland and I battled illnesses for the entire spring, but I'd say he had the worst of it. He ended up with pneumonia once, then a bronchitis/pneumonia combo about 2 months later in April.

In May, we visited our family in Idaho to celebrate Ryland's first birthday! We thought he was on the mend from his bronchitis/pneumonia experience, and it turned out that we took him to the Emergency Room a few days after arriving in town. We were worried that it was the pneumonia taking over because he had a 103.5 degree fever that he couldn't shake and had been throwing up for a few days. Fortunately, it was just another ear infection. Ryland is on the small side, so he really can't afford to be getting sick. He lost one pound in just a little over a week, and by his first birthday pediatrician's appointment, only weighed 17 lbs 6 oz. We had a joint birthday party with my best friend's daughter, who turned three, but Ryland still had a fever despite the antibiotics and didn't feel like eating any cake. We tried again on his actual birthday, where he discovered that he really loves butter cream frosting!

After a wonderful vacation back home, we returned to California and got back to the grind. Ryland had a bunch of appointments upon our return - the previously mentioned one year check up, and an echocardiogram and EKG with the Cardiologist. At the one year check up, Ryland ended up being in the 70th% for his head size, 10th% for height, and not on the charts for his weight. Poor boy - we can't figure out how he can actually stand up and not fall over!?! My Oncologist wanted us to do an echocardiogram on Ryland due to the chemo while I was pregnant. They know that Adriamyacin and Cytoxan can cause decreased heart function in patients, so they wanted to check Ryland to be safe. His EKG was perfect, but we found out that Ryland has an Atrial Septal Defect during his echocardiogram. He has a small hole between the two atria, so a bit of high pressure blood ends up being pushed to the low pressure side. We are going to return to the Cardiologist next year to do a follow up echocardiogram. Hopefully, it closes as he grows up! If it gets bigger, then we may be discussing heart surgery to either stitch it closed or to put a patch in as he gets older. My poor little monkey!

Maryn is now 2 1/2 and is turning into quite the sassy girl. She tests our limits on a daily basis, and some days, spends more time IN time out, then OUT of it. I hear this is normal, but Jeff and I are SO ready for this phase to be over. We really would like our sweet girl back. =) She is fun though...we continue to be amazed by the stuff she can come up with. Maryn also seems to have quite the imagination, which has infiltrated her dreams. A few weeks ago she woke up in the middle of the night crying about having hippos all over her face.

I am doing great, but am tired most of the time. I'm not getting a lot of sleep, but I'm also not sleeping very well when I actually get the chance to sleep. On the days I work, I tend to get 3-4 hours of sleep. Years ago, that would've been plenty of sleep for me each night, as long as I had the opportunity to catch up on the weekends. Unfortunately, Jeff and I have two beautiful alarm clocks that tend to wake up somewhere between 5:30am and 7:30am. Ugh! I have some great news too...tomorrow is my second to last Herceptin treatment! I can't believe I'm almost done!!! AND, I can't believe that I've been going through treatment for almost two years. July 9th will be my last day of Herceptin, then I'm free to enjoy the remainder of my summer. Yippee! I will still be taking the Arimidex (aromatase inhibitor for post-menopausal women) for another 4 1/2 years, but that is minor in the grand scheme of things.

Kaitlin is coming to visit us at the end of June, and we can't wait for her to get here! Jeff and I are both changing jobs this summer, but will remain in the same area. I will gain a nasty commute with my new job, but the work will be rewarding. At the end of the summer, my best friend is getting married, so we will be heading up to Idaho again for vacation in August. We also have a Hell's River Canyon white water rafting trip to celebrate Heather and John's union.

I am starting to look more into my breast reconstruction options. I am planning to have my second mastectomy in the winter, most likely. Since it is elective for me, I'd like to get into my new job a bit and get through the busy season before I have 4-6 weeks of recovery time from the second mastectomy and reconstruction. BUT, after almost two years of looking down to see one size D boob, I'm ready for a couple of perky B-cups. It'll be nice to feel more normal again! I never thought it would bother me much, and honestly, it really doesn't. But the clothing definitely doesn't fit comfortably and I feel like a slob in many of my clothes because of how they hang on me. Some of that has to do with the extra weight I'm still carrying from being pregnant and on chemo, but I'm hoping to work that off this summer as well.

Anyway, I wanted to post an update. Again, I apologize that it has been so long since I've posted, but I guess that's life, huh? =) I feel pretty lucky that I'm alive and get to be so busy!


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Thought I'd drop in for an update...

Here are a couple updated pics of us and the kids. The first picture is my dad and Jeff in Vegas. The second, me enjoying a martini in Vegas. The third, my dad and stepmom in Vegas. Of the kid pics, the first one is my niece, Ashley, Kaitlin & Maryn. The second picture is my happy little guy, Ryland.

We are almost back to normal! At the beginning of the year, I went back to work full time and am enjoying the heck out of it. I'm working two 26-hr shifts each week and love it. I don't love being so tired all of the time, but it's very nice to be back in the swing of things.

Jeff and I were lucky enough to enjoy a Mommy & Daddy get-away to Las Vegas for my sister's wedding. Jeff's parents came down to watch the kids for a few days, and Jeff and I drove to Vegas. It was so amazing! We stayed up every night until 2 or 3am, Jeff taught me how to play Blackjack (not to count to 21, but the strategy part...LOL!), and most of all, we got to hang out with our family. We really had such a great time...it reminded us why we liked each other in the first place. I guess when you get caught up in the daily grind of work and parenthood, it's easy to forget what makes you such a good team. It was nice to not have to worry about changing diapers, getting the kids fed, or making sure naptime is included in the daily routine. Jeff's parents told us that they'd be willing to come down and watch the kids a couple times a year, so I'm thinking this is the beginning of a new tradition!

Maryn and Ryland are doing well. They are getting big and are developing such wonderful little personalities! Maryn is quite a chatter-box and loves to sing. She's a bit of a parrot, so we really have to watch what we say now. I was making dinner tonight and cut into an egg roll to put on her plate. I realized that the middle of the egg roll was still frozen, but all of the other dinner items were done and hot, and I said "oh crap". For the next few minutes, I was reminded over and over again that I need to watch my expressions! She's a silly one, that Maryn.

Ryland is now the proud owner of two little bottom teeth. He is crawling and pulling up like crazy, and manages to find EVERYTHING on the floor. It quickly goes into his mouth, so we have to watch him pretty closely. He is still a smiley little man - such an incredible disposition. He giggles all the time, and he and Maryn are a crack-up together. She's so sweet to him and includes him in her pretend dinner parties with her little babies. He creeps along the furniture - I'm sure it's just a matter of time before he is walking. We have reconstructed baby jail in our living room to keep him contained now too.

That's the latest in the Lusk household. We're keeping busy! I am still going in to the Oncologist's office every three weeks to get my Herceptin infusion. I tend to get a bit groggy after the infusion, but it really is a piece of cake overall. I have been taking the Arimidex and haven't had any negative side effects. I still have a few hot flashes, but it really isn't bad. I'd say the best part about being ovary-free is that I won't ever have another period again. Woohoo!! I also am trying to get myself back into running. It's amazing how tough it is, and how winded I get. I used to be able to run for miles with no problem. I took the kids out in the jog stroller on Sunday night for four miles. I think I only made it a half mile before I had to walk for a little bit. Slowly I will get back to normal...I just have to be patient. I have a snowboarding trip planned for March with my cousin and her family, my mom, and my aunt & uncle, so I'm hoping to at least be able to last a half day on the mountain. We'll see. In the meantime, I'll be hobbling around as I try to get back into some kind of shape. =)

Hope you all are doing well!


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Happy New Year!!!

Once again, things have been pretty crazy around here, and I haven't had time to post. Since I last posted, I ended up having surgery on December 9th to remove my ovaries. It was outpatient laproscopic surgery at the hospital. They made three incisions - one in my belly button, and an incision under my hip bone on both sides of my abdomen. Jeff and I went in at 6:30am, and I was home resting by 11:30am. I had some pain in my right shoulder and neck area every time I stood up. The doctor told me this was referred pain from them using gas to expand my abdominal area while they did the surgery. I could actually feel the bubble of gas in my abdominal cavity for about two weeks after the surgery.

Jeff was amazing - he took care of me, the kids, meals, and laundry! I was pretty sore from the surgery and stayed in bed to rest most of the day to keep my shoulder and neck from hurting. I walked a bit hunched over for about three days, but was slowly able to stand more upright. By the end of the week, I felt pretty normal. I was still sore at the incision sites and with the stitches in place, but other than that, functioned normally. My radiation burn has also healed...right on schedule, in fact. About a week after my final session of radiation, the burn had closed up and began peeling, as if I had a really bad sunburn. It peeled for about another week, and is now back to normal, although very tan compared to the rest of my body. It doesn't hurt, but the skin is still a bit tender on my chest. There isn't a lot of tissue between the skin and the ribs, so it's a particularly sensitive area. The most important part is that I'm done though!

Jeff's parents, brother, daughter, and our niece were here for the holidays. We had a wonderful time hanging out with everyone. Even though we have a very small house, we love having family in town. They were all a big help with Maryn and Ryland, and it was fun trying to fit everyone around the table for meals. I was sad to see everyone go!

As for my treatment, I'm continuing on the Herceptin infusions every three weeks. I started Arimidex on December 26th. This is the aromatase inhibitor that I will be taking daily for the next five years. Even though I had my ovaries removed, the adrenal glands still produce a small amount of estrogen. The aromatase inhibitors block that estrogen production. So far, my hot flashes haven't been horrible, but I have noticed a bit of joint discomfort. Overall, I feel pretty good though.

I'm back to work on my normal schedule. I started my 24-hour work schedule last week, and am in full swing. I currently work one day on and have three days off. It's a bummer being away from the kids for so long, but I really enjoy having the time off in between (I need to catch up on sleep!). It feels so good to be back in the game at work too. I forgot how much I miss being engaged! I love the work I do, and the people are just amazing.

We are also having work being done on our house. The contractors are replacing doors and windows, and we're having central air and heat put in the house. It'll be nice to finally be warm inside in the winter, and cool in the summer.

The big news is that Maryn turned 2-yrs-old this weekend! She is getting so big, and is talking so well! We have had a rough winter so far with colds and other viruses getting passed around our family. Maryn ended up throwing up three times on the morning of her birthday from some bug. She seemed to bounce back pretty quickly though. Ryland has had a few ear infections. If it keeps up, he'll likely be getting tubes in his ears...poor little guy. He's almost 8-months-old now, and is doing great. He's still pretty small, weighing in at just around 15 1/2 lbs now. He has been crawling backwards and spinning for about the last month or so, but officially began crawling forward on Maryn's birthday. He's a very happy, has a great disposition overall, and loves being entertained by Maryn and our dog-boy, Baxter.

Again, I'm sorry that it's taken me so long to post an update. We hope you all had a very enjoyable holiday, and welcome you to a healthy New Year!

Leanne, Jeff, Maryn & Ryland