Friday, June 14, 2013

A new leaf

Hello and happy greetings to you all, dear family and friends! 

Here is an update on our lives these past few weeks. Yesterday, Zachary started Babygarten, that mother and child program at the local library where we song songs with our babies. Our little man is growing up so fast and is technically no longer my baby! Yesterday's Babygarten was kind of significant because the last time we went to Babygarten was July 16, 2012: the day that I collapsed in my driveway and was diagnosed with brain cancer. The librarian that runs Zachary's Babygarten class even called me on my cell and asked me when I was coming back! It's almost been a year since that date and so much has happened! It was great to turn a new leaf and reunite with old friends and meet some new folks. Zachary loves to be the center of attention and quickly walked to the middle and started clapping for himself, much to my amusement and the amusement of the other mums there! Gosh I love that boy :-)

So in keeping up with the "keeping it real" theme of this blog, I am going to tell you how I've REALLY been doing :-) The GOOD news is that my tumor remains stable (ie: not growing). Zev and I were hoping to hear that it had shrunk like last time, or even better, completely gone away ("Mrs. York it seems that there was a mistake with your MRI. We can't find any evidence of the tumor." I can't wait for the day that we hear those words!!)

Some of you may already know, but I battled the blues recently, which is why I did not post as much on the blog or on Facebook. I've always been a happy, positive and energetic person, so to not be that was quite uncharacteristic for me.

This past year, people constantly remarked to me about my positive attitude toward brain cancer and made comments such as "wow I don't know how you're handling this so well" or "you inspire me with your courage and positive outlook." I thank you all so much for those sweet comments but I want to tell you that it is only by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit in my life and over my mind and the support of Zev and my family and friends that I have been able to "do this." Without God I am nothing...

It is comforting in more than words can express to be able to use "we" with regards to this battle against cancer. I can't say enough about what a great man I have by my side, encouraging me and caring for me; cheering me on and calling to check on me at various points throughout the day. I love you, Zev and I am so grateful for your presence in my life :-))

So "we" are fast approaching the first anniversary of my brain cancer diagnosis (July 16th) and although I haven't been dreading this date, I must admit that a lot has happened in the year since: brain surgery, 9 rounds of chemo and still counting and adjusting to the role of being brand new parents to our precious Zachary. 

It's not fun being sad. Especially when it's so pretty outside and everyone seems to be doing outside stuff. My doctors, including my neuro-oncologist think that the combination of new medications into my system (like chemo and the slew of medicines that go along with that), plus the physical aspect of having a large part of my left frontal lobe removed (still amazes me to think about it!) probably all contributed to my recent attack of the blues. My neuro-oncologist even remarked that even a "super-human" would find it hard to handle it all. Thanks to the grace of God, I am back to my normal self and pray that The Lord show me the beauty and HOPE of each day. One has to have hope right?!

Although I have always maintained hope through this crazy journey called cancer, that light certainly got dimmed last week. I have MOURNED and missed the healthy, carefree, new mum Fiona of June 2012. Before I was told that I had a large tumor that spanned both my left and right frontal lobes; before my life and the lives of my family and friends was turned upside down and we all started the (unwanted) journey of "brain tumor survivor/ fighter". Although in writing this I realize that in reality, I wasn't exactly "healthy". Although God blessed me with a great pregnancy and delivery and recovery post-partum, I had a BRAIN TUMOR in my brain; a large one that spanned both sides of my brain (mental note here to find MRI pics to post sometime!?) and my doctors estimate that due to the size of the tumor and the fact that I had ZERO deficits and side effects, that it was most likely there for YEARS! Maybe 5 years? Maybe longer? which means that I was in my mid 20s when my tumor started growing....Another amazing concept to consider. "But for" my collapse, I would have gone on living my normal life, none the wiser. Besides an MRI or CT scan, there would be no way that I would know that I had brain cancer. Thank you, God for letting me know...

I don't know have the answers as to 
WHY I have brain cancer and have come to accept the "new normal" of my life, which is actually very happy and fulfilling and full of love and peace. I look at Zev and Zachary, at my amazing family and awesome friend network and count my blessings every day. 

I guess that last week I became afraid again of leaving it all behind. I worried about stuff like whether Zachary would remember his mama and how much she loved him and WANTED him (this is making me tear up just writing this...happy thoughts Fiona, happy thoughts!); about whether I would grow old with Zev and travel to cool places (we have traveled a lot though!) in our retirement and do stuff that retired people do when they grow old. I honestly felt resentful at the possibility of not getting the chance to grow old (which by the way is a privilege!!). I thought about meeting Zachary's future wife and the mother of our grandchildren. Will I get to meet her? I guess in retrospect, I was projecting into the future. I KNOW that life is uncertain. For example, I could get killed in a car accident tomorrow, etc etc. Only God knows the day and the hour that He will call us home, but I must confess that I've even prayed "Lord, can you just let me know when that will be?" and "I'm not ready to leave this fallen world just yet, God!"

The question is: are we better off not knowing when that time will be? God is so great and I can't wait to ask him the many questions in my head when I get to heaven! Call me crazy, but although I know that heaven is perfection and glory and eternal and happiness, I am not ready to leave this fallen world. There is so much to live for! Simple stuff like taking Zachary to swim lessons, or watching him dive into waves too big for him; watching him eat a pickle and then a red onion and not even flinch; having a spontaneous date night and ice-cream with Zev and SAVORING life. 

A well meaning person recently advised me to live each day as if it were my last. This is a good theory in principle, but really, quite impractical. I jokingly responded that if I knew I was going to die tomorrow, that I would be lying on a beach (my happy place) in Australia, with my family and friends and listening to the waves crash and the children giggle as they played in the sand. We can't live each day as if it's our last, because the reality is that we have mortgages to pay for, food to put on the table and future stuff like the education of our kids to consider. I think what he was meaning is that we each should savor the beauty and gift that each day brings. To thank God for his mercy in bringing us through another day. To love others and encourage them and show them grace when possible. I am not perfect at this and am still working on it :-) I just pray that The Lord allow me to live on this earth for many years and to love and encourage others as much as I can.

Have I rambled on enough? Haha...enjoy the pics from these past few weeks (including pics from the Greek festival with friends; dinner in Baltimore, talking to Dr. Q's pathoanatomy class; mothers and babies meeting at the beach; swim lessons; Grandma Judy teaching Zachary how to garden; date night for Zev and I; Zachary and daddy playing with the wonderful blocks that Ulla and Manfred sent from Germany and Zachary and daddy cutting the grass).

God bless :-)

Love you!


Ginny said...

Great post, Fionita Bonita!

Gena said...

Thank you Sweet FiFi for sharing your very personal thoughts with those that love you so much. Your last few weeks remind me so much fo the wonderful pray "Footprints in the Sand." God is carrying you through this journey when you find it hard to deal with mortality.
I love you Dear Girl and thank God for bringing you into my life. xoxo

Sam said...

Big Hugs to all of you, Fiona, Zev and precious Zachary. I mention the York Family every night. :-))

Anonymous said...

Beautiful words. I love reading your blog cause I do not get to see you enough! Miss you!!! Kristine

Cisco said...

Keep writing FiFi, its a great way for you to channel your thoughts and take your family and friends on this amazing journey you've embarked on. I like your take on "live each day as if its your last" the way that you should cherish each day for what its worth.

Big hugs from Middle Earth:)

Sarah Gross said...

Hi Fiona. I'm pretty sure we've never met, but I'm from Canandaigua and know Judy from years ago. I just wanted to let you know it's been a pleasure to remember you in prayer each day, sometimes many times a day, for nearly a year now. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. I have always admired your ability to "savor the beauty and gift that each day brings". I always know when things are a bit more difficult when we don't 'hear' from you for a bit. Those times just allow for more time for more fervent prayer for you and your wonderful family. God bless you. Sarah Gross