As I said, I began my new job at the beginning of July. A month into it on August 5th (has it only been 26 days ago???), I was taking care of the three Bundles of Joy while their folks drove down to the big city 2.5 hours south. The mama hadn't been feeling well - both during her pregnancy with the unexpected twins (now nearly 10 months old) and ever since. But, the local medical professionals chalked this strain and constant exhaustion up to the toll the twins took on her lithe body . . . and were still taking (nursing two robust little people was simply expending more calories than she could take in).
Anyway, a more in-depth exam was scheduled for the 5th, and off they went for a "quick trip" (she didn't even take her breast pump: the visit was anticipated to be just an in-and-out one with results to follow).
Immediately upon seeing what the internal camera was displaying on the monitor, the doctors knew what they were looking at: cancer. It was that evident. A biopsy was taken and a CT Scan ordered. This "quick trip" was not going to be one.
The cancer had already metastasized and was found throughout three different organs and in her lymph nodes. This beautiful, most incredible woman - mother of three little children - hardest worker you'll ever find - most selfless, modest creature on the planet has cancer. She who makes all her own family's food, has 7 loaves of bread in the oven at 7:00 AM, never drinks, never had a cigarette touch her lips . . . has cancer. And through ALL OF THAT, while the cancer was already ravaging her body, she grew, birthed, and nursed twin babies. Who are perfect.
So, as you can see, this past month - which seems like 26 WEEKS instead of days - has been . . . terrible. Exhausting. Emotional (ya think?). Filled with so much love. Filled with even more pain.
I won't even try to encapsulate what has transpired over this past month other than to say that it's been filled with friends and family who are willing to move mountains to get this woman healthy and returned to her family in full-operating order.
The cancer is so far along (stage IV) that surgery to install the chemo port in her chest was scheduled for the very next morning (from that first internal exam), followed immediately by her first round of chemo. So, this woman who left her house one morning - exhausted but ready for answers - returned days later recovering from an hour-long surgery and with a 48-hour chemo bag hanging from her shoulder and IVs trailing from her chest.
Since then, there have been the subsequent chemo rounds and exhausting trips to the hospital 2.5 hours away as well as to Mayo in Rochester, MN. Ultimately, however, they have narrowed the oncology team down to the one at Mayo, and the surgeon for her first upcoming (major) surgery (probably in October once the tumors have shrunk enough to allow for it) is the best in . . . the ENTIRE WORLD! And he feels positive about the outcome of that - which, as it stands now, will be the most crucial - surgery.
We - friends and family - have been divided into different armies for this battle of all battles. There are those working, day and night, on the continued construction of their house remodeling already in-progress when this began. (For now, we have all moved out of that house to allow for the immediate and uninterrupted work needed on it. And that's been a major stress in itself because who doesn't want to be HOME when they're sick??!)
There are those who have moved into nearly full-time child care mode (myself and the aforementioned sister who already has a husband, 4 children and a farm of her own AND home-schools!)
There are those who travel to every single medical appointment - no matter how far away - to act as medical advocate, liaison and support-person. While still carrying their own full-time jobs.
There are those who have become researchers and makers of the foods she eats, no matter the incredible stresses in their own lives.
There are those planning the upcoming benefit for the family, orchestrating donations, organizing silent auctions, trying to find the time to update the CaringBride site (ah-hem, that last part would be me).
There are those who are taking care of ME and Tucker so I can take care of the 4-year old and babies: Mama & Papa Pea!
In short, this entire community has been frozen in its tracks that something like this could happen to someone like her (member of the volunteer fire department on top of everything else she does, for crying out loud!). But the very second after we had our initial breakdowns, sobbing for breath, we mobilized. We wiped our tears, dusted off our hands and asked, "Okay! What can *I* do?"
Thank you for listening, and I'll try to update as I can. Just as soon as I get some sleep and clean this hovel my cabin has become! ;)