Moving On Up!

Monday, June 23, 2014

So, because going through chemotherapy just wasn't enough for us, we decided to put our house on the market right in the middle of it! I know. Great idea huh?

Our house was actually on the market for a few months during the fall of last year, and right when I was diagnosed, we decided to take it off the market because it was just too much, and our minds were pretty much swirling already. So this spring was pretty much our last chance to try to move before Emma started Kindergarten. The public schools where Emma would go if we stayed is rated a 3 out of 10, and between that and some other not so great things about our neighborhood we decided we would do what we could to get out (just in case though, we registered Emma for a private Catholic school just in case)! But, our luck finally changed, and the week we finished chemo, we went under contract on our home and just about two weeks later, we went under contract on our soon to be new home!

So if all things work out (and I'm holding my breath until the very last paper is signed), in less then a week, we will be moving from here.... here!!!

We actually had a hard time finding a home this go around, there just didn't seem to be as much on the market as there was during the fall. But just in time, we stumbled upon this guy. Four bedrooms, three and a half baths, finished basement, just under 1/2 acre, attached garage (woo hoo!) and a lot of needed updates! Wanna come on a tour?! These are all pictures that I took during our home inspection. So all the "stuff" in the house is the seller's stuff.

First up after walking in the front door, you come to one of my favorite places of the house. I don't know what it is about the entry, but I just can't wait to figure out a plan and make some updates!! Its a nice big entry, with a much bigger foyer closet then we have now, and a lot of room ready for a fancy Christmas tree (right honey?!!?). Neither Wes or I are crazy about the floor, but maybe we will change our minds once we are in and settled and  making some updates. I just love the bright entry!

The steps are immediately to your left (that's the door to the finished basement on the right of the picture). That little plant in the perfect Christmas tree spot!

Here's the view if you look up! I love the big entry but I more love the fact that it's not SO BIG that it takes a lot of space out of the bedrooms upstairs. Our upstairs hallway is actually pretty small but works for me because I'd rather have the space in the bedrooms.

Directly to the left of the foyer is the living room, or in our world, the new playroom. :) Typical standard living room, but it has two windows so it's nice and bright and already has crown molding. I can already see door casings in the works!

If you walk through the living room, you walk right into the dining room which is another room I can't wait to update! Probably because its a pretty blank canvas and will be pretty cheap to update! It has a big bay window in the back, which makes for another bright room. It's also a good deal bigger then our current dining room!

Both the dining room and the foyer connect to the kitchen. We are actually losing some cabinet space in this room but the eventual plan will be to update this space, add some more cabinet space and hopefully a much bigger island! The current island is tiny! I absolutely love the big windows above the sink though. The appliances are a bit old but all stainless steel so definitely livable for a while. There is a double-door pantry to the left and a breakfast area to the right.

Here's a view looking the other way in the kitchen. Thank goodness the side counter is a good size because that island is about the size of a bathroom sink! The current plan for the cut out on the right (where the sellers have a big hutch) is where we will store our desk and computer so Wes will have a place to work. Eventually I'd love to add some more cabinet and counter space and maybe a little bar area!

Right next to the kitchen is a eating area, with another bright bay window! I can't wait to sit down for our first breakfast and family dinner here!

Continuing on after the breakfast area, we head right into our new family room. I am already losing sleep over how in the world to decorate that giant wall on the right!! The double doors on the left lead out to our new (old) deck! Of course I forgot to take pictures of that though. Doh! I am really looking forward to having a wood burning fireplace. Not that flipping the switch of our current fireplace isn't easy haha, but I remember that warm, crackling sound as I grew up. That sound on Christmas morning, the smell of cooking hot dogs over the fire with my Dad and just laying right in front of that warm fire watching TV. Nothing like it in the world!

Across from the eat in area in the kitchen is an actual laundry room! You don't know how excited I am to have an ACTUAL laundry room! Right now, our washer and dryer are in our unfinished basement. So no laundry storage, our clothes that can't be put in the dryer hang in our stinky, dusty basement, and to do a load of laundry, we have to walk up and down two stories. This room will also take care of the mess that we make when walking inside. Right now, our back door leads right into our eat in kitchen, so snow shoes, mud, rain shoes, sandy feet, etc all lead right into our kitchen. Well, no longer! There is actually a pretty large area right past the washer and dryer here which I am thinking about making some "mud room" organization. So much promise for a cool room here!

If we back track a little bit to the foyer and head through the hallway towards the kitchen, off to the right is our new powder room. Nothing fancy here, pretty standard with a toilet and boiler plate pedestal sink. Its about twice the size of our current powder room so that's good, but hopefully another cheap one to update!

Here we go upstairs! All four bedrooms are upstairs, nothing too crazy here, standard bedrooms. This is the room that Emma originally wanted. We actually settle on her 5th Birthday so we told her that she gets to pick her room first. As long as it's not the master. :) So we will see if she picks the same one that she did before!

Down the hall is the soon to be kids bathroom. I wish we could do a complete overhaul of this one, given the gnarly tile on the floor and bath tub from 1974 but this will have to wait a few years probably. The sink, bathroom counter and faucet were upgraded already so at least it's a start!

Another bedroom. I think the is the smallest of the four. Jack gets to pick his room after his big sister so we will see which one he wants!

Onto the third bedroom, and the biggest out of bedrooms (outside of the master). This room is a little darker because it only has one window, but overall just a standard bedroom!

Down the hall we get to the master! It's not huge by any means, but plenty big for us and definitely an upgrade for what we have now. The ceiling slopes up so we have another huge wall to decorate! Ack!

To the right of the master bedroom is probably the worst room in the house. And by worse I mean outdated. The sink area is separate from the toilet, shower and tub area and that's not too bad since the counters and faucets have been upgraded already. Directly across from the sinks is our master closet. Kind of an odd spot for a closet, but I guess it makes our room a little bigger. We will see how that works out!

Here's are nice tub, all filled up and ready for a bath. ACK! During our home inspection, we found a faulty (i.e. old) hot water heater. Which remains as our biggest contention point with the sellers who originally claimed it was just because of a dirty tub. Um. Not so much. You take a bath in the water and then let me know what you think seller. kthanksbye.

Now lets head two floors down to the finished basement. Most folks these days have finished basements but this is one of the things we are most excited about! Much more space! Once and a while Wes likes to have a buddy over to play their beloved PS4. In our current house, there is no where for them to go where they won't wake up the rest of us! They constantly have to be quiet, and as much as they try, because of our home now, I can hear them all night long. I'm surprised the kids don't wake up more either! So I am sooo looking forward to the first time Wes's friend comes over in the new house and there are multiple doors and floors separating us! Not that I don't love you babe! :) 

Back to the tour....after you head down the steps in the basement, there is a small landing. To the left, through the french doors is Wes's new man room! He is so excited he can't even stand it!

When you turn right from coming down the steps, its an open area that wraps around to the other side of the basement. A complete blank slate to work with!

To the left of the picture here, is a sliding glass door which leads directly out to the backyard. At the end of the basement here, there is another bathroom, with sink, toilet and stand up shower. The door to the right of the bathroom in the back of the room leads to a decent sized storage area. 

Here's a shot of the basement bathroom. Another almost blank slate to work with!

Across from the sink there is a shower. It's hard to see from the picture but there is actually a good size space behind the door here. The seller's have a pretty big cabinet behind the door that prevented the door from opening all the way. So getting rid of that will really help to open up this little room.

And of course a shot of the new man room! It actually has french doors on either side which you can see in the next picture. 

I'm a little scared of what might happen to this room!

And now for the super exciting shot of the storage room! Built in shelves that I am sure we will junk up in no time! :)

So there you have it! Like I said, I'm holding my breath that everything works out for both settlements but so far so good. Fingers crossed we will be spending our first night here on Saturday night! The kids are so excited!!

What I Wish I Knew About Getting Cancer

Friday, June 20, 2014

There is so much to catch up on, I once again don't even know where to start. I have about ten different posts that I started and just never finished throughout my treatment. So I figured that I would start with those!

Before we go there though, I have to say, HOLY CRAP I'M DONE!!! I officially finished chemo on May 28th and it was probably the second most emotional day yet. I have so much more that I want to write about, but for now, I'll just say that it felt so good, like unexplainable kind of good, to cry those happy tears. Even throughout all of this, we have had a ton of fun that I can't wait to post about to, and we have some big changes coming up as well. We sold our home and bought a new one pretty much within the same two weeks of finishing treatment! I'm holding my breath until we get through settlement, which is one week from today!

One of the things I thought about a lot while going through surgery and treatment was what I would tell someone that was just about to go through this. That was a hard list to come up with. There's nothing in this world that can prepare you for hearing those words, "You have cancer". Absolutely nothing. Your mind goes right to the worst. The first few hours, days and weeks are a complete blur. Keeping your head above water during those first few weeks and months, seems to be the hardest thing out of it all. At least it was for me, so far. It's hard not to become paralyzed by those first few weeks. One day, you wake up and realize though, that life goes on. Life doesn't stop. Maybe yours changes, and maybe yours slows down and looks different. But it sure doesn't stop. At first, that's a hard pill to swallow. It was for me.

Sometimes it felt like becoming a parent for the first time, like, when you swear that the doctors forgot to give you the "How To Be A Parent" manual. There has to be one right?! How are you supposed to know what to do? The Internet just scares the living crap out of you, so you can't trust that. Surely there has to be a manual.

Surprise, surprise. There isn't.

When I think back on things that I wish I knew about getting cancer from day one, it seems like the list is never ending. There's nothing that will take that shock, that sting, that fear, away when you get your diagnosis. But it sure wouldn't hurt to have that manual. Here's what I would put in mine. 

This Sucks: There are probably a lot of better words to describe it, but what it comes down to is that it really sucks. And that's okay that you feel that way. It sucks that you can't take back what just happened. It sucks that no one can promise you anything. It sucks that it's happening to you. People are going to tell you immediately that everything is going to be okay. They don't know that, and you want to tell them that. Sometimes its to help them cope with hearing the news. But sometimes you just want to hear about how bad this sucks and it's okay to freak out about it.

You Might Not Ever Know Why: It gets very easy early on to fixate on how the heck this all happened. What in the world did you do that was wrong? How did you get it? How long has it been there? Depending on your situation, you may never get answers to those questions, and guess what, that sucks too. You will drive yourself crazy asking all these questions, and in the end, it doesn't really matter because it won't change anything, other then making it hard for you to stay positive, and that, is what ultimately helps you through it all. But trying to let go of all of the "Why's" is a hard thing to do. If you can do it though, it will make a world of difference.

The Worst Part Is Not Knowing The Plan: Do I need surgery? Do I need chemo? Do I need radiation? Is my hair going to fall out? What's next and why is it taking so long? The first couple of days and weeks are completely overwhelming. Appointments after appointments. Phone calls after phone calls. How do you tell your family? Who do you tell? Everyone has questions, and you don't have any answers, at least not yet. Little by little your plan will start to fall into place. But it can take a while. Some days you might get a couple pieces of the puzzle, but there might be some missing for months. Focus on the pieces that you have, get through those obstacles first, then concentrate on filling in the rest.
Find Your Dream Team and Know Who To Talk To: For me, after seeing the radiologist and being diagnosed, it was right to the surgeons. I was meeting with cancer surgeons and plastic surgeons before meeting an oncologist. Based on the facts and my situation, I was okay with that. I trusted every single one of my doctors. I was at one of the best hospitals in the country. I didn't get any second opinions because I felt that I didn't need to. But maybe that's not right for others. I felt like I was handed my dream team right from the get-go, but if you're not, make sure you go out and find it. There will be a pretty big team too. So make sure you know who to ask about what. I was very confused about it all, but I asked really stupid questions, just to understand who I needed to go to for what, who made the decisions, how they all worked together. 

 You're Going To Feel Guilty. I Know. Crazy: This one surprised me. Like big time. I'm the one that got cancer, so why do I feel guilty? I still have no idea why, but I did, and still do. I remember apologizing to Wes over and over in the tiny little room after being diagnosed. I was sorry that I got cancer. I was sorry that I was about to put him through everything that was about to happen. I felt guilty when I couldn't see the kids at night after chemo. I felt guilty for having a bad day after surgery, because when I had a bad day, my family had a bad day. I feel guilty that Emma and Jack watched more TV just so we could get through some days. I felt guilty that I can't do as much as I used to. I felt guilty if I didn't do enough for Christmas, or a Birthday Party. I felt guilty for all the pain I was causing both our families. Everyone else understands, but sometimes it's hard for you to. Life doesn't stop when you get cancer. But it sure makes you feel guilty when it's your cancer that changes things in life, or prevents your kids from going to a birthday party, or swim class.
Living Under A Microscope Is Hard: There are going to be a lot of people taking care of you, and you need all the help you can get. But it can make you feel like you are living under a microscope. It can make you feel like every move you make, even the little ones, is analyzed, and then analyzed again, then it's put on the front page of the family newspaper for everyone to see. Like, if you are too tired to shower for a day, then you take a shower the next day, its a big deal. If you nap everyday, then one day you feel like you don't need to nap, its a big deal. If you cough, it somehow has to be linked to your cancer. If you are tired one day, its because you have cancer. Everyone is going to tell you its okay to have bad days, but when you do, the news seems to spread like a wildfire. So then you feel like it's not okay to have bad days. I don't have any answers on how to deal with it, and it's not that anyone is doing anything wrong, it's just one of those things that you don't expect or see coming.
Let People Help You: Once the news starts to spread, you will probably be overwhelmed by your family and friends reaching out. Some people will have been through it and know exactly how to help. Some people won't know how to help, but they will guess. Some people will do things to help themselves feel better (and that's okay too). Some people will just ask you what help you need. All of those things are good. Don't be afraid to tell them exactly what you need help with. This was really hard for me. I had a really hard time getting to the point where I could tell my own mom, that the help I needed was for her to clean the bathrooms in our house. It was hard to admit that I couldn't do it. It was hard to admit that I couldn't handle it all. Everyone will probably tell you how amazed at how strong you are, so when you feel like you need help, it can feel like you aren't being that strong person everyone says you are. Let them help you. However you need it. It will seem easier to hide sometimes, and sometimes you might need to do that too. But when you need help, don't be afraid to ask for it.  Even for just random daily stuff. 

Lay Off The Google Searches - Most of the Time: I am a firm believer that the Internet can be your worst enemy. It happens all the time. You get a pimple on your arm and you google it and the next thing you know you have self diagnosed yourself with cancer. Multiple that by a thousand, and that's what happens when you Google about having cancer. I made a decision very early on, and it was probably one of the best decisions that I made, was to truly limit my Internet research. I didn't research how long it would take to lose my hair. I didn't research percentages, survival rates, surgery, chemo side effects, none of that stuff. Every singe person is different. Some people going through chemo is a walk in the park, some people have a much harder time with it. So you never know what your experience will be like, so don't spend time freaking yourself out. The only thing I would Google or research was test results that I didn't understand. After getting my full pathology report, I wanted to know more about the data. I'm an engineer. I like data. This made me feel better. This was specific to me. This helped me prepare for doctors appointments, I had a list of questions to help me understand what I was facing.
Find Your Meaning: This one is tricky because very early on, you are going to wonder what you did wrong to deserve this. I sure did. It might even take you a really long time to get through that, it took me months. But once I found my meaning, and for lack of better words, made peace with my diagnosis, it wasn't such a struggle to stay positive. I'm not going to lie. On the bad days, you are going to want to say "F-Off" to the meaning. When you are laying in bed trying not to move because you are afraid of barfing, the meaning isn't going to help. But just know that there is a lesson in everything. When you can, and when you are ready, look for your lesson or your meaning is. Everyone is different. My meaning might be completely different then yours. Once I found mine, I felt stronger. I stopped fighting with the "Why's", which helped me dedicate more energy to the positive. 

Don't Forget to Laugh: Again, there are going to be a lot of days where you wonder if you ever even smiled that day, let alone laughed. But as you get through those first awful days and weeks, remind yourself to laugh. Remind yourself that its okay to still have fun. You can stare cancer right in the eye, and still have fun. 

Change Your Expectations: Okay this one, I really stink at. But I'm learning and doing better every day with this one. During my first appointment with my oncologist, where we found out that chemo was the next step in my plan, we were talking about work and just how chemo was going to affect the things I do. I specifically remember him saying "You won't be able to do everything you are doing now." That statement struck me harder then I thought. I didn't like that. I didn't like that cancer was going to affect what I wanted to do. I didn't like asking for help. I didn't like thinking that I couldn't handle everything. I didn't like having to change my expectations because of cancer. I was determined to be the exception to the case. At least until my first AC treatment knocked me down and out for a week. It took me a long time to be okay with the fact that it was going to be a rough ride and despite me trying to live like I normally did, I couldn't. I think some of that determination was good, it got me through 12 weeks of Taxol, working full time. But it also got me in trouble sometimes. My last AC treatment was over, and I was thrilled. I did too much, and paid for it and barely avoided an ER visit. Barely. My expectations is what made me struggle to ask for help and why it took so long. Someone once told me to be open to a different version of a happy ending. It made the world of difference. 
Find Your Inspiration: Who knows where your inspiration will come from. It might be some of the cheesy quotes or pictures online. It might be from someone that you know that has been through it. It might be from inside you. It doesn't matter where it comes from, it just matters that you find your own inspiration. For me, it was my husband, my Emma Kathryn and my Jackson Douglas. They were my inspiration. They were what got me out of bed on the days where I just wanted to bury my head under my pillow. They are the ones that made me laugh, when I wanted to cry. They are the ones that I stayed positive for. They are the ones that gave me strength and hope. They are the ones that kept my mind away from the really bad stuff. They are the ones that made certain decisions for. They are the ones that made me okay with going through chemo. I would have taken gasoline if it meant I would be around for the long haul. A single mastectomy wasn't even an option in my mind, because of these three. Not doing chemo wasn't even an option in my mind, because of these three.   

It Will End. Eventually: It's not going to seem like it at first, but all of this will end, eventually. It will always be a part of you, it will always be something in the back of your mind, but it won't always seem to define you like it does in the beginning. It won't always be the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning. The tunnel seems very long, and some days you can't even see the light at the end of it. But trust me, it's there. You will come out of that tunnel stronger, wiser, and you certainly won't take life for granted ever again. One of my absolutely amazing nurses, the one that led us through the Red Devil, once told me that one day, she realized that it was almost noon, and she hadn't thought about having cancer yet that day. That's how she knew she had started to truly live her life again. I can't wait for that day. I'm on my way.
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