The beginning months of 2015 brought with it the dreaded news that my mom's cancer had returned. Along with this news came the seemingly insane treatment that goes along with it, a stem cell transplant in conjunction with chemotherapy, a radical procedure that takes a toll on your body. The upside is that when cancer returns like this, it is a better shot at beating it for good - and that is the ultimate goal.
I'll start with the transplant process, which takes 30 days from start to finish when you can resume to normal activity. During those 30 days you are under strict observation, generally going to the hospital daily. In addition, there are a zillion safety requirements that are designed to reduce or eliminate the exposure to germs. No restaurants, no leftovers, no fresh foods, special water, my parents had to stay in a hotel to be closer to the hospital, and the list goes on. My mom was a rockstar and considering he was the main caretaker and kept her in good health, my dad was pretty incredible too. I came to Virginia for this trip around day 25, with plans to have Gran and Poppa take my kids to Lexington so that I could care for my mom. Little did I know that she would be doing as well as she was! Instead of making broth and nursing a patient, I was there to take my mom to do all of the things she had missed out on.
We started with reuniting with her horse, Casey:
Then we celebrated with her first restaurant meal post-treatment:
And then we spent a lovely week in Whitestone, enjoying the weather and the water and really just enjoying being with family. An added surprise was that my mom was doing well enough to see the kids for a few days! This was an extra special treat for us since we didn't expect that she would be able to see the kids this soon after the transplant.
Gretchen had a blast feeding the fishpond fish with Papa Mas, and she tried fishing - though patience and quiet aren't her strong suit.
We enjoyed our usual game of throwing snails in the water. This is a favorite year after year.
The underlying reason for this extended trip was scary and hard to process, but it resulted in a healthy mom and a wonderful visit.