To know her is to love her. Chances are if you are reading this, Susan has touched your life in some form or another. The story started out the same as most with an irregular mammogram around Thanksgiving . After several more tests, she was diagnosed with Stage 2 Interlobular Carcinoma (ILC) which is an aggressive and invasive breast cancer.
After an unsuccessful partial mastectomy December 29th, Susan listened to an inner voice that convinced her to push for genetic testing. The hunch that maternal family health history contained "alternative facts" was right and she tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation (think Angelina Jolie). The first journal entry explains in more detail potential health risks for the boys and other first-line blood relatives. For her, the chance of a recurring cancer in the same breast is nearly 50% and 87% for an unrelated cancer to form in the other breast. With this complication, the standard protocol is to remove estrogen producing body parts. Hello early menopause!
As such, a double mastectomy and DIEP flap breast reconstruction were performed in a grueling 10.5 hour surgery on February 24th. The recovery time for this intense operation is 12 weeks with absolute restricted movement and activity required for a MINIMUM of 8 weeks. And boy, the doctors aren't kidding. Her new girls, appropriately named "Cupcake and Pinot Grigio" (they used to be her belly) are settling nicely into their new homes.
April 19th, Rick had major oral surgery to reconstruct both his jaws and and gums. This was previously planned and could not be postponed because braces that were put on his teeth in December had been so effective, his teeth were moving with no place to go. He is on a liquid and mashed potato diet between all the hardware, new jaw bones and gums (don't ask where they came from). He too is healing and doing his best not to lose any more weight.
William graduates from UGA May 5th with high honors and so many medals and cords around his neck, and tassels hanging in his eyes, that we are going to have to come up with a new name for the day, something like "Lil-WilL, or Biggie-W...taking suggestions. After a backpacking trip through Europe, he hopes to start his new life potentially in the Marketing department at a software start-up or maybe as an intern in an environment focused non-profit. Or none of the afore mentioned. Rest assured, wherever he lands, William will contribute to the environment and society in a positive way.
Ben will complete his freshman year with honors, and is looking forward to more ACL rehab and making a lot of money to fund his future travels! Bonnie will be a senior next year majoring in PE, and is working at a large camp this summer with middle schoolers. That will be enlightening for her and fun for THEM. She will preside over Ben next fall in William's absence, so he is in good hands. Amber and Jerry will celebrate Hudson's first birthday May 23rd. They plan for him to smash cake and play with the boxes and wrap his gifts will come in. The East coast family wishes Seattle were closer but they love it out there.....
May 11th the family is heading to MD Anderson in Houston to meet with a Doctor whose specialty is Genetic mutations and metastasis. A treatment plan will be developed there with the focus being a questionable lesion in a rib. At MD, the CT scans are far more precise Hopefully Susan can have the next big surgery in early fall so she can resume working and sporting. Ideally any prescribed treatments (chemo, radiation, immuno therapy) can be performed locally.
On a sad note, while Susan was in hospital, our BELOVED family dog, Shiva, became very ill and passed away a few days after Susan came home. This was an unexpected and horrible blow to everyone, and the timing could not have been worse. So Susan and Ben (who had ACL surgery March 6 and is recovering very well) spent their first few weeks of recovery being comforted (NOT) by Tiger the cat. Thank goodness for Rick, who in Shiva's absence supplied constant love, care and companionship to both of them.
If you want to assist the family in any way, please click the link to a Meal Train page which offers scheduled opportunities through June to send/prepare a meal, babysit/walk Susan, help out with a load of laundry, run an errand or two, plant flowers, or just take Rick out for a beer. Between all of their medical issues, the help is desperately needed and so appreciated. Every day new challenges present themselves and having an extra set of hands, a driver or just someone to play with Susan is invaluable. Or just drop in too if you are in that neck of the woods, all our spirit's are lifted when friends are here and the house is filled with joy and laughter.
Please know we are so grateful to the many people who have loved us both in person and in spirit with kind words and thoughts, texts, calls, flowers, FOOD, visits, movie parties,game night, FOOD, gardening, wheel chair hiking, car rides, graduation dress shopping, gardening, hair styling, Facebook messages, surprise parties at LAX games (!!) and most importantly, your prayers. It seems 2017 is the year of making Lemon Martini's out of lemonade for the Hasty Darby's and we have all actually enjoyed sharing this bitter sweet time with so many people. It is strange how something so taxing has been a catalyst for such joy and happiness!