i'll update you on the sad/scary stuff so we can get it out in the open and move forward, how's that? once i've cleared the air i'll feel more normal about posting silly frivolous things.
so, i mentioned in my last post that i had some family health drama over the past month or so, which coincidentally centered around the time we were about to leave town for ten days, which made things even more frustrating and created a lot of uncertainty and weirdness over vacation. my grandmother, whose health had been failing, really started to go downhill about ten days before we were supposed to leave. she was fighting breast cancer that had spread to her bones, and in the past year or so, it was getting the best of her. this was horrible, because she had actually been fighting breast cancer since 1980(!), when she had her first mastectomy. she had another bout in 1995, which resulted in a second mastectomy, and then a few years ago it spread to her bones. she did pretty well at first, but then after awhile it took its toll, and it was terribly difficult for her (as well as for the rest of us). she was such a fighter, and such an optimist–she never EVER complained and she was always certain that things would work out okay. she was usually right, too.
the week or two before we were supposed to leave town, her health declined dramatically, and there was a lot of stress over whether to use hospice or a nursing home, and in the end we tried both. my family absolutely insisted that we go on our vacation anyway (saying that even my grandma would insist if she could), so we did, but we were pretty sure that my gram wouldn't survive to see us return. i was able to spend a lot of time with her and say my goodbyes and i love yous, but it was still awful having to leave, knowing that i wouldn't be there with everyone. she passed away the day after we left town, just a few hours before our ship pushed away from the dock. as i said, i was prepared for it to happen, but it still sucked pretty bad. my grandpa is absolutely heartbroken–they had been married for 60 years and were still madly in love. in the end, it was a blessing, but still, so very sad.
and if that weren't enough…
the evening before we left town, my little sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. she called to tell me, and i was a useless pile of crap, because all i could do was sob quietly and listen to her talk. she had found a lump a couple weeks earlier (i knew this already), and had gone through the whole thing with her doctor, and eventually had a mammogram and an ultrasound and a biopsy, and then they called her immediately the next day with the news. she is 31 years old, with two little girls (four and a half, and fourteen months), and a wonderful husband. the word suck doesn't even begin to describe this. anyhow, she also insisted that we keep our vacation plans, because she was going to have two different tests while we were gone and she "wouldn't even know anything" until we got back anyway. so, we went, knowing that she had cancer when the rest of my family (still dealing with my gram's impending death) had no idea. i pretty much had a stomach ache the whole time, when i wasn't secretly crying somewhere.
once we got home we learned more about her diagnosis… she has a pretty aggressive form of breast cancer (she's triple negative, if that means anything to you), but as far as they can tell (after an MRI, CT scan, and bone scan) it hasn't spread anywhere beyond the known mass yet. she started chemo two weeks ago, and will undergo a total of 12 weeks of treatment (four cycles of a three-week treatment) before having surgery this summer. after she recovers from surgery, she will have another 12 weeks of chemo (a different drug than she is getting now) and we will go from there. she is being really awesome and strong, which i believe is really important, and i'm super proud of her. but i'm still totally scared and freaked out when i let myself think about it too much, which i suppose is normal.
she is being tested for the BRCA gene, and depending on her results, my mom and i will get tested too. it's quite likely that she does NOT have it, but she wants to check just in case; it could affect her treatment decisions, and it would potentially have an impact on me, my mom, and my nieces. i went for my mammogram last week (i'd never had one before; i was "too young"), and it came back normal. my mom also went for one, and they have an "area of interest" that they want to do ultrasound on (tomorrow). sigh.
i'm trying really hard to report "just the facts" and not get all overly emo on you guys, since that's not usually what i'm about… but at least this somewhat explains where the eff i've been lately. i've probably rambled too much, so i'll stop. the next post will be more upbeat, i promise.