Miss Crosby Reynolds Kennett decided to arrive a week and half early, and I crawled into a blissful baby bubble for a few weeks afterwards followed by hosting Chip’s family for Christmas, so I apologize for my hiatus from the blog. I am slowly and begrudgingly re-entering the real world. Since so many have asked about her name, Crosby is Chip’s paternal great-grandfather’s name and Reynolds is my paternal great-grandmother’s maiden name and granddad and dad’s middle name.
So, HOW is Chip doing?? Physically, he is doing great and looks amazing. He has lost about 20 pounds, but it is due to our daily juicing regimen (By the way, I am not sure if it’s curing his cancer, but my skin looks amazing!) and sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-light, protein and leafy greens-packed diet. Chip went to Johns Hopkins in December for his monthly check-up and to receive his bone strengthening treatment. Since he had such a bad reaction to the infusion he received in November, they tried a different medication via injection this time, and he had no side effects so YEAH!! They also performed an EKG and blood work on him, and the great news is the Xalkori is not having a negative impact on his heart, kidney or liver functions, so he is able to continue taking the dosage originally prescribed.
On Wednesday, January 2nd, he is having a repeat MRI and PET/CT scan performed at Virginia Hospital Center. Those results will then be sent to Dr. B., our oncologist, at Hopkins. We meet with her on Monday, January 7th, to learn the results of those scans and repeat the EKG, blood work and receive another bone treatment. We are obviously quite anxious about this appointment, but since Chip is feeling so well physically and experiencing zero pain in his eye, we are very hopeful we will learn his body is responding positively to the treatment.
Days spent at the hospital are always difficult ones. It is hard to be positive and maintain that fighter mentality when you are sitting in a waiting room full of cancer patients. Most are old birds but there are always a few young children in there, too, which is simply heart wrenching. It is extremely difficult receiving your injection to keep your bones strong while sitting in a room looking at all of these people hooked up to IVs receiving traditional chemotherapy. It is next to impossible to keep your head in the game when you are lying completely still, naked and starving in a cold tube for an hour plus while your body is being scanned.
The mental game remains tough. Really tough. Tough for us both but especially for Chip. We have moments and days with each other or as a family that feel so completely and totally normal that you forget. I am so grateful for those moments, but they are also bittersweet, because when I remember that Chip has cancer, it is almost like learning it all over for the first time. I break out in a sweat, feel like I am going to throw up, tears rush to my eyes and I go numb for a moment, but thankfully, I have the uncanny ability to quickly turn my thoughts around and just be present in that moment, in that very day and be grateful for it. I find myself repeating our mantra–We are living with cancer and not dying from it.–to myself and to others on a daily basis.
The birth of Crosby triggered so many conflicting emotions for Chip–sheer and indescribable joy over her very existence, sadness that she will only know her Daddy with cancer, gratitude and thankfulness for her perfectness, disdain for other dads walking down the hall in the maternity ward, pride watching Joe meet and love all over “his” baby for the first time, fear that he may not live long enough for her to remember him, relieved that his treatment is a pill and not radiation that would have prevented him from even being present for her birth, pissed that he couldn’t pound Five Guys, pizza and milk shakes in the hospital with me like we did after Joe’s arrival, anger and guilt that he is putting the kids, his parents and me through this, and worry about our future. I guess I should have, but I just didn’t see any of that coming. It makes sense though as Crosby was born in the same hospital where Chip’s first scans and biopsy were performed, so cancer and new baby were all rolled in to one for him.
I was in a completely different mental state entirely. I was just relieved this nine pound, ten ounce baby was simply out of my body, so in awe of her precious little nose, her long, skinny fingers that look just like mine, her fat, fat CHEEKS, her pretty blue eyes, and how amazing it felt just to snuggle with her and breathe her in, my capacity to immediately love her so unconditionally just as I had with Joe, and that MY BODY had done all of this.
So many women struggle with their bodies during pregnancy and following birth, but for me, I have never had such body confidence. My body is simply amazing! I loved being pregnant, and maybe it was the little brown bottles filled with dolls I was taking every six hours, but I was ready to Baywatch it down the beach. Why had I ever wasted precious energy worrying about the size of my cankles, the dimples on my thighs (ok, maybe I am being a bit generous by referring to them as “dimples”), the moles on my face, etc. when my body was so perfect?? My body conceived this little girl, carried her for nine months, gave birth to her and was now feeding her. I have done it twice now, and I am still wowed by the awesomeness of it all.
But while my body was busy growing this perfect little baby girl, Chip’s body was busy growing cancerous tumors. The week before Crosby’s arrival, I was so uncomfortable. That child was everywhere–under my ribs, pushing against my lungs and stomach, and on top of my bladder. I felt pregnant all the way down to my toes. I started to complain to Chip one night about how he had no idea what it was like to have this thing growing inside of your body that was completely out of your control when I thankfully caught myself and slowly closed my mouth.
Why was this happening? Why were our bodies experiencing such different things? How did the kale I was eating know to make our baby grow big and strong but for the kale Chip was eating to balance the Ph levels in his blood and organs cutting off the oxygen supply to the cancer cells? How did the antioxidants in the occasional glass of red wine know to work their magic in Chip’s body but for the rest that eventually turned into sugar to stop it right there?
If my little ol’ body is capable of giving life, is Chip’s not capable of that very same thing? I think it is. I pray every day with every ounce of my being that Chip’s body will also perform the miracle of life.