Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Week Hope Came Home

It was a hot Tuesday morning, teeny puppy yelps echoed through the orchard. Her litter was in a large running area, I wondered silently to myself if I would recognize her or if the sea of fluffy amber hair would camouflage our baby. Puppies all ran up to us singing happily and begging for cuddles. Then I saw her waiting patiently in the back. I saw her and she saw me. She came forward and I picked her up. Her tail wagged with joy as she nuzzled my neck. I put her collar on her and handed to Emma. They locked eyes and instantly there was love. She was always meant to be part of our family. We knew it and she knew it. Family.

Ever since Tuesday we have we have been lost in puppy cuddles, sweet awkward play around the house, and documenting all the funny ways she falls asleep. She is not even trained yet but she is already contributing so much. She has kept Emma calm at night so she falls asleep sooner, she stays happy in her room waiting for the rest of the house to wake up while she plays with her puppy, and she has not had a tantrum out in public with Hope. If anyone ever had any doubts about the power of a dog and human relationship they should see Emma's before and after.

In a couple weeks Hope will be old enough to begin puppy training. After those 6 weeks of classes she will move on to more intense training. I plan to be there with Emma in tow so Hope learns she answers to an Alpha and a Beta in this family. She is already learning so fast so I have lofty dreams of her completing her training to be an official Seeing Eye Dog!

To everyone who helped us gather funds to bring her home we are so very thankful! We still need to raise as we go to pay for her training but getting her home was by far the biggest financial hurdle. Now we have just small hurdles to jump financially but more responsibility placed on us!

Here are some more pictures of the girls.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

In Pieces

I have been lacking in the blogging department lately. I fell apart. You know the people who stay calm in an emergency? The people that can give CPR and hold someone together while help arrives. The person that has a clear head in a car accident. The person that remembers to grab the important papers when the house is about to burn down? That's me. I stay calm during the fight. When the dust settles I fall apart. This fight has been so long that I have broken down a few times along the way. Things would get dark from shear exhaustion and I would dig myself back out and press on. I was doing better. I was running, I was healthy, I was happy for the first time in a long time.

Then the call came. The Oncologist said she's not worried...yet. I stood and listened to her telling me what to watch for, "side weakness, slurring, vomiting, headaches, night terrors..." Suddenly I was no longer "fit and healthy Anya" I was broken in pieces, so many pieces. She told me again not to worry as I said my good byes but all I could hear were the words spoken by our first doctor three years ago telling me the same thing. "Don't worry, it's rare, odds are she will be fine". Then growth, surgery, cancer, more surgery, all started this way.

My mind knew that the odds are in her favor but my heart was done being disappointed. Suddenly I found myself having nightmares, flash backs, panic attacks, hopelessness, helplessness, paranoia. I am on a support group for "Momcologists" and a mother shared an info graphic on the difference between depression and PTSD. Out of 20 symptoms I had 18. I called my doctor.

Now that I have this new diagnosis and a change in medication I am starting to claw my way out of this dark hole and back into normalcy. Part of my constant worry is that I feel like I am not strong enough to do this all again. I am too broken, too defeated, too poor, too emotionally bankrupt.

I am trying to keep my eyes upward and maintain a positive outlook. I decided not to tell Emma
about her tumor enhancement and let her have a nice summer. Her service puppy, Hope, comes home on Tuesday and I know that will help both of us stay happy and light. We also have the start of a new school year and Gracie's Make a Wish in September.

As we finish out the summer we can use a lot of prayer. Emma's next scan is in September after Make a Wish. We also need help fundraising for Hope's training expenses. It will be a lengthy process.

I know this is not the most uplifting update but I have always tried to be honest with everyone who watches Emma's story. This is childhood cancer. Momcologists are all depressed and have PTSD and live paycheck to paycheck hoping for brighter times. We are all tired. I encourage you if you know a local family fighting cancer to bring them flowers or a meal or a gift card. Show them that you are still watching and praying and caring. So many of us stop hearing from people after a few months into the fight. It is too hard to fight it alone. Love them, love them all.