Sometime emotions catch you when you least expect it!

I know… I know… it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve blogged.  I know I said I’d keep this up, so I’ll try to do better. I promise!

 Last Thursday, Patty and I had the privilege of being the guest speakers for the National City American Cancer Society Relay for Life Kickoff!  The plan was that Patty would speak first about her experience then I would follow with speaking about the “husband’s perspective.”   

 I have about a half hour drive to and from work each way.  This is my “thinking” time.  So about a week before this event I gave a lot of thought about what I would say and ran it though my head until I felt comfortable.  Patty, on the other hand, is busy with Avery during the day and is pretty exhausted by the end of the day.  She had somewhat of an idea what she would talk about and the morning of the event she took some time to put her thoughts on paper.  

 Patty is so funny.  She is a great public speaker and you’d think it just came naturally to her.  That is anything but the truth.  She’s a nervous wreck!  I got home from work that Thursday afternoon around 3 p.m.  Patty was sitting on the couch holding Avery.  I can read her like a book!  I could just feel the tension in anticipation of speaking radiating from her.  She said she had written her talk down and would most likely end up reading it at the event.  (Again… I know her, she’ll start by reading but end up freelancing without notes.)  

 We got to the event early, about an hour early to be exact!  It was at a restaurant so we had time to have some dinner.  Little did we know that they were serving dinner at the event!  It’s ok… it kept Patty busy and her mind somewhat off public speaking.  The event started at approximately 6:30 p.m.  The Chairman of the Relay started things off followed by the Mayor of National City who said a few words.  Then they announced  “Patty Sousek and her husband, Ed, are going to speak about their experience with cancer.”  People clapped as Patty held her speaking notes in a sweaty death grip and we made our way to the podium.  Patty talked first.  She placed her now crumpled notes on the podium and started things off.  She did really well. Her voice never quivered and she was just the Patty we all know and love.   As I knew… she started by reading her notes word for word then shortly thereafter, she used her notes to just trigger talking points.  It was very heartfelt!  I stood behind her with complete pride!  They had told us to keep our talk short and Patty finished easily under 5 minutes.  Then came my turn.  I’ve done a lot of public speaking over the years and I do a lot of public speaking in my current job, so getting in front of a crowd doesn’t intimidate me in the least.  In fact, those of you who know me, know that I just love being the center of attention.  I had a pretty good outline in my head of what I wanted to cover and I was confident I could do this from my heart.  I started my talk.  Things were going well for the first minute or so, then it happened!  I was starting to say: “Then came June 22nd… a day I’ll never forget, the day Patty was officially diagnosed with cancer.”  About three-quarters of the way through that sentence, I was engulfed with emotion like a title wave!  I had to stop because I knew what was to follow!  TEARS!!!  I thought to myself: “Ok Ed… get a grip!”  I stopped speaking and hung on!  You could hear a pin drop at this moment!  Within maybe 10 seconds I could feel the emotions passing!  I thought “Phew… I dodged a bullet on that one!”  At least I got through it and didn’t act like a blubbering fool!  So I continued with that sentence about June 22nd.  Immediately that damned wave of emotions hit me again!  “Ok Ed… What’s going on here?”  I had to stop again… I closed my eyes for a second and did a quick prayer in my head…. “God… help me get a grip!”  I looked up at the silent crowd staring at me… I said: “Wow… I don’t know where this is coming from!” and continued with my talk.  My talk lasted, with those two interruptions, about 10 minutes. 

Those two waves of emotions really caught me by surprise!  I’ve never spoke in public about something so personal as this.  It was almost like reliving the day when Patty got the official word that she had breast cancer.  That was a pretty painful day for both of us. 

We plan on speaking in public about our story whenever asked.  This little bump of mine won’t hold me back.  I think I’ll be a little more mentally prepared, but then again, people knowing I was close to tears, showed just how this impacts your life.  I couldn’t have scripted it any better!

We got home that evening around 8:00 p.m. and got busy packing for our trip up to Placerville and Lake Tahoe for the weekend.  That’ll be my next blog.

Public speaking!

Patty received a phone call from a woman last night representing the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.  If you remember from an earlier blog, Patty is the featured speaker at their Kickoff Night in two weeks.  The woman called to get a feel for Patty and what she was going to talk about.  The woman said they’ve had speakers in the past who have offered to speak then realized once in front of everyone, speaking about something as traumatic as their experience with breast cancer wasn’t an easy task.  Patty had address a group of people back in August of last year, just two weeks after her mastectomy, and did an amazing job.  Patty  is a very confident woman and that confidence exudes from her when she does any kind of public speaking.   It took the woman no time at all to realize Patty would do a great job.

Patty is one who cannot sit still when she talks on the phone.  She’ll wander randomly throughout the house while gabbing away!  My son, Steven, and I used to get a kick when Patty was on the phone and would sometimes bet on how many laps she could do throughout the house before she hung up.  That trait of hers hasn’t ended.  Patty was all over our little condo last night.  I could overhear her conversation with the woman and at one point I heard her say “My husband is a great public speaker… he’d love to!”  I was in the living room thinking “Oh God, what has she gotten me into now!”  Patty continued: “Oh you’ll love him!  He was my rock!”  Now I knew exactly what she had done!  And she had done it without even asking me!!!  She got off the phone shortly thereafter, came back into the living room and said:  “Okay… it’s all set.  You’re speaking right after me!”  She was so proud of herself!  I said:  “Thanks for checking with me first!”  She replied: “Oh come on… you’re  a great public speaker!  You know you want to!”  Okay… she was right.  I’ve always loved being the center of attention!

So on Thursday night, March 24th, Patty and I are going to give this group the “One/Two punch!”  It should be fun.  I think the two of us could really make an impact.  Maybe this is the start of a new career!  Wish us luck!

What a weekend!

Getting into the swing of the “new normal” has been a learning experience for both Patty and I.  We’re finding the “new normal” is pretty similar to the “old normal” with a much better appreciation of life.  I know that sounds a little cliché but it’s true. You suddenly have an appreciation for so many things you used to take for granted.  I know I’m feeling it and I’m positive Patty is feeling that “appreciation” as I am, times ten!   Facing the possibility of death is without a doubt one of the biggest gut checks a person can ever ponder.  When you’re in the throes of it, you weigh all the “what if’s” and try go forward a day at a time.  Sometimes you need to take it an hour at a time.  This is all behind us for the time being.  It still lingers now and then, but we’re both trying to live our lives the best we can and take in as much as possible!

 With that said… Patty is doing really really well.  My wife is back!  She is just go go go everyday.  Avery keeps her busy and by the end of the day, Patty is whipped!  She still has a healthy appetite and somehow gains no weight!  I don’t know how she does it!   I need to take a picture of her hair.  It’s coming in but it’s a slow process.  I’m guessing it’s about a quarter of an inch in length.  I was joking with her yesterday morning saying she woke up with “bed head!”  Hey… it made her laugh! 

This was quite an eventful weekend for us.  We’ll start with the big news… Our daughter Kristi had her baby Saturday afternoon!  Yes… Kennedy Claire Davis… 8 pounds, 6 ounces of pure preciousness!  It was a long night and day for Kristi and Ryan but the payoff was Kennedy!  Patty and I now have three grandchildren, all girls!  We’re good with that!  

These pictures were taken shortly after her birth.  Look at that thick head of hair!  She looks so much like Kristi when she was born.

Little Kennedy had some minor issues when she was born and is being closely monitored in the NICU at Sharp Hospital.  She’ll be fine and hopefully Kristi and Ryan will be able to bring her home soon! 

Then, we have other news… we found a house and are opening escrow today!  It’s been quite an exhaustive search.  We must have looked at 40+ homes over the past month!  House hunting is pretty discouraging!  Prices… location… etc.  We feel we were pretty lucky to find this home… not a short sale… not a foreclosure!  We’re really excited to have a real “home” again.  Sure the condo worked, but after a while it was getting pretty cramped.  The new house has over 1700 square feet and 4 bedrooms.  We’ll be able to have guests again!!!  Pack your bags and come on over!  We’ll even have a real back yard again!  I never thought I’d be looking forward to yard work, but I can’t wait!  I’ve actually missed it!   Here are a few pictures…

We’re scheduled to close right around April 15th (Tax Day!) and if things work out right, we’ll  be moving in, that weekend!

Patty predicted that 2011 was going to be a great year.  So far she’s been right on track!  Things are looking up!

Sorry for the delay!

Patty and our close friend, Becky, this past weekend.

Over the past 10 months, I’ve read several blogs from other husbands whose wives have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Each blog had something in common… the moment their wife finished their “treatment phase” the blogs immediately stopped.  I was disappointed when they ended.  I wanted to know more.  More about how they were doing.  What was going on after treatment?  I told myself I wouldn’t do that with my blog.  I would continue after the “treatment” phase.  Now I understand why they stopped.  Once treatment ends, your life changes… dramatically!  It’s the “new normal.”   Things almost get back to the way they used to be.  To blog, it’s almost boring.  It’s just that our life seems like it’s been controlled with a remote… we went so long on the “pause” button and now someone has hit “fast forward X-4!”  It’s like we’re trying to make up for lost time!  So, on that note, I apologize for getting a little relaxed with the blogging.  I’ll do my best to keep this going.  We still have a lot ahead of us.  We’re not through with this just yet.

First and foremost, Patty is doing amazingly well!  I can remember many days when Patty was going through her treatment that I never thought I’d see her to the point where she is today!   She’s one tough woman!  My guess is that she has pretty much 100% of her energy back.  I can’t keep her down!  She watches Avery four days a week.  She tries to Jazzercise three times a week.  She takes long walks nearly everyday and she’s starting to train for the Susan Komen 3-Day walk in November.  It’s funny… I get home from work and I’m tired and just want to hang out at home.  Not Patty!  As she says, she is cooped up in the condo all day.  She wants to go out!

We’ve learned that human body is amazing!  Amazing in the sense of how it heals. As you are aware, the chemo really did a number on Patty.  I can’t think of words to accurately describe what I witnessed Patty go through!  Patty has told me that she didn’t realize how sick she was until she started feeling better.  I don’t recall if I mentioned this in any previous post, but her incision from the mastectomy in late July had never completely healed, mainly because of the chemo.  Here it is the end of February, six months since the mastectomy and 11 weeks since her last infusion and it’s finally nearly healed!  She meets with the reconstruction surgeon every couple of weeks now and he’s pretty happy with her progress.  He’s just waiting for the incision to completely heal so he can start the reconstruction process.  It shouldn’t be too long.  Now that she’s through the treatment phase, you can see changes in Patty every day.  Her eyelashes and eyebrows were the first to grow and now they’re nearly back to normal.  This was followed by the hair on her legs and then her head.  She’s got a great layer of growth going on her head.  It may not be long, but it’s thick!

We’re learning to deal with the “new normal” a little at a time.  We’re not even sure what the “new normal” is!  We do know that even though Patty has gotten a temporary clean bill of health, the threat of reoccurrence could happen at any time.  This is a fact that we’ll have to live with for the rest of our lives.  She’ll never be out of the woods completely.  We just hope and pray that it never comes back but in the meanwhile, make the best of today!  Speaking of the “new normal,” we were making plans the other night about things we’re doing or going to do in the future.  Patty stopped for a moment and said: “I’m not sure if I’m ready for normal.  I’m so used to taking things a day at a time, or even an hour at a time, that I really don’t know if I’m ready to go forward!”  I thought this was an unusual statement, but I realized that our life was on-hold for so long and on-hold under conditions where we weren’t sure what the future was or if there was even going to be a future that we had to take baby steps.  Going from baby steps to full strides had taken Patty a little back, but she’s fine now.  (At least that what she said!)

Patty told me that she still has moments when she gets scared.  Afraid that the cancer will return.  We’ve both heard that if the cancer does come back, it generally comes back with a vengeance.  She said “Whenever I get scared, I pray and it’s really helps.”  Patty’s relationship and closeness with God has grown over the past 10 months.  She has so much Faith!  Faith that God has a plan for her and for us.  Her faith is what has gotten her through this battle, not only during the difficult times, but throughout this fight.  My Faith is still a work in progress.  I guess it always will be but to be honest,  there are times that I feel guilty about that.  I’m trying…

Patty was recently asked to speak at the kickoff for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life at the end of March.  This is an honor for her to address other survivors and their loved ones about her experience with breast cancer and to motivate others to face the fight head on. I’m confident she’ll do an amazing job.  I’ll keep you posted on how this event goes.

Here’s our most recent challenge… As you know, we’ve been living in our little condo for over a year now.  Yep… 708 square feet!!!  The plan was to move into it from Northern California for a month or two then look for a larger home.  The home search was put on hold once Patty was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Now that she’s through the treatment phase and doing well, we’ve been looking for a new home.  We listed the condo for sale back in early January.  We finally had an offer last week, which we accepted and the condo is now officially in a 45 day escrow!  Yahoo!  I was having doubts that it would ever sell.  So now we’re under the gun to find a place to live.  We had actually put an offer on a great house, but… things didn’t work out due to some financing restrictions by the seller.  So we’re on the hunt again.  We must have looked at a dozed homes today to no avail.  Wow… I didn’t realize there were do many dumps in our price range!!!  We’re going out again with our agent in a couple of days.

My daughter’s (Kristi) due date was yesterday.  Yes… our third grandchild.  But, no such luck with this baby coming on time!  Kristi and her husband, Ryan, have been strong and haven’t found out what the sex of the baby is!  Since the baby is now officially late, my guess is it’s a boy.  (even though I’m hoping for a girl)   You know how lazy us boys can be.  Come on… hanging out in a warm comfy place.  Why would you want to leave?  So it’s a day by day thing now.   Believe me, there will be a picture posted on here once this child makes it’s presence known!

That’s it for now.  Again, I apologize for the delay in posting!