September 30, 2013

Tomorrow is October 1st.  It is the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness month.  As I am not a very outspoken person, this is definitely not my forte.  I must share this with you.

I felt a lump in my right breast.  I knew that I had a doctors appointment already scheduled in 6 weeks for an annual physical and exam.  I have very dense breast tissue and because of breast feeding I also had what they called fibro cystic breasts.  This is the kicker, I had no risk factors for breast cancer.  Now, I expected heart disease or diabetes, those are both significant on both sides of my family.  I do have an aunt that was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 50’s and beat it.  I did not expect breast cancer.  As a matter of fact, when I called my doctor  and told her, she wasn’t overly concerned because 6 months prior, I had an exam and there was nothing there.  When she felt my lump, she looked at me and said “Where are your children?” That’s what she said!! I knew right away.  It was around noon, my kids were with their Aunt and there was no rush for me to get to them.  I was alone.  I was sent directly to Beth Israel.  I had a mammogram, that was not your normal routine mammogram.  All the techs were looking at me funny.  I went straight from the mammogram room to the Ultrasound room.  That tech wouldn’t even talk to me, she didn’t know what to say, except “the doctor will talk to you.”  I almost felt bad for these people, they knew that I was in trouble but none of them had the authority or credentials  to tell me.  After the ultrasound, came the core needle biopsy, I stopped counting the punch biopsies after 10, they hurt.  My tumor was huge and stuck out of my skin like the size and shape of a lemon.  I left that hospital with a paper bag full of ice packs and walked to my car, and could not stop crying.  I couldn’t even see the ignition to put my keys in.  It took me some time, I had a nice conversation with myself because Breast Cancer is curable and I had no problem with the fight that I had ahead of me, for those of you who know me, I have been challenged ALOT!   I got myself together and called Scott……………who by the way, was in FUCKING Las Vegas!!!!

Long story short, the weeks after got me set up for my treatment plan and I started my Chemo and began the fight, happily.

I had a routine breast MRI one day.  Laying face down in the machine with a metal bar between each breast for an hour and not being able to move.  The next day, I had a lot of chest pain, I went to the Emergency Room at BI around 9pm.  I left there at 3am with the results from a CT Scan showing cancer in my liver and possibly my spine.  These were found by accident.  After some follow up tests and scans, it was confirmed that the Breast Cancer had spread only to my liver.  At this point, every inch of my body has been scanned.

Breast Cancer is no joke.  Procrastination is it’s best friend.  I turned 37 years old on July 19 and I found out that I had breast cancer on July 31.  A mammogram was not even in the deck of cards for my yearly physicals until I turned 40.  Not to mention, I have no other medical problems.  I didn’t feel sick and I certainly didn’t look sick.

I now have Stage 4 Breast Cancer and will fight this fucking disease for the rest of my life.  My daughters are 3 and almost 5.  I was initially told that there is a 15% chance that I will live for 5 years.  That’s unacceptable in my book and I let my doctors know that.  I am fortunate that my doctors are on the cutting edge of medicine and I am on the best 3 Chemos that I can be on and they are working and I am responding well.   Although, I am going to be on treatment for the rest of my life, it will change as medicine has break throughs.  My doctors are the best and have promised me that I will  have a good quality of life and live to see my kids grow up.  I have an amazing family and group of friends and supporters, its just awesome.  I am very blessed.

I have kept this blog as a “family” thing to keep peeps up to date on my condition, but most importantly to show how we are battling Breast Cancer as a family.  Although, I will have these random posts where I get into the dirt of it.  I felt the need to do that today.

F U Cancer, I will gladly welcome Chemotherapy tomorrow to kill you.  I hope everyone has a wonderful week!!

All my love, from my family to yours, Jessica

Thank you to Nikki Croft Levy who surprised me with a wonderful package and loving note with 5 chemo beanies! They are so soft and keep my bald head warm and the kids think they look good with their dress up clothes!!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Time for a blog.

This will be a positive post. Some days are hard. Some are easy. That’s no different than anyone else on the planet, except Jess (and our family) has this damn black cloud hanging over us. Yes, cancer.

Funny, but for me, cancer used to be such a dirty word, something I would avoid. Never had someone real close to me have it. Have had a few Ashland folks who had it. I would pray for them, but I would say it was not in my circle.

But something amazing has happened through all this and I know Jess feels the same. We are really noticing the LIFE around us. It’s easy to see the negative. Why I don’t watch the news. It’s mostly crap, death, politics, drama. All crap. But as Jess and I go around, living, taking care of our family, we see so many incredible people who are going out of their way to wish Jess well or to offer to help.

I know that going forward I will not hesitate to approach someone with “that look”. Just a hug or a kind word or maybe a laugh can help someone’s day be better. I know it has meant the world to Jess to get that from all her friends and family.

Case in point, we went to Casey’s in Natick on Tuesday. Had to get out as Jess and the girls couldn’t be at the house. It was frustrating because I had hoop practice that I had to cancel. We had a fun little dinner, but the most amazing thing happened on the way out. Jess ran into another Natick man who was also battling cancer and it was just so touching to see two people genuinely wish another person well. The emotion was amazing.

On the way home we stopped at Tasty Treat in Ashland and had a sweet little old lady come over and chat with us. Not only was she impressed at how well the kids were behaving, she also knits hats for people with cancer. Just so sweet. Took our contact info. She is going to make Jess some hats. Amazing.

People – life is truly amazing. Maybe it’s just me these days as I’m walking on air. Even though I am so scared for Jess, I’m happier than ever and maybe I’m just seeing the glass half full. It’s so hard to watch someone you love battle this crap, but in some ways it’s such a lesson. I know deep down she will beat this. It is a miracle happening. If I can get Izzy (3 year old circus animal) out of diapers, now that would be another miracle.

Anyways, rest of life isn’t too bad. We eat like kings, get care packages almost daily. It’s like friggen Christmas up in this piece! I guess dealing with cancer is the downside but we laugh, we cry, we appreciate every moment we have. The joke of all this will be when some physician tells Jess she will live for 50 more years, probably assumes she wouldn’t have to deal with me and my crap for that long!

My Dad and his girl Laurie came by with all sorts of fall decorations and put up some hay, fall, pumpkin package onto our deck. Jessica loves that sort of thing, so she was very happy. My Dad and especially Laurie are such good hearted people. So lucky to have them in our lives.

My aunt Paula also sent some amazing items to Jess. All stuff really for a cancer patient. Lip stuff. Body lotion. Nothing that I can use but really amazing and Jess was so pumped.

We have been moved by all the wonderful cards and packages, meals. and emails and Facebook messages. I love making fun of the world but Jess and I are so blessed. People in this world, and you know who you are, are so wonderful. For those who don’t get it, only care about yourself, shame on you. Wake up!

Our one year anniversary is coming up. It’s been a psycho year to say the least. And maybe God could get rid of the cancer, but other than that, we are living the dream! Can’t wait to see what Jess gets me. Probably nothing, she will use this “cancer” and the fact that she can’t drive. I get screwed again. Typical. Omg, I do crack myself up. She is going to be pissed when she reads this. Oh well.

To all, thanks again. We can’t thank you enough. Hope everyone is smiling, feeling good and helping each other. I will be eating cookies and waiting for my gifts and deliveries (I mean care packages).

Until next time…

Scott and Jess! Oh and Izzy, Hannah, Courtney and Justin say hi as well.

September 19, 2013

It’s been a week since my last round of Chemo with the new poisonous cocktails and it’s been a hell of a week.  A couple of months ago, I was a full time working Mother.  Sometimes I worked 6 days a week, I always worked on weekends, I made dinner every night for my family.   Now, I don’t do any of those things.  I can’t do any of those things.  I can’t even drive my car.  I can’t carry a basket of laundry downstairs.  My oncologist is now my hairdresser and my meals are nasty Ensure.  I can’t stand for more than 10 minutes at a time before I have to sit down and I get winded with ONE flight of stairs.

As you can imagine, I was a healthy 37 year old, very active, full-time working Mother, who NEVER stopped.  So, to go from one extreme to the other in a matter of months, is traumatic and devastating for not just me,  but my entire family.

I have to stay positive with all of this going on.  I don’t have a choice.  I absolutely have my break down moments, but I have to pick myself up and keep a positive attitude and pray that I get another year, after year, with my family.

The point of this post is to extend my utmost gratitude to the people who have reached out and offered their thoughts, prayers, support and generous offers of meals being delivered, gifts for the children to keep them occupied and even offers to babysit.  We never thought we would ever be in a position to need help, it is so overwhelming.  EVERYONE is so generous.  Our families and extended families and circle of friends are the best!  The Ashland and Natick communities are amazing.  A shout out to the Natick High School Class of 1994, the amazing kids that I graduated with and some I haven’t seen since then, have all reached out to me and extended their thoughts and prayers and generous hearts.  I am just so grateful and will never say that enough.  THANK YOU!

On a positive note, I am slowly feeling better, day by day.  I made it through the week without a blood transfusion or platelets.  I came real close! My next Chemo infusion is October 1st so I am hoping for an uneventful week and a half with no hospital visits.  Fingers crossed!

Lots of love, Jess

Thursday, Sept 19th, 2013

Hey folks – I am sorry it’s been an entire week since Jess and I have posted. For anyone who knows people and families who have gone through this, the reality is sometimes it’s just too tiring to write in the blog.

I made Jess a promise when we started this. I promised I would keep up with the blog. I would make sure that Jess and her girls can always go back to this.

I’m not gonna lie, this week has been a bitch. Jess hasn’t felt good at all. I have been so busy with work, hoops, I haven’t been there enough for Jess.

Fatigue, lack of eating, frustrating boyfriend, two kids under 5. It is not fun to be Jessica Ward or Peterson or whatever she calls herself these days. Might as well be Jessica Leip, cuz if we are not married, then I have not been taught the true meaning of marriage.

See to me marriage is just looking at some person and saying “hey dope, I like you. And not only do I like you or love you, I’m gonna promise to stick by your side until they put me in the ground.” I think the piece of paper is pointless. Always have.

So, anyways, I’m praying things start to look up. I see the story of the Hopkinton 13 year old who got hit by a car and I’m just frazzled. We can fight this. I know how hard this is for Jess. I wish I could do more. Truth is I probably just need to be by her side more. Holding her hard. She is such a sweet person. I admit, I’m a fixer. There is an issue, I can fix it. I’m very frustrated I can’t fix this for her. For all the people I’ve helped over the years, the one person who truly needs me and deserves to be clear of this and I am helpless. Blows.

On a happy note, the kids are all doing really well. Courtney and Justin are off to a great start this year. I’m so proud of both of them. They have also been so sweet during this. We have even got Justin using hand sanitizer. If we can only get him to put the toilet seat down after going, we will be in great shape. Hannah and Izzy have been busy. Auntie Lisa doing her thang with them and all four of us went to Casey’s in Natick for lunch on Monday and we also stopped on the way home for ice cream. Business as usual I guess.

Funny. I took Hannah to dance class today. Tap and ballet. Now this kid is not a push you over sort. She is very deliberate. Very cautious. Very very bright. She can draw and put things together like an artist. As someone who got D’s in stick figure art class (thanks Mr. Mancini for the D!), I’m amazed by her skill. Jess is talented too that way but she really gets it from her Dad. So cool how parents pass on our skills to our kids. It was an hour class and I loved watching her. She kept looking over to see if I was still there. Too cute.

And so while you would think Hannah would be a tad cautious at class, she is anything but. She was all chatty with this other 4 year old before class. Told her all about class last week, all about how her sister was not happy she couldn’t come but that we would bring home candy from “this” machine when we are done. And the best line (I actually forgot to tell Jess this) “this is Scott, he isn’t my Daddy but my Mom likes him and we live at our house together”. Lol. Kid kills me. She did ruin my chances to hit on the Mom’s at class. Is there is any woman in my life who isn’t a complete pain? Ha!

We have had so many people bring food and goodies to the crib. Just amazing how many people have come to help Jess. Funny part is I have got to meet a few of the Natick peeps and they are very nice. Never been a big Natick fan. All you hear from these whack jobs is “home of champions” and how great they are. Why I used to go out of my way to crush any team from Natick or kids from Natick when I was running around playing ball. Yes – me and my boys used to play the Flutie boys in hoop leagues and we smashed them. I was nasty at putting together sick teams. Be a great NBA GM. I digress…

As I’m on a train to NY, I’m so glad I got a couple minutes to post and give everyone the update.

Until next time. Cancer, you suck. We will beat you!


Thursday, Sept 12th, 2013

So it’s my turn to blog and I have to say I’m not exactly sure what we have posted and what we haven’t. I’m completely winging it tonight.

We are watching the Sox and Pats. Jess loves to flip back and forth. No wait. That’s me. Yup. She doesn’t seem to happy but as she is a little weak, she can’t really yell. Bonus for me!!

Pretty good day today. Hannah had her 1st ballet and tap class. So cute all dressed up. She did really well and had a blast. Jess was not happy about missing that. But as I said, miss a few ballet classes and we can go to her wedding. Need to be smart at times with this. The only consultation was Izzy through a monster fit as she wasn’t allowed to go today and let me tell you, she is not someone you want to make mad. Chick went psycho!

Auntie Lisa brought dinner. Awesome rotisserie chicken, rice, and veggies. Girls love when she comes over or when she takes them. She did bring Mac and Cheese and FORGOT the cookies so I’ve added her to the list of folks who must be reminded of what I like! Jesus these people don’t learn. Ha!

Jess’ blood counts are down (normal to happen but still need to watch). She was fairly sluggish today and the next few days are supposed to be the worse. As its the weekend, perhaps that’s better so I can watch all 4 rats when they are here. She has been having some chest pain and she is very tired. All normal from what Doctor Shannon has to say. She told Jess to have a glass of wine, relax and get some rest.

I did want to add one item which my peeps should read. I have had so many people call, email, text and FaceBook message me not only wishing Jess well but really asking how I am doing and really worried about me. Rest assured that over the past two years, while its been a psycho roller coaster ride, I’ve not only discovered who I am, I know my path, what I’m supposed to do, who I’m supposed to be and what my responsibilities are. I have never been happier with my life and where it is headed. And for those who know me, all I ever want is to take care of the people I love and to just be happy. Very simple. And I’m there. Jess, Justin, Courtney, Hannah, Izzy, the friggen annoying cat and Shelly the forgotten turtle are my focus and will be until they put me in the ground, which for those keeping track, will be around 40 or so years from now. Jess has been given specific instructions on my funeral and the roast which will follow immediately after. It’s unclear whether she kills me or I’m trampled by 200 Sports Illustrated swimsuit models or some tragedy like that. So I’m fine. Stop asking. I’m getting annoyed. Ha!!

Last note for the evening: Food calendar is filling up,  Amazing how many moving parts there are to this. It’s really been incredible. I will write my book when this is done. “Life Inside The Tornado!!”

This dude is done for the night. Going to watch the Pats and zone out!!

Until later….