Monday night of week three was a fun night! The bishop’s family came over to mow our yard and pull weeds, etc. They are some of the sweetest people we’ve met here and are dear friends! We also had another family stop by to help us with the ants that were trying to take over our yard despite our repeated visits by “the bug man.” We ended up chatting outside and enjoying their friendship for a while. It was so nice to have that time together and to feel their love for us through their service. We’ve been so blessed to be here and can see that the Lord had a hand in where we ended up after graduate school.
By Tuesday of the third week, Allen was feeling leaps and bounds better than he had a week before! He was walking in for his bloodwork, doctor appointment, and chemotherapy. Everyone at the clinic was starting to become family, and they each commented on how much better he was looking and how happy they were to see him feeling better! When we met with our oncologist, he told us he couldn’t figure out how Allen got C. diff, but he was so happy to know that the problems Allen experienced weren’t coming from the chemo treatments alone. It didn’t really add up in his mind that Allen would be reacting in such an extreme way, so we were all glad to hear that the next treatment week shouldn’t be as brutal as the first. Yay!
Allen’s veins were easier to place an IV in and his treatment for Tuesday was just one drip bag of chemo. We were able to go home and enjoy most of the week together as Allen kept improving, having more cravings, and gaining energy and weight! Some of the funny things he started craving were hot dogs and tuna sandwiches. We decided it was because of the pickles/relish. 🙂 Pretty funny!
It was Wednesday that took us by surprise. Allen went to lay down and rest for a few minutes, but instead he came back into the living room with his pillow. It was covered in hair. The doctor had told us that Allen would start to lose his hair around the third week of chemo treatments, but it was so ironic that right when Allen was starting to feel better the cancer was reminding us that it was there. Neither of us knew what to expect with his hair loss– if it would come out gradually or all at once– so I was surprised when he called me into the bathroom a little frightened because it was coming out in clumps. He would lightly tug on a section of hair and every strand would come out. It was hard for him. Not so much the visual appearance, but the emotional aspect. He decided to take control and shave his head. I think he looks handsome. 🙂
I picked up the kids from school and prepped them for seeing Dad since he looked different. The first response I had from Benson after I told them we shaved off Dad’s hair was, “I wonder what he’s going to be for Halloween now!” He wasn’t phased at all by the news. Katelyn’s school had been talking about bullying, so Katelyn said, “Don’t worry, Mom. I won’t say anything to make Dad feel bad about losing his hair.” I love my kids. They are all so sweet and kind. We decided to make a quick trip to the store to buy Allen a couple of hats just in case. Allen was surprised and liked the gesture, but I learned that hats with snap closures are not the best idea for bald heads. Flex fit it is! 😉
By Thursday, Allen was feeling so good that we ventured out and ran a couple of errands. Of course we had to get a hot dog at Costco. Mmm… jk. Not my fave. But it was the first semi-normal day we had had in a long time and it felt great!
I’m pretty sure our outing on Thursday wiped Allen out, because Friday was another low-energy day and he ended up taking a 3+ hour nap that afternoon. I decided to pick the kids up from school and take them to a park nearby. We had some friends meet us there and it was so nice to just let the kids play while we chatted, looked for tadpoles (which turned out to be minnows… haha!), and just spent a couple hours enjoying the beautiful outside weather. We’ve meet some wonderful families here and have made lifelong friends! It’s been such a blessing for us.
We weren’t sure how Saturday would go, but Allen ended up feeling really good again! We spent the morning cleaning the house and then Allen took Bens and Kate for a little outing while Ev and Rae napped. Once they came home, we all got dressed up for that night’s Halloween Trunk or Treat being put on by our church. It was being held at a church that’s a little over an hour away from our home in a small Mississippi town. We stopped by a local discount store to snag some last-minute wigs and were on our way! The whole night was a lot of fun and the kids had a blast between the candy, carnival games, and bounce house. We had the cutest Lightning McQueen, Ariel, and Luigi. Plus an impromptu wig-wearing Baby Rae. They were wiped out by the end of the night and, as it goes sometimes when schedules are completely thrown off, I had a night full of interruptions as the kids all took turns waking me up! Grumpy mom. Lol! Allen was able to go with all of us to church again and was set apart for his new calling as the assistant executive secretary. It was a good weekend!
We’re optimistic that this next set of treatments will go much more smoothly than the first! I’m grateful for the good moments we have together when life just feels normal and balanced as a family. We’re so blessed to have each other and I’m reminded of that in both the good times and when times are just chaotic and unbalanced. I’m starting to understand President Uchtdorf’s talk he gave about gratitude. Gratitude really isn’t about being grateful for things, or only when things are going well. It’s about having an attitude of gratitude throughout your life and in any circumstance. I’m grateful for the growth and learning that’s coming from this trial in our lives. I love and appreciate Allen more than I did before, and I am grateful for the people who have taught me through their service and friendship. I’m learning how to reach out by seeing the ways others have reached out to us, and maybe I wouldn’t have been as bold before or would have held back because I didn’t know what to say or how to help. But now I understand that just doing something means a lot. Thank you for being there for us and showing us that you care! We’ve felt so much love and support throughout this journey!