Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ding dong radiation is done! Andy rings the bell at Mayo Clinic

Andy rings the bell December 6th!
Radiation patients ring the bell to
celebrate end of radiation treatments.

What started out October 27th as a time of dread ended in ringing the bell on December 6th!  As a mom my emotions were all over the place; I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for Andy. I just know her fearless approach in facing brain cancer treatment inspired patients, professionals, caregivers, friends, family and others impressed by her caring and courage.

Wrap up all the clich├ęs you can find but they still can’t match the emotions of that bell ringing. The adrenalin kept Andy going all day. We took pictures with the techs who worked in the radiation room each day; with her nurse, with one of her doctors, with the scheduler and—most important, I took pictures of her with a couple special friends from Hope Lodge who came to watch Andy ring the bell, Bob and Chuck.

Andy touched the lives of many special people during her time at Hope Lodge and Mayo Clinic but several people she met will always be in her heart as well.  Only those who have suffered from the cruel side effects of the poison of chemotherapy, the raw burning of radiation, the physical and emotional pain of surgeries and seemingly endless invasive procedures in an attempt to rid the body of cancer or its harsh consequences truly know what it is like. No wonder a life-time bond can be created in a span of a few days.  Only those who have looked into the fiery eyes of the disease get to be in that exclusive club.  Membership comes at a cost much higher than any dollar amount.

Andy’s positive attitude and outgoing personality seemed to draw people to her like she was handing out certificates for a cure or possessed some kind of healing power.  Andy took on one soft spoken older gentleman like she was a doctor and he was her most important patient.  Bob said he wanted to adopt Andy as a grandchild and she definitely treated him the same way she did her grandpa and great grandpa.  She got after him about how he needed to eat more; she drank an Ensure with him and gave him tips on what to eat to gain weight; she told him he had to do it even if he didn’t want to; she talked about how he might get more sick before he got better and took on the caretaker role constantly checking on him. His wife tried many of the same tactics but he would have none of it.

Bob gives Andy a hug
after she rings the bell. Waiting
room patients and special guests
applaud the ringing of the bell.

I guess part of it was the sharing of the disease and part of it was the sincere attention she gave to some other patients.  Before we left they hugged and Grandpa Bob kissed her on the cheek.  When Andy told him she was glad to finally see him feeling a little better and to keep up the good work, Bob said, “You are the reason I am feeling better, Andy.”  He wasn’t kidding.  His eyes had a spark again; he was getting a feeding tube the next day.

A part of me has gotten past some of the sadness. I am proud of her caring attitude and strong character.  Although I lack her strength, it gives me a sense of comfort. All of her life Andy has claimed everything happens for a reason.  Maybe she is destined to inspire others in her next career.

Whatever Andy’s future holds she will make the most of it; whatever time she has on earth she will thank God for giving her; whenever those whose lives she’s touched remember her inspiration and whether she leaves before me or the other way around, she believes it is all for a reason. She has no regrets.
Andy's incision the day after
brain surgery in August.

MRI of brain tumor before
surgery front left temporal lobe.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Come back soon for yer mom's debut . . .

TEXTING.You can't ever start 'em too young!