Category Archives: Arizona 2012

Goodbyes

Almost a year ago, I was faced with a high probability, sad, “good bye”. 

A good bye, that I couldn’t believe I may have to be facing.  She is to young to die.  How am I supposed to go on with life without her?

Those days, while they seem so long ago, in retrospect they seem like just yesterday.

Nine months ago, my families life was turned upside and shook dramatically. 

Nine months ago, my younger sister was diagnosed with Stage 4 Incurable Metastatic Carcinoid Cancer.

Nine months ago, my life changed.

Now nearly a year later, we’re getting ready to say good-bye to Kelly, but not in the way we once feared.  We will be saying good-bye to her for five months, while she lives out her life long dream of attending school in France.

A year ago, we didn’t know if we would have Kelly with us, a year from now.  And yet now, a year later, she has been give the green light by her oncologist to study abroad.  How amazing is that?

As I watch her begin to prepare for this huge milestone in her life, I’m constantly sent back to that night when her diagnosis became a reality.  A night that I replay over and over again in my head, often still daily. 

They say when you are given traumatic news you remember EVERYTHING about the moment and a year later I can still remember it like it was yesterday.  I have yet to share how I found out, because I wasn’t ready yet to talk about it.  Like everything else, time heals all – not to mention Kelly being so strong has really helped me finally feel ready to share that night on my blog.

My side of the story…..

I was in out of town and visiting Arizona.  For days my mom had been pestering me asking “when are you coming home.”  I knew she was going to freak, when I told her how long I would be gone, because I was missing school during my final quarter, so I kept putting it off.  “I’ll look tomorrow….”

Well, after nearly a week of “I’ll look tomorrow,” I found out why she was so inquisitive about when I would be returning home.  She had some really big news to share and wanted to tell me in person – not over the phone, nearly 1,500 miles away.

It was Easter 2012 Night.

photoI had spent Easter in the sun lounging by the pool and enjoying the HOT weather of Arizona.  Life was good.  I was doing my favorite thing in the world, sunbathing in the sun!  I even took the picture to the left….Everything was perfect.

That night after all the kids had gone to bed, I was sitting at the kitchen table working on homework (remember I was missing school to go on this vacation), Julia had also gone to bed and Alec and his parents were watching TV.  My phone lit up and it was my mom calling.

I hadn’t talked to her yet that day, so assumed she was calling to wish me a Happy Easter.  I happily answered the phone and excused myself to talk to my mom.  It was still warm out and I went out to the front patio to talk.

As soon as I answered the phone, I heard the uncertainty in my mom’s voice.  It immediately sent me into a state of panic.  I knew something was wrong. 

I still remember my body temperature shooting up and my heart racing – this was before any words had ever come out of her voice.

Then I hear her say, “Cori, do you want to know why I’ve been so persistent about finding out when you come home?”

Immediately running through my head was the knowledge that I was about to receive life changing news.  My perfect vacation was about to be clouded. 

My response to her was, “No, not really …. do I need to go take an anxiety pill before we start?”

Yes, I told my mom I didn’t want to know and was ready to medicate myself. 

My initial thought was my parents were getting a divorce.  Why I thought that I don’t know.  Them getting a divorce would be a huge shocker, because they are so happy.  But, that was where my mind went.  It was the only thing that seemed possible.  Never once did I thought the “C” word was going to come out of her mouth.

All I remember at that point was ….. Kelly ….. Cancer ….Unsure ….Big Appointment on Tuesday to learn more.

My head was spinning, my heart was racing and tears were flowing.

At this point, I sat down on the lawn chairs on the patio.  Asking every question imaginable and to my horror, she had no answers.

  • We didn’t know what kind of cancer
  • We didn’t know what stage of cancer it was
  • We didn’t know if it was life threatening
  • We didn’t know if she would need chemotherapy.  Or radiation.  Or surgery.

We didn’t know anything.

At this point, I’m sure she knew I was losing it and being 1,500 miles away there was nothing she could do to help.  She asked me to go get Julia so she could talk to her.  Shakily I set my phone down, went in the house and woke Julia up.

This time it was my turn to tell someone about the cancer and again all I remember was telling her ….. Kelly ….. Cancer ….Unsure ….Big Appointment on Tuesday to learn more.

Julia shot up and joined me outside.  She and my mom talked for a long time.

It then came down to my understanding that all our questions would be answered at the big appointment on Tuesday.  My mom wanted me to have the opportunity to attend if I wanted to.  After talking and some thought, I decided I didn’t want to be there for the meeting, in fact I wasn’t ready to go home.  My hope was the craziness of vacation would keep my mind off of all the unknowns.

After we hung up it was time to go inside and again tell people ….. Kelly ….. Cancer ….Unsure ….Big Appointment on Tuesday to learn more.  However, this time I had Julia who was able to fill in some of the blanks.

The next two days we kept busy.  Everyone was wonderful about trying to keep me distracted, which was exactly what I needed.  The distraction included a trip to an Ostrich Farm….bet you’ve never been there before!

However, even as distracted as I was, the ….. Kelly ….. Cancer ….Unsure ….Big Appointment on Tuesday to learn more kept creeping back into my thoughts.  Somehow I had to make it through the day until the big appointment the next day.

Tuesday FINALLY came and I waited for my mom to call as soon as they got out of the appointment. 

The call finally came and that’s when I heard the diagnosis.  Stage 4Incurable. Cancer.

We also learned that neither chemo, radiation or heavy medication could fight it.  We were dealing with a new and very rare cancer.

Luckily, they had caught the cancer early and it was very slow growing they believed.  She would need to have surgery immediately, but the good news is we had time on our side.

Metastatic Carcinoid Cancer is still a fairly new cancer.  There isn’t a lot of research being done on it yet, but it is rapidly growing.  We have great hope that we have enough time for them to find a cure or way to slow the tumors down that our coating her liver.

If this is your first time reading my blog, I invite you to read more about this rare cancer and see how many family is living with it. 

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Now, nearly a year later, I am so thankful that we have this year behind us.  I’m so happy to see Kelly packing and planning her trip.  I’m so honored to have her as a sister.

Kelly and I aren’t BFF’s.  Nor do we get along, but (even though my mom doesn’t see it or would we admit it), we have grown a lot closer throughout this obstacle. 

I will miss her when she’s gone.  I will cry when she leaves.  But I am so happy to be saying Good-Bye for five months, and know that she will be back home before I know it….and not forever. 

This post is also part of Wordless WORDFUL Wednesday on the following blogs:
Parenting By Dummies & Seven Clown Circus
Live and Love…Out Loud
Crazy About My Baybah!
Carrie with Children
Project Alicia

Arizona: Day 8 (Family Fun Center)

On the last day of vacation we visited a Family Fun Center!  It was another gorgeous evening and we had fun riding the rides and hanging out.

It was no surprise that the kids’ favorite ride was the go-carts!

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The girls (especially MacKenzie) also really enjoyed the kiddy rollercoaster!

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Wow, that only took me like two months to get all my vacation pics up and posted.  Now I’m caught up….I think…

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Arizona: Day 7 (Ostrich Farm & Alec’s Birthday)

I bet you have never been to an Ostrich Farm…. well I have!

And in case you were curious…..

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and the Ostrich Farm is …

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I was a bit hesitant when I heard about the plans for this day.  For starters I don’t like animals and furthermore I don’t like to be dirty, outside or on a farm.  Pretty much I was screwed and we would be doing all of the above.  To my surprise it was a lot of fun and we had LOTS of giggling and smiles the whole day!  Even I got in on the fun….for a bit (the rest of the time I happily agreed to be the photographer and stayed many steps away from the animals!  I had to protect my camera you know

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They also had a bird sanctuary where we were given containers of nectar and the birds would swoop down and land on you and drink the sweet concoction!  It was pretty cool, even I got in on this exhibit!

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….and a Monster Truck ride that took us Ostrich Fishin’!

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What’s Ostrich Fishin’ you ask?  Well, they have fishing poles that you stick grapefruit on the end of and tease (or “fish”) to “catch” an ostrich.  Pretty entertaining if you ask me Open-mouthed smile

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That night (or I guess technically all day!) it was Alec’s birthday so we had some cake, when on a golf cart ride, I worked on homework and some of us slept…

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Wow, how is that for a mish-mosh of photographs from a fun-filled day?  Only one more day left in Arizona and then I’ll be all caught up…yay!

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Arizona: Day 6 (Easter)

*Sigh* I’m so far behind in my blogging, lately I just don’t have the energy by the end of the day to blog.  Not sure if it’s school or my new medication, or a combo of the two, but I am exhausted come evening time!  It’s crazy for me to not get on the computer at night, but for some reason I have no desire to power up my laptop like I normally do.  Anyway, I’m still trying to get through all my Arizona photos.  Two days left after today’s post!  Oh and did I mention I graduate in 16 days! Yippee!!

Back to Arizona….

Easter Sunday started early, very early.  I attended a sunrise service for church at get this …. 6:30am.  I struggle to get to church by 9am when we’re on that cycle, but 6:30am!  I’m still amazed that I was up and and we all made it to the service by 6:30am. 

I’m used to church lasting three hours long.  This service we were in and out in just over 30 minutes, kind of crazy.  Just long enough for the kids to get hyped up for the Easter Egg Hunt that awaited them when we returned to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

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It was fun watching the kids hunt for eggs and goodies.  With us being in Arizona the Easter Bunny had to be careful about where he hid the eggs as we were surrounded by cacti!  Needless to say the kids were extremely careful when picking eggs up!

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We spent the balance of Easter at the pool lounging and swimming.  It was a great way to spend what normally at home is a rainy icky day!  Bring on the sunshine!

Easter evening was the night when my mom called and told me about Kelly’s diagnosis of cancer.  This was the last real carefree day of my trip, as my mind became quite preoccupied and anxious after talking to my mom.  One of these days I’ll write out how I found out…not very exciting, but I think it would be good for me to document.  Writing is a good stress reliever for me…

On a happier note …. Happy LONG Memorial Weekend to you all!

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Arizona: Day 5 (Golfing & Pinnacle Peak)

The Saturday of our trip to Arizona found us at the driving range, there’s nothing cuter then a child golfing … let alone four.  However, they weren’t that coordinate, well one in particular who while getting assistance from Julia, smacked her on the cheek with the golf club. 

Poor Julia’s face immediately bruised and turned horribly painful Sad smile  You can decide for yourself which child it was Winking smile golfing

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On our way back to the house we passed this adorable creature…a havalina.  Okay, not to cute!DSC_0425

 

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That evening we headed out to Pinnacle Peak, a fun old fashion cowboy town where we put the kids in jail, shot rifles, mined for gold and saw a hilarious stunt show!  Oh and we cannot forget we had a delicious dinner too that ended with everybody’s favorite balloon animals!

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Want to see more of my Arizona trip?  Photos from our first three days in Arizona and Day 4 are already up and posted!  More photos to come!

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Arizona: Day 4 (Children’s Museum)

Day 4: Children’s Museum

After frying ourselves at the pool the day before, we chose an indoor activity….the Children’s Museum.  Apparently Julia and I were either bored or totally enthralled, because we didn’t take many photos this day!!

Of all the exhibits the two favorites were the Police Motorcycle (to Alec’s dismay over the fire truck the also had!) and the store.  Between these two exhibits we spent most of the day!

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If you missed the first three days in Arizona make sure you read it HERE!

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First Three Days of Arizona

On Our Way!

On April 3, 2012 we made our way from Seattle to Tuscan!  We left behind a dreary rainy Seattle day for the sunshine in Tuscan!

We had a great flight.  The highlights being the landing where we hit pretty bad turbulence.  The kids thought it was hysterical and were giggling so hard with each jolt and bump we’d encounter.  That right there made the trip Open-mouthed smile

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The other highlight of the day was getting to see the rental car Alec had chosen.  We could have fit into a mini-van, but he decided a big 18 passenger van would be much more comfortable!  It was comfortable, after one long day of playing I was exhausted so on the ride back to the house I took over an ENTIRE ROW and slept the entire trip back!  Very convenient….even if we looked ridiculous!

The funniest part as we were loading our luggage into van a lady came running up in a panic asking “is this the shuttle to Phoenix” …. sorry lady, not quite!

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Day 1: Swimming & Popsicles

We stayed at Alec’s dad’s house, where we were lucky enough to have a swimming pool to go to!  The very first day we all fried after just a couple hours out in the sun swimming!

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After swimming, we headed back to the house for a deliciously cold Otter Pop!  (Which I love by the way!)

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Day 2: Zoo & Cactus’

On our second full day we went to the zoo. 

This zoo was not nearly as big as Woodland Park, but the animals were so much CLOSER!  You could almost reach out and touch the elephants!  It was surreal!

The best exhibit would be the DUCKS.  Yes, I said DUCKS.  In Arizona they have an entire exhibit just for ducks.  YOu know those big mallard – ugly – pooping ducks that litter the beaches and water here in Seattle, apparently they are a novelty in Texas.  There was by far the MOST people within this small exhibit.  It totally made me laugh, because I’m used to seeing ducks all the time, but never at the zoo!

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On the way back to the house (and it was this trip where I took the nap in the back of the van!) we stopped at a cactus national park.  It was AMAZINGLY beautiful!  We watched a video and then saw the most beautiful sites ever.  I didn’t realize Arizona would be that pretty.  I expected dead looking brown terrain.  However, the cactus’ make it very green and gorgeous!  Highly recommend!

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I promise tomorrow to write more about what we do!  I was behind by three days and just wanted to get pictures up and posted … so there Open-mouthed smile

I’m not sure what is on the agenda for tomorrow, but I’m sure it will involve SUN!!

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