Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Ringing The Bell!

Wow.  We made it.  Yesterday, October 17 of the year 2017, Nin finished chemo.  Six and a half months ago it seemed like this day would never come.  It felt like an unattainable day. The metaphorical unicorn of days.  But here we are.  Take that unicorns.

This morning there was some unspoken tension in the air.  Nin's chemo treatments are typically every seven days. We requested that this last appointment be moved forward one day because today is Baby Jude's 1st birthday! 

Look at this precious ball of chub!

In order to qualify for chemo your bloodwork has to meet specific parameters.  Not to make it sound like qualifying is an achievement by any means. "Congratulations, you have been granted the blessing of having poisonous medicines pumped into your body, well done!"  These parameters are set to essentially just ensure that you are healthy enough for the chemo to ravage your body.  Since it was only six days since her last appointment, and she's had a minor cold for three weeks (remember the cold two weeks ago that I said went away quickly?  Surprise, it never did), we felt there was a chance that her chemo would have to be pushed back a week. That would have been absolutely crushing for both of us. 

We grabbed some Jamba Juice, dropped the kids off at a friend's house, then went to chemo. Spirits were still high but we were a little gripped and anxious to know if this would actually be the last day of chemo. 

To pass the time we played Harry Potter trivial pursuit. It was a magical distraction (puns intended).  We learned that our Harry Potter nerdery knows few bounds.  In the middle of our heated battle, the nurse came in and told us that chemo was a go!

During every other chemo appointment I have set up my mobile command center and worked during the infusion.  Like this guy. 

Since today was such a special day I took the day off to enjoy this final day of chemo and soak in the experience.  All day Nin was constantly on the brink of crying happy tears.  As we were nearing the end of her final infusion, I went out to the lobby and grabbed our friend and amazing photographer Ciara to document the joyful end of this journey.  If you've ever seen a beautiful picture of our family, you can thank Ciara for digitally sexifying us with her crazy good editing abilities.  Just like this:

Or maybe like this:

I surprised Nin by bringing Ciara back and told her that I invited her to document Nin ringing the bell.  Little did she know that I had arranged for a big chunk of our families to be there to support her and share the momentous occasion of her ringing the bell.  She had absolutely no idea and I can confidently say it gave her and everybody else butterflies inside of their butterflies. I know mine were extra buttery.

After lots of hugs, lots of tears, and lots of tambourine shaking by Penny, it was time to Ring the Bell.  At the Farmington location of Huntsman Cancer Institude, you get to ring the bell when you finish chemo.  The main location in Salt Lake City has a gong.  One thing is absolutely certain, for chemo to officially be completed, you need to make some kind of loud noise with metal.  I'm pretty sure that if you don't, you have to restart chemo all the way over.  So it's a pretty big deal. 

After the auditory tribute to the chemo powers that be, we two stepped it out of there to never return!  

...But in reality we'll be back every three weeks until next Summer to complete her Herceptin doses. At least the future visits will be much shorter, easier, with little to no side effects, and we get free grape juice. 

The army!  Apparently Papa (Dave), (Gigi) Julie, and Mumsie (Kristal) were so overwhelmed with joy that they fell asleep.  There is probably a less blinky picture out there but it's too late now.

We have absolutely loved the nurses and Doctors at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.  We don't recommend anybody get cancer but if you do, go to Huntsman.  They are the best of the best.  Nin's nurses all signed a card with this goosebump-giving poem.

A mighty wind blew night and day.
It stole the Oak trees leaves away,
Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark
Until the Oak was tired and stark.

But still the Oak tree held its ground
While other trees fell all around.
The weary wind gave up and spoke,
"How can you still be standing Oak?"

The Oak tree said, "I know that you
Can break each branch of mine in two,
Carry every leaf away,
Shake my limbs and make me sway."

"But I have roots stretched in the earthm
Growing stronger since my birth.
You'll never touch them for you see,
They are the deepest part of me."

"Until today I wasn't sure
Of just how much I could endure.
But now I've found with thanks to you....
I'm stronger than I ever knew."

-Johnny Ray Ryder Jr.