I figured it would be a good time to let everyone know some updates with us. I’ve been pretty absent and will not apologize for that. I’ve been taking some much needed time with the fam and it’s been awesome.
First and most importantly, let’s talk Nathan. As most everyone knows by now, Nathan’s last scan was not what we wanted to hear. They estimated 25% regrowth and the cancer had gone into new areas such as the brain stem. The brain stem is responsible for some of the most important functions like swallowing, breathing, and heart rate so we hated hearing this. Nathan has had some trouble swallowing so we can see that the scan is right. Treatment wise, Nathan has no options left (that he’s willing to do.) So many treatments show little positive outcomes and have horrible side effects. Originally his tumor was like someone placed a softball in his brain, but now its more like microscopic spaghetti going everywhere. He will continue some of his holistic treatments and ketogenic diet but at this point, we’re praying for a miracle. From the very beginning of his glioblastoma diagnosis he said the most important thing to him was quality of life > quantity of life. If you know Nate, you know why. He’s such an active person.
Elizabeth, Jack, and Nathan all came up for fall break back in October. It was supposed to be a short trip, but after Nathan had a few falls Elizabeth (and the rest of us) felt like they needed to stay. They’ve been showered with meals, love, quality family/friend time, and prayers. Elizabeth amazing parents, Beth and Buddy, have been keeping Jack in Chattanooga. They bring him up often, but it was a little too much for Nathan to have a toddler running around all day everyday. I can’t imagine how torn Elizabeth must feel.
Nathan’s right side continues to be verrrrrry weak, especially his arm. But sometimes his leg will give out too. One shitty thing about this cancer is his short term memory is just about gone. So he will forget that he fell trying to do something and try again. HORRIBLE cycle. You can give him a cane or a wheelchair or whatever but in his long term memory (that still works great) he’s an ultra marathon runner and he probably thinks “why the hell do I need these things?!” Usually he swats them away, occasionally he will use them. His speech is still very hard for him. On a rare occasion he’ll get out a sentence (usually about something he’s passionate about) and he surprises us all. For instance, the other day Mom was complaining about not being able to afford a house cleaner and suddenly after not talking for an hour, Nathan perks up and says “Quit getting your nails painted! If you would use the budget I gave you! You never listen to me!” We all cracked up. I live for these hilarious moments in the midst of the elephant in the room. Nathan was in financial planning for a while and this was an example of something he had some clear thoughts on.
Most days you’ll never find Nathan complaining, except for the one day he said his headache was a 10 out of 10. But even then, he sat through dinner with us and made jokes. Two nights ago, Mom and I surprised him with some Ugg slippers because he has a hard time getting shoes on (with balance being hard + little function in his right arm.) Nathan, in his right mind, would NEVER let uggs in his closet of ultra marathon shoes. I told him it took his right side not working to get some Uggs on him. He loved them but then said “I don’t want you spending money on me right now.” I said “those were the cheap fur slippers Nate, be glad I didn’t get you the Gucci kangaroo fur!” He said “under NO circumstance would I wear those.” Haha! While many parts of Nathan have changed, some have not.
Dad and Debbie recently set up a bedroom for them on the main level so that he can avoid stairs. They have been such amazing caregivers and I can’t brag on them enough. Nathan likes a steady flow of la croix, kind bars, smoothie king, and red wine (after 5!) and they’ve always got him stocked up.
So a typical day.... they’ve got Nate pretty jacked up on steroids (and occasional adderall) right now and we are grateful! It’s really improved his days. For the most part, his walking is better. We know the steroids are masking what’s really going on, but we love better quality of life. He’s been able to paint some with his left hand. He says the adderall really helps him be able to paint. They usually take a trip to smoothie king in the morning and get Nathan’s favorite smoothie, then head to the post office to drop off Nathan’s Etsy sales (THANK YOU TO ALL OF THOSE STILL PURCHASING!!!!!!!), and then they grab lunch and head home. You can see his shop HERE, and he will be having an art drop soon! Keep an eye on our pages to see when you can expect it!
After lunch, I try to swing a juice by for him. I’ve been juicing hardcore every since I watched the “Chris beat cancer” videos and if you have cancer or know anyone that does I HIGHLY recommend them. Long story short, he cured his cancer with diet and lifestyle changes. Nathan’s juice is usually all organic beets, carrots, celery, lemon, turmeric, black pepper, and copaiba vitality. Sometimes I also throw some Ningxia red and wheatgrass in! Since I have 3 kids and kids aren’t great around people with chronic headaches, I haven’t been able to spend a ton of time over there. I try and go when the kids are in school or while Cal watches them on the weekend. But juicing is something I CAN do for him. So I focus on that. Life is always better when you focus on what you can do, instead of what you can’t.
But, Cal won’t be here to keep them much longer. As most everyone has seen by now, we’re moving to Seattle! Cal accepted a surprising job offer from T-Mobile and will actually be moving the weekend after Thanksgiving. Between Nathan, my busiest time of the year, and the Holidays, I’ve decided to stay here with the kids through, at least, Christmas. I really couldn’t fathom packing and moving (and showings!) in the midst of all that. Cal will come back for Christmas, but life’s definitely about to get harder.
I’m ready as I’ll ever be for this marathon though. I know that once I get to Seattle my photography business will be slim to none for a good while = vacattttttion. I’m looking at our move as a chance for adventure and to catch my breath. For so long I felt enormous pressure to provide for the family since I’m the only one that has a fluctuating salary. I’ve always been the only one that can earn more money by working harder and Cal has always had a set salary. I LOVE working, don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those people that doesn’t want to work. But I will happily welcome a break. Because of that, I plan to work when I come back in town! So don’t worry, I’ll be back 😘
Thank you to all of you who have checked on us, brought us meals, babysat the kids, cleaned our homes, prayed for us, and supported us. It means more than we can ever express.
ps. pic is from our trip to Seattle with Nathan and Elizabeth back in August.