You know what's super intimidating? When a photographer asks you to take her family photos. I had butterflies in my stomach the entire time. Well, except when I was looking into little Porter's big brown eyes. I know brown eyes.
You know what's super awesome? Swapping photography skills. I'll finally get a family photo without having to break out my tripod. Thank you so much, Cherise! I'm just sorry this isn't a fair trade :)
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Dear Mom & Dad,
How did you move a household of 5 kids from one country to another country every 2-3 years? I can't even move across town without wanting to... rip my arms off, pack my arms in a box, tape up that box, label that box MY ARMS and then kick that arm box all way to our new neighborhood. Seriously, how?
We had lots of professional help... and airplanes and freight ships for transportation. But yeah, moving really sucks.
Your Mom & Dad*
*Just kidding, my mom and dad would never say sucks.
Clark pointed out that I've probably spoiled some people's Christmas cards by posting links to ALL their family photos (sorry, Cassie & Carly). So here's just a little teaser for my cousin, Nadia. And speaking of Christmas cards, let me know if you're interested. I've already started some for those super organized folks out there.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Two weeks ago I participated in a high risk breast cancer study and had blood drawn to be tested for the Breast Cancer (BRCA) gene. Carrying this gene means a 84% lifetime risk of breast cancer and a 27% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. My grandmother had the gene as does my mother. I had a 50/50 chance of also carrying the gene. After the blood draw, I went home and wrote a little bit about my feelings. Today I got the results back.
Within the first 10 minutes of meeting with the genetic counselor, I had to answer some rather personal questions. She wanted to know about my boobs and ovaries obviously. But she also wanted to know about my preferred method of birth control, my future family, my relationship with my husband, my diet and exercise "regime", my favorite NPR podcasts and so forth.
Then she wanted to know more about Booker and Teichert. And suddenly I was really bothered. Like tears welling up and fists clenching bothered. Why had my boys suddenly entered this discussion? They are 3 and 1. And they do not have breasts and ovaries.
But there she was writing down their names and birth dates beneath mine. And there my mom was, crying like a baby... and looking like one too with her fuzzy white post-chemo head. I wanted to reach across the table, grab that pen and cross their names out. They are babies and they are boys and this has nothing to do with them.
But of course, it has everything to do with them. Because I have potentially given them something even worse than my boring brown eyes. And then I understand why my mom is crying now and why she was crying six months ago when she told me she was BRCA 2 positive.
Deep down in my DNA sits one mutated gene among thousands of normal, functioning genes. That gene has a name and a destiny- to potentially spawn a deadly form of breast and/or ovarian cancer. And this gene doesn't discriminate.
It didn't care that my grandma couldn't attend my mom's wedding because she was too sick from cancer treatment. It didn't care that my mom's plate was already crowded with other serious physical, mental and emotional challenges before she got her diagnosis. And it certainly doesn't care that I'm happy, young and want to use my ovaries and breasts to grow a large and healthy family.
Nope, this gene affects the whole family- men and women, young and old, Japanese and not. But the good news is that at least I know about it. My grandmother died from breast cancer, my mother will beat it and, God willing, I'll never have to face it because I know and I will be prepared...
But that's the future and this is now. And right now, I'm sitting in an office with a genetic counselor eager to fulfill the counseling part of her duty and my eyes are watering even though I promised myself I wouldn't cry (who cries over tiny microscopic genes?! SUCK IT UP). She tells me I ought to write a "love letter" to my mom and even though I laughed at the idea at the time, I'm going to give it a shot:
Remember when I was in 6th grade and kinda tubby and you brought home a maternity dress and suggested I wear it to my first school dance?
I forgive you.
Remember when you completely forgot my 22nd birthday?
I forgive you.
Remember when I had that baby cut out of my abdomen and you came and stayed in my 400 square foot apartment for 4 weeks to "help"?
I forgive... I mean, thank you.
Remember when I was an embryo and you gave me that gene that means I have a pretty good chance of getting breast cancer?
I forgive you. And to be honest, it never occurred to me that you would require any sort of forgiveness. But when I think of my own children the guilt I feel is enormous and surprising. And I find myself begging for their forgiveness because of this gene even though they are young and they are boys. So I understand why you cried about this and I want you to know that I forgive you even though it feels silly to do so and pray that my children can do the same, because that does not feel silly to me at all.
Your Genetically Mutated Daughter
Even though today was a super crappy day, there was some humor to be found.
When the genetic counselor walked in today, she asked my mom and me what we thought the results were. We both thought it would be negative. I'm healthy, I'm lucky, why not...
GC: Margaret, I'm sorry to say that the results are actually positive.
Me: (not telling what happened here, it may have involved some blubbering)
GC: I'm so sorry, here are the results from the lab.
(hands me the paper)
GC: There's your patient number, your birth date, the name of the gene we tested and the results.
Me: But I wasn't born on December 16th, my birthday is on Halloween.
GC: Holy sh*t.
GC: These aren't your results.
(I would like to insert at this point that the genetic counselor may have used some profanities and freaked out a little bit but she really was quite professional and awesome about the whole thing. I probably would have sworn too. Sometimes these things happen :)
GC: I've been doing this for 20 years and this has never happened. I'm a complete a**hole. I've got your results on my computer back in my office which is in the building next door. Want to take a walk?
So we walked for what felt like an hour to her office where I was told, for the second time, that I do in fact carry the gene. Bummer. Double bummer.
And then I told my siblings...
Marie: MARGARET, did you get the results?
Me: Yes and the results were bad.
Marie: Oh, so do you have the gene?
Me: Marie, there's really only one good result and one bad result. I have the bad one.
Marie: So you have the gene?
Me: Yes. Not having it would have been the good result.
Me: Oh hey David
David: What are we doing for dinner?
Me: I dunno, I'm in Salt Lake. Don't you remember what I'm doing today?
David: Um, taking someone's photos?
Me: No, I'm getting the genetic screening results back.
David: So are you going to die of breast cancer? (his exact words)
Me: Nope, not if I (and annual mammograms + MRIs + possibly prophylactic surgeries) have anything to do with it.
Anyways, it's been a long and emotional day. Thankfully, I'm young and don't have to make any big decisions soon. For now I'm going to eat some pumpkin cheesecake and pack up the car to go back home... to my husband who loves my breasts- mutations and all.
Alright high school friends, I may have been the first to start having babies but Carly John was the SECOND. Bet you didn't see that one coming. But I'm sure glad she took the plunge. I thought I liked Carly and Daniel before Sadie, but now that they're parents I'm hoping they'll ask me to move in so I can watch them laugh at/with Sadie all day long.
Naturally, Sadie is already hilarious and spunky and really good at basketball. She told me this is the BYU vs. UVU basketball game the other day. She also told me that I needed to repay her parents for the tickets by taking family photos for them. It was super cold outside so Carly snuck us into the UVU library where she works. I thought it was an awesome location. Sadie, let's do it again in one year- you'll probably be dribbling by then.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
This post is mainly for any Proffitts out there that may have forgotten (because they live in far-faraway Utah and not Arizona- GASP!) how ridonkulously cute my sister-in-law Cassie's little girls are.
I am here to offer you proof. RIDONKULOUSLY CUTE PROOF! And boy, were Lexi and Laney good-natured during this little photo shoot. They hardly shed any tears when I made them crawl through burr-infested grass. It's ridonkulous. (I've got Bolt on the mind, Booker is obsessed with that movie right now).
In other ridonkulous news, I wish I had a teleporter to transport me back home to Tucson before the storm hits Utah this weekend. But I don't, so I guess I'm stuck here in the snow until Monday when I get the results from my genetic screening. So if you're interested in having some family photos taken, holler at me!
Oh and to see the more of this adorable family, click here.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
This is my mom in her natural state... frowning.
This is my mom smiling under pain of death. Just kidding, more like pain of losing my company tonight while we watch The Biggest Loser.
She reminds me of Finis Everglot (Victoria's father in the movie Corpse Bride) in the scene when he meets Victor's parents for the first time. His wife nudges him and he has the most fantastic forced smile ever. In the YouTube clip below, it's about 6 minutes in.
Seriously, mom- CHEER UP! And sorry for comparing you to someone called Finis Everglot, that's not very kind.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Halloween is such a great day to have your birthday. Do you ever worry that no one is going to do anything for your birthday and it's just going to feel like a regular ole' day? I don't. I had such a fabulous day and here are some of the highlights...
- I dressed up as a Bumble Bee, yellow tutu and all. And Clark gave me a remote control for my camera so the only pictures of me don't have to be of my shadows.
- My mom actually remembered that it was my birthday. Hooray! Although I would have forgiven her (again) if she had forgotten because she has a pretty good excuse this year. We even got to Skype with her and show off our sweet costumes. I told her that she ought to tell the trick-or-treaters that she's dressed as a Brain Cancer Patient. Get it? Because she's a Breast Cancer Patient. Hilarious, right?
- Clark gave me flowers. And waited on me hand and foot all day long. No dirty diapers for me.
- Booker drew his first face. I was so proud. Eyes, smile and even some hair on top of this little pumpkin. I just love it so much. Now if he would only stop making that face of his. You know the one, see above.
- Teichert finally decided to start walking on a more full time basis. Maybe people will stop asking me, "How old is he? And he's still not walking? Hmmm." And maybe he'll finally stop looking like I just dragged him through the dirt.
- I was surrounded by my loved ones as I blew out 25 candles and enjoyed take-out from Pei Wei and ice cream cake.
Thank you for all the birthday wishes!
We headed back to Tucson to meet up with my sister for actual trick-or-treating. She drove all the way from Prescott to hang out with us.
But even Jungian Shadows get lollipops stuck to their butts.
She was the dressed as the Jungian Archetypal Shadow... obviously.
But even Jungian Shadows get lollipops stuck to their butts.
(And even wonderfully birthday-doting husbands get to relax after a night of festivities to watch football.)
Clark would have been a cow if I hadn't already packed it up in anticipation of our move- bummer.
Brave Sir Lion Teichert and the Not-so-Brave Sir Booker.
Booker was, in fact, quite brave. He approached each house with GUSTO. It went something like this:
Booker screams, "TRICK OR TREAT"
(Treat is dispensed)
Booker screams, "THANK YOU, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!"
And as the night wore on and more candy was consumed, something like this:
Booker screams, "HAPPY, uh, TRICK or THANKYOUtreatorHALLOWEEEEEEEEEN!!!!"
(Treat is dispensed)
"Um, thank you!"
Totally fun night. And now to explain to him that it only happens once a year.
As much as I love living in Tucson, there are times that I miss Mesa terribly. That's why I'm so glad that 1) Clark's family gets together as often they do and 2) the average kids' movie is the same length as the drive up.
Yesterday for Halloween we had a delightful family gathering up in Mesa. We ate 4 different types of delicious soup (too bad the weather decided to jump back up to 80) along with cornbread and French bread. The kids carved pumpkins and bobbed for apples. But the best part was just sitting under the shady trees and watching the boys have a blast with their cousins.