Monday, January 24, 2011

Brain Dump

Before I was blessed enough to become a stay at home mom, I was a fourth grade teacher. I would often tell my students to open their journal and 'brain dump.' The reasoning was that by writing down whatever came to their mind they could become inspired to write about something, or clear their mind for another great idea to enter. As I process all of this information, I feel the need to brain dump, to get my thoughts out on paper (or rather the computer screen). I need to clear some space.

I've mentioned before that I am amazed at what science has to offer nowadays. While reading through a packet Dr. D. gave us I came across many interesting things, but the one that stood out about the surgery was they there will be a surgical robot used. Prior to using this robot they had to fully cut through the jaw, a straight line down the front center. Now, they use the robot to maneuver inside a patient's mouth. Of course, Patrick already knew about this, but it was news to me.

The other night my oldest sister texted me and said when all is said and done, we are going to have a 'look at me, I'm cancer free' party. I was excited about the idea then I thought about it for a few minutes. That party is three years away.

We're going to have to share the news with our oldest daughter sooner or later. She understands more than most two-year-olds, so she'll understand that daddy is 'sick.' I think the most difficult part for her will be not being able to see him for several days.

Amongst all the craziness of appointments, diagnosis, and emotions, I completely was unaware that I was not sharing all the messages of support we are receiving with Patrick. I've got messages to relay.

We've been reading other cancer patient blogs and websites. Some are sad and some are inspiring. Seeing pictures of the aftermath is eye opening to say the least. The battle wounds are prominent and remind me that this is going to be a painful journey for Patrick.

This blog has been therapeutic for me, and I like having our journey documented. I know that I will not be able to remember dates or particular information if I'm asked in two weeks, or next year for that matter.

So many of you have told me that you'd love to help out. Many thanks for the offers and support. While I will call on several of you for help in the next few weeks, there is one thing besides praying that all of you can do for me. Take notice of your body and see a doctor if you find something odd. The reason we are in the best of the worst is because Patrick did just that.

I'm learning new things about our body and cancer everyday. Tongue cancer is rare in that it can grow without pain. Another fact... More than 10,000 Americans are diagnosed with tongue cancer every year.

Emotional exhaustion is, well, exhausting. A variety of emotions flood through each day. It's been 24 hours since I last cried. I'm not crying anymore because of the unknown or out of fear of how this journey might have ended, but rather because as I learn more about the procedure and recovery (heaven forbid radiation or chemotherapy are included) I am sad that Patrick will be suffering. Patrick, on the other hand, is in a much different place. Maybe he'll share at a later date.

We're expecting a call from Dr. D.'s office within the next day or two to schedule the surgery date. Until then, more waiting. A journey full of waiting.


  1. Keep dumping my friend. What is therapeutic for you is healthiest for your Patrick and the girls too. You are being the best caregiver a wife could be and I know Patrick is very thankful for that. – LAP

  2. Hello,

    I'm not really sure what to say here, except that I'm sorry that you have to go through this.

    I was diagnosed with stage IVa SCC of the oral tongue in August of last year. I had surgery to remove the tumor in September- my surgery was done by hand. I wrapped up chemo/radiation at the end of December.

    I was fortunate enough to have a surgeon who seems to channel Michelangelo do my surgery and as awful as all of it sounds, I feel pretty lucky to have the results that I do. You'd be hard pressed to see where/what they did.

    Rads/chemo have tortured my mouth, but I'm coming around the bend as of late and have been able to drink already. As someone who'd built a career in the food business, you can imagine how badly I want to get back to eating!

    I've got a blog going, too, and can vouch for the relief provided by putting your thoughts out there. For me, it's a matter of "a problem shared is a problem halved" and you'll be surprised who you meet on this journey.

    I was sent your way by someone who knows you (friend of a friend of a friend) and want to offer any support that I can. You've probably got a bazillion things going through your heads right now- I'd be happy to answer any questions or whatever else I can do.

    Hang tough. This is no picnic and you'll never be the same again, but you can do this and soon enough you'll join the half-million oral cancer survivors living in here in the U.S.!



  3. As you wait, may you find overwhelming peace in knowing that, although Patrick has to endure the pain of this process, he is not doing it alone. I pray for strength and peace for you and Patrick. I also hope you never hesitate to call if you need to process aloud with someone.

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  5. Still praying my friend!!

    FYI: A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with breast cancer in September. She uses this website to solicit help from family & friends.

    I go to the website once a week and sign up to help with a meal. You can add any tasks on there (driving to appts, walking the dog, laundry, sitting & talking, etc.). I don't know if you're interested at all but I thought I would share.

  6. Hi Laurel! I hope you don't mind my sister sharing your link to your blog. Wow, what a challenging, tiring journey Patrick, you and your family is on. I find it interesting that things like this can happen to such good people... but, I know God will never give you more than you can handle. There is so much support out here in this blog world. People from all over the world who can pray for you, think good thoughts, and help you get the word out about awareness. If it is okay with you, I would like to write a post on my blog about what you, Patrick, and your family are going through. I know people would love to read about your journey and pray along.

    Praying for Patrick.

    Tracy (Kelly's sister)

  7. I read about your story on Tracy's blog. My family is going through something similier and I wanted to pass on my thoughts and prayers to you & your family. My cousin has found a very comforting way of dealing with this. To read more -(

    Stay strong and know that there are tons of people praying for his recovery.

  8. Laurel, my friend Berry Kerth knows your sister and that how I heard about what you and your husband are going through. I was diagnosed with Stage VI-A SCC of the tongue in April of 09. I went through 2 surgeries, chemo and radiation so I can completely sympathise with your emotional fatigue and stress of "what's next". I befriended Scott (above) from a support network called Imerman's Angels. It's a non-profit that gets survivors in contact with newly diagnosed or in treatment cancer patients so they have someone to talk to that can truly understand what they're going through. Wether or not he's interested in something like that, you at least have Scott and I here ready to offer whatever support we can. Your family will be in my prayers. Let me know if you need anything!

  9. Found your blog from another blogger friend of yours---I will continue to follow and pray for you and your family. I am a teacher too and hope to be a mother one day and have a dear husband who is currently in Afghanistan. Please keep me posted on specific prayers you guys need! Let me know if it would be ok with you to share your blog on mine so we can spread the word!

  10. Waiting seems like its going to be one of the hardest parts. Just keep strong and we will be praying and waiting with you.

  11. Laurel and Patrick...ALWAYS keeping you close in my thoughts and prayers. You have the love and support of so many. Be strong and when being strong just isn't an option anymore, allow those around you to lift you up and be your strength. We're all here for you in any capacity in which you might need us. All my love to you <3