Proudest Moment Number 6,535 (and counting!)

Last week was a very big week.

It was a big week for me but more importantly, it was a very big week for Adam.  Adam graduated with honors from a school he has attended since the 6th grade: Bishop Kearney.

I don’t mean to take anything away from Adam. I only mention that it was a big week for me because when I was diagnosed back in 2013 no one was sure if I would be alive to see this day. This day was the only goal I had set for myself (and I made it my medical teams goal too). Regardless of what condition I was in, I WAS going to see my son walk the stage and get his diploma. Last week, not only did I accomplish that but I’m doing OK right now. Better than I had envisioned and I’m so blessed. (That reminds me, there will be an update on the Brain MRI I had at the end of May – stay tuned for another post).

Moving on to a more uplifting topic…… OMG ADAM GRADUATED!!!

The Thursday of Graduation Week (June 8th), there was a Baccalaureate Mass at the neighboring Catholic Church. Bishop Matano was on hand to officiate the Mass. The Graduates entered church as a group and then sat with their families, giving a white carnation to their Mothers (ME!). I am proud to say that Adam had so many family members there that we not only filled the reserved pew but we took over the pew in front of us as well! In addition to Adam’s Grandparents, my Mother and Father In-law, Pat & Bill, Sister In-law, Kim and Niece Leah also came.

On Friday (June 9th), Adam had almost a full day of rehearsal for Graduation. As National Honor Society President, Adam was to deliver a speech. He was instructed to arrive before the other students so he could practice on the stage. We were like two ships passing in the night that day. I had an early morning Dr appointment so I didn’t see Adam before he left. I came home to find an envelope that looked like it was from School. When I opened the envelope and realized that it was a handwritten letter from Adam, the tears began flowing. (I made a mental note to ground him when he got home for not warning me this was coming so I could adequately prepare to read it).  This is what he wrote:

Mom,

How can you thank someone who’s given you everything you have?

The person I am today is the result of everything you’ve done and all of the sacrifices you have made to get me here. Next year, I will be attending one of the highest rated Universities in the entire country and when people tell me that my “hard work is paying off”, I do agree with them, but it’s not even close to half of the full truth.

You’ve done things for me that I would have dreamed impossible if I didn’t know better, for sending me to a private school for just about my entire life, to sending me on a week-and-a-half long vacation to Italy. Now, I am preparing to similarly do the impossible in becoming a doctor. If I’ve learned anything from you, it’s that I can do it, no matter how much I say otherwise.

In a few days I will walk across the stage in a packed auditorium for the first time. Four years later I will do it again, in a much larger room. Eight years from now, the room will be smaller, but the applause will be louder. I said that you taught me I can do anything – but the one thing I cannot do is thank you enough for setting me up for success.

With All My Love,
Adam

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My Special Letter

I am not even lying when I say that it took me damn near 30 minutes to get through the entire letter because of all the tears and ugly crying. (His handwriting didn’t help much either).

This heartfelt letter came from MY KID! The boy, who for the most part, is on the quiet side. The boy, who to have a conversation with, you sometimes have to pull the words out of him. Wow. It’s going to take me a bit to pick out just the right frame for that letter. It needs a very special frame indeed.

I could tell that Adam was nervous and excited Friday night. When I went to say good-night to him, he was carefully picking out his clothes and laying them next to his Graduation cap. It was the most adorable endearing thing. (He’ll kill me if I say adorable).

I hardly slept Friday night. I was so excited. I went thru the memories of Adam’s life, like it was a movie. All of the amazing milestones: his first word, his first steps, his first actual sentence (yes, I remember that specifically because of what he said: “I hung-wee” and trust me, he has yet to feel full!), losing his first tooth, learning to ride a bike, and teaching him how to drive. The trips just he and I took: Hershey Park, the Corning Museum of Glass, Darien Lake, New York City. It’s absolutely astonishing to me to think that his childhood is all but over and he will be beginning this next chapter of his life.

GRADUATION DAY!!!!

June 10th 2017

Somewhere between laying his clothes out and sunrise Adam’s excitement got lost because when I went to wake him up he was none too thrilled. He finally rallied and he even agreed to a pre-Graduation picture! (after the threat of violence).

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Me and The Graduate

The ceremony started at 11am at Roberts Wesleyan College, however the students were told to arrive at 10am. That was fine by me because I wanted to sit in a very specific spot and wanted to secure my place in line. No one was going to stop me from being down front. NO . ONE.  I was going to be in perfect view of the podium so I could capture Adam’s speech on video. I give my husband props for standing with me in line until they opened the auditorium doors. I could rattle off about a thousand other things he’d rather do (watching paint dry) in that hour than standing in a line of people he didn’t know.

As soon as those doors opened, I bee-lined it in. I made my way to the row I wanted and waited for my family to catch up. Third row, stage left (for my non-theater folk, that means the right side of the stage). In perfect position of the podium to see Adam’s speech and to see him get his diploma. I was happy.

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Roberts Wesleyan College

It was a very nice ceremony. Adam gave his speech in between the speeches of the Valedictorian and Salutatorian. He spoke about all the work and fundraising that the National Honor Society did throughout the year. It was especially moving when he mentioned The Scoops Challenge that Adam and the NHS organized to benefit The Cancer Couch Foundation. This was the first year that the school did a fundraiser specifically for Metastatic Breast Cancer. It’s a fundraiser that they will continue to do every year during the month of October.
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Photo by: Bill Rahn

The Commencement speech was given by Patrice Walsh who not only is an Alumni of Bishop Kearney but a very well-known and respected local news reporter. She’s also someone I consider to be a friend and that made the day even more special to me.

To my surprise, Adam received an academic award in Social Studies. It’s a pretty fancy award too! It’s not the paper certificates that he’s gotten in past years. This one is glass and could do some damage.

And then it was time for the Graduates to walk across the stage! Thank GOD his last name is near the front of the alphabet because the waiting seemed to take FOREVER!!

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IT’S OFFICIAL!!

And just like that it was over. My Son had Graduated High School and I saw every single second of it. I have the memories, the pictures, the video of his speech and it was better than I could have ever imagined it.

Now, I reset the clock. I set the clock for new goals and new milestones to be around for. If I did it once, I can do it again and maybe again. At least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself. Maybe, just maybe, my body and I will listen.

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The Proudest Mom Ever & My Handsome Graduate

I Interrupt This Blog….

I Interrupt this blog to bring the most amazingly wonderful Proud Momma news!!! 

Buckle up…an entire post sans Cancer!! 

Adam has been accepted to the University of Rochester’s class of 2021 AND awarded a FULL SCHOLARSHIP!!

Yesterday morning, right before Adam left for school, he recieved notification from U of R to check his portal for the financial aid letter. He had found out last week he was accepted but he was waiting to receive the financial aid package. 

When we looked at the letter, me peering over his shoulder in true helicopter form, neither of us said a word. We just read it and re-read it. I asked him if this was correct….they didn’t make a mistake, right? No…we were reading it correctly. 

Words escape me. Adam has worked SO hard for this. This year especially. Senior year is supposed to be fun but Adam has what I would say is his most rigorous course load (4 AP/Honors classes), he enrolled in a two night a week EMT certification class and he works part-time at a Dr. Office as a File Clerk. The boy is BUSY.

This scholarship is such a gift. Adam will be able to enter Medical School with out the added burden of undergrad student loans. 

We meet with representatives from the University of Rochester on Friday to confirm Adam’s acceptance and lock in his spot before he leaves for Italy! 

Yes! Eight days in Italy with his High School! Adam will actually be at the Vatican on Easter Sunday. I know he’s going to have the best time. 

So, this post is for you Son. I am so, so proud of what you have accomplished so far and I know that there are so many great things in your future. You have the ability to achieve whatever goals you set for yourself and I am confident that you will be successful in the Medical specialty you choose for yourself.

I love you Adam. You will always be my Adam Banana, My Lil Pup no matter how old or grown-up you get. You’ll always be my baby boy.

A Very Special Day

Today was a very special day.

As parents we ‘check of’ the various milestones our children reach and make mental notes of those that have yet to come. When you have a terminal illness you find yourself playing a kind of ‘beat the clock’ between yourself and these milestones. Hoping that you’ll still be around to see all of them just as you would if you weren’t sick. Except the milestones become that much more bittersweet. (Will that one be the last? Will I be well enough to see the next one??)

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Today was one of those milestones and not only was I there for it but I felt good. I felt like every Mother should on this day: full of excitement, anticipation and a stomach full of knots.

Today, my Son took his road test to get his Drivers License.

He was SO nervous. He made me wake him extra early so he could get in a few extra parallel parking practices. He didn’t need it but I indulged him.

As I watched him drive away for the test, I flashed back to when I let go of his two-wheeler and he rode his bike without falling. He was doing it and I was here to watch just like before.

The whole test took 7 minutes but it was the longest 7 minutes of my life and I’m betting it felt a whole lot longer for him. While I waited for the DMV Rep to finish the paperwork I caught my Son’s eye and he gave me the ‘nod’ that told me he passed. It was all I could do to hold in the tears.

After all the phone calls and text messages were made telling the good news, I let Adam drop me off home and allowed him to drive to school and work…..alone. He earned this victory drive. I did make him promise me to let me know he made it safely to school since I wasn’t riding shotgun.

Fifteen minutes later I recieved this text message:

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Oh, how I love my sarcastic smarty pants child.

My Son the Doctor

Ever since my son was 7 yrs old he had a love of computers. He discovered YouTube and found that he could watch courses taught by MIT professors. He took notes. He was facinated. He taught himself programs like C++, Java and Unix. We were always at the library checking out books on Application Development or Web Development. I was happy he found something that he liked and was good at.

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As my son got older he began to get savvier in his knowledge and his network of friends. He began doing projects for different people and was being generously compensated for it. He was updating websites, creating ‘universe’s’ for games and developing online stores.

His technology experience was also well known at school and was often asked by teachers to help when there was an issue with a computer or smart board. If you asked anyone, they’d tell you HE was the IT Department.

When Adam was 10, he discovered a free local computer magazine. He took it upon himself to contact the publisher and ask if he could write an article for the magazine. The publisher wrote back that he could with my permission. Adam excitedly wrote an excellent article about a program created by MIT designed to get kids interested in programming. I still have about 50 copies of the magazine.

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Last February, Adam started working for a well known General Practitioner after school. Adam was very impressed with the Dr and took a shine to him.  The Dr was aware of Adam’s strong technical ability and had helped with a few projects the Dr has asked him to help with.

This past September when Adam started his Junior year, he decided that he wanted to pursue Medicine instead of Computer Science. In making this change he added a third Advanced Placement class to his schedule.

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Today when he was at work he told the Dr that he is going to go Pre Med and asked him for his advice. Adam told me the Dr was very pleased and told him he was welcome to shadow him with seeing patients. He also gave Adam other great advice that Adam plans to pursue.

I’m so overwhelmed. I always knew my son was exceptionally smart but it never occurred to me that he would want to become a doctor some day. Thinking about it brings tears because I can’t say if I’ll be here to see him reach this goal. Right now, I’m just trying to make sure I’m here to see him graduate from High School. I would give anything to see him graduate from medical school but the likelihood is slim. I’m not being negative, I’m being realistic.

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But how amazing??  My son…the Doctor!!!

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A Letter to My Son

Dear Son,

You just turned 16.

It seems like I blinked and you went from a curious toddler to a handsome, bright young man with such a bright future within your grasp. I so excited for you and can’t wait to see what path you choose for yourself. I’m confident you’ll choose wisely.

There is so much I want to tell you but I know how much you hate ‘mushy’ letters. This will not be one of those. This includes important things to remember for when you choose a partner to share your life with.

You’re probably shaking your head at me because of how things didn’t work out with your Father. I may not seem like the best person to be doling out advice but I have a very unique perspective that I didn’t have before.

Obviously, you’ll want someone who loves and respects you. You’ll want someone that you can laugh with and share memories with. Everyone does. You’ll also want someone who drives you a little bit crazy with the particular way they do things. It’s OK. It will remind you of why you fell in love in the first place.

You’ll want someone who shares some of your interests. It’s OK if there are some differences. If you both liked all the same things life would be boring.

Now pay attention because this is important. This is something few are told and even less consider when choosing a partner…ready?

Be very, very certain that if your partner or you ever have a significant health issue that both of you will be committed to each other. That you’ll support each other emotionally because that’s so important. Neither of you can ‘check out’ emotionally because things get scary. Be sure that you’ll both dig your heels in and support one another. Don’t be so selfish that your feelings become more important than her’s regardless of who is ill.

If one of you has a medical issue, there may be days of moodiness or frustration or anger. You’ll both have to be strong enough to not take it personally. Believe me…it will be hard; maybe even harder than the illness itself.  But if you can’t do this, your relationship won’t survive.

You both may have to do difficult things for the other person, like administer shots or learn how to give nutrition thru a feeding tube.

You’ll have to understand that there may be days where one of you may be in pain or nauseated to the point where leaving the house just isn’t an option. Don’t harbor resentment. This isn’t being done “on purpose”.

You or your partner may talk about difficult topics like death or end of life decisions. You both may not want to talk about it but the conversations need to happen. Neither of you can shut down on the other.

I don’t mean to be depressing but  these are things I never considered. I always thought it never could happen to me. But as you know it did. Learn from my life.  Be thankful you have this to learn from.

I pray every night that you will be spared from having any significant illness and I pray whoever you share your life with will always be healthy. That neither of you will have to be a caretaker to the other. I want only the best for you in all things.

So, for now, tuck this letter away in a safe place and when the time comes and you’re considering marriage, pull this back out and read it again. Really read it.

Love you to the Moon and back,
Mom
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