Thursday, April 21, 2016

in the clouds

am writing this from a plane, looking out over the clouds.

we are taking a few days to just have fun. no work emails. no voicemails. no deadlines. no waking up at 5am and being in constant go mode until our heads finally hit the pillows late at night.

i am drinking a green tea and just finished reading people magazine, my airplane guilty pleasure/routine.

but i decided now would be a good time to write some words and catch up a bit in this space and hopefully when we land i can post it.

life has been a whirlwind these last couple of weeks and i have not been able to catch up much on life.

we had been considering the idea of selling the house and moving for a while and were waiting on pulling the trigger until after my scans. because as we all know, life decisions revolve around scans whether we like it or not. and clearly, we don’t like it.

but the night before my scans, a friend let us know that a house in her neighborhood was for sale. we knew that the house would go fast as do all houses in the current market in our area (as in houses selling in less than 24 hours with all cash offers over the asking price – ugh).

we knew that if we wanted to see it we were likely going to need to do it on the day that i had scans. we went to seattle cancer care for scans in the morning (and ellie brought her usual array of kick ass snacks for me to eat once my scans were done) and then we headed back to to the eastside to look at the house. i was of course feeling like complete hell by that point, but in some ways, looking at the house was a good distraction to kill the time between scans and results.

since my parental team (the term my siblings and i jokingly use for our parents) were in town for scans, we went and looked at the house with our realtor. i knew there was a really good chance that we were going to love it, and i was right. so we knew we were interested but those 4pm scans results were the decision maker on whether we would likely pull the trigger.

when we got the news later that day, and were sitting in the doctors office as two absolute messes, i looked at barrett and said that it was good we didn’t make the offer that afternoon. in that moment, i felt like the decision had just been made for us and we would hunker down in our home and not sell or think about moving any longer. before we left seattle, we had a text from our agent asking us to call him when we could. when we had a chance, we called him to let him know the news and that life had just turned upside down. he let us know that he had told the listing agent our story, and she really wanted us to have the house and thought that the sellers would too. they have 3 kids that go to the same school malena does so i am sure as parents they could relate to our hopes to get her into the district, and as parents i am sure they could feel for our situation with my health.

so that night when we finally we laid down (knowing we would likely be awake all night anyways) we talked about the house. i had this moment of clarity that was telling me it seemed insane, but we should go for the house. i knew at that point that the next few months at a minimum were going to be hell for us emotionally and for me physically. if we got it, it would give us a huge piece of mind and it would allow us to live closer to her friends, and adults that barrett and i are friends with. clearly having people who live on our block that could help us if needed would be a good thing for us with what lays ahead.

when we got up in the morning, we talked with our parents to confirm if we were or were not thinking rationally about the decision, and we decided to go for it. barrett and i had taken that day off work due to the news and the fact that we were basically absolute messes, and so we made the call and put the offer in.

the rest is history, as we got the house and are now in the throws of that deal moving through appraisal, inspections, etc., while simultaneously getting our house ready to sell. to say the least, life has been insane, sleeping has been extremely low, and i have just been trying to tread water and keep my head up. if you have sent me an email, text, fb message or any other type of smoke signal to let me know you are out there, i have seen it, i really appreciate it, and i will be in touch soon. i promise.

last night we were standing in the downstairs of our house and it felt so different having our furniture largely moved out, it looked like it did when we first moved in. i remember those two young kids that moved in to that place. newlyweds who had their entire lives ahead of them and had no idea what would come their way. they would one year later welcome their baby girl and bring her home that house. they would pace the floors all night long when she wouldn’t sleep. they would bring her home to that house after her two surgeries at children’s hospital when she was a baby. they would watch her grow. that house would hold their laughter and some of their best memories. they would celebrate birthdays, they would answer calls when there was good news, and when the calls would bring bad news. they would walk in that front door on july 16th 2010 and look at each other in total shock and have no idea how the word cancer just came into their lives. they would give shots of immunotherapy drugs for a year there. they would have good days, and they would have really bad days. that house would be where her hair would start to fall out, and where she would hurt so bad from the treatment and the surgeries that all she could do was lay on the couch. they would spend so many nights up all night watching shows just to pass the time until morning came and they went to seattle for scans and results. that house holds a lot of tears, but it also holds an immeasurable amount of love.

there are so many things i would tell those kids if i could, and some days i think that if i had only one thing to tell them it would be this: watch the mole that starts to grow on her collarbone. i know that at that time it grows you will be solely focused on malena and her surgeries and getting through that. but watch the mole and get her into the doctor’s office as soon as you can. if could, maybe, have changed everything.

last week i went in to see my general doctor, the one who was originally concerned about the mole and did the biopsy. she of course asked for the latest, and of course she cried. as i have done so many times before, i thanked her for taking that biopsy, if she hadn’t, i don’t know where we would be at today. i told her is still my guardian angel and on that fateful day she  made a decision to take a biopsy that would inform the rest of my life.

i am so thankful for all of the people who make up our team, in addition to our family and friends. my doctors. my nurses. my naturopath. my nutrionist. our counselors. moving through this definitely has taken, and will continue to take, a village. there is no doubt about that.

yesterday we met with one of our cancer counselors to have one of what will be many tough conversations. i don’t know how we would make it through this without the help of the experts we are lucky enough to lean on. as we devour boxes of kleenexes and talk about things that no one should have to talk about, and certainly no parents should have to talk about, i am so grateful that there are people who dedicate their lives to helping cancer patients move through the unthinkable and find their way to somehow keep putting one foot in front of the other.

so that is what i am going to try my best to keep doing.

one step at a time.

i don’t know what the future holds, everything is uncertain and that scares the absolute hell out of me.

but the one thing that i do know is that i have a ton of people rooting for us, praying for us, and cheering for us.

even all the way up here in these clouds on this blue sky day, that makes this girl feel grounded.

anywhere i fly, you fly. xoxo


  1. I hope you have a wonderful trip -- and am so glad you chose to buy the house. I think there's power in having good things to look forward to. I thank you for all that you've shared about melanoma. Both of my siblings have had it, but because of your experience, I am doubly vigilant. ((Hugs))

  2. Enjoy your time away - you're simply amazing Alli!

  3. You have an awesome support system and such a great perspective on life. I am here (across the miles)standing by you, my warrior friend! There are good days ahead and I know you will make the best of them and tackle the challenging days head on.XOXO