Rockin’ the bald

Merlin just sent me this photo of his hot wife. Oh yeah!

hot baldy

The best thing about being nearby while Abby is going through this is that I get to see her – and when you see her you remember that she’s incredibly healthy, and fit, and vital, and funny, and all that…even though there’s this really sucky cancer that’s come to visit uninvited. Begone you, malignancy!

Five down, three to go

Fam in Topanky
Thanks for all the check-in emails, texts, and gentle reminders to update the d*mn blog already. Abby is finally seeing the end in sight for chemo: five rounds down, three to go, with the last infusion scheduled for October 10th. After that a few weeks of recovery and then it will be time for fun with surgery…but hey, no more barfing! Yes!

As you may recall, Abby started a new type of chemo last week, and while of course being bombarded with poisonous chemicals is never exactly a picnic, we are glad to report that at least the side effects of this new infusion were no worse than the previous one. Within a few days she was up and back at work, hanging with the kiddos and the rest of the family, and even held down the fort with a dear friend’s help so Merlin could make a quick trip to New York to do technical and aerial design for the new Julie Taymor Midsummer Night’s Dream show (woo hoo!).

Family snap from this past weekend at my folks’ above – Abby is rocking the fedora (although with 100 degree heat in LA these days, it’s a good time to be bald). Owen, meanwhile, was cleverly making a play for the iPad while the rest of us were distracted…and then Julia decided to do a little escape of her own:
Buns on the run

The Hamster Did Great at Altitude

sequoiaA shot from last weekend’s trip to Sequoia, which Abby and her family took with Merlin’s sister Gwyn and her fiance Bill. Not pictured: the newest addition to the family, Hammy the Hamster, who came along in – wait for it – a luxury RV I mean travel cage. Owen and Merlin have been very busy creating habitats and other delights for the new guy…er, rodent.

In news of The Cancer, there’s some good stuff and some not-as-good stuff. The highlight: after months of delays at the labs due to the “Angelina Effect,” the genetic testing came back and Abby is negative for BRCA 1 and 2. Woo hoo! Also, the first three rounds of chemo did stop the tumors from growing any larger. Unfortunately, a recent ultrasound clarified that they have also not gotten any smaller (so much for the happy oncologist). This means a change in plan: after the fourth round of the current chemo drugs tomorrow, Abby will switch to a different concoction for the remainder of treatment. Good times! The new drug regimen will have four rounds, two weeks apart. It will suck more but be over more quickly, in other words. After that Abby is done with chemo and it’s on to fun stuff like surgery and radiation (but hey, no barfing! Grateful for small blessings).

Abs is ready. Josh is cranking up production at the matzoh ball soup sweatshop. My parents are getting serious quality time (not to mention occasional visits to waterslides) with Owen and Julia. And the many, many friends, neighbors and relatives who have been helping from near and from far just ROCK. We appreciate you so much!

Everybody gets into the act

when the cousins see each otherWhile Mommy is laid up after chemo treatments, the cousins have been playing a lot. They hug each other just like this when they see each other!

And the grown-ups have been getting creative with planning excursions. This Sunday, at the suggestion of my father-in-law Jerry Goldstein, we caravanned down to San Pedro with all the kids, four grandparents, and some friends with their kids. The older kids toured the USS Iowa battleship (very cool, you can see a bit of it in the background in this picture) with assorted parents and grandparents. The under-3 set hit the tiny but captivating Cabrillo Aquarium to gawp at the sea life. We all met on the beach for a picnic afterwards and celebrated my mom’s birthday. Bet I know what she wished for!

We’re appreciating each other more these days, I think. And treasuring the silver linings – like even more time with these munchkins.

Really, universe? SERIOUSLY?

Universe, I got a bone to pick with you. You send cancer to my sister, and while she’s feeling all barfy and horrible this week you let a car hit Merlin and total the Subaru? Yes, it’s totally great that Merlin is okay, and that Abby’s even feeling a little better today. But seriously, universe, BACK OFF! I mean it! (And nobody wants a damn peanut).

In which the oncologist is happy…

Wahoo! First round of chemo is already shrinking the tumor! The oncologist is happy (a phrase I’m hoping devoutly to repeat throughout this journey). And Abby has now been upgraded to the truly superior anti-nausea meds, just in time for her second round this Friday. She had a lot of energy back by last week and was able to work, hike, do some yoga, and of course bounce on the trampoline with the munchkins. Also this week: family shearing session, the kids and Merlin got in on the act, which ended up being fun rather than depressing. Abs looks fierce and very cool with her head shaved – GI Jane meets 1980s East Village punk – and is feeling good. Keep your fingers crossed that the next round of chemo goes as smoothly. Oh, and don’t be surprised if Abby is transformed by this experience…into a brunette!

scarf girls

Easy like Sunday morning…

Abby with Dalya and Julia

Okay, with kids around it’s never exactly easy, but it is full of love…Here’s a shot from a week ago of Abby reading to Dalya and Julia. After being all sweet and cute here the little terrors jumped in on the WWF-style wrestling match that the boys had started with Unky Dan. Let’s just say that four-to-one odds are not great, even when the four are under three feet tall…

One down, five to go…

Abby had her first round of chemo last week. Thanks to a large dose of Benadryl to prepare her body for any allergic reactions, she slept through the whole thing! She’s feeling tired but not too nauseated so far, a blessing.

While the treatment plan may change as the doctors get more information about how the tumor responds, the current plan is for six rounds of chemo in total, followed by surgery and radiation. The sessions are three weeks apart.

Abby is supposed to rest and relax in between sessions so of course we’re taking her to Legoland next week – what could be more zen than hitting an amusement park with four children under the age of seven?