We don’t have a house, but we do have a website!

Keeping you all informed as our lives evolve out in Central Nebraska!

What city do you live in again?

In March, Blake and I had our offer accepted on a House in Hastings. A few weeks later, we decided to walk away. We ordered a series of inspections, and the amount of work the house needed, and potential rabbit holes we might uncover, was more risk than we were willing to take on.

We are reorienting ourselves and doing more research into our priorities and what resources we have. In the short-term, we are preparing to stay in our Grand Island rental for awhile. As of last weekend I can finally get my car into the garage!

How’s the wedding planning going?

We have a date! And a website! We have reserved part of Arbor Day Farms in Nebraska City on May 18, 2019. We are still working on everything else, but will post updates to our website as we make progress. Feel free to check out the details so far at thebostelmans.com!

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Hello, 2018!

We made it.

2017 chewed us up and spit us out. January grabbed us and twisted our mental capacity and patience nearly to our snapping point. February hit us hard, but we’ve since (mostly) been on the downhill slide of chaos since November.

So, here’s where Blake and I are, after all the madness and change that’s engulfed us the last few months.

We’re still living in Grand Island (about 25 minutes away from Hastings). We’ve been working with a realtor in Hastings and seen a few houses on the market, but are anxious to see what the spring brings before committing to anything.

I’ve started my job at IdeaBank in Hastings. It’s been good so far, I’m only in my 3rd week, and still getting acclimated. Though, I’m already busy working out details on some of the new processes and support I hope to integrate here.

Blake is still with SiteOne. Late in December after he resigned, his company offered him a new role in sales based out of the Grand Island store. He’s currently shadowing the current sales representative, and spending much time traveling between Lincoln and North Platte making contacts with clients.

Fozzie and Jack are getting by. The cold temperatures in the area have keep us all inside, and for Fozzie, that means being a little wound up.

With the other major changes settling down, we’ve made preliminary baby steps toward wedding planning. And I mean baby steps, nothing confirmed or established yet! We’re both happy to have capacity and time to put towards making plans.

So, things have been going well overall. We are adjusting and settling into our new area and enjoying seeing some faces more, but are missing those that we aren’t seeing as often.

Hopefully we see you all soon! Please come visit soon (though you may not have a bed with us)!

And, of course, New Zealand and Australia were beautiful. I’m still working on photos, but here’s a few of my favorites!

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Rock Climbing Collisions

I keep getting asked, “when are you writing your Moab blog?” I know, I’ve been dragging my feet.

There is just no good way to put that week into words. Think of your favorite day, and try assigning words to the things you felt, knowing the reader will never be able to fully feel what you experienced. I would almost feel a distancing of myself from the experience when rereading the words I tied together, focusing on my awkward writing, and failure to select words to properly illustrate the beauty of that week.

None the less, at a minimum, I suppose I owe a summary.

As I eluded – “cancer camp” (we can call it that, you can’t) was amazing! I’ve said several times (including to people while out there) that there probably isn’t a thing I could have changed to make the week better.

I hopped on a train from Amtrak to Grand Junction, spending the majority of the ride next to an older man, a traveling musician. When people asked where he was from, his response was always, “everywhere and nowhere.” We didn’t spend a lot of time in deep conversation, but we became companions, as occasional sightseeing spots were shared and we watched over each others possessions when we occasionally left our seats. We casually sent each other off with well wishes, him not sure what my week had in store. Me not minding I didn’t know his either.

I stayed the night in a hotel in Grand Junction and wandered the town the next morning. I stumbled across a church and attended service, whose theme for the week was, “We no longer have to live at the mercy of past disoriented ideas and narratives,” followed by a verse, ” Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

I confessed I had never met anyone that I was meeting to my shuttle driver between the hotel and the airport. I shared with him the purpose of this trip, and he revealed that he too was a cancer survivor, and many other illnesses under his belt. His parting words to me as he unloaded my suitcase from the van, “keep on the fight, and God bless.”

Honestly, I don’t remember much of the first night. “Glazed over faces” was one reference to the campers that night. By the end of night one, all 20 of us were united under one roof – nine ‘campers’, three climbing guides, two program representatives, two chefs, a camp mom and dad, a journalist, and a photographer. We all were given nicknames – and I’m still adjusting to seeing these foreign normal names show up on my feed – except ‘Coconuts’, who finally jumped on the social media bandwagon solely for the reason of staying in touch with us all.

We spent the next four days climbing, consoling, confiding, and celebrating. “Casual” conversation topics kicked off when Coconuts realized that poop schedules would be the least personal of the things we would share with each other during the week. Micro families formed around roommates, vanmates, and regions we originated from (I was the loner in this category, the only one not from a coast). We each told our stories as we felt comfortable, showing our scars, giggling over life after cancer, and learning about the journeys we had all taken and what still lies ahead. We were from all stages in life – I was the second youngest, with other singles, spouses and moms. I think I will always remember the conversation on the back patio the last day – it seems like everything was left on the table. So honest. So brave.

Climbing was much more fun than I predicted. I’m very jealous of everyone who was able to return to places… not flat. This is the description of the third google search result for ‘rock climbing Nebraska’:

“Welcome to Nebraska’s page at RC.com. Nebraska has been blessed with flatness. Unfortunately there is not much natural rock to conquer, but we do have some indoor gyms. If you are on your way through the state or watching our exciting football team, then check out some of those indoor gyms to keep you in shape. Keep climbing high!”

The second day of climbing, I had my a-ha moment, the one where I could feel myself falling for the adrenaline of pushing myself further than I thought. I could trust my feet to support my body only by gripping onto ledges only about 1/3 inch wide, and didn’t mind the tips of my fingers burning from clinging to any minor crevice. On day three of climbing, I wanted it all; I climbed until we had to leave. The last day we did a multi-pitch climb, finishing at approx. 350ft from the base, and finishing with a 180ft free rappel. I was later told by one of the guides, “you were really scared. We hadn’t seen anything like that from you all week!”

So many lessons were learned for each person, whether it was to trust other people to catch you when you fall, or in my case, to trust myself to be in control. We all agreed that the mixture of conversation and climbing was a complimentary combination of vulnerability and power. The journalist, Peanut, shared that she had emailed home a few days in and asked her mom, “what have I been doing with my life the last 27 years?”

So what does it all mean? What am I taking away from this?

I rode back with one of the campers to Denver to meet Blake. Though all the tears from saying good bye to everyone at the cabin and then the airport was over, I couldn’t help but think about all the other people I’ve said ‘good bye’ to recently. The good news is that most of them have been choices, either on my end or theirs.

In the last four months, I’ve said good bye to three of my closest constants at work, all of which had been there the entire duration of my job. My supervisors last day at work was my last day at camp, which I am happy worked the way we did. Neither of us are criers or ones to get too emotional, but it was really tough the last two weeks.

I said good bye to my grandma. She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for almost 10 years. It was time, but I was still caught off guard by how hard it was.

Friends moving out of town, getting married, having kids. All different ways I’m saying good bye, not necessarily to them, but to the way of life I had with them.

I’ve recently been thinking of life as a timeline of intense bright flashes from other people colliding with us (Jupiter’s love for astronomy must be rubbing off on me), which is measured by the strength of impact, not necessarily of longevity. Eventually the flashes dim out and are replaced by another series of impacts and flashes. It doesn’t matter when or why people leave our lives, it doesn’t affect how long their glow stays with us. I will never forget these parting words from my executive director – appreciate every day you get to spend with people around you. You never know when that will change.

A blog recently surfaced and gained a lot of attention in the cancer community, regarding “dying with dignity.” While everyone else is scanning for celebrity gossip and sports updates, these are the things that fill my newsfeeds. The article details a young female who will use medical resources to end her life Nov. 1. She is using these months as an awareness drive to bring to light her struggles to gain ownership of her remaining time on Earth. She explains, “I’ve discussed with many experts how I would die from it, and it’s a terrible, terrible way to die. Being able to choose to go with dignity is less terrifying.”

I couldn’t help but think back to a conversation we had the last night at camp. One of the girls, who was diagnosed with the exact same cancer and staging I was, had recurred in her lungs. For those of you new to my situation, that’s basically the end of the line. As she painfully shared, “I wanted to have a career by now, I can’t die while I’m at this job…” She finally put so bluntly her and my worst fears, “I don’t want to drown in my own fluids, and the doctors said that’s what’s going to happen.”

Of everyone in the group, she’s been one of the few to not stay connected. Has her bright flash already dimmed? Did she say her final, “good bye” to us, moving on to her next collision? That was almost three weeks ago, and I’ve already met so many new people… the cycle continues. Never forgotten, but already dimmed.

When I got home from Utah, I unpacked a bookmark I forgot I found on a train. I jotted a quick note, explaining I had found it in my seat in Lincoln, and addressed it to the person whose address was on a sticker on the back of the cloth. Last Thursday, I opened a letter than man wrote me back. He explained that he lost this bookmark, after his book disappeared from his seat when he left to grab a snack. The bookmark belonged to his late father. He, his brother, and his son were traveling across the country together. He concluded, “Never expected such kindness from a total stranger, of course, reaffirming our faith in America and our many unknown neighbors.”

It’s the strength of the collision that determines the brightness of the flash.

A Day in the Life – Part 2

This week I completed round three. 25% done. 9 treatments remain – already down to single digits.

I haven’t yet reached the point on my calendar where I will start counting down days.

Honestly, it hasn’t been too bad. The worst part is the hot flashes that wake me up a couple times per hour every night. Blankets on, blankets off. I’m not sure if my fatigue is cause by the lack of a full-night sleep or the chemo, but I usually spend one day a week just sleeping after. The other days during my recovery week are just foggy. Off the top of my head, I can’t even tell you how many days have passed since my last treatment. I’m just foggy, everything blurs.

My next round will be done in Lincoln, which I’m very excited about. It will be done on a Thursday (not Tuesday). I’m hoping this will allow me to live more ‘normally’ – I can still work almost two full weeks, then crash on the weekend and be up and ready for Monday again.

My benefit was last week, and had a great time. I can’t explain how much all the people who showed up meant, and all the generosity that was shown. Thank you! We found out at the end of the night that the wrist bands came in different sizes. Let me know if you need to swap. We still have a ton!

BHC (Big Head Claire) ended up in a car headed to Omaha. So, instead of BHC being carted around to where I should be when I’m out, I decided to take her where I actually go on treatment days. Enjoy!

My appointments are generally early in the morning so I can meet with my oncologist first. Often I drive to Omaha from Lincoln the morning of, but this week I was already in Omaha. We arrived a little late, so our time in the waiting room was short!
Photo Aug 20, 9 26 37 AM

First up is vitals. Any time I see a doctor or nurse they take my temperature and blood pressure.
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Next, I’m taken to my room and patiently await my nurse and oncologist.
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Generally, we discuss side-effects from the last treatment and talk about any questions I’ve thought of. *I asked my oncologist to stethoscope my head, but she said that would be ridiculous because you can only stethoscope lungs, which BHC doesn’t have. So she just posed with her.*
Photo Aug 20, 10 08 33 AM

Next up: more waiting rooms. Generally, we get stuck here longer. I have to wait for a room and a nurse to have availability open, regardless of what time my appointment is for.
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A couple different professionals parade through my room. This friendly chap is the pharmacist. He puts happy face stickers on everything he processes.
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Soon enough I get ‘plugged-in’. A saline flush, followed by nausea meds, and then the big guns. This week they also gave me a supplemental flush of fluids, just in case I was getting dehydrated. Total time plugged-in: approx. 2.5 hours.
Photo Aug 20, 12 02 20 PM

Before my bags run out, the home care team from Walgreen’s shows up to get my 46-hour drip (Fernando) ready to go. Any time chemo is being hooked up or un-hooked, the staff is required to dress like this to prevent chemo burns on the skin.
Photo Aug 20, 2 12 53 PM

Soon enough I’m rocking Fernando and free to go about my business.  My cold sensitivity hits almost immediately, but there is generally a 24-hour lag before the chemo drugs really hit me and knock me out. The following week I’m feeling almost back to 100%, but by the time I have my blood work ran the Friday before my white blood cells have taken a huge hit. They will recover, just in time to start another round!
Photo Aug 20, 9 39 52 PM

In Theory…

“When did your symptoms start?” a nurse asked as we waited the last few minutes for my chemo to cycle in. She stood in the far end of the room, leaning against an empty side table.

“Oh, they didn’t.” I reply.

Her eyes widen, “you just caught this through a routine checkup?! That’s incredible!”

I’ve heard it before, so many times. And I am very lucky. Maybe not as lucky as if I had been checked a year ago. But lucky, none the less. The thing that I just can’t seem to comprehend, is how normal I’ve been through this entire thing. Not mentally, but physically. I haven’t had symptoms for any of these “major problems” that have come along.  I am literally in the hands of the medical profession when they tell me I’m sick. I need to remove my colon. My cancer cells broke loose. I have a blood clot.

I haven’t had a single textbook symptom, but continue to lay my fate and health in doctors hands who “know better” than I. In theory, if I feel fine, shouldn’t I be fine?

Not the case. And I know it’s not the case, I have just found that so much of my life right now revolves around what I convince myself in my head, not what I can tangibly understand. Here’s a couple other “theories” I’ve put together on my own.

[UNVERIFIED] One of the most painful/uncomfortable sensations I’ve felt was recovering in the hospital in Mayo after my big surgery. The worst was when I’d move between laying and sitting. I like to think that it was so odd because all my other organs didn’t know wtf was going on or where to go. They would settle when I was laying, but as soon as I sat up, it was like a free for all to claim the voided space in my abdomen.

[VERIFIED] What happens to the space where my colon was? Does something move in to fill it up? Actually, no. Nothing does. The average person looses 5-8 pounds of weight (approx. weight of a colon), and some may never gain that back.

[VERIFIED] So, these cells that broke loose. They are just floating along through my bloodstream. Their source has been removed, but the chemo’s responsibility is to destroy them, before they can mutate again and attach onto other organs.

[UNVERIFIED] I’ve heard many mental strategies on ‘helping’ chemo attack these cells. Most of them involve visualizing the chemo attacking the floating cancer cells and pushing them out of my body. In my mind, the chemo is like my dad. When we were in Mayo, he chased rowdy 10 year old boys out of our hotel hallway by opening the door and yelling at them. My chemo works the same way. “HEY! Are you supposed to be up here?? No!? Well then get out of here!” and the cells all run away and out of me.

[VERIFIED] One of my favorite books right now was given to me by a former USA athlete, and has nothing to do with cancer. It’s called “Mind Gym; An athlete’s guide to inner excellence.” The first couple shorts cover things I’ve already learned about from other books – visualization, positive affirmations, trigger words, etc. Repeating these things generally lead to them occurring in your life. If it’s published in two books, it has to be verified, right?

[UNVERIFIED] The majority of what will lead to my conquering the next six months boils down to mind over matter.

A Day in the Life

A lot of people ask me what my normal day consists of since I’ve been home the last three weeks. It’s nothing outside the norm, really…

I wake up and go to my fabulous office on UNL campus. Although my office can get a little messy, it’s my home away from home. Notice my standing desk to the left. I built it myself!

Mondays we have our “one on one” meetings with our supervisors, I meet with my intern.ryan one on one

Throughout the day, I am lucky to be able to work with many of my friends.
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Not all my meetings are in the Wick Alumni Center. Sometimes meetings are off campus.
Car

Many times with my colleagues at the University of Nebraska Foundation.
NUF

The Alumni Association has two facilities, so I spend quite a bit of time at the Nebraska Champions Club, especially in the fall.
NCC

On special days, we get to head over to Memorial Stadium…to

And on really fun days we get to do tours with alums.
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Other days, I get to help out with other programs like student recruitment.sswelcome

The fun doesn’t stop after 5pm. There are often fun events on campus, like Jazz in June.
JazzinJune

Regardless, it’s always nice to be able to relax after a long day at work.
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Which, sometimes, leads you to places you’d never expect to find yourself.
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Huge thanks to my colleagues at NAA for keeping me involved while I’ve been out!!

My days now really aren’t that eventful. It’s a balance of doing things for me to keep me sane (like blogging, watching motivational videos and movies), and working to feel prepared and ready for the next six months (like reading the continuous flow of books I order from Amazon, and reviewing information packets we took at Mayo. We now have a “library” or resources). My aunt stayed with me this week while my parents went back to work, and we cooked many meals that I can freeze and heat up when needed.

I go on a lot of short walks. I try to clean up around the house. Showering takes longer than it did before. We have dinner, and then usually friends, neighbors, or family will stop by for the night to visit.

I will be driving (yes me, driving my own car) back to Lincoln on Saturday, and returning to Omaha on Sunday. I still have some prepping I need to do around my house, and do some preemptive grocery shopping and cooking at home. Next week I plan to work remotely part time.

I have my initial meeting with my oncologist Monday afternoon. We are hoping she will give us her timeline for treatment, as well as potential side-effects, and other things to expect. This will help me plan for the next six months. Should be a big meeting!