Our family’s Thanksgiving did not turn out as we had planned this year, but I woke up this morning feeling very thankful. The holiday season is such a busy time of year for us with our business and I’ve written before about how I’ve sometimes felt a bit cheated out of Thanksgiving and Christmas each year. This year I really wanted Bracken to have a real Thanksgiving, so even though I knew Thanksgiving for us would be sandwiched between two days of Holiday Market and then three days of Holiday Market beginning the day after, I was still determined to make it happen. I called my dad and asked him if we could invite ourselves to Thanksgiving this year, and he was glad because normally we don’t make it. My stepsister, her husband, and their two boys, decided to come down from Washington. Then my sister and her husband decided to come from Wyoming and my other stepsister and her boyfriend decided to come from Texas. I was so excited that we were going to have such a large group for Thanksgiving this year, and we were all looking forward to it so much.
Awhile ago Jeff got what we thought was a boil on his chest. I called to make him a doctor’s appointment, but the wait was for three weeks and after doing some research, he decided to see if it would clear up on it’s own. When it didn’t, he called the doctor and made an appointment. His doctor told us it was definitely not a boil, and he didn’t think it was a cyst either. He was very concerned about it and decided to take a biopsy to test if it was cancerous. They called us with the results the next day and said it was skin cancer, but that it was a type that didn’t spread. We were relieved that it wouldn’t spread, and that we could simply get it removed. Then they contacted us with further test results and said that actually it could spread, which wasn’t what we wanted to hear.
The doctor’s office recommended a dermatologist and we made an appointment. In the meantime, the skin cancer grew rapidly which was alarming to us. We were told that kind grew slowly, so it was a bit terrifying to see it grow so large so fast. It was also painful and I didn’t like seeing Jeff in pain so often. They had to give us a consultation at the dermatologist before removing it, which would be another appointment altogether. At that point we wanted to get it removed as quickly as possible and weren’t keen on waiting. At the consultation, the dermatologist was very concerned about it and told us it could spread beyond the skin layer, to the muscle, and even down to the bone. She also said that if they weren’t able to remove all of it with the surgery, that they would recommend chemo.
Well, you can imagine how we were feeling with all of that news! We got a call to schedule the surgery and we wanted to get in as soon as possible. They only had one day available for us. Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving. That also happened to be the day we were going to drive down to southern Oregon to my dad and stepmom’s to be there to celebrate Thanksgiving with everyone. I scheduled the surgery and when I got off the phone, I couldn’t help but cry because I was so disappointed about the timing. Jeff felt terrible and said “I’m so sorry” when he saw me crying and of course that made me feel even worse. I didn’t want him to feel bad at all! We needed to get his surgery scheduled as soon as possible, I was just disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to have the Thanksgiving we’d been so excited for. Bracken had been talking about it for months, all the fun things he wanted to do on the farm, and I was heartbroken. I couldn’t even call my dad or sister to tell them the news at first.
We were on the waiting list, in case something opened up sooner, but the chances of that were not likely. I brainstormed ideas for how we could drive down there for a quick visit while everyone was there. Jeff was getting over a cold and was already feeling run down, so he wasn’t up for travelling, but he encouraged Bracken and I to go for a visit. I didn’t want to leave Jeff without a car, though, and he would need one while we were gone. We are a one car family and that has always worked out fine for us, but this time it wasn’t very convenient. Luckily, our generous friends let us borrow their car. I couldn’t thank them enough. I was at the Holiday Market on Saturday and Sunday, and then got up early on Monday morning to get all our online orders for our business packaged up and mailed out, and to get packed and ready.
Bracken and I drove down to my dad and stepmom’s house on Monday, stayed overnight Monday night, and drove back on Tuesday. Monday was my sister’s birthday and I wanted to be there to celebrate her birthday in person. I’m so glad we were able to! We didn’t get to be there for Thanksgiving, but we got to see everyone that had traveled to Oregon from all over and that’s what was important. I wanted Bracken to get to do all the fun things he had been looking forward to, and he did. He played with his cousins, slid down gravel piles, went on the zip line, drove cars all over, visited the animals, and even got some toys from grandpa and grandma out of the funniest pinata I’ve ever seen. It was a whirlwind trip, but I was so glad we did it!
On Wednesday (yesterday) Jeff had his surgery. My sister, brother in law, and my dad all drove up from southern Oregon and hung out with Bracken so I could be with Jeff. I want to say it took a little over five hours, maybe close to six. It was called Mohs surgery and they removed the skin cancer and then tested to make sure they had gotten it all, so what took the longest was waiting for the results. We got very good news: they were able to remove all of the skin cancer! We were so relieved. They also told Jeff that the type of skin cancer he had actually was a kind that grew very fast and luckily, in his case, it grew up and out, rather than downwards (it hadn’t gone very deep), so they were able to remove it all no problem. Phew. Jeff felt up for meeting family for a bite to eat before we all headed home. We had a lot to celebrate! Bracken told us about all the fun things he had been up to, what a great day he had. I was so grateful to my family for driving all that way to help us out that day, it meant so much. Jeff is resting and recovering well, and this year on Thanksgiving, our family is feeling especially thankful!