Wednesday, October 16, 2013

three hundred and sixty five days.

Today marks three hundred and sixty five days since "before."
and obviously by "before" I mean "before cancer."
I knew today was coming, and I wasn't sure how I felt about it:
I'm not really sure that I'm able to put an emotion on it.
I guess it would be better if I had some closure on the whole thing
if I were cured or in remission
but nothing like that will be known until after the myriad of testing (and the return of that horrible diet) I go through this upcoming January.

Still, for some reason, this date of October 16 is really a sticking point for me.
Because on Tuesday October 16 2012, while standing in the home decor section of Gordmans with my mom
watching Ingrid carry around a stuffed big bird in a plastic baby carrier,
I received a phone call from my surgeon.
I don't need a photo to remember this moment, but I have one
because let's face it, I'm kind of a fan of random snapshots.
So just after I took this picture
while my mom was deciding between some photo frames,
my phone rang.
I almost didn't answer, but I thought they were calling to reschedule my post-op appointment
to remove stitches from the lump they removed in my neck.
This surgery was supposed to be really benign:
my ob/gyn had found a lump at my post-partum checkup when Ingrid was 6 weeks old.
The specialist didn't think it was anything concerning but they biopsied it anyway.
That biopsy came back negative, but at my check-up eight(ish) months later,
the lump had grown.
I remember them telling me "whether it is benign or not, we need to take it out before it starts to bother your swallowing or become noticeable on your tiny neck."
It was decided that surgery was the best option, though I was really concerned with being away from Ingrid as I was still nursing - I chose a surgery date as far out as possible (4-6 weeks, I think) and started planning the logistics: weaning. someone to stay with the kiddos. someone to be here to lift the kiddos while I was on restrictions post-operatively. someone to cook food.

FYI: "Someone" = my mom. She rocks.

So otherwise that was a quick surgery - one night in the hospital and I was home with some lifting restrictions and some ugly neck stitches. It wasn't too sore or cumbersome. I might not even need to take thyroid replacement as something like 80% of people can function with just half of their normal thyroid! My mom was in town until I could pick up my small children and put them into their car seats. This was the day I was to go into the office and have those stitches removed, and after that my mom was heading home. But instead, the phone rang in Gordman's and it went something like this:

"Hello? Nicole? This is Dr. Specialist-person.. how are you this morning?"
"Uh.. I'm guessing I'm not doing that great if you are calling me personally." - Me
and so on and so forth...

The gist of it was that my in-surgery biopsies had come back cancerous and I needed to have another surgery tomorrow (!!) to completely remove the thyroid and any affected nodes. Tomorrow!?! It had taken 4-6 weeks to prepare for that first surgery and we now had less than 24 hours. The kids? The extended lifting restriction? I didn't cry, there was too much to do and furthermore I was in public. In a retail store. I'm pretty sure that when someone imagines how it would go down that someone tells them they have cancer, they are sitting in a doctor's office across the desk from someone in a white coat. I might have been staring at a 40% off sign in a department store. I'm also pretty sure my mom wanted to just go back to my house immediately, but I figured since we were out, we might as well stop at the grocery store and run a few errands since I had cancer and would be occupied for awhile with that. Even writing that, I realize how weird it sounds, but it was more of a practicality thing than anything else. We needed organic whole milk, cheddar bunnies, and apparently, a better thyroid.

And Issac.. I called him: no answer. I called again: no answer. And again. Plans had to be made and it is the world's strangest feeling to be talking with someone (anyone) else about your cancer before your spouse even knows that it exists. People who knew: my neighbors. Amelia's preschool teacher. My friend Jess. The checkout lady at JoAnn fabrics. He had no idea for the better part of the day. Rough day. Wow, I sure hope 2013 has something better to deliver on this October 16th day than last year :)

Late that night.. and pretty much the entire next day were the lowest points in this entire journey. I don't chide myself for my lack of strength or positive thinking. I'm the first to admit that I was a hot mess, and I couldn't find a positive thought anywhere in the entire mess of that day but I am happy to report that everything since then has been an upswing. My second surgery went well. My doctors rocked. The food didn't suck. I didn't sleep a wink but watched an entire season of New Girl in the hospital and even laughed a little bit. I came home, and started on the journey that many of you have been following since a few days after that when I shared the news.

So why write about it now? The other day, while reflecting on this approaching milestone-of-sorts, I realized that I never really talked about what happened that first day. I think I had always meant to. Somehow as time passes, I am more willing to share more of the emotion.. I surely remember these details like it happened five minutes ago, but sharing raw details can be harder to communicate than facts or cheeky photos of my goofy kids.

P.S. I haven't been back to Gordmans. I don't think it would be weird, but who knows. I never frequented it much to begin with, so it hasn't been an active avoidance. I do find it different to be at my sister's apartment sometimes. I spent so much time there alone while on quarantine that the last time I was there with my parents, the girls and my sister, it almost felt uncomfortable to have other people in that space I occupied alone for ten straight days!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


week forty-one of fifty-two

One highlight of the girl's week was also the highlight of mine! 
My dear friend from college had her first baby the day before Ingrid's birthday
and named her Libby (so cute!)
so when Ingrid received a baby doll for her birthday,
she decided to name her Libby as well.
She had to bring her "Baby Libby" to meet "Real Baby Libby":
and Amelia was equally excited about this visit,
because she had the opportunity to hold her first teeny tiny baby
all by herself!
"Real Baby Libby" was a good sport about it and managed to come out unscathed. 

Monday, October 14, 2013


week forty of fifty-two
the rare and elusive family photo:
hayride to pick pumpkins 
at Grandma and Grandpa Olson's pumpkin patch

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


week thirty-nine of fifty-two
hard to believe we're almost 40 weeks into the year!
I remember when we were at week 1 and it seems like it wasn't that long ago
speaking of things that don't seem like they were that long ago, 
last weekend we attended the wedding of one of my oldest friends
he and his lovely bride threw a fabulous party
(they even had a Kona Icee truck on-site: amazing!!) 

We shared in the company of some great people that I grew up with 
and I am still smiling about it.
I know everyone says they would never go back to high school,
 I can live without ever stressing about an algebra exam,
but those friends and their families were like an extension of my own
so this was kind of like a family wedding
and it was pretty great
to meet (or get to know better) 
the people they have chosen to spend their lives with, 
some of their kids, 
and introduce my own little ones to them!

but that's right.. this project is supposed to be about life through the eyes of the little ones.
this is their contribution (literally)
Ingrid is into self-portraits lately. 
This one is captioned
"I not dirty. I no make a mess with my cupcake." 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


week thirty-eight of fifty-two

Look out, everyone: 
Princesses randomly saunter through our kitchen at all times. 

We are in the midst of a heavy princess phase at the Olson house. 
Thanks, Disney.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Interview with a two(!!!) year old.

Ingrid Elizabeth, 2 years old and full of noise, laughter and "I love you"s

Favorite things: peach yogurt. playing Memory. mermaids, her doll, "Baby Emily" & her big sister.
I'm not being facetious about that last part, they actually are pretty great buddies right now.
But let's hear it straight from her:

20 Questions: A Birthday Interview with Miss Ingrid

1) What is something that Mommy says to you?
"Mommy take a picture."

2) What makes you happy? 
Amelia make me happy. 

3) What makes you sad?
Amelia make me sad.

4) What makes you laugh? 
Amelia make me laugh. 

5) How old are you? 
Um, one. Until my birthday. Then I be two.

6) How old is Mommy? 
Um, Twenty-one. (brownie points awarded...)

7) How old is Daddy? 
Um, Thirty-one. Like you! (brownie points retracted...)

8) How old is Amelia? 

9) Who is your best friend? 
Um, food.

10) What are you really good at? 
I a good friend.

11) What did you do today?
I played with Robert and Livia and Molly

12) What is your favorite food? 
Broccoli, yeah! 

13) What is your favorite song? 
"Two Little Hot Dogs frying in a pan 
The grease got hot and one went BAM!"
(thanks, Ollie!!)

14) What is your favorite color? 

15) What do you sleep with at night? 

16) What do you want to be when you grow up? 
Peter Pan. (I told her that he actually doesn't want to grow up, but I think that conversation was over her head..)

17) What is your favorite toy? 
My Baby Emily.

18) Where is your favorite place to go?
The park!

19) What is your favorite book? 
There's a Mouse About the House

20) What is your favorite thing to do outside? 
Ride my bike to the fountain with my helmet .

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


week thirty-seven of fifty-two
Doesn't technology rock!?!

The girls got to meet our dear friend's dear little man
via Google Video Chat
lucky kids these days!! 

Ingrid's comment: "I loooooooooooove baby Mason!"
Amelia's: "I hope he likes the baby toy I picked out for him. 
He looks like he likes dogs. We should be okay."