The holidays are over and life has moved on into 2010. On January 7, I was happy to finish the last infusion of poison (a.k.a. "chemotherapy"). I am still receiving infusions of the targeted drug Herceptin weekly through January, and then tri-weekly until September, But, that drug has few noticeable side effects. Wahoo!!
Chemo is not fun - but, now that it is over, I can say it is a tolerable experience, if you have a decent attitude. The side effects are cumulative -- the worst are muscle fatigue (which I understand takes months to overcome) and sore toe and fingernails - go figure! Of course, and NO HAIR! But, soon I am expecting to see some spikely little black strands of hair poking out of my scalp, no doubt causing some itching. OK -- that's really OK! It's HAIR!
Of course, the holidays didn't pass by without incident. Despite being extra careful to stay away from people who had colds and the flu, the stomach flu hit me with a vengeance right after Xmas. And, it hit lots of my family members too -- not the first time the Amerians got together for the holidays or a special event, and then ended up with lots of homes loaded with sick people! Fortunately, all are well now.
We had a great time with my niece and nephews over the holidays -- Santa stopped at my house with a TRUCKLOAD of presents for the kids -- all of which Aunty was privileged (ha!) to wrap and schlepp over to Grandma and Grandpa's house where all were staying. The chaos that went into the 15 minutes of opening those gifts was something I'll never forget! So much for neat folds, and careful placement of tape!
In January, I began to become more active at work, now that training is complete. I have started mediating cases, and preparing for the time when I will hear my first case and have to write a legally complicated decision. That comes in April, after I return from medical leave.
Next, it's time to remove the "boobies" ... I will be having a double mastectomy and the beginning phase of reconstruction on February 3. I'm told to expect to feel like a Mac Truck has come to rest on my chest when I wake up. Oh joy! Well, positive thinking -- it won't last forever. But, don't expect me to be a happy camper for the first few days -- I have no intention of doing so!
Knowing that I will be out of work for 6 weeks, not able to lift, push, or do anything strenuous, I have been a busy bee in the kitchen. I've made plenty of spaghetti sauce, turkey chili, turkey burgers, Armenian burgers, soup, and dolma (stuffed veggies and grape leaves). All of it is packed away in the freezer -- Mom won't have to worry about what to feed me, and when I get home I'll be ready to recuperate without having to worry about what to eat. Like that ever stopped me!
Life goes on ... our family is facing its challenges early in the year. My Dad - who will be 88 years old on Valentine's Day -- is facing some medical challenges that will change his daily routine. But, I'm so proud of him -- he has written an 800 page book on the history of the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The book has been in process for nearly 10 years. Dad has done an an astounding amount of research in books of many languages to gather information for this book -- the first of its kind in English. Once published, it will be distributed throughout the world to a variety of places. This has been a dream of my Father's life -- and it is nearly complete.
Dad is also writing his memoirs, and we are encouraging him to keep at it -- his mind is clear and his life is so interesting that it is important to get it written. He has finished 300 pages - and I think he's at about 25 years old at that point! Dad was born in Baghdad, studied at the Armenian Seminary in Jerusalem where he became very close friends with Torkom Manoogian -- now the Patriarch of Jerusalem; he later studed at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. He speaks 5 or 6 languages, is a writer, an expert on the history of the Armenian Church, and, after coming to the United States, he became an engineer and worked on the first of many space vehicles that went into space. His later years were spent as a real estate broker. What an interesting life ... I can't wait to read those memoirs!
The picture below is a picture of Dad, cousin Lita Dulgarian and Mom -- great friends and cousins going back to the late 40's when my Dad came to California. Cousin Dick Dulgarian recently passed away just short of his and Lita's 60th Anniversary. Life as we get older is tough because we begin to lose those we love. But, as hard as that is, and even though we know the time is to come sooner than later, the best thing we can do is enjoy the time we have with our loved ones, and work at making memories that will last a long time.
Following our trip to Turkey in June 2009, my brother Brian and I have been trying to contact family members to update our family tree and the history of our extended family. Brian has done an amazing job so far -- visit our website! And, if you are a member of the family, contact Brian and let him know of any updates, historic pictures, and anecdotes of the family.