Post-Chemo Life

I have not updated in a long time. It feels like nothing has been happening. But, at the same time, a lot has happened.

The weekend after my last chemo, I was in my friends’ Vietnamese wedding ceremony. I was feeling better than I usually do right after chemo. I think because I knew it was my last one. It was still a very long day. But, it was a lot of fun. We had the tea ceremony in the morning, lunch at the groom’s parent’s house, bridal party photos, and the reception. By the reception, I could barely keep my eyes open. I ended up slipping on something at the end of the night and landing right on my butt. I was sore for days. Overall, it was a beautiful day. Even though we were confused as to what everyone was supposed to do, I think it turned out well. Their American wedding ceremony is this weekend. I’m so excited!

The Tuesday after the Vietnamese wedding, I flew to Minnesota. It was my first trip after chemo. I missed flying. A couple months ago, we found out that my foster grandmother had lung cancer. Everyone was taking turns going to Minnesota to see her. I hadn’t seen her since my cousin’s wedding last January and I hadn’t been to Minnesota since my last trip in 2010. I saw her that Wednesday at the hospice. She was very weak, but still talking. She told me my hair was so short that I looked like Adam Levine. But it was ok because he’s her favorite. She loved watching The Voice. I wonder what she thinks about Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani dating now.

We went to the hospice again on Thursday to see her. My mother was able to call her and talk to her. My uncle was able to call and face time with her, as well. He scheduled his trip to Minnesota for Halloween weekend. Unfortunately, she passed away that Friday so he didn’t get to see her in person before she passed away.

My sister and I were able to overlap our trips for a couple days so I was able to spend some time with her. We stayed with my cousin, Lauren, in Minneapolis. Her apartment is in walking distance to a lot of stuff so that was nice to explore. We also went to St. Paul for a day, which I wouldn’t recommend. There isn’t much to do there. I guess most of the places to explore were in the skyway, which was confusing. But, it was nice spending time with my Minnesota family.

I spent the next week back in Georgia. There wasn’t too much going on. I came back to flowers and a ballon from the LLS office for completing chemo. I had my PET scan. I was chosen as an Honored Hero for one of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training teams. I went to their kick off meeting to speak. Basically, it helps them put a face to their fundraising efforts. But, it’s nice that they chose me.

My mom, grandma, and I flew back out to Minnesota on Halloween. A lot of my actual family members came into town for the service. And I got to meet the rest of my Minnesota family that I’ve never met before. We spent Halloween night at my Aunt Pam’s house. It was the first time I met my cousin’s newborn baby, Lyra! She is adorable.  On Sunday, we took our typical family trip to Target. It’s just what we do when we’re all together. It was especially fitting since Target HQ is in Minneapolis. We had a giant family lunch at a pho restaurant before the visitation. We spent another night with a bunch of family at Aunt Pam and Uncle Brad’s house.

My sister, my three cousins, and I were staying at Lauren’s apartment again. We walked to a nice restaurant for breakfast on Monday before the celebration of life for Grandma Donna. The service was so beautiful. It was amazing to see Grandma Donna’s family along with all of the people she helped. She saved our lives. That was everyone’s story. Donna saved my life.

She was the one who sponsored my mother’s family into America so they could have a better life. That included my two grandparents, their 8 children, and 2 grandchildren. Even after they were all assimilated and on their feet, she and Grandpa Pete took in 5 more Vietnamese boys. They were unaccompanied minors and needed to be sponsored into the country, as well. Even after that she adopted two Native American boys and helped an African American man get on his feet. She treated everyone like her own children. She even took my mom on a trip to the Bahamas as a high school graduation gift. She kept all of the cards I made her from elementary school. She would send everyone news clippings that she knew would be of some interest to us. She sent me cards all the time. She was the most caring, giving person I knew. She was my hero. If she didn’t have such a big heart, I wouldn’t even exist today.

It was strange being around so much family, but without her. She would have loved it though. She loved being around family and having lots of people around. She was still so sharp mentally. It’s sad how your mind can still be there, but your body breaks down. It’s either that or the other way around. On Wednesday in hospice, we asked her what day it was. She said we were trying to trick her but she knew it was Wednesday because she had watched The Voice on Monday and Tuesday. She was stubborn. She even told the hospice nurse, “I don’t think so,” when she told her she was dying. We tried to take her watch off. But, she said she never took off her watch because my uncle gave it to her. She continues to give, even in her death. She donated her body to science. She really keeps giving until she can’t anymore. She was the greatest.

The whole family Grandma Donna created. Henningsens + Nghes.

Grandma Donna’s foster children and grandchildren.

My sister, mom, grandma, and me.

Grandma Donna <3

I feel like this whole post has been me rambling on and on about my Grandma Donna. I can’t believe she’s gone. I wish I had gotten to see her sooner. I wish we had lived closer so that I could have seen her more often. I miss her.

I guess that’s been the gist of what I have been up to since I’ve finished chemo. I don’t get my PET scan results until Monday. But, I will let you all know what the next steps are. Fingers crossed for good results!

~SL

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