I’ve always loved music. I played the violin in the middle school orchestra and I played the flute in the Parowan high school band. I still play the piano for a few minutes in between classes while I wait for my kids to show up. Though I love the classical scene, I was meant to be a rockstar.
When I was a sophomore in high school I gathered enough courage to get a pixie haircut. My mom cut off my 17” pony tail and we donated it to Locks of Love.
I remember Jake complimented me on the new haircut when I got to school the next day. He was a junior. I was wearing my leather jacket. I felt like a rockstar.
Jake and I had a class together that year: band. I was one of the few flutes and I was still learning. Jake played the drums and he played them well. He was always the most talented guy in the room. It turns out we both wanted to be rockstars.
We still have Jake’s drums set up in the house. He gives me lessons every once in a while. One of my favorite sounds is him tapping on the steering wheel of our car as we listen to music together. We pretend to be rockstars.
Yesterday was another chemo day! His numbers looked great and treatment went well. Yesterday was our sixth dose out of twelve. We’re half way there!
In honor of this occasion Jake wore his Bon Jovi concert t-shirt we got from his last tour and I wore my new “Slippery When Wet” denim jacket from Shelbey. Our nurses, other patients, and strangers complimented our Bon Jovi merchandise all day. As we sat at treatment we sang quietly to each other,
Woah, we're half way there
Woah, livin' on a prayer
Take my hand, we'll make it I swear
Woah, livin' on a prayer
Half way there.
If you’ve seen Jake lately, you probably noticed he looks great! He has been feeling good, and things really are going well. He hasn’t lost his hair. Treatment has thinned it out a little, but chemotherapy hasn’t taken it completely.
A few weeks ago I gathered the courage again to get another pixie cut. Jake cut off my pony tail this time. Donating my hair felt different this round. When my mom fixed it up she spun the chair around and asked Jake what he thought. He said, “I feel 18 again. You look just like you did when I fell in love with you.” I felt like a rockstar.
Jake got up to use the restroom during chemo yesterday. When he came back he told me he overheard another patient talking with the nurse. He said it was his last treatment and he would get to ring the bell when he was finished. After we were done with treatment, instead of going towards the exit, Jake motioned me to follow him to the patient in the back. He shook his hand and congratulated him and his wife on finishing his cancer treatment. Jake left with a big smile on his face.
Half way there. We are definitely “livin’ on a prayer”, and as long as I’m holding Jake’s hand, we’ll make it. He is talented, tough, has a full head of hair, and is a real life rockstar. I guess that’s why I’m so happy.
I can still remember the primary room in the church building in Kanab. We always kept the dividing curtain open. The piano was placed in the front left corner of the room, and there was a big window on the wall of the right side. It was always warm and happy in there. I looked forward to primary each week.
Sister Honey was my primary chorister. She got me to sing louder than anyone ever could. She gave me a solo in the primary program once. I would step out of my comfort zone for Sister Honey any time. She had a sunny disposition and always had “bit-o-honey” candies for us. I missed her whenever we’d visit other wards or if we were out of town.
I still remember many of the songs we practiced in primary. One comes to mind today. It was called, “Children All Over the World”. It went like this:
All over the world at the end of day,
Heav’nly Father’s children kneel down and pray,
Each saying thank you in his own special way,
Saying thank you, thank you in his own special way.
“Gracias.” “Mal.” “Wir danken dir.”
All over the world tender voices hear.
Some say “tak,” others “merci,”
“Kansha shimasu,” we thank thee.
Our Heavenly Father hears them;
He understands each tongue.
Our Heav’nly Father knows them;
He loves, loves them, ev’ry one.
I remember giggling with my friends as we learned to say “thank you” in different languages. We sang our little hearts out all together for Sister Honey. I imagined “children all over the world” sang that song together too. At the very least, the sentiment is true. At the end of the day we all say thank you in our own special ways.
Yesterday Jake and I sat in one of the good chemo chairs and looked around at the transfusion center for the 5th time. It was all decorated for Christmas. Each nurse had a stocking hung and the whole place looked festive with poinsettias and Christmas decor.
My favorite was seeing the gifts or the remnants of gifts all over the office. As patients came in they handed the nurses plants, homemade treats, and other gifts. They each said, “Thank You”.
My favorite was a little lady who usually comes in at the same time we do. She has a sweet husband who comes each time. She wears a short light brown wig sometimes or a hat on her little bald head. She came into the clinic yesterday closely followed by her husband. He was carrying a box of vases of roses for each nurse.
She exclaimed, “My Ladies!” and picked up one vase, personally delivering it to one nurse and then the next. She called them each by name and said, “Thank you”.
An older gentleman and his wife sat in the waiting room with us today. They were dressed up. They had just left the temple and were discussing their 12th anniversary with the receptionist. His wife said they usually went on a cruise for their anniversary but cancer put a stop to the cruises. The gentleman agreed and then said, "So I put my cancer on hold and took her out!" She laughed and said, "Yes! Thank you".
Today marks the 1/3 mark for Jake’s treatment. We had a PET scan done last week to check the progress of the chemotherapy. We went over results with our doctor.
With our October PET scan right next to our December one, our oncologist pointed out the incredible progress Jake is making. The mass in his chest is free from active cancer cells. Only scar tissue and a few small groups of cancer cells remain. The cancer is totally inactive in the lymph nodes on his chest and in his neck. His liver is no longer swollen and all the fluid in his lungs is gone. The bone lesions have dissipated, and his bones are nearly clear of all cancer. Though we still have the rest of treatment to go before he is completely cancer free, the progress Jake has made is miraculous. We are on-track for cure!
All we can say is, “Thank You”.
We celebrated our 2nd anniversary this week. As I look back on Jake and on the decisions we’ve made together and the journey we’ve been on together, I am reminded of a definition of love penned by James Thurber. “Love is what you go through together”.
So for this whole experience, for the good news, for the love, prayers, and support, and for Jake, I am incredibly grateful. At the end of the day in my own special way, I thank our Heavenly Father for the happy life that we have.
Jake brought me a folded piece of paper during my prep today on his way to work. It said, "We are one step closer. Closer to beating cancer, closer to God, and closer to each other. I love you more."
(And for the record. I totally love him more.)
My name is Maddie Townsend Topham and I am a happy wife!