Friday, June 27, 2014

My Little Soldier

I think, by now, that everyone who knows me is aware of how much I like to gripe joke about what a royal pain my sweet little B-bop can be on a daily basis.  He is truly... something else.  A real soldier marching to the beat of his own drum.  Always has, probably always will.

He likes to do everything on his own; except when he can't... and in that case, he likes to blame it on you for honoring his wishes and letting him try it out himself.  He is also a big time enforcer of what I like to call "reciprocal reinforcement", which typically involves me doling out a consequence for bad behavior and then Brendan, in turn, telling me that I am facing the same consequence.  He also enjoys testing out how fast he can escape from me in a SuperTarget, parking lot, or any public place really (no need to be choosy when there are so many options).  Let's just say I am getting my fair share of exercise and torture while trying to keep my varicose veins from exploding out of my poor overworked legs.

But I was thinking about it the other day, when I was telling someone how his new favorite thing is to wake up at 5:30, tiptoe into my room and jam his fingers in my mouth while I am sleeping (it's kind of like when your phone alarm is set to a really obnoxious ring tone, but way more offensive)... Anyway, she has 5 kids who are all in middle school and up, and she said "Ohh, I miss when my kids used to crawl into my bed and poke me in the face and do stuff like that."  At the time, I thought she must be having one of those repressed memories like how you forget the pain of childbirth, but now I am starting to realize that if this little guy ever mellows out, (as relieved as I will probably be), I am actually going to miss the 'crazy, out-of-control, little devil monster' B-bop.

Despite his mischievous tendencies that often drive me up the wall, he is without a doubt, the cutest little stinker I have ever seen.  No offense to Niall; he is adorable, as well, but in a more handsome way.  Brendan is straight up CUTE.  As in, I want to introduce him to my wooden spoon one second and then hug him and kiss him until he can't stand it anymore the next.   And when he is sick, forget it.  I am a puddle of mush.  The poor little guy is trying to kick a virus right now, and all he wants to do is snuggle... which is FINE. BY. ME.  I am loving every single second of it and I think he may have been kissed on his feverish little cheeks and forehead 2,000 times since yesterday.

So throughout all of this reminiscing about all of the times I've thrown poor B under the bus and had less than kind things to say about him, I realized that I better set the record straight... No matter how much I complain about Brendan, he is the peanut butter to my jelly, the cheese to my macaroni, the gravy to my mashed potatoes.  I love him so much my heart could explode.  He is such a blessing to our family and makes us laugh every single day, without fail.  If anything ever happened to him, I wouldn't be able to go on-- and I do worry about that at times, given his inclination to put himself in extremely dangerous situations just about every day, but I also worry about the way life can be so unpredictable.

So on that note, I am always happy to shed light on health topics that could help another family, especially when it is something that has had an impact on my own.  I don't think I know a single person who hasn't been affected, in some way, by cancer.  Sometimes, people are lucky and catch it early; other times, people don't even notice symptoms until it is much too late.  So when a disease can really easily be prevented, just by sharing a little knowledge on the topic, I am thrilled to pitch in.

A woman named Heather reached out to me to ask for some help with a campaign she got involved with after she was given just over a year to live, shortly after giving birth to her first daughter.  After a life saving surgery that included removal of her left lung, she is now doing just fine-- 8 years later! The thing that really compelled me about her story is that her type of cancer, mesothelioma, is COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE.  I feel like you don't hear about that with too many cancers.  It is solely caused by asbestos exposure.

An individual may be at risk to develop mesothelioma if he or she was exposed to asbestos in the workplace or at home.  Renovation and construction both at home and in schools, and other public facilities also posed high risk areas for asbestos exposure. Asbestos related cancer is common among military veterans who we exposed on naval ships, in shipyards and at military bases, as well as workers at commercial and industrial locations including refineries, power plants, steel mills, auto production facilities and large construction sites. Some of the occupations of workers at risk include electricians, plumbers, boilermakers, carpenters, mechanics, machinists and more. Additionally, if you lived with someone who was regularly exposed to asbestos and washed their clothes, you could be at risk for second hand asbestos exposure.

In most cases, mesothelioma symptoms will not appear in an individual exposed to asbestos until many years after the exposure has occurred.  As with most cancers, the earlier it is diagnosed, the more likely it is to be caught at an early stage.

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