Book Review: It Will Be Okay by Lysa TerKeurst

The little seed does not want anything to change in his life. It’s warm, comfy, and cozy in the farmer’s shed and that’s the way seed likes it. Even though the little seed sees the Farmer come in often and take out other seeds, he does not want his life to change.

16225476The little fox is very similar. He loves to run and play in the sun. His little den is fabulous and it’s his favorite place to snuggle down for a good night’s sleep. That’s until one night when a terrible storm strikes and his den fills with water. Poor little fox has no place to go. In the pouring rain, the little fox runs and searches until he finds a warm, dry place. The Farmer’s shed.

The little seed is not pleased at all with this course of events. He does not want anything in his life to change. But soon, good things begin to happen.

It would be easy for me to give away the entire plot of this book since it only takes a few minutes to read, but the impact it leaves behind is so much bigger than a simple story. Having just recently finished up chemo, radiation, and a radical surgery to fight cancer, my world has a great amount of upheaval and change. When I received this book in the mail, I  laughed at first and then I was flushed with warm fuzzies. It was just what I needed. I don’t like change. None of us do. But this book and it’s simple message brought home the reality that we need to trust God. He has the best plan in place. That’s something all of us know and we may remember, but it’s so hard to put into play.

This book was beautiful, sensitive, heartwarming and powerful. When I got to the end I was so impressed with both author and illustrator. As the story unfolded, the pictures were gorgeous and amazing.  They added another dimension to the wonderful story TerKeurst had put together.

This book, like The Giving Tree and Oh The Places You’ll Go! has no age limit. It can be a gift for anyone going through a difficult struggle or time. I’ll be giving a copy to a friend who just received a cancer diagnosis. Don’t miss this book – it’s sure to be a classic that will stick around for a very long time.

Category: Books, Reviews  Tags: , ,  Leave a Comment

So what’s next?

the_burgundy_and_ivory_ribbon_by_ryu_ren-d5wug3bThat’s the question I keep hearing these days. I finished radiation and chemo in early September and let me tell you, they took it out of me. I felt miserable. Honestly, it wasn’t the chemo that was so bad for me. It was the radiation. (Every doctor kept blaming the other thing – that was somewhat funny.) I ended up in the hospital over Labor Day weekend because of the side effects of radiation. I couldn’t quit vomiting. I hurt. I coudn’t breathe well. I was miserable. My time in the hospital was a definite mix of good and bad. I won’t go over the bad any further than to say that it reignited some of my anxiety issues.

So now that I’m done with them, I’m healing. I’m spending every day trying to get rest and still get back to normal. We started homeschooling the kids again. I’m up early to work the first few subjects and then my husband comes in while I go to nap. I use the word  nap quite loosely. It really is me just going back to sleep – sometimes for hours.

My body is really messed up from all of this. I know that’s an obvious statement but every day I’m seeing how much. The other night at cell group one of the children asked my daughter if she’d brought her grandmother. Yes – they were talking about me. That was hard to take but I had to laugh at it. If I didn’t, I would cry. I know I look different. I was never really vain before but now I see how much I’ve changed and that’s tough.

I’ve been given permission to eat but the majority of my nutrition is still coming from my feeding tube. I have been given permission to eat but that doesn’t mean I can instantly eat. I have to re-learn how to do a lot. My mouth was full of sores during radiation/chemo so some foods are out just because they are hard on those sores that haven’t healed. Some are out because I was required to get rid of all of my molars so I can’t chew well. Some foods are out just because I can’t control my tongue well enough yet.

I’m trying. I’ve never been good at exercising but now I’ve got all sorts of mouth exercises that I have to do and those are odd. I’m speaking okay but the eating is holding me up. I know now that it is up to me. I can eat whatever I can make happen and I’m trying to work on that.

October 29th, I have a PET scan. That’s a big scan that will tell us I’m cancer free. I’m believing that after all of my work and struggle. So my life is really on hold right now for a few weeks until we get the results from that scan.

The ribbon that you see pictured here is the ribbon for this type of cancer. The colors are burgundy and white. We really don’t have the advocates that breast cancer awareness do, so I’m trying to get the word out. I found this picture on DeviantArt from artist ryu-ren. I’m glad that this person took the time to make it.

So right now it’s rest, recover, and wait. I appreciate you all waiting and praying with me as I try to get back to normal. It’s  up and down but I’m getting better every day. Thanks for sticking with me.

Movie Review: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Late last week, my family andisney-alexander-bad-dayd I had the opportunity to see an early screening of this film. I was concerned that it may be a bit  young for my family since I have a teenager, a tween and a ten year old, but that didn’t end up being a problem at all. There was literally something for everyone in this movie and when we got into the car, it was all we could talk about.

Let me back up and give you a quick synopsis for those who haven’t read the book.  Alexander’s birthday is coming. He’s about to turn twelve and he hates that everyone in his family seems to have awesome days but his days are always tough. The first few minutes shows us a little bit about what Alexander’s typical day is like. (Hey, being a Middle Schooler isn’t easy – no matter what!) His family tries to tell him that all will be well and it will get better, but it’s to no avail. At midnight on his special day, Alex makes a birthday wish that the rest of his family would understand what it’s like to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. And the hilarity ensues from there.

Steve Carrell and Jennifer Garner are fabulous as parents just trying to make things work in the awkward situation of him not having a job for several months and her trying to get ahead in her job. This is something I can identify with as I’ve been there and I’m familiar with the publishing world, so Mom’s crazy day was oh so painfully funny for me to watch.

Both my teen and my tween felt for the teenage boy and girl in this film. They both were talking about how horrible it would be to have that kind of day and how bad they felt for the characters.

My ten year old son found the whole thing funny and said he was glad that we homeschool so he didn’t need to worry about those sorts of very bad days. His very bad days are personal and happen at home!

One thing I loved about this film was that they have a study guide available for famillies. You can find it here: http://www.differentdrummer.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Family-Study-Guide-Smaller.pdf and it helps you talk with your kids about their expectations for good days, bad days, and how to act through the middle of any of them. My favorite part was the reminder that it’s not the end. I’m what my family calls an Obnoxious Optimist. There’s always someone having a worse day than we are and I’m fast to remind them of their blessings and the good things. This drives my family crazy sometimes but it does also remind us that no matter how bad it is, it’s minor in the big picture.

There was only one small misstep in the film and that was Mom’s role. (MINOR SPOILERS HERE!) Throughout the film she was so sorry she was missing big things in the lives of her family and it was obvious that she wanted to be home with her family. It would have been nice if, at the end, there was some comment – even just a throwaway line – about how her schedule could lighten up a bit with her career and she could be home more often.

That was the only thing I missed in  the film. The rest was a fabulous, amazing, not horrible, not terrible, fantastic ride for families and excellent family entertainment for all. If you haven’t seen it, give it a shot. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is in theaters now.

 

Did you miss me? I missed you!

od6tAKSHey everyone. I’m sorry that it seems I’ve fallen off the face of the earth. I really haven’t. I just fell into radiation and chemo. Wow, that can zap you a lot faster than you’d realize. Every morning I would go to my radiation treatments, come home, and crawl into bed for several hours. Then I’d get up long enough to set up meds and feeding, and go back to bed. It was rough.

My last treatment was September 2nd – just after I spent three days in the hospital from the side effects of chemo and radiation. I am SO glad that it’s over.

However, I’ve got to be honest here. The effects, exhaustion, sickness, and overall difficulties have stuck with me. I’m still working through a lot of it. We started homeschooling our kids this week and every day as soon as I’m done, I crash for a while. It’s tough!  This has represented the hardest part of my journey. After surgery, there’s so much overwhelming your health, you can’t help but push just to do minor things. Now that I’m able to be up and around more, and I can recognize my limitations. That makes things harder emotionally.

So the big question – am I eating  yet? I’m working on it. My taste buds were damaged in the radiation treatments and for a long time everything has tasted like I have a mouthful of salt or jello that’s about to ferment. That’s not really  appetizing and it makes it tough. The other night I did have some ice cream and tasted nothing – so I’m going to claim that as a minor victory.

I’ll skip over all the sores in my mouth, exhaustion, nausea and unpleasant parts for now. I’m trying very hard to get those behind me. It’s been hard and I don’t want to sit in them or think about those things too much. It hurts my mental state too much because it’s easy to get into a ‘woe is me’ state of mind. I’m blessed. I’m here. I’m not in extreme pain all the time anymore and the other night I fixed a meal for my family. (Love that slow cooker!!!!)

I plan to start sharing more recipes and things I’ve learned on my journey. Is there anything else that you’d like to hear from me? Let me know! Oh..and I have some fun work projects hanging around too that I’ll be sharing soon.

In the meantime, I’m SO glad to be back. Thank You Lord for grace to get through the tough times and energy to begin to enjoy the good times.

 

I’m Home…So What Now?

431072_10151701273696457_888099066_nI had hoped to blog before now but I have not had the time or energy that I would have liked. I am at home but I still have a Tracheotomy and a feeding tube so I’m on a rigorous medicine and feeding schedule that leaves me short times to sleep and rest. My rebuilt tongue is still too swollen to allow me to eat or breathe without these implements right now. (And yes – I pulled out the fuzzy kitty pics again!)

Doctors have said my recovery is way ahead of schedule.  Two weeks out from surgery I was home.  Most patients are still hospitalized. I need those encouragements to remind me that God has this because I really don’t feel ahead of much but I am thankful for those encouragements.

I am unable to speak and frustrated with that. My frustration has peaked since my children arrived home yesterday for the first time since my surgery.  Trying to keep up with a nine,  twelve, and fifteen year old using sign language and white boards surely constitutes some outer ring of Dante’s inferno.  (Okay,  a VERY outer ring.  But still! )

My test results showed that I will need radiation treatment this summer and they have decided to partner that with a run of chemo.  A six week course. Admittedly,  I have some concern about this.  Whenever it has been mentioned to a nurse or medical professional,  they all get this look on their faces. It seems to be a cross between horror and pity. One woman’s response rings in my mind.  She is a home nurse and she is very young and sweet. She grabbed both of my hands and said urgently, “You’ll make it through.  Remember that. You will.” That frightened me but I am holding on to the sentiment.

I will be having another surgery next Friday, the 13th of June.  It’s a skin graft to fix the place on my wrist where they used skin to rebuild my tongue.  I’m not looking forward to another surgery but I will be happy to have it in my past. This will be a punctuation mark to one part of my recovery so that is a good thing.

I have good days and bad.  God has been exceedingly faithful to get me His messages of hope and love when I’m having bad days.  Emails,  notes,  or gifts have arrived at those moments and they have all,  without exception,  led with the phrase “God put you in my heart today.” He is good.  All the time.

I’ve been told by many that I’m some sort of great example of courage and faith. This is a mixed blessing for me.  So thankful to see God using this journey in a good way but I do admit to my moments of wishing I weren’t in this particular spotlight.  I have Moses moments of ‘why me?’ but more often than not I hear the prayer of Jesus from the garden.  “Take this cup from me please.” followed by “Not my will,  but Thine.” I just have to trust that God has a better plan.

So that is where I am. I spend much time listening to the Scriptures. The Psalms are fabulous. Most people focus on the cries for help and soothing poetry, but they are mixed with David’s fighting spirit.  This man after God’s own heart was not afraid to battle with those who came against him.  I get a kick out of that spirit.  It helps my battle as well.

Oh and here’s a random weird fact for you. One of the  doctors this week told me I was lucky they used my wrist for the rebuilt tongue. He said if they had used my thigh, it would continue growing hair! How weird is that?! Phew for one weird thing I don’t have to deal with!

Thank you for continuing to lift me in prayer. Your prayers and friendship are deeply treasured.  For those wondering about specific prayer requests from me,  I would love prayer for grace and supernatural provision during chemo and radiation. Strength for that too. And for my family. I admit to having some anxiety issues since leaving the hospital, so prayers in that area would help as well.

May God’s blessings pour over each of you in abundance!

Category: Faith, Life, Reality  Tags: , , ,  One Comment

Questions Answered: How you can help?

mgysoQcI have been blessed with texts, emails, notes and messages of support. And also with people asking how they can help.  My beautiful friend, Organized SAHM, has set up an online form that people can fill out if they are interested in helping with meals or babysitting, errands, etc. It just asks for name, phone number and email and we promise it won’t go anywhere but here. We both thought this would be an easy way to catalog the offers. (Hey – we have the technology – we may as well use it.)

That form is here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1_Z-eTUdamFdKDcTtuPLX1xEJu8dUgwrGZz9OeCfOLPQ/viewform?c=0&w=1&usp=mail_form_link

My kids are going to stay with some family in Houston for the duration, so we won’t need much with them (beyond prayers please!) until they come home after the surgery. That’s when we’ll really need help with meals, transportation to/from events,  errands, etc.

For those wondering about sending notes or cards or whatnot, Organized SAHM has my mailing address and can handle that.  (I believe she can be messaged through that FB page that I linked to. I’ll update if there ends up being an email address or anything that people can use for questions/info.)

And for others who have wondered if they can help financially, we do appreciate that support as well. We’ve been surprised by expenses we hadn’t thought about that are involved with this. God has blessed us and we’re not desperately in need – thankfully! But some have asked and I felt like I should address it here. The only way we are able to do that right now is the old fashioned way – checks in the mail or gift cards. We don’t have a Paypal account and because this has happened so quickly, we’ve been unable to find the time to set one up and a corresponding bank account to go with it for security, etc.  We never imagined anything like this or that anyone would offer that sort of assistance so we didn’t plan for that eventuality.

Also, one last note. I love each and every person who is praying for me. I don’t know even half of you and that touches my soul more than anyone can ever know. I’ve been moved to tears and thankfulness more times than I can count in recent weeks and I am truly and deeply overwhelmed with this outpouring of love and support. I know that my family is too. It’s been mentioned many times how brave I am while I’m handling this. That boggles my mind a little. I certainly don’t feel brave or amazing or anything. In the middle of the night I can’t shut my brain off and I struggle with the questions and concerns. That’s when I turn on the scriptures and literally have been sitting them on my pillow next to my ear so I can focus on Him – not me.

Right now, there’s no way around this. I can’t get in front of it, around it, or take a detour. I’m on a speeding train and I must go into the dark tunnel that’s ahead. I have no control over how fast or slow it goes and as we’re approaching, I hear more and more about things that might be in the tunnel. We could have to make a turn here or there might be something more that could cause problems. The other day I learned that this may not even be the last tunnel! (Honestly, there are days when I feel like I’m sitting on top of the train – not even in it! I’m just holding on for dear life!)  Unless the rapture happens or someone drops an atomic bomb, I can’t stop this or change it. It’s something I must do. I have looked at alternative treatments, but all of those doors have closed in my face. (Several didn’t even open.) So I’m trusting that God’s got me on this train and He’s in charge of the direction and the speed.  I’m not a fan of roller coasters. I always sit at the bottom and pray while my daughter and  hubby scream and holler in delight. So being on this particular ride isn’t really where I’d prefer to be. But it appears it’s where I’m supposed to be. So I’m doing my best to praise through the storm. I’m not always good at it. But I am trying. And I love everyone who is cheering me on, holding my hand, and loving on me while I do.

And so before my surgery on Wednesday, I leave you with one of my favorite verses:

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:17 

The Good, The Not So Good, and the Ugly: Next Steps for Treatment

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3: 5,6

I know that a lot of people have been waiting for updates since my surgery on Monday. I’ve been honestly trying to work through everything we learned and what it all means for me and I just wasn’t really ready to address it. Then we got close to Friday and that’s my daughter’s birthday. I determined that May 9th would be a cancer free (discussion wise) day for her if I could make that happen at all. So, not wanting to overshadow her special day, I waited for this update. It also gave me some time to settle my heart before dealing with all of the questions. But now we have little time for me to delay. I need to let everyone know what’s happening.

The Good: 
On Monday, my surgeon did several procedures involving my throat, larnyx, vocal chords and esophagus. Because no one can figure out where this cancer came from, he was concerned that it might have started deeper in my throat and come up into my mouth. I’m very thankful to announce that everything was clear in that region. This is a huge blessing because it would have significantly changed treatments and approach. Cancer in the throat and deeper makes a big difference in how it’s handled. So yay! No concerns in that area.

The Not So Good:
It looks as if we’re going to need to do the previously mentioned surgery. On Wednesday May 14th, a good portion of my tongue is set to be removed along with the tissue under it. We will have a plastic surgeon do some level of rebuilding and that should result in me eventually being able to eat and talk again – though it will be a longer haul than we’d hoped.

The Ugly:
This surgery is going to require a lot from me. More than I’d wanted/hoped. I’ve been told it’s 10 days in the hospital (five of those in ICU), a tracheotomy, and at least one other surgery to repair the damage that will come from the transplanted area for rebuilding my mouth. They plan to use the inside of my wrist and take an artery from there that will get ‘plugged in’ to an arterial area in my mouth. This will leave an open area on my wrist for about two months. (Yeah – not real happy about that one.)  They’ll cover it with some sort of shark/pig plasma something or other and leave it there for that duration. And then after two months, I’ll undergo another surgery which will involve a skin graft from my leg to fix my wrist.

The surgeon is a good man. I really appreciate his care and I know that he wants the very best for me. He’s not there to just cut. I told him in our appointment that I was praying for a miracle and my hope is that when he gets into the operating room, he finds that the cancer is gone and everything’s whole and he doesn’t need to do a thing. After all, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever – and He healed people with a touch and in some cases, a word. So I know that He can do this. But I also said that I’m not sure what God wants my testimony to be after this. If it’s the miracle (Hey there’s no cancer here to operate on!)  I’ll be overjoyed. But if it’s a woman who discovers she has cancer and overcomes obstacles to come out on the other side, I have to accept that too. (Admittedly, not wanting that outcome – but understanding it.)

I will say that I’m a little freaked by this. I wish they’d just knock me out, let me heal and then wake me up when it’s all over. I mean I’d happily give them that couple of weeks! Sooo much easier, don’t you think?

I do have some friends who are working on putting together a list for help, meals, offers, etc. I am so thankful for that.  I also have some friends who will keep people updated via my Facebook. For those who aren’t friends of mine on my personal FB page, I’m going to have a friend update my public page as well. That can be found right here and all you have to do is click ‘like’ to keep up on it.

I appreciate the prayers and continued support. In the dark night when things are quiet, I’m struggling to keep my mind out of the bad places – and your notes and letters and emails are helping with that. I love all of you and appreciate you more than you know.

Category: Faith, Life, Reality  Tags: , ,  Leave a Comment

The Wheat and the Chaff: What do I need to take away from all of this?

Exif_JPEG_PICTURESo I’ve been on this journey for a little over a week and it’s amazing how much my world has changed. New language (oncologists, stage 1, endoscopy…), new people (doctors, nurses, techs…) and new goals (surgery Monday, bloodwork, rest) have completely immersed me in this foreign world. I don’t want to get comfortable here. I plan to just visit for a while and move on as quickly as possible.

When I first got my diagnosis, I called a small handful of people. Tish Tucker was one of those. Tish is an amazing lady who listens, can still make me laugh in the middle of everything, has a deep and abiding love for rescue animals, and is a cancer survivor. At the end of this entry, I’ll link to both of her books about her journey. They are fabulous!) I have always loved and appreciated her friendship, but on the morning after my diagnosis, her advice became an incredible lifeline for me. One of the best things she told me was that this is a mind game. All of it. There’s so much in the middle of this journey that can get you down and spiral you into a bad place, you really need to fight to stay positive. I’m not even two weeks in, but I’ve held that advice close to my heart and I’m so thankful I did. Three new doctors this week – all of them with vast amounts of information that could have sunk me if I’d let it. Tests every day. Bruises all over the place from the bloodwork. It would be so easy to slide into that negative. I’ve always told people that I’m an obnoxious optimist. I guess that’s being put to the test right now.

I know so much more than I did a week ago and still feel like I don’t have any answers. Monday I’ll be having an initial surgery to assess precisely where and how large the cancer is. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about that. The biopsy on my tongue was really unpleasant and this is set to be bigger. But the hope and prayer is that this surgery shows that it’s smaller than imagined and that the previous recommendations of removing half my tongue and all this stuff out of my mouth will be unnecessary. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that the surgeon is concerned with my quality of life post-treatment.

Both the Oncologist and the Radiologic Oncologist were nice. (The Radiologic Oncologist – we’ll call him RO – was the spitting image of Kent McCord – as a Farscape fan, that tickled me to no end. Best part? His nurse reminded me of Edith Bunker. I think she may have been my favorite new person this week.)  The Oncologist threw a ton of information at me and shared his thoughts about where this cancer came from at the same time he made sure to let me know he’s most concerned about my whole health. Anything anywhere that might be a concern needs to be brought to his attention. At this point, he’s the only one looking out for that, so it’s appreciated.  The RO was hilarious. He had a great sense of humor that really helped put me at ease. (At one point he was joking and laughing and literally, out loud, muttered “Okay, this is serious. I have to get serious.” I offered him complimentary PR/Marketing services when we’re done with this whole thing.) My favorite part of his visit was when he said he hoped he would never have to see me again. I hope that too.

The biggest thing I’ve come away with this week is learning what to hold on to and what to let go. Even facts can’t be trusted. I’ve had multiple doctors tell me that it was a really great sign that the CT scans showed nothing, my lymph nodes were not swollen and didn’t show problems, and that everything else looks clear. But one doctor wiped all of that away by pointing out that it’s possible to have cancer in lymph nodes and have them not be swollen, CT scans don’t show everything, and it doesn’t matter that everything seems clear because cancer hides. So those facts that I’d held on to for hope and positive vibes went away in a heartbeat.

I’m separating the wheat from the chaff as I go. The information, knowledge and facts of men are helpful to me. God has placed them in my path for a reason and I do trust in that. But they aren’t the final authority. God’s got me in His hands and that’s where I find my rest, peace and security.

“Truly my soul finds rest in God;
    my salvation comes from him.
 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” – Psalm 62: 1-2

Oh and don’t think I forgot Tish’s books. You can find them here and here. 

Category: Faith, Life, Reality  Tags: , , ,  2 Comments

Surgical Updates: a.k.a. I actually have something to share!

431072_10151701273696457_888099066_nYou know I never intended to blog this entire journey, but the further I get into things, the more I’m realizing that this is one central location where I’ll be able to answer questions and really put lots of info out there with relative ease.  Bear with me while  I navigate this completely new way to keep everyone updated.

I know, I know. Go figure the professional writer/publicist is learning how to make my way through the personal blogosphere. But seriously, my job is to push all you famous, talented, and pretty people out in the spotlight. Being IN the spotlight is totally new for me!

So this morning I met with my surgeon. I can now call him that because I really liked him a lot. He had a sense of peace about him the moment he walked into the room and get this: he listened. Like really, truly, deeply listened to my concerns. And he answered all of my questions and more. For the past week, we’ve been thinking that a surgeon is like a hammer. Present him with a problem and he sees it like a nail. But that didn’t feel like the case here. He was genuinely concerned not only with treating my cancer, but with my quality of life after treatment. I loved that.

He did do a test that showed him that the back of my tongue and throat are clear and all looks good there, so that’s a big plus. He also believes that this is stage one – MAYBE the beginning of stage two. He was very optimistic about treatment, quality of life and my health in general.

So, that said, next Monday I’m scheduled to undergo another biopsy. It will be surgical and I will be under anesthesia (Thank goodness! Being awake during that last one was misery.) and this will give him the opportunity to do more in depth biopsies throughout the area and figure out what the  next steps need to be. That made me feel better because he’s not willing to just go in and cut out half of my tongue like the other doctor said – not unless it’s necessary.

The surgery will be first thing next Monday morning and it will be a few days after that before we find out specifics on pathology, etc. Once he knows that, he said he’ll recommend next steps and see how invasive surgery needs to be.

So that’s what I know at this point. Your continued prayers, notes and encouragements are a balm to my soul and a blessing to my life. Thank you all so much!

Oh and why the picture? Cause I hate posting blogs without pictures and I figure fuzzy, sleeping kittens are way better than just about anything else being discussed here! :)

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,  you who are God my Savior,  and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

Open my lips, Lord,  and my mouth will declare your praise. Psalm 51: 14-15

 

Category: Faith, Life, Reality  Tags: , , ,  11 Comments

Cancer, Fuzzy Stuffed Dogs, and Slumber Parties

I have cancer.

I’m sorry to start with that, but I felt like I needed to say that out loud so to speak. I’ve had some revelations about my health this week. Some ideas are rattling around my mind about where it came from. (That’s been the major question that most everyone has asked.) One of my doctors and I both believe that we know, but I’m not making that announcement quite yet. Not until I have a handle on it myself. I know that may sound selfish but in the times I’ve shared it, I’ve dealt with some negative backlash from a few. Honestly, that surprised me even more than the cancer diagnosis itself did. I’ve even heard from some that I’m randomly grasping at straws in order not to have cancer. I’m really not. I have cancer. I know that. I know I need to make some big choices and decisions. So right now I can’t clutter the decisions with these other things. For right now, I’m focusing my efforts and time on the cancer, but when I’m ready, I will share. Promise. Whether I intended it or not, it seems that keeping this journey transparent and honest is what it’s going to be about.

Speaking of which, I don’t know if it was faith or sticking my head in the sand about it, but I honestly never expected that diagnosis. Who has cancer…of the TONGUE? How weird is that?? I was truly, deeply, stunned when the doctor told me.  I still have moments of wondering whether it’s a dream or not. I wonder if that will end? Okay – now you’ve seen firsthand the way my mind is wandering this week. There are moments it seems to really jump all over the place and not want to sit somewhere for too long. I can definitely understand. My body feels the same way.

So back to the topic…since I began telling people about it last week, I’ve been practically bathed in blessings and prayers and good wishes. I have days when I just sit and read through all of the beautiful comments and soak them in. I let them soothe the edges of the ‘cancer cancer cancer’ that’s rattling around in my brain. I read the emails and the texts and the comments again and again and I know that people are truly sharing their hearts. That overflows my own heart with such joy and peace that I hope it radiates to those around me through this journey as well.

I went to church this morning with an abundance of emotion. I was honored and blessed beyond measure to have my Pastor, John Hagee, anoint me and pray with me. For those who have seen him on television, he’s a fiery man of vision that has strong opinions and is not afraid to share them. For those who have met him, he radiates peace and grace in person. It was so wonderful to walk into his office this morning, be greeted with his smile, and have him pray those fiery passionate words of healing and life over me. I’m so thankful for his leadership, and this morning, his time, grace, and encouragement for not only me, but my family as well.

I was also worried that I’d be spending a large part of the morning talking about my cancer and I wasn’t ready to do that. But I had no idea that it would also be healing and freeing for me. Admitting it. Sharing my concerns, the prognosis, and talking about it opened up some more avenues for me. There’s something completely different between writing it and talking about it and that was a good lesson for me to learn.

Letting people love on me has been a new journey as well. I’m always happy to love on others and share goodness and peace where I can, but when it comes to accepting it? That can sometimes be different. I think that maybe there’s a struggle with pity in there somewhere? I don’t want people to pity me. But what I saw today wasn’t that. It was hurting for me. With me. Loving me the best way they can. That has been an amazing revelation for me too.

I could see some who hadn’t yet heard the news. They smiled and waved like normal. They didn’t have the heavy knowledge yet. I envied them that. In many ways I wish I still had that luxury. Was it only a week ago that I was out stringing yarn attached to Easter baskets all through my yard for my kids?? It seems years ago.

If you can believe it, the blessings have already begun to pour in on this. One of my clients shared my story with his family and asked them to pray. His son, knowing how often his father has spoken about me, wrote a long beautiful email back to his father about me and his prayers for me. Somehow, my journey piqued something in this man’s son and he shared my request with a woman at a church he’s been attending but not really plugged into yet. Her response was so open, honest, and encouraging that he’s decided perhaps it’s time to truly engage and really connect at this church. How awesome is that?

I have also heard from several people who are going to go to doctors or dentists for things they’ve been pushing aside and ignoring. Good. Don’t end up where I am. For the record, I’ve seen doctors for this same thing – but I’ve heard mixed responses. None of which were cancer. I’ve heard the sores in my mouth were stress, hormones, virus, illness….so though I didn’t ignore them, I did choose not to follow up and press ahead on other opinions. After all, they told me what I wanted to hear…why wouldn’t I?  But if you have a doubt – at all – don’t hesitate. Go. 

People have asked about my kids. It’s up and down with them. They all have moments where I can see it sitting heavily on them. None of them argue with me about holding my hand anymore. Or hugs or kisses. And it’s okay to sit with mom instead of my friends. I admit to selfishly being okay with that part of this.

My son has been the hard one for me. We’ve been sleeping in the game room downstairs together since my diagnosis. The evening after I told him, he tried to sleep but I could see it on his face every time I checked on him. He was lying there – eyes wide open – covers tucked up all the way under his chin – just thinking. I know that face because I’m sure mine mirrors it. He asked if I could sleep with him and I looked at his single twin bed and the floor strewn with toys and said I wasn’t sure if I should. Or could. There was no place. Then I mentioned being concerned that it might turn into an every night thing. When he looked at me with those big baby blues and said “What’s wrong with that? I just don’t want to be alone.” Indeed. What is wrong with that? So we tucked up sleeping bags, blankets and stuffed animals and set up a party in the game room. We’ve been sleeping there every night since and we’ve actually been doing well with that, he and I. We’re keeping each other company in the dark. It helps. His fuzzy stuffed dog with the big blue eyes that he insists I sleep with gives a measure of comfort too. :)

Tomorrow surgeon appointment. Tuesday Oncologist. Prayers still so deeply treasured and appreciated from all. Please don’t ever think I take them for granted. They are blessings to me.

So I’ve rambled a lot here. Not sure if you’ve even made it to the end of my mental meanderings. I’m really intending these blogs to help me during this time, but if you’re reading and they’ve helped you, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you and connect with you.

Let me leave you with a passage that’s been on my heart this week:

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous….Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1: 5-9

Category: Faith, Life, Reality  Tags: , , ,  2 Comments
%d bloggers like this: