Friday, May 19, 2017

Hitting the Wall Hurts

I think I hit a mental wall this week.  The wall won.
When people say that I may think this will never end, I believe them.  I know it will.  I know that God is carefully watching me every step of the way.  I know it will end, but right now I don't see how.
Yes, I am almost done with the yucky stuff.  The summer weekly chemo should not be as difficult on my body.  Surgery will be most likely the end of September.  I will have that nailed down within the next 6 weeks.  There is a practical end to the treatment.
What hit me this week is the lingering effects that cancer will have.  As with most trials that anyone goes through, I will never be the same.  There will be obvious physical changes and scars. My kids wonder what my hair will look like when it decides to return.  There may be some things that never come back.  Will there be nerve damage inherent with a radical surgery?  Will I ever be able to regain energy even close to where I was before cancer?  Will I be ever cured of cancer? My membership in the club of cancer survivors is a lifetime membership.  
I hesitate to write this as I sound like a thankless, grumpy woman.  Today I probably could be described (especially by my family) as an angry, sad, frustrated, exhausted woman.  So, friends, I am sharing a bit of reality.
What I am counting on is the many prayers of family, friends, and friends of friends whom I will never meet.  Worldwide, my family is brought before God’s throne.  Despite my mindset today, I cannot imagine facing tomorrow without a confidence in the One who knows tomorrow and the next day and next year.
A few weeks ago I saw Laura graduate from Cedarville.  This week I get to watch Matthew and Maddie in the their high school play, Shrek.  Life goes one, and God has allowed me to watch.  I can’t DO very much.  My body gets worn down with the slightest exertion.  However, God is always good.
Yes, hitting the wall hurt.  I cry a lot.  However, this is just an obstacle that I  will have to choose to climb, or walk around, or just sit until Someone carries me over.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Headed to Graduation

We dropped her off five years ago.  As we pulled out of the CU parking lot, Bryan and I looked at each other teary-eyed knowing we had done our job.  She was never coming home again to stay.  Yes, she has been home for breaks.  Now  as we reach graduation, we could not be happier for our daughter, Laura.  She has worked relentlessly as a woman in the engineering department.  She has not let any learning challenges keep her from doing what she loves to do.  She has made life-long friends. She has nurtured a servant’s heart and has grown even more in love with Jesus as she has taken each step to independence.
My diagnosis came on April 3.  I had no idea if treatment would keep me home from graduation.  With port surgery and two chemo days in the books, I am on the PA Turnpike headed out to see my girls.  This Saturday I will cry I am sure as I watch Laura get her diploma.  God is always good, but this milestone is huge.  Only He could move all the pieces of the story.
Laura has an apartment and job waiting for her in Michigan.  I will miss my girl, but this momma feels so thankful for what God is doing.  I have done my job.  God will keep doing His.

Friday, April 28, 2017

One more chemo down - 14 to go

I dreaded round two of chemo.  Really dreaded it.  However, God chose to give me one of the best night’s sleep the day before chemo, and I woke with a clear head and happy heart.  With teaching done for the morning, Bryan and I stole out for a lunch at Pei Wei before we headed to the hospital.
The doctor was very pleased in what he saw.  By outward appearances, the tumor is shrinking.  That news accompanied with the clear tests taken previously means we are on the right track.
I was very concerned this week that my white blood count would not be high enough for chemo.  Next week is Laura’s college graduation in Ohio, and I desperately wanted to be there, not in a chemo room.  I gave that specific request to many prayer warriors.  God chose to answer that positively so chemo was a go.
At the first chemo treatment I took an Ativan, but this time I chose not to take anything.  That decision proved to be wise as I am not nearly as wiped out as I was two weeks ago. Also nausea is very minimal.  That said, it was amazing how quickly all the meds pumped into my body changed my perky self from the morning to a sluggish, tired momma.
It was a gorgeous day yesterday both outside and inside.  Bryan and I noticed with only one exception, all the patients in the chemo room wore not only bald heads, but also bright smiles.  One sat coloring.  Another crocheting.  Most had a friend or family member with them.  Not one complained about all the chirping and beeping of the machines waiting attention.
As my three syringes of red devil were carefully pushed via my port, my nurse, Tammie, and I chatted about Easter, family, God provisions, and patience in this trial.   I look forward to chatting with her more.
We left after  3 ½ hours.  As we waited for the car (the hospital has valet service ), I got to sit next to the grumpy one from the chemo room.  Her husband was picking her up, but I had not seen him in the chemo room.  He is having a hard time knowing how to help her, I gathered.   What made her happy was the perogies she was going to make for dinner.  I think she likes to cook.  I congratulated her on her 52 years of marriage and wished her a wonderful evening.   She cracked a little smile.
Sonic is on the way home, so Bryan and I have made it a ritual to stop for our shakes after chemo.  I may not get it all eaten, but it is definitely a treat I look forward to.
I am so abundantly blessed.  I still cry occasionally.  I don’t know why God has chosen to allow cancer, but I most likely never will.  I get frustrated that my energy is so zapped.  I get angry at my kids when I feel I should not.  Sometimes, I cannot complete a coherent thought.  (Now that my be due to my crazy life anyway.). But I look around and listen and cannot help but see grace God has given through so many.  I do not deserve such love, but I will be forever thankful.

Monday, April 24, 2017

I am weak and afraid

I am not brave.
I am not strong.
On the contrary, I am afraid and weak.
God’s Word, on many occasions tells us to be strong and courageous. I get that.  I just know I am NOT that.  That is until I read the rest of the verse:  for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Okay, really God?  I know you are there, but when I get tired over the smallest thing, when I want to cry over most anything , when I dread heading back to chemo knowing that it will only be worse than last time, it is so hard to believe that.
Cancer attacks my body from head to toe and from inside out.  Cancer is merciless.  Cancer is ugly.  Cancer has laid a path for me to travel for the next year.  If I settled on only these truths, my fear and weakness would certainly overtake me.  I am so glad that God chooses to walk this painful path with me.  He has promised never to leave me or forget about me.  He knows I am not strong.  He is.
God has chosen many others to walk with me too.  Some have experienced the same pain.  Others have not.  Honestly, I am so grateful that God gave me some flesh and blood kind of help.  I am loved and blessed in  so many ways.
I may fall asleep each night asking God to give me sleep rather than lay in fear.  I may need to talk myself into getting at least one thing done today rather than just sit on the couch.
Yes, I am weak and afraid.  I am not some valiant warrior heading gallantly into the battle for my life.  However, I am a princess of the King of Kings and Lords of Lords.  He will fight for me.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Chemo Starts

Life changes in a moment.  Each moment an eternity.  Last week Bryan and I met with doctors, answered questions, and sat and waited for many tests to be done.  My goodness, it was a challenge to get it all in. I cried a lot.
The MUGA scan and x-ray for my heart showed that my heart was healthy enough for chemo.  That’s a good thing.  My MRI showed no new information that would change any treatment that was already scheduled. There is evidence of tumor in one of the lymph nodes, but the chemo will attack that as well.
Port outpatient surgery went well on Wed.  At least the surgery part.  God answered prayer and the doc was able to use the smaller of the two veins to eliminate some complications.  There was minimal bruising.  I just do not do well coming out of anesthesia. Poor Bryan.
Chemo began on Thurs.  What an overwhelming day.  Blood work.  Steroids.  Ativan. Antiemetics.  Multiple saline flushes.  A/C chemo (also known as the red devil).  Neulasta injection.  Information overload.
Nausea.  Body ache.  Inability to stay awake.  All this means is I really have no idea about goings on until Sat.
I woke Thursday night around 3:00am., still on the couch, covered with a blanket I don’t remember putting on.  Next to me on the floor lay Bryan.  This cancer may be attacking my body, but it’s killing Bryan.  I am so in love with this man who through many difficult days has never chosen to walk away.
Love shows up in many ways.  It may be a meal.  It may be a hug.  It can be a blanket or a cup of coffee.  My kids are seeing God’s people stand in the gap and love our family.  I would never, ever wish this awful disease on anyone.  Still, God is good even in the yuck.  My family is going to see Him do some things they could have never dreamed.   Lord, help us in the process.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

An Attempt at Gratitude

The sun is shining.  The roads are clear.  Both good things.  I was challenged by a sweet friend to write down at least one thing each day that I am thankful for. If you were to look at my blogs over the years, you will see I have written many gratitude posts. As we look cancer square in the face, I feel that showing gratitude will be a weapon in my arsenal used in the war against this hideous disease.
I am going to choose to be thankful.  Full disclosure:  I am mad that I have cancer.  I am sad and I cry a lot.  I don’t know how this is all going to work out.  I feel a burden for my family.  Still, there is much to be thankful for.

The bumper on our bus did its job when the tire hit it.
The owner of the mini van without said tire has insurance.
My sister was enjoying a volleyball weekend with her family minutes off the interstate that we are traveling to get home, so that I could stop to hug and cry.
My littles have had a good weekend.
The bus is quiet.
I get to listen to my son sing tomorrow.
My big girls have great friends.
Bryan can work from home.  He is self-employed. He plans to walk each step with me, but when he doesn’t  work, he doesn’t get paid.
My mom got a texting phone.  I know that sounds silly, but it is kind of a good thing.
I don’t have to worry about meals for my family for three days a week because so many have chosen to love on us so practically.
All my appointments that need to be scheduled are scheduled for this week.
God answers prayer.

I do not write this to portray anything but a feeble attempt to focus on truth. Yes, the truth is that I have a long and difficult road ahead.  The truth also lies in a God who knows all of this and loves me more than I could ever fathom.  Cancer has no power over that fact.  God’s got this and I will hang onto Him for dear life.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Diagnosis

The lump had been there for awhile.  Cysts are not uncommon, and they always seemed to go away.  This one did not.  This week, a biopsy proved what I did not want to know.  Cancer.
The next few days blurred together in an ugly swirl of fear, information, and tears.
This week after a litany of tests I will have a port put in to receive chemo on Thursday, April 13.  After that is completed at the end of the summer, I will be having surgery, though the extent of the surgery has not been decided.
My head is spinning with dates, numbers, unknown vocabulary, and questions. How am I to mommy six kids at home?  How can I get their schooling done?  How do I help my kids’ hearts to understand a loving, faithful God in this middle of such concern and uncertainty?
I am so thankful for Bryan who loves me and supports me through all the good and bad.  I feel for him as he now carries a burden far greater than he ever imagined. It makes me sad.
I am blessed beyond measure with family and friends who have already stepped up to help with the logistics of a family with a sick momma.
Only God knows what will happen tomorrow let alone in eight months.  I wish I could plan everything out. Even now, I want to have it all laid out.  Just tell me what to do.  We as a family have been wounded in past years for other various reasons, and God has chosen to leave a scar that is tender.  Now there are to be more scars.  To be honest, I am tired of it.  Yet, I know that in the end God will be glorified.  Selfishly, I want to be a stay at home mom for the next 10+ years who teaches her kids.  I want to grow old with Bryan as we visit all our kids around the country in an RV.  Yes, that is our dream.  I want to live those dreams.
I am counting of the prayers of others.  I am counting on grace.
Lord, help me.