Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The School of Life

It has been a good recovery from surgery so far. My right arm has hurt the worst from the removal of the lymph node. The lumpectomy took a little longer than expected because the tumor was completely gone so the goal was to retrieve the clip that was placed on the tumor during the biopsy. A large amount of tissue was removed and sent in for testing along with the lymph node.

The pathology report from those specimens has come back with negative results for cancer! I can do nothing but praise God for His mighty works. He has been so good to me through this entire process. He has worked through the hands of the doctors and nurses, through the hands of my friends and family, and through the hands of total strangers.

My mom and sister were here to help me with my physical needs during the hardest part of my recovery. There is something humbling about allowing others to come alongside you and do the things that you would normally do yourself, but I can't imagine what I would have done without them.

They live so far away we don't often get to do things together. We took advantage of the time to have some fun. They brought apples from Dad's apple tree and we (I couldn't do much) canned apple pie filling and apple peel jelly. We made apple cobbler and blackberry cobbler from my blackberries. Of course, some may not call that fun, but we had a blast. One night we had a PJ party, I think that is always considered fun. We watched some old classic movies and did a lot of talking and laughing.

These are all precious moments that I will treasure forever. Cancer, as hard as it is, has been the catalyst that has ignited friendships, prompted family visits, and forced me to move outside myself. I started this blog long before I was diagnosed with cancer, but I didn't feel comfortable sharing some of the things that God was teaching me.

I figured my training was kindergarten in comparison to others. But what I have learned is that no lesson is above or below grade. We can all learn from each other but the teacher is God Himself. He is the only one that can tell us how to apply each lesson to our own lives.

We all have things we face that are just as traumatic as a cancer diagnosis. It may not be as life-threatening, but it can be just as traumatic. The school of life can bring hard knocks. Therefore, every situation can have a benefit to our own character growth and help us gain wisdom for the next phase of life. Situations become lessons learned and testimonies to share with others that could help them on their journey.

It is humbling to expose some of the things God teaches me but I remind myself that "pride comes before the fall" Proverbs 16:18. No one benefits from a life that pretends to have it all together and everything figured out. The school of life continues forever.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Now and Forever

I have had a productive chemo recovery and prepared myself as much as possible for tomorrow's surgery. It has been effective for me to busy my mind with other things so I didn't get too worked up over this dreaded day.

Terry and I had our 27th anniversary on June 6th. We recently enjoyed a night out to dinner to celebrate. Since I am now able to taste food it was worth the wait. Our date didn't exactly go as planned but we were together and that is all that really matters.

Cancer has caused me to have some emotional breakdowns, physical exhaustion, fogged thinking, and many other unexpected side effects, but through it all, Terry has encouraged me. His quiet, calm confidence is solid and keeps me grounded.  He is the most amazing man. Everyone who knows him will most likely agree with that statement.

He does not like to be bragged on, but I'm going to do it anyway (don't tell him)! There are so many little things that he does that expresses his love. He may not give me flowers or candy, but he gives me himself, all that he is and has every day. I am so grateful that I get to call him Honey and he calls me Dear.

With Christ in the center of our marriage, I'm looking forward to spending the next 27 plus years in Terry's arms and by his side. I am proud to be his wife now and forever.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Preparing for Surgery

I can't believe how quickly time has passed. My last chemo treatment was May 28th but it seems like it was only a couple of weeks ago. The neuropathy has disappeared in my fingers, I feel it occasionally in my toes, but under the circumstance, I am very grateful it's not worse. My taste buds have healed and my appetite is back (that's not so great for the waistline) but it is nice be able to taste food again.

I have been spending most of my time preparing for breast surgery, which is July 15th. It has put me on a quest to complete some tasks that have been staring at me throughout my chemo treatments. Other things just started piling up after chemo started, but thankfully I have completed most of them.

I had a great time with my dad and brother when they came for a visit. We had the most fun making fry bread for tacos. It was an unplanned, last minute idea that sent us to the store twice, made a huge mess in the kitchen, and caused us to eat later than normal, but it brought the most memorable moments.

Sometimes the best things we do together are the hardest to achieve. We almost gave up on the idea because it wasn’t coming together very easily. It took great effort to find a recipe, gather the ingredients, dig out the fryer, and research the technique. We made a few mistakes and failed on our first three breads, which we found pretty tasty as a snack before dinner. It was all worth it in the end, not just because we had great tacos, but because we had a great time.

It made me think about the great effort it takes to live as a Christian; the mistakes we make, the trials we go through, the persecutions we face, and the many times we fail, but it is all worth it in the end. It takes effort to seek His word and dig out the truth. It takes effort to accept His word over what we want for ourselves. It is easier to give up and go with the flow of the world around us. It is easier to give in to our own wants and desires.

I have heard many times that cancer isn’t for sissies; well, I can say the same about Christianity, it is not for sissies. Those of us who choose to be Christians are not given a special bubble to live in that keeps us from troubles, heartache, illness, or catastrophe. What we are given is a special relationship with the God of creation, through Jesus His Son (John 3:16).

In this relationship we find the wisdom, encouragement, strength, and faith to endure through all that life puts before us. We find amazing grace, unstoppable love, unexplainable peace, great joy, and a life that is worth living. The most difficult times can be the most rewarding. The hardest obsticles can be the greatest moments. God makes all things work for good to those that love Him (Romans 8:28). 

Cancer has effected every part of my life. I have had to deal with physical limitations, challenged on the emotional roller coaster, and spiritually stretched in my faith. Through my relationship with the Lord, I have found His word to be true; all things have worked for good.   

I still have surgery and radiation to go through on this cancer journey, but God is sufficient and He will see me through it all.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Recovering From Chemo

Recovering from chemo has been an interesting process. I have already started getting some strange wool-like fuzz growing on my head. I'm getting feeling back in my fingers and toes and even the sticky sinus drainage has started to decrease.

I am able to taste more things than I did a few weeks ago and I am working on increasing my energy level but still find that I tire easily from simple tasks.

I was blessed with a visit from my nephew and his family from Florida along with my sister from Nevada last weekend.

It was such a wonderful gift because I was able to take my mind off the next stage of my treatment and escape, like a mini vacation, and enjoy time with them.

It is amazing how God gives us exactly what we need at the moment we need it; even when we don't know we need anything at all.

Their visit became a sort of "end of chemo" celebration before having to focus on my next portion of treatment so the timing couldn't have been more perfect.

There always seems to be some obstacle to overcome through this cancer fight. The mental, emotional, and physical strength it takes to face the next stage is always a process of finding the courage to move forward.

Their visit gave me the break I needed and refreshed me for the fight. I got to do things that I hadn't felt like doing for a while.

We went for walks, played board games, and I ate some great food (most of it I could actually taste). I cannot thank them enough for taking their vacation, sacrificing their time, and giving of themselves to come to see me.

Now, I move toward breast surgery then radiation therapy. I have an appointment with the Radiation Oncologist next week to discuss what to expect with radiation. The following week I have an appointment with the Surgeon to discuss my options and schedule surgery. 

As I recover from chemo, I am mustering the courage to continue the fight. I remember that the Lord is my strength. I can face anything when I put on the Armor of God and hold the Sword in my hand as well as in my heart.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Courage to Fight

For the first time in 16 weeks, I am not facing chemo treatments. It seems strange to be at this stage in the process because, oddly enough, chemo seems to become a routine of life.

I remember being scared to even start chemo and had to muster the courage to move forward in spite of my fear. Then, I found myself in the strange position of being scared to stop chemo and had to muster the courage to surrender to my doctor's recommendation.

I have had a group of friends who have sacrificed their time taking me to my chemo treatments, doctor appointments, and basic errand running. They have prepared meals, given gift cards for area restaurants, massaged my feet, brought me gifts, and checked on me daily for any needs that may arise. I have received cards and texts of encouragement every day. I cannot say enough about these women and the love they have shown me. 

Women who have walked this road before me always say that cancer is not for sissies. They are determined to set their minds to fight, "kicking cancer's rear." I have been encouraged by those women who endured the weight of cancer and all that comes with the diagnosis. They are the warriors who have gone before in battle and cheer me on from the other side.

The fight is bigger than the disease or the cure, the fight encompasses every part of who I am. Some days I have been in a battle of fighting fears, other days I have battled wrong thoughts and maybe even depression. The battle of fatigue is hard because it has caused me to feel like I miss out on the "normal" life I have always had.

Battling the side effects has always been exhausting because there are so many that affect everyday life ~ from food to bathroom breaks, which then goes back to the battle of fatigue, depression, and fears. Fighting the battle takes courage and determination every single day.

I am still in the middle of my cancer battle. At this point, I will have 4 to 6 weeks of chemo recovery time before I lay on the operating table for breast surgery. Now, another fight begins; facing unknowns and fears, decisions and doctors orders. What will it be like on the other side and how will my life be changed?

God has taught me so much through this first stage of the battle and I know I have many more lessons to learn. I am thankful for my friends and family who have made sacrifices to come alongside me and fight with me. I am thankful for the warriors who are on the other side cheering me on and I look forward to standing alongside them one day cheering on others in the middle of the battle.