Monday, April 30, 2012


I've been thinking a lot about vulnerability lately. It's meaning: open to assault, capable of being attacked, susceptible to injury or disease, wide open, unprotected... This word could be used to describe a military state, one's status in society, or the condition of one's body. It seems to me a person can bring this on himself. Sometimes we are victims of vulnerability because of our social status. We can cause ourselves to be vulnerable by our actions. Lastly, it can happen through injury or disease. So many levels in which to consider the meaning of this word.  And... of course, emotionally too.

Some people believe that being vulnerable is empowering. I haven't really studied up on this, but I have a few hunches. I think with the realization that we are vulnerable comes extreme fear, at least at first. Being exposed in front of others is a tenuous place to be. Perhaps it's empowering when it's a choice. When we chose to be naked (in a sense) before others, it can be very freeing. When being vulnerable is imposed upon us, I believe it's how we react that will either empower us or cause us to fall, to shrivel up, & die.

We've all had that feeling where we wish we could crawl in a hole & die. It's usually a result of embarrassment, hurt, or fear. We've become vulnerable, & we are scared. Maybe we've just realized our vulnerability or admitted it, even though it was always there. Perhaps we avoided facing it. Pride sometimes makes a good cover up, at least temporarily. Some people seem to avoid their vulnerability to the end, & as they are on their way to prison, their crime can no longer be rationalized.

We are all vulnerable. That's the truth. A new boss can move in, & we lose our sense of respect. A new kid on the block rearranges the pecking order in the neighborhood. We are upstaged by a new talent. We become bankrupt. We make a mistake. We are diagnosed with a disease. We have a terrible accident. Our best friend trades us in for another. Our lies are uncovered. Our mate has a midlife crisis & leaves. We lose our job. We feel betrayed. Perhaps we betrayed another & have to face our own ugliness. Our body ages. Our success is fleeting. That one thing we thought we needed has left us empty.

In the last 9 months of life, I have become vulnerable in every way, & not by choice. My body is open to assault, being ravaged by cancer & its treatments (which tend to be worse than the disease itself). I've become limited in what I can do. This may only be for a season; time will tell. I haven't been able to give to others the way I love to give. In fact, just the opposite has occurred. I'v been the recipient of much kindness. Some of my relationships have suffered, while others have new depth & meaning. I feel most exposed on the radiation table. It's a daily helpless position (& a bit degrading too). I've wrestled emotionally with my fears (over & over again), & I always come back to that one thing: God has the whole picture, & I can only trust in Him. Admitting my vulnerability brings me down to the lowest rung on the ladder, or maybe even to the floor. And... for some strange reason, I find peace there, in the truth.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

looking forward...

I think it's healthy to have things to look forward to in life. As a cancer patient, it helps immensely. It enables me to focus on sweet things rather than some of the difficulties I am experiencing. It truly takes my mind off my troubles. Right now, I am done with 12 radiation sessions & have 21 more to go. Will I make it? I guess that depends on my skin. It's starting to get that sunburned feeling & look. I expect it to get much worse over the next few weeks. If there is any good in this, by the time my skin blisters, the treatments will be almost done. Emotionally, I am a bit more stable than I have been.

I attribute my somewhat even keel as of late to all of the joy my friends & family have brought me. I turned 50 last week, & I think it was the most meaningful birthday I've ever had. I received some beautiful gifts, things I never expected. I had friends accompany me to my treatments which made them seem like social outings. I also received some lovely messages, phone calls, texts, & flowers. Wow! I feel spoiled.

Our patio furniture finally arrived (1 week late & needing to be assembled). So that's how our weekend went... my husband assembling our new patio furniture. At least, we are happy with it, & some warmer weather is on the way. Today, he gave me his complete blessing to plan a little trip with a dear friend. I am very excited about this. I feel like he has become my own personal make-a-wish foundation. I don't think I deserve this beautiful treatment. I wish everyone was loved like this by their mate.

I told him today that I would rather live my life with cancer being loved by him then to have a strained relationship with my husband & not have this burden of cancer. That's pretty powerful, but it's the truth. My best moments in life are with him when our stars are aligned. Being in his arms is Heaven on earth to me. So... I'll fight my fight. I'll trust in God for the outcome, & in the meantime, I will thank God for my husband & look forward to the simple joys that come each day.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Paradox

Unexpected excitement is in the air! The Race for the Cure is only 2 weeks away. My pink shirt finally came in the mail on Wednesday. I couldn't wait to see it, to try it on. It is beautiful, a perfect shade of pink & a sweet design. It fits. I took it straight to the Sporting Goods store to have my team name put on the back. Now, it will be complete.

I can't help but marvel at how a paradox is being played out in my head & in my life. Since I was a young mother, I have participated in The Race for the Cure (almost routinely until recently). A dear friend & I  even took a group of girls & adopted grandmas many of those years. It was a little mission group at church. We always had coffee cake at the end. It was very meaningful.

The Race is always the day before Mother's Day in Peoria. My first memory of The Race was reading about it in the paper on Mother's Day. I was a very young mother. I remember reading the stories of so many of the survivors & having an overwhelming lump in my throat. Watching the news on TV & seeing all of the pink hats was too much for me. It was always hard for me to deal with my emotions on this special day. There was the year (10 years ago), I walked the race in awful weather & became terribly ill the next day (on Mother's Day). This was the onset of a disease I would have to learn to live with, but it would take 5 months to get a diagnosis.

So each each year, on this special Saturday, I would wake my 3 little girls up very early. They would put on their Race for the Cure shirt, which looked more like  night shirts on their small bodies. We would meet with our little mission group at the church, have a prayer, & off we would go to the big crowd. Having the adopted Grandmas was such a bonus. Not only did they make it more meaningful, they each took the hand of a little girl & kept her safe.

Each year, I honestly dreaded this day. Breast cancer has always been on my list of greatest fears. Seeing all of those courageous survivors, covering a wide age span, just killed me. As I've said before, especially the young mothers. It's just too much to bear, thinking of children losing their mamas. I can't reconcile this under any circumstances. I just can't. Seeing the signs on the backs of shirts stirs my heart beyond words. People typically display the name(s) of who they are remembering or honoring in their walk. Sometimes it's a first name. Sometimes it says Mommy, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Aunt .... Whatever it says, the meaning behind those few words says it all.

This year, a team gathers in my name. I'm in disbelief on more than one count. #1  I have cancer. #2  A team is gathering for me. I love that it has men on it. I don't know why, but I feel doubly honored by the men who are taking time to honor me in this way. I am also doubly honored by the men who read my blog. I don't know quite why; I just am. I am also thankful I will have my husband & my 3 daughters by my side for this event. My girl's shirts will no longer be the length of nightshirts because they have grown into caring young women. They stand by my side & walk this journey with me.

Instead of leading a group with my dear friend, a group is being formed for me. Instead of dreading it, I am so excited about it, I can hardly wait. Yes, I will probably be overcome with emotion on the morning of The Race. It will likely strike a chord in my heart so deep, I will have no words to describe the experience. My family & my friends will be with me, walking this journey together.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Yesterday I witnessed the cycle repeating itself. As I sat in my cubicle waiting for my radiation, I couldn't help but hear a woman asking my questions. The strange thing is... they were now her questions. I heard things like, "My husband & I were thinking..." She was having second thoughts about her treatment. Her plastic surgeon recommended one thing & her radiologist something different. Some of her cancer's traits were similar to mine: some were different. Her surgery was lesser, & I don't know if her lymph nodes were involved.

She was holding together better than I did. In fact, she seemed as if  her emotions were dulled. The nurse  was kindly answering her questions, also with very little emotion. It's a strange twist to hear someone else sitting in your shoes, asking your questions, going through your emotions, & navigating your journey. It's a sad feeling. It's empty because there is little you can do to help, even though you are sitting in the same place.

Before I knew it, she was whisked off for a scan. I marveled at how the cycle continues. The same questions are routinely asked by the one who's life is at stake. The people on the other side of the fence answer the questions as best they can. They don't have a crystal ball, & with all of the uncertainties, the journey will certainly have its ups & downs. They also know that they are not immune to being stricken with an illness that would turn their own world upside down. No one is.

Tonight, I finally summoned up the courage to ask my husband, "Why?" His answer, "Because God has people to reach through this journey." My response, "Really, you really think so?" In truth, he doesn't know, but that is his thought at this moment. I'm pleased with his answer. If God can touch a heart through my journey, it's worth every step (painful or not). If one soul moves closer to the doors of Heaven through my journey,  I will gladly walk it.

On the flip side, I read back over a few of my early blogs. They seem lame to me. I told my husband my next blog would be entitled "Lame" to apologize for my lameness. He just chuckled. Again, I can only trust God to use His mighty hand to touch the hearts of others. I am His, & I am honored to be used in this way, if that is truly the case.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

my cheerleader

A very special package came in the mail today. My niece sent me a birthday package. Immediately, my heart was touched (before I even opened it because it was from her). She has been a part of my life since I began dating her uncle. We hit it off from the start. She was a cute little 4 year old at the time, hiding behind the bush in the front yard, too shy to meet her Uncle's girlfriend. I remember well: she had pigtails  & a personality which melted her young Uncle's heart. He would do anything for her. She looked up to him as if he were a man of the world at 15 years old.

As her uncle & I dated, she & I developed our own special relationship. He would bring her to the pool to visit me while I lifeguarded. I found her simply delightful. I was always trying to think of activities which included her. She made me feel special, & I thought she was the sweetest thing this side of Heaven. I also loved the side of my boyfriend she touched. I loved how he played with her & how much he admired this little doll.

It was only natural that when we married, she was a part of our wedding. At 12 years old, she was a sweet touch, so pretty & graceful. After we were married, I loved having her come to visit. It was she who caused me to ride one roller coaster too many & lose my title as the Roller Coaster Queen. She taught me how to make a pie crust. She shared her secrets with me, & I shared mine with her.

So today, when this very special package arrived, I was emotional the minute I saw her name in the return address. I opened it & realized she had tagged each item so I would understand its use. I am going to see her this summer on the beach, & she wants me to have everything I need. The first item that caught my eye was a beautiful Vera Bradley beach bag (of course it's one of Vera's breast cancer awareness patterns). So pretty & full of pinks. Next, I found a frame. It has Bella's name on it. My niece loved my blog called "Bendability" so she had a beautiful frame made for Bella. How touching. I also found a pretty blouse in an antique rose & cream floral pattern. She said theses were colors that looked good on me. How thoughtful! There was even a beautiful scarf. Lastly, came the gift that penetrated my heart. She scrap booked all of my blogs up through last week into a scrapbook entitled "My Journey."

It was just me & the animals at home as my eyes welled up with tears. I was so overcome with emotion, I had to sit down. This beautiful niece of mine had honored me more than I could ever have imagined. I wasn't prepared to be so deeply touched & in the privacy of my own home with nobody but me. I called her because sending her a thank you wouldn't be adequate. It was impossible to put my feelings into words. She's always been my cheerleader. When her Uncle & I got back together, she was the happiest. Now today, as I fight this fight, she lifts me up.

Dedicated to Courtenay

so inexplicably sweet...

If I didn't take a moment to blog about yesterday's happenings, I think I would disappoint myself. Yes... I turned the Big Five 0! Wow, I can't believe I am 50! My Angel of Hope (whom I've written about before) told me that she looks at birthdays in a new way now that she is a Survivor.  She thanks God because she gets to be another year older. One of my closest friends said to me twice yesterday that she is just so thankful I am here. She even said we almost lost me. In truth, I was told if I did nothing, I would have little time.

So... here I am, 50 & fighting. When I walked into Susan G. Komen the other day to register a few friends for The Race, the man asked me if I was a Survivor. I said, "I am a fighter." I don't know at what point you actually become a Survivor. I'm still undergoing treatment so I see my self as a fighter. I'm not sure I answered appropriately. I got the feeling I made no sense.

Yesterday began with my sweet friend bringing me the most delicious doughnut I've ever tasted. My dog thought so too. He jumped up on me & snatched it right off my plate. I must have been feeling pretty spunky because I grabbed it right out of his mouth & ate it. Oh my... my friend & I laughed so hard! It was the best dog gone doughnut I ever ate, & only 1/2 the calories!

My friend I blogged about on Monday, again accompanied me to radiation. When you have a friend with you, it truly takes the focus off why you are going & somewhat becomes a fun outing like going out for coffee. We are never at a loss for words! Traditionally, she takes me to Red Lobster on my actual birthday. We had so much fun, laughing & gabbing (like we always do). Of course, the cheddar biscuits were the best part.

When I got home, I finished getting ready for my lil head shaving party. My daughter's classmate from college was honoring me by having me shave his head for Saint Baldrick's, an organization that raises money to help kids fight cancer. I wish no kid ever had to fight cancer! The weather was just right. My family & friends gathered around on my back deck, as I shaved this young man's head for such a worthy cause.

As I began the task, I was a little nervous about the job I was doing. He was so relaxed & humble, he put me at ease immediately. With each stroke of the trimmer, I had flashbacks of the day my 2 daughters & one bestie shaved my head. I was scared, but the girls & my husband validated me with each stroke of the trimmer. They told me my head was cute & that  I looked so pretty. I didn't feel pretty, but I felt relief that I didn't look as bad as I expected & that they thought I was pretty.

While shaving this young man's head, I was so humbled by his humility (a quality I deeply admire), & honored that he would do this for me. I was also uplifted beyond words by the presence of my loved ones, the text messages, posts, calls, private messages, cards, & flowers I received all day. My youngest daughter couldn't make the big event. I was just saying how I missed her, & my phone rang. She & her sweet friend sang Happy Birthday to me. She also gave me 2 birthday kisses over the phone yesterday. That made my day!

We had a champagne toast, & I received a beautiful pink glass & a colorful glass plate that says, "Celebrate." As the Big Five O came to a close, I was a "good" tired. I stayed up til after midnight messing with my pictures & uploading the video of the head shaving. I kept thinking about what each person in my life means to me. Of course, mere words could never do them justice.

So... I never dreamed of getting to be 50 under my current circumstances. My life isn't perfect. In fact, I think it has an ever-present sadness, or at least a knowing that never goes away. Yet, it has a joy so deep, so inexplicably sweet, unlike any I have ever known... I've truly never felt so honored in my life.

Dedicated to Ron Wong.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Second guessing the day...

Deciding to live transparently is a challenge to say the least. It's easy to get wrapped up in the response of others & shy away. If I write a blog & don't print it immediately, I usually don't print it at all because I second guess my words. I feel as though God is leading me to share my life, but I don't really know why. I also feel the burden of not sharing anything that isn't God honoring.

And... of course, I think it's important that I share my own thoughts, not the thoughts of my loved ones. It's not my place, so I do all I can to protect their privacy & not embarrass them. I'm trying to let this transparency seep into every part of my life unless it's inappropriate. Today, my dear friend accompanied me to a full day of treatments & appointments. I invited her to sit in on my appointments & be a part of this journey.

She was privy to my height, weight, blood pressure, scars, questions, concerns... She met my oncologist & my radiology oncologist. She has so much going on in her life, I am honored she would spend the day with me, accompanying me to all my medical appointments. But now... I am second guessing the day. I am wondering what I have left to offer a friendship. I am thinking about the fun she can have with other friends, & wondering why she would even want to spend the day with me.

I feel it's important to be honest with her & share my deepest thoughts because that is the kind of friendship we have. That is what we have always done. But... now, things in my life aren't so enjoyable. I know she would give her left arm for me, the shirt off her back. However, I don't feel it's right to let her give so much.

Yes... if the shoes were reversed, I would want to be there for her. I would do all I could. I feel God has called me to write this blog & to be transparent (both in writing & in my relationships). So why do I feel guilty for sharing the deepest part of my journey with her? Sometimes, I question the very words I publish. As with the rest of my journey, I just have to trust in the calling & remain faithful (even if I don't have the whole picture).

straws & faith

So here's what was said to me in a restaurant a few days ago... I ordered ice tea & water. The waitress did not give me a straw. So... I asked her for one. She offered me 1 or 2. I asked her for 2, one for each glass. In return, she lectured me on recycling. She said straws were a luxury, & furthermore, she couldn't understand why anyone needed a straw. She then went on to say that people waste plastic bags all the time by only putting one grocery item in them. By the time she finished, I regretted having ever asked for a straw. I wished I'd just sipped right out of my glass. Oh well... hind sight is always 20/20.

It reminded me of an incident that happened months ago in my favorite department store. I was returning an item. Their policy is no hassle returns. This woman (behind the customer service counter) began sniffing my item of clothing. I was like... really? I inquired as to why she was sniffing my return item. Her answer: "You wouldn't believe what people try to return." Okay, I admit it; I was offended.

I'm not sure if I am just in a place in my life right now, a place where I get slapped in the face regularly with circumstances out of my control, slapped in the face with the unexpected. Maybe I need to get a life? Seriously, both of these situations caught me off guard & troubled me. I find it inappropriate to lecture a person on recycling for requesting 1 straw for each drink. I also find it inappropriate to sniff a customer's clothing upon return. Is it just me? Am I too sensitive?

As I laugh at these situations now, I must ask myself: Do I do the same to other people? I certainly hope I don't. That kind of treatment of another person elicits a response that makes one feel small. It's degrading & unnecessary. I have to apply this same "straw theory" to my faith now. That waitress was shoving her view on recycling down my throat. She had a worthy burden, but her approach was disarming. Do I do the same to others with my faith? I certainly hope not! Yes... I want to share what sustains me so that others too can be sustained. I don't want to have the opposite impact because of my approach.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

all is stripped away...

I love how life works. Sometimes it seems as though things are coincidental, but I don't believe in coincidence. Therefore, I must give God the credit for orchestrating seemingly little things that have big meaning in my life. As I've mentioned before I was a youth leader for 8 years, 8 of the most fulfilling years of my life. During a portion of this time, a dear friend (a college student) faithfully lead worship for me. Every now & then, he would honor me by surprising me with my favorite worship song, " The Heart of Worship." I think with my ADD & all, I always referred to it as "I'll Give you More than a Song." When he played this song, my heart lit up because it expressed exactly how I felt. It still does.

The song begins...When the music fades, & all is stripped away. Today I was thinking about when all is stripped away. I think that's when only the truth is left. All pretense is gone, no more pretending. It's actually a good place to be. So many times, I think we try to hide behind our fears & pretend that everything is okay. Cancer has a way of stripping away everything, from your dignity to anything you tried to hide. I find that I am frequently not recognizable anymore. Weird, but true. Sometimes it's convenient, but usually it's just strange to watch people pretend they know you. When I was first diagnosed, I thought about hiding the truth from my mom. I couldn't bear to hurt her so deeply. After my first chemo treatment, I realized I was incapable of carrying off such a charade.

I've tried to convince myself of certain things in the past. I've found it takes a lot of effort & energy to pretend. It involves an ongoing awareness to make something seem different than it is. The truth is much easier, & it really does set you free. It's a relief to be left with the truth, even when it hurts. You can deal with the truth. You can't deal with something that doesn't exist. Back to that thing called coincidence (which I don't believe in).... today a friend messaged me this:

I've finally discovered the bright side of uncertainty- possibility. Although "security" is alluring, it often means everything is all mapped out, & even then, security is an illusion. Everything can change in a second. When we accept that life is uncertain, we can embrace the excitement of realizing that anything is possible. The future could hold miracles...

What beautiful words my friend sent me. As I read them, I marveled at their meaning, & at how how God was affirming my thoughts. Having my security stripped away really is okay because it was always only an illusion. It only existed in my head, not in reality. The one thing that can never be stripped away is the hope I have in Christ. It's significance is eternal. It cannot be removed.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

...beyond our wildest dreams

An interesting question came my way today. My husband asked me what I saw ahead for us, once this chapter is closed (or at least my treatment is complete). It's hard for me to imagine such a day, although I know it's just around the corner come Fall, with possibly a few added tweaks to my surgery. I asked him how he meant the question. Did he mean it as in our daily life style or as in planning a trip?

We'd both love to take a trip, but I gathered he was more meaning our daily life. Of course, I don't really know. We were kind of stuck in this spot before my diagnosis. We were dreaming about our future plans, & then suddenly, everything was put on hold. So... when he asked me that same question today, it took me back a few months prior to the beginning of this journey.

I do remember those days... We had just taken a cruise to see our (now) son-in-law perform on a big ship. It was like a second honeymoon, so much fun! He bought me a beautiful midnight blue sparkly ring, just because I liked it. We spent hours sitting in a giant basket chair on the deck beneath a full moon. I remember it like it was yesterday. The warm breeze blew, & we were literally in our own little world. It was a moment to savor, & I did.

It was that night he bought me the pretty ring. It certainly wasn't the most expensive ring on the ship, but I'm sure it had the most meaning behind it. Just pure love, that's all. Little did I know that in just a month, I would shutter at the thought of that trip. I would visit my photo album & cry at how my life had changed. I had no idea what lay ahead of me, of us.

Today, I could only respond with these words: All I know is if we have each other, we will be happy. That's it; that's the truth. We don't need an RV to travel the world. We don't need a lake house. We might enjoy those things, but it's okay not to have the answers. If we have each other, we will be blessed beyond our wildest dreams.

Recurrent theme...

Lately, I've been pondering the meaning of  being judgmental. It's a recurrent theme that keeps going through my mind. It's not a quality I aspire to own, but sad to say, I think we are all guilty because we are not even aware of our own views at times. Perhaps we were raised with certain mentalities, & we just think our own beliefs are universal. Maybe we roll our eyes so others can see, or maybe it's just that self righteous little thought that smolders in our heart. It might even be a prejudice we think we've hidden well, & then something triggers it, & it seeps out like steam in a boiling pot.

Sometimes, I find myself guilty, & abhor it. What is your prejudice? Is it against someone's moral character? Does it have to do with their looks? Perhaps it has to do with their financial state. Maybe it is their life stye, their addictions, or their sexual orientation. Even in today's world, could it have to do with their gender or their ethnicity? What about their education or lack of intelligence? Maybe they have a disability  or a mental illness.

Whatever causes you to look down on others, to put yourself just a notch above them on the totem pole of life, I ask you to consider laying it down. Realize, you haven't walked in their shoes, & your life & their's is not comparable. Also, we are all guilty. Not one of us is better than another. God is just as heartsick with my sin as He is with the man justifiably sitting on death row. It's the heart that counts, & God sees my heart even when I am blinded.

I've had a few incidences lately that have caused me to feel an inch high. Sometimes I felt this short stature because of how I was treated, & other times it was because of a thought that pierced my own heart, the realization that I was guilty, guilty of something I hate. I have also embarrassed myself regularly as of late (due to the fact that my short term memory is hampered terribly from chemo). It's both a struggle & an embarrassment. Having a sense of humor is essential to overcome my own apparent stupidity. It's humbling.

I am asking God to make me aware of this disgusting trait & help me wash myself clean of it (only through His grace). I don't want to ever think I am better than another, & in truth, it hurts when others put me down. I find it so disturbing that it dwells in my heart until I can process the whole situation & work through whatever just happened. I'm not capable (on my own) of ridding myself of the harm & chalking it up to the other person's shortcoming. If it's my loved one who is offended, it's easier for me to dismiss, but if it's me, I have trouble giving myself the same comfort I would bestow on another soul.

Friday, April 20, 2012

my reality

Today began my education into the world of lymphedema. It's all precautionary but necessary as I am now at risk for developing it. I met for 2 hours with a physical therapist & got measured for a sleeve & a glove. Lymphedema is swelling that occurs when the lymphatic system is damaged. I am at risk for 3 reasons: positive node biopsy, lymph node dissection, & now radiation on my lymph nodes. I wouldn't mind at all if I was spared this condition; however, I might as well prepare myself & do all I can on my part to delay its onset.

My left arm aches a lot, especially after any slightly strenuous activity such as grocery shopping or unloading my dishwasher. I will wear the sleeve while doing such activities, & hopefully, it will decrease my aches & pains. I'm hoping it will allow me to be more active. I love being educated on any of these health matters. Once I understand, I feel so much better about everything. I spend so much of my time visiting health care providers. When this journey began, I had no idea the number of specialists it would take to meet my medical needs. I never imagined how my world would change & how my time would be consumed.

I found a pill organizer to help me organize my medicines. I usually do one day at a time, & I'm afraid of running late in the morning & messing up. It's gotten to be more than a simple task. I am part of a clinical trial so that has added to my daily dosage. I proudly asked my husband if he'd like to see my week's worth of pills. He kindly said no thanks; he found it depressing. It is overwhelming.

Radiation is so far less stressful than I expected. My friend told me to pray through the alphabet during my sessions. Doing so has helped everything. It takes my focus off the pain of being stretched & still for 25 minutes a day, & gives me something very satisfying to do. I almost find my self being disturbed when the techs come in to rearrange me. My skin appears to be slightly sunburned but very mild at this point (7 sessions out of 33 completed).

Emotionally, it's been a less traumatic week for me. No new curves came my way. The radiation makes me very tired at times but seems to come & go. Sometimes, usually while driving back & forth to appointments, my mind gravitates to this word: cancer. It is my reality. Sometimes I am so honored & humbled by the kindness of others toward my new cause. Other times, I'm still shocked that this is my life. It is a season (I think), but truthfully, I don't know. It's hard to imagine my life without cancer, and at the same time, I still can't believe I have cancer.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

moment of truth

I believe it's how we act in a crisis that determines our character. When the rug is swept out from under us, it's what comes out of our mouth that determines who we are. It's easy to behave when the "going is good." It's no problem to be kind when others treat us with compassion. When we get our way, we tend to be in a good mood.

What happens when we don't get the desire of our heart? What if someone undermines us, or it seems that the wrong thing is rewarded? What if the kid that cheats becomes Valedictorian? When we hear what others are saying behind our back, how do we respond? If we aren't blessed with the miracle we prayed for, how do we live our life?

Tonight on American Idol, the unexpected happened. Kolton Dixon prematurely went home. He had one off night, & that was it, he was done. Unlike others who have gone home on Idol in previous seasons, Kolton apologized for not being himself last night. He then got on his knees & respectfully sang, "You're all I need" to his Heavenly Father. Who is Kolton Dixon? When his moment of truth came, he answered.

There have been others such as Rachel Scott who lost her life in Columbine but first delivered the right answer. I've always wondered... if I met my moment of truth, would I give the right answer? If my healing doesn't occur this side of Heaven, will I live each day with gratefulness? If I have to suffer more than I can bear, will I hold tight to my faith?

Truth is... I will only know the answer to these questions when my moment of truth comes. I believe it is good to prepare myself to face this moment. It is inevitable, we will all face this moment. It's not if; it's when. It's how. I met a fellow cancer fighter a few days ago. I asked him  if this journey gets easier.  He said he wished he could say it did, but honestly no, it doesn't. He went on to say that he is afraid he has a false sense of security. He is feeling good right now. He lost his friend to the same illness in just 3 days.

So my challenge for today is this: live life to the full regardless of the news I receive. Love others as deeply as possible. That way, if I am not healed this side of Heaven, I will have made the most of each day. Seek every opportunity to share the love of Jesus in every way possible. That means in word & in action, without judgement of others. My Pastor once said, "Those who love to love, live to love." My goal is to live to love.

Wheel Spinning... ... ...

Decision making is hard. Spinning our wheels is unproductive. Deciding what to do can be mind boggling & emotionally exhausting. Sometimes we are consumed with our decisions & sit ourselves on a stationery bike that doesn't move forward. We pedal & pedal, but we go nowhere.

Some people thrive on constant upheaval, not knowing what to do. The inability to make a decision can be crippling. We cannot move forward when we are stuck in limbo. Our indecision may also have a ripple effect. Others may be crippled by our wheel spinning too.

When trying to make a difficult decision, I seek the Lord. I ask myself what He would have me do. After all, life's not really about me, is it? I pray for direction & seek peace. Recently, I realized that sometimes we will not find peace. We just have to strive to do the right thing or the best thing. There may not even be a wrong or a right, just what's best.

Over the last 8 months, I have learned this: Do not give up when seeking the Lord. Somehow, someway, He will provide our answer. It may be through a song, through the wise counsel of a trusted friend, a scripture, a conviction, or a multitude of other ways. As we sit on our stationery bikes, pedaling as if there is no tomorrow, we need to commit our hearts, minds, & souls to His care. I am convinced that He will keep His promise, He will direct our paths.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Today I am contemplating tenderness. By this, I mean, having a heart of compassion for others. Specifically, I am thinking about those who serve in the health care world. A dear friend came to visit me today. She always wants to know my daily journey. After she left, I was thinking back through our conversation.

I've always known I was about relationship, but I think this journey has made me realize to what extent others matter to me. There have been some perks along the way in this unpredictable journey; particularly the people I meet. They tend to make me or break me. At least, that is how I let them effect me.

When their hearts are tender towards my fragile state, I am better able to deal with my ups & downs. I say at least one clueless thing daily; it is a result of chemo brain. I forget something significant, & it makes me appear as if I'm off my noodle.

As my friend & I visited, I found myself telling her how each of my doctor's treated me & about the nurses that did little things to comfort me. If you are a health care professional & reading my blog, please never underestimate the value of your kindness. Sometimes you have to give me bad news or guide me through unpleasant treatments, & how you treat me makes all the difference in the world.

I have been treated mainly with compassion & respect. When sad news comes my way, I am able to cope with it so much better when I am treated tenderly. When I am treated harshly, I respond with fear. It kicks in without my consent. It takes all I have to beat it down & face my woes. It takes all I have to hold my self together, & sometimes, I don't.

Another treasure on this journey comes in how it matures the ones I love. I have seen heart changes in the people that are walking this walk with me. These changes prove themselves over time with consistency. When my relationship with another human being is deepened or refined, I am able to thank God for cancer. Truly, I find so much peace in the growth of the human heart (whether mine or that of a loved one), it makes the whole journey worthwhile.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I can't.

Richard Bach wrote Jonathan Livingston Seagull. He is credited for this quote: "Listen to what you know instead of what you fear." Truthfully, I've never read his well known book about a seagull who flew just for the love of flying. However, I ran into his quote, & I had to know who he was. His quote presents a challenge which I believe takes discipline I need to achieve.

Fear is an emotion, an unpleasant feeling which senses danger. Today, as I was headed to the hospital for my radiation, I was patting my own back. I thought maybe I had finally learned a lesson I feel God is trying to teach me. It has to do with fear. I sense that He wants me to depend more fully on Him & let go of my fears. So... when last Friday, I noticed I had sprouted a new little bump, I told myself not to worry.

Saturday night I awakened in the middle of the night & resolved that the only thing to do was to have it checked. This decision gave me peace. I decided to once again face my fear & seek the truth. I told myself that the worst thing I could be told is that it is cancerous. My response: I already have cancer. I needn't fear the "little c" (Christ being the Big C).

Also, if I haven't learned anything else from this journey, I have learned to face my fears, & on a more specific note, to have my lumps & bumps examined (not that I've ever ignored them).  So... as I approached the changing room, I was suddenly overcome with a creeping fear. My heart was racing, my body trembling. Fear was again gripping my body. I hate this out-of-control, nothing-I-can-do-about-it, all-out fear!

I did the only thing I could. I took a deep breath & conversed in my mind, telling myself ... at least I would find out what was next. The nurse took a look. She was sure it wasn't cancer related. Relief! I had my radiation treatment. Then, to the exam room I went. The good Dr took a peek. He too believes it's unrelated to cancer, probably a result of my reconstruction. Again, relief!

Tomorrow, I will see my plastic surgeon & hear his diagnosis & see if something needs to be done about it. Tomorrow, someone I care deeply about is undergoing a procedure that is overwhelming to her. I want to be with her. I can't. I have to have radiation. I have to face my fears & not be there to help her face her fears. It is my job to be there, & I can't.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Journey to the Bean!

Saturday was such a fun day! My husband & I had about 5 hours to kill in Chicago. He asked me what I wanted to do. I knew shopping wouldn't be high on his list, so I suggested the Bean. Mind you, I had just completed 3 days of radiation, was struggling with a rash, & not quite sure of my capabilities.

It was early in the morning, like 7am. The weather was cloudy but nice, not too windy, & not rainy. Wow, we lucked out! We didn't really know what we were doing. We parked in a parking garage, & began our journey. I wish I knew how far we walked. I have no idea. I can tell you we walked for about  2 hours or more.  We made a few stops along the way. I got my double chocolate donut at Duncan Donuts, & he got his vanilla long john. We watched the people while we indulged in our guilty pleasure.

We continued on our quest. We read directories, & asked a few questions (of course, that was against the rules). We took a few wrong turns. We had to buy bandaids as blisters were forming on my heels. I was wearing out, but not about to give up! We had to reach our destination...

We laughed along the way at our own silly jokes. I think we were both stunned that I was putting one foot in front of the other. By the end, he was carrying my purse, but I was still traipsing along side of him. Finally, we reach the Cloud Gate (also known as the Bean). What photo opportunities for me! I was on a roll, enjoying every flash of my camera.

We then did the unthinkable; we decided to walk back to our parking garage. I now had double bandaids on my feet. My eyes were burning from all the fresh air. The tulips were in full bloom everywhere. I was beside my self with joy! I was shocked that I was still tracking. I was afraid my legs & my body would regret our fun. Honestly, I was scared, but I wasn't about to trade one moment of fun in for a tired body.

That night as I crawled into bed, I popped a few tylenol & said my prayers. I have a few worries on the horizon (things I'd just as soon forget). At Christmas, I had asked my family to take me to Chicago. They all felt terrible, but they just did not think it would be good for me. As I said my prayers, I felt like my Christmas came late, but the tulips were truly as pretty as the twinkly Christmas lights.


Scars usually are not a pretty sight! Sometimes they bear a memory we would like to forget or  lessons we wish we didn't have to learn. When we look at them, we see something that isn't as it was meant to be, or rather... how we think it was originally designed. Sometimes a scar looks like a bad imposter of what once was or the best repair job we could find. The thing about a scar is... we have to learn to live with it. Depending on it's visibility, or how much it bothers us, living with a scar can be exhausting.

If we are human, we bear emotional scars. Learning to live with them (even if they cannot be seen physically) can be one of our greatest growth factors as a person. Our tendency (as humans) is to sweep our broken pieces under a rug & pretend our hurts never happened. Sad to say, if we don't deal with our heartache, it only comes back to haunt us. And sometimes, it comes back to haunt us even when we take the time & mental energy to find peace.  In this case, we may have to go back to the drawing board again & again.

What I realized last night (as I lie in my hotel bed pondering my own scars) is this: Scars are not meant to permanently cripple us but rather to grow us. As we learn to live with our scars (both physical & emotional), God refines our hearts & matures us into deeper, better human beings. That is... if we allow Him to do His magic. If we try to stuff our emotions & hide our scars, I think we cripple ourselves & shortchange God. Yes, He can accomplish His will whether we comply or not, but our refining is best, if we let our Master Creator do His work. His beauty will radiate, & His will be done. Our scars will go from being unsightly to representing  miracles. Therein lies the beauty!

Sometimes we bear a scar that seems overwhelming, a scar that may hinder us in our relationships. We might be born with this thorn, or as in other cases, it may come later in life. What we often don't realize is this: the very scar that we abhor, may become our greatest protection. Let's face it... scars can thwart our relationships. Sometimes, it takes a special person (on the other end) to see the beauty in our sorrow. I believe God draws us to each other through our trials, & comforts us with people who have the depth to bear our scars with us. They look at us & see a whole person. They see God's handiwork in our misshapenness, & they love us, with a Godly love, a love so strong, we can see His refinement.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Have you ever had something in your life that stood for more than just itself? Maybe it reminded you of something significant in your life, something you hoped to never forget. Of course, it could have been a constant reminder of something you'd like to forget.  Bella, my cat, serves as an ever present reminder of my husband's caring nature. Like myself, he is not purrfect, but he is pliable.

By that I mean his heart is soft. He wants to know if he is off & how I feel about our decisions. He doesn't want to wake up at the end of his life & find out he shortchanged our marriage. I, too, don't want to reach the end of my life & find out what people really thought of me. I don't want to live my life thinking one thing only to find out I had it all wrong.

I don't want to find out that I put my faith in something or someone that was concocted. I don't want to think someone forgave me for an offense & then held a grudge. I would hate to think that I forgave someone but secretly remained bitter. I really hope that I will be remembered for trying to love the Lord with my whole heart. That has been my daily prayer since I was a little girl.

Today as I was driving, I saw my oldest daughter's  grade school principal walking hand in hand with his beloved. They are each others' best friend. I stared at them & admired their sweetness. That is what I want for us: to remain safe in each others' arms. I think that is what makes Bella so special to me. She symbolizes love.

True love, I believe, puts the other person first. That's what my husband did for me. He did not want a cat. That was clear: we were done with cats. He has caught a little flack for giving in to me. He has been told that most married men don't change their minds. When they make a decision, it sticks.  I realize I did not put my husband first. Instead I asked him to put my desires before his own.

I knew I was selfish, but I felt as though we would not regret our decision. I felt God lead me to her, & I wanted my husband to bend. I knew he would, & I let him. Some say, "He caved in" as if it's a sin for a man to change his mind. I don't see it that way at all. I see bendability  as a great strength & an asset to our marriage. We have a Father in heaven who loves us lavishly. I believe that is how we are to love one another.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"It is Well"

Ever hear the song, "It is Well?" It has quite a history. Horatio Spafford, the writer, wrote these tremendous words following the tragic drowning of his 4 daughters. It baffles my mind & my heart that he could say, "It is well with my soul" after suffering such a deep loss. Today as I drove into Peoria, I listened to the words. I cried out to God & told Him my soul was not well.

For some reason, I allowed radiation to turn me inside out & upside down. I became unnerved & fearful. All of the measuring & preparation combined with the complexity of my situation & extended period of waiting was just too much for me. The physical pain from extending my arms during the filming sessions wore on my mind as well. My emotions crashed. When I crash, I crash hard. That's nothing new!

My husband insisted on accompanying me to my first session. En route, I was tearful, & he was hopeful (that I would feel better after my first session). I somehow stayed glued together as I faced my fears. My arms hurt from the get go, but the time went quickly. The technicians came & went attending to my details. When the Dosimetrist told me I had finished my first treatment, I was stunned.

I don't feel I did my part to ease my fears. I didn't really turn this situation over to God & trust in Him. Instead I allowed terrifying thoughts to invade my peace. When the session was over,  I walked out the hospital doors & smiled at my beloved, a sense of relief came over me. I can only attribute this to all of the prayers said on my behalf. They have carried me since Day 1 on this journey, & I believe, once again, being covered in prayer brought me back where I belong. My soul was restored.


Todays blog is down trodden. I am wondering if my mind is where it's at so that others will see how human I really am. Yesterday's filming session for radiation was close to unbearable. It took over an hour because of my complexity. By the time we were finished, I couldn't move my arms. Being still is hard for me because of a problem I have with the lining of my nerves. That aside, I think it would have been difficult for anyone.

The only instructions you are given are about how vitally important it is that you be still. Repeatedly, you are told that you only have a few more minutes. As my filming progressed, I lost all concept of time. I only knew by the end that I was unable to continue. However, we were finished. I had tears in my eyes and in my heart. Being still for that long is painful in 2 ways, physically & emotionally.

What does one do with her mind while being still? Last time I sang 2 songs over & over. This time, I guess I just thought about the process. If it weren't my body lying in that uncomfortable somewhat degrading position, I might actually find it fascinating. It's probably nothing short of miraculous.

We went to get some dinner afterwards. I wasn't hungry but I ate as if there were no tomorrow. I also cried with every few bites. I have a new empathy for people that withstand tortuous situations. I can't begin to imagine how they fight it both physically & emotionally. Mine only lasted an hour. Others go through painful situations for years. There is no comparison.

Today I cry every time I think about yesterday's experience. I know it will get easier because I am told the actual radiation sessions will be much shorter. I can only hope. I'm wondering what God is trying to show me through all of this. Am I missing something? I am searching my heart for any unknown evil, maybe there is something in my life I need to face?

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Blog

Today I was thinking about my blog. Over the weekend, my girls teased me, & I think each of them asked me at least once, "Are you going to blog about this?" It just came up randomly unbeknownst to each of them that the others had asked the same question. I questioned each of them, trying to gage how my blog makes them feel. After all, frequently I mention them or worry that my thoughts may be disconcerting to them.

As those that follow my blog may remember, my original intent was to write this blog for my daughters. I wanted them to have a tangible piece of my heart. Since then, it has taken a few twists. It is still for them, but it seems to be for others too. I am not quite sure of the how or the why, I just blog as I feel lead. Having cancer seems to catch the interest of others. Prior to having cancer (& even now), I too am interested in CaringBridge pages & the blogs of friends who are going through difficult circumstances.

It provides a way for me to know what they are experiencing & to know how to pray for them. Sometimes, what I read troubles me deeply, because their struggles involve children. Also their helplessness is painful. Always, their illnesses are out of their control & in the hands of their medical team & God. The common thread of fight & surrender is ever-present.

I did not originally intend to include my faith in so much of my blog. However, it is such an integral part of my journey & my life, I cannot shortchange it. It defines me, & I am thankful it does. I have had people tell me not to let my cancer define me. Truth is... it does. I cannot pretend it doesn't. It has permeated every facet of my life. I don't think I take a breath apart from the knowledge that I have cancer.

I also don't breathe, I don't inhale or exhale, without the knowledge that I belong to Christ. My identity is wrapped in Christ, & the fact that I have cancer has everything to do with my faith journey. I believe there is a reason for my cancer, & part of it is, what I share in this blog. I believe I am to be an open book so that others will see Him in me & want Him. I'm just being honest here. I don't believe in deceit.

I try to share my life, my ups & my downs. I try to share my feelings about my journey & how it is effected by my faith. In 2 days, I will begin a new phase in this journey: radiation. I am told it will take it's toll. I am scared. My prayer is that God will keep me company throughout each treatment, that I will sense His presence. As long as I know He is holding me, I will be okay.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Defining Moment.

Today was a sweet Easter Sunday. Things have changed; my appreciation for life has deepened. Each day spent with my loved ones is a gift. We celebrated my 50th birthday a little early this weekend upon my request. It was just easier. I asked that it be a small celebration, & my family honored my wishes. I didn't want a big todo.

To say it was a meaningful celebration would be putting it mildly. If you've been following my blog, you know my birthday began with an adorable gift from my husband. My kids all met her this weekend, & I think I can say... It was love at first sight. My youngest daughter arrived on Friday. Her gift was a pretty pink calla lilly. It stands for magnificence & beauty, quite appropriate for Easter.

My oldest daughter & her beloved came on Saturday bearing a pretty angel necklace. I had her fasten it for me, & I haven't taken it off. She said I needed a guardian angel. It is beautiful!

My middle daughter arrived today with her newlywed husband. They brought me a pink bed for Bella. It is charming! It has a little pom pom which hangs in the doorway to taunt her, complete with a leopard print cushion. It's a little hut & will provide a hide away from Otis.

We all spent the weekend together. Friday night our youngest took us to a movie. We had Gino's Pizza on Saturday night, my all time favorite. I dozed off afterwards as we watched "To Kill a Mockingbird." I wanted to stay awake, but my eyes wouldn't let me. Easter Sunday began with church followed by lunch. The service had a lasting impact. The weather was gorgeous. The food was cooked to perfection.

The defining moment: the 3 cards I received from my 3 precious daughters. My eyes welled up with tears. As I read each of them, I again realized how blessed I am. To have their love & admiration is the sweetest gift of all. I feel so undeserving, yet at the same time, my heart melts. If I had known when they were young, the way our story would be written... If I had known, at age fifty, I'd be fighting for my life... If I had known, how beautiful they would be (both inside & out)... If I had known, how they would envelope me with love & carry my burdens... If I had known, the return of loving them... Simply put, I wouldn't have been able to fathom such love.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Thursday night we did something we haven't done in a long time. We went to an evening church service, to prepare our hearts for Easter. We sat at round tables (family style) & shared in the Lord's Supper together. I loved this experience for many reasons: #1 I love preparing my heart for something so special as Easter.  #2  I love the friend who invited us to share a table. #3  I enjoyed visiting with some sweet people after the service. #4  We sang 2 of my favorite songs, "Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)" & "I Surrender All."  Both of these songs were part of my healing service last Fall.

The Pastor asked a valid question, a question we should all ask ourselves. Where would we be if Jesus hadn't died on the cross? Many times I've pondered the question, Where would I be without my faith? The answer is quite simple: I would be overcome with anxiety & unable to function. I would live according to my fears & therefore not really be living at all. I think the Pastor's question was asking me something with a new twist. "Where would I be if Easter never occurred? If  Good Friday never happened, if Jesus never walked that lonely road, & shed his blood for my ridiculous sins?" 

There are 2 ways to answer the Pastor's question. One way looks at the world as a whole & sees it as if an event in history never occurred. Where would the world be? The other takes it personally & asks, Where would I be? Both answers are vitally important to the follower of Christ. The view of how history would be changed, I believe, is what drives the Christ follower to love others. The more personal view allows the follower of Christ to never take his life for granted. A price was dearly paid for his eternal life, & we who trust in Christ must never forget what was suffered on our account. We must hold Easter close to our hearts NOT just on Easter, but every day.

Without Christ paying a price for our sins, I believe we would live much as the people we learn about in the Old Testament. I think it's better I was born into today's world. I don't think I could bare to slaughter precious lambs to pay for my sins. The thought of that is not pleasing to me. In fact, it kind of curdles my stomach. I think we would be bound by legalism, by perfection. We would always be striving to live by the law. Because we are imperfect, we could never attain such holiness, & we would have to sacrifice animals to pay for our sins.

Because Jesus literally sweat drops of blood for me, carried a heavy cross to Calvary, & was temporarily separated from His Heavenly Father, my sins are forgiven. I now have an opportunity to have a loving relationship with my Savior, & to be seen blameless by my Heavenly Father. As the song says... I owed a debt I could not pay, He payed a debt He did not owe. 

Without this invaluable relationship with Christ, my life would be in vain. I would not have a peace which surpasses my understanding (which as of late is sometimes lacking). I would not have the ever present comfort & guidance of the Holy Spirit, the best earthly benefit of following Christ. He also counsels, heals, & convicts. He changes hearts. I don't think we as human beings (whether we have a relationship with Christ or not) can even begin to imagine our world if Christ had not come to save our souls. His impact is beyond words. I'm thankful to ponder Easter from both a worldy & a personal point of view. The consequences of a faith without a Savior are bleak whichever way you look at it. Without Christ, what would be the point?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Health Update: Radiation

Today I am using my blog to update anyone who is interested. If not, then you need not read any further. Finally, I received my long awaited phone call from the radiologist oncologist's office. It had only been 2 weeks, but honestly, it seemed like a month. I had to apologize for my impatience.

Tuesday, I will see my radiologist oncologist & then once a week for the next 6 weeks. Hopefully 33 treatments will be completed, 1 treatment each day, Monday through Friday. Apparently, I am a rather complicated case. From what I gather, having breast cancer on your left side presents added difficulty to radiation treatment. It's actually quite fascinating...

When I went to be measured a few weeks ago, unbeknownst to me, the technicians tracked my breathing. I remember something being mentioned about my breathing, but my ignorance prevented me from comprehending what I heard. In my case, when I breathe, my heart will be in the path of the radiation rays.

Since we don't want heart damage, my breathing will be tracked during each treatment. My heart should be protected from each ray. The treatments will take 20 minutes instead of 5. If my understanding is accurate, my heart should be safe, & my radiation effective.

I am thankful I will see my doctor before my treatments begin. I still have a few troubling questions. At least now, I have a schedule, & I know my heart seems to be the major complication. Side effects are likely to be a problem. I have a few questions about what to expect.

After relaying this to my daughters, they asked me how I felt about "things," if I felt better. My answer: I am thankful to have a schedule & to understand my complications. I will feel even better when I have a few more answers. The truth is what I want. It's been an agonizing 2 weeks, as my mind seems to enjoy playing tricks on me, interfering with my positive outlook, & my peace which comes from God.

What more could I ask?

Sunshine & friendship have something in common. I believe they both are good for the soul. Lately, I have hesitated to put anything on my calendar. I've been waiting for my radiation schedule & don't want to have to undo & reschedule my plans. Each week for about 2 weeks now, I have been told, I will hear the next week. Then, 5 more business days pass by... &, I hear nothing. If I call to check in, I am told, "Next week." No explanation offered. I think this cycle has now repeated itself twice.

So... my plans have been of a spontaneous nature. I don't usually know what I am doing until the night before or the morning of each day (unless it's an appointment). I also find myself once again trying to cram anything I can into my preradiation days. I am told my side effects are inevitable, so I really don't know what kind of shape I will be in once we finally get started.

Yesterday was a day that turned out to be Heaven sent. The weather only improved as the day evolved. By afternoon, I was outside basking in the sun like a cat, enjoying the warmth it provided. I was following my new kitty around on a leash & enjoying every moment of her explorations. If cuteness is in the eye of the beholder, she soars off the charts!

My friend & I had lunch & sat on her porch for an hour. Bella was with us & had to be captured twice as her break free collar broke free. We laughed, we shared, we had the time of our lives (like we always do). It's the simple things, just being together. We hugged each other good-bye & thanked each other for a beautiful visit.

Next stop: introducing Bella to another dear friend. We only had a few minutes. I didn't know if Bella was on the verge of needing a potty break. We had time to catch up, share a few laughs, & a hug or two. As we parted, we wished we had more time together, yet we both understand where we are with our medical situations. As we parted, our eyes met. The compassion we share for each other is unable to be put into words.

My husband had a meeting last night, a rare occurrence in our lives. Our Pastor & his wife brought us a beautiful home cooked Southern meal. I'm not sure I've ever tasted anything so delicious! Corn bread pudding, what a treat! They sat with me for an hour or so. My husband was sorry he missed them. I am too, but having them present while I was on my own was the sweetest part of the lovely meal. Getting to know them & being loved by them soothes my soul. His words always find a forever spot in my heart. Her words comfort like no other.

As the day came to a close, 2 dear friends stopped in to meet my new treasure. We reminisced about so many things. Again, we laughed, we shared, & promised to pray for each others' burdens. It was getting late, & my husband was on his way home. He too had things to share. He's going to China in September to love the "least of the least," orphans with disabilities. God is already orchestrating behind the scenes with His mighty hand. It will be so exciting to watch this trip unfold.

My unplanned day turned out to be quite fulfilling. As I said good night to my sweet husband, I felt revived. The warmth of the sunshine & the warmth of caring friends:  really, what more could I ask?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

my next step...

Things have been a bit of a whirlwind lately. I've still not heard from the radiologist oncologist. I'm not a good waiter; I never have been. My husband says I should enjoy each day & just wait. I have no choice about the waiting, but I do have a choice about enjoying each day. I am walking in new territory: living life to the full with unwanted uncertainties. One of my greatest joys has been my birthday gift from my husband. In case you are not up to date, he gave me Bella (a cat) for my fiftieth. She serves as a constant  reminder of his steadfast love. After all, we had agreed we were done with cats!

I've had a few meltdowns lately. They've been in doctors' offices & somewhat uncontrollable. The tears just seem to flow no matter how hard I try to maintain my composure. This up & down journey is sometimes more than I can handle. A good cry is always healing. I thank God for understanding doctors who care.  It seems as though I am forever encountering new information about myself. It's not that I've had any new tests; it's just details I somehow missed along the way.

It doesn't really matter if these details are fresh or were a part of the picture from the start. When I hear something that is new to me, it brings me back to my original blog, The Day My Life Changed. I am suddenly flooded with emotion so deep, I can't begin to process it. Sometimes, I'm afraid I'm overreacting. I think the numbness is wearing off as the reality takes hold.

Every now & then, a statement is made which catches me by surprise. I don't even know what to do with the words I just heard. Recently, I was told that the radiation will give me a few more years. I don't know what this means, a few years from when? When does my few more years begin? In the same breath, I was told I am not dying. I don't know how to put those 2 statements together & make sense of them.

As I learn new things about myself, I always come back to my original message from God. I was asked at my healing service if I had received a message from God about my healing. My answer was I will be healed this side of Heaven or the other. That is a certainty. I believe it is part of my journey not to know my earthly outcome. I don't think I'm supposed to have that sense (whether false or not) of security. I think it's time for me to depend on God & accept that reality. I need to do my part, but depending more completely on Him is the next step in my journey of faith.

My next step does not mean I will or I won't beat this cancer. Truly, I believe I have many years ahead of me. I want to have a part in the lives of my future grandchildren. My husband needs a wife. He needs me. My daughters still need a mother. They are young adults & my opinion seems to matter more than ever to them. I need to live each moment to the fullest regardless of the news that comes my way. Yes, I am human, & I have to process it, but then I have to go back to the truth. I have to depend more completely on God.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


This has been an unusual year for me (to say the least). I am soon to have a milestone birthday. I never saw myself turning 50 in this predicament. I don't have any idea what I expected, but this was not in my view. However, as I've said many times over, I have found treasures on my unexpected journey that I never expected.

I have been the recipient of  the sweetest birthday gift I've ever known. A few weeks ago, our beloved cat of 17 years was laid to rest. She did her job well as a family pet. Comforting our kids was her specialty. Truth is... I never knew what her presence meant to me until she was gone. Over the last 8 months, she devoted herself to comforting me. She never left my side. We were couch potatoes together.

In her absence, I was lonely. We have a darling Lab, but he is Daddy's boy. I like that, & I am happy for the companionship the 2 of them share. Prior to our cat's passing, we had agreed, we would never have another cat. The kids were all grown up now, & it was time to move past cat boxes, hairballs, & such. My husband had been the sole caretaker of the cat for years. I don't know quite how this happened, but all cat duties fell on him. Because she was quite sickly, he spent hours cleaning our carpets & looking after her, especially after I got sick.

I think it was the day after Kit's passing that I began to plant this seed: I want a cat for my birthday. If I said my husband was stunned, that would be an understatement. What about our agreement? Did my words mean nothing? As many of the events in my life have lately caught me off guard, so did this desire for kitty. I felt childish, & I behaved childishly. To say I begged him to death is putting it mildly.

My husband has made the mistake of giving in to my every whim since we were 13 & 14. Yes, I am spoiled, & his "no" was hard for me to accept. Truth is... he loves me, & he would do anything for me. I don't feel good for being like this. I am just being honest.

As fate would have it, my dear friend & I were visiting PetSmart, & I walked back to see the cats. Before I knew it, I had fallen head over heals for this little Torti. I held her, & she looked up into my eyes. It was an instant bond, & I just knew this cat was for me.

Finally, my husband gave in. It took 2 whole days as he pondered what this meant for him, what it said about me, what it said about him, what it said about us. I know it seems ridiculous, but it was a whole lot deeper than adopting a cat.

Sunday afternoon, we officially adopted Bella. Papers were signed, & we headed home with our prize. I felt like a little girl having a birthday wish granted, not like a mid lifer fighting cancer. I had 2 appointments the next day, & her diversion was beautiful. My heart was beating with joy.

Bella is a treasure, but the best prize is my husband. I have an unexpected appointment today, a minor complication that needs to be tended to. Doctor can only see me during Bella's appointment with our Vet. Already the burden of care falls on my husband. He & my daughter will see that Bella receives her first exam.

So last night as we sat in our respective places. My husband in the big chair with Otis, & I on the couch with Bella cuddled up in my arms, he looked at me with that look, that look of love. He whispered "sweet nothings" to Bella. We both sat totally taken by our new little addition to our family. She is special, & I believe God made her just for me.

Monday, April 2, 2012

no greater love...

Easter is just a few days away, & I feel I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to blog about a time of year that is so dear to my heart. Being the childlike person I am, I love pretty Easter colors, little girls in Easter bonnets, the big E.B. himself, & on the list goes.... When my children were young, I enjoyed these moments to the fullest (probably because as a child, I had precious memories).

As a young adolescent, I was baptized on Easter Sunday. At 12 years old, I professed my love for Jesus & was submerged in the water. I remember this day well, & how happy I was to finally be able to show my love for Christ. In the church I grew up in, it was customary to do this at age 12. If it had been up to me, I think I would have been 3.

My belief is that baptism does not assure me a place in Heaven. It is my mere trust in Christ that does that. Baptism is my act of obedience because it is commanded, & I want to please my Savior. It represents being buried with Christ (in the water) & being raised (as Christ was from the tomb) to a new life in Christ. How fitting that I got to do this on Easter Sunday.

So... if we put aside all of the "prettiness" that accompanies Easter, we can focus on the real meaning of this beautiful day, Jesus. I can't even type His name without an emotional reaction. His name is the only name that elicits this emotional response in me. I cannot hear His name, say it, write it, read it, or even think it, without sensing the power behind just His name alone.

Over 2000 years ago, Jesus walked a dirt road, carrying a heavy cross, after being whipped & marred beyond recognition, while being mocked & ridiculed, to secure my eternity in Heaven. I am unfit for Heaven without Him. Through Him, I am blameless. That's a miracle!

I believe it was through His Father's grace that He was able to walk this road of suffering & carry through His Father's will. Because Jesus literally walked the earth in a human body, His pain, suffering, sweating drops of blood, feelings of loneliness & betrayal, were all real (not to mention undeserved).

I believe we owe it to ourselves to ask what Jesus suffered on our account. Of what am I guilty? I may not have committed adultery or murder, but I have said regretful things & thought thoughts that are less than Godly. I am guilty of worry & a daily need to lay my burdens back down at the feet of Jesus. It saddens me to think that Jesus walked that lonely road & sweat tears of blood so I could commit unnecessary sins (some I am even unaware of), & repeatedly fall short of being Christlike.

The most important decision I've ever made was to trust in Christ. People can come up with all the excuses they can find to put off this invaluable decision. Truth is... when it's all said & done, if they were incapable of making any other decisions, this one decision, is all that matters. Easter Sunday is a reminder of how much we are loved... "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13

Sunday, April 1, 2012


It's been said that the eyes are the window to the soul. I think this statement quite possibly could be true. When you look into the eyes of a fellow human being, what you see can be revealing. I wonder what people see when they look into my eyes. I am more aware of my eyes than I have ever been. Perhaps it is because they ache & don't feel quite right. Maybe it's because in losing my hair, they have become more of a focusing point.

I love to look into the eyes of others & attempt to grasp their emotions for the moment. Perhaps there is a sparkle. Are their eyes worn? Maybe they are tearing up or being deceitful. Sometimes they have become dim as the years have taken their toll. I love to see a gleam in the eyes of a child. One can only wonder what  is going on inside that small head. Then there's that look of wonder. Maybe the person is concentrating & intensity is what his eyes express.

We can't really know what is going on in another persons' head.  People often try to mask their inner self. Honesty comes at a price. How will others react? Will I be rejected? If I really told you how I'm feeling, you wouldn't get it. You might even think I'd lost my mind.

Lately, I've had many situations where I felt numb. I tried to mask my reaction because I needed time to figure out what was truly going on inside my heart & soul. Sometimes I don't want to burden others. Other times, my thoughts evolve as I process my news, & my feelings are ever changing. Then there are the moments when my feelings are just too raw to expose.

I know God knows my heart even better than I. After all, he crafted this complexity & is the lover of my soul. When I can't figure myself out or get a handle on my emotions, I know He is by no means in shock or confused. He is the ultimate Counselor & Comforter. I am not complex to Him. I am just a fragile little soul He has for some reason chosen to create.