Monday, September 30, 2013

Pink Survivors: The Book

Tomorrow is an exciting day for me. Hopefully it will be on the local news! Pink Surviors: The Book will be released. The 20 authors will be present, ready to sign books. You see, it all began a year ago. Well... at least the beginning of our book. A few women were invited to be Pink Promise models. We modeled clothing while our stories were shared. Loved ones cheered us on. Proceeds went to Susan G. Komen. After all, we all owe our lives to this organization's research.

The treatments I received for my aggressive cancer were based directly on her research. My tumor was estrogen positive & fast growing. Immediately I was barraged with terms that sounded like a foreign language to me. I was overwhelmed. I was stunned. I was beside myself. I remained that way for a year, I think. I was denied a PET scan so I never really got a complete prognosis. In the blink of an eye... my life was turned upside down.

My story (along with the stories of 20 other Survivors) are shared in this book. It is written to be HOPE for other Survivors. I think it could stand for HOPE for anyone. These women are fighters. In the short time that I have been a Survivor (2 years now), I have seen others suffer. I read through the first blog I ever wrote. In it, I talked about how hard it was for me to see my family suffer with my news. That was the worst.

Sometimes I think it is unfair to other Cancer Survivors that breast cancer gets so much attention. But then... I think of the many new stories of Survivors that have occurred just since my diagnosis, & I know we are not getting too much attention. No... breast cancer is running rampant! That is the problem.

We need continued research. We need to stomp out this terrible disease which robs women of their lives, not to mention their dignity, their security, their body parts, their joy, & so. much. more! I am grateful for my story, my journey, but let me make it clear, I wish it on no other soul. If I ever have to see my daughters go through this, a part of me will die. That is my greatest fear.

If you buy this book, it will help our cause, which one day may be your cause. More than that, it stands for HOPE. It is 20 expressions of HOPE. 20 beautiful fighters sharing their stories, how they survived & continue to survive. I opened the book & read the first entry. It is a poem written by the Survivor who had the vision for this book. I read it, & I cried inside. Why? Because it expressed feelings I've had for the last year that I haven't been able to articulate. It ministered to me. Suddenly, I felt whole again.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

a daughter with a baby

There's nothing quite like seeing your daughter become a mama. Sometimes the surprises in life are more than we can fathom. This is not an easy blog to write because it's hard to find the right words to describe my feelings. My lil grandson is more precious than gold. Why he is cuter than anything I've ever seen. His personality, his smile & his giggle, light up my day like nothing else. His cute little body. I just can't get enough...

But, the greatest treasure of all is seeing my daughter care for her baby son. His connection to her is precious. When she carries him, he looks around with such contentment. So alert. When he cries, she picks him up & immediately the sound of his cry changes. He is comforted by his mama. When he coos, she smiles from ear to ear & talks right back to him.

She has learned to discern the meaning of his cry. When he is tired, she instinctively knows what to do. She swaddles him up, & he relaxes & rests in her arms. If he is hungry, of course she knows just what to do. She puts his needs first. Her own things can wait. What she does with her time depends on what is best for him. I am so proud of her.

I feel so alive, so thankful, to be able to see this daughter of mine evolve into such a giving mama. I wish I had the words to write my thoughts & my feelings. To say I am blessed doesn't do me justice, doesn't do God justice. This is something magical. It's not to be taken for granted. I am here, & I get to be a part of this picture. To say I am grateful doesn't describe the joy in my heart. It's joy beyond words, a blessing beyond imagination, an honor to behold.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

save us from ourselves

Yesterday was quite a day! I had my 6 month check up with my Oncologist. All my labs were normal (even my tumor marker). So much for which to be thankful! Upon receiving this good news, I proceeded to make a decision. I made the phone call. Done. Or so I thought...

About 10 minutes later, my phone rang. It was someone looking out for my best interest. She called to say she wanted me to rethink my decision. Her point was well taken (something I never considered). I explained why I made my decision. She listened. She comforted. Again, she strongly encouraged me to undo my decision. So I did.

I believe God places people strategically in our paths to save us from ourselves. This woman did not have to take time from her busy day to redirect my thinking. No... she didn't, but she did. As I listened to the concern in her voice, I knew I needed to heed her words. It really wasn't what I wanted to hear, but I knew I'd be a fool to disregard her wisdom.

Of course, my Nurse daughter was on her side from the beginning. Perhaps I should have listened to her from the get-go. Would have saved me a bit of turmoil. Sometimes in life, we want to play by our own rules. We want to call the shots & make the rules. Reality check! That doesn't usually work. This morning, as the sun comes up, I have to shake my head at myself.

I am old enough to know better. Why am I so foolish at my age after all I've been through? I guess it's cause I'm human. I am not above making a bad decision or letting "the tail wag the dog." I feel a bit ashamed, but I'm also thankful. I am thankful that God puts people in our lives who are passionate about what they do.  He has given me a daughter that loves me enough to speak the truth (even when she knows it will ruffle my feathers).

He puts people in our lives to protect us from ourselves. Sometimes, I think we are our own worst enemy. I have come too far to be so foolish. I'm a little embarrassed, but I have to chuckle at myself. I needed a gentle reminder. I don't get to call the shots. I have to play by the rules for the best outcome.
Sometimes, we just need to grow up...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Glass 1/2 Full

Today as I sat in church, I decided that I want to see myself as a glass half full. I have a few limitations, but who doesn't? Instead of dwelling on my losses, I think I need to dwell on all the things I can do. I was wondering what a person is supposed to do about the things in their life that are unfixable or the things they are no longer able to do. It hit me today... kind of like a ton of bricks.

I believe it's a grieving process. We grieve our losses & try to focus on the positives. I began thinking about all of the unfixable things going on in the lives of my loved ones & friends. Some have family moving away. Others have health issues. Some have heartaches with family members or sadness with friendships. The list of agony is endless.

I think we are wired to fix what's broken. However, sometimes what is broken isn't fixable (at least not by our hands). Sometimes our losses are not regained. A void replaces what we once had. It is kind of like accepting the things I cannot change. It might be smiling because it happened but knowing it's okay to cry because it's over. The memories are sweet; the void is empty. The heartache is real.

How do we let go & let God? I think we first admit our heartbreak. Then, I think we allow ourselves time to grieve. I believe that grieving is a necessary part of healing. If we fail to grieve, I think turmoil will find a home in our hearts (or maybe anger or bitterness). As we grieve, I believe we must look to God for comfort. If we never reach our lowest of lows, I don't believe we begin to realize the magnitude of God's grace.

When we reach the bottom of our barrel, when we realize the unfixable cannot be fixed, when we know our losses cannot be regained... that is when we turn to God. That is when He covers us with grace that allows us to bare our sorrows. That is when we learn the beautiful lesson that His grace is sufficient. Our glass becomes 1/2 full. It may even bubble over...

Friday, September 13, 2013

Today I hate cancer.

Today I hate cancer. It has invaded my friend's body for the second time. She is a beautiful person. In fact, they don't come any sweeter or more pure in heart than she. The unknowns exist; it's one step at a time. It's a surrender/fight for sure. Cancer is an intruder. It is not welcome. It disrupts life. It stops life. It numbs its victim. It causes post traumatic shock. It has lasting effects. It impacts every aspect of a person's life. It causes sleeplessness. It causes pain. It has a rippling effect. It causes depression. It changes ones body.

Its treatments are more frightening than the disease itself. They cause hair loss, nausea, &  foggy brain. Restlessness, agitation, & rotted fingernails are a possibility. Neuropathy, sick stomach, fatigue, loss of body parts: all of these can happen.  Burned/blistered skin, low blood counts, fevers, infections, pain, and other unimaginable symptoms. The treatments can be fatal, yet it's important to have a positive attitude. A double edged sword. They are a crapshoot. Yet... they save lives.

I've seen the look before. It was in my own eyes. It's that look of surrender. It's a loss of ones dignity. It's submitting to awful things. It's fear. It's knowing you have NO control. It's trusting doctors you don't really know. It's living in limbo. The unknowns for sure outnumber the knowns. Deflated. Beaten. Surreal. Stunned. Sad. Scared.

We ask the unanswerables. The doctors don't really know. Statistics exist, but we might beat the odds. Each case is different. How one's body responds to the treatment is unique. There are meds to counteract the symptoms, but they too have side effects. Is there Hope? ALWAYS.

The unwanted fight begins... Yes, it's a journey. Treasures will be found. As one pours out their heart to God, as their deflated soul begins to fill, courage builds. "His grace is sufficient." These words take on new meaning. The spiritual realm becomes close. Eternity becomes a fixation. Hearing God becomes a necessity. Faith deepens. Hope ALWAYS.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

so much worse.

This year, on August 14, I didn't take a moment to remember that it was the 2 year anniversary of the discovery of my cancer. No... I had other things weighing heavily on my mind. I sat by my beloved mother's bedside as she gently faded into the Heavenly realm, into the arms of her precious Savior. I feel so incredibly blessed that God allowed me to have those last few treasured days with her.

A few months ago, I had a dream which I believe God gave me. I dreamed that my mom, her husband (Everett), & I were standing in a parking lot. My dad (who has now been in Heaven for 19 years) was walking toward us. He grabbed my mom's hand & started to run. I shouted, "Dad! She can't run!" My mom & my dad were smiling big smiles. They were running hand in hand, & waving at Everett & me. We just stood watching in amazement.

When I awoke from this precious dream, I immediately realized its significance. I knew my mom would soon be joining my dad in Heaven. I knew I would miss her, but I loved seeing her reunited with my dad & seeing her healed & so happy. I felt as if God had blessed me by allowing me to see such a reunion in my sleep. Words do not do it justice.

On the 15th, my mom went to Heaven. My brothers & I felt as though she had been in & out of the Heavenly realm for a few days. Kind of taking a sneak peek if you will. A few days later, I realized I hadn't recognized the 2 year anniversary of the beginning of my incredible journey with cancer. So... with all due respect, I've taken some time to evaluate my journey.

I have much for which I am thankful. I recently experienced the happiest day of my life when one of my loved ones came back to Christ. I am in love with my grandson & overjoyed to think that my middle daughter will become a mama in January. She is having a girl. I am tickled pink! As I realize the legacy my mom left her grandchildren, I have deep hope, that God will allow me to do the same.

I have lymphedema in my left arm. It is a result of a lymph node dissection & radiation. It causes my left arm & mostly my hand to swell. I have to wear a daytime & a nighttime compression sleeve. My arm & hand ache at times. It's bearable but not what I wanted. My radiologist made it seem inevitable. I think he knew what he was saying.

I have other issues which are bothersome & will remain that way. I feel as though my body is physically broken, yet spiritually whole. Honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. I wouldn't trade my life for anyone else's life. Physically, I have limitations, but spiritually, I feel limitless. Not to mention the fact that things could always be so much worse.