Monday, June 15, 2009

The last two months...

June 15, 2009


I didn't realize how long it had been since my last update until I sat down to type this and tried to think through everything that I needed to update you on. The last we spoke, I had asked for prayer in regards to our zany weeks that were coming up. We had an amazing prayer night at our house Sunday, April 19th (our 23rd anniversary) where over 40 people showed up to pray. I also know that there were people literally all over the country praying at the same time for us. It was powerful AND fun. I know that Reed updated you on my gamma knife procedure and Ben's surgery. So here's the rest of the story...

Like my procedure and Ben's surgery, Cam's surgery went very well also (and he actually did turn 18). But 4 days prior to Cam's surgery - on Mother's Day - Peter's toes were hit by a swinging sledge hammer and two were needed to be reset. Ugh. So, we had two guys in large slings and one on crutches. We've bought a lot of ice in the last couple of months. The boys are doing well and on the mend. Peter realized yesterday that he broke his toes on Mother's Day and he'll get to take the bandages off on Father's Day. He was pretty excited about that. Ben is out of his sling as of a few days ago. He began therapy shortly after surgery and will continue for the next 4 or 5 months. Cam won't get out of his sling for a couple more weeks and then will begin his therapy. Peter doesn't have therapy!

Ok, now for the part about me. My last treatment was on May 28th. I was incredibly emotional and agitated before I went in and I just couldn't calm down. My nurse even commented that my heart was racing...which is not normal for me. I was incredibly tired that day because of all the recent events and trying to finish out this school year so I just chalked it up to that. I should know me better by now so I should have realized that I was feeling the oppression from what was to come. During my exam, my doctor made it clear that he was not at all happy with the progress (or lack there of) that he was seeing. He uses the wound I have as a gauge for how well I'm reacting to the treatment. Before the Thanksgiving and Christmas chemo break, the wound was almost 100% closed up. It has now grown to roughly the size of a quarter. This leads to the next part of my journey.

My doctor cancelled my treatment for this month and instead wants me to have some tests run. On Wednesday, June 17th I will have a biopsy and right after that I will have CT/PET scans. The biopsy will be sent to a "special" lab in Arizona. Tests will be run of it to try and figure out what chemo regime will be the best for me. The tests will show what the cancer I have responds to the best. I will also have an MRI on my brain on June 23rd. The amount of fear I have dealt with since my last treatment has been enormous. I'm actually not nearly as afraid of the cancer as I am of the needles, the chemo, and the side effects. These things cause much fear in me and I daily work on keeping that fear away. I will get the results from the biopsy and scans on June 25th. I don't know about the MRI.

On the flip side of all of this, Cam and Abe will be officially graduating this week and we will be celebrating this Sunday with a party...yes on Father's Day. I have made many, many, many errors over the last several months and one of them was not realizing that I planned a graduation party on Father's Day. Oh well. Currently, I am in a constant state of raw emotions because of the "full" life I am leading right now. I'm trying really hard not to beat myself up for all the mistakes I've made and I am trying to give myself far more grace than I ever have because of being drugged for much of the time over the last 11 months. This is very hard for me because I simply do not like to make mistakes. I've had some doozies so it's really frustrating. Wow...I really went off on a rabbit trail there. Again, oh well.

As for the graduation and party...a couple of my friends "ambushed" me in the hallways of church and decided they were going to help me party plan. They've been tremendous and it's been an enormous relief. After 13 years of schooling these 2 boys, it's very surreal and emotional to let go and not be responsible for their "proper education" anymore. It was very important to me to forbid the events of my recent news to hinder celebrating this mile stone. This is as much for me as it is for the boys. I need to celebrate. Next month it will be 11 years that I have been dealing with cancer. Eleven of my thirteen years of schooling have been "complicated" by this crazy journey. These days I get easily overwhelmed by all the memories...all the good and all the hard. So...I need to celebrate. This is an area of my life that does not come naturally in the tiniest degree.

So here I sit feeling like I've just written a journal entry. It's times like these that it's abundantly clear that we are not in control of anything in our lives. Even though we so often believe the opposite. Life on earth is full of suffering. Some of us seem to have more going on in the suffering department than others but we all suffer with something. I just "happened" to read this in my quiet time this morning after screaming at God with my voice and screaming at God in my comes from "Streams in the Desert".

God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering. (Genesis 41:52)

A poet stands by the window watching a summer shower. It is a fierce downpour, beating and pounding the earth. But the poet, in his mind’s eye, sees more than a rain shower falling. He sees a myriad of lovely flowers raining down, soon breaking forth from the the freshly watered earth, and filling it with their matchless beauty and fragrance. And so he sings:

It isn’t raining rain to me - it’s raining daffodils;
In every dripping drop I see wildflowers upon the hills.
A cloud of gray engulfs the day, and overwhelms the town;
It isn’t raining rain to me - it’s raining roses down.

Perhaps you are undergoing some trial as God’s child, and you are saying to Him, “O God, it is raining very hard on me tonight, and this test seems beyond my power to endure. Disappointments are pouring in, washing away and utterly defeating my chosen plans. My trembling heart is grieved and is cowering at the intensity of my suffering. Surely the rains of affliction are beating down upon my soul.
Dear friends, you are completely mistaken. God is not raining rain on you - He is raining blessings. If you will only believe your Father’s Word, you will realize that springing up beneath the pounding rain are spiritual flowers. And they are more beautiful and fragrant than those that ever grew before in your stormless and suffering-free life.
You can see the rain, but can you also see the flowers? You are suffering through these tests, but know that God sees sweet flowers of faith springing up in your life beneath these very trials. You try to escape the pain, yet God sees tender compassion for other sufferers finding birth in your soul. Your heart winces at the pain of heavy grief, but God sees the sorrow deepening and enriching your life.
No, my friends, it is not raining afflictions on you. It is raining tenderness, love, compassion, patience, and a thousand other flowers and fruits of the blessed Holy Spirit. And they are bringing to your life spiritual enrichment that all the prosperity and ease of this world could never produce in you innermost being.

I don't at all feel like a flower or feel like flowers are growing around me or that I'm fruitful but I do know that it doesn't really matter how I "feel" when God is at work. He cares about how I feel and He cares about all the things that I am bothered with so I know that He listened to my ranting this morning but I also know He cares a ton about those around me and whether or not what I'm dealing with will spread His truths or cause people to turn away from Him. I will do my human best to not do something that will turn others away from Him in the midst of this journey but it certainly doesn't mean that I will gloss over what's real or about what I'm feeling and what I'm dealing with in order to make Christian life sound more fluffy than it really is. I haven't "felt" good in a really long time. Daily I feel the weight of my real life. I try not to be consumed by it but there are days when that is not a reality. So I read books that take me someplace else, I record old safe movies, and I watch some lame reality TV shows. Well..."So You Think You Can Dance" is not lame...just some of the other stuff I choose to watch. It takes me out of my reality for a short bit and allows me a moment of brain respite.

And since I said all of that I may as well let you know that I feel very much out of the loop with most of my friends lives because people are afraid to "burden" me with more. Like control issues, this is another opposite. It is "refreshing" to hear about others' lives because I can then more easily take my focus off of me. It is quite dangerous for me to always focus on me. It leads to unhealthy thoughts and a clogged brain. So, if you run into me somewhere, please don't hesitate to talk about you. Please don't feel the need to ask how I'm doing. I know you care. So consider your life as a good reality show or a great old movie and fill me in sometime. OK?

Thanks again for listening and for caring. Thanks for the massive boat load of meals during the month of May. That was a God send and a life saver.

See you soon...many hugs.

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