Tuesday, December 17, 2013

No Whining

So, somebody said I am basically whining and what I really need to share is all the great things that are happening in our lives. While this somebody could have used nicer language, I get his point.

We are having a blast celebrating the holidays. We make a whole month of it and while it has been more challenging with all the doctor appointments and the financial restrictions we have done some really great things. 

Thanksgiving was especially wonderful. I didn't think I would be up to cooking a big meal and Angeline had to work that day so we did an all together different thing this year. A church in Lexington serves dinner at two of the more swanky restaurants in town to those who are unable to prepare a dinner for themselves. We loved getting to be a part of this. David and Jocelyn can't see inside the dark restaurant so they and River stood outside serving hot chocolate and coffee to people waiting for seating in the restaurant or for the bus to ride home. River who has always been rather shy really came out of his shell for the day and had a blast with Jocelyn inviting people to partake of the free refreshments. Dylin and I were assigned to seat guests as they arrived. It was great to get to chat with people and hear about where they were coming from as we found seating for them. Pierce was grabbed to be a server and, typical of Pierce, found himself in an attempt to be recruited by staff from the swanky restaurant. After this, we were served dinner by Davids brother in law and his family. It was a great day of meeting people and eating good food.

Some friends invited us to join them to perform some musical pieces at a nursing home. I was so proud of Jocelyn who agreed to play publicly for the first time. She did wonderful piano accompaniment for Dylin on the violin. Dylin was very pleased to have the opportunity to share his thousands of hours of practice with others. Everyone else enjoyed chatting with the residents. Our favorite quote of the evening was, of course, shared with David. He said to a sweet lady that he hoped she enjoyed the music. She replied, "I hope I did too."

Everyone has taken their turns out shopping for Christmas. We usually enjoy a lot of making things at home but I just have not gotten it together this year so it has been fun for the kids (who are older now and can go out on their own) to enjoy shopping adventures together. On one of these trips, I was rear ended by a young man who was not paying attention to his driving. I found myself at the side of the road patting his back, telling him it would be alright and praying for him. It was this kids third car accident though so I think his fears about his fathers response might have been valid. None the less, I had to feel sorry for the guy, he was a sweet kid.

We enjoyed our yearly Christmas tree decorating party. This is a day of the year when all my "rules" about healthy eating go out the door. We prepare ridiculously junky food (bacon is always involved), mix a huge batch of punch and stuff ourselves all day while we decorate the tree and house. This sort of kicks off the season.  

Each year I spend a couple hours at the computer looking for free Christmas programs and am usually able to dig up a few. My favorite musical presentation so far this year was presented by the music department at Asbury University. David and I both felt it was not just a performance to enjoy but a time spent in worship together as well.

My, maybe, very most favorite thing we do all year, that has been a tradition for a few years, is also maybe the only thing all year long that makes me really want to go to "the city." This is the outdoor ice skating rink downtown Lexington. My family was concerned about me skating and I probably should not have done it but I could not give it up. It's not that I love ice skating that much, it's the romantic Christmas in the city atmosphere that I love. I did fall (I normally do not), and do have the bruises still to show for it, but it was worth it. River said his favorite part was at the end of the evening when almost everyone had left except for us and all the friends we had invited. David is so wonderful to participate in this every year. He does not really enjoy skating but even less in the dark where he can't see, so he sits with a cup of coffee on a cold bench chatting with whoever sits next to him. This year at least we didn't lose him. I made sure to run across the street and buy his coffee right at the start so that he would not wander off looking for the coffee shop and find himself in the wrong block asking a homeless person for directions. It took Pierce 15 minutes to find him that year. David was (as you might guess) not worried, he is just as happy go lucky blind as he was when he could see. Some things are very challenging and hard for him but chatting with homeless people is not one of them.

We have done several other things and have as many more planned with family and friends. Even when life is hard, it keeps going on in joy. In the midst of all of this, I am struck so deeply this year with more humility than I have known in the past. I naively did my thing for years, not thinking myself better or worse than anyone else, just separate. This year I find myself realizing how much life is experienced in a flow that involves a lot more "others" than I had noticed before. I can be separate or I can recognize that we are all in this thing together. We find our things that we think make us unique, but really we are all in a, much like one another, human condition. Calamity, disease, death come to us all the same as does joy, health and life. When I realize, really realize, that I am created no different as homeschool mom than the homeless guy that gave David directions, then I am humbled and my heart expands in love. I still find myself feeling insecure but I think as I continue to realize how small this world really is, how alike all of us in it really are, I will continue to grow in love that will overcome that insecurity. Like when I'm too tired to cook a big meal but I manage to ignore the pain in my body to walk around a swanky restaurant seating people who can't prepare food for themselves for different reasons and then I accept a big meal being prepared for me and eaten with a big family, instead of having a small meal alone at home. Or like skating when I'm to weak to do it is worth the pain because it is so beautiful on the ice in the Christmasy city lights, maybe I'll find being with others when the risk of the pain of deception, rejection, being misunderstood, etc. are possible is worth it because the relationships formed out of sharing some experiences are so beautiful.

So, our days are very full of great things. Between work, school, radiation, Christmas adventures, (and don't even get me started about the mouse in the house fiasco that happened yesterday) we are very busy making memories and enjoying life and thanking Jesus daily for His joy, peace and strength.

Monday, December 16, 2013

12 Remaining Treatments

After that rough start things have settled into a routine. The first treatment was so long and stressful but the following ones have been easier. The second day, the nurse explained the pattern the machine is using so that I can count it's cycles. This was so very helpful. Since I had no concept of how long it would take at that first treatment it increased all the vulnerability I was feeling being locked in position. The third day I arrived to find that the same lovely nurse had cut some of the mask away so that I can just barely open my eyes and my nose and lips are clear. This was a really tremendous relief from the claustrophobic feeling I had been experiencing. I am so grateful for all the prayers from friends and for the caring staff at my cancer center. Going daily for treatments makes life a little hectic but it is also ticking that number down quickly, already down to 12 from 18. I have begun to feel some of the side effects that will no doubt increase each day (mainly a raw tongue and throat) but I feel like this is all going to be behind me before I know it. Thank you again to my friends for your love and prayers.

Monday, December 9, 2013


For some reason the long blog I wrote and published yesterday disappeared. I don't have it in me to do it again so here is a short version. (Sorry Mike)

Radiation is next. The PET scans revealed that the brightness of the cancer is dimmed. This was the good news the oncologist had given me that I shared on Facebook some weeks back. At later appointments it was explained to me that the size of the tumors while somewhat smaller are still a concern. 

I started radiation today after a very long wait for the doctor to develop a plan that he felt would be efficient at eradicating any remaining cancer cells while trying to minimize damage to other organs and tissue. If the size of the tumors does not shrink with radiation, another biopsy will be ordered to determine if more treatment is necessary.

I am exhausted after treatment today. Mostly emotionally but physically as well.   A mask was made by pressing a hot form down over my face. This mask is used to bolt my head to the radiation table and hold me completely still. Not only does this make me feel very claustrophobic and panicky but being still for so long after months of chemo and a car accident last week made me sore all over (a scared stiff kid rammed into me while looking at his radio - another chance for Jesus to love).  Treatments are longer than they had initially thought they would be. They first told me 20 minutes, then 30 minutes and today was actually more in the range of 45-50 minutes. I am hopeful this will be a little easier each day, that I will become more accustomed to the situation and more relaxed. 

I have another friend who was diagnosed with cancer at an er visit a few weeks ago - very suddenly he found himself in surgery, removing organs and growth from his spine and tubes stuck in here and there and pain and chaos. He shared this week that he noticed the scripture says to praise God IN all things not FOR all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18NLT). David and I have had a lot of practice at that in the past years and the love that grows from the praise is really big and wonderful. The thing about big and wonderful love is that it seems to just ooze out without effort. Today, exhausted from radiation, I mean really exhausted, I was sent to the lab for blood work where a nurse poured her heart out to me. It is so true that when we are weak He is strong. I looked as terrible as I felt and yet after all these months of her drawing blood from me today was the day she felt I was there to love her. When I walked into the lab all I was thinking about was going home and curling up in bed and crying but instead I found myself praising the Lord for His strength and His heart of love for her as she shared her sorrow. I still think cancer is really not fun but I'm so glad to have been in that chair today to tell this woman that she is loved. 

Thank you for your continued prayers. David and I continue to be excited about what the Lord is doing in our lives.

Radiation every weekday morning at 10:45 for about thirty minutes - 17 more treatments ! Looking forward to sharing about cancer in the past tense.