Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009: Reality vs. Denial

I have been flipping back and forth between reality and denial for the past week. I just googled the definitions of each of those and here are some things I found . . .

reality - the totality of real things and events

denial - a psychological defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality

In reality, I have cancer. Reality stinks. In denial, all is well. I like denial. I'm finding out that it is not good to stay in either place too long though. Too much time in reality and life can become very overwhelming. Too much time in denial isn't safe either because eventually you have to come out.

I have been helping with vacation bible school at our church this week and have completely immersed myself in it. For those of you that don't know, I attend the church that has the crazy huge number of kids - we have averaged around 600 a day! It is organized chaos. It was wonderful being a part of this week and putting cancer on hold. As this week comes to an end though I am again hit with the reality that in a couple weeks we will begin chemo. As I said earlier, reality stinks.

I did have some encouraging news earlier today though. I talked to my nurse and she doesn't believe that my hair will fall out with this chemo. Yaaaaaaa!!!! Her biggest concern for me is nausea and my blood counts. Both of these can be helped with medication. When I talked to my doctor a week ago I felt like I had been given a death sentence. After talking to my nurse today I feel like I've simply hit another bump in the road. It's a really big bump and it's going to leave me pretty beat up and bruised but - it's not the end of the road.

Please continue praying that we will not look beyond today. We will not be able to make plans for a while because I will probably be having unexpected trips to the hospital for blood transfusions or I will simply be too sick to go places. This was really hard for us when I first started chemo two years ago.

Pray also that we will make the right choices for treatment. This disease is so sneaky and a lot of it is a guessing game. There are a lot of options out there and we need to decide what is best for us. Right now I will be going in to the lab on August 10 to have my blood work done including my CA125. I have a doctors appointment on August 12 with my oncologist to discuss my treatment and after that we will head to the chemo clinic and let the fun begin.

I need to get to bed now so I have enough energy to make it through the last day of vbs. I wish I could bottle the energy that these kids have!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sunday, July 27, 2009: Trials

I have been at the computer typing and re-typing and am just at a loss for words. Usually God puts it on my heart what He wants me to say and the words just come right out. Right now nothing sounds right. I think I am trying to force something because I just want to let everyone know how we're doing.

So, there is no witty comments or insight in this post. Just wanted to let everyone know we are still here. Still dealing with this news. Still adjusting. Still thinking it really, really stinks but we will get through it.

I came across this verse tonight . . .

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

I can't say that I'm considering this trial to be "pure joy". I honestly don't think that I will ever be able to say that. I am ready to persevere though.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009: Really?

Really? Again? Really? That word keeps going through my head. Tomorrow it will be 2 1/2 years since we first heard the "c" word. Two and a half years of ups and downs, surgeries and chemo treatments, tears and laughter. Our family has grown so much through this battle. We are not the same as we used to be and we never will be again.

I am numb. When I don't think about "it" I am okay. Denial isn't such a bad place to be. When I look at Brian though, my heart breaks. How do you watch your spouse go through something like this again? I see my kids and I get so frustrated for them. They deserve to have a mom that can go with them on field trips and help in the classroom. A mom that isn't tired all the time. A mom that can run around and play with them. A mom with hair. A mom.

Deep down I think that is my biggest fear. I can talk the talk all I want about beating this cancer but when it comes right down to it - God knows the plans He has made for me. I can hope and pray and plead and beg that those plans include watching my children grow up. That they include growing old with Brian. Sigh - for I know the plans I have made for me.

I heard the song tonight "Sometimes He calms the storm". With a whispered peace be still, He can settle any sea, but it doesn't mean He will. Sometimes He holds us close and lets the wind and waves go wild. Sometimes He calms the storm, and other times He calms His child.

I think the wind and waves of this cancerous storm are about to go wild. I really wish God would just calm this storm but if He doesn't then I will cling to the thought that He will calm His child.

Wednesday, June 22, 2009: Our Hands Are Reaching Out

At the end of my last update I challenged everyone to accept help when life knocks you down. Well, we have been knocked down completely once again. My hands have been lifted up in desperation asking "why". They have been wiping my tears. They have been folded in prayer. They have been holding my head up. And now they are reaching out to all of you, humbly asking for your help once again.

My CA125 has gone up to 71. I will be starting the "biggie" chemo again beginning on August 12. The toxic "kill the good and the bad" chemo that I originally started on two years ago. My hair will go, my energy will go, my blood counts will go. I have gone from shock to sadness to anger and have settled into numbness.

We told the kids tonight and they didn't even shed a tear. Nothing. Ashley went to play with a friend and Nathan still wanted to go to his karate class. I am so sad to think that these kids are so used to this kind of news that they are numb to it. I know the tears will come later for them. When this chemo starts and my hair goes it will be hard for them. Hard for all of us.

I was actually driving when I received "the call". I pulled into a parking lot and sobbed. On the radio was the song "God is God" by Steven Curtis Chapman. God is God and I am not. I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting. God is God and I am man so I’ll never understand it all for only God is God.

I told Brian just a couple days ago that if this cancer came back I honestly didn't know if I would have any fight left in me. Well, cancer has challenged me for another round and I will kick its butt once again. I'm exhausted and so very, very tired of this battle and ready to just beat my head against the wall but I will not give up. I will fight it with everything in me. I am not physically or emotionally ready for this battle but I know that with God all things are possible. I am armed with God's strength, overwhelmingly supportive family and friends, wonderful children and the absolutely positively best husband in the world.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009: I'm O.K. . . . Really I Am.

I have a stamp that has a picture of a turtle laying on his back with his legs in the air. It looks like he is moving his legs around just trying to get back onto his feet. The words around him say "I'm o.k . . . . really I am. " This stamp sums me up quite well.

I met with my oncologist on Monday morning and I had my Avastin treatment today. Unfortunately my appointment today was too late to get the results from the CA125 test. I should hear something tomorrow. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

After 6:00 tonight I knew that I wouldn't be getting a call with the results (there was a small chance they may have gotten it early). After that time frame passed I was fine. I knew I was safe from hearing any bad news tonight. Tomorrow morning though when I wake up the phone will be right next to me as I anxiously will it to ring.

I was thinking about that poor upside down turtle today - stuck on his back, wiggling around, trying to get back on his feet again. That is just what it feels like when problems come our way. The carpet gets pulled out from underneath us and boom, we are flat on our backs looking up and wondering - what just happened? I think this is just where God wants us to be. On our back, realizing our weakness, and looking up to Him.

If we would stop struggling alone trying to get our self back up we would realize that our friend is right next to us, seeing our struggles, wanting to simply lend a hand and give us that little push that will get us back onto our feet again. We humans sure are such silly creatures. We hate to ask for help when we need it and yet when someone else needs help we're right there ready to lend a hand.

Next time you find yourself knocked over by life remember to look up to Him. And when those friends come by and extend their hand to help pull you up - accept their hand.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009: Stop The Ride I Want To Get Off!

When I was a kid I loved going to Cedar Point. My favorite part was going on the rides. The faster it was and the higher it went the better it was. I still love roller coasters. This roller coaster called "life" though I'm ready to get off.

I seem to have this vicious cycle that reminds me of a roller coaster. I'm up. I'm down. I'm up. I'm down. I just want to stop. Can't I just stop somewhere in the middle? Just pause for a little and catch my breath? Just some time to look ahead and see what is coming? Actually, I usually know what is coming . . . if I'm down - up is coming (although you can't convince me of this when I'm down). If I'm up - down is coming.

I was doing fairly well the past couple weeks and this morning I woke up completely drowning in a pit. I didn't even see it coming. Brian had to video at church and when he came home he found me in bed, under the covers, down so low I was convinced I would never come up again. He sat there listening to me whine, complain, and beat myself up. He has got to be so tired of this routine. I told him if I were him I would have taken me out to the curb with the garbage a long time ago. He is so patient. Okay, so he isn't always patient but when I am in the middle of one of my "episodes" he is extremely patient with me.

This afternoon I read this . . . the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Depression is definitely my "roaring lion". I felt defeated and under attack, worthless and hopeless. I asked Brian today - how do I make this go away? He simply slid by bible next to me and said "read". When I'm down that is the last thing I want to do. Thankfully I have him to remind me and encourage me to. Because he did, I read the verse I mentioned earlier. It sparked something in me - the need to fight back against this roaring lion and not give up.

I debated even posting about this. We have always been honest on this blog and some days I don't really want to be. I figured - who wants to read about my pity party anyway? And what would the point be? It's not always easy publicly airing my "issues". Then I started thinking . . . I'm sure I'm not alone in this struggle. How many of you out there get down? Feel worthless? Hopeless? Completely alone? It may feel like it but we're not. I felt completely alone this morning but God was there. He was ready to help me and was simply waiting for me to ask.

Tomorrow morning I have an appointment with my oncologist for my routine visit I have every 3 weeks. My treatment is scheduled for Wednesday morning but I am hoping to try and reschedule it for Monday afternoon or Tuesday. My CA125 will be tested again during the treatment. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't anxious about my number. Even if I am able to schedule my treatment for tomorrow afternoon I won't have my number until Tuesday. I can hear the clock ticking already.

It is time for me to get back on that roller coaster now. I'm thankful that I am past this last "down" and am looking forward to the next "up". It sure would be nice though if I could get on a slow kiddie ride that simply goes in circles for a change. Slow, even, predictable boring circles.

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009: What's In Your Fist?

I apologize for getting so far behind on the blog. I had an appointment with my oncologist on Monday and that went well. I had my treatment on Wednesday which went fine too. I even brought the kids and my mom with me. Because my appointment was in the afternoon I wasn't able to get my CA125 results until today . . . it wasn’t quite the number I was hoping for.

Six weeks ago I was at 20. I forgot to post it three weeks ago . . . it had gone up to 25 . . . not a big deal. It was tested again yesterday and it is now at 34. Again, not a big deal. Okay, so at first it was a big deal. After going from 20 to 25 I was really hoping to hear it had jumped back down. I am still considered to be "normal" because I am under 35.

Although I was initially shocked about the new number I had a peace shortly after. I realized I could worry about this for three weeks until it is tested again or I can give it to God while I'm waiting. Then the song Everlasting God ran through my head . . . specifically the lyrics "strength will rise when we wait upon the Lord".

This morning before I talked to my nurse I had done my bible study and it talked about things that we hold tightly in our fists and are afraid to give over to God. I thought I had given my fear of the cancer returning over to Him. Most of the time I do but then it slowly sneaks back in and before I know it, I'm holding it tight in my fist thinking that I can take care of it myself. Silly me.

The lesson shared a story about a dog holding onto a toy in his mouth and refusing to let it go. His owner tried but he wouldn't budge. Ironically, all she wanted to do was put a snack in it and give it back to him.

At the end of the lesson they talked about what happens when we release our white knuckled fists and give whatever it is we are hanging onto to Him. He will either take it from us and return it with a treat in it or reveal to us something we couldn't see because we were so focused on our white knuckled grip.

God has taken away my fear once again and I know He won't give it back. The only way it will come back is if I take it. When I look at it from this perspective I can't understand why I keep trying to take it back! I also don't understand why I don't start out every day with my bible study. Doing this won’t change what will happen to me that day but it will change how I choose to handle it.