Saturday, September 13

love me some good news

I received the best news yesterday at my doctor's appointment. My latest PET scan showed that overall the cancer has either decreased in activity or remained stable! There was only one spot (in my liver) that showed an increase of cancer activity. But the other spots on my liver were improved.

Sooooo......

I'm staying with this chemo pill (Xeloda) for awhile longer. Since my mouth is finally starting to heal and I'm gradually getting more strength back, I'm going to wait another week before resuming chemo. And he decreased my dosage slightly. I was hoping for a greater reduction of dosage, but he's afraid to mess too much with a chemo drug that actually works. For those of you who aren't familiar with the progression of stage 4 cancer, the more chemo treatments one has, the less effective chemo is overall. Since I've been on 13 different chemo drugs over the years, it's a miracle to find one that is actually working. I have no one to credit but God who hears our prayers. The fact that I'm up and around and somewhat "normal" is a great testimony to the power of prayer.

In other news, what about my brain?

Well, I have a brain MRI scheduled for Sept. 23rd. And then I'll see my oncologist again on the 29th. Depending on the results of the MRI, we'll know if we need to resume the brain chemo or can stay away from it for a little while longer.

I guess that's about it.

My parents made a very last-minute visit late on Thursday night. My mom had her blood tested a few months ago to see if she is the carrier of the damaged gene that I (and so far one of my three sisters) carry. They went with me to my appointment and were able to pop into the genetic clinic and find out the results. My mom DOES have the damaged gene. It really doesn't mean anything for us, but now we know how to move forward with regards to our children. My older sister (that also carries the damaged gene) will be monitored more closely because she's a little more susceptible to getting breast cancer. BUT just because she carries the damaged gene, doesn't guarantee that she'll get cancer, because it's not a specific breast cancer gene. I don't fully understand it, but it's just knowledge to monitor her closer. AND our children will all need to be tested when they each turn 18. Marielle is concerned, but I told her that she's in the best possible place. She's going to be well monitored, so that IF she has the defected gene and IF she ends up with cancer, it's going to be caught extremely early and she won't have to worry about having chemo or radiation. And she's not guaranteed to even be a carrier. My youngest sister tested negative for the damaged gene, but my third sister has yet to receive her results. I really don't want Marielle to worry—especially because there's nothing to worry about at this moment. There are a lot of "Ifs" that need to happen before she even has to give it a second thought. I really hope I eased her mind.

Anyway, it's been nice having my parents here for a day and a half. Wish it could have been longer.

Dale is taking a day trip to Chicago to see some friends in concert. So he won't be back home until probably after midnight. I miss him when he's gone, but I'm looking forward to pizza and a movie with the kids.

Bye-bye, all!

Friday, September 5

what the doctor says

No more chemo! —Well, at least for 9 more days.

I met with my oncologist today and he doesn't want me to resume this particular chemo drug until we find out if it's working or not. If we DO find out that this chemo is effectively working on the cancer, then I'll just take it at a lower dose.

I have a PET scan on Tuesday and then will meet with my oncologist once again this coming Friday. Hopefully my side effects will have a chance to go away (or at least lessen) and I'll start gaining more energy as well as weight.

I want to thank everyone that has contacted me privately about trying different things for my mouth sores. I want to let you know I've tried EVERYTHING and nothing has worked. I was hoping my doctor could give me a prescription for something, but he said that nothing will work, short of ceasing the chemo. It's a bit of a blur, but he said something about the damage being done on such a deep cellular level, that anything I take wouldn't actually heal the problem (same with my fingertips).

Also, I have a very sensitive stomach and can't hold down any special nutritious or protein drinks. Thanks for the advice, though. I really don't drink much besides water and the occasional lemonade or slushy. I even have to pass on the weekly communion grape juice, or else I start to feel the need to vomit. Things just don't set well with me. But the hope is that by clearing up these mouth sores, I'll be able to eat more and gain some weight. In the meantime, I'll continue to put numbing Oragel on the worst areas of burning or cracking, and eat because I know I need to....even though the tastes are numbed down.

Thank you for so diligently praying! I'll keep you updated as to the results of my next PET scan on the 9th.

Thursday, September 4

school of life

I wrote this morning about the physical side effects of the current chemo I'm on. I sometimes feel like I have two lives: one as a cancer patient, the other as ME (—mom, wife, homemaker, friend, and the me only God sees). So this Part 2 of today is focused on my life as a mom....not the me with cancer.

We're into our 3rd week of school now. I can hardly believe it. So far, both of the kids are loving school and thriving. I just love new beginnings. A new school year.....fresh with new opportunities. New friends, new ideas, expanding our minds, soaking in the Word, learning some difficult lessons—through studies AND relationships. It all sums up into adrenalin that motivates us to do better and to BE better.

The first day of school. I can't believe I have an 8th grader and a 5th grader. I tear up just thinking about these two blessings that God has allowed me to love and parent. My heart is full.



My heart is still heavy when I hear of relationships troubles and all of the drama that goes on within school walls that seep into the walls of students' hearts. I know that school is 50% about studies and 50% about peers. And that adds up to 100% about growing and learning. I wish all children would focus 100% on school and leave out the drama. But then perhaps that's just my introverted tendencies forcing their way to the front of my being. I know that relationships are extremely important. After all, we can't take anything to heaven with us except relationships—souls.

So it seems that I, as a parent, am forced to deal with it, too. When my kids come home from school, instead of only focusing on what homework needs to be done, I need to probe a bit and find out how they're doing emotionally and how they're handling the relationships that they have. These are the years that their peers could potentially shape their future, or at the very least how they see themselves. How important is it to them to fit in and be noticed? I need to ask my kids questions and get them talking. Life is hard (no one knows this better than me), and I so badly want my kids to live their life for God and not for themselves or their friends or even their parents. Such a difficult lesson to teach when it's easier said than done. I believe that every single trial (no matter how big or small) is an opportunity to practice this lesson of surrendering the problem and the accompanying emotions to God.

Will surrendering to God make the problems go away? Probably not. Will it make my child more popular? Will it make someone nicer? Will it stop the gossips and trouble-makers? Most likely nothing will change around us. But the key goal is not to wish for perfect circumstances and an ideal surrounding, filled with only happy people who think the world of us. The key is to rise above all of the chaos and find shelter and peace and protection in the arms of Jesus Christ.

I really love our school and I'm so glad my kids enjoy school. And this year they are both committed to work hard on their studies and be the best example of Christ they can be. This is all I can hope for as a mom. I want them to learn. And for them to WANT to learn. Open hearts and open minds.

My goal this year as a parent is two-fold. First I have a goal for my kids to become independent in their studies. I need to gradually step behind them and let them make their own mistakes. Hopefully there will be no "Ooops. I forgot to do my homework" or "I only have one night to do this project." I can't forever be telling them to do their homework before they get on social media or play games on their apple devices. I can't keep planning their evenings for them. They need to be responsible with their time and not procrastinate. Learning this the hard way, may be good for them. Second, my goal is to spend more time nurturing their character. Instead of focusing on schoolwork 100% of every evening, I want it to be 50% on schoolwork and 50% on character building and spiritual guidance. Little do my children know they are students in the School of Life—every day preparing them for independence.

concerned

I've been a bit concerned lately. I'll share my concern here as I am certain my faithful prayer warriors will take this to the Lord.

My concern is that I'm losing too much weight. For awhile I had plateau'd around 98–102 pounds. While I feel I'm at my best around 107–110 pounds (for my height and frame), I was content with hovering around 100. But now it seems like no matter what or how much I eat, I keep losing pounds. I've never been this low in my adult years. I stand right now at 87 pounds. My 13-year old daughter and I can easily share clothes. I hate looking at my body because it looks so skeletal. And skin just hangs loose all over the place.

I'm concerned because it's not just a matter of eating more. My stomach has shrunk and I get full after eating only a portion of my meals. Also, the mouth sores are getting worse, so eating is very painful. I'd rather sleep than eat, so that's what I end up doing sometimes. This is not good.

I'll be seeing my oncologist tomorrow. I don't think I've seen him in over 2 months! Every 3 weeks when I go in for blood work and zometa, I've been seeing a nurse instead of my doctor. I can't wait to fill him in on what's been going on. I'll see what he has to say, and hopefully he'll agree with me that I either need to take a lower dose of this chemo I'm on, or we need to take a break from it altogether. I really could use the time to build up my strength, lose the mouth sores (—nothing has worked to heal my burning mouth; I just have to put Oral Gel all over before I can eat), and gain some weight.

My other concern is with my fingertips. It looks like I may lose my left index fingernail. The shape of my nails are changing, but the bigger issue is that the tips of my fingers are cracking and getting numb. I can't do simple things like pull apart two papers that are stuck together (or pull apart an unopened bag of chips), or open a can of soda. Sometimes, even, my phone doesn't recognize my fingertip when I try to touch a link or scroll a page. My fingertips are hardened and wrinkled. I'm sure this will go away once I am off of this chemo.

I'm torn, though, because these treatments are keeping me alive. I sort of don't want to stop this chemo unless it's not working on the cancer. If xeloda (current chemo) has proven to stop the growth of cancer, then that's wonderful! The more months we can keep the cancer from growing and spreading, the more months I have to be alive. I'm sure my oncologist and I will discuss when to schedule my next PET scan. Until I have the answers to whether or not xeloda is working, please pray with me about treatment decisions and the side effects I'm currently enduring.

This is Part 1 of a 2-part blog entry. To come...the end of summer and beginning of a new school year.....

Wednesday, August 20

thirteen


I think I'm obsessed with this age. My daughter just turned 13 and as I try to relate and understand her, I'm somewhat forced to remember what it was like being 13.

I know that everyone's testimony is unique, but mine started at age 13. I don't know if I've really shared this on my blog before, but hopefully my story will mean something to someone out there.

I was NOT a nice child. There was always a thread of darkness that ran through me. I wanted to be good, but I just couldn't. I was always either jealous or angry, it seemed. I'm told that a typical 2nd born child is more strong-willed. She (or he) wants to be noticed. I realized that I got lost by not being the firstborn (and having all the privileges that came with that) and I was never as sweet or precious as the baby. I know that I sought attention whenever and however I could get it—even if it was negative attention. I think, looking back, that I was so strong-willed that I didn't even care if I got caught doing something wrong. In my mind, I would do what I wanted, and then suffer the consequences later, IF I even got caught at all. That "high" of getting away with something kept driving me, I think. I don't know. I went to church all the time (every time the doors were open). And I knew the difference between right and wrong. I knew I was sinning when I'd steal or lie, but I just couldn't seem to stop. It's as if that streak of darkness was too powerful.

When I was 13 a few things happened that changed the course of my life. Let me say first that I firmly believe I was headed down a bad hill. I was raised so sheltered that I became rebellious. I remember crying in my bed as I thought, "If this is what it's like to be a Christian, then I don't want to have anything to do with it." It seemed my life was always filled with "no's." I couldn't wear shorts in public, couldn't go to the movies, couldn't stay over at a friend's house, couldn't go to school dances, couldn't wear make-up, couldn't get my ears pierced, couldn't, couldn't, COULDN'T!

When I was 11 or 12, I remember the look of sadness and disappointment in my mom's eyes. I'm not sure what I had done, but around that time I remember kneeling on the floor with my mom on a mustard yellow chair and listening to her pray for me. She was at her wits end I'm sure. Thank goodness for praying moms. I believe this was the beginning of my heart turning toward God.

But back to thirteen.

Another memorable thing that impacted my spiritual journey was a visit to my cousin's house. I was completely caught off guard watching my two female cousins (who were sisters) get along. They actually respected each other and were pleasant to each other. What?! It shocked me. Could siblings actually get along? I wanted that. I wanted so bad to get along with my sisters and have them like me. I knew that I was the reason we didn't get along like that. I didn't know what to do about it, but I tucked that memory inside my head and heart.

Another eye-opener for me was going to a Youth Conference. The speaker's message was all about Christian music verses main-stream Rock. I was a glued captive audience. I remember being appalled as he played a secular song backwards and it had all sorts of satanic messages. My skin just crawled. It was very unlikely that my mom would let us by something at the bookstore, but she actually let my older sister and I pick out a cassette tape (remember those?). My sister chose Petra and I chose Whiteheart. I couldn't believe that the songs in Christian music were so similar in tune and style to what was popular. I ended up choosing to only listen to Christian music. My favorites (okay, now I'm showing my age) were Amy Grant, Sandi Patti, Michael W. Smith, 4Him, Acapella, and Carmen. I wanted so badly to be like my older sister that I determined it to be cool to be different from my friends and listen to Christian music. It was definitely a turning point for me.

Gradually I came to the point that I knew I was sinful and didn't want to be, but needed Jesus to help change me because I couldn't do it on my own. It was difficult to find a place alone in a family of six. So I went to the basement bathroom, locked the door, grabbed a towel, laid on the floor and bawled. I cried out to God to save me. I cried to Jesus to help me be more like Him. I needed help. It was the first time I came to the realization that I can't be a Christian without help. I can't do it on my own.

I very clearly heard the Lord speak to my heart (the VERY FIRST time)! He said, "I forgive you. Now you must go and ask forgiveness of those you've wronged." I immediately got up and found my mom in the kitchen. I asked her to forgive me for the bad things I've done. I did this one by one to all my family members. They didn't really know what was going on, but I felt cleansed and whole for the first time ever.

There was another point 14 years later that my relationship with God had deepened when He showed me all the areas of my life that I hadn't 100% surrendered to Him. But I'll save that story for another time.

Back to why "thirteen" will forever be a special time in my growth with God.

I got baptized shortly thereafter. And suddenly I found it easier to be nice and a good example for my younger sisters. I wasn't perfect and I knew that I still needed help all the time—especially when I messed up. I remember being sad that it took awhile for my mom to trust me again. But in time, I earned her trust. It started out with little things like NOT dancing at a school dance (—I was just there to take pictures for Student Council). It wasn't until the next day that I found out my mom had asked the principal to keep an eye on me to make sure I didn't dance. Also a couple of years later, I went out with some friends and my mom gave me a $20 bill. I returned about $17.50 to her and I'll never forget her surprise and pleasure at receiving money back. Then when I was a junior in High School, I started dating my future husband. No matter when I got home, my mom would be up reading her book. I would always come in and tell her what Dale and I did and what we talked about in the car, parked in our driveway for 1 to 2 hours. I felt it was important for my mom to know that I wasn't bad anymore. I wanted her to see me in a good light. And now, I can say that mom is more a friend than a mom.

So what does all of this have to do with anything?

Regardless of age, the good news is that we CAN'T (and aren't SUPPOSED TO) do it [be good] without help from God's grace, Jesus our Savior and the Holy Spirit our Helper.

I have such a passionate burden for teens and pre-teens. This is the perfect time to give your all to God. Okay, you know you're not perfect. So instead of beating yourself up when you mess up, talk openly with the ONE who can make the pain go away AND change your heart while He's at it. That darkness is one strong Beast. I know. But God is SOOO much stronger than the enemy. Surrender to God. It may sound scary and impossible, but what have you got to lose? Instead of living life confused and depressed, you'll have freedom and all the good gifts that God has waiting for you. Right now, He has a storehouse with your name on it. He's just waiting to bless you for your obedience and sacrifice.

Even saying the name of Jesus, causes the enemy to tremble. Try going further and verbally cast out those demons in Jesus' name that are feeding you with lies—like You're not good enough, You messed up again, No one really loves you, No one can understand what it's like to be you, You're not pretty enough, You're not very smart, Because you don't have money you'll never fit in, and the list is endless. Whatever your particular struggle is, it's not worth a single moment of worry or distress. Pray. Give 'whatever' and everything to God. Let Him deal with it.

Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to be a Christian. But please don't think you have to go at it alone. Although there are many books out there to help you be a better Christian, it's more simple than that. We make it so hard. We just need to have a relationship with God. He'll tell us what to do and how to live. And even better is the fact that God gave us Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us.

Just surrender. Surrender it all.

If you don't know how, then spend some time just talking to God. He'll bring to your mind what you need to surrender. Also, get to know your Heavenly Father. He's so much more than a Creator and All-Powerful Supreme Being. He's gentle. And loving. Forgiving, caring, compassionate, merciful, long-suffering/patient, Holy and good. God isn't some distant Being that is waiting to pour down His wrath on the sinner. He's quite the opposite, actually. He loves YOU so much that He wants You to get to know Him. He wants a close relationship with you.

It's really quite free-ing. Living without a care in the world (—because Jesus has already carried our burdens to the Cross) is so awesome. The answer to a free life in Christ is just 2 simple things: 1) Surrender everything to God and 2) Constantly seek God. By constantly seeking our Lord, your faith will grow and it'll be easier to surrender to God and be obedient to Him. It's a beautiful cycle.

Realize that even after you surrender you life to God, we're still human and will fail at times. After all, look at how many times the Israelites strayed. Yet God has mercy and will forgive a contrite heart.

So, thirteen-year-olds, you have a choice to make. You're old enough now to understand. Think on these questions. Search your heart. Ask God to show you any area that you have yet to surrender. Then live the full, free life God has in store for you!

Am I living for myself or am I living for God?
Am I trying to please man (friends, parents, teachers) or is my goal to please God?
Have I surrendered my whole life (possessions, friends, family, money, goals, thoughts, health, AND emotions) to God?

It's the only way to be able to say, "Lord, my life is in your hands now." It's the only way a parent can easily forgive the shooter of her child. It's the only way a person can deal with severe childhood abuse. It's the only way a prisoner can be truly free. It's the only reason why I can cope with terminal cancer. "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me."—Galatians 2:20

Boy, I SO hope at least one person out there is moved in his/her spirit. Now can be a turning point for anyone hurting. If you feel like there's an emptiness in your life or a dark thread streaming through your veins, don't wait a moment longer. Find freedom in Jesus Christ. You are more than worth it. Jesus saw YOU (your face, your name, even your sins) and said, "You are worthy enough to die for."

Saturday, August 16

spa-a-a-a-ah

Wow.

I have had one of those weeks I will cherish forever. Think with me of all things girly and blissful: flower gardens, ducklings following mama in a serene lake, sweet smelling lotions, bubble baths with jets, silence, gourmet white chocolate raspberry sorbet, peacefulness, wooden swing next to a stone water fountain, weeping willows bent low to kiss a wooden bridge, a small stream bubbling over large stones, stained glass windows, plush bath robes, fragrant soaps, fresh strawberries lightly powdered with sugar, a light flower-scented breeze, sighs from a kindred spirit, naps as the sunlight warms the skin, smiles while shopping, massage treatments and the list just goes on and on.

I spent 6 days with my Sisterchick at Kohler Spa (a 5-star resort) in Kohler, Wisconsin. Everything was so relaxing and just perfect. The staff really makes each guest their #1 priority. All I had to ask for was fresh strawberries and.....wa-la! — I received fresh strawberries every day. It was all so surreal.

On our return to Peoria, we stayed one night in Chicago. I was able to receive a couple of free spa treatments at a wonderful non-profit business called Faye's Light. From the moment I stepped inside the door, I felt overwhelmed by love and peace. I received a facial and a massage and they even gave my friend a free massage, too! She was so surprised.

Enjoy the following photos. Although a photo can only show so much, these are glimpses of what we saw and experienced:


If the above video doesn't appear, you can view the link directly here.

I'm back home now. Yesterday I had to go into the Cancer Center for blood work, to meet with a nurse and to receive a treatment to strengthen my bones. Everything looks good as far as my blood work goes. I'll get to see my oncologist in three weeks. We'll probably set up some dates for another scan or two. I'm curious to learn if my chemo is effectively killing cancer cells or not.

But now is the time to focus on days ahead. I can hardly believe school begins in just two days. I believe we're all ready, except I wish we'd started earlier on getting back to a normal bedtime. I also need to get Josiah's hair cut. Oh, it's been a great summer and I'm looking forward to an equally great school year.

Saturday, August 9

a few happenings

This may be a hodgepodge blog post, but I just can't keep up with life! Here are a few things that have been happening lately:

We returned a few days ago from a three-day weekend vacation to Six Flags Great America in Chicago. I've been to the St. Louis Six Flags dozens of times, but have never been to the one in Chicago. Right from the start, Marielle and I left the guys to do our own thing. We had no intention of standing in long lines in the heat. So off we went to explore, soak it all in, browse the gift shops and salivate as we decided which snackies and goodies to devour. Marielle and I rode the two story carousel, but that was the extent of our rides together. She's not much of a thrill seeker, and although I LOVE all the fast-paced rides and roller coasters, my body just doesn't react like it used to. I tried to convince her to go on one ride with me, but when she makes up her mind, there's no changing it. So I DID ride a spinning ride by myself. I had my eyes closed the entire time and let's just say that I was really concerned I'd get hit in the face with my own vomit. I'm sure I looked as white as a ghost and of course my balance issues were magnified. Even still, I'm glad I at least rode one ride.

On the left is the double decker carousel. Quite an experience. Although the guys split from the gals, we met up partway through the day.

As the sun moved higher in the sky, we decided to check out Hurricane Harbor. Our plan was to relax in the lounging chairs and also check out the Wave Pool. I don't know if I can share what happened without crying. I'll start off by saying that both God and Marielle saved my life. We walked into the Wave Pool about half-way in. Once the first wave hit me, it completely knocked me off my feet. I couldn't get my head out of the water. I kept gasping and trying to move up to the shallow part. Every time I would barely get my face to breath air, I was knocked over again. I finally found the bottom and started crawling, but even then, every couple of seconds I'd get completely pulled under. I really thought I wasn't going to make it. Just in time, I saw Marielle's legs and heard her say, "Are you okay?" I couldn't talk, but I gasped, "NO!" and "HELP!" — over and over. She stood sturdy as a rock and helped me to my feet. I had to put ALL of my body weight on her as I grabbed her arms for dear life. I couldn't stop coughing and gasping for air. She led me to my scooter and stood with me as I shivered and cried and tried to hang on to a normal breathing pattern. It was horrible. And so scary. Later I asked Marielle what made her turn around and come to me. She was really looking forward to the Wave Pool, I would have expected her to stay put and enjoy it. But she said, "I don't know. I just looked around for you and wondered if you were having a good time." I can tell you right now, that Someone prompted her to search out her mom. She's not in the habit of taking care of me, and it's really out of character for her to walk towards the shallow part of the Wave Pool just as it was starting. I am forever grateful to my angel-girl for saving my life. No. I'm not exaggerating. Yes. It really was that bad.

Both of my knees were pretty scratched up and bruised from crawling for my life towards the safety of shallow water. Man, I never want to experience such a thing ever again.

Time to switch gears.

The week before we went to Chicago, we were blessed to have some dear friends visit us for a few days. We met Travis and RaChelle 17 years ago when Dale was in the Navy. While Travis was on a Sub and Dale was on a Cruiser, we were the same ages and went to the same church. It's been years since we've seen them. Unfortunately Travis couldn't make the trip, but RaChelle and their two boys stayed for two nights. I wasn't really concerned about visiting with RaChelle, even though we haven't even talked or emailed in years. And I was right. We just talked and talked like we were sisters. I suppose that's what it's like to be a part of such a large Family of God. We really ARE sisters. When you have Jesus Christ in common, then it's easy to pick up where you left off. I WAS concerned, however, with just how well our four children would get along. I needn't have worried. Her children are exactly one year younger than both my kids. They just visited and watch movies and played electronic games and seemed to really get along. One of the days we went to Splashdown Water Park. After a couple of days, no one wanted them to leave. It was such a fun break in the sometimes boring routine days of summer.

The six of us at Splashdown. It really was a lot of fun. The only thing I did was float on the Lazy River. I wish I could have done all the slides and stuff, but it was so hot and I was so winded. I was perfectly happy lounging next to Marielle and visiting with my super great friend, RaChelle.

Let's see....What else has happened over the summer? Well, I made a stupid (expensive) mistake a few weeks ago that cost me the ability to enter my car through the driver's side. I wasn't sure I'd even post this, but who cares? Everyone makes mistakes and has regrets over one thing or another. Here's what happened: The kids and I were driving home from the gym. I was super excited that I walked 2.5 miles at a decent pace. So I decided we could drive through Dairy Queen and pick up a treat. I ordered one small blizzard, one small chiller and a free ice cream sandwich, with a coupon. After the drive-thru worker said it was $9.10 and to pull up to the window, I started to drive away. But my thoughts were on the amount I was being charged. How could a small blizzard and a small drink cost over $9? I wasn't paying attention (shame on me) and I hit one of the red concrete posts that should've guided me to the window. Although it made a horrible sound (I HATE that sound of scraping and dented metal), I didn't think I did much damage to the car. I just pushed my side mirror back in place, looked through the mirror and didn't see any damage. But when I got home and couldn't open my door more than a few inches, my heart sank. The kids' reaction about did me in. Here's a picture of the damage. I'm really glad that no one else was involved and that no one was hurt.

I'm glad it wasn't worse. But still.....I feel so stupid and mad at myself. As if we had a few extra hundred dollars just laying around to pay the deductible. Oh well. At least we have car insurance.

I guess it's a good thing to report the not-so-good aspects of summer as well as the fun vacations. Hey, that's life.

What else?

This is turning into a longer blog post than I originally thought. Let me quickly give an update on my health and medical stuff and then leave. But first I'll give you a teaser—I'm laying right now on a heavenly hotel bed with my Sisterchick in Chicago. Tomorrow we will drive up the coast and land at a 5-Star Spa and Resort for a few days of relaxing and pampering and sighing and giggling and having the time of our lives. I think this is why I've been able to update my blog. I've actually had a few hours to myself! It really does take me a couple of hours to write, especially if I have photos to incorporate.

But I digress.

As far as my health goes, I haven't had any PET scans or MRIs lately, so I don't know if the chemo is effective or not. I won't see my doctor until the 15th, so I'm sure we'll set up an appointment for a scan. Sometimes with this chemo I still get a tad queasy and nauseous, but for the most part, the biggest side effect is fatigue. Although I'm able to do some things around the house, I get tired and winded and end up in bed. If I have things to do and places to go, I try to stay active and do it, whether I feel like it or not. But if I have a blank day, then I really love spending the day in bed. In fact, yesterday I took about 3 (2-3 hour) naps and STILL slept all night long.

I had a miserable drive home from Chicago last week. My pain patch (fentanyl) came off two days prior and I didn't have a spare with me. The pain in the car was unbearable. I suppose it's good to know that my pain patches really do work. I had 5 pillows of various sizes and thicknesses and a blanket with me, and I just couldn't find a single position that would relieve my back pain. I started whimpering and tearing up. I had to lay the passenger seat as flat as it would go and stack up the pillows so I could lay on my stomach. Real safe. I know. Suddenly I heard Josiah crying. Poor thing. He was crying because I was in such pain and probably crying because I was crying. What a sensitive soul he is. He kept asking if I was okay, and I kept saying no, I'm in pain. But I told him I'd be okay and he doesn't need to cry. I took two Dramamine pills and managed to make it home. The first thing I did was put on a pain patch. It didn't start working until the next morning, so that night wasn't fun either. But that's in the past now. And I've learned my lesson: I will always make sure I have extra patches and pills when I take a trip.

My numb chin and lip has really let up. In fact it doesn't feel numb at all!! Thank you for praying and thank you, Lord, for healing this simple thing that affected my quality of life.

The biggest thing I'm dealing with is a very sore mouth. The entire inside of my mouth, tongue, lips, gums, etc. is burning and on fire. I've been trying to keep up with a mouth rinse of warm water, salt and baking soda. Also alternating with part water and part hydrogen peroxide. I have to use a medicated lip balm and regularly put neosporin on the corner creases of my mouth. I also have a medicated mouth moisturizing gel that I put all over my tongue. My sore mouth makes it even more difficult to eat—which is something I have to make myself do as it is. I don't get those hunger pains, yet I have to take chemo with food. So I'm making myself eat, but food just irritates my mouth even more.

One other side effect of this chemo is called hand and foot syndrome. My hands (particularly the tips of my fingers) are cracked and numb and stiff and feel swollen. I'm trying to keep them moist.

Okay, it's late here and my sissy-chicky is headed to bed. I suppose I can be a good roommate and turn off my laptop.

Look for pictures to come of our wonderful Spa Getaway!

P.S. I'm sorry for not keeping up with this blog as I'd like. I know that I usually update at least once or twice a week. It's been weighing on me that I need to update, but I just haven't either found the time or found the motivation. I appreciate all who have emailed, called, texted or asked personally how I've been doing — since I've sort of dropped the bomb in keeping everyone updated regularly. As you can see, I'm doing well. Just doing life the best I can between the pain and fatigue.

Thursday, July 24

total awe

Sometimes I feel like I have homework when it comes to this blog. I know I haven't written in awhile and that fact just hovers in the back of my head for days—until I finally write something. I always love writing down my thoughts and taking the time to reflect or ponder life. And I've tried to write at least 2 or 3 times a week. But this summer is altogether different. I wish that I had the time to sit and write and write, especially since I have so many topics floating around in my head. But the truth is, I'm so fulfilled just living life, that I'm finding it hard to take the time to record it all. I'm sure that when things settle down (once school resumes), I'll start to contribute more. In the meantime, I'm storing up my topics and if they're a month or two late, then who cares?

I want to write about our 5th Annual Girl Getaway that my sisters, our daughters and my mom take every summer. But I need to go through photos first and have a bit of solitude to reflect on the weekend. We had a blast, as always. In some ways this may have been our best Getaway yet.

And I want to write about all the others things (big and small) that have happened this summer. I'm still in awe of how great this summer has been.

Since I don't have the hours right now to account for everything, I'll be brief and offer up any medical news since the last time I wrote.

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and my platelets were too low to receive chemo. I have to go back on Monday and have blood drawn again. Hopefully my platelets will have risen and I can begin taking the chemo pills on Tuesday. Sometimes I get nauseous on the chemo pills (I must take 5 pills a day for 14 days, then I have a 7-day break). I also notice that my energy seems to decrease a bit each day. BUUUUT....... I did manage to walk 2.5 miles two days ago at the gym! My doctor is impressed. I give all the credit to Marielle because she walks with me and just talks and talks. I love listening to her and it makes the time fly.

Let's see. Any other symptoms? My Numb Chin Syndrome has seemed to be getting BETTER! I didn't thing that was possible. Oh, and I thought I had a UTI 3 weeks ago, so I had a urine culture taken. Unfortunately I DID have a UTI, but no one bothered to let me know. They took another sample yesterday and I was finally given an antibiotic. Hmmmm....oh, and my weight continues to decrease which is not good. But honestly, be careful if you pray for weight gain. While I want to be at a healthier weight, I've always struggled with my weight and I quite enjoy getting to eat whatever I want and not worrying about calories. Or buying clothes without even trying them on, because I know they'll fit and look good. —Every woman's dream....ahhhh! I'd say that if I could gain about 5 to 7 pounds and then plateau, that would be ideal.

Hmmmm....what else.....

I guess that's about it. I'm at a place of happiness right now.

There's only 25 days left until school begins. And no, I'm not the one counting down. My kids are looking forward to going back to school, so they're counting down the days as if it's Christmas. In just the next 3 weeks, we're having company for a few days—out of town friends that I can't wait to see. Next on the agenda, the four of us are planning a weekend trip to Six Flags Great America in Chicago. It's going to be so much fun! A week later, my sisterchick and I are planning to get away for a few days at a luxury Spa in Wisconsin. Sometime in there, Josiah has piano camp and we'll need to start buying school supplies and clothes. I'm just loving the balance we've had this summer with staying busy and being productive, making memories either at home or out of town and also relaxing and doing nothing on those long, lazy days of summer.

Home Sweet Home


Thank you, Lord, for giving me the Summer of 2014. What a blessing each day has been. Even when the kids argue (and drive me up the wall), I've noticed a bond that is growing between them. I thank you for allowing me to witness these precious days. I have a deep yearning to spend many more summers with my family. Oh, please Lord, let it be. Yet no matter what, I will always be grateful for the Summer of 2014. — A season where my kids can always look back on and see their mama in a positive way. I know there will be too many memories of me in the hospital and with tubes and bruises and a paleness that defines my physical appearance. But nothing can take away what we have right now. And you know, Lord, that sometimes I struggle with being a mom. Not even a GOOD mom, just a mom. It's so hard and I can't stand the fights and the whining and all the other thousand little things that come with the package of having a sibling. So that's why this summer is such a miracle. I've been at my wits end more days than I would like over the past couple of months, but You've given me new eyes and have softened my heart. Only You can do that. I have a new tenderness toward them that I don't think I've ever had before. Thank You for continuing to work in my life and shape me to be the woman, mom, wife and friend that you designed for me to be. I just love you SO much, my Heavenly Father and personal Friend. I have no words. I'm in awe.

Thursday, July 17

clouds of prayer

Even though I vomited yesterday and weariness causes me to sleep the day away, I can't help but feel like I'm walking on air. My feet are hovering on a path of clouds that carry me and protect my every step. 

Once in awhile I step outside of myself and take a hard look at my life. With each passing month, full of treatments and scans and results, I grow more in awe that I'm alive. Sometimes it just doesn't make sense to me that others have been diagnosed with advanced cancer and have passed away within months, while I enter my 5th year of living with this incurable disease. I honestly don't think I'd be doing as well as I am if it weren't for the many, many prayers said on my behalf over the years. I like to imagine that every single prayer buys me a day of capabilities. 24 hours of being able to walk. 24 hours to enjoy pain-free memories. 24 hours of having sight, of being able to hear and think and stand and eat. Oh sure, there are parts of me that I have to watch decline, but hey, after all....I have widespread cancer throughout most of my bones and liver and BRAIN, for crying out loud. I'm not sure what I thought it'd look like to live with widespread cancer, but this isn't it.

The Lord gives and He takes away. And I praise Him no matter what. And He listens to every single prayer. I don't believe He passively listens, rather He ACTIVELY hears our cries and praise. God is moved and touched when we seek Him and His will. Our humble prayers are not left hanging on clogged ears, they MOVE God. And what's more is that our prayers move US. We move closer to Him and His will. Perhaps God would sustain and keep me alive these past few years regardless if anyone said a single prayer for me. But I know in my heart that those prayers have helped me ENJOY life and this journey I'm on. They have kept me from getting depressed or discouraged. Every prayer keeps me truckin' along.

By the way, Marielle and I walked another two miles together at the gym today. What'd I tell ya? Prayers! I didn't huff and puff and I kept up a good pace. I may have wobbled every once in awhile, but I feel stronger and healthier and better about life. Once again, Prayers! It's in God's hands what He wants to do with my life. It's in OUR hands to pray. Your prayers have kept me afloat — physically, mentally, emotionally and especially spiritually. Thank you.

If I have to live with cancer, then I'm SO glad I get to be lifted up daily by those clouds of prayer. 


Thursday, July 10

take me out to the ballgame

Twenty four hours ago we hit a milestone that will forever remain in our memories.

Along with my sister, we took the kids to see their very first Cardinal Game. Marielle's excitement about the game rubbed off on me and I just couldn't wait. Yesterday morning, Josiah said he'd rather stay behind and play with his cousins than go to the game. Boy am I glad I took him. Out of all 4 of us, he probably enjoyed the game the most. He sat at the edge of his seat practically the whole time and hardly put down the binoculars. It was so cute. He was really getting into the game. He'd stand and cheer, he'd scream and shake his fists high in the air when something good happened. He moaned with the rest of the crowd and just really got into it.

Didn't we just have the best seats ever? Here's how Josiah looked practically the whole entire game. And look how happy Marielle is!


I'm STILL living off the energy from last night. Every little thing went just perfectly. I've been to enough games over my life to know that some games are better than others. Well, everything from the weather, to our parking spot, to our seats, to the actual game was just perfect. I didn't want nosebleed seats (which is where I usually sit), so I splurged to get seats on the first level, just to the left of home base. It was amazing. The weather was also perfect. In the middle of July, I expected it to be hot and stuffy and miserable, but it was slightly warm with a nice breeze here and there. I didn't even have to put on my sweater as the night grew colder. And some games are just so boring. It's no fun to watch a game when the Cards are losing—even though that doesn't happen very often :-). Sometimes the game is so boring because no one is scoring. But last night, it seemed like some action happened on every single inning.

Looking back, I am in awe of just how perfect and memorable the game was. I was nervous that the kids would be totally bored and wouldn't be able to last 3 hours. We are not really a big sports family. So I knew this game would either endear them to the Cards or turn them off of sports altogether. I only love the Cardinals because I went so often as a child. It holds special nostalgic meaning to me.....our family of six, loading up bags of Pringles, popcorn and soda and driving the hour north to St. Louis for a Cardinal Game. The binoculars, the cotton candy, the atmosphere, the energy, staying up late....all made for wonderful family memories. Last night could have gone very differently, but I'm so glad everything worked out. Thankfully my kids are excited about going again. Hopefully we'll be able to go to a game every summer.

What a relief. It's so difficult to find things to do that our whole family enjoys. Unlike Marielle, Josiah likes amusement parks, swimming and doing anything outside. Marielle prefers shopping and hotels (—she's a gal after my own heart). Often time Dale will take Josiah somewhere and I'll either stay home with Marielle or we'll find something else to do. Sometimes planning a vacation is so difficult. But I have renewed hope.

I just can't get enough of looking at my kids enjoying themselves. Oh, and that view! Even as the sun was going down, we weren't hot and didn't have the sun in our eyes.

Saturday, July 5

independence day

A quick update (because I'm falling asleep).....

Yesterday was Independence Day. I always love the tradition we have of spending the day at Glen Oak Ampitheater and watching the fireworks with my family. The weather was just gorgeous and the entire day perfect. My daughter captured a wonderful photo of my favorite firework. I call it the Never Ending Golden Star:



On July 4th, I also began taking my chemo pills again. Boy, I really miss the 7 day break I get with Xeloda (chemo pills). I get a little queasy with this chemo and increasingly fatigued. Today, however, I DID manage to go to the gym. It's been a couple of weeks since I've gone. But I really want my kids to be more physically active and I knew Marielle wouldn't go unless I took her — because I don't stay as long as Dale does. So we took two cars and Marielle and I walked the track. I always read an eBook from my phone while I walk. But today Marielle and I walked side by side and talked the whole time. It was SO wonderful to hear her talk about anything and everything. Sometimes I feel like I'm not a very good listener, because I like to give advice and share about my past. I like for my kids to know that I understand them. But today, I was able to listen more, because I get too out of breath when I walk and talk. It was just perfect! I told her that I love it when she talks to me. She questioned why and I said it's because when she was little I could control what she did, watched and who she hung out with. But now the only way I get to know what's going on inside of her is if she talks to me. I really hope our "Gym Walks 'n Talk" can bring us even closer together. OH! And we walked TWO miles!! That's the most I've walked yet — I just didn't want her to stop sharing.

Well, it's late and I need to be well rested for church tomorrow. I'm sure I'll update next week as we take a vacation to St. Louis, MO and Eureka Springs, AR.

Monday, June 30

a letter to my daughter

I'm writing a letter to my daughter on her first day of being 13. The more I interact with 12-14 year olds and the more I remember myself at that age, the more convinced I am that this issue is universal. Please sneak a peak into my heart as I share a burning passion to encourage ALL teenagers to stop looking in the physical mirror and comparing or judging themselves. How much grander it is to start looking in the mirror that God has placed inside our heart to reveal Truth. HIS truth — because He is the only One that can be trusted to see us just as we are.


My precious angel,

You are an official teenager. In many ways you have already reached that level of maturity and responsibility that comes with growing up. Oh, my sweet girl....it's not over.

I don't know how much longer I will be with you here on earth as your mom. Sometimes I panic because I have so much to share and so little time. I so desperately long to guide you and help you as problems arise in your life. But I also know that it's important to gradually let go of my hold on you, so you can grow and learn from your own experiences, choices and mistakes.

I wish I could address every possible scenario that may arise in your teen years and 20's. But I can't. So let's just focus on one very important thing. I believe this lesson could be a life-changing moment and provide a foundation that will filter into every aspect of your life.

As you enter your teen years, I know this age and time in your life is challenging. The emotions, the questions, the hurt, the confusion — all consume your mind and reflect how you interact and how you view yourself. I know. I've been there. In some ways I'm STILL there. This is a critical point in your life. It's a big deal. You are growing up and asking questions. You are having to deal with how to handle some difficult situations. You're being exposed to more complicated and worldly issues. All you want is to fit in. Your view of yourself is very much impacted by your peers. Yet in many ways you're still a child — and please never lose that element of your personality. Never stop having giggling fits for no reason or squeaking in the highest voice as you "ooh and aah" over your cat's cuteness. Never stop getting excited about the little things in life, like drinking a lemon-lime slushy or popping bubble wrap or watching the sky turn dark in the middle of the day as a storm rolls in.

I pray that you will always be part child. Run to your Heavenly Father and twirl in front of Him to show off your new outfit. Thank Him and praise Him for every single little thing. Let Him lift you up and set you on His lap. Lean into Him with adoration and complete trust. Tell God anything and everything, knowing that He is always listening. And caring. And loving. Yell at Him, if you must. He can take it. Let your Father squeeze you tight when you're hurting. He'll wipe each and every tear. Always keep a childlike faith and simplicity.

I wish I could keep you innocent like a child. But you're growing up. It's natural to question everything. Even who you are.

This is what I'm writing about: our identity.

If you never remember anything I've ever said over the past 13 years, I pray you'll never forget the following words and message:

When you view yourself and wonder just who you are, you won't see yourself clearly unless you view yourself as God views you. His eyes can be trusted whereas human eyes are always tainted. We are tainted by what others have said to us and about us. We are tainted by whatever good or bad has happened in our past, by our insecurities, by our families, by what the media presents to us, and just by comparing ourselves to others.

How we see ourselves is HUGE! It effects how we interact with others and how much or little we contribute to the well-being of others. If our view of ourself is any less than how God sees us, we can easily become jealous, insecure, depressed, angry, frustrated, prideful, self-absorbed, confused and the list goes on and on. If we allow ourselves to see ourselves through others' eyes, we become what other people think of us. Why would I believe that another flawed human being knows the real me? And just what IS the real me? Everyone has their own human imperfections, based on their own insecurities and views of themselves.

Too many times I've either said to myself or heard others say, "Nobody understands me. I feel so alone or unloved. I wish I was skinnier, prettier, smarter, richer, more popular [fill in the blank]. I just hate myself. All I want is to fit in. I wish I was different."

LIES!

Don't you, my precious child, believe any negative thing about your character that comes out of the mouths of others or that swirls around in your head. The enemy would love nothing better than to steal your confidence and tear you down. God created you and your personality and by hating yourself, you're saying that God made a mistake and you're dismissing His goodness.

I think this could be said of people of all ages. But I'm particularly writing to you, your friends and any pre-teen or teen who is in the midst of discovering who they are. It's such a critical age. These years are when you go from being an obedient child to making decisions and life choices on your own. You are seeking answers and may no longer feel comfortable asking your parents the hard questions. So perhaps you open up to friends. Then maybe those friends will hurt you. Then what? Alone. Depressed. Questioning, "Who am I?" "Who do I want to be?"

Even in my 30's I've had to deal with this. Where one may say I'm mean, another may not understand me and call me weird, some say I'm unapproachable, and others think I'm not very smart. I'm given labels from Day 1: she's the quiet one, the tom boy, the nerd, the chunkier one, the messiest, the artist, loud, aggressive, uncaring and so on. All of those labels stay with me and form my identity. I suddenly see myself as the mean sister. Or maybe I'm not good at anything but art. One negative comment will forever color my view of myself. So I strive for accolades to make me feel better about myself. I want the praise — so I know that I am good. This is ALL MESSED UP!

Our true identity is NOT based on how we think of ourselves. It's solely based on God. After all, He's the One who created us. He knows our innermost thoughts and secrets. He knows more about me than I do. So of course it makes sense to let God show me who I am. For several years, I allowed myself to think I was truly aggressive and mean and crude and insensitive, because that's what I was told, over and over. The break-through came, when I realized that those words and viewpoint were from other human beings and not from God. Just because someone may see me a certain way, doesn't mean it's true. Others have their own issues and baggage and insecurities and may very well be directing all their hurt onto the first person that comes along. What a relief! Now if I'm ever verbally attacked, I can check my spirit. Is this Truth that God wants me to see in myself? Or is this someone projecting their own viewpoint and trying to hurt me to make them feel better? See? There's no need to live in confusion or depression, when my identity is grounded in the Word of God.

You don't have to spend your life trying to figure out who you are. By believing God created you and knowing that He is Lord of your life, you can rest assured of your identity. You are beautiful. You are an heir to the throne. You are a princess.

When in doubt, search the Bible and read just what God says about you, His precious child:

I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9).

I am the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I am the temple of the Holy Spirit; I am not my own (1 Corinthians 6:19).

I am His elect, full of mercy, kindness, humility, and longsuffering (Romans 8:33; Colossians 3:12).

I am forgiven of all my sins and washed in the Blood (Ephesians 1:7).

I am delivered from the power of darkness and translated into God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13).

I am redeemed from the curse of sin, sickness, and poverty (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Galatians 3:13).

I am firmly rooted, built up, established in my faith and overflowing with gratitude (Colossians 2:7).

I am called of God to be the voice of His praise (Psalm 66:8; 2 Timothy 1:9).

I am raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12).

I am submitted to God, and the devil flees from me because I resist him in the Name of Jesus (James 4:7).

I press on toward the goal to win the prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward (Philippians 3:14).

For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

It is not I who live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20).
____________________________________

My sweet daughter, I love you more than words can express. In life, when things become too chaotic and you can't escape the drama, remember: You are greatly loved by God (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 2:4; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4).

I love you. So very much.
Your mom

Monday, June 23

i'm a geek....but that's how God made me


I now remember why I liked math so much in school!

My daughter has made a commitment to work hard on math over the summer with the hope of getting into a higher level next year. I'm not sure if the school will do that, but I am just SO encouraged by her willingness to learn.

All last year, I kept wanting to help her with math or at least check her homework assignments. But she wouldn't hear of it. It was a struggle for the both of us, as she wasn't learning the material but so badly wanted to be independent and for me because I so badly wanted to help.

That is why this willingness on her part is HUGE. Honestly, even if she doesn't move up a math level, I'm just so glad that she's showing initiative and letting me work with her.

Beginning Thursday she'll meet with her teacher once a week for 5 weeks. We've already begun doing worksheets at home. I quickly realized that I needed to brush up on my pre-Algebra...okay, I really needed to re-teach myself practically everything. I found this fabulous website tutorial that I've been watching and it just gets me so excited. I'm a geek. I know. I wrote down the "rules" that are expected to be memorized and made a sort of cheat sheet for her. Oh, who am I kidding? — I made the sheet for me.

One thing I just love about math is that it's constant. By following the steps, I know I will always get the right answer. Unlike the english language, there are no exceptions. I feel like doing pre-Algebra is sort of like working a puzzle. I just have to plug in the pieces (rules/formulas) and the finished answer is revealed. It may sound silly, but I've been doing the worksheets, too, and I just feel so giddy when my answers match up with the answer key. What a rush! Please don't make fun of me.

I normally detest homework, but for some reason I find these math worksheets pretty therapeutic.
I have to say that the very best reward I've gotten, though, has been watching Marielle learn. I'm starting to see a little bit of confidence return. I think my enthusiasm may be rubbing off on her just a bit as well. When I came downstairs and exclaimed that I got all 10 problems correct, she said, "Awesome! Now I can't wait to do MY worksheet!"

Whether she aces her homework or not I'm proud of her. My hope is that she will no longer feel like math just isn't her thing, and give up.

Working on math is just a glimpse of what we've been up to this summer. If you all have been wondering why my blog posts have been dwindling lately, it's because our days have been filled with trying to balance fun/relax time with productive/learning time. It's not just Marielle who is getting prepared for the next school year. Josiah is working on reading 13 books this summer to get ahead in language arts next year. I'm so grateful for the school staff for allowing him to take a test after each book, while the content is still fresh in his mind. He loves to read, but his dyslexia makes reading a little bit challenging. Now he'll be able to focus more on spelling and writing next year, without the stress of reading for a grade. As it stands, he gets to read without pressure and he even told me that answering the questions on the test doesn't even seem like work!

Aside from studying, there's also piano and violin to practice daily and lessons weekly. And so far I'm still motivated to take them to the gym a couple of times a week. I love having days when we all get to stay home and today was one of those days.

I just love spending time with my kids, teaching them in a relaxed atmosphere with no pressure of deadlines. The only problem is that when we're taking a break from school work, I'm just not motivated to get online and write in my blog. When they're in school, the hours of my days are spent writing and napping. During the summer, I'm finding that the time spent away from the kids is time I so desperately need to nap. I've been on chemo now long enough that the daily meds are making me a tad more fatigued each day. But I feel really pleased with how the summer is going. I'm taking it one day at a time, with little snippets of activities to look forward to scattered throughout the weeks. I hope you're having a wonderful summer, too.

Saturday, June 14

this and that

Happy weekend, everyone!

Tomorrow is Father's Day, but it's been hard for me to remember that. My son leaves bright and early for camp in the morning. I think I finally have most of his things packed, but some items will have to wait until the morning. He is going to have so much fun....and I'm going to miss him terribly. But I'm looking forward to spending the week with Marielle.

I haven't updated in a week because it seems that my spare time is spent with the kids. And when I finally get a break, I feel like napping instead of writing. But now I have a few minutes to fill you in.

I guess the first thing is that I saw my oncologist last Monday. There was nothing really substantial that we discussed. He wasn't too concerned right now with my numb chin syndrome (NCS). But I think I'll call him next week, because it's getting worse. I'm repeatedly biting my bottom lip because I can't feel it. It's difficult to eat and drink and the lower right side of my face feels cold and swollen. I can't even make a facial expression without it hurting. My lower gums are tender and my bottom teeth have shifted —though I'm glad they're not loose. I feel like the NCS is more prominent than a few days ago and starting to spread to the center and left side.

I also have a pea-sized lump just under my skin on the right side of my navel. My oncologist didn't like the looks of it, but just said to keep an eye on it and see if they grow or change. Since then I've discovered a few more lumps on the right side of my tummy.

On Thursday, I started having sharp pains on the right from my waist to my knee in the back. It has gotten worse and today I can barely put pressure on that leg. Even laying still, my bottom and thigh is throbbing and aching.

I also started taking the chemo pills again. This cycle I have to take the full dose of 5 pills a day. So far I haven't vomited, which is GREAT. Hopefully I can stay on this chemo for awhile and let it do some good.

On a personal note, today was a great day. Two guys from church came over to collaborate with me on a song. A couple of months ago, I was contacted to see if I'd allow them to write a song about me and my journey. Evidently my blog inspired them to write a song. How flattering!

So for weeks we've been writing drafts and sending edits or suggestions back and forth. Today was the first day I really got to meet them and we had a blast. It was so much fun to work together in such a creative way. I've never done anything like that before. We'd just talk and brainstorm and see what worked or didn't work. We already had the skeleton of the song put together and just needed to add some meat and skin. We are SO close to being done. I can't wait to share the lyrics and song with you. It's been stuck in my head all day.



On that note.....have a great weekend. And Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 7

yippee skippee

Yay! I received the results of my latest brain MRI and everything is stable!! There's no new cancer spots and the cancer that I currently have is not growing or spreading. This is SUCH great news. While I don't normally worry or concern myself with the results of my many scans, I didn't have a good feeling about my brain. For the past few days, I've experienced CNS (Chin Numbness Syndrome). The right side of my chin and bottom lip feel like they've been injected with lidocaine from a dental procedure.

Also my lower teeth on the right side have also started to shift. I have an appointment on Monday with my oncologist, so I'll be sure and discuss both of these concerns. Probably what's happening, has to do with the cancer in my bones and not my brain. Still, when numbness is involved, it's easy to think it's a central nervous system issue.

Aside from medical stuff, my life is still so wonderfully full.

Physically, I've gone to the gym now 4 times since last Saturday. I can walk a mile briskly without stopping to catch my breath or slow down. I didn't realize how much of an accomplishment this is until we took a family walk last night. Dale wanted us all to walk down the road to get ice cream, but we always drive the car because it's a bit of a hike. I insisted that I could do it, so all four of us headed out. He couldn't get over how "fast" I was walking. In truth, I was probably walking at a moderate stroll. But he didn't have to slow down for me. We were able to walk hand in hand (something that we can't do when I'm riding my scooter), and have pleasant conversations without me running out of breath. *smile* It sure made my bowl of strawberry ice cream covered with real strawberries taste all the sweeter.

Mentally, my spirit is lifted. How could it not be? I've gotten a good report and I'm able to do more and make more memories with the family. I'm thinking the Summer of 2014 will forever be one of the best seasons I've had while undergoing treatment. Regardless of what happens in the future, I am SO grateful to have these precious days to feel like a regular mom and wife again.

Spiritually, I'm living in praise daily. How could I not? This extra bounce in my step wouldn't be there without the working of God in my life and body. I just love the fact that when things are bad and only getting worse, it doesn't mean it's all downhill from there. I'm not sure I thought that I would ever drive again or take a walk without stopping every couple of minutes or without excruciating back pain. But here I am. Living on a cloud. Padded and protected by God's heavenly presence. When He chooses to set that cloud down, I can look up and remember that extraordinary flight I was on. A gift.

Good things are happening this summer. The kids are learning to get along better and I'm having such wonderful, deep and necessary conversations with my daughter who is growing up way too fast. I just love her and her heart. We have a couple of big trips to look forward to, as well as some smaller outings. But mostly, we're enjoying the simple things like pizza and a movie or a stroll for ice cream on a warm summer night.

Yes. I love my life.