Back in the Saddle

Back in my chair at chemo and happy that we’re out of the private rooms, back with the masses, and back with my peeps. I am all hooked up and ready to roll (or drip…) but waiting for meds. Oh here they come. That means this will be short because once Benadryl hits I’ll be off to my happy place.

But it’s been a great week and I wanted to thank the Lord and y’all for your prayers, help with Lincoln, meals, and general love and care for us. We feel it.

Other highlights of the week…
1. Officially have a wig and as Lord would graciously have it and fitting with his constant above and beyond mode of operating it is fancy (real hair!) and free (hand me down of a hand me down – thanks Lori!) and it’s totally my hair color. Crazy! With these fancy (see also: super expensive) wigs you can cut and even color but this one won’t need either. With some good laughs, I tried it on for Mandy and C last nite (and shortly thereafter brushed it right off my head!) and then sent it off to our friend Missy for some STYLIN’. It’s spent a good bit of time in a ziploc bag so she’s gonna put some pink.pray.love on it and should be ready soon. With this drug, I’ve learned that hair loss may not be so immediate or dramatic so not exactly sure what to expect as far as timing. I think thinning will begin this week. I can assure you all that I won’t be ‘one of those’ who hangs on til the end with my own hair. But hoping it stays long enough to get one more appointment with Alonzo to get another fun short hairdo before I’m wearing someone else’s hair, scarves and hats. Oh and got 2 sweet gifts this week of a new scarf from my sister in law and fun hat from Kelley so I’m ready – I think:)
2. By Gods grace I’m not even anxious about it. That could certainly change and I KNOW I won’t like shaving my head (Alonzo has suggested that it be a joint effort with him and Scott) but those fears aren’t prevalent or pressing. Considering that was the first question I asked (will I lose my hair?) on the day of diagnosis, it’s a gift from the Lord that, at least for today, that’s not a pressing thought.
3. On topic of hair I’ve always marveled at the many different ‘heads’ that are donned in South Dallas – scarves, hats, weaves (even laid some rows my self), and wigs. I’ve told them before, when I didnt recognize one of them with a new do, that ‘us white girls don’t have the fun of daily different hairstyles.’ I spoke too soon!
4. Speaking of South Dallas, one of my nearest and dearest, Sarah Mae, wanted to come visit me last week. She asked to come after chemo on Wednesday but since I usually sleep afternoon away she and her daughter, Joyce (aka Pinky) came on Thursday after Bible study instead. Jenn and Cheryl drove them over because though they have a car, Sarah was planning to pawn her DVD player for gas money. Huh!? A different world. And it wasn’t too hard to pay the way for my visitors with a little cash for gas. I hope noone else will be offended if I don’t pay your gas to come visit me. Just look at this greatness in my loving room. Linc loves his ‘G-Granny’ (G as in ‘great’ because tho only in late 50s she’s a great grandmother to several) and she loves him. We ate our delicious lunch from Big Daddys in the hood while she fed Linc some boring veggies and she complained that I fed him tofu:). So she gave him her pink lemonade to help him wash it down. She makes me happy. I’m down with the brown.
4. My heart still continues to be at rest and at peace and full of joy. Many of y’all are to thank for that! God is good. All the time.

Well, hello, Benadryl, I feel you now so let’s say goodbye to our friends. With MUCH LOVE!

20120328-095847.jpg

20120328-095959.jpg

20120328-100104.jpg

20120328-100131.jpg

Advertisements

Weird and Wonderful Wednesday

I’m not sure this post title will still fit when I’m done but I’ve had these words in my mind since I sat down in the chemo chair so I’m sticking with it.  I apologize to Mrs. Merryman and Mrs. Palmer at FBA for titling my paper before I have a thesis or an outline.  But, given the circumstances, I have a hunch that they’ll forgive me.  And, it’s 11:17pm as I start so maybe this entry needs multiple disclaimers.  Tonight, I think I write for me more than y’all.  But, since y’all have been more than gracious to ‘follow’ (I never even knew about that feature in this whole new world of blogging and as I told a friend recently I don’t think I’d read my own blog if it wasn’t emailed to me!) or more disciplined than I am and regularly remember to come check the blog and check on us, I am thankful that I have a reason to actually document my thoughts.  For me, if not for y’all.  So, if for nothing else, thanks for being a sounding board for me to process all that I’m learning and experiencing!  And, of course, as you PRAY we are blessed even more.  Blessings one upon another.  Sounds familiar huh?!

I am such a novice that I didn’t even know until last night that I could see by name the people who are ‘following’ and recieve these entries via email – and that was a walk down memory lane of friends from childhood, neighbors growing up, old co workers, parents of friends, college friends, teachers, and many close friends who care to know and pray.  Thank you friends – and neighbors, classmates, coworkers:)  I know not many of you are gonna comment (I rarely do on others’ blogs – even written by closest friends!) and, in fact, it took me 2 entries on my own site to even find the comments so big props to you who do!  But the simple fact that y’all will come to this site or ‘follow’ and follow the story God is writing is such an unbelievable reminder that we are not alone.  And for those of you that also comment, text, and send emails, you encourage and strengthen us as well.  But, if you just read and PRAY – that’s the greatest gift.  Thank you.

However, as I broach the blog topic, I admit that it can be totally unhealthy for me too.  I had no idea I would know how many people read it and follow it.  That’s really not a good thing.  I can be a slave to performance so sometimes second-guess something I wrote or even wonder if very many people care to read it.  Yuck.  As I told my friend Jenn, how does my ugly people pleasing and performance addition and love of approval show its ugly head even in cancer blog entries?! And, last night, another friend forwarded me an entry from another young girl at church with breast cancer and I read one of her entries and had to quit because I was comparing myself with her spiritual response and what God is teaching her and how amazing her husband said she was … seriously?!  Needless to say, I quit reading and started confessing. And asked the Lord if I’m missing anything in this journey because hers was wrought with much more feeling and tears and maybe I’m just not there yet (she’s a couple months ahead of us) but it even made me question my emotional and spiritual depth.  Oh my.  Confessions of a crazy cancer patient.

So why am I up writing at 11:34?  Well, I probably shouldn’t be.  I couldn’t go to sleep so said to Scott, “I can’t sleep … would it bug you if I got up to try and write?”  He said, “I think you should just try a little harder to go to sleep.”  I liberally interpreted that as “why don’t you at least wait until I get to sleep?!” And, thankfully, when I was still wide awake with lots of thoughts in my head :10 later and he was off to la-la-land, I decided that was permission enough. I still don’t think he’s missed me in there.

I don’t know why but today was a weird and wonderful Wednesday.  So far, it’s wonderful because I feel great.  Was definitely knocked out again by the Benadryl and slept the whole time we were there but the anti-nausea in the drip seemed to be working great and, so far, no mad dashes to the bathroom.  I took a big fat nap when I got home but Marisa stayed with Linc this morning and was happy to stay until she could pass the baton to Gigi at 4ish so I could keep sleeping.  Scott came home and even went for a wog – the unashamed ‘walk jog’ alternating or just really slow jog to enjoy the beautiful weather.  It was wonderful to be outside enjoying my health and weather and baby and husband.  I even ‘cooked’ dinner though really preparation is better description because Marisa had brought delicious pesto sauce and I wouldn’t exactly call cooking noodles or warming the pizza Amy brought as ‘cooking’ but I did prepare a salad and I did get it all on the table for Scott and Gigi and I did feel relatively good and normal and there’s something about maintaining some basic privileges and joys (like preparing meal for your husband and friend) that just makes me feel happy these days.  And healthy.  And for both I’m real grateful.

But, back to chemo where I first started thinking this was a ‘weird and wonderful Wednesday.’  As I mentioned before, I didn’t want chemo before the weekend but they can’t just move me from Friday one week to Wednesday the next (when needs to be on a 7 day cycle) but they agreed to step me back a day/week so last week was Thursday and now, going forward, chemo is on Wednesday.  The waiting room was about half the size it normally is and, apparently, that’s because Wednesdays are so much less busy.  Woohoo.  Every other week we’ve waited at least an hour – and today we hardly had time to go get coffee (and meet an amazingly sweet woman and believer from Kenya named Esther who works there – I heart Africans!) and get back to the waiting room before they called our name.  We were called so quickly that our drugs weren’t even all mixed yet so we talked to the nurse awhile before we get started and I got teary in a way I haven’t before with just incredible gratitude for medicine! It’s not just the medicine that is going to kill (Lord willing) the cancer but there are so manyother amazing medical advances that make the hard drugs not so hard.  They have a spray that numbs my skin before they stick the needle in the port.  They also have an expensive lotion that numbs the skin and, thanks to Travis Shoemake’s hand-me-downs (prescription ointment is $50 so I had opted for the free cold spray!), I now have both.  And it’s unpleasant but certainly very bearable to have a needle stuck in my skin every week.  And, and then there’s the port – an amazing device under my skin that keeps me from having an IV every week and a needle sticking out of my arm.  Then, in that port, they are able to give me the medicines needed for cancer but also an anti-nausea medicine, an anti-reaction to restless leg, saline to clean out the port (that it is crazy because they put the saline in the port but all of a sudden it’s an intense saline taste in the mouth!), and can draw more blood as needed with fewer sticks (which, so far, though I’ve never dreaded needles before, the pre-chemo blood draws and needless have become my least favorite part of the day).  But, even there, I have marveled at the advances – they can use a pretty tiny needle to get to my blood and can just keep swapping out the viles and filling them up for other samples without ever re-sticking me.  As I talked through this with my nurse she said the medical advances for side effects has come a long way in a short time.  She said “it wasn’t that long ago that folks were sitting in the chairs having to hold their arms straight because of a needle and puking their guts out at the same time.”  And I was teary-eyed.  Scott said, “you’re emotional today …what is it?” and all I could say was that they were tears of gratitude because I just keep seeing mercy medicines everywhere we turn.

Today, all of that conversation happened in a private infusion room.  We’d never been in one though we’d seen them.  At first we thought it was cool and fun – and, it turned out to be great for Scott.  He converted the desk and sink area into a drafting table, laid out his plans, held one end down with the tv remote and and the other end with a Better Homes & Gardens magazine and just went to work on estimating project costs.  I couldn’t resist including the picture of the general contractor and chemo companion hard at work.  I slept for 2 hours and he worked!  And, there we go again, something else I am thankful for and told him as we left.  I know a lot of husbands wouldn’t get to be weekly chemo companions based on work schedules.  But, Scott has been able to lean on his partner (thanks, Dave!) and schedule client meetings around our doctor’s appointments and sits next to me in an infusion chair or in the waiting room working on projects or on the phone talking about cabinet drawings, framing, fireplaces, and tile design.  All the while picking up and packing up as we move from waiting room for labs to waiting room for doctor to doctor’s office to waiting room for infusion then to the infusion room.  While sometimes I get slightly annoyed and ask if his sub-contractors, Manuel or Tony or Georgie or Raul, can wait while we at least talk to the doctor.  [Side story: No lie!  One week he was on hold with the electric company and had already been talking to them for at least :45 so, of course, he didn’t want to lose his place in the queue but, when the doctor came in, instead of hanging up (as my eyes clearly communicated to do!), he just slid the phone under his leg with hold music and all … seriously?!  If looks could kill …).  But, more often than not, I’m just so very grateful that he’s with me and compassionate and carries my bag and makes me laugh.  Even if he sometimes doesn’t have good discernment on when to go ahead and hang up:)

He also makes great observations.  As we left our private infusion room after my treatment and passed the other patients in the main area, he said:  “I missed our friends today.”  I couldn’t agree more.  The chairs are pretty spread out so it’s not easy to talk and most folks look sick or tired and sleep most of the time but, somehow, there’s a crazy camaraderie even without words. Scott was looking for folks we ‘know’ but don’t ‘know.’  That’s part of the weirdness of this new world.  And, as Scott also said, it’s also sci-fi material with rows of chairs and everybody being pumped with poison.  We don’t know any of their names and since everybody is on a different schedule we haven’t seen too many people more than once.  But there’s something weird and powerful and wonderful in the shared experience as we sit a couple chairs apart but are all fighting the same battle with similar drugs and similar side effects.

And I guess that shared reality explains an interestingly odd but really sweet event that happened while we were in the waiting room last week.  Scott and I had our backs to the main entrance to the actual infusion area but, from behind us, after the doors opened, we heard a very loud, “All Done!” as a woman and her husband walked out with a spring in their step (not something you see much around there). It took a second for those words to register.  I’d actually just been reading something about babies and food so, as many moms will understand, I turned expecting to see sign language with her hands in the air and shaking like I’d like Linc to do when he’s ‘all done’ eating!   But, when her words clicked in my brain, I started clapping – as did the rest of the waiting room.  I doubt any of us knew her.  But we all knew what she meant and what she was celebrating.  She was “All Done!” with chemotherapy.  And we celebrated with her.  And I’m teary eyed again as I type.  Oh, there is a weird and wonderful camaraderie in a shared journey or battle – even without knowing them by name.

The only kind-of-sort-of-hard-part about today was also on our exit as we walked past the rows of chairs of fellow patients.  One looked familiar to Scott and I but we couldn’t place her.  [Lori, we both thought it was you for a second because you’re the only familiar face we think we might see!]  Then, as we left the main doors of infusion area we were met with another familiar face and I was able to connect the dots.  The woman coming in with lunch was the mother of the girl we recognized in the chair.  They were both in our chemo class the first week we had chemotherapy.  But, today, that same girl who was also blond and about my age, sat there bald.  And I didn’t recognize her.  When Scott and I both realized who it was and how different she looked, he said, “that made you sad, didn’t it?”  And, as I told him, it wasn’t a loss of hair in the vanity sense but, because all of us associate baldness with cancer, it was just a vivid picture of her sickness.  3.5 weeks ago she had looked so ‘normal’ and ‘healthy’ (same as I still feel) but, now, without hair, she looks so very different.  And sick.  And I was sad.  Our day is coming.

But, that day is not here yet and I have been able, by the power and grace of God, to have a hard time catching up with the reality of today so haven’t been overly anxious about that particular tomorrow.  It’s coming, for sure.  But, based on the order of my drugs, it is coming a little slower and maybe that’s more evidence of the Lord’s kindness that I have a little more time to get my head around it (no pun intended).

One last thought from today – and, at this point, maybe I should be renaming this Thankful Thursday but let’s go with what we’ve got even if it’s :4 after midnight.  Today, my friend Barron sent me some journal thoughts written a couple of years ago from his pastor Andy who had colon cancer.  [And, before I get further, it’s probably a good time to tell you that, in general, I can hardly process my own journey and really want to spend more reading time with Jesus so this isn’t a request for more stories because, frankly, sometimes they’re just overwhelming.  BUT, in this case, he sent me some musings that just so perfectly hit home about the ‘new normal’ and some things I’d recently wrestled with.]  One was about the clipboard mania and endless forms all asking the same questions.  I’ve told Scott I don’t know why all of these answers can’t be answered once and passed around among doctors.  Thankfully for me, my health history is crazy boring because they want every medical event, doctors name, date of event, office phone number and practically his alma mater and wife’s name on the form.  The consultant in me sometimes sees opportunities for “process improvements”:)  Andy ranted along the same lines about how many crazy questions you can possibly be asked – and by how many different people.  It made me laugh.  But, then, he also wrote something else that made me think.  He wrote about “how are you doing?” and how difficult of a question that has become.  As he elaborated, the question has so many different ‘questions behind the question’ or ‘statements behind the question’ like: “I’m just checking in and that’s how we check in in our culture so what else do I say?”, “I care”, “are you about to puke?”, “how are you emotionally?”, “how are you spiritually?”, “how are you physically?”, “are you dying?”, or “I’m thinking about you right now.”  And, depending on the day and the asker and my current state, I can’t tell y’all how often I read a ‘how are you doing?’ text or respond to a ‘how are you doing?’ greeting at church or the gym or anywhere else and just have an awkward pause in conversation or a blank stare at my phone or computer because I have no idea how to answer that!  But, the truth is, what I loved about Andy’s article was that it gave me full permission to answer as I’ve been answering (but feeling a little odd or phony or crazy or confused in doing so), “I’m great.”  Or, “We’re doing well.”  Or, “I feel pretty good.”  And, sometimes when they ask I have no idea if they know I have cancer or not but, whether they expect a deeper answer (for those that know what’s going on) or if they just expected a surface answer (common courtesy question), the answer is truly the same.  I’m great.  I can’t really explain it but by the grace of God and, as Andy said, when you’re in the hands of the Creator who has the days of your life already numbered and ordained there’s an incredible peace and even joy and you can say with confidence, I’m great.  I really am.  And, thanks be to God, if that changes and I am about to die (don’t foresee that) or am in tons of pain spiritually or emotionally or physically, I pray that I’ll have the courage and wisdom in how to communicate that too.  But, for now, it’s just with incredible joy that I write that I’m wonderful.  Truly.  Covered in your prayers, covered in the care of friends, and covered by an awesome God.  Really overwhelmed with His goodness to me by reading Titus 3 (specifically vs 1-8) this week and again with Scott today.  I once was foolish and disobedient.  But the kindness and love of God my Savior appeared. And now I am saved by His mercy and grace – not by any righteous things I’ve done.  And I have renewal, rebirth, and washing by His Spirit who was poured out generously through my Savior Jesus Christ.  And I have the hope of eternal life in Jesus.  Really, I’m great.  And, for every person that might read this, I pray you can also be great in the same confidence of Christ as your Savior.

And, if you want to ask me or text me or check in, maybe you could help me by asking the question behind the question or just stating the statement on your heart – thinking of me, praying for me, or whatever.  Because, the truth is, the power of Andy’s entry was in part that he made me feel less crazy for not having a clue how to answer this often-asked question. And, as you seek to walk with me, I thank you for learning with me.  And, if you ask the generic “how are you doing?”, you might just hear or read “Great!”  And, Lord willing, that will be true in months to come as it is today.  And, if not, I’m sure He’s good and big enough to sustain my “Not So Great!” as well.

Thanks for reading and sharing my weird and wonderful Wednesday (now Thankful Thursday) with me.

LOVE!

Easy Street

…just ended very abruptly.  We now have a better sense of why so many folks we see in the waiting rooms have looked much more discouraged than us.  Side effects.  We just exited off of Easy Street and onto Side Effects Circle.  We’d seen the road signs ahead but it was nice to have missed the turn until now.  And, even if it was a surprise turn, it hasn’t been into the ditch.  Definitely into the bathroom but, thanks to sweet friends, not into the ditch!  I’ve been queasy since a couple of hours before treatment began on Thursday so not sure if this is a combination of the research drug plus the first round of the “standard of care” taxol drug (12 weeks of the 2 combined) or just the new drug but, either way, it’s definitely different.  As I wrote from chemo, I was pretty wiped out from the Benadryl on Thursday so slept through chemo and then most of the evening.  On Friday morning, I still didn’t feel totally myself  so Cynthia came over early to help me get up and at ’em with Linc and got me out for a stroll.  I came home to find a dear friend on the front porch with chicken noodle soup and challah bread – telling me that I need a little good Jewish comfort food in my diet!  At the moment, I had no idea how perfect that soup would be for today.  The rest of the day I had family and friends around to help and was tired but managing pretty well.  I was motivated to be feeling good because, thanks to Mandy and Kristi who are arranging babysitting for weekly dates (and Kristi who came last night), Scott and I were looking forward to dinner together.  And it was super fun!  And super delicious.  Maybe too much so?!  Neighborhood Services, you were good to me while I was there.  But, rich and delicious food + a couple of hours later + chemo = long night!  In the 9.5 months of Linc’s life, Scott has  conveniently heard very few of his middle of the night awakenings – and I feared that the same might be true when it was me up in the night!  But, instead, he was awake, checking on me, asking about my temperature, and sweetly enduring a long night with me.

By this morning, I felt like I’d emptied everything in my tummy for the previous week so Scott thought we should touch base with the doctor.  And, again, we feel like her care and compassion are such a gift.  She texted me right back with a question or two and was calling with more instructions and compassion within :15.  She redirected my medicine and what to eat and I had turned the corner by early afternoon.  I spent most of the day in bed so, again, so thankful and blessed by amazing friends! Scott went to the gym while Linc napped but, thanks to the St. Patrick’s Day parade, what would normally be :10 round trip took him an hour and a half!  His baby and sick wife were home alone longer than he planned.  Gigi and C both came over, at different times when I needed help with Linc, within minutes of a text.  And, Gigi went to Target to get me some more medicine and a few household things.  And, the Washingtons brought dinner.  I feel so blessed and thankful.

In praying with Gigi today for her boys and their family, I was struck by the contrast.  Both their family and ours has had a rough week.  Theirs has been difficult as they’ve adjusted to life back together as a family of 8 but theirs is exponentially more difficult and painful due to a limited support system of friends and family.  Life is so hard – how do folks do it alone?!  All those verses in Proverbs about the importance of friendship and community and the dangers of isolation are in 3D and full color in our lives right now.  The road has become bumpier but all those bumps are smoothed by the grace of the Lord through the hands, encouragement, meals, compassion, care, and prayer of our friends and family.  We may be off of Easy Street for a day or two (or for many months to come?!) but we’re grateful beyond grateful to have others on the road with us who are willing to stop and render aid and bless our family!

LOVE!

 

 

Shorter. And Longer.

My hair is shorter. And, for today and on, treatment is longer. 2 hours of treatment today. Continuing with research drug but also beginning first round of ‘standard of care’ chemotherapy. This morning, prior to heading to Baylor was my first significant round of nausea. With food in my belly and my first nausea pill, I feel much better. Unfortunately it was enough to remind me how miserable nausea can be! Thankful that passed.

Chemo has been on Fridays but this week is Thursday and next week will be Wednesday. I wasn’t a fan of the Friday schedule – if starting feeling worse I didn’t want that to be on the weekend. So hwe are back to our new normal but an extended version. Lots more warnings today about side effects but doctor is hopeful it wont be too intense. And, with the cancer-killing drugs, I’m also getting anti-nausea medicine, steroids and Benadryl. Thankful for so many ways medicine can help. But, as a result, result I am suddenly exhausted and about to nap. Benadryl is my friend. I heart naps.

We are blessed by continued care (meals, babysitting, chores, walk dates) and prayer. They are working!

I feel like I cant type another word so off to nap. Filled with gratitude and love!

PS And not so savvy with this WordPress app on phone or blogs. And Benadryl doesn’t help. So think I somehow prematurely posted and then edited/deleted so presume that those of you getting the emails may have received a whole lot of nothingness or false alarm. Sorry. Have I mentioned the heavy dose of Benadryl?!:)

20120315-120442.jpg

Love Hurts More than Chemo

God knew everything about today when he brought Juan Angel and Juan Carlos into our lives on May 31st. It was a sad day when they arrived at Gigi’s – they were picked up from school and brought to her house with nothing but backpacks and haven’t been home since. But, over the last 9.5 months, they got a new home, new school, new friends and, for Angel, a new faith in Jesus Christ. So, today, it’s sad to give them back, celebrate the 9.5 months of loving them, and trust the Lord with their family and future. Love is much harder than chemo! But, as I kept telling Gigi, if we hadn’t loved them so much it wouldn’t hurt so bad … and what’s the alternative? Do we not love deeply so that we won’t hurt deeply!? I’m thankful that my heart hurts much more than my body. There are pills for body pain (thankfully, I still don’t need any!) but none for heart pain. I’m thankful to have loved big. Even if, right now, it also hurts big.

I went with Gigi to take them to the CPS office. They sang on the way over about the joy of the Lord, we talked about who all was gonna miss them (the list was long thanks to many friends who have welcomed them and loved them), and prayed for them. We were expecting to unload them to the CPS worker to take to their parents but, as we pulled into the parking lot, we saw their parents’ car. This was tough because not what we’d told them, or ourselves, to expect. And, in all the shuffle and their excitement to see their siblings (they’re 2 of 6 and Gigi’s boys were the last to go home), they were crammed into the car before we had our expected hugs and goodbyes. In that moment, it’s hard not to make it about us and get them out of the car so we can get the hugs we want. Maybe the Lord knew our hearts couldn’t handle a long-tearful-bear-hug-(Angel especially loves bear hugs)-goodbye?! So, the hard part is over for today. And now we pray. And expect to see them later this week (to take more of their stuff) and, Lord willing, for many years to come. There’s no other way to endure than to trust that the Lord has ’em. And us.

And, in the meantime, we have sweet pictures and notes like this one. Juan told Gigi he wanted to write us a note all week long and came in this morning so proud of it.

Lulu, Linc, Scott

We love you

Gigi, Angel, Sadie, and Juan

I cried. And he asked why. I said I was gonna miss him and Juan reached up to wipe away my tears. Love hurts more than chemo.

20120310-141534.jpg

Take Two

Here we go again. Back to Baylor. Back for blood withdrawals. Back for chemo. And I am back at my closet wondering why, of all the fashion magazines I’ve ever read through the years, noone has ever bothered to have a ‘what to wear’ or ‘what not to wear’ or ‘this works’ or ‘this doesn’t work’ or ‘who wore it better?’ for chemo. And, why do I care?! I have no idea but by the time I spent staring at my closet this morning this whole cute, comfy, could-be-cold, access to my veins, access to my port challenge is getting old. By next week, maybe I just need to decide on a uniform that I wear every time. Oh, but that would make me crazy. Lulu Lemon and Billy Reid served me well last week so get to go again. And, this top should be PERFECT because, when I went to Bible study in South Dallas yesterday, I was greeted by Sarah Mae’s big smile AND …”Ooh, girl, you done come straight from the hospital?! … You be wearin’ your hospital gown?!.. What IS that?!” as she walks around me and check it out front and back. My response could have been “seriously?! It’s a tunic. And a fancy Billy Reid tunic at that.” But, instead, I died laughing and LOVE the honesty down south. If you look good, they’ll tell you. If you’re wearing a hospital gown, they’ll tell you that too. Thankfully it’s from the deeply discounted warehouse sale (I heart Billy Reid’s warehouse sale!) because though I really like it, who pays $195 (retail) for something that apparently looks like a hospital gown?! But, then again, when you go to the hospital once/week maybe it’s the perfect choice:) Despite Sarah Mae’s concern, I put it back on this morning! And, Lulu Lemon, you served me well last Friday so you get to go back. But why must your greatness be so darn expensive?!

In other cancer-related fashion news, I have Stage 2B cancer and I have Stage 1 of the accompanying haircuts. Stage 2 will be a real short cut. And Stage 2B will be courtesy of chemo – B is for Bald? I have been warned by several folks that being bald isn’t so fun but the process of going bald is worse. It comes out in huge clumps and isn’t fun to see in the shower, in the sink, or on your pillow case in huge chunks. So, before that day (which, for me, will be at the very end of March), they suggested going short. I decided for the phased approach and went shorter this week (about to my chin) and will go short in another couple of weeks. Alonzo, my hair stylist for many moons, was super sweet about it and interrupted a Khloe story from the Mavs game (where he was introduced to her by Derek Harper) to tell someone he needed a moment because cutting my hair was emotional for him. At that moment, I truly believed he was more concerned about doing my hair than the opportunity of doing Khloe’s or her sisters’. Real sweet. I’m not sure I’m loving it but that’s not a reflection on Alonzo – just a big change and I don’t really like change and especially changes that don’t really feel like they were my choice. Oh, the loss of control. My love of control shows itself in so many ugly ways. But, the more unsure I was about the cut the more grateful I was that I’d done it because if going to my chin over :30 was hard then going from long to bald over a day or two could be brutal.

But, let’s be real here, if my hair and my clothes are the biggest news and greatest worries as I’m headed back to chemo and saying “see you later” to Gigi’s boys tomorrow, this has been a great week … and it has been. Amazingly and unexpectedly so. God is oh so good. All the time.

Little things …

As I start, I’m not sure this collection of thoughts is post-worthy but based on so many of you kindly texting or emailing to check on me I thought I’d let others in as well on these ‘little things’ that are on my mind this week as we’re on day 5 since chemotherapy.

I haven’t had ANY major side effects. Only a few little things which are very manageable and hardly worth mentioning apart from slightly interesting – at least to me:) The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that toothpaste (and I’ve tried 2) almost seems like I’m brushing my teeth with bleach. My mouth is on fire. And it’s SO odd. I was warned to get a baby toothbrush for teeth/mouth sensitivity but now I’m wondering if they have baby toothPASTE since it’s the ‘mint’ that surely isn’t ‘meant’ to make my mouth aflame. Thankfully, it passes quickly and compared to mouth sores and rinsing 4x/day with salt and baking soda (which I haven’t done because I’m so darn lazy!), this is nothing.

I still feel a little tired some days but thankfully we have a good little napper that lives here which gives me at least a 3 hour window at home most days and it’s not hard to sneak in a quick nap if need be. So, all in all, the fatigue has been VERY manageable. And, as the doctor ordered, I’ve been able to exercise. I love what my friend Judy said – she thought the Lord brought spring early so I’d have beautiful days to walk and keep up my exercise:) He’s good like that. I’ve missed not being able to run – the port is still tender and when I run, the bouncing of my arm isn’t comfortable. But, after Linc wakes from his morning nap, we’re gonna try again and I think it’s much better today. The bruising and swelling are down considerably. And Scott is pleased about this. The man who has no qualms about gutting a dear has asked me to pull my shirt up to hide it so he could enjoy his lunch:) Seriously?! I thought he was kidding. He told me that it wasn’t nice to him or other restaurant people to have to look at the bulging bruise and stitches while they ate. Classic. Oh, my truth-telling husband! It didn’t hurt my feelings (at all) – it just surprised me. And made me laugh. Thankfully it’s no longer so obvious as the swelling and bruising subsides.

Other ‘little things’ worth sharing that are just fun parts of our journey that have blessed me …

1. At the gym yesterday, a woman waiting for the elevator with me asked my name. I’ve seen her there many times but we’ve never spoken. It was the wife of surgeon who did the biopsy and port last weekend. She’s sweet and adorable and I’ve noticed her before because her daughters have some edible PINK boots. Not too many things make me think I’d want a daughter (for the daughter’s sake as much as mine!) but these boots did! Anyways, she is the wife of Dr. Lamont and I had known we had several mutual friends but planned to resist the urge to play the name game with Dr. Lamont last week. But, as it happens, he greeted me last week with “so, I hear your a friend of the Danzas” which was sweet and made me feel much more like a person than a case number. As it turns out, another mutual friend had forwarded the blog to her and she recognized that we knew of each other from the gym. It’s definitely a little thing (if you’re bored with this story then remember I warned you in my subject line!) that was a sweet thing. Scott and I have said all along that we trusted our medical team as they identified other doctors – but, more importantly, trusted the Lord to bring us to who we needed (or who might need to hear about our hope in Him). After the port and biopsy, Dr. Lamont was real attentive and sat with me while I asked a few questions. I felt like I had a chance to get an unexpected second opinion – much of what has happened is catching up with our brains a couple of appointments later and he was willing to weigh in our plan and path and was real encouraging. Unfortunately, Dr. Lamont is out of town next week or he’d be doing another biopsy that’s scheduled for Monday. I’m sure his partners are more than capable!

2. Who gets an unexpected text from their doctor when she’s en route home from Vietnam?! I did! Just a text to check in and ask how I was doing and feeling as she begins her journey back to the states. SO thoughtful. I had emailed her last week to tell her that Scott and I had been praying for her and that we’d gotten started with treatment – I also told her I felt good and really liked her partner Dr. Blum. I felt like the Lord had prompted me to send it over a couple of days (without mentioning to Scott because he might have thought random and not textworthy to Vietnam!) but, as isn’t a surprise when the Lord prompts, she responded quickly and thankfully. Then, out of the blue yesterday, she sent another text to check on me. The Lord continues to affirm who He directed us to for our care. We are thankful for not only expertise but their compassion and kindness.

3. And for those of you who know and see my daily life, this isn’t a ‘little thing’ but rather a ‘big thing’ but this story is one little thing after another that is a BIG reminder that God is in the details. Gigi (aka Angie Friddle and my roommate prior to getting married) has had 2 foster boys since the day after Linc was born – so over 9 months now. I don’t imagine I’ve gone more than 2 days without seeing them over those 9 months unless they were in Arkansas with her family. I completely and wholeheartedly LOVE Juan (6) and his little brother, Angel (5). We’ve known it was possible they’d be going back to their mom within the upcoming months and my greatest fear in learning the cancer news is that I’d be sick and unable to be a part of their lives these last months and that my heart couldn’t take cancer plus them moving back (with the heartache of them moving back being a much greater fear than cancer). I’ve PRAYed often telling the Lord that I didn’t know how He could work this out in a way that I wasn’t absolutely heartbroken upon their departure. [And, yes, I know foster care isn’t about me and should be about them but they are thriving under her love and care and it is gonna be hard for me to not see them and not know if they’d be in the same Christ-centered care.] Anyways, I can’t go into all the details without writing for an hour BUT the Lord allowed the timing to work so that I got to go to court with Gigi on Thursday last week, we learned that the boys are going home earlier than we’d originally heard/expected (this Saturday!), and He’s given incredible peace in that. His unexpected way to grant sweet peace and joy has been to grant Gigi, Marisa (our friend and interpreter with the boys’ family), and I incredible conversations with them at court, true celebration for the progress the mom has made, and then last night the mom and dad came to the boys’ soccer game and dinner afterwards and, back at Gigi and the boys’ house, we sat on the floor in the boys room and cried together, prayed together, and their mom continued to tell Gigi (and Marisa and me) that she truly and deeply desired for us to have an ongoing relationship with the boys. She commented on how deeply Gigi has loved them, how she sees the closeness of our friendship, how she saw all of Gigi’s support/friends/community at the game and dinner, and how thankful she was for Gigi’s love and care for her boys. She said that everything we said about wanting to maintain a relationship with the boys and her family and help her be successful made her want to cry. She kept saying ‘you’re such good people’ which just made it SO easy to tell her that we’re not but He is:) And we were able to tell her more and more about Jesus’ love for her and her boys through this situation and just kept remindering her that “we LOVE because He first loved us …” As we understood it (again, remember all through Marisa’s interpretation…) the situation of losing her children has caused her to trust in God as she prayed to Him to help her and He has. And Marisa got to explain the truths of salvation, the assurance we have in our salvation, and the help and hope He is in our daily lives. Gigi gave her a Spanish/English Bible and a Storybook Bible for the boys (which they’ve read every night since they came). As we’ve prayed for little things along the way, I keep watching God answer and do amazing things in this situation through my friends’ faithfulness. AND, in the process, He answers one of my deepest prayers and fears along this crazy journey. I will get to see them again! He is SO big and SO good. And I am SO thankful!

May the rambling end but the rejoicing continue …

LOVE!

So far so good!

Thought I’d give a quick post-chemo report to share the GOOD NEWS that I’m feeling quite good! Im definitely tired but not sure if that’s chemo or just life:) I’m sure I’m not the only one of you that’s tired and wants a big fat nap right about now so maybe it’s just life-tired and unrelated to chemo?! I’ve tried to heed the doctors advice to fight fatigue with exercise. Running is still uncomfortable because of port but Lincoln and I went for a walk with Gigi yesterday and then again on a long walk with Scott and Cynthia (well, actually, I got left while they ran!) this morning. My doctor preaches that there’s a pill for mouth sores, all tummy issues, for pain and many other symptoms EXCEPT fatigue – and exercise/activity are the only antidote.

The port is still pretty sore and limits my arm’s range of motion but that’s my biggest limitation – and hard with Linc since he doesn’t have the best head or hand control and seems to bang it almost every time I pick him up (which is getting easier). Yesterday he kept putting his little forefinger and then his mouth on the port – if I thought he knew how to kiss I’d be SURE he was kissing it to make it better. Instead I think it was the bright yellow tweety-bird bandaid the nurse gave me. But, either way, it was real sweet.

Thanks for praying. I don’t know if this trial drug just doesn’t have as severe side effects as others or Lord just intervening – but either way I’m more than happy to give Him the credit due His name because I know many of you have prayed for my well being and He’s clearly answered.

Off to nap. Thanks for praying. Love!

Rockin and Rollin…

…That’s what our nurse just said after hooked me all up. Here we are! All good so far. Needle in port not too bad, cold spray to numb skin not anywhere near as bad as she/others warned, and even saline taste in mouth when she flushed port not as bad as expected. Oh and warm blanket w massage and heated chairs:) Plus man I love. Doing quite well. Got a little teary (Scott too) as she was hooking me up (reality slowly setting in) but that subsided and thankful to have so many unknowns behind me. All in all, a happy heart.

20120302-115054.jpg

20120302-115110.jpg

20120302-115123.jpg