Well, I will start with my usual disclaimer that I’m sorry this is overdue. I intended to get it out last week but, quite obviously, that didn’t happen. Not much of an excuse. Unless you count Lincoln, Texas heat, laziness, and life. Who has time for cancer?! Or blogs?! I marvel more than ever at my friends who can come up with something to say DAILY. Mel, how do you do it? And they don’t even have cancer to talk about. Even with a topic, I can’t find a way to stay current on the blog. Oh well. Thanks again for the interest and interim inquiries. I need the accountability. Thanks Audrey. And others.
My topics for today are:
– surgery date
– toe woes
– and who knew there was no cancer in Arkansas?
The most significant news is that I have a surgery date. August 8th. So glad it’s scheduled. They’ll do a lumpectomy (more details on decision between lumpectomy and mastectomy a couple posts back if you missed it) and take out my lymph nodes. Since, thanks be to God, the chemo has successfully shrunk from a walnut size to maybe a pea (not exactly scientific or medical descriptions just my personal assessment) the surgery should be straightforward and they hope to take the lymph nodes from the same incision. It’s day surgery. Crazy to think of all these months and then only 1 day and it’s gone. Again, so thankful for great advances in medicine and talented physicians. Unsure on recovery time but hopeful it’s manageable and, as always, so thankful for the friends and family who have already offered help with meals and Linc.
And guess what the funnest and craziest and sweetest part of this date is to me?! It’s exact same date as my new ‘breast friend’ Lezley (see previous post if missed introduction to Lezley) will have a mastectomy. The day after I got my date, I sent a quick text to ask her for an update and when she came back saying her surgery was scheduled for the 8th (before knowing mine was also scheduled for the 8th) I’m sure my eyes were wide as saucers. So in Gods amazing way of weaving and working things … both my story and diagnosis that began first of February and her story and diagnosis that began early July both culminate in surgery on August 8th?! Quite surprising. Then again, not really. As I thought about this I was reminded again that His hand has been all over my story and His timing is always trustworthy. In so many little and big ways, He’s shown that He’s known what I needed before I even conceived of the need. And “He is able to meet all of my needs according to the riches of His grace in Christ Jesus.” Whether the timing is for the gifts of Scott, Linc, Lezley, or literally the countless times that someone has offered help to meet a need even before I voiced it, I marvel. One of my favorite verses for a long time has been from Psalm 119:68: “You are good and what you do is good.” That about sums it up.
On to less spiritual and more disgusting news…
I lost my toenail on Thursday. And not only does it look terrible it will officially be logged as the most painful part of the cancer journey. How can a toe generate so much pain?! I’ve mentioned my toe woes but it wasn’t getting better (see also: continued nasty oozing and bleeding) so I went to see a podiatrist on Thursday. My oncologist thought it was fungal but podiatrist had a very different story. And as I recounted the history he honed in on a 10 second incident I mentioned about Gigi stepping on my toe. It was a total accident and how could I complain when it happened while she was changing my kids diaper?! Maybe if I was changing diaper and she weren’t such a saint I would still have a toenail:) I didn’t realize that was the fateful day for my toe and blamed chemo but sounds like it was a bad combination of brittle toenail meets Gigi’s tennis shoe and then it continued to bleed and breed infection under my nail. So the doctor gives me a shot to numb my toe. It. is. the. worst. shot. EVER. And then he cuts off the nail. The shot made me scream AND cry. Those were firsts. I came off the table. Did I mention worst shot ever?! And of course it happened to be the one and only doctor’s appointment I’ve gone to without Scott but it was a last minute and end of the day appointment so Scott kept Linc and I headed out … flying solo and then screaming and then tears. It was a low. But at least it’s over. And though it looks horrendous, now it can heal.
As I laid in bed on Thursday night with a throbbing toe, I wondered and worried about how the next day would be and what I’d do with Linc. But Jesus did His thing again. And, by 7:15 the next morning, before I was even out of bed, my friend Jenn had texted offering to take care of Linc and was at my house within an hour to pick him up. She kept him all day! And I picked him fed and clean and happy. Have I mentioned how grateful I am for my friends?! I know some of y’all are long distance or work during the day or have your own kids to manage and can’t do short-notice-rescues but just know that, along with Jenn, so many of you (including some of you that I don’t even know well) bless us with any and every help, meal, load of laundry, babysitting, prayer, and encouragement. For the zillionth time, I told someone my cancer story today and, as I’ve said before, there’s no way to tell it without talking about how good our God has been and how amazing our friends are. Thank you.
And, lastly, who knew they didn’t have cancer in Arkansas?! I went with Gigi and her family to Lake Oauchita the weekend before last and noticed lots of longer looks and staring than normal. Long looks or double-takes thankfully don’t bother me (at all!) but it’s comical because I still forget why someone is giving me a long look (or extra friendly smile) and there’s often a 5 second delay in my brain before I remember I’m bald. But, en route to the lake, we had stopped at a gas station and while I waited for the restroom the little girl ahead of me stared and hid behind her mom’s legs and, this time, I knew why. Can’t blame her and I know that kids can’t quite process it all. However, her mom is a different story. I went into the men’s room (long line for ladies and if people are gonna call you ‘sir’ might as well use the men’s…) and then heard the little girl ask the very understandable question: “why is she bald?” But it was her mom’s answer that made me laugh: “I guess she likes it that way.” Likes it this way?! Really? Ever heard of chemo or cancer, ma’am?! Y’all have that here in Arkansas?! The rest of the weekend I felt like I got more looks than normal and kept telling Gigi how wonderful it is that they don’t have cancer in her home state:) I admit if you’re gonna be bald, Texas summers are a pretty great time. But I’m not yet thinking that Sinead O’Conner are likeminded in actually wearing it “because I like it this way.”
Oh and that reminds me of one of best quotes from last week. Of course it’s from South Dallas. When Scott and I first ventured into South Dallas, we served meals in “the kitchen” which is Cornerstone Baptist Church’s meal ministry for mostly homeless folks. And there was a young guy who always sat in the same corner seat by restrooms and always always always wore a hoodie. Even in summer. And he never spoke. Never ever spoke. And y’all know the same cant be said of me. So I became challenged by wanting him to talk to me but all I ever got out of him was nods, grunts and that his name was Robert. His given name is Robert but I’ve since learned that most folks call him Bubba. Fast forward 3-4 years and he’s been befriended by another couple that serves down there who actually helped him get an apartment (and also lovingly moved him out and back to the park when he didn’t keep up his end of the deal) and by many others as well. Scott, Kenneth (our first beloved South Dallas friend who we also met in the kitchen – picture to the right) and I even got invited to a birthday party for him a couple of years ago. And, through the love of friends, Bubba is changed! And talks! And even ‘works’ at Cornerstone Baptist Church. So last Thursday, as Gigi, Jenn and I left Bible study to drive one of the ladies back to the Bridge (homeless shelter downtown), we passed Bubba and stopped to talk and one of first things out of his mouth (again, did I mention that it’s big news that he talks?) was so cute, lovable and classic: “where’s yo hair?!” Quote of the week.
We kept talking and then, even though the conversation had moved on, the humor in what he’d said caught up with me and I laughed out loud at the simplicity and honesty of his question. Gotta love my peeps in the hood. And y’all too. Thanks for loving us.