The goodness of God…

Is so rich and deep and wide.

And the safest place for my fears to hide.

I dreaded these days and didn’t know what to expect.

I prayed for deliverance and He hasn’t failed me yet.

With the gifts of medicine and praying friends

I proclaim His goodness to see me through to the end.

I never dreamed these 2 days could go so well.

I’m doing great – unlike the previous hell.

No moaning or groaning or even a gag.

Just peace and joy from a God we can nag.

Friends prayed and some fasted too.

And now I celebrate that He answers you.

Thanks for taking my needs to His throne.

And reminding me I’m never ever alone.

He has sat with me on the cold bathroom floor.

And understood when I asked – can I  take anymore?

He has guided and provided every step of the way.

And it’s His gift of relief that I’ve enjoyed this day.

For tomorrow’s teaching, I was prepared to cancel if needed.

Instead, I get to share my excitement for Heaven that He has seeded.

He’s good like that. All the time.

And I wanted to share – even if it’s a lame rhyme.

His goodness is deep and rich and wide.

And His praise so worthy that my heart can’t hide…

His goodness and gifts that He shares so clearly.

And the answers to prayers of those He loves so dearly.

So thanks for lifting our needs to the King.

And reading my praises as I joyfully sing…

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Praise Him all creatures here below.

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts.

Praise Farher, Son and Holy Ghost.

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On pins and needles. Or meds and more meds.

Hi faithful friends. Sooo many of you have reached out and remembered yesterday was chemo day and to tell me you’re praying for the dreaded today and tomorrow. The worst doesn’t usually  start until later on Thursdays but we talked to Dr. Osborne about playing defensive so I’ve already taken the heavy meds (Dilaudid – 5-6x stronger than Hydrocodone) and decided to send a message before the extent of my communications becomes groans or gags. Unless, Lord willing, this one is different!  We shall see…

In other medical news…

Over the last months I’ve had numbness in my right pinky that has migrated down into my palm and towards my ring finger.  And, in last couple of weeks, 2 friends commented on my swollen hand (thanks Mandy and Barron) which I hadnt noticed. But when I told Dr. Osborne she asked if my arm was swollen too – and without sportin’ much sleeveless I hadn’t noticed that either. A coupe months ago, I saw a chiropractor we love to see if there was a pinched nerve affecting the pinky but he couldn’t find anything. To understand the pinky numbness and the hand/arm swelling, we did 2 MRIs – in neck and shoulder. The neck shows a compression fracture at bottom of my neck (C6) where there’s evidence of a metastatic lesion (medical term for tumor). When bones are weak ‘they fold over on themselves’ which is the compression fracture. I can feel it in certain positions but don’t want to do radiation (as she described it that would be similar to ‘spot welding’ to strengthen the bone) until it’s more problematic because radiation also compromises the bone marrow and one of reasons for my anemia is the disease in the bone marrow. But the lesion in that location doesn’t explain the hand or arm. And the MRI of the shoulder shows inflammation but nothing growing so we will start a low grade steroid for the inflammation. And, by ruling out any growth causing the swelling and numbness we are left to conclude I have lymphedema. Lymphadema is a common condition that can surface weeks or months or years after having lymph nodes removed – in my case it has been 3.5 years.  The function of lymph system is to filter things out of the system and without any of the nodes under my arm it can’t ‘detox’ my arm or hand – hence the ‘edema’/swelling.  So lymphedema therapy (which starts today at 1p) involves massage therapy to help encourage the system to filter things away from my hand and arm as well as a not-so-cool sleeve that I will soon be sportin’. I described it as bad pantyhose for the arm and the nurse didn’t disagree.  But as Jamie pointed out clearly I’m not the only one with lymphedema because there’s a website called lymphadiva.com with hundreds of their attempts at more attractive sleeves. So if you see me and wonder if I got a new tattoo from shoulder to wrist I hope you remember this post.

And, as if there isn’t enough going on in my body, when Jamie brought me home from my MRI on Monday I casually ran my hand across my shirt over my left boob (see also: the Lord) and thought I felt something. That seemed so incredulous that I didn’t even mention to Jamie and was home minutes later. When I changed clothes I did a better assessment and was pretty sure I felt something. I wasn’t too scared or alarmed and didn’t mention it to anyone else until Scott got home – and he confirmed my suspicion. As did anyone else who happened to come by between Monday and my appointment. Poor Steph and Sue who were both offered a feel!

In yesterday’s appointment with Dr. Osborne and a new doctor doing her fellowship that we really liked, we reviewed all my numbers from blood work (which looked good for most part though the tumor markers which had been steadily declining had crept back up a few points) and discussed my anemia. The fatigue is definitely a big factor in my quality of life so when she suggested a low dose of Ritalin as a possible help for fatigue I was quick to accept. My little peanut gallery of support (Scott, Amy, Jamie and my mom) couldn’t contain their running commentary and amusement (well, except for my mom…) and I heard Scott ask under his breath  ‘does that come with marriage counseling?’ Very funny.

And that was all before she pulled back my gown to do her regular tests of lungs, heart, and breast exam. While we had been waiting, also to the shock and amusement of my peanut gallery of support, I had borrowed my mom’s pen and drawn a circle where I found the lump. A little roadmap?! But with or without my ‘directions’, she didn’t have any problem locating the lump. She asked if I am willing to do a biopsy. Yes! It’s not fun being poked on but I want The information. [And as I was writing this post, Dr. Lamont’s office called to schedule it for Tuesday at 11:30.]. At this point, whether or not it’s cancer isn’t as important as it’s biological attributes that might give us more information about how to best fight the cancer in my body.  This would be the second time that while things seem to be getting smaller within my body something has grown elsewhere that we can see or feel – the lymph nodes in my neck I noticed last summer, or the inflammatory breast cancer last spring, and now this.  It is statistically very rare for cancer to move from one breast to the other but as both Christina (nurse) and Dr. Osborne commented (separate from each other) ‘your case hasn’t been known for being normal.’ 

In other non-medical news…

And for my last tidbit of an update from my world and a request for prayer, Scott and I are sharing our story this Saturday at Watermarks Training Day and I am leading a lesson on all I’ve studied and learned about Heaven. Anyone want to join us?! 

You can sign up here: Training Day. Checkin is at 9 on Saturday (less expensive and easier if you’re able to register in advance). Our story and the lesson portion starts at 9:30 until 12. You can imagine why I might be passionate about this topic:) And hopefully you can appreciate why it would be more fun with friends – so I sincerely welcome/invite any and all of you to join us. I would also appreciate your prayers for the energy I desire for the session (by Saturdays I am usually feeling better but just wiped out from the week) and for clarity of my/His message. It’s my heart and hope that others would be as excited as I am about the Person and Place that awaits the sons and daughters of the King!

To the many of you who have prayed and texted me already about this week’s chemo and aftermath, I can’t thank you enough for pleading my case before a Heavenly Father who knows, cares, grieves with us, and is kindly sovereign over all. You bless me. And my family. And we love you.  

Dear Taxotere…

I have to ask. Do you hurt the cancer as much as you hurt me? I sure hope so because you do quite the number on me. I hate the way you make me feel after treatment. I hate throwing up. I hate begging for pain meds and being disheartened when they aren’t enough. I hate tossing and turning in my bed begging the Lord for sleep. It’s sad for my little boy to only see me horizontally for 2 days. So, after all that, I always lay there wondering if you are doing as much against the cancer as you are against me?

I see how you and your chemotherapy friends put people in quite an emotional and practical ‘pickle’ that few people understand. The topic of quitting treatment is uncomfortable to all. Including me. But this past week, in the 2 days post chemo, I understand why friends that have gone before me have surrendered and sent up the white flag. It’s quite difficult to knowingly subject yourself to the pain of drugs like you. You go in our veins for a short hour totally painlessly and then you wreak total havoc on our bodies for 2 days straight and then unpredictably in the following weeks. 

You don’t do much for our quality of life and allowing us to enjoy the people and things we love. You make us isolate and withdraw just because our brains and bodies don’t have the ability to interact. You keep us home instead of out enjoying sunshine and weather and people and events we would enjoy. You keep me from  the privileges of taking care of my family with even the most basics of housekeeping and laundry. You make me watch the world through the window instead of engaging with it firsthand. You keep me from being able to lead bible study and go to lunches and go for walks and greet Scott and Lincoln at the door when they get home.

And what’s the point of extending life if you can’t enjoy it?  What’s the point of giving me more time if I can’t enjoy the people I love and want to be with?

And then, after all those thoughts and questions, you let up and give me a reprieve. And then I am so thankful to the Lord for His relief that I am almost giddy with excitement about being at church yesterday and being with friends for the Super Bowl. Taxotere, you tortute me and then the Lord uses you teach me how to appreciate the little things in life that I have often taken for granted: standing up for :10 to fold laundry, sitting on the couch with Scott to watch the debates instead of laying in the bed in a separate room without even wanting the noise of the television on, mere interest in food even if I can’t eat very much, and desire to see friends even if they see the same site over and over (me in my pajamas on the couch!).

You are not for the faint hearted, Taxotere. As Scott and I discussed, we understand more clearly now why Dr. O asks so many questions about how I feel and then asks me ‘are you sure about this decision before I approve your chemo? I hate beating you up like this…’

Yes, you beat me up. And make me miserable. And we just hope and pray and thank the Lord for good scan results that indicate the cancer we hate may actually hate you as badly as I do. 

This wasn’t the first time you’ve done this to me but it was definitely the worst. And I don’t want to live with a spirit of fear but I have had thoughts of dreading this happening again on February 25-26 after chemo on the 24th. But next time I will be better prepared to ask my people to be extra girded in prayer that you, a means of both good and evil, will be strengthened to do war against the cancer but with less war against me. 

Taxotere, I need to remind you that you are subject to the will of my God. He doesn’t need you to heal me but He is more than able to use the miracles and minds of medicine if He so chooses. He hates cancer because it brings death and He loves life. He enables men and women to use their intellect to fight diseases such as this with medicine. And He enables it to work because He made the body and holds all things together. He hates the way I feel in this broken world and broken body but loves me so much and holds me close during the hours of torment. He never leaves my bedside. And He sees and hears each of my cries for help. Thankfully, I never feel alone. And He sends dear friends to text or call or deliver food or check in just when depression wants to knock at my heart. And my God is creating in Scott the most amazing semi-single dad with confidence and connection with Lincoln and it’s a sheer joy to watch – or listen to if I’m just hanging on horizontally in the other room. My God is taking care of my family. My God is using your destructive powers to destroy cancer cells while sustaining me. My God is able to bring good and glory and sweetness even in the midst of a hard season and even in the midst of a horrible couple of days. 

So, Taxotere, while we have a love/hate relationship and I continue you as long as the Lord allows, I also want you to know that I’m not scared to break up with you if it’s too hard on me and my family. I don’t want to be controlled by you or by fear of you because I know my God is able to sustain me with or without you and He is able to grant me peace and joy in life as well as in the face of death.

If the Lord wills, I will see you again in 16 days and I will be ready – covered in prayer and protected by the Lords providence. In the meantime, can you please lighten up on my breasties while putting the hurt on their cancer? You’re a meanie some days!

Goodbye for now. And since you’ve exhausted my body I will go back to my happy nap (without pain) with the confidence that the Lord holds me and my people.

More good news! Thankful thankful thankful…

I haven’t felt so good lately and as a result even the most regular tasks seem a bit daunting – even updating the blog. And that’s especially pathetic considering I do it on my iPhone with dictation. It’s not like it’s hard for me to talk!

I had scans again on Thursday – of my abdomen and pelvis and chest as well as my neck. It was super cute and should have been a good sign that when Dr. Osborne texted me to ask if I could talk she had Christina in the room with her too. Apparently Dr O wouldn’t let Christina call without her and they waited to call until they could both be in the room and share the good news. 

The overall report from the radiologist says “stable with moderate improvement.”  Considering we would take stable as really good news it was actually wonderful news to hear ‘stable  plus improvement.’ I’m crying as I say this. I see the kindness of our God in so many ways. My liver shows mixed results with some lesions that are bigger but some that are smaller. And the fluid that was around my liver is gone. My lungs are stable and the lymph nodes in my sternum and diaphragm are a mixed bag of growth and recession. We are thrilled! As the Lord sweetly ordained it, Scott had come home mid-day on Friday to pick me up to have lunch with him and his partner and employees so we were together to hear the good news. Those of you that know Scott well know that he is not even kind-of-sort-of-or-even-slightly-dramatic-or-super-expressive! He is my steady. But he was precious in his response of thanks to our God and a kiss for me. As Job talks about receiving good from the hand of the Lord as well as the bad it seems that we are so accustomed to accepting the bad that we were shocked and delighted with the good encouraging news. 

As a result, we will stay the course with this chemotherapy of Taxotere every three weeks. As I’ve mentioned before using Dr. Osborne’s highway analogy, she expects that my cancer will eventually outsmart this drug and work its way around on an alternate path but, for now, we celebrate that the Lord has blessed me with more time with those I love on earth. 

And now I’m bawling like a baby as I record this update for you all. Have I mentioned that our God is truly good, kind and always faithful? He has sustained us with bad news and then encourages us with good news. 

On a day to day basis, I feel like I have more hard days than good days. Some days I’m just exhausted and other days I’m exhausted and also feel pretty crummy. Today it is both. I haven’t thrown up in a long time but, as I’ve shared before, sometimes it’s hard without an appetite to take medicine and, many days, not very much sounds good. Especially first thing in the morning. Today I may have overindulged with a shake from Harry’s as my only sustenance (only thing that sounded good) and my handful of medicines didn’t consider that adequate nutrition. So I took a handful of meds and before too long I was back in a familiar place over the toilet. Oh well. You win some and you lose (literally!) some.

Our little family is in a sweet season. Lincoln can go from a firecracker to a cuddle bug in less than three seconds. Often, when he comes home with Scott or from a play date, he finds me laying down which makes me a bit sad for his reality but he always runs to me and crawls up to cuddle with me on the couch or in bed.  And in God’s kindness he recently told some friends of mine (his teachers at Chapel School) that what he loves about me is that I ‘play and build things with him.’ My friend shared that with me and it is a gift to know that his only thoughts of me aren’t as being sick or laying down. He also told the same friends that he loves his daddy because ‘he makes me eggs and the very best cinnamon toast.’ Adorable. Needless to say, his daddy takes on a lot of my jobs and is doing them very well. I am so thankful for such a fine father for the boy I love so much.

Thank you for following our journey and praying for us and serving us in countless ways. We are a blessed family. May the riches of the Lord’s blessings be yours today as well.