Thursday, August 28, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
If you don’t know me, you may have heard about me and perhaps even prayed for me. My name is Allyson. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher, and most importantly, I am a wife and a mommy. This account from the Bible could just as well describe the last few months of my life.
This summer I was enjoying my sons, especially savoring the last weeks before Goliath would start kindergarten. On the morning of June 30, I woke up feeling a pain in my back I had never had before. The pain intensified to the point I thought I was having a heart attack. Aimee came over and drove me to the hospital. 12 hours and 4 scans later, I was released with no definite diagnosis, but a warning that there was a mass on my left ovary and I should make an appointment with my doctor. I did so, and she determined that it was probably nothing to worry about, but it would be a good idea to remove it. Surgery was scheduled for August 7.
The operation went smoothly. I really wasn’t worried about much except the time it would take me to recover. Then, on August 9, Dr. A came in for her morning rounds. My mom was with me to hear the six words that would change my life forever: “I have bad news. It’s cancer.” I don’t remember much after that except calling Hubby. He came right away, and we all cried together.
One week later I sat in an oncologist’s office. Although I’d been assured he was the best around, I was very nervous and uncomfortable. He explained the components of my cancer, admitted that it appeared to have spread some, and advised that I undergo another surgery as soon as possible to remove all cancer cells and do further exploration. I spent the next week making arrangements and having pre-op work done. During that short time, Hubby and I made the heartbreaking decision to have a full hysterectomy done. We had talked about having another baby, but the risks to my health were now too great and it was not really much of a choice.
I also asked God for wisdom and courage as I told my children that their mommy was sick. I have no doubt that the Lord sat in my living room on that hot summer afternoon. I was prepared for the worst, but they only asked one question: “Mommy, are you going to get well?” The answer had to be YES.
The time leading up to my second surgery was the most difficult for me. I repeatedly asked God, “Why me?”, as if He might have forgotten how young I am, or how many children I have, or how full my life is. I was scared that the surgery would not be successful. I was scared that I would have to go through chemotherapy. Mostly, I was scared that I might not live to see my sons grow up to be men. My prayers were filled with questions and tears as I asked God for a miracle. Slowly—almost without my noticing—my fear was replaced with peace.
On August 30, 2 months after my ER visit, I was back in an OR. Dr. M removed all visible signs of cancer and performed the hysterectomy. Hours later, I began to come out of the fog of anesthesia and saw my entire family gathered around my bed. Hubby said to me, “They got it all. There is no more cancer”, and we cried together again.
Recovery has been painful and very slow. Those first weeks after surgery I was fully dependent on other people to do everything for me. I couldn’t take care of my home or my children. Though I desperately wanted to feel “normal” I was unable to do much more than lay in bed. Plus, I was burdened with the possibility that the biopsies and other tests might still reveal bad news. On the day of my follow-up appointment, I was a nervous wreck. The doctor came in almost immediately, seeming nearly cheerful. He said that all tests showed that the cancer was fully removed, had not spread, and that I should go home and start living my life again. My God had calmed the storm, and I had received my miracle.
If God had chosen to work in a different way—to allow the cancer to spread, or for me to go through treatments, or even to take my life-- He would still be God. He had all my days laid out for me before I was even born. My mom tells of the moment it became clear for her: When I was waiting on a gurney to be wheeled to the operating room for the second surgery, she placed her hands on my stomach where the cancer hid. She thought of how Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, Issac, because it was what God asked of him. For the rest of my family, this journey has been that life-changing. We have come face to face with the power and the true character of God, knowing that my purpose is only to glorify my Father. He is unchanging, He is faithful, He is sovereign. I may never understand why He allowed this storm of cancer to surround me, but I praise Him because He would not let me drown. In my time of need, God never left his throne—He only drew me closer to it.
There is one more part of my story that not many people know. You can’t see this very well from where you sit, but if you were to look closely you would see a perfectly formed, wonderfully made baby waiting to make his grand entrance into the world. He was a total surprise to his mom and dad, but not a surprise to God. This picture was taken 2 ½ years ago, and that baby is my youngest son. While I never questioned the existence of my baby, I sure did wonder about God’s timing. I already had a baby at home—and a toddler—and a new baby was NOT in my plan until much later. My plan was flawed, though, and God’s plan was perfect. He knew what lay ahead for me. He knew that if we didn’t have Baby in the fall of 2005, we would never have had Baby at all. Today is Baby's 2nd birthday. Every morning when he calls my name as he wakes up, or when he runs into my arms, or when he climbs up on my lap to read a book, I am reminded that my God is indeed an awesome God. His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts….and I am thankful.
Goliath LOVED the beach. If he had to choose between Disney and the beach, I'm not entirely sure which he would prefer. He and I had the most fun out in the water--nothing like swallowing gallons of salt water to make you laugh out loud!
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
I was not necessarily in favor of yet another pet, but to be fair, Goliath has had some issues since Ellie the guinea pig met her untimely demise. Hubby thought a new pet might help (especially with being afraid to sleep in his room at night), and turns out he was right. Goliath loves his bunny! And yes, I am very aware that "Nigel" is an unusual name for a rabbit. He claims he heard it on a TV show and determined it was the perfect name; we could not persuade him otherwise. So......welcome to the family, Nigel.
I now return you to your regularly scheduled blogging.
Monday, August 4, 2008
When we were finished there, we headed to the Golden Horseshoe Theatre to catch the "Billy Hill and the Hillbillies" show.
5 hours later, my brother called me back. He said, "Um, I don't think that reporter was any old reporter. You might want to get online--your man is quoted in a news story on AOL.com." The reporter was actually with the Associated Press, and the earthquake story has been reprinted, with Hubby's paragraph, in hundreds of newspapers across the country! We are STILL laughing about it!
After we took a nap and recovered from our 15 minutes of fame, we headed back to Disneyland.
Just thinking about the earthquake has tired me out. I'll try to finish up tomorrow...
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Baby's 1st airplane ride...he did great!
Our first night in California at the Jolly Roger Hotel. Our boys were tired!
On Sunday we went to Newport Beach,
then checked into our new hotel, the Portofino Inn. We loved it there!
We ended Sunday with a dip in the (chilly) pool.
Waiting for the gates to open........
Excited to be in Fantasyland!!!
Checking out the animals on the Jungle Cruise
And if you're wondering why Baby missed this picture....
It was a long day at the Happiest Place on Earth.
More to come...........