Sunday, April 21, 2013

Facing the Future

This update is a hard one to write.  I've been dreading it and have, in fact, been putting it off.  However, procrastination is not going to change the facts, so it's time to put them out there for you, my friends, to know.
Monster lives.  He resists chemotherapy.  He has come back to life after four major surgeries designed to destroy him.  He is too big for radiation.  He is too aggressive and unpredictable for other common treatments.  He is a threat to other body parts and functions, which, once damaged, can not be reversed and could be life-threatening.  His location within my body makes nontraditional treatments questionable at best, and more like out of the question.
Monster is not going away.
In the last few weeks, I've had to make a difficult decision.  Since the debate was settled with a positive biopsy result, it has become clear that Monster intends to stay.  I have to change my thinking, my prayers, my outlook, my LIFE! accommodate that. 
After much consideration, prayer, counsel, and discussion, I have decided to opt out of further chemotherapy treatments.  While chemo may be maintaining Monster to some degree, it is not shrinking him and certainly not getting rid of him!  What it is doing is stealing from me.  It is stealing 3-4 perfectly good days every week when I can not function like ME.  It is stealing my energy.  It is stealing my spirit, my joy, and most of all, it is stealing precious time.
If the rest of my time on this earth is going to be shared with Monster--and right now, it appears that it will be--then I must make that time quality.  I want to spend that time being ME.  I am not a cancer patient.  I am a wife and a mom.  I am a daughter and a sister.  I am a granddaughter and an auntie.  I am a friend.  I am a follower of Jesus Christ.  I love music.  I like to laugh, good food, Mary Poppins, animals, wise sayings, mystery books, Target, and flip flops.  I must have my morning cup of coffee, my toenails painted, and a little bit of alone time every day.  These are the things that make my world turn.  I might have cancer, but it does not have me.
I have started on a new medication that I can take at home, once a day.  It blocks estrogen production, thereby starving the cancer cells.  (Monster eats estrogen.)  This pill is similar to the med that I took from 2010-2012, when Monster was on vacation.  The hope is that he will go on vacation again...this time for a long, long time.
Let's be clear:  This is not me giving up.  This is not me throwing in the towel or denying the possibility of God granting an 11th hour miracle.  This is me, facing the very real idea that I may not see my babies grow their first mustaches, go on their first dates, or nurse their first broken hearts.  I may not live long enough to be at my sons' high school graduation ceremonies.  I may not be here to dance at their weddings or rock my grand babies.  I need to be prepared for anything, so I want to get busy LIVING!
"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."  Proverbs 31:25
Please, Lord, let it be said of me.
P.S.  I don't know how much dignity a lady with a bird on her head can possibly muster, but it was a beautiful afternoon to go to the zoo with my 3 favorite boys!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Alive and Well

It has been five weeks since my last chemotherapy treatment.
It has been three weeks since debate began among several doctors in a few different specialties in a couple of separate hospitals regarding what the status of The Sickness is.
The testing has been uncomfortable and inconvenient.  The waiting has been nearly unbearable.  (Do you know how hard it is to be productive if you are carrying a phone in one hand every waking hour of the day, waiting for it to ring?!?)  The professional disagreements have been confusing and worrisome.
Finally, FINALLY today the final answer came.  Monster is alive and well inside of me.
Scans are just pictures, and pictures can be tricky.  But biopsies do not lie.
I wasn't really surprised that the biopsy was positive.  What surprised me today was the emotion I felt.  I've been in this fight long enough now that I thought I had developed nerves of steel.  Great sadness washed over me as I listened to Nurse Allyson deliver the news.  I realized that I had allowed myself to imagine a cancer-free me, and my sadness was the equivalent of disappointment.
I believe in miracles.  I believe that the same God who raised Lazarus from the dead, turned the water into wine, and made the blind man see can also make me whole and well.  I believe that He is good.
I do not understand why He does not allow that healing to take place.  I do not understand.  And oh, how I desperately want to understand it.  I would give almost anything just for the assurance that all of this suffering--mine and my family's--is not in vain. 
But I suppose that would not really be faith, would it?
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.   

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Insomniac Blogging: Fourth Edition

--Double heartbreak:  RIP, Margaret and Annette.  You were both greatness in your own arenas.
--What's up, April?  Today:  80 degrees and sunshine.  Tomorrow:  50 degrees and rain.  The channel 5 weather guy looks like he's going to have a stroke.
--"Why do people say radical?  They should just say rad.  Rad-i-cal.  It doesn't make any sense.  It's three syllables!"--Little Middle
--Little Middle and Baby played their first soccer game of the season last Saturday.  So serious!  They, of course, had a great time, and I'm sure that if we actually kept score, they would have been the winners.
--I am still waiting for definite decisions from MDA about the next step to deal with Monster.  There is some discussion going on among several different doctors.  The waiting is excruciating, but Monster seems to be behaving himself in there in the meantime.
--I try to imagine what my life would look like if there were no regular doctor visits, treatment schedules, needle sticks, or IV drips.  I can barely think of it.
--Check out these cowboys!
They're cute, huh?
--My alarm clock died.  I have used it almost every night for 20+ years, starting sometime in high school.  It lived a good life and served me well.
--"Oh Hannah! Oh Hannah!"--Baby, explaining to me the picture in his Bible of the people waving palm branches and praising Jesus as he rode the donkey into Jerusalem.
--The school nurse called me two times in one day for two different kids.  She told me that she was going to program my number into her speed dial; I told her I was going to put in with the school board for a raise for her.  We're getting to be great friends.  Oh--both kids got sent back to class and managed to finish the day.  I'm a super mom!
--"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."--C.S. Lewis
--We had an AC repairman out to our house last week.  Before he left, he used his phone to snap a picture of my cross wall.  Weird.
--"A lot of times I don't know how to end a conversation with an adult, so I just say 'Have a nice day.'  It's kind of awkward."--M, Little Middle's buddy
--My family goes through a LOT of bread and milk.
--Once upon a time I created a menu for family dinners an entire month in advance.  I still plan for meals, but I only do it weekly.
--I have never gone on a cruise, and I have no desire to. 
--Irish cream is my favorite coffee creamer flavor.
--There are a couple of fairly large lizards living close by.  Last summer we loosely determined that there is a boy lizard who likes to sun himself on our freighbors' bricks and a girl lizard who prefers our shrubbery.  Now that the weather is getting warmer, there have been lizard sightings.  The kids are thrilled about lizard hunting and carry around a giant bucket on Saturdays between our two houses.  The adults are warily keeping an eye out for baby lizards.  Ick.