Friday, December 30, 2011

One Good Christmas

Well, I finished radiation 2 weeks ago and I'm doing remarkably well. My skin is pretty much healed up. I'm a bit tanned and sometimes a little itchy but all in all it's doing great. I can only hope that my insides are faring just as well. And I have energy which is something I'm very thankful for. Christmas can be busy with food preparations, presents, and doing all the little things that make it so memorable for kids and I managed to do most of what I normally do.  

I feel like a long journey is coming to a close. I know I still have my every 3 week Herceptin injection and doctor's appointments here and there but the gruelling, active treatment is over. Can I get an Amen?! And I'm starting to think about decorating, sewing, writing, and all the things we're going to do this year and I'm getting pretty excited about it. 

To start it off January is a packed month of fun. Our bathrooms are getting renovated - new tubs, sinks, toilets and everything and I'm heading to Ontario with the kids for 10 days. It'll be so great to see my family - many of whom I haven't seen in quite a while. 

Anyway - just a few pics of our Christmas. And for a hair update: I'm still wearing a scarf out and about but my hair is growing - just really slowly. I'm hoping in a month I'll be able to go bare headed! 

Appie night for Christmas Eve - just the 4 of us.
Ana changed into jammies immediately upon returning home from church.

No - she didn't get oranges. And I love the Jillian Michaels dvd in the back ground.
Very soon I'll be able to get that video out again!

"Just what I wanted!"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Not Your Usual Kinda Juice

As part of our quest for health Sam and I have started juicing. Mostly green juice, cucumbers, celery, kale or romaine or chard, sometimes carrot, usually an apple or pear to sweeten it up and a bit of lemon and ginger. It's actually quite good and I've gotten to the point where I crave it when I don't have it. Kinda like coffee but way better for you. 

Not my juice - found the pic online - but it looks like ours!
Sometimes we've tried other kinds of juice. This beauty is beet, carrot and orange juice. It was actually quite good although a bit bitter. And I love the colour. It matches our juicer! 

So why juice? Well, it's a good way to get the vitamins and nutrients you need. The good thing about juice is that it doesn't need to be digested - all the goodness is absorbed right into your body with minimal amount of work. Of course you still need to EAT veggies - the fibre is good for you too. 

Usually we juice in the mornings and then eat a big salad for lunch and something else vegetably for dinner. At least that's the optimum plan. The day I wrote this we had some really cheesy yummy pasta that I just had to try and make (pasta is my weakness. and thai food, and nachos...;-). But the bottom line is - I really don't want to get cancer again and I'm researching all the things people say will help in that. Eating your veggies is a big one - so I'm eating AND drinking them!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More on Living

I was pleasantly surprised to see this above me the first time I laid down on the radiation table.
It's what I get to look at every time I get zapped!
It's crazy how time just keeps moving forward. I've been in the cancer world for 10 months now. 10 MONTHS. It feels like an eternity and like no time at all. When we first started I had no idea what it would feel like to be immersed in something so life changing for such a long period of time.

One thing I've come to realize may seem pretty basic but it's really hit me this week. I'm still me. I still love what I loved before, I still get grouchy when I'm tired and hungry, I still need down time every day and my body is still my body. It may have gone through a bunch of changes that are annoying. I see them, accept them, but at the end of the day I still feel the same inside. Through everything, that is what I need to hold on to. 

At my radiation appointments I've had the opportunity to chat with a number of different people while we wait. Everyone is dealing with cancer. It's a given. And yet the responses are all so different. I met a couple who see this as a minor blip in their retirement (she has breast cancer). They went on a huge 4 week trip between surgery and chemo, and went to Mexico for a week during chemotherapy. Ironically they have the same doctor as I do - the one who told me I shouldn't go home for Christmas because I was still recovering and in the middle of treatment. When I was surprised that the doc had said it was okay to go they laughed and said 'we didn't tell her.' I loved their spirit, the way they Brazenly Lived and just want to be done so they can live some more.

Today the Radiation Oncologist I saw (not my normal doctor) had some really good things to say. I was asking him (again - I ask everyone) about Lymphedema, specifically about getting a compression sleeve. I don't have any symptoms but I worry about it constantly. He was a nice East Indian man who looked at me and smiled. 'Don't treat something you don't have,' he said and then went on to say - just keep doing what you're doing - arm/chest stretches, exercise, things that get the lymph moving. Then as if I might not have gotten what he meant he looked at me again and said, 'So  many people in this world - you, me, everyone - we have a tendency to worry about things and anticipate problems that will most likely never happen. Don't do that."

That is exactly how I've tried to deal with things this year. So why am I worrying so much about lymphedema before I even have one symptom. Yes I have a risk, and if I did have swelling or something I should get it checked out quickly but right now I don't. And I may never. So thank you to the tender doctor who took the time to relieve me of fear. Peace is not what I usually feel when I leave doctor's appointments at the hospital but it's what I felt today and I like this feeling better!

Two more radiation treatments left. I'm onto the "boost" portion of my treatment. One zap instead of 7, a quick 5 minutes in and out. I'm so relieved to finally be done and just in time for Christmas holidays. The kids will be off and we'll have nothing on the calendar - love it.

Monday, November 7, 2011


My mom asked me the other day what the cancer experience has changed about me. Aside from the physical changes like diet and exercise, surgery and chemo side effects that may or may not be permanent, I'm really not too sure.

When people ask me what I feel like God is teaching me through all this I have to admit that I don't know. Not yet and maybe not ever. I haven't had any amazing "God" moments or audible declarations about why my family and I are going through this. We've struggled with fear, anxiety, unsettledness, horrible side effects. We've prayed and prayed for peace and mercy and healing but I still have to go through the medical process and I haven't been miraculously spared side effects or hair loss or anything like that.

But when I was thinking about this - what I realized as I looked back (or even as I go through today) is that what I feel and have felt for the past 9 months is Presence. We weren't alone, we aren't alone. I feel like Jesus turned his face toward us. Cared for us, cried with us, loved us, provided us with what we needed when we needed it, guided us into decisions and gave us peace when we doubted the decisions we made.

Sometimes these provisions were as small as a comment on this blog - cheering me on - written on a day when I felt like I couldn't take one more step, or as important as providing meals for my family when we had no energy to even open the fridge. But also providing someone to clean my house, fun for our kids, social times when we needed it and quietness when we needed that. I'm just so thankful.

And those other changes I talked about - maybe I'll post more on that later. We've discovered the wonder of juicing and are scouting all the markets around us for organic vegetables. Today I found a little gem called Silver Hills that is so much more then just bread - 2 minutes from my house and I didn't even know it!

And for an update: Chemo is done! Yeah for that. Radiation starts on November 17 and I'll have 20 sessions total - Monday to Friday, finishing on December 14. I still go every 3 weeks for Herceptin injections which are only 30 minutes or so and have very little side effects. I'm not quite done but with chemo over it feels like a really bleak chapter in my life is over and it's all up hill from here.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Every Good and Perfect Gift...

I'm a very lucky lady. Or maybe blessed is a better term. Luck implies randomness and I think that the gift of Sam in my life was anything but random.

This year has been insane. How it is that I've already travelled 8 months on this cancer journey? What is it that has kept me going through it all? Well - many things actually! The support and prayer of so many friends and family, help with meals, coffee dates, random life giving outings, and the smiles from my kids. But there is one that tops all the others and that is Sam.

He has been at almost every appointment I've had. From surgery to chemo and all the doctors appointments in between. I remember the first chemotherapy cycle. About 2 hours after being home I crashed and burned and he stepped right in to pick up all the pieces. He kept me hydrated and out of the hospital that weekend. Plying me with drinks of all sorts while I threw up and laid on the couch for hours at a time barely able to form a coherent thought.

I also remember one morning feeling miserable but unable to sleep. I took up my spot on the couch and listened to him clean the kitchen, sweep and wash the floor, tidy up all around me while doing loads of laundry. It was that comfortable bustle of activity - when you know you are being looked after, someone's got ahold of it all and you don't have to worry, you can just relax. He knew what I needed to feel most at peace and comfortable and he just did it.

Since that day Sam has done many more loads of laundry, many meals, a lot of driving back and forth to school, house cleaning, bed making, and many many outings with the kids. He shaved my head for me, ran out to the drugstore early in the morning or late at night, made sure I had clean sheets every other day during the days I felt the worst, lysol'd the house over and over, did every kid bedtime and breakfast by himself and spent many evenings alone while I was in bed by 7pm. Every chemo cycle he hands me a card filled with words of support and love - reminders that we are walking the road together. Those things have meant so much to me and I am so thankful.

I can't imagine having gone through this without him and I'm so glad we're a team. A team in decision making and treatment and whatever comes next. So today I am Thankful. Thankful that God chose Sam to be my husband.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Season of Change

With Number 7 just around the bend I'm starting to feel as if the end is in sight. The end of chemo anyway. I met today with a 2nd Radiation Oncologist and will start radiation about 4 weeks after my last chemo. This decision was hard for us to make. A lot of back and forth, a lot of questions to different doctors, friends and family, and a lot of waiting on God for his wisdom and discernment. But we are moving forward, putting all our concerns and fears into the waiting hands of Jesus. And I feel at peace.

This month has also been filled with a lot of normal life things which is a relief after months of focusing on cancer. I feel as if I'm participating in my life once more, not just letting my health consume me (although sometimes it still does). Instead I spend my time dreaming of the future, embracing autumn - the season of change (and my personal favourite), and intentionally doing things that I forgot I loved to do (cooking new recipe's, fallifying the house) while trying out some new things (green smoothies, veggie only meals).

Of course these good days are interspersed with the freak out ones too. Who doesn't have those right? But I feel that those kind of days are slowly being replaced by good ones, ones of contentment, peace and reliance on Jesus. Trusting is hard but when you practice it, it gets easier.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Death by cancer is all around us. It always has been, but now, within the reality of my own cancer I think I see it more. Or maybe I think about it with greater awareness. And I often wonder what it is exactly I should be feeling about this.

A cousin of mine was recently taken by cancer. Just this past week we were all confronted with the death of Mr. Layton and more recently in my own city I heard about a woman who died of breast cancer just a mere month and a bit after her diagnosis. Yesterday I found out that David Serven-Schreiber author of the book Anti-Cancer: A new way of Life (a great book about living an anti-cancer life), passed away this summer after a 3rd recurrence of cancer.

Should I feel fear? This same disease that killed these people and countless others was in my body (and may be again) and will always and forever be on my radar. But mercifully fear is not the first thing I feel. After the sadness, the sorrow for family left behind and for a life shortened, I feel anger. Anger that cancer has the power to take life.

And immediately I feel like living. I think I've always been a bit contrary. If you think I should walk I'll decide to run, no I do not want a smaller piece of pie, yes I do want seconds of thai food, yes I can walk for an hour, not just half even though I just had chemo yesterday. (I think I may get this from my dad - but trust me he's way worse :-)

So lately I've been thinking about life. About living. What it means for me now, what I'll do with it. This week when I learned of these unfortunate, devastating deaths I wanted to walk. Up hill. Fast. So I did - maybe not as fast as usual but my heart pumped, my legs burned, and my lungs laboured. My pared down walks a few times around the duck pond without a hill in site are done. I want to Live and I will Walk!

Sam was sharing a few thoughts with me out of Jeremiah 29 the other day and I thought I'd post them here since they speak to Life. The Isrealites are in exile in Babylon and Jeremiah decides to send them a letter. A word from the Lord to the exiles.

I love what he says to them in vs 5. "Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there and do not decrease." and then in vs. 10: For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

After which is the famous verses about plans for a hope and a future - a promise that won't come to fruition for 70 years!! This is what I get from these verses. When you are in exile (for 70 years) - LIVE. When you feel like you can't go on - LIVE. When you are missing your family and feel like everything is going against you - LIVE. Keep living. And enjoy it - build your house, eat your food, have a big family and enjoy them.

Okay - that turned into a mini sermon but you get my point. Yes in the back of my mind I worry about recurrence of cancer, leaving my family too soon and all that stuff that fear brings but for today I am alive and I will Live.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

power vs. Power

I had this idea that cancer would be a year out of my life and then I'd go back on my merry way doing everything I used to, being exactly who I used to be. I'm starting to realize this may not be the case. When I said that exact thing to Sam the other day he said - you will go on with life, it just may be in a new way, a way you're just learning to navigate.

To be honest, I don't like that, not one bit. I feel like cancer has robbed me of some things I liked about myself. Mainly - a healthy body. Yes - when this is done I hope to be healthy again, healthier then I ever was, but there will be changes that I will have to work with or around. Like my left arm, where I had lymph nodes removed. I could always have problems with it, or my heart which shows a slight decrease in the pumping action after my first round of chemo.

In contrast to cancer these things are minor, they can be monitored and I can live with them a long time. But somehow, that doesn't make it easier to bear. And it makes me angry that cancer has power to change my life in ways I did not want.

Then I remember that Jesus is bigger then that. His Power is bigger then that of cancer, or death, or my suddenly narrowed view of life. When I feel like I can't see past the next 24 hours it is some comfort to know that he can see forever.

"I lift my eyes up to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. ...The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore." Psalm 121: 1 and 8

And for a brief update: I received cycle 5 of chemo on Thursday and Friday and am happy to report that I'm not totally incapacitated by it like I was the first 4. I haven't spent the weekend in bed nor have I been sick. I do have pain in my legs and joints which I'm hoping will soon fade. It feels good to have completed 5 chemo cycles and have 3 left. And as I am nearing the end of chemo we've been talking with doctors about radiation benefits vs. risks and will decide soon our next treatment plan. So please keep praying for us as we make yet more decisions.

Friday, August 5, 2011

And time moves on

I can hardly believe I'm half way through chemo. I finished my fourth treatment on the 21st of July and after a week of feeling bleck I am finally feeling well. AND I have another week before the second round. I feel like I'm on a vacation from chemo - a very good feeling and one I'm trying not to mar with thoughts of what the next round will be like.

Treatment 3 was a low point for me. I was discouraged, fearful, anxious and felt as if it would never end (hence the lack of any blog posting after that). Fear is such an irrational thing. Suddenly I couldn't lay down without thinking of what could go wrong. Every heartbeat was analyzed, every pain, every nauseous moment revisited. And yet through it all my rational mind was saying - don't worry, think of something else, trust in Jesus.

And that's the crux of it isn't it? Trusting in Jesus is easy when your mind is clear and fear is held easily at bay. I had to get back to the basics. Remembering why it was I didn't fear the word cancer way back in March when it was new to me. Because I knew that Jesus was my doctor. That he had my back. I had to remember that he still is the one in charge of my treatment. He alone decides whether the chemo works or doesn't. He protects my heart and body from extra damage.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." Ps 20: 7.

Psalm 20 has been my staple these past few weeks. I will trust in Jesus, not in chemo or surgery or any other treatment that will come my way in the next months. And I will enjoy this gift of reprieve and the completion of what should have been the "worst of it" (according to my Oncologist who is lovely but very optimistic :-).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Sweet Fragrance

So here's what I look like now. I've tried hats and scarves and really like the scarves. They are light and cool, help me feel good and comfortable in my skin now that I'm mostly bald.

Today is the perfect sort of day. Quiet, summery, not too hot or cool. I don't need help today - I can make lunch and dinner and take care of everyone, which is a good feeling after a week of everyone taking care of me.

And speaking of everyone taking care of me - this last time was marginally better in that I threw up less. But I was still pretty sick all weekend and then weak and shaky for a couple days. It takes about 8 days to start feeling more normal and then a few after that to feel great and then it's time to start it all over again.

I think one of the harder things for me (besides the really sick days) is my sense of smell. Everything smells off and yucky to me. My house and bedroom smell musty and sick, food smells gross, water tastes yucky, smells really set me off, especially the first week after treatment. I was reading a devotional the other day that had Psalm 46:1 written at the end. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." I was thinking about what sort of 'present help' I needed to get me through this and then thought that if God's presence was with me in a smell, a fresh, outdoorsy type of smell, in the chemo room, when I got home and through the hardest days - that would be a very real help.

So that's what I'm praying for. God's presence in a smell. You can pray that along with me if you're wondering for something specific to pray for. That and of course continued protection from infection and sickness, and continued sun!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dear God and Dad

It's Sam again, chiming in.

Anastasia (on left) ever the thoughtful one, came out of her room tonight after being in bed for a while with a note. She wanted to contribute to her mom's blog seeing as Heidi is not feeling up to it these days. After chemo round #2 on Thursday, both our kids sort of knew what to expect, but in reality were quite sobered again at the immediate effects of the drugs on Heidi. Another little memory was made as we shaved her head...transition to bald complete (well more like patchy thinning army buzz stage to be more accurate). I happen to think it's cute.

Here's what Anastasia wrote, short and sweet - it made me cry, not sure if it is fair for me to post, but it was her wish. It's part prayer and part note to me (her dad) - she even has a message for all of you :)

In this I see her mom's strength, resolve and knack for the written word. Perhaps you will too.
Dear God and Dad,

OK well the first week my mom started kemo it was very scary. The very scary part is over now but unforchunitly there's still a bit more to come. Now here's my prayer.

Dear God, I pray that you would heel all this sickniss in mommy and that even though this is hard to go throe God is holding her hand the hole way throe. And i know you are leading all of us who care about her throe, oh one more thing if you can go throe this I can amen.

And all of you that care should be thankful that you guys have such a fantastic friend or relativ of course. But anyways you're lucky just like I am. Love Ana. Mom you are a great mom, even beter than great, you're fantastic.
If you choose to comment, why don't you send Anastasia a note this time round. I know Heidi would be encouraged vicariously.

We feel carried and blessed by so many.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bits and Bites

Random thoughts related to cancer:

* I'm usually not a germ-a-phob. Until now. It's weird to think that a simple cold could be very very bad for me. With my low white blood count I don't have the necessary tools to fight off any sort of sickness or infection. Hand sanitizer and Lysol wipes have become a staple in our house. Please don't be alarmed if you are offered our rather large bottle of sanitizer if you come to visit or if the door knobs are swiped with an anti-bacterial wipe when you leave. And if you are sick, as much as I would love to visit with you I just can't, so instead of stopping by you can email or give me a call.

* Meals are more then meals. We feel so blessed with the meals that many of you have provided for us and continue to provide. Besides the practical blessing of not having to think of cooking (or cook), the sense of care and love we feel with the arrival of each hot (and frozen) meal is a very tangible and real thing. A hug and the few minutes of conversation remind us of how many of you are caring for us during this time. Words can not express how much this means.

* Every day brings something new. Most days this is a new symptom, from vomiting to throat sores to the weird bone pain I had this weekend. Today though, the new thing was blessedly nothing weird at all!

* My eyes are weaker. I didn't expect this. Last weekend I couldn't even watch tv for longer then 5 minutes, or read a book or my computer. Scrolling up and down on facebook made me sick. Now it's better but I still use my reading glasses to help ease the strain.

* I still have hair. I expect it to be gone by the weekend and am feeling alright about this. And I am learning to like hats.

* Every day I read the verses from 2 Corinthians 4: 7-16: ...We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed...So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed every day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. (select verses). Now I know that the persecution talked about here is not the same as the suffering I'm going through right now but these verses encourage me anyway. I claim the hope in them. And the promise of more to come.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Surrounded by Love

Wow, What a week. I finally feel that my mind has reconnected with my body, the under-the-surface tremors have stopped and my stomach is mostly calm, except for a few hours in the morning when it feels gnawing and empty and generally unpleasant. I wasn't sure what to expect and boy it was bad. Sam says he feels like I disappeared for 4 days and that's totally how it felt. I hardly remember anything about the weekend except for wishing for sleep. But he really took care of me and the kids. His love and attention got me through the worst of it.

It still isn't easy. Today was a downer day. I felt tired, despondent, and like there is a long long summer of crappiness ahead of me. I'm trying to fix my mind on that day in October when I'll be done the chemo injections but man, it feels far away from today.

I thought I would be able to do this. To hunker down, survive on my own but I can't. I've asked my mom to come for the next round and she is. It'll be so good to have her here. Company for Sam when I'm in bed at 7 pm and also help with the house. There's something about a mom that makes me feel settled inside. She's got it. She'll take care of it.

And I've decided that emotionally I need to have people around. This is big for Independent Me. I've realized I need distractions and things to pass the time so I'm happy that we have a stream of company coming through. My mom, my brother and sis-in-law, Sam's mom and dad are bringing their 5th wheel and camping at Fort Langley. Then Sam's brother and sis-in-law, my parents again, Sam's parents again! It seems like a lot but suddenly I'm so thankful for all our family. I may not feel like visiting a lot but when I do there'll be people to visit with. And what a provision of fun for our kids during what could have been a pretty boring summer.

(oh-and the sunny picture is my longing for summer to finally attend us.)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Behind That Wave - Jesus is Still Walking on the Water

Hey all...I thought I would take a crack at contributing to Heidi's blog, seeing as she is a little out of commission today.

A lot has happened since Thursday last week that's for sure.

  • nausea - check
  • dizziness - check
  • vomiting - check
  • indigestion - check
  • anxiety - check
  • extreme fatigue - check
  • sensitivity to smells - check
  • tears - check
  • bits of bananas, Ginger Ale, oatmeal, water - check
  • Canucks' game 5 win over Bruins - check

What a strange thing it is to go into the hospital feeling great - sit in a chair, get put on a drip for a few hours - go home and everything changes. It's like instant flu of the worst sort. These few days have taken their toll.

Today we celebrate the vomiting subsiding and Heidi's appetite slowly returning. This morning Ana read these verses for us all as a declaration of what is truly real.

So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever. (2 Cor 4:16-17)

Blog title comes from my good friend Ryan whose mom had those words on the wall in their house as he grew up.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Transition to bald

It's done - short hair! And it is short. It's a bit surprising to look at myself in the mirror still, but all in all I'm glad I decided to do it. I felt the need to work my way to bald in small steps hoping that when it does actually happen it wouldn't be too dramatic.

I'm smiling here but yesterday was harder then I expected. The kids didn't like it (but are getting used to it). It makes what I'm about to go through a bit more real for everyone including me. I also received the scarves I ordered in the mail yesterday. It was a lot of no-hair foreshadowing all at once and a bit overwhelming.

Ana and I cried together and then talked about it. I'm just so sorry that my family has to go through this with me. I wish I could spare them the grief and messiness of cancer.

Thursday is fast approaching. And the unknown will be known. Which I think will be better.

Great friends offered to take some pics of me right after the cut. They are so awesome - thanks Jason and Darcie Brown of Revival Arts

*Edited to add - Go Canucks!

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

All Things New

Yesterday was beautiful. Warm, sunny and the perfect day for an elegant wedding. A dear friend was married in a church full of echo's, arches, and stained glass, a huge pipe organ and amazing amounts of love. Watching her joy (and of course his:-) was the fulfillment of things I know to be true but don't always see. The true and pure and personal love that Jesus has for us was so evident. He holds us close in our darkest hours and sees us through in ways we can not imagine.

Her story is not mine to tell, but the truth of the personal love of Jesus is universal. And I cling to that in my own journey through the shadows. I'm in the midst of it right now. Last week I had a portacath inserted (you can google it if you really want to know what it's all about!). It was an uncomfortable procedure and it bugs me a bit to have it under my skin but hopefully I will get used to it. On Thursday I start my first chemo treatment. I'm nervous about the unknown but still optimistic that I'll get through (what other choice do I have after-all).

This week I've felt like life is on hold. I wonder often what I would be doing if I wasn't going through cancer treatments. What would bring purpose to my days, what would I be reading or writing or doing with the kids?

I've had the desire to start something new. To start running or sewing or a new exercise dvd, go to yoga or plan fun things for the kids this summer. So far I haven't done any of it since I don't know if I'll be able to keep it up once treatments start.

But the desire to keep going with life is huge. Fun, productive and satisfying life. So I'm going to start new things. Despite the start of chemo on Thursday, which I guess is technically a new thing but in my mind not fun enough to count, I will move forward with living. I am going to sew a Messenger Bag (the Amy Butler pattern). I am going to get out in the sun and walk (and maybe run). I'm going to have fun with the kids when I can and not get too discouraged if I can't. I'm going to go on dates with Sam.

And I will trust God with my worries about side effects and outcomes and lean on his promises. I will remember that he is my physician and actively cares about what is happening in my body.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How is chemo therapy?

One of the things I was praying for before we went for our Oncologist appointment was that we would really know if chemotherapy was something we should do.

That may sound strange, but one of the most surprising things to me over the past few months is how many people choose to do treatments other than conventional therapies. There are many people I've heard of, in person and online, who chose alternative therapy, most to fairly good success.

I was worried that if the benefit of chemo was negligible and made only a small change to the chance of recurrence I wouldn't know what to decide. So I prayed about it and others prayed with us that we would know. The day before our appointment I was emailed this verse from a friend.

The story of King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 19:14 - "And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord."

Immediately I could picture us taking all the reports, treatment plans and opinions and spreading them out on a table before God. Letting him tell us what he thinks of it all. Deciding with us what is best. So that's how we were thinking going into the appointment.

The short of it is this: Without chemotherapy I have a 58% chance of recurrence within 10 years. With recommended treatment my recurrence rate drops to only 10%. To us that was a big difference. And suddenly the decision wasn't daunting anymore.

So I'm doing it. And now that I know what's coming I've been feeling confident that it's the right decision for us even though it'll be a long journey. I am on a fairly aggressive treatment plan. Every 2 weeks starting June 9 for 4 cycles and then every 3 weeks for 4 cycles. That should take me into October when I'll continue on with one of the "designer" drugs for another 13 cycles. After that will be hormone therapy and radiation.

I'm nervous about the side effects and how I'll feel, although the Oncologist seems to think I should handle them fine. I am young and healthy (besides cancer) - a good thing in her opinion. I almost feel like she was excited to have someone to treat who will be able to take everything she has to give! The two side effects I worry about the most are bone pain and mouth sores. But, here we go, getting ahead of ourselves again.

Lots of appointments coming up. I will have a portacath put in next week (a bit nervous about that too since you're awake for the procedure), I'm going to look at wigs (cheaper versions), get my hair cut short, stock up on groceries, do some fun end of year school stuff with the kids and try and prepare for a difficult summer (although I'm not totally sure how to do that).

I was just talking to a friend and she sort of laughed with me and said - 'it sounds like you're going on an adventure.' I think she's right. That is sort of how I feel (albeit an adventure I didn't choose - sort of like a scary, deep cave type of adventure where you don't know what to expect).

We were trusting Jesus to show us which way to go and not surprisingly he did!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The hair is the richest ornament of women - Martin Luther

I've been thinking ahead. I know – I said I wouldn't but with my first appointment with the Medical Oncologist on May20 – just one week from today I can't seem to help it.

The one thing I think about the most? Hair. Yes - I have cancer. A tumor was cut out of my body. I still can't stretch my arm or straighten my elbow and I'm thinking about hair. Or more to the point – the imminent lack of hair. Some hair I'm okay going without. Come on ladies – who wouldn't agree with me? To not have to shave your legs or underarms for an entire summer is a wonderful perk. Unfortunately along with that hair I will also lose eyebrows, eyelashes and the hair on my head.

I've always complained about my hair. Too thin, too limp, too mousy brown, not curly enough, not straight enough but now that I'm faced with the daunting prospect of actually not having it at all I find I will miss it dearly and that maybe it's not so bad. And it's not just the baldness but the how of the baldness that plagues me. How will it fall out? In patches? Over a few days or a few weeks? Will it be messy? Will it hurt? Will I always have ugly stubbly parts that never fall out? Should I shave my head in anticipation without even knowing if I'll actually lose my hair or just cut it short? And when should I do this? And who should do it for me – my wonderful hairdresser (and I wonder what she would charge for that!)? And will I like scarves, or hats or wigs?

I was on a website the other day that specialized in real hair systems (that's what they call it now instead of wig). It sounded great. You go in for a consultation and they take pictures of your hair, order hair that is similar, it comes in you put it on (supposedly a very comfortable fit) and then she cuts it to look like your hair. Great. I was totally into that. Maybe this wouldn't be too bad. A wig that doesn't look like a wig. My hopes were then dashed as I searched and finally located the price (buried in pages of FAQ's) of an estimated 1400 to 2200 dollars. $2000 dollars for something I hopefully won't have to wear after 6 months. My vanity does have a price. So far in my life I hadn't yet discovered what that price limit was – now I have. It's $2000 dollars for a wig, even if it is the best looking wig I've ever seen.

So scarves it is – I can get a nice one for $60 and I know the cancer centre has some for free (although I sort of doubt their trendiness). And maybe hats if I can find the cool deep ones that will cover some of my ears so they don't stick out! And maybe I'll rock the baldness.

That's what I hope. I hope that when the time comes all this speculation and freaking out will amount to nothing. I'll laugh while they shave my head and wonder what on earth I was worried about. I hope that I'll take it all in stride. With the matter of fact attitude I've been able to treat surgery 1 and 2. That no hair will be more liberating then embarrassing. That I'll I sit outside, go for walks, and have coffee with friends even though I'm bald and everyone will be staring at me. That Ana and Zach will get over the creepiness of a bald mamma with relative ease.

You know what the funny thing is? I haven't even heard yet which drugs the Oncologist will recommend. Maybe they'll be the non-hair falling out ones. One can only hope!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Rain and Other Musings

I feel like I've talked about the weather a lot on this blog which is funny cause I'm not really a weather watcher - especially compared to Sam's family, who can be relied upon to know what weather is coming and when and how long it'll last, not only in their own province but also in ours and wherever else family happens to be living. (they are a farming family though - so it's par for the course)

But lately I feel like my moods are mirrored by the weather or perhaps more accurately -- my moods are completely swayed by the weather. And today it's rain...again. (Although to be fair it was a very beautiful day yesterday and I was able to soak up not only sun but some heat too.) After a rainy January, February, March and April it seems like May is destined to be the same. And it's depressing. And I feel no motivation for anything at all. A feeling that is not helped by this pesky little thing we're dealing with called cancer.

It's a weird place to be in - this space where I technically don't have cancer. It's cut out, scans show no signs of it and yet this journey is only just beginning. Treatment is around the next bend which has been hard to wrap my head around this week, especially after the great news of the cancer-free nodes. I don't have a definite treatment plan yet but my surgeon said that by a year from now I should be starting to feel like my old self. And between now and then is the great unknown. In the next 2-3 weeks I'll get an appointment at the cancer centre with an Oncologist and that will give me a better idea about what's next.

Also unhelpful to my motivation levels is my fairly useless left arm. After my first surgery I was very quickly back to normal with good movement, I could do pretty much anything. This time though my arm hurts all the way to my wrist and especially at my elbow so bending and straightening (mostly straightening) is quite sore and I can't reach anything at all above my head. It's given me an appreciation of those who have to live all of life with pain and disability. I'm whining after 2 weeks even with the knowledge that physio will most likely totally fix the problem within a few months. And there are those who live with pain like this always.

So what do I focus on to pull myself out of these doldrums? Well today I was aided by Starbucks and Chapters. My most favourite combination. Friday was a trip to my neighbourhood pedicure place and of course Sam and the kids help a lot. I feel blessed to have a family who totally wants to bless me. Zach has even changed his hug giving routine for me. Instead of tackling me around the waist with his usual bone crusher hugs he's opted for more gentler versions that are no less passionate! (funny enough a few loads of laundry actually helped my mood today too. Yes - I'm a cleaner and not being able to clean has been a bit of a downer this week!)

So that is my weather inspired post for the day. Not profound maybe - but honest. At least until the sun comes out!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Song

I didn't go to church this morning but was so excited to find a friend had posted this song on facebook. I had my own personal Easter service listening to it. I've always loved Easter weekend. The sorrow of Good Friday along side the joy of Easter morning. The death and resurrection of Jesus changed everything for us and I will never stop remembering it. Even our daughter's name reminds me of this miracle. Anastasia Joy - Resurrection Joy!

Happy Easter

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The All Clear

5 days post surgery and it's a good day. Despite the fact that I still have a tube sticking out of my armpit (sorry if that's tmi!) and will most likely have it a few more days. I was really hoping that when I go tomorrow to get my dressing changed the nurse would be able to take it out but I don't think so. My body is producing way too much fluid still and unless it totally stops over night - no go. Ah well, I am getting used to it at least.

Other than that recovery has been pretty much the same as last time with a bit more pain and discomfort thrown in. Also I've been less positive. Hence the lack of blog post this week. But Thursday night changed all that. Just before supper my family doctor called to ask if I'd heard the results yet? 'Um - no.' I said. 'Well I just got them and wanted you to know before the long weekend - all 18 nodes were clear.' All of them. Only the sentinel node was positive and none of the others. What an amazing answer to prayer. Also my bone scan was clear and the CT scan results weren't in yet on Tuesday when I talked to my surgeon but she said she'd call if they were at all alarming. So it seems like I have the all clear.

I am so thankful for a good family doctor who came to see me in the hospital on Tuesday morning just to see how I was and who called Thursday so I could have a worry free long weekend and because he wanted to be the first to celebrate the good news with me.

And to top it all off Sam's parents came last night to spend Easter weekend with us. I'm glad for the kids to have someone here who is totally focused on their fun and for Sam who doesn't have to cook for the weekend and for me cause I can take long naps with a bit of reading time at the end of them!

Even after the good news, Friday was a bit of a downer. I felt like recovery was crawling along, I'm uncomfortable, tired and this isn't the end of the road. So keep praying for hope for us. Hope and trust and that we would live in today, enjoying, celebrating, and not worrying about tomorrow - cause isn't it supposed to worry about itself?

And Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bitter and Sweet

Tonight we celebrated Passover with our home group - which we actually call "Soup Sunday" since we always get together on Sunday and we always have soup together. Except for tonight it was Passover with Turkey dinner.

Celebrating Passover is a tradition that has been carried out every year for 3000 years. A remembering of Moses and the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. But also a celebration of deliverance and freedom and ultimately redemption. We followed a Passover Seder for Christians and within the readings were so many things that reached out and spoke to me.

Such as: 'Let us never forget that the struggle for freedom begins in suffering, and that life is sometimes immersed in tears.' We remembered this bitterness by eating bitter parsley dipped in salt water and we remembered the hope of freedom by eating a sweet apple/honey/nut mixture on a Matzah (which was actually a Wasa cracker:)). 'Often life is a mixture of bitter and sweet, of sadness and joy.'*

The comparison of bitter and sweet, sadness and joy really resonated with me. I feel that that is what our life is right now. It is sad, hard, bitter, sometimes dark and unknown but because of Jesus (and so many wonderful people surrounding us) it is also filled with hope, light, joy, peace and it's totally OK.

And that is truly how I feel. Even amidst the times of sadness, worry, uncertainty and despair. Even in the bitter times I still feel hope. And I think the truth of who I am and who Jesus is is so clear to me right now because of all of those that are constantly praying for us. Reminding Jesus that we're here and that we're desperate right now. I feel the impact of those prayers, so please don't stop!

In case this is sounding too optimistic, don't worry - I'm not in denial. Cancer sucks. It's totally hijacked our lives. Sam is home this weekend when he had planned to be away. He's missing a great youth conference in San Antonio, Texas and dinner with his brother in Phoenix on Tuesday and most likely a trip in May to somewhere far away that he was really looking forward to. Instead he's gearing up for a week of lunch making and laundry and cleaning while I lounge in bed recovering from surgery #2. Not a fun trade off and I wish with all my heart that he didn't have to do any of it.

But that's the bitter. Good thing hope comes along to balance it out.

*The Passover Seder for Christians adapted by Dennis Bratcher

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Step 1 Part 2

Now that the surprise of more surgery has worn off and there are only 3 more days to go until #2 I feel ready. It helps that I've felt really good this week. The range of motion in my arm is great except for this weird tendon under my arm that sticks out and looks tight as a bowstring if I stretch just right (kinda grosses Sam out). My incisions are both healing well, I have no pain - just the odd achy feeling, and I've walked a few times when it wasn't pouring down rain as it is right now.

I also have some more tests scheduled for this weekend which should help pass the time. And I have a confession to make. I kind of like going to the hospital. It's such a big busy place with lots of 'helping people' going on. I always feel energized when I walk in the front doors and see all the activity. It helps that our hospital is practically brand new and doesn't have the old narrow corridors, mint green walls, and musty smell that so many associate with hospitals.

It's weird, I know. When I told Sam I might write about this he looked at me strange with that one raised eyebrow. But it's true. I sometimes think that I'd like to work in a hospital. These past couple weeks I've had many opportunities to see lots of different types of jobs. From the crazy busy front desk of medical imaging with 30 people always waiting to the empty waiting area of pre-op admission.

I think my favourite is Nuclear Medicine. For one it has a cool name. And they have a cold storage room with tons of radiation warning signs. Also it's kind of weird that the radiation they are warning you about is going to be injected into your body by a tech wearing a lead apron while you're wearing only a hospital gown. Afterwards they give you a card in case you cross the border and set off their radiation alarms. Last time I was in nuclear medicine was right before surgery but I get to go again on Saturday for a bone scan. I was thinking it would be neat to go across the border after to see what happens.

Of course I admit that I may not feel quite so positive about hospital appointments in say 6-8 months from now and I don't love that I have to pay for parking by the hour, especially if my appointment only lasts 15 minutes. But the waiting isn't that bad and the extra tests make me feel like I'm getting stuff done even though I'm not really doing anything but lying there.

This is what living in the present looks like for me today. I will think about the good things that today holds and not the unknown things that will happen next week.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Leaving on a jet plane...

We said goodbye to my mom this morning and were sure sad to see her go. Especially Zachary who couldn't sleep last night he was so upset. It was so great to have her here for these past two weeks. The company, the help, the love. All things we're going to miss. Here's a rundown of her visit.

2 Weeks
a house full of clean windows
1 clean fridge
multiple loads of laundry
18 ironed shirts (sheesh Sam...)
3 frozen lasagnas
8 pounds of pulled pork (frozen) (this is a conservative estimate!)
2 containers of chicken soup
Yummy paska in the freezer ready for Easter
too much baking to count
2 weeks of a tidy house
1 redecorated bedroom
and 1 very wet 5 km run

I'm sure my Dad is happy to be picking up his wife in a few hours and I'm sure Mom will be glad to sleep in her own bed! Come back soon!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Walks in the woods are good for the soul

Yesterday I saw a trillium while walking in the woods. Growing up in Ontario, finding a trillium on a walk was always a special occurrence. They grew wild but we were never allowed to pick them for fear they wouldn't come back the next year. Yesterday that trillium spoke hope to me. And today, after hearing that I'll need surgery again, I cling to that hope.

Knowing I'll have to sit through another day of waiting and the terrible feeling of waking up after anesthetic so soon after the last time isn't something I relish but it is what is. The good news is that the margins were clear around the tumor but the bad news is the lymph node was positive for cancer - so more nodes to be tested. I remind myself often that there is a process - a check list - and the steps are important, despite the weeks of uncertainty between one step and the next.

I received a little booklet from a friend just before my last surgery and found it today under a pile of papers. 40 Days with Jesus by Sarah Young. It's 40 days of short devotions written as Jesus speaking to us. Today I read this:

Taste and see that I Am Good. The more intimate you experience Me, the more convinced you become of My goodness. I am the Living One who sees you and longs to participate in your life. I am training you to find Me in each moment and to be a channel of My loving Presence. Sometimes My blessings come to you in mysterious ways: through pain and trouble. At such times you can know My goodness only through your trust in Me. Understanding will fail you, but trust will keep you close to Me.

Thank Me for the gift of My Peace, a gift of such immense proportions that you cannot fathom its depth or breadth. When I appeared to My disciples after the resurrection, it was Peace that I communicated first of all. I knew this was their deepest need: to calm their fears and clear their minds. I also speak Peace to you, for I know your anxious thoughts. Listen to Me! Tune out other voices, so that you can hear Me more clearly. I designed you to dwell in Peace all day, every day. Draw near to Me; receive My Peace.

I wonder if Jesus hid that book from me until today when I needed it most?

Surgery is April 18th. I'll stay over night this time but will be home sometime Tuesday.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Let Faith Arise

Today the miracle I prayed for was sun. I think what I actually said was: 'God, I don't know if I can get through this without sun. Please, please, let us have sun for the next 6 months.' And it really would be a miracle here in the rain capital of the world (alright - I don't know if I officially live in the rain capital of the world but it sure feels like it most days)

I've been thinking about trusting in God and faith and all those things that I've been trying to hold onto as we wait. They are easy words to just say - 'have faith', 'we're trusting in God', 'he'll never give us more then we can handle.' I know all the phrases, what I also know is that they aren't always as reassuring as we want them to be when we spout them into someone's place of grief or pain or uncertainty.

But they are truth and I was wondering how they have manifested their presence in our lives. Here are a few thoughts on what living with trust and faith looks like for us this month:

the absence of fear
the presence of peace
conversations about life and the future
the ability to say cancer without any accompanying feeling of dread
being fully present for take-home reading and piano practice and outside road hockey games

And yet in-spite of what I know to be true, today was a sad day. Many different family members are experiencing loss and grief and I felt the ache of sadness today for and with them. We are still waiting for news and praying for the best but God's promises are true even when we hear and experience the worst. Tonight my prayer is that they would be reminded of these promises that are still true even in their darkest places. He is our refuge and strength. Let faith arise.

I lift my Hands by Chris Tomlin

Be still, there is a healer
his love is deeper than the sea
His mercy is unfailing
His arms a fortress for the weak.

let faith arise
let faith arise

I lift my hands to believe again
you are my refuge you are my strength
as I pour out my heart these things I remember
you are faithful god forever

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Step One √

Surgery is done, tumor is removed and nodes are being dissected at a lab somewhere. It was a long day of waiting yesterday (what else is new!). I had to be at the hospital at 8:15 for an appointment to inject radioactive particles into my lymphatic system so my doctor could find the lymph nodes easily. 'It'll sting a little,' the tech told me. And man was that an understatement! That was the most painful thing I've experienced to date.

Then I was to check into surgical day care even though my surgery appointment wasn't scheduled until 3:30. I'm not sure why I couldn't have waited at home but that option was never presented to me. Finally at 3 I said goodbye to Sam and followed the nurse to the operating room where she got me up on the table and then chatted with the anesthesiologist about chocolate chip cookies while I fell asleep.

Unfortunately the morphine made me quite sick afterwards and very dizzy. All I wanted to do was curl in a ball and go to sleep but Sam made me dress and drove me home (with my eyes shut the whole way). It was good to fall asleep in my own bed.

Some things I remember from today...
  • painful radioactive injection
  • kind nurse Dave who put in my IV without any problems
  • It was Bunyan removal day in surgical daycare
  • Funny German lady who blamed unplanned cesareans for making her appointment late and her diabetic husband who wouldn't eat no matter how many times she told him to do so. (I think he ended up having a candy to placate her)
  • My OR team talking about baking while they put me under
  • The kind nurse in post-op who held my hand while she took out the IV and with tears in her eyes asked how I was doing with everything.
  • Finally the clean, peaceful house (courtesy of mom) and the two great kids who greeted me when I came home. I think they were disappointed I wasn't smurf blue - only slightly tinged with green.
It'll be 2 weeks before we know anything more. So more waiting but it feels different this time. Maybe the Tylenol 3's with codeine are to blame for that. They are definitely to blame for the lack of deep thoughts today and the things I find uproariously funny in this post that most of you will just scratch your head at.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Steadfast Love

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
Psalm 36: 7-9

I've experienced the steadfast love of God this week through the many words, prayers, flowers and gifts that have been poured on our family. Thank you so much to everyone of you who have taken the time to lift us up to heaven's throne and bring our concerns to the feet of Jesus.

Tomorrow, finally, is surgery. I feel like I've been waiting months when in reality it is only 10.5 weeks since my first doctors appointment and only 3 since the results of my biopsy were known.

These weeks have been consumed with thoughts of cancer but thankfully with very little fear. We've talked with the kids in small bite size pieces that they can grasp about surgery, cancer and have asked them what they think that means for us. Interestingly enough they were most worried that I'd come home from the hospital tomorrow totally bald and I think they weren't sure what to think of that. It was reassuring for them to know that I'd still look the same tomorrow, (besides being tinged blue from the dye that will be injected during surgery!). Please continue to pray for Ana and Zach that they would be open about their fears and concerns but also that they would be protected from fears planted by the enemy. We claim peace, joy, life and hope for them today and every day, in the name of Jesus.

In a book I read this week called Anti-Cancer, the author talks about the benefit of meditation within cancer treatment. I immediately renamed this 'sitting at the feet of Jesus' and was so relieved that instead of just focusing on breathing in and out I would be able to focus on the one who gave me breath and the promises he has for me. He is our Jehovah-Raffa, he built us from the inside out. My life has always been in his hands.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Most of the time I like information. Even if it's bad I want to know. Knowing is better than not knowing.

It seems like this breast cancer experience so far has consisted mostly of waiting. Waiting for appointments, waiting for surgery. With waiting comes lots of time to think...and Google. Google has treated me well these past weeks. I Googled the items on my pathology report, what surgery will be like, what sort of non-traditional therapies are out there, what chemotherapy will be like, radiation, if hormone therapy will work for my kind of tumor. All very safe from websites like the BC breast cancer web page, Canadian breast cancer web page, get the idea. I should now say that I promised Sam I would keep my Googling to a minimum. He's worried about what I may come across even though I've explained to him that I just need to know stuff and 'don't worry, it's not affecting me.'

Except for yesterday. Yesterday was a TMI day. Way, way too much info. I freely admit that there is a line between being prepared, with questions for the doctor, knowing the terminology, even where you can buy a wig close by and information overload - that superfluous knowledge that is no longer helpful and yet you just can't stop looking at it.

And for me it was blogs. At first it was good to read a first hand account from someone who went through the same sorts of things I expect to go through. Then I started to compare pathology reports and come across all the complications. And then I spent the night tossing and turning praying for morning to come so I could shut off my brain!

My doctor has told me from the beginning that it's important to stay within the present. To focus on the next step, not 3 steps down the road. And I've been meaning to do that. I think we've done a pretty good job of it even. I also think that is what it means to put your trust in Jesus. To hand the chart over to him and let him be the lead physician. So tonight that's what I'm doing. Maybe Sam was right after all (he made me add this last line).

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:14-16

Monday, March 21, 2011

Not Surprised

The word cancer has a lot of emotion attached to it. Fear, uncertainty, anger, sorrow. It was not a word I thought ever to associate with 'me.' I'd only ever thought of it as a 'you' word. Someone else, somewhere else. In truth the word meant little to me, that is until that day only 3 weeks ago when my doctor used it in relation to my own diagnosis. 'the tumor is cancerous' is what I think he said. I nodded and said 'alright, okay,' but thinking to myself – what? Did I just hear that right? And immediately – what does this mean?

Okay – I have breast cancer. The main thought I had for those first few days in combination with those words 'breast cancer' was 'boy is this ever random'. And that's how it felt, how it still sometimes feels.

We were leaving the surgeon's office a few days after the initial diagnosis and it had been a sobering appointment with words like lymph node biopsy, chemotherapy, radiation and I think I said something to the effect of 'boy this is sure random' and Sam told me – 'no it's not random. This isn't random to God. It isn't unknown to him.'

And that's true. There are no surprises to Him. And I wonder how he has been preparing me for this?

That's one of my many questions. A good friend asked me last week what I've been writing. Up to that point all I'd written were questions to God. Pages of them. 'You're a writer,' he said, 'you should write.' And I think he's right. Not just work on my going on seven-year-novel-that-may-never-be-finished but my thoughts about this abrupt turn our lives have taken in just 3 weeks. And maybe as I process my thoughts God will answer some of those questions.

As of now I have a surgery date of March 28th for a lumpectomy and lymph node biopsy. Further treatment will be discussed with an Oncologist after the results of the surgery are in. Please pray with us for "clear margins" around the tumor and for cancer free nodes.

And if you are in the area, a friend and mom from the kids school is organizing meals for us for the week after surgery and then again when chemotherapy (not for sure but more than likely) starts. The website for that is here - if you are so inclined.