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.