Breaking Radio Silence

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I wrote last – I’ve pulled out my laptop countless times, but each time I’ve come up short – the alphabet soup of thoughts & emotions jumbled around my head & heart just can’t seem to find their place on the page.

But here goes…

Last April (2019) I completed proton radiation therapy, which should’ve zapped any residual cancer cells hiding out along the chest wall or surrounding areas.  A month later, I had an unwelcome discovery of a new palpable node that my doctor  suspected could’ve been new cancer, so again we went in for surgery – which (gratefully) was not malignant – but I didn’t get out without a good story (you guys all love a good story right?) While vacationing with family in Florida a few weeks after that surgery, I developed a post op infection, which landed me a 5 night all inclusive stay at the water front Tampa General Hospital.  I was put on sepsis alert, which included another (emergency) surgery, all you can eat green jello, and an open bar of IV Keflex.

Since then, I’ve had two reconstructive surgeries and a partial hysterectomy  – two in, two out if you know what I’m saying…and like my old friends at Fox News, I can now say I’m on my way to being Fair & Balanced.

3 weeks out from my last (and hopefully final cancer related) surgery, I am finding myself pausing and reflecting on this season of my life.   If I’m honest, I’m a little traumatized.  Maybe a lot.  When you’re faced with a crisis, you’re faced with decisions.  A lot of them.  Those decisions have irrevocable consequences, and those decisions carry with them, your life and the care & well being of those you love most.

What I never considered before my own cancer, was the gravity of all these decisions.  Doctors don’t tell you what to do.  They lay out your options, and if you’re lucky, give you an exhaustive list of the benefits & drawbacks, statistics where you might fall, and then let you decide.

If we take out your ovaries, we can decrease your chance of Ovarian cancer by x %, buuuttt premature menopause ushers in a host of other health issues and has also been linked to neurological disorders…OR, If we do proton radiation, we can further kill residual microscopic cancer cells,  but that radiation exposure of several hundred thousand times more than the average person over the course of a life time, could lead to future heart problems. 

Sounds reasonable.

So this is not like choosing between the red or the white clam chowder.

All this choosing has got me thinking about hope.  It’s tempting to hope in these things.  I can see my doctors, my medicine, my treatments – and because I can see them, and in many ways, measure their effectiveness, I’m prone to want to put my hope in them.

But what about the cancer cells that are floating, unseen, through my lymphatic system? I can’t see them, but I believe they are there.

Do you see the irony?

When you have cancer that has entered your lymphatic system, you are not a survivor.   You are not “done” with cancer, nor have you “beat” cancer.  These are all misnomers.  I am still a cancer patient and will be treated by my medical team as such, for the indefinite future.  And as my medical oncologist so delicately put it when I asked her “Can I ever say I’m cancer free?”  She responded with “Would you ask a diabetic if they had beat diabetes?”  Hmmmmm.

So, what do I hope in?

I hope in a Who.  How about you?

“Because our peace of heart does not rest on how much we know, how much we have figured out, or how accurately we have been able to predict the future.  No, our rest is in the person who holds our individual futures in his wise and gracious hands.  We have peace because we know that he will complete the good things that he in grace has initiated in our lives.  He is faithful, so he never leaves the work of his hands.” (Paul David Tripp – New Morning Mercies) 

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”.  Phillipians 1:6

Every morning I remind myself of this truth, before my feet touch the ground – and I pack that scripture down deep into my heart, like fingers pressing soil into a pot.

He will bring it to completion..not till I’m 90, not till I’ve completed my bucket list,  but when the good work that he’s begun in me is complete.

Exhale.

He is faithful so he never leaves the work of his hands.

I hope in a Who.  How about you?

Presidents Day Makeover

When you’re in high school, I’m pretty sure you have a license to change your entire persona over a 3 day weekend, and not just once – the possibilities are endless: Goth, glam, hip-hop, emo, band geek, jock, don’t mess with me or I’ll kick your a$$ ’cause I’m wearing steel toed boots (which btw can also effortlessly transition into the punk look paired with a graphic tee), surfer, skater, or full facial hair: I’m a dad and I don’t need any more accessories other than this beard look.  I can remember being a full blown prep when I started my freshman year, complete with rolled jean shorts and striped Gap tees.  But something about that President’s Day weekend in February of ’95 gave me pause to reflect on just exactly who I was, or more importantly (let’s be honest), who everyone else thought I was. So on Tuesday, after a weekend bicycle ride listening to NOFX on my walkman which immediately lead me to St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Shop & Kmart for a wardrobe makeover, I became a punk rock girl.  Baggy jeans, white hanes t-shirts and skate shoes.   I don’t remember anyone really looking at me differently in English class, because chances are, they were too consumed with what I was thinking about their Presidents’ Day transformation.

Wasn’t high school amazing in that way?  It was like a 4 year long costume party.

I was thinking about this over the last few weeks, because as a matter of fact, I just went through another Presidents Day weekend makeover.  Transitioning away from the whole “chemo patient” look which got pretty old, into more of a rootsy/boho/tree hugger look.  Let me explain.

I began radiation a few weeks ago, more precisely it’s called Proton Therapy.  I did not get past high school algebra (Anthropology major eh hem!) so I did not catch much of the very confusing information coming at me about triangulating beams, trigonometry angles and so forth.  Frankly, it sounded a lot like Charlie Brown’s teacher.  Wha wha wha!  But what I did hear was this:  No bra, no shaving of arm pits, no wearing of deodorant. For six weeks.  A month and a half.

So let me get this straight – for the last 5 months, when I looked like a peruvian hairless dog, I would’ve cried tears of joy to see one measly under arm hair sprout; shoot, I probably would’ve even settled for a rogue chin whisker.  But now that I finally have hair, you are telling me that I cannot shave my arm pits for 6 weeks?!?!  Or wear deodorant?  For the love of Pete!

If this weren’t about me, then this hilarious irony would be downright snortable.  For the last 3 weeks, and for the following 3 weeks, 5 days a week, I get to lay down on my proton beam table under something called a gantry (It’s sort of like getting an MRI).  And naturally, the technicians (there are 3 of them) are almost always male, almost always 30ish, and almost always cute.  And every day, I get to show them my ever increasing commitment to my new treehugger look, by raising my arms over my head while they break every “personal space” rule by leaning down within inches of my ever growing/flourishing armpit area to bury place their teeny tiny x-ray sticker on my skin.  I keep thinking they might be one of those thoughtful, well meaning people who instead of casually saying “Would you care for a breath mint?” to the guy with the awful halitosis – they’re going to say “I heard Target is running a sale on razors and Secret, you should totally check it out!”  But of course they don’t.

So we suffer silently together.

At least it’s not Florida in July.

 

 

 

 

No Vacancy

 

IMG_0044

Remember that time when things just went all wrong, all day long? Like Alexander’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? Or when you woke up with gum in your hair, not just once, but every day for a whole season?

Then let me tell you a story.  Because don’t we experience a peculiar joy, a solidarity of sorts, when commiserating over shared calamitous events?  I do, please say you feel that way too.

As many of you know, I have been counting down the days to my last infusion.  And the way I count, is with a perfectly curated collection of puffy stickers I stole from my daughter’s craft bin.  I meticulously peel them off night after night, with great relish, placing them over the date holder on my wall calendar, creating this fantastically childlike wonder over another day closer.  Like a toddler’s potty training sticker chart, minus the bonus skittles for #2s.

So, you can imagine the depths of my chagrin, when my doctor’s office called me on December 4th, two days before my final infusion (which was 182 days since my first puffy stickering began), to tell me that “we need to delay your final infusion for a couple of weeks, we have some additional labs for you we need to run.”

“Of course! No problem!” A couple more weeks?  So you’re saying at like the 199 day mark, instead of the 184 day mark?…That’s actually better for me, I’m glad that’s better for you, Miss scheduler person” – said NO ONE!!!!

I cried.  It’s really awful to cry  over the phone with someone who doesn’t give a whip about you, you know?  She’s just tinkling away on her keyboard, sipping her Starbucks, while I’m willing myself to take deep body breaths in order to stop sounding like I just inhaled on a helium balloon.. “December 21st?  That’ll work. just fine..” I half whinny, half whisper.

15 more puffy stickers.

Two of my closest friends from Florida were flying out for this day of days, and every detail was securely in place. Even my daytime/chemo pajamas were pressed and ready to go.  How could this be happening!?!

Well we ended up at Glenn Ivy Day Spa, because heck if you’re not going to get your chemo, you might as well get a massage and a mud bath, am I right?  Wouldn’t you know, on this horrendously rainy day, as we are waiting for our lunch, the manager comes to our table and says very politely, “Ladies, there’s a serious threat for mud slides right now, and we are under a mandatory evacuation.  We need to ask you leave…Right now.   Please deposit your plush bathrobes in the receptacle on your way out.”

Answer me this, who has ever been emergency evacuated from a day spa, whilst wearing a rented plush bath robe?  And being under the influence of chemo drugs, I can’t remember which locker is mine to retrieve my clothes… And my lips are dry from the mud bath…and in my rush to apply lip balm while hunting for my locker, I hastily dip my pointer finger into the wrong tub and apply brown brow pomade (lost those too, folks) onto my lips!

My mother says that even in Australia people put brown brow pomade on their lips sometimes.

Well you know bad things happen in 3’s, so my story continues.  Whit, Lori and I licked our wounds & soggy hair (theirs only, of course) and brow pomade off (me only, of course) on the drive home, trying to decide if we should be pissed because we got kicked out of the spa before our treatments, or relieved and thankful – that we didn’t get trapped in a mudslide.  We decided they sort of canceled each other out and now we’re fair & square.

And since we were 0/2 on a dreadfully rainy day, we decided to play it safe and curl up by the roaring fire in the girls’ swanky resort bar/lobby, with some hot tea & a game of jin rummy.

Upon entry, the Maitre D looks me up & down and says “Hello, ma’am…may I help you?” I probably looked like a cross between Alice Cooper (smudge proof brow pomaded lips) and a very gaunt looking Mr. Clean.

“No, I’m all set, I’m just here for the free fire” I say, sliding my rain soaked joggers down into a velvet fireside sofa.

“Eh-hem.  Excuse me Ma’am, but we are closed for a private event.  Are you by chance, here for the private event?” Maitre D says.

Awkward pause & silence ensues, as I join him, in looking me up & down…again.

On a better (hair) day, I may or not not have lied.  But let’s be honest, I was not fooling him in a million years looking like a soggy hairless cat standing there with my to-go mug of tea.  So I may or not have said something smart back to him along the lines of, “Do I look like I’m here for the private event?”

No vacancy @ the infusion lab.  No vacancy @ the day spa.  No vacancy @ the resort lounge.

My thoughts drifted to Mary….where thousands of years ago, she was rejected & turned away at every corner of that little town of Bethlehem.  Did she doubt God that night?  Did she wonder if this whole day of apparent failures had been a mistake, somehow overlooked by God?  When ripe with baby, she was lead on the back of an animal, from one full inn to the next?  When she was hours, minutes away from delivering the Savior of the world, no-one except a few ragamuffin shepherds seemed to know?  Or care?

If God, the Ancient of Days, had predestined to send his only Son on this night, in this town, for the greatest rescue mission the world has ever known…don’t you think he could’ve arranged for at least the culturally equivalent of an airb&b guest room for this woman in transition? Or a pillowcase instead of a hay bale that she could scream into?

Of course.  He could’ve done that, and he could’ve chosen a regal king & queen to deliver the savior into a royal palace, where scores of people would’ve celebrated their new king’s arrival…

But as you know, He didn’t.  Not because He couldn’t, but because He meant it to be this way, so that his Savior Son could identify with us.  The exact ragamuffins He was coming for.

The Christmas story will never grow old to me, and I hope I never lose the wonder of it.  I am humbled that God is an upside down God.  He never stops surprising me in the peculiar ways he works, especially then, and even today.  Even in my silly & petty setbacks.  I quit puffy stickering, BTW.  I became totally captivated with my advent calendar instead. Counting down the days to Jesus is a lot more fun.

Merry Christmas to my deeply loved friends & family!!

 

Love Heidi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reaching Orbit

One of my favorite things about being ill over a stretch of time (believe it or not it has it’s perks), is frequenting the movie theater. In the morning though, it’s gotta be in the morning.  Just because I can, and because tickets are $7.50.   In my “daytime” pajamas, as May likes to call them. The only difference is my daytime pajamas have pockets in them. I think I will miss that when this is all over, as I’ve always prided myself on being a lady of leisure.  I think this whole chemo bit has been a warm up lap for retirement, and I can confidently say I will do an incredible job when I enter my golden years, as I’ll be way ahead of the pack.  Crossword puzzles, gardening, chair yoga, elastic waistbands 24/7, soup for dinner @ 4:30 and bedtime at 7pm.  It’s really something we shouldn’t be embarrassed about looking forward to.

A few weeks ago I went and saw First Man,  a film about the life & career of Neil Armstrong, culminating in his history making trip to the moon.  Damien Chazelle puts you right into the cockpit, so you literally feel like you’re an astronaut being blast into outer space.

As I watched this film, I couldn’t help but clench my arm rests and hold my breath, because as far as I was concerned, I was terrified.  I was being violently shaken, surrounded by all the things my worst nightmares include:  no exit door, no light, scary sounds, going higher & faster, and of course, the feeling of being totally out of control.

But then….after several agonizing minutes of ascent, a cacophony of sounds, smoke, earthquake-like shaking & ripping…you reach orbit and everything changes.

You break out of the earth’s atmosphere, defying gravity.  The seat belt harnesses stop their cutting.  The shuttle decelerates from 3 G’s to motionless, in a split second.  Everything stops, including Houston’s counting.

But then everything else begins.  The sun, the moon.  The stillness. Dazzling stars.  Infinite, beautiful space.

This moment of ascent & leaving atmosphere struck an emotional cord with me, as I felt as though this mirrors my own struggle.  I’ve spent the last 4-5 weeks in a state of extreme agitation & anxiety.  Resisting, fighting, crying out to God, counting minutes to hours to days, to get to the end of this treatment.  Fumbling around for the lever that might jettison me out of this awful cockpit.

And then, just like in the movie, at a white knuckled moment, I reached orbit. And everything changed.   Not circumstantially, but in my mind and in my heart.    I realized, really grasped deep down in my soul that this beautiful promise from Isaiah (43) applies to me:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you…”

When you.  Not if you, but when you.  The Lord knows we are a broken people, living in a broken world, and we need more “when you’s” like this one.  This verse has been an incredible comfort to me, and setting my mind on the God who spoke it, has allowed me to find a new stillness, one that passes all understanding, even in the hard parts.

Thank you to all my friends who’ve been praying for me.  I can’t thank you enough!  I’m getting so close!

I have treatment #7/8 this Friday.  And don’t worry, the infusion lab has wifi so there will be no black Friday deals that escape me.

Love you all!

Heidi

Do you walk or carry yours?

 

There are two types of people in the world.

  1. Those who believe dogs should be walked.
  2. Those who believe dogs should be carried.

On a recent trail walk,  my dog Rufus and I turned a corner and nearly collided with these two guys.

Image result for gay guy picking up small dog

It was hard to say whether or not they had been arm in arm before our arrival, or if the football hold on Princess was merely a reaction to Rufus’ all black, 110 lb frame charging around the corner.

I am inclined to think the latter.

Dogs should be walked, should they not?  They do, in fact, have four legs.  That’s gotta say something.

As we walked on, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the both of them.  Sorry for the dog, that his owner’s fears precluded him from being the surefooted yappy dog he was born to be.  And sorry for the owner, that his desire to control had left him blind to his own helicopter tendencies.

Rufus, on the other hand, is a hell of a guard dog and certainly does not need any carrying.  I already told you, he’s 110 lbs and when someone knocks on our door, he barks so loud that the picture frames on our walls shake and turn sideways.

But you know something interesting I discovered about myself recently?  While I may snicker at Pomeranian-carrying- wannabe-wide-receivers like my neighbor, I’m guilty of another, bigger kind of desire for control.

I like to scoop Jesus up and put Him into a football hold.

In fact, I’ve been running around with him in a baby bjorn these last few months.

I’ve gotta tell you guys if I’m being honest, I’ve practically tried swaddling him and giving him a Sophie Giraffe to teethe on, as a matter of fact.

image 0

 

 

Because that’s what we do, when our lives take an unexpected unwanted twist, right?  We say “HOLD ON!  This train wreck is not part of plan A.  I, now I have a really clever plan, that looks nothing like this yours god, so I’m just going to stick this nice little paci here into your mouth, and I’m going to just kinda sorta take over this situation, okeee???”

Because when God intervenes with something good, we call it “Providence” or “Divine intervention”.  But what about when it’s something unwanted, like Cancer, infertility, loss, or or or?

What do we call it then?  It doesn’t feel “divine” anymore, does it?

Asaph had a really rotten life, he was a little bit like Job actually.  Nothing was going well for him, while everyone around him was thriving.

“What’s going on here? Is God out to lunch?
    Nobody’s tending the store.
The wicked get by with everything;
    they have it made, piling up riches.
I’ve been stupid to play by the rules;
    what has it gotten me?
A long run of bad luck, that’s what—
    a slap in the face every time I walk out the door.”  (Psalm 73; The MSG) 

He doesn’t sound like a goody two shoes Christian does he? (Certainly not one that should’ve gotten a publishing deal!)  I love this part in verse 17 where everything changes for Asaph…

“…when I tried to figure it out,
 all I got was a splitting headache . . .
Until I entered the sanctuary of God.”

You see, Asaph reached the end of himself, and realized that’s where God began.  Nothing about his circumstances change, notice, but everything about his heart does.

“(v.22) I was totally ignorant, a dumb ox
    in your very presence.
I’m still in your presence,
    but you’ve taken my hand.
You wisely and tenderly lead me,
    and then you bless me.

25-28 You’re all I want in heaven!
    You’re all I want on earth!
When my skin sags and my bones get brittle,
    God is rock-firm and faithful!”

 

My bones are getting brittle from chemo, and now that I’m about to enter chemical menopause (thanks Lupron!) while still in my 30’s, my skin will start sagging too.

BUT GOD…I can sing like Asaph did….

You are rock-firm and faithful!  You’re all I want in heaven!  You’re all I want on earth!  It doesn’t matter what our circumstances are, it doesn’t matter how much of a train wreck our lives have become.  When we have Jesus, we have everything we could ever dream or imagine.

Be encouraged with me friends, if you’re on Plan B, or Plan F…..know that it is no surprise to our Father.  It’s his Plan A, it’s always been; and He is weaving your story into His masterpiece, for His glory, and for your eternal good.

Treatment Update: I’m at the 1/2 way point. 4 chemo infusions DOWN, 4 more to go!!!

Love you guys,

Heidi

PS  I love hearing from you guys so leave a note below if this meant something to you, and please also feel free to share my posts with loved ones

 

 

 

In Sickness & in Health

“How is your marriage?”

My friend Alison recently asked me, after the typical chatter died down.  There’s not a single person who hasn’t asked me “How are you holding up, Heidi?” But this was the first time since my diagnosis, someone had asked how my marriage was.  Frankly, I found it to be a strange question.  She must’ve read the perplexed expression on my face, because she followed it up with,

“Struggles like this one can make or break a marriage, you know?”

And I suppose I did know.

But this one is making ours.

I told her the honest truth.  That this has been the sweetest 4 months of my life with Dave.  That we’re learning more about each others’ fears & joys than any date night over the last 13 years could ever have afforded.

We shaved my head a few weeks ago,  just Dave & me in front of our bathroom mirror.  Actually, he had me sit on a kitchen chair just outside the mirror so I couldn’t see.  He said he wanted to “surprise me.”  I said if I wanted that kind of a surprise I’d give my stylist Debra, $200.

I cried the tears that sneak up.  The kind you try and pinch away by squeezing your eyes close, hoping they go back to where they came from.

And as he wove the clippers back and forth, he gently worked around my ears, praying over me.  Then, he said:

“Do you know that very few men have the chance to do this for their wives? I’m a lucky man.” 

That’s what he said.  He could’ve said “It’ll grow back.”  Which for the record, is a perfectly reasonable and kind thing to say.  But instead, he turned something scary, into one of the sweetest moments I’ll never forget.

He made me feel lovely.

img_6754

 

But this post isn’t actually about my marriage, it’s about the ones closest to me.  Over the last few months, I’ve been a careful observer as the Lord has sent us reinforcements to make us strong where we are weak.  He could’ve sent a drone, but instead he sent us you guys.

My sister Anna hasn’t left her family, for any reason, since her daughter Ella Joy was born 9 years ago.  Ella has severe disabilities and needs round the clock care.  Anna left them last month, 2,000 miles away, to help us.  I watched her as she entrusted her husband, Paul, to do all those things only moms know how to do.  And she beamed over him, bragging about him – so proud.  And he, so lifted up, because she trusted him.

My mom is here with us during my chemo.  My dad gave her his blessing to come and stay for several months, which is a big deal for a guy whose prowess in the kitchen involves nuking Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits.  Nearly every night, he texts her a picture of the sunset over their lake house with a simple “ILY”.  I am watching their 50 year marriage root down and bloom into new shades that are more brilliant than ever before.

There are more, so many more I don’t have the space, or your attention span, to write about.  But I’m thanking God in this moment that when we have to batten down the hatches when life gets rough, He doesn’t leave us alone. He doesn’t leave us to figure it out by ourselves.  He’s so close.  But he also knows we are like little children and when we can’t see Him, can’t hear Him, we lose faith.  That’s when he sends us reinforcements.

Thank you, Reinforcements, I love you guys!

Chest Bumping & Hot Potatoes

Recently I was hanging out with a group of elementary school aged kids, including my son.  One of the girls was looking at me (and my turban-ed head) sideways and finally mustered up the courage to ask me,

“What’s that thing on your head?”

I bent down, you know the way you’re supposed to when you’re talking to kids.  As I was about to explain to her how Adriamycin kills off the body’s most rapidly dividing cells first, which inevitably leads to hair loss….my son Andy interrupted with:

“Her hair got so long, she had to cut it.” 

He moved forward between the little girl and me, then slowly turned back around towards me, while the girl and her friends lost interest and resumed their game.

He saw my jaw gape wide open.  He shook his head an inch to the left, and then to the right.  Real quick, so no-one would see..    “Quiet mom, I’ve got this” his face told me.

Now, I’m not condoning lying.   But can I just say that  I wanted to chest bump my son in that moment?

Image result for two people chest bumping

And if it weren’t for my tissue expanders, I would’ve.  I swear I would’ve.    Sticking up for his Momma like that, I couldn’t have been more proud.

Andy & I haven’t talked about it since, and I don’t think we will, at least for a few years.

7 year old boys like to “talk” like I like to clean toilets.

My 3 babies are trying to hold this hot potato called Cancer.  Trying to catch it for their Mamma, but juggling it’s sting.   So they watch us looking for clues, and we point them to Jesus.

“Did you know MayMay, that Jesus’ love is soooo wide and long and high and deep?  That you can’t reach the end of it? And that there’s no single detail that affects one of His precious children, that is outside of His sovereign control?   Yes!  It’s true!  It’s right here in Ephesians, let me show you. “

So we let God slip into our lives with His oven mitts, and he cools off that hot potato for us.  Then He brings us some sour cream, and butter and salt.  And now all of a sudden that thing that burned us is warming up our bellies from the inside, sustaining us and giving us joy.

That’s how He works, and I call this cancer a gift.

 

 

 

 

How you make me feel

I already told you about Joe.

I haven’t told you about Scott, or Karen.

Scott went to NYC on a spontaneous whim last week and saw 4 shows in 3 days.  FOUR!  His favorite was Carousel.  Something about the whimsical throw back set design mixed with “If I Loved You..” he said.  He couldn’t quite put his finger on it.  He doesn’t understand why it’s doing so poorly at the box office.

Karen’s son is playing freshman football.  But the starting JV quarterback got injured, so he was asked to play “up” for the next few games.  She was giddy & proud how a momma should be when her baby does well.

Joe, Karen & Scott are regular nurses who get paid, I’d imagine, a regular wage.  I asked Scott this week why he chose Oncology.  He said “I can’t change the outcomes for anyone in this room, but I can change their days.”  He then pirouetted with his shadow dancer over to the next chair, with a quick glance to make sure I saw.  A giant grin spread across my face.

Why am I writing about Joe, Scott & Karen?

Because they’re authentic.  And I’d like to be friends with them, in real life.

And if HIPPA wasn’t such a drag, I’d include pictures of my new friends.

They make me think of a favorite quote of mine, by one of my heroes….

Image result for maya angelou quote about making people feel

 

These nurses have challenged me to pause when I’m with my child and she needs me, not an answer.  Pause when I’m taking the recycling out in my bathrobe and my neighbor still stops by to chat.   Pause when my phone rings, and I think “Why don’t they text?  Who calls anymore? This better be an emergency…”

So let’s stop fussing about how we look, what we say, what we did, and start caring about how we make them feel. 

And speaking of how I look… (this is all about me, remember??) I’m going bald TONITE!  I’m starting to look like one of those freaky Peruvian hairless dogs.

Image result for peruvian hairless dog

So stay tuned for my next post for my big bald reveal.  Pictures will most certainly be included!

Love you guys!  And please feel free to share this with anyone you think might enjoy =)

Chemo, Fish Hooks & Soiled Novels

The last few weeks have been particularly memorable, filled with several firsts (3 to be exact), and in my opinion, worthy of a big share with you.

1.  For starters, we wanted to have one last “hoorah” before my first chemo treatment, and decided on a family daytrip to Palomar Mountain, a little escape from the mundane.  I envisioned us picnicking lakeside, while Dave & the kids caught bluegills hand over fist.  I would sit reading and fanning myself, and beam over my beautiful family frolicking in the sun.

No sooner had we driven the 2 hours up the hairpin, nausea-inducing mountain road, and found a postage stamp sized piece of shade, a certain child of ours “cast” sideways, directly into little Claire’s temple, creating a “fssstchh” sound…confirming secure placement.  We froze.  She panicked.  A treble hook was buried into the softest part of her temple, one inch away from her eye.   We were hours from a hospital.   We hadn’t even picnicked.

IMG_3178

2.  Several days later, in a waiting room (unrelated to the hook fiasco), I sat reading, deeply entrenched in my latest obsession, All the Light We Cannot See.  I bobbed Claire on my free knee.  She whimpered about her tummy hurting, and I assured her that it was likely just due to the antibiotics from the treble hook impalement that was causing her nausea.  She nodded in seeming agreement, then promptly vomited all over my novel, my legs, and the floor beneath us. (No image, I wouldn’t do that to ya’ll).

3.  Several days after that, I had my first infusion.   A 1/2 hour of pre drugs, and then 4 hours of chemo via infusion. The drugs are delivered through something called a port, which is a quarter shaped device that was surgically implanted below my collar bone.

Many people tried to prepare me, but I would liken it to childbirth.  One needs to experience it, in order to identify with it.  My sweet sister Anna came with me.  We laughed and did silly stuff, mostly in the way you do when trying to diffuse a tense situation.  I tried making Joe, my nurse, laugh a lot.  He only laughed a little. There’s nothing wrong with his sense of humor, he just knows what’s ahead and wants to guide me well.  Joe & me are going to be a team.  I got tangled up in my rolling IV pole on the way to the bathroom and nearly went down.  I pressed the red HELP button thinking it was similar to a flight attendant call button.  The entire staff surrounded me in seconds.  I only wanted some pretzels.  Everyone knew it was my first time.

IMG_3668

Then I got sick & I cried.  And then I cried some more.

It was a rough week, but this is what I have to say about it.

1.  After a trip to the ER, Claire has recovered beautifully from her impalement (just don’t get within a foot of her ear or she’ll kick you).

2. My book?  I kept reading it.  Clorox wipes can do amazing things for vomit smell.  Anthony Doerr may be interested in obtaining my review, underneath the WSJ’s “Dazzling, Captivating Novel”.  Mine would read “My child vomited all over this book, and I kept reading it, it’s just that good”  Scary Mom, San Diego, CA”.

3,  The way I felt after the first treatment was worse than I imagined, but ironically I am more at peace now, than I was before.  Because isn’t it better to know something is terrible, then imagine that it might be? For example, as I type this I’m waiting for the chemo boogie man to jump out from underneath the couch to pull all my hair out, lash me with mouth sores, bone pain & hot flashes.  All of these things…I’m just waiting to happen.

But then I remember what I believe, or more importantly, who I believe.  Aren’t we to be “anxious for nothing” ?  Aren’t we to present our requests, WITH thanksgiving?  And let His peace, cover over us? All my head knowledge, everything I’ve used to encourage others, is now being put to the test.  My heart is being tested.  I’m remembering and re-reading an old favorite book of mine, Hinds’ Feet on High Places.  “Then the Shepherd smiled more comfortingly than ever before, laid both hands on her head and said:

“Be strong, yea, be strong and fear not.  Don’t ever allow yourself to begin trying to picture what it will be like.  Believe Me, when you get to the places which you dread, you will find that they are as different as possible from what you have imagined…If you ever let Fear begin painting a picture on the screen of your imagination, you will walk with fear and trembling, where no fear is.”

My prayer, moving forward, is that.  To not allow myself to begin trying to picture what it will be like, any of it.  Not next month, not even tomorrow.   Because there’s no fear where He is.

My next infusion is this Thursday (#2 of 8), if you could pray for me I would appreciate it!

I plan to use this blog to send updates & cathartic journaling your way, so stay tuned for my next entry so you can cheer me along!

Love you guys!  Heidi