The Prom-Mom's Perspectives and Ramblings...

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What's Important...

I apologize to anyone whose been following this blog from the get-go and may feel a little frustrating de-ja-vu from what I'm about to say. At this point, you must realize...
A) chemo-brain is REAL, as I'm experiencing now. :-P and B) How much can one Chatty-Cathy ramble  before coming full circle with words, anyway?!

Whatever the case, even I feel a bit like a dog chasing it's tail in my 'ah-ha' moments these days. This journey has me living with my flesh in a way I've never had to before--revealing my ridiculous tendency to 'get something', be inspired and speak it--only then to have to smack that same wall again three days later. Let's face it...

WE ARE SO DUMB.

I found it rather ironic the other night when our almost-four-year-old--in response to his daddy speaking of an example of others not being so smart--blurted out 'WE aren't smart!'
Firstly, thank you, little son--(and God for using our little son)--for keeping us humble.
Secondly, IT'S. TRUE.
I find myself wanting less and less to do with this life's body. Not only did it get cancer and inherit a bunch of ugly scars--and that's after it was already 'reminding' me with bits of cellulite and saggy-ness that I'm in my early thirties, now--but, even the two main organs imperative for our average 75-year survival, are incredibly defective!
Our brains give our flesh and the evil of this world faaaaar too much power and control and our hearts can so easily be deceived and/or deceivING, also. If you disagree, just read Jeremiah 17:9 and then go read the many examples in the bible of the heart being led by jealousy and fierce evil to do malicious things. I don't know about you...but I can't wait to not be constantly battling with myself!!! :-P


So...now that I'm 200 yards left-field from where I'd started with this--(thank you, chemo-brain + my formerly rambling-tendencied self)--back to what I was saying about learning lessons over and over.

Many of you have told me over the course of this past seven months that you have learned so much from my journey, to which I simply have to say, 'I agree!'--for me I mean. ;) God really is doing a work in me through all this and right now, it's all about teaching me what's important and what is not.

I know, I know... it's not profound....... in fact it's been spoken at least a thousand times at inspirational conferences and written a thousand more in 'living life to the fullest' books...yet, I personally have to argue that it is a veeeery profound realization, for me.
Why? I honestly can't tell you except to say that nothing has ever been more clear....or joy-filling. :)

Of what am I speaking, you beg??

RELATIONSHIPS.
Yep.

Look around you at what you have.

-You probably have a house. Many of you pay the owner of said house to live there, while some of you actually pay a bank so you can someday call that house your straight-across own. (I've always laughed at the term 'home-owner' when a mortgage-payment technically means you are a home-OWER.) :-P
*Anyway, off-track again.*

-Most of you also have a car--many of which that is actually a debt, too.

-Most of you have clothes and shoes and all sorts of unnecessary but 'fun' accessories to go with.

-Most of you have food in your fridge and cupboards.

These things are what we proud, selfish and rather clueless Americans call 'the basics.'

Then... some of you even have 'the extras.' Big-people toys, as I call them. ;)
Boats, trailers, ATV's...things that add fun/entertainment to your lives...not to mention cost you more money...but entertainment in most forms, for many of us, far outweighs the 'worth' of that money. (hmmm, that's one you could really sit and ponder the flesh's deceit in, eh?)

So what, of any of these things, is important???

Well, to most... the 'basics' are an absolute necessity for living day-to-day... and I'm sorry to say that if you read that list and found yourself feeling that way, you are still just as deceived.
I challenge you to go back and re-read those. Better yet... I'll do it for you.

-A house...though a form of shelter is not necessary. SHELTER, of some sort, ok... but that can come in many other forms other than a cushy, warm, dry, quiet house. Look at what some of the 'common' people of the bible were inhabiting much of their lifetime...tents...something many of us call 'roughing it.' :-P

-A car.......definitely not a necessity. There have been literal thousands of years without cars and people lived and got by just fine. A slower, rougher lifestyle, maybe...but then I don't know that that wasn't all too bad for humbling people. In fact, I was just reading some of our Little House in the Big Woods book to the boys the other night and Gray asked why 'Pa' walks everywhere. When I explained the time-period and circumstances to him, he admitted he was sort of jealous that Pa sees all the neat things and has all the neat stories from his travels on foot. I smiled and agreed with my innocently wise son.

-Clothes and shoes and the like...technically yes, these are a necessity, but all modesty and worldly 'appropriateness' aside...we *technically* could live without clothes. But don't worry...I'm not going to go all granola-chick on you and start streaking Roseburg to make a 'statement.' ;)
I'm just speaking in technicalities.

-Food in your fridge and cupboards...out of all the 'basics' list, this is the most necessary, though, I challenge you to admit that even in it's full description, it's a convenience.
Food? Yes. Necessary.
In a fridge and cupboards?? Ha!
Head over to Africa and ask an eating and surviving citizen to show you their 'fridge and cupboards'...and then take a picture of their immediate facial-expression after you explain what you have at home and text it to me, pretty please. ;-P

Do I really even need to move through the extras???
YEAH. I didn't think so.

So now, I beg you the question, again...
What, IN YOUR LIFE, is important????????


Let me just share with you perhaps the most pathetically profound 'ah ha' that I've recently come to these past months and then I beg of you to really... REALLY... set your pride down (in fact, maybe even punt it across my rambling-field) and then give yourself some real, quiet pondering time for this one...to let it reeeeeeally soak in.


PEOPLE.
People all around you--whether earthly family, God's family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, bosses, acquaintances or even (and especially!), strangers!
They are the single most important earthly aspect of this life.

Like our childhood sunday-school song 'Whether red or black or white' (to which my youngest adds pink to describe us, ha!)...
PEOPLE AND YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEM are the only thing of worth, in this life.
I'm beginning to really, truly understand the lessons of Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi and the like...as the deepest ones that passing humans like them really grasped are relationship-related.
People-based.

Still not convinced???
Still think you love that 60-inch flat-screen a little more than your loving sibling or loyal best-friend?
I beg of you the cliched but honest example... when you have joyful news, do you run straight to your tv to share or do you grab straight for your smart-phone to text that loving sibling?! When you've been hurt, do you confide and cry to your tv or do you get into that 'life-convenience' car of yours and drive straight over to get some loves from your loyal best-friend?

So...
let's say you're one of those people who replies back, 'But I don't have anybody in my life. No family, no friends...not even co-workers or acquaintances. To that, you get no sympathy from me because in a world like this--like God designed it--where we are living in little quarters in rows and circles, patterns and acres, (generation after generation), we are literally surrounded by one another! You don't know people?
THEN GO MEET SOME.

That's another thing that's becoming more and more profound in this concept for me...
if relationships are all that matters and our interactions and treatment of one another is the only eternal thing that will go with us beyond this life, don't you think we ought to be waking up, every day with only one real intention--one true goal for those gifted hours--to interact lovingly, honestly and openly with those that we already have in our life and aim to make at least a half dozen new relationships within that day, too...even if just polite and positive acquaintances?!

Sorry if I'm preaching from my very raw, mortal view these days and it's just too much for you. At the same rate though...I say to those of you who feel that this is just 'unrealistic' or silly.........

ask yourself...

What is most important in my life? Who am I not speaking to right now, out of my own sheer pride and fallen-nature, and who out there might be in need of me if I do get my priorities straight??

Are the things that have taken up energy and space in my deceitful heart and mind worldy things that are going to just get left behind to burn up in the fire and brimstone when God returns and takes with Him only people??

Or are they things eternal?
People...and

Relationships. With. People.

*Side note: I wonder how many times have I typed the world 'people' in the last two minutes, ha!*


You're the only one that can answer this for yourself.

Meantime, I've answered it for myself...
so you'll excuse me now as I head outdoors, cause sitting behind this computer screen isn't exactly helping me reach my daily goal like I want to~



Saturday, April 27, 2013

What Now?


It's incredible to think that 7 months ago (as of our last OHSU trip this past Monday), we were given the definitive news of my cancerous tumor. 

A LOT has happened in 7 months. 
Actually, maybe the better statement is what hasn't happened in the last 7 months. :-P

Life has changed...tremendously
And still IS changing.

Aaron has had to work harder than ever to support our family and our living, being without my helpful income almost entirely--minus the mid-treatment weeks that I was able to squeak out the energy to re-open the studio and see students. 
But even then, he's not been able to count on anything from me...we can't afford to not knowing what's ahead...and it's a complete understatement to say that my level of appreciation for my husband has increased TEN FOLD over the last seven months. I've always known he was incredible, but really, he is nothing short of tongue-tyingly

AMAZING.

Let's not forget the other family who have stood in the glaring gaps of our daily lives this past half a year. First and foremost... my parents--Monga and Nana M.--who have basically been a second set of parents to our little guys and happily continued to step into that role as certain weeks brought that need. My dad keeps reiterating the phrase 'We're a team,' to which I find ironic every time I consider the meaning. Sure, there are enough of us for that title to fit, but teams can be all kinds of functional... and/or disfunctional... depending on the quality of the members. 
In our case, we are a conditioned, rehearsed, love-based team... and that's why they are way more than the average definition of 'grand-parents.' 
And they are ours. And WE are blessed to have them.

VERY. VERY. BLESSED.

Aaron's parents--who don't even live in the area--have multiple times now given up precious work-leave to be a mega-support. We were, in fact, just joking last night as Nana Z. headed out to the guesthouse at the end of a long, serving day, that we need to give her a 'slave' name...like Besty Sue... as she had just asked if we 'needed her anymore or could she retire to her quarters.' LOL. Oh, mom! ;) How I ended up so blessed to have been given my own mama--such an amazing and awesome example of a God-fearing, humble yet beautiful woman--and then 'inherited a second mom of the same caliber via my marriage, is beyond me!! But I remain so grateful for them both, deserved or undeserved... during this time, especially.

Extended family--siblings, sibling-in-loves, aunts, uncles, cousins, distant cousins, you-name-it--have absolutely stepped up and out with generous and self-less support... kind words and gestures throughout this hike.

Then there is our church-family and friends.
Words do not even begin to do that justice... SERIOUSLY.
Food, dinners, gifts, gift-cards, gas-cards, monies through fundraisers (that have saved our hides everytime with the stacked up medical-bills that just never go away, these days), resources, house-help, kid-help, moral-support, emotional-support.........
though most of them have never hiked a trail as this, it never ceases to amaze me the level of compassion we can still have for one another based sheerly on the heart's good intentions.


I've said it before and I'll say it probably a thousand more times before this is all 'over'...
this is the single most difficult thing I/we have ever been faced with, hands down.

HOWEVER.
The 'safety-net' of people that have willingly and gracefully assembled behind us in support and prayer has made facing each sleepless night and/or pain-filled afternoon, doable

So... thank you. So, so, so, so much.
THANK. YOU.


About the most popular question I'm getting from everyone these days, now that we're post-surgery (good riddance large tumor!) and staring down a future of 'remission' is "What now?"
What's next in the big picture of it all?

Pardon if I can't really provide a satisfactory answer for most of you who are so deserving of one. :-P
Honestly? I don't really know.

We've been told, due to the large number of affected lymphnodes found after all the pathology tests, that I will be required to undergo 3 full weeks of radiation just to my under-arm. When and where that will take place is still up in the air. We have to 'locate' a radiologist who specializes in radiation involving tissue-expanders--which we have none of here--so that complicates things a bit.
We're also feeling like we are at a point in this trek that we need to have some more education--second opinions if you will--on things like the drugs that my current oncologist is telling me I need to be on for the next 10 years! We've seen the stats and read some confessions online, but there are still a lot of questions and if we're going to start really 'captaining our own ship,' now is the time.

What does this mean? Well, it means a lot of things. 
It means that I'm reaching out to more survivors--'interviewing' them, if you will--and feeling out what route is working best for them. It also means that we are talking with other oncologists and breast-cancer specialists about my scenario. I've contacted Cancer Centers of America who, so far, seem to treat the person and not just the disease. I'm going to be talking on the phone soon with a current patient of there's--also a young Christian mother--who has been faced with a similar journey--to discuss her experiences with them. There is a strong possibility that we will be visiting one of their facilities within the next few weeks, again, just to gather information and build our medical-support network. I am acquiring names of books and plan to be meeting and talking with dietitians soon about the changes we need to implement in our lifestyle to guarantee the best possible scenario of keeping the cancer from coming back. 

At this point, decisions and treatments are in our court. This is a scary responsibility, in some regards, but at the same rate...a part of this trek that I am grateful for. I don't think all the money in the world would be enough incentive for me to be willing to go back to 7 months ago, honestly. 
I never want to do those months again.
While I am so very grateful for the eternal changes God has brought about in me from having gone through such an experience, given the choice, I would never have agreed to it. 
As I've said before... that's why I didn't receive the choice. ;)

7 months is a long time, but this past 7 months feels like an ETERNITY... as I'm sure the coming 7 months of radiation, reconstruction, Herceptin infusions and seemingly endless drug-regiments will feel, also. 

But when I look back over those difficult months...days... hours even, I am pleasantly reminded of the pact that started this whole journey........
MOMENT. BY. MOMENT.

That is how we've faced every day up to now, and that is how we will face every day, onward.

And while I continue to 'track' this journey via this blog and the hundreds of you continue to follow my cancer-related ramblings and support our little household on this trek, I remain grateful and  humbled.
Come to think of it, I do have a good answer for all of you asking "What Now"...
the answer is "What's Been."

Month to month, day to day, hour by hour,


Moment by moment...

with all of you and our Awesome God backing us--standing steadfastly in 'Courage,'--
we willfully and truly, conquer this mountain~

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

BOOBS.

It seems a couple of significant things have happened in the last two weeks--at least from my perspective of this journey.
A) I have been forced into the mind-set of a heterosexual male when it comes to thinking/fantasizing about and/or noticing breasts.
B) This hike has, in the sheer blink of an eye, detoured from 'cancer mountain' to 'boob-hill.'

That's right.
Officially/Unofficially we received the 'That we know of, as of today, you are cancer-free' speech today from our oncologist...a fantastic (albeit cautiously received) piece of news--and one that instantly spit us out at the beginning of trail 'reconstruction,' where it's all about BOOBS.

At the risk of freaking any of you who see me in person, it dawned on me just today--while our OHSU day was primarily focused on the topic--how suddenly aware and even somewhat intrigued I am by breasts, all around me. Now, to bring your eyes back down to their normal size, ladies, I will provide you with an analogy that will clear up any and all awkwardness--or at least I hope it will. ;)
It's like before you're a mommy, yet biologically and emotionally 'know' you are ready to become one--you can't go ANYWHERE without being pulled to the baby-gear aisle, the baby-clothes racks or even the live, pregnant-belly behind you in the check-out line. You're simple ga-ga over the thought and anything related to the subject draws you in and captures your full, undivided attention.

Well, that's kind of like me right now, (though scaled down a bit), and after recognizing and then admitting  this recent 'obsession' to myself, it dawned on me...it is normal to have this heightened awareness because I am now, already and officially in that space of 'redesigning' what I had to give up completely. Especially since whatever we recreate will really have no other purpose or function but aesthetic and personal, I am a bit overwhelmed yet surprisingly intrigued at the idea of playing 'God' (just on a silly level of course) with what I "get" once this is all over. Mind you, I am not gloating or trying to sound too thrilled by this--as I'd still give up almost anything to just never of had cancer and have to lose my real more functional ones as well as all other aspects of life from this difficult journey. BUT, if there is any, one worldly positive that I might allow myself to superficially and trivially enjoy from this, why not let it be this. ;)

Whether wonky hormones, shaky nerves, sheer exhaustion of this whole thing, or a combination of the three, this past weekend I found myself near tears during a few scenes that a very young Jamie Lee Curtis's beautiful, nude breasts were flashed during an older comedy movie we were watching on Netflix. Though I don't think Aaron noticed (I was holding it in as best as possible), it was really hitting some emotional nerves---not that my breasts ever looked that good anyway---but just even the idea of having REAL ones and knowing I will never have that again.

Today, while between post-op follow-up appointments, we headed down to one of the hospital cafe's and ordered a little light lunch to tide over the late-morning/early afternoon 'brunch' hunger-hour. Without even thinking much about it (or trying to at all), I found myself examining every single female in the room--whether at a table or just innocently walking by. Poor things...had no idea what the twisted, breastless-chick 'innocently' eating her bagel sandwich was thinking about them:
'Wonder if those are real?' *gnaws off a bite of bagel* 'What size bra does she wear?' *chomps on said bite for prolonged period of time* (and even the admitted meaner thoughts), 'My original ones were definitely bigger than those. Maybe she's just starting expanders like me? Hope for her sake she is.'

Of course then those other even more evil thoughts:
'Why couldn't SHE have cancer?!' 'Why does SHE get to keep her real ones?!'
*And don't even get me started on what went through my mind upon noticing the huge-boobed, pregnant lady standing in line.


[Yes. 
The terrible things rolling around the fallen mind. 
I'm sorry. I really am.
Probably being too honest in this particular post...but oh well.]


Poor Aaron. Sitting innocently by my side, enjoying lunch with his quiet, 'contemplative' wife. Of course, he knows me plenty well enough after 13 years of best-friend-ship to know 'quiet' is not my 'normal state' anyway so his mind had to of been swarming with theories of what I was thinking.

I promise you this...ALL my thoughts are a new, deep topic of prayer. I invite you to even pray for me as I'll be praying for myself that God guard my heart and my mind from such jealousy evil wishing.
1 Corinthians says: For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not behaving only in a human way?

I don't want this...for myself, for the testimony God is trying to gift me in this, and also for the barriers that it allows the Devil to build up between myself and other people who may otherwise become a positive part of this whole journey. Who am I to limit God's movement and directive simply due to my fallen self and sinful, jealous heart?

NO. WAY.

I'm binding these thoughts--the evil ones, anyway--and I promise you that I will not act like a crazy boob-a-holic if/when you and I interact. ;) I've already figured out, just after today, that this recent awareness of boobs is a short-lived phase due to the newness of our seemingly endless car treks north being about cancer and CANCER ALONE. There is just a twinge of fun in having it be about something else, if even just for this brief window of time.

Don't get me wrong, either--gaining my new 'set' is no cup of tea--so don't go getting all jealous and 'human' on me! :-P
Today involved pain. Tonight involves quite the level of discomfort.
And ultimately, aside from this momentary detour, this journey still is ALL ABOUT CANCER...and we still run the risk of going through this, having the cancer re-surface, having to have the reconstruction all removed and start all over again. They gave us packets of info on these risks today, in fact. They are there and they are REAL.
But, as my sweet, soft-spoken oncologist preached today...I can't afford to live out the rest of my days (no matter how short or long they are), bound by fear. Now, I have to begin the thought process of getting back to, living.

Fact: I will have the 'threat' of cancer, lingering, for the rest of my life.
Fact: I will check-mark boxes about illnesses, medical side-effects, drug-lists and surgeries that I never did before, for the rest of my life.
Fact: I will see doctors and schedule and attend medical appointments on a regular basis, for the rest of my life.

Myth: I have control over the rest of my life.
Fact: I, AS WELL AS YOU, HAVE NO CONTROL OVER ANY PART OF OUR LIVES.

Now there's a thought process that supersedes my flesh--and one that I'm praying God will help me to simply abide in.


So, please...learn from my experience...learn from the blessing of wisdom God has granted me and live for TODAY.

RIGHT NOW.

Stop living with the 'need' to plan for tomorrow...or worse yet, weeks, months and even years from now. EMBRACE what you have--what God has given you. Don't just 'count your blessings'...take them away in your thoughts and ask yourself where you'd be without them. I guarantee you'll gain a whole new level of appreciation for what gifts He's granted you and have a lot harder time complaining about the things He hasn't, that you 'deserve' to have, still.

Ladies, someday soon, you'll put on your bra and then your shirt...and no matter how big or small, saggy, stretch-marky or shriveled by your little breast-feeders or simple aging your boobs are--you'll thank God for them and for your health.
At least you should

...and in the meantime, (when all is over and passed), I will do the same...
I'll look at my fake ones and think 'Thank you Lord for letting me live another day'

Of course.........
mine will still be perky. ;)

*slaps hand* Bad flesh! Bad, bad!!~



OH... and just for your silly, viewing pleasure...
a pic of my current boob-LESS body in my Hooters tank from over the weekend.



Sunday, April 21, 2013

Because He chose so...

This past few days, I've hit my max... or what feels like another limit...with everything.

God and I had it out this afternoon. I'm not gonna lie.
My heart--and even my vocal chords--SCREAMED Him out!

Thursday evening I heard from my C-sister about how her follow-up/post-op appointments went--and perhaps that was the start of my growing animosity--(not that I haven't had plenty of those feelings this past almost seven months, now, but it definitely started rearing it's head again after that conversation.) Being that I'm coming up on my own of those very appointments in two days, I was cautious but curious at the same time and therefore eager to get the low-down.

Amy had good news and bad news for me. Of course, I deduct after hearing that she really had one good-news and two bad-news.
The good news: She had a drain removed--ONE dreaded, irritating, thick, long tube--stitched into already sensitive areas of our hackey-wacked bodies--was removed.

GOOD RIDDANCE! :)

However, the first of the bad news was that the other horrid, wretched drain (Are you sensing just how much I detest these things?!) had to stay until Monday--my day. We both smiled for a minute at the possibility of our appointments overlapping...but I mainly just felt sick for her that she had to put up with the horrid thing for another three days! Poor friend. :(
She then went on to tell me the biggest news we've both been anticipating--the news of the path reports. I'd prayed so diligently, so forcefully, even, that God just give Amy (and me, come Monday)

A BREAK.

Haven't we already endured enough?! Haven't we both been through so much already?

Lives changed FOREVER. Bodies broken. Testimonies written and shared.

Really, Lord.
Please.
Have Mercy.
I pleaded this all week... in every baby-step of painful surgery-recovery.
Every night of laying cautiously and unnaturally on my back, still as a nervous field mouse...
PLEASE Lord...let THIS be the end of our hike.

NO. MORE.


Through straight-forward text...the news came.
Amy: 'Yeah, and I guess I do have to have radiation.'

I'm not going to tell you the kind of out of control anger that boiled up in me at that moment--put yourself in our shoes and I really don't think I have to. Naughty words speared through my brain (and yes, a few of them came out in my rage-fest with God today.
Sorry, Lord.
But hey...He knows I'm thinking them, anyway, right?!

3-5 weeks, every day of radiation!?!!

%*$*%#@&!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


As I've already non-chalantly said to family and friends in conversation--I'm now expecting to hear the same, and then if it's not, I'll just be pleasantly surprised. Of course, what I really feel in my gut while saying this with a calm, collected demeanor are the previously typed naughty words, again.

In my 'fight' with God tonight I said to Him,  'I know you made me a fighter, Lord and I know everyone around me keeps saying, 'Oh Hayley, you're putting up such a good fight. You're doing so good. Keep it up!'... but I BEG OF YOU...how much more fight do you think I have?!!
Keep it up??? WHAT IF I DON'T WANT TO!!!
What if I'm done?! What if this is beginning to feel like a never-ending battle that involves me battling for what remaining days I have left of LIFE?!

I look around me and I see everyone just moving forward with their happy-go-lucky, 'planned out' lives, and I'm that much more infuriated. I don't want to feel that way... but I do... and it's just so hard right now to feel otherwise. Who of them, my age... my 'stage' of life... has to go in for the next year, every three weeks and receive an hour's worth of more drug infusions? Who of them has been CUT OFF, unwillingly, of producing any more children? Who of them just had their once scarless body all hacked up?? Who of them has to be on the drugs and have a pill-box for the rest of their young life?
WHY ME, Lord?!!?!?!

WHY. ME. ??????????

Then, a song that my husband has recently 'inspired' my children with on boys-outing car-rides by the Christian band Skillet, called 'Sick Of It' (which I haven't even heard except via my little men's hilarious 're-inactments' of it) popped into my head and I shouted out, "I'M SICK OF IT... I'M SICK OF ALL OF IT!!!!!! And I'm DONE...... you hear me, DONE, Lord!!!"

There was a silence, minus my uncontrolled sobbing as I lay, curled up, on my bed. I found myself soaking my pretty asian-inspired duvet with salt, once again, and even thought to myself for a moment... I'm even sick of THIS...I'm really not a crier... at least I didn't use to be one, such as late.

Funny thing about me having it out with God is that every time I do, it's right after the anger bursts and the flood-gates let loose that He responds.

EVERY. TIME.

I laid there, thinking in my heart... Don't you DARE respond lovingly... calmly. I'm angry at you and I need to fight. I need you to convince me why. Why this. Why ME.
WHY MORE?!!


Then. He spoke...

Not with His usual, reassuring, soft, patient tone... but with a firm parent-like, reprimanding one.


'HAYLEY, my daughter. Stop flattering yourself!'

'Firstly, let me remind you that 'your body' isn't yours. I paid quite a hefty price for it, and don't you dare even begin to let your fallen-flesh forget that--especially since you preach that Good Word to others so often through the testimony I'm giving you.
Secondly, you say 'You're sick of it?!', but again...this is not about you.
You are not the one at the very front of this hike. If you'd stop trying to fight and simply open your mouth and ask Me to fight it for you, we'd be headed in the direction I intend for you--and you could really, truly (not just with your words or daily 'inspired moments') but TRULY, begin accepting... embracing and rejoicing in the Eternal changes that I am using this journey for.
If you could just stop. Look.'

'LOOK. INSIDE.
Look. To. Me. The way Christ did to the very last breath He took as every last ounce of his human blood poured from him and every last inch of his flesh was torn away while he suffered at wordly hands and finally hung from that tree.'

'Daughter. I know this is painful for your flesh. I know the fight you are facing... but please, do not make it into a fight that it is not. Right now... you are fighting with only yourself when you focus on the worldly aspects of this journey.
Focus on Me, instead. Stop looking for 'the end of the trail'--stop trying to put a limit on your 'situation' and stop looking at this as a curse.

Why You, you ask?

Just like your earthly parents (and even you as a mother now) have embraced the saying, 'Because I said so'... I say to you now, out of pure LOVE--the same reason all who ever asked of me, 'Lord, let me be Your vessel'--

'Because I am your father... and I chose so. That's why.'


And just like I tell my own two little guys when they ask 'why' to our requiring of something (even though their are always bigger, deeper reasons for it), when we find no pertinence or necessity to 'go into those details' and we use that phrase...their 'place' is to accept it...simply say 'ok' and follow suit with their biblical placement as our children, trusting that mommy & daddy have good reasons that are in their best interest.


So...What would I be but a complete hypocrite if not also an extremely disobedient daughter to not do the same in response~






Tuesday, April 16, 2013

DRAIN-BRAIN...

You all know about my drains from the last post where I introduced you to their 'role' of surgery recovery and expressed my genuine distain for them as well as the general idea of large things poking in/through the human body. Sorry many aunties, cousins and friends of mine who do the good works of nursing without a mere wince at blood, protrusions and fluids...i personally can't stomach the thought of these, let alone look at them.

In the last few days, I've hit my wall again--you know, the one where I've had enough of all this recovery stuff. More pills, multiple times every day and all night...awkward sleep positions, waddling about the house in order to fight gravities evil pull against fresh wounds and irritated drain sites, going through 5 extra precautionary steps just to take a 5-minute shower (you should see the 'necklace' my mama invented to hold my drains during it!)
Anyway, it's no secret that my general mood has been less than happy--feeling stuck inside these four walls, watching as my fabulous nurse-maid mama carries out the same house-chores literally all day long. Sometimes I think it feels like the movie, The Truman Show, where everything surrounding me feels routined and 'rehearsed' while I'm just stuck in the middle, going the motions I'm being told to.

Needless to say, I realized today--when my drains sites were itchier and more irritated than ever, that my moodiness is directly stemming from feelings of insanity.

Now before you go all jumping on the 'But you're almost there/you've almost made it band-wagon'...just hear me out. When your body is in the midst of putting up with these awful things, the word 'almost' translates to 'not quick enough' for me, right now.

Is this a pity-party?
Why yes. It is.
A bit.

But the nice thing about using these entries for myself is that I'll vent/cry/say it and then...
I'M OVER IT.


There. See?
I'm now over it. :)

So what now?
Pray for me that these wretched things get to come out this coming Monday, at our post-op check-ups. :) (Because if they don't, this Drain-Brain may do something rash and attempt removing them myself!)

But, I'm believing they'll be ready. ;)

And since I'm always trying to find at least one good from each circumstance, when it comes to my drains (other than their very real and important purpose of preventing an infection!), I am left pondering three.

The first: This has confirmed my inspiration to insert a 'tips' section into my book, someday... and you'd better believe that a portion of that section will cover how we've figured out daily 'dealings' with the drains and include at least one tutorial and picture concerning my lovely 'shower-necklace' of bodily fluid, ha!

The second: Like chemo and pregnancy, I'm convinced that surgery drains cause brain lapse. And even if they don't...I've already confirmed that people allow you to say and think just about anything you want when you've hiked a mountain such as this. Therefore, I'll gladly use this as just another excuse--
"Sorry, I have drain-brain, on top of chemo-brain and baby-brain x two! ;)

The third and final: Yet another good dose of perspective!
Some people have to wear drains/fluid catchers/catheters/etc their whole lives.
I will of had to wear two, for just two weeks.
Ha!

~Now if that isn't a dose of 'SHUT YOUR WHINEY PIE-HOLE'...



Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Drain Queen~

Those of you out there who have ever gotten engaged, planned a wedding, held the wedding and then found yourself afterward--sitting in the limo, veil all tussled, dress minimally sweat-stained from the 'get down with yo' bad self' dancing you did at the reception--wondering, where did that day just go?!
You can somewhat relate to where I'm at right now.

Though surgery came up fast and the date hardly felt like it provided much time for me to process and plan beforehand...I sit here, boob-less, surrounded by my hospital straw-cup, hooked up to multiple wires and tubes--feeling a little like the last few days were some strange dream--that is until I look down at the drains dangling off of me, or look down my shirt at the 5-inch long scar-tissues on either side of my chest where the girls were located before all of this.

So far, everyone whom I've shown off my battle-wounds to has been making the comment that I don't look completely boob-less because of the swelling and also the tissue-expanders that are now in that give me just an edge of a 'bunny hill'... yet I still can't help but wonder if I'll ever feel totally 'boob-ified' again, even once the fake ladies are fully in place.

This recovery is certainly a process like all other parts of this hike have been, thus far. I'm beyond blessed to have two loving and supportive mom's beside me in this trek. The first, in the form of my marriage-mommy...Nana Z...who graciously took the little men home with her last week to alleviate us of just one more thing to deal with and be responsible for while adjusting to all other change.  The second, in the form of my birth mama...Nana M...who has not left my side since I came out of surgery last Tuesday afternoon. She's held my puke buckets, wiped my face, helped me dress, done my house-chores, managed all my meds, woken up each night--every three hours--to go through the necessary routine with pills, potty-trips and drains.

Drains. Oh the drains.

I can't help but find it a bit ironic how a person like me, who cannot stand things 'protruding' from skin--especially my own--gets to sport matrix-like tubes from underneath each arm for the next week and a half. Not only do they make me feel more like an alien than my already bald head and eyebrow-less face did... but to have to empty them...oy. Let's just say I am sooooo utterly blessed (not like that hasn't been confirmed already) to have both a mama and a hubby whom, neither are bothered AT ALL by dealing with them. When we're not having to deal with them, I'm more than happy to just tuck them into my fashionable little hip-pouch (yes, a fanny-pack...but I'm desperate to avoid that term!)--out of sight, almost out of mind.

One thing to celebrate along the lines of my post-surgery contraptions, however, is the removal of my pain catheters last night! Yes. MORE wires, shoved under my skin--in fact, coiled around inside of my current make-shift ski-bumps--placed specifically for pain-medication purposes. Now, mind you, I'm all about the pain meds... but to have those hair thin wires, sticking out of my chest, running down over my belly and into a 'ball' of medicine that I had to cart around in my pouch, also... I was happy to see that medicine gone and have the excuse to remove them (rather, the excuse to ask hubby to remove them!!)
I won't lie and say it wasn't weird having Aaron pull these LONG wires out of my chest, feeling them unravel in the circular motion of their coiling, the pressure that it caused as they were pulled out.
But similar to the relief of a last push on that last contraction--the end of that wire let loose and came out, leaving me with tickly wires GONE from my chest and belly, less things to tangle myself up into during sleep or showers, and the satisfaction of knowing that the healing has continued and is far enough along that the pain-ball is no longer needed! Praise the Lord!!! :)

I was telling some cousins just yesterday that I've just accepted being the Drain Queen for this part...and to LOSE anything I've had to have hanging off of me just puts me one step closer to 'normal' again. ;)

There are still lots of unknowns as of now. Everyone keeps asking 'what's next' and I can't help but find myself feeling a little like the pregnant woman whose loved ones are asking whether or not she's going to have another...before this one has even entered the world yet, ha!
I guess what I mean by that is, just like every other part of this, I'm taking it moment by moment.
We don't have answers on path reports as of now and won't until we are at post-op appts on the 22nd of this month--where hopefully, I will also get these icky drains removed!!
We also still don't have any answers on radiation and again, won't until the path reports have been reviewed and best advice, around those results, has been given from my medical team and weighed carefully. Reconstruction will also be a process that will see us through over the next 9 months or so.

So, what now?
Just recovery. So blessed to be home in our comfy little abode to do so... so blessed by all who have signed up on the caringbridge and meal-train to help during this time. So blessed to already be making good strides in healing completely.

So blessed by all of YOU who keep loving on and praying over us. Truly, this is a battle... and so far from what we can tell, WE ARE WINNING!~


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Next stop home... a note from a mom with a sleeping daughter ...

Looking forward to what we expect to be a doable and steady walk to recovery along this part of the hike... going as planned.  There is a relief in many ways to get this portion of the climb done and on the mend.  Tomorrow we will be checking out and, in Lincy's terminology, yep, "let's blow this joint"  ha!  

Thank you everyone for your continued love through the kindness of your words, your continual offering of prayers (always evident by way of the strength Hayley finds on a moment to moment basis each day). Had a few short sweet visits during our time here, a nice break up in this routine!  We continue to be touched by angels of all kinds; much, oh so much to be thankful for each moment of each given gift of a day, and oh so many reminders of the sweet tender compassion of those who surround us!

Yes, I have much to "pray and pay forward"!

We will be headed back up to Ptown in a couple of weeks for a "de-tubing" if you will, of all the contraptions she is now carrying along as temporary sidekicks!  Also, if you are wondering, no news of any results until our next visit of the pathology reports.

It has been an amazing six months being a mama of a daughter with the big "C" as I have always dubbed it.  Never in my wildest imaginings would I have thought that I would have found myself sitting in a cancer support meeting with a child or on an oncology wing with our now bald and pardon me, breast-less beauty.  Surreal at times to say the least.  To those who have walked this journey..... speechless, just heart hugs to each of you....

If I am honest I will have to admit that (especially in the first weeks of this news) during the nights, when all is quiet and still, I have been overwhelmed and almost consumed by the worry, the unknowns, the doubts, the anger, the deep gut desire to stand in her stead, and the endless fear as to the outcome. 

It is quite amazing really, the wisdom of God.  How in just one moment, with one quick touch of His finger, how He can change the lives of many.  Ah yes, He is wise.  He does not see time as we do, only the final outcome to which He designs the pathway to mold and make His children.  "the Author and Perfecter of our faith" indeed!  

During this crazy hike, holding the hand of this darling daughter of ours, He has finally taken the lead.  I have no doubt there have been hosts of angels in the heavens celebrating at the victory that He has finally gotten through to my thick head and heart the actual fact that, Yes, I now know that I have no control, never had it, never will!  That He wants all of me, nothing short!  Wow, that took a lott'a years right?  

Eyes opened, all the things of earth seem so dim, so very unimportant.  What was pressing, no longer presses, the worlds agenda, truly trite.  Looking ever upward, only upward at the constant, ever faithful one who has a plan and yes, a will. Not mine, but His.  As Grayson tells me often "Got it Nana"..... well, yes, "I got it"!

This world is not our true home, at best a pretty sad and very temporary one.  I am putting my all my stock, all my heart and the desires of my heart in a home not built with hands....

This hike, crazy as it sounds, is worth the climb.  Homeward and heaven bound from henceforth!

Just ramblings from an ordinary mama nana of a darling daughter...


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

In His Hands~

Tonight, while tucking my little Grayson Milo into his hotel bed, signing off for what he and I know may be a full 24+ hrs before seeing each other next--(as he will be off with his loving Nana Z., auntie Jill, little cousin Evelyn and little bro..doing much better things than hospital visits, at the moment)--he said to me, 'Mom, don't be scared, ok?!' To which I replied...'I'm not planning to be, sweety, cause I've given it to God. But pray for me, ok?' After brushing his soft little hand over my cheek he smiled and replied 'It's like the song you sing to me... He's got the whoooooole world, in His Hands... but you could sing it for you like the first about the momma's and the daddy's.'

I thought about that on the way home, tonight and find myself audiating that song over and over until finally, I just wanted to burst out singing to the Lord, 'You've Got this whooooooole thing, In Your Hands!' So, this, I'm deciding, will be my theme song tomorrow-- if and whenever the Devil try's to pull me back into 'feeling-land' where he can attack me with fear and anxiety.
No matter what, today is in His Hands-- 

A verse that will be displayed in my recovery room (thanks so my dear E-E, sis-in-love), so appropriate to this...

Fear not, for I am with You; Be not dismayed, for I am Your God. I will strengthen You, Yes, I will help You, I will uphold You with My righteous hand.  ~Isaiah 41:10


Yep...I am in HIS HANDS~

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Off To The Butcher~

I'm sure many of you are gasping in horror at the title to this blog...but admittedly, it's pretty accurate to my feelings of the impending and fast-approaching surgery day. I've run through the emotions of it all... and then back through... ... and then through again, once more! At moments, I feel like a dog, chasing it's tail... desperate to just get a chomp of that thing, yet too uncoordinated to even catch it. Trainers will tell you that this behavior in dog's is actually a form of 'insanity'... something you should never encourage (as funny as it is to watch!), and I definitely feel that my emotions about this whole leg of the journey could make a serious mess of my sanity right now, if I let them.

Just like a good dog owner would discourage their dog to run crazy circles toward their hind-end, I am making the concerted effort to discourage my self from dwelling on my emotions and feelings about all of this and, instead, look to my spirit... and look away to Him in every single moment that fear, anxiety, depression, animosity, or just plain melancholy try to rear their ugly heads. (And believe me, that literally is a moment-to-moment battle right now!)

Last week, we made a very good decision--though initially stressful to carry out--to come up to Portland a little early and attend a Christian conference with my parents. As seems to always be the case when you are actively seeking God's Life, the message we received was right on the money with this concept and something so perfect for my ears and heart to hear in these final hours of 'preparation.'

I found it too befitting that one of the first topics of our study was 'true joy'--seeing how much I've wanted to talk about that over the course of this past few months--and how (as you all know) my perspective on what TRUE joy is has taken a total 'about face.' The fact that the Lord IS the only true joy we have and how, as much as we know that, we continue to desperately seek out other joys that will satisfy to the extent that He can and does, was shared during our initial meeting. I couldn't help but sit there and feel so exempt from this tendency now that my rug is literally ripped out from underneath and wrinkled up out of place, that I found myself inwardly praising Him for His Joy and Realness and the hope that this fact provides us, especially during trials.

The second part of our study dove into circumstances and discussing how we may look for joy in our circumstances--but, as I've said time and again--that God is beyond FAR ABOVE  circumstances and His is the only source of joy that the spirit yearns for, daily.

Perhaps the true nugget of truth I gained this weekend, however, was the understanding that God gave me (and each of us) a will to make decisions. Especially in the midst of circumstances like mine right now, it's easiest to retreat into self and feelings and let them dictate our response. This is not to say that I don't have the ability or 'reason' to feel fear, or anxiety or sadness...God, Himself gave me that ability. But I'm beginning to understand more deeply now than ever before that God gave me a free will so that I would WILLINGLY turn away from myself and seek His will--making my will, His will--and through this 'oneness,' placing Him in the position of being my ONLY, true joy in life! How awesome is that?! Just think about that for a second... by granting that His will be my will...I am returned JOY in the midst of this current, veeeery human situation!

When I ask God to 'Abide in Me'--I forget that God first asked ME to abide in Him. God allowed my current situation for reasons I trust, in faith, will unfold for years to come. I truly believe that and I find myself embracing it, more and more, everyday. As the elder who spoke said: You have to accept God's 'arrangements' in your life. I liked that term--arrangements. No, I cannot do this alone. I NEED God's Grace right now to cover me cause cancer is just far to horrid for me to 'accept' on my own.

It sucks.
FULLY.

But, with the Lord's covering and Grace, I can.. and I do accept this arrangement.

Why?
Because WHEN I do, mine and God's will's for this circumstance are unified, and therefore, our enjoyment of each other, increases!!! Why would I NOT want that?!


So tonight, I am willing God to come in and spring up so that my enjoyment may absolutely overcome me and my human emotional response to my current circumstances. With the Lord's Grace to cover all that I am, I will this surgery because it is, physically, going to remove this horrible disease from my body. I pray for my deceiving heart--that it be caused to LOOK TO HIM for the next 48 hrs, and then some, even.

...and though heading off 'to the butcher' may threaten to issue in all those aforementioned feelings and emotions, I'm holding God accountable to His promise and desire, that if I am truly seeking His face--calling on Him and ABIDING in Him--He will bring me through every part of this chapter, Joyfully!~

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Broken To Perfection~

As I've said before, being in this small town, going out in public for me right now means running into my blog-followers/prayer warriors, and so often during those interactions I hear the same phrase... 'I'm so MOVED by how positively you're handling all of this.'
Let me just be the first to point out that living with someone gives you a whole different perspective than just reading their inspired thoughts or running into them at church, here and there.
Translation: I have cried more tears in the past month or so than I think I could count in all the combined prior years of my lifetime.

There is really nothing positive about cancer... nor is there anything positive about it's physical effects!

I do not feel positive about losing out to my thirties--or at least what feels like I am.
Early menopause which equal hot-flashes and no more kids. Aches and pains in places you hear fifty and sixty year olds complain about. Gastro-intestinal issues that continue to plague. Wrinkles on my body and hands that seem far too deep for a 33-yr-old to have. Practically zero sex-drive (and sorry if that too is TMI...but hey, it's all on the table, as always) while my very normal 33-yr-old husband has a very normal one. Sensitive teeth and gums and brittle, angry nails.

Really. What am I, 80?!

Add to that my first surgery ever, fast approaching (April 9th!)--where I'll be losing parts of my body I've 'known' for 33 years and 'inheriting' lovely scars in their place.
To say that I view any of these things as 'positive' would be just plain dishonest about how I'm feeling and how very human I am. In fact, in the past month, I've probably cried myself to sleep at least four or five of those nights. I'm hurting and this journey is anything but easy for me. It is, in fact, absolutely and incomparably the single hardest and most challenging trial I've ever faced--and hope to ever!

However, like any trial, there are great things to be gleaned from it... if I accept and welcome them.


Last week, a dear and distant high-school friend of mine graciously and generously invited the boys and me out to her place to ride horses--a 'therapy' that I have needed and practically begged for over the past 6 months. You see, I grew up with a little Arabian pony mix or 'pasture mut' as we endearingly referred to him--and therefore the love and desire of farm-life and horses was planted, long ago. There is just something about climbing atop a horse, grabbing the reins, taking in the culminating smells of saddle polish, horse mane and wet mud/manure and experiencing it all out in the open air.

What can I say...I'm beginning to come to complete terms with the fact that I am a true country-girl at heart. ;)

Anyway, after spending some time getting back to those roots last week, riding around, thinking about my scenario--(right now and what has been forecast for the next 5-10 years of my life)--it dawned on me that a riding-horse and I have one very significant thing in common...
we are both broken.


The Webster's Dictionary defines broken in a number of ways. The first are what you'd expect...
'Forcabily separated into two pieces; incomplete; being in a state of disarray; disordered...
but then when I move through to a defined 'broken spirit', it reads: subdued totally; humbled.'

Subdued... HUMBLED.
There's that word again... how many times now have I been without all other words to describe my feelings and this journey. Everything about it seems to come down to what God is doing to humble me...renew and restore my perspective.

When a horse is broken, he is turned from a wild, boundary-less 'feature' of nature, to a tamed, useful farm animal. God's very design even for them is to be 'changed' through training... transformed from a life of wild bliss. Some may say that it is horrible to pull a horse from a state it 'naturally' thrives in and 'force' it to do something else... I firmly believe that those people have not met the ones I have. Sure, there are some personalities who simply want to run amuck, carefree. But then, that's the case with children, too... doesn't meant that's whats BEST for them. :-P (But that's not really where I'm going with this.) Two times before this last horse-riding experience, I had the privilege of visiting a ranch where I met a sweet mare who, literally, lived for being ridden. If she so much as saw you walking towards the barn to get a saddle, she would run up, out of the pasture and stand right outside the door, nickering and jumping around in excitement. She was an explorer... but even more than that... she absolutely adored humans and sometimes it almost seemed that in her horsey thoughts, she yearned for those moments of being bridled, led and utilized.


So how am I like a broken horse?

For my 32 years of life, before cancer, I was running around wild, amongst all the things of this world. Not to say I'm not still surrounded by worldly things (I am still here, afterall)... but those things are not such a distraction right now and in fact, they are no longer what drive my life.

The more that I talk to people who are running the rat-race without the 'awakening' in general humanity's thought-process-- 'I'm going to live till I'm 80, and I'm always going to be this energetic and healthy, and I'm going to be at my children's wedding and live to see all my grand-children'.. blah blah.. all the pieces of the fairytale we subconsciously concoct for ourselves-- the more I yearn to infuse my current perspective. Now, I know that it's like people say about having kids--you just can't describe or portray the change that occurs in you until you're their yourself--but I want so badly to, anyway.

I would never claim that cancer is anything but awful. But, as I've said before... God doesn't see this as 'cancer'... He sees it as opportunity. Opportunity to train me.......to break me.

Being 'broken' in the Lord is God's useful purpose for us. As the bible says, His whole purpose in us is to replace us with Himself. Our flesh is nothing but a reflection--reminder of what happened long ago--where we, as mankind, let Him down, and with it in place, there is no possible way for us to be perfected. He has no use for it except to use it as a tool now--to break us out of ourselves.

Job endured countless losses and trials through the Lord's allowance--things much more horrible than I have at this point--yet every time, he turned his face and heart to God, proving to Satan and God that his loyalty to God and what he spoke about it was true. His circumstances, no matter how painfully altered, were a separate matter from eternal matters. This, I too, am learning.

Is it easy? Absolutely not in any way.
Is it painful? Yes.
Does it hurt my heart? Nearly every day.
Do I enjoy being in this circumstance? NO.
Am I grateful God chose to break me?

Yes.

Christ's final hours were likely the most pain, historically, that any human has and will ever experience... but that's because the purpose was the greatest of purposes to bear.
I wish there were some way to infuse and inflict my foresight on others, sincerely and deeply, without the need for their own trials to do so. But I've come to realize that this is not God's design, as He wants to and has to be the one to deal with us all, individually. It is on an individual level that this 'training' happens, and though I'd never lay claim that it's easy to be broken like this, I will preach, from this point forward, that my being bridled up and re-directed is absolutely the biggest blessing I've received, in Perfect disguise~







Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Preparations~


Can hardly believe that in just 9 days, we'll be admitted to the hospital for what will be my first, big surgery.

Yesterday, while we were in Eugene with the Ziebart-fam for Easter Sunday, a hilarious half-hour long 'collaboration' session-- (including one very supportive mama on speaker-phone back home in Roseburg)-- took place to decipher and plan all the 'in's and out's' of where-whom-will-be-when during that crazy few days. Of course, one thing is easy... I will be in a hospital bed, ha!
That's right.
If anyone needs me, I'll be the bald one with drains dangling off, holding down a bed, sporting the latest and oh-so-stylish of hospital fashions. Of course, I've been told I'll be on some pretty heavy duty pain meds initially, so beware that I may also be 'that' patient who thinks everything's hilarious--and any of you who know my eldest, know that Grayson definitely inherited the VOLUME LEVEL of his mother. So, if you for some reason plan to come and visit, just follow the loud. (That is unless the specialists are smart enough to give me the pain meds that act as a natural sedative!) ;)

This week's lead-up is a pretty UN-eventful one. Just keeping Gray on his schedule (knowing he'll be completely off of it next week) and doing what the weather allows for things around the house, inside and out, that make me feel 'good,' in the 'nesting way.' Also, I'm starting the first of many infusions of Herceptin, today... and by many I mean whatever every three weeks for a year adds up to.

Friday will be yet another day of packing--can't help but wonder how many times I truly have done that, now--and this time, packing for a week.
Saturday will be filled with a lovely time of church and church-family, as we are going with mom and dad to a Christian conference up there before we found ourselves stuff inside the hospital walls. Seems all to appropriate to spend the few days leading up to everything praising and worshipping and literally surrounding ourselves with God's family!!!
Come Monday, there will be much shuffling of beds in reserved hotels between all the family (thanks to American Cancer Society, again!), anticipated cousin-time with the three little amigos and my loving sis-in-love, pre-op appointments, surgery, recovery, and we've been told to expect to go home sometime on Thursday--still with drains and fun 'garb,' but home to our beds, anyway. Aaron will also be playing freeway ping-pong due to needing to treat patients--(still have to have an income!)--but is taking at least a couple of days off to be there on surgery day and stay with me overnight that first night.

Things are a bustle, that's for sure. Feels like getting ready for a big Christmas party--only I think I'd much rather be doing that. :-P

My sis-in-love called me this morning with a Facetime invite to show me some shirts that she was picking up at the Goodwill after going and looking for a bit this morning. I can only wear fully button-up/zip-up shirts for a while due to limited mobility with my chest-stretching and right arm movement (where they will be removing lymphs), so we are like little squirrels, gathering for a coming season. Mom Z. let me go 'shopping' in her closet yesterday for whatever she already has--not only did we find some, but we confirmed that she needs to send hand-me-downs my way more often!
What a closet full of cute things!!! ;)

Anyway, I apologize that this entry is less than 'inspirational'--just meant to be informative of what is quickly approaching for us in this leg of the hike. The surgery-trail is a much shorter one in some ways, but then we will come upon it in spurts for the next 9 months or so by the time all reconstructive day-surgeries are done. A LONG journey, indeed, but the hope and prayer now is that this big surgery that involves the removal of the cancer that remains is so successful that I do not have to have radiation. So, if you are wanting to pray for something, specifically, you can pray for that--no radiation needed!


I continue to emphasize, as it can't be said enough, how thankful we are for every one of you. All who know us and have loved on us in the hundreds of different, blessed ways...all who don't yet really know us but still follow and pray with us. We continue to feel every prayer and I can't tell you enough what a difference it makes in the midst of this trek knowing a 'safety net,' in the form of a myriad of people and loved ones, are right behind me if ever I slip. :)

For those of you who have asked what we need/you can do in the coming weeks, I will be updating our Caringbridge (which is linked on the righthand-side of the home page of this blog) with some ideas, so do visit that. Also, our meal-plan will re-start after this week for once we're home and in the two+ additional weeks of recovery, so check that link as well, if you're wanting to do something.

But as always, the most important thing you can continue to do for us is PRAY. Not just for us and for me, but for God to move in this... in people who are needing Him or needing to come back to Him. He's already received a lot of Glory, let me tell you. There are some seriously wonderful stories that people have shared and inspired me with--stories I plan to share in an area of the book I'm going to write out of all of this, someday. But those need to keep coming! (What can I say...I'm greedy and I want God to receive even more Glory!) ;)



To sign off on a lighter note, my lovely sis-in-love found one of these for me today (only mine says Pheonix AZ--a sign, Charity?!) at the Goodwill, new with tags, while searching for 'drain-friendly' button-ups and pjs and the like. Though I will, unfortunately, not be able to wear this while in the hospital, it was a must have for later when I have my obnoxiously fake 'girls' all in place.
Of course, we were making the joke that it may even be funnier if I wear it with my surgery scars and NO chest at all, lol. :-P



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