Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I guess you guys might like to know how I am doing these days. As you can see from recent posts, it has been a busy weekend of birthdays.

My "steroid days" which were Friday through Tuesday after chemo #2 were very constructive. I have learned (very quickly) to use those days to the fullest because my body and mind go 90 to nothing and I know the days of "nothing" are coming.

So by Thursday, my bad day, I literally have nothing to do but just make it through.

And this time, it was much better. The pain was considerably less, thanks to much muscle rubbing by family and friends. And a great massage at the spa (thanks, Marie!) Whereas I needed narcotics the first time around, all I took this time was Advil. BIG improvement!

While the pain was much less, it allowed the fatigue to be much more evident. But, as my dad said, there's a solution to that: rest. So that is what I did.

I had a "substitute" SIL to come help me last week, my sister-in-Christ, Marie W. She worked while I rested. And she did it with great joy. Thank you, my friend!

Now I am gearing up for round #3 this Thursday. If I only end up with six rounds (instead of eight), that means I am half-way through! (We won't know exactly how many rounds for a few more weeks.)

As always, thanks for praying, and for checking up on me,

Sunday, October 26, 2008

For My Fourthborn

You are four today, my fourthborn son.

Life should be pretty fun.

But your mom is sick (even though she looks pretty normal) and that makes life hard in ways that you don't understand.

You don't understand, but you want to be with me all the time. Like you did when you were two.

And it breaks your mommy's heart to have to leave you.

You don't understand when mommy says I need to sleep in my bed instead of on the couch with you because "I didn't make your hair fall out, Mommy".

We are trying to keep life as normal as possible for all of you. But for you, normal is pretty simple. And even simple is hard right now.

You are lucky to have two big brothers and a big sister. They love you so much. They help keep your life "normal" in spite of circumstances.

I hope, when you remember turning four, you remember your Star Wars toys, having donunt holes with your friends at church, and the rainbow birthday party you have been planning for six months.

You are such a happy boy!

You have brought joy to our lives from the day you were born.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

For My Firstborn

You are thirteen today, my firstborn son.

Life is beginning to come at you, for real.

The past year has brought some disappointments that your dad and I have been unable to shield you from. You have had to face them and come out on the other side.

I think, for all of us, it has been a learning experience. Sometimes things don't go your way. When you get through it, though, some things turn out even better than you could have expected. And we realize, God knew what He was doing all along.

You are learning that God protects, even when we don't know that we need it.

Never forget the trip to the beach we planned that had to be cancelled because your little sister was sick. The three of you couldn't understand why, when you had prayed that we would all be well, that she wasn't. I think I needed to hear what I told you as much as you children did:

"Sometimes God says 'NO'."

When He does, it is for our benefit. For our protection.

We will never know why we couldn't go to the beach that time, but we trust that God did it for our good.

God has said 'NO' to much bigger prayers since then. We wonder why. But we trust that He knows and it is because He loves us.

You are the "man of the house" when Dad is away. This is a role you have taken very seriously for years. Remember that you can protect but God is the ultimate protector.

Sometimes, He allows things we would call "bad" to happen to us. There is nothing you or I or your dad could do to keep it from happening. But God takes everything, everything and makes it good. You will see.

I am proud of who you are and the man you are becoming.

Happy Birthday!


Friday, October 24, 2008

You Never Know

You never know how God is going to use something you do or say for someone's benefit in the future.

Eight years ago this summer, my friend Robbie had no way of knowing how important her introduction to a love of hats would be for me today. She gave me my first hat for my 31st birthday. In the years since, I have collected and worn many hats.

And on those hat-wearing occasions, the many people who have said, "You look great in a hat" couldn't have known how that would help me today.

On one of my "hat days" years ago, my husband told me, "You would be beautiful, even if you didn't have any hair." And, I think, that helps me most of all.

Can you see how I can smile, even with a bald head?

God prepared me, even for this.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

. . . going, gone!

I am an adventurer at heart. If I could, I would be exploring the Grand Canyon, sailing the ocean, skydiving. But I have my husband and four kids that God has graciously given me and they would like for me to be alive and at home.

So I get to have adventures in different ways. Exploring a tree trunk infested with termites with M2. Helping M4 climb a tree (that seems as big as a mountain to him). Playing laser tag all night long (and getting to be a vampire in one of the games - you never die!) with M1. Having a "sleep over" with my M3 at a local hotel. A photography trip with my husband.

This cancer journey in my life is sort of an adventure to me, too. The day I had my first CT scan and saw "the golf ball" I can remember the excited anticipation of an adventure ahead. I don't know why I wasn't afraid. I guess I knew from the beginning God was going to take care of me. I knew He was going to get me through "to the other side". That I would live.

So today, I had an excuse to shave my head. I've never had a good reason to do it before. Most people don't have a good reason to do it. Just like climbing a mountain. It is placed before you, and you go for it. It's an adventure.

Linda came to the house again. The kids watched what was left of my hair come off.

From what I understand, I should grow about 1/2 to 1 inch of hair over the course of two months once I stop chemo. That will be December or January. So, by the spring, I should be sporting a snazzy crew cut.

Monday, October 20, 2008

An Uneventful Weekend

Just wanted to update you all and let you know that it really has been uneventful.

There was nothing besides the usual soccer, baseball, birthday parties, etc. (Oh, and my husband's 30th High School Reunion!!) That means: no bone pain from the Neulasta, very little nausea, moderate fatigue (I didn't go to the reunion . . .). But that's it!

My second chemo was last Thursday. So my "bad days" are coming Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. But if what has been so far this round is any indicator of what is to come, it should be much easier.

But, either way, we are prepared.

As alway, thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

God Speaks in the Quiet

I have to say, I try to take naps. I get tired, get everyone distracted and lay down. And I do rest. That must be all I really need.

Because when I rest, God speaks to me. Not in an audible voice, but in my heart. He will redirect my thoughts and impress something on me that moments before I was not even thinking about.

Remember, I said I knew He would be WITH me in this post. And so, when I am still and quiet, He speaks.

Sometimes He reveals things to me to share on the blog. A few weeks ago He told me it was "time to stop" leading Bible Study. The next day He inspired me with ideas of what could be done in my place, when I had already given it up completely.

He is continuing to amaze me with what He is doing on that front. And I hope to share more of that in the future.

But the other day, He told me it was time to buy a table. Now I wasn't even going to share this, but M1 said I should because God told me to do it.

The short story behind the table is that I have been shopping for a new kitchen table for two years. I had found the exact one I wanted on ebay two years ago, but the timing wasn't right. I failed to get the sellers info and the table info and when it came bonus time in the spring, it was completely gone.

Since then, I have looked on and off in vain for anything closely resembling the table I liked. I have searched the internet for hours. Driven all over town to furniture stores. And even left my phone number at those stores to be called when something like what I wanted came in. But all to no avail.

It had to be round and with eight seats. (Our table seats six, so when we have any company we have to squeeze in on the ends). I wasn't in a hurry and knew some day I would find it.

So, God tells me it's time.

And I think it must have been on the day it was listed. Because I actually forgot for a few days. But when I went to ebay, entered my parameters and got the items that fit, there was MY table. Not the exact one I had seen before, but it was round and had eight seats and was just perfect. And not only that, it was "pick up only" in my city!!

I did get permission from my husband first. And then I BOUGHT it!!

Today it is in our kitchen. We all had dinner around the table together.

And I am grateful that God can even speak to me about something so small as a kitchen table. And that I HEARD Him.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Going, going . . .

It's started raining hair here at our house.

For many months I have been planning on growing my hair out to donate to Locks of Love, and organization that makes wigs for children with hair loss. M3 and I did this two years ago and I was looking forward to doing it again.

The cut has come a few inches prematurely, but, the situation being what it is, it looked like it was either now or at least not for a very, very long time.

I am fortunate to have established a relationship with my hairstylist, Linda, over the last 21 years. She was the only one I would let cut my hair, especially on this auspicious occasion. And so, she came to the house, so that it could be a family affair.

Originally, the plan was to shave my head so that I could get the maximum length to donate. But M3 is praying that I won't lose my hair (completely) so I had to at least give God something to work with. She (M3) even got in on the action, cutting one of my braids.

So, for now, I can still go out in public with my head uncovered. And it feels good to have lightened the load. (But M4 thinks I'm scary.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Doctor's Visit

Don and I went to see my oncologist on Monday.

We were updated on many of my tests of late and my labs all looked good. My heart on the echo looked good and the bone marrow biopsy was negative. No cancer is in my bone. So pretty good news, all around.

Even better news to me, and an answer to the prayers I requested, she predicted that my next "bad days" wouldn't be as bad as the first go 'round. She said my experience was "not normal" but probably due to the excessive toxins given off by the tumor. The bigger the tumor the greater the toxins. The smaller the tumor gets, the less toxins it will give off as it dies.

She explained the stuff given off is similar to what happens to your uterus when you are in labor, only this stuff invades all of your muscles, all over your body, constantly. And that was pretty much how I had described the pain, like being in labor, but all over my body.

So, I've enjoyed a few more good days, bought hats, shopped for wigs and prepared for round #2 on Thursday.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Good Days

We continue to learn the "two week cycle".

Feeling better Saturday was a huge answer to prayer for me because it was my Dad's birthday and I really wanted to feel good that day. My Mom and Dad have been helping out so much and it is great to have them around. But it was my Dad's day and I definitely didn't want the focus to be on me.

Dad and I had a hysterical trip with M4 to M1's baseball game on Saturday. That stuff that goes in the Darth Vader mask - it's a stimulant (and he's feeling much better). M4 talked non-stop for over three hours. It made us tired just to listen to him. He was especially concerned with navigating us to the fields using the mapquest map. Even M1 could hear him from the stands in the dugout once we made it to the game.

It was a beautiful day to be at the ballpark and see M1 make some great plays at first base and right field and hit a solid single which led to his being the tying run. (They ended up winning the game.)

It was great to have my brother, Allen, and his family in town to celebrate Dad's birthday all together, too.

And Sunday was better than Saturday.

I actually think in some ways I feel better than I did before I started chemo. (I remember the woman sitting next to me during chemo saying she didn't know how sick she had really been until after she started chemo and felt better.)

It is encouraging to think that the tumor must be shrinking, because I have not coughed since my first treatment. My heart is definitely beating easier. Besides being generally fatigued, I honestly think I feel better than I have in months.

At least for a few days.

Please pray for me as I get ready to start the cycle over on Thursday. It is impossible to wrap my brain around the idea that I am willingly choosing to poison myself again. Especially now that I know what I'm in for. I have to say I am a little apprehensive.

Thank you everyone for the continuous flow of encouraging words via email and cards. It lifts my spirit each and every day.

Friday, October 10, 2008

When it rains . . .

Sometimes, life can just be a lot to bear at once.

Luckily, it's a group effort here.

M4 had some respiratory issues this morning. Normally, I have my wits about me and can think through everything and get the job done as nurse/momma.

But today, I had to call in the reserves. And even the doctor.

Imagine my surprise when I got an email from Don entitled "Yoda".

Here's what I got:

Star Wars is pretty big at our house. So that is how we make nebulizer treatments enjoyable. I think M4 likened himself to Dar Gater (aka Darth Vader)because of the lovely respiration sounds the machine makes. What fun!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Bad Day

It was our understanding that "a bad day" would come about a week after my chemo treatment.

God gave me the grace to get through a wonderful morning sharing with our Ladies' Bible Study group.

And then it came.

We are on the learning curve, here, figuring out how my body reacts to the drugs, etc. And we are hoping that there is some sort of two week pattern, at least for consistency's sake.

Thankfully, it is not unbearable. Unfortunately, it is about all I can bear. So, please pray for everyone in my household that has to learn to function without me. For the time being, we have live-in back up in the form of my soul sister/sister-in-law, Erin. And that is a TREMENDOUS help.

And I did get a reprieve in the evening (thanks to pain medication) to catch part of M2's baseball game. I must say he is looking like a major league catcher out there!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Loaves and Fishes

Besides prayer, one of the biggest, TANGIBLE blessings of this journey has been the meals so many loving hands have provided.

I was thinking about all of them today and God showed me something interesting.

About FOUR WEEKS ago, Don's co-worker, Julie brought us a great pot roast dinner. It had all the trimmings, salad, brownies, and even some treats for our dog! Well, everything disappeared pretty quickly because my family is all about meat and potatoes. But not the salad. It has been sitting, slowly eaten along with the other salads that have come along with other dinners and it has yet to go brown. (Now DON'T stop bringing salads, that is not the point of my story!)

And last week, my dear friend Kim brought us another fabulous roast beef dinner that we kept eating and eating and couldn't make go away! She did the greatest thing and came over Saturday and made the leftovers into this yummy beef, vegetable, noodle soup (those of you who know Kim know that it's got to be GOOD!) You would not believe the containers that we filled with this soup. It was all over my island counter.

That was just a day after I finished my chemo. And I really haven't had much of an appetite, especially when it means getting something out of the fridge to prepare.

But every time I need to eat something (for lunch or a snack), that FOUR WEEK old salad and NEVERENDING beef stew is just what I am after and it nourishes me to the core.

And today, God helped me see how if he can do it with loaves and fishes, He can do it with lettuce and noodles, too.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I've Been Sculpted

I had my bones "sculpted" today in the form of a bone marrow biopsy/aspiration. I am told that this will help to "stage" the cancer. Basically, they are looking to see if it is in my bone anywhere.

Of everything I have done so far, this was something I dreaded the most. I am not sure why. Just that it was supposed to be painful. I tried to talk myself out of my fear as my friend Mary Ann drove me to the procedure this morning. I've had five kids without an epidural, surely this will be ok, right?

While I was preparing for it this morning, I was wishing I had given you guys a little more warning, so you could have been praying. But thank you to those of you who were praying anyway, because I felt the peace of your prayers all morning.

Dr. H and my nurse L were wonderful. The entire procedure was explained to me as it happened and the pain was amazingly minor.

Afterward, I walked over to my doctor's office where they drew blood and said everything is looking good. My white blood cell count hasn't gone down (thank you God and Neulasta). Only my platelets were a little low.

We can not thank you enough for all the cards, calls, emails and meals you have been blessed us with.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Weekend Summary and a Big Decision

We have had a wonderful weekend and I have had minimal side effects. The biggest was the bone pain I have felt from the drug "Neulasta" which they gave me on Friday to boost my white blood cell production. Thankfully, I was warned. So as I felt the pain, I knew it was a GOOD thing and didn't let it get me down.

I tried to rest as much as possible. But there were a few important things we wanted to do. It is important to M3 that I have a wig, once I lose my hair. So we headed to the local mall kiosk to check some out. Even some of the customers chimed in their comments. The best, though, was when I put on a long, blonde wig, at M3's request. After looking in the mirror and coming around the corner, knowing it was NOT the wig for me, M4 took one look at me and said, "You look like HANNAH MONTANA!!" Definitely not the look I was going for.

And it was especially important for me to make it through church on Sunday morning because M2 made his public profession of faith in Jesus Christ, having prayed to become a Christian Thursday night (after my 1st round of chemo). Even in this trying time in our family's life, God continues to show us His GOODNESS!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Precious Letters

I have been receiving many wonderful notes and cards from many people in many places.

Today, I had the priviledge of reading notes from the ladies in my Bible Study class.

It has been one of the biggest struggles for me (among others) to cope with the conflict of chemo and Bible Study.

God placed a special Bible Study, Captivating, based on the book by John and Stasi Eldredge, on my heart several years ago. It was not until this fall that the opportunity arose to lead it. Probably the only "why" question I have asked thus far into this journey is, "Why did you pick this time, God, for me to lead this wonderful study, AND ME NOT BE THERE?" (My chemo has been scheduled on Thursdays for three of the ten weeks, so far. The same day we meet for study.)

Well, I think the answer came a little bit in the precious letters I received from my Bible Study sisters. God wants me to know as much love and support as I possibly can. And it came in big quantities today.

Thank you, my precious sisters in Christ. Some of you I have known for years. Some of you I have known only a short time. And some of you I have just met. But your words (and the great Chris Tomlin CD - Thanks, Karen!) are encouragement to me from the throne of God.

I look forward to spending as many weeks with you as I can. And learning what it means to be "Cherished".

And I was especially blessed with the reminder of a verse that our great retreat leader, Sarah Beebe, shared with us last year at our first Ladies' Retreat:

The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Did you know, my dear friend, that at the same time I heard this verse at the retreat, God said, "This is your baby's verse." Just weeks before we found out he was dying. But I can tell you that when we think we have lost, God has SAVED. We here on earth cannot truly fathom what that means, until we see the Lord in heaven.

And I know now that God is with me. He is mighty to save me. I believe saving in this instance means life and not death. And He will have the glory.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Just before I received my diagnosis of cancer (our "week off" thanks to Ike) I read, no, I inhaled the book The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.

One of the most powerful passages in the book was when Corrie's father was comforting her about death. She had just seen it for the first time, face to face. It made her very afraid of losing those close to her, especially her father. Her very wise father asked her a question, "When do I give you your train ticket?" She answered, "Right before we get on the train." To this he replied, "Don't run ahead of Him Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need--just in time."

Now I fully believe that I am to be healed and that death is not in my near future. But I also know from being in the room with these beautiful women of God today that when the time comes for one to have cancer God does give you what you need--just in time. He has given me what I needed--just in time. He has given these other women what they needed--just in time.

If you've every seen the movie "Pollyanna" with Hayley Mills, you know what the "Glad Game" is. Well, today, as I was receiving my first round of chemo, I was playing the "Glad Game" and amazed at all the things I have to be grateful for.

It is not often that you get the chance to sit in a room full of people with cancer. Often, you don't even know that the person sitting next to you, or standing in line behind you has cancer.

But this was an amazing group.

Back to my "Glad Game":

I am grateful to have a supportive family, including my husband, children, parents, parents-in-law, brother, sisters-in-law, and brother-in-law who are all willing to come to my aid.

I am grateful for my church family, school friend, neighbors and friends from everywhere (!) who have offered their help and support.

I am grateful for the group of women God surrounded me with today to offer edification as I begin my journey. The affirmed my faith and hope for the future.

I am grateful for the years of cancer research that has lead to such a specific treatment for my specific type of cancer.

I am grateful for amazing nausea medicines and years of research that has fine-tuned the dosage regimen to be so effective.

I am grateful for the wisdom of many friends who were used by God to help us get to the place where we are today. Feeling 100% in the center of God's will for my treatment.

I am grateful for friends who have gone before me on this journey who offer their support and hope for complete healing.

I am grateful that my type of cancer is a "quick" treatment. One woman I met today is taking chemo every three weeks for the rest of her life.

I have much to be grateful for.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

So Far, So Good

I am home this evening with my newly installed port-a-cath.

It was a relatively short (30 minute) procedure, under general anesthesia. It took longer to prep me before and for me to wake up afterward than actually putting the thing in.

We had some fun while waiting in pre-op with my "newfangled" gown. It actually had a vent hole in it that you could hook up to this hairdryer-like machine on the wall. It would blow air into a reservoir in the gown and WARM you. This is what happened:

The pictures don't do it justice, but I was really PUMPED UP.

Before long, they took me back to the OR. The last thing I remember was getting my "happy juice" and trying to summarize how I had ended up there for the nurse (I should have just referred her to the blog!)

Once I had come around a little I had some great new Twila Paris music to listen to on my MP3 player thanks to Mary Ann.

Don worked out a ride for me with my friend and "family member" Marie so that he could take M2 to piano lessons.

Just another normal day in the life of our family!