Monday, March 30, 2015

Doing Battle, Week 27

First, I have some really exciting news...a direct answer to prayer! I met with the oncologist last week (I do blood work and meet with someone from his office every week, but it'd been several visits since I'd been seen by the top dog.) I reported that I've had no affect from the chemo, that I barely notice I'm on it. I don't think he believed me because he said well, what about this? Or that? Nope, NO side effects. He was rather astounded and said I'm in the 5-10% of patients whose body can handle what he's giving me. And he said my blood counts were "excellent". I skipped out of there!

Radiation is a different story. The weeks are starting to pile up (yay that we're getting through!) but my body is taking a beating and I'm feeling the cumulative effect. So, so tired and pain and/or discomfort are now my constant companions.

I'm weary of the journey, yet thankful I get to be on it. Ever since reading her book, The Hardest Peace, I'd been following the blog of the author, a young woman, wife and mom of four who'd been battling cancer and last week her body finally gave out. Sobering. Makes me feel ridiculous for complaining about a thing.

Our pastor talked about pain and suffering several weeks ago and one thing he said has really stuck with me:

We are in bondage to decay. I'm thinking, God, why is this happening? Why can't I see well anymore? Why do I have arthritis? Why does my knee need to be replaced? Why do I have cancer? God says it's simple. You are decaying. All of creation is decaying. Here's the reality: no matter what choices you made, no matter what you did, eventually this was going to happen. But why? Because everything is decaying. Here's the big point: Sin entered the world and from that time on death followed, death reigned and everything on this planet, everything without exception, is in bondage to decay.....its not that something about you is broke, the whole world around you is broke....sin entered into the world and death reigned and we are all decaying. None of us are exempt. 

In the meantime, we live in a place of hope that God is with us and through His spirit he has promised a future for us....God is at work in all things.

"We are bound to decay". Somehow, that was so encouraging to me. It should be no surprise when we start feeling aches and pains. Our pain and suffering is the result of a fallen world and is just evidence that we are weak. But God works in our weakness and conforms us to his likeness.

Conform away, God. Strip me of me until there is only you.

Particularly if you are currently going through a tough time, the whole podcast is worth listing to.

My friend Shelva came out from Colorado to stay with her parents for a few days, so we got some time together. We sat in her parents' living room and laughed and reminisced and it brought me back about 25 years to when that was just a common occurrence (except the reminiscing part...we didn't have many years to look back on. But always the laughter. :)

She made the drive to radiation with Aiden and I and they sent me this picture.
I don't love that radiation is a household word around here, but I DO enjoy this guys company on the hour drive each morning. Sometimes he's still tired enough to not say a word, sometimes he sings quietly to klove. Other times he rattles off the endless supply of knowledge he has about nature "Mom, did you know that...?" (I never do) or he'll ask me deep theological questions that I don't have concrete answers for. He is a blessing!
On a different day Amy came, too. She doesn't trust me to catch ALL of what the doctors tell me. I may or may not have a tendency to filter out the bad/negative information and hold tightly to anything positive. She and Shaun claim it is important to have the full story in these situations.
My sweet, sweet napping buddy. I'll never be sorry for these forced naps that I get to do laying next to this love (and that stinky blankie!)

I memorized these verses several years ago and I said them over and over each day this past week while laying on the radiation table :

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 
II Corinthians 4:16-18

Thank you for you constant encouragement, for your prayers and thoughts towards our family. We'd like to think we could do this on our own but we cannot, so we are grateful that you've come along beside us. From my heart, thank you Team Lisa.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Project 365, Week 13

I didn't produce many photos from this week, mostly because I didn't see a whole lot of my family.  Shaun and the three littles had rehearsals four nights this week and then we all went to opening night. Shaun is in high demand at the tax desk, so in the evening he's been popping in for three minutes to grab the kids to head to church until 11 PM, or later.

While they were gone R and I worked through some challenges and made some progress, I think. I did radiation five days and slept whenever possible. Lucky for me, I can sleep whether the house is full or empty, whether Shaun and the kids are safely home or stuck in a ditch somewhere. ;)

It was exciting to get to Friday and see a sold-out auditorium watching Passion of the King. There are four more shows...please come! You will not be disappointed.

Here's our week, in small part of what it actually looked like.

March 22
The office was closed but we all went to help Shaun compile numbers for our personal taxes (ours is the hardest return he does all year). Avery and I worked the bank accounts and calculator while Aiden and Amanda watched a science show in the lobby and chowed down on lollipops.

March 23
Randomly, Avery wanted to play a race car game with Shaun, so they dusted off the play station which hasn't been used since R's birthday last May. Obviously we're a big video game family. ;)

Shaun is so good about coming home from an exhausting non-stop day and just diving into the "demands" of four kids who are happy to see him and have pressing needs and desires and stories to tell.
March 24
Shaun had scheduled the morning off, hoping to catch up on some things. Instead, he fixed a leaking toilet in one apartment and the resulting wet, destroyed ceiling in the other apartment. Since the building is just a mile from radiation, he hitched a ride. While he worked I ran some errands and then napped in the sunny car. Aiden spent a significant amount of time chopping snow and hauling it out of the way. The boy loves to work!
March 25
I was at a stop sign coming home from the grocery store and saw these sweet ladies soaking up the relative warmth of the day. I thought it would be so fun to pull up a chair next to them and chat.
March 26
The girls had a half day so after we laid down for a rest/nap, we hung out in their room reading/doing homework.
March 27
Aiden spent a couple nights with cousins and Amy sent me this picture, assuring me he was still doing school. :)
Speaking of school, I filled out the school registration paperwork so he can enter 1st Grade in the fall at the girls school. That first day all three of them let go of my hand and walk into that building? I don't anticipate handling that very well. Just sayin'.
Opening night, three hours before the curtain opens.
March 28
Michael Phelps.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Doing Battle, Week 26

Good morning!

There's not too much to report this week, which in this business I consider to be a good thing and don't want to take for granted. Today was 15 of 30 radiation treatments, so if my math's correct, that means we're at the halfway mark! 

I go five days a week and its been working well to drop the girls off at school and then just keep driving. I wish I could say they are disappointed to miss our morning walks to school (which always translates to quality bonding time, deep, heart-bearing conversation and never any grumbling or arguing ;) but actually they are quite thrilled to be hitching a ride each morning.

They had Monday off of school and Avery and Amanda were really looking forward to going to radiation with me. Aiden wasn't thrilled with their intrusion on his territory, but he warmed up to it and ended up leading the way and showing them where all the cool stuff is and where the best candy stash resides. My techs were great about giving them a tour of the room I use and showing them how the table goes up and down. I think it really helped them to see that its not a scary place.

Aiden and I are making friends at radiation. He charms everyone he comes in contact with...most days I come out and he's chatting with a nurse or senior citizen. The "feel" of radiology is so different than oncology. Yes, we're all sick but there is guarded hope floating around. Cancer gets weaved into most conversations but there seems to be an understanding that we don't want to stay on that subject very long...that it doesn't define us, even though most of the waiting room is clad in hospital gowns.

Radiation makes me tired. I find myself fantasizing about sleep and checking the time to see when the next opportunity will be. Getting plenty of sleep each night and catching an afternoon nap before the kids get home from school seems to be enough to keep me operational.

The chemo pills are almost a non-issue. As long as I take them with food in my stomach, they don't bother me at all. Those are twice a day, seven days a week, so the key is just remembering. :) I'm really happy about that piece because the doctor started me on kind of the max he wanted to be at, with the plan being to back me off in frequency or dosage if my body couldn't tolerate it. But my blood counts are good each week and that is huge!

Spring hasn't shown up outside yet, but it was delivered to my door with love.

I'm so grateful to have so many people who care. Its almost too much to take in that people love me, love our family so much.  Meals and prayers and check-ins...its all so amazing. Community is costly yet invaluable. It is messy and beautiful. Every day I marvel at the beauty of it and the way God made us to need each other and the way He brings us together. 

Admittedly, needing help is something I'm still learning to embrace but as God continues to chisel away at my sinful pride I can see the grace that it is. All is grace.

We were made to hunger for God in both the pain and in the ordinary. 
Every single day is purposed. ~Sara Hagerty

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Project 365, Week 12

Good morning! Its cold here, but there's bright sunshine and its officially spring! Its exciting that we had outdoor pictures this week...its a good sign!

March 15
Inspired by the radiology waiting room, I set out a 500 piece puzzle. I have to be careful about when I sit down to work on it, because it draws me in.

March 16
The girls were off from school so we decided do some family time.

You remember when the girls opted to not watch the inappropriate movie that was being offered at school? Well, their daddy tells them when they say no to something because they feel its wrong, that he'll make sure they get something bigger and better than the thing they said no to.

We've been patiently waiting and finally there was a movie showing at the theater that is family friendly. Shaun took a mid-afternoon break and the five of us went to see Cinderella. We all approved!

 The bikes are out!!

This guy disappeared for a while and returned decked out in full hunting gear. He went hunting several days this week actually, once in the light rain....he figured the birds would be sitting targets as they came out to bathe themselves in fresh puddles.

 We were happy to celebrate DQ's anniversary with them, since they were handing out free cones!

March 17
Morally I know its wrong to buy cereal that changes the color of milk, but I did it anyway and the kids were thrilled.
 Aiden, tired of waiting for the snow to melt in the yard, decided to improvise.

March 18
Aiden's turn to make dinner.

March 19
Avery's 4th grade class led mass and Avery did a reading.
 I looked over at Aiden, who was in Shaun's arms and thought with much sadness that in a few short months, clad in a in blue shirt and pants and tie, he'll be sitting amongst these big school kids in 1st grade.

March 20
Aiden and I did a double-date with Amy and Rocco. They screened as we chatted.
Avery's turn to make dinner. She chose Cheesy Chicken and Potato Chowder...yummy! She's a 21st Century kid, reading the recipe (from Pinterest) off my phone.

March 21
A sampling of the three dozen selfies Amanda left on my phone.
 Swim class continues to go...swimmingly!
 There is nothing pretty or charming about snow in late March. However, it can still be fun!

And the best early afternoon it was all melted and it was bike-riding weather again.

Amanda spent quite a bit of time patiently leading Alayna around on the two-wheeler.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Spring!!

Happy First Day of Spring!!

At least, that's what my calendar says. My local weather forecast tells an entirely different story. But spring it is and since I couldn't find anything green and budding around here, I went digging for it. Hope springs eternal!

Enjoy this day and the promise it brings!

(photo credit: Pinterest, because I was too lazy to go through my own :)

I'm sorry for the things I said when it was winter.

 Spring will come and so will happiness. Hold on. Life will get...warmer. ~ Anita Krizzan

If we had no winter the spring would not be so pleasant.

There are so many beautiful reasons to be happy.

All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.

Every flower must grow through dirt.

The earth has music for those who listen. ~Shakespere

He fills my life with good things. Psalm 103:5