Survivor Guilt

Today a family near me lost their young son to brain cancer. He was diagnosed in 2015. March 8m 2017 his family was told he had just 4 – 6 months to live.

On May 31 it will be the one year anniversary of the death of a friend who had cancer.

This weekend while cleaning the house, I found a pipe cleaner that reminded me of a man I met in Rochester while we were both undergoing radiation treatment during the summer of 2015…he’s been gone almost a year now.

And here I am…I am still here.

I was talking to the window of my friend…

I just spent 5 minutes writing that sentence…I first wrote the wife of my friend…then realized she is his widow…but in my brain she is still his wife; yet she is also a widow. He has been gone for nearly a year and I am just now thinking about this.

So I was talking to my friend the other day who lost her husband a year ago and the anniversary is approaching and she is keeping herself busy. Their daughter is moving far away soon and she is worried. Although they always knew this day would come, she had prepared for this eventuality with her husband by her side.

Her husband, my friend, beat cancer. The after effects killed him. I told her that I am now dealing with the same thing. After cancer is much more difficult than chemo. People do not understand that though. They see me working, living life, growing hair and think life is great again.

Except it is not. It is full of a pain that is constant and here I am trying to have a normal life. People do not want to hear that I am in pain. I think they just do not know what to do or how to help.

I am still only able to work part time and even that is so difficult. This means money is an ongoing issue. I am trying to work, I am trying to live, I am trying to move forward, to move on, to get beyond cancer. Being reminded every pay day that I can only work part time and I may never again be able to support my children off of social assistance, is terrifying.

But I am alive…and many are not. So I feel terrible complaining. I feel so blessed to have come so far. So I say nothing except to very few people; usually the ones who I spend enough time with that I cannot hide it from them.

When I spoke in a small group last week about wanting to take another job next year because the boys will be attending school in the town where I work, so I am logistically able to work more hours.

“YA, RIGHT!” Came from a across the room from a great friend…and I wanted to cry…she is right. There is no way I can physically work more hours than I already do.

I want to provide my boys with a few comforts that most people see as every day items. I want to buy them new shoes without having to argue with their father about who can afford it (he makes $45k/year, I make $13k). I want to go out to eat when I just cannot muster the energy to cook.

I am trying so hard to move forward with every day God gives me. I should be thankful, I should be joy filled, I should be praising God for every minute of every day that I am on this earth.

Today though, I am telling you, this sucks.

Lord,
I don’t know Your plan for me regarding this and I’m not asking to know it. I just need you to know that I don’t understand it and I am sorry that I cannot always find the joy in each day. You know I try.
Help me get through each day with light. Help me see the light, help me be the light to others because I know I cannot see or be the light without You. You are light.
My eyes are open for you, to you.
Amen

 

 

 

Princess Kiwi

My girlfriend gave birth last week to a baby girl at 23 weeks 5 days gestation…16 weeks 2 days short of full term. Four months early…FOUR MONTHS EARLY.

Jessa had open heart surgery today to close two holes in her heart which are common in micro-preemies. After surgery they are going to keep her sedated for a couple days to allow her tiny body to heal. Mom and dad have been warned that after surgery can be a time of turmoil for babies and that she may have a decline in the next couple days. Knowing it ahead of time is not going to make any of it easier…knowing is not going to lessen the stress felt by all the people who are already so in love with this little miracle.

The first thing I did when I found about the baby I asked Mom what she needed of me and offered tangible things. I could start a Caringbridge page, I could be the go-to person for people to contact with information, could I please start a fundraising page…

I am the main contributor to the Caringbridge page, Mom and dad call me with updates and I post and share on social media. I started a YouCaring fundraiser. I am organizing a supply drive for the Ronald McDonald House where they are staying while their baby is in the hospital.

…and yet I still feel so helpless…

And yet I know I wish somebody had done all of that for me…somewhat.

I posted all my own caring bridge entries. Mostly because I wanted it to be an accurate recording from my perspective of cancer. I do know that there were days I wish my family was here so my sister could post just exactly how sick I was and how desperately I needed people to be praying and loving on me. Those were the things I could not ask for. I could not ask for people to make sure I had food in my house…because I couldn’t eat much anyway. I couldn’t ask for people to clean my house because it was a disaster before I had cancer so I didn’t feel like I deserved  help in that area.

I wish I had even one friend here I was close enough with to just show up and do things. Nobody knew me well enough to know that I would never ask. They just figured that if I needed something that I would ask.

I know that Jessa’s parents don’t even know where to begin when it comes to asking for help. The early part of any crisis is the time when you don’t even know what you don’t know. You have no idea what your needs are. That’s where they are right now.

Little Jessa Dawn needs continued prayers and support. Her parents need financial support as their home and family is just over two hours away from the hospital they are in.

I pray every day, several times a day for this little princess. The boys and I have had times where we just drop everything and pray for the baby, for the family, for the doctors, and for everybody else involved.

If you are interested in following her journey, you can join us at:

https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/princesskiwi

cam_21
After heart surgery and sedated.
cam_16.jpg
Mommy fixing her bedding

Dear Lord,

We see a miracle with Jessa’s every breath. We are so thankful for the opportunity to watch You show up and show off. We know it’s You…only You could get us this far. 

Help us help Mom and Dad along this roller coaster of a journey. Speak to us and tell us their needs, help us meet their needs. 

Continue to wrap them in love and grace and mercy throughout this journey as we all praise your great name. 

Amen

Thankful Thursday

In just 30 hours my boys will home and I am so thankful that yesterday I got to see them both for a few minutes. One had a doctor’s appointment and the other had archery league.

It gave me the strength and resolve to get through today and tomorrow. I am also recovering from a severe sinus infection and possibly something funky in my lungs. My energy has been super low and I have been letting my body heal so taking it easy…which is emotionally difficult for me.

I learned through cancer that taking it easy was not an option, it was a necessity. My heart figured that once we were finished with treatment and surgeries I would be able to move on and continue living life. I had no idea that my life would look so different.

I expected some down time with healing, getting my energy and stamina back. I had no idea it would be so difficult. I push myself…then I question if I am pushing too hard on a healing body or not pushing hard enough. There is no manual for getting back in shape after cancer.

This weekend is walleye opener so we’re going fishing. The little one asked what time:

C: Like 12:01 am it starts?

Me: I guess so. We’ll go when we get up in the morning…like 8 o’clock or so.

C: Ya, sometimes I get up around 7.

M: That’s fine, it’s light by then.

C: Sometimes at 6.

M: (to myself) Oh man I hope not…

I just want my kids home…sooner rather than later. I know, I know…patience D…patience.

I’m working on it.

 

Wednesday

Hump Day.

Im still not feeling this week at all. Monday is always difficult; usually by the end of the day life is back on track.

This week is different. Yesterday I still had to talk myself into going to work. Today I would love nothing more than to call in sick. Luckily it is much too late to think of calling in, so I will go.

Tonight, my oldest has archery league and the youngest has a therapist appointment. I’m praying hard just to get through each day.

It should be easy, should be a cake walk. They are only gone for four days this week and then they are all mine for the next ten days. It is walleye fishing opener on Saturday, the youngest and I have been on the phone every evening this week counting down the days.

Fishing is our happy place from May – October…then we move on to hockey. Whether the boys are home or not I fish every other day but usually more often.

Today though, it is Wednesday and I have no idea what God’s plan is or how this is part of it.

Lord,

You got me this far, I’m in Your very capable hands. Please be gentle.

Amen

My Epiphany August 2014

Our former Lead Pastor asked me to talk at Church in The Park in 2014. Two weeks later, my grandfather died. Two months later I was diagnosed with breast cancer…

Have you ever walked in to a crowded room and felt completely alone? The fear of people finding out just how truly broken you are inside keeping you from saying even a simple hello?

I won’t lie, being asked to do this today brought out those feelings – who would want to hear from me about loving other people? Was I the right one for the task? Has Pastor Jeff finally lost his mind? I asked Heidi…she’s looking in to it.

When I came to Epiphany Station just over a year ago, my best friend and I had been searching for a place to call home. We were both very curious about the “Love God. Love People. Period” mission statement.

I knew I loved God…that was easy. I was less sure about how to love strangers and very doubtful that they could ever love an outsider such as myself. What if they found out that I am an alcoholic, that I am less than a perfect Christian? Would they ever be able to love somebody as myself?

What I learned very quickly was that each of us is broken in our own ways. As I took a position with creation station, I learned what we all know…children are not shy. Children openly share their brokenness and expect that they will still be loved. As I taught them that God loves them no matter what, it dawned on me that I had to learn to practice what I preached. I knew I loved God, but how could He still love me after all I had done in my life?

The answer was shockingly simple, God knew me before he formed me in my mother’s womb; He knew that I would struggle with depression, that I would become a cutter in highschool, He even knew that I would spend years thinking of ways to end my life. He still loved me so much, He gave His only son to die for my sins.

As I began to share my story I was amazed that instead of being shunned, I was embraced…almost as a crying child. I learned that not only do people care, they understand. People are willing to love their neighbors as themselves. I began to feel a part of a community that is exponentially bigger than the sum of its’ parts.

I learned that each struggle I faced could be used to help others learn that they are not unlovable.

My name is Debbie, and THIS is my Epiphany!!