Limits

One of the greatest gifts cancer gave me was the ability to know my limits physically. I also learned better how to set social and emotional boundaries. I am able to not accept more than I can handle and I do not feel guilty when I have to decline.

I am going through a terribly painful period in my life right now and the enemy’s message is strong and loud.

The depth of my anger is deeper than I have experienced in some time. I remember when my daughter was younger and in counseling when she was taught that anger is just the bodyguard to sadness.

The only problem with what is causing the sadness it that it is not a person, it is a process. It is “the system” that has got me so worked up that I am falling apart at the seams. No, not falling apart…no matter what I seem to always be able to make things look like I have it all together.

Instead of the seams falling apart as old clothes do, it is more like I am wearing something three sizes too small. My body is smaller than all the emotions trying to work their way out and I am doing everything in my power to keep them all in.

Well, let me tell you, nothing in the whole world of shape wear has the ability to make this look good on me. I am short tempered, I am not eating properly, I am taking it out on people when in reality there are no people to take it out on, only the need to wait patiently as the system does the work for me.

While the system works, I have to make some changes to allow myself the reprieve I need to get the enemy out of my head. As the enemy knows which people and situations can be used to best keep me off my game, I feel the need to remove myself from many people for the time being. I also need to remove myself from some obligations that include those people.

I have to find a way to allow the anger to become the hurt that it truly is.

I know my kids better than anybody every will and I work hard to meet their needs on an individual basis. The one thing having my daughter nine years before I started parenting the boys taught me, it was that this is definitely not a one-size-fits-all gig and I think I do it pretty well.

So as I process the anger and, eventually, let the hurt show I will protect myself from any further hurt as well as any attacks on my character and parenting.

I am praying that the changes are being called for by God…and not the enemy telling me the apple is a good idea…

Dear God,

I am so thankful for all the iron sharpens iron reminders in my life. I am using these opportunities as best as I can to grow and change for the better.

When I fail, as I have several times this week Lord, I am confident in your love for me that never ends. That love helps me to keep going.

Protect my children as this next chapter continues to shape who each of us are.

Amen

Praying Tonight

Dear God,

I know you’ve got this and I’m sorry for worrying. I hear you tell me to trust you, to relax, to breath. I try, I honestly do.

I know You aren’t one for making deals or taking bribes so I won’t insult You. I would ask that you continue to show me how to bring my children to You through whatever comes our way.

I am not afraid of dying.

I am selfish and don’t want to miss out on what is here on earth.

Ya, I know I’m likely not dying, not today anyway as my friends say! LOL

I don’t know if the worry and fear is a part of my puzzle…I am learning to open up to those around me, to let them into my fear. I am so thankful for the Facebook Memes, random texts, juvenile jokes, and every other distraction You have provided though those people.

Yesterday Barb and I talked about when people say I can’t do that. I try not to say that because it’s not for me to do and I know it. You CAN do it though God. You can get me through this. You can (and have) provided me with a group of people who genuinely care for my kiddos.

Oh Lord…how would I even begin to tell the boys?

I know I don’t have to do this alone, and I am doing everything I can to bring it all to You.

I think my friends are scared as well…and I hate that for them. I think this is part of why I kept everybody out the first time. Now, I understand that their love is what is going to get me through every one of these ‘scares’ and false starts.

Help them be real no matter how tomorrow turns out. Don’t make my friends ever think this is something God can’t use.

Thank you for the texting conversations that just made all of this ok for me and for those who are praying for us all.

You are always great, and we all know it!

Amen

And Then…

…just like that it happens and I feel that it is my responsibility to share that although that last post SOUNDS like I’ve got it all together, there are still times when I am a mess.

I sure as heck don’t want cancer to come back (who would). I sure pray that I’m doing everything right. I sure get sick to my stomach at the thought of a recurrence or a new primary.

Nope, I don’t have it all together, not even close. But damnit…I will never NOT enjoy the journey. I will never NOT accept things for what they are and I most definitely will NOT ever question God’s motives.

I just wanted to put this out there…just to make sure nobody ever thinks I have it all together. I truly don’t, I”m just making the best of what ever happens.

Fear and My Legacy

Yesterday while talking with my pastor, he asked what my greatest fear at the moment was. I honestly shared with him that my biggest fear is that if my cancer ever comes back that my boys not be able to deal with it on their own terms.

A recurrence for me would mean stage IV which is terminal. This would absolutely devastate my ex-husband. He has so many regrets and emotionally issues surrounding our marriage and subsequent divorce that a terminal diagnosis would send him into emotional turmoil. My worry would be that the boys have to deal with my cancer on his terms.

I would also worry that a recurrence would take my ex-husband away from the church. Last Easter he began regularly attending the church that the boys and I have been attending for over three years now. He has even started volunteering and making connections within the church. I fear that if I ever have cancer again and he sees the church rally around me as they did last time; he would feel slighted…or something like that. Not that he would not want the people I know and love to support me, I think it just brings out a lot of his inner guilt and demons. If he pulls away from the church, my boys would lose out on the support that they would need more than ever.

My final, and most intense fear is that the boys do not see God’s grace and mercy at work through everything we have been through. I wish I had recorded what I told Matty, it was something to the effect of when I go out, I want their faith to be headed off a ramp…towards God. I saw his eyes widen…like he knew I totally got it.

The more thought I put in to it as my day went on today, I want their faith to be growing and taking a run off a ramp…not diving off a cliff.

I am not waiting until I have a terminal diagnosis to lead my children towards God. If that diagnosis ever comes, it will be God we turn to out of history and habit. When God is their go-to out of habit for things good and bad, I have done all I can.

For my entire life, that is my job. To lead them to Christ. To fill them with Christ. To model Christ.

Dear Lord,

As we go through the motions of everyday life, help me to guide these children to You. Show me how to point to You in every situation we face.

Help me to help them find you on their own. Help me to guide them in their own individual languages of love.

Help me to continue to meet their earthly needs and teach them the dangers of pride and shame and anger. Continue to give us opportunities to be the answer to prayers for others so we can recognize those same answers when they are our prayers.

Thank you so much for making me their Mom…for being everything they need and most of what they want (I am a mom after all…I can’t be their friend all the time).

Continue to surround me with people who know I am stressed and take the best care of me by sending creepy memes to my phone and Facebook. The Army you have surrounded me with is AWESOME! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

Amen

 

Back to Life

Today was back to work for me. We were supposed to go back yesterday and had a storm day due to inclement weather. I did not mind, I needed a day to mope and rest up.

After work I went to the clinic to see what they could tell me. I asked for blood work and asked about the pain. The doctor is investigating rheumatoid arthritis. I am pretty confident I do not have that.

So far, of the blood work that I have seen the results of, my ALP is slightly elevated (and has been for some time) so I consider it stable. My AST and ALT are slightly higher than their previous counts, but within normal limits. These numbers are more a sign of fatty liver disease than liver metastasis. If the numbers were three times the upper number of the normal limit, then we would worry a bit…or investigate further.

The doctor thinks my elbow pain is a tennis elbow/overuse injury. I am not seeing it…I do not do anything that is repetitive in a manner that would cause injury. I am confident it is not cancer as my calcium levels are within normal limits (can be indicative of metastasis to the bones when it is elevated).

If you were to look at just my blood, I am as healthy as they come. That was the joke in the ER on more than one occasion when I would go there with a fever (having a port in place means any fever over 100.4 needs to be assessed immediately and of course I never developed a fever during regular clinic hours). The nurses would be reading my lab reports and we would be giggling that I was as healthy as a horse…I just happened to have stage III cancer.

Tonight the littlest has hockey practice at 7pm. The older boy has youth group at 6:45. While I want to skip practice, I know he enjoys having me there and he can count on me being there. I will be there in the stands, watching my baby. Then I will stop over at youth group to say hi to the young man.

I need to get back to getting this book written and blogging regularly. I find that when I am not actively promoting and discussing my faith, it is harder find when I need it most.

My babysitting baby came back today; although not so much a baby anymore as he is now walking! We had a great first morning together and many more to come! I love starting my day with him!

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the opportunity to share You with so many. It is my prayer that they find the same comfort in You as I do. To be confident knowing that it is all in Your hands and You already know how this all plays out is satisfying.

Learning to share that confidence has been quite the challenge and I am so glad to be growing.

Please continue to fill me with a peace only You can. Give me physical strength to be the mother my children need.

Amen

It Never Stops Hurting

Yesterday afternoon the boys and I returned from a ten day vacation in Canada. We visited my family in Thompson, Manitoba which is north of the 55th parallel (the USA/Canada border is the 49th).

Today…I am crashing. A terrible, agonizing, emotional crash. It happens every time I return to the USA and likely because for many years our trips were so few and far between. I have been so blessed to have been able to make so many more regular trips in the last years.

It helps that my trips are always subsidized (my parents almost always pay for my gas there and back). While I am home, I have very few expenses so the trips are nearly free from any costs.

While I was sick, my trips consisted mostly of laying on the couch and watching the world spin around me. Those were some of the most healing days.

The previous trip was very quick, one day of driving there, two days of being at home and one day of driving back. It is just over 600 miles one way so a full day of driving. The boys are AWESOME travelers and used to the trip so I rarely hear, “Are we there yet?” This last trip they rotated places every 150 miles (the back seat is prime real estate when on a long trip).

The difference with this last trip was that we were there for eight full days (plus two days of driving). My dad took us all snowmobiling…something I have not done in probably six or seven years (at least). It was recreation mixed with science, geography, geology, history, community service, and love.

I explained to the boys how Grandpa showed his love by getting the snowmobiles up and running for them and taking us out for two rides. That he serves people in the community by helping make sure the trails are safe and that the ice is thick enough for the groomer to cross. Just because Grandpa does not go to church, does not mean he does not love the people around him, and there are many ways to show that love.

My Mom’s love is easier for them to see, she is on the city council, she has a great pride in her community and home. She is always helping somebody somehow. My Dad just does more behind the scenes work. Both, great examples of service and love.

~~

Today, I am missing them. I want my mommy and daddy.

I could not help but wonder for a short time about what if that was my last trip up there. Thankfully, I enjoy living in the moment so very rarely is an opportunity missed. So difficult though to wonder if I would never be back there.

Definitely my happy place.

I refused to tell my parents of the depth of my pain although they both knew I was on constant pain relievers and they could see my agony even though I tried to suck it up. I developed another pain, this time it is in my elbow. It even hurts to lift a simple cup of coffee…that can’t be a good thing for many reasons.

So tomorrow, I need to go see my doctor…or at least call for an appointment because today I was crippled with fear and did absolutely nothing. When I asked Mayo Clinic what they suggested the local practitioner investigate, they recommend a overview of my symptoms and a complete physical exam with blood work.

I know it is a side effect of my estrogen modulator…I just hate that it is getting so much worse so fast. It is crippling me just when I should be getting back into real life and activity.

I wonder what God has in store for this leg of the journey; and I am thankful He chose me…that does not mean I am not sad that my previous physical body is forever gone. I worked so hard to keep up during my illness.

I coached hockey through chemo, I walked five miles a day throughout radiation treatments and was back on the ice in the fall after surgery and five weeks of surgery. I went back to work as soon as physically possible.

I am finished chemo and I am crippled up, I have peripheral edema, I feel like I am 80 years old. I beat cancer…and now it is beating me back.

~~

So, the pain and the sadness…not a great combination for any situation. I am surrounded by an army of friends who would do anything to take this hurt away. They would do anything to ease my heartache.

Tonight I am overwhelmed to the point of having a headache (I never get headaches). I do not know where to start and only want to stop…so tonight, I am stopping. I expect nothing of myself. I will be kind to myself. I will take care of my body and my heart and my soul.

Tomorrow will start and we with it, another day to fulfill the purpose God has for my life.

Dear Lord,

Grant me peace, grant me relief from pain. Fill me with the knowledge that you are always here, and with my family and friends. Fill them with the knowledge that You got this.

Give my boys the strength to continue to have their needs met.

Give my daughter the tools to be the best mother and girlfriend, and sister that she can be.

Give me strength to be vulnerable Lord…to let the hurt, hurt.

Amen

 

Cancer Hypochondria

I wish I could adequately explain how stupid I feel for having a case of cancer-hypochondria. Although not a real medical condition, it is when every little twinge or ache takes my brain immediately to a cancer recurrence.

When I share it with family and friends, I worry about how crazy I sound to them. I worry that they think I have finally lost my mind.

The finger pain I have been having has increased and now includes peripheral edema. My fingers are so swollen in the morning that I cannot even make a fist.

I emailed Mayo Clinic this morning and they are not sure what the cause is (and I told them of my knee pain that now requires ongoing pain medication). They noted that I am due to see them at the end of January but want me to begin the investigation in to a cause before that time so they can have either a few issues ruled out or a diagnosis and treatment plan.

My last echocardiogram showed that my heart function had been increasing so they are doubtful that is the issue.

I have noticed also lately that I have more swelling under my left arm. I just chalked it up to lymphedema as I had an axillary node disection when I had my mastectomy and they discovered my cancer had spread to a single lymph node. (I had an 8mm macro metastasis).

I am doing everything in my power to be over cancer and to get on with my life. Sure doesn’t look like this is an option beyond what I am already doing and my current worries and such.

This leads to end of life thoughts…I do not know why, it just does.

I want to die at home, with my family.

With the insurance I have, this will not be possible. How stupid is that? If my family lived in Minnesota, I would have the use of Hospice services. Because they are in Canada, I do not have that option.

I think I have been wondering more about this lately because of the amount of pain I have had. I would not want to be around anybody other than family when my pain needs to be controlled by a caregiver.

It also leads me to the realization that I need to make an end-of-life care plan. Just how many drugs do I want, what type of care do I want…those types of things.

Well, I just had to get this off my chest.