Faith Filled Friday

I just found this on my Facebook from June 24, 2007 (my seventh wedding anniversary). I am leaving it unedited:

Well everybody, I have good news and bad news…GOOD NEWS FIRST: I am still pregnant…
the BAD NEWS is:
-I had hemmorhaging this past week
-I had premature preterm rupture of membranes
-It has been determined that I have a low lying placenta.

The doctor in the ER has said there was a prognosis of ZERO…I was heart broken (as you can imagine).

Jay had just left that day for a fairly long trip and was parked for the night when I called him with the news. I knew there was nothing he could do and told him I would keep him up to date through the night.

After several calls in the middle of the night (Jay, my parents, and Kara) I was finally taken upstairs to a room at 1:30am.

The next morning I was scheduled for an ultrasound after being counselled on the probability that Stickers was already dead…the nurses were great…I could not have done this on my own.

The doctors were very shocked when they did an ultrasound and found Stickers in there with a strong heartbeat… Then the attitude was that we would be waiting for the baby to die so they could perform a D&C…There was no way Stickers would make it through these complications.

Jay was turned around and on his way home when he had to stop and gather himself after I called with the great news.

I spent one night in the hospital and was sent home with the advice to prepare for “fetal demise”…why can’t they just say go home and wait for your kid to die…then come back and we will rip it from your body.

As you can all imagine, I have done a TON of research on everything that has happened and none of it was very promising. After the membranes rupture, approximately 50% deliver within the first week, and another 50% everyweek thereafter. I have done the numbers and have discovered that we have a 5% (yep…FIVE PERCENT) chance of carrying this child to the age of viability (24 weeks)…and even at 24 weeks, it would mean weeks or months in a neonatal intensive care unit with a survival rate of about 50%. Everyday inside me after the 24th week increases the chance of survival.

We sat down, discussed the options, statistics, and everything we could think of. My biggest fear is delivering too early and having a baby so small that it could fit in the palm of my hand. We had had a routine ultrasound only five days before this all happened and saw that Stickers was growing big, and had a strong heartbeat. This little being had two arms and legs, eyes, ears, fingers and toes…perfect in every sense of the word.

That was Tuesday night and Wednesday…it is now Sunday and I am still carrying this miracle. Jay and I keep saying that obviously nobody explained the rules to this kid so we are going to think positive.

Beyond Done

I am fuming today. I know I have said it before and I will say it again; I thought after treatment and surgery I would be finished with breast cancer and nobody thought to tell me any different.

The previous estrogen modulator I was on caused such sever joint and muscle pain it nearly crippled me. Add to that ovarian suppression and I was in a chemically induced menopause that my body decided to mutiny against.

I have been on a medication vacation since January. The pain has decreased significantly but is still prevalent.

Today I started on a new estrogen modulator, Tamoxifen. although tests show me to be a low – to Intermediate metabolizer of the drug, my doctors have decided it is better than taking nothing.

I asked for specific studies and the numbers may not sound big…but 13% is 13%. It reduces my risk of recurrence by 13%. My sons are nine and 12, my daughter 22. Thirteen percent is a pretty big deal.

Unfortunately, the risks are a crap shoot. On one hand, the medically induced menopause can lead to the same joint and muscle pain I was experiencing before. On the other hand many women experience an unparalleled moodiness from the drug. Yay

One friend of mine (also a breast cancer survivor) posted on my Facebook #HideAllTheKnives. That sounds encouraging. She stopped taking the drug because of the side effects. Sounds like ongoing compliance is hard to come by for any of these drugs.

Today I took my first dose. Because I am a low metabolizer, it is a lower than normal dose. We will reevaluate in 2 – 3 months. While I am trying my best to have a positive attitude the numbers and real life stories just don’t support it.

My ten year survival still sucks (less than 50%); as of now, nothing changes that. My five year disease-free time is the number these drugs seem to make the biggest difference on. I am working on wrapping my head around the disease free time in regards to the survival time.

Disease free time does not mean much if it is spend in agony. Survival time takes a crap if  it is spent undergoing treatment.

And that is where I am. My mother told me to listen to Mayo and do my homework; they saved my life once, they might know what they are doing still this time.

I just thought I would be done. Nobody warns you that you are forever a cancer patient, forever a cancer hypochondriac. Nobody warns you that the assistance stops when your hair grows back.

Nothing in this life has ever come easy…I guess I shouldn’t have even pretended it might.

UGH

Oof

*strong language warning*

I’m not gonna lie, I used to have a terrible potty mouth. I used the f-bomb as a comma in everyday language. I have worked SO HARD at being aware that the language I use may offend people I am not even sure are paying attention. That being said…talking to my mother and my brother in this situation I knew there were no other ears listening. I chose to not edit these words out of our conversations for authenticity’s sake…people who know me now, know how hard I have worked to be free of such vulgar language…knowing how I lost it…they know this is beyond understanding. 

My week started out as every other week does, I dropped my boys off at school, waited for Squishy (the baby I babysit) to be picked up, and went to work.

Mondays are so difficult for me. Saying cya later to my boys every other week knowing nobody can love them the same way I do is, even after four years, heartbreaking. I never asked for the divorce, they never asked for it; yet they are still paying a price that is unfathomable to so many.

I go to my second job, and things are as usual. I love my job at the middle school. Those kids fill my bucket every single day. I regularly post on my personal Facebook page about how awesome the middle school students I work with are. I make sure to tell the parents I know how great their children are; because as a parent, there can be nothing more comforting than to know that your child is just as awesome as you think they are! 

…and then it happened..

My brother (650 miles away) posted:

At a loss for words, cant imagine the hart ache.

Earlier in the day I had seen a woman post on the community page about her husband, son, and a family friend were late returning from a canoe trip. So I sent him a private message:

Me: Did they find the canoers?
Darcy: Ya, not good news. 😦
M: ALL OF THEM????
D: From the information I got so far, ya. 😦
M: Oh fuck
D: Yup
M: Oh fuck oh fuck
D: That’s all I can say too.
M: I got nothing
M: Just oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck
M: This can’t be real even
D: Too close to home.

Now, at this time, I only knew of the father, son, and the father’s friend (a friend of my family). I sent my mom a text

Me:SHANE CRIPPS???????
Mom: He and Dylan and 2 more died.
Me: Dylan is younger one?
Mom: Ya, almost 15.
Me: That’s what I thought.

Dylan is Shane’s youngest son.

Two fathers (best friends) and their sons out in a canoe for their first paddle of the year. With all of them dead on scene, only God knows what happened. They were all found floating next to the capsized canoe. They were all wearing personal floatation devices. We are left with two women have lost not only their husbands, they have each lost a child. Each of these women also have a surviving child.

I can still hear the screams in my own ears…my screams. My devastation…my hurt…my disbelief…my shock.

Later that evening my mom called. When I answered I lost it…”what the fuck Mom?” My mom lost it…the strongest woman I have ever met, known, cherished replied through her own anguish, “Oh my God it’s so awful.”

We talked until we were both calm, she told me of the man who refused to check out of Shane and his wife Li’s hotel when the news broke…like literally my mother had to go over and threaten him with the police because he, “…paid for a view of the river and I am going to have a view of the river.”

In perfect Colleen fashion, “Sir, I understand your disappointment. I can assure you though, you can leave with me, or you can leave with the police…but you ARE leaving.” I know she said this with a voice so calm, not even for a second betraying her anger. I also know that her eyes were so full of tears for this family.

I love that woman more than life itself! I am so thankful that Li and James (her surviving son) have my mom.

My mother than picked up all of Dylan’s hockey team and drove them to one of the coaches home where they had opened their home for the boys to all be together.

Shane Cripps (44), Dylan Cripps (14), Connor Sykes (33), Liam Sykes (6) all gone.

My father and another man went out to the boat launch later that evening to bring their vehicle back to town.

Some people bring brownies…my mom and dad do the logistical nightmare stuff. That is how they bring brownies. I mean seriously…the last person in that vehicle was a friend who is now dead. My mom drove around town picking up and dropping of a bunch of 14 and 15 year olds in the midst of their shock and grief.

All of this happening on the first weekend my parents’ campground is open to the public…so I know that in between all the running and shuffling, and tears, and shock they are also greeting guests, guiding tourists, mopping bathrooms, collecting garbage.

Time only stands still for those who are grieving…the rest of the world continues to spin, and somebody has to clean their bathrooms and make sure the garbage is taken care of so the bears don’t come.

On Wednesday morning, word got out that the wives and children of the deceased are planning to go out to the boat launch, which over the years has become haven to those not willing to pay a dump fee at the city dump. The litter and garbage is atrocious out there.

A post was made on the same page the wife posted asking if anybody had seen her husband and son on Monday. By 5:30 pm the place was immaculate. The city dump waived fees for people bringing garbage from the site, people showed up with water and food and they took out several FULL pick-up trucks of garbage in time to allow the families the opportunity to begin processing their situation.

As I work to process this grief from so far away I am in constant contact with my family back home and reaching out to my local friends to keep me afloat. My friends have surrounded me with the love I knew they would…keeping me safe from letting satan enter into this turmoil.

…and then it happened…

My girlfriend (Jessa’s mom) sent me a message that the roller coaster has officially started. Miss Jessa has a grade one brain bleed, her lungs are having issues and she is going to be started on steroids that are going to cause her to feel yucky…

And I’ve got nothing. I cannot even process this. I try to send love, I pray, I try to talk with her and comfort her…and I’m just lost. We will get through this, we just need to connect…we need to get back on the horse and we need to refocus.

The NICU team reassures everybody that these things are ‘normal’ for a micro preemie and that she is still doing so amazingly awesome. The roller coaster is started and we are firmly buckled in.

…and then it happened…

On Friday I am almost finished my work day…less than an hour to go and we stop for lunch.

I check my Facebook and receive notification that my friend from childhood has lost her mother to cancer. Oh shit I just CANNOT do this…

FUCK YOU CANCER! #itsnotaboutme

Is my Facebook update. I do not even remember the last time I swore on Facebook. even the times I have REALLLLLLLLLY wanted to, I always edit it and find better words. At first I did not post the hashtag…but did so pretty quickly so that people would not think I was sick again. 

Not yesterday. Nope, I did think about it. I thought about posting something heartfelt and loving. And then I realized that nope, this WAS heartfelt. These words perfectly summed up what I needed to say at that moment.

I texted my mom, “Call me.” I only have a cell phone, I cannot afford the plan that allows for calls to Canada (it would be an extra $15/month). When I need my mommy…she calls me. 

Mom: Hey
Me: Mom…Giselle died. (sobbing)
Mom: Oh shit, we knew she didn’t have long…you told me that, right?
Me: Yep, Michelle called and said it was close not long ago…just not this week.
Mom: (I can hear her voice crack) It’s going to be one of those years Deb; there are already forest fires burning up here; it’s not going to be good.

She comforts me and I get back to work. It’s all I can do.

There are beautiful things happening all around me…and I am searching SO HARD to be mindful of them…I really am.

I am also hurting and my tears are always falling, and I am letting them. I have cried this week at work, at the grocery store, at Thief River Falls House of Prayer, in my vehicle, on the phone with my landlord, in my bed, in the shower.

It has been one heck of a tough week.

Last night I posted on Facebook:

Two hours ago I said I was going to bed…I just cannot sleep. I went fishing with God earlier but apparently the fish had already talked with Him and were safe. I had supper with friends, I vented/shared love with a friend over FB…and yet my heart is still so hurt tonight. #INeedATripHome

This morning my mom responded “less than two weeks. XO”

Then I got out of bed this morning and was met by this mountain of laundry. I posted a picture of it and said “Apparently the laundry doesn’t care about the week I’ve had…I’m so not ready to die on this mountain! #GriefWaitsForNothing

Just seeing the laundry waiting started the tears again…but it is real life. Grief does not mean your underwear stays clean, grief does not remove the worm poop you wiped on your jeans when you were fishing last weekend before this all happened.

I am struggling, I am devastated, I am grief-stricken. I will be okay. I am surrounded by love, by prayers, by those God has put on this rollercoaster with me.

Lord,

I know there are lessons and beauty in all this tragedy…I am working so hard at seeing those wonderful things through my tears and my hurt.

I am so thankful for those who remind me that the tears are okay and that I don’t have to be strong through this. It is completely okay for me to be on my knees in pain and anguish.

When I’m ready to get off my knees, I look up and I see so many hands held out to help me. They have been praying with their hands on my shoulders. They have been doing all they can so I know I do not have to get through this on my own…I one have to get through it and they will not let me do it alone.

Guide me trough this agony as I glorify Your name.

Amen

 

 

 

Not Quite Friends

 

The new lady at work, a mom on your child sports team, a person you don’t know well but attend the same church with has been diagnosed with cancer/had a new baby/had a death in the family. I know you want to help; here are some practical ways you can help somebody you are not an intimate friend of.

When I was diagnosed, I had only been divorced four months. I had only moved to town a year before and as you can imagine spent the entire year focused on getting my kids and myself through this in one piece.

When I was diagnosed, I truly had zero close friends who lived near me. I had people I was getting to know at church. Nobody I was comfortable being as vulnerable as I was about to become.

Instead of retreating to isolation, I continued to build these relationships through my illness. Although I was never comfortable enough just to text somebody to come and check up on me to make sure I was not already dead…seriously, my sister or mom would text or call me (from over 600 miles away) to check on me if I hadn’t been on Facebook for a while.

So here you go, you are desperately wanting to help but get no response to the “Call me if you need anything” mantra (trust me…unless you are in the inner circle and have a deep standing relationship…they won’t call).

  1. Money: Lets just get that one out of the way. It’s a great help (especially in my case being off work and not having a significant other). It doesn’t have to be cash though…I know lots of people like to know that their dollars are being used wisely. Here are a few ideas (and many which we were recipients of).
    1. Cash – can be used for anything.
    2. Gift cards – Food (fast food, pizza, grocery store, coffee shop). Pampering (manicure, pedicure, coffee shop, favorite makeup brand). Gas (locally or – even better – regional so they can be used if/when traveling for medical appointments. Shopping, cell phone…the possibilities are nearly endless.
    3. Housing and Utilities – Rent/mortgage payment (often not a possibility as an individual or family but if you can get enough people together it is possible). Cable/Internet/electricity/water/heat/cellphone  (you can usually just go in and request to put money on a person’s account. Each time I opened a bill with a credit (because it had been paid anonymously) brought me to tears.
    4. Extra curricular activities: Cancer does not take the baseball/hockey/bowling season into consideration. Helping to pay for these fees ensures their family can still have some normalcy.
  2. Non-perishables: This can run from super inexpensive to out of the park so anybody almost can do it. Make sure to ask if they have a brand preference and maybe if they have space to store (of you are thinking of getting a large quantity)
    1. Toilet paper
    2. Dish soap
    3. Laundry Soap (pods are very convenient when time/energy is at a premium)
    4. Body Wash
    5. Shampoo/Conditioner (for the rest of the family)
    6. Lotion
    7. Q-tips
    8. Kleenex
    9. Bubble bath/Bath salts/etc
    10. Paper plates/plastic utensils
    11. Garbage bags
    12. Toothpaste/toothbrushes
    13. Hair products (if there are children in the house with hair needs)
    14. Pet products (food/litter/grooming) (we didn’t have a pet during cancer, but if we did this would have been a good one)
    15. School shopping list
  3. Experiences: This was a very difficult one for me. I could not afford to take my kids anywhere that was not free. Even then, if there were concessions or other costs with the event, we usually stayed home. For some people, even the $2.00/each is too much. For many of these, it is appropriate (and even welcome) for you to invite the family to join you as you do one of these activities.
    1. Movies: most theaters now have gift cards that can be used for admittance as well as concessions.
    2. Pampering: See gift cards above
    3. Museums
    4. Sporting events: locally, regionally. Even high school events.
    5. Hotel stay: whether traveling for medical appointments or locally just to get out of the house for a night. For medical appointment stays, it is nice to stay at the same place when you are able to build a relationship with the staff…if they are staying at a roach motel, an upgrade for even one night might be nice as well.
    6. Water parks
    7. Laser tag
    8. Trampoline parks
    9. Shopping Mall gift card (excellent option for a group gift – for say a coworker)
  4. Food: Now this one is a little more tricky, especially as a single parent and with the custody arrangement I had. The boys are with me one week and then one week with dad. Take Them a Meal type arrangements are not necessarily appropriate during long term treatment.
    1. I always LOVED when a friend would call and tell me pizza would be delivered on a certain day at a certain time…or would call early enough in the day for that same day. SERIOUSLY…awesome.
    2. If you’d like to provide a meal, or sign up for a Take Them a Meal type thing here are a few guidelines:
      1. Be on time or at least call/text to change the time. Calling or texting when you were expected to be there 15 minutes ago is too late. A few hours notice is awesome. Of course…there are exceptions to everything…accidents and emergencies happen. Just try to give as much notice as possible.
      2. If you bring it in dishes that you want back, feel free to also return the next day (or so) to wash dishes and take what is yours back.
        1. Disposable dishes are an awesome option for this
      3. Instead of asking “what would you like” how about “is there anything you have been craving lately?” “what is something your kids would kill for?” They were the ones I really needed to feed…I was happy with Smuckers Uncrustables for the most part.
      4. Consider dessert as a meal…honestly…especially if the kids are gone. Cherry pie with ice cream for supper…SIGN ME UP.
    3. It is MORE THAN ACCEPTABLE to give gift certificates for places like McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, Pizza, Taco John’s. If you think about how you are able to just run through the drive through when you are at the end of your rope or energy…imagine NOT having that option PLUS having cancer (or a new baby or a funeral to plan).

We received almost all of these through out my two year battle. We could NOT have gotten through it without each of these. None of them is insignificant. Each one fills a different need that we prayed about on a regular basis.

It was a lesson in teaching my children how God answers prayers. We had a list of things we prayed for…being able to look back on the list and to be able to cross things off the list was the most tangible way to show God’s love through such a trying time.

Thank you to all of those who supported us through what could have been a devastating time!

Dear God,

As those who have become my friends recognize their contributions, help them understand the weight of their gifts. Help them to see that each time they reached out, whether it was $5.00 or $5000 it made an impact that touched our hearts and fed our spirits.

For those wondering if they can help…let them see it does not take much to make a difference. That it was the gifts from mere strangers/acquaintances that really showed us that we were loved beyond comprehension.

Thank you God for giving me the opportunity to learn these things so I can share them with others!

Amen

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

 

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

 

This Was Not Easy

Yesterday the decision to be on pain medication as maintenance was finalized. I have never been one to take medications lightly. Unless in the hospital, I have never taken anything for a fever, and rarely take anything for pain even though I have an arsenal of drugs. After surgery I always comply with pain medications, but on a daily basis, it was rare for me to take anything because I knew the pain would pass eventually and I would get through it.

I have been taking ibuprofen fairly regularly for the last three or four months, the dosage slowly increasing. Yesterday I took none; I usually do not take any until the afternoon so that I can get through hockey practice and the evening. Last night after school we finished homework and then ran around for the next four hours with the boys in their various activities plus me coaching.

By the time I got home last night I would have rated my pain at an eight on a scale of one to ten. As I got the youngest boy through the shower, bedtime snacks for both of them shuttled them to bed, I was in near tears through it all. I took something for the pain as soon as I walked in the door

Thankfully my older son is great about helping out…but that sure should not be his job.

The holdup I have taking pain medications is that once I start, it is a life long commitment. My pain is never going away. It is only going to increase over time. So, as many cancer survivors who are so tired of their bodies being bombarded with drugs, we put it off and we suffer as long as we can.

Until the pain is so bad that medications are the only avenue we have left. I even tried essential oils (and use a rub Melora found for me) on my knees when I had my Baker’s cyst. It has been a God send.

When the joints in my fingers are so painful I cannot pull up my covers at night or grip my toothbrush in the morning…it is time to give in.

Cancer wins this round…and my heart will need to grieve this reality. I cannot live in pain as that steals away from my quality of life for me and the kids. So, pain medications it is.

The struggle is that the dose will go higher over time until such a time it will require narcotics…and even before that, I am at risk for gastrointestinal issues (ulcers), heart attack, and strokes.

YAY…more things to add to the list of possibilities. My heart is already at risk due to the chemo to start with. Then, being my cancer was on the left side, my heart was blasted with 25 doses of radiation. I am only guessing, but if my interior chest wall is scarred from burns, my guess is that the burns did not magically skip over my heart.

When I had radiation I had a sunburn on my back…and no radiation directly at my back…I was literally burned through, from front to back.

So the next chapter of survivorship is here…and I do not like it.

Pain…I am not good with pain. The fact that people can actually see my physical pain is very unsettling to me. I do not want my children, my family, or my friends to have to see this pain because there is nothing they can do to help it. That is where I get stuck. I know I have to deal with it, I wish I could shield those around me from also having to deal with it.

The next time you see me get up from a chair and take my first few steps, please do not cringe…it only makes it worse for me. Feel free to offer to help me up though, because I will be honest, the pain of getting to a standing position is excruciating.

I trust God is working on something unfathomable for this army I belong to…we just have to see it through, one hurdle, one day at a time.