Done Dating

Yes, you heard me right. I am done with dating and finished looking for Mr. Right. I trust that God knows who I am meant to be with and for all I know we both still need some major work in our lives.

Who am I to mess with His plan? I have had an online dating profile for sometime on a free site. The quality of men is…umm…well; you get what you pay for.

The other day after some big heart to God conversations (similar to heart-to-heart but at least one side knows what they are doing) I removed my profile completely. I finally deleted it for good. I used to set it to invisible but would always find myself back there looking, searching.

I never had any success as I knew that every one of the people who contacted me were wrong on so many levels and it never took more than a quick conversation to shake my head in disappointment or more often disgust.

One of the wonderful outcomes of last weekend’s retreat was the complete security in God. My health, my finances, my children, my future. My mate.

If and when the time is right for me to be matched with a man for the remainder of my days; God knows where to find me. God will bring us together. Finally I get it.

Finally I am free.

I am free from dating, I am free from loneliness, I am free from questioning. I just know and I am so filled with this sense of love and security and everything that goes with those things!  #DoneDating

Lord,

I have so much appreciation for Your love, for Your guidance, for everything.
I am so thankful that this realization has finally been settled in my heart for once and for all.
I am humbled by those who surround me and have be supporting me through all the good and less good days.
Continue to guide my path and help me be light for those searching in the darkness.
You know my needs, and I continue my daily prayers for my needs and the needs of others, both known and unknown.
Thank You Lord…just thank You. I am so blessed.

Amen

I wish you could all see the 100 pound rock that was just lifted off my shoulders and the smile on my face…ear to ear.

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

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

 

 

 

Daydreaming

I am once again babysitting in the mornings before work. This little munchkin is so much fun. Now that we have cats here, it is hilarious. He will find anything the boys have with a cord and pull it around for the cats to chase him. To hear him giggle is the most magical sound.

I am trying to write a piece about my security in knowing I am a child of God. The words are just not flowing on to the page as they should or as I would like them to.

Partially because the I try to write, the kitten (only 9 weeks old) sits on the corner of my lap top…she is a cuddle so is almost always in contact with a piece of somebody’s body. Right now she is leaned up against my hand as I try to type. each time I reach for a letter, she scoots over a bit more.

I am daydreaming about a time when I can fully immerse myself in public speaking. When I can stop ‘going to work’ if I choose to.

I’m dreaming about being the face of hope, a light in the darkness. I am just one candle yet with my flame I have the ability to light an infinite number of other candles.

How awesome is that…with the light of just one candle, you can literally light up the world. My candle lights 10 candles, who each light another 10 candles…and it goes on and on.

Now I’m just thinking about small little birthday cake-type candles. Imagine if they were huge pillar candles? How many could be lit with them? And really, a birthday candle can even light a pillar candle…a tiny candle can light the olympic torch.

I guess you just really never know who you are going to influence.

Be the light. Show your flame.

Growth

Today it hit me.

I am going to be okay.

This does not relate to anything medical; I am talking about real life. Just living life.

I have learned in the last two years that God truly does provide for our needs. Our needs may be spiritual, emotional, financial, physical, medical, educational…the list goes on and on.

Through two years, our prayers were heard and answered.

Our testimony through cancer and beyond has been nothing short of a miracle. I am so glad to be able to see it for all it has truly been; a gift from God.

We remained faithful, we made some Big Ask prayers, we reached out. I swallowed my pride more times than I can count, I learned to trust people again, I learned what love amongst friends truly looks like.

A few of my closest friends now met me in the midst of the battle. There are times when I wish I had known them before it started, and remember that God’s timing is always perfect. Some of them have become the most important people in my social circle right now.  This is a reminder to me that relationships come and go, people grow and change. Sometimes, friendships end and that it is okay.

I do not enjoy the perceived relationships people have through social media. Although I am a Facebook fanatic, I keep my friends list under 400 at all times. I have some friends with over 1000 contacts!

As I am just as raw and honest in real life as I am on this blog I need to keep that circle small for my own sanity.

Speaking of sanity, I see a new counselor now and as we ended the appointment the other day she said, “OK, first of all, you are not crazy…” I told her that I want every session to end like this because when it has been pounded into your head for 20 years that I have been the problem, it is so difficult to overcome that when the abuse continues beyond the marriage. 

Anyway…because I am always so open and raw, I keep my social media circle relatively small. I always giggle to myself when I want to invite people to a local event; most of my contacts are not local. That is why I love Facebook, it keeps me connected to my family and friends from afar. The local people on my list are part of my inner circle of trust; my local family.

We continue to have some Big Ask prayers and I am so grateful that I learned through this journey to write down in a notebook all that we pray for so we can go back and look at God’s answers.

Being a believer helps me pray the biggest prayers, because I know there is nothing impossible through God.

John 14: 13 – 14

13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! (NLT)

When I pray I ask for some pretty outrageous things and am confident that God will answer them perfectly. I will continue to pray, and not stop. While I wait for the answers, I will continue to live my best life, to serve others, to minster as I am called.

Dear God,

I am reminded today though this writing just how wonderful you are. I thank you for all you have provided for me throughout my life. Although I sometimes think my prayers range from small to outrageous; you hear each of them with the same love. You answer each one perfectly. 

Lord, I ask today for people to join me prayer; Spring is here and summer hot on its heels and we want to be active and outside together even more. I would like for the boys and I to get new bikes this year as our old ones have been outgrown and worn out. Helmets also will be needed for all three of us. You know my son started archery yesterday and he enjoyed it so much, help me to provide him with the equipment he will need as he progresses. 

Guide me as I pray about replacing my vehicle. It is only a matter of time before this becomes an urgent need so I’m praying now…before we get to panic mode. I know You know how this will work out; thank you for giving me reason to not worry, knowing you will handle this perfectly. 

As I pray for the salvation of people around me, give me strength to feed them spiritually. 

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

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