I’m Not Ready

Today I will go visit a friend who has rapidly declined with Stage IV breast cancer. She beat it for so long (I want to say more than 10 years) and metastasized last year. “Oh ya, we’ve got this” she told me when I asked her about it.

“We’ve got this”

A sister in Christ, a sister in cancer. We.

For the second time in less than a year, I will go say goodbye to a woman who said, “We’ll beat this together.”

…and then there was one…

Am I next?

Or am I the poster child for living until my 90’s? Both of my grandmothers are still alive at 96 and 94…I come from good stock.

Of course, the am I next thinking is only fear based. I have no indication of recurrence, I’m in the best physical shape of my adult life (round is a shape).

Fear Is a Liar
Songwriters: Jason Ingram / Zach Williams / Jonathan Lindley Smith
When he told you you’re not good enough
When he told you you’re not right
When he told you you’re not strong enough
To put up a good fight
When he told you you’re not worthy
When he told you you’re not loved
When he told you you’re not beautiful
That you’ll never be enough
Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar
When he told you were troubled
You’ll forever be alone
When he told you you should run away
You’ll never find a home
When he told you you were dirty
And you should be ashamed
When he told you you could be the one
That grace could never change
Fear he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar
Let Your fire fall and cast out all my fears
Let Your fire fall Your love is all I feel
Let Your fire fall and cast out all my fears
Let Your fire fall Your love is all I feel
Let Your fire fall and cast out all my fears
Let Your fire fall Your love is all I feel
Oh, let Your fire fall and cast out all my fears
Let Your fire fall Your love is all I feel
Oh, fear he is a liar
He will take your breath
Stop you in your steps
Fear he is a liar
He will rob your rest
Steal your happiness
Cast your fear in the fire
‘Cause fear he is a liar

So today, I cast my fear in the fire. I will go say goodbye to my friend. I will pray with her; I’ll tell her “Don’t worry, I’ll take it from here.” I’ll thank her for her love and support when I was sick. I’ll tell her how happy I am that she get’s to go home.

And that’s what I’ll do. I’ll take this fight from here. I’ll continue to beat this monster while serving God, whom works everything for good. What that looks like today is going to visit my friend.

 

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Poverty

I share a lot about my financial situation. Then I have a conversation about air fresheners and I realize that I need to keep sharing it because people just truly don’t understand and I know some of them really want to.

I borrowed a car from friends to take my trip to Mayo clinic this week. There was an air freshener in the car that I absolutely fell in love with.  And even though it’s only $3.00, I’ll never splurge on that for myself.

Not only that I’d be short $3.00 for paying my rent; here’s where that $3 could be better spent:

  • Buying one of the boys a couple pairs of socks (they’re boys, this is an ongoing need).
  • Most of the cost of sharpening the youngest boy’s skates ($5.00)
  • A pair of pants of clearance for my oldest kid (found his last pair for $1 at Walmart)
  • Any of the bills I shuffle each month to pay (internet and utilities…both behind and on the verge of being disconnected).
  • Enough gas to get to work for a day or my kids to their activities.
  • Trying to rebuild my emergency fund.
  • Put it towards any of the other bills I have.

So it’s not just that $3 is a big deal, it’s everything that is already not being covered that adds up and $3 might as well be $3 million. It’s not that the air freshener is out of line, it’s just so far down the line that it doesn’t even get an honorable mention.

Seriously.

And now, my long term subbing job is finished and I have no guaranteed income after my final paycheck on the 15th of this month. And I don’t have a husband with a steady job or a boyfriend who pays the bills, or a savings account to cover my butt, or a family that can cover me for more than a couple hundred dollars. The child support I receive is barely enough to make a dent. And in 30 days my rent will be due again.

And it sucks.

I was given money from friends for the Mayo trip…and it’s gone, and I’m counting pennies to make sure I can pay the rent on Monday because I feel like I was stupid with the funds I got. I spent too much on the hotel (which was necessary but I could have stayed someplace much less expensive), I ate too often (Two meals a day) and too much (soup AND salad, that’s too much). I should have just slept on a basement recliner, I should have declined to sit down and eat and just grabbed a sandwich. I should not have bought that second cup of coffee to keep me awake on the drive home.

The enemy is so loud; and he has friends. And those friends tell me I should be working 10-12 hour days, and if I truly wanted to work I could. And that $3.00 really isn’t that big of a deal.

When I received the gift of money I was so thrilled and was planning on having left over funds to pay a few things that I haven’t been able to. Instead of paying those things first, I kept it, not knowing how long I would be at Mayo. I only ended up spending one night, and it’s all gone.

And rent is due Monday, my cell phone is due Monday, and I’m truly thankful for everything that has gotten me this far…and angry that I still need more. I’m sad that I am where I am financially.

The financial insecurity is unlike any other.

And it’s one of the reasons I always do Mayo on my own.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed having a friend with me on this trip, it’s not reality. It’s not my reality. My reality is sleeping in my vehicle or on a basement recliner, it’s not stopping to eat, or just buying cereal and eating that for every meal. It’s staying at the clinic even when I have 4 hours between appointments because leaving costs money (doing things I wouldn’t normally do).

The best part of this trip was that my friend was great as far as getting through the marathon day. She took the time to understand everything going on before we went so I didn’t have to educate her on the go. Having to ‘babysit’ other people and their ability (or inability) to process information on the go is why I have never had any desire to take people with me. Thankfully we got all good news so there was none of the real tough stuff.

I’m definitely going back to going on my own though. It’s too emotionally exhausting to bring somebody with me, even when it’s a good fit and good news. Medical trips are a whole other world for me. There is a distinct disconnect from daily life just to get through the trip and I never want those two worlds to become one.

And in 3 weeks I have the privilege of returning to Mayo to see if they can fix my arm that hurts and causes muscle spasms that is the likely cause of headaches I deal with daily…and another opportunity to reach out and ask for help.

I sure don’t feel all that lucky when I have to reach out, but I sure feel blessed when the request is honored.
Lord,
Thank You father, I’m so tired. I’m thankful for tired, because it means I’m still here to be tired. It means I have to opportunity to glorify Your name for another season.
But it’s exhausting Lord and I’m trying so hard to be light in a very dark place for so many. I’m trying to be Your poster child for AMAZING grace and mercy. I’m not sure why I got picked for this job; please help me Father to remain humble enough to ask for help, and secure enough to hear Your love over the enemy.
Amen

Speechless

In 92 days I will skate my second marathon.

In that time, 10, 396 mothers, daughters, sisters, best friends, grandmothers, aunts, granddaughters, and cousins will die of Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) in the USA. JUST THE USA…

~~~~~~~
Well, this is not how this post was gonna go. I mathed (as Katie calls it) the numbers to make a point.

Then I re-mathed…and again, and texted Katie, and recalculated…

Holy shit.

I still have this pit in my stomach that feels like I’m going to puke.

For the first time in I don’t know how long, those numbers scare me.

It’s not like I didn’t know that 113 people die every day of MBC…but to put a number on a time line like that made my heart sick.

We are raising money for MBC research and a local charity…and suddenly it’s not enough. Suddenly, I feel useless and unworthy. I cannot save 10, 396 people.

But maybe I can save one.

Maybe, I can save two little boys from having to say goodbye to their single mom…a daughter from losing the one person she can count on to tell her like it is…a friend from the reality she has prayed against from day one…a mother from losing her favorite daughter…a sister…an aunt…a cousin…a grandma…

Maybe, I can be the voice for those I can’t save…the ones who are too sick to shout…those too busy trying a new drug, and another new one, and another experimental treatment…

I will be posting fundraising links in the coming days. Please join me in supporting those who are fighting for every breath, every step, every hockey practice, every bowling league, every football throw, every inline skate…for me and my friends. Shout with me for those who are dying for a cure.

My heart is so broken right now, and I’m throwing star fish back into the ocean…I can’t save them all, but I can save one at a time…I can raise one dollar at a time.

I CAN make a difference.

Will you help? Will you join me?

Thanks

Today is the final game for Squirt B Black as we play our last district game. A week ago we didn’t know if we would even being playing in the top bracket…and today we are playing for third place.

I don’t think anybody realizes that this is my FIRST year of healthy hockey…the first year I was diagnosed with cancer and doing chemo treatments while coaching, the second year I was healing from 6 months of chemo, 5 weeks of radiation and two surgeries, and at the end of the season (flew out the day after our final game) for an 11 hour surgery, last year I was taken off the ice with a knee injury in November and never got back on the ice.

This group of 12 kids, their parents, and their extended families; none of whom I knew before cancer, has been such a blessing to me, to Carson, to Kevin, to each other.
Next year, four of our teammates will move up to PeeWee and I will miss them so much. I look forward to this group every other year.

Right now though, my full heart is aching. I cannot love these boys and these parents more than I do…and the only way to show it is by telling the whole world. I have never felt so loved, so accepted, (so tolerated-lol), in my 18 years in the USA as I have this last winter.

This team has been led by three Godly men who have taught our boys that hockey is just a game, family is forever, and God is everywhere. They have taught them that praying is not just for supper tables, bedtimes, and church pews…but locker rooms and center ice as well.

They have modeled sportsmanship, teamwork, and class every step of the way.
As we go into today’s game…boys…YOU ROCK…I AM SO PROUD OF ALL OF YOU. Keep praying boys, keep asking to pray, ask the adults in your life to pray for you AND to pray with you.

Coaches…I got nothing…because no matter what I say it’s gonna make me cry…thank you for leading this team…through trials, triumphs…and most importantly, to Jesus.

Amber, all your hard work leaves me in awe every step of the way. THANK YOU for taking on the role of GM.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

#IsThisTheQuietSection

Thanks and Praise

I have so much to be thankful for in my life, my world, my heart. While dealing with the tough stuff, I need to sometimes write the good stuff down as an out loud reminder that life is good and God is great.

All my kids are physically healthy. The boys are great students, as evidenced by their parent/teacher conferences yesterday. My daughter is the mother I never knew she could be. My granddaughter is an amazing specimen of love and laughter and spit and vinegar; not unlike her mother at that age.

I have been almost two years free of a disease that, only by the grace of God, did not take my life. Instead, cancer GAVE me the life I have long for since moving to the USA. Finally I am free to be myself and live out loud.

I am free of the marriage that God used to teach me that only He matters and that when people focus on worldly idols and not on His love, their free will and the enemy are more than willing to make a path for them.

I also learned that no matter how far a person runs, God is always where we are and waiting with open arms.

I am so thankful to have the friends and family who support me in my relationship with Christ. Thankful for those who are getting to know my boys and be advocates for them, giving me a little bit of breathing room.

Today I’m off to watch my older son bowl in league play. He is headed to districts March 18. After he’s done I’m headed to the arena to watch the first of two games today that my younger boy’s team will play in district competition.

My heart is so full today, my life is so great.

Lord,

Thank You for the reminders yesterday as I got ready for my day. I had almost forgotten how powerful worship time can be on the heart.
Watch over my boys today, and every day in their pursuit of passions that feed their minds and bodies as they give all the glory to you.
Thank You so much for Coach JO and all the support he and his family have given me this year. I finally feel like My little man has somebody in his corner, and I’m thankful for that. Bless the family beyond all earthly understanding as they go through life as a great team.

Amen

Head Games

*Language Warning*

So tonight a woman in a breast cancer facebook group I belong to asked about blurry eyes on a certain medication…well who knew it would lead to this latest #CancerEpiphany

I started wearing contacts about six years ago. I loved finally being free of the glasses that had shadowed my face since I was ten years old. It was a new life!

Near the end of chemo, I found my contacts to be more and more bothersome. It got to the point where I could not even keep them in for more than a couple hours. I asked my eye doctor about it and he explained that dry eyes are common after chemo and that although not reversible, there are medications that can help.

My last eye exam was August 2015.

After hearing what that doctor said, I never bothered even going for a check up. Why? To get put on yet another medication? To be told that cancer has taken a toll on a completely unrelated organ? To find out I have irreversible damage because I fought like hell to save my life?

The only thing is; I never realized I felt that way until tonight when I was discussing this side effect with my online friend.

…I haven’t gone to the eye doctor since the summer I had radiation (2015). After chemo I had a hell of a time wearing contacts and talked to an eye doctor who is a parent of one of the kids I used to coach and he said dry eye is common after chemo and meds can sometimes help, but it’s not reversible.
I just realized (while writing this response) that I feel betrayed by my eyes…my body…this is all such a mindfuck and I’m tired of it.

Once again my body has proven just how fickle it can be. How did this even happen? Where did the message get messed up? At what point were my cells smacked out of line? Why wasn’t my immune system strong enough to fight it off? Why did it grow so big? Why did I do such aggressive treatment if it was going to leave me so broken in other ways?

I know, I know…it’s not that bad.

I beat cancer. I kicked the hell out of stage III breast cancer. I OWNED IT.

So why does it still own me?

Why was I so angry yesterday because the local Junior A hockey team was having a Cancer Awareness night? Here’s the conversation I had with my friend:

Me: I’m just fucking mad tonight…that hasn’t happened in a long time when I think about cancer…tonight I hate everything it took from me.

Her: There’s a lot it took from you, so if you need to be mad about it, be mad.

M: Oh trust me, I’m mad

Her: I believe you.
Anything specific trigger that or is it just where you are tonight?

M: I think just so much hockey…and how much hockey was involved in my fight and how much cancer is the focus of hockey tonight.
Hockey was my safe place.
I’m praying to make this about hockey support and not cancer.

And then my baby boy saved the day…he scored his first goal of the season last night. His team won their game 15-4. He started the season as a defenseman and has recently been moved to wing. Yesterday, he played wing, defense, and then (for the final period) in net. What a talented little man he is. Now if only I can get him to open hockey so he can pick up some speed…LOL

So that’s my #LifeAfterCancer story for tonight.

Tomorrow I’ll call and make an appointment with my eye doctor…I promise.

Thankful Thursday

While my boys go round and round about who gets in the shower first, I thought it would be a great time to just be thankful.

We drove down to Minneapolis yesterday and checked into our hotel which is directly across the street from the Mall of America. Immediately, the youngest was undressed and ready to go to the pool. The older one was busy setting up the xbox I had allowed them to bring.

So I go to supervise the little one and the older one (with strict orders that the xbox was brought for a specific purpose) decided to hang out in the room and read for a little while in peace.

While at poolside, I ordered pizza for supper and relaxed.

It wasn’t long after, Katie showed up at our room. Her and I were off to US Bank Stadium to go inline skating around the main concourse.

OMG

SO MUCH FUN

I skated for about 2 hours straight and her for three full hours. I knew going in that I couldn’t do the full time; and I didn’t care…the experience and the time with Katie was so worth it!

Of course we wore our “Cancer can Kiss My Skates” shirts and stopped at Target to buy pants because I couldn’t find mine when I left home.

Well, God was smiling on us OBVIOUSLY because we walked in and saw these pants that not only compliment our shirts nicely, they also have POCKETS for our cell phones!! SO COOL!

During the time we were skating, the boys had instructions to NOT kill each other, and no fighting over the xbox. I knew they could easily keep busy with games and movies for the couple hours I was gone…that was the ONLY reason I allowed them to bring it with us.

I DID NOT bring them on this vacation to sit in front of the xbox for three days…that’s for sure!

Today we are going to experience a virtual reality arcade, an indoor go kart track, and an hour of laser tag. Tomorrow is the Science Museum.

Father,

When I think of how full my heart is for my children, I cannot fathom how much greater Your love for us is. This is all I have to compare it to though…and it’s an amazing love. As I watch them be filled with peace and love and gratitude, it fills my heart.

It brings me such joy to give them gifts of time and memories. How much more joy must You have at each answered prayer?

It’s times like this that I am reminded to ask the Big Ask prayers. To ask for the earthly impossible…because everything is possible through You.

This trip is a reminder of that…without prayer, and without complete faith in You, we could not have made this trip.

I thank You over and over again for growing my faith over the last six years. I kept telling people it was worth it…every time they questioned how I could stay so positive, I only replied that I can enjoy the journey or be miserable…but I still had to go on the trip.

Lord, continue to rain your love onto us as we enjoy our time together. We have all worked very hard to get her and are so very thankful for every minute of this adventure!

Amen