I Don’t Wanna

I don’t wanna write today that Beth Caldwell passed away last night. I don’t want to write that her husband held her as she died. I don’t want to write that her children were with her as she took her last breath.

But it happened and my heart sank.

I had a feeling yesterday was going to be the day. I even stopped at Katie’s and said I wanted to find out from her…she has been following Beth’s story as well. Really though, I didn’t want to hear it from anybody. I didn’t want to face it.

I think back to something I wrote on my CaringBridge while I was sick…it was about my own mortality. I was writing about the dreams I have for my kids and all I wish for them to know, and be, and accomplish. I wrote that for them to be the people they are meant to be may actually mean I have to not be here and how hard of a reality that was.

That is Beth’s family’s reality. That her death is a part of God’s plan for who her children become. Will they also be advocates for the unheard and unseen? Will they champion her cause…their cause.

As I fell asleep last night, I prayed for The Hubs, The Boy, and The Girl; the nicknames she used on her blog for her family. I prayed for their peace; for God’s grace and mercy to cover them.

And then I cried; for me.

Today, my heart hurts; and I’m just going to let it. I’m going to let it be hurt and heal…it seems to know the routine. Today I am also going to just be held…by God.

This weekend it’s just me and the little one home. Big Brother is going deer hunting with Dad and won’t be home until Sunday evening. I have a feeling it will be a lot of open hockey and chilling. His birthday is in a few weeks and we have to make a plan for that. My “non-viable pregnancy” (when I first got pregnant), my “Inevitable abortion” (at 12 weeks 2 days gestation with I had a partial abruption with ruptured membranes), my preemie…he’s gonna be ten this year.

Lord,

I am so grateful that my baby’s story is a yearly reminder that You perform miracles all around us and people love to hear his story. We love to share it. I am so thankful for all you have provided.
As I get through today and the weekend with Beth’s family on my heart, I ask for comfort for them. I ask that you give them the space, time, and opportunity to feel Your love.
And God, thank you for holding my close and keeping me secure.

Amen

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Every Time

A few weeks ago, I had found a lump on the edge of my reconstructed breast. It feels like a cooked grain of rice. Naturally my first thought was swollen lymph node. They aren’t common in that area; but not unheard of.

Within a few days I went to my Nurse Practitioner and he ordered an ultrasound. I love that he gets every concern is worth his time…he never makes me feel like I shouldn’t be wasting his time. Ever. That’s important to me.

Tomorrow I am scheduled for my annual screening mammogram on my favorite breast (you know, the one that HASN’T tried killing me). Unfortunately, I’m hearing a lot of, “Well, you should have just let them take both, I would have.”

Well…here’s the thing.

When it’s your turn, you go ahead and choose that. I didn’t, for my own reasons. And I’m gracious with saying, “Well, after talking with several specialists at the time, this was the best course for me.” Because I get it.

When I first heard I had cancer. I thought I would just chop them both off and be on my merry way. What I didn’t even know I didn’t know was (and still is) astounding.

It’s hard enough for women who feel like they have to give up their womanhood when they loose their breasts, but for others whom have not had the experience to make judgement on their decisions is a slap in the face.

I didn’t give up my womanhood…although many women struggle with their physical body after all that cancer puts them through; I’m quite fond of mine. I love that I have a scar that runs from hip to hip. I think it’s neat that I have my same bellybutton but in a new location. I’ve come to adore the flap on my left breast as a unique part of me. I truly enjoyed being bald and often wonder if I should go back to that because it was so awesome. As I consider that I am currently out of conditioner and using the shampoo one of the boys picked out…bald sounds pretty good.

But I digress…(as usual)

The day before my scheduled mammogram, I start bleeding. Now, at 43 this is normal for most women. For somebody who has been in menopause for the previous 2.5 years…not so much.

I called my friend as I was emailing my Mayo Clinic Doctors.

Then we began to discuss how busy satan has been throughout October in my life. Every time I think everything is fine, something pops up that makes me wonder. First, I switched jobs and that made me wonder about my role in both locations. Then I found the lump, which turned out to be nothing, and now this. Like COME.ON.ALREADY.

When I discussed the lump though, I wasn’t afraid. I said I had already heard, “You have cancer” once. Thankfully those words can never be heard again for the first time. I already know what to do if I ever hear them again.

Being treated with chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and targeted therapy and then  healed by God, I still must remember that 1 in 8 women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis. I may still be 1 in 8 at another point. I no longer consider myself at a higher risk of cancer as a survivor; just back in the pool with everybody else…I’m just lucky enough to have some preventative meds in my toolbox. So maybe I’m not 1 in 8 anymore. Maybe I’m 1 in 25.

So this light bleeding, extremely out of left field today and oddly…not overly concerning after the initial shock. I’ve emailed my doctors and will figure out the next step when they contact me tomorrow. Between now and then, it’s not my concern. It is all in God’s hands.

So as busy as satan has been this month, it’s nearly comical. He has no authority in my life and sees the good works I do. He puts thoughts in my head and pulls triggers that I thought had been deactivated years ago.

Sometimes, I just need that reminder, that satan has ZERO authority over my life and every piece of it is in God’s care and control. He works everything for good…so whatever attack brought upon me by the enemy…I’m ok. It will be used to deepen my faith and trust in God, not to question Him.

Lord,

I am fully expecting a clear scan tomorrow so I can continue to serve the children I work around and the other staff members I encounter on a daily basis. I know You are the designer of all things; I also know that you want your children to ask for their deepest desires. I ask you for a clean bill of health.
I pray that you bring a mate that will bless our lives in ways we cannot even imagine. I pray that he comes soon so we can start our forever together. I pray for a long, healthy life with him and my children.
Thank you Father for giving me an opportunity to shout Your Grace and Mercy from the rooftops through this journey and for giving me the patience and understanding to make the most of everyday here on earth.
Lord, I ask that You cover my city with love, that You bring healing to my hometown, and that people open their hearts to Your goodness.
I pray all of this in Your Son’s Holy Name;

Amen

Faithful

So, there’s this guy…

Haha that sounds so creepy.

OK, so we all know I am still single. While I am interested in being in a committed relationship that leads to marriage; I am not interested in settling for anything less than a solid foundation.

Do I think it will be perfect? I sure hope not. Perfect is boring. Would I like it to be soon? Ya, but I’m willing to wait for the one…and when he shows up…I’m ready.

As far as dating goes, I try my best to focus on Christ. On days when I am lonely, I work on remembering that lonely alone is better than lonely with somebody at my side. This does not mean that if I meet somebody and there is potential that I don’t step up to the plate…as I did this past weekend.

I casually met a man in June at the Single Mom’s Retreat. He was one of the men working security for the weekend. Although our visit was brief (and he really didn’t have a choice but to be nice to me as he was on the job); something about our interaction stuck with me all that weekend. I have prayed for this man consistently since June. Praying that he has peace in every aspect of his life, that he know his identity is in Christ, that God provide for him as He did for Adam…a perfect mate. (Of course, I wasn’t even sure he was single or married, so my prayers included that she also be a woman of God and that they be happy together.)

This last weekend at the Thrive conference, I saw him again. I won’t lie, I was quite excited to attend the conference because he had told me in June he would be working again at this one. Not only was I going to be spending two days with some amazing women…this was my chance to get to know him better.

Like a giddy school girl, when I saw him I gave him a huge hug and told him I was so glad he was there. He remembered me from Single Mom’s and although I wish I had the time to stop right then and there to speak with him; the conference was my priority and worship was starting!

Katie found him on Facebook and his profile says single, all his meme’s that are public are about loving God and living a Godly life…could he be any more perfect? She had told me the last time I was thinking about dating that she wanted me to find a man who loved Jesus more than I did. (I think that conversation actually took place the day I met him for the first time…while her and I were driving to the Single Mom’s retreat in June.)

On Saturday I made my move, I had written him a short note, telling him that I had appreciated our short conversations at the Single Mom’s weekend and was glad to see him again this weekend. I told him that he had been in my prayers since then and if he wanted to stay in contact, here was my phone number…

Wow…did I really do that?

Unfortunately, what could have been the amazing start to an awesome love story ends there.

He did not call, or text.

The funny thing is that it brings me this huge full of love feeling. I now know FOR SURE that there are Godly men out there…and when mine comes along, I know I’m ready.

I am so honored to remain faithful to my future husband; whomever he may be and wherever he is today. My heart is open and it is full!

Lord,

As I walk through this singleness, I am so thankful for being shown that there truly are single men of God out there. It strengthens my resolve to remain pure for the one You have chosen for me. It reminds me that dating for fun is not something I am even remotely interested in. As my heart remains full and open, give me the strength to continue to be vulnerable and allow that love to pour out over everybody in my life so that there is always room for more love.

I know Your plan works any season, regardless of my human understanding; it would be interesting to see how You would work a new relationship into a hockey and bowling season…

I am so blessed to have the friends I have who support even my wildest dreams; and crazy antics like giving a stranger my phone number at a Christian Women’s Conference. Thank You Jesus for giving me these women in my life.

As the Fall season is upon us, and it is getting colder outside, may our hearts remain on fire for You.

Amen

Now I’ve Done It

Now that inline skating season is almost over, it is time for Katie and our friend Katherine to resume their Thursday evening workouts. Good for them, right? Wrong. They brought their weights and video over to my house and we will be doing it together.

Trust me, I tried everything to get out of this. I am not a workout kinda girl. I skated my butt of this summer and I am quite happy seeing how much better I will be next summer with a full spring/summer of training.

Well, this is where Katie pushes back apparently. She knows I want to be on a podium of at least one race next year and there is only one way to get there…hard work.

So last Thursday we worked out…the three of us. I have not even LOOKED at weights for 30 years…never mind lifted them. They asked if I wanted to start with 3 lbs or 5 lbs. Well, here’s where my thinking gets me in trouble. I figure if I’m going to work out, I might as well make it worth my time and ache. I pick 5 lbs with the idea that if it does become too much, I can reduce to three.

Ya, we all know that never happened…oh wait, ya, for one of the exercises I picked the lighter weights…but only for one.

Friday my body must have still been in shock, because it didn’t hurt too bad. I knew I had worked out but could still walk up and down stairs without cussing at these two women.

Saturday came and Katie and I went for a quick five mile skate (not sure when that became quick…or normal…but it has). While doing some one legged glides, I lost my balance and fell.

I tore a hole in my only pair of sweatpants, I figured there must have been some road rash but didn’t bother looking as we were not even a half mile into our skate and there was nothing I was going to do. I could not feel blood dripping so it’s all good.

We enjoyed the first 2.5 miles just skating along on some new pavement by my house. Then we turned around…into a 10+mph headwind.

The conversation came to a dead stop.

The next two and a half miles was full of “This is stupid” and “We should have parked a vehicle at one end and just drove back” kind of comments. “Are we there yet” has taken on a whole new level of understanding.

I did notice that the strong headwind was great for my form though. I struggle with leaning forward and a proper, slow stride when I have no resistance. I was much better at putting my hands behind my back, leaning forward and a proper stride.

Silver linings, I guess.

Then off to watch the older boy start his bowling season…sitting for an hour.

Then I had to get up…HOLY HANNA…WHAT THE…

Ya, my body was letting me know what it thought of not only the fall, but the entire workout silliness now. I was nearly in tears when Katie dropped me off a sweatshirt (because I got the skate shivers while at bowling). I was telling her that now I had to go sit for another hour to watch football…oh my aching muscles.

By Saturday evening I could not even lift my arms to brush my hair without my triceps screaming at me. I screamed back…much to the enjoyment of the boys.

Now it’s Monday and my body seems to have forgiven me. I don’t yet have the nerve to tell it we are working out on Tuesday this week because we are leaving town for the weekend Friday morning to attend a women’s conference.

But…makes me wonder if we shouldn’t be working out twice a week…just when our body is not hating us…do it again. In theory it sounds like a good plan. Wait…what?

My legs have some serious work to do when it comes to strength. I also know that with that strength I will likely try to save enough money to spend on a skate coach for a couple of hours to work on my technique. The closest one I know of is down in the cities so will likely try to fit it in during a Rochester trip.

I am already looking forward to next summer…something I could not do just a few months ago.

Before healing, I could not think beyond the next month, or the one after that. Now, I’m back to planning a future, living my life as if I had never heard those ugly words, “I”m not going to lie, it’s not good.”

I am so thankful for the ability to work out and hurt like I’ve been hit by a tank. The ache reminds me of all those who cannot workout due to treatments, side effects, and those who have graduated from earth…I workout because they can’t. I hurt by choice…I remember when I hurt just because I was breathing…

How blessed am I.

Dear Lord,

This last week has sure been a roller coaster of living, to put it mildly. I am so thankful to be buckled in and eyes open to enjoy the ride.
As this week moves forward and we say good bye to a dear friend, help me serve his family as they have served others for so long.
I need help discerning the work situation as well, this is a tough one.

Amen

Normal

Life is beginning to feel almost normal again. For us, normal is busy, loud, and often disorganized. Normal is running fast and running behind. Normal is lots of love and little money.

It is our normal. It is how the boys and I do life.

It is amazing just how different we can all be yet still have so much in common. My youngest son plays hockey. The prevailing thought in this town (and many others) is that only rich families can afford hockey and when you go to the rink, it sort of looks that way.

Mom and dad both drive new vehicles, the family goes on vacation every year and never misses a college hockey game an hour away. They live in a mini-mansion with 2.3 kids and a Dog named Spike. Junior has the newest gear, a cool bag, and a $200 stick.

And then we walk in. Mom is divorced, drives a minivan with over 230,000 miles on it that sounds like it might die any second with two huge dents from accidents and because she cannot afford collision insurance, neither of them will ever be fixed. We rent, we have used gear that fits and his hockey stick from last year. Two cats, and have not been on a vacation beyond a trip to my parents house since before the divorce proceedings started 6 years ago.

On the ice, they all look the same with helmets and matching jersey’s.

What is normal for our family is only normal for our family. What is normal for each of the other families, is normal for them. It does not make one family better than the other. It does not ensure one child is loved more than the other.

What is normal for us, now may not be normal for you or anybody else. It may not even be normal for us in a year or two.

As we run through life with our hockey gear rolling behind, our iPad in our hand, our phone in our back pocket what you will see, is love. We love each other and we love our life.

I love that I do not drive a new vehicle, I have no financial debt and will do anything and everything to keep it that way. Yes, I would like something that I don’t have to worry about when I drive to see my family and that doesn’t need new tires; I also know that God has provided this long, He’s not going to stop now. When this vehicle is finished, where some people would be panicked, I see another opportunity to trust Him.

As much fun as it would be to take the boys on a week long vacation somewhere totally amazing, the memories we make each and every day are enough for me. I am not going to give up my everyday life (by working two jobs or otherwise) to have a week worth of memories.

I love our life. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love my kids, my family, my friends, and my church family. I love that life is simple for us. I love that we love.

Validation

Today is October 1.

I knew it was coming.

I chose to try to ignore it.

I made the wrong choice.

You see, as much as I would like October to come and go without any fanfare, it hit me today with a force I cannot deny. I got up and went to church and just standing there with people I know and love was anxiety laden. It was so awful that I could not even attend the second service I always attend.

I came home and crawled into bed with the cats. I needed rest, I needed to hide, I needed to not have to do anymore peopleing. My friend texted, asking if I only attended one service today and I said yup, and I was in bed. She was just checking to make sure I got out at least.

When we discussed what October meant to me the other day she asked what I needed from her or what she could do. I told her to make sure I do not isolate myself too much. When she texted today, I almost was not going to answer because I was afraid I had disappointed her by only going to one church service. She knows I thoroughly enjoy both.

Instead she told me she was happy I had gotten to at least one and to sleep well and that she was praying.

Oh I needed that more than anything. It was so validating. I had no idea how invalidated I feel about all of this until that very moment.

I feel like being full of anxiety just because it is October is stupid, that I should not feel this and I should be able to get over all of it. The truth is, I cannot. In October three years ago my world, which was already crashing down around me in the aftermath of a very long and drawn out divorce process felt like it was ending.

As I have moved through cancer and beyond; I do not think I have ever truly validated myself for all I went through. How could I ever accept it from anybody else.

So while I want to cancel the small group from coming to our house tonight, I know that it is only a six or seven people and we are finished within two hours. Cancelling serves no good purpose.

I am stuck between honoring this process and not allowing it to consume me. I am choosing to keep moving forward. One more stride. Head down and just moving forward. I cannot look ahead to how much further I have to go; I need to focus on the next step in front of me, and not one inch beyond that right now.

It feels like cancer all over again and I need to continually remind myself that it is not. That Dorothy is gone and God won. I need to remind myself that I am safe and I am worthy and I am loved. I.Am.Safe.

I thought I could embrace October and a month of advocating for the right charities and the right reasons to pink…it turns out I just need to survive this year and get beyond this pit of agony, despair, and anxiety.

I need to remember that I trust God in all of this. He got me this far.

What can you do for me? Check in with me, feed me, financial assistance, hug me and tell me I’m gonna be ok and the hard part is over. Encourage me to feel; real feelings, real reactions.

Together, we got this. I’m just the one with the puck on my stick right now and nobody to pass to.

Please Don’t Pink for Me

Before breast cancer, I hated the color pink. Honestly…hated. I grew up as a tomboy and anything even resembling femininity was a no-go for me. Jeans, t-shirts, and ball caps.

I have no idea why, but when the pink ribbons came about I thought they were stupid and useless. To me it seemed like people were making a point to make it look like they actually cared…but only in October.

Then I got sick.

In October.

Now, every year as my cancerversary comes up, I am attacked with pink ribbons EVERYWHERE on EVERYBODY. For those who have dealt with a cancer diagnosis, you may understand the anxiety laden time or the PTSD symptoms that pop up around the time of year you were diagnosed. The last thing you want to be reminded of is just how sick you were and that everybody and their dog is now (for 31 days) supporting some pink ribbon campaign somewhere.

Before cancer, pink was my oldest sons favorite color. He only has one shirt now that has any pink on it and he made it at Cancer Camp…otherwise, he stopped wearing pink three years ago. Overnight. He refused to wear his favorite sweatshirt, his favorite shirt. He was done.

I have gone the other way. My mostly black shoes have pink stitching…it has become a badge of honor for me. I have a t-shirt with a huge pink ribbon that says “FIGHT LIKE A GIRL.”

I guess for me it is about the other 11 months of the year. I wear my pink year-round because breast cancer does not just happen in October. People become more aware than they ever wanted to every day of the year. I thought I was aware.

I had no idea.

I had no idea how much I did not know.

About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

In 2017, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,410 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.About 2,470 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2017. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.

About 40,610 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2017 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. 

For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.

Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In 2017, it’s estimated that about 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.

As of March 2017, there are more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.A woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Less than 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.

About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.

The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older). 

http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics

Did you read that?? A QUARTER OF A MILLION women will hear the words, “You have cancer” in ONE YEAR. Now think of her family. Spouse or parter, kids, parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandparents…the list goes on and on. Millions of people have this disease just burst into their lives one day and are forever changed.

If you would like to pink in a manner that is meaningful to me, here are some suggestions with links to organizations that I support:

Pink for my cancer sisters who are stage IV which is a terminal diagnosis.

Pink for research.

Pink for my daughter who has a 50% increased risk of developing breast cancer.

Pink for my sons who endured a hell I cannot even imagine as they watched their mom get sicker and sicker.

I have both pink ribbons and pink bracelets that are available and the funds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Contact me if you are interested. I have taken a permanent marker to mine and written on my children’s names, because I pink for them.

If you want to pink for me:

Pink in April when it is my birthday and I am here to celebrate another year.

Pink in December when I get to spend another holiday celebrating with my family.

But Please; in October.

Don’t Pink For Me.