More Than A Status Update

With Cancer Can Kiss My Skates taking on a life of it’s own, we thought it appropriate to give it a blog of it’s own.

I posted the first post last night and it’s had more views than ANY of my posts here.

Join us over there for a look at life on skates!

via More Than A Status Update

 

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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

This Funk

Yesterday one of my co-workers (an elderly man) asked if I was feeling ok; he said I didn’t look well. I explained that I was just stressed out…holiday stress I explained.

While I have some holiday stress, the truth is I hate my job.

I LOVE being with the kids and seeing them everyday; the atmosphere with my coworkers though leaves much to be desired. The gossip runs rampant, the two-faced conversations at nearly every turn, the manager threatens termination to at least one coworker – to everybody BUT that coworker (but has yet to sit down with them and discuss what she sees as issues) it’s disgusting and sad.

As much talking as goes on, you’d think communication is top notch. You’d be wrong. People who have been there for years get yelled at for not doing things they didn’t even know they were supposed to be doing.

I’ve never been given a job description or list of duties. I’m lucky to be able to work on the fly and learn as I go and read between the lines and see work that needs to be done. However, when I get reprimanded in front of students, staff, and coworkers for not doing something I don’t even know I’m supposed to do…no thanks.

I had only been there a month when my work partner had the day off. Our duties are nearly identical…but not quite. Well, I’ve never done her job and am busy enough doing my job that I have no idea what she’s doing when I’m not watching her. Anyway…so a sub comes in and half way through serving, I get yelled at by the kitchen manager for not doing something that was my partner’s job. I explained that I didn’t know I was supposed to do that…I had never seen who did that particular job. She told me, “Well, she better tell you what her job is then.”

Well, that’s fine and dandy…but then you complain that we are working together and wasting time. It would be so simple to have individual job duties lists for each member of the staff. There is so little variation in our daily tasks, that each job should have a job description if nothing else, for subs and new staff.

So every morning, I wake up in this funk and it sucks.

I pray for my work situation, for each of the people I work with and for. I pray for the spirit of grace and mercy as I know each of us is fighting our own personal battle outside the workplace.

Then I pray for my kids, and their needs and wants.

Then after all the kids get on the bus, I go skating for an hour. I do laps, squats between the blue lines, one foot between the blue lines, power turns, lunge-crossovers, circles, and some quick skates.

My time on the ice is magic. I work my butt off most days. Some days are just for conversation and leisurely skating. I’ve already noticed my skating improving and my stamina increasing.

When I had cancer, I would sometimes spend 8 hours at chemo and then run to the rink to coach hockey practice. Luckily, I didn’t have visitors at chemo so I was able to sleep all day…if I slept all day I had enough energy to be on the ice for 45 minutes. Once I was on the ice though, you’d never know where I had spent the day. Except for being bald, you probably wouldn’t even know I had cancer. I loved that 45 minutes. We got to forget about cancer completely…45 minutes at a time.

I need to find a way to completely forget about work. I took this position at the other school for more hours. I needed the extra hours as I was tired of not being able to pay the bills. Now at least they are paid…but it’s at such a high personal cost.

This morning, there is no open skating. I’m going to take the time to take care of myself for a little while…an extra long shower, a power breakfast and then go pick up cat litter I’ve been meaning to get all week.

Life is good. I’m just in a rut.

Dear Father in Heaven;

Grant me peace through this season. We both know I took this job for reasons other than money…to be able to shine Your light into darkness. Keep my feet grounded and my head in the game as the time passes.
I knew going in that this would be a challenge. Help me to not jump ship when the going gets tough. I’ve never been one to back away from a challenge, keep my feet firmly planted in Your light and truth.
Cover my workplace in peace and prosperity for all.

Amen

I Shouldn’t Have Waited

On Thanksgiving Day, I had so many thoughts of all that I am thankful for that I wanted to post about. I knew I had to spread The Good News about how I see God work in my life. There were so many amazing thoughts in my head as I spent the day in restoring rest.

Then Thursday turned in to Friday.

I ran to the store to buy milk and ran into a friend and her kids. Her son plays hockey with mine and her baby is just an adorable little munchkin who is always quick to tell me, “I’m not a baby, I’m a big boy.”

I knew her dad had to return to the doctor after talking with them at last week’s hockey game so I asked about it. He is a two time cancer survivor whom had just recently finished his second round of treatment along with a bone marrow transplant.

You know that moment before your life changes…it was right before I asked.

“Well, we got some not good news this morning.”

Fuck

So he goes back to the doctor again this week (6 hours away from home) to figure out what the next course of action is. My friend is scared, her older son is devastated (him and Grandpa have always been very close).

I told her that all I can do is pray…because I don’t even know what else to do.

Then I got a text confirming a fear I’ve had for a few weeks. Another guy I know (although not well, I’ve known him for about 10 years) his brain cancer is back. Stage four glioblastoma.

So, of course I don’t do myself any favors by looking it up. Median survival, 15-18 months. Only 20% of patients area alive after one year.

I’ve been praying for his family…and my friend’s family.

I still want to post about all that I am thankful for…just at a more appropriate time. Today is not that time.

Today I am praying about not killing anybody at work…the last week before my Zoladex shot is beyond hell. It’s like PMS on steroids. I never dealt with PMS before cancer, I was pretty lucky.

Not anymore.

About a week before my shot is due, something will alert me to the shift in my mood; being short with the kids, something trivial causing an explosion…then I will check the calendar and take a deep breath…because it is just the beginning of Hell Week. College frat boys got nothing on me!

I can’t fall asleep at night, I don’t want to get up in the morning. I have no desire to do anything (I even skipped my morning skate today and last Wednesday). Ya, you read that right…I skipped an opportunity to be on the ice…twice.

I get my shot at 2:30 today and then because the weather is so awesome I may even go for an inline skate; whoda thunk we’d be able to skate at the end of November? I think Halloween Day was my last inline skate. Would have been cool to skate on ice and pavement in the same day. Today is not that day.

So I will get up and go to work, I even considered calling in sick today to avoid any potential issues, I’m just not myself and I hate it. Twice last week I nearly quit my job. I saw a co-worker yesterday and she asked if I was ready to go back to work tomorrow after a four day weekend and I told her, “No, I hate my job.” She said that made her sad.

I also hate that it’s four unpaid days (no stat holidays in this country). Ya, I know we’re going to be okay, yes I know God will provide for our needs.

You know what though?

I want more than just our basic needs. I want to pay the light bill AND take my kid for a hot chocolate. I want an emergency fund so that I don’t have to rely on others when my vehicle finally decides it’s done.

And I hate that.

I hate feeling like I want more. I hate to think that I somehow sound ungrateful for all that has been provided for us. I’m not. I am truly thankful to be where we are. I also know that even a few hundred dollars every month would make a huge difference in our comfort level. I could own more than one pair of jeans for work, I would not beat myself up for driving 3 hours (one way) to watch my son play hockey on his dad’s weekend. I wouldn’t cringe at the thought of the fees for archery (although only $40…that’s almost a tank of gas).

I had a great idea for Christmas for the boys and now I don’t think I can pull it off.

Instead of buying gifts this year, I was going to plan a getaway. It wouldn’t cost much more than what I would spend on gifts, and the memories would be way better than any gift I could buy them.

We even received an unexpected monetary gift in the mail last week. Well, between travel for hockey this month and other unexpected expenses, that was swallowed up like a snake eats a frog…like it was gone before I even realized it.

Add on the fact that my December 15 paycheck will be smaller than normal, and I’m right back to counting pennies in time to pay rent for January.

This is where that ‘cushion fund’ would come in handy. If I had a couple months of expenses saved up, and the security that I had the money on hand, I could let go of the stress.

So, instead. My kids will be on the local ‘Giving Tree’ and somebody will pick the “Boy – age 10” and “Boy – age 13” off and bless them, again.

I thought I had it all figured out.

Turns out God’s plans and my plans are not always the same.

Heavenly Father,

I am so thankful for the blessings bestowed upon myself and my boys. I do understand how blessed we are and how good we have it.

I miss how things were when I didn’t have to worry about money. I want to have that again. God, I ask for abundant resources to not only meet our needs but to also exceed them.

Amen

Sick, Not Real Sick

I woke up in the middle of the night and called into work. I was fevered, stuffed up and my body was aching. Yay for flu season, right?

Guess who hasn’t bothered to get her flu shot yet?

Anyway, now I’m laying in bed and I was thinking about how nice it will be when the boys get home from school. My older boy is the best caregiver in the world. At his very core is compassion and service. My younger one is a Mama’s boy…he would be the one to bring extra blankets, to fluff my pillows; while his brother would bring soup and care for the younger boy.

Then it hit me…

I don’t want them to see me sick. Even if it’s just a flu or a bad cold. I can picture my older boy’s agony to see his mama sick again. I don’t want that fear to ever enter his brain.

I don’t want the younger one to not be just a little boy, wanting Mom to take care of him in spite of her ailments.

Sure, their compassion is a life lesson that many will never learn. It will serve them well for years to come. I know the adversity they have faced through cancer have been wonderful lessons in faith, love, service, mercy, and grace.

They are always quick with grace when I am not well.

So where does this mom-guilt fit? It’s not like I ASKED for cancer, not like I planned to be sick today when they returned home for the week. I know it is the enemy who is working to break me down.

Screw him.

I’m taking care of me today. I’m just going to be allowed to be sick. I am going to let my boys care for me and allow my expectations to be NIL for myself this evening.

Just this once, I’m looking forward to my baby boy making me his favorite chicken noodle soup, to the older boy to be the man of the house…just this once…

And just this once, I won’t feel guilty. I won’t feel like a bad mom. I won’t beat myself up.

Dearest Father,
I ask for mercy that this illness be taken from my body today. I thank You for being louder than the enemy and that I know I am still worthy of love when I am sick.
Lord, Your love surrounds our home. Please Father, do not let fear enter here when they boys come home and see me so ill. Remind them in the deepest creases of their beings that You have beaten cancer for us and that the flu has nothing on You.
Amen