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

 

 

 

I Did it Again

I messed up.

Big.

My pride has led me astray and caused a ton of trouble…when will I learn. Especially after just posting yesterday how many times I have learned to swallow my pride…I guess I just needed to find out FOR REAL what happens when you refuse to give it ALL to God. I refused…and now I will pay a price.

This is one of those times that I understand when people are at their lowest and see no way out.

Today, I am so thankful that there is a way out and that way is God…through Him everything is possible.

Today, I am grateful to have friends remind me that this is only one day. Although the repercussions may last for some time, I am still loved and I am still worthy.

These things are the times when people who do not have a support system see no light at the end of the tunnel. All they see is destruction and condemnation.

I will get through this, just as I have every other time.

Right now though…

I feel like a loser.

I feel like a disappointment to my children.

I feel like a bad mom.

I feel useless and helpless.

l feel awful.

I feel guilty.

I feel like I just cannot take even one more step.

I feel finished.

I feel my ex-husband’s judgment all over me.

Right now, I am going to take a shower and go to work. It is just over a mile and I believe the combination of fresh air and activity will be good for my mental health.

This lack of trusting God has led to worry…which I never have when I do trust God. This worry leads to hopelessness…which God never leaves in my heart. The hopelessness leads to isolation…which is not good for reaching out to those who love me unconditionally.

If you feel called to help through this crisis, let me know and I will give you ideas.

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

Fear and My Legacy

Yesterday while talking with my pastor, he asked what my greatest fear at the moment was. I honestly shared with him that my biggest fear is that if my cancer ever comes back that my boys not be able to deal with it on their own terms.

A recurrence for me would mean stage IV which is terminal. This would absolutely devastate my ex-husband. He has so many regrets and emotionally issues surrounding our marriage and subsequent divorce that a terminal diagnosis would send him into emotional turmoil. My worry would be that the boys have to deal with my cancer on his terms.

I would also worry that a recurrence would take my ex-husband away from the church. Last Easter he began regularly attending the church that the boys and I have been attending for over three years now. He has even started volunteering and making connections within the church. I fear that if I ever have cancer again and he sees the church rally around me as they did last time; he would feel slighted…or something like that. Not that he would not want the people I know and love to support me, I think it just brings out a lot of his inner guilt and demons. If he pulls away from the church, my boys would lose out on the support that they would need more than ever.

My final, and most intense fear is that the boys do not see God’s grace and mercy at work through everything we have been through. I wish I had recorded what I told Matty, it was something to the effect of when I go out, I want their faith to be headed off a ramp…towards God. I saw his eyes widen…like he knew I totally got it.

The more thought I put in to it as my day went on today, I want their faith to be growing and taking a run off a ramp…not diving off a cliff.

I am not waiting until I have a terminal diagnosis to lead my children towards God. If that diagnosis ever comes, it will be God we turn to out of history and habit. When God is their go-to out of habit for things good and bad, I have done all I can.

For my entire life, that is my job. To lead them to Christ. To fill them with Christ. To model Christ.

Dear Lord,

As we go through the motions of everyday life, help me to guide these children to You. Show me how to point to You in every situation we face.

Help me to help them find you on their own. Help me to guide them in their own individual languages of love.

Help me to continue to meet their earthly needs and teach them the dangers of pride and shame and anger. Continue to give us opportunities to be the answer to prayers for others so we can recognize those same answers when they are our prayers.

Thank you so much for making me their Mom…for being everything they need and most of what they want (I am a mom after all…I can’t be their friend all the time).

Continue to surround me with people who know I am stressed and take the best care of me by sending creepy memes to my phone and Facebook. The Army you have surrounded me with is AWESOME! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

Amen