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

Thankful

This is going to be an unedited brain-puke to check in, to say hi…to update.

My niece has been released from the hospital. She has much healing to do, and I pray daily for the resources to be available to her. She is expected to make a full medical recovery. Emotionally, she’s on a long journey and my goal is to support and love her along the way.

We are moving into a three bedroom in February. I am so grateful for God for slowing down the move by messing up the paperwork the first time. I have always believed His plan was better than mine and I can already see the awesomeness that is to come.

We move in February 1, 2017.

A three bedroom.

Two stories.

We will have an attached garage, a patio off the dining room, a play structure right outside the door. I have never had an attached garage. The last time I lived somewhere with a garage…I was living with my parents!!

And…it is HUD approved! Finally, our rent will be subsidized!

Bowling is in full swing for the older boy and his average is currently 100. He has a hook that I cannot even accomplish on Wii, never mind in real life.

Hockey owns my younger son…and he loves it. Our city started a Tier Two Junior A hockey team this year and the tickets are EXTREMELY reasonable so we’ve been attending games and he is loving that as well.

Work is going well for me. I just cannot get over how much I love my job and the hours I work.

Life is officially grand!

I now have a computer to use that should mean back to regular posts that examine my faith and try to explain how my faith stands strong through some unimaginable circumstances.

I am thankful for seven months of cancer free living. I am thankful for kids that keep me crazy and grounded. I cannot express adequately how much my family and friends mean to me every minute of everyday.

Dear God,

The opportunity to be a walking talking testimony to Your grace and mercy is a gift I am enjoying paying forward.

Continue to let me hear where You need me to serve others. Break my heart for what breaks yours…and help me to fill the gap.

Lord, as I get to know these students I work with, help me understand them, help me show them how important each of them is. Let me speak to their hearts as maturing children.

God, I also ask for pain relief.  As I am more active, the effects of chemo and radiation and surgeries are coming to light in a physical way that people just do not know. As you know, I’m listening to my doctors and it still hurts. Give wisdom to my doctors as we come up with a plan to keep me on my feet.

Thank you Lord for every opportunity I have to serve You and others. Help me be Your hands and feet…

 

One Piece of My Puzzle

*GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING*

When I decided just over two years ago to make significant changes in my life, there were a few things that were easy to decide upon. Other changes have taken a significant amount of prayer and meditation and trusting God’s plan for my life.

One of those areas is dating and sex.

Although not raised in a home where we attended religious services I always felt God as a part of my life and that He was always with me. I learned at a young age that sex was meant for marriage only and had every intention of saving myself for my husband.

I did not date in high school…mostly because I was not very popular or attractive as a child, but I was also one of the guys in the groups I did belong in. I was a tom-boy through and through.

I was still boy-crazy, as I think every girl is at some point in their lives. I just did not have opportunity to really act on it.

And then I turned 17 and fell in love with the first boy to show me attention beyond wanting to come ride my family’s snowmobiles or hang out at our cabin for the weekend. He told me he loved me.

Thankfully we lived 9 hours apart so the biggest risk was when my parents would get the monthly phone bill…but that’s another story.

Now for some background on the story.

I was raised in a family of seven children by my mom and her second husband. My mom had been married to my biological father until I was a year old and they had three children. My Dad is the man who raised me. The other guy, well, I still am not always sure how to address him and I am 42 years old.

Every year my mom and dad would send myself and my older two siblings to the town where our biological father lived (and still lives). We were “shipped to Grandma and Grandpa’s” for a week or two every year. We stayed at our grandparents home because my father is an alcoholic yet my mother did her part in maintaining a relationship between his children and his family. Thankfully his parents and his brothers and their wives made sure we knew we were wanted and that our visits were the best thing in the world.

We were only allowed to go there on the condition that our grandparents were our caregivers as chances were that our father was likely drunk anyway. I don’t remember seeing much of him during the visits in my younger years, but the times I do remember, I know he was drunk.

In our teens, my mother decided we were old enough to see this man for who he was on our own. We were allowed to stay at his place for the first time (maybe it was the second time…it must have been the second time because after the first time my brother and sister never went back. I did once, and this is what happened.

To get to the town where my grandparents lived, was a 10 hour bus ride, followed by a couple hour layover in Winnipeg, then a 4 hour bus ride.

I think this was also the first time I had made the trip alone. I made plans with my so-called boyfriend to meet me in Winnipeg and then we could hang out all day before taking the next bus to complete my trip.

I went to his house, his brother and a friend were there. I had met them both before and we were watching television when my boyfriend decided we were going to have sex. He knew I was a virgin, he knew I was saving myself for marriage. His brother and friend had disappeared leaving me alone with him.

At first I thought he was joking and I just shrugged it off. He loved me, of course he wouldn’t force me to go against my wishes…right?

Then I begged.

I pleaded.

I cried as he physically dragged me up the stairs to his bedroom, laughing at me the entire time.

I don’t remember if it hurt, I honestly don’t remember much…except the blood. There was blood everywhere.

He laughed at me as he finished taking off my clothes so I could shower off; it was almost time for me to go back and catch my bus, I’d better hurry if I didn’t want to have to explain to my mother why I missed my bus…

It was then I knew I was damaged goods, and I had asked for it. If I had just stayed at the bus station, none of this would have happened.

This was my fault.

Fast forward many years and I thought that sex was part of dating, there was no way around it. Except it left me feeling more empty and lonely each time. Being a person who lives with my heart on my sleeve, I was an easy target for predators and liars. As soon as they told me they loved me…I was mush. All I wanted was to be loved and they kept telling me sex meant love.

How I wish it hadn’t taken so long to figure out that sex has nothing to do with love.

I began a dialogue with my pastor about waiting for the man God has picked out just for me and that I know in my heart of hearts that this man would not have sex as a top priority. He would gladly wait for marriage, he would be honored to make that sacrifice.

And then somebody would come along and they would make me happy for a time. Then, when I would feel things were not going in a permanent direction I would inevitably give in and have sex…KNOWING that it was wrong. HATING myself for doing it. Doing it in hopes that it would fix things…this time it would be different.

But I knew each time, it wasn’t.

So here I am after ending a relationship that I thought was real. Before meeting in person I made it clear that intimacy was limited to holding hands and maybe cuddling on the couch while we watch a movie. He was so touched that I had chosen this path and admitted that although not easy, he was willing to wait. He promised me we would wait.

I know in my heart of hearts that God’s plan for me is much better than anything I could figure out on my own. Something just wasn’t right with the last gentleman.

It seems to be that each man I meet shows me a clearer picture of the man I hope is out there waiting for me. I want a man who is already heavily involved in his church, not just willing to jump in at mine. An active christian who has some of the same struggles and internal fights as he works hard to follow Christ.

Lately I am less confident that this man exists outside of my imagination. I pray. I pray for his heart to not lose hope, as I struggle to tell myself the same thing. I pray he feels my hand on his arm, telling him things are going to work out just fine, yet I do not feel that same touch.

So while dating is still on the radar as something I’m interested in, I am leaving it up to God to plop this poor bugger right down in front of me. HAHA…poor bugger. It is going to take a very unique man to jump in where we are; especially with the beginning of bowling and hockey season as well as me being fairly new at the back to work life. At least I am off the ice so less involved for at least the next four to six weeks, he can come watch practice with me (while I pout).

I just feel my focus changing I guess. The boys and I stay extremely busy all winter and will be travelling north for Thanksgiving as well as Christmas this year. We just returned from a four day weekend in my home town and it was the most renewing trip I have experienced in some time! ( I wonder if I say that every time I return)

Learning my own worth based on God’s plan for my life has been a difficult journey. I hope on e day a man can see how lucky he is to have found me now and not a year ago.

Today

I have not yet figured it out how professional bloggers get their job done. Yesterday was my one year anniversary here at WordPress and I have to say I am less than enthused by my progress thus far. At 93 posts in 356 days I do not feel adequate or successful.

I understand that my position and posts could be different if I actually had a computer at home. I also know that it is so very low on the budget priority list right now.

While I am eligible for assistance to pay the damage deposit on my new place, I would like to save up enough to pay for it myself.

Speaking of the new place…Cannot believe I have not yet shared this news with anybody. Nobody has heard this news.

When I went to sign the papers for my new three bedroom townhouse, the papers were for a two-bedroom, handicap-accessible, town home. It is all on one floor, only one bathroom, and does not have a bath tub.

There was a mix up in communication and although we had discussed a two bedroom, it was ultimately decided to get the three. The boys are getting bigger and I do not want to move again before they are finished school or I marry. The fact that it does not have a bathtub was also a deal breaker.

As the three bedroom homes have now been filled, we are back on the wait list.

Yep, that is how life goes sometimes. I am frustrated but not real upset. We will be able to spend a few more months saving up money, discarding and organizing, and learning how to manage our time and space.

I figure God’s plan is better than mine, so we will wait.

So back to budget priorities:

  • All bills caught up
  • Small emergency fund
  • Laptop
  • Enough money to pay for hockey at the beginning of the season next year

By small emergency fund, while I would like to see three months of expenses eventually, for now I will settle for $500. That way any minor emergencies can be covered without any stress (or very little stress).

I also know my vehicle is not going to last me forever and I would l guess it has a year or less before I am in need of a replacement. Thankfully I have friends who sell cars so should be able to get something reasonable…but I still need to have the money to give him!

I have a couple of bills that are still behind, I am working on paying them off. It just takes time.

As for a laptop, two friends are doing some digging/research/looking for an acceptable machine for me to use in the meantime.

Hockey…how cool would that be to just not have to worry about it next year, for the ex-husband to not be a factor on whether or not his season is in jeopardy? I know it would sure take a huge weight off my shoulders.

Working at the school has been a huge blessing to me. I am humbled by the students every day. The pay is fantastic for a job that requires me to breath in and out 12 – 15 times per minute…and no other real special skills. The kids…they make it worth every breath!

Babysitting starts my morning off right with a baby placed in my arms five days per week. I am not sure his mother, my good friend, had such a  great start this morning though. Usually she walks in and ever gently and lovingly says, “Debbie” and I am pretty sure this morning she was met with a, “WHAT ALREADY?” kind of snarl. I think I had been dreaming about the kids bothering me in my sleep…oops…LOL Poor Becky…

I noticed this evening after work that I am SUPER exhausted and after picking up the boys took a nap before the littlest one decided we needed to come to the library.

Now, it is almost 1900h and we have not had supper yet. Emergency fund or McDonald’s?? Hmm LOL

Dear God,

Even through the storm I will sing your praises.

You provide, you guide, lead. Thank you.

Amen

 

On my Phone/Rant

Yes, what I have to say today is so important that I am using my phone to blog.

I am not dying.

Yes, I said it. I know it’s been an ongoing joke the last two years but this time I’m serious. Today’s sermon touched me so deeply that I sat with the pastor after to talk, cry, and pray.

The tears were not of sadness, they were of frustration.

I have to look back at when it happened, but within the last year I heard God speak to me. I hear Him often and this time was no different than all those other times.

He told me I have between five and seven years left on this earth and to continue doing what I’m doing because I was doing it well and there isn’t much time left.

So, I did what I do. I shared this news. When people ask my prognosis, I share what the medical community says plus I share what God has told me.

Nearly every time I hear from people, “Oh, you don’t know that for sure…” usually followed by some remark about research and drugs, blah, blah, blah.

For the most part I patronize them by saying something like, “Of course nobody knows for sure…”

Well boys and girls, that train has left the station. No longer will I be as generous with my responses.

I have five to seven years left on this earth.

STOP TELLING ME IT’S NOT TRUE. Stop telling me I’m speaking death into my life. Stop telling me I can’t think like that.

People don’t like when God says No. People also don’t like death.

I’m so sick and tired of fighting with society’s view of death. I’m excited for heaven, and you should be too. That’s where the frustration came from when taking with Matty, why are people so afraid of death? Why is heaven a bad thing? You cannot think heaven is great and think dying sucks…you just can’t.

For now, for my kids, for my family I will live my best life. I will live, as I wish everybody did; like they are dying…because you are, we all are.

This changes nothing as far as my daily life. Today I will put away dishes and maybe read a book. Tomorrow I will wake up, go to work, and pick up my boys after school.

Life goes on and I’m ok with the fact that it ends.

Are you?

Are you ready?

Back to the Grind

I have decided that I am putting off the remainder of my surgeries (one or two procedures depending on a few decisions that need to be made). When I have made those decisions, I will give it a few months, to insure I am confident with my decision.

For some people it may be “just reconstruction” (yes, people say that). To me it is my new body. I’m very happy with my results thus far. Just the finishing touches I am not ready to make those decisions yet.

I am going back to work. As you know, I am a budget ninja. I have pinched every penny until it screamed for mercy over the last two years. That has granted the boys and I a multitude of lessons we may not have every learned without cancer.

I have been using the same budget and decided it was time to update it for my anticipated return to work.

What a slap in the face with a large, wet hand.

To pay for just our very basic necessities (rent, utilities, internet, phone, vehicle insurance, gas, and maintenance) leads to a deficit of nearly $300. This does not include food, clothing, sports, school needs, travel to Mayo, or any other expenses that come up.

How very blessed I have been for getting through this cancer battle and not having to work myself to death at the same time while trying to maintain not only my sanity, but being able to give my children the gift of having the best mom I could be through it all.

Getting back up to speed is not going to be easy, but the work to get there is going to be enjoyed every step of the way because it means I was able to fight my best fight when my body needed it the most. It means I am better, I am able, and I am the fighter I have always been.

None of that changes.

THANK YOU to every person who has prayed for our family, for every body who has been here for us through the days I did not have the heart to tell you that I was not sure I would make it.

Your prayers, your gifts, your assistance can only be repaid one way…paying it forward.

I am devoted to living a Christ – centered life and leading not only my children, but my grandchildren, my family, and all of those around us to God. I will lead by example.

BECAUSE OF YOU I have that opportunity.

Back to work coming soon!!

Dear God

Your people listened…they heard your call and they responded. Every minute of every day they cared for us. You provided for our every need.

I will now go forth with the love that has surrounded me, that has held me up, that has sustained me and I will spread it every place I go.

Guide me with your continuing strong hand and powerful army. I am forever thankful.

Amen

 

Late Nights

The nights I can’t sleep are the most difficult. It is times like this (3 a.m. as I, begin to type) that I think I deserve to know God’s plan. I mean C’mon already, haven’t I been through enough? Haven’t I suffered enough?

Of course my brain knows that the amount of suffering has nothing to do with getting an inside scoop.

What is the plan? Am I going to live into old age? Will I ever be in love again? Is it possible I’m going to be single forever? When will Dorothy come back? Is it fair to even want love if she does come back?

I know, I know; I’m not suffering with joy tonight…I’m in turmoil and I’m not enjoying it. I am Verruca Salt all over again. A whiny child expecting everything. It does not help that I started feeling sick today. Although not bad yet, I feel something in my respiratory system brewing and it feels like it could be a good one.

I’m shouting to God for understanding, for patience, for peace, for endurance.

Of course, I’m shouting silently…it is the middle of the night and I’m sharing a room with both boys and my year and a half old nephew…ssshhh.

My mouth says how I wish I knew the answers but I know better. Be careful what you wish for because it may be granted in a way that is not how you pictured it.

Tonight I’m struggling and wanted to share that because this isn’t an easy path. It is intentional every minute of every day.

Some minutes just last longer than others.