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Thursday, June 30, 2016

TBT: A Long Time Ago

I have been looking through old pictures lately and this one came up. It didn't scan very well, but you can see all of the people. I think the time frame would be somewhere between Jeremy and Loretta's wedding and Johanna and Bryan's wedding. We were standing in the living room of the old house on 12th Ave. during one of David and my many trips from down south.

That house is for sale again and seeing the pictures online of what has been done and changes that have been made is fun. No more dark paneling and and extra half bath among other things. The people in this picture have changed too along with the clothing and hair styles. Between the six of us there are fourteen children that have come into the world since then. Time sure does fly.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Survival Files: The "M" Word Again

Apparently you can have a mastectomy of your mastectomy! The surgeons office called yesterday afternoon and said they could get me in this morning, so I went in to talk to my team. This group has seen me often and just seeing the looks and the sadness in seeing me again hit me a little hard. They are baffled too.

I don't know what I was thinking before I went in or what I would find out but when there are "lumps" I just figured they would go in and get them out of there. Thankfully, I am not the surgeon who deals with cancer because that is not the case. She wants to remove the whole area including the skin where 1% of my breast tissue still remain. When she said "we will remove the tram" I almost lost it. All of that work to look somewhat normal and all now will be removed.

My plastic surgeon came in and consulted and he thinks he may be able to stretch the skin I will have remaining over the tram or part if they can keep a portion of it. If I don't have enough skin to stretch then they will have to remove the reconstruction. At this stage, an implant will not be an option so the balance will lie in how much the cancer surgeon wants to take (and we want her to take everything she thinks needs to come out) and the plastic surgeon being able to stretch skin over what is left.

Surgery will be next Friday, July 8th. I won't lie...I am a teeny tiny bit heartbroken about this. God and I will work it out as He is always there to listen to my struggles...and I will have a few days at camp to let it all sink while I encourage and help and keep my mind on what is important! 

Specific prayer needs for today:
  • Peace in my heart
  • Not a total loss of tram if at all possible
  • First iron infusion this afternoon to be tolerated well
  • Awesome healing without any issues
  • An AWESOME time at camp!

One of My Many Subbing Adventures

We are off to camp this evening. Our church has a kids camp each summer for the elementary aged kids. Last year the middle schoolers were sad because they had "outgrown" camp and came to me with a request. If a parent is volunteering at camp, middle schoolers can go be at camp and work as gophers to help with luggage and other odd jobs. The triplets wanted to do this and so I went to camp. We were there for both sessions last year. This year, we will be participating in one session starting tonight.

Everyone is excited because the triplets will be gophers, Zachary will be camping and Matthew will also be camping for the first time which for an almost second grader is EXTREMELY exciting! I am so glad that what is happening this summer with me is not going to cut into their time at camp. Although I am not counseling this year, I get to go and support those counselors in the girls' bunks as counselor coordinator. I get to pray for them, encourage them and help them in any way that I can.

I will post pictures of our fun at camp next week but for today I have a funny story...

See these guys? These are two of my nephews. In February I got certified to substitute teach here in Iowa and I spent April and May in classrooms all over town as a sub in three different school districts. One of my favorite classrooms was these boy's mom's (my sister-in-law Betsy's) classroom.

I was subbing for Betsy one spring day I got a text from her: "would you be able to bring the boys and drop them by our house on the way home?" Certainly I could so I told her I would. Fast forward and the school day is over. It is time to go so I tell the boys to pack up and we head to the parking lot.

Low and behold, no car key! UGGGHHHH! When we reached the van I looked in and there it was, laying on the floor on the drivers side right by the gas pedal. What in the world? I called David who was working from home that day (thankfully) and he came to bail us out.

As you can see the boys waited patiently in this annoying situation and were brought home only about 20 minutes later than planned. My van key has annoyed me from day one. It has the key fob built in to the actual key and for the last year, the plastic ring that holds it on my key chain has broken. There is no way to fix it except to get a new key. I have to carry around the single key apart from my other keys and I can't say this is the first time this has happened unfortunately. The problem is, a replacement key is up to $250 to replace because of the electronic components. Talk about annoying!

I say funny story now but then we weren't laughing so much!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Survival Files: Good News / Bad News

I am thrilled beyond words to be able to report today that the cancer is NO WHERE else in my body! Can I hear a huge WOO HOO???!!!!!!!!! (Maybe you have already heard mine in the air!)

The only thing that the PET scan showed is some uptake on the left lobe of my thyroid (which is weird because the largest nodule I have on my thyroid is on the right side). It doesn't mean there is cancer there but it is something to keep in mind. Since I am following up with my ENT in September, we will see what he says then.

So NO metastasis to report! Praise God for the GOOD NEWS!

People ask what stage the cancer is. Doctor says, that it is stage 4 because it is a recurrence. It isn't metastasized anywhere which would be a more serious situation. She said that people tend to freak out when they hear they have stage 4 cancer but we don't need to freak out. We have a plan, and we will follow it!

So, what is the plan you may ask? Surgery first. We will meet with my surgeon sometime next week and I will get an iron infusion sometime before surgery since I have been chronically anemic for some time.  After three - four weeks of healing time we will start chemo. I will go in every two weeks four times (about 2 months) and then for 12 weeks I will go in once a week. That will be a total of 20 weeks once all is said and done. Following that, there will be six weeks of radiation. There will be hormone therapy in pill form for ten years when it is all over.

Not that great on this side of it but once this is over we have our best chance to be rid of this stuff for good! To be honest, at this good news/bad news appointment, once I heard the good news, I pretty much feel like I can handle the rest of the stuff. I am just thrilled that we are talking about local recurrence.

I am surprisingly calm, it seems very doable (I know others through the years who have fought with this same battle plan and won and I have a big God). I am blessed beyond measure by all of the prayers and words of encouragement that so many have sent.

Thank you so much - all of you for following me and encouraging me to write. It really is the best therapy for me. I will try to be somewhat entertaining too whenever I can! 

Specific prayer requests for this week:
  • That the family enjoys time at kids camp the end of this week.
  • That David's sister has a safe flight up and back for the 4th.
  • That we enjoy a great family time over the holiday weekend so that next week we can get to work on this plan.
  • Continued strength for all of us.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Depth and Whimsy

I have been looking for a frame for this great piece that Dawn painted. Every time I look at it I get the perfect picture of the depth and whimsy that make up my girl. I am not even sure if this was supposed to be a self portrait or not but I love it and I want to hang it in my house!

I find little drawings all around the house that Dawn does here and there of these faces. I am glad that she put one on a canvas!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

7th Grade Band

I told you that I had planned to post on my blog an update of our spring activities. Well, since we are waiting for Tuesday's test results, I will post band news.

Both Ryan and Dawn had a great year in band. Both played in the Marion Honor band and Ryan was in the Coe Honor band this spring. Here they are at their last concert of the season (I added arrows in case you can't find them!)

You will find Dawn in the clarinet section and Ryan with the euphoniums.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

My Life in Patchwork

I posted this picture on Facebook tonight as a great ending to a productive day. I love the story of this blanket. Since I am in a waiting pattern again, I will share one of those fun tid bits about me.

I have mentioned before how much I have always enjoyed sitting and hearing the stories of the older generations. As my mom has said, I can find a "grandma" anywhere I go. There may be some of that in the genes as my dad was always quick to respond to the widows in our circle when there were lawns to be mowed or things around the house that they needed to be done.

One of those women gave me a treasure when I was in my later elementary years. Being the oldest of five children, I didn't always have things that other kids had and when something special came my way it was definitely considered a blessing from God. Bernice gave me one of those blessings one day when I rode along with my dad to her house as he helped her with some projects.

I received that day a Holly Hobby sleeping bag. It was quite a treasure at the time. I wrapped in it, laid it out in the yard when I was playing outside and it has made it's share of forts in my growing up years. One of those times, we had hung it over a clothesline to make a tent. When it came time to pick up our mess I grabbed and pulled it tearing an "L" shaped hole in the front. I was so sad that my sleeping bag was ripped.

Having a mother that is resourceful, we found some fabric in her stash that she had left over from some of the clothes she had made for my Barbie doll. I learned how to patch a hole and since the fabric was a favorite of mine, I wasn't too terribly sad after all was said and done. My mom could make anything better and although the blanket had ripped, it was actually cool to have a great patch with fabric that I liked.
So...that started it - my life in patchwork. Each time there was a worn place or a tear, I found some fabric (many times, fabric that was left over from a project of mine or my mom's) and stitched it up. Through high school I had my share of sick days and patched some then. The zipper broke somewhere along the way and so I just used more fabric and bound the edges. Most of the pieces of fabric on the quilt have a meaning from some event in my life and now, a few of my children's clothing have been added as I have needed patches.

I have patches that remind me of so many things...
  • a 8" length from the leg of my favorite pair of blue jeans
  • the bodice of the dress I wore in my aunt's wedding (it was lace overlaid on a peach satin!)
  • left over fabric from the couch David and I had in our first apartment that I reupholstered
  • numerous leftover swatches from 4-H sewing projects
  • a swatch from the fabric I used for the shirt I made in high school home ec
  • curtains from our first apartment
  • a piece of the left over fabric from every one of the dress pants that I have hemmed of David's from the time we started dating until now
  • the panel from a pair of my mom's old maternity double knit pants
  • gingham from the matching gingham dresses my mom made she, my sister and I (circa 1977)
  • fabric left over when a friend asked me to make spring dresses for her girls...the dresses that I sewed during the infertility years, praying the whole time that God would give me a daughter to sew for
  • fabric left over from when my prayer was answered and I used the same pattern to make Easter dresses for my girls fifteen years later!
  • leftover fabric from my "watermelon kitchen" curtains
  • Mario Kart jammy pants when my boys out grew them and they had been loved and worn so many times that no one would buy them at a garage sale!
  • Dora fabric from jammies I made for the girls
...and so many more!

There is not a stitch on the front or back of my blanket where I can show you what it looked like originally, but I did manage to dig through and find a picture of what it looked like on my bed back in the day. The picture isn't the best quality but this is what it looked like somewhere in the mid 1980's.

It is everything that a good blanket should be - warm (some places are about 3-4 layers thick), cozy and the ultimate in security blankets, reminding me that life may rip and tear at times, but our scars can make our lives more beautiful than they ever were before. I love the reminder of this great life lesson every time I wrap up in these precious layers of living!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday From the Heart: Help Them Fix Their Eyes

I have mentioned before how thankful I am that God put me in a summer Bible study in Philippians. I am excited that the girls are with me as we dig into the really good stuff of His word! I will be honest, we have not been daily diligent with keeping up with our lessons and that used to make me feel guilty.  But now, God shows me His perfect timing and assures me that sometimes our distractions are only His way of giving us what we need on the very day we need it.

So...that said, the girls and I were behind in our lessons this week (there is five days of homework usually 30 mins. to an hour each day). So, Wednesday, we had to cram in as many days as we could. Days 4 and 5 were introduced this way:
"We want you to study what it means to suffer for His sake as Philippians 1:29 teaches. So many of us want to run away from suffering, to avoid it at all cost. We do not realize the awful price we may pay if we are not willing to suffer. Are you wondering what we mean by the statement 'the awful price we may pay if we are not willing to suffer'? See if you can find out as you study this subject of 'suffering for His sake.'"
With that, we crossed referenced many verses, looking them up and seeing what the Bible says about suffering. (Matthew 5:10-12, John 15:18-21, Romans 5:1-5, Romans 8:16-18, 2 Corinthians 1:7; 4:8-18, 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4, 2 Timothy 3:10-12, Hebrews 10:32-36 and a few in 1 Peter - 1:6-9, 2:18-25, 4:1, 4:12-5:1, 5:8-10). As we went through verse by verse I found myself praying for my girls thinking "Oh man God, this is hitting so close to home...help them process all of this". 

I was able to go to the last day of scout day camp with the boys yesterday and the girls went to Bible study with a friend who came and picked them up. I so wanted to go because this lesson really encouraged me and the discussion and video lessons are always just icing for the cake. I also wanted to be there so the girls and I could continue the discussion later. But, I was at camp and they went.

After the day at camp was done, I dropped off four boys and brought my two home. I won't lie, I was exhausted. It is a good kind of exhausted, but exhausted nonetheless. I was tired but coming up to the garage door I saw a note from my Dawn:
"1 Corinthians 10:13 - no trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you can bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so you may endure it."
I was surprised and relieved. God is ministering to my kids and giving them the opportunity to minister to my heart at the same time. I asked Dawn how the teaching was for her on the video and she responded "Mom, it was SO good!" We talked a little more about how God gives us what we need when we need it and God's reason for sometimes allowing "bad things to happen in our lives". I could tell from our discussion that this little piece of that truth was sinking in for her.

That got me to thinking this morning as I had time during my PET scan and MRI. Isn't the main goal in our parenting to point our children in the direction to eventually look to Him for the things they receive from their dad and I? Not only that, but I have to trust Him to supply my children with the things I give them and so much more! So whether I am here til tomorrow, or til they have kids and grand kids of their own, my prayer is that I can lead them to need Him more and me less, praying also for the blessing of someday being able to hold my great-grandchildren and telling them about God's great love for them!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Family Night at Wakonda

Ryan has been away all week at camp and it is about this time in the week that I start missing him. I am glad that we have a chance to go have dinner with him and hang out for a bit. He informed me that even though while I was praying for him in the middle of the night last night during the storms that he slept well in his tent in the thunderstorm.

I have to tell on him a little bit...I went to hug him first thing and noticed that his Class A shirt was damp.
     "Oh, Honey, do you have any dry clothes after the storm last night?" I asked
     "Yeah, the reason my shirt is damp is because it was in my bag with my pool towel." He replied!

I love him! He is growing up so fast and when I see him at camp (where it seems he has grown three inches since Sunday afternoon when he left), it makes my heart giggle to know he is still stuffing his wet pool towel into his bag along with his Class A shirt!

Funny thing is, since Cub Scout day camp is the same week this year, we have been right down the road from him every day. We had dinner together and caught up on the week. I updated Ryan on the things that are coming up for me on Friday. He has told me before that sometimes he feels like he doesn't know what is going on (his sisters are better eve's droppers than he is)

 We had one boy who wanted to get home and be able to finish his video game time for the day, two girls who wanted to get going so that we could stop across the road to see their cousins who live off of Boy Scout Road.

Our walk took us up to the pool where they were about to start the water olympics. Ryan is my kid who beats around the bush when he wants something or hints at it without coming out and saying it. So when he said "Mom, I would like it if we could watch the water olympics together." I was happy to enjoy it with him. Sisters were crabby, Zach was crabby but Matthew laughed and watched right along with us. It was a nice evening (especially since David told me he would deal with the bad attitudes and I could just sit and watch the activities). It probably lasted all of thirty minutes and then again, it was time to hug my damp camper (who insisted that he had taken a shower within an hour of our arrival) and be on our way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Survivor Files: A Few Answers and More Testing

 Ask my kids, I am not good at selfies! The girls know all of the tricks to make your face look slimmer and how to show your best side. Today, I was just getting ready for my appointment after a few days of roller coaster emotions. I did a few facial exercises as I got ready to reduce the stressed look on my face. Not sure it helped...but it did give me something to post that you could laugh about!

On to the appointment. We found out all of the answers we could from our extensive list of 12 that David and I put together last night. Some were not answerable yet at this time and others were. I am not sure that any of the numbers and details will make much sense so I will just summarize it to say that we are relieved to find out that every scenario that could be playing out is TREATABLE. In fact, we were told today that there are a couple of things that can be pinpointed better now than they could even three years ago when I was there for the first time.

For those of you who like details, there is something they look for called HER-2/neu that showed up in one of the lumps and the lymph node. (negative in the other two) We are waiting for what is called a FISH test to come back for more clarity of treatment. I also had a bunch of blood work done today and on Friday will have a PET scan and brain MRI. I will meet next Tuesday to go over the results and then we can make a plan for treatment.

My doctor says this came as a surprise to them too and it is hard to know what caused the recurrence until we get more tests. We went over everything we did last time along with any new "aches and pains" that I may be having. There are no regrets. The decisions that were made then were based on the 97-99% of the cases of DCIS. Someone has to be in that 1-3% and well, here we are.

We know a little bit more than we did. Thankfully I will get to go to the last day of scout camp with the boys tomorrow as long as I don't do anything strenuous and stay on the strict 24 hour PET scan prep diet. (Lots of meat, eggs, and green leafy veggies/no caffeine, sugar or carbs.) If the results get back to the doc before next Tuesday we can meet then. Treatment will probably start the week after the fourth. This means I can still go to overnight camp with our elementary youth at church with the kids!

So, if there were any specific prayers for this week, I would say, (after the total healing of my body from cancer), that 1. the results all come back on time for our appointment, (and come back with the best outcome) and 2. that I get better sleep from now on. I have a new prescription for bedtime to help me rest and I am looking forward to better sleep.

"Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken" - Psalm 55:22


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Scout Camp

The last couple of days have NOT been spent sitting around my house worrying about my appointment tomorrow. Oh NO! We have been having a blast at Camp Waubeek making ice cream in Ziploc bags, riding horses, shooting bow and arrow, and BB guns. Not to mention Ga Ga Ball playing, kickball, and even learning a little sewing with a needle today! Here are just a few great moments:

Brothers enjoying the ice cream they made all
by themselves!

A little boy on a big horse.
A little dark but I LOVE that face!

"Mom, can I get a REAL bow?"

Zachary shooting his bow

BB gun shooting...always point the gun down range. Safety first!

Zach shooting BB gun.
Athough most of these things Zachary got to do last year, he is still excited to do them again. A new event this year is the slingshots! They are not as easy to aim, but patience and practice are also things every scout should learn!

They get to go back tomorrow while I stay here and to my doctor stuff. I am glad for this very fun distraction for them AND for me. Hopefully, I can be there Thursday for their last day. We will see tomorrow after we find out the schedule that the doctor has set for me.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Father of My Children

Oh for so many long years we wanted someone to call us "Mommy" and "Daddy"...and here we are on this his 14th Father's Day. I love this man. I love him because of the things that brought us together years ago and I love him because of the things that make us very different. I love who I have become because of his presence in my life and I love him for the way he loves our children, not like me, but as their father was made to love them - like only he can. Happy Father's Day David Sloan!

(I wish I had more time to sit and go through more of the pictures of our life! It really is a great adventure and sometimes I forget that!)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Survivor Files: Thankful for Retainers and Chocolate!

I realized that I have been going around for the last two days with my eyebrows furrowed, my shoulders tightened and my teeth clenched. (My typical stress pose) The stress was building even more than it had yesterday as my sweet daughter was in need of a swimming suit.
     "Mom" she said, "can you take me to find a swimming suit"?
     "Sure" I said, "lets get the boys ready and drop them off with Auntie Bets and then I will take you"
(Betsy had called to see if the boys wanted to try out the new trampoline and pool in their backyard - YES! of course they would!)

And, off we went. One store, two stores, three stores four...sounds like a children's book! She was frustrated that not one suit worked for her. She finally found a top but no bottom to go with it. I was telling her that we could keep looking another day. That didn't go over well. We were successful finding me a new watch (so I won't have to use my phone to tell time at camp and shatter my screen like last year), a pair of Nike flip flops for her and a new pair of sandals for me. (Famous Footwear is conveniently located between Old Navy and Kohls here in Cedar Rapids).

I got home and sat down after all of that feeling all kinds of little pains here and there. Boy, can a person let their mind go crazy. Lest people think I am a constant picture of  "calm as a cucumber" in the midst of the storm, think again. I started obsessing about the fact that the spot under my arm is actually hurting! It hasn't hurt before..."oh no...now I can FEEL the cancer!" 

Good grief! How my mind goes off. Of COURSE I could feel the spot under my arm where the lymph node is - the doctor poked a really long needle into it and actually cut three samples out of it! I probably let myself worry for ten minutes about the pain under my arm before I snapped out of it with a huge "DUH"! Our minds do strange things when we know there is BAD STUFF trying to set up residence in our bodies!

I had not stopped to make a conscious effort to un-furrow my eyebrows or stretch out my shoulders and neck or un-clench my teeth for the last 48 hours or so. I needed to purposefully get my body to relax. When I did (after my little psycho rabbit trail of crazy worry), I realized that I have made myself feel like I have gotten hit by a mac truck with all this furrowing, clenching and tightening! I also realized that I hadn't worn my retainers to bed in the last few nights. So my teeth had been working against me even as I slept!

TA DA!!! I woke up this morning without the headache I have had for the last three days. It has slowly made its way back by afternoon, but I think I will wear the retainer during the day too. It keeps my teeth from grinding! My body still feels tight and there are still little pains here and there but now at least I know when to stop and ask myself how I am doing and take moments to stretch out my face, neck and shoulders.

It also helps when your favorite Sloan sister sends the biggest basket of chocolate you have ever seen in your life! (Adult chocolate that is NOT meant for sharing with little people!) I am so spoiled!

P.S. And after all of that...my coordinating nurse didn't call to give me any more of an idea as to what lies ahead. How annoying! Oh well, the weekend goes on as we planned!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Catching Up With This Busy Year

I just snapped this picture to prove that I have been thinking and planning what I am going to sit down and blog over the last month or so. I have so much catching up to do! Life was busy this year at school with three seventh graders. They all did so well in their sports and other activities! It is amazing how fast time flies by. And, I wanted to be so good at keeping everyone from far away updated and now it is cancer again that leads me back to the blog.

BUT...life in the Sloan house is not all about me. There are so many other great things that have happened and are happening! I will start today by sharing a few pictures from our track season. There were two runners this season, Stacey and Ryan. Both of them pushed themselves to learn new things and grow more confident and able. It was fun to cheer them on in the stands.

Ryan jumped right in to the hurdles. He told me that he had not done them before but I didn't realize til the actual race that he really had NEVER done them before! I wasn't sure why his coach didn't help him at practice with them but as it turned out, he looked pretty great! He was a regular in the hurdle events all season long and got better and better as he got more experienced.

Stacey started and ended strong. The two weeks in the middle (when most of the track meets were held) she was in a boot! She developed a stress fracture on her right shin and sat out all but three of the meets. The day after the boot came off she was on the track for the last meet of the season. She didn't do to bad for herself bringing home two first place finishes and a second place. She is a runner and loves track. She hates the pictures I take of her but I love the grit and determination I see in her face. Being her mom, I get to post them if I want to! (I mean really, why else do I sit in the stands for hours cheering them on if I can't post a few pictures too!)

 It was a fun and busy spring. I imagine that I will be a little less active in the months ahead. Which forces me to rest when I would rather be part of life going on around me. I have already picked out pictures to post and write about (see picture above) and will enjoy the therapy of chronicling this past spring which I have been so delinquent in doing up til now. I am looking forward to next year even more because we have done the busy middle school schedule already.

Now that I know what to expect I say bring on 8th grade times three with cross country, show choir, band, (hopefully some more Opus experience), basketball and track!

Friday From the Heart: Why Not Me?

I was overwhelmed at the comments that came pouring in yesterday when I linked the blog to my Facebook page. No one wants to announce that they are once again fighting cancer but you all have been so great and the feeling of shock and grief is becoming a little less even just the day after getting the bad news.

There was a chain of events that led me to this week and I know that in Amos 3:7 God tells us that He "will do nothing unless he reveals his secret to his servants and prophets". I am not at all a proponent for taking Bible verses out of context, and I know the story of Amos and who God was speaking to here and why. I just can't help thinking based on my experience these last couple of months that for those who are His, He has a way of preparing the way for what is coming.

There are a couple of things that God has done to prepare my heart for my new reality. It wasn't clear at the time that anything was "in the works" but in "hind sight 20/20", I thank Him for orchestrating my peace well before I knew I needed it. I have a dear friend and woman of God with an incredible life story. She says whenever she relays parts of it to me, that when we are faced with a trial or life changing event, we ask "why". She and her husband learned with God's help to ask "why not?" Why not us?

Why not me? I mean, especially if I know and trust that God is giving me everything I need to "complete this work He has began" in me. (Phil. 1:6) In his sovereignty, He knows what our life in this world was, is, and WILL BE. Why not me? How will this look when all is said and done? I don't know, but I trust He will give me each step as I take it. Why not me?

Is it ironic that this summer (for the first time in a long time), our Bible study group has decided to meet weekly instead of taking a break til fall? Get this...we are studying Philippians! You know, "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need." (4:11-12) But then lets not forget verse 13:

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"

Do I think that I am in Philippians with my girls this summer by chance happening? Maybe, you might say, but I don't think so.

Is it ironic that after two years of wanting to buy a book that is a sequel of sorts to one of my favorite all time books of encouragement (Calm My Anxious Heart), I decided on my birthday to treat myself to Linda Dillow's book "A Deeper Kind of Calm"? I don't think so. On the very first page she writes about women she has spoken too who are hurting and going through terrible things in their life. At the end of the page she writes about it "Their anguish filled words echoed in my mind:
  • "My husband is having an affair with my best friend."
  • "I just found drugs in my son's room."
  • "I lost my job - what am I going to do?"
  • "My breast cancer has returned." (emphasis mine)
I started reading the book earlier this week as I was looking ahead to a biopsy on three lumps and a lymph node. Don't think I didn't tuck that last point in the back of my head, I was already thinking that this could happen to me, this could be happening to me at this very moment! But it wasn't fearfully tucked away, popping back up to taunt me un-mercilessly. It was more like prayerfully, peacefully tucked away with an occasional little cry out "Lord if this is happening, help me to stand in this time of challenge!"

Is it ironic that I have been through many ultrasounds and procedures where I can pretty much tell by the things the techs or nurses say and how they say it, whether I should be concerned about the next step. (and by the way, it is much more fun looking at and measuring body parts of babies than it is to measure the size of cysts and other masses). 

I could tell at the ultrasound that things weren't going to be as rosy as the nurses smile and happy tone were trying to relay. (and another by the way...I highly respect and admire people who pick to work in fields like this, the ones where there are many opportunities to have to paste on a happy demeanor when they probably already know and have seen these kind of cases before. They know I won't be hearing good news within 48 hours). 

It is just that I have done this before. But, in His grace, because I already had a pretty good idea that this was no longer happening to "set my mind at ease", it wasn't as shocking as it could have been last Sunday when the ultrasound report was posted in my online medical chart "ASSESSMENT: highly suggestive of malignancy". It was pretty unsettling seeing that staring back at me. No, I don't think there is irony in any of the things that have led me to this place. And I thank God for His ever watchful eye on the road ahead.

I Corinthians 4:7-10 "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body."

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Survivor Files: Still Surviving

I waited in line at the grocery store this afternoon and was met by a polite young man ready to check me out.
     "How is your day?" he asked.
     "Great!" I said with a smile, like I usually do.

Actually...those were the words that came out of my mouth but there was quite a different chain of thoughts running through my mind. If I was being truthful my answer would have been quite different.

There really isn't an easy way to say it, or read it, or hear it, but after making a few comments at my survivor-ship meeting to my nurse a couple weeks ago, she sent me to have an ultrasound on a couple spots that seemed a little more than necrosis. There have been spots of necrosis in the reconstruction process and most of the time it comes and goes.

At the ultrasound, the doctor found three questionable spots and a lymph node that looked "suspect". I can't say that I wasn't a little on edge as I was scheduled for a biopsy on four spots and sent on my way. In fact, I told David in passing that I think I should skip June from now on. This started seeming a little bit like deja vu!

Today the results of the biopsy came back. It is a little surreal to be typing this but the cancer is back, this time invasive breast cancer with cancer in the lymph node that they tested. I don't know anything else at this point. Tomorrow I talk to the coordinating nurse and next week there is the appointment with my oncologist.

Those of you who are dear prayer warriors I would be honored if you would add me and the family to your prayer list as we navigate through what is ahead. I debated whether or not to call this post "Cancer Files: Take Two" but the truth is, I am still a survivor!