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25% Done

3 rounds down....9 to go. I’m 25% of the way done with my infusions. I like looking at it that way (thanks for the tip Mom!)
This last round in the chair was super emotional for me. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror with my pole on one of my many bathroom trips (thanks extra hydration) and it just hit me. This is my life- how in the world am I getting chemo? Did this actually happen? It felt surreal. 
After I sat back in my chair the tears rolled down behind my mask and I had to pull myself together and then text Trevor. Who sent me this:
“Our pride and your courage is about YOU and how you are real, and vulnerable, and compassionate - and that this season is just one more way (sucky way) that God shows you who you are. you are his. you are mine. you are an amazing mom. you are a warrior!!”
He’s the best.  And then I fell asleep (thank you IV Benny and AirPods). 
This is a roller coaster experience and some days are fun and fine and other days I want off or I want to puke or both. …

Excited about Chemo, Preaching and Pumpkins.

As the days draw closer to my next round I find myself almost excited?!?!  Is that just the weirdest thing? I know what to expect now when I go, I have the BEST support system and I know it means one more round down and one more day closer to being done with all of this.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my week break in between, but I don’t feel anxious going in. I feel hope. Something I thought was going to be allusive this entire process.  (PS: I reserve the right to change my mind about this at any point along the way!!)

Tomorrow brings a blood draw, appointment with my oncologist (okay that always makes me nervous- I like the PA better) and then another Pre-Chemo Movie Night with friends and family. If Cinemark stops this before I’m done with chemo I’m going to have an issue!!! Oh and I get my hair cut!! You know, even if I mostly only go to doctors appointments you gotta keep the hairs lookin good.


Tonight I got to teach/preach for the first time since March. I had a lot of anxiety going i…

Celebrating Every Win

When my Mom was going through treatment for breast cancer, we celebrated every win. We had  a party any chance we got. From surgery parties tto finishing parts of the treatment plan parties and so on. Because it was so long ago (yay!) and COVID wasn’t around we got to have little mini parties in hospital waiting rooms too. I remember showing up to one of her surgeries in pink fuzzy flip flops along with others just because it made her smile. 
My Mom and I are a lot alike, but in this scenario after my diagnosis, I wasn’t feeling the same. I didn’t want any sort of parties, I didn’t want to celebrate anything. I was so angry I couldn’t imagine finding anything to be happy about. I didn’t want to feel like I even had to pretend to be joyous. I’m authentic and genuine and I can’t fake it. I couldn’t post a smiling “I’m gonna beat this!” pic for the life of me. She reminded me that it was okay and it was my own journey and I didn’t have to do it the same as she did. I needed to be me, and …

On Elephants and Bitterness and Not Being Wonder Woman

Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me home empty." 
I decided after my diagnosis this was my new life verse. I was angry, I felt abandoned by God, I felt forgotten. I felt like prayer didn't matter...prayer was a shot in the dark. I'd seen faithful people pray for healing and their loved ones die and others lived. Why? I don't believe it was because someone prayed more than someone else...so where does the answer lie? Is there a point to prayer other than getting close to God, and if that is the only point then why are we praying specific prayers? 
I could not open my Bible. My ground was shook and I did not know how to recover. Was my faith so brittle and weak I could not withstand this? Had I been fooling myself this whole time? How am I a Pastor if I can't even imagine moving forward from this still trusting in God?
I wept. I wept harder than when we lost our baby, when my husband&#…

How we COPE

When you and your caretaker are both working from home (him more than FT and me 30 hours) and you have three kids doing school online (2 different grades) and you’re going through chemo AND continuing to take courses to fulfill ordination requirements DURING freaking COVID.....You find ways to make your life safer and easier if at all possible. For us that’s looked like: Masked up all the time around everyone but my parents. Even outside. Our boys do not push back at all. Socially distant meetings or hangouts in our backyard with masks. Nobody coming in our house by my parents. Shoes off when inside. Multiple times a day sanitizing high touch places. I don’t go out often. Trev does as much from home as he can and he is the one who goes into stores unless we can use Instacart which we do most often. We bought a HEPA Air Filter (named Scourgify) for our home that does the full Shabang from allergens to dust to smoke. We purchased a better robot vacuum (Locomotor the Roomba) because that’s one l…

Chemo Round 2

Finally home after a LONG day. Was not prepared to be gone all day- lots of delays due to emergencies with another patient (she is stable in ER now) In bed with my pump on for another two days. My appointment was at 9:50am but I did not get hooked up until 11:15am. While it was a long wait, there was a sweet woman who was struggling with other things and all hands were on deck for her. I did love watching the care and concern and detail with which the department took care of her. I do hope she is okay. I also asked for an extra bag of hydration this round because of how hard it was for me to get fluids the first days after chemo due to the cold aversion. That takes longer and I did not realize that. I didn't come prepared with enough nutrition so that is a lesson learned. Pack more food than I think I will need! All in all it went well, although I didn't have a nice view out the window this time. 
Loving my new shirt from my Mom. I think I shall wear it every other Tuesday and …

Chemo Round 1

First they give me Benadryl (for any potential reactions- makes ya hecka sleepy ) and Dexamethasone which is a steroid that helps make anti-nausea work better. Those two drugs are put directly in my port from syringe. Then they give me Akynzeo which is the anti-nausea med. Next up are the Chemo drugs aka Cancer Killers aka Poison. Oxaliplatin and Leucovorin are given together over 2 hours. Once that is done I get another cancer killer drug. It’s the IV form of the chemo pills I took during radiation. 5-FU (FOLFOX) They give me a bolus(15-20min) and then they hook me up to pump and I come home with same drug. It looks like a ball and as it disperses the chemo over the next 48 hours it will shrink down. I get to wear it in my cute pink fanny pack instead of the ugly black bag they had for me. Now I sleep. Pray for minimal side effects. I had minimal effects with radiation and chemo pills so I am just going to keep praying the same way My amazing Mom was my chauffeur and I came home to 4 gor…

Autumn

Today is the first day of fall.
My most favorite season. Today is also the first day of chemotherapy, the next season in my cancer journey. During autumn things die. The leaves turn gorgeous colors on all the trees but it’s because they are dying. If we didn’t know better, the months of winter that follow would have us believe nothing is happening. The quiet, the cold and the barren might deceive us into thinking there is only night and never day. There is only dark and never light. But we know spring lies just around the corner. We know that new life is about to emerge and we know that behind the scenes nature has been at work. In the unseen places, preparing for the next season. Each season brings with it the truth that it does not last forever. And in each season there is transformation that happens. Sometimes it looks like death but it’s just a shedding of the old to make way for the new. Here’s to a new season and the hope that comes with it.


How I Found Out I Had Cancer

I realized I never shared about how I found out I had cancer, so here it goes. Biopsy results from the colonoscopy came back negative for cancer, they were pre-cancerous. Because one of them was so big I was going to require surgery to remove it and then they would take the other one out at that time. We were relieved to find this out. My surgery ended up being more complex and my hospital stay was long and traumatic. They did not have my pathology results when I was released. They did not call me with the results. I had to wait for my two week post op appointment when they were removing my staples. Those were a hard two weeks. We went in to get my staples removed and a doctor came in explaining what they did in the surgery and why and then says “they were both cancer”. At that moment I stopped breathing and felt like I was going to pass out. I squeezed Trevor’s hand so hard. Then the doctor’s phone buzzed and he says “oops sorry I’m on call so I have to look at this”. He proceeds to tex…

Doing the Hard Things

Look at your long hair, with no grays peeping through. Look at his pre-beard baby face and the way the lights hit your eyes. Within the next 5 years of this picture your heart will break open when you realize how many foster kids are in your valley and how few foster families there are. You will do the thing you said you would never do and bring home a little boy. You would care for his mother and encourage her to give the new life growing inside of her a chance and you would watch a beautiful adoption story unfold because of it. You would see that little boy reunited with his Mom. You’d go on to advocate and speak at events and urge the church to move towards filling this gap and even write a book. You’d say yes to a little girl outside of your preferred age range and you’d raise her for two years before releasing her back into a broken and unknown situation. You would weep more than you ever thought possible. You would be ready for a long break of rest and healing. But then you’d he…

Done with Radiation

After 25 days of radiation, 75,000mg of chemo , 220 total miles of driving , Weekly blood draws //I AM DONE WITH RADIATION


Little Lamb

Our boys have gone to the same pediatrician since birth- the same one my sister and I went to. I’ve known her for 26 years and not only is she brilliant but she is kind, caring and has made us feel incredibly loved over the years. I’d given her a heads up over MyChart about what I was going through because the twins had their well-child checkup this week and I wanted her to be aware. She immediately called me and expressed her love and concern and care. Her nurse that we’ve known for almost as long and who came to my home when our twins were babies to care for them so I could nap and she did my laundry (what?!) also called me. Today the twins saw her and she told them when she was little her Mom had cancer too, and then her older sister. She understood what it was like for a family. She took them back to a room with a closet filled with cute little stuffed animals and told them to each pick one and get one for Jack. These were to be little comforts for this time period. And then.... s…

Relay for Life

Relay for Life of Southern Oregon On the evening of Relay for Life there is always a special luminaria ceremony. The track at Speigelberg is lined with bags lit with fake candles inside- of those we’ve lost, those who have survived and those who are fighting. It’s a walk of silence minus the bagpipes and always emotional. There could be no normal Relay for Life this year because of Covid so participants were encouraged to put bags in front of their own homes instead. Tonight, I thought I was putting bags out for friends and loved ones but when I went outside I saw bags everywhere. Dozens in front of my house and in front of every home on my street (minus one). They were for me. My Mom contacted all of my neighbors and many of you and you decorated bags for me. It was beautiful. I hate that my name is on a bag, it’s a bummer. But- I’m overwhelmed by your support. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of deathYour perfect love is casting out fear And even when I'm caught in…

Not My Story

This is not my story.This is not my story. This can’t be my story. I don’t want this to be my story. My story. MY story. How do I live out this story? How do I embrace this story? My story. How do I give glory for this story? My story. My life. His story. My story for His glory. My life for His glory. “And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst.’” ‭‭Zechariah‬ ‭2:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬


Gearing Up

Monday the 27th is the day. The day chemo and radiation begin. Wrapping my head around simultaneous treatment each with their list of side effects has been overwhelming but I am being reminded to take it a day at a time and this is my story and my experience and not anyone else’s. April 24th was when we found out something didn’t look right - 3 months later we are finally getting going. I am so ready to start killing this sucker and I am also terrified. I think it’s good to remember we have the freedom to feel all the things. To be afraid and brave, to be nervous and confident, to step into the unknown holding tension between it all. My childhood pastor sent this verse to me as it’s been a comfort for he and his family through many rough seasons and I cling to it, repeating it until it burrows down in my soul. So the real journey begins with phase one lasting between 5-7 weeks, Monday through Friday I do both chemo and radiation with Sat/Sun “off”’(Things to pray for? Minimal side eff…

Beach Hopes

Before we had my appointment with the oncologist we drove to the ocean. I needed to leave the house after being inside for 4 weeks and everyone else needed it too. It was easy to social distance and we didn’t come into contact with anyone. The ocean has always felt like a place of healing for me and a place I go expectantly for a spiritual encounter with God. I didn’t feel that way after this trip. I was pretty upset about it to be honest. I kept waiting for a breakthrough of peace in my heart, of comfort knowing He was with me and of hope. I left mad. Happy the boys got to have some freedom but disappointed with my expectations. And then I “went public” with my diagnosis which was incredibly hard and I wept after because it felt so much more real and I hadn’t actually said or typed the words “I have cancer” until then. And in the two days since I went public the outpouring of love and support and encouragement had left me undone. I feel humbled and undeserving and overwhelmed. But I…

BIBLE

I have had a hard time opening my Bible since my diagnosis. I had felt so completely alone and forgotten, searching for hope and peace and coming up dry. I have had days of sorrow and days of anger and questioning and doubt, days where I couldn’t utter any words of prayer and relied on the words of others. Trevor reminded me David, author of the Psalms, was there searching for peace and only able to rely on the promise God had given him. He shouted and prayed too// This last week my Grandma moved from her home into a new place. In the move some things went with her and others were dispersed amongst family. My Grandma’s Bible came home with my Mom. My Grandma is a prayer warrior, a faithful servant to her family, community and church. This Bible is full of highlights and underlines, notes and more. My Mom brought it over to me last night, believing during this season it could be helpful. I smelled it first, yes....this is hers, this is from her home where I have so many memories from I…

The C Word

I can’t believe I’m typing this but 13 days ago we found out I have cancer. I really really hate that word. I hate that this is my reality and my story right now. 
 Just so you know, I am not feeling strong or brave. #realrawpastortalkYesterday we met with my oncologist and set out a plan that spans about 8 months give or take if all goes according to plan. Starting with a Radiation/Chemo combo followed by Chemo. 
What makes this harder is stupid COVID 
 and the fact that our family is going to have to essentially live in a bubble for these 8 months to protect my life in all reality. This is a hard pill to swallow for us all, especially the boys. I know our community that loves us will be able to be creative in how they support us from a safe distance or outside of our windows- but this is just 10x harder because of it 
We welcome your prayers and encouragement but ask for you to not tell us your stories or stories of those you know who have gone through this or platitudes or advice even,…

Screw You Cancer Haircut

I’m told I won’t lose my hair- it will get just thinner. But I decided I needed a screw you cancer haircut in hopes it would help me feel more in a fighting mood. Thanks to my friend of 20 years Jessica Hawkins at Avae Salon for keeping me safe while also giving me this rocking’ cut for the next season of my life!