Wednesday, November 16, 2011

11 to Go...

Well, chemo number 1 began yesterday at Cedars.  I'll be there for the first few treatments and then plan to transfer over to the Westlake office.  It's funny.  At Cedars, I have a private room, a bed, a tv/dvd player and a recliner for my guest.  All this comes in handy when you're there for six to eight hours at a time.  At Westlake, I have a chair in a community area.  It's like the Four Seasons vs. Motel 6.  But it's only three minutes away!

So a lot has changed in the last 24 hours.
 You see, had I started chemo just one day earlier, I would have been a mess.  As you can tell from my last post, I was mad.  Confused.  Depressed.  Down.  You name it.  But the night before I was to start chemo, a friend of mine sent me an email.

"I thought of you the minute I read the title of this email and felt I had to share it with you," she wrote.  The email was from MOPS (Mothers of PreSchoolers) and it was titled, "Be Still."  Hmmm, isn't that my life's motto?

So I read the brief article and it just hit me.  Be Still.  Those two words just sunk into my heart and soul.  Again.  I replied to her email, "Perfection.  Thank you."  I needed that.

A few hours later, I was watching Diane Sawyer's interview with Gabby Giffords, the Arizona senator who was shot through the brain outside of a grocery store about ten months ago.  Her Mom received the phone call that she had been shot.  As she drove to the hospital, her Mom told Diane, "I can't explain this to you, but I heard God say to me, Be still and know that I am God.  And I don't even think I had ever heard that verse before."  

It hit me again. 
Be Still.

What also impacted me during that interview is had you seen Gabby days after she was shot, she was vacant.  Her eyes were open, but she wasn't there.  Her brain was clearly not working.  One may have thought she'd stay that way forever.  But she didn't.  Fast forward 10 months, and she's vibrant.  And she's speaking.  Not complete and full sentences, but it's only been 10 months.  But she's herself again.  She's glowing.  She's beautiful. And considered a miracle to all who have worked with her.

And that gave me peace.

So I thank God for His hand upon me.  I know it was always there, but I think I kind of kept pushing it off.   I recently told someone that I came to the realization that I was 10% mad at God and 90% mad at me.   And she responded, "Well, that's better than me.  Because I'm 50/50."  And that broke my heart.
And that's what I didn't want my story to do to someone.  Have a friend lose faith.  Have a sister get mad.  
But I hope what my story does do is remind you to cling to Jesus despite the circumstances.  Cling.  How else do you face a tough time with peace and true joy?  But with Jesus. 

And I thank all of you for lifting myself and my family up in prayer.  I can't tell you how many texts and emails I received just yesterday during my treatment telling me I was in your prayers.   You guys are the best.

So as my husband reminded me as we pulled into the driveway late last night, "1 down, 11 to go."

11 to go. 
And I thank God 
that He'll be with me through 
each and every one of them.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Don't Write It. Read It...

Hi, everyone.  I know so many of you are praying for my upcoming treatment in Chicago.  But things have changed. So I need to update you a bit.

I spiked a very high fever last week that landed me in Cedars for six days.  I now know what a battery of tests mean.  I think I had them all.  I was considered a "medical mystery" because all of the specialists were scratching their heads as to why I had a fever.  It was never really determined, and on the sixth day of my hospitalization which fell on my birthday, (and I played that card for all it was worth!), they discharged me.  They even sang Happy Birthday and presented me with a slice of carrot cake.  So thoughtful.

But those six days in the hospital made Ed and I realize that I couldn't do Chicago for treatment.  First off, I realized I couldn't be away from the kids for weeks at a time.  And secondly, that fever made me visualize what it would feel like to be filled with chemo and have to be in an airport to catch a plane.  If memory serves, I remember wanting to be locked in the trunk of a car for six days following chemo.  I didn't want to eat, talk or exist.  
So we opted to stay at Cedars for chemo.

But in all honesty, this was a very difficult blog for me to write. 

The healing that I thought was coming my way, though not immediately, has yet to be seen.  In fact, my tumors have even grown a tad since originally found.  And I won't go into detail, but boy, did God have a perfect opportunity of revealing His healing while I was in the hospital.  And I mean perfect.  But He didn't.  And I'll be brutally honest, I was pretty devastated.  On a scale from 1 to 10, I was about a -17.  But as my husband reminded me during the last night in the hospital, "Let God finish the story.  Then read it.  Don't write it.  You're still trying to write God's ending to your healing."  

Wow.  So true.  A zinger of truth that hit me right between the IVs.  

And as much as I'm saying, "God, put me on your path," I clearly still have one foot on mine.  Such a very difficult lesson for me to learn.  Still!  To trust.  100%.  And I failed.  Badly.

So to add to my misery, we have a friend who has offered to take care of us during these next fun-filled months.  She's a cancer survivor who was given a 15% chance of living.  That was eight years ago.  She's thriving today.  And what does she eat, you ask?  Oh, just cold canned soup, crackers and tomatoes.  Oh, and lots of bread.   So after she arrived and I was observing her eating habits from afar for a few days, I got really mad.  Really mad.  Here, I'm busting my hump to become a vegan, juice twice a day, eat soy cheese on my pizza (if you can call it that) and choke down 50 supplements a day.  

But what it drove home for me was that the end of this journey clearly lies in God's hands, and not in bottles of tumeric and Green Monsters from Lassens.  For those of you who don't live near me, that's a nasty blended concoction of all things green and yucky.  Which I'm trying to drink.

And all of this anger that has been welling up inside of me this past week has made me tune God out.  I've just ignored Him.  Pretended He wasn't there.  I even walked by my favorite book Jesus Calling and said, "Nope, not gonna read it today. I'm gonna read Country Living right now instead."  (Picture me even sticking out my tongue and saying, "There!")

 I've acted like a brat with a capital B.  As if my plan was sooooooo much better than His.  And for the first time in my life, I'm telling him so.  I'm telling Him that I'm mad at Him.  

And then I turned a corner.  Albeit, a very small corner.  And I began asking Him for His forgiveness.  I have so many days ahead of me in which I can't say that enough. 
 "Please forgive me.  
Please forgive me."  

And even though I'm still wounded, I still feel His comfort.  And I'll be honest again, I don't have the joy-thing mastered yet, but I'm sure it will return.   It always does. 

So the lesson that I learned this month is to stop writing the end of my own story.  Being a writer (or a wanna-be writer), I can come up with 10 different, fabulous endings to my own story.  And I have.  If not more.  When I begin to close my eyes and start writing a great ending in my head, I stop.  I then visualize a large white board in front of me with all of my notes and endings all over it. And then I erase the board completely.  And I take a step backward and open my eyes.  
And I say, "Lord, it's all yours."

So I wrote this blog last night while eating at the Natural Cafe and waiting for my son to finish up basketball practice.  OK, I cheated.  I had my favorite meal there, the Gobble Burger.  Don't tell the vegan police.  

And the plan last night was to start chemo next Tuesday at Cedars.

But tonight the plan changed.  My neice, who always has her thinking cap on, reminded me that I was no longer in a clinical trial as I had been during the first diagnosis.  Brilliant memory because this means I don't have to be tied to Cedars this time around.  In checking with my nurse, she agreed that it would be fine to have my treatment near our home (instead of having to shlep down to Cedars three times a month through April) and I could continue to see my Cedars oncologist every month or so.  And wouldn't you know there's a great UCLA oncology center just three minutes from my house.  Three minutes! 

And to think I was heading for Chicago for chemo this week.  Who knew?  
God knew.

"Lean not on your own understanding, and in all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight."
Proverbs 3:5

That's loosely translated by me, (not sure where my Bible is!) so I might have left off a word or two.  But a verse I will continue to lean on...
 every day of my life.