"It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes." Psalm 119:71

Monday, November 29, 2010


Some days I'd like a mulligan.
A do-over.
A "go back."

Some days I don't care about my new perspective, my new sense of self, or my new take on life.

Some days I'm grouchy and I want to toss my prescriptions, delete my doctors' numbers from my phone, and clear the bookshelves of cancer 'memorabilia.'

Some days I want to wear pink, head to toe. Some days I want to shout out about surviving. Some days I want to lose a few hours researching the illness online.

Some days I ask what I can do to help. How can I make it better? Some days I want to embrace the cause and honor those who are still fighting.

Usually I just don't want the label anymore. Usually I want to be the best version of me, a personality independent of cancer. I want my family to move on. Usually I'm longing for this to be a shadow of a memory.

Mostly I want to figure out what it is God intends to make of all this. Mostly I want the desires of my heart to match his desires. Mostly I want to want to ignore the rest and really be able to say, "Here am I. Send me."

Someday I'll get the hang of it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Thank you husband for not giving up.
Thank you Micah and Caleb for being your fabulous selves.
Thank you Mel L. for being tireless and generous, attentive, and knowing.
Thank you Paul P. for being so wise and so available to me. (And for the constant kick in the pants.)
Thank you accountability partner for reminding me how to live.
Thank you to "The Fam" for giving me the Nook, making me laugh and supporting me always.

Thank you small group for your friendship and sarcasm. And the meals, prayers, and yard work.
Thank you parents (all four of you) for being supportive and understanding.
Thank you Copperfield Church for the meals, community, and encouragement.
Thank you Laura G., Jill C., Jennie B., Michelle S., Lindsey D., Emily R., and Copperfield staff and PNO for taking good care of the boys.
Thank you Kelly B. for the overnight babysitting and housecleaning while I was in the hospital.
Thank you kind strangers and friends for the generous monetary gifts. Including Mel L., Olivia B., Cari F., Jennifer R. Dad and Donna, Scott W., Karen W.
Thank you Angels in Action for the meals, the cards, the blanket, the money to help with car repairs and my wig.
Thank you Linda C. for the weekend at the Purple House.
Thank you Mark B. for ALL THAT yard care.
Thank you Lizzie and Justin for lending us Michelle!
Thank you Mercer employees for picking up the slack and allowing Terry so much time out of the office.
Thank you Lindsey D., Emily R., Olivia B., Cari F., Susan D., Ashley Q., Liz W., and Leslie W. for Eagle's Nest tuition.
Thank you Dad and Donna for the upcoming trip to Disney.
Thank you Mom for all the groceries.
Thank you Pastor Larry and Pam P. for visiting at the hospital.
Thank you Aunt Janeal, Aunt Judy and families for the meals, cards, plants, support.
Thank you Brandy P. for the housekeeping. And the "I know how you feel" talks.
Thank you Wendy for the quilt and all the work that went into it.
Thank you Cheryl S. and church group for the quilt and prayers.
Thank you Sherry B. for encouragement about my wig and the loving emails.
Thank you Bobbie H. for your quick action and helpful supplies.
Thank you fellow pink survivors for seeking me out and giving me advice.
Thank you Laura K. for going before me and making it look easy. You make short hair look stunning!
Thank you Christina C. for the selfless help with chores, shopping, and cleaning.
Thank you Chelsea J. for cutting my hair off.
Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Horton for the words of encouragement, and the "Bald is Beautiful" and "Here I Am" plaques.
Thank you Ken W. for your time spent working on the truck.
Thank you Dr. Morgan, Dr. Heyne, Dr. Zimmerman, Chris for the quality medical care.

Thank you for the prayers. Thank you for the gift cards. Thank you for the cards and letters. Thank you for the flowers. Thank you for the meals. Thank you for being there. Thank you for reading my silly blog. Thank you for remembering us in your prayers.

I've much to be grateful for. Seeing how much help we've been given is mind-blowing.

Thank you God for my salvation,
for the big things and the small.
Thank you for friends and family.
I pray you bless them all.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


That's just me,
being foot-loose and fancy freeee!!

(Some of you have asked about my "cancer-free party." It will be Spring of 2011. A great big bash! Details soon...)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Marriage on THE Rock

When Terry and I got married we chose a Bible verse to represent our hopes for the marriage: Matthew 7:25. When I go back and read that verse now I can't help but wonder what God was thinking when our Pastor read those words at our wedding. Did He laugh at our choice of scripture which would indeed become a very true description of the early years of our marriage? Or did His heart break at what He knew lay ahead for us?

"The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." Matthew 7:25

We wanted our marriage to stand the test of time because we built it on the very firm foundation of Christ.

My treatment is over. My cancer is gone. But Terry and I would both agree we're still facing the rain and the winds. We've been together for nearly 10 years. Once we started dating we were almost inseperable. And for 10 years we've developed some strong traditions. We were alike in thought and attitude in the beginning, but after a decade we've grown even more similar. We agree over the big things, and most of the small things too. For years we'd go to bed at the same time every night, always together. We'd talk on the phone while he drove to work, and again when he drove home. We spent our free time together, we spent our busy times wanting to get back together.

And then out of no where I got sick. And we couldn't be a couple anymore. I had to be at doctor appointments. I had to be sick but hide the worst of the illness from the kids. I had to be diligent to fight away depression. I had to be strong when we headed into surgery where I would voluntarily offer up part of my female identity to be cut into and cut away.

Terry had to be at work. He had to be with the kids. He had to be in charge of paying the bills and cleaning the house. He had to be sure he was always at work when it mattered, so they still saw him as a valuable part of the team. He had to relay the messages of my progress, pre-op and post-op. He had to be ok with me being sick.

We couldn't be a couple anymore because our lives suddenly depended on us being indpendent beings who could tackle our "to-do" lists. There's still been love. Always lots and lots of love. But there hasn't been much togetherness. Gone are the days of going to bed together. I've been turning in at the same time as the kids and Terry's been up until the sun rises trying to get work done. Date nights have dwindled due to budgetary constraints and time constraints and fatigue. And somehow when we do go out it usually ends up being with other people.

I looked at Terry a few nights ago and just felt like, "Where have you been?"

What I do know is where our marriage is going. Good places. Great, big, golden-anniversary places! And the way we're going to make it there is that we've acknowledged what a funky spot we're in now and we're setting out to get back on the right path. There were so many days during the last 6 months when I'd look at Terry at the end of the day and say, "I need such and such." And he'd respond with his own long list of needs. We were both desperate for help and at the same time both so empty that we had nothing to give. I truly believe that this was a recipe for disaster... We would have ended up resenting each other had it not been for our ability to turn to God to supply all our needs.

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

I married Terry because I love him. And because he likes board games as much as me. Because he is a homebody and because his jokes are so cheesy. Because he loves kids. Because he likes to take me out to eat Mexican food. Because he likes to dance with me even though I have no rhythm.

But I'm so grateful that God has helped me to understand that it isn't Terry who will make me happy in life or give me the things I want or need. I believe we would be sitting in couples counseling right now if we didn't both go to God during this process. He gave us strength. He gave us love. He gave us hope.

And then we were able to go back to each other feeling content just knowing we were still with our loved one. And now that our dark sky is beginning to allow the sun to peek through, we see that we've made it intact. And now we can rebuild the intimacy that existed before.

I hope this is the hardest thing that our marriage will ever endure. And I hope that when the next storm comes we can look back and see that if God could carry us through this, then He will surely be faithful to help us uphold His beautiful marriage design during the next curveball life throws us.

I've said it for a decade now-- Terry is the biggest blessing in my life. He is my best friend and "holy smokes" I'm grateful for him! He's seen me bald, bruised, and broken and still fought to hang in there for me. I told him last week that we have a new song. More specifically, it's my song for him... (Swerdna Eiluj, husband!)

If it all falls apart, I will know deep in my heart

The only dream that mattered had come true

In this life, I was loved by you

Monday, November 15, 2010


I am still celebrating! It's five days since my last cancer treatment and I'm still in celebration mode!! I am so happy to be finished! It's weird how my worries have diminshed so much just by being done with treatment. I've been in remission almost since the beginning, but I never felt like it until I walked out of the doctor's office last Wednesday.

After my final treatment, I saw Dr. Morgan and then I walked out of his office to a hallway full of applause! They made me ring the bell and I even got a certificate (what am I gonna do with a certificate for completion of radiation?), a t-shirt, a mug, and pens. I was really embarrassed by the attention and I kind of wanted to remind everyone that all I've done to "complete" my radiation is lie on a table every day!

(Skip this paragraph if you don't want slimy details of my skin reaction to radiation...) My skin has gotten much worse since the previous post with pictures. It has scabbed over, peeled, bubbled, and oozed. It's really very disgusting! I've been putting gauze over it when I go out and when it's time to take the gauze off, it pulls a layer of skin with it! Even though it looks so much worse, the pain is gone. It was really bad for about a week and now I'm back to feeling fine! Not so bad huh!?

So Wednesday my mom and Laura came to meet me after my final radiation and we went to Pei Wei (Yum!) and then Christmas shopping. I want to say a BIG thank you to Lizzie and Michelle because I wouldn't have been able to enjoy the shopping as much if I'd brought the boys along. They worked it out so that I had a babysitter for as long as I wanted that day!

Laura came back to my house for about an hour (Terry got off work early! Such a treat!). And then we all got in the car to go to my "Surprise" dinner. Turns out my family isn't so good at keeping secrets because by the time I pulled up to the Mexican restaurant, three people had spilled the beans! But it was still a lot of fun! And I was so happy to see Emily and James who drove all the way from the other side of town! I didn't take pictures because I was too busy celebrating, but here are a few Mel took.

Micah wore this Super Why mask to dinner. He carried a toy hammer and said he was "Punching Guy!"

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cloudy Days

Yesterday at church we learned about storms. We talked about David and how he handled losing his baby son. Pastor Larry talked about how going through storms can be holy. That we can learn a lot while we walk through them. He taught us to pray through them, learn to accept God's will, and then move on.

At the end of the hour he invited all those who were going through storms to go to the front to pray with a staff member. I had to duck my head so Taunya and Terry wouldn't see me cry. I didn't want them to see the tears because I knew they'd be misinterpreted. I wasn't crying because of my storm. I was crying because for the first time in months I don't feel like I'm in a storm anymore at all.

I have three days of radiation left. The area being treated looks much worse than the last pictures I posted. And I will still have surgery this next summer. But in the midst of all that God has allowed me to finally feel like the storm is passing. I'm sure many of you thought my storm was over as soon as my scans came back clear and I was officially considered in remission. But it's been an uphill battle to come to terms with my higher chances of recurrence. And today I rejoice in the passing clouds because I know that, even as soon as tomorrow, I could hear the thunder again.

Pastor Larry said something about us using our storms to become better people. And that's when I looked around me...

The people sitting near me, friends from our small group, have been going through their own storms in the past year or so...

A divorce.
The sudden death of their dad.
Leaving their newborn twins in the hospital until possibly December.
Waiting for a new heart.

If storms make you better, then our small group is about to cause some damage for the kingdom of God!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


(There are pictures below of the effects of radiation. They might make you a bit squeamish. Please know that none of the pictures are of anything innapropriate. Even if I was left with any normal feninine features in the mastectomy area, these pictures would still not be of anything indecent-- just the skin around the area where the tumor was.)

Ok first I'd like to ask for prayer to continue this blog. As my treatment nears its end (only 5 more radiation treatments to go!) I feel more and more like I am ready to leave cancer behind. And much less willing to keep up a blog on it. But it's something I feel called to do. In the beginning I wrote because I wanted an easy way to keep family and friends updated with my progress. Then it became an outlet for my scariest thoughts.
But frankly, it's been really difficult to focus enough on the fears to write it all down. I've learned many lessons, most of them have been recorded, but plenty of them have been too hard to face, much less write down. However, I've continued to feel God urging me to share. I'm constantly reminded by the statistic that 1 out of 8 women will get breast cancer. So maybe I'm in a position to help some of those women just by being transparent in my own journey. But, like I said, it's pretty darn painful to face my fears and allow myself to reflect enough to write about cancer. So I'd appreciate your prayers.
Now on to the "Yowza" part...

Radiation has mostly been a breeze. I've recounted over and over again how lucky I am to be mostly numb in the affected area so that I didn't have pain from the get-go. But now I can REALLY say that I am more grateful than ever because now the pain is creeping up above the numbness and I tremble just thinking about how difficult it would have been to feel this pain since the beginning of treatment 5 weeks ago!

Here's what my skin looked like a few days ago when the pain first started to flare up (up to this point all I'd felt was a soreness and tightening) And no, this is not a picture of any underarm hair. This shot isn't even high enough to include that part of my body, and even if it did, there's still no hair there. If you really want a good look, you can click on the picture and see it upclose where you can tell that you're looking at blisters and peeling skin: (I honestly don't recommend looking any closer though. Although for some reason I imagine Crystal G. and several others of you 'medical types' being interested. = )
Here you can see the variation of color in the skin being treated and my normal skin. The purple line on the side is just one of the lines they use to get me in the same spot every day for radiation.

And here's what that same spot looks like today:

Up until today I've been able to use just aspirin but today I had to move up to the "good stuff!" Being at home where I can wear a loose shirt is much better than being out because my bra moves against the bad areas and the weight of my prosthetic hurts a lot. I'm glad my kids are as young as they are because if they were any older and had more awareness they would be scarred forever by the sight of me reaching into my shirt to yank my prosthetic out to get a little relief!
And speaking of my prosthetic, I'm going to post pics of it. Sorry if it's offensive in any way. To me it's just plastic and I thought some of you might be curious. Prosthetics for breast cancer are known commonly in the bc community as foobies (f for "fake").

Here it is...

And here it is in it's little cover that I can take off and wash. You can see the purple stain on the bottom of it. That's because the marker for radiation rubs off onto it.

I think I mentioned that about two weeks ago (or has it been three now?) that I lost all of my eyebrows and eyelashes. I thought that was so odd considering chemotherapy was well over and the rest of my hair was growing back. Thankfully my lashes and brows started growing back almost as soon as they fell out. I'm so thankful for this because losing these things was worse for me than losing the hair on my head. Here you can see that my lashes are growing back (and you can see the few tiny long hairs I've still got which, yes, I've still been putting mascara on!).

And this is how much hair I've got today. Every morning when I look in the mirror I can see how much it's grown. Terry and I love to rub it because it's coming in so super soft! It's still really thin so I'm not quite ready to go without the wig yet.

So to sum up-- Ouch and Yowza!!-- radiation is a bummer! But my last 8 treatments are just to doobie (the mast. area) so the other skin can start to heal. When I was first diagnosed a lot of survivors reached out to me and I remember one of them saying that radiation was only a big deal to people who hadn't gone through chemotherapy as well. I guess that's true. Chemo was 20 times worse, but radiation's no picnic either!