Happy New Year to all of you, my faithful prayer warriors! I hope you had a wonderful holiday filled with love and family. I’m sitting here in my office freezing (by Texas standards) and contemplating the next few days. It made me think about how you all have been so kind to follow my journey, and I wanted to thank you again for making sure I don’t walk this road alone.
Tomorrow, January 18th, I will be having MOHS surgery on my leg in 3 different spots where they found squamous cell carcinoma. And even though this isn’t part of my breast cancer journey, per se, I do believe these spots surfaced because my chemo suppressed my ability to fight them off. Therefore, in my convoluted way of connecting things, I still think of this as a nasty ‘side effect’. I would appreciate your prayers for tomorrow’s procedure that they would get everything in the first or second try!
A lot of people have asked me how I feel now that this is ‘over’. The best way for me to answer that question is to say that life after breast cancer has been really interesting. I think it was providential that the end of my journey coincided with the end of the calendar year. It allowed me to begin 2018 with a fresh perspective in so many areas of my life. And because everyone else on the planet was celebrating the end of something in December and looking forward to a new beginning in January, it was if we were all doing it TOGETHER. And I just love that. I mean, who else gets to enjoy fireworks around the world and Ryan Seacrest at the end of their cancer journey?! (Don’t even get me started on how old I felt not recognizing most of the talent on New Years Rockin’ Eve. My friends, Mel and Gulley, and I were texting back and forth on NYE and Gulley led with “I need to warn you that watching Seacrest is a slippery slope bc I don’t know half the people on there. Which is why I turned on the Crown.”) That about sums it up.
My family happened to be in Colorado over New Years, so we rang in 2018 surrounded by God’s AMAZING creation.
And because I was only 3 weeks out from surgery, my doctor advised I not hit the slopes (all you need to do is make the motion as if you are traversing the mountain with poles and you’ll understand why…#chestmuscles). I didn’t really care, however, because what’s not to love about sending all of your people out each morning with full tummies while you then go sit in your pjs and catch up on Facebook the rest of the day? IT. WAS. GLORIOUS. I may never actually ski again.
And speaking of full tummies, it is a well known fact that I do not cook. As in, we dine out or bring food in an OBSCENE amount. Actually, one of my favorite stories regarding this happened a few years ago. My youngest son, Hayes, had friends coming over just about every day that summer. Because the friends typically went home around dinnertime, they would notice that I would be bringing food in from (insert restaurant here) each night. One of them asked Hayes, “Do you get take out every night?” to which Hayes replied, “What’s take out?” Holy humility. My boy didn’t know it had a name because it’s called ‘dinner’ in our house. Shameful.
Even though I do not cook, I do, however, bake. And as proud as I was to be able to feed 6 guys biscuits, pancakes or cinnamon rolls each morning (two of our boys brought friends on the trip with us), I didn’t account for the difference in baking in high altitude. Did you know that was such a thing?
I quite possibly made the saddest looking apres ski brownies you’ve ever seen one day. (Apparently, adding flour to your mix is key for edibility’s sake.) Thankfully, teenage boys don’t care how things look and they courageously and cautiously scraped the thin layer of chocolate out of the brownie pan anyway. God bless them. But after I figured out the flour component, my blueberry muffins disappeared as soon as they came out of the oven. It was a culinary victory at 9,000 ft.
In short, however, we had an amazing vacation celebrating the end of 8 long months, and Trevor and I realized we might never travel without the boys’ friends again as everyone was on their best behavior for 6 days in a row. #thesecrettoagoodfamilyvacation
Boys with their friends meeting up with more friends from home on the slopes
Back to how I feel (which is probably the most terrifying phrase I can utter to my husband at times)…I think the best way to describe it is fully content. Not to undermine the sheer joy I have knowing I don’t have to undergo chemo in a day or two (because there’s so much of that!!!!), but I also have an uncanny reverence for this disease knowing it could resurface any time it wants to. So instead of living in an emotional state of teetering between joy and fear or highs and lows, I have learned how to stay steady in the middle. The Lord has shown me (and grown me!) in the past few months that trusting Him regardless of circumstance is the answer to contentment. And unintentionally, I just described Philippians 4:11-13 which says,
“…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty…”.
In my case, I would substitute:
‘I know what it is to be sick and to have lost someone so dear to me and I know what it is to be healthy again and to celebrate life.’
The past year and 1/2 has certainly taken me on an emotional ride. I have seen the Lord in death and I have seen the Lord in life. He is ALWAYS there. How comforting to know our Savior never leaves our side! So I’m left to trust. I’m left to surrender to him regardless if I understand (good or bad) what is happening around me. I’m left to combat fear with faith. I’m left to depend on Him when I feel weak and depend on Him even more when I feel strong. I’m left to resolve conflicts I have in relationships, I’m left to show love to those in need. I’m left to tell the WORLD about the one who loves them unconditionally. What a privilege.
So how do I feel? Better than I have in a long long time.
My next step is to have a follow up appointment with my oncologist, Dr. O’Shaughnessy in late February. It’s hard to believe, but that marks four months after completion of treatment for me. Will someone please tell my hair?
Seriously, though, my hair IS growing back albeit grey and coarse. And I might have way more in common with Billy Ray Cyrus’ mullet than I ever thought possible. (I am TOTALLY business on front and party on back at this juncture.)
It may take awhile for the ‘business’ to catch up with the ‘party’, but I’m trying to be patient and praying one day soon I can ditch my baseball cap! In other hair news, my eyebrows are back (those grow in FAST), and my eyelashes are just barely peeking over my lid. SO CLOSE. I’ve heard eyelashes fall out twice after treatment, but I’m on my knees praying that’s a nasty rumor. Once is plenty for me. I’ve tried taking pictures along the way to track the progression of my hair, brows & lashes for you guys, but I end up getting sad and deleting them. So you’ll just have to take my word for it that things are finally moving in the right direction despite my current 90’s hairdo.
So as I head into tomorrow, I want to say thank you for praying with and for me. And thank you for being such a great companion on this trip. Please continue to pray for all of those battling cancer, as unfortunately the list grows each day. I have so many dear friends facing dire circumstances with their loved ones right now, and my heart is literally broken for them. This disease doesn’t care who it hurts. And it is not considerate of caregivers. So if you know someone battling or someone caring for a patient, please mail a card, give a hug or send a text. Encouragement was the fuel to my fight, and I drew so much strength from all of your kind words over the past year.
And one last thing: PLEASE, ladies, PLEASE get your 3D mammograms if you haven’t already!!! If for any other reason, you don’t want to be responsible for bringing mullets back.
Much love to you all & make every day count,