You

Oct 30

It’s happened thrice this week.  A friend, usually more of an acquaintance-friend than a I know-everything-about-her-friend, has asked me, “How are you handling it?” And what she means is, “How do you walk around in those shoes?  You know, the shoes that have impending-threat-of-terminal-cancer* diagnosis.” *It’s true that this might be my diagnosis after the surgery.  However, I just don’t believe it is going to happen.  I believe the peace I feel is God telling me It’s Not Cancer.   These friends see me going to the grocery store, caring for my children, walking to and from the bus stop, dropping off for preschool, and doing my normal mom life.  I think that, for those who know my story, I have the effect of walking into a room with the word PERSPECTIVE tattooed to my forehead as I go about these ordinary days.  When folks read my blog, I hope they feel empowered and emboldened to be hopeful, brave, and kind as they navigate their own lives.  I share my story, myself, with you because that is how I walk this out. These people, these lovely people — you people — you help me walk in these shoes. You pull over when you see me walking by to say, “I’m thinking about you.” You take an extra twenty minutes to chat at the grocery store and ask, “What can I do?” You pause in the preschool hullaballoo to say, “I’m praying for Thursday.” You send me voicemails, text messages, blog comments, and emails of encouragement; they all say, “I love you.” You send me cards and gifts that say, “I’m thinking of you.” You say a simple, “I’m praying for you.” You press in, you ask, you pray, you engage, you listen, you hope, and you walk with me. Do I have anxiety about the upcoming surgery?  Yes. Do I have anxiety about the spot and the worry that it might be cancer?  YES. Do I have anxiety about how my family will cope while I recover?  Yes. Let’s be honest, the worry over the spot puts the other two worries–the surgery and my family–in perspective. Overriding this anxiety is the inexplicable peace that I believe comes from God.  I have...

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Her smile is radiant

Oct 28

Her smile is radiant

Me: “Maren, what do you want to be for Halloween this year?” Maren:  “Hmmm.  Somefing with animals I fink.” Me:  “Like an actual animal?  Or a veterinarian?  Or a cowgirl?” Maren:  “Yes!  A veterinarian.” The next morning, Maren burst into tears.  “Mom!   What if all my friends are in pretty dresses and I’m in a vet outfit?!  Everyone will make fun of me.” Me: “What?  Just, what?  No one will make fun of you!  It’s a great idea to be a vet.  You love animals.” Maren: “But I really want to wear a pretty dress.” Me:  “Um, well, what if I promise to help you make a fancy veterinarian costume?  It can be a dress, and I promise it will be beautiful because you are beautiful.” Maren:  “Okay!” Me:  “If I make you a vet costume, though, you have to wear it.  No changing your mind if your friends are all princesses, okay?” Maren:  “Okay!” So that was me on Wednesday morning last week.  I committed to making a fancy, beautiful veterinarian costume.  Sheesh.  No time for cancer woe: forced Halloween creativity is upon us. I was actually thrilled that Maren wanted to be a veterinarian.  Princesses have their place and all, but I was excited for her to identify an interest that spoke to her strengths and personality.  A veterinarian, unlike royalty, is an attainable aspiration… and Maren’s stuffed animals are covered with bandages and bandaids as a testimony to her passion for curing them of their ailments.  I have an uncle and a cousin who are veterinarians, and another cousin who works with animals, and there are several animal lovers sprinkled through our family.  Our month in Australia allowed Maren and Greta to experience living with a dog for the first time, and they were both smitten by the end of the trip. So, behold: My fancy beautiful veterinarian! I love her smile; she’s radiant. The dress is a cheap nurse’s costume I got a costume store.  I ironed-on (and stitched) the letters and the puppy.  The idea for a cape came from my history nerd brain: nurses and female medical professionals in the early 1900s often wore capes as part of their uniform.  Interestingly, capes...

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Breath of peace

Oct 26

It’s official.  My lung surgery is scheduled for 7:30am on November 7th. After I spoke with Dr. Wonderful (oncologist) and Dr. Wizard (pulmonary surgeon) about the plan for surgery after the biopsy result, or non-result, as it happened to be, I felt a deep sense of peace. This doesn’t actually make a lot of sense since I’m having major surgery to determine whether the spot that looks suspicious is in fact cancer. And yet, I am peaceful. Usually, if I feel a niggling of worry, I work to pray it away because worry is a joy stealer.  Now, I’m feeling this niggling of peace.  I’m breathing it in and savoring it.  I cannot explain it well (obviously), but I am so grateful for this peace that is draped over me like a heavy quilt. This peace allows me to be normal Mommy.  My mind is not plagued by what-ifs and the deep desire to write to my children, to make videos for them, to record it all.  Instead, I’m doing all the happy day-to-day things that fill my ordinary days.  I’m DIY-ing Halloween costumes.  Well, technically costume (singular) because someone (Greta, I’m looking at you kid) gives a different answer every time I ask her what she wants to be.  I’m normal Mommy who can deal with tantrums without crying myself, I can organize upcoming logistics without stress, I can do my small part-time job effectively and efficiently.  I love being Normal Mommy.  Brad and I have worked together to create a life we love: I cherish these ordinary days. The best case scenario that begins on November 7th is that I have the lung surgery and the spot in my lung is not cancer.  I’ll spend several weeks recovering, first at the hospital, then at my parent’s house.  SuperGramma is swooping in again to stay at my house with Brad and the girls.  We are very grateful as it keeps the girls’ lives as normal as possible, and gives them some wonderful quality time with their beloved SuperGramma.  Phenom, friends and neighbors are waiting in the wings with offers of help as well.  I’ve been told I’ve got six weeks of no lifting Greta (or anything heavier than...

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Dr. Wizard

Oct 22

Today I met the newest member of my ever-expanding medical team. The first thing you need to know about Dr. Wizard is that he wears the same style glasses as Harry Potter.  How cool is that? Dr. Wizard is a surgical specialist and today he talked to me about the video thoroscopic surgery he’s got planned for me.  He plans to cut three holes in my right side (one for tools, one for video, and one for drains/suction/miscellaneous.  He’ll cut out the section of my lung that has the spot in it, and the team in the OR will analyze it.  They will know in the OR whether it is cancer or not; I’ll find out as soon as I wake up.  After I wake up, I’ll likely be in the hospital for 3-10 days, depending on when my post-surgical chest tube comes out.  We’ll get a detailed pathology report after three business days, too.  Once I’m out of the hospital I’ll have six weeks of pretty significant post-operative restrictions. Dr. Wizard is in complete agreement with Dr. Wonderful: having the spot taken out is a win-win situation in my current scenario.  Also, like Dr. Wonderful, he’s seen this before.  He’s seen cancer patients come in with a spot, he’s removed said spots.  He’s seen some that have been cancer, and some that have been an infection of some type.  There is no way to know until we look at the cells under the microscope. At the beginning of our conversation, he shared that he recently had a patient with nearly an identical history/presentation as mine.  Her result was that it was not cancer, and while he made it clear he cannot promise me the same result, he told me her story as a means of encouragement to me. Next, he told me that he would be praying for a benign result for me also.  This gives me total confidence that he’s the right man for the job.  My medical team continues to dazzle me. I’ll get an official surgery date tomorrow, but it will be within the next three weeks.  We are movers and shakers over here!...

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God’s finger

Oct 21

Today I knew that I was either going to find out: #1 You have terminal cancer.  (Stage IV (metastasized breast cancer) is considered terminal as it is not curable.) #2 We don’t know yet; you might have: a. Breast cancer that has metastasized to the lung, and the biopsy needle missed it.  (“Missing it” happens in 10% of these biopsies). b. An infection (or other-sciencey-words-that-I-can’t-remember) that is not life-threatening. c. Lung cancer.  (But this is a really teeny tiny probability.) And I got Door #2, which seems like a huge victory.  Dr. Wonderful spoke with the pathology lab to learn that the sample they took during Friday’s biopsy was “non-diagnostic”, which means more tests/samples needed.  As Dr. Wonderful always says, the positive is much easier to understand than the negative when looking at results. The next step is to definitively find out whether I am dealing a., b., or c. as listed above.  Unfortunately, the only way to crack that nut is to have surgery to remove the entire spot (10mm x 11mm, in my upper right lung) that showed up on the PET scan last week.  So, I’m having a consult this week with a pulmonary surgeon who will go through my ribs to get to the spot in my lung; he will take out a section of my lung along with the spot.  It is a significant surgery (3-5 day hospital stay).  After we get the pathology from this surgery, we will know which of the three possibilities we are dealing with. Dr. Wonderful made it clear that if I were an eighty-year-old patient, he would opt to re-scan  at a later date and “watch the spot”.  But, for me, he says he doesn’t want to “watch and wait”.  I LOVE this about Dr. Wonderful.  He is on it, he is aggressive in his diagnostic and treatment techniques.  He knows I have a lot to live for. I’m pretty stoked about having this surgery (I’m weird, I know.)  It will mean a definitive answer. 1.  It is not cancer–yippee!  I won’t be mad I went through an “unnecessary” biopsy and surgery because I will be so freaking excited that I’m still cancer free!!!! 2.  It is cancer,...

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