Monthly Archives: November 2020

It’s Okay……To Not Be Okay

I have been rolling this blog post around in my mind for a while now trying to say what I am really feeling. For the most part, my blogs are upbeat and positive. I try to always find joy in every situation and help others see that even in the darkest of times there is light.

The last four months have been hard. There have been a lot of physical changes, from surgery to chemo and its side effects, but what I haven’t talked about is the spiritual and mental battles that come along with a potentially fatal diagnosis.

When the word cancer was first mentioned I took it very hard. I would lie awake at night thinking about all I would be missing in the years to come. How would Chris handle raising three boys? How can I make sure everyone is prepared for me to potentially not be around. My mind went to very dark places. I questioned why God would do this to me, to us. I questioned what I had done wrong in my way of living to cause the cancer. Was it something I ate? Was it the products I had used? Were my genes to blame? Would I be passing this on to my kids? There were so many questions and for weeks finding the positive was nearly impossible.

When I received the actual diagnosis of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and was told that it was found early and a stage II, I felt relief. I remember hearing “state 2” from my surgeon and saying out loud, “It’s only stage 2”. Once the actual diagnosis came down it was easier to find hope and joy. I no longer felt I had a death sentence. I believed with all my heart I could fight and win. Looking back I wonder how I would have reacted had I heard it was stage 4 and terminal. Would I have been able to find joy? Would I have been able to remain positive and share Jesus even with a literal death sentence? I hope I would, but thankfully that is not something I have to find out.

When I write blog posts I often hear from the readers how positive I am and how much of an inspiration I am to so many. I have struggled feeling worthy of those titles. There are days I don’t feel positive. There are days I don’t think anyone would see me as an inspiration. There are days it is hard to get out of bed and put on a smile. There are times I am not okay, and everyone needs to know that it is okay to not be okay! (As a side note, I am honored by the positive responses I am getting from this blog and love your input, kind words, and encouragement to keep writing!)

We all face battles. Whether it’s in our career, our marriage, our family, or our health, we all have struggles. It is okay to be upset. It is okay to have pity parties. It is okay to question God and wonder why it is happening to you or someone you love. What is not okay is staying in that valley for too long.

Over the past 20 years, probably longer, I have battled with depression and anxiety. For years I allowed it to rule my life. I allowed it to dictate every aspect of my being, including keeping me out of the church and away from God for nearly seven years. That is the part that is not okay. If you are in that place right now, ask for help. If you know someone struggling with their battle, offer to suit up and fight with them. Provide strength and encouragement, but be brave enough to give tough love when they need it.

Having a strong support system is critical to winning a battle. I am blessed to have so many fighting alongside me right now. I am blessed to have family that has stuck by me through my darkest times and helped me find the help I needed. This journey has brought back fears of going back to those dark places, but with the help of our Lord and the people He has placed in my life, I feel confident I won’t slip, and if I do they won’t let me fall far.

I want to end with a few lyrics from a song that I have always loved, but that holds more meaning to me now. It is a song by Martina McBride, most of you have probably heard it. It’s called, I’m Going to Love You Through It. The song tells the story of a woman, the same age as I am, that gets a breast cancer diagnosis. She goes through surgery and treatments and has some bad days. Her husband says the following:

When you’re weak, I’ll be strong
When you let go, I’ll hold on
When you need to cry, I swear
That I’ll be there to dry your eyes
When you feel lost and scared to death,
Like you can’t take one more step
Just take my hand, together we can do it
I’m gonna love you through it

We all have days where we feel we can’t go on. The tears start to flow and won’t stop. And that’s okay. My prayer is that you have someone there to hold you up, wipe your tears, and love you through it all.

I also listened to this song as if God was singing it to me. Some of the lyrics don’t work, because He is not physically here to hold my hand or dry my tears, but He is there to make sure I am never alone. He is there to take my fears upon His shoulders and carry that weight for me. He is always there to love me and help me through any battle. For that I am grateful.

I feel…..normal

Today (Tuesday) should have been my fourth AC chemo, but due to the Thanksgiving scheduling at the clinic, and my insurance requiring a certain number of days between treatments, I had to push the treatment to next week. I can’t say that I’m upset. I don’t want to do this chemo again. I hate the way I feel for the days after, but I know that it is necessary and that I only have ONE MORE!

The past few days have been great. Sunday marked the first day I felt “normal”. I am not sure what normal is, but I felt the best I have felt since diagnosis in mid-August. We attended church in-person and then had lunch with friends. I had placed a grocery order and we swung by the dreaded big blue store to pick that up. We were gone from about 9:00 to 2:00. I haven’t been away from the home that long without having a doctor’s appointment in a very long time. I felt good. I was ready for a nap, but that is just what you do on Sunday afternoons, right? I was then able to fix dinner for my family and just enjoy being with everyone. Jordan came home from College Sunday evening so we spend the night all five of us talking and laughing and filling my heart with joy.

Eli has an infectious laugh and smile!

Monday was much the same. I woke up at a normal time and for the first time in what feels like forever I felt like doing some housework. I cleaned a corner of my room that has become the catch-all for paperwork, cards, gifts, and all things cancer. I cleaned up and organized that and it felt so good to be productive. I have layed around here wanting to do things, but have never been able to get up and do them. Before dinner we went out to a few stores looking at a few things and, again, being out of the house was refreshing. The last stop we made was to Dollar Tree. I have been seeing lots of crafts that people make from Dollar Tree items and I wanted to try my hand at it. $5 later we had the supplies needed and headed home. The boys and I made a box to fit around the Christmas tree stand and pole to cover it up and make it look prettier. Doing a craft with my two older boys was so fun. We all had different ideas of the best way to make it happen, but we worked together and got it done. If you had asked me a month ago if I would feel like crafting I would have laughed at you and said are you kidding, I can’t even stay awake to eat.

Foam board, tape, wrapping paper, and bows and our tree stand and pole are covered!

I know some of you are probably thinking, wait, why would she be going out in a global pandemic? We kept our distance and didn’t touch anything that wasn’t necessary. We sanitized our hands and wore our masks. We have taken the notion to not live in fear. My oncologist told us to “live our life”. If I contract something we will deal with it. She encouraged me to get out and have dinner with friends. She understands the importance of social interaction in maintaining a positive outlook.

Today, I have again been productive. We finished decorating the inside of the house for Christmas and Chris and I snuck away for a quick breakfast with one of our favorite couples.

The last few days have filled my heart with love and joy. It has helped me remember what I am fighting this cancer battle for. I continue to fight for my family and friends. I continue to fight to regain my “normal”. It may not ever look like it once did, but that’s okay. We will adjust to whatever the new normal is!

Our tree!
We have no fireplace so we had to get creative in displaying the stockings.

AC Chemo Round 3

It has been a bit since I updated the blog. The main reason is, this round of chemo kicked my butt. A week and a half ago I went in for round three of four. I was feeling pretty well and optimistic that I was halfway done with the “yucky chemo”. The infusion, as always, went fine. My labs all looked decent, but I was starting this round with the lowest starting white blood count when compared to rounds one and two. I was starting at around 6.5. While this is considered normal, round one was a 7 and round two a 13 so I wasn’t sure if that would affect anything. After the infusion, I went home and just laid around the rest of the day. Unlike most, I am always very tired on the day of infusion. Most are not because as part of the pre-need protocol you are giving a heavy steroid which keeps most up the night of treatment. Not this girl!

I slept off and on treatment day and went to bed shortly after Eli that evening. He goes down like clockwork around 8:00 every evening. Like me, he loves his sleep. The next two or three days I don’t remember much. I slept….a lot. If I had to guess, it was an average of 20 hours a day. I can vaguely remember talking to the kids and Chris. I remember him talking to me and feeling like my eyes were rolling back in my head. I just could not stay awake.

Once I started to be up a bit more I was more nauseous than I have been. I had to take medicine four or five times and didn’t even do that with rounds one and two combined. Like the previous times, I lost my taste and had the weird metallic all smell, but it seemed a bit more intense. Nothing at all tasted good to eat. I’m fairly certain I skipped several meals that first week from either sleeping through them or just not being able to eat due to lack of taste. My go-to items seem to be shakes from Sonic and peanuts butter. Not the healthiest of options, but I am working hard to stay hydrated with water and Gatorade and get calories in how I can, when I can.

I believe it was Monday I started feeling a bit better. I was still very tired, but able to stay up most of the day. Then the next symptom hit. Insomnia. I had this in round two as well. I went several nights, I believe two, where I didn’t sleep at all. I then would have to compensate by sleeping during the day. It’s frustrating but manageable. A lot of people do that when they work overnight shifts. During the nights I would binge-watch shows and play games on my iPad. I wanted to do things around the house, but wanting and doing are completely separate things.

Today I feel human. I finally got my body back on the normal day/night schedule and have slept well the last two or three nights. I woke up when Eli did, at 6:00 am….yes, on a Saturday. We cuddled in bed for a bit and have been going strong since. I plan to cook some dinner this evening for the family, work on the mountain of laundry that has piled up, and have already placed the weekly grocery order. I will try to make the best of this time before round four takes me back down again.

Round four was scheduled to occur on Tuesday. I wasn’t thrilled with this because that meant I would sleep through Thanksgiving and when I was awake not be able to taste any of the yummy food. We have some sweet friends who invited us over for dinner and promised to handle everything so I didn’t have to…I want so bad to be able to enjoy that time with family and our adopted family. On Thursday of last week, I got a call that there was a scheduling conflict and they would need to change my chemo date. She said she could get me in late Wednesday or would have to push me to the week after Thanksgiving. After discussing my options with her, it was best that we push it until after the Holiday. I will be having my fourth and final AC chemo treatment on December 1. I will get to enjoy the week with Chris, who is off work, and all three of my boys! I will get to taste Thanksgiving….and for a few moments forget that I have cancer. For that I am grateful!

We are bummed that we can’t do our normal Thanksgiving trip to Arkansas, but with COVID, it’s just not safe for me, really, any of us. I’m not scared of COVID, but it’s real and for someone in such a vulnerable state, it is wise we hide out here and spend time with only those we are close to here. In the short-term it stinks, but when we must focus on still being around next year and for many years to come!

Jordan will be coming home soon and will be with us through the new year and we are thrilled to have him home! The next month is sure to be exciting. Yes, there will be ups and downs, but we plan to focus entirely on the ups!!!

If I don’t get another blog up before Thursday, Happy Thanksgiving. I challenge you to look at your lives and examine how God has blessed you in 2020. There is joy in every situation. Even in 2020. Even during a global pandemic or a cancer diagnosis, God is blessing us. How has He blessed you?