Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chemo day

Every time I sit down to write a bit, it seems, I am jumping up to take care of something else.  After the weather went all kinds of crazy cold on us, threatening to bring winter ahead of fall, warmer temps arrived again today.  

So I've been sneaking outside with the dog, trying to figure out how to preserve a little bit of the warmth and brightness of the sun to feast on in the darkest corners of winter. 

My mom had a rough week last week.  Nolan and I surprised her with a visit early in the week, and all seemed well.  The week before we took her to the dentist to have a tooth pulled, but she seemed to be healing well and had no discomfort in her mouth.  But then, a long series of events occurred, that ultimately led to a fall the other day.  While physically she assured us she was fine, it was her raw emotions that stayed with me.  That nagging voice kept at me, no matter the assurances she gave.

Friday night I called to tell mom, that Rick was home, and we were coming to visit.  But she didn't answer.  For hours upon hours, she didn't answer her phone.  

By 10 pm,  long after we would usually have heard from her, I was starting to rapidly grow concerned.

What if she had fallen again?  What if she went for a walk outside and lost her bearings?  What if….?  

Rick, long exhausted from his 18 hour drive back from Idaho, was a trooper and got on the phone with Bethany Towers.   Could they please locate her?  

Our concern grew as they failed to establish her whereabouts.  Where could she be?  They kept saying, "oh she is probably down in the community room,  or in the dining room, etc., we could have her call when she comes back?"

Our last call to the switchboard and Rick, firmly, but politely refused to get off the phone until they found her.  As I dressed, getting ready to get in the car, he carefully explained our concern with her fall, and that her not answering her phone was not typical.  

Finally, they dispatched several people to set off on a search for her.  

Then the call came- she had been found!

She was in the room across from hers, gaining some emotional support from her friend.  The two women had lost track of time.  

Saturday we had a busy day with hockey, a birthday party, a bon fire with friends.  But I called several times to talk with mom.  Then mom tried calling us, and I answered as she hung up.  When I dialed her back, the phone was busy for a long time.  It was after we got home from the bonfire I called her again.

  It was then that she told us she had been sent to the Emergency Room because of her fall, and when I didn't answer, her sister came and took her. She has some bruised ribs and pain.  But, no fractures fortunately. 

I have so many questions?  Why two days later?  Why not the day of her fall?  What protocol for falls do I not know?  

We've had such excellent care at Bethany.  What just happened this past week?  

Rick and I will be going in to talk with the director.  

We went and spent a long time with her yesterday.  Her spirits are lifting, but she remains cautious and worries about the course of events.  

But first, I have Dr. Panwalkar this morning where we will discuss my PET scan results, then I will have chemo.  

~All shall be well~

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


"Soundlessly, relentlessly praying through your spaces of brokenness makes the heart bigger, until you hold the gift of God alone. " Ann Voskamp

I keep a little notebook that I use to record thank you notes to write and send.  I try to either send a note, an email, or take a quick photo so that you see I received the beautiful items so many send my way.  As I go to update my list, I see how terribly behind I am in writing thank you notes, however.  How did I get so behind in the everyday things I used to do?

My PET scan went fine on Monday.  I did get a bad headache, most likely from not being able to eat or drink anything all morning.  But as I sat in the darkened room, in the recliner, after being injected with the radioactive tracer, I kept hearing the constant buzz of my phone vibrating.  Each time it did, I envisioned all of you, praying for me.  I was completely alone in that room, but only physically.  Spiritually, I couldn't have felt more connected and comforted and deeply grateful. I thought of Ann's words… "relentlessly praying through your spaces of brokenness makes the heart bigger…"  Amen. 

So when will I receive my results?

Ummmmm.  I don't know.

I have an appointment with Dr. Panwalkar and infusion, next Tuesday and I suspect it will be then that we will go over everything.  And no.  I don't read into whether he calls, or not.  I don't feel the need to call him either.  

In His perfect timing, I will know.

My thinking on so many things has flipped.  At one time, I would have wanted to know test results right away.  As quickly as possible.  

Now?   The little bubble of "I am doing just fine," is a good place to hang out.  

HE has this. 

"… relentlessly praying… until you hold the gift of God alone."  

I will provide an update, as soon as I've discussed results with Dr. P.

Love to you all~ 

Friday, September 5, 2014


“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” 
― Anne FrankThe Diary of a Young Girl

I really need to go back and read this book.  I'm finding new meaning in a story this isn't new.  

I love using Picmonkey to play with my photos.  Their site has been in summerlicious mode and I am just not ready to face it changing to something else.  

My Fitbit has been leading me off on adventures every day and I am breathing in all the summer I can.

Monarchs just dance from flower to flower in this garden.  I could stand and watch for long periods of time.  I even saw a hummingbird hovering in the center part. 

I'm discovering nature is such a good teacher.  As I watched the ornamental grass blowing in the wind I noticed right in the middle of it two purple flowers managing to use the grass to wrap around so they could reach the sunlight and bloom.  

The leaves tell a bit of a changing story as some reds fill in amongst the green. 

Just across from my path is the Red river which is really brown and muddy in color. I love how the trees have grown up around it, framing it in this way.

As I walked down near the river a bit, I stumbled across this home made swing.  

After Rick, and both boys got through with a nasty summer cold, it seems to have finally gripped me.  I've been laying low and seem to have the worst of it behind me. 

Rick leaves for Idaho for a week on Sunday.

Monday I will have my PET scan to gain a clearer picture of what the heck my cancer has been up to, from my chest down.  

I'd be so honored to have your prayers for Monday, and for me to be able to face whatever news awaits me.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"… not as much runway as we think…"

“I want to go barefoot because it’s holy ground; I want to be running because time is short and none of us has as much runway as we think we do; and I want it to be a fight because that’s where we can make a difference. That’s what love does.”   Bob Goff, "Love Does" 

At the beginning of this summer Superman happened to hear that Daughtry was coming to town and opening for The Goo Goo Dolls.  It was going to be at Bluestem, an outdoor amphitheater not far from our house.  Did we want to go?  

Without trying to think it through too much, yes I wanted to go.  I also wanted to take the boys.  I loved the idea of doing something new to us, to celebrate the end of summer.  The tickets clung to our fridge all summer long and the boys hadn't a clue.

Sunday, the day of the concert, the rain had drenched the ground the night before.  But a few hours before the time to leave, the clouds were parting and the sun was streaming through.  It was a perfect night for an outdoor concert.  The boys were curious about what we were doing, but merely going along with us, as we hadn't given them a choice.

We parked near a friend's house, and then watched- wide-eyed as cars snaked all the way down and around for what seemed like miles.  We grabbed our blankets and were only too happy to hike in.  

While we didn't purchase seating, we still felt like we had a great view from the lawn on the side.  Plus, it helped me cope with my port, which vibrated so hard in my chest for the longest time, but eventually I grew used to it.

As the crowds filled in, the boys were wide eyed.  When the music first started they were surprised by how loud it was. It also registered on their face when they first noticed how much everyone moved, swayed, and danced to the music.  

It was such a great concert!  We laughed so much when one of the singers exclaimed "I just ate a bug!"  That is so Minnesota-like.  

By the end of the night- the boys had seen a lot.  Plus we had also been able to watch them, mouth the words, bounce their legs, and become totally engaged with the whole concert experience.  

Nolan even put a post out on social media saying he was having a GREAT time, although his sometimes serious expression didn't always show it.  

Afterwards, as we got back on the gravel road going back to our car, we realized how dark it was.  But somewhere along the trek back, my fitbit vibrated and lit up in a big way.  I was so surprised and couldn't for the life of me figure out why- it was only my second day of wearing it.

Apparently, my dance moves were more than sufficient to both warrant 43 very active minutes, but I had hit my 10,000 steps for the day!  

Today I am back in the normal and more sedate number of steps- in the low thousands as of yet.  But every time I check and see I've had some quiet minutes strung together, it does motivate me to get up and move.  I'm enjoy the whole Fitbit process so far and can't wait to see if it helps me keep my weight in a "hey not that big dose of chemo," kind of way.

I went in to wake Colton for his first day of school today and he was up instantly getting ready.  But more surprising, was seeing Nolan bounding up the stairs on his own.  He had set an alarm and needed no prompting from us to get ready.  

I've had several prayer requests for this week.  Please know you can email me (check my profile for address) anytime with a special prayer request.  

I pray when I am folding laundry, brushing the dog, cleaning up the house, or just sitting here, etc.  I'm here, all day, every day.  I'm happy to pray for you, as you've all done for me.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Soul Vitamins...

Ann Voskamp always does a post on Saturdays called: Only the Good Stuff: Multivitamins for Your Weekend.  It really is "good stuff"- refreshing and uplifting.

So I decided to do my own take on a few things that felt like "vitamins for my soul" this week. 

It was an "impromptu" invite, to gather for book club the other night.  To get 7 women to say yes, with barely a day's notice?  Pretty amazing.  

So despite my nausea, and general yuckiness, I decided I could feel sick at home, alone, or at least have a night filled with laughs, and stories, and savor some really good friendships.

And you have to giggle a bit at the fact we hadn't read a book to discuss.  It was such a great night!

I found this tiny feather, clinging by the tiniest thread, to the window of my car.  Despite the rain shower that had just down poured and the wind that was making it hard to photograph, that feather wasn't moving from its little perch.

I am always clinging to hope, and this says to me, hope is clinging right back.

I am mentally preparing for a PET scan my insurance company approved for me in the coming weeks.  It'll be the first time we've looked at my entire body to see where cancer might be active. If we do find activity, a new course of treatment will likely ensue- a chemo of some sort.  So I am cherishing my growing hair, eyebrows, nails, etc.

I was given the gift of a "fitbit" awhile ago.  So today we got it charged and I am logging my steps.  I am actively seeking to drop whatever weight I can before my next infusion!  

Plus, I've been back on a green smoothie kick.  Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, blueberries, almond milk, stevia, and a banana.  Super yum!  

On Facebook, my friend, Julie, challenged me to list 10 books that have stayed with me in some way and tag people to do the same. The Rules: Don't take more than a few minutes and do not think too hard. They don't have to be the "right" books or great works of literature, just ones that you remember in some way. Then tag a number of friends including me so I can see your list. 
"A Prayer for Owen Meany," by John Irving
"Cutting for Stone," by Abraham Verghese
"A New Earth," by Eckhart Tolle
"The Shack," by William Young
"The Outsiders," by S.E. Hinton
"One Thousand Gifts," by Ann Voskamp
"Are you there God? Its Me Margaret." by Judy Blume
"Of Mice and Men," by John Steinbeck
"The Catcher in the Rye," by J. D. Salinger
"The Middle Place," by Kelly Corrigan
"The Book Thief," by Markus Zusak
"Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl," by Anne Frank

These were my books.  I can't believe I forgot to add "To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee.  I loved seeing how many people jumped in and provided lists of their top books.

Do any of you have a few books or a top 10 that you'd like to share?  

Happy Labor Day weekend!  Hope you find some "Soul Vitamins" too! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Surrender blanketed in grace

"You have been given today…"  

I have my mom's antique chair off to the side of my computer desk.  It badly needs a makeover.  And yet it wonderfully displays the pillows given to me by friends in the upper right hand corner of the collage.  I look at them every day and let those words sink in often.  

If you look very carefully, on the arm of the chair is a ring that was given to me by my friend Susan.  It says "Overcomer" on it and I wear it often, when my fingers aren't too swollen.  

Just the other day the photo with the words, "You have been given today," were sent to me along with the beautiful card from a friend in Arizona.  

So when I went to infusion yesterday, I had so many gifts to count, so much gratitude to fill the lines of my journal.

And yet…

I officially stepped on the scale and stepped off into the unknown.  ARGGGGGHHH.  I was over the weight limit by .3 lbs.   Yes, thats, point 3.  

So I try to carefully explain to my infusion nurse, whom I've never had before, could she just run it past Dr. Panwalkar?  The last time I went over by a couple of pounds, he clearly said he won't increase my dosage of Herceptin.  I am so sensitive to it already, and have increasing nausea and flu-like symptoms from it and he didn't want it to increase. 

But, my nurse had already made a call to Laurie, the nurse practioner,  not Dr. Panwalkar.  She explains its the standard guidelines and so we wait to hear back from Laurie. 

And the decision, I know, is black and white.  If you're over the line, you should do the increased dose.

I'm surprised by how quickly it makes me feel helpless and sad. 

I'm not one to argue, and again, I feel her busyness, her need to get to her next patient. 

So I smile, and remind myself to be gracious.  

I lean all the way back in the bed, and surrender. 

I have a full afternoon of appointments.  I have been asked to participate in some really cool events and projects and I am fully immersed in preparing for them.  So I just take what meds I can to squelch the growing discomfort. 

I arrive home late, ready to cave in. 

But my Colton is standing near the door.  Freshly showered, hair freshly spiked with gel, with all his school supplies in his bag, ready to go.  Its back to school night at his new school.  He is starting middle school this year.

So I plead with Superman for him to go with us, as fatigue nags me, but he is too swamped with work and distracted. 

Gracious.  Help me be gracious.

Colton and I make our way through.  He is excited, even though admittedly, he is nervous too. 

I'm completely wiped out by the time we get home.

I tumble into bed near 9 o'clock.

I awake early this morning,  with a booming headache, nauseous stomach, and a new side effect- diarrhea that seems unending.  

I grab my sprite, some toast, and head over to the chair by the sunlight.  

"You have been given today…"

Today I choose surrender…  blanketed in grace.  

Friday, August 22, 2014


Ellen DeGeneres

Leave it to Ellen to sum up our days lately, with a keen sense of humor.  

People often ask, "So how are the boys doing?'

Sometimes, the answers of "they're fine," truly suffice.  Other times the answers smack you in the head and you wonder why you didn't see it all along.

It started with the simple line uttered by the school day photographer...

 When she went to take Nolan's  8th grade school photo, he was out of the range of their camera.  While there were footprints for the kids to place their feet in to align with the camera, Nolan had to step outside of the feet, way outside of the box, as he simply didn't fit.

He stands eye to eye with his father.  We haven't dared compare more officially- Nolan might be a tad taller already.

"Are you sure he doesn't belong in high school?"  The young woman jokes.  Nolan just grins for a second than its back to his sober face for the pic.  He doesn't really want to be in these pictures.  

But she is more astute than she knows.  Nolan has faced a long period of time now, of finding where he fits.  In so many ways, not visible to most, our boys have had to adjust to so much.

I can so relate to that struggle.   I did start high school when I was 14.  My own Mom was busy at work, and I had to register myself.  I had to make sure I had everything I needed from gym clothes, to school clothes, to supplies, to everything that went with it.  I rode my bike everywhere I needed to go, to the "Holiday Mall," to find jeans at "Stevensons", and make up at Alco, or if you were really lucky, Merle Norman.  I had to maneuver around all the hours I babysat in the summer earning money to pay for everything.  The weight of it all felt enormous.

Nolan's different in that, mostly, he still has me at home to help.   Even though he pushes away, more than he seeks out, my help.  And I have to remind myself, its normal for him to be that way.

He has taken his first job, too.  He is working at a hockey camp, and loves being with younger kids, while still receiving coaching from those he works with.  He is also committed to his training regimen, and often goes to the rink, by himself, looking to keep his skating sharp.  

But despite a full day, he doesn't stay still at home for long.  Adventure beckons him, and he is off to find one of his buddies, and a place to fit, outside of the comfort of home. 

Picture after picture shows up in his private instagram feed.  The one account for some of his friends, and me, his mom.  The mom, who loves it when a photo pops up of him tubing in DL with his friends- the three of them smiling so huge- there's those dimples after all.  Or when he gets invited to spend a weekend up by Duluth, and does every boy-loving thing in rapid-fire order.  The times a friend picks him up in his car, and they go for a protein shake. Or the nights he goes cat fishing with another good buddy, and he proudly shows the fish he's landed.

Its difficult when your mom has cancer, to be able to invite your friends over.  We long to add on a teenage-friendly space on the back of our house.  One in which the boys don't have to make their friends face how their mom may be looking and feeling. But until we figure that out, he has been ousted out of the family space in the basement, in lieu of Rick's office.  His tiny bedroom, his only refuge.

So the boy who didn't like leaving the house at one point, adjusts to going out to be with his friends these days.  I thinks its important that he has a change of scenery, the freedom to be a teenager, to get away from the cancer and its chronic treatment that limit what I can do, and therefore what he can do. It’s all  I can give him and I hope it reassures him. All shall be well.

My mother's heart thumps with joy each time he is asked to go.  Each day he is doing "normal," teenage things.  Each day, he can escape the reality of his mom, and her life lived with one foot firmly entrenched in Cancer world, despite how "normal" she looks.

For both the boys, I want them to be with friends old and new, having fun and trying new things. There are so many physical activities I can no longer do with them. Yet we look forward to many new things coming their way- achievements, laughs, and experiences- a world of moments to live full.

Just a few nights ago.  Nolan asked if I could go with him out for Chinese food.  We had just the gift card for it.  Just him, just me.  Instead of going to play baseball with his friends, he chose to have dinner with me.  And he talked.  We talked.  About his hopes, his worries, his dreams.  

At the end of dinner, his phone beeped.  I got a shy smile and a request.  Could I just drop him off at his friends to play a little baseball? I could, happily I could.

He leans down and hugs me as I turn to leave.  

He fits.  As fleeting as these moments between him and I can be, its the one place he will always fit.

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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