Monday, October 31, 2011

In the midst of dizzy...

In the midst of dizzy I found...


I'm often quite struck with the thoughtfulness that comes from such a diversity of people too. We received a delicious meal last Friday, just spur of the moment.  Susan, the lasagna was restaurant -worthy and wonderful!  We devoured it over the weekend.  Thank you for nourishing and enriching our lives with your always thoughtful gestures! 

I also found...

A compassionate soul in a young girl.

This beautiful scarf came in the mail from the young daughter of a high school classmate of mine. Katie said she saw this yarn at the store and in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, thought I might enjoy a warm pink scarf to wear. Besides, she is a hockey sister, and knew that I am a hockey mom and we will both spend numerous hours freezing in the cold at the hockey rink. I'm extremely touched that she would think of doing this for me.  Thank you Katie, Kristen and Marty!  

I also found...


You see, I asked God for a bit of a distraction, to help me focus elsewhere so I wouldn't get too mired in dizzy. Apparently someone was listening.  Isn't that how it goes?  One thing comes to occupy our every waking moment, and in asking to be distracted? Boy, was I ever.  

I would have to say this provided a major distraction ... it seems that my incision is revolting against the stitches again.  Fluid is leaking out and about an inch of my incision is crusty and scabby again.  I had to make an emergency visit last Friday to Dr. Bouton.  He was reassuring in that he still thinks I am healing.  That whatever fluid was in, has mostly come out again.  And the layers should want to go together, rather than separate.  I will see him again later this week.  See?  Distracted, and reassured. 

These were awaiting me when I returned home.  My mother brought them for me and then stayed and watched the kids so Rick and I could go to our hockey social.  I was way too happy to see so many of my favorite hockey people to worry about either dizziness or leaking incisions that won't heal.

Then, I found love, unexpected in my mail box.

Saturday morning these arrived from my dear blogging friend, Robin, from All Things Heart and Home. She is the sweet friend who for 4 years now, has sent Sara and I pink warm fuzzy socks, and we have days that call for all of us to wear them together.  In honor of Sara, I have a feeling I will wear these and think of her and our special Robin, often.  Thank you Robin!  Robin has a beautiful blog that inspires, one you should definitely visit!

And thats when "joy" showed up.

Speaking of Sara, this morning, after a long night with a frazzled and tired out boy, who is surrendering to stress he feels coming at him from everywhere, well this was peeking out of my mailbox.   Its my Gitzen Girl inspired necklace made by Donna of Beans and Beads.  I ordered it just last week.  The little silver cap on top of the bead says "Sara." 

I'm reminded often, in all of this, the messy of our lives, we always have a choice.  Today, the choice is easy, Joy is what I will reach for.  How about you?  What do you find in the midst of messy? 

Friday, October 28, 2011

"side by side with the good"

You don't take a photograph.  You ask, quietly, to borrow it.  ~Author Unknown

Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter.  ~Ansel Adams

"Well some things don't ever get settled.  You just make a place for them.  Learn to let them sit there with you , side by side with the good."  Carol Wiley Cassella, Oxygen

I just wanted to have a "good" day yesterday despite the dizziness.  So I let it just be there, side by side, with all the good around me.  Abundance continues to flow into my life.  I have been deeply touched, completely flooded with emails by both friends and new-to-me friends.  Thank you for continuing to be such blessings to me.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I am

I am dizzy, I said to my oncologist.

Then we'll order an Mri and get to the bottom of it,  he said.  We'll watch for seizures, and black outs.  We'll watch for severe headaches.  You'll call me, even in the middle of the night, with worsening symptoms.  We will take care of you.

I get claustrophobic in the MRI tube, I said to the nurse.

Then we'll order some Xanax for you to take the edge off she said.  Or you can take Ativan.  We'll help you get through it, she said.

I'm nervous, I said to the MRI radiology tech.

Then I'll place a wash cloth over your eyes, and a pillow under your legs, and I'll speak to you in the tube, and I'll blow air on you and I'll be there with you the entire time.

I'm dizzy and fatigued I cried to my husband.

Then I'll drive the boys to hockey, and I'll pick them up.  I'll get the groceries.  I'll watch the boys.  You rest, he said.  I will take care of you.

Mama's tired, I said to the boys.

Then we'll walk the dog and take him outside, they said.  We will be quiet and you can rest.  We will bring you water and the remote and a blanket.  We'll take care of you mom.

I'm sad, I whispered to God.  I'm worried. I'm weary.  I'm leaving it all with you.

I know you are, he said to me.  I have been with you the entire time.  I will not leave you.  I will bear you, I will carry you...

I have breast cancer,  I said on my blog.

We know you do, you said.  We will flood your mailbox with cards.  We will pray for you, uplift you, carry your name on our lips.  We will make meals for you and feed you.  We will clean for you, and decorate your home for you.  We will bless you.  We will love you through it.

Did you find cancer on my brain, I asked the nurse?  

It doesn't look like cancer, she said.  It doesn't look like metastases.  Its something she said, but we don't know what.  You'll have more scans in December, she said.  We will watch and wait...  we're here for you.

I am waiting I whispered... I am hoping and kneeling and waiting.

Monday, October 24, 2011

One thing different...

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.  ~e.e. cummings

Crosby wakes us before the sun rises every morning.  Usually Superman gets up with him as I am still in a drug induced unconscious haze.  But every so often Rick needs a break and I take a turn, (with the help of some extra coffee.)  I've long been craving an unobstructed view of the sun coming up, but I would have to leave and go in search of that view.  Last Thursday, only mildly dizzy, I decided to do something about it.  

I grabbed the dog.

My extra large mug of coffee.

The camera.

And drove towards the glow in the sky. 

I first stopped by our church.  

I then drove as far East as the road would allow.  I came to rest near a farmer's field.


I anticipated the orange and the golden tinges, but I hadn't realized the magic of a pastel palette.  The deep purples, the lavenders, the pinks, all splashed against glimpses of a  powder blue sky.

I had an epiphany... what if I did one thing different each day?  What if I simply started from a place of "yes?" instead of the instant no.  How different might my days look?  

I drove home with a full heart at the start of my day and arrived to everyone just getting up.  

I capped off the perfect morning with homemade pancakes.

Just one thing different, may just lead to a whole lot of different.  

Anyone else want to try? 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Keeping the dream...

Doesn't almost every little boy who plays sports grow up dreaming he will play for a professional sports team? Nolan doesn't just dream about it, he does everything within his power to be around professional sports, namely hockey, as much as possible.

But he is limited to what mom and and dad can provide. Typically Wild tickets for the 4 of us is just out of the question.  Unless, a generous and compassionate wife of a professional player steps in.

Last summer, the day Matt Cullen, #7 for the Minnesota Wild, came to the rink to sign autographs for our young hockey players, its was his wife Bridget we spent so much time talking to. While Nolan is certainly a Wild fan, and a Matt Cullen fan, its no secret he is a huge Penguins fan and loves Sidney Crosby.

And Bridget's eyes grew big when she heard that. Since Matt and Bridget are friends with the coach of the Penguins, Dan Bylsma, maybe Nolan would enjoy coming to the game when the Penguins come to play the Wild?

True to her word, Bridget set aside two tickets to the Penguins game for Nolan and Rick last Tuesday. While I went to chemo, Nolan got out of school for a half day and drove to the cities with Rick.  (Colton had no interest in going this time which turned out well when he came home with a fever that day.)

Nolan was only momentarily disappointed that both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had not made the trip.  Because waiting for him and Rick were family passes, allowing them to congregate with the families of the players outside the locker rooms after the game.

Rick had already submitted  a list of games to the Wild for him to shoot photos at, but he was turned down for some of them, including the Penguins game.  My point and shoot camera would have to do for their photos.

Matt Cullen taking the face off below for the Wild.

Penguins players after the game, signing Nolan's jersey

Co-owner of the Penguins and legendary player... Mario Lemieux

Nolan has been a long time member of the Pittsburgh kids club and he has hung onto every player photo they send to him.  He was thrilled when Fleury agreed to sign both the jersey and the picture Nolan had brought!  Plus, he got Nolan's name perfectly. Its always the little things that they remember.

And now the Wild players.  They just had no puck luck that night and lost the game even though they played well throughout the night.  Nolan got several more Wild players, but Rick has abandoned my out matched camera by then.

This is one exhausted, beaming kid.  

Nolan's hockey dreams are alive and thriving.  Who knows if he will ever have the "stuff" it takes to make it, but what I love, is that he at least believes in the dream and works pretty hard at hockey because of it.  

We are forever indebted to Bridget Cullen for setting this whole thing up for Nolan and Rick.  Matt and Bridget are cofounders of the Cullen's Children's Foundation, or Cully's Kids which provides financial resources to organizations that support children's healthcare needs with an emphasis on cancer.  They both understand the stress and toll that cancer takes on a family and work tirelessly to raise funds and support for kids with cancer.  We're honored to volunteer at the events every summer and come away with rewards beyond measure in being around "Cully's Kids." 

From my own perspective I know it was more than just going to the game and meeting the players, for my two guys.  Truly what Bridget enabled my boys to do, was forget about cancer for a day, and just be hockey loving fans, and that is the best gift of all.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"...grace enough to bear it..."

It is a good thing to be without a trouble; but it is a better thing to have a trouble, and know how to get grace enough to bear it.” ~Spurgeon  Anne Voskamp

I read this quickly as I head out the door for chemo.  "Grace enough to bear it " echoes through my head.  It is my mantra for the day.

As I settled into the waiting room early yesterday morning at Roger Maris, waiting for my pager to flash signaling my turn for blood work, I scanned the full room.  An older grandfatherly type sat just kitty-corner from me.  Was he a patient?  I am often surprised when I see a flash go off and notice the pager is not in the hands of the one I thought was the cancer patient.  But the next flash I saw was from the pager in his hands and off he went.  

Everything was running behind and there was an unusual amount of waiting yesterday.  

Except for Dr. Panwalkar who throws open the door promptly at 9:45 am.  From the doorway, In a thick Indian accent he says my name and it resembles something like this "Wicky,"  "Wicky I have your scan results, everything's good!"  "Liver still clear, spine and lymph nodes stable."  

I match his smile, knowing I have been given another reprieve.  I have earned the golden ticket to 3 more treatments of TDM1, "the miracle" drug.  Prayers are being answered!  I am counting grace.

Yet, I have to honestly tell him I've struggled with more fatigue.  I've been less able to do as much.  Dr. P is thorough in his questions and takes everything in.  

He thumps my spine, checks my liver, listens to my lungs.  He goes to check my feet, but my tall boots cover my ankles.  I carefully unzip one so he can see, I have no swelling.  The strain on my back causes me to leave the boot unzipped as he asks me to lie back.  Sensing the problem, Dr. P carefully reaches over and zips the boot for me.  Its such a simple, unadorned, gesture, but it leaves me touched by his compassion, and I count grace.

I have just one more "new thing" to share with him.  I have had some dizziness.  Its hard to describe, but its almost like vertigo sometimes.  Its been a mild symptom, but it visits often.  He again questions me thoroughly and suggests we do an mri.  I smile when I add "with sedation."  He laughs and says yes.  Either I am experiencing side effects from the treatment, which is what we suspect, or some new activity has started in my brain.  Waiting takes over once again.  Next week I will have the mri. But I will deal with that next week.  Today is grace.

We conclude our visit and he walks me to the infusion center.  As he turns to leave, he places his hand on my back and says "I'll see you in three weeks."  Compassion and grace.

I sit shivering in the infusion center waiting room.  A stranger sees me with my arms wrapped around myself... "would you like my coat?"  "Its all warmed up and I don't need it?"  

Another woman nearby suggests I ask for a warmed blanket.  I smile and say no thank you, I'll settle into a warm blanket when I get my room.  But of course I count more grace.  You don't find many "strangers" at the infusion center, just unfamiliar faces disguising the grace within.

My infusion concludes uneventfully.  Rick is out of town with Nolan, but as luck would have it, my friend Carrie is working and offers me a ride home.  Grace.

I walk down the hall out to the lobby and notice the same grandfatherly man from the morning, walking next to me.  "You're still here too?" he asks.  "yes," I say, "its been a long day."  We've been there for 7 hours.  "Well," he says, "even though the days get long, I guess it sure beats the alternative."  I laugh as I see he gets it.  He is grace too.  We don't do this because we WANT to, we simply HAVE to.  

I arrive home to a sick little boy with flushed cheeks, a fever and achy body, wrapped in a blanket next to Grandma on the couch.  

And even in this, is grace.  It affords us the time to snuggle in bed and doze on and off, sipping our sprite, nibbling on crackers and just being quiet with each other.  

Even Crosby has gone to the neighbors for a "sleepover."  I take my meds and drift off to sleep, fully steeped in "grace enough to bear it."  

I am continually humbled and awed at how much each and every one of you, show up, love on me and my family and continue to sustain through prayers, and kind gestures.  I pray often that God multiplies back to you tenfold, the blessing you are to me.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chemo day...

Its chemo day:
scan results 
visit with Dr. Panwalkar
blood work
counting my counts
thumping my spine
examining my body
checking for signs
port access
iv drip, drip, drip
soda crackers
rinse cycle
long day
rest, rest, rest

Friday, October 14, 2011

Because of Sara Frankl... On The Minds Of Moms

I'll admit I'm a little hopped up on steroids right now, and Claritin, and Lorazepam and a little Ranitidine for good measure.  And I've been drinking yucky things and having an iv full of dye contrast shot into me as I barreled in and out of the CT scanner all morning.  I was a mess of anxiety, and meds, and discomfort.

But then my phone started to light up.  It was filled with people offering prayers and support on this anxiety ridden day and it brought immediate comfort to me as always.  They never forget!   But there was also another small gem in the midst of those texts too.

And by small, I mean HUGE, really, really HUGE, well that is if you're a shy girl like me.

Because I am.  Truly.  A shy girl.

And what I did, shocked me beyond belief.

I decided to "live a little."  And it had something to do with this...  but let me explain.

Because I decided to "live a little" at the exact time my friend, our sweet Sara, lay clinging to merely a thread of life.

And I felt helpless.

Like I couldn't be there for her.

And I couldn't wrap my arms around her and lay in bed with her like I longed to do.

I couldn't lay eyes on her, talk to her, or hear from her anymore.

But I could do this...

Because she'd tell me to, in fact she'd hound me and badger me to.  She'd tell me I was good enough, worthy enough, deserving.  Because she could just read my heart and know the exact thing I needed to hear from her.

So I decided to do this for her, because of her.

Because she is the one who gave me the shift in perspective I needed to find the grace in the hard stuff from the very beginning.  And if you read my words, I am convinced, you'd see her influence on me through and through.

So several months back I was asked by one of the Co-Founders and Editors of On The Minds of Moms Magazine, Dani Parkos Fluge, to write something for them.  Anything in fact.  And at the lake this summer, one day, amidst the quiet and the sound of the water and the sunshine on my face, I did.  I opened my heart and a story fell out.

And then I didn't send it in.  I just didn't.  Maybe I was still afraid?  Its very humbling to put a piece of your heart out in the world, unprotected, especially when you are shy like me.  So it sat in a file on my desktop for weeks.

And then my world started turning on its head at the mere idea of not just losing Sara, but knowing I would be having surgery soon and chemo, and unlikely to be able to travel to her ever again.  So I prayed, and then cried, and then decided it was the one thing I could do for Sara.

And within hours of me sending off the story, I heard unequivocally, they wanted that story, just as it was.

And the texts I was receiving this morning?  Were because the new issue of OTMOM, was on the stands at the grocery store, and my story is in it!

The cover of the magazine...  the family on the cover happens to be another family we know and I was delighted to see their beautiful story told in this issue.

And, wow, here I am... those amazing family photos that Ria took for us, and graciously let the magazine use- thank you Ria! 

And the page that is so inspiring to me... to see myself amongst the ranks of women like Patricia Carlson whose work I've admired for so long.  Really?  

Dani Fluges let me know today that their website is featuring a link to the story in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  So if you don't live near my community and would like to read the story it is here.

Essentially the message is quite simple... "live your moments...  feel your aliveness.  Put your grace glasses on and live your best day today.  Expand.  Count your gifts.  You can see them in the tiniest moments.  If you are open to seeing them, they are all around us."

Thank you all for transforming this "tiny moment" today into something huge for me!  

OTMOM  has a facebook page that is steadily growing!  They are just shy of 3000 likes and have mentioned a giveaway if they could just get a few more people to like their page.  I'd be so honored to have you check it out and click the like button! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Eddie Money

Eddie money may be in his sixties, but he can still rock it!  Cameras weren't allowed into the show, but this is how he looks these days.  His voice might be a bit more hoarse and gravelly sounding but it didn't stop him from belting out all the number one hits he has had over the years.  

Treasure Island Resort and Casino was far bigger than we thought it might be.  It was just over 5 hours from our house and yet it certainly reminds me of Vegas!  

We had an early start the next  morning, but went around back to the marina for a quick look.

We hadn't arrived early enough the prior day to enjoy the river boat cruise on the Mississippi.  

The views were breathtaking and filled with fall color and golden light.

Within a couple of hours of leaving we drove into rain.  But closer to home there was a line of blue sky and the sun peeking out underneath all of those clouds.  The fields of corn were practically luminescent, and it doesn't show in my photos but I liked the stark contrast anyway. 

It was sunny by the time we arrived home.  Its been unusually warm and I am soaking in all the warmth I can before the upcoming cold comes to stay with us for far too long.  

You all continue to inspire and encourage me in the most surprising and fun ways!  This is Katie in NYC and look where my bracelet is hanging out now!  

Thank you Katie!  I see readers come from all corners of the states and the world over, and I am always excited when someone takes a minute to drop into the Westra World to say hello. 

When you get lucky

When you get lucky

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