Eeyore on Steroids: “I’d Look on the Bright Side if I Could Find it!”

I gave my usual ‘I need your best person because I’m a really hard stick’ speech to the pleasant lady checking me in for bloodwork. She was unable to locate orders which was strange as I had literally JUST walked across the hall after meeting with my doctor with clear instructions to go straight to the lab. The last thing I needed was more waiting, escalating the anxiety.

I had prayed for an uneventful appointment with my Stanford doctor, and so far, my prayer was answered… other than a possible naked man leaning his backside against an apartment window on the hospital grounds. I say possible because at first glance, I would SWEAR that’s what I saw and not wanting to stare, I can’t completely confirm.

My anxiety was simply based on dreading needles, NOT on any unusual findings. Everything was fairly routine with a quick scope procedure and check-up. The biggest challenge for all my doctors is managing follow-up care for lynch syndrome. My oncologist stated she spends a chunk of time the night before she sees me analyzing where we are and what needs to be done.

High maintenance in yet another area of my life! Hah!

After 30 minutes of entertaining myself with heating pads on my uncooperative veins, it was finally my turn. The lab is set up in a circle with full view of everyone getting their blood drawn. While contemplating the reasoning for this, I was directed to take the one and only chair in the middle of the awkward circle. I guess she hadn’t picked up on what a baby I am and how this might not be the best idea to have all eyes on me.

Even though the lab tech was amazing, I still found myself fighting the usual tears as I prepared to leave. It’s my moment of feeling sorry for myself, sad I have to walk through this. I’m sure it’s just my way of releasing all the emotions of getting through another doctor visit and hoping everything is fine.

Rounding the corner to the waiting room, I saw a family friend. It was great to see her and she quickly caught me up on the details of the last few months of her life. Cancer had been found in her spinal fluid and now she was undergoing harsh treatments of radiation and chemo in hopes of prolonging her life.

As crazy as it sounds, she looked wonderful! Even in the midst of describing horrific details, she was absolutely radiating with positivity. She laughed often, joyfully declaring how God is in control no matter the interruption to how she thought her life would unfold this year.

I was convicted to say the least.

I KNOW I’ve grown in my faith, but my friend challenged me to take it to the next level with God. Just that week I had been describing a woe-is-me, negative person to a friend and used the phrase, “She’s like Eeyore on steroids.”  I now felt like the phrase could accurately describe me and how I’ve been viewing God’s ability to work in certain areas of my life, mainly having to do with my kids. I’VE been the Eyeore-on-steroids person who only sees the impossible obstacles we are facing and not the God-who-can-move-mountains-Heavenly-Father who is more than able to meet all our needs, big and small!

I’ve been reading Priscilla Shirer’s book God Is Able, and the description on the back starts with, “Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing.” She explores Ephesians 3:20-21, building her case that God is always up to great things.

This is my summary/narrative of the verses based on her book:

Ephesians 3:20-21. “Now (our current reality and God’s present ability) to Him (eyes on Jesus!) who is able to do (for YOU) exceeding abundantly beyond (Lord, please do this or something better) all that we ask or think (He’s got it totally covered) according to the power that works within us, (flip the switch— depend heavily and consistently on the Spirit of God— make room for HIS ability) to HIM be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. AMEN!

I began journaling prayers for my three kids; what am I believing God for in their lives? On Cory’s page (which happens to be the longest right now…TEENAGERS!!) I wrote a specific prayer for his grade in summer school math. This is actually a HUGE concern in that he missed passing the second semester by one point. ONE POINT!! High school math is HARD and it has been challenging for little mister. Under my journaled prayer, I wrote…

God Is Able!

The class is now halfway done and Cory has a 95!

GOD IS ABLE!!

It might be a small example to you, but to me… it’s miraculous! AND… as I sat down to blog, I literally could have written about each one of my kids. God has answered a specific prayer I had for each one of them THIS WEEK!

So… rather than being an Eeyore in the circumstances of life, I am looking for God in everything and believing He Is Able!

In the words of the rumbly tumbly theologian Winnie the Pooh:

“Yesterday is a history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”

I’d love to hear from you and how God is working in your present situations. After all, “A friend is someone who helps you up when you’re down, and if they can’t, they lay down beside you and listen.” (Pooh)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smiling Through Pain

Let’s start with the biggest news of all from my most recent Stanford appointment. This is, well… basically… HUGE!

Are you sitting down?

Ready??

I WAS ABLE TO SLIDE MY WEDDING RING OFF BEFORE THE PROCEDURE!!  Hah!

Forgive me for all the build-up, but this is a really big deal. If you’ve followed my blog for a bit, you know I reference this extremely buggy issue often.

But…I have lost 10 lbs. …and being able to avoid the awkward conversation with the nurses of why I can’t take my ring off was HEAVEN. And hopefully the weight loss will continue and begin to show up in other places besides my ring finger!

This procedure required an IV and THAT turned into a comedy of not-so-funny errors. The first nurse about KILLED me with several failed attempts. She discreetly slipped away and nurse Donna gave it a few unsuccessful tries. Donna decided to send for Dan who is their best guy for challenging patients.

Meanwhile, I quickly got Ed’s attention, asking him to send out an IV-SOS-text for prayer to Wendy and Kelly because I was now nauseous and faint— not to mention BRUISED and hurting. The problem, however, is Ed is not a fast texter:  He over-thinks his wording and spelling before he will send anything. In the chaos of the moment, I SWEAR he asked me how to spell “IV.”  Hah!

Before the infamous Dan could arrive, an older nurse named Dixie stepped in to give it a try. Donna tried to persuade her to wait for Dan, but Dixie was determined! Donna literally leaned over me and whispered, “I apologize in advance for what is about to happen.”

Oh my!!

Funny thing… Dixie got it.  First try.  No bruising.

I also had a mammogram followed by an ultrasound.  Not my favorite appointment for a number of reasons… mainly, my mom died of breast cancer and I find myself fighting twinges of fear and being super sad when these times come up.

During the ultrasound, the technician suddenly stopped the screening and with a concerned tone in her voice said, “I need to get someone to look at this.”

She abruptly left the room and I was lying there with instant tears, thinking, “This is it.  They’re gonna say I have breast cancer just like my mom.”

My mom was beautiful— reserved, classy, graceful. I feel TOTALLY ripped off to not know her through the different seasons of life. I really miss her and Mother’s Day weekend is a nice opportunity to write about her, reminding the world that Devona Dean Polk lived and was a remarkable person! Sometimes I wonder if God took her home early (age 46) because she had finally worked through all her past pain… kind of like ending on a note of joy and emotional wholeness. I don’t know. I’m not God and let’s just reiterate my life mantra yet again: I trust him. Period.

The two technicians entered the room and began fiddling with the computer screen. Within minutes the problem was diagnosed… an equipment malfunction which was never about me at all. If the original technician hadn’t been so grumpy, I would have pointed out that after reviewing a patient’s medical history, one should not run from the room stating you need someone to look at this!

Finally, many of you have asked about Eddie’s shoulder since his driveway-motorcycle accident. It hurts and is still not quite right. I don’t want to flat out say it’s an emergency situation, BUT… he’s unable to massage my neck and shoulders because of the pain, so… it’s pretty critical he deals with it!

Seriously, I keep encouraging him to follow-up on it because his future well-being and livelihood depend on it and it’s just not any fun to be in pain.

Speaking of pain, I hope Mother’s Day is a nice day for you. I KNOW it can be hard for a variety of reasons. There was a time in my life when my mom had passed away AND I was just finding out I was unable to have kids. On Mother’s Day the emotional pain was simply TOO MUCH!! If you will be attending a church service where they ask all the moms to stand up and you are struggling with becoming a mom…as Nurse Donna would say, “I apologize in advance for what is about to happen!”

I do pray you find a reason to smile through life’s challenges and are able to bring some joy and laughter to those around you.

You can always borrow a line from Eddie and ask someone how to spell “IV”!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volleyball, Mudslides and Cancer

I KNOW you’re on the edge of your seats, waiting for updates about my life… or at least that’s what I like to tell myself.

Well, I’ve got some!

Let’s start with the basics and see how this unfolds.

Volleyball. What can I say? Apparently, I am a HUGE fan. I had no idea I would love this sport so much!

Cory had an all-day tournament this past weekend. I missed the first match because I was definitely taking my sweet time getting there. I was just so happy to be in the car all by myself, sipping on Starbucks and switching stations back and forth from classic rock to worship music. My definition of solitude!

I made it JUST in time for the second match (is that what you even call it??)… which we won. A match is a total of 3 games, playing until a team wins two. Our little group of parents are super-dedicated to cheering the boys on. After each game in a given match, we switch sides to make sure we are in the best spot to effectively root for our team.  Have I mentioned how stressful this sport is?? The boys really have to work together to execute the perfect bump-set-spike situation. VERY technical! Cory is an outside hitter and is growing in his confidence to nail the ball on the final hit. He’s doing great, especially considering he hasn’t played since Jess was in middle school. Hah!

We made it to the championship round, competing for the bronze. It was wild, three games happening simultaneously, inches apart… like a war-zone with volleyballs coming at you from all directions.

We lost the first game, but came back to win the second by a landslide. The third game would decide it: first team to score 15 would be the winner.

We were smokin’…11-4.  The boys looked unstoppable!

And then…

An injury.

The captain of the team jumped, dove (and possibly collided with someone or something…it all happened so fast) and went down grabbing his ankle. He was HURT and would not be able to finish the game.

This young man is the most outstanding volleyball player, but along with that, he holds the team together like nothing I’ve ever seen. He’s super encouraging to the guys, coaching them after each play… the heart of the team.

We never scored another point.

It was a sad moment, but sweet to see how this team supports each other as the coach led them in praying for their injured captain.

Now we wait to hear if he will be able to play in the games this week.

Ahhh.  Such is life.

In other news… our road is hanging in there.  We are driving on it as if everything is just fine. The sunshine had lifted the “doom and gloom” feeling, but now rain is in the forecast for the whole week. I overheard Ed chatting with a friend about possible repair options this summer, so… I guess that’s the plan: Pray for it to hold ‘til summer!

And…finally, (well, I had more, but apparently rambled on about volleyball more than I thought I would)…

I go to Stanford this Friday. This is the next procedure in the schedule my doctor has set up. I’m not looking forward to it AT ALL, but I’m thankful for the close monitoring.

I’ve been praying Ephesians 3:16-19 over myself and my family recently. We are working our way through some hurts and situations with no idea of outcomes.  We DO know that God is with us and he offers strength, encouragement and hope to whatever parts of our life are injured. He holds our “team” together and we need Him like crazy!

Ephesians 3:16-19…    “I pray that out of God’s glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to KNOW this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Here is an example of how I would take these verses and pray them over Cory:

“Lord, I pray that out of your glorious riches you would strengthen Cory with power through your Spirit in his inner being, so that you would dwell in his heart through faith. I also ask that Cory, being rooted and established in love may have power, together with all of us, to grasp how much you love him; to know how wide and long and high and deep is your love for him. I pray that Cory would KNOW this love that far exceeds anything in his life. Fill him up with more of you… And may his volleyball team win!!” (Doesn’t hurt to ask!)

Praying these verses encourage you! Make them your personal prayer and try praying them for someone else.

I’d love to hear about what God is doing in your life. Have a blessed week and may YOU be filled to the measure of ALL the fullness of God!

 

 

 

 

 

So Much Waiting

“Not one person has liked or commented on my Facebook post today,” I lamented to Eddie as we wound our way over the mountain freeway to Stanford.

I had linked to my latest blog post Friday the 13th asking for prayer for my upcoming procedure and out-of-whack emotions.  Having no-one respond was clearly not encouraging, and I began to wonder if everyone was as over my ongoing medical journey as I was.

We pulled into Stanford with not much time to spare— surprising I know, considering who was driving!  Ed dropped me off in the crazy valet parking line in front of the cancer center. I was grateful to miss the claustrophobic parking garage which Ed said was more chaotic than ever.

I was a last-minute add-on to the surgery schedule, so, unfortunately, I was given a 1:30 time slot which meant I was STARVING!  This was to be an “exam under anesthesia”, making sure some recent findings were not cancerous.  In MY mind, we would be back on the road by 5:00, eating wherever I wanted.

It was an uneventful check-in, weigh-in and starting the IV.  If you’ve followed my blog at all, then you know IV’s are extremely challenging to get going on me, so I was thankful.  No pain and only one stick!

Eddie was allowed to come back and hang out with me in the pre-op room.  It was kind of a ghost town back there, with only 2 other patients waiting their turn.  The nurse began timidly updating us to the possibility of a delay with my doctor who was stuck in a surgery that was running late.  I didn’t panic, I mean, I was hungry, but a little delay is not that big of a deal and we had found a TV station running a marathon of Seinfeld episodes.

FOUR EPISODES LATER, I was STILL waiting. Everyone was gone from pre-op except my nurse, Eddie and me. The nurse was getting a bit antsy to shut down the unit and get off work. She was probably starving too!

After another hour, she moved me to the recovery room, wished me luck and clocked out, leaving me with more waiting and no TV.

FIVE HOURS after checking in, I was finally being wheeled to the Operating Room.  My doctor explained she had been stuck in another doctor’s surgery, basically twiddling her thumbs waiting to do a tiny procedure.

TWENTY MINUTES later I was back in recovery.  As I came to, I felt so good!  This was the first time in recovery that I wasn’t nauseas at all.

Meanwhile, everyone was trying to track down Ed- who had no idea I would be out so quickly.  Poor guy… he was trying to spend the $5 meal ticket Glenda from Guest Relations had given him as a sort of apology for the long wait.  Problem was, all the food places had closed!

My doctor personally found him down in the pharmacy line, which was also closing!  She informed Ed that she had taken 2 biopsies and would call us with the results.

We were on the road by 7:30 and eating corn chowder at Mimi’s by 8.

So much waiting!!

Waiting to eat, waiting for surgery, waiting for likes/comments on Facebook, waiting for biopsy results, WAITING TO BE PAST ALL OF THIS!

Are there benefits to waiting? Can anything good come of delays in life?

I love this definition of faith:  Faith is waiting to let God work.

It’s a surrender to letting the plan God has for our lives unfold in his way and in his timing.

Romans 1:17 ends with the phrase, “The righteous will live by faith.”

Or… we could say…

The righteous will live by waiting to let God work.

God is doing so much in my life through this season of waiting on him.  It’s not easy, but it’s definitely beneficial.  There’s a deepening in my relationship with him that I’ve never experienced. He is showing me the depth of his love as my Heavenly Father. 

As we headed home, I once again clicked on Facebook and realized I had accidentally tapped the privacy setting on my post, making it visible only to me.  Within seconds of correcting this, so many friends and family were responding with encouraging comments and promises to pray.  The timing was perfect as the prayers carried me through the week until I heard from my doctor yesterday………..

The biopsies came back as not cancer!

My prayer for you is that you would live by faith.

Live by waiting to let God work.

As I’ve said before…He’s worth the wait!

 

 

 

Friday the 13th

Well… I heard from my doctor on Wednesday and I am headed to Stanford tomorrow.  She’s calling it an exam under anesthesia.

What on earth does that even mean?

I’ll tell you what it means:

SURGERY!

  • There’s a home prep involved.
  • 2 hour early arrival
  • a weigh-in
  • Attempted removal of my wedding ring
  • An IV
  • An operating room
  • High probability she will cut something out
  • Pain in the recovery room
  • A queasy ride home with Ed speeding over highway 17
  • And soreness for DAYS!

How’s that for an optimistic outlook?

AND… let us not forget…

IT’S FRIDAY THE 13TH!

Yes, I’m feeling sorry for myself.  I cried when I hung up the phone and even accused Ed of not having enough sympathy for me.  I’m being a baby and I know it.

But… here is the Voskamp quote of the day that I am clinging to:

“Be a prayer warrior not a panicked worrier.” 

And that’s where you come in.

Would you pray for me?  Would you pray that this exploratory appointment goes smoothly and nothing scary shows up? If I cross your mind tomorrow, I’d love prayer for my emotional well-being too.

Psalm 112:7. “He (ok, SHE) will have no fear of bad news; his (HER) heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”

I really do trust Him!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unexpected

Expectations. That’s what it boiled down to for me. It wasn’t what I expected.

My doctor had set up a schedule of doing some type of follow-up every 3 months and this was the kick-off appointment. In my mind this was an easy, quick “scope thing” to take place in her office. I wasn’t worried about it at all.

I have to pause here and say… why does it seem I so often write those words? 

My good friend, Janet, decided to tag along as we rarely have large chunks of time to talk. The drive to Stanford was an easy, smooth one (hopefully Janet would agree… if anything, I drove too slowly for my speedy friend) and we were able to chat about everything. I think she was surprised at how chaotic the underground parking was and how long my little hike to the cancer center is.   Gotta love a bit of sympathy!

I was quickly checked in, leaving Janet to enjoy the music of an amazing guitarist in the waiting room.

First stop— the dreaded scale.

Thankfully, the weight registers in kilograms and as the nurse began to convert it to pounds, I assertively held up my hand and instructed him to NOT say another word. No reality check desired.

He led me down the usual corridor, BUT walked right past the usual room. I hesitated, but obediently followed him, wondering why we seemed to be off the anticipated script of this appointment. The nurse swung open a door officially labeled, “Procedure Room” and one peak inside set off an internal alarm that I, again, had under-estimated this appointment.

He took my vitals, and my blood pressure was much higher than normal. Anxiety was getting the best of me! He then asked if I had done the prep for the procedure.

My response, “Wait. WHAT?”

No one had mentioned anything about a prep.

Hmmmmm. A conundrum of sorts. He left to consult with the physician’s assistant with my parting words trailing after him, “Plead my case. I don’t want to do it!”

Within minutes the assistant arrived, armed with the prep. It wasn’t optional.

I will spare you the details of THAT ordeal— just know it was extremely awkward and SUPER NOT FUN!

My supposedly-less-than-invasive-procedure went okay until the end when my doctor stated she found something needing to be biopsied.

Seriously??!

She’s hoping it’s just scar tissue, but was unable to say for sure… thus, the biopsy.

It was over and I wanted to escape before I fell apart. At the front desk checking out, I was biting the inside of my cheek, trying to distract myself enough to not cry as the receptionist scheduled my next appointment.

Janet was chatting with the guitarist (as only my sweet, friendly, musical friend can do) and I made a bee-line out of there, signaling to her that I would meet her outside. As we stood in the sunshine, I tearfully gave her the play-by-play.

I stood there wondering why everything affects me so much. Why do I cry at every appointment? Why can’t I be tougher and have the much needed attitude of “let’s just get ‘er done?” It’s really not that big of a deal, yet my emotions are always so heightened.

I know I continually fight the thoughts of what a cancer diagnosis could mean. I have the history of watching my mom pass away at the young age of 46 along with my own 2 year battle through it. It’s a tender, scary piece of me that needs constant re-alignment, which brings me back to my opening word: Expectations.

Expectations are a set-up for failure and disappointment. For example, I have such HIGH expectations of Ed, probably because he can do SO many things SO well. I’m notorious for leaving long to-do lists of what I want to have accomplished. I need to offer LOVE without a to-do list.

The focus of my expectations in all areas of life has to be God.

I can expect God to walk with me through EVERYTHING.

-through pain

-through healing

-peaceful times

-fun times

-family issues

-hard days

AND….

I can expect His love. God loves me without a “to-do” list. The ONLY thing I need to do is accept His love

I have never felt more loved by God. It’s like I have a new understanding of how much He loves me.

I Peter 5:6-7 (narrated by Me) says:

Humble yourselves therefore (accept God’s love for you. Allow Him to love you and direct your life) under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you (lift you out of your situation or encourage you in it) in due time (in HIS timing). Casting all your care (worry, anxiety and… even EXPECTATIONS) upon him for he cares for (absolutely loves) YOU.

So…

You can expect God to keep reaching out to you in love. It’s who He is!

And…

You can expect me to continue being high strung and dramatic about every single doctor appointment. It’s who I am. Hah!

And… just for fun… THIS was my favorite recent text from a favorite friend of mine:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting the Scene

Surgery was scheduled for 7:00 a.m., which doesn’t sound horrible until you factor in a 5:00 a.m. arrival time and a 90 minute commute. It was a night of no sleep and we were out the door by 3:30 — after I took a shower and applied mascara! I’m not sure why I wanted to wear mascara, but at the time, it seemed like a priority.

My friend, Brook, came up with the brilliant idea of starting 12 games of Words With Friends to distract me from Ed’s scary driving over Highway 17. I think Eddie would say he’s a confident driver who has the road memorized from years of commuting, but I literally can hardly take it and it’s best if I escape with an app on my phone.

We arrived in record time (no traffic plus Ed’s driving) and began our hike to the cancer center in complete darkness.   Kind of strange they don’t light up the trek. I would swear it is a 2 mile walk, but it comes up 0.4 miles on map-quest… BUT… that doesn’t include getting to ground level out of the parking garage… so… 2 miles!

SO many people were checking in for surgery. We were all politely trying to race one another to the front desk. Sensitive but determined. Hah!

Ed wasn’t allowed to come back with me for the initial prep, which is totally great because he definitely doesn’t need to be there for the weigh-in! I couldn’t believe how many beds were lined up down the narrow room— probably 25 on each side, separated by only a thin drape which meant that while Ed wasn’t hearing how much I weigh, everyone else was.

The nurse began obsessing on my wedding ring because I could not take it off (ties in with the not-wanting-Ed-to-know-my-weight comment). She also was fascinated by my diagnosis of Lynch Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that greatly increases the chance of developing colon cancer.

I just now googled Lynch Syndrome to get the exact definition and I can’t believe what a textbook case I am. It says that people with Lynch may have:

  • Colon cancer before age 45 (I was 44)
  • A family history of colon cancer (for SURE)
  • A family history of endometrial (uterine) cancer (check and CHECK: it’s in my family AND I had it)

AND…..

  • A 40 percent chance of developing a second primary colon cancer within 7 years of the first.

IT’S BEEN EXACTLY 7 YEARS!

I am in shock.

AND…

I should have stopped reading there!

It goes on to list the other cancers people with Lynch Syndrome get.

Pause for a freak-out moment.

I’ve heard all of this before— had genetic counseling— and then life went on. But, realizing I’m a classic case following the script to a tee is quite disconcerting.

(My freak-out moment is interrupting my originally scheduled post!)

What does knowing all this really change?

What do I choose to set as the backdrop of my life?

(These next few sentences are greatly influenced by my cousin Ron and also Ann Voskamp.)

Picture seeing a play in a theater. The theater itself is just a room. Possibly cold, dark and ugly, BUT… the backdrop dictates what you are seeing.

I am choosing to view my life through the backdrop of:

God is always good and I am always loved.

Everything in my life is set against those premises. And… the backdrop always remains unchanged. It’s an outlook of gratitude knowing Jesus is walking with me.

Well, I’m completely off my original script of writing about the surgery.

So… more to come about that day, Ed’s driving, and my need to lose weight! Hah! Way too dramatic over here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filling Cups

I originally wanted to name this post, “Ugh!” I met with my Stanford surgeon yesterday to go over the pathology report and my first reaction was… “Ugh!”

There was cancer found in the tumor, which means I’ll be having a lot of follow-up appointments. Every 3 months I will have some type of procedure to make sure cancer has not returned. This will go on for 2 years, and then I can stretch out the appointments to every 6 months for another 3 years. Ugh!

And each appointment will include blood-work.

Double UGH!!

To me, it was a blow. Right back to square one. I’ve JUST in the last 2 years been able to stretch out follow-up appointments to once a year.

My doctor also stated if a mass comes back in the same spot, we will have a discussion about removing my colon.

No words.

And… to top it all off, it took me over 3 ½ hours to get home from Stanford.

So… there’s the cup-half-empty version.

It’s really bothering me that my first reaction was a negative viewpoint, because it is such good news! Though it was a large tumor, the cancer was small and contained. I have clear margins and my lymph nodes are fine. I dodged a bullet and have the opportunity to be closely monitored by some of the best doctors in the world.

Cup-half-FULL!

Last week a friend gave me a beautiful word picture to help me reframe the way I see things. She said when she prays for me, she envisions me walking with Jesus. Don’t panic. NOT dead as in heaven walking with Him, more of a comforting picture— like a dad with his daughter. She said, “Picture Eddie and Olivia from behind, walking away hand in hand.”

THAT has stuck with me.

I have this mental image of me holding Jesus’ hand as we walk toward a tree. We stop and play under the shade of it, with leaves crunching at our feet and falling all around us. I am small and He’s big, smiling down at me. I picture me standing on his feet, facing Him and holding both hands as He walks… literally stepping where He steps.

Such joy and laughter.

He is my closest friend.

He ENJOYS me, and I LOVE being with Him.

Every time I feel wrong attitudes or negative outlooks creeping into my thinking, I stop and re-create the mental image of me spending time with Jesus. It’s my way of choosing joy. Choosing a cup that is filling up, rather than emptying out.

It’s a special, intimate walk with a good friend.

As I walked toward the cancer center yesterday, out of nowhere, a leaf floated down and landed on my shoulder.

It was my cue to remember the falling leaves of the tree Jesus and I are walking toward, and the assurance He is holding my hand every step of the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Food

My doctor had ordered an ultrasound as the next test following the CT scan, to collect more information. In medical terms, it is a sigmoidoscopy, which is a fancy way of saying rectal ultrasound.

Now you understand why I am choosing to simply say… ultrasound.

This particular test had to be done at Stanford and required a liquid fast the night before (as well as some other unpleasant prep instructions, of which I will spare you the details).

The afternoon before the ultrasound was super busy, and I missed my last opportunity to eat something, which was okay, sad— but okay. That evening I was attending the recital of our good friend Jack Wilkins. I JUST have to mention his name because one day he WILL be famous and remember, you heard about him here first! Hah!

But seriously… he’s an amazing vocalist!

Following his performance, there was a celebration including an all out taco bar. I couldn’t believe it.

I was so hungry.

I missed my last chance to eat.

And… MEXICAN FOOD!

Realizing it would be in my best interest to slip away, I went to find Jessica to let her know I was leaving. Of course, I found her in the food line with two other friends who in unison said, “Why aren’t you eating?” Talk about adding insult to injury! How could they not remember my plight?!

I waited a few seconds for it to click, and simply said (as I tried not to stare at their heaping plates of food), “I could make you feel really bad right now.”

Still nothing.

“Guys. I can’t eat tonight, remember?” They felt sorry for me- which always helps- and I made a quick, silent exit leaving everyone to enjoy their food without me hanging around pouting.

It was a long night of drinking super yucky stuff and no sleep. At one point Eddie took a sip of the yucky stuff and reported, “That’s not so bad.” I wanted to slap him. A sip is one thing, 32 ounces is quite another!

We left for Stanford the next morning, allowing 2 ½ hours to get there and park.  I was hoping the extra time would encourage Ed to drive the infamous highway 17 at a slower pace.

Didn’t happen. We arrived in record time!

Walking toward the hospital we passed a lady who looked familiar. I took a few more steps passed her, and then it hit me. Calling out her name, she stopped and we had a moment to catch up. She was undergoing quite a few tests and the doctors had no explanations to offer. My heart went out to her and I promised to pray.

After checking in, we were in the waiting room when my referring doctor from Santa Cruz came out to say hi. It was great to see him, and he was super reassuring.  This is the same doctor who, 5 years earlier, had broken the hospital rules and wheeled me out of recovery without permission— with a nurse hollering after him, “You can’t do that!” He had even swung by the staff lounge and loaded me up with all kinds of snacks before delivering me—wheelchair, snacks and all—to my get-away car.

The procedure was fairly uneventful and I was ready to go home. Ed, however, was nowhere to be found. The nurse finally reached him after several attempts, and hanging up the phone said to me in an asking-sort-of-way, “He’s visiting someone in the hospital?”

I had no idea who that could possibly be. He had not mentioned anyone.

Finally, he showed up and began telling the story of sitting outside eating a salad when he saw our good friend, Judy, walking by. Pastor Ray, her husband, was a patient and Ed had a chance to see him and hear what was happening in his life.

It would now be a waiting game for me until my doctor could analyze the two tests.

Earlier that morning I had received an email from my good friend, Rhonda, who is someone I totally admire.  She said a lot of amazing things, and ended it with this encouragement:

Jesus says, “I am the restorer of all things you feel like you’ve lost.”

I have faced some big losses in my life (my mom’s early death, infertility, cancer), but through all of them and even BECAUSE of them, God has restored my faith more than anything.

I Peter 1:1 says, “To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours.”

THAT is what has been restored to me.  A precious faith.

My emotions still swing all over the place, but bottom line…

I trust Him.

It’s a precious faith I have received.

And, speaking of things being restored…guess where we stopped to eat on our way home from Stanford that day.

Chevy’s.

As in… Fresh Mex.

Mexican Food!!

“The restorer of all things you feel like you’ve lost.” Hah!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice What You Preach

Over the past six months I have repeated the line, “Just let it unfold,” to quite a number of my friends and family who are facing difficult situations. These include things such as a grandma with a cancer diagnosis or no money to pay for college, or an unknown future transitioning out of college, and even a son hoping for a linebacker position on the high school football team. You name it and I can easily apply “just let it unfold.”

What I mean by my oh-so-deep-brilliant line is this:

  • Don’t over-think it
  • Don’t borrow trouble
  • Let it play out
  • Look for God in all of it
  • Just do the NEXT thing
  • Don’t be anxious
  • Keep walking through it
  • God will give you grace in the journey

To me, it releases the burden of micro-managing life events and ignites faith and positivity to dominate our thoughts.

Hah! That’s all fine until it’s ME that needs to “just let it unfold!”

Seven years ago I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I know what you’re thinking— she’s way too young to have had colon cancer— and you are absolutely right.  You can read how that UNFOLDED here and here. Anyway………. because of my history I seem to have a colonoscopy just about every year.   Again— WAY TOO YOUNG— I know!  This last colonoscopy earned me a referral to Stanford Medical Center.  My doctor was mildly concerned and felt a specialist should weigh-in on a precancerous polyp needing to be removed. No big deal. Let’s just get it out completely by the most qualified person.

I absolutely was not worried about this.  The frustrating part was taking time out of my summer to drive the almost two hours to Stanford, just to schedule another colonoscopy with this new doctor to easily remove the thing. I was so NOT worried about it that I brought no-one with me.

As I arrived at Stanford, I was greeted with the perpetual chaos of all the construction.  The new underground parking garage was like a mini war zone.  It was every patient for himself to find a parking spot amidst the honks, shouts, and racing vehicles!  The minute I parked I had a line-up of people asking if I was coming or going.  Not a calm start to say the least!

I first met with a nurse practitioner who was a spunky, enjoyable woman. She wore blue cowboy boots and a short skirt.  I think her goal was to create a light-hearted atmosphere while asking the most awkward colon questions.  I’ll spare you the details, but you can just imagine it was all a bunch of crap.  Hah!! …Pun intended.

At one point she asked me, “Do you know why you’re here?”   Hmmm.   Really good question. Next, she mentioned the doctor would do an exam. Hmmm. What could THAT possibly mean?  How do you examine a colon if it’s not a colonoscopy?

Over an hour later (and an almost finished novel) the doctor came in.  I really liked her; personable and easy to understand.  After a few more embarrassing questions she said, “So, we are going to treat this as a cancer finding,” and she began unfolding the details of the treatment plan.   I began my own “UNFOLDING”… aka… falling apart… biting my lip, cheeks, tongue.  DON’T CRY!

I cried.  Pretty hard, actually.  She waited for me to regain composure, probably surprised at my reaction because what she said wasn’t TERRIBLE, it just took me back to what it could mean:

  • Uncomfortable tests
  • Painful IV’s
  • MAJOR chunks of my time seeing doctors
  • Finding babysitters

I wanted to explain these thoughts to her, but I couldn’t recover enough to put voice to my inner turmoil.  Finally, she mentioned that at the very least, I’m facing surgery with an overnight stay in the hospital.  Her next phrase was, “Worse case scenario….”

LOST. IT!!

There was no way for me to convey the horror of that phrase.  When I faced cancer before, I was ALWAYS the “worst case scenario,” — never once did I escape that phrase.  You can read about that here and here.

As the dr. and nurse practitioner waited (probably rolling their eyes at each other) and I chewed my face up trying to stop the tears, a late realization came over me: THIS is a gastro oncologist surgeon and THIS is more involved than a quick fix.

Just let it unfold.

Easy for you…(ahem… ME!)… to say.