Thursday, November 22, 2012

The New Normal

Happy Thanksgiving everyone :)  I hope you have had a joy-filled day with family or friends.  This is John's #2 favorite holiday (after the forth of July) and I expect it has something to do with the country cooking and family time.

So we had intended to post like once weekly or something to that effect, but so much happens in a week that it may be more often than that.  We don't know, we are new to this whole thing.

As appointments are becoming less frequent and any immediate action becoming less likely, we are learning to adjust to a completely different life than the one we were living 3 weeks ago.  As John said in his last post, we are now in a 2 bedroom apartment in the same complex we were in before in our little ol' one bedroom.  We LOVE our new place, it really feels like home!  The one bedroom was nice and mostly suited our needs, but it felt more like a dungeon than a place to host guests and raise a baby.    So thanks to the hard work of John's favorite 18 year-old boys and all of our parents, we are now completely and comfortably moved into our new place- all in one day.  Having JUST moved we know what an enormous blessing it is to have everything in its place all at once.  So a HUGE thank you to those of you who helped with that!

If you know John and I at all, you know that we employ the buddy system to the way we operate in our marriage- we'd just rather be together than apart!  Because of that, we have a great marriage since we truly enjoy and actually prefer spending time with each other (with the exceptions of hunting, mani/pedi days, super competitive activities, and craft time).  In the past three weeks we have become so much closer and somehow I love him more now than I did before, which I didn't even know was possible.  We are thankful for the way the Spirit has bonded us together in this time when we both need daily and constant support.  But now as we look in the eyes of "the new normal" as it is demanding us to return to our daily duties, we find the buddy system difficult to let loose of.  This week has served as an emotional retreat as we learn to love but not cling to each other to understand what life might look like from now on.

The thing that I have always respected about my cancer is that there is a quick and immediate solution to its presence: surgery.  At most you're out for 4-6 weeks and then your back on your feet going about your life as you normally would, but with more reverence for God's majesty and the gift of life than you ever thought possible.  I have always counted that as blessing.  Cancer really ruins people's lives because the disease is terrible, and then to top it off, the treatment makes you feel more terrible than the disease itself was making you feel.  Chemo and radiation have a way of just dominating lives more easily than they allow them to keep going smoothly.  And so that is why I respect Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma, it does not respond to radiation or traditional kinds of chemotherapy- so surgery is the one and only option.  However in this case as I've previously mentioned, surgery isn't a good option because of the location of the tumor, the scar tissue at the potential entry site caused by previous surgeries, and my poor lung function again from previous surgeries.  And that's without considering the pregnancy, which only complicates things further.

So as we've alluded to earlier, the game plan at this point is to watch the tumor with serial echocardiograms to view and measure the size of the tumor without further radiation exposure to the baby.  The hope and prayer is that the tumor does not grow during the pregnancy so that there will be no need for an intervention.  Any intervention in pregnancy would have potential effects on the baby, and we desperately do not want that to happen.  So our prayer is that the tumor will shrink.  That the tumor will not grow.  That God will do a miracle and just remove it completely.  We pray a lot of things and they aren't all congruent, but God tells us to ask and we have asked for the things we want... they just happen to be numerous and slightly incongruent.  But I think he understands.  So as you're praying, continue to pray for healing and for physical strength, for the tumor to shrink/not grow/go completely away, for a healthy baby girl, and for our spirits as we are learning how to operate in the new normal.

John said in his last post so boldly that our hope is not in medicine, that our hope is in God for healing.  Confession, my hope is also a little bit in medicine.  My whole life has been in medicine, and then I TRAINED in medicine and am about to PRACTICE medicine.  So it is hard for me to not have hope in medicine.  I think that is why doctor's appointments are more difficult for me than they are for John.  He leaves and thinks "They didn't tell us anything we didn't already know, and we're counting on God anyway."  And I leave and think "Man that is disappointing that they don't really know what to do here for certain."  It shakes me a little more because I like and trust medicine.  Not to say I don't trust God, because I do.  I don't think surgeries healed me, I think God healed me all those times before.  And I know God will heal me now.  My conventional thinking is that God gave us medicine as a tool for his healing... well now I am realizing that medicine is only one tool in the tool belt of ways he can heal people.  So I am desperately trying to open my eyes to the many ways God works, and to put my faith completely in him rather that in his methods.

Little girl will be coming our way likely sometime in March instead of the expected April 25, just depending on how things have progressed and how stable I am at that point.  So we are praying for her to be extra super strong to handle an early delivery well.  She's awesome, so really shouldn't be a problem :)  We have a short list of names picked out, but of the 3 or 4 top names, the favorite changes twice a day.  We will probably wait until we see her to decide... because really there's no way we will have a cohesive and lasting decision otherwise.  So pray for our little miracle baby and get excited to see her sometime in March!!!

I am currently in my 7th and final semester of Physician Assistant school at Harding, with graduation set on December 15th.  From the get go I knew that I wasn't likely going to make that graduation date with the impending absences coming my way courtesy of Vanderbilt hospital.  The faculty and directors at the school have been great to work with and have been incredibly supportive.  That's the bonus of being at a Christian graduate school- they really care about you and pray for your needs (shameless plug).  So it is looking now like I will make up the days I have missed in my last clinical here in the near(ish) future, and will then complete the last 3 weeks of coursework later on.  Not really sure any other details, but this is a wonderful framework to work from.  My brilliant self thought I would just drop everything for about a year, but those wiser than I encouraged this pathway instead, which allows me to get some of it out of the way now and to complete the rest later as time permits.  That's an enormous blessing and huge load of stress off my shoulders.  Thank you Lord for that blessing.

So there you have it, the new normal.  Today we continue our emotional retreat with John's immediate family for Thanksgiving.  My whole family was here earlier this week as my siblings journeyed east to their home and my parents were awesome pillars here with us.  We love being with our family and draw great strength and encouragement from their love.  I hope you all can say the same as we celebrate this day of thanks.  We would love to keep hearing from you, so continue to send us messages, texts, and emails as you think of us.

I will leave you with these words of encouragement from Psalm 27, which has given us so much strength:

1The Lord is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
2When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident.
4The one thing I ask of the Lord
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
delighting in the Lord’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple.
5For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
he will hide me in his sanctuary.
He will place me out of reach on a high rock.
6Then I will hold my head high
above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
singing and praising the Lord with music.
7Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
8My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
9Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
10Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close.
11Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the right path,
for my enemies are waiting for me.
12Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
13Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
14Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.


  1. Humbling
    and moving
    and hopeful.
    I love you, all three.

  2. In His hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of every human being. Job 12:10

  3. Your strong example of faith is touching the lives of many and God will stand with you always. We all love you at Ezell-Harding Christian School!!!
    "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"
    Phillippians 4:13

  4. Totally unbelievable that such should happen to you, my sweet friend, but knowing you, I see you take the only road available to your heart - Trust the Lord! I love you and am so thankful for the support you receive from John and others. We will be in constant prayer for complete healing and cannot wait to see the precious little girl soon. God bless you both in this journey! -Don