Monday, December 10, 2012

Disorganized Ramblings of a Changing Reality - Brittany

When I was in 11th grade, my yearbook teacher forgot to get a sub for our 7th period class and asked one of his English teacher friends to come sit with us while we finished our work.  A few minutes after the bell rang, this teacher friend walked into the room, picked up a marker, and wrote "CHAIR-ISM" on the board and proceeded into a long rant without ever making eye contact with any of us- he just kept talking in our general direction.  He drew a picture of a fire and a wall with a chair and a stick figure between the two.  The stick figure was looking at the wall with his back to the fire and the chair.  Mr. Teacher said "This is you.  You are looking at this wall your whole life- you've been told not to move or turn or look around, and what you see in front of you is a shadow of a chair.  You've never seen anything except this shadow, and you believe that this shadow is REAL.  You believe this shadow is all there is in life- it is your reality.  You would argue with anyone that this in front of you is the extent of reality because it is all you can see.  It is the only thing real to you.  Is this true?  Is this shadow your stick figure's entire reality?  Because if the stick-you were to slowly turn around, he would first see a chair, a wooden chair that has been sitting here the whole time.  He would next realize he is inside a cave, and that the wall in front of him was in fact part of a structure encasing him in.  He would see the fire that was causing the shadow to appear in the first place.  And in an instant, stick-you would realize that the shadow of a chair was nothing close to the entirety of his reality.  He'd realize he was standing in a cave with a fire and a chair.  He would realize there is a way out of the cave and that there is a whole world outside the cave.  He would realize that what he was seeing his whole life was in fact not his whole world and his whole reality, but merely a shadow of his reality.  And this, my friends, is what I call CHAIR-ISM."  And then he put down the marker and ran out of the room with 20 minutes still left in class.  So now when I try to explain the concepts behind Plato's "Allegory of the Cave," I can never remember the original author or text because I know it formally as "Chair-ism" by Mr. Jones' teacher friend.

I've been slowly realizing that the shadow of a chair I have always seen in front of me is not the entirety of my reality.  I've seen the chair, I've seen the fire, I've seen the other walls of the cave.  I realize that God doesn't fit inside any box I try to put him in, especially the box of my own understanding or expectations or traditions.  I realize that God is bigger than my cave, and that his reality extends far outside the walls of my own.  Cancer has a way of expediting the discovery of reality.  Things that were formerly important that don't fit into the REAL reality suddenly are not important anymore.  Suddenly the independence you so relied on for success and happiness doesn't hold you up.  The only reality that you are left with is standing with your back to the shadow, looking at a chair and a fire and a whole world outside of a cave.  And that is so freeing.

I don't ask God "Why me? Why are you doing this? Why now?"  Because I don't think the answer would change anything.  Would it be any easier to know why?  If its for a reason you deem good and worthy, does it make you any less sad?  If its because of chance, does it give you any more hope?  I think asking God "Why have you given me this cancer?" is like asking your parents "Why did you make my feet ugly?"  (Lame, I know, but stick with me here)  Because it isn't your parents that made your feet ugly.  Your feet are ugly because you are a human, and all human feet are ugly.  If you are a human, you have ugly feet.  If you are a human, you may get sick.  It's part of the human condition, part of our imperfection.  I don't think God gave me cancer, I think being a human gave me cancer.  But I DO believe wholeheartedly that time and time again God has shown his power to his people by taking the messes that we find ourselves in and turning them into something glorious to show his power to us living the caves.  So my prayers are sometimes outcries of sadness and grief for what we are going through, and cries to the Lord God Almighty to redeem this mess for his glory- but not cries of "why."  Because I know he can.  And I have seen him do it 4 other times in my own life with my own sickness, and countless more times with my spirit.  The Lord will provide, Jehovah Jireh.

We had a wonderful week of blessing last week.  A few of my friends from my PA class came to visit from Searcy just for lunch and headed back to AR that same night.  It means the world to be able to connect with the people I love, and such a long trip for such a short time is mountain-moving kind of love to me!  And they brought a shower of presents from the whole class.  I also got to see one of my sister-friends while she was on her journey from CA to NC, and we hadn't seen each other since my wedding 2 and a half years ago!  These were such blessings the Lord gave me this week.  Thank you all so much.

Kenley, Mandy (also pregnant!), Meghan, and Holly from my PA class
AND, for some SUPER exciting news.... drumroll please...
I know, you're all like "What??!!? I had no idea!"  Well, ladies and gentlemen, it's true.  I went back to the clinic for the 7 days I was lacking to finish my final clinical.  And it is finished.

AND I presented my Master's Project!!
I know, you're all like "What??!!? I had no idea!"  Well, it's true too.  I did!  My PA program agreed to allow me to present it with my partner via Skype so we could both participate in wrapping it up.  Our topic was nutrition in pregnancy (ironically) and we have been working on it for almost 2 years now.  It is such an accomplishment to have completed both the clinical AND master's project.

That's me on the big screen.  These are my classmates!!

So my classmates have been in Searcy for the last 2 weeks taking a Transition to Practice class that they will continue through this week, and then graduate on Saturday (Congratulations everyone!!!).  This class is the only thing I am lacking to meet graduation requirements.  So I will not be getting my diploma on Saturday, but I will be getting it within the next year pending my completion of this course. My program has been so flexible and supportive, I really can't say enough wonderful things about them.  So when I am ready they will allow me to take this course and to get my degree shortly afterward.  This is much better than my brilliant idea of quitting school entirely until I feel like I can do it- now all I have is one 3 week class between me and my MSPAS.  Awesome :)

Also in the last few weeks, we have been changing our diet to include more "real" foods.  We've had interactions with several people who have inspired us to give our bodies all the fighting power they need by giving them all the best foods that God made for us to eat.  So we have gone organic as part of this philosophy.  The pillars of our diet are fresh organic fruits and vegetables, homemade juice, grass-fed or pastured meats, gulten free, and more solid fats than oil fats.  We are eating lots of fresh foods and are LOVING it.  Seriously, organic food is delicious.  Pricy, but delicious.  Since we aren't eating out as much, we are able to roll that money into our grocery budget, and it is balancing out really well.  I will write more about this in the future, but if you want to look into it some, you could try here for a quick overview of what we're doing.  The idea here is to give our bodies the ability to fight using the highest concentration of nutrients and fats from the earth that we possibly can.  I find myself in a no man's land for treatments since I can't take virtually any medicine or alternative therapy because I am pregnant, so I draw lots of hope and encouragement from this life change.  If you would like to join us in this lifestyle change, we would love the support and the recipes you might want to share :)  You won't regret it.  If not, we would still love your support nonetheless.

And now for the medical updates.  Last week we saw the high risk OB and had another anatomy scan for sweet little baby girl (that's what we call her now, sweet little baby girl) and everything is looking great!!  I will see this doctor every couple of weeks until delivery just for monitoring of my overall health status and sweet little baby girl's overall health status.  My regular OB will deliver the baby, and we're planning on delivering at Baptist!  I am not sure what we have said about our OB, but he is truly a Godsend to us.  John knew him because he has a son at Harding, so we originally decided to go to the one OB in Nashville we knew.  Turns out he also delivered John's nieces, so we were destined to go to him :)  And then to top it all off, he is a shepherd at our church.  We are so thankful for such a Godly doctor who truly has our best interests at heart all the time.  Thank you Dr. Burch.

Feet :)


The gymnast!!  Those are feet in the top left and she curves all the way around so you see a head at the bottom left nearly touching the knees.  Mad skills.

20 weeks pregnant

This week we have 3 doctors appointments.  Wednesday is the next echocardiogram which will tell us the size of the tumor and if its grown.  We will also be seeing the cardiologist that day and should have the results at that time (although ask for your patience since we may post it the next day).  Thursday we have another high risk OB appointment (which are quick and easy!) and there will likely be an oncology appointment in there somewhere as well.  Monday I will see another cardiothoracic surgeon just for a consult.  We've enjoyed not having to be at the doctor's much these last few weeks, and are adjusting to the idea of a full week ahead.  We had a rough weekend as we looked into the face of this week.  We hope that Wednesday's results don't change our course of action because we like the watchful wait approach (although the "watchful" part makes us nervous).  We hope that the tumor hasn't grown and that it isn't obstructing blood flow.  We hope everything is stable or smaller.  We hope that this week can be the first installment of our miracle.  We pray for continued strength and faith.  We pray that as we look past the chair and the fire and venture out of the cave and into the world outside  that our hearts will be filled to the measure with the Holy Spirit.

Thank you for your continued support and prayers.  We are blessed to not be alone in the hard times.  We love you all.



  1. When you're finished with pregnancy and are nurturing sweet little baby girl, and treatment is past, recovery is complete, and PA graduation is but a memory, you should really look into that perhaps-I-should-be-a-writer idea. I think it's your destiny! And I will buy all your writings. And be as humbled and moved as I am right now.

  2. Your family is in our prayers.

  3. I love you and I love your perspective. And what has helped me through the hardest of times - God gives me enough for this day. That is what He promises. He is big enough to handle this day. One step at a time. One day at a time. His grace is more than sufficient. He can handle this week. :) Love you so much, friend.

  4. This is a beautiful post! We are praying for you, Brittany, John and Sweet Little Baby Girl. Blessings, Goyo and Sarah Nieto

  5. I am completely inspired whenever I read this blog...God is definitely at work! Remember that Jesus' main promise was to be with us always. That is what we should all rely on, especially in the difficult times. And, since you have turned away from the "shadows" and are looking "into the light", I have great confidence that you see Him....always with you!


  6. Gloria & DavidMarch 27, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    This blog is absolutely awesome. You are so very positive in all the things you are saying. Your baby and your family is precious! My prayers and thoughts are with you. Your grandmother and grandfather, Bill & Mozelle are our cousins on the Telchik side. So nice of her to send me this link, it is amazing. Keep the faith and I also know miracles do happen.