My last echo was in May, my next in early August. The last echo showed no growth from the original dimensions of the tumor we found in November in my heart. Yes, it was stable, then grew, then shrunk, and now it is stable again. Praise Jesus! When we found the cancer in November, I was 15 weeks pregnant, now I have a 17 week old healthy sweet little baby girl. Praise Jesus! I am not on any treatments now, haven't had to have surgery, and have no symptoms. PRAISE JESUS, PEOPLE!!!
|4 days // 6 weeks // 15 weeks|
A few weeks ago one of my friends met a woman who is in her 70's who previously had ASPS twice when she came to set up care with him as her doctor. There may not be another resident in this city who has heard of ASPS before, and in walks a woman who has had the same kind of rare cancer as his friend. Wow. She and I were able to connect and talk to one another for over an hour about our experiences with cancer and how The Lord has shown himself to us along our journeys. I've only personally ever heard of two other people who have had ASPS at all of the institutions where I have been treated or where I have worked, including St. Jude. And here is a woman who lives 15 minutes from me who has not only battled it, but is still living in her 70's with two children. WHAT an amazing encouragement. Thank you Lord for using your Holy Spirit to guide this woman to my friend and for the encouragement that it has provided me.
Our plan has been to watch the tumor every 6 weeks and to wait to treat until it grows. This last time we switched to a 3 month schedule since it has been relatively stable so far. That's three months of freedom from the bonds of anticipation, and what a joy it has been. I am at a place now where I can ask God for healing everyday without having to think of the sadness or endless possibilities the future may hold. I can make it through a day, sometimes almost a week, without thinking "I have cancer." I can ask God to hold us in his hands right now and to go before us preparing a way for the future while I live happily in the day he has given me. One day at a time. It's so freeing. I feel like I am not doing much because God is so obviously preparing a way for me, and I am just allowing him to carry me along that way. What a gift.
We have been living it up during our 3 month sabbath.
We went to North Carolina...
We went to Knoxville...
We went to Georgia for my brother's wedding...
We went to my college friend's wedding...
We went to Daytona Beach...
Good thing Carley Jean likes (kind of) to travel! Really she does a great job as long as she has a buddy in the back seat with her. She loved flying to Daytona because I wore her around in my moby through the airport (translation- she slept in my moby in the airport) and she sat in her carseat next to me in the plane and I made faces at her the whole time. She digged the undivided attention.
We LOVED the beach. It was so good for us to have the opportunity to shut off our phones and our minds and read a good fiction book and just relaaaaax. It's been quite a year, a good vacation was long overdue!
At each of the places we have been this summer, I have had a teary-eyed moment where I say out loud to someone around me "6 months ago I never thought I would be HERE right now." I remember thinking of my brother's wedding and hoping that I would get to be there to celebrate with him and my family, but doubting that as a real possibility. What a blessing to experience that joy!!
I love having a baby. I love holding this tiny sweet little girl. I love caring for a little human who needs someone to help her into the world. I love knowing her so deeply if only for a short period of time. I love that she looks like me and that she also looks like John. I love having her here. I love having a baby. But I have had a hard time calling myself a mom. I realize that all the emotions I just described pretty well reflect what motherhood is all about, but I am still having a hard time seeing myself as a "mom."
Part of my problem is that I have been one to constantly dream about the next stage in my life. I remember being in kindergarden and thinking it was going to be the coolest thing in the world to be 10 years old. Then it was 16 and driving. Then it was getting out of high school, then going to college and living in the dorms, then graduating, then getting married, then getting into PA school, then graduating PA school... I have a tendency to live a step ahead of myself. I've blamed that on the dreamer inside me, but in reality I am just such a type A planner that I cannot help myself from thinking about the next step and planning it out as much as possible.
A friend told me about a conversation she had with her older sister after she got married. Her sister was saying to my friend that on your wedding day, it just feels like you getting married. Just regular you getting married. To which my friend replied "Yeah, but like with fairy dust, right?"
I've been having trouble wrapping my mind around being a mom because there's no fairy dust!! Throughout the years when I think about myself being a mother, I think of someone older and experienced who stops her life to devote it to her children and in doing so obtains some superpowers so she can wake up 4 times during the night and know the words to every nursery rhyme and paint all the props for vbs and still go to work and clean the house and have dinner ready on the table at 6:00pm every night. And I do NOT have those superpowers, so surely I can't be a mom yet! There's no fairy dust!
It's just regular me with a baby. Just like it was regular me who turned 10 and who got a driver's license and who went to college and who gave her senior seminar and who got married and who went to PA school. Just regular me, no fairy dust, no superpowers.
I am reinventing in my mind what it means to be a mom. I am realizing that regular me is actually a better mom than super-me with fairy dust. We are all so enchanted by the idea of having it all together, but the messiness of life is what makes it substantial. Conflict is what makes us who we are. Regular me- wife and momma with cancer who is seeing redemption by The Lord- that's so much better than super-me.
I actually wrote that last segment a couple weeks ago for a post that I never put up (oops), and since writing it all out, I have truly embraced my role as mommy. That's just another example of what a blessing this blog has been to me. It is so helpful for me to think things through so thoroughly when my unhealthy tendency is to put the difficult things to the side while I cope and then think through them later. It's amazing to be able to write this like I would say it to a friend or a relative and for so many others to be able to experience the same "conversation." Typically I don't mind who knows what is going on, I just want people to know accurate information and unfortunately repeating it to every person is exhausting. So what a blessing this blog has been that so many people can know our experiences, emotions, and plans in a familiar tone. I wasn't thrilled about starting this blog in the first place, but I am so glad I did! We have been so blessed by YOU and hope that you have been blessed in return. For participating in my messy life, I thank you. Blessings.
And just another sweet little treat...