Almost Home

Dad, this is for you and I tonight. ❤️

Almost Home by MercyMe

Are you disappointed?
Are you desperate for help?
You know what it’s like to be tired
And only a shell of yourself
Well you start to believe
You don’t have what it takes
‘Cause it’s all you can do
Just to move, much less finish the race

But don’t forget what lies aheadAlmost home
Brother it won’t be long
Soon all your burdens will be gone
With all your strength
Sister run wild run free
Hold up your head
Keep pressing on
We are almost home

Well this road will be hard
But we win in the end
Simply because of Jesus in us
It’s not if but when
So take joy in the journey
Even when it feels long
Oh find strength in each step
Knowing heaven is cheering you on

We are almost home
Brother it won’t be long
Soon all your burdens will be gone
With all your strength
Sister run wild run free
Hold up your head
Keep pressing on
We are almost home
Almost home
Almost home

I know that the cross has brought heaven to us
But make no mistake there’s still more to come
When our flesh and our bone are no longer between
Where we are right now and where we’re meant to be
When all that’s been lost is made whole again
When these tears and this pain no longer exist
No more walking we’re running as fast as we can
Consider this our second wind

Almost home
Brother it won’t be long
Soon all your burdens will be gone
With all your strength
Sister run wild run free
Hold up your head
Keep pressing on
We are almost home
Almost home
Almost home

We are almost home
Almost home
Almost home
We are almost home

Running

Tomorrow will mark chemo treatment 10 of 12. It will also mark three months since my mastectomy. In between there, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and most of winter happened.

While some days seem never ending, time overall has flown. I am almost five months from diagnosis, and nearly 7 months from the breast exam that set all of this into motion.

There are 10 months left of infusions, but these will be every three weeks and not have side effects. I am told the biggest issue will be the inconvenience. Five to ten years of hormone therapy will start soon, as well.

Initially, we thought that treatment would be brief and we could return to normal life. A hiccup, so to speak. We see now that such is not the case–not at all. Life will be forever different because of this one thing.

It seems to me a clear parallel with so many other things in life. How many times have I made a mistake in a moment only to realize that I have altered my life, maybe forever? I’ve sometimes been short sighted, seeing only immediate results of my actions or words, and discovering later that they were farther reaching than I could have imagined.

Likewise, I’ve underestimated the effects of a kindness or a generosity, no matter how small. Sometimes, a moment to write a note of encouragement can make all the difference in the world to someone who is struggling. Sometimes, a meal carried or a text message sent is the cup of cool water a person needs to make it through the day. There have been many such blessings in my life over the course of this journey. So many times, I have been blessed by a note, call or visit. The journey has been more bearable because people took a moment of their time to think of me.

Above all, the choice to follow Jesus has changed my life. It was a simple decision, acknowledging that He is worthy of my trust and obedience, that has made my life what it is today. I look around this world and see the hurting, lonely people and I want more than anything for them to find the peace I’ve found. I want them to meet their own cancer diagnosis not with despair, but with hope that it is not the end. Even if death is the short term result, Everlasting Life with the Savior is the eternal reality.

Life moments, regardless the situation, matter. Moments turn into hours. Hours become days, and so on until we reach our final day. I am running a race, and though cancer has become one leg of this race, it is only one small part. I have been running since the day my tiny feet reached the open air, and will run until I draw my last breath. I want to run well. I want my life to count for something–not because I want to be remembered, but because God has put me here to make a difference in the lives of others. I want to be faithful to travel the road to which I have been called, no matter the twists and turns.

This race is not one of speed, nor is it in competition with others. It is a race of endurance. It is a race I am guaranteed to win, simply because I have put my trust in the One who runs ahead of me. Because He has been there before me, I can go with confidence, following the course laid out for me. Though the road is not always easy, it is worthwhile.

And so, I will look ahead and not behind. I will learn from where I’ve been, but not dwell there. I will fix my eyes on the prize and run the race set before me, for His glory. And He will strengthen me.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. Hebrews 12:1-2a ESV

Good For My Heart

Dinner was good for my heart and soul. Thursday was rough, and yesterday I didn’t feel well. We had been invited to fish fry for supper last night, so I rested all day hoping to have the energy to go. I didn’t have the energy. To be honest, I felt awful all the way there and wondered if I should have stayed home.

Once we got to the restaurant and I got a little something in my stomach, I felt better. It was so nice to see our friends and conversation was easy and good. It turned out to be a really great time and I’m so glad we went.

I didn’t realize how little I leave the house for anything other than medical appointments. I do make it to church now and then, but that’s it. With the winter set deeply in and very little social outlet, it’s no wonder I’ve been struggling. I have a little less than a month of chemo left and I think I will help myself by planning places to go and things to do that are just for fun.

Stac and I are both three quarters done with treatment. Daily, we remind one another that we WILL make it. We will get through this. Our individual road maps are etched into our bodies for the rest of this life on earth. We are marked. More than this, though, we are marked for eternity by the One who saved our souls. Though we are passing time and landmarks on this present journey, the real finish line will be when we reach the gates of Heaven, welcomed by the One who has sustained us all this time. What a glorious day that will be! And if I thought dinner out was good for my heart and soul. . .

Low

Tonight is a low night. I’ve held on pretty well all day, but now I’m tired and my resolve is gone. I feel lousy and I look worse. Self-pity isn’t my goal, I’m just being real.

My muscles are weak, my hands hurt. My feet are numb and I’m achy. I’m on my third nosebleed today. My eyes are weepy but the skin around my eyes is so sensitive that it hurts to wipe them. My face is puffy and swollen, and with my bald head, I look like I’m eighty. I have gained so much weight that I feel awkward and ugly.

My husband is sweet and wants to encourage. “Only three treatments left.” Only three. That means four more weeks of this battle, this fatigue, this feeling like I’ve been run over. I’m over tired, and I know I’ll feel better, at least mentally, tomorrow. But somewhere tonight, there is another woman in my shoes who needs to know she is not alone.

Sister, where we are is an awful place to be. It’s hard, it’s mentally draining, it’s physically demanding, it’s maddening. But it’s temporary. One day, we will be done with all this and look back and not remember how hard it all really was.

For tonight, I’ll fight through and you do the same. We can make it. One foot in front of the other, step after weary step. I won’t give up if you won’t. And though I don’t know you, I know you are out there. I’ll pray for you as I go off to sleep.

We can do this. We have to.

Wee Hours

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen 2:51 a.m. The house is so quiet. My only company is Harry, the hamster. He’s wide awake and boasting of his endless energy by running incessantly on his little wheel. All the other people and pets are sleeping. Even my buddy Duane is snuggled in somewhere.

I went to bed about midnight and lay there until my muscles got restless and I had to get up. One of my chemo pre-meds is a steroid that causes hyperactivity and insomnia. Thanks to dexamethasone, my dishes are done, the wood stove is stocked, and I’ve solved a number of problems in the quiet of my own head. I’m still not sleepy but too tired to read, so Andy Griffith is probably next.

Chemo went well today, though it was long. I continue to gain water weight, and the solution lies in the juggling of two drugs that may be the culprit. The problem is that with so few treatments left, by the time we figure it out, I’ll be done. My oncologist and I decided that it is in my best interest to continue as we have been, accepting that this is the way it will be until treatment is over. My last echo looked great and my kidney numbers are excellent, so there is no reason for concern–it’s just hard to watch the scale climb. God is stretching me in more ways than one. Perhaps He is trying to show me, once and for all, that my value does not lie in the shape or size of my earthly body. I would never judge another as harshly as I judge myself.

My friend and I had a great day. I was unusually tired, but we still managed to have good conversation and laugh a lot. We both needed that. We had Mexican food for lunch and I was able to taste that a little, so that was nice. It’s possible that my greatest love in life after God and family is Mexican food.

It’s now 3:05. I’m going to cuddle into my nest and see what Barney Fife is up to in Mayberry. Hopefully I’ll doze off. This sleepless night has changed my plans for tomorrow–it won’t be safe for me to drive my daughter to the clinic. It’s okay. Flexibility has become my life this winter, so we will reschedule and see what else the day has in store.

I pray that no one is awake at this hour reading. I wish you all sweet dreams and peaceful rest.

Hi-ho, Hi-ho

Chemo week 9 is today. It’s early, I’m ready, and I’m waiting for my friend to pick me up. She has a huge heart and loves the opportunity to do anything to help someone, especially a friend. We met the first day of college, and though we don’t see alot of each other, the connection never fades.

I slept pretty well, and my adrenaline is up for this marathon. The eight hour chemo trip will likely be followed by 24 hours of near mania. I have a love/hate relationship with the hyperactivity. I love it because I can accomplish what my pre-cancer self could accomplish in a day, but I hate it because I’m absolutely exhausted while I’m doing all these things, and I can’t sit comfortably to rest. And the crash that follows is always rough.

Today, though, I’m expecting good things. It’s always fun with my friend, and I really enjoy chatting with the nurses. The change of scenery and outing does my heart good. So off we go. The end is in sight, and after I survive today, I can begin counting down from three.

It’s gonna be a good day.

Slow Days

I’ve been out of bed for roughly 30 minutes and I can already tell this will be a very slow day. I was on my feet quite a bit Saturday, went to church yesterday, and was up and about quite a bit afterward. The fatigue this morning is deep and consuming. I am again so glad that I am able to stay home during this time–so many people I know worked full time through chemo. I don’t know how on earth they did it. They are clearly made of stronger stuff than I!

I would like to read today, and maybe after a cup of coffee and something to eat I’ll feel more able to do that. Right now, though, my eyes are droopy and I could doze off. Words are swimming on my screen as I type.

The elliptical seems like an impossibility today, but I’ll get on it if I can. Later. I also have a couple phone calls I want to make. I’ll have to push myself until adrenaline kicks in, do the minimum, and spend the remainder of the day resting and quiet. Chemo is tomorrow and I need to go into that day as rested as possible.

The Lord God has ordered all my days. He’s ordered this one. I’ll just have to see how it unfolds, moment by moment.

The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:23-24 NIV