Seasons

I don’t know how it happened. The whirlwind that was our autumn has suddenly settled down into a blanket of snow and quiet. It’s been six weeks since surgery and nearly three weeks since the start of chemotherapy. On the farm, most of the busy winter prep work is finished and daily chores have settled into a routine. My husband’s 14 hour days have turned overnight into four hour days, with time now to catch up on all the household maintenance and spend time with the family. I like this time of year.

The tree is up and 21 hand made stockings hang in my living/dining area. I hope to start soon on Christmas baking. We love to carry plates of cookies here and there, and I plan for more than usual this year.

As I look back over my cancer journey, I see seasons there, as well. There was the initial shock and grief of diagnosis, followed by acceptance and impatience to get the process started. Then came surgery and recovery, and the grief of loss. Interspersed throughout were smaller seasons of uncertainty and the unknown–those were the most difficult. Now that we’ve arrived in week three of chemo, there is a season of settling in. When spring approaches, another round of surgery will come with it.

I look forward to summer. Summer is my least favorite time of the year, but this year it will be wonderful. There will be new beginnings and fresh starts. I am hopeful.

For today, I want to embrace the season I’m in. Winter is my favorite, so that is helpful. Chemo is not fun, but it’s so much better than it could be. While I would like to be much more active, I am thankful not to be throwing up all day long. So, today I choose joy and snuggle in, warm and safe. The snow storm that brought us a foot of snow has stopped, and it’s beautiful outside. Church is cancelled. I’ll miss that very much, but God is here with us, not waiting for us in an empty sanctuary. It’ll be a good day.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Chemo Day 2

This day last month, I had my double mastectomy. Just a month, but it feels like forever. This new reality has overtaken and it feels like life is just cancer treatment. It’s a bizarre feeling. A year from now, all of this will be a blur, and I will wonder where the last year of my life went.

Yesterday was a good day. I had a minor reaction from the steroid I was given–my face was extremely red-purple and sore. It only lasted a couple hours and will likely happen each week. Not so bad. This is my learning week–they say what happens this week will most likely be my pattern. It will be nice to have this week behind me. The unknowns should then be known, and I will be able to settle into my remaining 11 weeks of chemo with some ability to plan and schedule activity accordingly.

I was able to sleep a full night in my bed for the first time since surgery. That was nice. I woke up with a headache, but a couple Tylenol took care of that. Food is tasting pretty dull today and I have little appetite. So far, no nausea; thanks be to God!

I have settled into resting, for the most part. I’ve finally allowed myself to take the time I need and not feel guilty about it. This is the grace of God in my life. I will continue to trust Him on this third day. . . I’m told this day and the next could get pretty rough. One step at a time.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in [me] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6”

Focus

Last Monday at this time, I was awaiting surgery. I was being wheeled from place to place having everything from basic IV placement to radioactive injections. I was at peace, but was nervous nonetheless.

Today, a week later, the surgery is behind me and I’m on the mend. I’m able to be off the prescription pain meds and manage with ibuprofen and Tylenol. It’s a great feeling.

I have an appointment in Duluth, and just getting dressed for it has wiped out all my energy. I’m worried that I won’t make it through the day. I’m feeling especially vulnerable where my wounds are concerned–wounds that aren’t visible to the public but that will hurt incredibly if I am bumped or jostled.

I’m afraid I will go into a building and, without thinking, reach out to catch a closing door or do one of a hundred things I am used to doing on a daily basis and can’t right now. Vulnerability is a frightening thing.

Then, I realize what is really happening. Fear has lost its grip on me in some areas, and so is seeking new territory. As long as I am preoccupied with fear and worry, I can’t focus on gratitude and thanksgiving–and that’s where my strength lies.

Thankful for this revelation, I choose to focus on all of the blessings and good things in my life. I am grateful that I can go out and enjoy the sunshine. I will have precious time to visit with my mom as we travel. We will drink good coffee and have a nice lunch. I trust that the surgeon will give me a good report.

Focus and perspective are continuing lessons on this journey. Today, I will do my best to learn and grow, and leave the fear behind.

Training Wheels

The past year has been a challenge, medically speaking. I’ve had a number of diagnoses, none of them very serious. Well, until the cancer deal. I guess that’s pretty serious.

While no one issue has been particularly alarming, they have all had one thing in common–fatigue. I’ve pretty much spent the last year or so being very, very tired.

I’ve really been very mature about the whole thing, reacting to my limitations in normal fashion. I’ve ignored them. I have just decided, for the most part, to behave as though I’m not tired. This has resulted in me running on adrenaline, doing too much, and crashing. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Then came the cancer diagnosis. My body offered one gigantic adrenaline surge and then shut down. Completely. I spent a week unable to pretend I wasn’t tired. I simply couldn’t get out of bed or off the couch. People started telling me how important rest is now and how vital it will be in the coming months. You can imagine how I received that.

I am a get-things-done kind of girl, and when I found out I’d be having surgery, it couldn’t get scheduled soon enough. Let’s get this show on the road. The call finally came; surgery would be in three weeks. THREE WEEKS?!? Here again, my maturity showed up. It was stellar, believe me. Frustration, despair, you name it. Of course, most of it was inside my own head–we must be an example to the children.

God is not mocked, nor is He fooled. He knows exactly what is going on in my heart and mind, every minute of the day. He knows I am human. He knows what makes me tick and how I process and react. He created me that way.

Now, the three week wait is nearly over. I look back and I see that I needed that time. You see, God has been working on my heart–teaching me to accept His plan. He’s been working on my resting skills. In three days, I will be resting involuntarily, for quite some time. It will go more easily for me now that I am beginning to accept rest as a gift rather than a burden.

While I have felt that rest was doing nothing, it has actually been accomplishing so much in my heart and mind, as well as in my family. I have been learning to rest without guilt; my family has been improving its serve. They have been adjusting to mom not doing everything, and learning to step in to fill the gaps. We’ve been in boot camp, learning the physical drills before the emotional and mental challenges ramp up.

A tough leg of the journey is starting. I don’t feel ready, but I know it’s time for the training wheels to come off, and I’m so grateful to have had them. My Father knows what He is doing, and does it in spite of my feelings. I can rest in that.