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Monday, August 26, 2013

A surprise visitor


My dear friend, Melanie (aka Mels), surprised me with a visit this week. We first met in Beirut, Lebanon, where she was serving for eight months, and I spent the summer. Little did we know she would soon marry one of my friends here in Norman, and we’d become lifelong friends. She stood by my side when I married Chris, and since then, we have shared our highest highs and lowest lows together. Our friendship has spanned the globe, a few city blocks and now a few states. Thank you for coming to love on me, Mels! Thank you for sitting with me and just listening. It was medicine for my heart and soul. Let’s plan on reconnecting for an I-feel-so-good-I-don’t–have-cancer-anymore girls’ weekend.

Well, it’s been a awhile since I sat down to update you. On Thursday, I finished treatment #1 of round #4. For those of you who lifted me up, thank you so much (more on round #4 later). The week leading up to my treatment was rough. I decided to try out a narcotic my doc at MDA recommended all along but I was reluctant as they often give it to recovering heroine addicts. Yes, that sort of scared me. I have cancer but I’m not on heroine. However, it is recommended for dealing with long-term pain, and that is exactly what I’m living with when it comes to the nerve pain from the tumor in my right arm.

Long story short – when I tried out the drug for the week, the pain in my arm greatly decreased. I mean, it was awesome how little pain I felt and what I was enabled to do – things I hadn’t been able to do since my biopsy April 12 – like open a jar, turn a doorknob, cut an apple, write some notes. It was a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, the side effects of the drug were a doozie – dizziness, nausea and crazy fatigue. I mean, I felt like I was in a fog all day and that isn’t acceptable with a three-year-old who doesn’t nap. I would try to make a meal and break out in a sweat and the shakes thinking I would throw up at any moment. So, although, I slept much better that week, I couldn’t function during the day. I had to decide which I’d rather deal with, and I chose the latter.

So this past week, I stopped the narcotic. I began to feel normal during the day. I was able to take Alexa to a preschool playdate. I enrolled her in gymnastics, and two precious friends helped me clean my house (thank you so much Courtney & Melissa). We even took our adopted college students to The Melting Pot for a back-to-school dinner. I felt like I had my “live it up during your off week of chemo” life back; however, the pain also decided to join that small semblance of “regular” life. So, that is where I still stand at this moment. I am taking Hydrocodone to try and sleep again, and OTC pain meds to dull the tumor pain during the day.

As my tumor sent it’s constant reminder to me (through it’s dull, unrelenting ache or sharp, throbbing pains) that it doesn’t like what’s going on, I couldn’t help to fight discouragement, tears and just grieve. I am on my 4th round of chemo and as I look down at my arm, I see no sign of shrinkage. In fact, if you asked me yesterday what I thought, I was almost convinced the tumor had grown. The continual pain doesn’t ease my mind either. This pain is reminiscent of the pain I dealt with post-biopsy (when it grew 30%). and when my pain is like this, the ability to use my right hand becomes incredibly limited. It’s so easy to “go there” when you are hurting. My mind begins to wonder and my hope & my fight start to fade . . . Will this cancer ever go away? Will I ever have my right hand back? Will they have to amputate my arm? What about the cancer in the rest of my body? How long will I have to live on chemo? Is this the way God wants it to be – just waiting, wondering & hurting?

My oncologist told me Thursday he has a 70 yr-old patient who is also dealing with a metastatic sarcoma (meaning it has spread). Although it is a different type of sarcoma, my doc said he didn’t see much shrinkage of this man’s tumor until his 6th round. The patient is currently on his 9th round of chemo and the tumor continues to shrink. Although that gives me hope, it also reminds me just how long this potential road could be (nine rounds for me would be mid-December and I anticipate more). When you didn’t volunteer for the journey you were unexpectedly forced upon, the longer and more unknown the road becomes. It was just a hard day yesterday. One of many and many more, I suppose. I think it’s a package deal with cancer. And if you know someone who is “pie in the sky” about their cancer journey, please give me their name & address. Either they are on a quick, somewhat sure road to a cure or they are delusional. Either way, I’d love to talk with them.

All of that to say, I went to bed last night, heart heavy. I knew I needed a good dose of Truth. It was the only thing – correction - He was the only One who was and is going to get me through this journey, and I had felt utterly beaten up by Satan’s fiery darts. I had waded around enough in the lies, the what-ifs, the reality of what I’m up against. I never put on my shield of faith for the day, and I needed a touch from Him to remind me who’s really in control, who isn’t phased by statistics, who isn’t alarmed by rare cancers. God’s Word, prayer and music are three things that can really turn my heart and head around, so I engaged them all. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go to sleep until 3 am, but I was (ironically) restless in a “state of peace” looking to Him, trusting Him, resting in Him. I still hate (and will always hate) cancer, but I am thankful for these special moments when the Lord brings me to the end of my rope only to find He was right there all along waiting for me to come to Him and rest . . . in Him alone. In that, I experience His peace and can praise Him for who He is. In these moments, the circumstances that now consume my daily life seem smaller and less ominous, and it’s just me and Him.

These are a few of the snip-its that encouraged my heart . . .

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways and loving toward all He has made. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in Truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them. The Lord watches over all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.”
Psalm 145:17-20

”Blessed is He whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of Heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – the Lord, who remains faithful forever.” Psalm 146:5-6

Praise Him
by Shane & Shane (If you can’t view these with your iPhone, I would encourage you listen to them on YouTube). Ty for this song, Mels!

Praise Him by Shane & Shane

Still, My Soul Be Still by Keith & Kristyn Getty (Ty Laura for sharing this beautiful and timely song with me.)

Still, My Soul Be Still by Keith & Kristyn Getty

This is a poem written by a sweet friend, Krista Stoller. Ty for continually sharing your gift of words with me!!

“He ransoms me unharmed from the battle raged against me . . .” Psalm 55:18 

There’s an enemy of my soul who would like to drag me down
But God can see how he works with me and God turns things around
What the enemy hopes will discourage me, God covers with His grace
And instead of despair, a moment of prayer – plants hope in discouragement’s place
So I’ll sing though the battle is raging for I know I’ll see the victory
All along there’s One mighty and strong who is fighting the battle for me
My life in my Savior resides – and no matter the battles that come
Through thick and thin there’s no One like Him – He who my help is from
The enemy’s tactics are weighty, but greater and stronger still
Are the mighty hands and sovereign plans that keep me in God’s will
the battle indeed is raging, but I’ve steadfast hope in the fight
I know I shall win because my hope is in – the God of all grace and all might!

Krista Stoller

-- Health protection. Alexa had a fever this week and now has a rattling cough and sore throat. Chris feels like he is getting a cold, and I feel like I’m fighting off a sinus infection. Please pray for health during these critical times of recovery.

-- Normalcy. We are praying for wisdom in how to make life as normal as possible (esp for Alexa) during the ups and downs of chemo (as it is indefinite part of our future).

-- Pain management. Pray I would continue to find meds that would help me manage pain during the day and at night. Or, if God saw fit to ease my pain without meds, I’m totally fine with that as well.

-- Healing. My new habit is to thank the Lord (in faith) for healing me every morning when I wake up. Pray I would be able to continue this attitude of trust and thanksgiving throughout the day – even when pain & the appearance of my tumor may cause doubts. I want to choose each day to trust in His healing from the tumor in my arm to my C7 vertebrae to any other place those nasty cancer cells are hiding. As Melanie equated my tumor to the Wicked Witch’s death in the Wizard of Oz. We must believe the tumor is sounding it’s death knell as it is being covered over with far more potent power than water – the prayers of many and God’s healing power. Amen!


  1. Yay for a sweet friend visiting - such a blessing :) I was just thinking about you as I was reading my Bible and thought, I need to drop her a note to let her know I'm thinking about/praying for her. Low and behold, I got on the computer and you'd posted an update! I'm praying for you sister-friend. Love you. Will be praying especially that you'll find the right drug combo (or, better yet, that He'll see fit to remove the pain!!) and that you guys will have wisdom in figuring out what your 'new normal' needs to look like, especially for Alexa. Thanks for sharing those verses and songs. Press on sister. Your attitude and honesty through this hell you're living are an encouragement to me.

  2. Dearest Kelsey: Doug and I keep you in our prayers constantly - as do the members of our church. So glad that Melanie could get down to see you. She emailed me that she was there. Such a sweet friend and daughter-in-law for us. Will continue to pray that your faith stays strong, that the tumor is indeed shrinking and that the meds will help you with the pain. We love you bunches, Sharl and Doug Taylor

  3. You are a strong woman in your 30's. I bet it will start to shrink before 9 rounds. I pray for you to have a peace and comfort. I'm reminded of Job, which is one of my favorite Bible stories. -Beth Franks

  4. Kelsey you look amazing after the four rounds! I am astounded at your strength and I am so grateful you did not get Alexa's fever. Continuing praying for healing and your heart! Much love! Kari

  5. Kelsey, a word of encouragement about Jason's pituitary tumor 9 years ago. He had HORRIBLE debilitating headaches and they found it. It was just before he finished his MA a Dall Theo. They didn't want to take any steps toward that until they knew what was in store with the tumor. They had to wait nearly a month to get their insurance changed so it would help with the costs, and the aweful headaches continued. When they finally did the surgery, I walked up to the group in the hospital just as the Dr. told them that there was NOTHING there! If he had taken an MRI that am, he said he wouldn't have even done the surgery. Their explanation was that possibly his body killed it and that the headaches had to do with that annialation of the tumor. So your statements seeing about the pain as the tumor being attacted CAN be absolutely true.
    It was such a surprise to the Dr., and afterwards, as we held hands in a circle to praise God, I'll never forget their pastor's words. He asked God to forgive us for being surprised! I love that! God is so Bigger than this and ON THE MOVE! I'm sorry that it hurts so bad, but I'm glad you are on the God's train. I pray that you feel carried and can let the anxiety go an rest through his ride! Love and hugs to Chris and Alexa. How is Chris doing, BTW? Love you, Chris! Hope you don't feel unprayed for, because you are---every day and every time God brings you to mind.
    Love, Janie- for John too!