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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Just because . . .


The Kennedy crew (and my friend, Shanna) enjoyed a fun weekend outing to cheer on the #1 ranked OU women’s gymnastics team who went on to defeat Iowa State. It was an exciting atmosphere watching seriously talented female athletes competing while also watching the hope-filled eyes of little girls cheering them on. Chris and I joked we hoped Alexa didn’t love gymnastics too much (this is her first year in lessons) as we’re pretty sure she’ll be too tall for the sport by sixth grade. Needless to say, Alexa had a blast, and we’ve been role-playing floor routines (but mostly clapping like crazy) when Alexa finishes her jumping, twirling and summersaulting.

I don’t have much news to report – no hand therapy or appointments last week or this week (hooray). I just felt like I needed to update everyone. I desperately hope to have a Christmas and Disney World blog posted before we head back to MDA on Monday (so many pictures/videos to swim through). Speaking of, I’ll be posting my MDA schedule very soon with specific prayer requests. The schedule continues to change, and it will take an entire posting. The week is going to be F-U-L-L (sigh).

In addition to several MRIs & a CT scan, Dr. Benjamin has decided I need another head-to-toe PET scan to investigate the pain I am having in my right hip/pelvis/femur as well as my chest/upper back/lungs. One day, the pain will be constant, and the next sporadic or hardly at all. It can be in the exact same area for several days and then feel as if it has spread. I don’t know what to make of it, and I’m trying not to as my mind typically goes to worst case. So when my hope turns to despair, I am trying to live out Romans 12:12 - “Be joyful in hope. Patient in affliction. Faithful in prayer.”

My typical “moment-by-moment” prayer goes something like this, “Lord please remove this pain. May it be healing pain from the radiation, not more cancer. Lord, help my eyes to stay focused on you and what You can do, nothing else. I believe You can do the impossible and I am boldly asking you to heal my body of this cancer. Do something in me that can only be explained by You. I won’t stop asking in faith, Lord. Please help me to trust you in this moment because I need you. Help me experience joy not fear.”

I have to tell you, this has helped SO MUCH over the past week – recognizing my unbelief, having scriptures available to recite when I feel discouraged, and then going to Him in prayer when the doubt, fears and pain come. I have noticed a difference emotionally, physically and mentally. I want to thank you for your persistent prayers for my pain to decrease, for total physical healing, and for victory in this often-dark spiritual battle.

In small, but also big ways, I believe my walk with Him has changed over the last week-and-a-half. My faith in what He can do is growing and my dependence on Him is greater. Thanks to the awesome Truths I’ve been studying in the Matthew study at BSF. I’m so thankful for that. I believe this new way of thinking and doing has even affected my pain levels. I have probably felt better this past weekend than I have since my diagnosis in April. There is still disconcerting pain (especially in my chest/lungs/ribs) but I am asking the Lord to help me, moment-by-moment, and not let it overwhelm me. I described this new mental exercise to someone as taking my “pain captive” (2 Cor. 10:5) by running to Jesus first with my needs and expecting Him to deliver. Of course, I also take pain medication and that helps as well. Although I have new areas of pain that trouble me, my lower back feels immensely better than it has since radiation. I can tie my shoe, turn over in bed, and get in & out of the car without looking like an old woman.

I have to share one sweet moment with you from the weekend. I was finishing up my Bible study, and Alexa was waiting as patiently as a three-year-old can. (I normally do my Bible study before she wakes-up or after she goes to bed, so this was a rare occasion for her.) I told her, I just need to pray and then we can play. So, I bowed my head to pray silently and I looked over and she had her hands folded, head bowed and eyes closed too. So, I asked her if she’d like to pray with Mommy. She said, “Yes.” So we knelt together at her dining room chair and thanked God for what He taught me that day and continued to ask boldly for my total healing. The phrase we most often use is, “God can do the impossible.” It was such a beautiful moment together. Now, when I feel the pain or fear ensuing, I ask her if she’d like to pray with me. I pray this will become our “new normal” long after this cancer is gone.

I can honestly say, I had an amazing extended weekend with my family because I felt GOOD. The pain was far less than it has been in months, and I think I just decided, I don’t want to “survive” – I want to “live.” And so, we enjoyed things together as a family that I haven’t done much since last spring. We went to the park. I pushed Alexa in a swing. We kicked the soccer ball. I jogged beside Alexa riding her bike (for a little bit). We played chase. We made crafts with finger paints and put together a mini-theatre for Alexa’s finger puppets (I can even use scissors). I helped with meals and did the dishes. And, I was able to put Alexa to bed by myself two night in a row (including giving her a bath)! These may seem like little things to you, but they are major accomplishments for me as I haven’t been able to do them for several months. In many ways, I felt like I was a regular wife and mommy again with much shorter, curlier, lighter hair. I thank God for these moments and pray there will be many, many more (without cancer)!

Some silly pics from the weekend . . .

Alexa is showing off a new Minnie Mouse necklace she was surprised with by one of our many precious supporters. Ty Miss Kris! She loves it!!

Well, like I said, not much news to relay. Just a little update on our family and what God is doing. I realize anytime I share a good report, it seems the Enemy comes in for a stronger assault so please pray for my heart in these days leading up to MDA. I feel like a kid dreading going back to school. I wish I could sugar-coat it, but I hate that place because it reminds me I am not a normal wife/mommy & thus far has revealed I have more cancer. The pain especially in my chest/lungs/upper back has been bothering me most of all. I cough quite a bit and struggle for deep breaths. Even as I sit here, I have a bothersome side ache.

All in all, I have been greatly encouraged over the last several days with special times with the Lord, less pain and small glimpses of normalcy. However, there are also moments the stark reality of cancer cannot be escaped. Here are just two examples of how it can rear its ugly head . . .

- I was introduced to a radiologist Friday who wanted to know my story. As I shared my story, starting with symptoms five years ago, he said, “You are very lucky. Your sarcoma must be slow-growing. Most people with a sarcoma die within a year.” Yeah, I was definitely thinking “I hit the jackpot with this diagnosis,” – ha!! . . . I know that was (in some way) supposed to be encouraging – but – it wasn’t. I often laugh (inside my head) at the things people tell me. I know most of what people say stems from a genuine, caring heart but . . . really!? If someone dies in your story, or there is a recurrence of cancer – don’t share it. If it’s a survivor story or it involves miraculous healing, I’m all ears. I think talking to someone with cancer should require one rule – stop and think before you speak. Well, according to Proverbs, this should happen every time we start to say something, right?

- Have you ever opened mail like this, or am I one of the privileged few? I mean who wouldn’t hesitate to swallow pills delivered with a huge “caution” label on them? I can remember the same “caution” sign on my IV chemo. I think “toxic” was also included. It’s so comforting, isn’t it!? I would much prefer taking pre-natal vitamins, but then again, I would much prefer to live. And so, I dispose of the “caution” bag and pray every morning when I swallow four of these beauties, “Lord, please make these little pills powerful and effective in defeating this cancer. Please eliminate the page and a half of potential side effects. And thank you this isn’t IV chemo.”

Just a reminder, that even with encouraging days, cancer is sobering and inescapable. It is a disgusting result of The Fall, and I’m so grateful for your persistent prayers of faith as we walk through this together. We continue to pray in faith for an encouraging, cancer-free check-up next week.

Thank you and love you all!

1 comment:

  1. So thankful to hear that you've had a little less pain and been able to enjoy some family time, too! Just this morning I read Genesis 15:6; it says that Abram believed the Lord and the Lord credited to him as righteousness. The word "believed" here means "leaned upon with faith". I just thought it was beautiful... that leaning upon the Lord with faith is credited to us as righteousness. Sending up continuing prayers for you!