Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Just the Facts of my Current Matters

Because I (don't) love the hospital so much, I went back for a 3 night stay Thursday after I got out from my Appendectomy. I had been having a lot of discomfort from my pericardial effusion (fluid filling the sack around my heart). In order to get it taken care of immediately, my oncologist encouraged me to go to the ER. I was having my procedure, in the Cath Lab (similar to a surgical room) within a few hours  of being admitted. After extracting the fluid (about a liter & a quarter and dropping a few lbs just like that;), they put in a temporary drain that reached 8 inches up near my heart and came out the middle of my lower chest. Gross, I know. This was to allow any fluid left behind to escape.
Because of the tube and the procedure, I had to be in ICU overnight. Fortunately the next day I was moved to the regular cardiac floor, where I stayed for 2 addition nights. By the 4th day, I finally passed the test, draining less than 50 milliliters within a 24 hr period, and had the drain pull out (yikes!).

The pathology report showed there was cancer in the fluid. I currently, one week later, have a "trace" amount of fluid around the heart and will keep an eye on it with weekly echocardiograms. I also have a small to medium pleural effusion again, something that I battled in 2014/early 2015. I'll take care of that this coming week, with a little procedure.

Because the oral chemo seemed to becoming less and less effective, I switched this week to a targeted therapy, which had been tested on the biopsy taken from a tumor that was removed last year. These new meds seemed to have an effect on "part" of my cancer's makeup, when testing was done. Praying this is enough to make a difference on my current situation.

I completed radiation last week, on the two spots that were showing activity. I had a scan Friday and found out that there were 2 additional spots, on my left shoulder and left hip, that "lit up". Super discouraging news. I've been in a bit of a "downcast" soul 'tude. I know where I need to be, and will eventually get there. But for now, I need a pity party. (Though thankfully, I'm kind of in the after-party stage now). It's ok to have these times. As long as you don't stay there. (Reminder to self)

All this new, "bad" news, has been coming in wave after wave, hardly giving me a chance to catch my breathe. The reality of the meaning of a terminal illness has become more real this month with 2 hospital stays and lots of extra tests. We have had so many people come along side us with meals and prayers and encouragement and we are very thankful. It's such a longgggg journey, thank you for not getting weary of our story.
And while it's been very discouraging being on a downhill swing, I know how truly good I have it that I'm still walking around, participating in every day activities, seeming pretty normal.

I'm currently reading A Place of Healing, by Joni Eareckson Tada, that my mom had given me last month. It's so so good. Joni talks about wrestling with the mysteries of suffering, pain and God's Sovereignty. The fact is, is that as much as people want to see those who are hurting healed, not everyone is meant to be healed in this temporary life. This actually is more comforting to me than the fact that people pray for healing and then are not healed here on earth and then wrestling with why God didn't heal them. By His stripes we are healed Isaiah 53:5b...certainly saving us from our sins and giving us a hope and future! But when it comes to physical ailments, perhaps some of us must wait for Heaven, our real and eternal home, to receive physical healing. I'm not claiming God isn't going to heal me here, in this life time on earth, only He knows that. But, I'm learning, at a new level, what it means for my will to be in line with His will for my life. So, so, so much harder than it seems. But, unlike me, who sees life in 2 parts-earth and heaven, He sees the big, full picture, end and all. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Unplanned Stay-cation

I went to bed Thursday, excited about the following day, because I was knocking off one more radiation, getting my hair done and had a massage...I have gotten very good at self-care these past few years;). But, I also went to bed not feeling great. I lathered up with my oils and fell asleep, kind of. My stomach was hurting all night and even the pressure of my pj waist band was hurting. You know, when you just pray you get "sick" soon, to get it over with. Well, I laid in bed all day Friday, had to cancel all my plans and still couldn't relieve my stomach issues. I hate adding any doctor visits to my already part-time patient job (you know, the job I pay to go to). But after listening to my mother (thanks mom:) and my own intuition, I headed to the walk-in Friday afternoon and was admitted to the ER by that evening. Oh goodie. Thankful not to have brought the stomach flu into our home, but not crazy about adding another surgery to my resume.

So basically, I had a little 2 night "staycation" at the Sharp Coronado Hospital this weekend. Ironically, just down the street from where I was suppose to get my hair done Friday ;)!
I had an appendectomy on Saturday night. But not before having a cat scan, which showed I had fluid around my heart. Because of this, I had to have an echocardiogram and meet with a cardiologist, before the surgeon would decide if he could safely remove my appendix. The concern was that if my heart was under stress from anesthesia it may have a hard time beating with the fluid surrounding it. It looks like I may have to get that fluid removed eventually, and I'm assuming it's related to the cancer near there. For now, I have no physical symptoms, which is a huge praise! And my heart did its job fabulously during surgery. I'll meet with a cardiologist at my healthcare facility soon to follow up with this new health issue. 

Gotta love this coaster, never a dull moment. But God was so working things out for us thru the whole process. I even had some great conversation with one of the nurses as I shared my story and she talked candidly with me about her life. I love love love these opportunities He gives me in this journey. There is a certain boldness that comes with wearing a cancer badge, or any badge of what the world might consider weakness. Because it baffles those that don't understand how we can be strong in such despairing or sad or unknown circumstances. Then, we get to turn our burden into a blessing, bring glory to God's name and do what we were created to do. We all wear some weakness. Remember to wear it proud because it's in the very place of weakness God will use you to His glory...and there is no greater clarity giver than this!

Such excitement this weekend! Going to bed happy and thankful, in my own soft bed (although those elevating hospital beds are kinda awesome). Unfortunately, we missed a few fun things we had planned this weekend. Very thankful for my parents holding down the fort while we stayed at Hotel Sharp de Coronado, not to be confused with the Hotel Del Coronado. The food is much better there I'm sure!

                     "Checking Out"

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Mindset Goals

I've never, ever, in my 40 years, made a new year's resolution. Maybe it's because I don't see things in a "fiscal year" light, but rather in seasons. September is the beginning (start of school and schedule changes) and August is the end (wrapping up summer). Call me nuts. I'm cool with it ;).
I'm certain you can relate with the off-the-map excursions life takes. Our personal life has taken turns, with the addition of each child or Job changes, and twists, uprooting from the Central Valley and moving to San Diego because God opened the door and asked if we trusted Him...to the challenge of the cancer marathon that we weren't at all trained and ready for, but are running because it's part of our journey.
As our circumstances have changed, for the good, the mundane or the frustrating, I have set goals. Mindset goals. I may resist at first when the Lord has presented a new, perhaps unexpected path in this journey, but then as He waits patiently for me to throw my "fit", He draws me to Him-whether it be with scripture, a song, or words from another. My mind is changed by what my heart knows to be good and true.
Today, in church, we sang the words....

You make me brave, you make me brave, you call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave, you make me brave, no fear can hinder now the love that made a way.

You make me brave, you make me brave, no fear can hinder now the promises you made.

Today, my heart reminded my mind that God's promises are not hindered, because He is unchanging. So the promises and hope we draw from scripture still hold true today.
It's simple. It's sweet.
But, nevertheless, a reminder I needed as I round out my 5th year in the cancer marathon. We all face adversity and sometimes, after it's been along time, or ongoing with no end in sight, we can "feel" like God forgot us. We may start to lose hope out of pure weariness.

But, take heart. Take HOPE. Take God at His word.

Therefore we do not lose heart. even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord. Psalms 31:24

Mindset Goals: Do not lose heart. Hope in the Lord.

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