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Tag Archives: Christianity

Alive

20 May

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One day you and I will die, but before that day comes, let us live’~A. Arthur

Something happened after going through last month’s radiation experiment. When it was all said and done and when I found it didn’t work, I had overwhelming peace about everything. Maybe it’s all the prayers or just having simple faith and trust in God’s plan, but I have felt a complete shift in my mind. Since then, some of the weight of living with cancer has lifted off my shoulders and it’s been great. I think after the radiation I finally felt like I had done all I could in my power and now I could just let it go and truly leave it to the doctors and God. At church today we talked about defining moments and how during difficult times we want God to pull us out but sometimes He just gives us the strength to walk through and we just have to trust. Since the beginning of this crazy beautiful cancer journey in 2008 trust has been the theme; trusting God with HIS plan not MY plan. It has been 10 months since I first found out I had metastatic cancer. For 10 months my cancer tumors have been stable (not growing too quickly) and I am so grateful. Over the past 10 months I have shed tears and spent too much time contemplating the what ifs, but I’m done with that for now.  I’m alive, I feel pretty good, and I have today. I know I will still have ‘scanxiety’ at CT/PET scan time but…today’s good enough, no, today is great.

This past week I got to sing again and it’s been awhile. After losing function in a vocal cord and now having a little difficulty breathing my confidence level has waned but I was grateful for the img_2409opportunity. I picked a song with a lot of meaning to me along with lyrics that expressed exactly how I feel right now, needless to say, I got SUPER emotional. You can watch the performance here…'(https://youtu.be/mj9P47mkQ6wSo many things I thought would bring me happiness. Some dreams that are reality today. Such an irony the things that mean the most to me, are the memories I’ve made along the way. So if there’s anything I’ve learned from this journey I am on, simple truth will keep you going simple love will keep you strong. ‘Cause there are questions without answers, flames that never die, heartaches we go through are often blessings in disguise. Thank you lord, how could I ask for more?

I’m living with cancer but I’m alive. I don’t look sick so most people I run into would never know. I admit however that when I run into the ‘me’ monsters I do use it to shut them down. Are you familiar with the comedian Brian Regan and the skit ‘I walked on the moon’? It’s hilarious, you can watch it here (https://youtu.be/qBJ6yptGqm4). So yes, I’ve said, ‘Yeah? Well I have Stage 4 metastatic cancer.’ That usually stops people in their tracks. Sorry. We all have stuff we are dealing with which makes our lives richer. Now what? I’m alive. Don’t feel sorry for me, don’t look at me like I’m dying, and don’t assume I just want to stay home and rest (although that’s a pretty good assumption most of the time). Do keep praying, do ask questions (I’m ok talking about cancer and how things are going), and do buy me presents…hahaha. I love my life.

The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.~Eleanor Roosevelt

Just breathing isn’t living.~Eleanor H. Porter <<<——————-#truth!

Today I wear Fenty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer. I’ve written about this before, I love it. It’s shiny, not sticky, and has a good amount of shimmer to it. It’s a warm gold which looks great on everyone and can be used alone or on top of whatever color. I chose it because everyone could use a little glitter in their day! Cheers!

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I am a mom

11 May

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Mother’s day is around the corner and I am a mom. I am a mom with cancer. What does that mean on mother’s day for me? How have I changed?  This is hard to talk about. The first time I got cancer my kids were young and all I could think of was to fight for them. I have to say, what lessened the urgency or ‘scare’ from the word cancer for me was that I had thyroid cancer which I read about and was told even by my doctors that it was the easiest and best cancer to have because of the high cure rate. When things turned out a little more complicated after the first surgery I was scared and yes, I cried…a lot. My img_1886kids were only 5, 7, and 10 at the time and I wasn’t ready to leave them (are we ever ready to leave them?). I fought, I cried, I prayed, I survived and for the next 2 years cancer came back again twice but same thing, I fought, I cried, I prayed, and throughout those years and the surgeries, and the treatments, I tried to make their lives as normal as possible. I continued to work, I volunteered at their school, I brought cupcakes and donuts to their classes for their birthdays. I rarely missed anything.

Today, 10 years later, cancer is back and it decided to spread. My kids are older, facetune_01-04-2018-18-00-11one is in college, one is headed there next fall, and the youngest is in high school. I’m older, teens are more difficult, life is rarely quiet but I fight, I cry, I pray. Life is funny because there are always things you don’t want to miss. When the kids were younger and I got cancer all I wanted was more time to get them through high school. Now that they’re older I want to see them become adults, get married, maybe meet my grandkids, I want to see them fly and flourish and know that they’ll be ok.

I am a mom. Like all moms we have img_1634pieces of our hearts walking and breathing outside our bodies. We feel their hurts, we cry when they cry, we’re happy when they’re happy. We worry, we discipline, we direct, we pray, we love, we do the best we can. There are no perfect people or perfect moms but we can love and we can teach them to love. I am a mom with cancer. I may not meet the grandkids but I am planning to. I want to see them make good decisions but I can’t control them. I want them to know that my home is a safe place and that there is love waiting for them here. My love language is time and unfortunately with cancer time is what is threatened the most so that makes my heart hurt a little. Here’s the twist, they’re all older and preparing and wanting to launch so while I try to grasp tighter and grab more moments, they are at the age of friends and freedom, and adulthood, how’s that for crappy timing…but I guess there isn’t really a good time to get sick. So that’s what’s a little different with cancer. I hug a little longer, and grasp a little tighter even though they’re older and they grasp for freedom. I stare at them more because I want to notice and memorize and soak in every nuance of their faces. When they ask to grab coffee or a movie or dinner, I jump at the chance because it’s more time. I don’t get too wound up over dumb things and I let go of simple annoyances quickly because I mainly see things in ‘big picture’ now. I listen more intently and I constantly tell them how much I love them and I fight harder, I cry harder, and I pray harder. To all the moms, stepmoms, aunts, mother figures, teachers, mentors and the village helping raise our children, Happy Mother’s Day.

Maybe every year needs one day to live wide awake to celebrate that we get to call these people ours, that we get to be the one who gets seconds and minutes and hours and days and maybe even years to witness the wonder of them…We get the gift to love our people-and what if we don’t get the wonder of another? Maybe getting to love is getting the best gift of all.~Ann Voskamp

Today I wear MAC Liptensity Lipstick in Habanero. I was looking for something a little bright after my radiation treatment. I needed a little pick me up and this color did it! I love the texture of this lipstick formula and the color is awesome. Habanero is a bright orange/red and I love it. Like the name, this color is spicy and fun! Cheers!

Superhero

30 Apr

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What a long week. To recap, I was given a tracer dose of radiation to see if any of my metastatic nodules would show uptake because if they did then another dose of RAI May work. Nothing showed up after the tracer dose. At that point my doctor told me that she would like to try a challenge therapeutic dose because the tracer is so small and my nodules were small and since I had distant metastasis, a higher dose may be necessary. After talking about possible downside to more radiation, which she assured me was minimal in my case, she said that there was a 20% chance it could work to get rid of my cancer. I took the 20% then sat in isolation in my room for 5 days.

I was deemed safe to the public by Saturday and of course the first thing my kids wanted to do was see the new Avengers movie (don’t worry, no spoilers and I waited until Sunday to be extra safe). I had shared with a good friend that after drinking the radiation I sort of felt like a superhero. My 4th time battling cancer and here I was, radioactive; sweating radiation, crying radiation, etc…in a strange way I felt (and still feel) invincible like a superhero, so at the very least I wanted to take my kids to watch my partners fight in the Avengers movie.

Well, after a long week/month I’m recovering and like the superheroes at the end of every hero movie, feel a little beat up but fought my hardest. I found out a little earlier that unfortunately I will not be part of the 20% that was cured and after the initial shock of disappointment I’m ok. I am exactly where I was a month ago. Stable. A month ago I didn’t even have the 20% probability option so yes, I’m totally ok. Here’s what else…I love and trust God and His plan even more. At church Sunday our pastor said, ‘In our storms img_2258God provides people.’ I saw, felt, received the love from so many people and truly felt God’s peace through all the prayers. I have a husband who took the week off and never left my side; has been at every appointment and was by my bedroom door all the time while I was in isolation with food, smiles, conversation, or whatever else I needed. I could not be more grateful for the life I have and the people in it and I’M STILL HERE! God is so amazingly good! From Nichole Nordeman’s song Sound of Surviving : This is sound of surviving, this is my farewell to fear. This is my whole heart deciding I’m still here and I’m not not done fighting. This is the sound of surviving.

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My gorgeous Superhero ring along with my Lipstick Strong bracelet my son had made!

Saturday I got to meet a jewelry designer who had a pop up shop at a local boutique. I had purchased a couple pieces from her collection before and LOVE her stuff so I went to meet her. She was fantastic and kind and showed me a ring I had to have. In my superhero mode this ring reminded me of Wonder Woman who she said was the actual inspiration for the design! I bought it and LOVE it and it’s designer as well. Check her and her jewelry out at anujatolia.com.

Thank you for your support and walking with me in my lipstick journey. Today I still wear red lipstick. Today it’s Aveda Nourish-mint smoothing lip color in Cherrybud which just seems appropriate for Michigan spring. Cheers!

Trusting Through the Storm

11 Apr

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I’m ready, sort of. I am now in prep mode to start my radiation testing/possible treatment in a couple weeks; no meds, strict diet, I’m tired and it’s only day 3. I shouldn’t be tired yet but I am going through major caffeine withdrawal. Since I can’t have cream with my coffee, no cream=no coffee, oh well. I’m a little foggy right now because, hello, no caffeine and eating like a rabbit so I’m just going to ramble. I just came back from a beautiful vacation and it gave me new resolve. Prior to leaving I was unsure I wanted to do the radiation testing and treatment because of the risks involved but coming home after being away, spending time thinking and praying, I’m ready. It boiled down to me trusting the doctors’ expertise and ultimately trusting God and releasing control.img_9233

Our church is doing a series called ‘Riding the Storm’ and here I am, almost EXACTLY 10 years after being diagnosed and treated for thyroid cancer the first time, back in an even bigger storm because of metastasis. Life is full of storms and at times it can be a lonely place because no one is in the exact same circumstances and their lives along with everything around you is still going on as ‘normal’. It’s like moving in slow motion while everyone else is going about their business (feels like I’m in The Matrix) . Also no matter how hard you try to describe everything you’re feeling sometimes the heart bears no words. Every morning on vacation I trekked out to the beach pretty early and each day was different; there were sunny, blue sky, peaceful mornings but a couple days started img_1948darker with a storm that changed the waves, the temperature, and obviously the sky. The one constant I knew was that the sun was behind each cloud and eventually it would break through the clouds and light up the sky. Similar to the storms of life, the Son is the constant and despite the clouds, I know He’s there. Ten years ago I did a video for my church during my first cancer diagnosis (you can catch it here~ https://vimeo.com/52232853). So much has changed since that video including more life storms like divorce and obviously cancer’s return a few times (including now), career changes but also rainbow moments like finding and marrying an awesome man who is caring for and supporting me through this storm. The predominant message from my video has sustained me through it all…trust. I’m not going to lie, I’ve had a couple panic attacks leading up to this upcoming procedure but I’ve been able to breath through telling myself that God is with me and He is control. Trust. Today I will continue body surfingimg_1935 those big waves of this storm and trust God.

Today I wear Honest Beauty Truly Kissable Lip Color in Strawberry Kiss. I own this lipstick in a couple colors. They’re moisturizing, lightweight, and only use ‘clean’ products. They are kind of between a lipstick and a gloss and not super long lasting but nice. I chose this color because it’s red and I’m ready to fight. Oh and stay tuned…big things planned for my future journey!! Cheers!

The Great Unknown

26 Mar

I have something kind of big happening next month so my emotions are 50/50; half terrified and anxious, half optimistic. I am going through some tests to see if my tumors can still uptake radiation which if they can, the doctor has to measure exactly how much radiation my body can still tolerate vs. how much cancer I need to get rid of. If the two measurements work out I may be able to do radiation again and be done with cancer for awhile, if not I’m back to exactly where I am today, stable and waiting for treatment (which is not a terrible place to be). The problem is that I’ve already had radiation twice, once with a high dose I-131 which I drank and took internally the first time I had cancer, and the other via external beam the third time with cancer. Because of this, the doctor has to  make an exact calculation of a tolerable amount for me or there are not so pleasant side effects (radiation induced secondary cancer). Lots to think about yet really nothing to think about because I just have to go do it and that’s that. There’s a bit of prep work going into the test prior to the radiation that may or may not work. First, they changed my medication last week, a hard switch, so my body is freaking out right now and second, I have to be on a special diet and have no medication a couple weeks before this radiation testing happens, which means I’ll be beyond exhausted.

I confess, I’m a hot mess thinking about all this craziness, not to mention I’m already exhausted and I can’t imagine how much more tired and achy I’ll be 3 weeks from now. I am really trying to process all this and am going through phases of angry and sad that amidst family things, Spring Break plans, Easter, and trying to prepare my daughter to launch in this last half of her senior year, I have to think about cancer, radiation, and CT scans. It all really stinks but I’m reminded God is still in control. Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God’~Corrie TenBoom

It’s springtime in Michigan and although it has still been a bit chilly the sun has been out for several days in a row (always a bonus). With the stress of the upcoming tests I have forgotten my daily exercise of stopping and acknowledging things I’m grateful for daily. It’s amazing how quickly perspective, mood, stress can change with the simple act of breathing and taking a moment to remember all your blessings. I have so much to be thankful for…ahhhhhh.  I heard someone call this weird in between stage ‘purgatory’, there was a life before cancer, then there’s the vision of the end because of the diagnosis, but mostly there’s the great in-between; between scans, between treatments, between inhaling and exhaling. Truly our responsibility is the same in all these stages, to love God and to love others and I’m adding this one…to leave space for people to love on you too. It’s spring and one of our bushes is already showing new buds. I read an awesome quote which said, ‘Spring is evidence that the God that breathed the world into existence is still breathing.’~Barbara Brown Taylor  God is still breathing, don’t miss the magic.

Today I wear Bare Minerals Gen Nude Buttercream Lip Gloss in Snarky which is rose with gold sparkle. These are super moisturizing and glossy but only have a little bit of color. I like the consistency because they’re not sticky. I chose this color because it’s an easy color to wear and the gold flecks are just enough pop. I also love the name because it’s kind of been my mood lately. Cheers!

Fragile

28 Feb

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A week ago I was in India for a mission trip. I am still jet lagged, feeling blessed and grateful, while broken-hearted, but I had to get back on a plane and travel for a work meeting for my company and am here now, corporate America, the polar opposite of where I just came from. I am still processing last week while trying to get through this week and all I can say is I feel extremely fragile, like the thinnest piece of glass that could  break with just the slightest touch. My emotions are riding so close to the surface it’s crazy.

Let me start by saying that my journey back to India started a few weeks beforehand when I sent out letters for monetary and prayer support. The money trickled in for both me and my daughter but quickly came to a dead end so I decided a private Facebook post would be a last ditch effort to raise money. Backing up some more I was praying for a stable scan (or even healing) so I would be able to go in the first place which thank God, my scan was stable. One week before the trip I img_1502got an evening text from an old coworker and friend which opened with,’You will go to India…’. What followed was an incredible monetary contribution which brought me to me knees in gratitude and I couldn’t stop the tears (thank you BAS). Within the next couple days the donations were enough to cover me and most of Audrey and where they came from stunned me and filled my heart with love and gratitude.

What can I say about being in India? It’s difficult to articulate; almost 200 kids filled with joy. They have no cell phones, no television, no video games, and basically none of the luxuries the kids in suburban America have but they were all smiles, all laughter. Then there was the Agape Home for the elderly. This one was/is hard for me. These people have been through life, worked hard for their family, yet they find themselves here. Many abandoned by their family because they could no longer provide or work and they were just another mouth to feed in a country filled with poverty. Looking in their eyes was heartbreaking yet they were being loved and cared for and they had each other; simple joy. We played, prayed, and loved them and the kids for a week and they gave us joy, longing, and love back. The goodbye was tough and when they raised their hands to pray for us I broke. They have so little but they still have faith, joy, and love and as they prayed I looked at their faces and wondered why we complicate life so much.img_1677img_1587

On the plane ride home I watched a beautiful documentary called Human which can be found on YouTube. I recommend it to everyone. After watching I cried more and was overwhelmed with the beauty of people and their stories. The filmmaker asks the same questions to people from around the world from a remote African tribe to the US and he ‘confronts the realities and diversity of human conditions.’ Once again my heart broke and I came home desperate to figure out a way to somehow help the world.

So here I am. In my room after a day long meeting in a nice hotel still processing my trip; the poverty, the simplicity, and wanting to save the world but add to all of this…I have cancer. I can barely take it. Did I mention my daughter who is graduating high school soon was able to come with me to India? Oh my heart and for the who-knows-how-many-times since I found out my cancer is back, I am mad and sad and frustrated that right this minute, I. Have. Cancer. Life is fragile and fleeting. My emotions will adjust themselves and I’ll be ok. How can we love the world more? How can I make a change? How can we BE the change? Love God, love others with however much time you have.

Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.’~Mother Teresa

’We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop’~Mother Teresa

No lipstick today, don’t feel like it…cheers 🙂

And other thoughts…

11 Feb

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You are a better Christian if you go to church every Sunday…and other statements that I ponder. I’m not sure which I have more on a moment to moment basis, thoughts or emotions. I can run from joy and happiness to depressed and anxious and back to joy in less than 30 seconds and the same goes with the various topics that pop into my mind in that amount of time. I can go from my cancer and what dreams and goals I still have, to the kids’ schedule for the week, to ‘I need a piece of candy’ in no time flat. Anyhow, I mentioned church because ever since I got the news that my cancer was back last July I haven’t really felt like going to church. People have asked if I am angry at God or have just assumed I’m maybe running away from my faith for now. No and no. In fact, I have never felt closer to God and felt more loved by Him. I’m not avoiding church, I still go, but sometimes I just don’t really feel like it. I believe there are seasons to our faith; seasons of discovery but also seasons when solitude is necessary and maybe that is where I am. I think also during this time when I’m trying to navigate my feelings of living with cancer I’m not sure I can handle that much ‘religious cheerleading’ (poor description and probably offensive but I can’t really describe it any other way). Bottom line, my faith has to do with me and God and we talk all the time. I know I couldn’t do cancer without Him and I see evidence of His love and grace daily from the words I read in the bible to the kindness and love I receive from friends and even strangers whether that’s in a church building or not. He gives me the peace to move forward and trust that everything and everyone will be ok.

img_1326Thought 2. I have heard many many times that I don’t look sick. It’s true. My cancer’s stable so in the meantime I work, go out with friends, go to the kids’ sporting activities and events, ‘normal’ life, and I look no different with Stage 4 cancer now than I did July 6, 2017 (the day before I found out my cancer was back). I don’t ever take offense to the comment, I’m truly grateful because who wants to look sick? Part of my thought process though is that none of us look sick but most of us are. The Facebook and Instagram pictures are great but don’t show sadness, depression, arguments, adversity, bullying, cruelty, or any of the things normal people struggle with every single day. REAL. LIFE. All of us are living, breathing novels with incredible stories and beautiful covers but we don’t see each others’ ripped and tear-stained pages, highlights, the worn out corners, etc…none of us really look sick.

Last thought for today…contrary to social media and what’s most highlighted on the news, people are really great. I am so blown away by the beauty and kindness and generosity of people. In fact, during this time it’s people and my interactions that have been magical and have given me a sense of wonder. I believe we all want the same thing, to know we’re loved and to know we matter. If we can give that much to another person the return is crazy. Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, img_7380while loving someone deeply gives you courage. ~Lao Tzu  Courage and strength, all of us need both. I read this quote from an unknown author and I really loved it, ‘Sometimes when you’re in a dark place, you think you’ve been buried; but actually you’ve been planted.’ HOW AWESOME IS THAT? Planted for rebirth, planted for new, planted for breakthrough. I love it.

Today I wear NYX Butter Gloss in Red Velvet. I own several colors of this gloss for a few reasons; moisturizing, great color, cheap. If you’re afraid to dive in and wear a bold red lip color you can start with this. This gloss gives just enough color without being scary and it feels great too. I chose this color because it’s red and I do love a good Red Velvet cake! Cheers!

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