Sunday, August 13, 2017

HAPPY 7th ANNIVERSARY TO ME!!!

Today is the 7th year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. I look back on that devastating day and felt, along with my husband and son, a pain so deep, the bottom of it couldn't be reached. We thought it was the beginning of the end. My first oncologist gave me 14 months to live.

Seven years later, as I continue to have faith that God is still going to heal me of this stage 4 lung cancer and brain cancer, I marvel at the milestones I never dreamed I would see. Sam finishing his freshman year of college, being able to take him back to Dordt for his second, third, and fourth years, graduating, getting married to a great gal, helping him move to Minneapolis, rejoicing with him as he got jobs that he loves. Never in a million years did I think God would grant me ANY of those great moments. Yet, He did. 

Oh, the grace of my Abba......

Lavish grace that has allowed me more time on this earth.

On the night of my diagnosis, while tears were soaking my pillow, I heard from the Spirit of God, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's son may be glorified through it." (John 11:4).

I believe God is faithful to His word and I believe the message from His Word was meant to sustain me in all the very difficult days and years ahead.

While on occasion, when I am weak, I still plead with God to heal me. But much more often, I just thank Him now, for what he Has given me and what He is going to do. I thank Him for the unexpected blessings that have graced my life for the past 7 years.




7 year anniversary

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

LIFE AT THE LAKE

Things are going well for us. My chemo was upped to half strength and my only side effects are headaches. Richie tells me these are brain tumors evaporating, and I am choosing to believe him and not stress over the headaches. I am here in town for another appointment today.

Our lake is the warmest it has been in years. It was 81 degrees yesterday and the air was colder than the water. It has been great sitting on our floats and going WAY to drift in.
It is finally shorts weather!!

Richie is building a beautiful retaining wall for us. We had a piece of land cut off from our hill by our driveway to straighten it, and we need a wall to hold up the hill from eroding. The blocks are 70 pounds apiece so he is building muscle for sure. He also is losing weight. He is drenched from head to tow from sweat by 11 in the morning, if not earlier. The job he is doing is meticulous. You would never guess a professional didn't do it. I am so proud of him taking this on. Getting 8 tiers of rocks perfectly level is no small task!!

I love God because he is sovereign and majestic and hundreds of other reasons. But this summer I have seen his sense of humor. Earlier in May, I considered trying to let my hair grow out white, which was what it came in as after brain radiation. Dick and I both decided we weren't ready for me to be white. So for 2 years, I have been coloring that white. As it grew out I always had white roots.

Well, I had a chat in May with Terry, my pastor's sweet wife and friend who I noticed had some patches of white on her head. I asked her if she going to quit coloring and go white and she said yes. Something about what she said just gave me the courage to do the same. What do I care the way people look at me? If they think I look 75 years old, they do. 

So.....I assumed the transformation would take about 2 months since my hair is so short. Well, here is God's humor. He has changed my (when, I don't know) hair color to salt and pepper. Today, there is some white, but just as much dark brown. Are you kidding me? The radiation people told me my hair would probably come back and stay white.  Apparently God thought I would look better with some color!! He laughs.

Here are a few shots of our summer.

Captain, Sam's pup we babysat

Richie cutting up a dead tree he just felled in our front woods

Patty, my best friend through my early years

A view from the shore

Dick starting his wall

Four rows done (one under the ground), starting the fifth

Just lounging in the warm sun



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

ON THE GRID FOR A MOMENT

We are at Sam's house in Minneapolis puppy sitting for a week. I am in hog heaven with access to wifi and internet and being able to talk on my cell phone. I am taking advantage of being able to sit at my computer at their kitchen table and be ON THE GRID. After years of being out of touch every summer, I never take internet for granted. I can even send video from here!!!

Pup caretaking is time intensive. We imposed a mandatory nap time for all 3 of us after lunch every day and Captain is real good about going in his kennel and taking his 1 hour nap (or more). Richie is taking on 90% of the dog care, for which I am very grateful. A question for God someday: WHY did You put such sharp teeth into the mouth of a puppy?

I am going to lunch today with Bill Gengler, a grade school classmate I haven't seen since high school. We reconnected online and I am anxious to reminiscence with him. Tomorrow my dear friend Patty (who I saw in March in Florida) is driving up to spend some time together. She is about 45 minutes south of Sam's house. I am so grateful to her for doing the metro driving which I am very skittish about. I lived here 40 years ago, but driving back then was a breeze compared to now.

I am soaking in the warmth of the Twin Cities summer. You can sit on the deck at night in short sleeves and be comfortable! I got my fill of cold and rain in June.

The only side effect so far with the chemo is the return of headaches. An Excedrin doesn't even take it away. And this is on less than a half dose. I hope they don't get worse when I go onto half dose next week. Muscle pain and balance are still bad, but they are a side effect from steroids and radiation 2 years ago. Headaches I can live with. Nausea I can't. So no complaints. I am anxious to get hearing aids (tho I hate the thought of wearing them) as my hearing loss from radiation keeps getting worse.

Don't know when my next update will be. I'll be at the public library sometime in the next few weeks, I'm sure.

Happy July!!


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

SEEING SUN AGAIN

Being off the grid and being unable to have internet or wifi or talk on cell phones, I am feeling really frustrated. For my few minutes in the town library here, I just want to update you. With God's lavish deliverance, I was able to crawl out of the darkness of depression, no meds needed. I praise Him for that. I started up on the chemo again 4 days ago after being off all drugs for a month. I am starting at less than half a dose and working up to half dose. I think I am going to make the choice to stay on half and not try a full dose again.

We are going to grandpuppy sit for a week in Mpls. Hope to connect with friends who live there.

Cold and rainy and cloudy June, but July has been warm and sunny. Hope you all are having a good summer. It is a third over already. Feel like I was under a rock for all of June. Just now seeing the sun again!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

STARTING TO MOVE UPWARD

I am weathering storms. The mysterious rash that appeared last week is going away (the PA at the little country clinic up here had no idea its source, but told me to take Zantac and Benadryl. It is working well. The vertigo that descended on me mid-week is starting to abate on Meclizine and by doing Eppley maneuvers. My depression is slowly being lifted with God’s mighty hand. It has been 3 days since I have been assaulted with something new and I am so grateful for that. I haven’t walked much since the mosquitoes are so bad, but I feel a bit surer on my feet.

Weather here has been generally speaking, cold and rainy. June up north is not a great month. The furnace still goes on 3 times every night.  I have read 4 novels in 2 weeks and am out of books. I know this makes no sense to most of you, but I almost feel panicky without a stack of books to be read. As soon as my vertigo is completely gone, I need to drive myself into the library in town.

Richie works his tail off every day trying to keep up with all the tasks of being a good steward of acres of woods. Limbs need trimming, downed trees (of which there were many from a late heavy snow) need to be cut off and cut up, and dead trees need to be felled. He has hauled 4 or 5 trailer loads full of pine boughs, logs, and other tree parts to the “back forty.” We decided to thin out a little of the front woods so we could see the lake better so he has been on a tall ladder taking boughs down in the thickest pine. It is a never ending job.

We go next week back to Sioux Falls for an appointment. I will most likely be starting back on my chemo, so pray that I will tolerate the single dosage. I will let you know how it goes. Thank you from the deep recesses of my heart for all your prayers.

Monday, June 12, 2017

LADY SINGS THE BLUES

There have been many changes since the last time I posted. A couple of days before we left, I had a bike accident, delaying our departure by a day (I still have bruised and scabbed knees). When we got here, for some unknown reason, for the first time in years and years, I felt “blue.” Having experienced depression before, I started on an antidepressant. That lowers blood pressure. I was already taking several meds which did the same thing and I probably was not hydrating enough. My blood pressure did not need to be taken to know how low it was. I got up here and the next day, my body collapsed. Could not even stand up. Dick had to walk me to another room, put me in bed. It was the lowest point of many years. My Avera consult resulted in them telling me to get off ALL drugs, including my daily chemo.

My body was just not tolerating the double dose well. My quality of life with nausea, weight loss, headaches, body pain was marginal at best. When I added my hearing loss and vitreous detachments to the new list of side effects, I could not see myself spending a summer like that.  If they hadn’t taken me off the chemo, I would have requested it myself. They want me to get back to a “baseline” before they start me on the single dosage again. I will not try double dosage again. The drug may extend my life, but at what cost? My choice alone.

Each day is a step forward. Today I walked 70 feet to the lakeshore without Dick’s help! Did two loads of laundry. That’s it My sweet sister-in-law Margie tells me, ALL FORWARD MOTION COUNTS. She has battled depression too. Have not seen any friends up here. They may not know I’m here yet. Haven’t answered the phone from friends at home. I’m still sort of isolating…..if you’ve ever walked the “blues path,” you know what I mean. It has been a long time since I have faced depression---years before I was rendered cancerous. It is such an insidious disease, and one that I hope I can be victorious over---with God’s help and getting back on the meds when I have baselined. I need physical and emotional strength badly.

I feel like a butterfly who has lost a wing. But I know that it is God’s promise to prosper me and not harm me; to work all these ugly circumstances together in a way for my good. That is the only trust I have.


We don’t get into town much (library where they have wifi), but I will update you when I can. Thanks in advance for any and all intercessory prayers that go up on my behalf!!

Next day:

I have such a servant husband. He dropped me off at the library so I could post this, and he is doing the big grocery shop by himself. It's his least favorite thing to do. I couldn't do it. He just has such a good heart. 

A sudden rash appeared on half my belly last night. Have no idea what it could be, but 
I just sent a picture of it to my brother. He can tell me whether I should get it looked at. I said to God in the night, "Go ahead and let it pile on......   In all things, give thanks. So thank you, God for the rash.

That's it.......there are probably grammar and spelling errors all over this post, but I don not have the energy to edit. Sorry.

Monday, May 22, 2017

CHEMO REPORT

I had a good first week on the chemo. Then they had me double it. Nausea kicked in right away which is the symptom I so hate. Nothing worse when you are trying to keep weight on. I lost 5 pounds that week, but then the nausea started lessening. On this past Wednesday, I had my first nausea-free day. And 2 more after that. And I have had pretty good days since, with just a couple of low-grade nausea hours. I am trusting that it will continue with more thumbs-up days than thumbs-down.

Richie has been on a fishing trip for 7 days and should be home tomorrow. My best friend Susan from Georgia flew in for 3 of those days and we had a great time together. It is hard to be so far apart, but it is what it is. We generate lots of telephone time!!

I am the worst selfie-taker EVER.

Susan arrived on her birthday and requested REAL chocolate mousse!

Finally, I have a shout out for my young friend Jocelyn who is doing such a fabulous job losing her baby weight. I hadn't seen her in about a month and her ongoing path to getting fit and trim again post-pregnancy is really paying off. Her face even looks different. I love encouraging these young women to do the work to get it all off.  She doesn't have far to go! Way to go, Jocelynn!! I see trim, fit and healthy just around the corner for you!!

Thank you blog readers, for your prayers for me in this long-enduring walk with cancer. You have been persistent and generous in talking to the Father about me and I am so grateful!!