Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Perfect Day

Today is the turnover of parents. My parents are heading home and Jason's parents are coming later on today. So thankful we have them to help us out. Tomorrow my parents are heading to Florida for the rest of the winter. Typically we join them in a few weeks and spend some time at DisneyWorld. But not this year. So I am jealous to see them go. The one thing that gives me something to look forward to is the summer at the cabin. It is not too far away and I look forward to spending time on the favorite place to be. What a perfect day cruising on the boat on a warm Summer's day?

Hmmm...I wonder if waterskiing is no longer an option? If I were to take an bad spill, how would my reconstructed face hold up? I never thought about that. I may have to stick to waterski instructor for the family members that want to learn. I do wonder about these little things and how my life will be different. What precautions will I have to take? My leg is so mutilated from the surgery I wonder if I will ever be able to run long distances again? I wonder...

Recovery has been slow. Although, my family members that saw me immediately after surgery say the difference in swelling from then until now is a HUGE improvement. Since I didn't look at my face until I got home, I don't know what they are talking about. I just know what I see every morning I look in the extremely swollen face and neck that doesn't seem to improve at all. It is so hard to be patient. I know this is going to take a lot of time. But I just want to feel normal again and resume life as we knew it. There are mornings I wake up in tears because it is so frustrating. I feel so ugly.

What I really could use right now is a Dr. Pepper and a chicken chimichangas from Rey Azteca...or how about a hamburger from Tony's malt mom's spaghetti with garlic bread. I cannot wait until I can start eating by mouth again. Tomorrow I have a doctor appointment and I am hoping and praying that she will let me start eating again. I am sure I will have to start slow and with soft foods, but I will take anything at this point. Getting fed through a tube in your nose just isn't satisfying enough. I am in a constant state of hunger. Last night I laid awake at 2:30 AM hungry and thinking about all the foods I would like to eat. There are times that I instinctly go to the refrigerator to find something to eat and catch myself.

I am going crazy being cooped up in this house! I really can't go anywhere looking the way I do and moving around the way I do. I am thankful recovery is taking place in the winter, but there are days I wish I could go sit out on our deck and soak up some sun. I need to find a hobby or project to work on to occupy my time. I need to think about that one.

Again, I thank you all for the prayers, cards, and words of encouragement. Please keep them coming. Please pray for the healing process to be quick and that the swelling in my face will start to go down. Pray that the tissue transplant in my mouth will heal quickly so that I can start eating again. And pray for the sanity of my family. It is stressful at times in our house. Jason is running around like a madman trying to take care of me, the house, the kids...everything. I don't know how much longer he is going to last. He is my hero, my angel, my wonderful husband. I don't know what I would do without him.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I am finally home! It was so great sleeping in my own bed last night. And to be able to sleep without interruption was great as well. Although, I do find myself missing the company of the nurses and staff that were in and out of my room at the hospital. I had developed some good friendships with the nurses..they truly are a gift from heaven. I have been sitting upstairs in my room all day. It has been quite lonely. I do have little faces peeking in and out of my room every now and then. But mom is too boring for them right now. Plus, I think they are still trying to get used to my new look. I finally convinced Mackenzie to sit in bed with me to watch a movie. We are watching Evens Stevens on the Disney Channel for the 20th time. It is funny how kids can watch a movie over and over and not care how many times they have seen it.

Today, Jason and I are trying to figure out a schedule for my medical needs. So many medications, drip feedings to give and wound care to be done. On top of that, I am trying to figure out a way to maneuver myself around the bedroom with the use of the walker. My leg is still in a lot of pain. And after seeing the wound and stitches on it the other day I can understand why. I am glad I am not the one to do the dressing changes. Jason has definitely taken on a temporary career of home care nurse. He is running around the house like a mad man trying to help with me and the kids. Hopefully when I can get around more on my own I can relieve some of the stress he has right now trying to take care of me.

I finally took a look at my face in the mirror last night. I was shocked at how swollen it is. I just started crying. I can't even explain to you how it felt. Just very scarey and overwhelming. The stitch line looks great and I am sure it will be unnoticeable once all healing is completed.

What I wouldn't give right now to have a Sonic Burger and a Dr. Pepper. I am so tired of not being able to eat. I am hoping I will be able to start eating again soon. The roof of my mouth has been difficult to get used to. It is swollen and feels extremely funny. I can feel the tissue and the skin graft that was taken from my leg. The teeth are also missing, but knowing I will be able to get those replaced helps me deal with it. I am about ready to yank out the feeding tube in my nose. It is a big pain the butt.

The one thing that has been so wonderful is not having to worry about "cancer" anymore. I no longer have it weighing on my mind knowing it is gone!!! What a great feeling. Yes, I do have a little anxiety about future scans and tests. But I am feeling a lot more at peace now.

If we could push ajar the gates of life,
And stand within, and all God's working see,
We might interpret all this doubt and strife,
And for each mystery could find a key.

But not today. Be content dear heart;
God's plans, like lillies pure and white, unfold.
We must not tear the close-shut leaves part,
Time will someday reveal the blooms of Gold.

And if, through patient toil, we reach the land,
With tired feet, with sandals loosed, may rest,
When we shall clearly know and understand,
I think we will say, "God knew best."

Last night, I was overcome by a huge feeling gratefulness. I just wanted to get on my knees to praise God for the miracle he has given to me. The surgery had the best possible outcome. The incision was minimal, my eye was saved and the cancer is gone. What a tremendous gift and experience God has given to me. And I have come to firmly believe that through it all, God knew best.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I am back!

Wow. This has been one incredible ride. I did shake a finger at my surgeon to let him know this is NOT an easier recovery than chemo and radiation. I am even struggling with typing this blog with the oxygen monitor on my finger. I didn't have that with the other treatments. I have yet to look in the mirror. I just can't get myself to do it. Call it denial but I just don't want to see how bad it is. I am dreading going home because I just know I will catch a glimpse of my face as I walk by one of the many mirrors in our house.

I definitely could not have gotten to this point without my family, friends and prayer warriors. Since day one of surgery each of you have come through for me to help me get through this ordeal. I felt each and every one of your prayers on Thursday, the day of surgery. I was able to contain my fear for most of the pre-op process. We were so thankful to have my sister and brother-in-low show their beautiful faces before I went into the OR. Pastor Dave, so thankful for your visit and prayers that morning. It brought much comfort and peace. I don't know who had it or Jason. I am sure waiting for me to come out of surgery was agonizing for Jason. I just hard a short little nap.

Waking up from surgery was not as scarey as I thought it would be. I was alone and had no family members nearby, but felt at peace. Special thanks to the prayer chain. And it did not take me long to realize I still had my eye. I had not lost my eye! It was so unbelievable I had to poke around at it for awhile to make sue I wasn't dreaming. Soon I learned how swollen my face was so the poking quickly stopped. I wasn't awake for every long. In fact the first few days are a blur. I couldn't even tell you what happened. I just remember telling Jason to go home at 10:00 am because it was so late in the day and he had been there way too long. The next day I couldn't believe he didn't stay with me for very long in the day. I do remember Jason telling me the good news. My surgeon believes the cancer is gone. The final pathology report does need to come back so I will not hold my breath until I get that report. I think we have all learned that lesson one too many times.

My biggest battles have been the trache and my leg. Having a trache is not fun. I struggled with breathing and keeping the airway clear from mucus. I hope I never have to another one again. I was so thankful when it came out. The hole is still there and if I want to talk or cough I have to plug the hole with my fingers. The hole should be closed in a couple of days.

My leg hurts like crazy. Taking out a bone is more painful than I thought it would be. I have to wear a big boot to protect it as well as the skin graph they used to repair my leg. I will be walking with a walker for awhile until I can bear weight on that leg. It will be interesting getting up and down the stairs at home. Jason will be getting quite the workout carrying me up and down the stairs. So he may benefit from this after all.

I will never forget waking up late one night and looking over seeing my Dad slumped over in a chair by my bedside. How much that meant to me! My family has made sure I had plenty of visitors to be by my side. Jason deserves a vacation after juggling work, being at the hospital and spending time the girls. And even though I didn't see them very much,I know my-in laws were behind the scenes making sure there was help whenever and wherever needed.

I still have a lot of healing to do in my face and leg. It will take many weeks until I feel like normal again. I will be getting teeth implants down the road. Luckily, that does not include a prosthetic eye. But I want you all to know how amazed the doctors and nurses have been with my recovery so far. I know it is because all of your prayers!!!

So I will be going home either today or tomorrow. I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed again. I can't say I am looking forward to eating all of the wonderful meals being prepared for my family because I simply can't eat right now. I will be going home with a feeding tube in my nose. And I can't say you will be seeing me very much as I am sure I will be hiding out in my house afraid to show my face. Please keep the prayers coming. They are working. You have witnessed a miracle take place before your eyes. I am confident in that. Thank you GOD!!! He is good.

All my love,

PS - I was just visited by the surgeon, Pathology confirmed everything he found in surgery. So there are no new surprises and no new cancer that he wasn't aware of. So it is gone! Let's hope it stays that way!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Post Surgery - Day 4

It's been a long couple of days and Sue had wanted to try and send a note to all of you, but she hasn't been able to yet. Yesterday, went okay for her. Her swelling didn't go up more, as they had expected and she was able to move from the ICU to a general nursing floor. We had thought that this would provide her with a little less activity in her room, from a nursing standpoint, but it actually seems as though there are more people coming and going now. She has actually gotten a little less rest than in the ICU, I would say. This is really frustrating her.

I believe that her lack of rest really hit her today. She has really been down and wants to 'just be done with this'. They have been poking, prodding, and bugging her non-stop. I can see that she feels helpless and though she has no control over the situation. It is painful for me to see her this way and I feel a little helpless at the same time.

Her biggest complaint right now, from a medical standpoint, is that her trach is very uncomfortable and she feels as though she can't get any full breaths of air. They want to switch it out to a smaller size, but she is fearful of the discomfort this will cause. I do hope that they are able to do the change and that it is comfortable for her. I believe that this would allow her to be more comfortable as it would allow some air to come in via her mouth and nose, as well as the trach. This is because while the air opening is actually the same size as the current trach, the walls of the new trach aren't as wide and don't block off as much of the airway.

Other than that, the doctors still are happy with the surgical sites and are hoping that she may be a bit more active tomorrow. We need to start getting her out of bed a bit more and they may want her to actually put a little weight on her leg tomorrow.
Just pray that she gets some good rest tonight and that the new trach will provide her with more comfort. I think these two things would make a world of difference for her.

We thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Post Surgery - Day 2

A quick update for everyone. Sue is doing well in the medical staff's eyes, but she is still feeling a lot of pain. She continues to swell a little more in the cheek area, but the eye area is actually the same or a little less than yesterday. They expect tomorrow for her to hit her max for swelling.

Sue is handling the swelling well, but the leg is still causing her most of her pain. When they harvest the bone, they also cut off a muscle in her calf, and I think that is what is really uncomfortable for her. She is fine as long as they keep on top of her pain meds, but if they get even a little behind on coverage, it really becomes painful for her.

Sue's other issue is with the suctioning of her throat and mouth. She need her trach suctioned out occasionally, or it becomes a challenge to breath. All I can say is that she handles all of this stuff a lot better than I could. She really is one tough woman! The good thing is that they've allowed her to start covering the trach port so that she may talk a little bit. It was fantastic to hear her voice again. One thing we did learn today is that we wouldn't make a good scharades team...I was having trouble reading her hand motions today and she had to right on paper more than she wanted to.

As I said above the doctors are really happy with her progress. The tissue is getting blood and is healthy. Her leg looks good, her vitals are solid, and her stitches look good. PT actually came through today and got Sue out of bed and into a chair this afternoon. They didn't put any weight on her effected leg, but Sue did really well in their eyes.

My favorite part of the day was seeing Sue interact with her main doctor when he came through to visit. You could see that she is doing a little better as she started kidding around with him (via her writing pad). I think he enjoyed that as well. He has been telling her for some time that surgery would be easier/less painful than chemo and radiation were. She called him out on that today and gave him a smile and chuckle. He said that he would ask her in another 10 days about her opinion. I feel lucky that she found such a wonderful doctor whom she has been able to build a great bond with. You can see that they both have a lot of respect for each other.

I have a feeling that Sue might be doing a blog update sometime soon...hopefully tomorrow. She is certainly a much better writer than I am.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Post Surgery Update - Day 1

Good morning all. I awoke today, still pretty tired from yesterday, but really excited to see Sue. I got to the hospital around 7:30AM and Sue was already up and very aware of what is going on around her. They actually ended up letting her wake up last night. I am told that she was up a good portion overnight, taking a few cat naps.

All I could think about on the way down was being able to tell Sue how well everything went yesterday. Unfortunately, when I entered her room, she was pretty agitated and in a lot of pain. Her right leg was is a tremendous amount of pain from the knee down. This is where they took the bone graft and tissue from. They have it in a boot, as they don't want her moving it around, and this is very uncomfortable for her.

However, the toughest part to watch was that she was having trouble breathing through her trach. She was having trouble getting the secretions out and felt as though she was suffocating. This went on for probably the first hour that I was here. She also has a feeding tube going into her nostril and down the back of her throat. It makes her feel like she needs to cough something out of her throat, but she obviously cannot.

The good news is that they were able to get the pain and discomfort under control finally. It was a helpless feeling when Sue was writing on her board that she was suffocating or that she was in great pain, but knowing that the nurse and respiratory tech were doing everything that they were able to do for her. She was getting frustrated with all of us.

She is now resting comfortably and actual is taking a nap right now. They plan to start giving her some nutrition via her feeding tube this afternoon. This should help with some of the upset stomach she has from her pain meds. Her stats are also doing well. The only other thing that they are watching is that her blood count is fairly low, but this is no surprise.

I did get to see the nurse check something during Sue's cares that was very interesting. He actually checked for her heartbeat through the cheek that they rebuilt. Pretty simple in reality, but it is used to indicate the the blood is flowing to the area where they reconnected the tissue and bone with the harvested blood vessels.

Sue looks really good. She does have quite a bit of swelling, but it actually isn't as much as I expected to see. She can see out of her eye. I did tell her that everything went as well as we could have hoped for yesterday, but I think she already sensed that. I don't think she knows everything that they did and found, but that can wait. It was just fantastic to see her.

She is very appreciative of all of the prayers and love that we received yesterday. We are blessed to have such fantastic family, friends, and neighbors.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Surgery Day - Final Update

This is the last update of a very long, but wonderful day. They closed Sue up at around 9PM. We met with the plastic/reconstructive surgeon for a few minutes. She was very happy with how the reconstruction went. She said it was long and tedious, but that it all went smoothly. She used the leg as the open flap (donor area), taking the fibula and some surrounding tissue for her work. She also said that the vein reconnection of blood flow to the replacement tissue via veins they harvested from Sue's neck appeared to have gone very well. This was definitely what we had hoped that she would do. It simply makes things easier in the future for Sue.

They have now taken her up to the ICU and the doctor felt that they probably wouldn't wake her up until the morning. She is already quite swollen and will be for a long time. Right now, I am just looking forward to seeing her in the morning and being able to tell her the good news. She won't be able to speak, as she will have a trach and feeding tube in, but I don't think that we'll have any problem communicating.

I look forward to updating Sue's blog tomorrow. Again, thank you for all of your prayers and well wishes today.


Surgery Day - Update 3

Our prayers have been answered and we have received great news! Dr. Khariwala has finished his portion of the surgery and came out to give us his assessment.

He removed all of the cancer that he could find and did an aggressive search for more. At this point, he feels that he did as well as he could have hoped for. The cancer was more extensive than they had realized. It was traveling along the top of the sinus and along the floor of the orbit bone farther back on the cheek toward the ear. So, he took out more of the cheek bone than expected. This will make the reconstruction a bit more difficult, but still manageable.

The great news is that she gets to keep her eye! While in the orbit bone, the cancer had not reached the eye, and he saw no reason to take it. He even had another surgeon come in to give him a 2nd opinion. Sue will be extremely happy about this when she wakes up. I was petrified of the thought of having to console her when she awakens tomorrow if they had taken it out.

The other surgeon is now starting on her portion of the surgery...reconstruction. This will take another 5-6 hours. It is still substantial, but we're told that she is very good. Sue will be very swollen for a long period of time, but I think she'll be able to deal with that better now.


Surgery Day - Update 2

I just got off the phone with one of the nurses in surgery. She said that things have been very busy, but that things are going pretty well to this point. They are now preparing to harvest bone from Sue's leg. At this point, they have not had to take her eye, but I'm not sure if the nurse knew where they were at in that decision process.

I am expecting to hear back again from them in 2-3 more hours.


Surgery Day - Update 1

I want to first thank everyone for all of their support, love, and prayers for Sue and our family through these many months. It has meant more than you could know and has provided Sue with an abundance of strength and faith.

Sue went to bed last night with a sense of peace, and had a good sleep, following a wonderful prayer event with friends and family that was led by Pastor Dave from Westwood. He was also kind enough to come to the hospital early this morning and pray with Sue and me before she was taken into the surgical suite.

We arrived this morning at 4:45 for her to be prepped and she actually handled it pretty well. Her biggest fear leaving the house today was leaving MacKenzie and Kendall...which amazed me. How can one be so selfless when facing what she is today. She has been so brave and strong through all of this, and has taught me a lot.

They took her to the OR suite at 7:30AM. I received a call from the suite at about 9:30AM with the first update. They had actually started the procedure around 8:45AM. They had already receieved some prelim results back from pathology and were happy with some of the test results. They were starting with the procedure to remove the sinus as we spoke. The main message they were giving me was so far so good. They also told me to expect to get another update sometime in the noon hour.

I will update Sue's blod again sometime this afternoon, as I learn more. Again, thank you to all of you for your unwavering support and prayers.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It is finally here...

Well, tomorrow is the big day. Can you believe it is already here? I have mixed feelings about it. Part of me is happy the day is finally here. No more waiting. And the rest of me is freaking out, yet trying really hard to remain calm. Ativan is my best friend today. It has helped to keep my anxiety at a minimum. Tomorrow's surgery is scheduled for 7:30. It will be a Fairview University Hospital on the U of M campus. I will be staying there for up to 10 days. The first few days will be spent in the ICU. I have entrusted Jason with updating my blog so that you will all know what is going on. So please keep checking back for updates.

Tonight I will be visited by some special friends and a pastor from our church. I am so thankful they are willing to take some time out of their evening to come and pray over me. I will also be doing a lot of cuddling with the girls as I won't be seeing them for awhile. It will be hard for me to say goodbye to them. And I will look forward to the ritual Jason and I have been participating in every night...watching reruns of Two and a Half Men on DVD in bed. I will rest in his arms and enjoy the humor that we love about this show. It has helped to keep my mind off of things before I fall asleep.

I want to THANK those of you that will be praying for me tomorrow. I have heard stories of people praying for me all around the country. A friend of mine from high school that has been following my blog since day one happened to visit a small church in northern Minnesota. The pastor there was praying for me which caught her by surprise. She happened to be my parent's church whose pastor and congregation has been faithfully praying for me for quite some time. The other day a friend of my sister's sat down with her friend in Michigan for a friendly visit. They both shared a story about a girl in Minnesota having surgery on Thursday that needed their prayer. Amazingly it happened to be the same! I wish I could know how far the prayer chain will reach tomorrow. It is amazing to think of the number of prayers that will be said. I will feel much comfort knowing this will be taking place as I head to the hospital and prepare for the surgery. I feel so blessed. It is a humbling experience knowing that people want to pray for you.

Dark is the sky! and veiled the unknown morrow!
Dark is life's way, for night is not yet o'er;
The longed-for glimpse I may not meanwhile borrow;
But, this I know and trust, HE GOES BEFORE.

Dangers are near! and fears my mind are shaking;
Heart seems to dread what life may hold in store;
But I am His - He knows the way I'm taking,
More blessed even still - HE GOES BEFORE.

Doubts cast their weird, unwelcome shadows o'er me,
Doubts that life's best-life's choicest things are o'er;
What but His Word can strengthen, can restore me,
And this blest fact; that still HE GOES BEFORE.

HE GOES BEFORE! Be this my consolation!
He goes before! On this my heart would dwell!
He goes before! This guarantees salvation!
HE GOES BEFORE! And therefore all is well.
-J. Danson Smith

Dear God, I am turning everything over to you. I give myself to you and trust you will protect me and keep me safe. I am in your hands now.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Not a good day

Today's meetings did not give me the hope I was looking for. In fact, I walked away more scared and discouraged. Each of the doctors gave me the worst case scenario which did not help my confidence level. I walked away saying, "Forget it, I am NOT doing this surgery." I cried almost the whole way home. Jason was very silent. He had a hard time finding the words to say to make things better. I am going to spare you the gory details, but let's just say that I will not be leaving this house should the worst case scenarios happen. It ain't going to be pretty.

I am needing some hope and encouragement more so now than ever. I honestly don't think I can do this. How can I subject myself to such pain and suffering with no guarantee that this cancer will be gone after the surgery? But what choice do I have? Last night, I laid awake for hours thinking about the what ifs. I am falling apart. I need a miracle here. I think it is going to take one to get through this.

The surgeons will have a lot of decisions to make once they get into the sinus cavity. I definitely would not want to be in their shoes. So I am asking you to pray for God to give them the wisdom to make the best decision possible. And please pray that the worst case scenarios will not happen. That the surgery will be as minimally invasive as possible.

I am going to need a supernatural strength to get through these next couple of days and the morning of the surgery. Pray God will give me the strength to face this. I need some comfort. I need hope. I need to believe!

Praying that tomorrow will be a brighter day.


Saturday, January 9, 2010


Clean house....check
Write lists with instructions...check
Update calendar of kids' appointments and activities...check
Talk to kids' teachers...check
Meals planned...check
Pre-op physical...check
Have a meltdown...check
Pray for healing every minute of the day...check
Give the kids a hug as much as I can...check
Tell the kids I love them as much as I can...check
Tell Jason I love him as much as I can...check
Have another meltdown...check

Checklist is finished...I am ready for I am not. No matter what I do I will not be ready for this surgery. It has been scheduled for next Thursday, the 14th. It will start at 7:30. We have to be there at 5:30. Jason is going to have to drag me out of the house. I don't know if I will have the courage to walk out that door on my own. The closer it gets the more fearful I become. I am trying to hold it together the best that I can.

On Monday, Jason and I will be heading down to the Mayo to meet with two doctors that will be reconstructing my teeth and giving me a prosthetic eye should I need one. On one hand, it will be hard for me to go, and on the other hand it will be nice to see what my options are to put my face back together.

"I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing." Ezekiel 34:26
Look up today, you who are dried and withered plants. Open your leaves and flowers and receive God's heavenly watering.

I have found this to be true. It is an experience that I have never had before. A life changing experience, one that I would not trade for the world...receiving an abundancy of showers of blessing in this season of drought. The blessings have come in many forms, but the most of them have come from people like you. Especially during these past couple of weeks. The prayer chain, the meals scheduled for my family, the cards, the gifts, the words of encouragement...all from friends, family and people I have never met before. I have received God's heavenly watering...he has blessed me with each of you who are a blessing to me at a time when I needed it the most.

You, O Lord, can transform my thorn into a flower. And I do want my thorn transformed into a flower. Job received sunshine after the rain, but was the rain all wasted? Job wants to know, and I want to know, if the rain is related to the sunshine. Only You can tell me - Your cross can tell me. You have crowned Your sorrow. Let this be my crown, O Lord. I will only triumph in You once I have learned the radiance of the sun. - Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman

This is my prayer.

All my love,

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Battlefield in my mind

My favorite place to be is in my bed with Jason and the girls watching a movie. There is just something about the warm, cozy bed being surrounded by my kids and husband that meets my needs right now. I feel protected, safe and happy. It is my happy place. Lately, I have been finding myself gravitating to our bed early every night with my family following. Right now I am desperate for those feelings I get when we are all together in bed.

These past couple of days have been tough. Yesterday, I had a horrible sense of doom come over me sending me into a panic attack and meltdown. All sense of hope went out the window and I felt that my death was at hand. I have been fighting so hard to not go there, and so far I have had good luck with keeping positive. But yesterday, the enemy caught me with my guard down and attacked my thoughts causing fear to overcome me. As surgery gets closer and closer I am finding it harder and harder to contain my fear. There is a battlefield going on in my mind.

I have found I have to be careful who I talk to and what I read. Anything that does not give me hope and sends a message of despair causing me to be afraid. I am sensing the fear in many of my friends and family which makes it hard for me. If they are losing hope how can I have hope? Please don't lose hope. Don't give up on me yet. I am going to fight this until it is gone. And I am choosing (well, trying) to believe it will be gone after surgery. As my mom keeps reminding, all of the messages and signs we have received so far from the doctors and tests point towards a cure.

The only CONSISTENT source of hope and truth for me is God and his word. Without it, I don't know where I would be in all of this. SInce we are in the new year, I needed to find another devotional book to read. I decided to pull out the book that my cousin's wife gave me when we were in the midst of Mackenzie's fight for life. I remembered the comfort it brought to me at that time and I hoped it would do the same for me in my own fight for life. The first devotion I read was another swift kick in the butt from God reminding me to believe:

"When you are confronted with a matter that requires immediate prayer, pray until you believe God - until with whole-hearted sincerity you can thank HIm for the answer. If you do not see the external answer immediately, do not pray for it in such a way that it is evident you are not definitely believing God for it."

"You will never learn faith in comfortable surroundings. God gives us His promises in a quiet hour, seals our covenants with great and gracious words, and then steps back, waiting to see how much we believe. He then allows the Tempter to come, and the ensuing test seems to contradict all that He has spoken. This is when faith wins its crown. This is the time to look up through the storm, and declare "I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me." This is exactly what happened to me yesterday when I had that sense of doom come over me. God stepped back and waited to see how much I believed. I think I failed. I just continue to pray and ask God to help my unbelief.

Mark 11:24 "Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe."

Believe and trust; through stars and suns,
Through life and death, through soul and sense,
His wise, paternal purpose runs;
The darkness of HIs Providence
Is starlit with Divine intents.

Thank you to those who will be covering me in prayer through the prayer chain that will be taking place on the day of the surgery. I can't thank you enough. It will be bring me peace and comfort. You will never know how much it means to me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Getting Ready

This past week I have been going through so many different emotions. My mind is scattered and unfocused. I often sit down at the computer to write a new post on my blog but find it hard to write about what I am feeling. So here is an attempt to let you know what is going on in my mind and in my life.

The holidays came at a good time. They were a good distraction for me and somewhat kept the surgery off my mind. But now that they are over I have more time to think about what I am about to face. I go through moments of panic and extreme fear. The unknown is so difficult. The surgeons can't give me a definite answer of what exactly will happen. There are so many factors that will affect whether or not the eye will be removed, how many teeth will be removed and if they will reconstruct my face with tissue or bone. My surgeon is still confident they will be able to get rid of the cancer, but there is no guarantee. I am starting to come to terms with what is about to happen. I just want so badly to get rid of this cancer that I am willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to make this happen. However, I wish I knew 100% that everything was going be OK.

The stress of this journey is definitely taking its toll on my family. I really hope that it will end after this surgery. We desperately need to get back to some normalcy. Lately, my kids have not been acting like themselves. Kendall has been acting out a lot and has been difficult to handle. I realized she is taking this the hardest. She often asks me about the possibility of losing my eye. She wonders what will happen, if I will still be able to see, how they take an eye out etc... You can tell it has been weighing on her mind. Last night, she came into my bedroom with a face that showed she was fighting back tears. She was so concerned about my eye again. I asked her if she was scared about mommy having surgery and she nodded yes with a quivering mouth. I explained to her that mommy will still be mommy whether or not she loses her eye. And that eyes are not what makes a person a person but what is in their heart. She also asked when my hair will be long again. The changes she has seen taking place with me physically has been hard for her. Seeing the fear she is facing is so hard for me. I can hardly deal with my own fear, but to see my child battling with it makes it so hard. I worry that if anything should happen to me that she would fall to pieces. Mackenzie has been a little stronger. Yet, she is not one to wear her emotions on her sleeve. Instead, Mackenzie tends to show regression in her behavior. Her speech changes and she displays behavior that is not age appropriate. She has become very clingy. Jason is still rock solid. But this is the time of year his stress level increases. He faces a lofty sales goal for 2010 and combined with my health problems I know it is weighing on him.

I am still being graced by so many people from many different walks of my life. God has not failed to show me his love and comfort this past week. I have to share with you a story about an encounter I recently had with Kendall's bus driver. She is one of those bus drivers you hope your child will get, especially in Kindergarten. She is amazing with the kids and so warm and friendly. Kendall is often singing songs at home that she has learned from her bus driver. Before Christmas break, I gave the bus driver a gift from our family to thank her for being so wonderful to Kendall. When I handed her the gift, she said to me, "You and I have a lot in common...we need to talk sometime." A few days later, I receive a note from her. The note explained a recent leave of absence she took earlier on in the school year. She had her own battle with cancer which required surgery. When she explained to the kids on the bus why she was gone and in return one of the kids announced that Kendall's mom has cancer. In the note, the bus driver said that when she heard the news she immediately asked the prayer chains that were praying for her to begin praying for me. The prayer chains extend through three different states. The note brought tears to my eyes. This woman, who I really don't know, felt compelled to pray and ask others to pray for me. There are so many people out there praying for me...more than I will ever know.

I am spending most of my time getting ready. Getting things organized so that things will run smoothly while I am in the hospital and taking the time to recover from surgery. The calendar has been updated with the kids' upcoming activities and appointments. Instructions have been written and taped on the refrigerator. My hope is that everything will be organized enough so that things will be easy for our parents as they will be taking care of the kids. My wonderful neighbors are once again organizing meals for our family while I will be in the hospital and recovering. I will be giving my blog information to a family member so that they can update all of you during and after the surgery. I hope that I will be able to begin blogging again within a few days after the surgery.

This past week, God has continued to remind me the importance of BELIEVING. I find this theme everywhere I go and in everything I read. I know God is trying pound this idea in my head - to BELIEVE that good things are going to happen and that God will heal me. I am finding that 60% of my mind believes this will happen and the other 40% is still filled with fear that the cancer will never go away. I think at the beginning of this journey the ratio was 20/80. So I am getting there!

Mark 5:36 "...don't be afraid; just BELIEVE."

Galations 3:2-5 "I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing - if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you BELIEVE what your heard??

Mark 9:23 "...everything is possible for him who BELIEVES."

James 1:6 "But when he asks, he must BELIEVE and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."

"BELIEVE in God, BELIEVE in life, BELIEVE in yourself and your future." - Norman Vincent Peale

"Healing is an inside out process. It begins in the heart with a glimmer of hope. The more we trust in it the stronger it becomes until we are mended - body and soul. Good things happen when we BELIEVE."

Prayer requests:
1. Pray the cancer will be gone after surgery
2. Pray for wisdom for the surgeons
3. Pray my eye will be protected
4. Pray for peace before and after surgery
5. Pray for strength
6. Pray for Mackenzie, Kendall and Jason
7. Pray for a quick recovery after surgery