What to write? This is a question that has been on my mind for a few days. I know many of you are waiting to hear how things are going, but I'm not sure where to begin. I guess with surgery day.....
We all continue to be shocked at the outcome. We felt there were so many pieces put into place to prepare me for surgery; we were certain it would be a go. I still wake up every morning and have to convince myself that it didn't happen. Even though the "big surgery" didn't happen, surgery did happen. My little surgery was more invasive then we thought.....all of my lymph nodes were removed, which took lots of cutting and digging on both sides of my abdomen. My incision is about 8 inches long and runs vertical, so muscles were affected. As well, some extra parts were removed with my lymph nodes as it was easier to take more then less. So I have a 6 week recovery time. I have lots of restrictions: no lifting, no laundry, no vacuuming/ sweeping, limited walking and the list goes on. Swelling has gone down significantly, but is not gone completely (I look like I'm 4 months pregnant now instead of 6 months LOL). I had the last of my 35 staples removed on Monday and my incision is healing really well.....no infection is a huge relief! After all the radiation that I've had, there was a high risk of my skin not healing as quickly, but it's actually healed quicker then expected. By 6 weeks (end of July) my doctors expect that I will be 90% back to pre-surgery mobility. I can't wait. There are so many things to do now in summer. So even though I didn't have THE surgery, I still had a pretty big surgery. But overall recovery is going fairly well. I have constant pain, but it's pretty manageable and improving everyday.
Now for the cancer update....Yes I am considered a "terminal cancer patient" at this point. According to my doctors there is no cure. They told me to go home an build a legacy. Of course this was difficult to hear, but I honestly haven't dwelled on it that much. I currently have no cancer symptoms. And the reality is that all of us are terminal. None of us has any idea when/how our life will end. The only thing we know for sure is that someday it will end. (And I know that when mine ends, I will go to heaven.) So really at this point, I'm the same as everyone else. As far as I know, the cancer has not metastasized, and it is not causing me any pain or harmful physical side effects. The only option of treatment that the doctors offered me was chemo, which will not cure the cancer but may stabilize it for an undetermined amount of time. Unfortunately the statistics are not that great that the chemo can even stabilize it. I felt so sick on chemo, so I've decided to enjoy my summer and will reconsider starting chemo in the fall. My doctors thought this was a really good idea, since I have no symptoms at this time. In fact, my doctors have really encouraged me to enjoy my life to the fullest as long as I can and to focus on the quality of my life to make medical decisions. Chemo does not bring any enjoyment to my life, so for now it's not the right option. We have decided to do some alternative treatments in the mean time. I'm taking a variety of natural supplements, I've adapted my diet, and I'm taking a brand new prescription drug just recently tested to attack cancer cells. The goal of this alternative plan is to feel great and to possibly stop the growth of the cancer as well. I have a natural practitioner who I trust and is helping me with these decisions. He is working together with my oncologists (which is rare), and I'm so thankful for my entire medical team. They continue to go above and beyond their calls of duty in looking after me and my health.
We are learning as a family to set short term goals and focus on them. Our goal right now, is to have a really great summer together. The girls and I have made a list of all the things we want to do this summer and that's what we focus on. They are doing very well. They are often confused by peoples' reactions toward us.....friends are sad for us (understandably) and tend to feel sorry for us (again understandably). But the girls see me as normal....yes recovering from surgery, but otherwise their mom, not a cancer victim. Things feel pretty normal to them. We know many people don't know what to say to us or give us "that look" when they do see us, but we want everyone to know we have not changed. We are still us, and we are still living and well. We are doing our best to keep living well and to enjoy life to the fullest. We laugh, we have fun, we still do everyday normal things like clean our rooms, make meals, and do dishes. But we are also learning to do at least one really fun thing everyday, to have important conversations everyday, and to bring joy to each other and people around us everyday. Don't get me wrong...there are hard moments, and there are times when we sit and cry together. But we try to let our minds only visit those hard thoughts for short times, and to not take residence there. I remind myself when I'm sad about leaving this life too soon, that I don't have time to wast feeling sorry for myself; I need to enjoy my life in the present because I can!
Where does God fit into all of this? We have wondered this some days in the past few weeks. Initially we felt He had left us and forgotten us. But with time, we feel more and more certain that not having surgery was exactly what His plan was. He saved me from a terrible body transforming, hard recovery. And somehow I can't help but continue to feel like He has some amazing plan for us in all of this. I do think He's impacting a lot of people, even ones we don't know through this story. There is a part of me that can't wait to see what comes next. Above all, I continue to believe that He knows my body better then anyone. He knows every intricate detail, and He controls all of it. He gets the final say in if the cancer grows or spreads or disappears. We continue to believe that He is the only cure for me, but He gets to decide if He cures me or not. We can't understand why He hasn't so far, but we accept it because we believe, "He works all things for good to those who love Him." (Phillipians 1:6) And yes we continue to praise Him and declare Him Lord over us and over all things, even when life is hard. When life is hard, we need Him more then ever to give us the strength to carry on. We continue to rely on His promises: "Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" Isaiah 41:10
So ....."As for me and my house we will serve the Lord" even when life is hard.