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Showing posts from March, 2015

What cancer does to a family

There are things you don't know about cancer until it strikes your home.

When cancer strikes you wish everything could stop. You wish there was a pause button where you could collect your thoughts and figure things out. But there isn't life marches on.

When cancer strikes you wish you could devote 100% of your time and energy to the person with cancer, but since life marches on you are unable to.

Cancer hurts on so many levels, but one level is it doesn't give people much of a choice.

I know I am not the only who faces this so I write not just from my own personal experience, but I write probably from the experience of thousands of others.

Here is a dark truth about cancer. The bills remain the same. The mortgage still has to be paid at the beginning of the month. The car payment is still due on the 20th. The utilities and water must be paid in order for them to continue to work. The student loan, the internet, the cell phone. Paid, paid, paid. And people still have to eat…

My fears

My fear is that the memories my children have won't be of the trips we used to take the zoo.
My fear is that they won't remember the pancakes I used to make for them in the morning. My fear is they won't remember the road trips we used to take and the hotel stays. My fear is they won't remember the summers when I would take them to the park and the children's museum.
My fear is they won't remember the laughter.

 Before cancer!
My fear is their memories will be filled with hospital stays and doctors. My fear is that they will remember me not from the times we would play outside and run around but they will remember the exhaustion I had. My fear is that they won't remember the late night cuddles but they would remember the nights when I wasn't at home. My fear is that their memories will be filled with the effects of chemotherapy on their dad.
My fear is that birthdays and holidays will be spent in hospitals.  My fear is I won't be able to give my chil…

He is able

Nobody ever thinks cancer is going to strike their home.

In December my husband and I boarded a plane to go on a family vacation to California. We were excited to see my family and to enjoy the time together as a family. I took many pictures and documented our experience on my social media sites.

Getting ready to board our plane for our family vacation to California.
I had no idea that when we returned home a week later than scheduled, our life would be completely different. I am a planner. And I had my life planned out. I had a 6 month savings plan to get a down payment ready for our new house. I had a three month get the house ready to sell plan. I had a plan for my husband's schooling. I had a plan for everything! 
Yet the diagnosis of cancer threw all of my plans out of the window.

We had no idea when we took this family picture that just a few days later we would be in the emergency room and that my husband would be told he had cancer.
And it is so easy when our plans get destr…

He did it before, He will do it again

About 3 years ago my husband and I made the decision to pay off as many bills as we could. This was a great plan but financially during this time, our paychecks barely covered our everyday expenses. There were many times we wondered whether we would have enough for groceries and gas after we paid our bills. So I wrote down a three year plan in my prayer journal that included everything we owed and how much we would have to increase our payments in order to pay them off within 3 years. I also included in this amount the groceries, gas and other miscellaneous expenses. I added the numbers up and this would be the monthly amount we would have to make. The monthly amount greatly surpassed what we were bringing in. This was an impossible situation for us. Our monthly income would have had to almost triple in order for us become debt free in three years. It was truly an impossible situation for us. But I prayed about it because I knew what was impossible for me was possible for God. And I …

How is your roof?

How is your roof?

Looks like we won't be going home from the hospital today. My husbands WBC is still low. He gets his last dose of chemo today and his second cycle begins at the end of the month. He has about a year of treatment and each cycle requires hospitalization for the duration of the cycle. So far his cycles have been 14 days. So for a year my husband will spend more time in the hospital than at home.

For a year ....

That's why I ask how is your roof? It typically isn't until a leak develops that people notice there's a problem with their roof. But then it's too late, the storm is raging and the water has begun to damage the interior of the house. A wise homeowner will check their roof throughout the year,especially in dry times. This way if they find anything wrong they can fix it before the storm. Because everyone will be faced with a storm in their life.

We need to constantly check our spiritual roof. Have we let leaks developed? Do we pray still? Do we…

When your dreams are shattered

The dream house I fell in love with is pending sale. My heart is a little broken. And I know that given our current situation, some people may not understand why I am heartbroken over a sold house. But this sale represents my shattered dreams. In November of last year my husband and I were beginning to save money and were planning on putting our home up for sale at the beginning of the year.  We were also excited because after 3 years of going to school full time at the community college my husband was applying for admission to 4 year universities. In addition, my husband was given a nice raise at work and I had my dream job of working at home. Everything seemed to be going so well.

Then in December the diagnosis of cancer hit us. And my dreams were shattered. The plans I had devised for our life seem to be falling apart. The dream house that is pending sale. Transferring to a 4 year university in the fall. The financial stability. Shattered. Shattered. Shattered.

Obviously our focus…

our children

My husband is an amazing father. He loves Malachi and Hannah so much. From the time they were babies, my husband has been the best father. He would get up in the middle of the night with them. He has changed (and continues to change) many diapers. He runs around with them, throws them in the hair and allows them to climb all over him. Every Sunday he even allows me to take a nap after church and he spends that time playing with them. Even when he worked 60 hour weeks and went to school full time, He always put our children first. He is the best dad!

And because he is the best dad, I know that it is killing him that he is not able to spend much time with them. My husband will continue to be in the hospital for the next couple of weeks and since he has been admitted he has seen them for about 30 minutes every day. And I know that is killing him.
And I know my children do not understand everything that is going on. I wish for a moment that I could see life through their eyes and that I co…

Can this just be a bad dream?

Can this just be a bad dream?

Can I just wake up and go back to how it used to be?

The life with the sink full of dirty dishes.
The life of toys all over the place.
The life with loads of laundry piled up needing to be put away.

But more importantly can we just wake up and go back to the days where my husband was healthy?The days where he was able to play with the kids. The days where he would throw them in the air, run around with them and cuddle with them.

Can we wake up and go back to those days?

 (Can we go back to this day?)

Can we not be in this reality?

The reality of my husband laying in a hospital bed.
The reality of him having cancer.
The reality of him not being at home with me and the kids.

Our new life consists of me alternating nights between the hospital and home. Our new life consists of our children only seeing their dad for about 30 minutes a day. Our new life consists of watching the chemo begin to affect Mel.

And I wish this was only a dream. I can't believe it…

I don't want to...

Today my husband has been sleeping most of the day. Chemotherapy began a few days ago. I have lost track of time since we have been in the hospital. It seems like forever but it hasn’t been a full week yet. There are different types of chemo being administered. One is a 3 hour twice a day chemo that is administered through an IV. Another type was a two hour chemo administered through his spine. And a third time type was administered through the IV and took 30 minutes. He has a couple days of no chemo and then he begins the cycle again. The nurse said within the next few days he will begin to feel the effects of the chemo. One of the side effects of the steroid that he is getting is continual hiccups. He has had hiccups for the past 5 days. In addition, other side effects are nausea, fatigue, mouth sores, loss of appetite, hair loss, and the need for blood transfusions. Those are just a few.

 (The night we started dating)

Everything is different. To think that In December I was happy be…

He answers prayers

Cancer. Chemotherapy. Blood counts. Transfusions.

Those are all words we've heard the last few days. Everything is new to us but we serve a God who remains the same. Since he remains the same I have so much confidence that He answers prayers.

Some might ask "where was God? When you first prayed for Mel's healing." And I will tell you that. God has never left us. I reflect on all the prayers God had answered and the specific needs he has met in the past and I know He will heal Mel and fulfill every single one of our other needs. There have been  so many needs God has answered and met over my lifetime . There have been times he's provided an abundance and times we've had to trust in our daily manna. There have been times the need has been met immediately and other times we've had to wait. But God has heard our prayers every time we've prayed.

And so  Mel does have to get chemo but God is still our healer. And there will be dark days ahead but God remind…

One step at at a time

A number of years ago I went to Oregon with some friends and we went on a hike up a mini mountain. At this time I was incredibly in shape. I worked out sometimes twice a day. However the hike was really difficult. It seemed like every step I took it got harder. There were times that I wondered if I would make it up the mountain. But as I walked, people who had been to the top of the mountain, were encouraging us to keep on going. They let us know that the difficult journey was worth it once we go to the top of the mountain. This encouragement was so nice and uplifting, but I had to take the steps. I was the one who had to lift my feet to climb the mountain and the journey was difficult.

I thought of that this last night. It is so easy to use words like “we are climbing mountains or walking through valleys or going in the desert.” But when you think of those words journeying through the valley and in the desert and up the mountain is hard. In the spiritual, there is a tall mountain in f…

I don't know what to do...

I don’t know what to do….
Sometimes writing comes very easy to me. And there are times like today when it doesn’t.
I just don’t know what to do.
We got some not so good health news today.
And I don’t know what to do.
I have a 4 year old and a 3 year old at home missing their daddy.
And I don’t know what to do.
I am looking at my husband sitting in a hospital bed
And I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know. I am a planner. I am a thinker. I am an organizer. I am always on top of every responsibility.
But I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know if I am supposed to go left or if I am supposed to go right.
I just don’t know….
I have absolutely always hated not knowing. I like to have everything lined up with my nice little to-do lists. I like to know.
But I don’t know what to do…
But then God whispers, “I have not asked you to figure this out on your own. I have not asked you to drive the car you are in. I have not asked you….But I have asked you to trust in me with your whole heart. I have asked you not…

Our life has changed but God remains the same.

Tomorrow will be the first time since I've been married that I will have to take the trash out for trash day. And while pulling a trash can down to the street may not seem like a big deal too many, it symbolizes everything that's changing in my life.

Tomorrow my husband is supposed to begin chemotherapy. The doctor described the aggressive form of treatment my husband will be receiving. The doctor described all the negative effects of  the chemo and there are many. He essentially told my husband that he shouldn't expect to work for at least a year.

And so our life has changed dramatically. Last night my 4 year old and 3 year old fell asleep cuddled next to me on my bed while my husband slept in the hospital. For awhile I will be sitting by myself at church and I won't be able to see my husband playing the bass guitar on the platform. My husband won't be able to play with my kids like he usually does. We lost more than half our income and every day I don't work …

I wish...

I wish

I wish I was on the beach in Hawaii right now.

I wish my house was sold and I was moving into my dream house.

I wish...

But I'm not...

Instead I'm sitting in a hospital again.

I can see the mountain in front of me. The mountain of no paid leave off left. The mountain of an oil change and low air pressure in my tires. The mountain of hospital bills. The mountain of no money in my bank account. And the mountain of having to explain to my 4 year old and 3 year old that daddy is sick. Because the biggest mountain is the mountain of cancer.

The doctors have told my husband the cancer has returned. It's so easy when we are in a situation to look at the mountain. It's easy to grow weary. It's easy to get upset. It's easy to get mad. But it's so important to keep our eyes on the one who gives us strength to climb that mountain.

Because the mountain will not defeat us. The mountain will not destroy us.

Some might ask "where is your God?" I want to l…

Do I have any volunteers?

I teach high school and whenever I ask for volunteers, the first thing my student's ask is "What do I have to do?" They are unwilling to blindly volunteer for a task because they want to make sure that the task is not too hard for them. I love Isaiah 6:8 "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" Isaiah was very different than my high school students. Isaiah did not respond "God what is it that you want me to do?" He said "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah made himself available to God before the details of the task were revealed.

Isaiah was more like elementary school students. When an elementary teacher asks for volunteers, almost every hand shoots up wanting to be chosen by the teacher. It doesn't matter what the task is they are willing to help.

I am sure if I were to take a poll from those who read this blog, most of us would identify more with the high school students. We want to be lik…