A few other special events…

I know with the Logan County Fair upon me, it is highly unlikely I will blog again until after it is over. After I finished writing last night I realized that there were so many significant events that happened over the last two weeks that I should share with you.

It is harvest time in northeast Colorado. We see massive combine crews mobilizing northward and they themselves are really impressive. I would love to be on a combine crew, but Roy tells me that they would probably just want me to cook. I wouldn’t mind doing that as I also got to also drive a combine. What is it about wanting to drive one of those mammoth machines? I feel like a 5 year-old boy. With that, I want to thank Ron and Rick Gillham for letting my boys ride in their combine. As they harvested our wheat fields, we drove up the lane, and they kindly stopped their productive movement and let my boys climb on board. Those moments and memories are so special for both me and my children. You find these type of people regularly in the agriculture community. It is one of my favorite things about living the western way of life.Combine Time

 

On July 7th, 2013 Danny (Roy’s brother) and Sarah Gillham welcomed their first child into this world. Samuel Paul Gillham was born via c-section in the middle of the night (about 11:19… I think). He is a precious child of God who is quietly and peacefully torturing his parents with lack of sleep. Do you remember that? Being so exhausted that you don’t remember if it is dawn or dusk? Did I eat breakfast? Where is the coffee? It is such a journey being a new parent and we continue to lift them up in prayer. We got to meet the little guy last week and that was such a privilege. Here are some pictures I had the opportunity to take ūüôā

Samuel

The Cousins

The Cousins

Nothing like a new baby's feet.

Nothing like a new baby’s feet.

Another significant event was celebrating Dr. Lininger’s retirement. Let’s be honest, I was NOT celebrating, I was throwing an internal fit. I did NOT want him to retire yet. I wanted him to continue with me through to the end of my treatments and beyond. I wanted him to do my follow-up work for the next few years, but… The Lord has such amazing plans for him. Plans that are greater than continuing with me directly. At Dr. Lininger’s retirement party he printed and distributed “Musing of an Oncologist Over Three Decades ” and found within those pages he described and explained cancer and how he helped his patients understand their disease and how he established a treatment. His final words held such an eternal value.

I would like to introduce you to one of my heroes. In Dr. Lininger’s words, “Although sometimes you lack the ability to be physically as healthy as you wish, spiritually you have the control to be as healthy as you wish to be. For me, we have a partner in Jesus Christ who asks to take the burden of cancer and bear it for us. He provides strength, allowing you to reassert control over your cancer and ultimately to overcome your cancer no matter what the circumstances of treatment outcome. When it seems you are futilely assaulting this cancer barricade to regaining your health and struggling to try to free yourself from the control the cancer exerts, you can do a spiritual “end run.” Instead of beating against this barrier of cancer time and again with various physical and medicinal agents, the spiritual end run gives you a way to overcome or rise above the cancer and even, if you will, make it irrelevant to the results of the physical treatments you undergo.

Jesus physically healed, and He may cause you to be physically healed with cancer, but His main concern as we read the stories was spiritual healing. All of the individuals He healed in scriptures eventually died. Thus, I have come to understand that spiritual control of cancer is to feel confident of God’s promises through Jesus Christ of which a few are peace, joy, comfort, and the confident expectation of hope that allows you to overcome any assault that cancer can throw up against you. Jesus asks you to test these claims. If you find these claims to be true, you can overcome cancer, even if not physically cured. If cured, the experience of cancer can grow us spiritually and prepare us for future challenges and be a testimony to others. If not cured, you can be a testimony of what faith can do to overcome cancer and death itself. In that way, you can make cancer work for you and for God’s kingdom and not be controlled by the cancer or overcome by the fears and desperation should the local and systemic therapies offered fail to achieve your hopes.

So how does faith work? Faith gives us the eternal perspective that this life is part of a continuum of eternity that has begun in this present life of ours. Faith allows us to rise above the present circumstances and to see that our hope is beyond the conquest of the immediate circumstance. Cancer creates an opportunity for testimony to others as to the strength that faith can give. Faith can overcome desperation, anxiety, and hopelessness.” I couldn’t have said it better myself ūüôā

Well, dear friends and family, what are we going to do after two weeks? I started this blog to communicate with everyone the updates of my journey of cancer, but I am near the end. As I was questioning the continuation of my blog, I received confirmation from a friend, that they would really appreciate it if I would continue. It will be up to you. I promise to continue to talk about the way Jesus works in my life. I will continue to share with the joy and heartache of running a family ranch. I promise to share pictures as I develop my photography work and hopefully business. I will need to cry with someone once Jake starts Kindergarten August 26th. Well good night – the Benadryl and Ativan just kicked in a here at the Cancer Center and I am off for my daily dose of chemo. As I rest, I wll rest in the arms of my Father. My eternal Father cares for me, knows where I have been, sees the current state of affairs and has given me abundant hope for the future. In Jesus I will put my trust.

My Garden. After my final round of chemo, I will be blessed with the opportunity to harvest my garden. It is getting along good so far ;)

My Garden. After my final round of chemo, I will be blessed with the opportunity to harvest my garden. It is getting along good so far ūüėČ

Determination is a powerful thing

I have decided the chemobrain has kicked in to high gear at this point of my treatment. I seem to lose everything right now – mostly my thoughts. I have always been a person to do what came to my mind right when it arrived as a thought. “The garden needs watered,” so I would go turn on the water. That concept is incredibly important right now. Otherwise, it is HIGHLY likely I will forget to water the garden all day long. I have tried to find some peace in knowing that most things are going to survive despite my severe brain lapses.

Unfortunately, this weekend I also lost something else really important. We went boating (well kind of – the boat chugged and died on us numerous times while in the middle of the lake) and when Roy asked me to put on his sunscreen I took off a gold and diamond band I have been wearing while my wedding band was getting replaced. I was so exhausted despite the boys giggling on the boat that I laid down on the bow for a bit. I had the terrible job¬†of going to get the Expedition and boat trailer and back it down the ramp. Why is backing a bumper pull trailer down a boat ramp so hard? I looked like Austin Powers in his first movie when he gets stuck backing and going forward numerous times in the small hallway. I am getting better, but I hoped numerous people were laughing really hard while I am learning. I would laugh at me. Anyhow, as we were putting the cover back on the boat in the parking lot¬†I realized that I had never put the ring back on my finger and¬†it was no longer in my pocket. Roy insisted we stay and look for it and I thought it could be at the bottom of¬†North Sterling Reservoir. We thought maybe it fell off while I was laying down.¬†I was too tired to care. I loved this ring. But. I. was. exhausted… We headed home and normally this would put me in to a frenzy, but I just don’t¬†have¬†enough¬†energy to expend it on the emotion of panic. Roy, on the other hand, cared greatly. We got home, laid the boys down for nap, and I¬†had my rodeo queen contestants coming over to practice hair, modeling, etc, so I didn’t have time to worry about it. Roy embarked upon the pursuit of ring recovery. He drove the 20 miles back to the lake, walked up and down the ramp numerous times, thinking maybe it fell out while I got the car keys out. WELL… he was right. He found my ring. Can you believe that? I couldn’t. Despite amazing odds to NOT find my ring, he did. He didn’t give up.

This is such a mirror of Jesus’ pursuit of us. He knew exactly where that ring was and He knows exactly when we will be “found.” I am so thankful I have been found. I am thankful for Roy’s determination despite my personal exhaustion. On any other given day in my life, I would have spent hours looking for that ring, but not yesterday. My juice box is running low, but I can drink from the cup of living water. Jesus continues to give me refreshment despite my physical drought.

Tomorrow will be round 11 of 12. Did you read that? I said, 11 of 12. Two weeks from tomorrow I will get my last round of chemotherapy. I told Roy last week after round 10, that the reason they only give me 12, is that they might kill me on 13. I am not sure a person’s body could handle much more of this stuff. I am two weeks away from ceasing churning the black tar ball in my stomach. I am two weeks away from being away from my babies. I am two weeks away from NEVER HAVING TO DO THIS AGAIN! I proclaim that in the name of Jesus! I proclaim that I am already cancer free! I proclaim that my body will begin the restoration process quickly and I can get back to full function quickly after my final round!

I have some specific prayer requests:

  • That despite my exhaustion I can remain highly functioning.
  • With the Logan County Fair heavily upon me, that I can still do my “job” as the royalty coordinator very well.
  • That I can manage my final round during Fair week without any major catastrophes (like having to gear up an IV bag to myself to walk around the fairgrounds).
  • Pray that the boys behavior gets back in check. They have done so well despite the constant changing of the guard in their lives, but we are seeing that their behavior needs more modification than normal.
  • Please pray that Roy has strength to manage the ranch well. Praying for rain is always a good thing.
  • On Thursday, July 25th, Roy and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I am mad that I have an appointment at the Cancer Center with Aloxi (one of my anti-nausea’s) instead of a date¬†with my husband. I am a traditionalist. I want to celebrate on our anniversary. I know, I know, we can celebrate later, but I don’t want to. Please pray that I can find peace that day, and not frustration with cancer being such a time thief.

For those of you that are still with us on this journey, thank you for your faithfulness. I am forever grateful for the support, prayers, love and help we have received from so many people. May you have a very blessed week!

P.S. This is simply for your enjoyment… I¬†began¬†laughing hysterically today when I caught I glimpse of my hair. What is that? That is not curly. That is not straight. That is some awful creation in between. I have officially had the worst hair day of my life. So thankful to laugh about it. At least I have some bad hair still left on my head, right?

Funky Hair

The end is in sight…

I don’t know what inspires a person to climb Mount Everest. Is it the thrill of the climb? Is it knowing they can? It is that they survived such harsh conditions? I really have no idea because that is absolutely NOT on my bucket list. On my bucket list (now) is to survive cancer. And, guess what? One month from today I will have my last round of chemotherapy. YIPPEEEE! It all of a sudden seems¬†somewhat manageable. I remember after my 6th round I got numerous accolades of being half way done and I felt terrible. I knew that everything I had just gone through, I would have to do again. Oh, brother! That sounded just awful to me at the time! And although going through three more rounds of chemo seems like climbing Mount Everest I do intend to finish well. Just like the climb, it is getting hard near the end. After round 9, I slept and slept and slept. I slept almost all of Tuesday and all of Wednesday. For those of you who have had (and maybe some of you have seen) babies when they are desperately fighting going to sleep, their eyes get droopy and they fuss a bit and their little head bobs up and down in hopes of staying awake just one more moment. That is what I looked like after round 9. I was so completely exhausted, but I still tried to pursue what ever task I was working on. I simply turned on the electronic babysitter known as the television, laid down on the couch, and completely passed out.

I use to get over my nausea during my “off” week, but now I maintain a minimum of a 50% nauseated level during my off week. Most people do not even know that I could vomit on them at any given moment. I simply smile and say, “I am doing pretty good.” or “I am managing.” And… to the hair loss. I have the itsy-bitsiest-teeny-weeny-bit of hair left on my head. When I use to put my hair in a ponytail, it was a strong 1-1/4″ diameter mass-o-hair. Now it is no thicker than a pencil. (Good news = I am saving shampoo and conditioner by the gallons.) I am thinking that when Mom and Dad are here next week, we may do the deed. It is slightly disappointing to get through 5 of 6 months of treatment and then have to shave the stinkin’ thing off. Oh well. Like everyone has said, “It is just hair.” At this point I am so tired of this frizzy stick of hair, I am not even sure I am going to miss it. (I may try some fun 80s hair-do’s first ~ Let me see how I am feeling.) If we shave it, I will video it and you all can be a part of it. Roy wants to wait to the very end and when we meet with the first oncologist that guaranteed me that I would lose all of my hair, he wants to remind him that maybe he shouldn’t say that!… “See – she didn’t lose all of her hair.” (The only reason I have not lost all of my hair is because the Lord gave me A LOT to begin with ūüôā ).

We had planned to utilize Nita some during that last round, but unfortunately she had a fall and tore her ACL and broke her tibia. Poor gal. She has such a heart of service, but was simply physically unable to do much down here to help us. Roy really¬†stepped up to the plate last week. Although my husband is the most weary I have ever seen him, he still managed to work on the ranch in the blazing heat all day, then come home for meal times and prepare food for the boys and I. He kept my garden alive, continued to water,¬†and even cut the broccoli and steamed it…ALL BY HIMSELF!¬†He took care of bathing the boys…Let’s be honest, he always baths the boys, but he continued to keep them clean. He tucked us all in each night and then would venture back out to the kitchen to clean up dishes or wipe down the table or pick up toys. We were also incredibly thankful of those of you who continue to provide meals – it blesses my family so much!

Much of our life has become very routine. I do A LOT of laundry on Saturday and Sunday before chemo. I fill my pill box before chemo (seriously… I am 33 years old with a pill box. I just decided I am going to burn that thing when I am all done with chemo and I hope to not need another¬†for at least 30 years.) I try to do some meal planning and cooking and baking¬†before chemo. I work outside and water plants and pull weeds and look at my garden before chemo.I really hold my boys and play and dance and sing and teach them before chemo.¬† Because… after chemo I cannot do any of these things well. I really and honestly cannot wait until chemo stops using up my time.

I want to finish up by sharing some of my prayers that I have been praying along this journey:

I’m asking You to make it worth it. Make me more like Jesus. Make is undeniably evident that You are at work in my life. Honor Yourself.

Help me to see this illness from Your perspective. There’s a lot I don’t understand, so I’m trusting You. I can’t see down the road, so I’m grateful You know the beginning from the end and everything in between.

Father, You promise that all things work together for good for those who love You and are called according to Your purposes. You are using this trial to produce good fruit in my life and in the lives of many others, including my family.

I pray for my children You have entrusted to me. Thank You for giving me the privilege of being their mother. I trust You to work in their lives through this cancer journey. Use it to teach them, mold them, and shape them into godly young people and adults. I pray that You will guard their hearts and minds. Protect them from the evil one and from fears the world will throw their way. Surround them with Your peace and Your love. Use this time, Lord, to draw my children ever closer to You.”

Thank you again for your time and for continuing to pray. The end is near, but do not become weary in your prayers, as Everest is still before me. Thank goodness our great God created Mount Everest Рso He know exactly how much work it is will be for me to climb. All our love!