Monday, January 11, 2021

Prone

It has been nearly a year since my last blog post, and what a crazy year it has been! I hope and pray you and your families have been and are currently healthy, safe, and well.  Like many of you, the past year brought about many blessings for our family, but sadly some losses as well. Several dear friends passed on and/or experienced the loss of loved ones from coronavirus and other causes. Our hearts grieve and hurt for them, especially in this time of social distance.  We long to embrace those we love and miss so, so much.  Thankfully, the four of us have stayed well and avoided getting COVID ourselves. Our hearts and prayers are also with those on the front lines caring for the sick, educating our children, protecting our country, etc. Thank you! We appreciate you tremendously.

Last spring when COVID-19 began spreading in our area, Todd received permission to work from home. He continues to do so, and what a blessing that has been. I sure do love having Todd home. The gift of this extra time with him is priceless. We are of course, truly thankful to have his income as well, particularly with so many families facing financial hardships and job losses right now.  Our boys have been home quite a bit also, and likewise it is such a wonderful gift to be able to spend more time with them too.  Depending on the number of COVID cases in our community, the boys fluctuate between in person and virtual learning.  Our oldest, Jack, is a senior in high school and our youngest, Joseph, is a freshman.  It is crazy to think that in a few months we will have a child in college! Speaking of college, Jack has decided to attend the University of Missouri. My mama heart is happy.  The University is not far from home, which means I can easily stalk er…, visit him often (would daily visits be too much? Asking for a friend.).  In addition to Jack heading to college, Joseph will turn 16 this year. Mercy.

While the boys have been busy growing up, we have also added another member
to our family! Last June, we added a GIRL to our brood. Woohoo! Go estrogen! We need more girls in this house full of boys! Penny Sunshine, our miniature Goldendoodle has brought so much fun and love to our lives.  Now, we cannot imagine life without our Penny! She has truly been a wonderful addition to our family and good therapy for all of us. We love her so.

Well, now that we have caught up on life a bit - if you are a regular reader of my blogs, you know I enjoy incorporating my faith into my posts.  The sharing of my faith in Christ is really the reason I write, and I am so incredibly thankful you opt to read my ramblings. Lord knows they are full of grammatical errors and typos, but I pray you see past them and that the words and experiences I share encourage you, inspire you, give you hope, and most importantly point the way to Christ. So…that said, for many weeks I have had the old, beloved hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” stuck in my head.  A man named, Robert Robinson, wrote this song in 1758! It amazes me the age of many of the hymns we still sing today!  I find the lyrics of these old masterpieces still so very applicable though.  Mr. Robinson, this guy…he was a bit of an ornery one. As a teen, he took to gang life and drinking. Fortunately, he turned from his ways after attending an evangelistic meeting.  The words spoken by the preacher at the meeting struck Robinson, and some years later he devoted his life to the Lord.  Robinson later pastored at churches himself, and he penned the words to this hymn as a prayer while preparing to give a sermon for an upcoming Sunday service. The last verse of the hymn stands out to me and so, I want to share some thoughts with it in mind. If you are not familiar with the song, there are several covers of it easily found on YouTube.  Check them out.  Here is the lyrics to the last verse:

“Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. 
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; 
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.” 

Here’s what I think (in layman’s terms) what Robinson was likely praying and writing… “Lord, let your goodness be bound like shackles on my heart. I love you, but I know I am prone or likely to wander from you, and I do not want to do that. So, please God, please take my heart and hold tightly to me so that I won’t wander and so I can spend eternity in Your courts and in Your presence.” Now, I do not know about you, but I do know that prayer, or something very similar to it, is one I often pray myself.  We all struggle with skeletons in our closets, demons of bad decisions, and sin in our lives.  And, we are all prone to take ours eyes off Christ and wander from Him. Robinson struggled with the demons of his past, but he knew the safety and security of God. He knew the promise of eternal life, free of struggle, pain, and sin. The promise of a life spent in the courts of heaven and in the presence of God.  So, he prayed. God, hold on to me. Put shackles on my heart and bind yourself to me, because I am prone, Lord. I am prone to wander. But, You can save me. You can seal me. So, here’s my heart. It’s all yours. Take it. Seal it. I don’t want to me, without You.

It’s no secret there’s a lot of unrest in our nation…in our world.  Between politics, a pandemic, etc., it is disheartening, scary and unsettling. Nevertheless, God promises security and peace if we turn our hearts and lives over to Him. He says in His word, if we will humble ourselves before Him, seek Him, pray to Him and turn from our wandering ways, He will hear our prayers, forgive us, and heal our land. (2 Chronicles 7:14).

God take my heart. Seal it. I’m prone to wander. Forgive me. Turn me from my wandering ways, and heal our land. May my life and my eyes be fixed on You. I pray this in Your mighty, holy name, Lord, Jesus. Amen.

If you would like to chat further about turning your heart to the Lord, I would be glad to talk with you about doing so. I’d also be honored to pray for you if you have any requests you would like to share. Feel free to message me through the Slickery Road page on Facebook, by commenting on this post, or through the email address listed on this website.

One final thing before I close out this post…a health update and prayer request of my own.  Several years ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune liver disease. A recent CT scan of my liver indicated the disease has likely progressed to cirrhosis. On Wednesday, I will have a liver biopsy to stage how far along the cirrhosis is. Additionally, cirrhosis increases one’s risk for liver cancer, so my physician will also be looking for any cancer in my liver as well when he does the biopsy on Wednesday. Further, I also have a PET scan coming up next week. The PET scan is for monitoring my bladder cancer – which, thank God, has been in remission since undergoing chemotherapy two years ago! For those curious, the liver condition is completely unrelated to my bladder cancer. Your prayers are much appreciated for the outcome of these upcoming appointments. I know God works all things for the good of those who love Him. So, no matter what may come, God is still good and I pray you see Him and His goodness in me. Much love, my friends. - Angela

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Piece By Peace


Hello friends!  Since it has been several months since my last post, let me quickly catch you up to speed on how things are going.  I had another PET scan this week, and there was no sign of cancer growth on the scan!  I have been in remission for over a year!  Is that awesome or what?!?  After my scan, Todd and I visited with my oncologist.  He shared information about current research in bladder cancer treatment. It was interesting to hear what lurks on the horizon with regard to improving survival rates for this type and stage of cancer. While the information was somewhat above our scope of understanding, our biggest take away from the conversation was further hope.  The research involves genetic mutations and is still in the clinical trials phrase.  We look forward to updates on this research as they become available!  For now, the oncologist encouraged me to take care of myself and live a normal life (um, did I mention this was our first visit with him, and he has yet to learn how much of a weirdo I am?).  So, here’s to being “normal” and continuing to enjoy life in remission!

While remission has me feeling better physically, I am also incredibly proud of the progress I have made mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  For the better part of 2019, I fought a great deal of depression and anxiety.  However, little by little, my body, mind and spirit are being restored.  I have been able to engage more socially, started singing at church again, and joined a weight loss program in hopes of shedding the weight I have put on. I still have to rest quite often but, set small daily and weekly goals and am thankful to see myself capable and able to accomplish them. Todd and the boys are doing well too. Jack is gearing up for golf season at school, and Joseph has been busy with school band and making his delicious homemade pizzas. We are also looking forward to spring and hope to do some traveling during the boys’ spring break.  I so enjoy being a stay at home mom and wife.  It makes my heart happy to devote my full attention to my family. There are still challenging days for us, of course, but we will take whatever triumphs, big or small, come our way! Sharing these struggles and strides with you is helpful and I so appreciate your encouragement and prayers for me and my family.  I hope in sharing I can be an encouragement to you also.

If I had to describe or give title to the progress I have made, “Piece by Peace” seems fitting. The restoration I have been going through has occurred and is occurring piece by piece.  One step at a time.  Little by little.  Made possible because of my faith, trust and peace in Christ Jesus.  I have been thinking a lot about the word, “peace”.  What does it mean?  How does it feel?  What does it look like?  Here is what I have come up so far…to me, peace means, feels, and looks like:

Rest. Lack of chaos. Slow breaths. Stillness. Calm. Serenity. Security. Healing. Order. Freedom.
 
In the New Testament book of Philippians, the apostle, Paul, wrote,

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4:4-9 (NLT)

Though Paul wrote this to the Christians in Philippi, the same message is applicable to our lives today. Whatever circumstances we face, we can still have peace. The peace that comes through faith in Christ is a peace like no other.  It is a peace that fills our minds even when we don’t know the answers to all our questions.  A peace that comes even when we don’t know what the road ahead looks like.  A peace so amazing it is beyond our comprehension. Man, I am thankful to have that kind of peace.  I cannot begin to imagine life without it. 

Rest. Lack of chaos. Slow breaths. Stillness. Calm. Serenity. Security. Healing. Order. Freedom.

God provides it all.

Piece by peace. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

I Am

We enjoyed a wonderful summer of good health, good times, and good memories. While I miss my work family and the joy and worth I received from my job, it has been a wonderful blessing to be a stay at home wife and mother. I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, and I am so grateful for this time with Todd and the boys while my cancer remains in remission. Being home has also allowed me to take better care of myself, which has been helpful for all four of us. We recently found out that I am approved for both long-term disability and Social Security disability. The provisions from those programs will certainly help keep us afloat financially as we walk through this cancer journey, and we are relieved to know I can continue to stay home and focus my attention on my health and my family.

The boys started back to school a few weeks ago. Joseph is an 8th grader and Jack is a junior. I miss their presence and activity in our home during the school day. I am a little lonely without them, yet I am still not up to much socialization with others. So, most days I stay home and fill my time with reading, Bible study, cooking, playing the piano, and catching up on movies and such. I’ve been trying to establish a routine that keeps my mind and body busy. Having too much down time is not always a good thing. Lately, I have been wrestling with depression, anxiety, and my identity. The person staring back in the mirror looks like a stranger, and sometimes thinks and acts like one too. Her hair is shorter. Her body is heavier. Her ears no longer hear well, and her mind is not as sharp as it once was. She used to be confident, employed and active. Now, she is insecure, sleeps a lot more and stays home. I don’t know this person, and quite honestly, most days I don’t even like her all that much. Bring back the ol’ girl that used to live in this house, I say! She had a purpose…and identity. But, this new girl…sigh.

A sweet friend of mine reminded me that each of us is constantly evolving. Her words comforted my weary heart and mind. I am not alone. Change is an inevitable part of everyone’s life, and so we all, at times find ourselves learning to adapt to new roles, new…identities. And, I think we can all agree that sometimes change is hard.

It doesn’t necessarily take a cancer diagnosis to make one struggle with their identity. Perhaps you are struggling to find yourself as the result of moving to a new town, starting a new school or job, divorce, losing a parent, child, partner, or job, etc. We all have a longing to be known and to be accepted. Yet, when we are struggling to know our own selves, how on earth can we to expect others to know us too?

Whatever circumstances you are facing in your life right now, if you find yourself struggling, like me, to figure out your identity and to love yourself for who you are – I am praying for you. I am praying for us. Life is hard.

This morning, I read and was encouraged by the following:

“But, our burdens can make us stronger and develop qualities in us that will prepare us for the future. We cannot be overcomers without troubles to overcome. Be true to God in the hard times because even the worst situations can make us better people.”

As I’m learning to adapt and accept my new self, I am thankful for a God who never changes, and who loves me unconditionally. Furthermore, He defines me. I can know who I am because I know who He is. You can know who you are in Him too.

Every time I share with you here, I do so in hopes of sharing my faith with you. In all I say and do I want to point the way to Christ. My life is certainly not perfect, but I pray my words are encouraging. Please keep lifting up me and my sweet family. We walk by faith along this slickery road of life. While I’m walking, I am going to keep reminding myself of who I am and will ALWAYS BE.

I am a child of God. I am chosen. I am loved. I am forgiven.
I am God’s workmanship and created in His image.
I am wonderfully made.

PS). I am putting together a playlist of songs to encourage myself and remind me who I am. I’d love your input on what songs encourage you and/or you feel I should include. They can be songs of any genre. My go to songs right now are: “Who You Say I am” by Hillsong Worship, “You Say” by Lauren Daigle and “Rise Up” by Andra Day.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

In Between

Shortly after my last blog, I had a breakdown. The stress and toll of cancer and treatment caught up with me. In mid-January, I reached a point where I could no longer deal with the stress on my own and confided in some wonderful medical providers to help. I have wanted to tell you this for a while, but struggled (and still struggle) to find the words. It is difficult and overwhelming to admit, to share about it, and to understand – much less try to explain. The breakdown came with a lot of self-shame, guilt and fear. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it came with a lot of faith, hope and love as well. Please bear with me. It is not easy to be so transparent. However, it is real and it is honest. Cancer is hard. Chemo is ugly. And, I am not the person I used to be.

Daily I strain to overcome the limits and damage cancer and chemo has placed on my body and mind, yet grant myself grace to accept those same limits and rest. It is an awkward balance. Every day is different. There are some wonderful highs and some very dark and sad lows. Some days I am able to be around other people and carry on an actual conversation. Other days, I can barely go to the store for a loaf of bread without a tremendous amount of anxiety or a panic attack. Some days I have the energy to do laundry, or drive across town. Other days, I have to take prescription medicine just to stay awake or function. Most days, however, I am somewhere in between the two extremes and learning to navigate and love myself along the way. Peanut butter cups seem to help. What? I have not lost my sense of humor, folks! And, I certainly have not lost my love of peanut butter cups!

Many of you have checked in, asked how I am doing, invited me to lunch, etc. I appreciate your love, friendship and encouragement immensely. I wish I had concrete answers to give. It is challenging to find the words to answer even the simplest of questions at times. And, in those times, I get incredibly anxious and overwhelmed. Please do not let this detour you from reaching out. You may not hear back from me right away, but know that I am so grateful for your thoughtfulness and I will respond or get together as I am able. As a side bar, I want to especially thank my Sunday school class for the prayers, uplifting cards and messages. I miss and love each of you so and look forward to returning to church when I am able. Social interaction is such a hard struggle for me. This is unfamiliar territory and I hope my ability to function in that regard will improve. I have been forcing myself, little by little, to get out and about and pray these baby steps will lead to greater strides in the near future. I am also seeing a counselor to discuss the stress and struggles. She is wonderful and I am thankful our paths have crossed.

My last PET scan was in April. Thankfully, the scan did not indicate any cancer growth. We are rejoicing that the chemo seems to have knocked the cancer down, yet we know it is merely a matter of time until the cancer begins to grow again. We live in the in between. We celebrate and savor the moments we are in, for they are the only ones guaranteed, and, we plan life in 3 months increments between scans. My next PET scan is in July. In the meantime, Todd and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary next week, and in June, our family of four will embark on a grand road trip together! I am also looking forward to playing golf with my oldest son, Jack and making homemade pizzas with my chef and youngest son, Joseph. I am so very, very grateful for my three guys who do life with me – Todd, Jack, and Joseph. I thank God for giving us the gift of each other. I love you with every ounce of my being.

For those unaware, in early May, I stopped working. I loved my job and particularly my work family, but as I continued to push myself to perform, the mental, emotional, and physical toll become harder to hide and my ability to complete tasks was waning. It is humbling to admit your limits and struggles. It is also scary, particularly from a financial standpoint. I could potentially lose all of my benefits, but Todd and I took this step in faith. Home is where I need to be, and we have peace in this decision. Presently, I am on family medical leave and will soon file for long-term disability and social security disability. However things turn out in the disability regard, we are praying for God‘s will to prevail, and the faith to accept whatever His plan may be. I firmly believe His will is always the best, even when/if it is not what I envisioned. He knows all of our needs and He is an ever-faithful provider. Though I would much rather have stopped working due to retirement or winning the lottery (hey, a girl can dream!) there is no denying that I have hit the jackpot in terms of being able to focus more on my husband and boys. Time with them is such a tremendous blessing and I am thankful for this opportunity in the in between to make lifelong memories and love them well.

Till next time,
Angela

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Hope


Happy New Year, friends! I hope your new year is off to wonderful start. Ours certainly is! We are still reeling from the magnificent time we had in New York (details below). Additionally, I had a PET scan last week...the scan did not show any signs of cancer growth or progression! Praise the Lord! We are breathing some BIG, BIG sighs of relief. My next scan will be in early April, and every three months thereafter until the cancer is detected again. In the meantime, I am absolutely enjoying the break from treatment and getting stronger with each passing day. I still get tired easily, but I feel great. My hair is starting to grow back and I’m acclimating to having hearing aids. Some of you have asked if my hearing loss from chemotherapy is permanent…yes, unfortunately so. I can still hear though (even if it's not well), and for that I’m truly thankful! While I have significant general hearing loss, I also have a loss in clarity of sounds. As a result, much of what I hear sounds very distorted. As aggravating as that can be, it does make for some interesting conversations and lots of laughs. So, be warned, friends…if you have a conversation with me on the phone or in person, I may just put words in your mouth! HA!

Speaking of words..in addition to new year’s resolutions, it's come to my attention that at the beginning of a new year some folks like to choose a word to focus on for the year. I’ve pondered what my word should be. So many words seem appropriate, but one stands above the rest. Hope. So much has changed over the past few months that some days I don't know if I'm coming or going. Yet in the midst of all the instability and uncertainty there is something that has not changed...hope. I have hope. Beyond that, who knows? I mean, life can change in an instant (for reals!)…for any one of us. We expect to pull out of our driveway each morning and head down the road to another mundane, routine day…but, sometimes, the road gets slickery and we find ourselves slipping and sliding down a path we never intended to travel. And, heck, perhaps never even saw coming. No matter what road we’re on though – there is hope - an unwavering, firm and secure anchor for our soul. The light at the end of the tunnel. Not dependent upon situations or circumstances, hope reminds us better days are coming and that they will come! For me, hope is faith. It’s love. It’s grace. It’s mercy. Hope is Jesus. He is the reason I can keep my head above water. He is my peace…the provider of my strength, and my joy. He, my hope, does not disappoint, and in Him I choose to dwell. I will not dwell in the fear of my diagnosis or of what may come. The ground is too shaky there, and it's awfully hard to stand on shaky ground. Hope...that's my focus. Hope steadies my stance. It's my word for the year, and Jesus, my hope, is my word and focus for life.

"In Christ Alone" - Lyrics by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty
In Christ alone, my hope is found.
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This Cornerstone, this Solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

As I mentioned above, we had a magnificent time in the Big Apple! We were able to visit NY for a few days right before Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. In addition to the Stella’s Wish Foundation, many additional people came together to bless our family and offset the costs of the trip. We are so very humbled and grateful for the kindness bestowed upon us. The Christmas lights and decorations in New York were simply beautiful! I loved seeing Times Square, Central Park, Rockefeller Center (and the gorgeous and HUGE tree there!), the Plaza Hotel, the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, a Broadway show (School of Rock), and so many of the other sites I’d only prior witnessed on TV, in movies, or online. We feasted on pizza, hotdogs, and cheesecake, of course, and soaked up every bit of the sights, sounds and tastes of the city as possible! More important than the trip itself though was the gift of time with one another. That was the greatest and most wonderful gift of all. I cherish the moments, now more so than ever, that I am able to spend with Todd and our boys. So, THANK YOU for an amazing trip filled with priceless, lifelong memories and time with my family. Below is just a few of the photos from our awesome trip. 






May your new year be filled with all the joys, blessings and peace that Hope brings!
Much love to each of you - Angela

“And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” -Romans 5:5

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Best


It was springtime in Missouri, nearly Easter as a matter of fact, when Todd and I went on our first date some twenty seven years ago.  We saw the movie, Home Alone.   Though the movie had come out months prior it took a while for it to reach our theater in small town Missouri.  We found it quite amusing to watch a recently released Christmas movie at Easter, yet the timing was perfect...the best, actually.  It was a moment made just for us - the start of our beautiful relationship, and a special memory we'll always cherish. 

I’d love to tell you I am patient in all things and with all people, but there would probably be a be lump of coal in my stocking if I did!  What I can honestly tell you though is this –God specializes in timing – even if it means seeing a Christmas movie at Easter.  His plan for our lives is always perfect, always best, and always provides exactly what we need right on time...every time. 

While Home Alone holds a special place in my heart and Todd’s, it also holds a special place in the hearts of our two boys as well.   Every year the four of us watch the Home Alone movies together while putting up our Christmas tree.  I hope the boys continue that tradition years from now when they put up their Christmas trees with their own children; and I pray they'll fondly look back on these times we've shared and remember how much they were and are loved. I treasure my opportunities to connect and make memories with my family; even more so now - as the boys get older and as we face my cancer diagnosis.  Life goes by quick and time spent with my husband and our boys is the best, most precious gift ever.

Recently, I submitted a wish to the Stella’s Wish Foundation, a foundation which grants wishes to adults with stage IV cancers.  For nearly a month I wrestled over whether or not to submit a wish.  I wondered if it would be selfish. Afterall, our family is certainly not the only family in the world dealing with the dark cloud of cancer, and so many, many others are far worse off than us.  Submitting a wish also meant facing the reality that I meet the requirements to even do so, and that, quite frankly, is a hard reality to stare in the eye.  But, I knew what I wanted, and I also knew I wasn’t going to be able to make it happen on my own.  I desperately wanted to give my family the best Christmas ever.  So, I prayed, "God give me what is best... whatever that may be", and I submitted the wish. 

The foundation receives 60 to 100 wishes every month.  I am no more deserving than anyone else to have my wish granted. I am also keenly aware that just because we want something that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best or right thing for our lives at that time.  I’ve learned that wanting the best thing in my life and the life of my family means I’m praying, trusting and asking God for that best thing.  There was no guarantee my wish would be chosen and I was okay with that.  Again, my desire was for our family to receive the best thing – even if it was no thing at all.  

The wish… New York City at Christmas time. We’ve never been to New York, but thanks to Home Alone 2 seeing the city at Christmas is something we have long wanted.  The movie, set in New York City, has many scenes depicting the grandeur and magic of the Christmas decorations which adorn the area.  Further, prior to my diagnosis I made a promise to my boys that I would take them to NYC before they graduate high school.  We are so fortunate in our country to have many memorials and monuments which provide us the opportunity to pay homage to those who’ve gone before us and serve as reminders to pause and appreciate the freedoms we enjoy in our great nation.  It has always been important to me to make sure my children see some of these important and reverent sites and to teach them to respect the men and women associated with those sacrifices and freedoms.  New York City is among the cities having many such memorials and monuments. 

Early last week, I got a call from Stella’s Foundation.  We will be leaving for New York soon.  My heart is humbled and full of gratitude. Thank you, Lord.  It will be the best trip ever. 



**Many thanks to the Stella's Wish Foundation for honoring my wish.  You can read more about the foundation and Mrs. Stella by clicking the link.  We are grateful for Mrs. Stella's legacy and the difference she and the foundation continue to make in the lives of many families such as ours.  

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Balance


Last week we completed round 5 of 6 rounds of chemo.  The further we get into the treatment, the harder it becomes.  Chemo has a cumulative effect, so each round builds on the previous one and the side effects often become stronger and more frequent.  We’ve certainly noticed.  My stamina has decreased significantly and my stomach pain has increased.  I’ve been spending a lot of time sleeping and taking more days off of work to rest.  Finding balance has been tough, but we are hanging in there, and reminding ourselves to take one day at a time.  It’s so easy to get discouraged through this journey, and admittedly, there are days that I truly just want to stay in bed and cry.  I know that’s a normal response, but not one of which I’m particularly fond.  I suppose I thought I would breeze right through chemo and it would only affect me as much as I allowed.  Boy, was I wrong!  Daily I am reminded it’s not my own strength that will get me through this, but Christ’s strength in me.  Some days I do a better job leaning into His strength than others though.  I pray my witness and testimony continue to shine through – even on the hard days. 

We are so very appreciative of all your prayers and encouragement, meal deliveries, cards, hugs and thoughtfulness to our family.  It means a great deal to the four of us and we are incredibly blessed with so many caring, kind friends and family.  Next week I will complete my final round of chemo.  It will be a bittersweet ending.  The fatigue and stomach pain will eventually fade and my hair will start to grow back. Some of the side effects won’t go away, however.  Recently, we learned that the chemo has caused severe hearing loss in both of my ears, and I’ll be fitted for hearing aids soon.  Thankfully, I haven’t lost all my hearing, nonetheless, the hearing loss is a hard pill to swallow and another new normal to which we must adjust.  Sometimes, learning to balance involves a whole lot of wobbling until our gait is steady again.  And, right now, I feel like a wobbly, hot mess.   

We also know that the chemo has been effective in shrinking the tumors and slowing the growth of the cancer.  What a blessing!  When I finish my 6th round, chemo will no longer part of our treatment plan and the cancer will eventually start to grow again.  When that will happen is anyone’s guess, but we are encouraged that about 40% of patients tend to go one to two years without growth and the need for additional treatment.  We pray that is the case for me, plus some!  When the cancer does grow again, however, immunotherapy will likely be our next step and then ultimately clinical trials.  There is strong likelihood the cancer will be what takes my life, but we also know that none of us are promised tomorrow.  I am so thankful for my faith and the confidence I have in knowing that when my time on earth is through, whenever and however that may be, I’ll be rejoicing in Heaven.  And, I guarantee there’s balance there! 

As I close out this update, I would ask that you continue to remember us in prayer.  Specifically, I ask that you lift us up as we contemplate important decisions for our future.  Many patients with stage IV bladder cancer file for disability.  We’ve started some difficult conversations in this regard and for now are still gathering facts.  The timing of when to file is weighing heavy on our minds and shoulders.  Please pray that we would be wise and at peace with our decision. 

I have the following verse written on a note card by my Bible.  Every morning I look at it and remind myself…

Be joyful in hope. Patient in affliction. Patient in prayer. – Romans 12:12

Balance.