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. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Waves


The Florida beaches along the Gulf of Mexico are one some of my most favorite places to visit!  The soft, sugar white sand and turquoise water.  The lullaby of the tides that eases weary souls and minds to stillness and rest.  The breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.  Serenity now! I love every. single. bit of it. 

Just a few weeks ago, my family took a trip to one of those beautiful beaches. What a blessing it was to spend moments together making priceless memories.  At the time, we were waiting in the wings for news of whether or not I had cancer.  Having already received the results of some of my scans, we knew the possibility of cancer was a very real one.  But, having gone through cancer before, we are/were also all too familiar with riding the waves of survivorship.  Sometimes, there are scary test and scan results that turn out to be nothing at all.  We've learned it's imperative to find balance while riding the waves, and that balance requires a steady footing. Sometimes that is much easier said than done, but regardless, without it, we find ourselves overwhelmed by the waters. 

One morning during our vacation, we got up early to take family photos on the beach.  Thanks to my sweet husband, who also served as our photographer, we were blessed with many great photos.  One of those photos, however, speaks to my heart the most.  It’s a photo of me with my boys gazing out at the vast waters before us. 

Like the stillness of the ocean in the photo that morning, sometimes the waters in our lives is calm. Other times, as we all know, it’s full of many unexpected waves…some waves will be breathtaking and wonderful and some will hit your heart so hard you don’t know if it will ever be able to beat again.  But, for every wave that crashes, my faith in Christ will stand.  He steadies my footing.  He calms the waves.




Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? 
You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.
You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.- Psalm 89:8-9

This past Monday I received my first chemotherapy treatment. I am feeling well, just riding a few waves of nausea and fatigue.  But, God’s got this.  And, He’s got me.  And, for whatever waves you’re facing, He’s got you too. 

I’ll close with the lyrics from the song, “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” as performed by Hillsong United.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

(Chorus)
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

(Chorus)

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

(Chorus)

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A New Chapter...

Confession: I am somewhat technologically challenged!  I had hoped to upload a video here to the blog page, but it appears the file it too large to do so.  So...if you feel so inclined, I would love for you to visit the Facebook page for the blog and watch the video there. 
Our family is embarking on a new chapter and we would so love for you to continue walking The Slickery Road of life with us.  

Much love to all of you,
Angela