Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Shine

I've never gotten angry about having cancer.
I've never said, "It's not fair."
I've maintained a pretty good attitude and I've yielded willingly as I have given up one thing after another.
Until today.
Today I got really angry.
Today I cried, "It's not fair."
Haven't I given up enough?
Do I really have to give up this?
Something so close to my heart.
Something I've been unwilling to even consider.

My heart breaks. It may seem trivial to some.
When it's your choice, sacrifice is hard.
When the choice is taken from you, hard doesn't even begin to describe it.

I've wanted to homeschool as long as I can remember, long before I was even a parent. My favorite thing about parenting is teaching. I love it! I love the way they learn so quickly and how it brings them so much joy. It's the one part of parenting that comes easily to me. I don't even need a curriculum. Tell me what they need to know and I will come up with a fast and fun way for them to learn.

My oldest starts first grade this year. I made a plan. I bought everything I needed. I've been working for months getting ready. Unfortunately my strength has been declining. I kept thinking it would get better. I've tried everything, to no avail.

I heard that small voice in my head, "Put him in public school."
No. No way.
I went through all the arguments.
But still, the thought kept nagging me.
I finally admitted to myself that no matter how many great ambitions I have, I lack the energy and patience to homeschool. My home is currently not the best environment for my children to thrive.
I'm still in survival mode. Just barely getting by. Just doing the minimum.

So after three days of angst, I registered him for school.
It's not that big of a deal, right?
Well, it is for me.
Goodbye dream. I hope we meet again soon.

I told my son he was going to school. He had mixed feelings at first.
Then I said to him, "Remember Matthew 5:16?"
We quoted it together.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.
"Now is your chance to shine." I told him.
His face lit up and he broke out in a big smile.
"I know, Mom."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Date Night

You may remember from my New Year's post that one of my Christmas presents was tickets to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Here it is, eight months later, and I was able to use those tickets. I'm pretty excited to see some of my plans actually come to pass. My life has been unpredictable these past 15 months, and completely out of my control.
I'm happy by how far I've come since the first of the year. However, I didn't expect to still be feeling SO bad. I've mentioned before that the Herceptin is wearing me down. My blood counts are down and I am tired and lacking energy almost all the time, not to mention a myriad of other strange side effects. I have just two more treatments. I'm excited, yet in disbelief that this chapter of my life is actually going to end.

We were at the Shakespeare Festival with my whole family (dad's side). They don't allow you to take pictures. Despite that, when my sister-in-law was randomly pulled out of the audience to play Juliet in a crazy, Shakespearean rendition of the Newlywed Game Show, I nudged Damie to take some pictures with his phone. Nikki is very, very shy, but was an excellent sport.


We were totally busted for taking pictures, but since this was just the pre-show, they played along and posed.


I don't get out much and having fun is always a bit difficult for me. The seriousness of cancer is a stark contrast to the lightheartedness of fun. But I really did have fun that night, and having Nikki as the star just added to the night. I was able to really, really laugh.
And to top it off, when we returned home after a long and very late evening, our babysitter refused to let me pay her.
Hot date. Fun night. Free. Awesome!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Summer

inside
day after day
looking out windows, longingly
remembering days of camping, hiking, parks and play
field trips, vacations, swimming adventures
what once was carefree
now replaced
peaceful, aching sadness
missing friends
me, the little bit left
stripped away
my will, gone
all rights, entitlements
gone
submitting finally
letting go
yielding to One
whose way is better than mine

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Alternative Medicine

Throughout my battle with cancer, people would often encourage me to seek alternative treatment. It was always very emotional and disturbing. I heard many stories (both good and bad) of people who declined traditional medicine in favor of natural treatments. It's a difficult choice. I chose the method of treatment that had the best track record for success, based on respectable research (I'm a data junkie). My cancer was advanced, very aggressive and fast-growing. I didn't have time to try other methods. One of my nurses wisely stated, "If we could cure cancer naturally, that's how we would be doing it."
No one wants to go through chemotherapy. No one would choose that unless they felt there was no other choice. I faced every treatment with dread and had to force myself to go. I wish I could better explain how it made me feel when people told me how horrible chemo is and how there are other, easier, more natural treatments. I know they meant well, trying to help and provide me with information. But when facing a decision that will determine whether you live or die, it is extremely hard to repeatedly hear that the decision you made was not the right one. And knowing that if you went with their recommendation, it could very well cost you your life.
Three different friends encouraged me to go see a local naturopath that specialized in cancer. I didn't want to. I didn't want to be faced with more data and more choices. I had made my choice, and it was a difficult one. But finally, a few days after that last horrible chemo injection, I made an appointment.
I liked how she introduced herself. She didn't consider herself "alternative" and required that I work with an oncologist. She also emphasized that she based her treatment recommendations on research and not anecdotal stories. Her goal was to help me get through the treatment and minimize my side effects, as well as help my body heal and prevent recurrence.
I immediately voiced my skepticism to her. If she was just going to tell me to eat healthy, fresh foods and exercise...well, I already did that and look where it got me.
She asked a ton of questions and did some tests. Then she put me on an extremely strict diet and recommended many expensive supplements. I was desperate to get healthy, and we had a big tax refund, so I decided to give it a shot. She prioritized treatments for me, since doing them all was prohibitively expensive.
I started feeling better almost immediately and continued her diet for months. It was hard. And it was expensive. So I slowly started cutting out some of the supplements and adding foods back into my diet. At first, there were only mild consequences. But after a few weeks, I felt terrible. I was sick and exhausted and depressed. I could barely get out of bed in the morning and didn't function well throughout the day. I started experiencing many of the common side-effects from the two cancer medications I am still taking. Up until that point, I hadn't experienced any.
It took me a bit to make the connection between the way I was feeling and my diet, but as soon as I did, I went back on the diet and started taking my supplements again. Within a week, I felt better. Now I stray a bit here and there, but I know exactly what it costs me, and I pay for it. I've become much more of a believer in natural medicine.
I'm very thankful that I have traditional doctors that respect my naturopathic doctor and are willing to work with her. And vice-versa. I can't emphasize enough to anyone going through cancer treatment, what a huge effect diet and adequate nutrition can have in minimizing the side-effects of cancer drugs and in repairing the body.
Sadly, the two things that effect me the worst are coffee and sugar.