Before going into the shocking part of this story, a little about the photos. These photos represent something that’s been a long time coming. Since the day Hubby and I made an offer on our new condo last December 21st I’ve been talking about going for long walks in our new neighborhood. But signing those papers was the beginning of one bizarre event after the other in our lives and the first walk only occurred a few days ago. These are photos I took along the way and they perfectly frame the news I’d like to share. The walk is a small win for me, but at this point I’ll take any win!
It’s been over four months since my last post and I’m just now ready to begin blogging again. So, for anyone new to my blog or anyone missing them, the following posts will provide a little background into the significant and shocking events I’ve shared so far this year.
Moving on to the latest unbelievable news. Hubby and I were finally able to check-out of our hotel room after 60 plus days and take possession of our new condo on June 1st. Even though our belongings were safe inside our unit after the massive fire that destroyed most of an entire city block, there was extensive restoration work required on the outside of our building. Including, replacing all of the windows, the siding, the front doors, and repairs to the roof and the elevator’s electrical system.
The work wasn’t quite finished yet when we were given the all clear to move back in, which left us living in a construction zone. But we were so incredibly happy to finally be home again we didn’t even care. There was some restoration done on the inside of our condo also, including replacing the blinds that were damaged from the intense heat. There was also debris from replacing the windows and the front door, which required deep cleaning before we could begin unpacking any boxes. So, we went to work immediately.
We worked passionately to finally get our new home in order and get a normal life going again, while at the same time we were making the 45-minute drive back to our old neighborhood multiple times a week to take care of Mom. She lives in assisted living and considers it her home, but with her failing health there were a lot of things to handle for her. Then, on June 15th, Mom entered Hospice Care, which wasn’t a surprise, but it’s still a shock.
We were all busily focused on Mom, helping her achieve her final wishes, when we received the next shocking piece of news. My sister closest to me in age, we’re eleven months apart, had surgery to remove benign cysts in both breasts. Everyone expected that to be the end of it, since she has had benign cysts removed before.
But after the pathology report came back on June 21st, Sis was diagnosed with breast cancer that had been hiding behind one of the cysts. She had one more surgery to make sure the cancer was completely gone and after several weeks of recovery she began radiation treatments. Her cancer was caught very early, so her prognosis is excellent. And I proclaim, “Thank you God!”
Between taking care of Mom, going with Sis to doctor’s appointments and Hubby’s chronic physical issues, it took a little longer than we expected to get unpacked and ready to really LIVE in our new home. On August 1st I announced to Hubby, “As of today we’re unpacked and settled in enough for me to get back to work on my blog now!” I love working on my recipes and food photography and blogging, so it was the first thing I wanted to begin doing again.
But, soon after I woke up the following morning, a Friday morning, I began having unexplained pain that kept me from doing anything. By the time Sunday rolled around Hubby and I both knew something was terribly wrong and he drove me to the ER in our new community. It was stressful driving up to an unfamiliar hospital, we didn’t even know for sure where it was located when we left home, but I have to say everyone we’ve encountered has been amazing.
After thorough testing I was admitted to the hospital and surgery was scheduled for first thing the following morning. The initial surgery was to relieve the torment a newly discovered tumor was causing. Since that surgery went so well, a second surgery was scheduled a week after the first to actually remove the tumor. I’ve had multiple tumors in my lifetime, including a huge life-threatening Schwannoma tumor wrapped around my aorta, but all of them were benign and totally removed. With that history and nothing suspicious showing on the CT scan or in my blood work, everyone expected the same results.
Instead, on August 16th, after the pathology report we’d been waiting for was complete, the next shocking event occurred. My surgeon came in to the hospital room I’d been staying in for almost two weeks and after getting Hubby on the phone, he compassionately gave us the results. He told us my diagnosis is Stage IV Cancer and the Oncology Department was in the process of developing a plan for Chemotherapy. He also told us Chemotherapy is the only option for any positive results.
It shocks me to even write those words in this blog post. Additionally, it shocks me every time a message is left on my phone that says, “This is an appointment reminder from the Providence Cancer Institute.” Surely the message must be for someone else! How can it be for me? It’s also very true that when you get a cancer diagnosis it changes everything, including how I want to do things going forward. This is my life now and if I’m being honest, this reality will find its way into my posts when it makes sense. I’ve talked with several family members and friends and everyone agrees there’s no reason to keep it a secret.
The doctors and the statistics say my prognosis isn’t great, but as I’m constantly telling anyone who will listen, “My faith is strong and I believe only God knows what MY numbers are.” I always say, and I mean it more than ever now, I trust in God’s plan for me. I will follow the protocol for cancer, and even while I’m in the middle of my third cycle of treatment as I type this, with a portable chemo pump attached to me at home, and it isn’t easy, I’ll fight until I’m healed or the Lord calls me home. I’ll live my life as normally as I can and blogging again and going for walks in my new neighborhood are just the beginning.
This is very new to us and Hubby and I are figuring it out as we go, but we feel blessed that we have time to make plans. How much time, we have no idea, maybe many years, only God knows what his plan is for me. The most troublesome Chemotherapy side effects, so far, are nausea and digestive issues. Because of this, I’m learning that my normal way of eating fresh fruits and veggies, as well as whole grains, for the fiber and other things I would normally consider healthy aren’t helping right now. I’ve been instructed to use the BRAT Diet as my guide, B=Bananas, R=Rice (white), A=Applesauce (no sugar added) and T=Toast (white). Plus good quality chicken, turkey and beef, as well as cooked vegetables.
I would greatly appreciate any advice or tips to help me get through the chemo treatments a little easier. Unfortunately, I imagine there are far too many people reading this with experience of their own. I constantly hear stories of people who are doing well after treatments and that helps me stay positive. Also, I strongly believe in prayer and know that it can positively affect my outcome, so all prayers are more than welcome. My first follow-up CT Scan is November 11th and I’m expecting good results on that day with God’s grace and the help of prayer.
I often talk about “God’s Perfect Timing” and even though the situation Hubby and I find ourselves in is devastating enough, I can’t imagine this happening when we were living in a hotel or when all of our belongings were stuck in storage or still in boxes in our living room. Thank you, God, that we are in the best possible position to take on this fight of our life!
Finally, one more shocking event. While I was in the hospital, my youngest sister, who is living in assisted living due to a head injury, suffered a mild heart attack and may need to have surgery. The following Bible verse rings so true for me right now. All I can do is trust in the Lord, because I don’t understand any of this. 2019 has been a shocking year!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5, NLT