August 13, 2019

cancer update and thoughts

Nine months of hair re-growth for me. Two years of hair growth for little B.

Curly hair has really grown on me (both literally and figuratively). I feel wild and free. And I sometimes feel like my Grandma Neff who permed her short hair regularly (love and miss her!).

Physically I am still feeling well. I am exercising regularly which allowed me to graduate from my PT appointments. I still don't have full range of motion in my left arm and I am still really tight, but it is so much better than it was six months ago, or even three months ago.

I am comfortable with my monthly injections now. I don't feel anxiety going in and I stay calm during the whole process. Which, as I have relaxed, I have noticed that I do not bruise as much. Imagine that.

I am starting to feel like myself mentally, spiritually, and emotionally again. It has taken some deliberate work to get there though. I have seen a therapist a few times for some trauma work. And I have tried to really give myself time for study and journaling. I even took 24 hours for myself (I stayed in a nearby hotel) to recharge and study.

I needed to remember all that I believe and the evidence throughout my life that Heavenly Father loves me, there is a purpose to our life here on earth, and He has a plan for us.

And the central part of that plan is our Savior and Redeemer who atoned and suffered for me. He descended below all things. He understands my pain and sorrow and struggles brought on by both my choices and by plain ol' earthly life.

One of the things I did during my 24 hours away was finish studying The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister. Coupled with scripture study, my study of the atonement filled me with a peace I hadn't felt in awhile.

I also spent some time in the temple and wrote a lot in my journal, but one of the highlights of my time was a sunrise hike I went on by myself up Santan Mountain.

I went to church with my ward, but I did not sit with my family. I love my kids and all of the work I get to do as their mom, but I needed to listen that day. So I sat in the back and listened to the talks and they were inspired and shared things I needed to hear.

It was good for me to take time to organize my thoughts and questions, to study without interruption, and to draw closer to God. I needed to recognize and remember.

One of my favorite quotes right now is from "Cry, the Beloved Country" ( I mentioned it here.) At this part in the book when they are making improvements in the town, it says, "But all this was not done by magic. There have been meetings, and much silence, and much sullenness."

It's like when we meet someone as a small child with a speech delay or who is just learning to kick a ball. And then we see them again years later and they are speaking beautifully with enriching vocabulary or they've become a star soccer player. We notice the drastic change then. But the ones closest to them might have to stop and really think to notice the progress made. Because it didn't happen by magic, right? We didn't see all of the effort, struggles, and practice or the day-to-day slow, hard to notice progress. But all that happened.

Things do not happen by magic. To get from one step to the next higher step, there has to be effort, and deliberateness, and a lot of day to day baby steps. And sometimes there is silence and sullenness (aka bad attitude, sulky, grumpy, etc.) when we have to figure things out and debate and deliberate and question and try different ideas and ponder. It does not all become magically better in an instant. But when we keep having "meetings" and use the silence and sullenness to drive us forward, then we will get there eventually.

My weekend was not "magic," but it was oh so good for me. And as I've kept the momentum going from what I learned that weekend, I am feeling spiritually stronger again and more like myself. But, just remember, all this was not done by magic.

As most people know, a healthy strong marriage does not appear by magic either. So this applies to my marriage, too. E and I have been through a lot together in 15 years. A lot. Infertility, foster parenting, adoption, special needs, big moves and job changes, mental health struggles, cancer, etc. All that stress takes a toll eventually. And when it does we need to put forth the effort and the work to build it up again and make our marriage stronger than before. We are focusing on some small things to help us grow closer together. It's been a beautiful, sometimes hard, process. I'm glad for it though.

I had the opportunity to go with a new friend to her chemo appointment. It was slightly strange being in a chemo room again. But she is a beautiful, strong person and I felt honored to be there with her. I knew exactly how she felt as she got her port flushed and the chemo started. All I know is, everybody needs someone in the chemo room with them. Chemo is no fun. But I am so grateful to be alive today and I know that chemo is partly to thank for that.

I have some more follow up appointments this week and next. I'm hoping I will be able to go off of one of my daily medications. That would be nice. And I'm hoping that all my recent blood work looks good.