Thursday, April 30, 2009

Scott and Mindy Visit Doc M

Our final follow-up visit with the surgeon, Doc M, was this morning. I asked Scott to be the photographer. I don't think I really knew what I was getting myself into.

The wait was pretty long. Scott was starting to get antsy. We began joking if he could bill the doctor for the time he spent waiting for him.

But, I really didn't think that was a good idea. I like my new doc.
Besides, he threw in an extra cancer tumor with no extra charge.
Who doesn't love that?
I'm trying to be stern with Scott and encourage him to be a good boy and wait patiently.

To pass the time, Scott thought up his own creative pics for my blog.
This is the scenery outside the window; he held his arms up over his head and clicked randomly.
Well, almost over his head.

These are the tools that are no longer sterile.
Yes, Scott touched them.
He thinks they were for looks.
He swears he saw rust on them.

This is what is inside Drawer Number One.

Oh, NO! The Sharps Disposable Container is Full!
Alert the Haz-Mat Team!

This is the door Scott kept staring at while waiting for Doc M.

Once inside the door, though, Doc M. patiently answered all our questions. Sometimes I need to hear the answers more than once. It is one thing to hear the Doc say something and you smile and nod through it; it is another thing to be able to coherently repeat that information later on.
My previous Doc said to me once, "If you need to ask me any more questions, you will have to make another appointment." Of course, he always ran his office on time, but there was a cost for the punctuality. Today Doc M informed us that the appointments are scheduled for as long as we need. It could take 5 minutes, it could take 30. However, we have to understand that policy not only when we are the ones asking the questions, but when we are the ones in the waiting room. He also patiently let me ask a repeat question without saying, "You asked me that last time," like I have heard before.
I like my new Doc.
He said my scar was healing well, all was fine and we discussed the Radioactive Iodine treatment I will be going through in September. He was glad I was doing well, but also reminded me that he can't guarantee that he found all the cancer. He said he didn't want to have to see me in there again for another surgery, but that is a possibility we have to understand.
We thanked him for being so blunt. We are finally clear, after four years of dealing with thyroid cancer, that this could be a lifetime situation for us. Could be. We are leaving this in the hands of the Lord.
My only disappointment was that he didn't know the number of stitches I had. I had to ask! I told him it was for bragging rights, because I am a writer. He told me, with a puzzled look on his face, that he thinks they only do that in the movies. He thought I should just measure it instead.
Using the bright red tape measure from my sewing cabinet, I attempted this fete alone.
6 inches
That didn't sound like much to brag about. I had the brilliant idea of measuring my entire neck. It is about 12 1/2 inches.
Now, that is something to brag about. The scar covers about one half of my neck.
Job knew what it was like to have the Lord dealing with his neck.
Job 16: 12 "I was at ease, but He has shattered me: He has also taken me by my neck, and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for his target." Job suffered tremendously, but never lost faith, then was doubly blessed by the Lord.
It can be very hard for the human mind to grasp the concept of suffering, especially suffering that is caused or allowed by the God of Heaven.
I have been blessed with simple thoughts of understanding.
Psalm 115:3 says, "Our God is in the Heavens, He does whatever He pleases." He can do this. He is GOD.
Then, Isaiah 53 tells us "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him." (the Lord Jesus Christ) This was because He was offering His Son as payment for our sins. Ours, as in all mankind - each and every one of us. It was a horrible tragedy for a wonderful gain. Through Christ's suffering, we can gain salvation.
It pleased the Lord to bruise the Lord Jesus; I am willing to be bruised, too. Well, actually, scarred, with a six inch scar that covers almost half of my neck.
What is the ultimate thing we have to remember? This God who allows suffering, who allowed His Son to suffer for our salvation, LOVES US.
My scar testifies to me of the Love of God towards me.
If the Lord Jesus can wear the print of the nails in His Hands,
I can wear the print of His Love on my neck.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Beka's Sermon

Beka often writes love letters to me. She thoughtfully slides them under my door, hides them in my purse and delivers them in envelopes like "real" mail. She senses when I need comfort and encouragement.
Last Sunday during the sermon, she could see by my face that I was in some pain. One wave of pain brought tears to my eyes and purpose to her heart. One by one, she passed her notes of printed love and encouragement.
Her "sermon" is the one that stayed with me all week, giving me affirmation to a spiritual conclusion I had come to earlier in the month. I had been gently grieving in my heart that Rebekah has never known me well. My first bout with thyroid cancer was in 2004/2005, when she was about 2 years old; she has grown up with a sick Mommy.
Then, I quickly repented.
Haven't I rejoiced in the ways the Lord has blessed me through cancer?
Haven't I cherished His presence so much that I haven't begrudged the trial?
Haven't I been allowed to grow in faith?
Haven't I felt the Scriptures come alive as I learn to understand the purpose of suffering?
Shouldn't I be thankful that she is being raised by the "new, improved me"?
Hasn't Rebekah also been blessed in the same way?
Hasn't her character and her faith been tested and allowed to mature in ways other young children haven't been blessed to experience?
Her wisdom and her strength surpass her years.
First, she tried to make me smile by drawing me kinda' upside down.
Giggling, she quietly explained she did this on purpose,
not wanting me to think that at 6,
she didn't know the eyes should be above the smile.
Then, she turned spiritual, reminding me who to turn to.

Next, she was factual.
She drew in my scar.
Remember, she's in kindergarten.
She spells funeticlee.
I'll translate.

She told me what to do.
"Be Happy."

She told me what not to do.
"Do Not Cry."

Then, she gave me a promise.

"Jesus will heal you, Mommy."

Psalm 8:2 "Out of the mouth of have ordained praise..."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The REST of the story

My neighbor, Kelly-Across-the-Street, just wrote her version of the Kelly and Mindy's Most Horriblest, Wonderfulest Day. You will love reading, as Paul Harvey used to say, the REST of the story.

Today Kelly and I enjoyed playing and weeding together and taught the kids how to play with roly-polys. Once Norah fell over and it was so cutely sad to see her like a little tiny beetle, not able to get up. I am not laughing at her misery, but laughing that no matter what she does and what position she finds herself in, she is adorably Norah. But, she is managing well and we are thankful to see her adjusting to using her left hand for coloring, for patting, for eating.

I had shared with Kelly the wonderful answers to prayer concerning the lump of cancer the Lord allowed the surgeon to see and the lump He allowed Him to feel, so I assured her we would pray very specifically for the healing of Norah's arm; for no infection, no long-term damage and that all would go well in the weeks she needs to be casted.

Tomorrow is Sunday, then it is Monday.

Wondering what the day will bring,
with the past two Mondays involving

Guess I'll just keep PRAYING.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Answered Prayer

The other morning I was so overcome with the beauty and the preciousness of answered prayer that I wept. I had been rejoicing in the news since Monday, but the perfectness of how the prayers were answered didn't strike me until a few days later.

I had a quick visit with Dr. M. on Monday, because I was concerned with my healing. It seemed a little red and warm to me and I was concerned about infection. He was gracious enough to fit me in for a quick exam in between his heavy load of patients. I graciously made it to his office after dealing with a bleeding cat and a neighbor's broken arm.

He assured me my scar was fine, then handed me a piece of paper with the final surgery results. He told me that in addition to the 5mm tumor they recovered, he also found ANOTHER tumor that, when sent away, tested in the lab as thyroid cancer.

I was amazed. I asked him, "How did you find the first lump?" He had earlier cautioned us that he might not be able to find the lump that was only the size of a BB and was in the tissue behind the right jawbone. We had asked many, many faithful saints to been praying.

"I just saw it."

It was JUST what we prayed, that the Lord would open his eyes.

I asked him. "How did you find the second lump?"

He answered, "I felt it."

It was JUST what we prayed, that the Lord would guide his hands.

However, he did tell me that because there was a tumor that DIDN'T show up on any of the tests but was found during surgery, he couldn't guarantee that he found all the cancer. He again wished out loud that he could be perfect. We are satisfied for now. We have really learned that this cancer journey is going to be like any other walk by faith, it is going to be step by step.

I am also thankful to report that the pain has subsided to a very tolerable level. On Sunday I was very uncomfortable and asked the Lord to either reduce the pain or give me the ability to endure. I didn't like that feeling about thinking only about myself, as I become concerned about the pain. On Monday, the pain was reduced to a level that is tolerable, and I began functioning normally and resumed all normal activities.

In reflecting about the specific answers to very specific prayers, I was struck with the utter humbleness of this all. The Mighty God of Heaven, the Maker and Ruler of the Universe, the Father of my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, saw fit to answer prayers on my behalf. I am so undeserving.

I am further humbled that hundreds of saints, connected through telephone calls, emails and voiced prayer requests in churches around the United States, would pray for MY healing. This humbles me beyond words.

Even as I write, I am weeping at the goodness of God.

I'm even more amazed that the Scriptures teach of that is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. Romans 2:4 It isn't that God will strike us down to bring us to Him, He pours out His goodness and love to draw us closer to Him, whether we need grace unto salvation or grace for growth.

Thank you, dear praying saints. you have upheld me. By your prayers I am healing.

"Father God, I rejoice in the fact that you care enough about your people to hear and answer our prayers. I thank you for opening the eyes of Dr M. to find one tumor and I thank you for guiding his hands to find the other tumor. We rejoice, Father, we adore you, we love you. In Your Lovely Son's Name, Amen."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kelly and Mindy's Most Horriblest, Wonderfulest Day

Monday morning my husband kissed me good-bye on his way to work and wondered outloud if I was going to be all right for the day. My parents were back in Montana and he was going back to work. I was only one week out of surgery and he was worrying a little about me. I told him I would be fine.

Isn't that what we always say? FINE? And isn't it usually never fine?

Rebekah had learned to cook eggs that morning, so we enjoyed a peaceful breakfast, eating and chatting leisurely. Before I knew it, there were rumors of blood and shrieks and the general turbulence of noise that crescendos whenever anything remotely interesting is happening around my house.
My quiet child, Gracie, came screaming up the steps. "Mom, our cat is dying! There is blood everywhere!"
Bethany complained, "There's blood all over my bed!" The child who had just painted her walls light blue and purchased all white bedding had a valid complaint.

Jon added to the commotion. "Oh, yea, I saw blood all over downstairs this morning, too."

I was wondering why this revelation was a P.S. added into a conversation and wasn't the morning headlines. Slightly sarcastically I asked, "So why didn't you feel that was something that should be made known earlier?" I lectured a little more on those mommy things like germs, responsibility, and vented whatever other steam needed to be released.

He shrugged and said, "Well, I wiped some of it up."

Meanwhile, I had a cat who was bleeding and a bunch of kids who were panicking. They had determined that the blood was coming from the end of the tail, but I didn't wasn't sure what to do. But, I knew who would - my bestest neighbor, Kelly-Across-The-Street. I call her this in a fond remembrance of a childhood friend named Curt-Across-The-Street. She has two young kids, a dog and her dad was a doctor. Somehow I knew she would know what to do. Young Moms always have great ideas. They are fresh in their parenting and in their formulations for solving all problems. Old Moms are tired.
Before I even had finished my second cup of coffee, I was on a knowledge quest. I knocked on her door and told her I needed some free advice. I described the cat's tail, not really admitting that I also didn't want to pay a vet bill if I could avoid it.

"I actually know what to do! I had this happen to a cat of mine once," was all I needed to hear. She brought out Steri-strips and described how we needed to shave the tail, disinfect and tape the skin back together. While I was there, I made her look at my stitches, too, asking for her advice if she thought I looked infected. I was still very sore and red and the skin on the right side of my body felt like a sunburn, It was sore to the touch and when you did pressed down, it left behind white fingerprints. She agreed that I should probably try to get into my surgeon before the scheduled appointment on Thursday.

How could I have parented for almost 22 years without knowing about these cool things?

Feeling bolstered with her knowledge, I went back across the street, handed the tape and the job off to the squabbling kids. But, with every twitch of the tail, blood splattered all over the dining room, the window, the rug and the kids. I had to go into my room and call my doctor, so I left them alone. They came in on occasion, wondering if they could give the cat any of my Percostat, wondering if they could use the haircutting scissors, wondering if they could use Neosporin. I said No, Yes, Yes, and made an appointment for 3:30pm.

Since Grace used to want to be a nurse, she had to do most of the shaving and repairing.

When the cat was finally shaved and bandaged, not sure if it looked as Kelly had instructed, we let him go, began disinfecting the house, soaking clothing and blankets in cold water, and thought we would enjoy a peaceful lunch.

Jon came to me, begging to take a shower before lunch. He said, "Mom, I look like a Civil War surgeon!" He did, and for once I didn't have my camera to capture the moment and illustrate his very home-schooled description of his condition.

Beka asked if she could play outside for a few minutes while I made lunch.

Did I say peaceful? The next cry was from Rebekah.

"Mom, little Norah fell off the ledge at her house and broke her arm."

I hurried across the street, following the sounds of a very distraught little girl. I met Kelly at her front door. She holding a crying child and a diaper bag with a confused look on her face. My extremely capable neighbor, the mother who teaches me things, looked so sad and said, "I don't know what to do." A hurting child can do that to a mother, the ache for them is so great, you lose your ability to focus on anything else but their heart-wrenching cries.

I held little Norah while she administered Tylenol and called the pediatrician. Because the break was near the elbow, he directed us to the emergency room. We spent several hours together, doing the things Moms do in times like this, chatting and entertaining a precious little one who is suffering a great deal. I thought it sweet that Norah's favorite toy was also from Build-A-Bear, an adorably fuzzy gray cat she calls Miss Kitty. She cuddled her all day and made me wish I had brought my monkey.

By 3pm, it was determined that Kelly needed to take Norah to Children's Hospital.

As we parted in the hospital parking lot, I hugged Kelly and told her it was the best day of my life and the worst. It was the worst because we survived several tragedies, although the kitty tail was awfully unimportant compared to Norah's precious little arm, but we rejoiced that we were together. We were true neighbors and true friends.

It reminded me of the time, several years ago, when that House-Across-the-Street was sitting empty, and my heart was so lonely I thought I could die. I prayed and prayed for whoever would buy that house and I determined we would be friends, whether the wife wanted to be my friend or not. I knew I needed someone. But, the Lord knew that Kelly needed someone, too. She moved from the other coast with her hubby and two very little kids and was as lonely as I was. It was Friendship at First Sight. Within days, we were in and out of each other's homes and lives and have shared a great friendship. Today was proof. As we hugged in the parking lot, we both rejoiced in that knowledge that we didn't have to walk those hard days alone.

Because, I have Kelly-Across-the-Street.

To read her version of the Most Horriblest, Wonderfulest Day click here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Little Brookie Cheers Up Gramma

One of the biggest blessings about being a mommy, is that eventually you can turn into a Gramma. A Gramma enjoys all the good things about motherhood, without the responsibility and the financial commitment. Our daughter Jana brought hubby and baby home to help take care of me after my surgery. Brookie was a LOT of help. She entertained me by trying on the shoes by the front door.....anything left out is fair game for a Shoe Fashion Show. (Yesterday, her Mommy was trying to leave the house, but was having a hard time finding a PAIR of shoes. Apparently, Brookie had Cinderellaed them around the house.)

She fixed things for her poor, recovering Gramma. I guess she is so used to watching Grandpa fix things, she's learned to fix things herself.

She comforted Grandpa.
But, can't you just hear her thinking, "My, what a big face you have!"
I remember the days when my little Jana looked just like her precious little Brookie. After staring at her adorable little face all day, there was always an adjustment when Daddy came home and I had to look in his large, over-sized face! A good-looking face, of course, just super-sized from what I had been gazing at all day.

She warmed my heart by showing me how much she loves her Mommy. I know Brookie loves me; she sometimes sits still long enough for me to snuggle her, she talks to me on the phone, she plays with me, and she kisses me. But the truth is, the beautiful truth is, she has always loved her Mommy more.
This is a good thing! As a newborn baby, she didn't know that I was FAR more experienced, that I had changed WAY more diapers, and that I had comforted babies for hours upon hours. When she cried, she wanted HER Mommy. That natural love builds such confidence in a young Mom! There has never been any competition, only a beautiful generational binding. Brookie needs her Mommy. When Brookie's Mommy needs her Mommy, I am here.
I adore this precious, time honored tradition. They say red roses are the flowers that say LOVE,
but I think DANDELIONS speak the love language much more significantly.
Brookie's chubby little legs can't get her to her Mommy fast enough to bestow her love offering into waiting heart and hands. Over and over she picked and trotted over to someone she loved, mostly her Mommy.
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in Truth." 3 John 1:4

Jana, Aaron, Baby Brookie and Baby #2
We love watching our daughter's family grow in size and in faith.

After shooting family pics for a few moments, while Brookie fussed and looked away, she suddenly decided she wanted to be a model. She posed and smiled and giggled and gave us some great shots.
So while she giggled, played, kissed and loved through the visit, she gave me another reason to continue praying for healing and strength.

Proverbs 17:6 "Grandchildren are the crown of old men..." I guess this includes old women, too. If Brookie is my crown, then the title Gramma is one of royalty.
And, doncha' think my sceptor should be a bouquet of dandelions?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

On the Lighter Side of the Scar

A few weeks ago my son Jon was a little more excited about the upcoming surgery than I actually was.

He enthusiastically commented, "Yea, cool, mom, so are you nervous? Like they are going to go in there and slash you open and look for the cancer."

I bit my tongue, for about five seconds, then calmly informed Jon that I was his mom and I loved him and I didn't take offense, but warned him against speaking that way to any other cancer/surgery patients. Not sure if he got it.

My husband, Scott, was a little more dramatic when I first removed the cool white foam neck brace thing and dared look at the scar.

"Wow, you look like you got ripped open with a chain-saw!"
He did have a clever come-back later, when we discussed the probability of future surgeries. "Hey, they should have just put in a zipper, so instead of another surgery, we could just zip it open, take out the cancer and zip it back shut." Why didn't my doctor think of that?

This morning during coffee break my always-laughing friend Betty admired my scar and said,

"They really sliced you open this time!"

It really was fair game. When she came to church with a band-aid on her nose covering the spot where they removed skin cancer I glibly asked her if she cut herself shaving.

I guess we're even.

I loved the saying on this framed text in an antique store.
Not enough to buy it, just enough to photograph it.
By the way, I saw this two weeks before I found out my cancer had returned.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hospital Souvenirs

Since I only was in the hospital for about 30 hours, and they didn't want the door to hit me on the way out, I wasn't able to garner as many cool souvenirs as I had hoped. SIGH. But, I am thrilled to report I did get that lovely bottle of lotion I was eagerly anticipating, the cool name bracelet, earplugs, my own toothpaste (did you know they make it in clear gel?) and TWO, not ONE, pairs of those hospital socks.
My most prized gift was the bottle of Carra Free unscented Odor Eliminator that Neutralizes Biological and All Airborne Odors. In other words, they were trying to cover up the smell of my projectile you know what. What timing, to puke just as the family was standing at the door. Beka was liberally spraying the room while pinching her delicate nose shut. I could see the flaring nostrils of everyone else in the room, while they smiled through clenched teeth.
Dear John, my evening shift nurse, graciously cleaned up mounds of bedding, clothing, and rubber pillows, the bed frame, the floor and I think even the walls. Not sure. I was too embarrassed to look. He was so gracious and kind and didn't plug his nose, even. He did make me promise to not tell his wife that he knows how to make a bed. I promised to not tell her, I didn't promise to not tell blog readers.
Flowers are always a big benefit of being sick.

My sister-in-law Nita and niece Lydia sent me this adorable Momma Monkey and Baby Monkey and a homemade bar of soap named "Monkey Farts."

Guess what it smells like?

No, not that, coconuts and bananas, what else?

The right side of my incision goes a little farther and has a little hole at the end where the drainage tube was. EEWWWW. I don't like icky stuff. I had to wait five days to take the picture after it healed somewhat 'cuz it grossed me out.
The left side looks like a Charlie Brown zig-zag smile. They say when they make a scar, they make it a little crooked so it eventually blends in with the neck wrinkles.
How wrinkled do they think I plan on getting?

Aw, look at me, with my built-in choker.

After Beka got used to the scar, she had news for me.

"You know what it looks like Mom? Let me show you!"

She dug around in the scissors drawer until she came back with this pair of scissors and held them up triumphantly. Later on, she asked me if the doctor used scissors to open up my neck.
I know what SHE is thinking!

I am getting used to the scar. I am getting used to turning my whole body to turn my head. I am getting used to the fact that I am, once again, slower and weaker. What has been hard to deal with is the trauma to the nerves. I don't remember having this with my first surgery, maybe I didn't have it at all, maybe I recovered more quickly. I also stayed in the hospital longer, was on stronger meds longer, so maybe I just didn't feel it. But, my right ear, the right side of my face, my right shoulder and radiating down has a burning, numb feeling. My ear feels like it was burned to a crisp during a too-long-of a day at the beach. It hurts to the touch. I am praying for healing, and I ask for your prayers. The pain ranges only from a 2-3 on a scale of 1-10, but it is a constant sensation.

It reminds me of a conversation I had in the middle of the night with my angel nurse, Janae. The Lord provided one of His sweetest saints to minister to me hour by hour the night I was in the hospital. I wonder if she really was a nurse, or if she was a real angel. As we were joking about my long, ugly scar, and she encouraged me to wear it proudly because I was alive.

I told her that I didn't have the same kind of trials that the Apostle Paul had, mine aren't as great, but I have adopted his attitude. "I bear on my body the marks of Jesus Christ." (Galatians 6:17). I told her I considered my scar to be one for the Lord Jesus Christ, because He allowed the cancer and I wanted to bring Him glory through the cancer.

She smiled and reminded me of something else of Paul's life, that he asked three times for the Lord to remove the thorn and the Lord said no. (2 Corinthians 12:7) As we continued to talk about the Lord we both loved, I knew the Lord was speaking to me through this angel nurse. I was so thankful for this blessed fellowship in the middle of the night, in the middle of a dark hospital room, where I was surrounded with sounds of sickness and unhappiness and had mistakenly thought, for a few moments, that I was all alone.
Through each stage of this cancer journey I have had to lift up my expectations to the Lord and let Him work as He sees fit. I thought after suffering so nicely for Him the first time, I would be done. I thought that I suffered so nicely the second time that He would heal me. I guess I forgot to ask for no pain. I guess I thought I could suffer only under my terms. I have to repeatedly offer each part of my heart, body and mind to the Lord and let Him truly work as He sees fit.

If He asked me if I was willing to trade the cancer for a little pain, wouldn't I have said YES? But, He doesn't ask, because I had already told Him I want to walk by faith, I want to be His, I want to bring Him glory, I want to win souls, I want to be like Him. Why did I offer these valiant prayers with formulas attached?

Yes, pray for my healing. The pain isn't horrible, but the constancy of it can be draining. I find it hard to not think about how I feel all the time. Instead of now trying to rejoice even though I have the emotional trial of carrying around cancer in my body, now I have the physical trial of the pain it cost to remove the cancer.
But, there is always somebody worse off than ourselves, isn't there? I haven't had chemo, I haven't had radiation,; to some dear cancer sufferers I am barely in the throes of suffering. You may think what you are going through is nothing because you don't have cancer. We must never measure our trials against someone else's, only against the purpose the Lord has to refine us.

I Peter 1:6, "We greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through many trials." For every trial there is a need a "need be" tailored to fit you.

I remember in the middle of one sleepless night, where I was communing with the Lord, and asking Him why He allowed the cancer to continue  indefinitely. I went through almost three years of testing with lumps and stuff in my blood, but they were never able to give me a conclusive diagnosis that I did or did not have cancer. The still small voice that broke through the darkness to answer my wondering heart, "That patience may have its perfect work."

So, dear friend, whatever you are going through, let the voice of the Lord speak to you, that "Patience may have its perfect work."

Momma Mindy and Monkey at the Hospital

Rise and Shine! We were up at 4:30 so I could take my doctor ordered shower to remove all traces of my false beauty; the makeup, deodorant, lotions, moisturizers, scent, fingernail polish. Monkey With No Name is wearing her new outfit we bought just for this day and I packed my pink monkey pj's in my green monkey bag. Suddenly, I was wondering why I bought my MONKEY a new outfit and not myself. It's too late to go shopping now.
Remember that saying, "If the barn needs painting, paint it?"
Not lookin' so good. Monkey is keeping me company, along with Scott, while the hospital staff asks me a bajillion more questions. I had to spell my name no less than five times during that first half hour. I hate trick questions that early in the morning. From here I had to put on those lovely hospital clothes and walk to my bed. I had a consult with the anethesiologist and the surgeon and I don't remember anything else. Scott brought Monkey to the waiting room so Rebekah Monkey-sat while I was in surgery. My Mom and Dad were there husband-sitting Scott.
I'm just hearing that they found the 5mm cancerous node and the other lumps they removed were not cancerous. We rejoiced in the Lord that He heard and answered our prayers. We are so very thankul!
I'm also being reminded that true love doesn't see the face with no makeup, doesn't mind helping your throw up or helping you shuffle to the bathroom with all the wires, tubes and poles attached.
That's my new advice to young women looking for Mr. Right. If you can't picture the man in your life holding the bedpan while you hurl into it, you better keep looking. True love shines in the ugliest moments, the hardest trials and the deepest pain. It is an abiding love that feeds on the love of Christ, grows in adversity and has no end, no limits, no barriers.

I would say I was enjoying a quiet moment, but that was never the case. Monkey is content and is waiting for a visit from the family. There was always the chatter and laughter from the nurses, that was a good sound, and the moaning and groaning from the woman next door. Poor thing never remembered any of the help she receieved. Like a character in a low-budget- lost-in-the-desert movie, she moaned for two days, sometimes every 15 seconds.
"Water.....I need water. Pleeeeeeeaaaaassssseee. Water.....I need water." She varied her cry, sometimes.
"Help me, pleeeeaaaaasssseee. Somebody help me! Help me! Somebody, Pleeeaaassseee help me!"
She was always polite, never angry, was just convinced the staff had not been in to see her all day. The nurses always called her dear and soothed her so patiently and instead of being antagonistic towards her, they acted as if each cry was the first one. They had so many moaners that night they couldn't find a quiet room for me, so they brought me ear plugs.
The city was still sleeping, wrapped in morning fog. Watching throughout the morning was like watching a well-orchestrated routine, as buildings began to light up, cars began venturing out, sidewalks were filling with coffee-bearing people. Like humans rubbing sleep from their eyes, the city began yawning and stretching away the fog with each increase in motion.
As I watched, I wondered about peoples' lives. Were they happy? Were they loved? Were they healthy?
Did they look up and see me staring out the 10th floor window? Did they wonder why I was in the hospital? Did they wonder if I was happy? If I was loved? If I was healthy?
I wanted to shout to the people below...
The Lord answered my prayers!
The doctor found and removed my cancer!
I am loved by my family!
I am rejocing today!

Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped:
therefore my heart greatly rejoices;
and with my song will I praise Him.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Brookelyn Loves Baseball!

I love my kids. My whole life I wanted six kids, and the Lord gave me six wonderful kids. I am so blessed!

So, if being a mother is amazing and wonderful and a blessing, how can I begin to describe the feelings that envelope being a GRAMMA? I'll just show you.

Brookie really enjoyed watching her Uncle Jon play baseball, even though it was very cold. She just knew everybody was yelling and clapping and nobody was sushing her. And, the more she cheered, the more we oohed and aahed over her and the more she cheered. She is so smart!

While He was in There...

This is the beautiful letter Scott sent out by email yesterday morning.

We awoke at 4:30 am, shagged the in-laws out of bed, woke up beka, and in short order we were off to the hospital and arrived at about 6:00 am. They prepped us, we visited with the surgeon, and at about 7:15 I had to let Mindy go into the hands to the surgeon (really the Lord). At 9:30, got a call she was out, and a few minutes later from the surgeon to let me know how all went.

Dr Moore found the lymph node, and it was in fact cancerous. We praise the Lord for all the praying saints who asked the Lord to guide the Drs hands, Prayer Answered. He also took a few other lumps, however they were not cancerous.

It’s 10:15 and sitting here with me is grace, beth, jon, beka, and mindy’s parents. She’s awake, however, we can’t go see her until they bring her to her room. She has drainage toobs put in which will require her to spend one night, and Lord willing home tomorrow morning.

Thank you all for praying for her, she was slightly anxious as you can imagine this morning, but knowing all you were praying, brought great comfort.

Praise the Lord. This journey the Lord signed us up for requires a Test,a Wait, a Result, and finally an Action. Thank the Lord this successful action, and this journey he has called us to.

Heavenly Father, thank you for all the praying saints today, as each was in your throne room. You Father are so gracious, loving and kind, thank you for guiding the surgeon today, thank you for the family you’ve called us into, and most of all, thank you for the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray for each praying saint today, grant them peace and blessings as we realize what a privilege to enter the throne room to bring precious things to your attention. Nothing to great, nothing to small, you want to know everything, and be a part of everything. Thank you Heavenly Father for this day, and being so near. At this time, we continue to pray for Mindy, for good recovery, and that you would be close to her, giving her great peace and comfort. We praise You, We worship You, we give you all the glory today. In Jesus Name we pray and commit Mindy to you today. Amen.

Praise the Lord.


I still have the double-chin, the faulty brain and flawed skin, but NO CANCER left. I am rejoicing and so thankful for the faithfulness of all those who have walked beside me in this journey. I am feeling better by the hour and just thanking the Lord for His Goodness. Rejoice with us!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

While You're In There...

Just to pass the time, and bring some comic relief, I decided to make a list of things I really would like the surgeon, Dr. M, to take care of, while he's in there.....

You might as well take out the double chin….
I asked about this at our first meeting, you replied with a laugh that it would be an extra $10,000…but, I WASN'T kidding! What would it take to just send in a little lypo-vac and suck out some of that padding that filled in under the chin after my first surgery….

Can you send a little electrode up to the MEMORY part of my brain?
I need to forget all the things my husband has done wrong in 23 years of marriage. Why are wives so good at remembering and husbands are so good at forgetting? I can remember details down to what I was wearing when he upset me. He takes so long to even figure out he upset me, he says sorry in ten seconds, then forgets the whole thing ten seconds later. In 20 seconds, I am not even ready to CONSIDER forgiving him! So, could you do something while you're in there?

I need my brain to remember all the things I should dates, appointments, phone numbers, MY children's names, where I parked my car, how to send a text message, my cell phone number, logins, passwords, my mother-in-law's birthday!, to check my gas gauge, my mother's birthday, big words, common nouns, where I put my glasses, how to retrieve a voicemail, where I put my lens cap, where I set my coffee mug, and all those things everybody asks me to do and I've agreed to do based on the fact that I remember what I promised them?

Can you do something about the emotional part of my brain?
Can you shrink the part of the brain that gets angry and increase the part that laughs? Can you remove the grouchy gray matter and replace it with new, healthier happy gray matter? Can you poke around at the intelligence and reasoning part and see why it isn't functioning?

Can you help out in the complexion department?
Can you zap that zit-making mechanism ? I distinctly remember hearing in 7th grade health class (with a lot for more embarrassing tid-bits of information) that my zits would go away after puberty. I didn't even have any at the time, but I remember being thankful to hear there was a promised end to the misery to come. I am still waiting. Does this mean I didn't quite finish growing up or does it mean it was another lie fed to me by public educators?

How about finding that wrinkle-producing thing and zap it, too. Strange combo, zits and wrinkles, but if I can only have one thing can I just have the graceful, wrinkles that make you look like you have endured life gracefully and not survived a gale force tornado by sticking your face forward to block the trauma for the rest of the family?

But, Dr. M., your job isn't THAT big.

You don't need to increase my faith, the Lord is willing to take my mustard seed of faith and cause it to grow. Matthew 17:20

You don't need to mess with the prayer portion of my brain, the Holy Spirit intercedes for me with sighs too deep for words. Romans 8:26

You don't need to stimulate any love in my heart, I love because He first loved me. I John 4:19

You don't need to wipe away sins, the Lord's death on the cross removed them as far as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:12

You just need to find a tumor, a 5mm tumor....

We're praying for you, Doctor M!

But...while you're in there....

Friday, April 10, 2009

What Will I Do Next?

I never really know what to expect of myself. I mean, I just never know what I am going to end up doing to embarrass myself. Well, I mean, I should have been embarrassed.

Ya' know how doctors are ALWAYS late? Ya' know how you hate just sitting there waiting with nothing to do except read five year old magazines with the all the good recipes ripped out and each page crawling with germs from all the sick people? I had an endocrinologist appointment and I decided to take matters in my own hand when I discovered there were NO magazines in the room. I reached over and helped myself to a glove. I figured I would be waiting a long time and I had to entertain Rebekah.

She was a bit mortified that I would help myself to a glove. I assured her that it was perfectly fine and since I was paying $500 for a 20 minutes visit, we could have ONE glove. I showed her how to blow it up and we were discussing all the cool things it could be. I was ready to tie a knot in the bottom and play HANDball when.....

...the doctor came in....on time.....and a bit surprised. The highly educated, very experienced, brilliant, people-helping doctor came in to find me with my cheeks puffed out and my daughter staring at me with mortified admiration.

He barely raised his eyebrows, and went on professionally with our visit. I had to do all kinds of challenging things like swallow water with his fingers pressed on my throat, remember the difference between inhale and exhale and try to follow his finger with only my eyes and not my head. Why is that SO challenging for me? At the end of the exam, Rebekah was a bit confused to see this nice, older gentleman thumping on her mom with a hammer. When I sat down next to her, she whispered, "Mom, did it hurt?"

He kindly showed Rebekah how he actually wasn't pounding her mother, he was actually hitting his thumb. I actually laughed out loud. I had the audicity to say, "You went to years of medical school and they taught you how to hit your thumb with a hammer!?!?!" To a woman from a long line of carpenters who do anything to AVOID hiting their thumbs with their hammers, I thought this was hysterical.

After laughing at my highly educated doc hitting his thumb with a hammer, I tried to restore order by asking all my questions and finding out a little more about treatment.

Good News #1 - My cancer is stage one

Good News #2 - My radioactive iodine treatment can be scheduled anytime I want in the next six months - he just advised to not do it during the holidays because I have to be on the low iodine diet. Yea! I won't have to waste a good summer eating passover bread, 2.5 ounce chunks of meat (only 2 a day), and avoiding all good things like pre-packaged foods, restaurants and dairy products.

Good News #3 - Chemotherapy and radiation were mentioned in passing at my last visit, but not something I personally want to experience. I was assured this is only an option if the lump cannot be surgically removed.

Good News #4 - If you go to the Bellevue office, there is free parking. (Hey, at a $5 minimum each visit, it adds up!)

Beka's little man. Isn't he cute? She accidentally drew his mouth above his big nose, so we turned it into a mustache. She likes his mohawk.

She loved the mirrored elevator.

"Mom, there are hundreds of mes!"

I tried to get a good picture, but haven't learned how to use the programmable mode on my new camera yet. She was a bit stressed that we missed our floor and had to go back up and back down one more time, like we were doing something wrong.

Don't worry.

She'll get used to me. Ya' gotta live on the edge....

Many people are asking how we (as a family) are doing as the day of surgery draws closer and closer and closer. We are very thankful to say that we feel peace from the Lord. We are rejoicing that it has been confirmed that people are praying for us all across US, and our emails are often forwarded to more people, and many are putting us on their prayer chains. We feel upheld by the faithful prayers of the Christians and warmed by the love of those in our lives.

Phillipians 4:7
"And the Peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Sometimes people marvel when suffering people have peace, because they are personally distraught concerning that person. It is hard to understand, it passes our human understanding.
But, we can't have the Peace of God until we make Peace with God.

Romans 5:1 "... being justified by faith, we have
peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"
I made peace with the Lord in 1982 when I trusted Christ as my Savior. Now, I have HIS presence in my life, He is keeping my heart and mind. I am blessed to have His peace, you are comforted knowing I have peace as I face surgery and treatment.
Isn't the Lord good?

Psalm 34:8 "O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusts in Him."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

She Had A Dream

I noticed this odd assortment of food items when I walked into the kitchen, after the rest of the family had eaten gourmet mac-n-cheese for lunch. Gourmet means somebody other than me made lunch. My Amazing Grace was just ready to devour her own gourmet lunch. I shuddered a little when I spotted the can of peas and carrots, something I would NEVER buy nor eat. She enthusiastically explained her creation.

"Mom, I had this dream I was cooking and when I woke up I was just CRAAAAAAAAVING this meal. I dreamed all the ingredients, so all day I could hardly wait to make this meal because I was CRAAAAAAAVING it."

She listed the ingredients:
whole wheat pasta, a can or peas and carrots, tomato paste, seasonings and Parmesan cheese.
After a few bites, she realized her dream recipe should not be judged by the color of the ingredients, but by the contents' character.

EEWWWWWW! I double-dog dare you to take a bite!!!!!

Heroically, she tried to down a few bites.
After all, "waste not want not."

We want not.
That wasn't a dream, that was a nightmare.
Amazing Grace's final comment, "But, Maw-uh-awM, I don't know what happened. It was so good in my dream!"

I wonder if this is how Rachel Ray got her start.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

God is Love

Today I have a guest blogger, my sister-in-law, Nita, but she doesn't know it yet.
Surprise! (I hope she likes surprises.)
Her poetry is amazing, but she would never say that, so I will.
She sent me a booklet of her poetry to encourage my heart through my Exciting Cancer Adventure. She took a risk, knowing I am not a huge poetry fan, but I was thrilled to be blessed with her personal work. And, it is a blessing. I will share one of my favorites.

God Is Love
Although sorrow and pain grip my heart,
And the hope of my life falls apart,
When the darkness appears to prevail,
when my flesh and my heart seem to fail.
God is Love.
Although billows encompass my soul,
And in waves of affliction they roll;
although tears are my meat night and day,
Yet His mercy constrains me to say:
God is Love.
Though I tremble in weakness and fright,
And though weeping endures for a night,
There is comfort in God and His Word,
And there's joy in the morning assured.
God is Love.
Oh, there's hope when all hope seems to fall;
There is hope - for my God's over all.
He's my portion, my strength, and my friend,
And His mercy endures without end.
God is Love.

I am learning to love poetry. Thanks, Nita!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Build-A-Bear Excursion

A nice quiet Saturday evening was the perfect time to cross one more thing off my
This was a fun chore, one every Mommy should put on her list.
A trip to Build-A-Bear with our matching monkeys.
We had to begin by "bathing" the monkeys with jets of air and soft brushes. Beka had to explain to me how to step on the peddle below the "bathtub" to turn the air on.
Beka is learning to use my camera.

She's getting a little better.

I think she gets it. She also didn't get a dorky look on my face this time.
My monkey looks like she is enjoying her spa day.

Too Many Choices!
Doesn't that sound like the title of a Berenstain Bear book?
After seeing their selection of pajamas, we scrapped that idea.
I can't believe they didn't have footie sleepers or flannel nighties!
This Mommy might have to start sewing again.
We finally made our final decision and dressed our monkeys.
Instead of twins, Beka decided they would be best friends for awhile.
I think that is because she didn't love the same outfit I loved.
But, we'll share.
She learned the art of sharing when she realized that her Mommy buys toys for Beka
AND toys for Mommy.
If I ever bought something for myself, I would always hear her concerned little voice,
"We share, Mommy, wight? We share."
Momma dressing the well-loved Monkey With No Name.
I can't believe I forgot my monkey's name!
Actually, yes I can. I can't even remember my OWN children's names all the time.
A very patient Daddy taking the final shot of the Crazy Monkeys and the dolls.