We'll start with the results first- NED! If you know anyone who has had cancer in the past and gotten good results, you know that being NED is a very, VERY good thing! It means that scans and labs resulted in "No Evidence of Disease." This last scan marked ELEVEN YEARS of my body being without any evidence of cancer! ELEVEN YEARS after a prognosis of six months to live (at most)... I AM that miracle... that hope that someone may need at this moment. Those cells in a person's body that we call "cancer," don't own them; they aren't yours and they're not invited to stay long either. I had cancer, but it wasn't "my" cancer... it was "the" cancer... and I was fortunate enough to rid of it... and I'm not the only one... so hang on to that hope if you're going through something right now! I'm glad that it's been eleven years, not only because that means "life" over "death" but also because it proves that we, as individuals, can overcome the impossible... and many of us do!
Every year is a milestone on borrowed time! I still come across people that wince over an upcoming birthday because it means they'll be one more year older. I have a request... please... never complain about your birthday and be someone that makes the change in others about celebrating special days because for cancer patients and survivors, a birthday is a bonus; it's a day to celebrate life and all the beautiful things in it. I feel a deep sadness in the center of my heart when I hear or see someone acting negatively about their birthday or flat-out refusing to enjoy it. God gave us each ONE life and it's not very long... the day you were born was nothing short of a miracle in itself and we SHOULD celebrate that! You get only one day a year to call yours, own it!!! And, own it with all the joy you can muster up! Next time you talk about your birthday, please imagine yourself sitting in front of a cancer fighter or survivor before you allow any words to come out of your mouth... and think about what it means to be a "survivor." (...that word we need to change)
This trip was not an easy one, shocking, right? (ha ha) No trip is easy. No scan is easy. No lab work or doctor's visit is easy... everything is amplified in worry after you've had cancer and it's more challenging for some than others. I'm that "some." I like routine when I go into something that creates fear in me and this trip was WAY out of my routine! I worried for over a month before heading to Houston for this one... I analyzed EVERYTHING that was wrong with me, I had doctor appointments for this or that and our kids' schedule was out of the ordinary. Then, I decided to sign up for an angel flight to see if they might be able to find one for us knowing the chances would be extremely slim considering they've only found ONE FLIGHT for me in the first ten years of me traveling to Houston. I wasn't sure I could get through it given the level of anxiety this time around. Of course, they found two- roundtrip! I wasn't sure I would be able to get on a plane at all considering my level of anxiety this time around... but a SMALL plane!?!? Well, I was really struggling at this point.
We ended up not taking the first flight because it was too far of a drive to the hangar on the day one of our daughters was scheduled to have teeth extracted... it was just simply too stressful for me with the tight timeframe. So we took our usual Southwest flight down. And by "we" I mean my husband and I... that's right... my mother decided to sit this one out... perfect timing considering we knew my doctor was going to be out and I was going to see a new doctor. Honestly, I don't know how I manage to live at all some days. So, normally, we fly out on Southwest, grab our reserved rental car, drive to the hotel (the same one every time), decide what to do for the rest of the day depending on what time we arrive then head back to the hotel for a movie and room service. In the morning, we get up around 6am, head to the clinic, go to the 29th floor, check in, grab my lab tubes, head down to the 16th floor, check in for outpatient imaging, get my scan cocktail and IV put in, then the tech will draw the blood for my labs from my IV because my arm veins are very sneaky little bastards and it's painful to be stuck in the arm when they're playing a game of dodgeball with the needle!! Not to mention... I'm a freak about the whole process to begin with. Then I head up to the 29th floor with my labeled and filled tubes, fill a little cup for the urinalysis and drop it all off with the ever-so-appreciated lab techs in the oncology clinic. OMG... they're so nice. I can't even tell you how much this ridiculous process they allow me to do helps with anxiety in me. Then I go back to the 16th floor and wait for scans, get it done, then go eat and head up to the big waiting area (usually for hours) to see the doctor and get results after they check my now very high blood pressure just before heading into the exam room. That's just bad timing... we need to change that part of the process.
Here's a video showing the beautiful oncology clinic I'm able to travel to... what a difference environment can make when you have to go through something so challenging. This is the 29th floor... I'm surprised they don't show you the views from the windows... I love looking out the windows, even in the exam rooms.
OK... so THIS time... Mom didn't join me, the hotel was under construction and we stayed elsewhere, they scheduled my labs AFTER scans, so my whole elevator ride routine was all messed up, there was a new guy in outpatient imaging who "wasn't comfortable" drawing my blood from the IV, it was out of control. I ended up taking two pills that day for anxiety... my doctor was out on medical leave (we'll get to that another day and my prayers are with him and his family every single day), I was seeing a new doctor whom I know nothing about when it's my doctor that I travel to Houston for in the first place... the angel flight corporation set up a flight FROM Houston for us, so I was stressing out about that (for NO REASON- who doesn't want to fly on a private jet comfortably without dings, announcements, lack of leg space, partially reclining chairs, small snacks and loud crowds?!)... Blank stares... I get blank stares in my head about my own issues because I really do realize how absurd most of them are and I try SO HARD to overcome them... I just keep going through it all and HOPE I come out the other end still alive and not wrapped up in a hospital somewhere for one reason or another. Cancer won't kill me... I'll manage to handle that myself with the anxiety and stress my brain puts my body through all the time because of what I've been through and what I know can happen... BECAUSE IT DID! PTSD... it's fantastic. Anyway... so I did push myself through, but not alone, never alone- my husband was there (he is the best calming factor... I love this man so much), the director of outpatient imaging was trying to help me on the phone in his car, the nurses in the labs were trying to help me... and it was THEY who found the solution for me and I am praying this will be my new routine... they found a caring infusion nurse to put the IV for me and draw the blood right there... OMG... that was so much easier than even my FIRST routine! I don't know why they just don't allow the lab nurses to put in the IV's in the first place. Whatever... it worked out. THANK GOD!!! I'm sure EVERYONE was breathing a sigh of relief after that extravaganza.
The rest of the day went as usual... we came up after lunch to wait and weren't in the waiting room more than 5 minutes! What the...???? I had absolutely no time to sit there and freak out internally about every single scenario that could possibly go wrong this trip and how it would trickle down into all other areas of my life... no time for that! It was nice. We went in, met the new doctor right away who was all smiles and very friendly. I honestly did not expect that. I think that's not really the norm, at least from my personal experiences. He gave me all good news which included some spots reducing in size and labs being spot on... and I'm sure HE was breathing a sigh of relief when he saw the scans and labs before he came in because I can't imagine anyone in that hospital not knowing my name by now. Bad news for me is not easy. I do my best to deal with it, but all those feelings and memories just come flooding right back in when I get bad news... and THAT is why I love my doctor as I do... he makes bad news OK to deal with. Fortunately, it was good news this time! ...and almost every time. There was one little area of concern though that I'm trying not to dwell on... he did not want me to wait a year for another scan as my doctor had said we would allow if this trip proved to be a good one... he said there are other spots they are watching. So, I'm going back in September. The good news on that: no surgery this time! I have another seven months to live life, and... it gets me through all our birthdays and my favorite season of the year!!! It will be a happy summer!!!
We celebrated, as we always do. We met with my friend Jennifer, her husband and our oldest daughter, now in the Navy, was in from Virginia to see us and her boyfriend who now lives there. I love spending time with her. It was a really great dinner, as all celebratory dinners are. Jennifer and I miss Katherine... no scan date goes without prayers to her and for her family. I always feel her presence around scan time... I wish I were as strong as she was. I am so thankful she was in my life for the brief time she was.. I'll always look up to her. I can only hope that some day someone might be able to take something positive from me so I could pay it forward.
The next day came... we woke up early to head to the hangar for our complimentary private flight courtesy of Corporate Angel Network and the company offering us the flight through them. Skipping security and crowds made a HUGE difference in my anxiety level, but I was still a little nervous to be on a smaller plane unsure if I would feel claustrophobic. What if I had a panic attack while in flight!?!? One of my coping skills is to seek solace in a restroom where noises are slightly more limited. I didn't know what sort of bathroom there would be, if any at all. I didn't know anything about this aircraft or people on it. I didn't have to do this... I could have just flown my trusted Southwest Airlines... the familiarity of the process and planes gives a false sense of security, I know, but even if it is a false sense... it's still a sense of security which technically makes it real and no longer false. But, I really try harder than most not allow anxiety to get the best of me... sometimes I win, sometimes not. So, we were going to take this flight even if meant I was going to die on that plane! After all, would it be so bad to die on a private jet?! Makes for a good ending at least.
Needless to say... IT WAS AMAZING!!! Once we boarded, all anxiety just literally exited my body and stayed in Houston for the day. I felt so relaxed because it was more spacious than commercial airlines, there were no stressful directions to follow, no worrying remarks, no overhead announcements in static, no tray-tables to put up or seat backs to check- Just a very friendly attendant who made us feel so welcomed! We were given breakfast and shown the features on the plane. I was able to just lay back, put my feet up and gaze out the large window and the gorgeous sky, which is one of my favorite views. It was the most memorable experience. I am SO, SO, SOOOO grateful for Corporate Angel Network and the companies, organizations and private jet owners who work with them because this flight made a BIG difference during a stressful trip... even if it was the return flight after good news. It's still a part of the overall stressful trip.
I'm home now... and I'm still that living, breathing, walking mess of a miracle... and I'm here to help you or anyone you know in any way that I can through sharing my story with all the crazy that comes with it. Have a very thankful, happy day today! Love to you all.
Yesterday I had so many mixed emotions... excitement battling anxiety.
Today... I am thrilled to be alive, full of energy and yet I am still having flashbacks. Thankfully, I'm able to quickly overcome those nervous feelings that dwell within the memories; that's not always possible for me, but it is today! Proof that positive thinking can help overcome anything.
Ten years ago today the team of doctors removed all those cancer cells from my femur (along with the femur portion they had taken residence in) and they performed a total hip reconstruction. At the time, there were only a handful of doctors skilled and versed enough in this specific prosthetic to perform this surgery and they really didn't have many answers for me about the prosthetic since it was so new and was also not (I'm thinking "installed" but I'm sure there's a more appropriate and friendly term... but "installed" sort of works in this particular explanation given the feeling inside where it functions) installed in many people and those that did have it were not nearly as young as I was at the time. No answer on how long this prosthetic will last, no answers on what my mobility capabilities would be... not that they can actually answer those questions definitively anyway, but really, everything was just based on hope and faith that I would keep living and moving forward.
I suppose I had a choice to not undergo this multiple-part surgery process and just accept the fate that the doctors had given me, but today, I'm sure glad my family pushed me forward! (Thanks, Mom, I'm sure you're glad too considering I'm your favorite.)
Today, I am celebrating life with everyone I run into... co-workers, students, family, friends, acquaintances, social media friends, YOU. It's a great day today, ten years after I should have died. It's a great day every day, but that's often forgotten with the mundane stresses of daily routines. I'm looking forward to cleaning my house (that's odd... but really, when I have a clean house, I feel so much more relaxed) and I'm looking forward to planned vacations. I'm very thankful today and I'm so blessed to have the support and friendship of so many around me. Thank you all!
Today, I would love nothing more than to hit our $1,000 fundraising goal so that our family can
pay it forward to other families fighting cancer. Every dollar helps and we have reached $685 so far. I'm hoping to reach that goal today so that we can deliver supplies to the hospital families on Tuesday. I hope you will help if you can. Please click the link and read about our mission:
Today is February 27, 2017... and as I prepare and try to celebrate my 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY of being CANCER-FREE on March 9th this year, I found this memory to be fitting. But first... Please read and join me in celebrating through helping others...
July 1, 2015. The last day of my 30’s! I always envisioned this day as the big party day! Downtown on a yacht with family and friends, on a cruise in the Caribbean somewhere with family, sipping tasty beverages with fruit and tiny umbrellas in my bikini (because of course I’m totally buff and perfectly tanned) while laying in a hammock slung between two picturesque palm trees; or perhaps cruising around Italian countryside vineyards! Well, here I am at home the night before my 40th birthday, and thankful to be here right now. Deep down, I am harboring a little unsettled feeling that I have not achieved my life goals by now, but then again, I did achieve most of them by the age of 28 and then lost it all when I was hit with cancer. I had the job, I traveled the world… I’ve been almost everywhere I have wanted to go by then so I really can’t complain. I’m very grateful for that. I’m also very thankful that I was able and willing to take those trips because at this point, it’s not an option financially and now my body is restricted physically.
So tomorrow is my birthday. It’s looking to be quite the day… Venus and Jupiter are aligned and I’ve been reading that some are calling this spectacle the Star of Bethlehem. Interesting. Equally interesting, is that there will be a full moon tomorrow night. Tomorrow may also be the day that I hear back from the oncologist’s office with the biopsy results from last week. Ugh. Biopsy results. Not quite the day I envisioned for my 40th birthday, considering I have a long running habit of celebrating birthdays in a BIG WAY!
Routine scans brought me back to Houston last week. No symptoms, nothing odd, no additional pain, no blood, no nothing… just routine. I had hesitations scheduling this nerve-wrecking appointment just before my birthday and thought about pushing it back to the week after, but it was too far out from my last scans so to Houston I went. I went through my usual routine: Labs, CT scan, lunch, clinic for results. Of course, I was the last one seen that day, which is fine since I had nowhere to be… but the anxiety of waiting for results can be quite the experience, especially if you suffer from anxiety issues to begin with. The doctor came in and the results were not pleasant. Not completely awful, but not pleasant. One spot in my right lung was enlarged. One lymph node in my right lung was enlarged. One area in the right breast showed up out of nowhere. So, in perfect poise, I accept this information- NOT. I wish that were the case, but no, I lose it- completely lose my composure… a 39 year old freak out… I’m crying, I can’t think, I start spiraling down and down and DOWN… I’m not sure but I may have even been rocking back and forth like Rainman. The wall starts going up, the alarms start going off in my head and I start having flashbacks to when I was told I had cancer the first time and to get my things in order. Automatic death sentence for me. The doctor is a Saint at this point because he is trying every tactic in the book to calm me down; poor guy never had a chance because I’m a pro at meltdowns. My mom always comes with me to these appointments, so she too gets Saint status for her efforts of empathetic love and then tough love, encouraging words and then boot camp words… she really didn’t know which tactic to take either. But God love her, I can’t imagine being the mother in this scenario… again!
The doctor then proceeds to tell me that this is most likely the kidney cancer returned and we just need to get some tissue samples to find out what it is exactly. “OH F*#k,” I think… that means surgery! Here we go back down the twisty slide to Hell! I don’t do well with “procedures.” Worse yet, my body doesn’t do well with drugs! Seriously, twilight drugs don’t work on me! Now I’m having more flashbacks of the last surgery, lung collapse, vesovagal episode (which basically means I scared myself literally to death), coded on the table- not good! Flashing red lights, more alarms, where’s that wall I could use right now to separate me from all this information!?! So, I hear that I have to have a mammogram (ok, I can handle that), and a breast ultrasound (totally fine) and a breast “ultrasound guided biopsy.” DAMMIT! Biopsy… the word I knew was coming, but really didn’t want to hear. Then, if one biopsy wasn’t enough, let’s go for two! Whoo hoo! This one’s even better! Down the throat into the lung (more flashbacks of the pain from my left lung collapsing. It’s at this point that I’m now internally having a discussion with my lungs to build up muscle and stay strong because we need to pull together and get through this and FIGHT, not FLEE this time! We can’t flee because it’s painful… so lung, you better just stay inflated, buddy… PLEASE!?!?!)... ok, so we’re going down the throat rather than through the ribs, that’s good. It was ribs last time. And our goal is to get 2 tissue samples from the lung. Alright then.
Even though the doctor is telling me that it’s ok and that whatever it is, we can manage it, I’m completely doubting him! Why am I doubting him as if I know anything about this cancer stuff??? Worse, I’m in total disbelief because I have been cured by Jesus himself and this doctor MUST be wrong. Wow, was I out of my element! It’s not my plan and I so totally wanted it to be right then and there. Doubt now comes into play in a variety of ways. The kind of doubt that I struggle with even today as I await those results from the biopsy. The kind of doubt that I should not have and try to “give it to God” each and every day. The kind of doubt that makes me feel guilty for having and so I ask God for forgiveness for having said doubt, yet, I’m still hanging onto it like a child with a blanky. The fact that I am now facing the possibility of a cancer recurrence has brought up the idea that perhaps my curing experience through Jesus was really just a dream. And, if that is the case, then how do I know what has been real and what has been in my head all along? Jesus cured me. I so want to believe that and now perhaps I’m failing to believe because of this setback. Is that the case? No. I believe. I believe wholeheartedly that Jesus cured me.
He gave me the message clear as daylight “You will never again need to worry about having cancer.” Yet here I am, worrying about it.
I went in for those scans and got that news on Tuesday and the next day, I met with the Pulmonologist. We set up the Bronchoscopy for Friday morning. Thursday, I went in for the mammogram and breast ultrasound. The large area in the scan was nothing, but they did find a “complicated cyst” that needs a biopsy. So, that needs to happen. Since they couldn’t schedule me in Houston until the following week, I decided to send the report home and have that done up North. Miracle number one so far… large area: nothing. Complicated cyst… they said normally they wouldn’t even biopsy it but because of my history, they recommend it. A shred of hope that it’s nothing!
My dad and brother came down to Houston per my request (mostly because I was so afraid of what would happen during this procedure that I wanted them to be with my mom so she wouldn’t be alone). OK, so Friday, per the doctor’s suggestion, I ingested my prescribed 2mg of Xanax before I left the hotel room for the “procedure.” (That’s another word I don’t like.) When they took me in the room, my brother came with to calm me down while they gave me my IV and drugs to sedate me (remember, the drugs I told him don’t work on me). The nurse was kind enough to give me a little injection of something that was to calm me a little more as well as settle my upset stomach. Oh, I’m not an easy patient. I know this. And these caring individuals are amazing! Just amazing! Well, I’m still nervous… My veins decided to flatten out suddenly that day (thanks, guys, I thought we had a pep talk last night together… we are on the same team, so let’s be strong and get through this- mind, body and spirit working together in harmony, let’s do this!) so after a few sticks of the needle, and half my hand bruised, the nurse gets my IV in… and gives me the usual dose of twilight drug. I get a little woozy, feel a little better, but still am very coherent and obviously very nervous. I put on classical music in my ears and tried to relax… but then started getting a little jittery. So, they gave me more. All the while, my brother was holding my hand and telling me it would be ok and that everything looks good… just relax and sleep. They put on a mask to give me something to numb my mouth and throat and here’s where the comedy sets in for everyone but me. NOW, I’m REALLY drugged, they ended up giving me 4x’s the regular dose on top of everything else I already had in me… and here I was, still trying to verbally communicate now with a numb mouth and throat. What I thought was coming out all fine and normal was only coming out a sloppy gibberish apparently. I was asking a lot of important questions and getting no answers but a lot of little smiles and chuckles from my brother, which only confused me. Eventually, he disappeared when I opened my eyes one time so I figured we were ready to go, but there I was, still chatting it up and wondering why I was still awake. The doctor injected something horribly painful in my throat to numb my throat more… OMG! I yelled, cried and pushed his hand out of the way then started worrying that they were going to strap me down and all I could picture in my head was scenes from the movies “Clockwork Orange” and “Fire in the Sky.” So now I’m crying and freaking out… and so it stops for the moment. I rest.
The anesthesiologist came in and had me sign some papers after they waited to let some of the other drugs wear off a bit and counteracted them with additional drugs. I can hear a little disagreement about when my pants were supposed to come off, so I checked to see if they were still on… yep. Still there. I guess I was entertaining just about everyone in that room by now after all the drugs and numbing agents. Still somewhat coherent to talk, but not really… I’m still thinking I’m talking and it’s coming out perfectly. So, the nurse asked me to please remove my pants and I automatically go into freak-out mode! “Just in case you need to shock me?” I fearfully questioned. The room goes into hysterics… except one person who yelled out as if I were deaf, not drugged and numbed, “NO! THE PADDLES! JUST IN CASE WE NEED TO USE THE PADDLES ON YOU!” So naturally, I reply with bulging eyes, “YEAH! That’s what I said! Are you afraid that my heart will stop from all these drugs!?!” Everyone there is just laughing and I’m not getting it at this point. Finally, the anesthesiologist looks at me and says, “we won’t need them… everything will be ok.” Sigh of relief. Somehow, when someone touches my hand or arm, looks me in the eyes and states that everything will be ok, It REALLY makes me feel better inside. That reassurance that I’m ok is needed. I don’t know why, but it just helps. And, I so very much appreciate every single person that has done this for me… and for everyone else out there too. And I’m out.
They took 8 tissue samples from my lung. All went well… very well, actually. The Pathologist was in the room analyzing the samples to make sure they got the right cells… and they did. But, nothing short of a miracle, in this preliminary glance at the cells, there were no cancer cells found! MIRACLE number two! They also said that the spot that showed growth was just a blood vessel. MIRACLE number three! We did not actually anticipate this good news. We thought we would be confirming kidney cancer. Somewhere deep down inside though, I was expecting no cancer. After all, I had been cured and the doctor could be wrong. My doctor stated “most likely” it is cancer. (Now flip to the movie “Dumb and Dumber.”) “So you’re saying there’s a chance.” Yep… one little shred of HOPE to bank on.
Having that hope, I meditated the night before while trying to fall asleep. I did all my breathing techniques, I prayed for a very long time… not only to God and Jesus, but my friend, whom I was missing so much that week, who passed away from the same cancer just this past October. This was the one time I REALLY needed her here and it was already a tough visit to start with. I prayed long and hard that night for that little shred of hope. I reimagined my experience with Jesus and felt that rush of energy emanate through my body while I focused on targeting my right lung with that curing energy. I located the memory and belief of our bodies having everything we need to heal ourselves and I was on a mental mission that night to heal quickly so that when they pull those samples out, they won’t find cancer because I will have gotten rid of it already with the help of Jesus. I am cured. I am healthy. I am happy and I am thankful.
So here I am, now 30 minutes left of being 39 years old… sitting alone in front of my computer writing this story. I am SO glad I am home with my family. My peaceful husband sleeping in the bed next to my desk, our three daughters tucked into their comfy beds, our four dogs sleeping wherever they are… and right now, even though I’m not on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean or enjoying a wine flight in Tuscany, I’m perfectly content and deeply satisfied to be exactly where I am right now. I’m still nervous about tomorrow, wondering if I will get the call telling me I do or do not have cancer in the lung, but it is what it is and I will do everything I can to celebrate my 40th birthday and put that anxiety away for a day. We’ll see. But along with the planetary alignment, the full moon and the plethora of rainbows that I have seen since my scans… today, I was given so many blunt signs to let it go. I was searching online for a birthday cake idea with one of our daughters. In our search, we saw a LOT of rainbow themed cakes, which I thought nothing of it really since there are a lot of rainbow themed cakes out there and it’s not anything unique or new… but then I came across a cupcake with a rainbow that just simply caught my eye and the text under it caught my eye even more “The Amanda Cupcake” it said. “OK. I get it, God. THANK YOU!” I mentally sent up to Him. And I took a deep breath to calm myself a little. Later that day, my husband was flipping through Facebook and said, “Check this out!” It was two photos of the aftermath of the tornado that recently hit Oklahoma. One photo was the top of a telephone pole that had been ripped apart and now was simply a Cross hanging alone in the lines above a road. The other was a photo of the clouds that looked to be a large hand, as if He was saying, “Jesus is here and all is in My hands, so let it go… we are here.” All these signs.
Of course, being the over analytical freak of nature that I am, I have to admit, I wasn’t quick to jump to ease and contentment. I started thinking that my test results could still come back showing cancer… and perhaps He is telling me that it will be ok if they do, but then why did Jesus say he cured me and that I would never have to worry about cancer again? All I know is this… When that phone call does come, and after I get through this breast biopsy next week, I will be on a new path.
I didn’t get to choose which way to go at this fork in the road, but one way or another, I’ll move forward.
As of now, I’m still holding on to that experience with Jesus and the rush of healing energy I feel when I focus on that experience. I’m holding on to that little shred of hope and possibility that there is no cancer in my body. At this moment, 11:45pm on July 1, 2015… the last few moments of being 39… I can officially say that I will have gotten through the rest of my thirties “CANCER FREE!” And, I will keep hope and faith that I will start and end my 40’s cancer free as well.
Fast forward to today's date... I went through a summer of biopsies that year... all NED! (No Evidence of Disease) And now, I'm ready to celebrate that 10 year anniversary... a gift of life I never anticipated having.
(Be aware... I have posted a photo below of the staples/stitches after surgery.)
I remember seeing the Orthopedic Surgeon prior to the day of the surgery. I remember the medical campus and the building. I remember the waiting room, the large curved waiting room filled with sad, worried people... some of whom were not able to have the surgery they needed to stay alive. They didn't have the option- because of their insurance. At the time, there were only a handful of surgeons that performed this type of surgery and I was lucky one of them was so close to home... and even more lucky that I had insurance they accepted. All those people in the waiting room that were there with those bad insurance plans were there in hopes to catch the doctor on his way in or way out to beg and plead and hopefully find a way to get the help they so desperately needed. I didn't see a light at the end of their tunnel for them, so I started bringing little gifts to the waiting room. Silly little things with little notes on them just to let them know that someone cared. I passed them out in the waiting room to everyone. It was just little samples of lotion with my card and a happy note. Nothing extravagant. I think it also helped me stay busy while I waited. I find that's very important to do when facing life-threatening illnesses that you are waiting to discuss with a professional who is going to either give you good news about living or bad news about possibly not.
This is a microscopic view of the mutated cells. The enlarged circle area is a tumor that is forming. Dr. F. took the tumor from my kidney, liquidized it, ran it through a machine that separates the mutated cells from the healthy cells and then put them into petri dishes and is growing more of my tumors. Then, he puts them into smaller individual dishes and tests cures on them. He gave us a tour of his lab... pretty interesting stuff. The long squiggles are the blood vessels that the tumor is forming to search for nutrition.
When I was called in once, I only remember little pieces of this particular meeting. I remember him opening a case, similar to a metal briefcase like the mafia carry in movies when they handcuff it to their wrists, which held all the parts of what they would replace about 5" of my femur bone with and then reconstruct the hip socket. I remember looking at my mom like “I can’t handle this… this is way too much information for me.” She caught the look and said it was ok for me to not to have the details. We needed to do this and get through it and we needed to trust the doctors. Sometimes in extreme situations, it's comforting just to hear an "it's ok" from someone you trust. In this particular moment, I was mentally "checking out" very quickly... retreating to my internal self and overwhelmingly, anxiously contemplating my options, which were really either having this surgery or letting the tumor cells continue to flow and grow anywhere they please to multiply and eat me from the inside out until death. So, yeah, I chose surgery. But the rest of the meeting is not in my conscious memory. It's blocked like so many other memories.
I know I was one of the first however-many people to have this specific prosthetic and I also know that I was the youngest that this doctor had heard of. He was not able to answer many of my questions, though I'm not sure that any doctor would have been able to answer them. I was wondering how long this prosthetic would last. Would I have to have this re-done at some point? If so, what's the average life expectancy of this new body part? Because I really didn't actually want to know the answers to any of these questions, I vaguely remember his responses. I remember him saying that most people that get any prosthetic in general will need sort of a "tune-up" somewhere around 5-8 years. But, this one was a much larger one than normal and very new and durable. He said it could last 20 years or more... he just didn't know because it's too new and because most of the people that get this type of prosthetic are much older and end up "passing on" before the prosthetic wears out. OK... So, longer than 20 years then. Like let's just say 60 years. That should be ok.
March 8, 2007. This was the day after my mom's birthday... the day I checked into the hospital for the first of several operations to replace my bones with titanium and whatever else. The first surgery was to cut off the blood supply to the tumor in the femur. I was awake for this one and very nervous. I had two nurses with me at the time... one whom I call the Nazi nurse and the other who became a friend for a while until we lost touch after moving so much. Without her kindness, I do not know how I would have gotten through that operation. I don't know about you, but sometimes a simple touch, a hand hold or even just someone laying their hand on me can create such comfort... for whatever reason. She was there and noticed every single time I started to worry more than I needed to during that procedure. I can't thank her enough.... To all you nurses out there, THANK YOU for being with us when we need you most. You'll never know how much you truly make a difference. As a patient, I know I don't express my thanks when I'm in the moment, but know that I am grateful... and likely, your other patients are as well. The next day was the big event... the main surgery.
My mom had her prayer group going for me. I don’t know when they began but I do know they created a prayer shawl that I cherish to this day and keep bedside. I took that shawl in with me to surgery with the surgeon's approval (you know it's a risky procedure when the surgeon lets you take objects in with you). I asked my family, including my then atheist husband, to pray over me pre-op with the shawl over my body. The doctors said that I would need "x" units of blood during the surgery (I can’t remember the exact amount, but it was something around four units) and then possibly more after the surgery in recovery… basically I would lose a lot of blood and this was going to be a long serious surgery.
Other than the miracle of prayer, how did I get through that surgery without even one unit of blood?
I did receive some in post-op, but not any during surgery! (Thank you to those that donate blood... you have saved my life, a few times over... if you don't donate blood, please do.)
Fortunately, I did not remember any “light” experience or ANY experiences during this surgery. But, when I came out, my pain scale seriously changed!!! OMG THE PAIN! Morphine was not enough. I did want to die. I will not lie… I was in shock, depression… I just didn’t want to get through it because it hurt so badly. The morphine was making my nerves amplified and I’m pretty sure I had superpowers for feeling things more than The Princess and the Pea. The doctors left a pen under a leg, which felt like a dagger. One of my family members got that out of there right away. Then, there was a hair in a very uncomfortable spot for everyone… between my legs near the hip area! OF COURSE! Here comes the humor in all this. Now, my mom had already been through Hell with me and all this cancer crap and now I am post-op, in severe pain, on drugs, with an abductor pillow strapped between my legs and completely unable to sit up to get this hair that is stuck between my legs near my hip! My younger and brother reluctantly agrees to reach in and grab it for me and he did with one perfectly aligned reach, THANK GOD! Oh, the relief! The poor guy! I'm ever FOREVER so so SO grateful for that act of kindness! (Humbling for us all.) If you have never had morphine, you won’t understand, but if you have, I’m sure you get where I’m coming from here. Back to the pain. This surgery changed my pain scale significantly. What I originally thought was an 8, was really only a 2 at most. Now when I go into a doctor’s office and they ask me where my pain is on a scale of 1 to 10, I always ask them if they want the REAL scale of someone who’s been through Hell or the normal person scale. I’m always astonished that they always ask for the normal person scale. Why don’t they want the real scale?! Why do we have this scale if we can't be real about it??? Whatever. Fine... I almost always just say 6 unless they ask for the real scale. That way, they understand I'm in need of assistance, but it's not too horrible that I have to head to the emergency room or call an ambulance. 6 it is.
I was in the hospital for quite some time. I ended up having a third surgery (compliments of the hospital) because they sewed in the drain tube. DAMMIT! Of course they did that. I was in a teaching hospital, a university... I'm guessing they let a student stitch me up. It was no small surgery either! I don't remember how long it was, though I'm sure my family remembers. We figured this problem out when one morning two student doctors came strolling in to try to remove the drain tube. This THIS was a HORRIFYING experience and one I wish my brain would have blocked out. It's a spotty memory, but here's a few of the moments I remember:
- the jerking and jerking of the tube from the side of my hip feeling like my entire hip and groin were going to be ripped out in one strong pull leaving me like a rag doll.
- one of the doctors actually climbing onto the bed on top of me to get to the tube from another angle... unsuccessfully.
- me screaming and then literally blacking out from pain.
- my parents running in just in time to save my life from the "tweedle" doctors in training.
- the raising of my bed so that weights could be hung from the tube in hopes to pull it out slowly.
- huge x-ray/scan machines to find out why this tube was not budging.
- the realization that if those doctors had been successful in ripping that tube out of my hip, it would have ripped out a whole lot more too! Thank God they didn't get it out!
...and I remember playing cards in the room with my family. I love my family. I have THE BEST family! I hate being alone... and I was NEVER alone in the hospital because of my family.
Then I went through Occupational Therapy inpatient for a couple weeks. My family and a few friends would come visit every single day. We would play cards, watch TV, joke… it was actually pretty nice (aside from pain and worry). My favorite day was when one of my brothers had to use the toilet. The bathroom doesn’t lock in rooms like these, so he made sure to tell us all that if the nurse comes in to clean out my bedside commode, please have her come back another time as he would be in occupying the toilet of which is needed for that job. Well, she came in while he was on the toilet and in usual Griswold form, we all forgot to tell her because we were focused on our card game. It was the scream from the bathroom and the scream from the nurse as she opened that bathroom door and saw my brother that made us all remember that he was in there! Oops. At least it gave us all something to laugh about... I'm not sure that nurse will ever recover. My brother will... or has... maybe.
I remember having to wash my hair with dry shampoo and feeling so useless. I remember having to shower down the hall in a pvc/net chair, basically, get hosed down. I felt so bad for the nurse who had to do that job. I didn’t feel bad for me at that time, just her. WHAT A WONDERFUL PERSON!!! It takes a very gentle soul to go into a profession that requires that of you. I remember being so thankful for everyone on that floor who came in to help me… Being grateful and thankful even through all the pain and tears. Without every single one of these people, I would not be here today and I'm sure I would have lost all hope and desire to live.
I don’t remember all the perfect timing, but little by little, I was able to sit up. I was able to move from the bed to a chair. I was able to walk with a walker. Eventually, I went home. I needed constant assistance for months! Not days or weeks, but MONTHS! My mom and dad basically lived with us and her best friend came down to give her a break and help me. Brothers and friends came out to help in shifts. The family and friend support I received is unfathomable. I went from a walker to crutches to one crutch to a cane... all of which took about 8 months before I was walking on my own again... what a process! I did go through outpatient physical therapy, which was depressing and difficult... maybe I'll post about that later.
Overall though, GOD is good and I am so grateful.
Through this process of healing, I sadly found out that some of the friends I considered close were not friends at all while others I didn’t think cared much were there for me. True friends are hard to find so when you find one, keep close. Always count your blessings.
The pain... it never went away fully. I do not think it ever will. I always have some degree of pain in my hip area. Most of the time, it's not enough to think about; but, there are days where the pain puts me out of commission. ...like today. Weather affects it, oddly, and I didn't realize rain was in the forecast. The hardest part of dealing with the pain is the reality of knowing that I sometimes have no control over what my day ends up being like. Today, I did manage to get some errands run, but then had to head home and lay down rather than finish off my chores... hours too soon. It's frustrating and I won't lie... I do get upset and angry that I'm not physically able to do everything all the time. It takes some self conversing to get to the acceptance point and just deal with it. So today, my laundry isn't done, my kitchen isn't clean, my bedroom isn't finished being picked up and I wasn't able to sit at the computer to work. Que sera, sera. I move to affirmations and thankful thoughts... thankful to have such a home to go to when in pain, thankful for the support I have around me, thankful to have a schedule that allows flexibility... so much to be thankful for, every single day. Now I deal with the pain... it's about a 4 on the real scale (that's about a 9 on the normal person scale)... it upsets my stomach when it gets up there... So, tonight, this post is being typed from my laptop in bed now that I've rested for several hours and am able to sit up a bit.... in my roomy room with my fluffy, warm duvet and millions of pillows... my four fur-babies are scattered around the room just waiting for me to move in hopes to get some attention.
Life is good.
I have to first apologize for not blogging every single day. It's not easy for me to re-live the worst parts of my life on a daily basis and quite honestly, I procrastinate. If there is anyone out there that may look to this blog for hope or distraction or anything positive, I know I have let you down and I am sorry. Someone stepped into my art studio the other day... quite a few people do on a daily basis, and a good plenty of these people are looking for donations of some sort. I have a policy at the studio to only donate to cancer causes and visual arts, to narrow it down because we get so many requests. So, when a cancer cause is brought to me, I often end up talking about my story and my blog site. Anyway, this particular person made one simple little comment to me that made me realize how important blogging on a daily basis really is... it's for that one person that may look to my words for hope... even if it's just a tiny short little paragraph, I must post daily. I agree and my heart sunk deep and I instantly felt like a complete let-down. One of the two BIG THINGS I'm doing in my life that could resonate with someone deeply and I am failing. And for that, I AM TRULY SORRY. I promise to make a better effort to post every day. *Notice I gave myself the "out" stating that I'll make a better effort rather than actually just promising to post daily. Why would I do that?! I'll tell you why... because in all reality, when I log in to this blog site, I am forced to think about cancer. It's as simple as that.
Now on with the medical history; my last post ended with me headed into my first surgery after the resident doctor so bluntly gave my life a sentence of "6 months at best."
I'm not sure exactly at what point it happened, but I have now literally entered a state of shock. My recollection of my experiences for the next 6 months is spotty at best.
I woke up from surgery in a bed surrounded by a team of smiling doctors. Thank God for IV drugs because I absolutely needed it. I felt ok post-op, but it isn’t good when you wake up from surgery staring at a TEAM of doctors staring back at you. But we already knew this was likely, so what now? It can’t be worse, can it?
It can ALWAYS be worse. Remember that so that you make yourself feel better… it really CAN always be worse.
So, they were right. I had kidney cancer. Stage IV. There’s no stage V… stage V is death. I’m almost there. And, here I thought I was healthy for the most part with just something a little off that I was taking care of and monitoring (in my state of denial, or rather HOPE that I was the lucky one who really didn’t have a larger issue, or if I did, it wasn’t too large, just a nuisance). Stage IV… because it metastasized from my kidney to my bone through the bloodstream. There’s a lyric in a song about cancer so bad that it is in the bone… because I knew the song, I automatically connected this scenario as the worst possible place it could go. This lyric made me believe that this was the last stage of cancer and once it’s in the bone, that’s it. Game over.
It’s amazing how our surroundings can affect our well-being and frame of mind.
Sounds like the worse case scenario; but remember, it really could have been worse. It could have gone to my brain, or spine, or liver or any other vital organ. So, ok… I caught a break (pun intended). I think these thoughts as the nurse feeds me red jello and as the doctors introduce themselves as if I may one day remember any of them. Back off people… I’m drugged, I’m in shock, and I’m going to die… and I just found out. I just want to eat this tasty, sweet, red, smooth jello right now while linked up to this wonderful bag of drugs.
It almost felt like I was Dorothy looking at the Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow. Each of them had their own thing to say. One doctor was very kind. I remember him saying, “I’m here to give you hope.” I also remember focusing on just trying to focus on him and make sure the jello went into my mouth. Hope? There’s hope. Where is it? He tells me I have options and I’ll be seeing him soon, but first I must recover from this biopsy and get through another surgery. Another surgery? Another doctor steps in and tells me that I have to give him my kidney. They can take it out tomorrow or wait until I heal from the surgery I am still waking up from my first surgery. A reminder… I’m on an IV drip of some very good drugs at this point. So… I rationalize the way a drugged person would: It’s late January and the Superbowl is coming up soon. It was pushed back to February this year. I’m currently in first place in my confidence pool and was hoping to have a Superbowl party this year. So, I find it perfectly acceptable, while on these amazing drugs, to ask “If you take it out tomorrow, will I be home in time to have my Superbowl party? I’m going to win my Superbowl pool this year and I want to watch the game.” I remember this line because I was so surprised to see and hear everyone laugh at me as if I had said something funny. “I’m not being funny.” I said. One doctor looked at me and tilted his head and responded, “yes, if all goes according to plan, you’ll be home. But, you’ll be resting and recovering.” So I said “ok… take it tomorrow because I don’t want to come back again.” Settles that. I think everyone should be given good drugs when making serious decisions. It really truly helped me. I'm not so sure I wouldn't have just broken down into a fit of tears fueled by fear, like I do NOW when I go for routine scans and hear that I have to have a procedure done.
Shortly after, I remember needing to urinate. They had to get staff to help me to the restroom. On the way back from the restroom, which wasn’t far from my bed, I felt very ill and asked for a pan. They brought a chair. I asked for a pan again… they gave me, ironically, a pink kidney shaped pan slightly larger than the size of my hand. What the hell is that?! Before I could even ask for a BUCKET, I threw up in the pan only to have it all splash right out of that tiny, insulting pan back into my face and down the front of me. My mom started worrying because it was red… she called the nurses all over immediately thinking it was blood coming out. Meanwhile… I’m still drugged and remember telling her that it was ok because it tasted like cherries. Best puke ever! Bonus! Here I was just enjoying the taste of my own puke while my mom was in immediate panic and It was just the jello coming back out, not blood. See? There is always something good in bad experiences.
They took my kidney out. I don’t remember how that went. I do remember something that I don’t discuss often though and it’s something I have no explanation for. I remember during the surgery seeing a light, then closing my eyes and seeing a brighter light. I opened and closed my eyes peacefully quite a few times trying to figure out what was going on, but never did. After surgery, in the hospital, the staff came into my room very early one morning when none of my family was around with a questionnaire for me to fill out and sign. My family was not there and I was still heavily drugged. I don’t remember all the questions, but I do remember them asking me if I remember anything during the surgery. I did explain to them the light experience, but that’s all. I don’t know if something happened that they didn’t tell us about or if it was standard procedure. I didn’t care. I was still in shock and now in recovery after my second surgery… before another series of surgeries to the hip/leg to come.
In retrospect… I do believe that something happened during that surgery. It was the first time I felt that “peace” feeling during a very confusing “light” experience. I cannot explain this one.
My family took me home. I don’t remember when my dad came out, but he was there. I had family visiting me a few at a time, brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends… I remember only bits and pieces. I remember getting a whole living room full of flowers and thinking how well loved I was that so many people sent me something, little symbols of their love and care. And then I spiraled into the artist way of thinking… how symbolic of life that they would send flowers that DIE shortly after being sent. And I grew to resent them as much as I adored their beauty, scents and symbolism. I received a few checks to help with finances; if you don't know, cancer is VERY expensive, MONUMENTALLY expensive... if you don't have a pile of money sitting around somewhere, I highly recommend not getting it. One person sent me a gorgeous antique cross and a group of church friends made a prayer shawl for me. These two items I most adored and still do today. My parents went out and purchased a recliner for me to recover in since I was not able to lay flat in a bed. They removed my left kidney laparoscopically, thankfully, given the archaic alternative of cutting the torso almost in half to remove it! OMG, I was blessed there! Another domino saved for the moment!
I remember Sally (my dog-ter: dog-daughter) knew not to jump up onto my lap. She would sleep in bed and then in the morning would rub up against my chair to wake me and pet her to let me know she was there supporting me. I honestly believe she knew I was sick and she knew I needed her. She would lay by my chair or at my feet, but would never climb up onto me, which was unusual because she was a great hugger! So smart. I really miss her.
I remember my parents also buying a small table to work on… we didn’t have a dining table or kitchen table. We always just ate in the living room or on the back patio. So, they bought us a table… we needed it with all the guests and for them to do research. I was still recovering as they were navigating treatment options, research and medical bills. I was so blessed to not have to deal with that through this whole ordeal.
I also remember one friend who sat by my side as I had to use the toilet- for my comfort in her discomfort- I vaguely remember this, but I remember her willingness to be there for me and help me in any way I needed. Thank you, publicly unnamed friend (you know who you are)... I know that was probably the worst job to have.
I remember another friend who flew down to help while she was pregnant… to be with me… laundry, dishes, cooking… whatever. Just to be there for me. Thank you, publicly unnamed friend (you know how you are)... I know what a challenge you must have gone through leaving your family at home to help me.
I remember my mom and my brother cooking meals and doing all my chores… making me smoothies with my supplements in them so I could build my immune system back up. I can't even thank my family enough! The Hell that they've all been through with me and around me I'm sure was at a faster pace and I'm surprised they don't all have anxiety from it all.
I remember celebrating my mom’s birthday at a restaurant on the beach the day before my next surgery- the big hip surgery. I’m glad we got to celebrate HER before I went in for that next series of nightmares.
I remember being on crutches from the time we found out about the crack in the bone to... well... for a very long time after the hip/leg prosthetic was installed. My robot, superhero parts. We'll get to that in another post. For today, just remember to count your blessings, breathe in hope and happiness, and remember to be grateful because it really can actually be much worse.
I had planned to write another portion of my medical history today to help complete the story, but then realizing that I'm the most successful procrastinator on Earth I internally deliberated the importance of getting to my Christmas post now before I miss it. Plus, sometimes when I review too much of my history through cancer, it triggers anxiety which I've been fighting off lately with the added stresses of my life that pile on each year (of which I'm extremely grateful). Just before I opened up to post this, I was browsing Facebook and came across this re-posted by a friend of mine through a Facebook Page called High Anxieties:
Of course, I see this as a literal sign to post something a little lighter in subject tonight because I have just about every symptom on the list there and don't really need to trigger on a full attack just before Christmas. And so, with the rapidly arriving celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, our savior, I switched course.
This post will be a difficult one for me. I'm not religious. Religion is a man-made business... but I'm not against it either. I love my parents' church friends and they are absolutely huge contributors to my health and well-being through prayer and support. But, I don't necessarily feel as though I fit into one specific religion fully and therefor find myself in a predicament to commit to one church and/or religion over another. I consider myself very spiritual. I believe in God. I believe in Jesus as our savior. I truly feel that my relationship with God is a strong one, through prayer, thought and action. Beyond that, it becomes confusingly complicated for me. I'm by no means a "thumper" of any type and quite frankly don't care for people who push their views upon me. I'd rather do my own homework on my own time and make educated decisions myself rather than as a result of others' opinions. So when I get to the story below, you need to know this about me because this experience I am about to share publicly puts me in a very vulnerable position, one for which others may discredit me, starting with this simple statement: "I experienced personally the healing hands of Jesus." BAM! Hitting like a book across the face. There it is.
Months. This experience with Jesus took me months to talk about. I was so scared that people would think I was reaching for something, anything, to heal or cure me of cancer that if I spoke of this personal experience they would think I was a whack job. I've seen and heard of so many stories of seeing Jesus in food, or clouds or window panes, or so many other ridiculous places and each time those stories caught my interest, I immediately discredited every single one of them with my judgmental, artistic and analytical self. I also did the same with my own personal experience, not wanting to believe it as an experience, but rather a dream. So when I finally started telling the select few people what exactly I had experienced, I made absolute sure that they knew I was open to the possibility of this just being a dream. But at least I had started to share it with others, I suppose. Baby steps. Every time I spoke of it, I felt a rush of energy through my body, the same rush that I felt during the actual encounter. That energy has faded in me over the years. But now that I am dredging it all up again, I can feel it once more. The more I shared this story, the more I began to BELIEVE that it really and truly was not just a dream. Yet, to this day, I falter and often lose my faith and trust when I need it most- scan days and biopsy days.
Meeting Jesus- my simple and short version:
After my hip/femur reconstruction (which I've not yet posted about but will), I was home recovering. I slept with an abductor pillow between my legs while on my back. One night, in the middle of sleep, I awoke. Out of nowhere and for no reason, I opened my eyes as if I knew something was happening, but did not know what. I turned to look at my then-husband who was sound asleep and then I took a peek at my dog laying at our feet who was in dreamland. I was confused because that dog was so in tune... she could sense earthquakes before they hit. Amazing. So when I saw her completely unaware, I decided my feelings must be off and I rested my head back on the pillow, but remained wide awake. I was calm, overly calm for having just woken up in the middle of the night feeling something was going to happen but not knowing what. Then in mid air, a light began to appear. One would normally freak out about this, I would assume. But I was just so inexplicably relaxed. It grew larger and larger and came closer and closer to me. As it floated above me, I knew it was Jesus visiting, even before He took partial form. This light transformed into the SYMBOL of what we know Jesus to be, the images of Him in His human body. Without words, He informed me that indeed it was Him and He is pure light but for my own sake, He was forming into our recognizable icon. I saw this light once before in surgery and now again this night. It's no light we can reproduce here on Earth; it's immensely illuminated and a different kind of light. (I'll share that other experience another time.) His face took form, his shoulders and arms appeared all the way to the very tips of his fingers. His body began to take shape and then faded off into His light. He hovered over my heart with his hands flat and crossed and without a physical touch or a single word spoken, a rush of energy poured through my entire body sourced in the heart. I was being cured of cancer. I knew this was the intent. I was informed, again with no words, that I was "CURED" and would never again need to worry about cancer.
That's a powerful statement. Cured. (Not healed, that's a comparison conversation in itself... being cured is different.) Never again will I need to worry about cancer. Yet, every time I go for scans every 6 months, there's that chance of cancer, isn't there? But there isn't. I AM CURED! Why do I not trust this?
My purpose in life is to make others happy. It is as simple as that. That realization came through Jesus' visit as well. Clearly there's a plan here and I don't know what to make of it, but it sure would make life a lot easier if all I actually did worry about was whether or not I was making others happy. Give happiness to others and live on. Just as quickly as He appeared, He dissolved away into nothing. It didn't take me long to get back to resting in comfortable sleep, but I did find that when I breathed deep through my heart, I could feel the curing, healing energy He gave me, through and through.
In all honesty, I don't believe He had just given it to me then... I know it was there the whole time; He just needed to show me where to find it. We all have these healing powers within us, we just need to locate the source in our hearts to use them... and it's not easy to do if you've never done it before. In fact, it's not easy to keep doing... it's something that needs to be exercised often, like muscles. Now if I could just remember my own words now.
The next day and the days following this experience it was all I could think about. I asked my then-husband, an atheist, if he had seen or heard anything throughout the night, but he had not. That personal visit was specifically and solely for me alone, which I had presumed. Naturally, I began to question this whole ordeal and even partially discredited myself, but I wanted to believe, and so eventually that belief became stronger than the doubt.
Could this be why I am cancer-free today after being given only six months to live 8.5 years ago? I never received treatments, only surgeries. It is unrealistic. And I have more stories from the years past to share that attest to the strength of this belief and encounter.
Jesus saved me.
He saved us all and one by one, He is saving us again... over and over... whether we realize it or not. I am so thankful for Him and while I know I often fail at making others happy, I know I have a desire and will to accomplish this for Him and for everyone else. So this year, my prayer for everyone is to make your Christmas Day the happiest day of this year! It is, after-all, the celebration of the birth of our savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ, who wants us to, simply put: be happy together.
I love you all, thank you for reading. Please share this with everyone and I'd love it if you would leave a comment.