Living God’s Best

I ran into a friend yesterday, and she asked, “Are you okay?” She had a look of concern on her face, and I assured her that I was. She had read my Blog about the Cancer scare, and wanted to make sure I was all good. She is not the only friend that wasn’t sure, so let’s see if I can be more clear.

What we go through in life is a test of some sort.

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I don’t believe there is Cancer in my breast. The technician wasn’t sure what she was seeing during the sonogram, so I had the films sent to my Oncologist who knows my history. He didn’t see anything concerning, but wants to see my next film in six months. I’m not worried, so don’t you be either!

God used that situation to reach the right people, and I now have really good health insurance!

In March, or April of next year, I will have another mammogram, and have faith for God’s best. Since walking out of the imaging center a month ago, I have made life changes, and am still making them. When God shows me His best, I want to give Him my best in return. The entire incident brought this to the forefront of my mind.

“What do I want my life to look in six months? Am I living God’s best?”

You’re Not Alone

I published a Blog yesterday, and went back into my Blogsite and deleted it. The same thing happened today. Write, edit, publish, and an hour later, delete. To the 5 people who read them both, “I apologize if I scarred you for life.”

My email followers received notifications of the posts. Clicked on the link, and stared at air. I apologize to you too. I have discovered that waiting on this appointment next week causes me to feel vulnerable. I don’t mind being vulnerable, but to let someone read about it, amplifies the feeling.

If you’re a writer, maybe you do the same thing.

Publish a Blog, and then delete it, or maybe you have some in drafts that you can’t bring yourself to finish, and publish. I have some of those too, but there is something I’ve learned.

No matter how sucky I think that published Blog may be…it’s going to help someone. It’s going to have something in there that someone needs to see. So, maybe if I write this at night, hit publish, and go to bed, you can read it while I sleep. Because waiting on Tuesday to arrive is not working.

My instinct is to disappear for a few days, and become quiet.

To remove myself from the lives of the people I love, so they don’t have to be a part of what I’m going through. That is my way of protecting them. Well, the last time I checked, my circle of people are some brilliant, grounded adults who can decide whether they need protection or not.

I believe you are only as alone as you allow yourself to be.

I don’t feel alone, so thank you, for not leaving me alone.

Wait With Me

I write about a beautiful life, and that is my hearts desire to share with you. Right now, I feel the need to get this out, and writing always helps soothe the soul.

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Once again, I am waiting.

Last Friday, I went in for my 6 month checkup, and had a mammogram.

It began as routine, and then the technician came in for more scans. This is the left breast that held Cancer last year. After having 6 scans, I was escorted into the sonogram room. The technician rolled the handheld device over my breast for what seemed like a very long time. She sent the scans to be reviewed by the doctor, and in came the doctor.

The doctor tried to sound casual as she spoke. “You have a couple of areas I’m not sure about, but they are not screaming Cancer to me. I’d like to see you again in six months.”

Does Cancer scream?

I left there concerned, but not worried. Wasn’t going to jump to any conclusions until my Oncologist saw the film. I knew she would know if there was any cause for concern.

She called today and wants to see me. “There are areas of concern…” Her first available appointment is 10/24, which is almost two weeks away. I ask that you wait with me.

Set Me Free

I want to show you my hair.

As you may have read in Repeat if Desired, we were trying to bleach it to white. Then my daughter was going to put lavender on it, but it has evolved into something on it’s own.

My hair grows fast, which I learned Thanks to Chemo. By the time we got it to the lightness we wanted, it had grown out of the style we were shooting for. So, we shaved the sides, and back.

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This entire process has set me free from the stigma placed on hair. We have had so much fun with it! I told her today, “When you homeschool, and my hair becomes the project?”

God works like that. We started out with a style and color in mind, but over time it became something we could not have done if we tried. My daughter just keeps experimenting with it. There is nothing she can hurt. It’s only hair, and during Chemo I was bald for months!

What we have in mind, and what God has in mind are two totally different things. Even when things don’t look exactly the way we intended, He will use it for His glory. It just sets me free!

Feel the Music

This song came to mind as I was driving to my mammogram appointment Thursday.

As I mentioned in “Test of Faith“, Seymour saw me as ‘suffering in silence’, during the Chemo part of my Breast Cancer Journey. I did get quiet during The Red Devil part, but I want to assure you, I saw every message, email, and text come into my phone.

It was laying on the bed beside me, and would sometimes wake me up with the vibration.

My daughter’s bedroom is across the hall, and I heard her playing this song, as it floated across into my room. Those last two doses of Red Devil had me under a spell, and this song described exactly how I felt physically.

In the song, he is talking about leaving/dying, which I knew I wasn’t, but I was thinking. “This has got to be what dying feels like.”

It’s not that we want to be alone, and thanks to you, we don’t feel alone. I would pick up my phone, and look at it with one eye closed, trying to focus on the screen, but it hurt my eyes. I could see, and feel the love, but could not physically respond for several days.

Friends were reaching out, but I couldn’t respond.

I dedicate this song to the loved ones that want to help, but don’t know how. Your presence is known, even if it’s not acknowledged. We’re just soggy from the Chemo.

PS. Twenty-One Pilots remade this song as a tribute to ‘My Chemical Romance’, who is the original artist.

Test of Faith

As I was driving to my Mammogram appointment Thursday morning, all these recollections of my Breast Cancer journey came to mind. Driving down a country road, toward the city, I saw a slide show before me.

Moments where my faith was tested, and I was ready to call it quits. Seymour mentioned that I suffered in silence, so why did I feel so exposed?

I arrived at my appointment, was escorted to a screening room, and stood before that massive machine for the first time in a year. The last time I was there, I could only hug it, and sob, but this time was different. The technician had to keep moving the machine upwards to accommodate my height. I was stronger now, so maybe I was standing a little bit taller.

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The technician used the machine to take pictures of both breasts in 3D. When she was done, I went to sit in a private lounge, just for women waiting for the test, or the results.

I sat down across from a woman, I guessed to be retirement age. She had been crying, and was clutching the front of her gown, trying to keep it from falling open. I had been right where she was sitting, so I asked her, “Are you okay?” She started to cry some more.

She told me that she had been so faithful with her Mammograms. She had received one every year for as far back as she could remember. She was late in getting this one, and when she did, they saw something concerning.

They had just done a more in depth one, and she was waiting to hear the next steps. She was at her beginning, and I was at my end.

The first thing I assured her of was, there is no such thing as ‘late’. You are here now, and that is all that matters. I shared the names of all my doctors with her, and she frantically took notes. The technician came back to get me, and as I left, I looked at her and said, “God bless you.” She whispered the same to me, and I told her, “He does everyday love.”

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My journey created a profound intimacy with God. It’s still there, even though my journey is coming to a close. God was getting ready to test my faith, as see what I had learned.

The technician escorted me to a different room, which I recognized immediately. There was the table I had laid on during my biopsy. She asked me to lay on the table, and open the right side of my gown. I laid down, and asked her, “You realize the lump was in my left?”

She said, “Oh I know Mrs. Holmes, but we saw something in the right that we need to take a closer look at.” My world stopped. I realized I had been so concerned about the left one, that I hadn’t paid much attention to the right. I felt the warm gel hit my breast, and the wand of the sonogram machine started sliding around. At that point, I lost all control.

I broke down, and started sobbing on the table.

The female technician patted my arm, reassuring me that it was all okay. I told her, “I cannot do this again! I cannot go through it all again!!!” But you know what? If I needed to go through it again, God would be there. My next thought was, I would have both breasts removed, so at least I could come back as a 36C!

She completed the sonogram, and left the room to review the results with the Oncologist. When she returned, she exclaimed, “You are all good Mrs. Holmes. It’s only a cyst!” There was more than one test given here, and thanks be to God that I was able to pass ’em both.

First and Last

The appointment with my Oncologist went very well on Monday. We basically thanked one another for being there, and said our good-byes. He said if anything comes up where I need him, to just call. Well, let’s just say, “Thank you Doc, but I hope this was the first and last.”

I have my mammogram tomorrow morning.

This will be the first one in exactly one year. The first time I had one it showed the lump in my breast, and was extremely painful! They are not supposed to be painful lovely. I had waited until I couldn’t wait any longer to go have the mammogram. I was standing there, hugging the machine, and sobbing.

This one won’t be painful, unless I have a really sucky technician. My hope is that I have the same one I had the first time, so she can see what God did in that year.

I’m a completely different woman from the first time, but it won’t be my last.

My surgeon wants me to have one every 6 months for two years. I looked at her like, “Gosh! Will this journey ever end?” The journey continues, and I’m just better than I was at the first. Thank you God it wasn’t my last.

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Face Your Fear

I have to get ready soon, for an appointment with my Oncologist. Today will be the first time I’ve seen him since finishing Chemo last September. I get to tell him ‘thank you’, and ‘goodbye.’

They say he won’t tell me, ‘Congratulations! You are Cancer free!’ Thanks to my Breast Cancer Journey, I feel more free today in many ways. My current hair color is a good example.

I don’t need proof today, or all the reasons the Cancer is gone. I know it was God.

My daughter dyed my hair this weekend, and it didn’t turn out quite as we planned. My hair is naturally a dark color, so she bleached it, but that got it to a pale orange stage. When she added the purple it literally looked orange, and purple, so yesterday we tried it again.

I was okay with the pale orange and lavender mass, but felt we could do better. She sat me down, and we went through the entire bleaching, toning, and conditioning process once again. In our minds, we were trying to achieve the look in the picture of Repeat If Desired.

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After all of that, she dried my hair, and I just sat with it for a minute. She pulled out half a dozen jars of hair color for me to choose from, and asked if I still wanted purple. I didn’t realize I had so many other choices! My daughter has played with the color of her hair a lot, and she showed me a picture of what she looked like with each one. I couldn’t decide.

Which one was best for me? The one that interested me most was a dark green. It was so dark it looked black in the jar. She said that would take my hair back to a very dark color, with just a tinge of emerald, but we had been through so much! Did I want to go back?

I have not been a bleached blonde in my life, that I can remember, so this is new to me. I told her I was going to sit with it for a few days with it just being bleached, and see if I wanted a color. It’s already a color to me, and drastically different than what I had two days ago.

When I was going through Chemo, a lot of people there wore wigs. I never wore one, and just walked around bald. I told her when I walk into the Cancer Center on Monday, people will probably think it’s a wig! It doesn’t matter what people think, I know it’s real.

Maybe that would scare some people, knowing they can’t take it off their head at the end of the day. To be honest, it scared me a little bit too, but which is scarier? Having hair this color, or no hair at all, because I was hairless for a while. It’s not about the hair darling.

It was all about the journey that got me here.

Sitting in a small bathroom, with my daughter for two days. Listening to some of our favorite songs, and talking about life. Giving her the freedom to be creative, and trusting my hair in her hands, are just some of the memories captured by this color. I can always shave my hair, but it’s those moments that remain.

 

Repeat If Desired

I saw how much control I have over my life when I can’t even get my little dog to go outside and pee. It’s raining here, so when I open the door, he just looks outside, and then looks at me like, “Woman? Can you not see the sky is falling?!?” He’s sitting in his bed with his legs crossed.

Tea it is. I fixed a piping hot assortment of tea, in my press, and here I am.

My daughter is strumming her guitar in the next room, and singing along with Ed Sheeran, as she learns one of his new songs. His new album was released yesterday, but since we pre-ordered the album, she was able to download some of his songs beforehand. She is learning to play this one entitled, How Would You Feel, and it turns my heart into mush.

It’s been an emotion filled week, and Ed’s new album is not helping any!!!

In my last post, you will note that my daughter dyed my hair. She placed this special shampoo in the shower for me to use. It would over time brighten the color, and take some of the brassiness away. Reading the directions on the back of the bottle, I appreciated the words ‘Repeat if Desired’. I recalled what I had just written, and asked her to try it again.

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Don’t get excited. This is not me. This is the hair color we desire.

The color I have now, is about halfway to the point of this pic. My daughter saw that my hair was not taking in enough bleach lastnight, and asked if she could put on more. I said, ‘No.’ You know why? I got scared. Did I want that drastic of a change?

I like change, but I like to have breath in between. I saw a huge change in my hair color this morning, and I liked it. You can always add more of something, but it’s difficult to scrape that away. I played it safe, but now I’m ready to go for more.

I desire a certain result, or closer to it anyways, so bring on the bleach!. The worst thing that could happen is all my hair falls out, but I’ve been bald thanks to Chemo, so that doesn’t scare me. What scares me more, is not chasing after my desire.

What A Year

I went to see my Breast Surgeon this morning for a follow up visit. She said, “You look great! You cannot even tell you’ve been through an all out war!” All I could say was, “God is good.”

She always hands me a list of my next steps. She wants me to wait a few weeks, and have a mammogram, but let my breast heal from the radiation. She said, “If you wait one month, you will have your mammogram exactly a year from when you had that first one.”

The journey began around March 7, 2016.

I had to stop Googling first thing.

That will scare the crap outta ya. Instead, I found Blogs written by women walking a similar path. This one woman was ahead of me on the Cancer path, and she was a comfort. She gave an in-depth description of the Chemo I would be receiving fondly known as The Red Devil. She is a truth-teller, and that is all I needed.

The last Cancer post I read, was written by a woman that was nearing the end of her journey. She was looking forward to it being over and feeling that sense of elation. I thought I would feel that too, knowing that the worst is behind me. It has been different for me.

It’s like everything in my life is more vividly colored, more intense. I notice things now, that I had missed before. I am more in-tune to my heart, and listen to my body, and soul.

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I have a myriad of feelings, but, “Whew! That’s over!”, hasn’t been one of them. This quote sums it up, “New Year, New Feels, New Chances, Same Dreams, Fresh Starts.

When I have my next mammogram, it will show nothing, which is better than something. It’s been a year.