Good Days and Bad Days

Well……I’m happy to report that I have felt much better since Tuesday!  Praise the Lord!  Still snotty and sneezing like crazy and some body aches here and there (I’m assuming that’s from the Lunesta injection I get each time after a chemo treatment)…..but overall, much better than earlier this week.

And today has been a really good day (seems to be the case each time before the next treatment)!  It’s like it’s timed just perfectly to psyche you out – to have you feeling pretty “normal” only to go in tomorrow for chemo round #3.  But……I’m learning to make the most of the days I feel “normal”…… and just try to do very little and take care of myself on the not so good days.  I always have a book (or three) handy – and there’s always thank you cards to write…..so those are good options for the yucky days…..along with Hallmark movies (much to everyone else’s dismay).  And if laying around and sleeping is all I feel like doing – well, by golly, I’ve given myself permission to do just that!

My “normal” days this week allowed me to feel good enough to take Hunter to the orthodontist in Durham……..two days in a row!  This kid has held on to his baby teeth FOREVER and we couldn’t get his braces til they were all gone.  He had one tooth hanging on by a thread – so the orthodontist was able to pull it easily on Tuesday.  After that – he said “we’re ready for his braces now”.  Well, given the fact that he will start school next Thursday and my current health situation – I asked if there was any way we could get them put on before school started.  Surprisingly, they said “sure, can you be here in the morning”?  How could I refuse?  I’m very thankful that I was able to accompany him to those appointments.

I’m glad I’m feeling good today……physically anyway……mentally, I’m having to wrap my brain around the fact that I will be attending HIGH SCHOOL Open House with my son tonight.  HOW CAN THAT BE?  It seems like only a few months ago that I walked him into school for kindergarten!!  Time surely flies.  He’s grown into a wonderful young man right before my eyes.  I have a feeling the next 4 years are going to go by even faster than the last 14.

Well….my two boys (the one I birthed AND the one I married) were pretty big Spongebob fans.  It seemed appropriate that I use a clip from Spongebob to seque into the rest of my blog entry (since I didn’t finish this BEFORE open house tonight).

We survived open house – I’m still in denial that my child is now a high schooler! But I learned tonight that I have lots of other folks in denial with me!  Overall, I’m thankful for the great group of friends Hunter has……and one in particular……crazy Gavin.  These two hit it off in 1st grade and have been thick as thieves since then.  I love it also because it’s not just a friendship between these two boys – but between both of our families.  There is NEVER a dull moment with these two and you NEVER know what you will learn when you spend an hour or so with these cuties!

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And can I just say a big “thank you” to all of you who have provided food for our family over the last several months.  We have been so blessed to have so many delicious meals brought to us.  Whether you cooked or brought take out or treated us out to dinner…..or secretly left tomatoes on the porch for us to make tomato sandwiches – we are eternally grateful.  It’s been great to be able to pull things out of the freezer on nights I didn’t feel like cooking!  Someone gave us a gift certificate to the new Rising Son Bakery here in town.  We were able to use the gift certificate to purchase anything from either Rising Son or the Farm to Home Market……they had some frozen chicken pot pies and I got one of those to have on hand for a quick meal sometimes.  I was happy to know that they offer gift certificates.  I’m definitely going to remember that the next time I need to do something for someone who is sick.

I must say that I continue to be amazed at the feedback I’ve received after starting this blog.  While it’s therapy for me – just tonight I had someone approach me at school to say they enjoyed the blog and that I had no idea how many people were being touched by it.  I can’t take credit for that – I have to give all the glory to God.  This blog is therapy for me.  I’m a words girl – and putting this experience down “on paper” (ha) is good for me.  I’ve warned several of my former teachers not to redline it and check for grammar and punctuation errors – I know it’s full of them……but I asked them to show me some grace and just read it for content!

Sending prayers also for the family of a classmate of mine who passed away last night from a heart attack.  Awfully young…….life is precious.  Every day is a gift.  Rest in peace Gary.

So tomorrow I hope to knock out treatment #3 of the scheduled 4  I’m to take of this particular regimen.  Treatment days are always full days……..blood work followed by doctors visit and typically a little time to grab lunch and fuel up before the 3 hour chemo session……then the ride back home.  The day can be long and exhausting – but any way you look at it – tomorrow gets me one day closer to the finish line and one step closer to being cancer free!

Hugs!

Sonja

Jeremiah 17:14 New International Version (NIV)

14 Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;
    save me and I will be saved,
    for you are the one I praise.

My Current Situation

Well……you knew it had to happen…..eventually.  Saturday am as I typed my last blog entry, I was feeling really good.  I was a little snotty – but that was okay.  Fast forward to around 3pm on Saturday and I truly felt like I had been hit by a truck.  I could hardly hold my eyes open.  I took some tylenol and went to bed around 3:30 and slept for a few hours.  Woke up still feeling not so great – and Hunter and I laid in my bed watching a Hallmark movie (yeah – he hates ’em, and loves to go ahead and tell me after the first 5 minutes just how it’s gonna end – MEN – they just don’t get it!).

Being the great helper that he is……he volunteered to help me get supper ready.  He truly is handy in the kitchen!  I felt a little better after dinner and we started working on a puzzle.  If you hafta feel like crap and be stuck at home – you may as well make the most of it, right?

I didn’t sleep well Saturday night and was sniffling and sneezing most of the night.  We talked the night before and everyone seemed to feel like it would be in my best interest if  I DIDN’T go to church on Sunday if I was still feeling yucky.  I surely didn’t need to risk making things worse or picking up any germs.  Well – given that I didn’t wake up Sunday til around 9:30 – it’s safe to say I didn’t make it to church.  I laid around the house all day Sunday trying to shake whatever was trying to jump on me.

My biggest fear is that I might catch ANYTHING that may prevent me from having my chemo on the assigned day.  I’m a planner by nature – and if I put in my calendar – IT NEEDS TO HAPPEN ON THAT DAY!!  Even though I have not been given an END DATE to my chemo treatments – I am MENTALLY checking them off my list.  Right now we are at 2 down and 10 to go – with the next treatment being on Friday.  It’s written on the calendar – so it needs to happen!  Right now – according to MY CALENDAR 🙂 I should finish up this first regimen on Wednesday, August 30th.  I don’t know how soon after that treatment that they will start me on the next regimen – which will be 8 treatments – once a week for 8 weeks.  So it’s difficult to know right now just when my last treatment will fall – it all depends on when they start me on the Taxol.  I’d guess it’s going to be mid to late November by the time I wrap this chemo up…..that is, if I don’t have any delays.

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That being said……this will surely put me in the middle of cold/flu season…….and let’s not forget about the kids returning to school and sharing germs there……so when I start thinking of it in those terms – it makes me very concerned about staying healthy.

While it’s probably NOT a great idea to go to Walmart or places where there are ALOT of folks (translated TONS of germs) …….it’s difficult to think about staying at home ALL the time.  While I’ve enjoyed being able to spend so much time this summer with Hunter while he’s been out of school – at least I’ve been able to go grocery shopping or run to Walmart when I needed to.  After the past few days – I’m starting to wonder if I need to rethink that.  Ugh – it’s such a conundrum!!!  And to top it off – my favorite sport season is upon us…….Volleyball…….I really don’t want to miss those games! 😦

I plan to discuss this further with my doctor on Friday.  There HAS to be a happy medium.  I don’t want to feel like I’m in solitary confinement! 🙂  But I don’t want to delay my treatments either!  This would probably be less of an issue if I were an introvert……however…..that’s NOT the case!

I have to keep reminding myself that this is just TEMPORARY…..and that this, too, shall pass.

Enjoy this beautiful day!  It’s great for back porch sitting…..that’s exactly where I am right now!

Blessings,

Sonja

Isaiah 41:10The Message (MSG)

8-10 “But you, Israel, are my servant.
    You’re Jacob, my first choice,
    descendants of my good friend Abraham.
I pulled you in from all over the world,
    called you in from every dark corner of the earth,
Telling you, ‘You’re my servant, serving on my side.
    I’ve picked you. I haven’t dropped you.’
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
    There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
    I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

Pushing Through

Monday was one of those “I feel so normal, how can I possibly have cancer” days.  I felt great, had TONS of energy……ran a few errands in town and even cooked dinner.  The weather last night was PERFECT back porch weather.  I had to MAKE myself go in at bedtime…..I was truly enjoying sitting outside, listening to the sounds of nature……and enjoying the nice breeze.  It doesn’t get much better than that! 🙂

Once I could no longer hold my eyes open……I reluctantly went inside and went to bed.  CC was not feeling yesterday and appeared to be coming down with a cold (or better known around here as “the MAN flu”….google it – it’s a thing).  Because I am so FEARFUL of catching ANYTHING due to my compromised immune system……I slept in the spare bedroom last night.  One can’t be too cautious!  I love him, but I don’t want whatever he’s got!

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I woke up around 6am this morning and used the potty and went right back to bed.  The next thing I know – I woke up and looked at the clock…….it was 10:15am.  Holy smokes Batman!  What in the world??  I struggled even then to focus  on the clock – my eyes were stuck together I had slept so hard.  You would think I would have felt like I could conquer the world after a night of sleep like that…..but I. JUST. COULDN’T. wake up.  A shower ALWAYS works.  NOT TODAY!  I literally felt like I could fall asleep at a moments notice all day long.  I didn’t feel AWFUL, but I didn’t feel great at all.  Total 180 degrees from the day I had yesterday.  That HAS to be the most difficult thing for me to wrap my brain around about all this.  How you can go from 0-60mph in no time flat?  I don’t know…… but you can.

Today was the first day I really felt like I had to PUSH THROUGH and just not give in.  I just felt “different” today.  And….1) i don’t like not feeling good and…2) I don’t like admitting that I don’t feel good.  I really do try to be a glass half full kinda person.

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I was afraid if I slept all day (which I’m confident I could have) that I would have been up all night – and then that just creates a vicious cycle.  I busied myself with anything just to keep from going to bed and sleeping the day away.  We even gave Bella a MUCH needed bath (she probably wished I had chosen to take a nap)…..but we can’t have a stinking dog around here!

So now that we’ve made it past dinner (thanks BJ for the peas and corn and the peach preserves were awesome Janis!)……I’m back out on the porch….to enjoy this wonderful weather again for a little bit before calling it night.

I guess our bodies know what we need – and apparently I had run a little low on sleep.  I wonder if the cooler temperatures helped me sleep more soundly?  I dunno.  I hope and pray I sleep as good tonight……but I do hope I wake up more “alert” tomorrow than I was today!

But either way……I’m thankful……thankful for God’s blessings on me on days when I feel like crap.  Thankful that I didn’t have to worry about dinner for my crew – BJ took care of that for me……thankful that my guys are understanding that somedays mom just is not at her best.  There’s still SOOOOO much to be thankful for.

I’m sure this won’t be the only day that pushing through will be a challenge…..I feel sure there will be many more “not so great days” along this ride…….but having days like today make days like YESTERDAY all the more precious……and I look forward to more good days than bad.

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Man….I really hate to leave this back porch again…..thank you Lord for this perfect weather!

Nite!

Sonja

Psalm 18:32New International Version (NIV)

32 It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.

Everything Happens for a Reason

Well I’ve had several great days in a row – and I praise God for them!  You quickly learn to celebrate each and every victory – whether big or small.

Friday I was able to go with my mom to Danville for a bit.  While we were out and about, we stopped by Subway to grab a bite to eat.  Since it was so hot, I opted to leave “Stella” at home and just wore a red bandana on my head.  As we were in line at Subway placing our order, the young manager looked at me and asked if I was going through chemo.  I smiled and said yes, then asked him if my hairdo gave it away.  He just smiled and said yes and told me that he had a cousin who went through chemo and then he said “your sandwich is on me today”.  Can I tell you that I have shed a handful of tears since I was diagnosed with cancer – which is nothing short of a miracle for those of you who know me well.  I can ONLY attribute it to the good Lord sustaining me (my buddy Zeke will confirm I can cry “on demand” if you have any doubts)……but let me tell you that in that moment as the manager said those words, I became a blubbering mess.  The tears just WOULD. NOT. STOP.  I tried to say “thank you” – but it took me a good while to recover myself to even get the words out.  I was so taken by surprise and just so amazed at a complete strangers random act of kindness.  It’s crazy what can tug right at your heart strings.  And the amazing thing is – we were torn between going to Subway and Sonic.  I wanted a Cherry Limeade from Sonic, but I knew mom liked Subway – and there was an ETERNAL line at Sonic and last time we were there, it was a short line and it still took FOREVER – so last minute I opted for us to just go to Subway.  God was steering us there the entire time.  He was steering me in the direction of an unexpected blessing (or “joy bomb”).  He is always right on time.  I doubt that manager has any idea just how much he blessed me that day.

Sundays are always good days.  We attended church today and that’s always a blessing.  Awesome people, wonderful message, and great fellowship.

As I stated above, I am…… by nature……an extremely tender hearted person and can cry on demand…..always have been.  I’ve been completely amazed at myself and how well I have handled and accepted this cancer diagnosis.  Me handling this “so well” as many have said has been totally out of character for me.

Two years ago, I began training at church for Stephen Ministry.  It’s a one on one distinctively Christian care ministry.  Stephen Ministers provide confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting  (illness, grief, divorce, job loss, etc).  There’s a link below for more information.  If you don’t have this ministry in your church, I would urge you to look into it.  It has been a blessing for our church and the Stephen Ministers and the Care Receivers all!

http://www.stephenministries.org

Certification for Stephen Ministry requires 50 hours of training.  It’s long and intensive – but I can tell you that the training I received as a Stephen Minister has benefited me in my own life.  Literally the day after I became commissioned as a Stephen Minister, my husband’s brother passed away very unexpectedly.  My husband lost his brother and his very best friend all at once.  While I wasn’t prepared to put my training into practice so quickly, the Stephen Ministry training regarding caring for those who are grieving was an INVALUABLE tool for me during that time.  It helped me better understand what my husband was going through, that he was allowed to “feel” however he felt – and to know that the grieving process is different for every person.  Again – God’s timing was perfect.

Fast forward a few years to my cancer diagnosis……again, the training I received helped me to understand not just my own feelings regarding the diagnosis, but to understand that processing this diagnosis would be different for me and my husband, my child and my parents and family.  While I thought my training was simply going to be for me to help others in their times of need – it turned I needed that training every bit as much for myself for the events that would unfold in our lives over the next few years.  Everything happens for a reason.

Last year I also attended The Walk to Emmaus.  Our church is a strong supporter of The Walk to Emmaus and we have quite a number of folks who have attended this life-transforming weekend.  It’s a wonderful spiritual retreat……72 hours spent worshipping, learning, reflecting, singing, and participating in small groups.  It’s a weekend filled with Christian love in action.  You simply CANNOT leave The Walk unchanged.   My friend Zeke had told me “just ike the 2 men in the Bible, YOU WILL encounter Jesus on your walk”……and he was right.

While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and walked with them”. – Luke 24:15

It was truly one of those “mountain top” experiences for me.   The Walk to Emmaus is sponsored by The Upper Room and is open to any Christian denomination.  If your church is not participating in The Walk to Emmaus, I strongly urge you to consider learning more about this wonderful weekend!  You won’t regret it!

http://emmaus.upperroom.org/about

So to answer the question “how am i doing so well” handling this diagnosis.  I am quite certain that the Stephen Ministry training and my Walk To Emmaus weekend were two things that DEFINITELY happened for a reason.  Each of these experiences helped deepen my walk with Christ, introduced me to some wonderful Christian friends and mentors…….. and I am confident these experiences left me better prepared to handle the curve ball I was thrown on May 1, 2017.  God was working in the background to prepare me mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  Now that doesn’t mean that I am implying this has all been easy.  It surely hasn’t.  I’ve had my ups and downs – but the downs have definitely been few.   I have also had an enormous amount of folks near and far lifting me in prayer on a daily basis.  I have felt those prayers and I am so thankful for each and every prayer warrior who has interceded on my behalf.

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God has definitely blessed this mess……time and time again.  While I know I’m on the front end of this adventure…….there may be some long, difficult days ahead.  But I am confident that the same God who has worked to prepare me for this season in my life will continue to walk beside me……step by step……day by day…….minute by minute and help me cross the finish line.  Of that……I am certain.

Lastly – I feel I must take a moment to say “thank you” to so many of you who have reached out to me regarding my blog.  I admit – this is a first for me.  I’ve never “blogged” before…..and while I felt like I was “doing this for me” – I’m learning that many others are benefitting from my blog as well. How can that be?  I am completely in awe that so many have even read my blog and honestly had no idea that my words would ever have the “reach” that it has.  That can only be attributed to the good Lord.  I just felt compelled to share my story……He gets credit for the rest.  And I must say when I’ve received texts saying “I had my mammogram this week” or “I’ve scheduled my FIRST EVER mammogram”……well, that is exactly why I’m doing this!  Prevention is key my friends!

Be blessed!  Have a great week!

Hugs!

Sonja

Ecclesiastes 3:11New International Version (NIV)

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

 

 

No More 3×5’s

We live in a world of instant everything.  I got my first digital camera before my son was born 14 years ago, I have no idea just how many pictures I have taken of him over the years.  Now, we hardly ever use a real “camera” because the camera quality on our phones is amazing.  We take pictures to “document” everything.  First day of school, birthdays, dinner out with friends, food…..you get the picture (pun intended).  We are all so busy trying to “capture” the perfect moments in a picture that…….well……we are not truly living in the moment and enjoying the moment for all it’s worth……..and I believe we are doing ourselves a huge injustice.

Yesterday I was emailing back and forth with a friend whose husband has been going through his own health crisis for the last several years.  With everything she has going on in her own corner of the world……she has consistently checked in on me via email, Facebook, cards or gifts sent in the mail.  She is an encourager……and she truly uses her “gift” of encouraging others.  I’m so blessed to have her as a friend and so very thankful to have her in my life.

Anyway – in our email conversations, I mentioned how having a “diagnosis” changes you.   Instantly.  Here’s an excerpt from the email I sent her……

As you guys know – a cancer diagnosis changes you instantly.  It changes your outlook, perspective, how you view simple things in every day life.  It makes you appreciate more, and let things that used to upset  you roll off your back.  A night at home with your family on the couch watching mindless TV is a beautiful thing.  You just enjoy being in the moment.  
I often think of a song by John Mayer called 3×5.  We’re such a generation of capturing everything on camera – but I’m finding myself enjoying the “moment” now – just capturing it on my brain and in my heart – and not capturing it in print on a photograph.
and here’s how she responded……
These days I find myself capturing special moments and will remember them forever.  Funny you mention sitting on the couch at night watching TV; that is exactly what we do. So many tasks have been neglected, but I would not take anything for spending time with him each evening doing nothing, but enjoying being together. 
For those of you who may not be familiar with the John Mayer song, 3×5, here’s a link to a youtube video with the lyrics.
I encourage you to take a few minutes and listen to the song and truly think about the words.  This song has been placed on my heart for awhile now – and some of the lyrics that speak to me the most are these:
Didn’t have a camera by my side this time
Hoping I would see the world with both my eyes
You should have seen that sunrise with your own eyes
It brought me back to life
Today I finally overcame
Trying to fit the world inside a picture frame
Most of us are all guilty of rushing through life – and maybe trying to capture our moments and experiences in a photo or video – but how often do we really stop and just try to soak up the moment…….to live IN that moment and just totally take it all in…..the sights, the sounds, the smells, the emotions.  I can tell you this – hearing the word “cancer” has made me much more aware of these things.  And yes – I still take pictures from time to time – but I’m much more inclined to stop and soak up the sights and sounds from my back porch on a summer night………..or sit in the swing on a stormy day and enjoy the feel of the wind on my bald head…….or watch the expression in my son’s eyes when he figures out a difficult task……or feel thankful for the “crowded” bed when all 3 of us pile in to watch NCIS reruns…….or enjoy the sound of laughter from two teenage boys in the backseat of the car.
When we try to “fit the world inside a picture frame” – we truly lose out on so much.
Am I a little sad that my college roommate drove 3 hours to see me yesterday and we got so carried away catching up that I forgot to take a picture of us?  Well……yeah.  But….. for the time that she was here – we were able to immerse ourselves in each other…….yakking it up on the couch…….just like when were 18 back at UNCG.  It was as if we picked up right where we left off.  I have the memory of yesterday tucked away in a very special place in my heart and imprinted on my brain!  No 3×5 needed.
Today was an awesome day – Hunter and I were able to go out and do something “fun” for a change.  We went to Raleigh to an “Escape Room”.  If you have never tried them, they are really cool and a lot of fun (and super frustrating all at the same time).  Hunter’s friend and his mom went with us and the four us had a lot of laughs trying to figure out the clues to solve the mystery and “Escape” the room before the one hour time limit.  The Escape Room did not allow cell phones – so there were no pictures taken.  But I spent an hour just enjoying the experience.  We struggled……we got frustrated……we kept at it…..and we made some great memories……and YES – we did escape with literally seconds left!  We were all intrigued and anxious to try another one soon!
So my advice to you is this:
Stop trying to fit the world inside a picture frame……and take time to see the world with your OWN eyes.  Live “in” the moment!  I’m pretty sure you will be pleasantly surprised.
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I challenge each of you to make an effort to truly “live” in the moment over the next few days.  When you feel compelled to reach for your phone to take a picture……..stop and rethink it……..and just enjoy the moment in real time.
Be blessed!
Sonja

Ephesians 5:15-16 New International Version (NIV)

15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

Finding a Pattern

The weird thing about chemo (at least for me) has been that the “after effects” don’t show up right away.  My chemo treatments have been given on Wednesdays – and typically, Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun are pretty “normal” – maybe a little more tired than usual…..but still pretty normal as far as feeling good.  I’ve tried to be diligent about keeping up with good days and bad days on the calendar – trying to see if there is any method to the madness or any distinct patterns.

I think I can confidently say that I have noticed a pattern to the Mondays after chemo……..those days are certifiably CRAPPY (pun intended – queue the CRAP emoji)!1120288

I’ve had two treatments and both Mondays after chemo were NO FUN.  Both times I was plagued with diarrhea……Imodium is my new best friend on Mondays after chemo!  I was so weak – all I had the energy to do was lay around and nap off and on all day.  I though I’d feel like I would have energy enough to do a simple task around the house……BUT NO!!!  You feel like you “need” to do something or want to push yourself just a bit thinking if you just get up and get going, it’ll get better – but it JUST…….DOESN’T….. HAPPEN!   Sunday I felt great……went to church, out for lunch, came home and napped, took Hunter to the lake for a youth outing……and felt WONDERFUL the entire time!  How can so much change overnight?  I don’t know but it sure does! I think I slept most of the day on Monday and finally at 9ish – I said the heck with this, I’m going to bed.  My body just ached.  Ugh – enough of this all ready!

What a difference a day makes!  Thankfully – Tuesday was sooooo much better!  Now I didn’t wake up feeling like I could run a marathon – but I did wake up without a queasy stomach – and that’s always a plus.  Those mornings when you literally put your feet on the floor and the nausea hits  – they are awful!  I’m learning that I need to “ease” myself into things!  Like having a cup of coffee…..letting my stomach settle and trying to eat some breakfast maybe an hour later.  Showers don’t typically happen first thing in the mornings any more………it may be mid-late afternoon or even after dinner.  Whatever works, right? It just all depends on the day.

Sometimes you just need to get up and get out and get some fresh air – but honestly, the “getting there” can seem so difficult sometimes, you just say the heck with it.  And it’s been so incredibly hot here – this heat sucks the life out of you when you feel good – much less when you’re tackling chemo!

But I celebrate that Tuesday was a better day and  today is even better than yesterday! Small steps…….and yes it is important to celebrate the small things!  And honestly – if Mondays after chemo are the worst days I have to endure – then I have very little to complain about!  In the grand scheme of things – I’ve been very blessed to not be sick, throwing up, dehydrated, running fevers, etc.  I count it a blessing that my side effects have been minimal and truly feel a bit guilty for complaining.

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And in other good news – CC was released from the doctor to return to work this week.  Praise God he is doing better – he had quite a tough go of it for awhile.  While we are both thankful that he is doing well enough to return to work – it was bittersweet for me.  We had been home together for over a month……and I admit, it was nice having him here “just in case”.  It will be an adjustment having him gone – but I still have my sidekick here for a few more weeks to keep me company and take care of me!  It’s amazing how God works in the background – while it was unfortunate CC was home with a herniated disc and in immense pain, it was a blessing to have him here with me during this time.  God knows our needs…….and gives us just what we need in just the right time.

So I’ve had lots of information shared with me since my diagnosis about so many cancer support groups, networks, organizations, etc.  I thought it would make sense to share some of these sites here in case others may be able to benefit from them as well.

Hope Abounds provides supportive services, financial assistance, educational opportunities and advocacy for women, children, teens and their families, who are going through any type of cancer from diagnosis to survivorship.

www.hopeabounds.org

Cleaning for a Reason is an awesome organization.  Unfortunately,  it isn’t currently available in my rural area – but it may be available near you.  Please share with anyone you may know who may be able to benefit from this wonderful service!

http://cleaningforareason.org

https://breastcancerfreebies.com

A friend shared these two links with me for great options for eyebrows and eyelashes (since they disappear also with chemo).  I’ll definitely be ordering these eyebrow kits!  And wouldn’t you know – I had just finished a round of Rodan + Fields Lash Boost just before my diagnosis and my eyelashes were AHHMAZING if I say so myself…….and now I’m just waiting to see how long they stay around.  Oh well – it’s just eye lashes.  If they don’t grow back – lillylashes.com has some rocking ones!

http://www.anastasiabeverlyhills.com/beauty-express/abh-beauty-express.html?cgid=fillers#sz=12&start=14&cgid=fillers

https://lillylashes.com/?gclid=CI7z0KvT0tQCFYc2gQodkDgEhA

So I initially wrote the bulk of this blog last night and hoped to publish it then – but I was really tired, and I just didn’t feel good about it and I finally decided I would just save it and finish it today.  I didn’t want to make a hasty decision on a quote, content or Bible verse……so I closed my laptop and said I’ll tackle that tomorrow.  Well….just so you know – that was God prompting me.  This morning, I got an email from a friend from church – here emails are ALWAYS so encouraging and bring a smile to my face.  You’d never know that her own family is going through their own personal health storms…….she’s quite amazing.  But her email this morning indicated she wanted to share some scripture with me.  No doubt this was God’s handiwork.  This was one of the verses that she shared and it is just PERFECT to accompany this post.

God never……ever…..disappoints!  He’s there on the good days and the crappy days!

Blessings,

Sonja

James 1:2  tells us, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”


In all the moments of life, we should be quick to praise the Lord and to bless Him at all times. When we have a good day, thank God for it. When the day turns dark and troubling, praise the Lord anyway, for His loving kindness is fresh every morning and His faithfulness every night. Let’s bless Him every moment today.

Community

Our message at church this morning was on “Created for Community”.  Pastor Karl reminded us that Jesus created us for community and that God has said for us to be alone is NOT a good thing.  He wants us to be one with Him and one with each other.

This message was especially meaningful for me today.  Since my cancer diagnosis, I’ve experienced the love and blessings of “community” from my church, my family, my friends, even from random strangers.  I’ve “heard” about community and thought I understood the impact of community – but honestly, I don’t think I ever truly “got” it until now.  I understood it from the “giving” end, but being on the receiving end of so many acts of love, kindness and compassion has been overwhelming, but very humbling.  It has shown me a real glimpse of what being the hands and feet of Jesus truly is about.  One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is how important it is to be honest when folks ask you “what do you need” or “what can i do for you”?  They are being sincere in asking – and it’s important that I be honest in my response.  So often we just brush things off and say, “oh, I’m fine, I don’t need anything” when in fact there very well may be something we do need, and when we don’t express that need to others, we are robbing them of THEIR blessing.  Think about that for a minute.  They are asking because they truly want to give and truly want to show us love in ways big and small.  It would be such a shame for us to rob them of their ability to BLESS us when we are in need.

So this week, when I had friends ask what they could do for me or bring me – I simply said “soup”.  Soup has consistently been the one thing that seems to always taste good.  So this week I was blessed immensely by my “community” with chicken ‘n dumplings, vegetable soup, wonton soup, chicken and rice soup and good ole’ potato soup.  They asked – I gave them an honest answer – and we ALL were blessed.  That wasn’t so difficult, was it?

Well, sometimes it can seem difficult to “ask” for help – but it gets easier – I promise.  When you realize it is a win-win for you and the person offering the help – it makes it so much easier to put yourself out there.  Go on, give it a try!  I know you will be blessed! 🙂

Pastor Karl also reminded us to share with those in need and to practice hospitality.  I can honestly say that I have been blessed immensely by my “community” sharing with me and showing me so much hospitality.  It’s been nothing short of amazing.

fulfill

Last night I got a text from a college roommate asking me what would be a good day for her to come and visit and bring me her famous sesame chicken potato salad.  I quickly responded what days were available.  While I’m sure her dish will be delicious – I’m even more excited that she’s willing to drive 3 hours to see me and just come and lift my spirits.  What a “joy bomb”.

Today, riding home from church, I got a message from a friend just saying she was praying for me and that God would get me through this and offered support whether I needed to laugh, cry or just vent!  Another “joy bomb”!  God keeps continuing to bless me and my family in ways I could never have imagined.

My son asked me a few minutes ago if we had any plans for next week because he had a sweet friend who had texted to say she wanted to take him out to lunch one day just to get him out of the house.  I CANNOT tell you how much that meant to me.  God uses the young and old alike.  How awesome that this young girl felt compelled to reach out to my kid!  My heart was about to explode.  Trying to give him as much normalcy as possible during all of this has been my biggest concern.  I can’t take this cancer away, but he sure deserves to “get away” from this cancer from time to time!  What may have seemed like just a small gesture to this young friend, was a HUGE blessing to this mama bear.

And I’ve gotta say – I’m embracing this whole “bald” thing.  Lawd – it is so “freeing”.  No hair to wash, dry, style……no hair products to purchase.  I never imagined I’d embrace it this much.  So much so that I entertained visitors yesterday in my baldness.  It is what it is.  Be prepared – if you stop by, you are likely to catch me without a cap or scarf on.  The only thing that would make it better is if I had a bit of “color” on my noggin.  It’s pretty dang pasty white!

I purchased a wig a few weeks ago.  I decided I needed to “name” it.  I opted for “Stella” (from the movie Stella Got Her Groove Back).  Yeah – this cancer may have got me sidetracked for a bit – but just you wait – I’m gonna get my groove back too!  Each day that passes is one day closer to me being done with this treatment and crossing the finish line with a happy, healthy future.  Just you wait!

stella.jpg
Me and Stella 

Hugs,

Sonja

I admit I’m stealing my “verse of the day” today from Pastor Karl’s sermon.  But it truly says it all.

Romans 12:9-15New International Version (NIV)

Love in Action

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Just an update

Well, Round #2 of chemo was pretty uneventful.  I felt fine that evening and even the next morning.  We had several things we needed to get done out of town and I even felt like taking care of business on Thursday.  I lasted awhile – then I got really tired…..but thankfully we got all of our business taken care of without any complications.

I take a lot of flack because I’m a “mini-van mom”.  Apparently it isn’t “cool” to drive a mini-van.  I’ll be honest, when I was in my early 20’s, driving into the church parking lot one Sunday and seeing all the mini-van’s there……..I remember saying,  “Lord, please don’t ever let me drive a mini-van”!

Fast forward many years after the birth of my son – all it took was one trip to the beach in a cramped Volvo S80 to change my opinion.  I’ve driven a mini-van since 2004 and my son is now 14 and honestly……I can’t imagine driving anything else.  I’m 5’9″ and officially the shortest person in the family.  It takes a lottttt of leg room for this family.  And talk about storage!  It’s enough room in there for us and all of our STUFF!

Yesterday on the way home, I was so very thankful for my mini-van.  I sat in the 2nd row of seats and reclined them and I was able to stretch out and relax and get some sleep on the way home.  No shame here!  reclining

After we got home, I laid down awhile just to rest.

Thankfully, we had some great friends bring us dinner last night.  It was such a blessing not to have to worry about dinner for my family.  I had a great appetite and was able to enjoy the meal.  That is always a plus!

Today, I woke up feeling fine.  I have to eat as soon as I get up so I can start taking my meds.  That is still one of the worst things for me – I am NOT a fan of eating as soon as I get up and I’m definitely not one to wake up early just so I can wait awhile to eat and take my medicine! 🙂  Afterwards, I was able to write some checks, get them mailed and run by the bank and that little run of energy slap wore me out.  I came home and took a 2 hour nap after only being up 3 hours.  That’s crazy how it can just jump on you like that.  I honestly think I could nap right now but I surely don’t want to be up all night!

Nothing really tastes good today…..soups and fruits tend to be my “go-to” foods but even some days they don’t taste good.  So if you ask me at lunch what sounds good for dinner – well, chances are whatever sounds good at lunch will taste like crap by the time dinner rolls around.  But….I keep trying to eat SOMETHING just because I know I need to.

Praying this will pass quickly – but all in all – I am doing good.  These hiccups are to be expected, and I think the best thing I can do is listen to my body and praise God for the strength to get through each day with whatever challenges the day brings.  So far, He has not let me down – and I don’t anticipate that He will.

This morning – within about 30 mins of each other – I had two friends send me this song.  That’s not coincidence, my friends.  Listen to this song when you get a moment – it’s an awesome song and a great inspiration to me and many others fighting this nasty disease.  I’ve been blessed with having “my tribe” of friends and family near and far loving me through this mess….. and I will never, ever be able to adequately express how much I appreciate all of you who have shown up in so many different ways.  Bringing food, sending cards, texts, meals, transportation, prayers…….Saying “thank you” just doesn’t seem to be enough.

God sends us just what we need……in just the right time.  I needed to hear this song today and I’m thankful for you two ladies who shared this with me!  Thanks Diane and Ginny!

Wishing each of you a safe, happy and blessed week end.

Blessings,

Sonja

Job 2:11New Life Version (NLV)

Job’s Friends Come to Him

11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this trouble that had come upon him, they came each from his own place. They were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They agreed to meet together to come to share Job’s sorrow and comfort him.

Second Time Around

Monday and Tuesday of this week were nothing short of WONDERFUL days…….I felt great, had lots of energy and was able to get some things done.  It felt great to be able to run errands by myself if I chose.  And as much as I was thankful for the two really great days this week, it was also a reminder to me that today, we started all over again.  Today was chemo treatment day #2.   But they say that’s intentional spacing the infusion dates 3 weeks apart – you feel good for a few days after, then the next week is not so great, then the second week things start picking up……little more energy, feeling more like my old self……..they don’t want you coming in for your infusion when you are not feeling well.  I know there is always a method to this madness.

I had lab work done at 9, drs appt at 9:30.  The doctors appt was running a little late, but we had a nice cushion of time between the drs appt and my chemo appointment.  When the doctor was finally able to see me – we had a great visit – and I was all set to do chemo today.  That’s the reason for the blood work, so they can tell if your counts are where they need to be.

I told the medical oncologist today she was right on target with her estimate of when i’d lose my hair.  She had said 10-12 days…….mine lasted a few days longer.

My exam with the medical oncologist was good.  Nothing to worry about. Praise God!

After my doctors appointment, we grabbed some lunch at chick-fil-a and then met my cousin at Duke North waiting area.  She is a Life Flight nurse.  She was all dressed like  an astronaut!!  We went upstairs to check out her work area, meeting coworkers and exploring the helipad.

My cousin gave us a tour of the Life Flight area and introduced us to some of the members of her team.  This was her lifelong dream and she worked hard and it’s paid off!  So happy for her to truly be living her dream!

alllyboo

view from helipad
Great views from the top of the Helipad!

I had some time to kill after my doctors appointment, so I went to the Belk Boutique and purchased a few more hats.  I tried to get some “neutral” colors this time!  The folks in the Belk Boutique are so kind and helpful.  I always enjoy going in there.

Next up – Infusion Room.  I was late getting started with chemo today b/c they were running 45 mins to 1 hr behind.  My treatment takes 3 hours – so we were there a while.  Everything went well with the chemo today (Praise the Lord)!  No complications or anything.  They also put on the Neulasta on pro on my arm before I left.  It will self-administer the meds around 9:00 pm tomorrow night.

sonja chemo2

Praying for no difficulties, fevers, chills, etc.

So last week, a friend was texting me saying we needed to get together to chat.   She said she had some things going on in her life that she’d like to bounce off of me to get a fresh perspective.  Well, almost immediately she text back and said – I can’t do that to you.  Why would you want to be bothered with my trivial mess with all you have going on.

I replied to her that I would WELCOME to chat with her about her concerns.  I told her that just because I had cancer didn’t mean that had to be the subject of every conversation.  I reminded her that I LOVE to talk about things OTHER than this cancer.  So she would be doing me a favor by sharing her concerns with me!  You can vent to me anytime!!!  Folks, I enjoy talking about my cancer experience…….but not EVERY DAY!  If any of you have problems you may be facing.  I’m here to listen!

So here’s to being 2 treatments down…..and 10 more to go.  Please pray they continue to be as uneventful as the first two!

It’s been a long day…….and I keep dozing off trying to finish this……so I’m going to call it a night.

Have a great week!

Blessings,

Sonja

Psalm 118:24    

This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

 

 

 

 

….a HAIRY situation

I’ve had an uneventful few days…….feeling good, but tire quickly.  I’ve OD’d on Food Network TV and Hallmark Movies (much to my hubby’s dismay) and done some reading. Not a bad few days.  And best of all – I got my sidekick back late Saturday afternoon!  All is good in my world!

The day I first met my medical oncologist and she recommended my chemo regimens to me, she looked at me and,  quietly….. but matter-of-factly said…… “you WILL lose your hair”.  I asked her if she knew how soon that would happen and she said typically within 10-12 days.  My first treatment was on June 28th……and it was only this past Wednesday (July 12th) that I noticed my hair showing up on the bathroom counter after I towel dried my hair.  I made it 14 days before it was noticeable.  She was pretty on-target!

This is what the counter looked like this morning.  The larger glob is what CC got out of the shower drain (he showered after me).  counter

Yeah – this is really happening!  Since Hunter was away all week at ASP, my prayer was that it would not all come out before he got home.  I didn’t want him coming home to a bald mom!  I thought that might be a bit traumatic even for him! It was noticeably thinner than before he left and in true Hunter fashion – he noticed right away!

He likes to tap me on my head anyway – and when he did, I cautioned him “be careful, it’s falling out like crazy”!  Of course, he didn’t believe me – but he asked me if he could try to “pull” a piece out  I said sure!  I don’t think he was prepared for how easy it was going to come out!  He was like “oh my goodness, I hardly had to touch it”!  Well, he quickly became obsessed with pulling it out.  When I changed clothes after church, I had hair ALL OVER my shirt.  I was shedding like crazy.  Hunter got the lint brush and cleaned all the hair off of my shirt!  At my aunt’s after church, he had fun showing everyone just how easy it was to pull my hair out!  Yeah – we are THAT family.  No apologies!  I joked that I’m soon going to have a hair-do like I did years ago.  Crazy enough I came across this baby pic of me yesterday.  It made me chuckle – I thought “oh my, I’ve rocked this non-hair do before”!!!

 

I wanted to be sure to get a few pics of us together before the inevitable happens.  We took a few pics out in the yard today.  We were looking pretty sharp if I say so myself!

last pic with hair
a pic of us before my hair is all gone!

So we have these great friends……and the husband is a barber.  He’s told me all along that whenever I was ready, he would be happy to shave my hair for me.  I told him today at church that “it’s about time”!  His response was “just let me know”.  If he is anything – he is accommodating……and caring……and truly the FUNNIEST person I know.  There’s no way that shaving my head would NOT be an epic event if he was involved!  And if you’re gonna do it – it may as well be EPIC, right?!!!

As it turns out, he was going to the shop tonight to cut his kids hair…..and was kind enough to pencil me in as well.  Lord, please don’t let me have an ugly noggin’, cause George will NEVER let me live it down! 🙂  George, Lisa and their sons Jake and Jackson were there with me, CC and Hunter.   Just for the record – everybody needs friends like these guys…..I’m so very thankful to have them in my life and I feel blessed to have them supporting me through his adventure!

hunter cut

George got me all ready and gave Hunter some instructions on how to make the first swipe!  Hunter buzzed off the first strips of hair!  That was pretty cool!

George took over and went to work.  My sweet friend Allie insisted that she thought I could rock a mohawk…….so just for you Allie B, George hooked me up with a temporary mohawk.  Whatcha think girl? 🙂  I’m not so sure it’s my BEST look! 🙂

allie

We took lots of photos,  videos with lively commentary – and as I imagined, it was ANYTHING but a sad time.  We laughed and joked and poked fun.  Jackson even said “that looks slick Mrs. Sonja” – and I just laughed out loud and said “pun intended, huh”?

So……late on a Sunday night…..18 days after my first chemo treatment I shaved my head.  It just seemed like the wise thing to do.  I came home tonight and took a shower to get cleaned up.  Well – that was interesting!  I realized that I havee officially cut my shower time in half!  No hair to wash and condition………and no need to shave my underarms and legs anymore……so there is an unexpected joy bomb for ya!

And here we have it…….my hot of the press new hair do…….or “no hair” do!

A big shout out to the Evans family for making this a fun night for us!   You guys are the best!  We love ya’ll to pieces!  Bad jokes and all! 🙂

bald

So most days, I struggle finding just the right verse to share with my blog.  I always want it to be relatable to the topic of the day.  Well, today the verse came firsts – it seemed like a no-brainer to me!  It seemed fitting that Luke 12:7 be the verse to accompany this post!

Praying for a great week.  Chemo #2 coming up on  Wednesday.

Blessings,

Sonja

Luke 12:7 The Message (MSG)

6-7 “What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries.