Thursday, February 27, 2014

Update #69

In 7 days, we'll be in Florida with my family.
Ahhh…I can't wait.

In case anyone has a moment of feeling jealousy over that, let me help you get over that real quick:
What lies between now and 7 days from now is daily radiation at Roswell. 

I'm pretty confident that I just cured you of any ounce of jealously you may have had, right?
Yeah, I would think so! :)

So…the medical update from last week is that my doctor is willing to try one last "Hail Mary Pass" on non-infusion based treatment.  For the next two months, I'll be taking an older, slightly different hormone-based therapy.  In two months I'll be scanned again and, if the disease is still progressing, then it's infusion chemo for me.  In addition to these daily pills, today I started the first of 10 radiation treatments to my right hip in order to both reduce pain and attempt to slow localized progression of disease.  

Thankfully, the side effects of both these things (new therapy & radiation) are fairly inconsequential.  
Oh, wait. Forgot to mention that "excessive weight gain" is the most common side effect of the new drug I'm taking.
Not just weight gain, but excessive weight gain.  
Oh goodie.  Just what I've always wanted. 

So….how am I doing with all this?

I thought I was handling all this pretty well actually.  
That is, until yesterday, when I was by myself on my way home from Roswell.  

I was driving in the right-hand lane of I-190 and was behind a car that was driving 56 MPH.  And, sure enough, in the lane right next to me, there was an 18-wheeler driving 56 .1 MPH. 
So, there I was.  Stuck behind these ridiculously slow vehicles 

(Yes, I know, the speed limit is 55 MPH, so technically those vehicles…yeah, yeah, yeah…blah, blah, blah).  

About 15 seconds after realizing my unfortunate predicament, I (without warning, and totally surprising myself) started to scream my head off at the ridiculousness of their slowness.  
I mean, I was SCREAMING at those cars.  
My body hunched over my steering wheel, my fists pounding the seat, my eyes spilling over with tears, my face red.  My voice hoarse.
As I screamed, "Get. Out. Of. My. Way."  

Can you picture this craziness?
I was seriously off my rocker.

I was just so so MAD. 
I was just so mad at these stupid cars that were blocking my path.  
That were slowing me down. 
That were taking away my choice.
That were preventing me from going at the pace I want to go.

So mad.

Okay, so who has figured out that I wasn't really mad at those cars?
That, perhaps, my crazy anger wasn't really about those two law-abiding drivers? 

Yeah, it took me about 30 seconds to realize that too.

The truth is that cancer sucks and going to Roswell is difficult.
It can feel as if I'm behind obstacles that I cannot move.
It can feel as if I don't have the choices I want.
It can feel as if I can take a different path at the pace that I want to take it. 

And that's hard.
And it's hard working through that.
But God is good and He's got this. He's at work. He knows the path and He knows the pace.  And He's trustworthy.
So thankful for that.

So…to wrap this up…As I continue to work through this "slight anger problem", you may just want  to be on the look out for a very dirty gray Honda Odyssey min-van with a blond, pony-tailed driver and stay far, far away!  :)

Love to you all,

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

End of Day Update...

Phew. That was a  LONG day…

Bottom line:  Treatment will be changing, but not sure yet what it will be.

My doctor is doing some research on some non-traditional treatment options to see if she'd recommend any of them more than she'd recommend infusion chemo. I'm also going to be meeting with Genetics (find out tomorrow when that appointment will be).  In addition, I'll be meeting with radiation oncology to see what the recommendation would be re: treating the the spot on my right hip.

How am I, you ask?
Actually okay.

Kinda strange, but Monday was much harder than today.  
My list of complaints was truly long on Monday.
But my airing of them – and then my follow-up visit to Hamburg Town Court and seeing the grander truths – truly did help put my feet back on solid ground.

I'm exhausted, but I'm okay.
No tears shed today.
AND…not even a lump in my throat.

Perhaps that will come later tonight as I lay my head on my pillow and have a moment to breathe and process all this…but, for now, I'm okay.

Thanks again for loving me well today.  You are a source of much needed, and much appreciated, encouragement.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Update #68

(LONG post today…sorry!) 

A change in plans.

Tomorrow was originally scheduled to be just a scan day, with results being shared with me next week. But, as of yesterday because of increased in pain in my right hip/femur, I'm now actually getting scans and meeting with my doctor all in one day rather than waiting that week to hear results.  And that's both relieving and incredibly not relieving at the same time.No one wants a cancer doctor to "squeeze you in" to her already-full-of-cancer patients schedule, right? Means that she thinks you REALLY need to see her. 


Yesterday, sandwiched between normal everyday activities (in the morning, buying a cute area rug and, in the evening, watching a really cute 5th grade boy dance his heart out in his 5th grade musical), I had a few really difficult conversations. 

One was with my doctor.  Telling her that my pain levels are getting to the point that Advil every 6 hours just isn't fully cutting it.  Hearing from her that I really need to see her "right away."  Hearing me say to her that I think I might be ready for prescription pain meds - something I have LONG dreaded ever having to say and continues to fill me with dread even as I type it out now. 

One was with a (new) friend. An expert in the genetics (and cancer) world.  Hearing from her much needed information about my family's probable genetic predisposition to cancers (yes, that's plural) and getting her expert opinion as to how to proceed.  Hearing things like, "You might want to consider meeting with an expert in this field who's in Boston…there's another one in Michigan…"  

One was with Chad.  Calling him in tears after the other two conversations.  Being surprised when I heard the garage door go up and seeing him walk into the house.  Ready to hug me. Ready to listen. Ready to  love me through my frustrations and anger and sadness.  

And, finally, one was with God.  Expressing disatisfaction. Wanting to know if there's really an end to this cancer prognosis that doesn't include me in a hospital bed.  Wanting – no, demanding like an obstinate 4 year old - His help. His truth. His presence.   Totally angry that I'm watching the life that I would love to live become less and less of a reality for me.  Can't ski with my kids. Can't run with my husband. Can't sit cross-legged on the floor.  Now, I can't even sit on the couch fully pain-free.

Does it sound like I was complaining?
I was (and, truth be told, I still sorta am).

I was complaining. 
Here's the truth: Being tempted to complain, and then falling into the trap of complaining, is part of this journey I'm on. And sharing it with you is just part of the deal I made with you all back in Update #1… to walk it out as honestly as I know how to.  

But…thankfully…I don't only have complaints for you today. 

Remember that I said I was a having a typical day yesterday? Remember that cute rug purchase? That 5th grade play?  
Well…I neglected to tell you that I also had the privilege of going to Hamburg Town Court too.

A couple of weeks ago, I got - and deservedly too – my first ever speeding ticket.
48 MPH in a 35 MPH zone.

So I went to court so that they would reduce my rightfully deserved speeding ticket down to something less expensive. 
It's a crazy system going on, isn't it?

I'm totally guilty of speeding.
I was rightfully caught.
I deserve to pay the penalty.

I – and 150 other derelicts like me – stand in line around the edge of a big room in the basement of the town hall. 
We get called up to the prosecutor's podium one by one.
He looks at our paperwork that fairly and accurately describes our actual crime.
He looks up at our faces. Looks down at the paperwork.  
And issues his offer.
"2 Parking Tickets.  Do you accept that?"


Then I walk back upstairs and take a seat in the standing-room only courtroom. 
And wait as, one-by-one, we stand in front of the judge.
He, too, scans over that same paperwork – the one that fairly and accurately describes our actual crime.
He reiterates that the prosecutor has presented us an offer and asks us if we accept it.  
"2 Parking Tickets.  Do you agree to that?"


"Ms. Rush…2 Parking Tickets at $65 each for a total of $130"
"Go through that door on the right and pay your fine."

What the heck is that???

Here's what it's not: It's not justice.

There's no justice in that. 
I didn't get what I deserved. 
And, even though I don't want to pay the big fine for my actual infraction, there's something in me that longs for true justice: you were wrong, you pay.

So, yesterday wasn't justice.
But neither was it grace.

Oh, it was better than paying the full speeding ticket fine and getting points on my license.
But that's not grace. 
That's not mercy.

That may be the best the world can do for us when we mess up.
"You're off the hook for that BIG thing, Kristie, but you're on the hook for this other thing and it's gonna cost you something."

That might be the best the world can do. 
But that's not the best God can do.
That's not the message of Christ. 
It's not the grace of God.
It's not the mercy of God.

You see, the picture of God's grace looks like this:   
I admit my rightful guilt.
I stand before the judge.
And instead of having to pay the penalty, the fine is paid for me
By the judge himself.
And my record is wiped clean.

How crazy would yesterday's courtroom experience have been if, for each person in that room, the judge called them up one by one, and read to them their actual crime,and then told them what the fair punishment would be.  And then…and then….the judge came down off his bench and stood next to us and willingly and delightedly offered to take the penalty upon himself?  

Could you imagine?

That's the grace of God. 
That's the the message of Christ. 
That's what the Cross is all about.  

It's about Christ fully satisfying the deserved penalty of me falling short of, not Hamburg, NY's traffic laws, but the Laws of God and His standard for what's right.  
It's about setting me free from paying that fine because He's paid it for me.

And that…that truth…that word picture….that experience after a series of hard, hard, hard conversations yesterday…those 68 minutes of sitting in Hamburg Town Court and not experiencing true justice and not experiencing true grace…that began to calm this anxious heart.  To soothe this worried girl.  To set my feet back on solid, hope-filled, good ground.   And even, to slow the complaints that came tumbling out of my mouth. 

I don't like what's happening with my body.
I don't like what I may hear tomorrow.
I don't like the hard things about all this.

But I love grace.
And I love freedom.
And I love the peace that comes from knowing that, because of Christ, I will never pay the fine I'm guilty of.  

And that helps me to go into Roswell tomorrow and trust Him with my life. 

I know; it's another deep, tough email from me.
You guys are troopers to walk this thing with me.

I'd love your prayers tomorrow. 
That I would hold fast to the truth that "He is good. He is able. He knows me. He loves me." 

Thanks friends…

P.S.  You have full permission to remind me of Hamburg Town Court if you catch me going through a long list of complaints! I think his name was Judge Gorman :)