Well….I wish I had easier news to share. The truth is that I don't.
In fact, I have a "3 ugh" news report for you on this beautiful snowy night in Orchard Park.
I went yesterday to Roswell for what I thought was going to be a quick appointment with my doctor to review blood work plus pick a date after the New Year for a set of follow-up scans.
If only that actually happened.
Instead, when I shared that I was out of breath from doing fairly routine activities (due to what I thought was a low hemoglobin count) I was given a few different tests. Let's just say that I failed them all and that won me the prize of having a special CT to check for a pulmonary embolism. Good news is that I don't have that. The hard news is that the cancer continues to progress in both my lungs and liver. And, my shortness of breath is not due to the low hemoglobin count as much as it due to fluid build-up in my left lung from an increased tumor load.
So…on Friday I will be going in at 8 AM for a procedure to drain that fluid from my lung. Then on Monday I will meet with my doctor to review the next options for chemo (thankfully, there are several options remaining) that I will start either Monday or Wednesday of next week. The side effects of those chemo options are unknown to me at this point, but I'm not anticipating that they will be a walk in the park.
This has been a hard one. Hard largely because I wasn't expecting that news. While I know my body isn't doing great, I thought I understood the cause of that to be from the effects of the chemo, not due to the effects of the cancer. So, yesterday was a very teary day for me and for Chad. And, while it wasn't teary for the kids, it was difficult for them to hear as well.
But wait! Just like a good informercial…I'm not done yet! It's not just a "2 ugh" report; it's a "3 ugh" one, remember?
So…I thought I would send out this update early this morning, but instead, I awoke last night not feeling good at all. Headache and upset stomach. Hmm…I really must be STRESSED about this new information, I thought. And, then, about 20 minutes after I awoke feeling crummy, a little boy entered our room and, in tears, complained that his stomach and head were hurting him and he wanted us to set up a makeshift bed for him on the bathroom floor. Yep; you guessed it…. The STOMACH BUG! So, rather than taking advantage of my last day of "freedom" to become better prepared for Christmas, I spent the day next to Daniel on the couch.
A 3 Ugh report?!? I don't even want 1 ugh. But I have to have THREE of them to tell you about?!?
I want to be the girl with the No Ugh story.
With only victories.
With only easy stuff
With only things that, if you saw this on Facebook, it would take you 0.10 seconds to click the "Like" button.
Don't we all want that, at least a little bit anyway, for our own lives?
As I drove into Roswell yesterday, I was listening to a CD that I made last spring for the girls who are in my Tuesday morning Bible Study. There's a song by Bethany Dillon on it called "Hallelujah". Here's a link to it and I would encourage you to listen to it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-W7Md6mv74
Here's the first part of the chorus:
"Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Whatever's in front of me, help me to sing hallelujah."
You know what my prayer was to God right after I pulled into the parking spot and the song stopped there?
"Please don't let this song be a preparation for any news that I hear today."
Does that sound like the prayer of a superhero?
What is that prayer? It's the honest prayer of a girl who has been walking this road for a long time and knows what it's like to hear easy news and what it's like to hear hard news. And who knows which news she'd take each and every day if it was her choice.
Several hours later, when I got back into my van after hearing this hard news, the song wasn't done yet. I will admit that I turned it off as soon as I realized that it was still on, but not before the second part of the chorus came on.
While it may seem similar to the first, it's totally different. Totally.
Here's the second part: "Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Whatever's in front of me, I'll choose to sing hallelujah."
Did you catch it?
The first part asks God to work in our minds and hearts and spirits to empower us to face each and every circumstance with the ability and the desire to praise Him.
The second part tells God that you'll cooperate with Him and you'll actually do it.
The first is the recognition that, no matter what news is heard, no matter what circumstance comes into our lives, there is always something – many, many, many things in fact - to praise Him for.
The second is the commitment to actually do it…to willingly trade all the frustrations, sadness and fears for the hope and the joy and the peace released by trusting in those He promises.
The first could be considered an act of desperation.
The second, though, well…that's a choice of the will.
When Laura and I were first diagnosed years ago, we both made a commitment to praise Him no matter what.
In some respects it was a silly commitment.
We had no idea what depths of circumstances He would have our feet travel and what it would take to utter those words of praise and trust.
But, over those years, here's what we both learned: The place of Praise – which really is the place of Trust – is the only place we want to live.
We may visit Sadness.
We may visit Frustration.
We may visit Anger.
We may visit Pulling Back.
But we don't have to live in any of those places.
Those are not our home.
So, tonight, as my stomach is churning and I'm praying for the stomach bug to flee quickly so that I'm well enough for my lung to be drained tomorrow (see what I mean…how ridiculous that I'm picking a thoracentesis over the stomach bug!!)… I'm making my way Home. I'm stopping the tour of those yucky places and returning Home. To the place where Rest. Peace. Joy. Purpose. Hope. And Life live. And I hope I'm not the only one. I hope that if you've been visiting places that have left you empty and dry, that you're headed Home too.
With love and a humble request for prayers for my family and me,