Saturday, February 21, 2015

Update #91 1/2 - Pictures Only




















Update #91: Home, Even Sweeter Home


Well…my friends, are you tired of hearing about our crazy trip to Disney yet?

Good.  I won't share anymore stories FROM Disney, but I wanted to share with you our story of coming HOME because it was just as marvelous and unexpected and breath-catching.  

We got up this morning at 3:30 to catch the bus from our resort to the airport.  [Sadly, we had to leave KRUSH (my beloved scooter) behind.  It was a tender moment saying goodbye to her.  You'd be proud of me; I didn't cry as I had to leave her looking lonely next to the bell hop. My only wish for her was that someone else wouldn't treat her as a china doll, but rather as the tough girl that she really is.]

We had a totally uneventful direct flight to Buffalo and landed around 9:30 AM, all prepared to be met by our friend John Moore to drive us home.  As we walked out of the exit hallway, we saw this man holding a sign that said, "Rush Family."  

What is this?!?

Turns out someone sent a limo to the airport to come and get us and take us home!  What??

Kenny Driver (real name - he showed me his driver's license) was a GREAT limo driver and took us to our friends Ryan and Danielle Kader's house where their two year old, Sullivan, explored his first limo.  Sully was excited about the limo, but he was most excited because he just LOVES Buzz Lightyear and, the day before, we emailed a picture of the four of us with Buzz, and Sullivan was now convinced that this new fancy-dancy limo would take him to Buzz and Woody's house.  He was vastly disappointed when we all left their house, taking our dog Mollie Moo, with us and he didn't get go visit Buzz and Woody.  Oops. Sorry, Sullivan.  

Mollie Moo took to the limo like a puppy who has longed for a life of even more leisure and spoiling and, believe it or not, within 30 seconds BOTH she and Emilie were fast asleep and missed the excitement of the entire ride home.   

I then texted my neighbor, Julie, to let her know that we'd be coming by soon in a limo and her three little ones might want to get their coats on to come over and check it out before Kenny Driver had to get to his next job.  

Well…as we pulled into our neighborhood and got closer to our house…it became clear that our time of being TOTALLY spoiled was not yet over!  We pulled up to our house and saw our entire driveway lined with the cutest row of about 20 snowmen you've ever seen. Some of them even fully dressed!  We had snow forts carved into our snow as well as Welcome Home signs painted in the snow and, Chad's favorite, a Snoopy carved on top of his very own house as you'd see in the Peanuts cartoon.  We later learned that some of those friends then circled our home and prayed over us like they did last winter. 

And…within minutes of our arrival we found out who the culprits were who were largely responsible for making this grand surprise happen: Christine and Tracy (who both are/were affiliated with WNY Make-A-Wish and who coordinated puling off this surprise in less than 3 days); Christian (who took all the amazing pictures you'll see; and Julie (our neighbor who loves us well and who knows our garage code!) Not only did they gather neighbors and friends to carve our snowman greeting parade, but they also invited them to FILL OUR HOME to over-flowing with balloons, fun little gifts, and yummy treats all decorated to a Dr. Seuss theme. 

Can you say, "Surprised?!?!?"
While I could say a ton more, the truth is that my mouth is sore from smiling, and my head is sore from shaking it back and forth in disbelief, and my jaw is sore from dropping open in utter amazement, and my brain is sore from trying to wrap itself around all this generosity and lavish love poured out over us by those who love us and love God.   

While I should be embarrassed by all this lavish love, the truth is that – If I'm honest - I have just flourished in receiving it.  It has refreshed my spirit, strengthened my mind, and encouraged my heart to continue to press into Him, trusting Him even more for the steps that lie ahead for our family – whatever those steps may be.  It has been just as great a joy - if not greater - to watch our children (and nephews too) come to understand that, often God calls us to be wise and practical stewards of that which He has entrusted to us and, yet, sometimes He calls us to be almost ridiculous in the extravagance we show in worshipping Him and letting others know that He loves them too.  To watch our kids embrace being delighted has been beyond–fun and a powerful opportunity to speak new truths to them. 

So…to ALL of you who had a hand in either our Disney or our Welcome Home extravagant pouring out of love over our family…whether you ordered a floral arrangement, sent a Valentine's Day card, froze your tushy off making a snowman, lifted us in prayer, encouraged us via a comment on FB or an email note, bought us a silly little gift that made us giggle, or told us in words that you love us…. WE ARE THANKFUL FOR YOU.  So incredibly thankful. You have made these past 8 days unlike NONE other we have experienced.  We will forever be grateful and would love to thank each one of you in person.  In fact, my mother is beside herself wondering how thank you notes will be sent out to each of you!!! (Not gonna happen and I assured her that none of you were in it for the thank you note!)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Update 90 1/2: Pictures Only

Because of technical difficulties (urgh!)...

I couldn't post pictures of some of the gifts that we received on Valentine's Day from friends from Grove City College.  So....you can visit my Facebook page (kristie.rush@facebook.com)  and see a few pictures if you're interested!

Sorry.
Trust me; It's a good thing I don't have much hair because it all would have been pulled out!

(Is that funny? I think it's funny!)

K.


Update #90 1/2: Unparalleled Gifts


Hi friends -


For those of you on Facebook, you have already read this update.  Because of the craziness here at Disney (fabulously easy craziness that is!) of the last few days, I haven't had time to send this out via email as well.  (Normally, I do it the other way around…I email it first, and then post it to my blog, then link it to Facebook).  So…my apologies for the delay in getting this to you.  Further, I am including one picture that shows almost all – but not even close to all – of the gifts that we have received from (mainly) college friends from Grove City College.  I will be posting more pictures (in case you're interested in seeing them) to the blog.  Www.kristierush.blogspot.com  

Here's the much delayed update with my sincere apologies….

Just SOME of the gifts we received...
Back: Jeff & Debbie (Higgs), Chad & Kristie, Bob & Jan (Rich)
From: Matthew, Daniel, Jacob, Andrew, Ryan & Emilie





Ok. So. Saturday was – and still is - just about impossible to grasp.
Please read my Grove City College friend Jennifer Wimer Hill 's post as copied below:

_______
"Having a great Valentine's Day! Yesterday was a hard day. My dear friend Kristie Rich Rush shared the latest update in her 14 year battle with cancer that she had now officially become a hospice patient, and that she and her family were travelling to Disney for a family weekend and wanted our prayers that her body would hold up to the rigors that this would entail. But then, this MAGICAL WAVE started among ALL of our college friends. And out of sadness, a huge display of love was born. A great guy started a group message saying that a fellow graduate was now a VP down at Disney and wanted to help us coordinate a Valentine's explosion of love for the Rush family. This message grew and multiplied, and at my last count there are over 140 people involved in several message groups. Well, we all started calling the Disney resort and arranging for flowers, gifts, snacks, balloons, cards, Mickey hats, you name it, being delivered TODAY to them. The Disney Customer Service reps are having a BLAST with this, are familiar with the Rush story when we start off with the words "Kristie and Chad" and told us that they had a dedicated DELIVERY TRUCK which was full of our orders and a driver to set up their room, as well as several CS reps coordinating our orders of which they had actually run out of some items! It has been so much fun reconnecting with people I haven't seen in 20 years, enjoying the Rush Family reactions, and I really doubt that any other college community could pull off this big of an outpouring of God's love in just a few short hours yesterday afternoon. Way to go GROVE CITY COLLEGE classes of 1991-1996 or so! Read Kristie's blog at kristierush.BlogSpot.com <http://kristierush.blogspot.com/> - you will be touched and inspired - and please continue to pray for them as well."
________


Now imagine coming back to your hotel room (after a FABULOUS day of zipping around Epcot in your now-beloved scooter) and finding a floral delivery woman unloading CARTFULS of flowers and gifts. I mean...like...a crazy amount of gifts...32 gorgeous floral arrangements, 10 amazing cooler/picnic basket gift sets, 5 balloon bouquets with stuffed animals, several fruit and food and treat baskets….

No seriously.  Picture that. 
Picture glancing around your room and wondering if you, somehow, accidentally stepped into a wonderfully stocked gift store.

Now...imagine trying to absorb that. 
And then, as you look closely at each card attached to each item, you realize that they all came from people who you went to college with 20 years ago.
People who know your story and are prompted by God to UNLEASH HIS LAVISH LOVE UPON YOU.

What would your reaction be?

Would you bury your tear-stained incredulous face into the also-amazed arms of the delivery woman? And hold on tightly as you both marveled at the wonder and beauty of it?
Yes. Me too.

And then what?
How would you then process all that?

Yeah. That's where I am too.

No words.
None.
Not a one.

So for tonight...i'm going to let that just be all that's said. I'm going to just receive all that love. And i'm going to do my best to fall asleep as I breathe deeply the beautiful fragrance filling our room.

Thank you to ALL who extended this crazy love to my family and me.

The note we included in the gifts that we
(and the Disney Resort Staff) gave away
to any guest on a scooter or in a wheelchair
or adaptive stroller.
Please know that, tomorrow, our entire family (including some of the Disney staff at this resort) will have the privilege of sharing many of these wonderful gifts with those we see - from little ones to grown-ups - who are also trekking thru Disney on scooters or in wheelchairs or adapted strollers. May the message of the radical, lavish love of God be proclaimed in ways that make eternal differences.

Can't wait.
To be the hands and feet of Christ is a privilege...a great blessing.
Oh...my...goodness..


Friday, February 13, 2015

Update #90: A Successful First Day in Disney


Just wanted to let you all know that today's travels to Disney went beautifully!


Was picked up by our awesome neighbor, Nick, at 5:30.  FREEZING, but easy drive to airport.  No baggage to check so avoided a line about a mile long.  Went through the pre-check security line in less than 4 minutes.  Made it to our gate to enjoy a delicious rubbery bagel and egg sandwich (with chocolate milk, because, why not?).  

Boarded on time in the brilliant sunshine. 2 hours later, touched down in that same brilliant sunshine, plus about 60 degrees!  Easily navigated the Orlando airport and took the Disney Magical Express in record time to our resort.  Met my parents off the bus.   Hugs all around.  Had a yummy lunch in downtown Disney.  Checked into the hotel. 

Picked up my previously-much-dreaded scooter that I'll need to have the energy to go through the parks. Took a joy ride.   Now LOVE my scooter and may just add this lovely machine to my modes of transportation at home!  (See video for a laugh).  

Tucked myself into bed for a little nap. Woke up to the news that my sister's family had arrived.  Heard a knock at the door. Thought it was my sister.  Yelled loudly in FRENCH (with a French accent of course) that she should come in. Chad opened the door. It wasn't my sister.  It was someone delivering a BEAUTIFUL bouquet of roses…one of the prettiest I'd ever seen.  Gave Chad credit for the Valentine's gift.  He sheepishly said, "Well…if it doesn't have a tag on it, it's from me."  Ha!  (Thank you Anne. For a second you made my rock star of a husband look even more like a dream boat!!!!!)  

Had some dinner. Took a long, hot shower.  Got in my jammies.  Just about ready to tuck myself into bed for the night and wanted to tell you all that…

I FEEL GREAT! 
Cancer wasn't silent, but it was quiet as a mouse.  

So…thanks so much for your prayers and your words of support and encouragement.  
Please let your heart be lightened (if it's been saddened by my prior post) by the attached video and know that we are already having a fabulous time! :)

Love to you all,
video
Kristie

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Update #89: The Turn in the Race


This Thursday.  
So so different from last Thursday. 

Because I've been a slacker in writing this update to you all… By now, many of you have heard that I had an unexpected stay in the hospital last week.  You may also have heard that I am now finished with chemo. And you may have even heard that I have officially become a Hospice patient. 

Wow. That's a lot of change in one week.  
Actually, that was a lot of change in just a few minutes. 

In the span of one conversation - about 5 sentences in all -  I heard from my doctor that the chemo options are not helping me and that I'm done with chemo.
I heard that Hospice is the best choice for me and that I would become their patient. 
And I heard that I really needed t be admitted to the hospital until my pain could get under control. 

In the span of one conversation.
In less than 5 minutes.

And, you know what?
I am so thankful for that.

When  I was first diagnosed at 27, one of the things that Chad and I knew after I had completed all my surgeries and treatments, is that we probably wouldn't have children biologically.  Not that I couldn't physically have children, but that there might be a risk of recurrence of breast cancer if I were to get pregnant.  And, guess what? That was totally fine with me.  Seriously. Totally fine.  You see, I had never longed to be pregnant.  But, because fertility issues didn't run in my family, I just always assumed that I would have children the "regular" way.  I didn't long to be pregnant, but since that was just "how you had kids", I just assumed that's how I would have kids.  So, when Chad and I realized that perhaps that wasn't the way God was going to make us parents, I didn't grieve that at all - I mean, ZERO grief.  Within moments of that realization, I was fine with the concept of adoption and was actually looking forward to it.   

And then, a few months later,  we had submitted all our paperwork to the adoption agency and we began to wait for a baby. Although there was no telling how long that wait would actually be, we were told that it generally could take 3-6 months.  But, because there was a high probability that the adoption would happen without a lot of advance notice, I decided to prematurely stop my job as a management consultant. In fact, I would tell people that I was stopping my job "way early."  So…I had my last day of work on a Friday. Chad and I and John and Laura (along with other leaders) left early the next morning to take 100+ kids to Young Life camp and be camp counselors for the week.  And, the following Friday, we returned home at 6 PM, checked our answering machine, and found that we had a message at 4:30 that same afternoon that the adoption agency had a baby for us.  And, within 48 hours, we became parents to a beautiful 5 lb 6 oz baby girl named Emilie Grace.

Almost two years later, another submission of paperwork to the adoption agency. Another projected 3-6 month wait.  Instead, during a rare-turn-off-the-phones-power-nap by me (only ten days after our paperwork was completed), we received another call from the adoption agency that we were to be parents to a 7 lb boy named Daniel Carter.   Two days later, we drove to Buffalo to pick up our beautiful son.   "Mommy and Daddy are going to Buffalo, Emilie, to get you a brother."  

I guess you could say that I do okay when thrown into situations without notice! 

As you might imagine, since the beginning of the Stage IV part of my cancer journey 4 1/2 years ago, I've had countless thoughts about how this last part of this journey might go.  While I don't think I spent time a lot of time dwelling on it, I would be lying to you if I told you I hadn't had countless moments – even fleeting ones – in which I asked myself and God:   

Would I have to be the one who made these decisions?  
Would Chad and I agree? 
Would I just get too tired out and frustrated with chemo that made me feel yucky?  
Would my doctor have to twist my arm to move to palliative care?
Would I have to convince my doctor to let me stop?
Would I have to face my kids and tell them that I just couldn't do it anymore? 
Would the chemo just make me so stinkin' sick that I would be virtually destroyed by the drugs that were supposed to help me fight this disease?
Would…. Would… Would…

So…on Thursday when I left my house at 9:30 AM as a girl who was going to get yet another chemo treatment…and when I returned on Saturday at 4:30 as a girl who was now a Hospice patient, I was incredibly thankful that that's how fast this last turn on the course of my breast cancer marathon had gone.  

So. Incredibly. Thankful.
It was easy.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that it's easy to be a Hospice patient.  
All that I'm saying is that the decision to become one was easy.

So, now that it's been a week, how am I doing with this?

Not sure I can fully articulate it. It's actually a bit surreal. 
Because I feel as if I'm living in an oxymoron.  
In a situation that shouldn't be true, but is. In a situation that is both simple, yet impossibly complex.  Is bizarre, yet totally normal. Is totally acceptable to me and totally not. 

Here's what's disconcerting…
It's incredibly disconcerting that I now have oxygen systems lining my bedroom wall.
It's incredibly disconcerting to have to send an email like I did today to my children's teachers letting them know that Emilie and Daniel's mom is now in Hospice.
It's incredibly disconcerting to feel parts of my body under my skin that normally you wouldn't feel.
It's incredibly disconcerting to make travel arrangements to Disney for tomorrow and have to make sure that you have enough meds…that you know what hospital you'd call…that you have to arrange to have a scooter available so that you can physically make it through Disney since you certainly don't have enough energy to walk through the parks.

It's incredibly disconcerting experiencing your body starting fail in more and more obvious and prolific ways.
Yeah; that's not easy.

But there's also STILL a joy that exists at the same time. A richness.  A fullness.  A peace. 
It's hard to articulate, but I guess you're just going to have to trust me – and my 4.5 years of trying to live authentically before you about all this – that this joy is true.
It's true and it matters and it seeps into all aspects of this part of my journey.

At the same time this journey is incredibly disconcerting, it is - as plainly as I can state I - also filled with a richness that is deep and real and important. 

That's God.
Only God. 
Because it certainly isn't me. 
And to even remotely pretend it's me is just foolishness. Or insanity. Or a downright lie. 

You can't possibly have a positive enough of an attitude or a strength of personality to experience this depth of joy when your body is failing fast. When your lungs aren't working right. When your vision is messed up. When your liver is expanding at a rapid rate. When your bones are hurting and when you have medications lining your counter to help ease that, or alleviate this, or slow that.  When you look at your kiddos who are still so needing of a mom. 

Oh no; it's not because of me. 
It's all because of God.

Because He is present and He promises to make a difference.  
He promises to infuse His hope into the darkest of situations, in the bleakest of circumstances.

He makes promises and, much to my delight, He continues to deliver on them.  
I haven't tapped Him out. 
Even now.
When we're at this new place. 
When the turn in the race has been quick and sharp and the finish line is almost visible.  

In closing (to this LOOONG update – sorry!), if I could ask for prayer… would you be willing to pray that this trip to Disney for me would be one in which cancer doesn't get to have a loud voice…that my body will cooperate with our plans…that I make it there and back without any incident… that my time with my family would be sweet and special and fun?   I'd totally appreciate it. That would be just an awesome gift. 

Much love to you all,
K.