Friday, January 24, 2014

Choosing to Look for Sunshine

Houston has the worst weather its had since 2009, according to this mornings news.  Major roads are closed and many wrecks have occurred.  It is cold, gray and gloomy outside, which matches my mood. 

The day I arrived here was a cold day, but the sun was shining at home and in Houston.  The bright glare was coming through the airplane windows to where I had to pull the shade to shut out the light.  My friend, Kara, picked me up and we drove to her house to meet her husband and two children.  How precious it was to know where she lives and those her life revolves around. Kara & I met up with Jodi and we attended a cervical cancer summit put on by MD Anderson.  Of course, my cancer was not cervical cancer, but vaginal adenocarcinoma.  Regardless, I got to attend because they were having a breakout session for women who have had a total pelvic exenteration and well.....I qualify. We met another lady in the room that had the surgery even more recent than I did. She looked so good and was so positive and determined; two qualities I think are key to surviving this treatment.

Lets say that this surgery gave me a bit of a new "body shape" and so I have not worn jeans since January.  I tried a couple of times, and even used the pregnancy trick where you put the hairband through the button hole and over the button, and it still was terribly uncomfortable. Jodi and Kara are in jeans every time I see them, so they took me shopping to find a pair I could wear.  It was so good to put them on and think I could wear jeans and tennis shoes! And there is no elastic waist and no need for a hair band!  We had a slumber party at Jodi's house so I got to meet most of her family as well. These women are added to my list of forever friends. I'm so grateful for them. 

Thursday, I met with infectious disease and he said I only need one more month of antibiotic for my long term bacteria infection. He determined this by seeing that I had no infection flare-ups after my December surgery, which he said would typically occur if the infection was still laying dormant in my abdomen. One less pill is always good news!  I celebrated in my hotel room with great pizza delivered right to my door!

This morning I called downstairs to make sure the shuttle would still be running with the icy roads.  They were a bit behind schedule because only one shuttle driver made it to work, but they would take me.  The shuttle driver told the passengers how he stayed with a friend close to the hotel to make sure he could be there for his passengers this morning.  He's driven the shuttle for that hotel for 25 years and took personal interest in all of us and making sure we got exactly where we needed to go. Yesterday as I waited for the shuttle to pick me up to take me to my hotel I spoke to a man that was holding a big fluffy red and white blanket.  I don't usually strike up conversation with men in this place, but his blanket looked just like one on my son's bed.  I asked what was on his blanket and he told me it was his daughter's OU blanket.  It was the same! I learned he was from Stillwell, OK just 9 miles from the Arkansas border.  I asked if he was the patient and his answer broke my heart.  He said no, his daughter was and he had just lost her to stomach cancer a couple hours before.  She had just ran a 5k in November and now  in January she was gone and he was facing a long trip back home alone.  The weariness and sadness, even shock, in his eyes stays with me still this morning. I couldn't bring myself to ask any questions of the other passengers on the shuttle this morning.

Today's appointment started right on time because many patients did not make it here on time, or make it at all due to weather. This is the appointment I was leery of and my fears were confirmed. My surgery in December didn't heal right either and now I'm looking at another surgery to correct things.  I don't even want to consider another surgery right now, but it is more granulation tissue which causes me continual pain.  I was suspecting a problem, as I had asked for prayer a couple weeks ago when I first noticed pain coming back.  Hearing the doctor confirm the problem makes it real and something I now must think through.  My doctors will be conferencing to determine a joint recommendation and will call me. More waiting.....decisions......time away from my husband and children. My mood and the weather are both gloomy. 

I think about how it felt flying down here all alone.  Fearful at first, but then a I moved forward taking one leg of the trip at a time until a little confidence came, and by this morning it even felt good to be independent. This bird was flying stronger than when I left.  My mood became as sunny as the light shining through my airplane window.

 Now, as I think about this trip by myself, the man I met grieving his daughter's sudden death and my news today.........I must choose to look for the sunshine.  I am alive and cancer free!  I am able to travel alone.  I am able to go home to my friends and family and live life with them. I can wear jeans!  I hope when my plane flies above these gloomy clouds today I can see the sun shining bright.  I will leave my shade wide open! 

My depiction at the conference of cancer with and without God.
Cancer is SO much easier WITH God...he gives us what we need,
blocks the clouds and helps us feel strong, when we are weak.
They had us draw on quilt pieces at the
conference. These names remind
me to be grateful for the GIFT of LIFE!

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