Faith from the Edges

Faith and life from the perspective of me.

Archive for the tag “support”

One Year: Or what the hell happened there?

These four pictures essentially outline my last year – from hair to no hair, chemo 6 times over, to now growing in curly hair. What a year it has been!

I woke up in the early evening of June 2, 2015 to realize with a shock that my surgery that was supposed to only take a couple of hours had gone at least an hour longer. Then to realize that I was being admitted to the hospital – it was only supposed to be day surgery. Then hearing my dear one’s voice asking me how I was doing and saying that my doctor would be in soon. She came in and told me that I had ovarian cancer, stage 2 and that I would be needing chemotherapy to make sure that we had got it all. Yep, that was a day!

Then came the summer and fall from hell. Well, not really hell, but really, really uncomfortable. I had blood taken, oh so much blood taken, was hooked up to an IV for at least 4 hours every 3 weeks, lost all my hair, lost my energy and then neuropathy in my feet happened. I have to admit, I have never felt such pain and never want to again, as I did in my feet.

Then recovery, the slow, slow recovery. I had imagined that once chemo was over, that everything would go back to normal. Silly, silly me. Here I am, 6 months post-chemo and I am still recovering. My hair is growing back, my energy is returning, but there have been and continue to be bumps along this road. I am still dealing with neuropathy in my feet and it is likely that will continue for at least the next year. I have a situational depression which is being dealt with in all the right ways.

Here are some things I have learned and wished I had known when this all started:

  1. How cold my head got with no hair – thank God for my little knitted cap which made all the difference in the world.
  2. That you need to tell your medical folks right away if you are dealing with an out of control pain incident. Took us all awhile to find what I needed to make it better.
  3. That sleep in whatever form it comes is needed. Daily naps are such a blessing.
  4. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. You don’t need to do this alone.
  5. Eating good food helps, but sometimes ice cream is all you want to eat – so why not??
  6. A good therapist/counselor makes such a difference in so many ways.
  7. Having an integrated medical team is essential – thank goodness I had/have that.
  8. Losing my hair was the least obnoxious of the side effects – hair grows back!
  9. Grieving for what has been lost takes it own sweet time – don’t think I’m done with that yet.
  10. Best friends you can text whenever and about whatever are so important!! So thankful I had mine.

If you are going through cancer treatment, please surround yourself with all the love and support you can. If you know someone who is going through treatment, reach out to them, they will be so thankful you did. If your partner is going through cancer treatment, be as strong as you are able, ask for help when you need it.

Lastly I want to publicly thank my dear one. He stood by me, rocked me when I wept, sat beside me during all of my treatments, brought me flowers, let me sleep, fed me good, good food, showered me with so much love and grace. I don’t know what I would have done without him. Love you dearest. Always and forever.

 

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#AdventWord #Give

#AdventWord #Give

When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer back at the beginning of June I had little idea of what to expect. I knew that I would have to have chemo and I knew that meant I would be off of work for awhile. That ‘awhile’ turned into 6 months. What I didn’t expect and what overwhelmed me at times was the gifts that I would be given. There was food, prayer blankets, scarves for my head, prayers, gift cards, teacups and tea, and did I say food!

Today’s Advent word is give and I immediately thought of all those gifts that have been given to me. They were given because of love, wanting to support the dear one and I, wanting to share joy and beauty with me. The dragonfly gifts were especially important as the dragonfly has become a symbol of the resurrection for me. Dragonflies have to go through a transformation from wriggly water loving larva to become the swooping through the air beauties we see in our gardens in the summertime. These gifts all make me realize how much I have been given and remind me to give as I am able of myself to others who need them. They also remind me of the greatest gift given to the world, Jesus.

Thank you to those who gave me the gifts, here’s to recovery, here’s to being able to share my gifts with others, here’s to waiting for the gift of the birth of Jesus once again.

Life between Chemo Sessions

I admit it, I still don’t like saying the words that I have cancer and in particular I don’t like saying the words ovarian cancer. Hard words to say, harder I think for others to hear. I keep reminding myself and others that my prognosis is good, that I will get through this, that my hair will grow back, that my energy and focus will come back, that the neuropathy pain will subside, that there will be life after chemo. Right now, however, my life is what I do or don’t do between chemo sessions.

Ovarian Cancer Canada Sunflower

This has been a difficult week pain wise. I am dealing with peripheral neuropathy pain which is a side effect of the chemo medications. This means that I am getting numbness, tingling and worst of all burning pain in my feet, lower legs, hands and lower arms. It has been hard and I have been grumpy and not sleeping well. I have been taking pain meds and am on a longer term acting med (which takes time to build up in my system) to deal with it. My health care providers have told me that it is likely that this will last for several months after the chemo treatments have finished.

Sharing all this not to look for sympathy but to let others know what it is like to live on chemo – it is hard. Be gentle with those of us who are dealing with it. Ask before hugging, it may not be a good day for it. Pray, if you pray, for those of us living with it to have the strength and courage to get through it. I have shed more tears of late than I thought I had left in me.

Life between chemo sessions right now is about managing the side effects, making sure I get enough sleep (thank God for afternoon naps), drinking lots and lots of fluids, eating the right foods, watching more TV than is probably good for me, getting some small tasks done each day, hanging with the dear one, remembering to take all my meds and supplements to deal with the side effects, small walks that get me outside, reaching out to friends and family for love and support and sometimes just being.

Rocking a scarf and earrings! Some days are good.

I know I haven’t written a lot lately, it takes a lot of energy to write. Hopefully when I am through the chemo life there will be more to write about. In the meantime, thank you dear readers for hanging in with me, thank you for your notes of support, for your prayers and your good wishes. Not doing this alone and for that I am most grateful.

Small Joys

It has been over two weeks since my surgery. I am recovering well. Sleeping better. less pain, a little more energy each day. Still I have cancer and that is going to be the next thing to be addressed after I heal from my surgery. My work right now is to get as healthy as I can, so that I can be ready for the next steps on this healing journey.

Part of the way that I am doing that is by enjoying the small things. The dear one got me up this morning, said let’s get dressed, grab coffees and some muffins and go for a drive. It had rained last night (which we desperately needed here), the sun was shining and everything is sparkling green. I said yes. A small joy, a time to be together, to not worry, to enjoy God’s creation.

Small Joys

Here are some of my recent small joys:

1. A good cup of tea in a new tea glass.

2. Rhubarb from our garden.

3. Visits from friends.

4. Getting back into my blue jeans!

5. Spending time sitting on the deck.

6. Finding new TV series to watch when my brain can’t do anything else.

7. Having enough energy to make good food with the dear one.

8. Feeling so loved and cared for by all the cards, prayers, support coming our way.

9. Watching things grow and bloom in our garden.

10. Seeing the dear one get excited about a new project in his workshop.

Yep, I am a cancer patient, but that is not all who I am. I am a woman who still feels deeply, cares much, laughs a lot, is faithful, who has amazing friends and family – that is who I really am. I am going to count the small joys each day and be grateful, because at the moment that is what I can do.

Small Victories

It has come to me in the last while after I posted One Woman’s Story that I need to have a phrase, a catch line if you will, to hang on to during this time of uncertainty about my health. It turns out that small victories is the phrase.

It means getting up, getting dressed, getting a few important things done in the day and then reminding myself that I have to take care of myself. That self-care can be different each day and probably will be everyday. The small victories of getting some stuff done each day is enough for now. I don’t have the energy or emotional strength to do more than that at the moment. I have learned in the last couple of weeks that has to be my small victory.

There have been moments, I mean moments, of sheer terror in the last week. Just overwhelming, oh my God, what is happening to me, why is this happening to me. There have also been moments of such anger, rage, that this is happening to me, that haven’t I had enough, hasn’t the dear one had enough. There have also been moments of joy, of belly gutting laughter with the dear one, of delight and so much love where for a moment we forget what is happening and can just be us.

Small Victories

I took this picture from our front door – the sun peaking through the fog. It said so much to me about what is going on. That my life is foggy right now, but the small victory is that the sun is peaking through, that light is getting through, that I am being upheld in prayer and good thoughts, that so much support is coming my/our way. A small victory for the morning.

Each day is bringing its small victories and it is those that I am going to remember and give thanks for those moments of grace, hope, love and faith. Each small victory is a tangible reminder that I am not alone in this, even when it most terribly feels like I am. That my family, my community of faith, my friends, my God are all with me through this and this is the biggest of my small victories.

What are the small victories you hang onto to make it through the crap that life throws at you?

Prayer, unexpected gifts, learnings

Just about a third of the way through Lent and I realized that I have learned some things. One of those is what not to pray for. Yep, you read that right, what not to pray for!

Don’t pray for patience. You will be given the most frustrating, exhausting, excruciating processes to go through. I have been praying for patience since before Lent started. I just knew that if I was patient enough I would get through all of this and at this point we would have our new house. Well nope that hasn’t happened. Don’t panic we are getting it but we have had to put off getting the keys for a couple of days. So patience is a mixed gift. One I think I am ready to give back to God at this point.

Here is the other thing I have learned about prayer, that having a prayer support group (and you all know who you are) is essential to maintaining my faith. I am reminded that I need to be as generous in my prayers for them as they have been for me and the dear one.

PrayerShawlGift

I have had a few unexpected gifts in the last while. The first was new friends here in our new community reaching out and taking care of the dear one and I. We have been invited out to events, we have been included in spontaneous after church lunch gatherings. I am deeply grateful for this gift. The other gift is a more tangible one. I received in the mail a small parcel from a dear friend who lives in Manitoba and is part of the Left-Handed Blessings knitting group. In it was the lovely prayer shawl you see me wearing in the picture. She said that she had been wanting to send it to me for awhile and my blog post on worrying pushed her to get it to me. It is lovely, soft pink and grey. I couldn’t believe how much love and strength came off it the first time I put it on. I am going to use whenever I am worrying too much or just need a hug of love to surround me. I am deeply grateful for this gift.

So Lent this far has had its challenges (which is likely a good thing because what is Lent without being challenging), presented me with gifts, and reminded  me what to pray for and what not to pray for. I am grateful this Lent, even through the tears of frustration, that I am part of a community who cares and supports.

Are you having a good Lent? What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Happy Anniversary ……to me

happy-anniversary-blue

It has been a year since I started this blog and this will be my 5oth post – not bad for the first year of writing so publicly and so personally. I want to thank all of you for hanging out here with me, reading the posts, for supporting me through prayer, conversation and affirmations – it has been an interesting year to say the least.

The joy out of this whole past year is that I survived, the dear one survived and in fact we are once again beginning to thrive. I feel in many ways that much of the past year was our time of wandering in the desert and feeling like we were in exile. I am thinking that I can say that our exile is over and that we have found a community that will be with us and that we will be with them. It is a great way to start the second year of my blogging career. I don’t know about you but I am looking forward to finding out what the next year has in store for me and for the dear one.

I am going to keep on writing and sharing with you all because you all deserve for having put up with me this last year. Let’s see what comes next!

 

Blessings and Silver Linings

Blessings, silver linings, whatever you want to call them I seem to be finding them. They are popping up in the most interesting places.

Just like this red trillium that I found at my parents place last spring. Popping up in interesting places.

Ever since I announced that my job was ending soon I have received emails, texts, Facebook messages and phone calls from people all across the country. Concerned about me and my family. Cheering for me. Reminding me of my gifts and skills. Allowing me to rant. Letting me weep as necessary. Making me smile. Filling me up with love.

See what I mean. Blessings and silver linings.

It doesn’t mean that this isn’t hard or I won’t have bumps along the way. It just means that I am not alone in this. That I have support and care. Which I realize is much, much more than I know many have when they are in crisis.

So for today I will let myself be loved, cared for and upheld by others. I will give thanks for this blessing, this silver lining,  which has been unexpected but is most gratefully received. Thank you one and all!!

Walking Grief

Just when I thought it couldn’t get much worse – it has. Oh my, it has.

The dear one’s sister-in-law died earlier this month less than a month after her cancer diagnosis. We travelled from our home to be with my brother-in-law and the rest of the family. The funeral was a celebration of a life well lived and a chance for us all to share our grief. This has been hard for all of us and we will be dealing with this for a while.

This past week I was told that my position that I have held for almost 8 1/2 years is coming to an end as of June 30th. For those who are not aware I, like the dear one, have been employed by the church. I am in a lay leadership position. This position has taken me across the country and helped to raise the profile of this part of the Anglican Church of Canada. I have loved this work. I have done good work as is evidenced by the increasing amount of donations for the northern part of the national church. I will miss this work.

Once again, I am plunged into grief and loss. I am so not sure what the future is going to bring for both of us. The dear one is not sure if he will ever be able to find another parish – if he is just not employable by the church anymore. If the stigma around depression is just going to get in the way of good work for him. I am not sure if I will be able to find work that will allow me to be as creative as my present one.

So for the moment I am walking grief – it is just under the surface of everything I do. I stop for a moment and think about what is going on with us and fall into weeping. I wonder where the joy is going to come from or if this it for the time being.

I know that we are upheld in prayer by many. That many are on our side. That there is support out there for us. The future is scary at the moment. I can’t find a sense of direction or purpose and all I really want to do is scream and have a temper tantrum (not very adult but there you go that is what I am feeling at the moment).

For now, I will keep trudging forward. For now, I will attempt to put this in a place that I can come back to. For now, I will get ready to enjoy a wedding. The wedding of my daughter. But underneath, and she knows this, is this grief which I will have to deal with. There is the future that I will have to face with the dear one.

For now I am walking grief.

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