Finding Comfort from the Inside Out

starfish

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

—Epicurus

The distinct smell of newly fresh cut grass is exquisite to me and triggers an early childhood memory – something so nostalgic it gives me goose bumps.  Turkey dinner with all the “fixings” or even homemade mac & cheese (especially my Grammie’s) are favorite comfort foods for me.  Even hearing old “Journey” songs brings peace and comfort—Steve Perry’s voice soothing to the soul (don’t judge me).  Gulls . . . as annoying as they may be . . . the screeching sound of them soaring high above the sea, coupled with the smell of the ocean, gives me an amazing, amazing high.

I honestly believe I’m not alone.  Each of us has a bit of Epicurean in us . . . the Greek philosopher’s devoted pursuit of sensual pleasure, things that bring comfort to the senses.   Though perhaps different in nature, we each carry with us distinct lists of gratifying moments, those unique memories that arouse the senses and bring comfort to our souls—all the “go-to” things that help ease anxiety and stress.

Thursday was a LONG day and physically speaking . . .”fairly” comfortable.  The drains were finally removed at the plastic surgeon’s office.  Yes, a combined 3 feet of tubing was removed from my body . . . seriously–3 ft.  It was like exhaling a giant EWWW and WOW all at once.  It was indeed a very odd sensation, but nonetheless I felt a bit of relief having them removed.

Results.  The oncology team met me to go over the pathology results, the very thing I’ve been all-consumed by since rolling into the OR on the 14th . . . or honestly actually since beginning chemo in January.   I guess I felt since I’ve been on a fast track doing what I need to do, as aggressively as possible—those results will be the very comfort I’ve been seeking for the last 6 months.  They sat and explained that typically neoadjuvant chemo does one of two things when it works:   melts tumors like ice cream in the hot sun, or explodes tumors like atoms.  My treatment did the latter and exploded most of the tumor beds into fragments.  Of the many fragments left they found a small amount of invasive carcinoma left.  After removing everything, they are confident they got clear margins, no chest wall or intravascular invasion revealed.  They also removed 13 lymph nodes.  They considered the lymph nodes a macrometastases.  One particular node that clearly showed the goopy evidence of chemo at work, though cancer was still present—was most prominent.  Unfortunately, it was difficult to determine how many of the 13 nodes were positive for cancer pre-chemo . . . but for now we know for certain chemo did a pretty good job and my prayer is that my radical surgery helped a bit too.

So all in all the results were “good” . . . not crystal-ball, magical moment of “You’re cured for good, no further treatment necessary, all cancer forever gone”  good . . . but good.   Isn’t if funny that even with cancer we seek the best answer that will bring “comfort” to our minds.

My next stop on this exhausting journey is 7 straight weeks of radiation, 35 sessions.  That should start in a few weeks and based on my age and the aggressiveness of the cancer, my oncologist plans to then start me on daily Tamoxifen, an anti-estrogen therapy for 10 years—God willing He’s got at least another 10 year plan for me here.

I love to preface everything with the cliché “in a nutshell”, but you all know that my mind (even in chemo-crisis fog mode) is constantly moving and active and it’s rarely possible to find a nutshell big enough to wrap up my thoughts.

Comfort and contentment always come with uncertainties and all too often bring results we can’t predict.  All our feel-good moments are simply sought and fed by the desire to momentarily free oneself from pain, constraint or even fear.

I can’t help but think of my Grammie’s house.  Her tiny house in Maine has always been a source of mostly fond memories during childhood.  I always remember playing in the backyard, my secret little special “fort” far in the wooded area of the yard.  I laugh hysterically now, because honestly the memories of the yard when I was young were memories of this HUGE piece of land.  Now,  I don’t exactly recall the age when I visited the house after being away for a while, but I’ll never forget getting that nostalgic feeling pulling up to the house, eagerly running out into the backyard, my “comfort zone” of childhood.  There I stood—my heart sank.   Where was it?  It was unfathomable that this postage stamp of land was actually the same enchanting romping ground I enjoyed playing as a child.  For a quick moment … that nostalgic “comforting” memory shattered before me.  One would call it:  the Epic letdown moment.

Can it be that those “comfort” memories of the senses, can often disappear by our own shallow expectations of what we remember and how we wish to freeze such memories to permanently make us feel good.  I had the pleasure of talking to my dear friend, Jean this afternoon, and she said it perfectly:  “We need to find our contentment on the inside and not worry about the temporary comfort measures that come from our senses.”

While Epicurus did believe that pleasure alone should be humankind’s pursuit, in actuality, Jesus is the only true source of comfort, when He sent us the Holy Spirit.  Though I learned perhaps later in life than some, I now know that the same God that gave us our intellect and senses is also the only true source of comfort.  He is our ever-present help in need, the only guarantee that never shrinks like Grammie’s yard in my mind.

Though I know this truth in my heart . . . I realize how often I’m still so self-reliant on my own sources of comfort to bring me through this rocky journey.  I pray for strength and courage to continue to press me into the only source of comfort that will keep me going . . . and ultimately keep me sane.

Please continue to hold me up in your prayers.

I love you all so much!

Nicole

For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.   

2 Corinthians 1:5-7

20 thoughts on “Finding Comfort from the Inside Out

  1. Thanks so much, kiddo, for the positive update. Your attitude is inspiring and I hope infects everyone around you to ensure full recovery. It’s gotten into me. Thinking about you often. Your writings here seem like waves. Each one that comes in brings something new to ponder. Thank you.

  2. Hi Nicole,
    I so enjoy reading your writing. All your posts are filled with hope and I find them very encouraging and inspiring. I’m glad the results are back and promising. I pray the Lord will keep you in the palm of His hand, wrapped in His loving care. Bathing you in prayer, my sweet friend. With lots of love. xo

  3. Hi, my dear. Yay for the tubes being removed and yay for a good report! Yay for having so much of this behind you! Gimme a Y, gimme an A, gimme a Y. What’s that spell? Yay!! Okay, enough of that. 🙂 What a story you tell, the story of God’s faithfulness! I will be thinking about you and praying for the Lord to continue to strengthen you and give you hinds’ feet, that you may bound ever upward. Love, Linda

    1. Linda,

      You have been a constant source of support and encouragement. Thank you! ❤

      God is indeed faithful … even when we aren't. Thank you for your continued prayers . . . you are such a blessing.

      Love,

      Nicole

  4. Praise God for your “good” news, your faith, and your positive attitude. I still can’t believe you have the energy to write as beautifully as you do but I pour over every word. So glad you said goodbye to the drains. Ewwww – perfect description. My thoughts concerning radiation – initially I had to take the appointment time given me but as time went on and others “graduated” was able to move to a time more satisfactory. I used my lunch hour which I extended a bit to visit the hospital gift shop. A little reward. In my experience as well as my husbands at another location, the procedure, once established, ran very smoothly and quickly. My biggest mistake during radiation – shaving! Don’t! Now, rest and recover.

  5. Nicole,
    I’m so blssed by your “blog” hat I could never put it into words, but you are such an inspiration!!!
    Please know tha you and your family ae in my prayes daily, I also should ell you that our Tueday & Thusday praye groups continue to hold you and yours up in prayer, and because of your blog, we know HOW to pray!
    I love you, miss you and the family, I look forward to seeing you again, and reading your next blog.
    Love & blessings,
    Judy

    1. Thank you for being a wonderful support to me … you’ve cheered me up when I’m down all while allowing me to express my “downs” with an open ear. Never lose your tenacious, resilient …. strong (but sweet) spirit!

      Love, Nicole

  6. You are truly such an amazing & strong person. One who inspires those around her and captivates us. You have a wonderful sense of, well, you! The words you write are heartening and uplifting even as you go though such a wild & crazy ride. You seem to stay grounded. Amazing!! You are always in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you are doing & feeling well.

  7. Noelle,

    Thank you so much for your words of encouragement! What a blessing…your prayers mean the world to me. I look forward to one day looking at this journey in a tiny rearview mirror!

    I hope you had a great time on the Cape … Michelle was so happy to see you. One of these days, I hope to see you and the family …

    Love,
    Nicole

  8. I’m so glad your drain tubes are out (and yes, wow, 3 ft!) and that you got a good report. It’s odd how our definition of what makes a good report changes after a cancer diagnosis isn’t it? I imagine you’ve started radiation by now. I hope that’s going well and that it isn’t too harsh. Take care.

  9. Nancy,

    Thank you for your note! I actually officially start radiation tomorrow. I am physically feeling pretty good right now, and it’s just a matter of getting the mental and emotional pieces to sync. : )

    Thank you for always inspiring, encouraging and caring for the #bcsm community at large. Your continued support is a blessing to me.

    Love, Nicole

  10. WHAT AN INSPIATION YOU ARE!!! Nicole, you could neer know how many people you have touched with your blog, including myself, no, I don’t have cancer, but I do have other things, GOD IS FAITHFUL, WE WILL NEVER BE GIVEN MORE THAN WHAT HE KNOWS WE CAN HANDLE!
    I love you, know that the Tuesday & Thusday praye goup are continuosly praying for you and yours! You ae in my personal prayers, God woke me this morning with you being put on my heart, needless to say, I got up and prayed for you, please pray for me, I seem to be going through an emotional “roller-coaster” ride, thanks,
    Judy

  11. AWWWWW, Judes!!! I miss you, feisty one! Thank you for your ongoing encouragement and prayers. I got goosebumps all over that you woke with me on your heart. I love you and please know that you are ALWAYS in my prayers. Remember, sometimes the roller coasters make us laugh in the end. I can’t remember the last time my emotions were on a marble straightaway … but the ride can be fun if we put Him at the helm—after all He created our emotions.

    Nicole

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