The Architect

Boston

(Originally posted on my CaringBridge page on 2/27/13)

The space within becomes the reality of the building.

~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Though perhaps not as magnificent as other larger cityscapes, Boston’s skyline at night is magnetic.  Whether approached from the north or the south, I always find myself drawn to it.  I remember when Logan was really little, he was in awe by this vertical city stretched out before him, and he began a series of questions:   “How does somebody make those buildings so tall?” . . . “How do they not fall down?” . . . “How long does it take to build one?” . . .   Always earnest in his questions, Logan refuses to settle for the vague-vanilla parental answers we often provide.  So each time I tried to give him a somewhat “knowledgeable” answer about tall buildings, architecture and construction, the reality of my lack of knowledge became evident to us both.  Finally I waved my white flag of defeat and explained to him that I didn’t know a lot about these towers in the sky, and maybe it was a good subject for us to learn more about.

We discovered that to build a skyscraper, careful planning is required.   It can take years to build.  A foundation must be dug a few stories deep below the earth, after which cranes are used to raise a steel frame up into the sky to form the superstructure with steel and concrete beams.  Both the foundation and the superstructure are needed to support the weight of the building—so the complete structure of the skyscraper must be finished before the most important insidecan be started.  It’s amazing to think that modern skyscrapers are also designed to hold off strong winds—safely able to swing a bit in each direction without damaging the structure.

Today marked exactly two months since diagnosis.  As far and wide as the road seems to loom dauntingly ahead on this highway to healing, it’s both encouraging and mind-boggling to think that in a mere 62 days since I heard the words Invasive Ductal Carcinoma—the day my world spun off its axis, I’m already on day 49 of chemotherapy, eight weeks into treatment.  It still seems blurry to me . . . an unreal reality wrapped up nicely with a big ‘surreal’ bow.

Yesterday, sitting in a small, narrow exam room watching a DVD on breast reconstruction, my mind wandered instead to architectural design.  This was my first plastics consult, and as I sat there in my Johnny after the video ended, waiting for the plastic surgeon to come in—I suddenly felt completely claustrophobic in the space.  I started sweating and had to really talk myself out of the intense urge to bolt from the room, Johnny gown and all.  I’ll admit I’ve definitely had a few Valium moments since diagnosis, but the sick feeling of sheer panic that confronted me in that room came out of nowhere—an anxiety I haven’t felt before.  I closed my eyes and finally managed to pull it together before the surgeon came in to meet me.

The lengthy appointment was filled with the challenges, possibilities, impossibilities, risks and “rewards” associated with the future rebuild of the imminent teardown that will follow chemotherapy.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.  By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.  For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.  ~ Hebrews 11:8-10

Though I’m overwhelmed by the path laid out before me, I know in my heart of hearts that I need to surrender to God, so that He, the trusted architect of my life might use this “structural” teardown moment to help refill and build up the space within my tower—the most important part, the reality of the building.  Though the structural process takes time and effort, the final inside portion of the architectural plan is the integral part of the finished product.

Please pray that as I sway in the wind, I will remain confident and secure in the plans and purposes my architect and builder has carefully crafted for my life.

Finding My Way Back to the Farm

stars

(originally posted on 2/6/13)

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I remember back in Junior High, being fully enamored with a farm I often visited.  The farm, belonging to my friend’s grandparents wasn’t active, but still had all the rural charm and glory of a traditional, working New England farm.   I always loved taking trips there . . . running in the orchards, playing hide and seek in the fields, sitting high up in the hayloft of the barn—looking out over acres and acres of green expanses.  Being there felt perfect.  As we got a bit older, we’d visit the farm less frequently, and when we would visit, it would usually be at night—typically to use the awesome land for . . .  (ahem) social “celebrations” with bigger crowds.  Though there were undoubtedly exciting, crazy adventures during parties on that farm, what I remember most about the ‘nightlife,’ is how magnificent the sky looked, the breathtaking illumination.  Far removed from any urban atmosphere veiling their awesomeness, the stars in the dark night on the farm shone the brightest, appearing almost within arms reach—touchable . . . heavenly in fact.

John and I recently recalled a conference from years ago, and though neither of us can remember the main topic at the conference, what we both do remember—is a speaker’s simple little exemplum of sorts . . . one that may be well-known to some of you.  For us, the imagery was simple, yet powerful.  The story was about a father trying to explain heaven to his son one evening:

Living in “Big Sky” country, this Montana-family enjoyed vast, wide open spaces on their beautiful farm.   The little boy in the story loved to play with his matchbox cars in his little secret place under the house.  He loved this special spot under the floorboards of the house, and there he would quietly build and create little roads and hills, houses and garages for his cars.  Though he could hear everyone walking about inside, they never knew he was just below, playing.

One evening sitting at dinner, the young man turned to his father and asked “What’s heaven like?”  His father thought about it for a moment and said, “Well son, you know underneath the house where you play with your cars?”  The boy had no idea that anyone knew about this secret hideout, so a bit embarrassed, he smiled and nodded his head.

His dad continued, “Well tonight after dinner I want you to go down where you play with your cars underneath the floorboards of the house and this time look up at the underneath side of the floorboards. Then I want you to meet me outside in the pasture.”

Obediently after dinner, the boy crawled underneath the house to his quiet, private play space and looked up.  He was shocked at what he found.  Rusty nails sticking through the floorboards, dozens of cobwebs clinging altogether with large spiders and nests in the corners, dirt and splinters that have been wedged between the cracks in the floorboards and shredded insulation mixed with glue and tar.  He quickly gathered up his cars and crawled back from under the disgusting floorboards vowing never to go under there again.

He then went to his father standing in the middle of the field.  It was a crystal clear night sky and the moon shone brightly while the stars brilliantly twinkled, some even dancing across the sky—perhaps one of the most beautiful night skies he had ever seen.

 Pointing up to the sky, the boy’s father said, “Son, while I don’t know exactly what heaven is like, I know that it’s up there, and that it is more beautiful than we can ever imagine. But do you see how beautiful the night sky is tonight? Think of it this way—this gorgeous, beautiful, brilliant sky is the floorboards of heaven.  What you saw under the house was grimy, dirty, and disgusting, yet compared to heaven that’s what the sky looks like. Heaven is more beautiful, more brilliant and more unimaginably spectacular than we will ever know.“

 As the little boy and his father stood there looking up at the gorgeous floorboards of heaven, the boy had just a little better idea of what heaven is like.

I just love that.  It’s such a simple, profound reminder that this side of heaven will never equate to that perfect destination we all hope to see one day.  Even in the beauty of creation around us, with all those stars in the sky . . . they’re all mere floorboards to what’s waiting on the other side.

Living closer to the city, far away from a serene, rural setting—it’s always harder to see the stars as brightly as my memory on the farm.  The fact is, the view isn’t as easy … no front row seat.  You really have to look to see them shine in all their splendor.

Staying grounded in Faith is a choice, not a feeling.  Sometimes, when the shadows of my “night” close in around me—even becoming pitch black at times, my sky seems void of light.  How can I find my way back to the farm, that awesome farm where the chaos and clamor of this world (those city lights) don’t block the very luminosity of the stars high above?  Stars give off light in the dark whether we realize it or not. It’s their very luminosity that lights the path for those who are stuck in darkness.  It is our job, as believers to look beyond, knowing there’s a path lit . . . even when you desire that easy, “big sky” view.

This road I’m traveling on is a dark one . . . fatigue, fear, pain, insecurity, confusion—just some of the cobwebs under my floorboards.  My prayer though is to follow the brilliant glow of the stars, regardless of how distant they may appear.  When I need those stars to burn brighter—I need to find my way back to the farm in the simple things, those little moments of joy often overlooked:   watching my gorgeous boys laugh and play . . . running with my dog . . . getting a little wink from John across the room . . . laughing with friends . . . singing in the shower . . . shopping with mom . . . extra dry non-fat cappuccinos . . . and just living to love.

If those beautiful stars are but the floorboards of Heaven, what possible dark shadows along this rocky path of life can hinder me from living with joy in each moment.

This old Irish proverb says it best:  “Drop to your knees and give thanks that you can stand.”  Too much time is wasted on dwelling on the rusty nails . . . the cancers of joy and peace.

Thank you all for twinkling bright in my neck of the woods . . . your encouragement, inspiration and love are without doubt helping me get back to the farm.

With love, light and hope . . .

He Remains

Ngong Hill

(originally posted on my CaringBridge page on 2/4/13)

Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.

~ Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)

After Thursday evening, I’ve been thinking a lot about Isak Dinesen and Out of Africa.  It was prompted by a conversation with my dear friend, the precious “Nana” Lynne who I was privileged to have accompany me to Dana-Farber last week.  Without fail, my time spent with Lynne always begins and ends in laughter, fun and a whole lot of love.   Thursday was no exception.

Lynne is no stranger to Dana-Farber, recently completing her chemo sessions for a rare lymphoma, known as Waldenstrom’s Disease that she has been living with (symptom-free) for over 5 years.  Her unshakable Faith and desire to be where God is at work, is like a breath of fresh air on any given day, but gracing me with her presence during my treatment  . . . was an extra-special treat!

I hadn’t realized until we arrived, as we got out of the car in Boston, how very boring my repertoire of comfort must-haves for a potential 10+ hour day at Dana-Farber were.  My chic, (weak) “Big C” tote—as I refer to it, was no match for the swanky “ride” Lynne rolled out of her backseat.  Any and everything you could need resided in her little slice of heaven on wheels . . . from cross-stitch to techno-savvy equipment and everything in between.  I knew, if I was missing anything, it was IN that bag.

The great part of the day came with my little rainbow in the sky during the oncologist appointment.  The clinical research nurse met with me first, who reminded me that though I’d be examined by the oncologist, there would most likely be no change in tumor size until at least 6 weeks of treatment.  When my doctor came in, we discussed lab results etc., then she, too reminded me that typically we can only expect a softening of the tumors at this point, but not much more in the realm of size reduction.  As she started feeling under my arm, she was taken aback by the change . . . noticeably smaller nodes.   Once she started examining my breast, her eyebrows went up and she looked completely puzzled.  These were her words:  “This is a REMARKABLY different breast than our last visit—practically unheard of after only 3 treatments.”  I cried.  My words to her were . . . “That’s the power of Prayer!”   In the waiting room, I celebrated the news with Lynne and we practically ran to the infusion area for chemo . . . “Bring on the juice” was our little anthem!

Lynne’s Mary Poppins’ bag on wheels didn’t disappoint as she got her game on with some fun.   We were going through some conversation cards while waiting to be called in for chemo, and one of the questions had something to do with naming a movie that you can’t forget, one that left a lasting impression somehow.   Though I love movies and could list many favorites . . . the first movie that came immediately to the forefront was Out of Africa—something I haven’t thought about it in a long time, but it hasn’t left my mind since.  I laugh because I seriously woke up Thursday night with the echoing remnants of my dream . . . “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hill.”  Ahhh, Nicole’s movie moment.

I understand the film was rich in every way, enticing the senses with the amazing African scenery and passionate drama . . . but what made it leave such an impression on my heart?  Knowing that the film was loosely based on the real life of Karen Blixen, better known under the pseudonym, Isak Dinesen, added a definite intensity to the story.  Then there’s her brilliance . . . a gifted writer, who had an amazing, earnest craft in storytelling.

The main impression that resonates with me, however,  is that like many of us, Karen Blixen put a lot of value in her “things” . . . she actually had trouble separating herself from them.  Yet, in the end, she was left with nothing.  Everything was stripped away.  I think of how often I’ve based my own joy, even my identity on things.  For some, being without a smart phone for more than an hour may send them into withdrawals.   Then there’s the vanity.  Will I still find joy when my hair is gone?   My breasts permanently altered?

Today, we shaved my head.  It was time.  I’ve been shedding more than Miles and the anticipation of losing it, coupled with the heightened tenderness of my scalp—every strand of hair feeling heavy, tugging on my head, made it an easy decision.  John was my Barber, with additional assistance from the boys—they were thrilled to participate in the process, each having a go with the razor.  I cringed a bit, when they were smelling my hair as it came out, talking about how much they loved the smell of my hair and how they’d miss that.  It was tough, but my head feels much better, and the “anticipation anxiety” is over.

Isak Dinesen wrote:  “But by the time that I had nothing left, I myself was the lightest thing of all for fate to get rid of.”

Are we weighted down so much by the things of this world, that in the end, we are but the lightest? When all is gone, what remains?

Lynne and I had a funny but very real divine appointment as I was being infused.  We got a knock on the door from the interfaith Chaplain.  This sweet girl was blown away by what we shared with her.  We talked about our joy in the midst of our trials, though difficult.  She seemed fascinated, unable to leave . . . even taking little notes.  By the end of chemo, we pretty much had to send her on her way.  We had to laugh as we marveled, knowing without a shadow of doubt, God called us to respond and share with this girl . . . her intent to reach out to us, in turn allowed us to reach out to her.

I pray wholeheartedly that I may be so unshaken in my Faith that I will stand firm . . . ready and willing to lose everything, with the blessed assurance that the very thing that matters most will never leave nor forsake me, on this side of heaven and beyond.  He remains.  In the end, when all is stripped away, He remains.

 

Staying Gold in my Winter Season

Stay Gold

(originally posted on my CaringBridge page on 1/26/13)

Seize upon that moment long ago … one breath away and there you will be … so young and carefree … again you will see, that place in time—So Gold

~ Stevie Wonder

Being a music lover . . . everything from Gospel to Jazz, there are certain songs that move me in a way, releasing a level of intimacy in the core of my soul that is hard to even express in words.  When reviewing a discography of a magnificent legend like Stevie Wonder, it’s difficult to find one song that doesn’t move you at some level.  However, one of his least “famous” songs moves me in a way that few songs ever have or will:  Stay Gold.  The song was originally written for the memorable Francis Ford Coppola movie, based on the coming-of-age novel by S. E. Hinton—The Outsiders.

Michelle joined me on my trip into Dana-Farber this week, and let’s just say . . . we livened up the joint—double trouble in the infusion room, (pretty typical of any outing we undertake together).  We were our naughty selves . . .  laugh-crying in hysteria over things that certainly lightened the heaviness of the environment.  I was blessed.  She was my little slice of Gold in the moment.

I guess my love for Robert Frost and his brilliance kept me company all week, as I pondered yet another poem from memory that always visits me from time to time over the years . . . Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Nature’s first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold.  Her early leafs a flower; but only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf.  So Eden sank to grief, so dawn goes down to day.  Nothing gold can stay.

Ahhhh.  The poem may read almost depressing at first glance, but in fact . . . though the delicate, early golden leaves of spring will turn green, spring turns to summer, dawn will turn to day, youth becomes maturity . . . you can still hold on to the wonder, the “goldenness” of memories and moments, staying gold through each season’s changes.  We will find a blessed increase if we embrace the cycle of flower, leaf, bud, fruit—into the full life that includes loss, grief, and change.

…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.  ~ Philippians 4:11-13

This is my season of change . . . a winter season where the gold of spring may seem buried, but I can still ponder and reflect on all that I’ve been blessed with.  I have truly learned to be content only in Him who gives me strength.  When my content takes a downward turn to sorrow, I need remember to Stay Gold.

. . . Life is but a twinkling of an eye yet filled with sorrow and compassion . . . though not imagined, all things that happen will age too old—Though Gold

A Mind Resting in Eden

James Dean

(originally posted on my CaringBridge page on 1/15/13)

 Only the gentle are ever really strong.

~ James Dean

Have you ever woken from a deep sleep with a face ingrained in your mind?  Confused for a moment, not quite recalling what you were dreaming about, but knowing it had something to do with this face.  Often times this face is someone you know who’s been heavy on your heart, or maybe someone you’ve recently encountered.  Sunday morning I woke up with a face fixed in my mind of someone I’ve only ever “met” through pictures and films—James Byron Dean.  Not sure why exactly? . . . I mean, I haven’t been thinking about him lately, haven’t seen one of his films recently.  Anyway, there it was . . . his beautiful face.

We’ve always referred to our oldest son, Colby as an “old soul,” incredibly wise beyond his years.  When he was three years old, his favorite movie was It’s A Wonderful Life, and he earnestly remained captivated, even during parts of the film that would likely bore even the most passionate Jimmy Stewart fans.  I, too, was one of those “old souls,” a girl before-my-time.  While many girls were donning posters of Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze on their bedroom walls in the late-80s, it was not uncommon for my walls or bookshelves to include black & white images and books of actors such as Montgomery Clift, Audrey Hepburn . . .  or more significantly, James Dean.  I was especially enamored with him.  Recalling my fancy over this complex, young actor—who came and went before my time, I began to think about one of my favorite reads of all times . . . John Steinbeck’s, East of Eden.  James Dean’s face brought this book to mind, as I was reminded of his infamous role as Cal in Elia Kazan’s film based on this haunting novel.

As a lover of literature, I read this book at a fairly young age and reread again later . . . at the time never exploring the depth of my own human condition. Cal was symbolic of Cain in the Bible, and like all of us, he had free will to decide between good and evil.  Choice.  Just as each character in East of Eden faced—so does, ultimately, every human being.  This same free will that we’ve been given, even blessed with, applies to every aspect of our lives…and at times it can be really hard to choose responsibly, especially in the realm of the mind, when the bad creeps in at your weakest moments.

This past weekend, I got to enjoy a wonderful “date” weekend with my three little princes.  The good stuff came with:  snuggling by the fire w/a movie & popcorn, watching magician, Logan perform his latest card tricks, laughing with Lance as we read through a great book, and getting goose bumps, listening to the latest story Colby wrote in his journal . . . and then church Sunday followed by a fun, “mom & guys” brunch afterwards.  Good times.

The bad stuff found a way in too, looming in the always active mind.  It can quickly become a vestibule of doubt, worry and fear—closing in when you least expect it.  It usually presents after a long day of distracted fun, perhaps in the middle of the night, when everything else appears peaceful yet lonely.  My mind visited some unwelcomed destinations. I won’t share them, but I will tell you how much I thought about the significance of mothers.  Being one.  Having one.  Loving many.   I thought about my mom who is tangled up in her own web of worry—over a daughter who is ill, over her own mother, struggling with leukemia, and seemingly in a downward spiral …blood transfusions more often than not.  It saddens me to the core to know how much heartache my mom is no doubt dealing with.

If you’re not careful, when it’s left to its own device, the mind becomes a filthy watering hole, “corrupting” your being with negativity and lies.

I love the line early on in East of Eden when John Steinbeck writes:  “I always found in myself a dread of west and a love of east.”

You can love the east for the light that every morning sunrise brings or sigh at its reminder of another hard day’s work ahead.  You can dread the west for the darkness that every sunset creates or relish it for the colors that linger on the horizon.  Basically, we can choose to wander east or west . . . not always finding what we’re looking for.

As for me, I so long to rest my head in Eden, allowing paradise to guide my heart and mind.

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  (2 Timothy 1:7)

No Pain, No Gain

no pain no gain

(originally posted on my CaringBridge page on 1/12/13)

“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle.  I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.”

~ Mother Teresa

Oddly enough, I’m someone who enjoys the victory pain associated with a tough workout.  When I feel my quads aching while walking up a flight of stairs and the general feeling that I’ve kicked some real “glute” at the gym, it’s a “comforting” reminder that my reward is coming . . . progress is being made.

Wednesday’s first chemo session went well … and as of today, I physically feel GR-R-REAT.  I know that’s an excellent report and I should be doing a little hallelujah dance right now, but the sad truth is, I psychologically long for that physical assurance that “my reward is coming.”  Basically, I want to feel the tangible pain of progress.  Yes, I now give each of you permission to remind me of this foolish philosophy on week 18 of treatment, when I will most likely long to feel like Tony the Tiger again.

I got a call Thursday, telling me I do NOT need another biopsy for the trial!  To say I was thrilled with those words would be an understatement.   I was assured that I’m still being researched in the clinical trial, but after reviewing all the information with my oncologist, the researchers indicated another biopsy would not be necessary.  One less distress.  <Sigh of relief>

Genetic Testing:  The results came.  All results were negative.  Though “negative” in the realm of cancer always seem positive, I’ve been told that there is still so much work being done on genetics that it’s hard to feel “secure” in the findings.  Although the BRCA gene test (which tests specifically for breast cancer) can detect the majority of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, it’s still possible that you could have some type of gene mutation that the tests weren’t able to detect, and/or one that researchers haven’t yet identified and developed a test for.

Please don’t misinterpret this as a “Debby Downer” moment, but rather an expression of caution in validating these results as “great news.”  The fact is, I still have breast cancer and feel the very real need to advocate for my family — to be vigilant in testing, self exams and even potential genetically linked cancers for my own children.  This doesn’t mean I plan to live in fear, but rather live with shared knowledge… knowledge that gives confident power in caring for our bodies.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith is what keeps me going and keeps me secure in knowing that regardless of my physical state, good or bad…my hope can only be found in one source . . . Moment by moment . . . new mercies He shows.

Be Still and Know

be-still-and-know

(written on 1/4/13 originally on my CaringBridge page)

Sometimes the Lord rides out the storm with us and other times He calms the restless sea around us. Most of all, He calms the storm inside us in our deepest inner soul. 

~ Lloyd John Ogilvie

If I had written down my thoughts on Thursday’s adventures at DFCI when I got home at 8:00 last night (need I say more), I would have sounded something like Veruca Salt from the original Charlie & Chocolate Factory—rotten and bratty.  My day was just missing that beautiful “Undo” feature I frequent on the computer.  It was bad.

It’s funny how circumstances like this often times allow one to step back and really take a long “glimpse” in the proverbial mirror.  The reflection can be pretty ugly.  I realize more than ever how my reactions to situations are often based on the expectations I have.  When those “expectations” are unmet, I easily drift into meltdown zone.  My strength and “center” only come when I’m earnestly standing firm on the solid foundation I know to be Truth.  All too often, I’m so rushed to get all my “ducks in a row,” I don’t stand still long enough to allow His still so small voice to resonate in my very being, ordering my footsteps.   Yesterday was a prime example.

A distinct agenda had been laid out for Thursday’s brief visit to DFCI.  My oncologist mentioned that after my 9:15 am “hair prosthetic consultation,”— (Yes, I’m actually laughing right now, typing that), she would be able to squeeze me into her schedule to sign off on the clinical trial paperwork and have the research nurse go over chemo schedule, etc. etc. with me.   The wig folks had been really booked up until late next week, but had one slot open at 9:15 on Thursday.  I jumped on it because the doctor informed me that one of the meds produces hair loss very quickly (within 2 weeks of treatment, it’s time to shave); so realizing I would be doing weekly chemotherapy, I needed to wrap my head around the wig situation, (pun intended).  Apparently many wigs take between 10 days and 3 weeks to order, and I really didn’t want to be faced with further insecurity and anxiety.  So I dropped the boys off at school and headed to Boston.

There I was trapped in a parking lot called the Southeast expressway— every commuter’s nightmare.  I decided to ease the situation and “trust” my good ol’ GPS to take me on a new route to save time.  There was my first mistake.  Though I had lived in Boston and worked there for years, a distracted mind coupled with an anxious heart left little room for me to find my way out of a box, let alone try to follow a confused GPS that clearly had no clue how to maneuver around the crazy Boston landscape. Tick tock went the clock as I aimlessly drove in circles to get to my home away from home.  Finally I arrive, only it’s 10:08 and I’ve missed my appointment—no wiggle room to reschedule.

Now, under normal circumstances, this little inconvenience would be a mere blip on the map of life, but for me, at that moment, I had a personal “mini-melt”— despising everything.  Why is this happening . . . nobody understands . . . why why why?  It was my fetal position, thumb sucking-sorta moment.  John was on the phone with me trying to be sweet and supportive . . . but the reality was, with my bad attitude and mental state, he didn’t stand a chance.  I didn’t want to hear anything positive.  I was sour and angry, celebrating at my own pathetic, little pity party.

The drama continued when I checked in on the oncology floor.  I’ve never seen so many cancer victims in one place … there must have 100+ bald-heads waiting to be seen. They saw the doctor’s note in the system, but informed me that there would be a bit of wait, unsure how long.  She suggested I grab a coffee and return in about 45 minutes.  I decided to head downstairs to the wig folks just to browse.  I grabbed some catalogs and I asked if there was a sample wig or two to try on . . . I immediately liked the first wig and said can we order this and get fitted later?  That was that.  One more duck in the row of chaos.

So the 45 minute jaunt to wig land at least got one mission accomplished on my list.  Unfortunately, though it wasn’t looking good to get in to see the doctor and so they recommended I grab some lunch and return in an hour.  I decided to visit the healing garden and try to get control of my emotions.  There I journaled . . . and thought about everything.

Needless to say … after my “lunch break” I waited an additional 3 hours in the waiting room. Looking around the room packed with people, my mind wondered which of these people would be here in a year, 5 years, 10 years . . . the thought frightened me for a moment.

In the room, we made a plan.  We talked about the trial, going through the highlights of a 70+ page document outlining everything from side effects, phasing etc. etc. etc.  Then I was told I needed additional blood work because there was a 7 day window for the trial concerning labs that was about to expire.  Seven tubes of blood and 2 EKGs later, I left DFCI, scheduled for next Wednesday’s start!  Biopsy will be at 7:00 am followed by oncologist appointment where I will learn if I was chosen by the computer-generated randomization (happens right after biopsy is complete), more blood (arghhh), then infusion.  If I get my desire, and am chosen, I will be infused solely with the antibody for 2 weeks, then on with that combined with standard chemo from weeks 3 to 22.

So … my pity party is over, and I will desperately try not to revisit.  Instead, I hope that I learn to be still and know He is with me, even when my desired order of affairs doesn’t seem to go my way.   His expectations for my life far outweigh the best case scenario I can conjure up . . . so I need to let go and lean in.