But even if You don’t…

This post has been a long time coming. I mean, months. Since April I have been mulling this idea over in my head, trying to make the words come, to describe my life and everything that has happened in it, but everything I tried ended up being exhausting and too much. I am not even sure that I will succeed now, but I will do my best. So, in honor of Breast Cancer awareness month, I give you: Summer 2017.

Let’s just start with the facts.

  • April 2017: My mama found a volleyball sized tumor on her right ovary during a CT scan. On the 11th she had surgery to remove that tumor, do a complete hysterectomy, along with her ovaries and Fallopian tubes and repair her umbilical hernia. During this surgery, a second tumor, roughly the size of a baseball, was found on the left ovary, and there was evidence that it had metastasized to her bladder. Overall though, her surgeon was very optimistic that they had gotten everything, and that despite the size of these tumors, this cancer was still early stage. But it was a few weeks later, when my mom returned for a follow up that we found out her cancer wasn’t early stage, but was in fact Stage 3. After a LOT of prayer she decided to go ahead and move forward with treatment.
  • May 2017: Then, while all of the crazy was happening in April with my mom and her illness, I happened to find a lump in the shower. Since I already had an appointment with my doctor about something else entirely, I decided to mention it and have her take a look. Initially she wasn’t worried. You see, I am Caucasian, young, I had breastfed my kids, I got pregnant before the age of 30, AND most importantly, I didn’t have a family history of breast cancer, but to be safe she ordered an ultrasound. (Actually she ordered a mammogram, but because of my low risk factors and age they wouldn’t do one!) The ultrasound showed more of the same: a lump, about 3 cm. But because of, well everything I already mentioned, they weren’t concerned, but ordered a biopsy, just to be safe. So it was the Tuesday morning after Mother’s Day that my doctor called. “Hey Kate, I have the results of your biopsy here, I was wondering if you could come in today.” Well, no, actually, I couldn’t. My husband had taken my car that day, with my car seats, and I was at home with the kids. Plus, I am a firm believer that if my results had been normal: 1. The DOCTOR wouldn’t have called me personally, and 2. She wouldn’t be asking me to come in. And that friends, is how I learned that I had breast cancer. A mere 3 weeks after my mom’s official diagnosis.

The end! Just kidding, that would be the world’s worst story, and I ain’t about that. This story, albeit long (sorry!) is one of faith, hope and victory. The very first thing that I learned during this process was that no matter the outcome, things would work out for my good (because it says so here), and to God’s glory.

In June, I started chemo. My treatment was effectively backwards from most others, because of my official diagnosis: Stage 2 Triple Negative Breast Cancer. To make that string of words make sense, let me explain it this way. When you look at a breast cancer tumor, you are looking for three things: estrogen or progesterone receptors, and/or the HER-2 protein. If any of these, in any combination are present then that helps determine the course of treatment, when they are all absent, the cancer is called triple negative. This was me. Triple negative is also known for being fast growing, and aggressive, which helps explain why it is treated with chemotherapy before surgery. They want to zap it before it gets a chance to go anywhere and make friends.

When I first learned that my summer would be spent in chemo, I had no idea what we would do with the boys, or if I would be able to care for them. I won’t say that I wasn’t a little panicked over it. After all, my mom was also in chemo, my sister was there helping her, and has three kids of her own to worry about. But, God is good. It was at this time that Jordan got the opportunity to start working four 10’s, and have Fridays off. His co-worker worked the opposite shift with Mondays off, and with my infusions being every other Friday, they alternated shifts. Suddenly, Jordan was able to have a four day weekend every time I had an infusion, and was most sick, and between he, my mother-in-law, and my sister, we never once had to worry about child care. And, I was never alone at chemo. My friends took turns coming to sit with me, and keep me company. Also, food. I do all the cooking, and grocery shopping for our family. I can honestly tell you I didn’t truly grocery shop until September. A meal train was set up for us, with the majority of the meals being brought on the Friday to Tuesday I was most sick. AND my MOPS friends put together a Wild Tree workshop and gave my family 20 freezer meals. We couldn’t have been more blessed.

Now to say that this process was overwhelming wouldn’t even scratch the surface, but probably not in the ways that you might be expecting. Of course, being diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27 is overwhelming, add in 3 toddlers (Bug is 3.5 and the twins are now *almost* 2.5) and another family member undergoing cancer and chemo simultaneously, and it honestly starts to sound like a too sad story line. That isn’t what I mean though. When I was diagnosed, I first told a group of women I only know online, who share nothing more in common with me than the fact that we were all pregnant at the same time. These women have become my tribe, my confidants, my friends, and of the 68 in this group, I have only ever met ONE in real life. But, suddenly, my mail box was filled, every single day, with a gift or a card, or a letter. Something to let me know that I wasn’t fighting this alone. My friends here, that I do life with, fed us, cleaned my house, watched my kids, and just showed up. And my kids noticed. How could they not? And I was able to say “look at how kind Miss ______ is, she sent Mama a special gift so that I know she is praying for me.” or “Yes baby, someone is bringing our family dinner tonight, because Mama is sick, and this is a way they can help us”. We found ourselves overwhelmed by generosity. We found ourselves with tangible examples of what loving like Christ looked like. We were able to teach our boys to walk by faith. To trust that no matter what, it would be okay. While, I won’t say that this has been the most fun summer I have ever had, I can’t say that I am sorry for it, because God came through on His promises.

Now, I am officially done with chemo. I had my last infusion last week. I am cancer free, and preparing to meet with my surgeon so that I can have a double mastectomy. (We found out that my mom and I are both BRCA-1 positive, which makes perfect sense!) I am enjoying this calm and the fact that I am starting to feel normal again. My mom is also done with chemo, and while her next steps aren’t as certain, we can all rest assured that whatever happens will be for our good, and to His glory.

faith

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Let go and Let God

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Recently I have received some of the greatest compliments of my life. And each time I have been absolutely baffled by them. Friends with a LOT more parenting experience than my 2 short years have called me “inspiring”, “impressive”, and I have been told that I help them seek to be better parents. I asked my husband what these people are seeing that I don’t, he responded with “You go and do things! You’re always on the go with 3 really young kids. You are always smiling and happy about it too.” I don’t buy that, I for one, am NOT always smiling and happy, some days I am very cranky and unhappy, but more than that, I am not the first mom with little kids to go for walks or go grocery shopping, and yet the comments keep coming. But, I think I have finally figured out what they’re seeing.

When we had Bug, it was after two miscarriages. One on Christmas day. In that time of suffering I finally “let go and let God”. I have this amazing habit of being a control freak. I want to figure everything out myself. That doesn’t go well with living a life that is surrendered to God. I still don’t know why my miscarriages happened, I do know that those two children we lost are in Heaven and that one day I will meet them. I also know that when we had Bug, I was in a place where I was ready for God to fully take control of my life. When brought that little squishy dude home, and we looked at each other and had NO IDEA what we were supposed to do with him, so we gave him to God.

The timing of S and A was kind of insane. I knew I was pregnant, and my family was suffering from wanderlust and had just moved, and Jordan suggested that maybe we join them. He put out some feelers to see what would happen. We liked the idea of our kids growing up with family nearby and in the desert like we had. He had had one interview in Mid October, and then on Oct 28 I went to the doctor for my first ultrasound. That was when we learned we were having twins. It was in that moment Jordan looked at me and said “We’re moving.” So we gave it to God. On October 31, we learned that the interview Jordan had, was turning into a job. We had a month to get our house on the market, and move across the state. So we did. We stayed with family, our house sold incredibly fast, and on March 21, we moved into our new home. April 26, S and A joined our crew, a little over 5 weeks early. As I labored that morning, one thought played in my head “it’s too early, they’re going to NICU”. And they did. So I gave them to God. S spent 2 weeks exactly there, A came home on day 12. Thank the Lord, no breathing problems, no heart issues, healthy! just a little on the small side.

See the reason that I don’t see what others are seeing is because I know myself too well. I am selfish, I am not patient, I can be condescending, and rude. I often don’t act in love. But, I have surrendered my kids, my marriage and myself to God, and He has changed those things in me. I am not a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination. I have no idea what I am doing, and I am almost positive I have to apologize daily. Understand, you are not seeing me, you are seeing the work that God has done through me, and to me. If I have any success in this endeavor, it is only by His grace. So thank you, to anyone who has reached out to me recently. I hope that we can all support each other through this journey, and that God can be glorified in my life.

 

Only What is Helpful for Building Others Up

I jumped down a lovely rabbit hole this morning after my Bible study. Normally this wouldn’t have happened this way, but God has a way of working things doesn’t He? I left my bible and my notebook at church on Sunday, so this morning I was using my tablet, after reading my verses in Revelation, I noticed the verse of the day (James 1:5-6, love it, and needed it today!) and then I went to Pinterest to find a cool art rendering of it, for my background picture…you see how this can quickly spiral into something else right? Anyway, to make a long story short-er, I came upon this blog (Smockity Frocks) in my black hole of Pinterest, which has a challenge attached to Ephesians 4:29.  The challenge is to only use language that is: helpful, needed, and beneficial for 30 days. I will be the first person to tell you, this is NOT my strong suit. I am more of an open-mouth-insert-foot kind of gal. So obviously this is something I need. I guess we will see how it goes, I will update weekly, and try and be as honest and candid as I can be. I would love to give the disclaimer that I have a sick 2 yr old, teething and cranky twin 9 month olds, and all kinds of crazy happening, but no where does God give me a pass to not follow His Word because life is crazy…Well, I hear two little boys, so I guess we start NOW!

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