05 January 2014

"To face, unafraid, the plans that we've made"

This coming Tuesday, January 7th, will likely be my last treatment of this chemotherapy series.  My first treatment was the second week of September – five months of this aggressive and harsh regime.  It seems longer.  But, isn’t that typical?  The things that are hardest for us, the challenges, the trials always feel like they last so much longer and the fun and joyous things seem to pass all too quickly. Physically, I'm so tired and weak.  I really can't wait to feel good again.

In a short time after my treatment on Tuesday, Dr. Lee will send me for a CT-scan.  If nothing looks suspect, I am DONE.  But, if anything looks suspicious, I will have 2 more treatments of Carboplatin, for good measure.  I honestly do not believe they will find anything to concern them.

After having the Taxol removed from my chemo drugs, I really expected that I would feel tons better.  I was very surprised to find out it wasn’t so.  Not only that, but the progression of the peripheral neuropathy, especially in my hands, has continued to deteriorate.  It’s difficult to find the words to describe the pain, and incredible hypersensitivity that I feel every minute of every day.  Even typing these words on my keyboard is so very irritating. 

Dr. Lee prescribed a medication, Neurontin, that she hoped would start reversing the nerve damage. Sadly, it has done nothing except give me additional side effects that are difficult to deal with.  I haven’t stopped the medication completely, but reduced the dosage until I meet with her this Tuesday.

I have mixed emotions regarding the ending of my treatments.  Part of me is saying “Hallelujah! It’s finally over.”  But there is another part that lives in a place of “Now what?”  It’s the time of waiting and wondering.  I am optimistic, but also realistic.  I do a lot of self-examining, making sure that I don’t get caught in any negative thoughts.  But, surely one can understand that now that the prescribed treatment is ending….there is nothing ‘active’ going on to help keep this cancer from returning.  I think that is the hard part.  I’ve done all that I can do, and therefore, it really is all according to God’s plan for me.   No more talk, now it is DO.  I have to DO what I know to be true and truly and wholly give away all my fears and worries to Him who gave me life in the first place.

Two Saturdays before Christmas, I started working on two kinds of angel ornaments (a total of 144) that I was making as Christmas gifts for my adult children.   I got a late start, as I was waiting for back-ordered materials to be shipped to me.  To add to my challenge, I had many unannounced visits from my kids that had me suddenly stop working, sometimes for several hours, while they were here.  My dear friend Beth said to me “too bad your kids love you so much!”  Funny girl!

Sorry! I digress.

So, to pass the time while cleaning raw cotton bolls and sewing lace doilies and tying tiny little bows out of ribbon, I turned on Netflix and started watching those hyper-sentimental made for TV Christmas movies produced by Lifetime, Hallmark and ABC Family networks.  I only had one rule – they had to have a minimum of three stars.  It proved to be a worthy standard.

Douglas came down toward the end of the second movie and got sucked in. When that movie was over he wanted me to start another.  (We ended up watching a dozen or more movies within a few days) He surprised me.  I also got him to help me with the cleaning of the cotton bolls and the cutting of the hulls.  He even learned to sew, with needle and thread some of the wired shear ribbon for the wings, since it was becoming increasingly difficult for my fingers to hold a needle.

We were watching the fourth movie of that day, when the song “Winter Wonderland” was heard in the background.  Like most people, I have heard and sung this song hundreds of times in my life.  But, something happened this time that really struck me.  My ears were perked when I heard part of the lyric at the end of the second verse:

“Later on, we'll conspire,
As we dream, by the fire
To face, unafraid, 
the plans that we made
walking in a winter wonderland”

I was overcome with it’s simple yet profound impact upon me, and turned to Doug and said “that’s how I have to live now!  How WE have to live” and repeated the phrase from the song.  We had a moment together as we processed the life lesson taught to us via a simple Christmas song.

Referring back to my previous paragraph describing my feelings now that my treatments are coming to an end:  I can’t be afraid to make plans just because there is an element of uncertainty for the rest of my life.  I can’t let the probability/possibility of a recurrence keep me from making plans.  I’m trying to face the future without fear.

In the coming year, I will make plans to fully enjoy my grandchildren.  I am going to make trips this year to see my children that do not live nearby.  I plan to be at the airport when Daniel returns from his mission.  And, to attend my granddaughter’s baptism next December.  I plan to sing more often.  And when my hands improve, I plan to learn new music on the piano; even if it is really challenging.

Next year I plan to see my youngest child graduate from high school and go to college.  He will leave for his mission in the year thereafter.  I plan to be there when he speaks in church and then get on the plane.  Two years after that, I plan to be at the airport when he returns.

Within the next five years, I will save the money and make arrangements to go on a cruise with Doug.  (The honeymoon we never had). He finally has agreed to go with me.  I also plan to convince Doug to fly to Salt Lake for a General Conference.   There will be more baptisms of grandchildren.

For almost 34 years, Doug and I have planned to serve a mission together, post retirement.  That will likely be 10-15 years from now.  I still plan to have this amazing experience with my husband, the same as my parents had, twice.

I have been encouraged and inspired through 8 words from a popular Christmas song.

I really am going to face, unafraid, all these plans that I have made.


Tracy said...

Beautiful post and so true for EVERYONE. You are in my prayers.

Tiffin said...

Sally, neurontin side effects for me were hard at first, but then completely disappeared in time. I love your attitude!

Shannon said...

Sally, I love your perspective on these lyrics. There is so much in the world to make us afraid that it can be hard to not hide in our holes and never come out. My brother and I have both faced similar fears during and after experiences with cancer, and perhaps that's why your thoughts resonate with me so much. Thank you for the reminder that life goes on, whether we choose to live it or not.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sally. I think that is a lesson for ALL of us. We need not fear what the future holds, but embrace it knowing that it is the path He has set for us. Hugs!

Phyllis said...

You are inspiring in your perspective and grounding. Thanks so much for sharing and God bless you in the hollow of His hand.

Vashikaran AghoriBaba said...

Great post..!!!!
I like this Post. It is so nice to read such wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing!

Vashikaran Aghori Baba

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