Saturday, February 2, 2019

Marking More Milestones

Today marks a milestone, and this week marks another. I think it's important to acknowledge and remember what God has done -- and is doing -- in our lives.

It was on February 2nd of last year that I ended up in the emergency room because my doctor thought I had blood clots on my lungs. I didn't, but that's when they saw the swollen lymph nodes for the first time.

On February 7th this year I'll finish radiation therapy, the last big hurdle of this journey with cancer. I'll still have to go every three weeks for Herceptin treatments until May, but those are a breeze. The end of radiation marks the end of the Big Three, as I call them: chemo, surgery and radiation.

Radiation hasn't been a walk in the park, but it's nothing compared to chemo or surgery, so this southern girl isn't complaining. I've been using aloe vera, cutting off chunks of the leaf, slicing it open and spreading the goo all over the radiated area before applying lots of moisturizer. I was doing great until I ran out of aloe vera and it took several days to track down more leaves, and in that short amount of time, I burned. Now I'm using aloe vera twice a day, which is helping heal the existing burn and preventing it from getting any worse.

Fatigue hit a week after starting radiation, and has been unrelenting. But my doctor assures me that within 3-4 weeks of finishing treatment, my energy levels will start edging up. THE END IS IN SIGHT. 

I don't know that I'll mark these milestones every year, but right now they feel important. Along with:
April 24: first chemo
August 22: last chemo
October 17: surgery
December 26: first radiation

It's funny, but I don't remember the date I got the actual diagnosis. It was not a one-and-done kind of thing... first they biopsied the lymph nodes with the results indicating cancer, and then a week or so later we met with the first (of several) oncologists who told us it was breast cancer. Those first weeks were a fog, and I'm forever grateful for my dear friend, Jennie, who went with us to all the various appointments and asked the right questions, and helped us process through what they meant.

It feels a little weird looking back and seeing how much has happened since last February 2nd. How could so much be packed into twelve short months? It's not only the cancer, but Tina and her family moving to Las Vegas with us following close behind, a new grandchild, our son dealing with all the changes brought about when Microsoft bought out Github, the death of our first fur-grandbaby Leo (best dog EVER!), turning 60 and celebrating for a week with our whole family...

I don't think it's an understatement to say that pretty much every aspect of our family's lives has seen huge changes this past year. 

Last February 2nd planted a seed of doubt deep inside that bore fruit with the cancer diagnosis, and blossomed through much of this year as I struggled to handle all that the treatment protocol entailed. This February 2nd a seed of hope has replaced the doubt. I know that, regardless of what the future holds, I'm stronger than I thought I was because I don't have to rely on my own strength: I can trust in God's immeasurable power, and in His sovereignty. Right now the prognosis is good, the end of the hard stuff is in sight. I'm thankful for that, and don't take it for granted. I'm also keenly aware that only He knows the number of my days. It's just up to me to make the most of them.

I look forward to seeing what 2019 brings our way. There will be the glorious and wondrous and exciting surrounded by the mundane and ordinary -- and new milestones to be marked!