Is Hade still Alive!? August 10, 2016.

Wow, well you guys, I am still alive! In fact I’m more than just alive, I’m alive and well! This summer has been a breath of fresh air, a cool drink of water, I have actually spent the last two months feeling like a “normal” 22 year old. God is so gracious to give me a break and not only that but, I’m getting married! For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook, Adam and I are getting married in 17 days. We’ve been planning on an August wedding since April but we set the date in June and got officially engaged in July. It was kind of backwards, but who would expect anything different from me?! We set the date before the engagement because unlike “normal” people, we have to plan around scans and treatment, August 27th seemed to be the perfect day before the medical chaos.

So the ring story, it’s actually quite unique so in the end it was worth the wait! Sometime in June I posted a picture of Adam and I announcing our engagement. Many of you didn’t notice that I was actually covering my left hand! Hahaha, I didn’t yet have the ring but I wasn’t sure when it was coming. Week after week passed and I was going out of my mind. You see, I thought I already knew what ring I was getting. Awhile back Adam had purchased a ring for this girl that he used to date and decided not to propose, so she never even knew it existed. He tried to sell it and had no luck so he kept it through the years. When he told me about it I wanted to see it. It was a pretty ring, and it fit me! So being the bargain brained person that I am I told him that if he ever proposes to me that he could just use that ring and save his money. So, skip forward to when Adam was moving here to Klamath, he calls me up one day in a bit of a panic and tells me that he lost the ring during his move. I felt so bad! But then I started doing research on plan B rings. I mean if the ring was truly lost I needed to give him some ideas. This was the first time I really even thought about what kind of rings I liked. I sent him picture after picture, only enough none of them looked like the ring he already had. So later in the week I decided to look through his stuff to make sure he didn’t misplace it. Bumbadadum! It was sitting peacefully in his camera bag, waiting for me to find it. So the ring was found and in my mind I figured Adam would disregard the pictures I had sent him.

Fast forward to the month of July and the passing weeks. It was so hard for me because I was telling people I was getting married but had no ring on! I found myself sticking my hand in my pocket or conveniently running it through my hair, anything to avoid the glance at my left finger and the look of confusion. Adam felt so terrible, he didn’t want to give anything away but he just told me to trust that that the day will come and he is working on it. But I was thinking, what’s there to work on!? You have the ring?

So the day was upon us, July 25th. I knew it would be the day because Adam asked me to take work off. He picked me up in the morning after cleaning my car, and then we drove to Ashland. The whole time I was trying to plan a reaction. I mean I’m a control freak you guys, but also because I kind of suck at reactions to gifts and surprises and I usually practice in the mirror. So we get to Lithia park and Adam takes out a complete picnic set. We find this beautiful secluded spot by the creek and lay out the blanket. Next thing I know rose petals are being scattered around me, I wonder who made that a thing, you know rose petals being the essence of romance? Anyway we then enjoyed a picnic lunch and the whole time I kept trying to stall. I had been waiting for this moment for weeks, why was I now trying to stall!? Well, I guess I was just trying to savor the moment, we dream about this moment. We watch YouTube proposals and long for the Bachelor proposal, we romanticize this Nicholas Sparks moment, so I wanted to savor it. Finally it was time, Adam read me a letter he wrote to me and I held back tears, I mean makeup. Then he cleverly had me open a gift while he got the ring out and BAM! He’s down on one knee. The truth is the actual down-on-one-knee part lasts for a second in reality. I mean in movies and stuff it seems like that is an everlasting moment, but maybe that’s because I practically said yes before he could get the words out! When he opened the little black box though, LIGHTING STRUCK THE EARTH AND ALL HUMANS WENT BLIND. That ring though! It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life.

Turns out, it wasn’t good enough for Adam to just give me an old ring. He wanted me to have exactly what I wanted and he wanted to show me how much he loves me by putting in time and effort. The ring is a halo set ring that was custom built by Holiday Jewelry. The middle diamond is from Adam but the outer diamonds are from a ring that I inherited from my lovely grandmother Mame. It couldn’t be more special to me, and to think that I have a piece that also reminds me of Mame, I just, I have no words. It was well worth the awkwardness, and it was well worth the wait!

I’m so excited to marry the love of my life! Thank you God!

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If I See Another Needle… June 13, 2016.

June 13, 2016.

It’s been awhile, I know I’ve kept you all  eagerly waiting to see what’s next in the life of Merkel girl! So I went to Seattle last week for the dreaded monthly scan. Man what a rough week. I often look at the things that happen in my life and wonder if I’m the only one who feels the theme of life is, “If it can go wrong it will go wrong”, or “does it ever go right” or “why can’t things just go smoothly?”. So I started my week of appointments with my normal blood draw, 8 viles of blood, chatting briefly with the nurse, (usually about how my favorite vein is just so good and juicy) and then I went on my way to the next one. The rest of the day was pretty basic, radiology check up,  the CT scan and then home.

Tuesday I saw the team and discussed my CT results, they also discussed what the next 3 months look like for me and all that good medical stuff. Off to the lab again because they forgot to order 3 of my blood tests (they could have had it done the previous day). The nurse was a nice woman, chatty as all get out but nice. She found my treasured vein and had no problem drawing my vile of blood. She cleaned up and as she threw away the needle she looked at the table with a horrified expression. “Oh honey! I am so so sorry but I forgot to draw the other 2 viles of blood! Here I was chatting away and I forgot.” I didn’t even have the energy to react, why should I be surprised? Once again she hit the good vein, drew more blood, and sent me on my way.

The next stop that day was the hospital. I had to get a special test done to see if I qualify for this T-Cell therapy so next time if I get diagnosed I have options. I lay on the bed and direct the nurse to my juicy vein. Usually they gawk and awe over how easy it is to get an IV in there, not this time. This time she told me that it’s shot, overworked, messed up. This has never happened to me before so I don’t have a Plan B vein. She looks around and for some reason decides that the side of my elbow would be the best decision. The straight needle goes in and hits nothing, so she wiggles it around hoping to have success. After moving and shoving and coming up dry she yanks it out and tries the other arm. At this point I mentally checked out. There was no use in getting upset or focusing on the pain or even caring. With the straight needle in the left arm and an IV on the right my blood began leaving my body. 4 hours later and 12 liters of blood the test was finally finished. I was exhausted, frustrated, and ready to go postal as I sat in traffic for 40 minutes. In the back of my mind I was clinging to the tiny bit of hope and relief that ahead of me I had only 2 appointments and they didn’t involve needles!

The next morning I had a visit with my plastic surgeon, things were going well until he realized that my scar tissue was super tight. “I think we should inject some steroids to help the healing process.” I’m sure I went dead in the face. Of course, why not, why am I even surprised? We walked to another room, the room where he cut a chunk of my face out, and he got the needle out. I leaned back and 1, 2, 3…7 shots to the face later and I was holding back tears. Not really because of the pain, mainly in absolute frustration.

That night I went home defeated. I reached a serious breaking point. I walked into my room, closed the door, and cried. Guttural cry, our old friend. I told God that I was done. That I didn’t want to live this life, this cancer life. That I was tired of the doctors and needles and tests and results and people and statistics and changes. That if I couldn’t be a normal 22 year old with a normal life then it wasn’t worth it for me. I told Him that I tried my best, that I did everything He wanted. I wondered what dying would be like, I thought about ending it all. Would it be that bad to just be done? Would it be so terrible if the Lord just made my heart stop so I don’t have to do this anymore? It may sound extreme, but I’m willing to be transparent and vulnerable here because I bet I’m not alone in questioning whether this life is worth it or not. I mean cancer aside look at the world we live in. Suffering and heartache, death, shooting, insecurity, self-hatred, self-harm, bullying, drugs, having to put a freaking steering wheel lock in your car. It’s enough to make anyone question!

As I wrestled with this I was reminded that we were not made for this Earth. Suffering is a promised part of this Christian life. This is not “our best life now”. So we look to Jesus for our hope and strength and continue to trust God’s plan for our lives. 2 Corinthians 4:17

 

 

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, my scan was clear!  So we celebrate for another small victory  🙂

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It’s Okay Not to be Okay. June 1, 2016.

June 1, 2016.

I haven’t been okay. There’s something about this two month waiting period in between scans that is really hard for me. The past month I’ve been really struggling with depression and insecurity. This time has been different in that I don’t have anxiety about the future as much as I am just dealing with the emotions from the past. I feel like a stranger, like an imposter. I look in the mirror and I have a different face, the face that I became familiar with for 21 years is gone, not only is it gone, but it is never coming back. I can never go back. There are times when I want to act like cancer is a broken leg, like it’s just a season and it will pass, just like getting your cast off, you then can move forward and look back and say, “Boy that was a crappy season of life!” But I am coming to the realization that cancer isn’t a season for me, there’s no getting my cast off and moving on. I will never be rid of it, I will never be told that I’m cured, I will never go back to the old and familiar me. I will always live with the possibility that it will come back, I will always have my scars, I will always have the memories, I will always have side effects of cancer, in one year my life has completely changed.

I cried all night as I looked through old photos of me smiling, teeth showing, skin radiant and smooth, eyes bright and the guttural cry met me once again. I felt as if I was mourning the loss of the old me. I looked at that old girl and thought, “She was beautiful, if only she spent those years confident and not taking the fact that she can even smile for granted.” I can only take so much of the stares, of the lady at the grocery store gasping and asking what happened, of little kids pointing and asking their Mom what’s wrong with my face. I have fallen into the trap of comparison. I am envious of the girl with the radiant smile, the one who lights up a room, who’s laughter isn’t held back by the paralysis in her lip. I am envious of the girl who’s complexion is buttery and smooth, who can reach up and feel a gentle softness rather than the deep divots of a scar.  I am envious of the girl who has beautiful cheekbones and a symmetrical face. I am envious of the girl who’s biggest concern is finishing up a final and not wondering if she will get to enjoy her summer or spend it in the hospital.

I’m not okay right now. And for a long time I haven’t allowed myself to struggle. I haven’t grieved. I’ve experienced trauma and I have been through a lot in the last year. It is difficult for me to even type this out because I feel ashamed, I immediately tell myself, “How could you do this Hade? How could you think that? How could you say all these things when there are people who can’t see or walk or talk?” How could you talk about how hard this is when Jesus gave you the ultimate gift of eternal life?” And when I am lying in my bed sobbing, I think that God is saying the same things to me. I don’t picture Him holding me, I picture Him scolding me. You see, I really haven’t seen God as an empathetic God, as a caring and compassionate God, as a God full of grace and as a God who’s “strength is made perfect in my weakness”. I haven’t allowed God to hold me and say, “It’s okay not to be okay Hade, I understand and my heart hurts for you.”

In Light of Eternity. May 14, 2016.

May 14, 2016.

I have been alive nearly 1 year post cancer diagnosis. I am almost a 1 year cancer survivor. I sit here and type that and as the reality hits me I want to cry. Yesterday I had a lot of alone time, which for me means reflecting time. I spent the day reading the book, 1000 Gifts and thinking about the last year. In that book the author talks a lot about the importance of having a heart of gratitude. She begins a list and writes down every little thing that she is thankful for. She also talks about how gratitude is cultivated out of remembrance, and as I remember this last year I cannot help but swell with gratitude. I have not just scraped by this last year, I haven’t barely made it, I have lived another amazing year, a fruitful year, a year that has been abundantly blessed.

“What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8

Some may look at my year of cancer and say, “How can she be okay with this? She lost so much time, she lost so much money, she lost her smile, she lost some of her beauty, she lost her freedom, she nearly lost her life!” And sure, it’s a temptation to think that way, but when I choose to have a heart of gratitude, to look at the cross, when I choose to have my mind set on eternity and on the truth that the purpose of the Christian life is to glorify Christ I totally get Philippians 3:8, because while I may have lost some of the earthly things, in light of eternity it doesn’t matter, look at what I have gained! I know God more intimately, and I have the opportunity to glorify Him with my life and therefore God will bring others to know Him. So how can we say that I have lost?

I encourage you to adopt the phrase, “In light of eternity does this matter?” Geeze it has really given me a new perspective! It shows me that the things of this Earth, man they don’t matter! Adam and I were driving and everywhere we looked there were these HUGE, STUNNING houses. Now initially I envied the lives of the people living there. I would daydream about the rich and famous and wish that one day that could be me. This time as I caught myself becoming green with envy, I thought to myself, “In light of eternity, what does a big beautiful house matter?” It doesn’t. Well if you aren’t using it to glorify God, it means nothing. When you die it will just be left here, you can’t take it with you. In light of eternity does (winning an argument with your hubby, getting that job promotion, taking that luxury vacation, dating the quarterback, you fill in the blank) matter?

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The Faces of Suffering. May 12, 2016.

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May 12, 2016.

I’m reflecting on the last 11 months of my cancer journey. Did you know I’m coming close to a year since my diagnosis!? And to think, I didn’t think that I would live until that Christmas. Cancer has changed my life completely. I look at this series of pictures, the very first photo of the girl on the mountain, man, I feel like I don’t even know her anymore. I look at her and to think that one day, one diagnosis would change her life forever. She had no idea what was coming.

We don’t have any idea what the future holds, I mean in Photo 1: I was a normal 21 year old, I had a beautiful smile that I wasn’t satisfied with, I had a body and a face that I felt insecure about, and I was learning to love God more but my relationship wasn’t that deep. I was a planner, I thought I had my life pretty well mapped out. I didn’t even consider the possibility that my life could be any different. Photo 2: I had just had my first biopsy, the doctor told me that she didn’t know what the thing on my face was and that she couldn’t even say it was benign, I was moving forward with the possibility that I may have cancer. I was paralyzed in fear. I was walking in the dark just begging God that it was just a random weird tissue thing. I was working on my insecurity and was relieved that I just had a little scar. Photo 3: My life was changed forever, I had to tell myself everyday that I have cancer just because it didn’t feel real. Life was all of a sudden not my own. I was ordered by doctors, whisked away to that biopsy and that PET scan and driving here and moving there. I was told that I had cancer all over the left side of my face and neck and that I would need radical surgery to remove it. My relationship with God became deeper than ever, He became a real comfort and presence in my life. I began to let go of my control and take every moment as it came. I learned to be grateful for the little things in each day and not let the future worries drag me down. I let go of all insecurities, my face was altered forever and I decided to post everything for the world to see. God used the blog in my willingness to share to do RADICAL things and impact tons of people. I had no idea that He would use me in that way, I felt unworthy even. Photo 4: I was moved to Seattle to do 6 weeks of radiation. I watched as my summer days were filled with treatment while my family and friends enjoyed camp and various summer activities. I began to get comfortable in the daily grind of treatment. Then I lost some of my hair. I had moment of anger and moments of “Isn’t this enough God!?”, but then He would help me see the purpose in my suffering and I would praise Him. My skin melted off, that was terrifying and painful. They don’t warn you ya know. Photo 5: I was re-diagnosed the moment I moved back to Spokane. I was angry at God, I was weary, I was afraid because this time I knew (or thought I knew) what was ahead of me. I was now dating Adam, heck I never thought I would date anyone after Photo 3! The blog had nearly 100,000 views and people from all over the world joined my prayer army. In God’s mercy He allowed me to see that my suffering was bringing Him glory and growing the kingdom, what more could I ask for? Photo 6: I felt afraid, 4 new tumors. After 2 traumatic biopsies I was wheeled in for yet another face altering surgery. What would I look like afterwards? Would I lose more of my smile? My eye function? My dimple? Would the scar heal nicely? Would Adam still love me? After surgery I was shocked as I gazed into the mirror at a stranger again. What would be next? Photo 7: The tissue in my face died. As I was healing I noticed one black spot that just continued to look like zombie flesh. Thankfully I didn’t lose any facial movement in my lip or eye, however I lost my dimple. That was sad. The doctor had to cut out the tissue until I had a gaping hole in my face. Really? Another thing? I prepared for the next 2 months, I had a pretty positive attitude, I decided to enjoy the 2 months of peace rather than let anxiety rule like last time. Photo 8: The Lord is GOOD. I look at the woman in Photo 8, she looks nothing like the woman in Photo 1. Her physical appearance is different, she loves and trusts God more than she ever has, she is a cancer survivor of 11 months. She looks toward the future, it’s possible that cancer will kill her, it’s possible that she will have to battle it again, maybe even 5 more times, it’s possible that she’s done with cancer, it’s possible that she could have a family, while all things in the future are unclear and unknown, there is one thing she can say with confidence, “God is the same God He was when I was a healthy baby, He’s the same God He was when I was a rebellious teen, He is the same God He was when I went through the first battle with cancer, He is a GOOD God that is never changing and He will be the same God I know in my future, whatever that brings. He has given me the strength to get though cancer not once but twice and He will do the same for me in the future. He loves me, despite what the world says about suffering, He LOVES me.”

I am a changed woman, thank God for cancer.

Yummy Humble Pie pt. 2 May 3, 2016.

May 3, 2016.

Adam and I didn’t break up! I didn’t realize that my last blog came across that way! I was merely trying to paint a picture of my need for control, sorry to those of you that had a small heart attack at the thought of us splitting 😉

Anyway, I was going to write a pt. 2 but as I sit here I realize that God is still doing serious work on my heart! But I will tell you this, a relationship involves two sinners, and two flawed humans. In my Hayden world that’s not the case, so I  have really struggled with trying to be God and change and make Adam into the man I want him to be, which is pretty much Jesus! So here I was thinking that controlling every detail would be better than allowing God to be God and keep his promise that everything works together for our GOOD. Of course the more I tried to control the more out of control things got. Ultimately I gave up, I was like, “Okay God everything I’m doing is just not working and I guess it’s time I let you do something.” As if He wasn’t doing everything already. Then, after weeks of frustration and disappointment and dying to my selfish desire for control, Adam and I were driving to Leavenworth and on the way up we got in a little, disagreement let’s say. I was about to tell him to turn around and take me home but I remembered the book, “The Meaning of Marriage” (highly recommended read) and how they talk a lot about the importance of prayer and of a gospel mindset. I sat there ready to fight back, in my defensiveness I was ready to present my case and then I thought, “I am the biggest sinner in the room. I don’t deserve God’s grace yet He gives it to me.” And with that I chose to pray instead of respond, and after praying I picked up my current read, “The Silence of Adam” (another highly recommended book) and I opened to Chapter 9. As my eyes skimmed the page I felt as if the book was written for me for such a time as this! It was mind blowing you guys, God’s divine providence was shown yet again. After reading the chapter to Adam the Lord really did a lot in our hearts and relationship. I was blown away. I mean for weeks I tried to change things and failed, and here, at the very last moment, when I was ready to give up, the Lord had a much better plan. I guess all of this is to say, God has a PERFECT plan for WHATEVER you are going through. Trust that what He says is true and do not be anxious about anything! Pray without ceasing and ask the Lord to help you trust Him in the moment, even when it seems like it’s hopeless. I am just in awe of God and I am so excited to grow in my faith, even though growing means He is going to give me more opportunity to practice…

“If we knew what God knows, we would ask exactly for what He gives.” -Tim Keller.

Anyway, I am feeling great physically! I am healing fast and I am praying that my June scan will be clear so I can enjoy a treatment free summer. My labs from the naturopathic oncologist came back and I had really great levels, thanks to nutrition! I was just Vitamin D deficient, no surprise there.

A HUGE prayer request would be for Adam, we are going to a doctor in Coeur d’Alene tomorrow to see if Adam has Lyme disease or not, please please pray that if it’s not Lyme that we will get some answers and if it is Lyme that the Lord would give us the strength and resources to move forward. Love you all!

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Yummy Humble Pie. April 29, 2016.

April 29, 2016.

I am so so so happy to announce that i am writing this blog on a new laptop! Praise the Lord! It’s amazing what God can do in your life if you commit to prayer and patience, He will always provide you guys, not in our timing or in the way we expect it but He is still faithful.

I feel like there has been a reoccurring theme in my sanctification lately. You know when God really just wants to get something in your brain and it’s brought up in every sermon you listen to, every book you read, and every person you talk to? Well man God has been driving home 2 points in my life lately:

1. I am so not in control, He has a divine design that works everything together for our good.

2. Having a gospel-centered perspective will change your life.

I think I hit on the first point when I talked about my bible study going through the book of Esther, and how it caused me to reflect on my own life and see all the intricate and amazing ways the Lord has worked things together for my good. Clearly that wasn’t enough to get through to my prideful brain! I sat there with God and I was like, “Yeah okay I gave up control God! I mean heck I have cancer, talk about understanding just how little control I do have. And plus, I really do see how you’ve worked together every detail, isn’t that enough?” I imagine He laughed, “Oh Hade, you haven’t even scratched the surface my friend.” And I truly haven’t. You see, I don’t really have a choice when it comes to cancer, I’m pretty much forced to give up control! So in order to humble me and show me that I really don’t have it all together, the Lord decided to use my relationship. Allow me to be vulnerable here and give you a taste of just how in control I think I am. Adam and I have been dating for nearly 5 months, I’d say we’ve been through thick and thin but it mainly just feels like we’ve been through thick. Immediately after we made it through my second cancer battle, I got ahold of every book, article, podcast, and CD that I could find in hopes that I would find the formula to create the perfect Husband and to create in me the perfect Wife. You see in my mind if I could get all my ducks in a row, if I could just make the necessary changes in my timeline, then I could have the perfect wedding, the perfect marriage and I could do it all before I could potentially die. So I (still claiming that I believe that God is in control) planned an August wedding even though I wasn’t engaged, and I fixed my eyes on Adam with every intention to mold him into the perfect Husband in time for my perfect August wedding. If I could just read enough, if I could just send Him enough articles, if I could just find the right sermons, then everything would go as planned! With my eyes fixed on everything BUT GOD, I essentially made an attempt to become God. The only problem with that, well I’m an extremely flawed human!

Thankfully the Lord doesn’t leave us in our flawed thinking, He humbles us, and then when we realize just how ugly our sin is, He transforms us. Not without some pain! So quickly my fantasy, my perfect little Hayden world and my perfect Hayden relationship became not so perfect and definitely did NOT go according to MY plan…to be continued.

The Next 2 months. April 21, 2016.

April 21, 2016.

I laughed when I first heard that my bible study was about to dive into a 5 week study on the book of Esther. Esther? I mean how deep can you go with Esther? Heck all I remember is the cute little veggie tales story about Esther the singing asparagus. It’s nice and all but what is there to study? Oh boy, how finite my little brain is. Let me back track a little. I’m back in Spokane and my lymph node has gone down to a normal size, praise God! Now comes the 2 month wait period between all the treatment and the next scan and blood test. As I embark on my next 2 months of “normal life” I couldn’t help but think about the last time I had this “recovery period”. It was hard and it was dark. I remember the month of November, convincing myself that I was going to die before Christmas, I remember the depression that overwhelmed me as I thought about everything that I would miss out on. I remember coming home from a day spent at work and school and being frustrated that I existed through the day and didn’t really live it. I remember feeling lost, feeling like I had just experienced months of trauma and doctors and people telling me where to go, who to see, how to live, and what to do. Then all of a sudden they drop you off like nothing ever happened, they just expect you to go back to “regular” life as if your life hadn’t changed dramatically. These next two months could easily be months that I spend in the dark.

As I read through the story of Esther I was in awe at the divine providence shown throughout the story. It’s almost too crazy to believe at times, the timing, the details, down to the simple fact that the King had to read the right page at the right time to be reminded of Mordecai saving him, at the same moment that Haman was coming to ask the King to kill him! I mean what!? How could you read Esther and dismiss things as mere coincidences? I could totally relate to the story as I thought about the crazy ways God designed my own story, like Tracy being at camp, or getting diagnosed in California, or even the fact that this blog exists. In hindsight it is undeniable that God’s promise that He has a perfect plan for our good and His glory is one that we can take refuge in. But reading the book of Esther has really challenged me. One thing you see in her character and that of Mordecai’s character is that they didn’t have to wait until the “hindsight aha moment”, they trusted God regardless, they moved forward in faith even though for all they knew they could have been killed. And they never had the opportunity to see every single little detail that God incorporated into His intricate design. With that being said, in hindsight I can look back on the details of my own story and I can without a doubt say that God has worked everything for my good and His glory, but I want to be like Esther and Mordecai and trust Him in the moment. That being said, I feel peace going into the next 2 months. I don’t feel fearful that I’m not doing anything and I’m not looking to the doctor to tell me what to do. I am going to enjoy having a schedule, hanging my clothes in the closet, joining bible study, and doing things that I have truly missed! I am going to spend each day living and not existing, and I will move forward into the unknown, knowing that God is a good and sovereign God and He has an intricate design for my life.

Oh I visited a naturopathic oncologist who advised me to put Manuka honey in my wound, it’s strange to say the least but it’s healing! 

  

Whack-a-mole. April 13, 2016.

April 13, 2016.

I had radiation today. It was so strange having that mesh mask squish my face again as I had experienced everyday for 6 weeks before. I lay there for an hour with my eyes closed, seeing only the flashes of light from the radiation machine and smelling that familiar toxic smell. It took me back, to those days in Seattle, the person I was even then is so different from the person I am now. I reminisced on all that the Lord has done for me between now and then, how can I not look in awe at His goodness, faithfulness, and mercy! But I don’t look back and think that of God because life went back to normal, or because it was easy or comfortable, I look back and think that because through tough times God made me a better person, a more Christ-like person. Between now and then I was in a car wreck, I found a new tumor, I was re-diagnosed, I had two biopsies, I grew 4 tumors, I had major surgery, and today I got radiation. But God has been teaching me so much, things I wouldn’t have learned had I not gone through all this suffering. 

For example: today after radiation my doctor looked at me and said, “We are playing whack-a-mole with these tumors right now. I want to prepare you that they very well may show up again on the right side.” Shortly after hearing that my right lymph node all of a sudden blew up to a golf ball size. Now in the past I would have freaked out, I would have been angry and I would have let my anxiety take over. This time it was different, this time I said, “God, you have brought me through this trial not once but twice now and I know that you are good and faithful. You have given me the strength to overcome this suffering and you will be faithful to continue. If I have to face this a third time, please prepare me and allow me to see your goodness and your GOOD plan that is beyond my understanding. You know the reason why, and I will focus on the who.” I have peace you guys, and man there is so much freedom in that. I don’t know what this means yet, it could be a new tumor or it could be a reaction from radiation, so please keep that in your prayers! 

   
 

Being HOLE-y. April 12,2016.

April 12, 2016. I like to have all my ducks in a row. I’ve been struggling with this need to control everything in my life, as a lot of us do. The Lord has been revealing to me that I am a very destination focused person and I don’t enjoy the journey. I’m a “grass is greener on the other side” kind of person. The more I learn and grow and the more life has its curveballs the more I realize that trying to control everything makes me frustrated, angry, fearful, annoyed, anxious, and hopeless. When I attempt to be in control I don’t suffer well, heck if I were in control I wouldn’t suffer at all! 
This Sunday my pastor said in his sermon, “Sometimes we are so obsessed with stopping suffering that we don’t learn anything from it.” I had to meditate on that for a minute. That has been so true for me during this trial. The times when I want things to go my way (aka stopping the suffering) I start to desperately look for ways to reach my desitiation (being cured). It’s easy when everyday I get a new cancer cure sent to me. Eat this, spray that, avoid this, fly there etc. The anxiety of the unknown begins to rob me of the joy in the journey. That is the cool thing about suffering though, it shows us just how little control we have, instead, it takes our gaze off of ourselves and our abilities (or lack of) and points is to God. Isn’t there so much peace in that? God is powerful and mighty, He is kind and all knowing, He is empathetic and strong, He is perfect and wise. He is everything we aren’t and most of all He is good and He loves us. He even tells us that He is doing a GOOD work in us. I can’t stop this suffering, but I can control my perspective and focus on what I learn through the journey. It’s like when you’re on a road trip, if you are focused on the destination then time seems to drag on and you get restless. But if you focus on the journey, the beauty of creation, the good conversation, the memories in the music playing, then the destination doesn’t become as important, and if you never arrive at least you made the most of the journey. 
Suffering well means it’s not about us and what we can or can’t do or what we do or don’t deserve. The moment you fix your eyes on you, man you will be met with a lot of self-pity and despair. But the moment you fix your eyes on God, you realize that the things on Earth don’t matter, what God is doing for the eternal kingdom is ultimately what matters! 
I get radiation tomorrow, today I just had follow up appointments from 7-4! It was an exhausting day, oh and they had to cut a chunk of my face out, hence the new gaping hole. So prayers that the hole will heal up nicely too would be appreciated! Love ya!