On the way back from one of my appointments this week I saw a squirrel shimmying across a telephone wire. The squirrel had a wide distance to cover. It looked precarious to me, and a bit unnatural. I would have preferred to see that squirrel in a tree.
But I knew it would make it across the wire.
This past week was our first big post-diagnosis week, where we got down to business with this whole cancer thing. Hands-down, the high of the week was our Wednesday appointment with the surgeon. First of all, Wednesday started with a really good hair day, and it occurred to me I should document. I DO NOT take selfies, but I made an exception because, hello, my hair might fall out. More about that later. Here is the selfie:
Okay, whatever. I might have a low standard for a good hair day. Moving on!
On Wednesday we found out the cancer, invasive ductile carcinoma, is Stage 1 and isn’t anywhere else. I was so, so happy to hear that. The appointment was almost fun because of the relief.
On Thursday I met with the oncologist. Cocky from the day before, I went to the appointment by myself so Bryce could stay home with the boys. I quickly regretted that decision. Having talked with the surgeon already, I knew the treatment recommendation would be chemo and surgery (double mastectomy–yowzah) because of the type of cancer. It wasn’t until I talked with the oncologist the chemo part felt really real. She confirmed it would be 20 weeks (which, you agree, is a long time, right?) in two phases. Phase 1 would be one dose every two weeks for eight weeks, and Phase 2 would be one dose every week for twelve weeks. Oh-kay. We talked about other uncomfortable things too, like would I want to consider freezing my eggs?
For the record, the oncologist was awesome. I just wasn’t prepared for that part of the discussion. Prior to the Wednesday-Thursday appointments, I didn’t do a ton of research because I didn’t want to waste time worrying before I got my “official official” diagnosis. Cancer is crazy because your #1 priority is health, but there are so many other tangential things to consider such as financials, fertility, insurance fine print, calendars, reconstruction options, work, beauty (Lord, help me with my vanity), and parenting. I have eaten so much humble pie this week. Good segue…
Many of you have offered to help. Thank you. I have started to identify needs. At the risk of propriety, I am going to share them because I am anxious.
- The #1 thing we need is prayer. Today one of my friends prayed Psalm 62 for me because I sent her a sad-face text. I think about Jesus’s words in Mark 8:36, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” At the end of the day, I want soul-care for us and our boys. Of course I do not want to be in the hole financially or have yucky chemo side effects, but if those things happen, they will pass. Please pray that God would bring our hearts near to His throughout this process. I think about Philippians 4:12-13, where Paul says,”I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Man, I would enjoy that gift of contentment!
- We could use toddler busy boxes. I am not a big Pinterest mom, so I have never made these myself. That said, I think they could really get us by in a fatigued-parent pinch. Here is how I would describe a busy box: you get a container, like a shoe box, and fill it with random but somewhat related things a 2-year-old or a 4-year-old could enjoy. For example: play-doh, cookie cutters, little pieces of paper, and stickers. Or clothespins, masking tape, beads, and yarn. Or little army men or farm animals or dinosaurs. The items in the box don’t have to be new. The box just needs to have some mystique. Then, if I’m home alone feeling icky and have two little wild things who can’t be pleased, I can–drumroll please–hand each of them a busy box, and they can see what treasures are inside.
- Speaking of wild things, we could use help with the boys sometimes. More to come on this. Once we nail down the treatment plan/schedule, I’ll probably put a Google calendar together. I was flying solo with the boys today, and I can’t tell you how many times I asked myself, “How am I going to do this if the chemo knocks me out?” At Barnes & Noble, this adorable little girl came over and wanted to kiss Hyatt on his cheek. Twice he exclaimed, “NOOO!!” I am glad he can assert boundaries, but sheesh–if he won’t let a cute little girl kiss him on the check, just imagine how he responds to me trying to brush his teeth, put sunscreen on him, etc. The boys are totally normal in their rambunctiousness, and are more chill than many, but I’m pretty intimidated by what’s ahead.
- Ginger tea. My sweet friend who is an oncology nurse said maybe I should get off Pinterest because it was stressing me out, but before she told me that I learned ginger tea is apparently a thing for chemo patients? It helps with nausea? Sounds good–let’s get some.
- Do you have stand-up comedy or funny DVDs you could live without for a period of time? If so, I would love to borrow them. A survivor I talked with last week said she and her husband watched a lot of stand-up during her chemo treatment. Laughter = good.
- iTunes cards + music recs. Did the Cranberries’ No Need to Argue album get you through middle school? Have you turned on Justin Timberlake’s Can’t Stop the Feeling and tried to convince your kids to participate in a “cleaning party?” If you’re saying yes, you know how important music can be to one’s mood. I’m super-open to “such-and-such album is amazing and got me through a hard time,” plus any recommendations you have for good kids’ music. We love Slugs & Bugs, for example.
- Cute warm-weather hats. Before I kicked myself off Pinterest, I found hats so cute you’d WANT to be bald. Like this one and this one. So cute, right? If you happen to have anything like these and you don’t need them, may I borrow? Also interested in whether or not there are any local places that sell things like this. Because the site I like is in the UK.
- Meals. Amazingly, our meal calendar is full. Looking at the meal calendar cheers my heart. THANK YOU SO MUCH. I have reason to believe cooking won’t be my top priority or favorite thing to do. Now that we know how long the treatment will be, we might want to extend the calendar. If you’re interested in that, I can update you.
Thank you for reading, and thank you again for the support!
July 4, 2016 at 12:41 pm
Okay, add to your nausea pocket book gin gin candy, not bad tasting and helped me with nausea when I was preggo(I’ve seen it at the checkout of good food). Also please share me the meal calendar, I know my family wants to contribute. I would love to help with the boys any!
July 4, 2016 at 8:09 pm
Thank you, Kelley! Noted!
July 4, 2016 at 12:53 pm
Liz, we don’t know each other well, but I want you to know that we are praying for you and your family. Your words are so raw, beautiful, honest and positive. I think that is just so incredible. Thank you for sharing your story. We are here for you! I’ve already been praying, but now I will also work on tangible things to help you during this time. I know it’s not always easy to ask for and accept help, so thank you for giving us the opportunity. It sounds like you have the right mindset and plan. Love, hugs, peace & strength to you!!
July 4, 2016 at 8:07 pm
Thanks, Jenn! We love you guys 🙂
July 4, 2016 at 1:08 pm
You are constantly in my thoughts – I have on a pink bracelet which I am keeping on until your treatment is complete. I am so sorry you have to go through all this. Thank you so much for being so open about this – young women need to be reminded to do the things they need to to catch breast cancer early like you did. Count on Jim and me for anything we can do to help!
July 4, 2016 at 8:09 pm
Big hugs, Debbie and Jim 🙂
July 4, 2016 at 1:19 pm
We are right there with you. Praying constantly,
July 4, 2016 at 2:43 pm
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
We love you and are continuously praying for you, beautiful girl.
July 4, 2016 at 8:08 pm
Love that verse 🙂
July 4, 2016 at 4:07 pm
Prayers are very easy and you can count on us! So much to take in and so many decisions. I wish it were different but you have a positive attitude which is huge. Thanks for letting us know what you need! Sending love, hugs and kisses 💕
July 4, 2016 at 8:08 pm
Thank you, Ann!!
July 4, 2016 at 5:42 pm
Liz…Your approach to this is amazing! I am so encouraged and uplifted by your kind and thoughtful spirit. I have made note of the bible verses you have referenced… they are so inspiring! The power of prayer is truly an amazing thing and you and your family have been in my prayers since your Mom shared your news with me. You are strong and brave and I know you will take this journey a day at a time and I will be praying for you and your family all along the way. I will do whatever I can to help…Love to you and your family. Kathy Lawrence
July 4, 2016 at 8:03 pm
Thank you, Kathy! Big hugs to you guys too!
July 4, 2016 at 11:08 pm
Liz – prayers are coming your way daily! And also for Bryce and the boys! Your attitude is awesome and I know that will help you get through this tough time. Please send me the meal calendar. I am not the best chef, but I would love to help out.
July 6, 2016 at 1:09 am
Golden Milk- anti-inflammatory magical goodness
Heat 2 cups light unsweetened coconut milk (or almond or soymilk) with 1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger and 1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh turmeric and 3-4 black peppercorns. Bring to a simmer and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten to taste (if desired).
Raw honey to sweeten!
I love you so much!
July 6, 2016 at 2:01 am
That sounds delicious.
July 6, 2016 at 1:10 am
Also, I am so, so glad you’re asking (graciously) for help! We want to do anything we can to support you!!
July 6, 2016 at 8:01 pm
please send us an update on the meal calendar!! We have some great stand-up comedy to pass along too- Our love and prayers are with you daily!!!
July 7, 2016 at 3:51 am
I need your address! It probably wont surprise you that i am on pinterest all the time and would love to put my craftiness to good use! Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. prayers are being said!
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July 7, 2016 at 1:18 pm
Thanks so much for the update Liz – I’ve been thinking of you and praying for you daily. Mumford & Sons “Below My Feet” is a song that really spoke to me during a bout with postpartum depression and has also gotten me through a long run or two. More to come – thanks for sharing what would help you. My mom lives really close to you in Rockville and she is an absolute angel and an incredible care giver. She has nursed two relatives through cancer treatment and cared for many many babies. She’s out of town right now helping my cousin with her newborn but I know that she will be there if you ever need ANYTHING – and just a few minutes away. Prayers and love. xo
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July 10, 2016 at 5:17 pm
Thank you, thank you, thank you LK 🙂
July 15, 2016 at 1:40 am
Liz. Essential oil of peppermint also helps with nausea. Either on a tissue/ paper towel or just have it near your nose!
July 17, 2016 at 3:00 am
July 18, 2016 at 1:50 am
You have my prayers. Cast every single care upon the Lord–for He cares more than you can imagine.
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July 21, 2016 at 1:51 pm
Yo, a little Led Zeplin always good for your get up and go😎. Just got back from Canada. Susan and I are with you and prayers are sent. Feel the love from AL. Mike Jr. send his love too.
July 22, 2016 at 2:42 pm
Dear Liz, Your blog is beautiful and brave ( just like you). I will be praying for you and yours in this valley. May you see many more mountain tops in your life.
Our redeemer is faithful and true.
Your SIster at WEPC,
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July 24, 2016 at 2:01 am
My friend, Rachel, and I watched Michael McIntyre stuff on youtube while she was doing her chemo treatments. It’s definitely not devoid of swear words, but he’s also not offensive. His dentist routine is a good example of why I think he’s hilarious! Slugs and Bugs songs, particularly from their Sing the Bible vol. 2 are SUCH good chemo friends. I know I don’t know you, but I’m so sorry you are walking this.