The Breast Cancer Diaries | Part 10Laura Ann Miller
Friday March 11, 2022 | Quiet Surrender – Unshakable Hope
I have a bag I’ve nicknamed the cancer bag. It contains pages and folders and even a three ring binder filled with information on breast cancer and chemo treatments. It took me a while before I could crack open the binder and read through it. Mostly because I know myself. I’m a detail person. If I have something to read I’m going to read it all the way down to the fine print. I didn’t want to know all the details about cancer that could fill an entire binder.
When I started this new round of chemo drug I told Mike to read the notes on it for me. I didn’t want to worry about the side effects, especially the sections titled “when to call your doctor” or “Seek medical help immediately.” But I eventually got up the courage to dig into all the notes.
And I found something fascinating about this new drug I’m on. Somehow the clear IV bag pumping the cell killing liquids through me is partially made up of flowers. Or more precisely a flower, called periwinkle.
So on my way home from my appointment on Wednesday I drove to a nursery and wandered the rows of plants and flowers.
I googled, “Does periwinkle grow in Florida?”
To my delight, yes!
It is commonly referred to as vinca here in south Florida and this garden shop had plenty. I’m not sure if it’s the exact species in my chemo, but I bought one to take home and marvel at.
I wonder about the growers of periwinkle for chemo. Are there fields of these flowers waiting to be made into treatments for killing cancer?
I choose to believe it’s beautiful and I have flowers coursing through my veins now.
Killing in me
All good cells
Waiting through winter
Death before life
Spring waits too
Sickness before Healing
Blooming in me
Against the backdrop of winter
Monday | March 14, 2022
“…Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Some days this battle feels long and lonely. But then I am reminded Jesus is with me, offering this quiet place of rest. Together.
I’ve been watching Life Below Zero on National Geographic, a show where people live to survive off the land in the remote places of Alaska. And this quote from Johnny Rolfe at the end of an episode stood out to me-
“The hardships, pain, and suffering, all that eventually goes away. What we’re forever left with are the experiences and lessons learned.”
Tuesday | March 15, 2022
One of the good parts about this time alone is the time I have for reading. I’m enjoying it, even if I have too many books started at once… Today I learned about a book coming out that actress Kristin Chenoweth wrote an essay in and I immediately preordered it when I heard her talk about it. She shared how she was a little bit fearful to put her story out there. And I can relate. Every time I share about this journey it makes me nervous when I click on the publish button. It’s so personal. I wonder if I’m not strong enough, if I share too much fear or sadness? If I need to muscle through more?
But the truth is I am fearful, of needles and hospitals and IVs and all the things that come with that. This is me. I get through it with strength from the support of family and friends, prayer, and Jesus.
It’s ok if I’m not always strong.
I loved how open Kristin was about contributing to the book. And the title got me-
My Moment: 106 Women on Fighting for Themselves
Even though I feel weak, I’m fighting for myself in the best ways I can. And even if I’m not always strong I can learn from women who are.
The best part about preordering the book is finding out it not only is a collection of essays but it’s accompanied by black and white photographs and comes out at the end of May. Just in time for the end of my chemo.
Friday | March 18, 2022
These are the moments of light worth remembering-
The moments God orchestrates through others in perfect timing.
The day before chemo a care package of the most special chicken noodle soup arrived via UPS. Sent anonymously from my Calvary Family.
Today, my chemo day, I’m sent text after text lifting me in prayer and more worship songs for the playlist too.
And then, two hand written cards were waiting in the mailbox when I got home.
In the infusion room-
The Nurses who I see in this chemo wing, they are medical professionals, encouragers, and minsters, bent low, caring for a room full of patients…
I see the nurse in blue scrubs across the room. She tenderly rubs a frail arm holding tight to her sleeve.
All I can do is pray.
Watch over us Jesus.
Saturday | March 19,2022
“Confidence in Christ is different from “smiling through” tough times: this confidence is quiet surrender, but an unshakable hope that lies beneath all of our rubble…
We have nothing to fear in Christ.
I can therefore relax with Lazarus and love freely and boldly, listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd who has called me out of the darkness into the light.”
–Art & Faith: A Theology of Making by Makoto Fujimura
Sunday | March 20, 2022
I know it’s not healthy to compare my life to others. In general that is. No matter the knowledge, magazines, TV, and social media make it difficult on any day -we put our lives out there and take in the other views… Comparison can creep up in so many areas of life.
I never imagined I’d play the comparison game in my mind over cancer. But so many parts of fighting this battle are overcoming the thoughts, the questions, and what ifs…
Part of the mental journey on this road has been the time I’ve taken away from work. First I had to decide, would I take leave? I’m thankful for my friend ahead of me on this battle. She took leave for her chemo and gave me the courage to ask my doctor about it. I know now, I couldn’t have done it differently.
But I still wondered about the second half of my treatment. It’s supposed to be easier. I kept thinking about the stories I’ve heard about the people with cancer going to chemo and continuing to work. I thought maybe I’d be up for it. That I should be up for it. My FMLA only goes so far…
If I don’t return when the leave ends I no longer have a job.
But these last appointments my white blood counts have been low. I need to be careful when I go out and not be in large crowds.
I asked Mike what I should do? I don’t want to let him down. I feel significantly better on this new chemo than the first drugs I started with. Do I try and go back to school? How would I manage work and future appointments? I still have to go to the hospital twice a week.
I was wrestling this weekend with how to make it all work out.
And then we went out yesterday. I felt good. We took a drive to visit a friend and I packed my cameras for a bonus beach visit. I figured Mike, August, and I would make a fun day of it, a visit, lunch out together, and walk along the shore.
We only made it through part of the visit chatting outside with friends and I suddenly felt strange. I told my sweet girl I was going to sit in the shade. I sat down and drank some water, but the next thing I knew my eyes were going blurry and I was out of it. Thankfully Mike and August were right there with our friends. Water, ice packs, and some air conditioning brought me back.
I was embarrassed by the temporary drama I caused, but deep down in the strangest way grateful. I knew then without a doubt I couldn’t return to work. This is my journey and it’s okay that my path is different from others. I can’t make myself stronger. The chemo has to work through me however my body will handle it.
I had to let go of the guilt and expectations in my mind. It took a little blackout for me to see it clearly.
I’m letting go of so much for this healing to come…
The quiet surrender.
Monday | March 21, 2022
I’m pretty sure all my dang eyelashes are falling out and getting stuck in my soggy eyes.
I’m officially jobless. I hit send on the email confirming I won’t be back for the remainder of this school year. Even though I know this is the right decision it’s hitting me hard this morning.
There’s an official term for running out of time on the family medical leave act and not returning to work, I forget what it is…
All I know is, today, Mike turned in my badge and classroom keys to HR for me. I’m grieving another loss-
For what will come
After this winter
When all that looks dead
Is just waiting
In the quiet surrender