The Breast Cancer Diaries | Part 12Laura Ann Miller
Monday | April 18, 2022
It means so much more than a diagnosis
It is the tumor they found
And a million other things
I never knew this one word could mean
Seeing life different…
Trying to hold all the pieces
And put them together somehow
I’m going forward on this brave new journey
Forging a way through
I think sometimes this is one of the hardest parts to navigate- billing and All. The. Paperwork. Maybe because I’m a creative type and paperwork has never been my strong suit. But even after we’ve asked questions and spent hours on the phone and think we have it figured out…
There’s the letter that comes on round 10 of chemo and says something bizarre like, “congratulations we have pre-approved the request from your oncologist for chemotherapy. This does not mean we will cover the cost. You may still be responsible….”
And what can I do? I’m 10 rounds in, 6 more to go! I didn’t even know my treatment plan was in some type of review after all these months. A slight panic sets in. Then anger. Can I just scream? Why is this part so hard? So complicated? So convoluted? So maddening?
I can’t help but think of the cost for all of this. It’s so extravagant! To live.
How will my life count for all of this extravagance?
My mind wanders, but I have to ground myself. God has proven so faithful in all our needs and beyond. I need to remember His faithfulness and not get sidetracked by the unknown. It’s all unknown anyway.
But I’m only one woman on this road and I can’t help but think of all the others walking along too…
I think of the money changers in the temple and the righteous anger of Jesus. I wonder, this feels similar…
But I shift my thoughts away, again and again on this journey.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”
His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.
Dear Lord, please watch over my fellow travelers too. They are valuable.
Wednesday | April 20, 2022
In all of my frustration and confusion and uncertainty Jesus still shows up and shows me, one more time, one more day, His goodness and mercy.
I wore a shirt to my appointment I haven’t worn in a long time, it’s white with silhouettes of little birds…
And this afternoon I got an unexpected call for approval of my long term disability while I finish my treatments. And I’m overwhelmed with gratitude! There’s been gifts and meals and prayers and cards we’ve received all of these long months, it has humbled me at every thoughtful blessing on my behalf. And beyond all of this, I think of the unexpected benefits from work which were already in place for this journey. Before I even knew these needs.
More valuable than the birds… I know his eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me
Saturday | April, 23, 2022
Today is set aside for time with Ethan.
I can hardly believe how life unfolds and marches forward. One day sitting wrapped in warm blankets receiving chemo. The next day grace and health enough for holding life’s beautiful milestones and celebrating young persistent love.
He’s asked me to help him pick out an engagement ring.
Thank you Lord for this day.
Sunday | April 24, 2022
Mana From Heaven…
Oh Lord, you provide for us again and again.
Give us this day our daily bread.
You do, above what we could imagine and Lord, I feel so unworthy of these offerings.
How can I thank you for all of your goodness and generosity?
Thursday | April 28, 2022
I’m feeling weary. Sometimes it’s hard to get up in the morning and I don’t know if it’s the chemo or that I’m tired of this routine of isolation and doctor appointments. It’s been about 22 weeks since I got the call. I told Mike this morning I’m ready to be done with cancer already.
I’m learning how to be strong and have peace through this process… the last time I had bloodwork, I closed my eyes as usual and took a breath in as I waited for the prick. And just like that my nurse was done. He had me hold the little cotton ball and asked me what color bandage I wanted wrapped around my arm. I didn’t even feel the needle that time!
What a gift, but I’m still ready to be done with it all!
What is 22 weeks in the scheme of a lifetime? It’s nothing. When you’re waiting in the dark it feels like its own lifetime. Today’s a pity party I suppose.
Or it started that way. But as I sat outside on the patio with Coco, my furry cancer companion, God reminded me again, (even in my self thrown pity party) He sees me and cares for my needs.
Reading From Grandma Annie’s Devotional Bible-
“On a day when I was feeling particularly tired, I decided to look up the word weariness in Webster’s Dictionary. The definition read: ‘Worn out in strength, endurance, vigor of freshness. Having one’s patience, tolerance, or pleasure exhausted…’
Christians are not immune to weariness, either external or internal. But the difference is that we know whom to go (Jesus Christ) and where to go (his Word) for much needed rest and refreshment.”
From Wearily, Wearily I Say Unto You by Gigi Graham Tchividjian
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11: 28-30
Thank you Lord for your gentleness, and your rest. And please give me new strength and vigor of freshness to finish this journey. Amen.
Saturday | April 30, 2022
The perfect day- she said yes!
Tuesday | May 3, 2022
Have you ever been in the ocean in rough surf and knocked off your board? The memory of a moment like this has stayed with me since I was 14. I was thinking about it today…
I was out in the waves at Virginia Beach on my body board, trying to keep up with the surfers while not getting too close. A wave came up and instead of catching the wave it caught me. The next thing I knew I was rolling like the water itself. I felt my body come out of the roll and hit hard against the sand, water still covering the air above. The wild rolling movement carried me and continued on. In a flash I broke the surface for a glorious breath of air before the rolling wave held me down again. There was a moment of fear. I didn’t know how to get out of the spin cycle. But I stayed calm as I waited and then just like that, the churning water melted back into itself and I was released from underneath all the power and pressure.
Down and up. Rolling along. Terror then joy.
Life is filled with this spin cycle sometimes.
I need to remember to stay calm and wait for the churning waters to melt back down. There is life giving breath just above the chaos.
Friday | May 6, 2022
Chemo Round 14
I made it to May!
After today I only have 2 more rounds of this to go. I couldn’t see the mountain top from my valley when I started, but I can now. It’s getting closer and the light at the top is shining through the clouds. I still have some miles to go, but I think just knowing I’m getting close is giving me new strength. And this was my specific prayer last week –new strength and vigor.
Thank you Jesus.
May is Mother’s Day. Wedding dress shopping with my new daughter to be! My birthday. My last round of chemo. The last day of school. The start of summer! What a beautiful month filled and holding all good things.
Today is also National Nurses Day. May God bless and keep these beautiful nurses who care for me and so many on this long road to healing. I am grateful.
And after chemo we celebrated Mother’s Day. This medicine keeps me wide awake on Fridays and in bed on Sundays… Today is perfect.
Tuesday | May, 10, 2022
Context is always needed when trying to find grace or maybe more for giving grace…
Whatever the case I need it today. To give it and receive it.
I’d like to have cancer in a bubble. But it doesn’t work that way. There’s still life going on all around that needs attention and caring- work schedules, school, paperwork, laundry late on a Sunday night, the universal daily question of, “what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?”, good news and bad news, feelings, expectations, let downs, disappointments…
Some of it involves the cancer, most of it doesn’t. My Bubble Wish is that none of the messy parts of life would spill out and mingle here. That it all could be contained to separate parts and places. I’m sure it has to do with Mike’s name for the syndrome he’s diagnosed me with, he calls me a stop talker. I’d rather stop and have a conversation about one thing in particular than mix that with other business. Mike is the opposite, why not clean the kitchen counters or fold laundry while we talk?
I need the bubble sometimes. A place where everything else is stopped. I need a place protected from the onslaught of life that moves too fast. I need grace. To keep trusting. To keep trying.
“I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.””
– Psalms 55:6-8
“Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.”
Thursday | May 12, 2022
Today I need this and want to remember this simple reflection in my Grandma’s Bible:
“When I come to the end of myself,
wherever I am in the world,
God is there.
And from that seeming dead end
He can create new life,
and give new strength.”
-Gladis and Gordon DePree
Monday | May 16, 3022
I’m feeling excited that this week has arrived!
The last chemo treatment coming on this journey. It felt so far away when I started. I still remember thinking I couldn’t do it.
So many have held me up in prayer.
And God has brought me new strength and comfort each step of the way.
I feel a little anxious.
And a little lost.
I’ve been still and isolated while waiting for this healing work in my body. I’ve let go of the normal routine of life and I don’t know what normal will be again.
But the words from a devotion when I first started on this unknown road keeps ringing in my mind louder now, “I believe for you a new sunrise…”
And these precious words are in my devotion today-
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you… and will bring you back to the place which I carried you into exile.”
A hope. A Future. Brought back.
Wednesday | May 18, 2022
I haven’t been writing as much lately. I’ve been waiting. Taking this time in melancholy and weariness. Time seems to have slowed before the end point. It’s coming. I don’t know how to receive it. I want to celebrate, but I feel cautious…
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt…”
“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy… So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
-John 16: 20-24, 33
Dear Lord, thank you for the peace you’ve given to me through these past six months. Thank you for giving me strength when I was weak, for trust in you and calming my fears when I was overwhelmed. Thank you for hearing my prayers and for the joy to come! Amen.