• sarah@healingeyes.org

Tag Archives: chemotherapy

Second guessing

Jumping into the whole God world head first is proving to be difficult.

I am not ‘Godly’, I am just Sarah. A wife, businesswoman, car lover, dog lover, writer, artist, and pianist. I crochet and enjoy gardening. I do not play with kids and I am not a teacher of kids. I can’t even have any kids biologically…Andy and I tried and there is no little Andy running around with his hazel eyes.

I know how hospitals work, the ins and outs of cancer centers, how to use an IV pole, how to set up a feeding tube bag, medication doses, nausea remedies, eating without a stomach, and watching someone starve to death. Those are my skills!

I can work on computers, lead projects, and communication with global teams, travel, play video games, bike long distances, rollerblade, and even teach dog agility. Those are my assets.

I am tired and ready to give up, to realize my grief stricken mistake of moving to an island believing in something bigger to escape grief. Move back to Michigan and renting an apartment and working in an office is quite suitable to my skill set. I could even take up a medical career since I have 2 years experience in care giving.

It’s acceptable!
I miss Andy.. I want my life back!

The Caribbean sea is a prison and my mind is the torture device to keep me in a fog. Over and over I see who I was and long to have it back. The Emergency Room visits and all the nurse questions I can handle. I have notes and records for all of that. Every bit of that old life I would gladly take back if I could just see Andy again. To hold him in my arms and see his smile. I am a wife with a ghost husband.

What so called ‘God’ takes a 34 year old man and gives him a disease and lets him starve to death. While allowing his wife to watch him die, and in the end makes the necessary requests for the final narcotic pain relieving drugs to be given to him so that he can die in peace. Why do Christians always say, ‘It’s God’s will’. … ‘It’s God’s plan’.  When really its just cuz cancer sucks and we are stuck on this earth where there is nothing you can do but suffer thru it.

We can choose to cling to words in a book. We can choose to drink the pain away…take pills..exercise a lot..or just ignore the pain by shoving it deep down in the abyss.  Hundred of outlets and different religions are at our disposal. Is there really one magical answer? I don’t think so. It’s going to take several tools to get past the pain of death…deciphering which ones to combine is the age old question. Why does God allow so much pain for the ones he ‘loves’?

I remember how I avoided ‘God’ blogs because I didn’t want to hear the cliché over and over about it’s God’s will and God gives me strength. Now it seems I have turned into that cliché and it irks me. Andy and I did not find our strength in that. We talked thru things, we discussed our problems, and we worked as a team. Before Andy died the drugs took that side of him away. He wasn’t coherent enough to be my partner anymore. He was a shadow of Andy’s personality. I lived with a ghost already dead.

I find it really hard to turn to God for everything. 14 years of the opposite mind set is hard to just reverse in a matter of months. I am not even sure if it should be entirely reversed because there is some validity to living outside a bubble of faith. Dose of reality and pain can give different perspective on things.

Now what to do…? Stay on this island and still test this ‘God’ theory out and see if it’s for real by studying the bible. Or. Go back to the states and figure out what I want to do and what I am good at now that I am a widow. Or maybe there is a middle ground.

Either way cancer sucks! And Grieving sucks even more! Us elite cancer caregiver survivors wobble between guilt and pain and loss. What could have been done differently? What did I do wrong? Why cancer? What now?

Healing Eyes

All is well

Do we all seek a new start to life? Just as the day rises each day to bring a new day, we must also think of it as a chance for a new life. Each new day is a chance to try again, to fight again, to endure, and to make a difference. From the smalls to the bigs…size doesn’t matter as long as you are seeking. With Andy dying I have been looking at it all wrong. I am consumed by grief and sadness and reliving of each moment before and as he died. Revisiting that hospital in my mind and going thru the corridors of pain and regret. This cycle is slowly killing my heart and bringing me down.

This morning I flipped open my bible to Philippians 3:12 and it said:

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take HOLD of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

My goal is set and I can’t let anything take my eyes off that. I have to strive on even if it seems IMPOSSIBLE. Just like cancer can seem to be impossible sometimes during all those endless chemo treatments. Endless days and nights watching your loved one wither before you. The person you once knew disappears and is replaced by a person in pain. A person fighting for life with each breath and step throughout the day. Never give up hope.

1 Corinthians 13:10-12

“but when completeness comes, what is in the past disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child…For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully even as I am fully known.”

1 Timothy 6:12

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses”


 

I made the choice when I sold my stuff and let my dogs go to another family. I made the decision when I told my bosses I had to go and I didn’t know what the reason was other than a voice said “Go”. Being passive is not in my blood, I don’t want to just sit back while others do things for a bigger purpose. I want to actively participate and make clarity out of all that pain and grief. I will tell my heart to beat again, I will not sit back and let life pass me by. Just as I am competitive and biking and kayaking, I push my body to the limits to bike faster and run raster…so shall I push my heart to feel more, to hurt more, and to endure more trials. This is the beginning of a new day. This is a beginning of a new chapter. This is my New Start to a new life just as Paul referred to Saul starting his new journey once his eyes were opened and the scales fell from his eyes.

I was blind but now I see!

I was in a pit of grief but now I see a light!

I saw death, I held death, I had great loss but now it’s time to step out and continue what I started.

Listen to me for a I tell you the truth. Even in your pain I am with you and will never leave you.
Enjoy this day for tomorrow your job starts.

Can you trust me?

“death has died and All is Well”

Healing Eyes

Lose it all to Gain life?

One more possession gone.

One more piece of me taken away.

I asked him his story before he took my iMac away. He was a college student studying music..he was a drummer but now wants to produce music. His little macbook Pro laptop wasn’t cutting it and it was time to upgrade to a faster, sleeker machine. He searched all over the place and the prices were high and then he found my craigslist post. One iMac for sale at an amazing price.

It helps to know the story of the person that buys my ‘stuff’. In some ways it lessens the pain when you know what it will be used for and what good can come from letting go something precious. The iMac was just a computer but it was also something Andy loved. He was my Mac guy! He was THE Mac guy! He was so happy when we purchased that computer a year ago with my bonus check. Although he never really did use it much but it was the idea of owning a 27″ slim iMac that really made his day.  I will take comfort in knowing that a college student will be getting more use out of it than Andy did….that it will be editing and recording music just like Andy used to do. At his job he had a sound lab where he helped students record music…he even let me use the room to have conference calls from when I took him to work when he was going thru treatments. What an odd world we live in, where one minute you are alive and struggling thru cancer and then the next I am moving away to an island and getting rid of all my possessions.

I truly own nothing of value anymore! I have clothes and a bed (the bed isn’t really mine though, it’s my parents).  Who am I? What is God up to?! How will I ever survive this crazy new lifestyle when all I have known is collecting stuff and living for a paycheck.

I am staring at the cash I just got my my iMac and thinking, “Man that’s nice but it’s just cash…it’s not going to bring Andy back and it’s not going to bring my joy. It could pay rent though, or maybe buy me a laptop when I need one”.

Why do we put so much value in material things? They are fleeting…

“It is impossible for you to have a need that I cannot meet. After all, I created you and everything that is. The world is still at My beck and call, though it often appears otherwise. Do not be fooled by appearances. Things that are visible are brief and fleeting, while things that are invisible are everlasting.”

Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

In a little over a week I am flying away, one way ticket to St. Croix! This Sunday I am telling my story to a video camera in my extremely empty apartment. A year ago I was with Andy just finishing up Chemotherapy and dreading the months of unknown re occurrence of cancer…not knowing if he was to live or die or when. Tomorrow I will wake up and wonder again what my future holds because that’s just what I do… constantly worry about tomorrow and paralyzed to live for today. Oh what release to live and truly understand happiness. Is it possible to live with little and gain more than my mind can ever imagine?

Healing Eyes

Are we all ‘Ok’ ?

Is it ok to share with the world doubts?

Is it ok to expose ones fears to the world about trusting in God?

What good can come from being that transparent with people about one’s thoughts and feelings? Doesn’t that leave us vulnerable to being seen as weak to ones peers? Putting everything on the line and letting others judge you however they see fit. Every day we get dressed and prepare ourselves for a day of barrage of negatives mixed with positives. More often than not I find myself waking up and sighing anxiety thinking what will today be like and am I ready for more dissapointment. Not a very healthy way to start a day when I already assume its going to be bad before it begins. It seems we can’t every be entirely genuine out of fear of what others might think of our actions or even physical appearance for the day. Is that what God wants? To have us be less genuine and put on an ‘ok’ face in order to make others more comfortable? Sounds silly when said out loud.

Last night I looked at old photos of Andy. Our last vacation together in June for our 13th Wedding anniversary we went to Jamaica. We figured let’s go all out since we had wanted to go Ireland but that was right before cancer was diagnosed. Our dream vacation was to go to Ireland together and that was quickly snatched away. As I was looking at photos of Jamaica I saw a pattern develop in how Andy looked in each photo, something I had subconsciously been ignoring while he was sick. However, I knew it was happening since I saw it every day. That slow death in the eyes, the hollow pain filled look in his eyes. For months on end he was in pain and his eyes showed it every day. At times I could look past it and see the Andy inside but soon that pain was just overwhelming him as hard as he wanted to pretend he was ‘ok’. In each photo he did his half smile he always did but this time his eyes showed the other side…the side of internal pain and struggle with cancer. June was the mid point for his remission (I dislike that word) and our high point of being able to do activities together without him being completely wiped out. Most of the vacation I would walk the beach while he slept, or I would swim while he chilled in a lounge chair. He tried so hard to swim with the dolphins but as I knew he was having fun seeing me smile it was killing him to continue putting that happy face on. Maybe I tried to smile too much for the both of us. Maybe that’s where we shined…I could put the happy face on for the both of us and pick up the slack. Oh what a great vacation though! I got to see sooo much of past Andy on that island before the coming months back at home would prove too much for Andy’s strength and mine. Inside I was a mess and putting on that face to the world that I was ‘ok’. Some days we both were good at it but other days it was obvious. Cancer was ruining everything..the disease was stealing everything away.

Is there life after Cancer? Depends on the stage in my opinion. First round of chemo, yes. After major surgery and removal of a stomach, yes’ish. After 2nd round of chemo, barely. That last round of chemo was what annihilated Andy’s body and spirit. That last round of chemo took the last of my pre-cancer Andy away and we were left to muddle thru the aftermath. We did find happy moments that made it worth it..such as Jamaica!

Oh that Andy is finally free is what keeps me going each day. Fly Andy, Soar Andy, and guide my days on this earth as an Angel by my side. Nudge me to move..Nudge me to try.. Nudge me to just Wake up in the morning like you did those weeks following your death. Where you whispered ever so quietly in my ear, “Please Get Up”.

 

Dolphin Andy Resting EEk

 

Fundraising for my Real Mission Trip

 

Healing Eyes

Quotes from: Experiencing God by Henry and Richard Blackaby

“When you trust that God always gives his best, you will devote your heart to whatever assignment God gives because you know in that role you can experience everything God has in his heart for you.”

“When God gives you a directive you can be sure he has already considered every factor. ”

“When your life is centered in Gods’ activity, he will rearrange your thinking. God’s ways and thoughts are so different from yours that they will often appear wrong, unloving, or impossible. You will often realize that the task he assigns is far beyond your power or resources to accomplish. as soon as you recognize that the job appears humanly unattainable, you need to be ready to believe and to trust him completely.”

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One night I asked for more.
One night I asked for it all to end.
One night I asked to save me from the pain.
One night I screamed out, “I give up, take my life!”

and

One day God said, ‘Ok’.

One day at a time is my motto ever since Cancer. Now more than ever it is becoming clearer as to how important that saying is. Today I purchased heavy duty tupperware bins to pack just enough clothing and necessities for the new direction in my life. From a house packed full of things and 4 cars in a driveway I am reduced to 2 tupperware bins. When I made the decision to follow the unthinkable .. become childlike in my trust of God’s plan for my new chapter in life I never thought it would mean this. Each day I am faced with imposing doubt of what used to be precious to me. To surrender it all, risk it all to find a bigger purpose in life…oh what madness..but what if by chance faith can win. To have fear is to doubt..how can I doubt the one who wants the best for me, he wouldn’t send me away if it wasn’t a path that would eventually lead to the best for me. Yes there will be pain, ups and downs, trials, but oh what sweet victory to truly live! Find the beauty in the rain, the sun, the simple act of breathing, appreciating each blessing every day as if it were my last. To not live in limbo of the future…without worrying about each imposing day ahead of me..can we all not live like that? Trapped by our own worry and doubt of a future we can’t control.

Step out with me to see a world full of hope and a touch less sorrow. The pain of our past and present will always remain but to seek ways to be happy amidst the storms of life, now that’s worth doing. Finally a challenge worth accepting.. 34 years in the making (with a 13 year intermission of love and life lessons)!

So what am I up to? Well I have eluded to it in my previous posts..something about God’s calling and a remote island. Putting the pieces together? In April I will be leaving my home, friends, and family to follow a small voice inside that says, ‘Go’.  Leave behind what is familiar and have faith in the impossible…
Walk with others strong in their faith, learn to live a simpler life and stop trying to DO everything and control each day. God doesn’t always give specific details of his plan but nudges you in the right direction. I have been given a nudge to help out at Lighthouse Ministries, BE around others in need, BE around God’s love, and BE with children. Along the way if my skills in technology, design, and leadership can be used than by all means God will make it happen. If I am hungry or need shelter than God will provide it. If I am sad or in pain than God will be there to hold me. All of this is foreign to me, and yet it feels so right to trust .. to give up controlling since I have learned thru much suffering and loss that its futile to fight God’s will.

I have started a fundraising website again but this time instead of going to just heal from Andy’s loss… I am going to follow a dream, an awakening of my heart and soul to God.. what madness it is:)  God brought me out of my comfort zone to show me love he can only give to a broken heart.

I will be staying at a wonderful lady’s house again, in a quaint room with showers from the rain that falls from the heavens. My belongings will be simple and my diet will be limited (I never was a good cook…kinda lazy on that front). My income will be cut in half while I attempt to still work online. My puppies will be staying with a family member and thanks to prayer I will not have to separate Yoshi and Miko from each other. The rest of the details will work themselves out each day as I lead up to my flight.

Andy can you believe it!? Out of great pain will come great hope! It’s going to be ok…

Donate here: Fundraising Page

Healing Eyes

An incurable disease

No sign of disease is not the same as cured.

No sign of disease gives hope to an impossible situation.

Borrowed time to live another day and perhaps many many more. A sink hole fell beneath our feet but it didn’t cave in.
Four simple words, ‘no sign of disease’, a chance to think farther ahead of the next doctor appointment or scan. We have 4 more wonderful months to appreciate the memories yet to come.

Hopeful to not under appreciate what this gift has been. Almost a year ago the doctor said, large mass found, on that day we fell into that sink hole…it has taken that long to see the light of tomorrow again. If someone had asked me last year if I thought we would make it, I would have shaken my head in disbelief and whispered no. No…cancer always means the end. How can anyone survive it.

I’m not going to say we have survived it because that would mean its over and it was all for nothing. No we haven’t survived it or beaten it… We have learned to live thru it, to not give up, to keep some sanity, and to never give up on each other. Everyone loses hope and feels sorry for the bad that comes in their lives. I have felt that way, still do some days. But then I remember what i saw when andy was going thru chemo… I saw him suffer and still try to stay alive…he was so weak but he pulled thru, he endured those long days of treatment and tried to smile for me.
If we made it past those long days to be where we are now than I don’t want to squander that gift, I don’t want to rationalize what happened or why it had to be. To do that would let cancer pull me down.

There are others out there learning they have cancer….there are caregivers realizing they will never be the same….only those who make it into this elite group will see what we see. The world in a different light. Not a bright and fuzzy light but a real, difficult, unique point of view. Wake up tomorrow knowing its going to suck…it’s going to hurt…and you may not want to try….but remember life sucks for a reason. We just don’t know what that reason is. Just like doctors don’t know what cancer really is or how to fix, predict, or prevent it.

Maybe that’s because it’s the one illness we should never understand. If everyone lived charmed lives what a dull and uneventful existence that would be. I do wish they knew where or if the cancer would appear next … Wait no I don’t because knowing your future doesn’t make that future any easier to face.

Healing Eyes

I don’t know what’s worse..

Waiting for good news or bad.

A year ago we didn’t have to wait, the bad news just blind sighted us out of no where.  A blessing in a way because we couldn’t get worked up about what the bad was that came. This time we have had ample time to imagine the worse, dream up the best, and hypothesize over ‘what ifs’.

I prefer surprises over planned surprises. Shortly we will be back at the hospital getting a CT scan that may or may not tell us anything. Either way, whatever results come back this week will drag.

Healing Eyes

dusty

It’s so surreal looking back at the past 7 months of our life.

I get asked questions sometimes,
“What’s the game plan, Whats the next steps, What happens when its over and you can be happy again”?

I smile and my mind goes blank because there is no answer really. Cancer is something that can never be answered or fixed ultimately.  Doctors can remove the tumor and prescribe medicine, they can’t erase the damage. I struggle with thinking of ways to explain that to others without sounding uncaring or utterly depressing. All I can say is it never will really ‘end’, this is the part in our several months of treatments and surgeries that I think will be the hardest and most challenging.  When the dust settles usually you just clean up and move on. When our dust settles we just look at that dust and try and think, ok now how can we live with this dust in our lives, the dust lingering in our lungs, and its presence hovering over us like a murky cloud of unknowns.

This week I think will be our last scans for awhile now. It already feels like the nurses and doctors are ready to push us aside for others in treatment. We are ‘without any detectable disease’.. that’s how one doctor put it when I asked, “so what do we tell people, does andy have cancer?” It’s a way to say we may have disease but its not visible to the human eye ‘yet’. So you just wait it out and see if any of that murky dust falls again and then we’ll sweep it up and live another day.

It’s hard writing this blog now.. I can’t write what I don’t know .. then again no one can really write there future down and expect it to come true. For all we know the dust could blow away and this will be are only brush with detectable disease. But how does one brush away the emotional damage caused, those memories of long nights in the hospital, of chemotherapy treatments, the fear that they could come back. I suppose we just try to not think of it, try live a new normal life, go easy on ourselves and breathe a sigh of relief that we made it this far together.

We do start some much needed physical therapy next week, getting a free membership to a health club where Andy get’s some cancer well fit classes free of charge. It will be good to get out of the house and doing something together that’s not hospital related. I love exercising, I love my Andy, so that equals good times.

Healing Eyes

Lay down for this

Update on andy….he’s spunky and then he’s tired. But good news and progress is he has for the first time since the total gastric bypass surgery in November 2012 slept the majority of the night laying flat! Flat on his back without the big pillow behind him to prop himself up! Yes this is good news finally!!
Of course who knows if we can repeat it every night but one night is a start at least.

Now to just conquer the nauseau, dizziness, cracking feet and hands, drowsiness, and overall side effects from fricken chemotherapy!

Healing Eyes

Last long day

image

At the cancer Center getting our last chemotherapy. Well last long day at least. Here’s hoping it kills the bad stuff and leaves the healthy Andy behind. Can’t wait for April to come when we get more scans to see what’s going on inside.

Healing Eyes
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