Breathless

I stood in the store aisle

Pondering which holiday tablecloth piqued my interest the most–

Red with white snowflakes,

White with silver trees,

Or the rustic reindeer.

My hands fumbled,

Attempting to match fabric napkins

With each design.

People came and went,

Bumping into my cart,

As I still contemplated.

On one such occasion,

I managed to drop some of the tablecloths,

And bending down–

a little too quickly perhaps

My body protested the sudden movement

And pain seared throughout

Leaving me teary-eyed,

Winded,

Dizzy,

Breathless.

Today

When your reality turns out to be fantasy, mind tricks if you will, it can be an earth-shattering, scary thing.

I suspected that the fleeting shadows were figments of my imagination. Sometimes you look from the left to the right too quickly and you think you see something that in reality isn’t there at all. So I ignored them. But today, there was no ignoring you.

I heard the dishes first, early this morning. I knew Mosha wasn’t home, and it piqued my interest enough that I roused from bed and headed to the kitchen–the very empty kitchen. It’s damning because I know what I heard, but I also know what I saw, and they were two very contradicting things. I blamed lack of sleep and new medications as I meandered back to my bed.

I spent time messaging B, and in the midst of that, you appeared, walking alongside my bed, bringing me soup, chastising me for not taking care of myself. Who are you? I had never seen you before today. I didn’t have any sense of familiarity. Just as I began to sit up, you were gone, as quickly as you appeared. Yet you were so very real.

The next logical step would have been to get ahold of my oncologist, to raise the alarm to my medical team, but instead I retreated because of fear and unfamiliarity. I forced myself to sleep, a sleep from which I didn’t wake up from until late evening. Since I woke up, I’ve had a tingling sensation across my head (this is not new, but it has been a while since I’ve experienced it). I ate, plopped on the couch until now, desperately trying to distract myself from today’s happenings. Were they imagined? All evidence points to yes.

After a little prying, Mosha got it out of me, and we decided that first thing, I need to call my medical team. I’m not fearful in the sense that I feel there is a demonic presence in our home, and I don’t believe in ghosts, so that’s not it either. No, I am fairly certain that this is directly related to Lyle or the medications somehow. Best to deal with it sooner rather than later because I can’t imagine living life the way I had to live it today. It isn’t living at all.

Regaining independence, one step at a time

Well after having numerous emotional breakdowns over the past few weeks, we (My medical team, Mosha and my parents) have decided that its best for me to try to regain some independence. Relying on other people for every little thing has taken a toll on me in many ways, and while I cannot control other things, such as how I may feel physically, I can control how much help I receive from others. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not on an ego trip nor do I plan on being unwise when it comes to asking for help; I know my limits and when I need to reach out. However, constantly having someone who needs to sacrifice aspects of their life to be my caretaker has never sat well with me. In the end, it ultimately adds more stress to my life, which makes me sicker than I already am.

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Something I didn’t want to hear

The worst feeling is when your doctor suggests that your parents aren’t suited to be your caregivers. Its not for lack of willingness, but because mum herself is ill, and I worry for her health. I get stressed about her well-being and feel guilty when I know she isn’t feeling well but is slaving away to make sure that I’m fed and looked after. Continue reading

Renewed vigor, for the moment

So its been apparent to me that I’ve been a little more angry than usual. I feel like it was bound to happen at some point. Although the drugs account for a large portion of my mood swings, I also have to take ownership for my lack of patience and increased resentment over the past few weeks. I mean, I’ve been pretty good at controlling my emotions regarding cancer, but as of late its been tougher to do so. But today…today I woke up with a renewed vigor. I am determined to conquer this — not just cancer in general, but all of the nasty stuff no one every sees or talks about. I won’t let it change who I am, not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

Patient X

In the patient restroom located on the second floor at the Cancer Treatment Center of America (CTCA), I saw an alarming amount of dried blood on paper towels in the waste basket. The sight made me experience a wide range of emotions, from sadness to anger to relief. It makes me wonder what that patient was experiencing to make them bleed like that, and how scary that must have been. I haven’t personally had an experience like that, losing blood from anywhere (other than good ol’ reliable Aunt Flow), hence my feelings of relief that it wasn’t me.

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Stem Cell Transplant — Complete!

An update for everyone —

I received my stem cell transplant today. It was a rather grueling day: seven straight hours hooked up to various machines getting pumped full of different medicines and eventually, someone else’s blood. But, thankfully, it is over, and procedurally, everything went well. Now we wait to see if my body takes the donor’s cells as my own, which can take anywhere between a few weeks to a year, but hopefully we will begin to see something within a month and a half to two months. For now, I am being watched for the next 48 hours around the clock, and I have daily checkups with my cancer team until further notice.

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The Battle I Didn’t Choose

Today is the start of my fourth week of chemo, and sometimes it’s still surreal that I have brain cancer. It just doesn’t seem real. In so many ways I feel the same as always, almost like nothing is different except for the fact that I get sick a lot, have lost some hair and sleep more than my cat. But there are these fleeting moments when I feel…well, normal, just like my old, healthy self, and it’s hard to believe that I’m battling an illness as big as I am.

Now, I know a lot of people who tell me not to claim cancer, which I don’t. One thing that I think others fail to realize is that it’s not easy when you have reality staring directly at you, and you’re trying to take God’s Word and His truth and place that over reality’s truth. It’s not easy. So no, I do not claim this — but that doesn’t mean that I’m naive or oblivious to the very real lecherous disease that is attacking my brain.

In the beginning of this, I had so many people praying over me and telling me that perhaps my scans were wrong or that I would go back to see another doctor and that they would say that there’s been a miraculous healing, and I genuinely believed that. It was extremely rough for me to believe with every fiber of my being that I was already healed, only to find out that the cancer was still there, and my prognosis remained the same: 2-3 years to live, maybe 5 if I’m “one of the fortunate 20-25%.”

I tried my hardest not to cry or show any kind of negative emotion regarding my illness. I felt that if I cried or was scared that it somehow meant that I was expressing unbelief in God and my healing. I didn’t realize how wrong I was. It took many talks with my honey and my parents to realize that it’s incredibly normal, even as a Christian, to have a range of emotions that bounces up and down, especially when facing such a serious, life-threatening battle.

It seems like that seems to my everyday life since the diagnosis. I bounce back and forth from feeling super-confident in God to feeling scared and fearful of the future. Last Monday was my 28th birthday, and no matter how much I tried to remain positive and just enjoy my special day, in the back of my head I kept wondering, “How many more do I have left?”

I’d love to be that one who beats the odds and ends up with an amazing testimony of healing that inspires and encourages so many others, but it’s hard when I’ve already known three Christians who believed just the way I do, and each of them has lost their battle to cancer within the last two years. That’s what I mean when I talk about reality’s truth vs. God’s truth. No matter how much I believe, nothing will change the fact that I don’t know what God has in store for me. I don’t know what He is doing with my life. I don’t know how or when this ends.

What I do know is that through it all, regardless of it all, I will love God and trust Him as much as I am possibly able to.

Holly Marie - Small