Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Glowing Man

Some of you might think I am exaggerating.
Some of you might think I am hallucinating.
Some of you might think I am embellishing.
Nevertheless, despite what you might think, 
the following story is true.

Last Friday my mom and I took both of the kids to the dentist. Nathan has been twice in the past and this was Leah’s first time. The last time we went Nathan had to have a filling so he was a little apprehensive, but he also remembered that because he behaved well he got a reward, so he was game. We had discussed that if he obeyed and listened to the dentist and was a good patient that for his reward we would take him to Target so that he could buy a car with the money he had been saving. I know that might seems like a funny reward, but we rarely get out anymore so the opportunity to go buy something was worth behaving well.

Both of the kids did great. Of course when your dentist has an arcade race car (that doesn’t need money) in the waiting room, a TV in the ceiling over the chair and cool sunglasses to wear, why shouldn’t it be a good experience. The highlight of the trip was when Leah was laying down (backwards from my lap into the dentist lap) getting her teeth cleaned and she squeaked out in her sweet tiny one and half year old voice “stop.” She did not cry, she just said “stop, stop”… it was cute and the room burst into laughter. She loves brushing her teeth, so in some ways I thing she might have even enjoyed the experience.

After we were done, we drove directly to Target so that Nathan could cash in on his reward. As we were walking down the main isle I was reminding him that he had $5.00, so he needed to pick something that was less than $5.00 or if he saw something that was more that he wanted to get then he could choose to do more work and earn more money and that we could come back later.

And that’s when it he appeared.

Out of the men’s socks/underwear/t-shirt area emerged a glowing man dressed head to toe in a red track suit. As he exited from between the racks from about 10 feet away, he actually caught my attention, and I thought to myself, wow, that man is oozing with joy and glowing. He just had this radiant presence about him… it was not of this world.

As he approached our little gang strolling down the isle he caught my eye and said to me, “You have two beautiful children. You are a good mama.” I shyly smiled from under my head cap, and patted Leah’s hair and we continued to walk down the isle. As he passed us, he smiled brightly. Then as he walked past my mom’s shoulder he said, “Good things are to come.” He reached for my hand, which I extended (which is strange in itself because I never touch people due to germs), and looked me in the eye and said “God bless you.”

He turned and walked away and we continued walking towards the toys.

I thought about that exchange all night. Who was that man? My mom and I hadn’t discussed the conversation at all… it was like it happened, and we just silently moved along. Could it be possible that I was the only one to witness this encounter? Could the chemo be getting to my brain and causing me to see things? I asked her the next morning if she remembered seeing him. Her response was, “Yes. Wasn’t that strange? It was like he was glowing.” I wanted to see if she remembered what he had said and she confirmed that it was something about “Good things are to come.”

As I have thought about this man over the past few days, it has made me realize that there are a few people I know, and when I say few, I actually mean just a handful of people, that seem to “glow.” They glow with God’s love and grace. They glow with peace and goodness. They glow with patience and kindness and gentleness. They glow with purity and truth from the inside out. I am certain that the folks I am thinking of are human and surely have non-glowing moments, but overall, they are very special and have the gift and ability to shine a light that overcomes the darkness.

I imagine if you think about it, you too can come up with a few folks in your circle that glow.

Could he have been an angel that took on the presence of a man? Perhaps. Who knows, he could just be a guy that needed socks that felt the urge to talk to me. I will never know for sure. Nevertheless, this out of the ordinary encounter from a “glowing” stranger and his simple words matched the needs of my heart so specifically in that moment.

It was a sobering experience. 

"Good things are yet to come." I like the sound of that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Head Down... Staying Focused

I was watching CSI:Miami last week and learned a little something about myself. While the coroner held the corpses limp hand up for Horatio to inspect, she pointed out white horizontal lines that stretched across his cold fingernails. Apparently, these lines are a sign that someone has been poisoned over a period of time. As I looked down at the lines decorating my fingernails, I chuckled… thanks CSI.

I feel like we have entered a new phase of this cancer journey. This is the “keep your head down and just get through it” phase. I have 8 more weekly treatments to go. One month off to recuperate, and then 6 weeks of radiation treatments, which will be 5 days a week. So really, that means 4 ½ months to go before this “adventure” is over. This nightmare started about 4 ½ months ago… so I suppose you could say we are half way done.

Additionally, after the treatments are finished I will go to a genetics doctor to be tested for the BRACA1 gene, or breast cancer gene.  Women with the BRCA1 gene have up to an 85% risk of developing breast cancer and an increased risk of 60% of developing ovarian cancer. (http://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/hereditary-genetics/breast-ovarian-brca1-brca2) If a person is positive for this gene, the general recommendation is usually a double mastectomy and hysterectomy. Despite having gone through chemotherapy, due to the “triple negative disease” element of my cell DNA, we would still need to consider these measures if I am in fact positive for the gene. (Most BRACA1 carriers are also ‘triple negative’… ain’t that special.)  My oncologist feels it is best for me to use my emotions and stay focused on completing chemo before we take the test, as naturally the results could stir up a lot of emotion and will require energy and focus on our decisions and tackling that challenge, should it arise. To be honest, I am very nervous and scared of this part of the journey. I think about it more than I should. After all, if I am BRACA1 positive, what does that mean for Leah, my sister and my nieces????

Anyway, we are all just doing our best to take on each day and get through each sunset whole. The other day a friend asked Eric “What are the blessings you are seeing through this?” I know that this kind of question is meant to be an encouragement, and we have both been asked assorted versions of this question over the last several months. While our list of blessings is long and God’s hand and provision is obvious in our home, I appreciated Eric’s response. He replied, “Why don’t you lay down on the ground and let me kick you in the gut over and over again for about 20 minutes and while I kick you I will ask you to tell me what blessing you are finding in being kicked. I imagine you will be begging me to stop kicking you and then, once you catch your breath, you might be able to reflect on the blessings… but even then it might take a while to come up with something good.” I think this kind of sums up how we are both feeling about now. Tired. Beat up. And just wanting this to be over so that we can look up again.

Finally this chain is getting shorter. It was
initially a about 3 feet long. 
I can’t help but laugh a little realizing that my last post stated that my New Years resolution was to remove the negative from my life… and yet this post stinks of negativity. Or maybe it is just the aroma of reality and being honest with myself about what is still to come.

However, I am happy to confirm that I ate my Ruffles and onion dip for the month of January. So at least I’m on target with one resolution!

8 Treatments Down, 
8 More To Go!