Longevity

 

I have to say, 2017 was one of the hardest, yet best years of my life. My relationship with God and my friends and family deepened so much. So much joy and love came out of such a hard time. And I got to check one of my bucket list items off my list- Italy.

Around this time last year, I embarked on an unwanted adventure- stage 4 thyroid cancer. I remember the devastation I felt getting that initial diagnosis. Later I was told that this adventure was going to be brief; below is the conclusion to that unwanted adventure. To all of you who saddled up and joined me on this adventure: thank you. You mean the world to me.

Enjoy.

On January 8th,  I received an email with the results of my CT scan. Three of my tumors had grown. The cancer treatment I received in July did not work. I was devastated. This was not the answer I was expecting. I was supposed to be healed.

I immediately called the my doctor’s office for an appointment to set up a plan of attack. I left messages with no response on their end. I was frustrated, frightened and saddened by the aspect of losing my hair, chemo and my PTO being wasted on medical treatments instead of fun adventures.

I shared my email results with my closest friends and coworkers who immediately prayed for me. One of my coworkers who was outraged that I found out via email told her mother, who was equally outraged, and a nurse at CCare, a cancer treatment center here in town.  My coworker connected me with her mother who got me an appointment with one of the best oncologists at their center. On January 23rd, I took my squad, Lauren, Donna, Tammy Jo and my Uncle Johnny (who drove up from LA for the day just to be at my appointment) and we met Dr. Rao.

Dr. Rao went over my scans and medical information and gave me some of the best news of my life: there was no need for further treatment at this time. I was overjoyed: no chemo, no hair loss, no sickness…I would get to keep my PTO. I was thrilled.

After the good news, came what my boss calls “good bad news”: my tumors were not going to go away and there was no treatment that would rid me of them completely. There was no need to treat me now, as I wasn’t symptomatic. There would come at time where I would be and when that time came, there were treatment options that would help shrink the tumors and slow their growth, but again not rid me of them completely.  They would prolong my life, but decrease my quality of life. His goal was for me to have the best quality of life possible for as long as possible.

I took all this new information in and asked: ” So, will this cancer eventually take me out?”

Dr. Rao sighed and said: Yes, eventually you will die of Thyroid cancer.

“How long do I have?”

“15 to 20 years”

I was stunned. I did the math; I’d be 50-55 years old when I died. I want to get married, have a family of my own…15 to 20 years would definitely affect that. I wouldn’t be able to grown old with my friends. I may spend my last days sick and suffering. I sat in stunned silence, my mind racing with the thought of only 20 years left.

Dr. Rao continued on.

“The goal is to keep your TSH levels as low as possible. This will slow the tumor growth. They are very small now, not even a centimeter, so I am not too concerned. In 3 to 4 years they might be an inch. Right now the plan is to watch the tumors. When they start to become a problem, we’ll talk treatment options. I’m going to set you up with an new endocrinologist to monitor your thyroid levels…”

I don’t remember much else from that appointment. My friends embraced me once the doctor left. They prayed for me. I cried. I counted my years. 20 years. It was long but not long. I couldn’t believe this was it and there were no other treatment options. I’d have to live with it until it took my life. I was numb.

But…I also had no peace. The words of the doctor didn’t sit right with me. I respected him and trusted him but the dying of thyroid cancer part- it didn’t fit.  Having only 20 years left didn’t sit right with me. Some would say it’s denial- but I felt like his word was wrong and that this would not be my ending.

God then whispered: You are going to have a long and happy life.

Me: “I know God; 20 years is a long time. It could have been 6 months left”

God: No Alexis, not only 20 years. You are going to die an old woman. You are going to be married and have children. You’re going to have grandchildren.  You are going to live a long and happy life.”

At the time, I was too stunned to hear or believe God’s words. I delivered the news to my family, friends and coworkers. They were shocked, but encouraging and supportive. Many of them were in disbelief of the news too, and almost all have stated: God is in control and has the ultimate say in all things.

God whispered to me daily to trust Him and His plan. To trust His word. The week after I got the news, I had to fight hard not to give into despair and give up. The enemy was so loud;  reminding me daily of my shortened life and broken dreams. It is so easy to listen to that voice and believe it when you look at reality: cancer, stage four, no cure.  But when you look at things through faith and trusting God- reality means nothing.

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He spoke to me again at church through my pastor- “The word of man is meaningless; you are going to live a long and happy life.”

And finally, I had peace.

Side note: I am learning to trust what God tells me and not having to rely on the words and prayers of others.  Not that those things aren’t good, but I need to realize I can hear Him clearly and I have to start trusting that I hear Him correctly. Thankfully, God is patient and will give me multiple confirmations of things He’s told me through His word or through others.  It bothers me that it took me hearing it from my pastor to really believe what God was telling me. I am working on that.

Since that meeting with my oncologist, I’ve met my new endocrinologist who confirmed that word from God: the cancer will be controlled by my medication. If I take the right dose of thyroid hormone and my TSH levels are at zero, then the hormone will act like chemo and keep my tumors from growing. She let me know that she has patients who are in their 70’s and 80’s with these tumors and still doing well. They have some symptoms but they are well managed. She didn’t want me to worry about dying from this; she was certain that I would have a long life.

Again, God sweetly confirmed his word.

So now, I am clinging to that word. Once the enemy realized that I fully believed God about my cancer and wasn’t afraid of the what the doctors told me- he was silenced. He may try to bug me in other ways, but my cancer- he doesn’t bring it up. He knows he can’t hurt or discourage me with it. And that my friends, is sweet victory!

So that’s the end of my cancer story for now. I get to live with it, but not be overcome by it.  I look forward to a year filled with new babies, new marriages, new travel adventures and plenty of PTO.

 

Almost there

In three days, I start my radioactive iodine treatment. Here’s what I’ve been up to medically leading up to this (super abbreviated version):

Tests, appointments, lost a lymph node or two that did NOT have cancer (yay!), more tests, more appointments, stopping medications, starting new ones, going through complete thyroid hormone withdrawals.  Now I am completing a 14 day low iodine diet to deplete the iodine in my system before RAI treatment.

So why the radioactive iodine treatment? They hope all of this will make my body so starved for iodine that when they give me the liquid iodine, the cancer cells  being in starvation mode for iodine will quickly gobble up the radioactive iodine so the radiation can kill all of the cancer that is hanging out in my lungs.  ( Whew, that’s a mouthful).

Side effects: Nausea, (already happening and booo!) fatigue, dry mouth, metal taste in mouth,  possibly destroyed salivary glands if I don’t drink enough fluids, possible (but very low) risk for leukemia.

So before all of this was to go down, I vowed to have the most fun of my life. I asked God for three things: The energy to keep up with everything, the ability to go to Tahoe and the ability to support my track team down at the Angel City Games in LA. God honored all of those requests.

The month of June, I started out in Tahoe at the No Barriers Summit loving life. I got to try adaptive cycling, boxing, archery (a new love of mine), did an abbreviated version of The Amazing Race, and met some amazing people along the way.

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Team 5 Thunderwomen!

 

The trip was such a blessing. I got to spend my birthday doing the things that I loved. I also got closer to one of my friends, who I am sure had she not been there, the weekend would have not been as great.

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In the middle of all that: work, friends church, life, repeat. Also going on: growing fatigue, forgetfulness, brain fog, mood swings…all signs that my body was going hypothyroid on me. I vowed not to let it stop me. To keep going. To suck it up and push through.

God whispered: It’s okay to take a little rest. Seriously. It’s okay. A nap once in a while won’t hurt.

Me: I AM IRON MAN BLENDED WITH TREX!!! ARRRRRR!

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God: “Okay…”

I ended this epic month with a trip down to LA with our track team for the Angel City Games. These kids broke national records, broke barriers, brought home  countless medals and wowed the adaptive track/ field world with their awesomeness.  The coaches worked hard and sacrificed their Saturday mornings to get these kids here and it paid off huge! It was so fun to be with these kids, my friends and watch them do so well for their first time. It was truly an unforgettable weekend and I am glad I got to be a part of it.

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God gave me one more final gift, to spend time with one of my closest friends before treatment since I would be unable to interact with her during that time (more on that below). It was such a nice time to relax and be with a friend who has been such a huge support through all of this. What I only intended to be just a few hours, ended up being a whole day. I am so thankful.

When it was all over…the fatigue hit. Hard. Then came the sickness. The constant sickness. I prayed to God to give me the strength to finish out strong. To keep going. To be unstoppable. To be bigger than cancer, my body, my weakness.

God said no.

“God, I am almost there. Just a few more days left. I need more energy.”

“No girl, you need a nap.”

So we argued.

Me: “But I am Wonder Woman.”

God: “I get that, but Wonder Woman sleeps too, ya know? No one will blame you if you need a little time. You are not slacking. You are not taking advantage. You can not overpower what your body needs and right now it needs rest. It’s hard, I know but you need to slow down and rest so you can recover properly.”

So I gave in. The world did not end. People were not hurt. Things did not come crashing down.

The only thing I received was a much needed nap, love and so much grace.

Throughout this whole thing, I’ve received so much grace and love from others. People have come out of the woodwork just to show me how loved I am. I’ve had friends move their lives around to attend my medical appointments, invite me into their homes before and after my surgeries so I could recover. I’ve had coworkers step up to make sure I had what I needed and remove things from my plate so that I would not feel overwhelmed. I’ve had family members drive up just to spend the day with me.  I’ve had friends talk me down off the ledge when I spent too much time on Google and accidentally freaked myself out. I’ve had countless people pray for me, Christian and non Christian.

I went into this feeling that cancer was a curse. That this was the worse possible thing to have happen. That without my mom, I’d fight this alone.

I was so wrong.

I had no idea coming out of this that I would feel like cancer was a blessing. God used this to show me the love and grace of others. That I am not alone. That I am loved. So loved. I didn’t even ask for this, and God provided. I am so glad he did.

Thank you all who’ve been there for me. I can never repay you. Through God, you are the reason I made it this far.  He used you to combat a lie I told myself: I am alone.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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So on the 5th of July, I start treatment. For three days, I have to limit my time with people and can be no less than 6 feet away from others. ( To the people who have offered to build me giant bubbles or build giant signs or give me ideas for what to do with my new radioactive powers; you are my favorite).

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It would have been so fun to do life in a bubble for three days. Sweaty but fun!

After that, I have to remain up to three feet away from children and women who have children or are pregnant for four more additional days. I can’t work during this time so I get to catch up on sleep, reading, movies, and finish up planning for my Italy trip. Then I go in for another scan on the 11th to see if the treatment is working. I will know for certain September 28th if the cancer is gone. God willing, it will be.

So that’s it. That’s my life up until now. Next update will be my final itinerary for my Italy trip. I can’t believe thats’s like two months away.

Till then, love you all!

 

 

A Peach… in Italy? Yup.

2016 sucked.

Sorry there is no light and happy way to put that. It sucked. Bad. When it left, I felt torn to shreds. Uprooted. Lost. Unsteady. I was so happy to see it go.

As I sat in a coffee shop with one of my friends, trying to smile through the leftover pain of 2016, my friend asked:

“Alexis, what is one thing you’ve always wanted to do? One thing that you’ve always put off because you felt too scared to do it?”

“Italy.” A small bit of the joy and excitement that I’d lost waved over me.

Friend: “Then you’re going to Italy.”

My friend and decided to be accountability partners for big things we were supposed to do this year. She’d check on my Italy process (passport, flight, etc) and I’d check on her prayers for the cities process.

Now, when I promised to do this, in the back of my mind I thought: “There’s no way I’m going to Italy this year. It’s expensive, it’s not practical, it’s extravagant. I don’t NEED to go to Italy. I WANT to go to Italy, but I don’t really need to. It’s not going anywhere.”

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Isn’t it beautiful…

In the middle of my talking myself out of going, God spoke up.

God: You should go to Italy.

Me: Um, why? Shouldn’t I be saving money for practical things?

God: I want you to do something for you that you love. You love Italy. You’ve wanted to go since you were 12 years old; you even pretended to be Italian just to feel connected to the country. You were supposed to go after your mother died but didn’t. You’ve put it off for years. You’ve put yourself last for even longer than that, especially last year. I want you to do something for you, just special for you. Get your passport and go to Italy.

Me: Speechless

So I turned one of the large open walls in my kitchen into a giant vision board. I covered it in verses to map out my promises of the year. In the middle of that, I placed a big map of Europe, and highlighted  Italy. I bought a giant calendar of Italian cities. I sat down and worked out a budget for a two week trip. I did my taxes super early and received a NICE tax return; which God made me promise to use for my trip.

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Once I knew I had the funds and was 100 % sure I could go, I filled out my passport application and got my passport photos…

Then life happened.

I was thrown back into health issues that I thought were resolved. Weeks earlier I was preparing for going to the passport office and purchasing my plane tickets. Now I was meeting with surgeons to have a section of my lung removed. Possible cancer they said. I’d miss two to three weeks of work as I recovered from the surgery.

God: You’re still going to Italy.

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I can’t believe I get to see this.

While I am relaxing at a friends place on medical leave, I finally work up the courage to purchase my tickets. Despite not knowing how long it will take my disability insurance to kick in so that I have income, I select my dates in September. Feeling a bit nauseous and excited at the same time, I click “purchase”. God congratulates me on trusting him and then states:

God: “Now that you’ve purchased your tickets, things are going to happen that are going to make you question what you just did. You’ll feel afraid but I want you to trust me.”

Me: “Not liking that statement, but okay. I trust you.”

I was diagnosed with cancer the next day.

God: You’re still going to Italy.

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Naples. So beautiful.

So here I am, with Stage 4 thyroid papillary cancer (very treatable and not terminal) planning a trip to Italy. And totally at peace with the cancer diagnosis, the extra surgeries and treatment. It makes no sense and I can only attribute that to God.  I have asked questions about affording the medical bills this treatment will bring, and God says, “You’re still going to Italy. Trust me.” And I am. And it’s weird. Because usually I am super anxious about this kinda stuff and right now…I’m simply not. I’m just trusting and taking things one day at a time.

That’s not to say that there hasn’t been moments of sadness and some anger. At one point, when the darts of the enemy kept coming, I reminded God of the word he had for me: restore.

Me: “God, I don’t feel restored. Honestly, I feel like things are being ripped apart.”

God reminded me that sometimes before something is made new, the old has to be destroyed and yes, it will hurt. He then showed me an image of a forest, trees cut down, ground and stumps blackened by the fire. It looked as if all was lost. Then, He showed me a vibrant green shoot coming out of the ground. Despite the wasteland around it, that shoot was growing vibrantly.

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“That’s you.” God said.

So I don’t know how much more of the forest God plans on clearing in my life. I know there will be more painful things, but I all I can do is lay down and trust God. I can’t fix it. I can’t control it. I just have to trust that God will take care of me. He’s done amazing so far; the love I’ve received from my church family has been amazing. It’s actually made this whole mess fun because I get to see and experience His love for me through others, and who doesn’t love that? Nothing has been required of me; I just get to receive love. It’s a pretty sweet deal. The only things He’s asked me to do is to love myself, trust and obey Him and plan this trip to Italy.

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Pisa. I can’t wait to see Pisa.

So finally, after years of putting it off, this blog will finally be used as it was intended…telling about the solo adventures of this peach in Italy. I’m going September 9th through the 23rd. I start in Rome.

Here are the cities on my “must see” list: Rome (obviously), Pisa, Venice, Naples and Pompeii.  I’ll be there for two weeks, and if I get a little bit of time in each of these cities, I’ll be a happy peach. I’m still working out where to start,whether to go hostel, hotel or Airbnb and how long to stay in each city. Pisa, Pompeii and Venice can be done in a day. Rome is downright overwhelming. But I have time to figure it all out and am tapping into my Type A personality to get some planning done. It’s exciting and exhausting but can’t wait to see what I come up with.

I’ll try to update my travel plans as they get more solid. If you have any tips for cities that I should see feel free to comment. Thanks for reading and even bigger thanks if you decide to keep me in your prayers. This year may be rough, but I am hopeful and looking forward to what’s ahead.

 

To Be Someone

(I finally unpacked all my books, and decided to spend the afternoon reading. I picked up a book, and then this happens. God said “write” So I did. Enjoy.)

It’s just a book.

A book.

A book my sisters dog chewed up on the edges that I couldn’t throw away because I loved it so much.

Thanks, Sammi
Sammi always went after things we loved. For my sister, it was her shoes. For me, my books. Thanks Sammi!

A book that has me unglued and sends a flood of memories. I picked up,

To Be Someone

and got really into the first few chapters, when I realized the last time I read this book:

My mom was alive, I was a week from moving from Sacramento to Fresno for grad school and I was excited FREAKING OUT.

I was so scared and uncertain of my future. Why Fresno? Why did I just leave my job that I was crazy good at to move to a city I’d never dreamed of living in? Also, counseling? REALLY? And finally, college students? I’m supposed to manage a bunch of college students? I’m able to plan groups for 100 psych patients but watch over 600 COLLEGE STUDENTS?! Am I INSANE?! I hate confrontation and to manage people…what on earth was I thinking?!

On top of all this, my mom was still dealing with the after effects of cancer treatment, and here I was, leaving.

Was this really the best time to leave? REALLY?

I remember bawling in my room, my dog Roxci standing by the door watching me cautiously as I sat on my bed. I wanted to get up and tell my mom she was right: Fresno was scary, that I was just going to stay, complete my degree at Sacramento State and turn down the Resident Director job in Fresno.

Yet God had opened every single door imaginable to get me to leave…and I knew I had to go. I’d never had doors open that easily before. EVER. I sat on my bed holding,

To Be Someone

knowing that if I shut this door my life would change drastically. If I gave into my fears now, I’d make a serious mistake. If I let the idea of comfort and the “known” keep me back, I’d have a lot of regrets.

I took a deep breath, wiped my tears and returned to my book. Roxci hopped on my bed after a while, convinced that I no longer had my running shoes on.

It’s amazing what things you are able to recall from something as simple as picking up an old chewed up book. And for the record, despite all that has happened, I am so glad I left.

I remember buying the book,

To Be Someone

on a whim while browsing the discount section at Borders one afternoon. It was 7 bucks, had a girl on the cover with headphones on her ears (practically me everyday) and after a skim of the back cover, I had to buy it. I remember the anticipation and joy of getting home just so I could dive into my new adventure. I loved and still love books. Especially the feel and smell of a brand new book, someone should bottle this and sell it.

Without giving too much away (it’s a great read and wouldn’t want to spoil it in case you decide to pick it up) the story circles around a friendship (Helena and Sam) that was ended by cancer and how the main character, Helena, tries to move on. She makes plans, she goes a little crazy, and she almost gives up.

When I bought this, I had no idea cancer would be the subject of the book. I remember reading

To Be Someone

and facing my own fears about losing my mother.  What would it be like to possibly live on without her? Would I go nuts too? Would I give up?

A month after I moved to Fresno, my mom got the all clear from her doctors that the cancer was gone. I was excited and so relieved. I wouldn’t have to experience the pain of losing someone you loved. I wouldn’t be Helena. My mom, my best friend, my Sam, would be fine. She’d watch me walk at my graduation, she’d walk me down the aisle… she’d be here.

That was my plan.

Clearly plans change, and the unexpected happens. Life takes you down roads you wish you’d never have to go.

As I look down at this book

To Be Someone

I think of the road my life has taken these past seven years. As my road changed unexpectedly, sometimes I would run in fear and often in the wrong direction. It’s amazing how fast you can run when you are scared and when the unknown is way too scary in your mind to face. You remember the cracks and ditches that loss has left in your road and you do everything in your power to avoid getting any more.

After a while, you get tired of running away. You realize that you can’t control everything; roads warp and change with time. You can only avoid so much and you have to start trusting that one who created your road will always be there, no matter how many cracks and ditches form. He’ll fill them.

You learn to walk down your road despite fear and pain, and that I’ve learned, is called courage.

cour·age
ˈkərij/
noun
the ability to do something that frightens one.
“she called on all her courage to face the ordeal”

strength in the face of pain or grief.
“she fought her illness with great courage”

synonyms: bravery, courageousness, pluck, pluckiness, valor, fearlessness, intrepidity, nerve, daring, audacity, boldness, grit, true grit, hardihood, heroism, gallantry; informal: guts, spunk, moxie*, cojones, balls.

*I’ve always loved the word moxie. I want to be a woman with moxie. Tons of it.” 

This past year or so I’ve worked to be someone that holds these traits. To be someone that sees the Jordan ahead of me and can step out into the river knowing that the water will stop. To be someone that feels this:

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but remember this:

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so that I do this:

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To leap and enjoy the unknown. To do it afraid. To be someone, with moxie.

I’m getting there.

September

It’s been a while since I updated.

After my adventures with roller coasters (I promise to write about that soon), my life became this huge whirlwind of change. Long story short, right after my trip I got a job, gave my two weeks notice, packed up my life and left Arizona. I’m finally  back in Fresno again. Yay. My new job doesn’t start until October 7th, so I have a LOT of free time.

Forgive me, my writing is a little off. I’m in a weird probably shouldn’t be writing mood, but need to post this.

I went to Monterey yesterday to spread my mother’s ashes. It was time. I’ve had them for about three years and it’s something I’ve wanted to do since she passed away. September is her birthday month, and although I missed the chance to do it on September 3rd, I knew I had to do it before this month ended. I borrowed Laura for support, as well as to have someone tag along so I didn’t get horribly lost, and headed to Monterey.

I went into this adventure thinking it would be a happy trip, filled with fun memories with my family celebrating my mother’s 50th birthday. It was, but I didn’t expect to feel the amount of pain I felt when we arrived. I felt the tears wanting to come as soon as we hit Fisherman’s Wharf.

Oh no you don’t” I told myself as I walked along the pier sampling clam chowder. I couldn’t understand why I would feel sad.

I scolded myself again. “This crying business is not happening here.”

I don’t cry in front of or around others.  I want to be able to, but right now my body goes on lock down. So, instead of crying, I stuffed my face with plenty of crab, tilapia, clam chowder and salad as I could fit in my stomach.

After we ate,  we rolled ourselves into the car and drove to the beach.  My intention was to find the spot my mother took us to after the aquarium and spread her ashes there. I asked God to help me remember the spot. As we climbed out of the car to take a few pictures of this gorgeous park we found, I looked through the trees and saw this:

There it is :)
There it is 🙂

I remembered the stair case.

I remember carefully climbing down to the bottom with my mother yelling at us that she was going to fall because she was in heels.

I remember running along the shore, playing in the waves with my sister while my mother watched.

I remember my mother coaxing us to move further back into the water to pose for this picture:

We had no idea a massive wave was coming.
We had no idea a massive wave was coming.

I remembered the spot.

We were too afraid to do the same to her. We knew better.
We were too afraid to do the same to her. We knew better.

Unfortunately, that spot was heavily populated and I didn’t want to freak anyone out spreading my mothers remains. We decided to hop in the car and find a secluded spot along the beach nearby.

Ten minutes later, we spot waves crashing in the distance and select our spot.

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Laura asked if there was anything special I needed to say before I let her go. I didn’t really know what to say or have much to say. I walked out closer to shores edge, waited for the waves to come in, and threw her remains into the ocean.

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Beautiful spot.

Her ashes turned the water a pale pink as they collided with the waves. Then they were gone.

The waves were getting pretty big at the spot we chose, so we decided to hop in the car and find another spot just to enjoy the ocean.

I spotted this sitting area on the beach, excused myself, put on some head phones and let the tears come.

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I realized why Monterey brought so much sadness. When I was here six years ago, life was good. There was no cancer, no sorrow, no thought of death. Life had just started to get good.

In  2007, my mom finally found her dream job, started being successful and was finally happy. We were all finally happy, finally stable, finally rooted.

Little did we know that in October of that year what we all thought was just a simple bladder infection was actually cancer.

You guys, I grew up watching my mother struggle over and over again to make ends meet. My mom would finally make it, and literally get hit by a wave that sent our family spiraling. This was all I knew. My life was one big ocean wave, building and crashing. I would pray that we would finally have some sort of stabilty, some safety net that would break this constant cycle. My mom moved to California from Georgia in 2001, and the cycle continuted there for a bit until 2005 when things started to improve. Then she got her teaching job and was the happiest I’ve ever seen her. Then, from October 2007 to July 2010, I watched cancer eat away at my mother, my family and we lost everything.

Me: Things had just started getting good…and we lost everything. My mother lost her life.

God: I know.

Me:  She was so happy. She finally made it and she  got cancer.

God: I know it’s hard to understand. I know her loss hurts.

Me: What’s the point? Why look for happiness?  Why put yourself out there when you could lose everything? Why open yourself up to that much pain and disappointment?

God: You aren’t meant to be alone. You can’t hold others away because you are afraid you’ll lose them. You can’t run away because you’re afraid of loss and you can’t be afraid to be happy.

Me: So God, what if I open myself up and become vulnerable to others and I lose them? What if I find happiness and I lose everything?

God: Even if  all that happens, I am still God. You still have me.

In the heat of that moment, in that conversation I realized how true that is. He is still God. I still have Him. I have nothing to fear because I’ll always have Him.

When my mom died, a big part of me died as well. I lost my ability to trust God and built a huge wall around myself designed to keep others out. Why be happy? Why try for the things you love if you are just going to lose them? It’s not a way to live, and frankly, it’s a lonely, fear-filled life.

No one is meant to live that way. (1 John 4:18)

Tears truly cleanse the soul.
The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears and the sea.

No matter what happens, He is still my God. Yesterday, today and forever.

I walked away from that spot ready to open myself back up and tear down the walls I’ve built for three years.  I am tired of waiting for the other shoe to drop, fearing the worse. I am ready to start letting others in/loving others again and stepping out in faith. It won’t be easy, but now I am ready to at least try.

Mom, I’m fine.

It’s Mother’s Day.

I miss my mom.

Not a day goes by that this thought doesn’t cross my mind.

Miss ya Mom...
Miss ya Mom…

The thought isn’t as crippling as it used to be. In the first year of her being gone, the very thought would bring instantaneous tears. There were many moments of  covering my face in the stall while crying in the bathroom at work or school, at the alter, or in my car. There were six months straight of crying myself to sleep each night. The crying jags would last from a couple minutes to 15 minutes.  I hated it. I despise crying, but that first year there were many uncontrollable  breakdowns that drove me into hiding in the middle of the day. The weirdest were the bouts of straight anger or crazy laughing fits. I really felt like a nut that first year.  I had very understanding friends.

Grief is a weird and humbling thing.

Going into year three of her being gone, the weird emotional breakdowns really don’t happen that often. I have small moments of when I cry, but they pass swiftly. Seeing all the ads and signs for mother’s day no longer brings me to tears. Instead, I smile and am grateful for the time I had with her. I am thankful for the other mothers who have taken her place and who I can go to just to have that mom chat.

I miss my mom.

Mom's 50th in Monterey. Her caption for this photo: "Looking at my yacht" I miss her humor...
Mom’s 50th in Monterey. Her caption for this photo: “Looking at my yacht” I miss her humor…

I genuinely wish she were here to so I could tell her about all the great things going on in my life.

The biggest thing I want to tell my mom about is the spur of the moment roller coaster road trip I’m taking with a friend at the end of the July. She wouldn’t be surprised, as she was well aware of my adventurous, spontaneous nature. She’d love that I would be spending two weeks traveling through the midwest and seeing family.  She would be relieved that I was going with someone else finally, instead of alone, as I always prefer solo adventures. It’s kind of a good thing for my friend’s sake that she is no longer here, as the grilling and questioning from my mother would be pretty intense.

Who are you? What do you do? Where did you meet my kid? Why do you want to go on this trip?  Do you have a criminal record? Are you running from the law? Have you done drugs? Do you do drugs? Do you own a gun? Does my daughter need to carry a gun in your presence? Are you a child of God? Do you fear God? Do you fear me…because you should.

My mom was one of the kindest, fun loving, people I knew. Oh man, how she loved.  She loved to smile and her laugh was loud and infectious. She always put others first and was warm and open to everyone she met. God was her center and she made sure that everyone could see it in the way she lived. Anyone who has ever met her would tell you that she was a blast to be around.

Always a character.
Always a character.

But, when it came to her children, she had that crazy switch, and could become as dangerous as a rabid mother bear. My mom was 6’1, curvy and would use her eyes, voice and size to put the fear of God in anyone who wanted anything to do with her children. Still in the end, when she felt that I was safe,  she would soften and would be happy that I wasn’t going alone.

This is the ride I am the most excited to ride. 2 months, 2 weeks and 1 day until I get to ride this sucker. Aw yeah!
This is the roller coaster I am the most excited to ride. 2 months, 2 weeks and 1 day until I get to ride this sucker. Aw yeah!

I am so excited to go, and I wish I could share every single detail about the trip with her. She’d be super excited with me. She’d help me shop for everything and plan, as she loved to plan things.  She check and recheck my suitcases to a) make sure I actually had functioning suitcases and b) to make sure I did not forget anything major.  She’d map out the trip for me, asking me to stop at certain spots to grab a souvenir. She usually asked for fabric as she loved to sew and loved getting fabrics from different places. She’d demand that I take pictures and send them to her daily.

Although I don't think she'd be too happy about this pic. I am tho :D
Although I don’t think she’d be too happy about this pic. But I am!!!

If she were still here, she’d call me everyday about random facts about the cities I plan to visit. Some facts would be really interesting, like where to get good food or different monuments I should visit. However, most of them would be random dangerous statistics about that city/state/town. For some reason, this was one of  her favorite things to do. When I moved to Fresno for grad school, my mom emailed the crime reports for the city every day. It was really amusing and she was infuriated that I was not phased by the news reports at all.  My mom was overly cautious, and she always wanted me to be prepared for anything. Any possible situation could turn into a catastrophe. She would always create find the weirdest scenarios.

If she were still here, this is how one of our phone calls would go:

Me: Hey Mom, how’s it going?

Mom: Good Sweetie. I read the strangest thing on USA Today about San Antonio…

Me:  Oh okay. What did you read?

Mom: Did you know that San Antonio is being invaded by jumping tarantulas? They are known to jump about three feet high. That’s past your waist. 

Me: Mom, are you reading The Onion again? Where do you find these things?

Mom:  No, I said USA Today.  I know you don’t like spiders, Sweetie. I just don’t want you to run out in front of a car break your legs, and end up in a body cast because you got hit in the waist by a jumping tarantula.

Me: (Giggling) That’s highly unlikely. I’ll be fine, Mom.  I will be sure and watch out for any large jumping spiders. 

Mom: You laugh, but I just want you to be ready for anything. You’re always off in your own world…just want you to be safe. 

Me: I know Mom. I have to go. Love you!

Mom: Remember the spiders! Love you too.

My mom always meant well. As a kid, I gave her many reasons to be cautious. My mom would wake up several nights during the week to find me out of my bed and walking around my neighborhood. “I needed to think,” I’d tell her as she practically pulled her hair out with worry. Not to mention, there were many phone calls about me being stuck in trees (we got to know the Roswell Fire Department pretty well),flying off my bike,  eating random things in our medicine cabinet, falling through ice, slicing open my arm after putting it through a window, walking to the ER at 4am or  jumping off the roof. I was an adventurous and imaginative kid and my poor sense of danger drove my mom insane.

My mom was NOT happy about this waterfall shot.
My mom was NOT happy about this waterfall shot.

I refused to watch the news or stay up to date with current events, choosing to gather information about the world and my surroundings by just diving into everything.  My mother hoped and prayed that these traits would eventually die out as I got older and became an adult, but with added independence they were more enhanced. I got daily  “Dear God I hope you are still alive” phone calls…until she was unable to call anymore.

Mothers Day 2010
Mothers Day 2010

I miss those phone calls.

I know the day of the trip as I wait for the plane, I’ll instinctively pick up my phone to call her to let her know when I am getting on my flight. It’s been almost three years, and every time I fly from Arizona to California, I still grab my phone to call her just so I can  tell her that I am okay…and then remember that she’s gone.

I obviously need to learn how to use screen capture; but you get the point.
I obviously need to learn how to use screen capture; but you get the point.

Mom, this post is to let you know that  I am fine. I am really happy. Life is good. There has been ups and downs but overall…life is good. I’ve got great friends that are practically family, a good church, a good job and a stable home. I’m still that adventurous, head- in- the-clouds-kid. I still walk late at night. I still get lost and go on adventures. I don’t dive into things head first as much as I used to, and I am a bit more grounded.

254892_10100476864486641_706782_n-1
Sort of…

I wish you were still here. Watching you leave this world was one of the hardest moments of my life and I thought I’d never recover.

31671_920077435381_3163769_n
Funny thing about this pic…my aunt, sis and I were pretty angry at each other. My mom was completely oblivious; just happy to have us all there.

At times it is still pretty hard, but  I am fine.

Thank you for always letting me be me,

IMG_20130511_210130_406-1
To my mothers dismay, this was probably the last time I was a girly girl…and I was four.

I love you and I miss you everyday…

~Sweetie

WebMD is dangerous to those with active imaginations

I find that I blog in place of praying when I am worried. Since He can see everything, I wonder if He’ll count this one as a prayer. I don’t know if this even falls under praying or just anxious rambling.

Anyway…

On Friday, I find out if I have something else going on other than Fibromyalgia. Some new symptoms popped up, so it’s being checked out. What I remember from my psych diagnostics class, although it’s scary, ruling out a disease is better than not considering it as a possibility.

When I got blood work done, they tested for a range of things, from anemia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis to possibly certain types of cancers. God knows I am hoping for the first one, not that any of those are pleasant.  Anemia is definitely the least unpleasant out of those options. Part of me really, really hopes that my thyroid is out of whack, and that I just need a medication adjustment.  I’ll take anything as long as it’s not something in the neighborhood of cancer.

Am I nervous? Yes. It’s been nerve wracking not knowing whats going with my body, but knowing that something is not right. So because I want instant answers and I hate this waiting crap, and feeling like crap, I turned to Webmd.com.  I took my symptoms, and stupidly started self diagnosing. Not only did this not help, it really freaked me out. It only caused more questions and a frantic phone call to my doctor to push up my appointment. No such luck.

So what did WebMD tell me that got me so freaked out? Here’s one to the symptoms I typed into WebMD’s search bar and the response:

Night sweats:

Menopause. Hmmm, not so bad. No more PMS. No more cramps. I’ll save money each month on pain meds and other supplies.  Downside:  hot flashes. No kids either. Well, not really a downside, since I am still on the fence about breeding. Probably not menopause since I’m only 28. Next…

Idiopathic hyperhidrosis.  Excessive sweating for no reason. Fun…

Infection. Could be possible. A cold would be great! No life long illness or harsh medical treatment involved. I can handle that. Let’s see what infections cause night sweats: Bacterial, tuberculosis, endocarditis, osteomylitis…HIV. Umm, I’m going to stop reading the infections section.

Cancers. Lymphoma. I don’t even want to think about it. Moving on…

Medications: Antidepressants, niacin, and Viagra can cause night sweats. Well, since I am not utilizing any of those, I can cross that off the list.

Hyperthyriodism: I wish! I already have the other one, so I doubt it’s possible to have both.

Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar. I dunno if thats possible since I overindulge on sugar on a weekly basis.

Neurologic conditions: autonomic dysreflexia, post-traumatic syringomyelia,stroke, and autonomic neuropathy. Umm…don’t know what any of these are so, I am going to stop reading things on WebMD and go to sleep.

After my failed attempt at self diagnosis, I decided to let the doctors handle everything. Psychiatric illnesses, those I can do. Medical stuff, not really my forte.

The only thing left to do is just wait till Friday and pray.

And stay off WebMD 🙂 .