Friday, May 20, 2011


It's official: sledgehammer therapy works. I started off the day with three hours of pounding and destruction. Sometimes the tears were from the sheetrock dust in my eyes. Sometimes, from Maura in my head. Why did no one ever seriously tell me that hitting things felt so good?

In the evening, I went to the MD Anderson Blood Center to donate platelets. The technician did not want to take my platelets.
Who are you donating for? 
What patient are you donating for? 
No one.
He wanted to draw whole blood because he said my veins were small and the needle was big.  I think his opinion may have been influenced by the fact that I was the last appointment of the day, and he wasn't going to get to go home on time if he collected platelets. Or maybe he was truly worried that my vein would blow up and I wouldn't be able to donate anything? Either way, I would cause a problem.
What patient are you donating for? 
No one in particular. I just know you need platelets.
MD Anderson needs whole blood, too.
I'm usually not very assertive. Usually.
Yes, but I want to donate platelets. I know that a patient has less of a chance of having a reaction if the platelets come from just one person. 
The technician's shoulders slumped and his eyes drooped a bit. I bet his wife had dinner on the table. I should be less selfish and let him draw whole blood. It only takes a few minutes. His dinner would be covered with foil and stuck in the fridge by the time he got home if  I insisted on platelets. He pleaded his case to Joel.
It's a 16-gage needle. The vein might blow.
Joel stood by me.
She wants to donate platelets.
The technician looked defeated. 
Who are you donating for?
I want to donate in memory of my daughter who died from cancer two years ago today. Please let me try.
He instantly morphed into the complete healthcare professional. The tired man that had slipped through the cracks for a few minutes was just an aberration. He was both kind and efficient.
Everyone gets tired. I honestly don't know how health care workers don't lose it more often.

I thought that the 19th would be a wallowing day. It clearly wasn't. Pro-active planning on my part certainly helped. But, as I've said before, grieving has its own timetable--not always convenient, for sure. When I checked in with Danielle last night, she said that she was so focused on work that she also set aside wallowing. Wise woman that she is, she also said she knew it was building inside her and that she would soon need a day to let it out.
The pressure valve is always pushing toward the red mark.

Maura, we miss you so much. It was so neat to see so many of your friends still posting about you on their facebook walls.
And to you on yours.
I love you.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I find myself in the thick of the week leading up to the second anniversary of her death. Overwhelming memories. On this date, such-and-such happened. The fateful call to Dr. B. on Sunday, the Monday morning he told her that she was dying, the visit by the Dynamo, her graduation from SHSU, the conversations, the hospital full of people, her hospice set-up at home, the Goodbye concert, the constant flow of people, the vigil, the last hug.
Mother's Day was once again not the best. Not as bad as last year, but still quite difficult, partly, because I tried to donate blood but was rejected due to high bp; I took it hard because I wanted to give for Maura. 
For my birthday, I proactively organized Chinese take-out and game night--that worked out well. 
I'm working lots of hours in somewhat of a fog. Vietnam is dangled in front of me--postponed  and reset and postponed and reset and postponed and reset.
Anticipating a bad day on the 19th, I took the day off. On that day, Joel and I will help tear down walls at the church. I hear that swinging a sledgehammer can be therapeutic. In the evening, I have an appointment at MD Anderson to donate platelets. If I can successfully donate, then I think I'll make a tradition of donating on this anniversary

Monday, May 2, 2011


My blog friend, Sue, has inspired and comforted me a lot over the last years. She has made lots of blog friends feel better with her words and her example. She praises God when she's sick. She praises God when she is well.  I asked and received her permission to re-post this from her blog:

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2011 11:09 AM, CST

For the first time on Caring Bridge I don’t know what to say. So much has happened in the last month and it has brought about many changes. I had a stroke, a brain bleed from the tumor we learned was in a critical area of the brain. It has left me a bit weak, but I know that God is healing me in His time. These are the facts.
But with God, facts are just incidental.
God moved mountains to get me the help I needed. He kept me alive. He brought me angels of goodness and mercy who fought for my needs. He opened doors to a neurosurgeon and a hospital that people come from all over the world to see. He gave me a special life-saving procedure in just days instead of months.
I find myself speechless when I think of the perfection of God’s love.
I find myself speechless when I think of the perfect plan God holds in place for all of us.
I find myself speechless when I see the love and devotion of my children, my adoring husband.
I find myself speechless by the generosity of strangers and friends who have reached out to me.
All I can do is praise God. Thank God. Stay open to the future with a hope and a purpose that must be God given.
And I thank you for taking this journey with me. For your prayers, especially. I feel them, and they light up my life.
Speechless isn’t such a bad thing. It transcends the facts and looks into the heart for the real joy of being alive.

SUNDAY, MAY 1, 2011 12:22 PM, CDT

The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
Psalm 27: 1-3

Stumbling and Falling
Did you ever think you could be praising God for stumbling and falling?
I know that sounds ridiculous, but I have been doing just that since early February when I returned home from weeks in three hospitals. I found out I had a brain lesion that was bleeding into the pons area of the brain. I also found out just how serious a situation that actually was. Apparently, if one is to have brain metastasis from kidney cancer, the pons is the last place one would want it to take up residence (is there really a good place in the brain for cancer, she asks innocently???).
So there it was: added to the cancer mets in the lungs, the lymph glands, the mediastinum, and the anterior acetabulum hip there was cancer in the brain.
I kinda like my brain. I relied heavily on it throughout my life. Perhaps too heavily, I now realize. You see, I relied more on my brain, my wit, my wisdom, than I did on God.
Cancer taught me to rely on God when I was told I would most likely die on the table during my first surgery (kidney cancer: kidney removal) almost seven years ago. Chalk up one for a little less brain reliance and more God dependence.
Cancer taught me to rely on God when I was diagnosed with two more cancers: thyroid and sarcoma. Chalk up two and three opportunities to rely less on my brain and depend more on God.
And then came the “biggie.” Cancer in the brain. Cancer in the part of the brain that dictates most of what makes us human, what makes us function.
Apparently, the brain lesion had been bleeding for about three months. As is typical when relying on brain wisdom rather than God truth, I plowed through two of those months ignoring my symptoms. I even mentioned to my oncologist that it “was as if a switch had gone off in my brain.” Of course, when he suggested an MRI, I said no.
That’s what you get when you rely on your brain: FEAR-based decisions.
When I ended up in three hospitals after a month of vomiting whenever I lifted my head off the pillow...after a month of not being able to brush my teeth because I couldn’t keep anything in my mouth...after a month of not eating one morsel of food or finally became obvious even to me...
This stubborn, fearful, controlling person was alive ONLY because of the grace and mercy of God.
He had protected me, covered me with His love, despite-or maybe because of-my stupidity.
Chalk up number four in the Opportunity to Know the Truth department!
I felt so loved, so protected.
So grateful.
God had kept me alive for a purpose, for a divine reason that is still almost completely unknown to me.
Except for this: To share with you the significance of praising God for stumbling and falling.
When I returned home from the hospitals, I was very weak from weeks of inactivity, from very limited nutrition, and from my body fighting all the invader cells that have taken up residence. A friend visited me and told me about watching a television minister she loves and respects. This minister read Psalm 27:2 and declared she had had revelation during meditation that this verse was a direct reference to cancer.
“When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.”
When cancer cells would try to increase in order to devour my healthy body tissue, they would HAVE to stumble and fall!
This was God’s word to us. This was God’s promise to us. This was God’s purpose for us...for us to be more than conquerors...for us to have the strength to do all things through Him.
I spent much of my life arguing, with people, with ideas, with my own brain-created thoughts.
I DON’T argue with God.
So, I started praising God.
For protecting me.
For loving me.
For His Word.
And His Word said that the cancer cells in my body were stumbling and falling.
And so I praise Him, for His Word, for His Truth.
And for the cancer cells stumbling and falling.
What is attacking you? Is it a thought wrought with fear? Is it pain in your body or your heart? Is it illness? Is it lack?
Whatever it may be, stop worrying and start praising. Praise with confidence that what God has declared, He is able to deliver. Praise with faith that in God’s perfect timing there will be tangible results.
Praise God for stumbling and falling. Whenever a fearful thought takes control of your brain, praise God that the (insert fearful thought here) is stumbling and falling.
And then Hopeful God.
By the way, I had scans the end of March. After three months of treatment that did not work (this treatment ended in December)... after another three months of no treatment because I needed to rebuild my body after the brain bleed...
The radiology report stated there was SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION in all mets!!
The oncologist was confused.
He is a man of science.
I am blessed.
I am a child of God.