Archive | February, 2013

My monkeys!

28 Feb

20130228-212626.jpg

Today was a day off from the hospital. It’s a real treat to spend a day away from that environment. It is bizarre to think how much life has changed, and that this fact is exciting. It was cooler here today, only in the low 60′s, but windy. I won’t complain as that is nearly summer compared to our current Ohio temperatures.

Each morning mom and I have enjoyed time together in The Word. This is not a normal occurrence for us at home, and has been a highlight to our days together. We ventured out in the wind for a brisk walk. Then allowed for some pampering and painted our toes with hopes of spring weather. We enjoyed lunch with some new friends and had the best vegan meal ever! My new friends Lana and Debbie are friends of friends, yet so easy to be with. We have been shown such love and generosity here. I have found a convenient and welcoming place to stay while here for treatment. Lana and John have a garage apartment, living quarters just 2 miles from the medical center which allows for easy access to MD while in treatment. I am amazed at how He continues to provide for our present needs.

Mom and I ran errands and acted like we knew our way around Houston. In the midst of our adventures I was in the restroom washing my hands, I wash them a lot these days! A tall woman with a short pixie haircut was next to me. She looked at me and said, “I like your haircut.” I looked around to make sure she was talking to me. I replied, “This isn’t a haircut”. She said it again.” I used to have long hair and I cut it like this, but I really like your haircut.” I was baffled, and we didn’t stop there. “I wish I had your haircut.” “You may like my haircut but not what comes with it, I have cancer.” She seemed shocked, as if this was surprising that a bald woman would have cancer. Many people tell me I have a good face for being bald, but no one has gone to the extent to wish for my hairstyle!

Adam sent me these fun and maybe a little risky pictures of our monkeys! I know many of you have to be laughing, because I did! These made me smile. The kids are doing well with daddy, but the absence of mom is evident. I think adam would tell you that the days are going well, but exhausting while doing everything alone. Any single parent can relate to this draining routine. Adam shared with me that tonight the girls were preparing the play room for “school” and he didn’t show up to school at the time Paige expected him. He heard her exiting the room in tears, there were lots of tears. Adam quickly joined her trying to leave the other girls downstairs, but with little crowd control, was rejoined with all three monkeys. He tried to discover the cause of tears. Within moments Paige blubbered, “nothing is how it is supposed to be…mom is in Houston and we are here!” It amazes me how their emotions are felt hard and deep. Her sweet spirit was deflated because daddy didn’t show up on time, but her heart felt so much more emotion. This mom sure wished she was there with her girls to comfort the many uncertain feelings. I long for these girls, and Adam to feel and know the depth of my love and care for them! I wish I was there.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4 ESV)

20130228-212120.jpg

20130228-212139.jpg

Doctors

27 Feb

We met with Dr. Garcia-Manero yesterday. There isn’t a lot to talk about at these visits. It’s mostly to touch base and be sure I am doing ok with the drug and the low counts. As we talked and he answered my questions, I always have questions, I reflected on how God has provided me with excellent doctors on this journey. It helps to see a doctor that you respect and admire. Although I have acquired too many oncologists in this past year, I am grateful to have met and know very smart, kind and wise men. My care here has been superb. My ultimate hope is in Christ and His healing power, yet I praise Him for providing doctors with knowledge and direction.

Today is my last shot for this first cycle. I continue to pray that this drug is working. The forecast is good for today and we plan to enjoy some time outside together.

This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the Lord ? And who is a rock, except our God?— the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. (Psalms 18:30-32 ESV)

Mom is here

25 Feb

Mom arrived today. It felt so great to see her face at the entrance of the hospital. My mom here to be with me. It’s a privilege and a joy to share a week with my mom. I know it will help her to see the ins and outs of my treatment and care here. We started her out with a dose of hospital tonight. As I walked in the apartment today I got a call from my nurse informing me I needed both platelets and red blood. I had planned to pick up mom, but decided to get the process under way. I have learned from past experience this takes awhile here. It did not disappoint, and took awhile. Thankfully, I have made new friends who offered to pick up mom and help. Sadly, we missed out on birthday dinner for paige, and with new friends. After 5 hours at MD we walked into “home” with excitement for bed. It’s great to have mom here. I have looked forward to this week. I am blessed by a loving mom.

2nd half cycle 1

24 Feb

I have been gone two weeks. I notice I really miss our girls. I miss the simple joy of hugging and kissing them. I miss touching them and feeling their love in return. I realize I work very hard to stay in a different mindset while I am in treatment mode. I also realize my heart can’t always be guarded, my emotions do present themselves by surprise. Last night I was sharing with Aubren some of my videos of the girls on my phone, and I couldn’t stop watching them, I wanted to watch them all. I wanted to see, hear and watch them in action.

I enjoy hearing there voices and their descriptions of life on face time. They are keeping busy and loving daddy time. Aubren and I survived our weekend together in Houston. I am slowly learning my way around this vast city. We enjoyed, walks, rides, food, movies and fellowship. I am blessed to spend time with friends who walk this journey with us.

Saturday I started the second half of phase 1 of the “miracle drug”. Other than my bruised belly and low counts I feel well. Keep praying that I remain fever free and that the drug is wiping out cancer cells.

20130224-215728.jpg

20130224-215805.jpg
Allie

Letters from miles apart

23 Feb

Hey love, I know you aren’t close enough to hand deliver my notes anymore but I still thought you should know what I am thinking and praying for. After all no body else knows me like you and sharing with you was one of my earliest marriage vows. I read Mark 4:35-41 today about Jesus calming the storm. I have often heard preachers relate this to the “storms” of life so I am not breaking any new ground but it made sense to me today. The disciples who were trained as fisherman and accustomed to the water get on a boat expecting this time to be like all the rest. They have seen storms but they have always survived and they board this time expecting nothing new, nothing unexpected, certainly nothing deadly. They know it is possible to die out there but not one of them expects that today, there have been too many “normal” days to expect the merely possible.

Then the storm hits and their response seems to fit the experience of almost all who wake up one day to find that possible and deadly have replaced normal. They cry “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” When their journey switched from normal and expected to potentially fatal their fear and their faith collided. The ongoing run of bad news we have had can make us ask the same question. We need help quickly and every request seems to fall on deaf ears. But, those feelings are not the last word. Jesus responds and says two things, it seems like one is for the disciples and the other for the storm. First, PEACE. It might be directed at the storm, but isn’t that what we often hear when fear chokes out faith. Jesus doesn’t want to save us from trouble, He wants to transform us by and with trouble. So, first He tells us to have peace, to find a way to be peaceful while the storm is raging. He deals with us before He deals with the circumstances that daunt us.

Then when the storm is passed He diagnoses the issue. “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” We are only afraid of what we think is beyond His ability to control or redeem. Whether that is a real storm or death or loneliness, if we believed that He is master over it then fear will always lose to faith. That is how faith gives us peace in storms. I love how you see the disciples faith expand by the end. They are amazed by Jesus’ ability to control the waves. They will no longer fear a storm because they have seen that Jesus is Lord over the wind and waves. For me it is helpful to remember all the ways Jesus has responded to our needs on this voyage. The material, physical, and spiritual responses. And with lent pushing us towards good Friday it is good to remember that Jesus is Lord over death too. Now then what is their to be afraid of?

I miss you and love you.

Center

22 Feb

In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:23, 24 ESV)

I realize I get intimidated by the fact that I ask The Lord for the same thing daily. I wonder if He gets bored. I recognized today that its ok to keep on asking Him. He delights that I trust Him enough to keep asking Him.

We were made for God, to center our entire life on him and find our sense of worth and purpose in him. Anything other than that is sin. Tim Keller summarizes Kierkegaard’s point this way: “Sin is not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things. It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose, and happiness than your relationship with God.”

I found this thought to be both encouraging and challenging. I want to recognize my sins and be fully aware. As I ponder what gets in the way of having Christ at the center, it is sin. I long to settle in with Him finding my entire self worth in Him. He is drawing me ever so close as I slowly embrace the journey He has set before me. The things I so easily put before him: my children, my job, and my drive for “togetherness” have been taken away and replaced with stillness and quiet. It’s much easier to hear and see Him in this place. I hope when I return to that place I will keep a focused perspective.

20130222-091919.jpg

Transition

20 Feb

My other half is in the air flying home where he will be greeted with great excitement. Daddy’s girls are ready to see him, and I am quite certain Mimi and Papa will welcome his arrival. We couldn’t ask for better help when we aren’t able to fill our roles. We are blessed to have family and friends that are journeying with us. The outpouring of love for us has and continues to encourage us and embrace us with support. We are grateful, beyond grateful!

I am sad to let adam go, but so grateful he can care for our girls through these days. They need him more than I do at this point. I am confident that his heart loves me and cares for me and walks this journey with me, but our sweet girls need those daily reminders that “daddy loves you” and cares for you. His role comes with a lot of responsibility and a fast pace. Pray for him as he adjusts to their constant needs and demands.

As I pulled away from the terminal. I felt the Lord reminding me that this journey is walkable, because I have a Father who loves me and carries me. The Lord allowed me to hear that He longs for me to depend on Him for the things that I long for in Adam. He wants me to trust and lean into Him. He is walking with me. As I take steps forward today I realize this is part of the story, and He has asked me to follow this road. It is amazing how two weeks ago, today seemed blurry, but today it is clear. He is revealing His way for us as we need to know it.

Today I finished up the first half of cycle 1 of my “miracle drug”. I have two days off and we will start again for the second half. I feel well. I look the same, and continue to take a day at a time. I will be joined by Aubren tomorrow and we will tackle a weekend together in Houston. I hate goodbyes, but I realize now this drug is allowing me more time to think about much harder good bye’s.

This is a picture of mollie in some of her “valentine” presents from mom and dad. I hope it leaves you smiling!

20130220-123818.jpg

Loved Well

20 Feb

In response to Open House last week at Tracy Eck’s this is a note that Tracy wanted to send along to those of you who participated.

Thank you, thank you for the enormous overflow of love and giving! We were able to raise close to $8,000 to help with the cost of travel and living expenses for the Armstrong family while Allie is in Texas. I am grateful to be a part of a big family who love this family so well – your letters of encouragement and gifts are on their way to Texas – thanks for your outpouring and generosity in so many ways. Keep asking God for strength, healing and peace as the Armstrongs fight this battle.

God bless,
Tracy

Fire Alarm

18 Feb

At 4:45 am the alarms were sounding. Adam fumbled with phone thinking it was our alarm. I was certain this noise was far too loud to be my phone. We slowly move about room waking up and deciding how fast do we need to move. As we follow the steps to the outdoors it appears as there is no fire. We work our way back inside with word that it was a false alarm. With little convincing we snuggle up and try our hand at getting back to sleep. After nodding off to sleep the alarm sounds again, someone decided to be a prankster again, and the noise resounds all around. Having my emergency management husband here means we follow the rules and walk back down and out. At this point we are awake. We sit down with our coffee. I see another young, bald female head (ours are generally much cuter than theirs). I asked her to share her journey.

I think it’s “nice” to know other young cancer fighters. I realize as we walk the halls at most hospitals we encounter few young patients. Every cancer story is different yet at the core is tough. We shared encouraging conversation, with hopes of meeting again on our journeys. There names are Becky and Josh and she is fighting lymphoma.

Today was shot #3. My belly is acquiring “golf balls” as we switch from side to side. I am feeling well. My counts will continue to plummet, and my hopes are to stay healthy and strong. Adam and I were very politically correct today and went to see Lincoln at the theater. It was rainy here in Houston so a good movie day.

As much as we disliked our early alarm we were thankful for new friends and a day together. I cherish our time together as goodbye is getting closer. Prepare my heart.

Stories

18 Feb

We all have a story, of how we got to today. The person we have become over the years as we walked the road before us. Our stories reveal the many layers that make the depth of who we are. I love to listen to others share their story. As we meet new people they allow us to see glimpses into their lives and their stories. I enjoy knowing how someone got to today.

As I sat back today and listened to Adam share his life story, one I know quite well and take great joy in being a part of, I was filled with admiration. It amazes me how The Lord works in and through people to allow us to see His love more clearly. I am grateful for the men in Adam’s story that lived their lives in a way that challenged him to look deeper and seek higher places for purpose. I love that none of our journey is a surprise to God. My heart beat with emotion today as I was reminded of how Christ became the center of Adam’s heart. It is simply amazing if we take time to ponder how the people and activities of our life reflect and grow us into the person we are today. It doesn’t take much to see the way God orchestrates and leads us, especially when we are asking.

Share your story with someone. He is at work in and through you.

“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14 ESV)