Warriors wanted…

“Prayer warriors” took on a whole new meaning 2 years ago after my brother-in-law’s farm accident. He had a tractor drive over his back. The odds of him coming out of that alive, let alone able to walk again were slim. He is a miracle. We called on everyone we knew to pray. For those first several scary days, that’s all we could do. Pray. My sister and I stayed up all day & night for a few days. Our slogan became, “we are running on God and coffee.” I’m not one to stay up all night, yet I didn’t feel tired (not like I would normally be) the whole time I was there. We could feel the prayers. If you’ve ever gone through something traumatic and let people into your personal life, asked them to pray for you, you might have experienced this. It’s amazing and life changing. It makes you look at prayer in a whole new way. Intentional…

Intentional prayer is different. Instead of saying, “I’ll pray for you,” you pray specific, intentional prayers. I like to think that God likes it when we have a conversation. When we are more specific and intentional, I feel like it makes it easier for him to help us. After I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I felt that same feeling again. I felt people praying for me. The best way to describe it, for me, is like a warm blanket covering you… wrapping you in peace. Given the experience from before, I asked for specific prayers. I opened up & shared what I was going through, in order for people to help pray specifically & intentionally. It’s hard to let people in and be vulnerable, but I was glad that I did.

If you want to help someone and you don’t know what to do, this is one of the easiest ways to help. Take a few minutes & have a chat with God. Include a prayer for peace for them. Offer some kind words to your friend… not advice or judgement or questions, just tell them you are praying for them (& maybe what your specific prayer was.) There are a lot of people I know who are going through some crummy stuff right now. It seems that the older I get, the more common that is – health issues, marriage issues/divorce, and death of loved ones. Aside from possibly bringing them a meal or sending a care package or card, I try to pray for them.

Faith is an important thing to me, and it’s become something I’m more open to talk about than ever before. It doesn’t make me perfect or better. It makes me more at peace. I feel that part of my journey is to share it with others – to share my faith journey, stumbles and all. Remember friends, you are enough!

Throw me a life preserver…

I normally don’t post this close together, but I feel like I need to get the message out about this book. It’s all about dealing with “the after.” The part that isn’t talked about much, that’s swept under the rug… the guilt, what ifs & anxiety. The book, “The Cancer Survivor’s Companion,” should be given out when you’re done with treatment. Ring the bell, get the book. There is a large gap in what happens after the treatment is over, and what you might think happens. At least for me there was.

The first two pages in the book almost had me in tears. Oh my goodness, they wrote a book for me! (I know it’s not only for me, but what a comforting feeling to feel like you’re not alone!) It’s actually in the introduction. They talk about the storm of cancer. You’re sailing along in your normal life & then cancer hits. It throws you off course and you think you might sink. But your cancer team has a lifeboat & steers you in the right direction. When you are “done,” they pull you towards shore. Everyone is cheering for you, but your boat stops. You’re not at shore yet and you don’t know what to do. You’re changed & might feel stuck.

Yes! There was such a battle to fight the enemy of cancer, now that’s done and things should be great. You should feel so happy, and yet, when you don’t, there is a ton of guilt. When you’re not living life to the fullest, you feel like you’re wasting your opportunity at a second chance. You might not have given yourself enough time to heal. You might approach all of these “anniversaries” with fear & anxiety but you feel guilty talking about it because you’re supposed to be fine. You’re done, right? What’s the problem?

There is a psychologist at Roger Maris Cancer Center who deals with this stuff all the time. She recommended the book. I need to give her a hug the next time I see her. This is the missing piece. The part that isn’t talked about. Oh, they ask you if you want to talk to someone but people like me will say, “nope, I’m good.” We try to handle all of these fears and changes and emotions ourselves, when there is a team that can still help us. They can help us get our boat to shore. It’s NOT because you’re weak or can’t handle this. You’re normal to go through this stage. Yet it’s not talked about much. (Or if it was, I wasn’t ready to listen.)

I did see the cancer psych lady. I happened to only be able to get in on the Monday after I had gotten my MRI results, before my biopsy. (Divine intervention) When I went to see the psychologist, one thing that I told her, is that there is a gap in preparing people for “the after.” There should be a letter sent out 2 weeks before the patient’s anniversary. It should state something like, “you are having an anniversary soon & here are some things you might be feeling…” (You might have anxiety, become quiet, have “what if” thoughts etc.) It should come in a folder with a big elephant on it since this is the elephant in the room that isn’t talked about.

My faith helped get me through my cancer storm, and it will get me through my “after.” I need to have some patience with myself. One of my favorite sayings is about drowning in life, but your lifeguard walks on water. He knows what you need. He will try to lead you to it. Be open. Be ok with sharing or getting help or talking to someone. Don’t ever feel like you’re not enough because you’re doing the best you can! Peace be with you on your journey of enough.



This past weekend was the Shrine Circus in Fargo. I remember going as a kid. One year, I won the coloring contest for school so we got free tickets. We didn’t go every year, so it was kind of a treat to go. Back then, it was in the Bison Sports arena (no Fargodome yet.) I don’t remember all of the acts, just bits and pieces. I’m pretty sure there were a bunch of clowns in a car, some kind of high wire act and animals.

This year, our school gave out tickets to the kids for general admission and a cotton candy. Our 13 year old had no interest in the circus. Our 9 year old really really wanted to go. I agreed to go with him and we met up with some friends. As we walked into the Fargodome, we wound our way around to the north side general admission section. As soon as he saw the cotton candy stand, he used his coupon for free (blue) spun sugar, with the intent to share with the two little girls we were meeting up with. We walked past the stand with light up trinkets, swords and twirling princess-like spinners. He said to me, “Mom, we never get the light up stuff. I’d really like a sword.” We found some seats and saved some for our friends. I let him go back down and look at the light up toys. He ran back up the stairs with excitement… “I found it! I found the one I want!” Now, I’m a bit of a softie for my kids, but we normally don’t give in for those kind of things. I’m sure they only last a little while and then they break. We did get free tickets to get in, so I agreed to the sword. He ran back up the stairs with a big smile and a light up blue sword with an eye sticker on it. “Mom, it’s a swordfish. Get it? Sword Fish?!” 

What made me cave on Sunday? Because my 13 year old had no desire to go to the Circus. This means my days of circus type events are dwindling. If a $10 sword can make my little guy’s day & be a fun memory, then it was well worth the $10. The past year has really emphasized the importance of spending time with them and making memories. We never know how many chances we will get. I’m not good with taking time for myself. I realize that it’s supposed to actually make me a better mom if I would. I’d rather spend it at the circus with tigers and cotton candy and blue swords. 

Aside from the friends, sword & cotton candy, the high points for the 9 year old was when the elephant had a giant “accident” in the center ring & the trick motocross bikes. The look on his face is priceless- while his friend is worried about the bikers, you can just see Myles thinking, “woah, that’s awesome!” And that was totally worth it. 



I like this picture. Aside from the message of being thankful, I like the picture of the two seeds just floating along together. Sometimes we feel like the two seeds in the middle, floating side by side, and sometimes we feel like the ones in the top corner, kind of tumbling and randomly falling. I feel like the more thankful we are, the more we are like the two in the middle. It helps guide our path. When we forget to be thankful, then things can feel out of control.

But what if it’s hard to be thankful? Oh, some days it’s not easy & I won’t claim to have it all together. Some days fear and guilt overshadow thankfulness. Fear is something they don’t talk much about “post treatment.” Fear of the unknown, of reoccurrence, of death. The what ifs that swirl around in our mind can sometimes make it feel like you are suffocating. When you get a strange pain or have unexplained vertigo for long periods of time, it’s hard to shut off the “what ifs.” It’s a balance between being a hypochondriac and being an advocate for yourself. There is unexpected guilt too. How did I get so lucky to get through this while other people lose loved ones unexpectedly? I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain those things. Maybe nobody does.

I feel the need to hand over those fears to God though. I know that it makes some people uncomfortable talking about it, but you can just quietly do this yourself. Whisper, pray, think to yourself…

       Lord, I give my fears over to you. I know that I cannot fix them myself and that you are greater than this world. Help me to focus on the good. I give to you my feelings of not being enough. Help me to realize that to you, I am enough. You designed me to be the best mom that I can be to my kids (even when it doesn’t feel like it.) You already give me the tools I need … Help me to see all the good you see in me. Amen

To me, those two seeds feel so peaceful. I hope you find peace today amidst your struggle. Start your day with thankfulness, even when it’s not easy. Peace be with you on your journey of enough.

Another anniversary… 

 Are you tired of my anniversaries? 1 year ago tomorrow, I had my last radiation appointment. I “rang the bell” at Roger Maris Cancer Center & ended my active treatment. These milestones are wonderful to celebrate but they bring up some emotions too. My Facebook memories showed my Caring Bridge post from a year ago. Since you might not have read that, I’m posting it here too:

April 7, 2015

Today I had my last regular/weekly appointment with the radiation oncologist (aka my flow chart Dr). Tomorrow is my last radiation treatment. They were talking to me today about ringing the bell after my last treatment tomorrow. I guess I hadn’t thought of that. I obviously know that tomorrow is the last day, but to realize that it’s the last day of “active treatment” was something that hadn’t quite sunk in yet. The thought of being able to “Ring the Bell” kind of made me emotional. For those of you who don’t know, there is a big bell by the doorway at Roger Maris. When you are done with “active treatment”, you can ring the bell to signify that you are a Survivor. Some people don’t want to do it, some think it’s superstitious to ring it in case your cancer returns (and also you still have 5 yrs of follow up – but this is the end of active treatment). I am quite certain that I will ring their bell and do so with my pink attire on and a large smile on my face. And I will quite possibly be teary.

I am relieved to have this part of my journey (almost) over. I’m amazed at the prayers, friendship and support that me and all of my family have received these last 4 months. I’m thankful for those prayers and positive messages that have carried us through some difficult days. I’m so thankful for my family and their support. I know I’m not always easy to deal with, and they’ve taken it in stride. I’m thankful for my co-workers, and Cameron’s, who have helped cover our work duties, supported our absences and listened to our stories – I’m sure to them it seems like this is going on FOREVER. I am thankful that I have grown in faith, learned to turn things over to God (and not be shy or apologetic in my dependence on HIM), and have drawn on HIS strength and promise to keep me going. While my journey isn’t over, and I’ll likely update after hysterectomy (and if there is anything else “interesting” that happens along the way), I’m glad to be closing this “chapter” of my cancer story. Strength, positive attitude and faith are things that I’ve heard from people when they talk about how I’m handling this. There is a saying on my desk that is truer than you’ll ever know – “You never know how STRONG you are until being STRONG is the only choice you have”. That’s how I’ve approached this journey, and will continue to for the next 5+ years.
So, if you see me tomorrow (Wed) after 11am, feel free to HIGH FIVE me, say congratulations, or just smile big. This chapter of my journey will be ending, and I will be thankful!

That was from a year ago. At times it feels like yesterday & sometimes it feels like a million miles away. I still carry the card with me from the cancer center: “Ring this bell Three times well Its toll to clearly say, My treatment’s done This course is run And I am on my way.” I still can’t read that without getting a lump in my throat. So tomorrow I will acknowledge my anniversary & be thankful for all that’s happened. Oh, and if you want to high five me on Friday, that’s fine too.



Planning… It’s kind of what I do. I mean literally, as a job, I’m a production planner. It carries over into my personal life too. My husband isn’t a planner, so that’s one of my roles in this relationship. I plan the birthday parties, family trips, what people are going to wear for holidays etc. (I’m bad at planning supper but I honestly don’t know too many people who love that role.)

 As a result of my love for planning, my kids have grown to expect that I will have a plan. This past year has changed me in more ways than one. MY plans kind of went out the window. You see, cancer was not part of my plan. It was part of God’s plan for me. I wasn’t super excited about his plan, but it shaped me into a bit of a different person. Aside from the physical changes, I also changed my level of “control.” Part of the great thing about planning is that you’re in control of the outcome (most of the time.) Giving up that control means that you don’t know what will happen next. Kinda scary, right?! It’s ok – just take baby steps.

My personal life planning decreased because I was just focused on getting through treatment, getting through the next step, and the next, etc. Many times in the last year, my boys have said “what’s the plan?” My answer was, “I don’t know.” This frequently is met with confused looks – what do you mean you don’t know?! Mom always knows the plan. Well, this past year has helped me to trust more in God’s plan. I know he’s not done with me yet. Part of his plan for me was to learn let go of control and trust. He knew I wouldn’t have slowed down enough after the hysterectomy, so he “blessed” me with a broken foot to force the slow down. Ok, I get it, sometimes I’m a slow learner. I’m also still learning that it’s ok to not have a plan sometimes & things will still turn out.

Ironically, I’m telling you about how good I am of letting go of planning while I am planning a family reunion for 100 people. Ok, I didn’t say I completely gave it up, I said I was getting better. I still have a job in planning so I can’t give it up completely. So, there will be lists and spreadsheets with details about the party… but without it, we might not all get together. And that’s another thing this last year has taught me – family is important & you never know how long you have to enjoy them. And I know that our reunion weekend will be wonderful & filled with lots of love and laughter. We have some pretty cool angels watching over us, and they’ll be wondering what games we will be playing & betting on who will win at Whist.

My point is, to God, we are enough. We are a part of His plan. While it might not always make sense in the moment, sometimes we can see the meaning after it’s all over with. I think I could write a book on “oh, that’s what that was for” type moments. But that’s another subject. For now,trust His plans for you. You are enough to the God of the universe – how cool is that?!!

Just breathe…

How long can you hold your breath? Just recently, I held mine for 8 days. Not literally of course, but it sure felt like it.

Last Thursday, I had my follow up MRI. I had one last January before my lumpectomy. (The one last January found 2 spots that the mammogram had missed. One was pre-cancer & was removed. The other was not cancer and was just “marked” with a metal clip so they can watch it.) I wasn’t expecting anything to come from the one last week. I went in, asked for extra ear protection (I highly recommend it) – & spent 30 min visualizing the lake. For this type of MRI, you are on your stomach, with your chest through the table. I did just fine & went back to work after. I was hoping to just get a letter in the mail 7-10 days later. 

I was shocked when the surgeon called me at home after supper. “There is a spot/nodule on your right breast (opposite from previous cancer) that has changed since last year. We will want to have you come in and check it out.” It would be Thursday before I could get in for an ultrasound & possible biopsy. The waiting game sucks. I had kind of forgotten how much it stinks. I didn’t want to alarm my kids. As honest as I was throughout my cancer, I just simply didn’t know enough to tell them anything yet. I’d deal with that if I needed to when that time came. 

I had the distraction of a weekend with family for Easter and then back to work for more waiting. I talked with the Roger Maris Cancer Center’s psych Dr on Monday. She talked about prayer & meditation & ways to get me through to Thursday without going too stir crazy. You see, this type of thing is what (most) cancer survivors fear. It’s what nobody talks about or prepares you for. The “what ifs”… What if the cancer comes back, what if it metastasized, what if I can’t tell  that something changed etc etc. This is the kind of thing that I wasn’t prepared to deal with. As much as I remained positive & strong through my cancer, fear over took me this time. I did ok (not super, but ok) until Wednesday. The day before the ultrasound & biopsy I was a bit of a mess. Only a handful of people knew about it, but those who did were sending up some pretty big prayers. Songs would come on the radio that made me teary. The thought of having to tell my kids again made my heart ache. 

Thursday came & I spent an hour of the morning having reiki to try and calm and balance me. I had breakfast with my aunt & she came with me to the ultrasound. Being a cancer survivor herself, she knew what to expect. They let her come in with me for the ultrasound. The spot they were looking for was deep, closer to the chest wal. It was difficult to find, which was good and bad. The Dr came in to look and said that if I was anyone else, with no history of cancer, they’d just wait and see. He also said that he realized I’d probably worry for 6 months if I decided to just wait, so he would do the biopsy. Yes, please. Peace of mind is worth the temporary pain. Plus it was already scheduled so I could do it right away. 

This is my 4th biopsy (3 last year.) They put lidocaine in to numb it, then go in with a long needle to get a sample. Then they put a tiny clip in that spot to mark it for future reference. One that’s done, they have to put pressure on your chest for 15 minutes. Yep, that’s as fun as it sounds…not fun. Awkward small talk etc. After that, they do a mammogram again to see that the clip is in place. They send you on your way with ice packs in your bra. Time to rest. It would be Monday before they had results. Initially the Dr thought it looked good, so I should be relieved. Since I’ve heard, “I’m sure it’s nothing” before and they were wrong, I would wait until I got the call to celebrate.

I didn’t have to wait until Monday. The Dr called tonight with good news that the biopsy wasn’t cancer. It was inflammatory tissue (& other words that I didn’t hear because I was still just absorbing the good news.) Yahooooo! NOW I can smile, be relieved & celebrate! 

And I can breathe…

Peace be with you on your journey of enough.