Holding Space

With Shelly Vaughn

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A few random things:

I’m still waiting to hear from the radiation oncologist to set up my radiation schedule. I’m not looking forward to it, but I’m also anxious to get it over with.

I’m back to work full time; and so thankful that I work with amazing people who have made the transition as good as it can be.

This picture shows how happy I am to have my port out!! My arm is still just a little swollen and tender, but it’ll feel so good once it’s back to normal.

It’s been really nice outside so I’ve been soaking in the beautiful weather, knowing it won’t last much longer. If you’re reading this and it’s nice where you are- you should really get outside and enjoy it. Even just a walk around the block will be worth it. If you’re healthy enough to go do something- do it! 

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Deportation Day

“Deportation Day”- it happened today and the port is OUT! I’m so happy that it’s out… and that they let me keep it! If you look at the picture- the purple part was in my arm where they injected needles for every chemo treatment (and any other time I would’ve otherwise needed an IV.) The white part is the catheter that was thread through my vein- up and around my arm then the tip rested next to my heart. The numbness from the procedure is wearing off and my arm is pretty painful so I’m done for the night. Thanks for sharing in my excitement to get this out today. 


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No More Port!

Great news- I am getting my port taken out on Friday!! This Friday! Two days from now!! I’m so excited (if you can’t tell). I had an appointment scheduled for later in the month, but they called today to bump it up earlier. I know that treatment really isn’t done until radiation. But this port was so symbolic of the beginning of treatment… and the removal of it is symbolic that the end is near. That thing was my lifeline- I hate it and I love it all at once. I’m so glad to get it out of my body. OUT!! GONE!! Along with the cancer!
(Oh- and my return to work went well today. I had an appointment in the morning so it was a shorter day than usual. It was a nice way to ease back into things. And it was really great seeing my co-workers. Seeing them meant getting hugs from friends- which was actually really energizing and uplifting. I am thankful.)

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Healing and Work

I am continuing to heal well from surgery while doing PT to help with range of motion of my arm and lymphatic massage (to prevent lymphedema). This last weekend was especially pleasant because I was feeling well and we were able to get out and do some activities that felt “summer-y”- a day at Hale Farm, Stow Summer festival, and a picnic with friends. I love being able to enjoy times like these and so thankful for beautiful weather to do it. Tomorrow is a big day- I return to work after being off during this medical leave. I worked through chemo, so this shouldn’t seem too bad. But for some reason, I’m feeling nervous about it. I’m going back to do work that I love and be around people who are very supportive… it’s really the best case scenario. I guess I’m just nervous about the unknown- how will I feel by the end of the day? will I have the energy to do my job well? how will my radiation schedule fit into my work/home life schedule? I guess it’s the same as every step I’ve taken so far- I don’t know what it will look like, but I know I’ll be ok. But if you feel like saying a prayer tonight it would be appreciated.
Thanks, everyone.

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Here she is- the woman with a heart of gold who I love to look up to- my Grandma. I’ve mentioned her several times in these posts and I wanted those of you who didn’t know her to see what she looked like. But more importantly, to hear the story behind the picture this past week.

Monday was the Great American Eclipse. As with most science-related phenomenon, the Vaughns were fully prepared to witness it and experience it as a family. While sitting outside, staring at that golden sun (through our eclipse binoculars of course), I thought about my grandma. The golden hue of the sun is comparable to her heart in raising 12 kids and loving about a billion grandkids after that. She also frequently sang “You Are My Sunshine”… and all of us grandkids sang the song at her funeral.

In the middle of sitting outside Monday afternoon, one of the girls went to get the mail and there was a card from my Aunt Cindy in California. She wrote in the card “…wanted you to have this picture along with all my love and all of hers.” The same moment that I was thinking of this woman, I get a photo of her and me together with a message of her love. What a beautifully timed moment! Thank you God for that perfect timing. And thank you Aunt Cindy for sharing. Days like Monday are really cool!

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Deep Waters


The girls went back to school today, starting 2nd and 4th grade this year. As the beginning of school marks the end of their summer break, I reflect back on what this summer has been like for them. I was so concerned that my issues would hinder their fun or make their memories of summer 2017 boring or miserable. Thanks to all of you who helped keep them entertained, and brought meals to us so that we could have more “down time” with them, I would say we collectively made their summer break pretty fun for them. It’s part of why I love this amazing group of people- not just holding space with me through this, but being part of the community/family keeping my girls playful and innocent.

There was one change with the girls this summer that I got to enjoy just recently. They have been to several big swimming pools this summer and had been telling me how well they can both swim now. It wasn’t until last week that I felt well enough to get out of the house with them and watch them swim at a friend’s house. They weren’t kidding. They’re swimming in deep water; jumping in without fear; and doing the handstands, flips, and underwater tea parties that every young girl should spend hours doing. It made me remember doing all of the same things with my sister, cousins, and friends every summer. It also made me think back to several years ago when we were members of Waterworks pool. The girls were both much younger and leery of the water. They would stand on the edge and hesitate to jump in the pool into my arms as I waited in the water. I knew they were safe no matter what, but they couldn’t feel it until they were actually in the water with arms around my neck and feet tucked around my waist feeling safe and secure again… and able to smile.

I can relate to that now in a different way. A cancer diagnosis suddenly threw me into water that I wasn’t ready for. It was so deep and frightening. My head barely stayed above the water at times and for a while I panicked- floundering around, reaching for anything around me to make me feel safe- just wishing I could be in a different place where my feet could safely touch the ground. But when I calmed enough, I could feel God’s arms right there. He was standing in the pool just waiting for me to realize He’s there to keep me safe in His embrace. To hold me in the deep water when I cannot stand on my own. So I feel Him now. I know He’s there. And I feel almost safe. Not enough that I’ve taken a breath and allowed myself to fully relax in His arms. (I don’t know when that will happen as I’ve heard from several survivors that the fear of recurrence is strong for a while.) But I feel like I’m getting so much closer to that now that I have the “all clear” from pathology. Honestly, I’d still like to be out of the pool watching from a chaise lounge as I sit poolside eating grapes in the warmth of summer. But you know what, I’m learning that I don’t get to choose where I want to be. But I can choose to trust that God’s got me no matter where I end up. 💕

“…You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine…”
– Oceans (Hillsong United)

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When Rob and I were at the U2 concert last month, this poem was one of several writings that scrolled on the screen before the concert started. I love it! And in light of last weekend’s chaos in Charlottesville, this seems like a great time to mention kindness. People navigate their own sorrows in many ways, and you never know what the person beside you is living through. We’re all in the middle of this mix of sorrow and kindness… one we can control and the other not-so-much. So let’s thrive on the one we can control and express it as often as possible. Do it today!!

… Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

– Naomi Shihab Nye – Kindness