Holding Space

With Shelly Vaughn

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Lucky Girl


Today I feel like a lucky girl… and that’s not easily said in the middle of a cancer fight. I spent the morning at Olivia’s dance competition (she did great, by the way.) I came home to beautiful flowers planted by even more beautiful friends. Had a visit from my Aunt Pat and cousins. Then had a quiet evening with just Liana at home as Olivia stayed at her friend’s house. And you know what happened in the middle of it all- I ate a sandwich! A gourmet grilled cheese with artichokes from Lockview. For out-of-towners, Lockview is known for their amazing grilled cheese sandwiches. This is the best Saturday I’ve had in a while. I’ve had good moments on Saturdays, but this whole day felt good. I’m exhausted. But tonight, when I lay down for bed, I will close my eyes with a smile on my face.
“Inhale courage, exhale fear.” (Julie Nawrocky Reis)

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Easter… a holiday, a nice lunch, a reason to see family, a day to remember Christ’s resurrection. Whatever today represents for you, I hope it was a lovely day for you all. This year, our circumstances meant that our plans for the day were different than usual. It started with a quick egg hunt and baskets in the morning (which almost didn’t happen because I was so exhausted last night). We woke up laughing, seeing that a curious creature opened half the eggs that were hidden outside and enjoyed a lot of Kit Kats and Reese’s. Some animal out there most certainly had a sugar rush and stomach ache this morning. We made it to church this morning as a family, though I was admittedly not feeling very well. Nothing bad- just nausea and fatigue. I came home and went directly to sleep for a couple of hours. I woke up to see that Rob had taken Liana out for a little adventure, which provided some sweet alone time for Olivia and me. When Rob and Liana came home, we heated up some delicious leftovers and played card game that a friend gave me. She gave it to me right after hearing of my diagnosis, so that I had an activity to do with the girls even when I didn’t have much energy- exactly what was needed today. We sat out on our deck, enjoying our family and the sunshine, eventually listening to the Pens game and eating snacks as the sun set. Dessert today was vanilla ice cream sprinkled with strawberry Quik. If you haven’t tried it, you are missing out. My cousin, Amy, taught me of this deliciousness when we were kids. And I can only imagine her smiling from heaven as she watched me eat it with my kids today. Not sure what she would think about my bald head that would match hers, but I’m guessing she’d make a sarcastic joke that would make me smile. And to top off the night, I laid with my youngest as she fell asleep wrapped in my arms tonight. That never gets old.
So although the details may not be interesting to anyone other than myself, they mean the world to me. Because this Easter Sunday had the least amount of “holiday tradition”, which allowed me to soak in the simple sweetness of laid-back moments at home. And that simplicity allowed space for the meaning of Christ’s resurrection to stay at the forefront of my mind. What a blessed day.


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My Sunshine

As I drove into work this morning, I noticed a beautiful sunrise in the rearview mirror. It was serene and golden… just like my grandma. It made me think of her and her amazing spirit. So fitting that it was behind me; as it made me imagine her encouraging me and lovingly pushing me toward a place I didn’t want to (but have to) go… to round #4. She would deal with all of this gracefully and with patience… two things I strive for.

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January 28 Update

Originally Posted on 1.28.17

Hi everyone. Thank you all for the prayers during the week and especially yesterday. The amount of relief I felt when I heard the bones and other organs were clear is unexplainable. I had some moments of feeling “almost normal” last night. I had a wonderful lunch out with Trisha and a friend, and visits from other friends in the evening. So now I know a little more about what my walk through this will look like. Monday I will have my port placed, do a chemo class, and they want to biopsy one of my lymph nodes. After that, I assume I’ll know my treatment schedule.

Everyone asks how I am…. I’m ok. Not great but not depressed. Sometimes very anxious and sometimes a little more relaxed and trusting that this all has a purpose beyond me. It seriously depends on what minute you ask me during the day. Last week, I was mostly just consumed with worry that it had spread. My parents were here to spend some time which was great (with the exception of the Steeler loss) Since yesterday afternoon, I notice a different feeling that brings me to tears at times. The best I can describe it is that I’m grieving the loss of my healthy body. I’m planning (physically and emotionally) to not feel well. I’ve always been physically active and healthy and never any problems. It makes me sad to think many weekends will be spent laying on the couch. And weekdays I may barely have energy to get through the day. Of course, everyone responds differently and maybe it won’t bring me down too much. I already have a friend lined up to hold me accountable to keep moving… even if its just short walks around the block. It’s a strange feeling to plan for this… and I suddenly want to get everything checked off my to-do list. But I also want to just enjoy time with my family. It’s a tough balance on a regular day, let alone when you have this kind of issue on top of everything.
My girls are doing ok. We share information with them on their level and they seem to be dealing with it well. Rob… I always knew I married the best guy and, man has he shown it this week. He works hard, comes to my appointments, and does everything around the house just so I’m not stressed out about it. He/we will be calling on friends to help with the girls when I’m not feeling well. We have had so many offers to help and we will be taking you all up on it when the time comes. Please pray for him this weekend (since nothing new is happening with me anyway)- I know it’s hard for him to think of me going through this and to see me sad when I have my breakdowns.
I fully expect to recover from this and one day look back on what an experience it was. But standing at the beginning of this road, knowing the challenge ahead, is very overwhelming.

“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.”