Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's An Honor Just To Be Nominated

Thank you everyone who responded to my VERY last minute request that you vote for me in the Sheenazing Awards.  We didn't win, but I'm not Susan Lucci-ing here--it really IS an honor to have been nominated.  I've only been at this for a few months and I'm deeply grateful for the support I've received for my ranting and whining.  You have all been a light to me during this time, so even before the voting I'm really the one who won.  

Besides some of my all time favorite blogs are co-nominees/winners and I just. can't even. HANDLE IT!!!  Please be sure to go over to Bonnie's and check out the winners and if you didn't get a chance, definitely go through the nominees and see if you can't find a new blog to follow.  

AND AND AND a blogger I know in REAL LIFE was a RUNNER UP!!  In the Funniest Blogger Category!!  And she really is that funny!!  Most of you already know, but some of you don't, that Heather at Mama Know's It Honeychild outed herself as the Facebook Friend who was the catalyst for my post for the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.  Go read it.  Heather is the real deal and she is SO FUNNY.  Don't miss her post on putting the kids to bed.  Congratulations Heather!

Thank you everyone!  You are so good to me!  Don't forget to go to Bonnie's to check out and congratulate the other winners and if you can please say a prayer for one of Bonnie's readers who has asked us to pray for Venerable Fulton Sheen's intercession for a little girl with real cancer, not the baby kind that I had.  

Eternal Father, You alone grant us every blessing in Heaven and on earth, through the redemptive mission of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and by the working of the Holy Spirit. 
If it be according to Your Will, glorify Your servant, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, by granting the favor I now request through his prayerful intercession: 
the complete healing of Samantha from cancer and the return of her health. 
I make this prayer confidently through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

My Plan Is Coming Together

I've always loved to write.  It has always felt very natural to me and words have always been a comfort to me.  I started reading blogs sometime in 2006 and my bookmarks quickly became a mile long because I didn't even know about feed readers or subscribing by email.  It didn't take long before I thought maybe I might have a blog one day.  My problem was that I didn't have a good hook.  I'd just be another Mom shouting into the ether.  I needed something to make me stand out like Jennifer Fulwiler's scorpions and life as an Atheist to Catholic convert, or Heather from Mama Know's It Honeychild's hilarious pictures.

Then along came cancer.  Talk about a hook!  And let me tell you it has paid off in spades because I've been nominated for a Sheenazing Award!  Bonnie, who blogs at A Knotted Life coordinates the awards and describes them as follows:

The Sheenazing Blogger Awards are named for Venerable Fulton J. Sheen. Sheen was amazing at using the newest forms of media to communicate the beauty of the Catholic Church and his love of Christ to the world. I'm positive that Sheen would be a blogger were he alive today and that he is in Heaven, totally approving of this award.

Bonnie has a special place in her heart for Venerable Fulton J. Sheen because of the alleged miracle that occurred to save her sons life.   I am so honored that someone wanted to nominate my blog in the "Most Inspiring" category.  If you feel moved to do so, would you go vote for me?  Also, do yourself a favor and check out the other nominees, it's a great way to find great new reads.

So, something you should probably know is that today, Monday, is the last day to vote...I know.  What's wrong with me?  Why didn't I tell you sooner?  I did a classic INFP when I found out about my nomination THIS PAST THURSDAY and freaked out internally and tried to find a way to let you all know without having to actually tell you about it.  You see, my introvert spidey senses are very conflicted about this blog thing.  They are happiest when this is somewhat distant and I can maintain the illusion that only 3 people read this which makes no sense because why not just keep a journal?  I don't even know except to say that I am compelled to write and I think writers just need readers.  It also occurred to me that it would be weird and rude to just pretend like this didn't happen because coordinating something like this takes time and effort and on top of it some dear soul nominated me and what a slap in the face to them to just act like I don't care.

Thank you person who nominated me.  Thank you Bonnie for coordinating this.  Thank you dear readers for sticking with me and praying for me and encouraging me and thank you in advance for maybe voting for me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

An Open Letter To My Fellow Pro-Lifers On The Eve of the Anniversary of Roe Vs. Wade

I started this blog in part to be a witness to the fact that it is possible to be diagnosed and treated for cancer during pregnancy and have a successful outcome for both mother and child.  I am pro life, and any information that I believe would save a woman and child from abortion I view as vitally important and I feel a moral obligation to share it wherever and whenever I can.


Please, fellow pro lifers, do not use my story as a stick to beat people with in an argument.  Do not use my story as a rhetorical device to win a round of anecdotal gotcha.  Fellow pro lifers, tomorrow when you feel especially inspired to speak out in defense of life I'd like to suggest one thing:


Tomorrow is an emotional day.  It is hard not to feel compelled to shout from the rooftops the injustice that has been done and continues to be done in this country everyday, but I'm going to ask as a woman who has faced a crisis pregnancy that when you want to post something on facebook or jump in a combox tomorrow, stop.  Just stop, take a breath, and pray on it.  If you are not a believer meditate on it.  Think about what a woman who is considering abortion must be facing and say to yourself: There but for the grace of God, go I.  Then stop, take a breath, and pray, and meditate on it and say to yourself again: There but for the grace of God, go I. There are many times that I am sure I have the most brilliant point to add to a conversation that will enlighten all who hear it and if I pause to pray about it first that Holy Spirit puts a muzzle on me.  We always like to think when we're spouting off that it's Him at work, but when was the last time you asked Him before you spoke to see if you should speak at all?  It's not likely that you will have anything new to add to the discussion tomorrow.  I'd like to submit that what you say could possibly even do more harm than good.

I found out I was pregnant and soon to be diagnosed with cancer right before the anniversary of Roe vs Wade last year.  I went through the events of my diagnosis during 40 days for life.  One day during this time a facebook friend posted something about "If you are facing a crisis pregnancy have courage!".  In that moment my blood boiled.  Courage!  How dare she!  She has NO IDEA about courage! I just sat there and fumed and then I remembered...she does have an idea about courage, because she had her oldest child when she was just 17 years old and raised him as a single mother for years before she met her husband.  She is kind, compassionate, and walks the walk when it comes to providing true support for women facing crisis pregnancies.  I agreed with what she was saying, but I couldn't stand to hear it.  I am pro life, but suddenly many messages that used to sound totally compassionate and reasonable to me, messages I have spoken and typed myself with nothing but love in my heart, sounded insensitive and sometimes hurtful.

I received many kind, loving emails offering prayers to St. Gianna Molla on my behalf and encouraging me to do the same...but all I could think guys...she's...DEAD.  It felt a bit like people were romanticizing what was for me REALITY.  These are dear, compassionate people, they were not romanticizing my situation, but I was truly having to contemplate and research and rehearse telling my 5 small children that their mother was dying, because at that time I didn't know, and that's not something you want to screw up.

If you are a mother, I want you to close your eyes right now and imagine gathering your children around you and telling them that you are going to die.  That you are going to leave them.  I want you to see their faces and the disbelief and fear and anguish that washes over them BECAUSE OF YOU.  Then I want you to imagine how it would sound to you to have someone who did not have to contemplate that possibility in a very real way telling you to have courage.  How would you receive that message?  Would it sound compassionate to you?  Imagine now that you aren't pro life.  Now how does that sound?  Fellow pro lifers, the people you are trying to reach are suffering through fear and anguish I pray you never face.  Your editorializing will not change their minds.  Your mercy might.  Please, remember, There but for the grace of God go I.  If you want to say something, stop, pray, There but for the grace of God, go I. 

In the minute or so after my second pregnancy test came up positive I considered having an abortion.  In that moment I considered having an abortion because the idea of telling my husband that I was pregnant when he was already reeling from the news that I likely had cancer was absolutely more than I could bear.  I considered having an abortion because I had 5 small children at home and I didn't know what my pregnancy would mean for my treatment and I didn't want to face the possibility of leaving them.  I considered having an abortion because there are people in our lives that I knew would take the news that I had cancer better than the news that I was pregnant again, even if it had been without the cancer.  I knew in that moment that only I knew truth of my situation and that if I wanted to keep it that way I could.  I could have easily made it just go away.  What I experienced that night, sitting in the stall of a grocery store bathroom, was anguish to an extreme that I believe I now understand viscerally what our Lord experienced in the Garden at Gethsemane when "He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that His sweat became like drops of blood on the ground." (Luke 22:44)

I am a white, privileged woman living in the United States of America in the 21st century with a husband who is a good provider and who is deeply compassionate and committed to our family.  I have family and friends that I knew would support me every step of the way without fail.  If I was so scared facing my crisis pregnancy that I considered an abortion despite at lifetime of being fervently pro life, please reflect on the terror of a woman who is a member of any number of minorities, who is poor, who does not have anyone to support her materially or emotionally.

There, but for the grace of God, go I. 

Tomorrow, if you absolutely must do something, send money to Feminists for Life , or Abby Johnson's organization And Then There Were None, or to your local Pregnancy Center.

Tomorrow, if you are a believer, pray.  If you think that's not enough then that is absolutely where you should start.  What do you think your hastily chosen words can accomplish that God cannot?

Tomorrow, if you must say something, PLEASE REMEMBER, there but for the grace of God, go I.  Choose your words with the utmost of care and imagine what you would need most desperately if you were facing a crisis pregnancy.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

This past Saturday marked exactly a year since the chiropractor felt a lump in my neck.  It's surreal to look back now and realize a whole year has passed.  This year will be full of "a year ago today"'s.  The 16th of this month will be 3 months since I've had chemo, and also one year since I was crying in the stall of a Wegman's bathroom.  I know a lot of people would expect me to be all "See ya 2013, don't let the door hit ya blah blah", but I'm really not.

Instead of seeing 2013 as the year I had to ask for help, I want to see it as the year I learned just how much help there was from so many unexpected places.

Instead of seeing 2013 as the year I had cancer, I want to see it as the year I beat cancer.

Instead of seeing 2013 as the year I faced a crisis pregnancy, I want to see it as the year we welcomed Avery Hope into our family.  Seriously...she's gone from this:

1 Day Old: 4lbs 4oz

To this:
She turned 5 months old on Christmas Eve.
She's closing in on 15lbs and eating and breathing LIKE A BOSS.

I want to look at it as positively as I can.  Is that easy? NO.  In many ways looking forward to 2014 is even scarier than looking back.  Do I have plans for 2014?  I guess.  Since I last wrote I've felt like I was in one of these:

I've been swimming and swimming and feeling like I was getting absolutely nowhere.  That makes it hard to make plans, or more accurately, to live up to the plans I made when all I could do was lay around and tappity tappity on the keyboard.

Sorry I dropped off the face of the planet.  It was that, or drown.  You don't really need me to tell you that the last 3 months contained Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  You have a calendar.  It's just that, I was also learning to be The Mom again.  I've been learning to be the Mom again in a totally new family than the one I had when I started chemo.  Everyone is older and we have new schedules and new needs and we also have a new baby.  I almost forgot about that part.  I was crying to Michael about what a loser I was because I don't have it all together now that chemo is over and he was like: "Do you ever have it together before a baby turns 6 months old?".  Good point.

Anyway, I'd like to continue to write here, I just don't know when or how to make that a regular thing, at least in the short term.  I just said to my friend Sarah that in 2013 I was just a passenger.  In 2014 I'm learning to drive again and I wanted to be a better driver than I was before.  I have to figure out this new Nella I'm walking around in and how she ticks.  I have to figure out how to live up to the gift of remission.  People have contacted me to ask if I'd be continuing this blog.  Some asked me to please continue this blog...seriously...I'm not even kidding.  I'm going to try, I'm just not sure how much I'll be able to write at least in the short term.  Most attempts of mine to write lately result in my brain being like this:

I'll keep trying anyway.
 I'm not sure if that means I'm persistent or have the intelligence of a Hamster.

Remission is weird.  Everyone thinks cancer is done but it's really not.  Not for me anyway.  Don't get me wrong, remission is a blessing and there are many who never get to this point and I am so grateful.  At the same time, remission doesn't mean I'm out of the woods.  I'm not considered cured until I've made it 5 years with no detectable signs of cancer.  I just had a follow up CT scan and I go for a check-up and to get the results Friday.  I have to live my life like cancer couldn't just pop back up anytime, and that's what I intend to to,  but it's hard when I'm still going for scans and check ups every few months.  I'm still living with the physical effects of chemo.  I wake up with nerve pain in my arms at least once a night and my circulation is not great.  I can't wear my wedding band because my hands are a bit swollen.  My cognitive function is still in the crapper.  My energy level is improving and the cognitive function is as well, just not as fast as I'd like.

In many ways it's like this cancer thing is just starting to happen to me because as the physical effects slowly disappear, everything that happened is starting to really sink in.  When I was in the middle of it I was just pushing pushing pushing through being positive positive positive and chirp chirp chirping that I was blessed blessed blessed when I wasn't asleep asleep asleep or loopy loopy loopy.  Now I'm trying to be Mom again and sometimes it just hits me all at once and I'm just like "DID THAT REALLY ALL JUST HAPPEN?!?!?!?  WHY ARE WE ALL JUST STANDING HERE ACTING LIKE LIFE IS NORMAL DO YOU KNOW WHAT KIND OF CRAZY ASS CRAP CAN HAPPEN TO YOU AT ANYTIME??????  OH MY FLIPPING GOODNESS THE LAST YEAR SERIOUSLY JUST WENT DOWN LIKE THAT?!?!?!?!?!?".  And then I feel bad.  Because I'm in remission and I should feel happy and grateful.  I should feel light and free but instead I feel a huge weight of responsibility.  I need to live up to the gift of my remission.  That's what 2014 is about.  That's what every year from now on will be about.  That's what every year should have been about all along and should always in a way that reflects gratitude for the gift that is my life.

Obviously 3 months out from the last time they poisoned me isn't the best time to expect myself to be writing a whole lot, exercising non-stop, or most of the other things I dreamed I'd do after remission back when all I could do was lay in bed all day.  I'll figure it out, bit by bit, and I'll try to share it with you when I can.

Happy New Year dear friends!