Sunday, June 11, 2017

"This world"

This week was eventful. I had one or more doctor appointments every single day except for Thursday (yes, that's including Saturday and Sunday)! It's kind of creepy to have to walk through a hospital parking garage in Seattle on a Sunday morning. Let's just say I walk-ran and thought someone was going to grab me and pull me into a van the entire way to my car. The best day of the week was Friday. My grandma took me to the wig place (where they make wigs out of your own hair) and then we went shopping for "cute chemo clothes" that I wouldn't feel frumpy in. It's true, it's a world I never thought I would be a part of. I was kind of dreading the wig appointment honestly. I have been fine about my hair, but pulling up to a building that was drab and in a business park is not quite the same thing as going to a salon that smelled like shampoo. You walk in and go to a back room that's full of sewing machines and hair (not on people's heads!). There was a salon chair so that helped.
Anyways- I sat in the chair and Kurt (who will make it) made me feel totally comfortable. He showed me what he does and different options, etc., but he asked all about me- about my kids, how I found my tumor and we just chatted. It was so nice. I felt totally at ease and totally excited. He showed me lots of before and afters and I'm not kidding- most people looked better with the wigs he made than with their own hair. As we were leaving, I thanked him and told him I would call him and how great it was to talk to him about everything. He said he was glad it made it easier and told me that "this world" is a place no one should have to be. I've thought about that a lot these past few days.

I've been going to appointments at three different places in Seattle- there is the SCCA (Seattle Cancer Care Alliance), UWMC (where surgery and the trusty ER is), and another University of Washington specialty clinic. At each place I kind of felt like an outsider at first. I remember going to SCCA when I was 18 with my mom right after I found out I had the BRCA gene. I was a senior in high school and about to go to college and I just looked around at all the people with chemo scarves on and felt grateful that I would never really be a part of it. I went there occasionally for scans, but never really felt like I belonged there and was happy I didn't. Then in April when I had my ultrasound I kind of hated everyone at that place. It sounds dumb but I just felt like they were bad luck- even the receptionists who checked me in. I felt like that until I sat with a physician who told me that the mass was positive. And then she held my hand and told me she was Catholic and that she would pray for me and light candles that weekend. Really soon it started to feel like home. The same is true for everywhere I have gone. The SCCA has a waiting room with huge windows that overlook the city of Seattle and there are chairs all along the window facing it. Most of them are just normal chairs but there are like three lazyboy loungers and there is one I always sit in if I can! I have read my scriptures in that chair, drank nasty CT contrast crap, and waited for appointments. I love the receptionists. I know them now. And I love the nurses who check me in and the doctors who talk to me. Tomorrow I have a minor procedure at the specialty clinic and my scheduler from SCCA left me a long message wishing me luck. I was sitting in a room getting an ultrasound the other day and there was one doctor at the monitor, one at the computer, and another observing and I just felt so much gratitude for people. People who dedicate their lives to this- who not only study and practice, but care for others. Comfort them, love them, advise them. Help them feel happy and taken care of and healthy.

The first time I went to the specialty clinic (more on this later), I was sitting there pretty out of it on drugs. It was like right after my surgery and I definitely went there two days in a row without showering in the same outfit. A nurse was sitting with me and asking me questions, and she said to me something like "This is fair game. I'm asking you stuff, you can ask me stuff. Anything about my life. I'll tell you anything." She told me she was Catholic and about her family. She had never had kids, but had a nephew who was moving across the country who was her "little boy." She said "What I'm about to do never leaves this room..." and she took my hand and gave me a Catholic blessing. Around Easter Jax came home from preschool with a cross necklace. McKay and I were kind of cracking up because it was his favorite thing to wear for a while. We believe that it's important to focus on the life and ressurection of Jesus Christ, not His death- so we don't really wear crosses or display them in our homes or churches. But he goes to a Lutheran preschool and loves his necklace so I couldn't tell him he couldn't wear it. Anyways- I have thought a lot about that these last couple months because I have felt united with so many people through faith. Most of the people I have talked to don't believe the same things I do, but most of them believe in Jesus Christ and in the power of prayer and it's made me realize that witness of Christ are everywhere. I've never been the best at baring my testimony, especially in one-on-one situations with someone I barely know- but some of my best examples lately have been those of other faiths and I am grateful for them.

I feel like I'm rambling- usually when I'm writing a blog post I kind of have an idea of the beginning, middle, and end- and I feel like this is kind of a mess. But what I am really trying to say I guess is that I am grateful to be a part of this world. You would think that a cancer diagnosis would kind of kick you into gear spiritually. I have had days where I have been really kicked into gear. My perspective and focus is in line with things eternal and things of the world don't matter at all. But some days, I still struggle with keeping that focus. I get distracted with stuff that doesn't matter. That is not bad, but not the best. Stuff that's temporal or material or of no worth in the grand scheme of things. But all of this has given me a glimpse into something better. How to serve better because of how people have served me. How to be a witness of Jesus Christ better. How to love other people better. What to say. How to comfort. How to be grateful and how much there is to be grateful for- because there is so much. There have been a few times when I have wondered why I have to go through this trial. Isn't there another way to learn the things I have to learn? But I have realized that for me, there's not. This is the only way for me. I need this to learn. This has added substance to my life. It's promoted growth. It's fulfilled me because I'm learning. I'm being refined. And that's the point of life. Not everyone gets a glimpse into this "world," but I am so grateful that I do. I'm becoming someone I like better than the person I was before.

And though I am grateful for all the people I have met and things I get to experience, I am grateful most of all for Jesus Christ. It's because of Him that this can be happy. Because of Him, there can be hope. There can be prayers offered to a Heavenly Father who is listening. There can be comfort felt and sadness and worry extinguished. There can be light in a place that so many people feel only darkness. His guiding hand is in all things- from advances in modern medicine and surgical procedures to the gentle peace that has surrounded me during my most desperate prayers. I can find gratitude and knowledge and goodness and light in this world, all because of Him.

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