husband.

I had the honor of being a part of two weddings this past weekend. As I was getting ready, doing my make up and chatting with the other members of the bridal party, I was collecting memories of my own wedding day. Hearing the vows said by each couple reminded me of my own promises I made to Josh on December 2, 2017. It’s amazing that we have now been married for a year and 4 months! Time has flown by, and we have experienced some new things that all newlyweds go through: we have moved twice, adopted a dog, had some tiffs over the small stuff, endured the process of job searching and being excited over starting a new job. We have also experienced some things that some couples don’t experience until decades of being in marriage: making treatment decisions, hearing not great news over scans, traveling for clinical trials. I realized that though he is my sweet, quiet man, it doesn’t mean I have to be quiet about him on this blog. I mention him often in the background of my life, but he’s my teammate through it all. He deserves a bit of a shout out now and then.

I also think of us as a team because of Josh’s wedding vows. Early on in marriage, Josh had to consistently remind me that he is always on my side, that we are on the same team. I have learned that by having this mindset, I give Josh the benefit of the doubt, that I give him grace, the same grace that God freely gives us. Even though he doesn’t need to “work ” for this grace I give him, he has proven time and time again that he is always there for me, always loyal, will fight for me on my behalf for everything. He is my fierce protector and would do anything to take away the pain and cancer for me.

And Josh shows me grace all of the time. For a quiet, behind-the-scenes kinda guy, he always patiently listens to me no matter the topic of conversation, from our sweet Wylie pup to what errands we need to run. He’s always willing to be in the hospital with me, from scans to waiting on chemotherapy to arrive to spending the night in the most uncomfortable hospital make-shift couch-bed. I knew Josh was loyal, but I didn’t know I could experience such faithfulness from one person. He’s learned how to give me shots at home to flushing out my PICC line at home every night, no matter what hour he gets home from his policing shift. He’s patient with our crazy Wylie boy, luring him back inside with treats and love, and sometimes even chasing him around the backyard.

I’ve seen Josh grow so much as well over this year+. He’s learned how to communicate better his emotions and what he is thinking and stressing over. He’s grown in his confidence in prayer; he requests every day before he heads off to work for us to pray together, knitting us closer together and to our Heavenly Father. Praying with him before work has become something I really value and treasure during our time, and it always changes my own perspective going into the rest of the day. And Josh has grown in his commitment to the Word, reading eagerly every day for his spirit to be fed the words of truth and wisdom to guide through tough times and decisions at work and at home. I really respect and admire his growth and transformation that has come from his consistency in prayer and reading the Word. Not only does Josh’s spiritual growth and maturity benefit from these things, but our relationship as well! Pleading for things from our Dad has really grown us closer and helped us become one as the Word says that we are now “one flesh” (Mark 10:7-9).

So, today I’m here back at the hospital, thinking of the sweet man that dropped me off this morning. We’ve been in this room I’m sure before, waiting together on chemotherapy and drugs. Now we are in a perpetual waiting room called Life, waiting on a new clinical trial that is supposedly coming to Nationwide Children’s soon. And yet, here we are, still waiting. The trial is now currently being investigated in Florida, so now we are looking to go there. Hopefully they are still covering the cost of travel. Please pray that our wait—to either hear back from Children’s or Florida—about getting into this clinical trial. It could be a game changer for my health; I recently went back to a harder trinity of chemotherapy drugs that have worn me out the past couple of weeks. I need a break from these drugs, and undergoing a trial of a drug that my body has never seen before could be huge! Please be praying that we will hear back from them sooner rather than later!

Thank you always for your support, thoughts, prayer and practical service to Josh and I. The Searcy team thanks you immensely!

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Josh and I at his police badge pinning ceremony in January 2019. Our families and I are so proud of all that he has accomplished and how he is serving and protecting
our community!

hospital hibernation.

A couple weeks ago, I spent more time at the hospital than my own home; I spent 5 days and 4 nights there. And I hate hearing whenever I have to be admitted to the hospital, but looking back I am grateful that I did and went there when I did.

It’s funny because earlier that Monday, I was at the hospital and every nurse just praised how great I looked, how healthy, how good, basically, how normal. And I felt exactly how they spoke: normal, healthy, happy. But as the day went on, a pain crescendo-ed. Pain drummed into my right shoulder, consistent beat, pain’s rod striking my bones every moment and sharper and closer to the last. Monday evening, it was at its worst, and I asked a dear friend to massage it for me. She massaged it for quite some time, at least 30 minutes, but the relief from it lasted no more than 3 minutes. Pain interrupted my sleep, and I reached more frequently for my prescription pain medicine than I normally do. I am someone who prefers balms, salves, heating pads, hot showers, massages, acupuncture—anything homeopathic compared to medicine. So for me to take the medicine meant I was really in pain, and that nothing was working, including the medicine. Tuesday the pain became worse and now was reaching my chest forcing me to sit on the couch with a heating pad on the majority of the day, once again reaching for that prescription pain medicine, which seemed to still not be working. Wednesday I wake up with pain as my alarm, and I feel like I’m going to either pass out or throw up as I move about the house. Now I can’t take this. Three days of pain is much too much, and so I call my nurse navigator asking if there is any open spots in the clinic for a doctor to see me. Prayerfully, there is one.

Once I’m wheeled into my room, its vitals time and of course, surprise surprise, I have a fever. Having a fever means more tests for me, seeing if I have an infection in my PIC line and investigating what else could be the source of this fever. I don’t even care that I have one, even though it is quite high. All I want is to be freed of pain. Waiting for the doctor to see me and prescribe some IV pain medication, I literally am moaning from the pain, the torture of waiting. This moaning is not just for today’s pain but also for yesterday and the day before that; this is the climax of my injury. I can’t help it, this instinctual cry that comes from within me, my own melody responding to the pain’s drumming thunderous beat. I don’t want to moan, because I find it kind of embarrassing and that I should keep myself together, but I can’t any more. The pain has unlocked me and my civilities.

After being tended to by nurses and my doctors and finally experiencing some relief from IV pain medication, it’s decided that I need to spend some time overnight at the hospital. I’m so miserable that I don’t even care. In fact, I almost just want to stay so I can get this pain to calm down completely. More tests are done throughout the next couple of days, trying to figure out the source and cause of this unbearable pain. On Friday, there is finally an answer as to what has been going inside my body to create storms of pain within my chest, a downpour that seems to never to ceasing: pericarditis. The sac that your hearts in, the pericardium, its own little heart-couch, had become inflamed, the cardiologist-oncologist explained to me. Finally, just knowing the source of the pain is an immediate comfort, knowing that you’re alright and that you’re going to be ok. Naming pain has some sort of new power, new control over it that you once did not have over the nebulous power that was presiding over you, weakening  you because you had no idea what to do to even begin to try to fight it and all of your weapons you went to were broken in trying to fight it.

My new weapons: high doses of ibuprofen around the clock, increased medicinal pain patch, and another prescription for my pain medication. Since I’ve left the hospital, this trio seems to be working. Some days I wake up and the pain is back, or late in the evening it’s slow steady beat returns, an unusual lullaby before bedtime. The more annoying and frustrating side effect though is my shortness of breath. During my 5 day stay, I was on oxygen for most of the time, the chest pain making it difficult to breath. Some mornings, like today, I have energy to move about freely within the house. Other days, I’m panting just trying to head to the bathroom, which is literally the room right next to our bedroom.

Sigh. The body. I can’t control it as much as I want to. The only way to control it is to rest, rest, rest, more resting that I was doing before this five day hospital hibernation. Which is frustrating and discouraging because up until that point, I finally felt like I had been experiencing good energy and better discernment when it came to resting and going out, even staying out later than I would have normally been able to do. So with me panting now going to the next room over…it just feels like I’ve regressed so much in such a little about of time. Like, how much more can a body rest? I’m trying to listen, I really am. And I guess there is progress since I haven’t been as frustrated with myself when I don’t complete all of the activities I was hoping to accomplish that day. That is life-giving and energy-saving. Discouragement drains.

Thankfully, I did have enough energy to attend our new young adult home-group that Josh and I have been going to. This week we studied a brief survey of Jesus’ miracles and their purpose to affirm his claims as the Messiah Savior. I almost just sat there and cried as we read passage after passage of the various healing miracles, from freedom of fevers to freedom from death. The climax (and the truest moment of holding back tears of realization)—

matthew 8

16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities
    and bore our diseases.”

Jesus takes on our sicknesses and carries them for us.

In my moments of hospital over-nighters and chemo-driven days, this truth can many a times feel so far away. But with my Bible in my lap, hearing it read aloud that moment in homechurch, it couldn’t have hit home any closer. Because I realized that whether I remember this truth or not, all day, every day, Jesus has been doing this for me for the past 14 years. Man, I would not be here if he hadn’t all those years ago! He is always there, withholding more pain that I probably even know and halting cancer cell growth more than scans can show. This verse promises his very, very nearness to us, hugging us physically and spiritually with its compassion and comfort, the promise that he is more than just there with us but taking on and enduring it all for us too.

On the surface, it may not look like the traditional “miracle” since I’m still undergoing treatment after all of this time. My cancer hasn’t completely disappeared like the Peter’s mother-in-law’s fever; it is still here within my lungs and my bones. But it’s a miracle that I am still here, even with a rare cancer, stage 4 diagnosis pronounced upon me 14 years ago. You can’t argue that one. The statistics argue for my miracle.

He has taken upon my cancer.

He has bore it in so many more ways that I won’t know until eternity.

That is joy-giving, life-giving.

That is grace.

archeological remembrance.

My 6 month check-up scans are this Monday.

6 months?!

Where has the time gone? And at the same time, it doesn’t even seem like I was finishing up treatments 6 months ago, bald, tired, anxious.

Looking back at the time, it almost seems mythical. Like that period of treatment was other-wordly, that it wasn’t even me undergoing treatment then but someone who looked like me, thought like me.

And at times, it seems like the chemo-brain fogs all of your memories from treatment life still. (Is this fog called Denial?) Fog that seemingly separates now and thenpresent and past, and yet I know the fog is really not there, there is really no true separation of time: this is my continuous life.

I thank God that He called me to write more and blog over this past treatment year. It is a thought-scrapbook of myself, for myself, even more so valuable to me than to any other reader. I re-read at times and am truly amazed that I could even formulate sentences back then; a true gift of grace He gave me unique moments of time, of clarity, of ability to write, reflect, remember.

I’m on an archeological mission: re-reading old blog posts, un-earthing blog-bones, carefully examining and lifting them up from the earth. I always wanted to be an archeologist growing up, and who knew that one day I would be digging up myself from ancient artifact. Because yes, the past does seem ancient and distant and like it was another world at times. And yet, I dust off my blog-bones and see that truly they are the same ones living in me still, still, alongside the living bones who at times host cancerous cells, the radiation damaged bones, and currently my broken bone in my arm from a fall.

I printed off a physically copy of my blog posts for myself at Staples about a month after treatment ended, Staples bounding it with its spiral black plastic. And a shock: about 200 pages I printed off. 200 pages! Paper upon paper bound together, thick as a bone. And to have this blog in hand, so physical in nature, reminds me that yes, this did happen. You have had cancer 3 times in your lifetime, and this documents only the latest. (And if this was only 200 pages, what would the other 2 times bring?) The 200 page bound book is heavy; my life is indeed heavy. It sits on my dresser, even more physical reminder than the blog itself, published electronic words and sentences floating somewhere in mythical cyberspace and only obtainable through my phone, my laptop.

I look at the bound blog-book at a distance to briefly remember;
I read to remember grace and gratitude;
I slowly edit to compare my life then and now, and in hopes for a future for myself, for this blog-book, that maybe it will one day future-time might be a real, physical book (if He wills it.)

I am trying to remember and reflect and overall have more gratitude. I truly believe that returning praise and thanks will guard my heart from its anxieties of upcoming scans, of health-future in general. I am not so anxious for these upcoming scans as I thought I would be, but oh, I know I must still prepare for myself for the next several days because emotions seem to shift at times so quickly.

I’ve been reflecting on how much the people of Old reflecting back on their own pasts. In fact, at times God commanded them to take a moment to reflect, create a makeshift altar in that moment to think about what He had just done for them. And then there are the beautiful, historical psalm-songs, melodies of rememberance, each line sung to reflect and thank on how God came through in Egypt, in Joseph, throughout Israelite history (Psalm 105). Remembering the past, how He has come through time and time again.

psalm 105

Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
    make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
    tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength;
    seek his presence continually!
Remember the wondrous works that he has done,
    his miracles, and the judgments he uttered

Remembering the past not only unearths gratitude along with the artifacts, but another treasure: confidence. He is always continuously adding to His resume of faithfulness to me, and in looking backward can inspire confidence in moving forward to future-hope.

I long to be confident as He calls me forward, so I read on and write on and reflect on.

Help make my moves and thoughts be confident in You and Your provisions for me!