Surgery Tomorrow

Tomorrow, August 4, is my final surgery.  I will be having reconstruction that involves the implant transfer as well as some work of symmetry that insurance is so kind to cover.  I’m not sure what recovery will look like, but I have heard it is much better than the initial mastectomy surgery.  The biggest part is I cannot lift Garrett for 3-4 weeks.  Mom came in town last night and dad comes Friday.  They will take Garrett back with them to Texas for most of August to help care for him.  My sweet friend, Jenny Morgan, will be bringing him back to me at the end of the month.
My surgery is at noon.  I have to be there at 10:00 in the morning.  They said surgery should be 2-3 hours with 2-3 hours of recovery and then I am released to go home.  Crazy it is out-patient, but glad I’ll be sleeping in my own bed.  I covet your prayers for Dr. Mackay and his team, my recovery, and my family.  I would also love for you to pray that this is in fact my final surgery.  Dr. Mackay has mentioned that he may want to go back in for touch-ups late fall and I am literally begging God for me to just be D-O-N-E DONE after this.
I am blessed with an amazing support system – thank you for everyone that has signed up to bring us a meal or groceries this month.  It will be such a great help!  The boys started school today so it is a big week in our house.
The month of July was wonderful.  I felt great and loved to take back my roll of mom and housewife that I have missed.  I canceled the meal calendar for July and actually got to use my kitchen for the first time since moving in at the end of March.  We took the boys on a few fun summer activities and extended our road trip of picking Hamilton up from Kanakuk Kamp in Branson, Missouri. On our way home we visited The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, The Ark Encounter in Kentucky, and our close friends, The Greiners, in Tennessee.  I was asked to write a review of The Ark Encounter – when it’s published I’ll make sure to send you the link.  We also took Hamilton and one of his sweet friends to the Lauren Daigle (I posted one of her songs on one of my previous updates: I will Trust In You) and Hillsong United concert. I included a collage of pictures for you to see below.
Because I know you are curious, my hair is starting to grow back just a little bit.  (I never thought I would get excited about having to shave my legs – it’s the little things these days.)  Luke is praying my hair grows back rainbow.  Hamilton wants it to come back red like Garrett’s.  I guess we shall see.  (I’m just thankful I know a gal who will make it look great however it comes back (Love you Hanna Power!)).
And just to keep things real, this journey of cancer does funny things to your emotions.  You just never know when things are going to hit you in a way that seem…well, overwhelming.  As wonderful as July was to feel ‘normal’, it also was hard emotionally.  Due to chemo, my monthly shot, and daily pill I am officially in menopause.  With that comes some “fun” side effects (but praise the Lord that they are not too extreme).  We decided last week that we would send Luke to the school Hamilton has been attending the last 4 years (Covenant Christian Academy).  God has confirmed this decision in many gracious ways over the last week, but the emotions of sending Luke off to big school a year early were felt (He’s in the 4K program).  There is emotion as my surgery drew near and I was not going to be able to care for Garrett and as much as I know he will be well taken care of in Texas – it’s still my last baby that I feel I’m losing time with.  In addition to those family changes, we also had to put our sweet dog, Baylor, down two weeks ago.  For those of you that aren’t dog people this isn’t a huge deal to you, but for those of you who are you understand.  (Ironically, she died from cancer).  The boys miss her.  Luke tells us he misses Baylor daily.  She was 12 and we got her when she was 8 weeks old.  She entered my life during a dark time and she helped me immensely and it was sad to say good-bye to her during such a hard time of our life now.  I turn 37 next week and well there is just something about having a birthday, in midst of a cancer journey, that makes you more reflective.  More serious.  There is nothing significant about being 37.  But in my life it will mark the first year of being a cancer survivor.  The ‘youngness’ of it is more real than before.  The realization of how much life I have yet to live ahead of me and what the shadow of cancer can make that feel like.  We feel so surrounded by love and prayers and community, but then at the same time it’s the loneliest we have ever felt.  Life moves on outside this strange cancer bubble we are in – as it should.  This whole thing has made us rely more on each other and our Savior than ever before – ever before!  And I’m thankful that it has made our marriage, our family, and our personal relationship with our God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit stronger!
But if I’m real – it’s still hard.  It’s still emotional.  I cried my eyes out for hours Monday night and when I stopped I cried some more.  Garrett woke up around midnight and I went in there and got some sweet time just rocking him back to sleep and held him and cried some more.  (Thank you God for your grace in giving me that time).  And when I thought I was all dried up I cried some more missing my dog who I had not cried without in the last 12 years (she always would come up and put her chin on my knee or snuggle in my lap trying to comfort me).  I felt myself spiraling into a pretty dark place, a pit almost.  I went to bed just sad. The next day I started praying.  And I shared my feelings with my husband and some close friends and they spoke truth over me. And prayed for me.  And opened up a window so some light could shine into my dark places.  My soul just needed some uplifting and isn’t it amazing that God gives us people to help do that for Him sometimes.
He is the creator of community.  He is a relational God.  We can find rest and rejuvenation in abiding in Him.  We also can find encouragement and help through His vessels of our relationships.  I would encourage you to find community somewhere.  Attend a church this Sunday.  Churches are gearing up for the fall and it’s always an exciting time to start attending church if you haven’t been in awhile.  I will give another plug for Community Bible Study – many classes are still accepting registrations for the fall and they usually do not kick off until late August or early September.  Dare I say start your own group.  Step out of your comfort zone.  There are many ministries that make it easy to use their curriculum and start a group.  I love Birds On A Wire – such a great way to gather your mom friends together and commune.  I have friends that participate in an IF:Table group.  Do something to connect with someone.  Maybe you need more than a peer, you need a mentor.  Recently I was honored with the request to be on the board of a ministry dear to my heart, Titus2.  My sweet mentor, Regina, who is with our Father in Heaven right now after WINNING her battle with breast cancer, mentored me and founded Titus2.  Check out the website and find a mentor or start Titus2 at your church. (Everything I just mentioned I linked above – all you have to do is click on it to learn more! Or email me questions – I will help you get connected.)
But please, don’t wallow.  Don’t stay stuck.  Don’t curl up in a ball and remain in the pit of your dark place.  Because the winds of that tornado get stronger and harder.  I know depressive thoughts are real.  I know dear friends and family members who struggle with clinical depression – I have in the past.  I’m not against medication (for anything for that matter).  But I also know that coupled with feeling connected to your Savior and feeling connected to a local body of believers (be that in your church, in a group, or with a mentor) is God-given medicine that he wants you to partake in.
I’m always worried I come across preachy when I write, but I’m writing what’s on my heart and I feel it’s what God has given me to say.  If you made it this far, thanks for reading.  As always you can respond to this email and comment.  I love getting your responses, even if I don’t have time to respond back.
I will have Mark or Rachael send out an update when I’m out of surgery tomorrow.  Thank you for your continued prayers and support from wherever you are reading this.

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