Holy suffering, Batman!

So, the past week? 
That sucked.  Really. 
First, we had Monday, the day of infusion.  I tend to feel great when I go to the clinic
because it’s been a while since they filled me with poison.  So I show up optimistic, energized, ready to
go.  The infusion was fine. 
For those not familiar with how the process works, I’ll give
you a quick run down.  I have a medi-port
device, named Portia, that is installed in my chest.  It is accessed by a big scary needle and
fluids can be administered through it and blood can be taken from
it.  It’s pretty nifty and saves you from
ruining your arm veins.  Upon arrival, I
am weighed, and vitals are taken.  I am
weighed each time because the volume of chemo you are given is based on your
weight.  Blood is taken and a couple of
quick tests are done while I am administered pre-meds – steroids, hydrating
fluids and anti-nausea medication.  This
takes about an hour.  Then I am hooked up
to Oxaliplatin and Vectabix, two chemo drugs that are given over several
hours.  At the end of that, I am given a
bolus (injection) of 5-FU (yes, it’s really called that) and then hooked up to
the Wonder Woman Power Pack (aka Fanny) that I wear home.  This contains more 5-FU which is pumped into me for 48 hours.        
During this time, at the cancer center, I visited with nurses I know, showed off
my latest Wonder Woman accessories, read, rested, watched funny YouTube videos.  I even did a conference call with my staff
via FaceTime.  Ah, technology.  After, Kevin and I had lunch at Panera, stopped at Old Navy to
buy some new “visiting jammies”  (it’s
important to have decent lounge-wear when people stop by often as people do
when one is ill.)  I went home, took it
easy, did a little catching up on work and felt mostly ok. 
Wobbly, but ok.  Wobbly is the
name I give to the feeling that sets in once chemo has been administered but
hasn’t yet unleashed its fury.   You feel like something is off, your brain isn’t
sharp, you feel slightly queasy and a little tired.  The next day and a half, I was mostly getting used
to lugging that fanny pack around. 
Tired, uncomfortable.  Then the
heartburn of an angry dragon set in.  This was a
new sensation – burning from my belly, literally up to my ears.  I looked it up and that’s a thing – burning all
the way up into your Eustachian tubes. 
Wednesday I got unhooked from the Power Pack and was
administered more anti-nausea meds and a prescription for heavy duty heartburn
medication.  The heartburn
persisted.  I dragged myself into work on Thursday to attend our Day of Hope picnic.  Familiar faces and an event celebrating God
on the North Shore lifted my spirits even though I felt pretty low,
physically.  I felt like I was literally dragging myself around,
wondering if people could tell how I was only about 50% sure I wouldn’t vomit
right there in front of the crowd.  A
homeless man spoke to me as I passed by and said “Ma’am, you look like a
princess.”  I looked around to see if he was really talking to me, and when I confirmed that, I smiled and said to him very genuinely “Sir,
you have just made my day.” 
I came home and made dinner and the efforts of the day just wore me down.  Just as we sat down together, I got so sick I couldn’t eat it.  What a shame!  I had three bites of a delicious meal and my body just shut down.  This was very discouraging.  I went to bed and barely saw my family that day.  Emotionally, this was the hardest day.  Your little girl just wants to tell you about her day and you have no choice but to be alone in a dark room and just get through it.  Your exhausted husband has worked all day and now has to handle every aspect of the evening – clean up the kitchen, bath, math practice, lunches for the next day.  This is when sadness and “it’s not fair!” threatens to take hold of me.    
Friday, I’d agreed to attend an important meeting.  I truly relied on God to get me there,
through the meeting and home.  I was glad
I went, and so grateful to get home, put my non-visiting jammies on and just
settle into a weekend of rest. 
Unfortunately, Saturday, the heartburn upped its game.  My insides felt on fire.  Nothing touched it – believe me, I’ve tried
everything from prescription meds to kimchi (which is delicious, btw!) so save
your well intentioned “Have you tried ginger tea?” for someone who has
heartburn because they ate too much Vincent’s pizza.  This is the chemically induced destruction of
the upper portion of the digestive system. 
My doc is on the case, so we’ll hopefully figure it out, but mint leaves
and popcicles aren’t going to tame this dragon, my friends. 
Sunday, let’s just say I spent more time in the bathroom
than I did for my past two colonoscopy preps combined.  Man, I don’t know what hell was unleashed on
my tummy, but you could audibly hear it churning from across the room.  Because I’m stubborn and crazy, we decided to
go to the Science Center anyway.  I can
tell you where every bathroom on every floor is.  My apologies to anyone who was there Sunday.  We came home and I laid in agony while
watching The Devil Wears Prada.  I want
to be Meryl Streep in 30 years.  Or be
neighbors with her.  We would visit over
chai tea and talk about the most wonderful things, I just know it. 
The weekend was really miserable.  Many times I lifted my eyes heavenward and
said “A little help, here?”  No specific
answer came – just the truth that only what is needed is what comes and that
which is not needed stays away.  This is
needed.  Don’t know why.  But I don’t need to know.  To say we need to know is to say we know
better than our creator, and that just doesn’t make sense to me.  He knows. 
He has set me upon this path and is deeply aware of every
experience.  He uses all for my good.  So be it, and may I be grateful

Today, Monday.  I am a
new woman.  The storm has quieted.  The fire in my belly has reduced to a
smolder.  I am so thankful to be mostly
restored.  And I am grateful to be able
to say I leaned in to the Lord in search of wisdom and comfort, not away in
despondent bitterness.  As John Newton
says, (something to the effect of) if we’re going to the throne of grace where sits the King of Kings, the
Father of all creation,  in search of
comfort and relief and we aren’t getting it, we certainly aren’t going to get
it from staying away.                  

Portia the Port

So Wednesday, I went to UPMC East hospital to get my new port installed.  To my surprise, my surgeon was the same man who valiantly performed my very difficult biopsy.  As soon as we came around the corner, he said “There she is – my lung capacity champion!”  This man is really impressed with my breath holding skills.  (Is there any way I can make money with this skill?)  Anyway, I felt confident in his ability to do the port procedure, after all we’ve been through together.  Dr. Varma is a young-ish kind of cute Indian surgeon.  I like him.  Probably because he likes me – isn’t it funny how that works?  I remember telling my mom when I was little that I liked one of my dad’s friends, and she asked me why and I said “Because he likes me.”  And she asked how I knew he liked me and I said that he smiled really big and his eyes got squinty when he saw me.  I’m pretty sure the guy was an ex-con for some non-violent crimes – Well, I guess I started early believing people deserve second chances.  Anyway, I like Dr. Varma. 

Along with him came a big, bearded, shaved headed, tattooed anesthesiologist.  When I told my dad this, he made a disapproving sound, and I said “NO!  That’s good.  I was happy.  That’s the kind of guy who isn’t going to hold back on the anesthesia.” 

See, apparently when Dr. Cordaro my surgeon who put Mort in just knocks you right out.  Dr. Varma has you awake but in “twilight.”  That can mean a lot of different things from my experience.  I know that during this procedure, your arms are basically tied down – look, if you feel the need to TIE DOWN MY ARMS, then you should probably just make real sure I do not care what’s going on.  So, biker-dude anesthesiologist and I had a little chat.  And I’m happy to report, we understood each other perfectly.  The procedure began with him injecting me with some drug that starts with an F.  Maybe fluvoxa-something?.  And he said “Your cocktail, my lady.”  And then he gave me another one.  Dr. Varma asked “How are you feeling? ”  And I said “Fine now, but scared it’s going to hurt.”  He gave the ok to give me another dose.  Then he started cutting into my chest and neck, but I could not possibly have cared less.  They had a little paper sheet over my head and I stared at the blue fabric with great interest and mentally floated on clouds.  Soon, they were done and I was wheeled back to the recovery area.        

My new port and I are getting used to each other. 

She’s new.  She’s sleek.  She’s a lean, mean, chemo delivery machine.  Introducing…Portia! 

I broke up with Mort the Port at the recommendation of my oncologist in February.  The severance was quick, not exactly painless but I healed quickly.  I thought I’d try being on my own for a while.  But it turns out, I’m not cut out for port-free living. 

Portia and I – I know, it’s a new relationship, but so far, well, we just work.  Unlike Mort, she doesn’t mind if I sleep on my side.  And she doesn’t insist on bulging out quite so brashly, announcing to the world that we are together.  She’s more confident, secure in herself.  Humbly dignified.

As long as she’s not shy with the chemo nurses, I think I’m in this partnership for the long haul.  Eat your heart out, Mort.       

We met with my doctors (liver surgeon, Dr. Tsung, and my trusty oncologist, Dr. Mehta) on Friday.  Apparently my case made it to the UPMC tumor board, whatever that is – a group of specialists that discuss interesting cases, I suppose.  Dr. Mehta likes to brag about me so he told everyone about my triathlon and breath holding skills. 

We got some good news Friday.  One is that Dr. Tsung doesn’t feel that my cancer is particularly aggressive – it’s been growing slowly, he says.  I wonder if my physical activity and generally anti-cancer lifestyle have helped.  Doctors tend not to think that way, but I think you have to look at the big picture.  How can what we eat and how we live not have an impact?  I’m not saying you can cure yourself with leafy greens but it’s worth giving up the bread and cake to give yourself an edge.  Since my CT scan, I have gotten very serious about my diet.  I am actively attempting to bring my weight down to reduce the amount of fat in my liver (down 11 pounds so far!)  And I am avoiding foods that are known to be cancer-feeding.  So this means:  no sugar, no processed junk, virtually no starches (I’m eating some hummus and beans which have a little starch in them) no red meat or pork, no fruit except berries.  So what I AM eating is:  lots of fish, organic chicken and turkey, organic veggies and some strange things I’ve researched that seem to boost one’s immune system and fight cancer including:  Noni juice, a raw, organic green super food powder, lots of fresh ginger, garlic and turmeric.  The noni juice smells and tastes pretty terrible.  I figure it must be doing SOMETHING if it tastes that awful.  🙂

Other good news we’ve gotten is that I am negative for two genetic mutations that are bad.  I’m not clear on exactly why, but if you have them, your cancer is harder to treat.  So, I’m in the “best” camp of Stage 4 colon cancer patients.  This situation is not good by any means, but my spirits definitely lifted some when I heard this news.  Both of my doctors seemed energized and ready to get to work on this stupid cancer. 

We start tomorrow.  Dr. Mehta is adding a third drug to my chemo regimen.  He cautiously delivered this side effect news to me:  It’s going to make my face break out like the worst teenage acne I have ever seen.  He said “The effect varies but you need to understand, your face will not be as pretty as it is now.”  I am struggling with this for one reason:  I have always been able to decide if I want people to know something is “wrong” with me.  But between this fanny pack infusion business and my face looking like a disaster, that choice seems to be less available this time around.  It will be humbling to draw attention in this way.  But as my mom and I discussed – what an opportunity to show my daughter, who could very well have acne in coming years, how to deal gracefully with this particular life challenge. 

I’m wrestling with the feelings.  Annoyance, fear, embarrassment, worry and frustration with myself with caring about how I look.  I’ve never “gotten by on my looks” per se.  But I never really stopped to appreciate just looking “normal.”  Cancer is a thief.  It tries to steal just about everything.  Physical comfort, energy, hope, confidence.  But. 

God is in His wheelhouse right here. 

Do not conform any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… 

Beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Instead (your beauty) should come from your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle, quiet spirit.  (I know, I need some work here.)  🙂

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction…

Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds…

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trials…

It’s another thing to entrust to Him.  Plus, I’ll know who my real friends are, when people start avoiding me because I look like The Swamp Thing.  🙂     

Our downfall: ingratitude

I can honestly report to you that I am doing OK. I do not feel afraid right now.  Something has been allowing me to live above my circumstances. Allowing me to live up higher and float slightly above the reality we face.  It’s not illegal drugs 🙂 or tired cliches of God not giving me more than I can handle.  It’s not a unicorn farting sparkly fairy dust or a mantra.  

It’s gratitude.  My readings and listenings and thinkings and prayings have led me to a special place of thanks.  I’m grateful.  For my life so far.  My family.  My friends. My job. The love of many.  Everything is a gift.  I’m reading this cool book that is right in line with this.  It’s called One Thousand Gifts.  (Score another one for my mentor, Lisa.) It’s encouraged me in this thinking.  
Our problem is entitlement, and not just the millenials.  All of us.  Between Hollywood, fairytales, and everybody’s Facebook highlight reel, we think we deserve a loving partner, our health, freedom from pain, a dog that doesn’t chew the couch, a DVR with endless memory, perky boobs, a sweet ride, a head full of hair and perfectly above average children.  
That’s what seems “normal” so we think we deserve at least that.  So and so has it, why can’t I?  
There are a few problems with this thinking:
-people have more problems than you think they do. Believe me, I know. Because when you have my kind of problems, people reach out and tell you their problems.  Which I love and see as a gift.  Seriously.  People have illnesses they don’t want to tell you about, pain that is difficult to share, shame that requires medication and worries that rattle them to the core.  But their family photos look sunny and fun, their smile is firmly plastered and they are deeply committed to making you believe everything is fine.  (Unsolicited advice:  Be a safe haven instead of a competitor.) 
-most of the world has nothing close to those things you think you require in order to be ok. Much of the world is inhabited by people who are not sure where their next meal is coming from, if their sister will die during childbirth, if a bomb will destroy their home, if the water is safe to drink or if an anaconda will eat them. (The last one is sort of made up.) 
If you’re reading this, you’re one of the lucky ones.  Put here by God and your ancestors hard work and decent genes.  Forget about the facelift and the $400 sneakers (unless you can have them AND truly be thankful.  Which, I think, is hard.) 

-if you feel entitled to those things, you can’t appreciate them.  And you’re missing so much!  Look around your house…The one that isn’t big enough or nice enough.  Can you give thanks for it? Try.  Your kids/spouse/brother are crazy.  If only they would just…  Stop.  Look at them.  They are so great.  Just give thanks for them. 

-perfect isn’t normal.  You know what is normal?  Some mix of monotony, love, tragic loss, fun, boredom, physical pain, pleasant enjoyment, white hot fear, depression, hilarity, relief, dullness, excitement, betrayal, surprise, anger, healing.  That’s a lot more normal than a perfect family that never has any problems.   How about we expect to have problems, small and occasionally big, and learn to respond with a thankful heart – yes, crying, screaming and such is fine for a time.  We all have to experience difficult emotions one way or another.  But there is great comfort and opportunity on the other side of that wall of fear you think you can’t get over.  There is a ladder nearby.  It is called Gratitude.

When you begin to see everything as a gift, your perspective changes.  Realizing you’ve been acting like you deserve something is a wake up call.  You’ll think “why?”  Why have you acted this way?  This entitlement?  Because you do good stuff sometimes or try to do less bad stuff, or you go to church or don’t swear or something?  That’s very common and understandable but let’s be real – it’s bad theology and simply not how life works.  Fred Rogers died of stomach cancer.  Shit happens.  To really great people.  

But there is so much hope in letting go of the entitlement. 

Your heart grows and your brain relaxes and you unclench your fists and you begin to take in the scenery a little better.  Set backs are less devastating, because…look at all of these gifts!  Maybe you didn’t get the Malibu Barbie, but there’s a freaking Cabbage Patch Kid over there!

Yes, there is cancer.  That nasty thing.  But also…

There is a friend who would move mountains.  A mom and dad at the ready.  There’s a good job.  A strong husband.  There’s your aunt who really loves you.  There’s a cold drink.  A warm bed.  A fluffy cat.  Your little girl with mischief in her eye and love in her heart.  There’s The Golden Girls when you can’t sleep.  

And if you see that there is a gift giver and He is the mighty captain of this ship, and He is big and good and generous and very skilled at steering.  Well, then you can enjoy the gifts and enjoy the ride.  

The Waiting.

I thought I would wait to update until my doctor called to
tell me what’s up with this biopsy.  But
I realized that this time, this waiting, is worth sharing about.  I get about 20 texts or Facebook messages a
day asking if I’ve heard anything, which tells me that people are just as
anxious to hear about this as I am.  We’re
all biting our nails and pacing.  Of
course I’m the only one with the phone practically sewn into my palm (those of
you with ongoing health issues know that missing a call from your doc and the
subsequent phone tag is a special flavor of suffering that can invoke everything
from a gnawing uneasiness that gets worse each second to sheer DEFCON 1 level
panic.)  We’re all wanting to know.  We all desperately long for that miraculous
good news, of course.  And we understand
how much more likely bad news is (or even some weird, inconclusive
report.)  We understand that this phone
call will point us in a particular direction. 
One very different from the other. If the news is to be bad, we ought to probably just get on with it, right? 

This is a lonely place. 
Even as much as people reach out and make great effort to be with me in the ways they can, and I understand we are in this
together, it’s often a solitary experience.  There
are so many moments I’m alone, or even when among others, I’m alone in my
thoughts.  And I turn many things over in
my brain.  But mostly I pray.  I commune with God.  I respond to the tugs toward the kind of relating
we are created for.  Our thankfulness and
God’s reassurance.  Over and over. 

My friend likes to talk about spiritual things like the
existence of God and such with the question: 
what is this….like what is ALL of this? 
Who are we and what is our purpose? 
How does it work?  Because – that’s
what it’s really all about, right?  What
IS this?  And who ARE we?  Who made us? 
And why?  And what happens
next?  We should really concern ourselves
with these questions – and circumstances such as these (waiting for the doc to
call about the maybe cancer) brings all of these rushing to the forefront.  If you don’t know – well, I don’t quite know
how I would approach all of this.  Whatever gets you through.  But
even when you feel you know, you have to really really really remind
yourself.  A coworker recently called the
Devil “the stranger who distracts you with lies”  – now I don’t spend a lot of time studying
the character of Satan in The Bible.  I
think because a lot of Christians talk about him in this super scary, unhelpful
way, and blame him for a lot of things that are really about choices of
humans.  Satan, in these days and times
is often just an excuse.  But really…if
he is the Father of Lies, and if he seeks to steal, kill and destroy, it makes
sense to me that he would whisper lies to me, to try to take me off track.  The thoughts that enter my head are dark and
full of fear.  They are sad.  They are hopeless.  They invoke anger and ultimately a deep sense
of mistrust toward God.  “He’s betrayed you” says the liar.  Sounds like
something Satan would do.  Or maybe it’s
my own laziness.  It’s hard work to fix
my eyes on Jesus.  When I’m doing it –
praying without ceasing, writing out prayers of thanksgiving, giving my heart
over to God, reading sound biblical interpretation, spending time in prayerful
meditation, talking with people who comfort and encourage – I’m in the
zone.  The waiting doesn’t bother


This is in God’s hands. 
It’s in His time.  All things,
even the waiting, are for my good.  This
has given me a unique time with Him – a time to seek Him in a particular
way.  It seems you  can’t have this kind of palatable closeness
with God unless you are running to Him, full speed, desperate, totally vulnerable.  Chased by terrifying beasts.  But up ahead is the castle, and the King stands at the ready.  The gates are open just for you, and His
sword slays all that dare to harm you. 

He sees fit for me to wait.  So I wait and when the waiting is hard, because the fear builds up, I run to Him.     

Post biopsy: shredded liver, heavy heart

My organs have been through the ringer! (Or is it the “wringer?”)

Yesterday’s biopsy was really difficult.  First, they wish they could put you under because the process is so invasive. But they can’t because they need you to hold your breath, which you cannot do if you are under anesthesia. So they poke you a bunch of times with a small needle to numb you up at the surface.  Which is nice of them.  But kind of just a formality. Because then they get out an enormous needle.  Over 12 inches long.  
My liver lesions (which sounds like a bad college band) are located in a remote area of the liver closest to my diaphragm. The first surgeon was actually not very experienced, and she was not having any luck getting anywhere near the area from which they needed to take a sample. While I was glad they brought in the seasoned surgeon whom they all referred to as “the expert”, I begin to feel discouraged, worried and afraid. Discouraged, that they might not be able to get what they needed, worried about what the alternative step might be, and afraid about how many times they might try before they decided to quit!  

Each attempt to access the liver involved this long needle. They would pierce through the skin, and slowly pop it through a space in my ribs, the lidocaine did not penetrate that deeply, so I could feel them slowly poking around.  I had to hold my breath for about 30 seconds at a time. 

It’s interesting how God has long-term plans. Who would have thought my mermaid like characteristics, developed 30 years ago, joyfully retrieving objects from the bottom of the deepest swimming pools, would come in handy at the age of 37 on an operating table?  The doctors and nurses in the room each commented on my breath holding skills in amazement. As one nurse said, “it’s one thing to hold your breath that long but another to do so while we’re putting the longest needle we have into your abdomen.” A sample was finally taken by the spring-loaded mechanism inside the needle, which makes a disturbing popping/cutting/snipping sound and corresponding sensation that could make you pass out if you dwell on it. And the doctor immediately said “dammit.”  Not the word you want to hear. The sample he got (a small worm-like piece of pink liver) was close to but not part of the lesion. He said defeatedly “I’m so sorry.  But that didn’t help us at all.”  But we were both determined.  He ended up jerry rigging the needle, removing the guide on its handle to give him three more centimeters to get further in.  He told me that at this point, we were facing significant risk of internal bleeding by going so deep, and risking piercing the diaphragm.  I asked him “if you mess up, and I start bleeding or something wrong gets poked, can you fix me?” He smiled and emphatically said “yes.”  And then he told me I would need to hold my breath and lay perfectly still for as long as he needed. I smiled, because I was built for this. I’m a swimmer. I’m an athlete.  I might not be the fastest anything, but these lungs are bad ass.

It was scary, and it hurt. It was hard to hold my breath and not react to the pressure, pushing, digging.  There is nothing like laying on a gurney, hearing uncertainty in the voices that are supposed to have everything under control.  It is truly the loneliest place I know. And I have been there a few times. These are my moments of “are you there God? It’s me, Jessi.” 

Those are the moments of discouragement. The moments of an uncertain or poor outlook. You’re walking the tight rope, and even though it’s dangerous and crazy: the whole thing is absurd!  But you’ve mastered this craziness…walking where few tread, and  you feel confident with each step, moving forward, each step sure, until a strong wind comes.  And as you start to wobble and then lean too far and struggle to bring it back to balance, you completely lose your focus.  You can barely remember five seconds ago when you felt certain.

Sometimes the wobbling lasts a moment. Sometimes it’s a whole day.  But, in my experience, it always stops. I’ve never fallen. And I know that the hundreds and hundreds of prayers of people who love me, and people who love people who love me has made all the difference. I don’t claim to know exactly how prayer works, but I can tell you that when people started praying for me in large numbers things changed. Last weekend, I was wobbling big time. And then I stopped. And I grew stronger, and I had the good sense to read what the Bible has to say about who I am and who God is. And I got stronger.  So I listened to some sermons (Tim Keller!) and read some books (Anne Lamott!  Max Lucado! Sarah Young!  And…Tim Keller!) and listened to some wise people (My dear friends who encourage me greatly) and I stopped wobbling.  

So yesterday, when I was wobbling a lot, I was able to believe that the wobbling would stop. I couldn’t stop it myself last night, because I was in pain and weak.  I got scared and cried.  But I knew that people were praying. And that it would get better. And it did. Last night was very difficult, because the pain was more than I expected. I felt discouraged and vulnerable. But I knew it would get better. The pain would subside, my perspective would improve. And it did! This morning, the pain is manageable. My outlook is sunnier. And I believe that people’s prayers played a significant role in that. 

When you see someone wobbling, pray for them.  Pray for people you love. Pray for people’s pain. Pray more than you think you should. I am understanding the power of it more than ever, and I am driven to pray more than I ever have been.  

We will have the results of this biopsy in a week or so. All signs point to cancer. Perhaps God will change the course. Please pray for that. But even if He does not, I will follow Him with joy. And pray without ceasing.  I hope you will, too. And please share this if you know someone who might be helped by this post.  

Biopsy: punching a hole in the ribs to grab a chunk of liver

Big day Thursday.  They will insert a very large needle into my abdomen, through my ribs, into my liver, to find out if these pesky spots they found on my most recent CT scan are cancer. Man, I hope they’re not.

Getting this news was pretty devastating. But I must tell you…I trust God.  I really do. I am aware now more than ever of his amazing love for me. His faithfulness. His goodness.
I know, it’s very easy to question God’s sovereignty and goodness and love when we get bad or potentially bad news. I totally get that. But here’s the thing. If you expect God to make sense, you’re nuts.
If you’re married, think about your spouse.  Do they always make sense to you? You always know what they are thinking? Do you always agree with everything they do??  Hahaha.  Now, I don’t know if your spouse is smarter than you, and we will bypass the debate on who is smarter in my marriage 🙂 but I know that God is smarter than me. He is glorious. The nature of his glory is such that we cannot understand Him or His ways.  If you can’t even understand another human in their entirety, how could you possibly expect to understand God, and be in a place to judge whether he is good or right?  I’m not into that. I’m into trusting Him.
Here are a couple of things I know:
God has been faithful in my own life. I have had several experiences that nearly brought me to death’s door. When I was nine, my house exploded about four minutes after walking outside. When I was 18, I stupidly went surfing during the very beginning of a hurricane, got sucked under in churning waves and just when I thought I was a goner, was basically spit out by the ocean.  When I was in college my house caught on fire with my roommate and I sleeping inside it. We awoke only because of an alarm we didn’t recall setting. When I had Cassidy, I suddenly hemorrhaged so bad I almost died.  Then there was the last bout of cancer.  God has had my six every time. Sure, this time could be different, but why assume that?
I experience tremendous growth through times of trial and suffering. I have learned that you really are not much use to other struggling people if you haven’t really struggled.  But people who have suffered? Especially people who have chosen to trust God during their suffering? They know things. They are wise.  They have perspective and patience.  They are Yoda. They are Wonder Woman.
I experience outrageous amounts of love during times like this. Already people are stepping up and reaching out. Everyone likes attention. We really need it when we are going through something hard.  It doesn’t fix it but it helps so much.  Team Jessi is the best!
I’m praying to be healed. In the past I have been hesitant to pray this boldly for healing. I think it is because I have been worried that God might not answer in the way I expect, and I might feel disappointed. I don’t do so well with disappointment.  I feel differently this time. I feel confident both in approaching the throne of God boldly, and knowing that I will trust him, be thankful, and follow him even if my prayers are not answered in the manner and timing I prefer.  I can ask plainly and rest in believing He will care for me perfectly, no matter what.  
We assume we know what is good news and what is bad news. Tim Keller calls this something funny like presumed omniscience.  Basically, it is outrageously arrogant to assume that we know if A happens it will mean B. So we freak the eff out.  But.  We don’t know! It might be Q or X.  Or 7. Or nothing.  Sure, I’d love a negative biopsy and no more chemo.  But God knows what is best.  Because He knows it all.  
Look at the cross.  Imagine what they saw that day, and how they despaired as Jesus died. 
Game over. 
But really, it was the beginning of the greatest thing that ever happened. Ever.
Right now, I can tell you in all honesty that I have peace about this. I am finding that it is possible to rise above the circumstances and operate out of a different perspective.  I really want to not have cancer. But I will go where God leads.  I will go with joy in my heart.  And I welcome you on this journey.  Let’s look forward with faith, curiosity, trust and hope.  Let’s see what God does.