Cancer, On My Mind

cancer will always be apart of our lives. and that’s okay.

Nate is doing really, really well (despite having a cold). He is in the thick of the indoor track season, his team is running great. Ames & Corra are both healthy & happy. I am happy, have lots of fun things on my plate, & just feel pretty content with life.

When things are in this kind of groove it’s easy to feel like ‘cancer’ was just a really bad dream.

But then life happens and cancer gets thrown front and center & I realize that it is always there. It will ALWAYS be apart of our life – no matter how healthy Nate is.

For a lot of reasons, this is a great blessing. We have grown so, SO much because of it. I am truly grateful for it.

But it is still, really, really hard.

Cancer hit me hard this week as a friend of ours passed away after his battle with cancer.

Our good friends (married couple) who were both runners at SUU & teammates/athletes of Nate’s had a brother who was diagnosed with cancer a couple years before Nate. His was a different form of cancer but it was in almost the exact same spot. He had the same surgery as Nate, worked with the same doctors, he was young like Nate, it was just very easy to relate with him. After having cancer for 7 years & going through lots of treatments he was in remission for a time. But this past summer he went in for a routine scan and then found that not only was his cancer back, it had spread. He went through treatments but they were ineffective. And this past Friday he passed away. Anytime you hear of a friend dying it’s hard, but as you can imagine, this hit a little harder. Especially since Nate has a scan on Tuesday.

This past fall I actually had to really process this trial of cancer that we were given. Which is funny cause Nate was doing just fine! But when he was actually going through all of it I didn’t have a moment to really process it. I was too busy taking care of him & being the one that was okay. Then we went straight from cancer to a new job, new state, new house, new baby. We were just go go go. And then Corra was born. Babies really force you to slow down. Lots of time sitting and feeding, rocking, etc. And when Corra was a newborn Nate had a decently big surgery that was a follow-up cancer surgery (just fixing some things). ‘Cancer’ (of course mixed with baby hormones) hit me really hard for a few months. I really had to ‘grieve’; again, it sounds so silly because Nate was great! But I just had a delayed response – for a long time I kept busy enough to keep the processing at bay.

I was really struggling with it for a little. I had the thought a couple times to do counseling. But I dismissed it. I was trying to ‘muscle’ my way through. But finally, I gave in to the, now recognized, prompting that I NEEDED to go to counseling. As I drove to my first appointment I felt nervous – was this even going to help? I have a hard time verbalizing how I feel sometimes. And I didn’t want to have to do all these weird ‘psychology’ things (I’m a psych major & it kinda turned more against counseling than for it in some ways – another post on that another time). After filling out the new patient form my counselor came out to call me back. She was a beautiful woman who had kinda funny glasses. One had a normal lens and one was totally blacked out. I didn’t think too much of it but as we got to talking I noticed there was a reason for these glasses. After talking for a little I asked her about it – and what do you know – she had cancer! She had the exact same surgery, doctors, and everything that Nate had. She unfortunately did not have the miracle of her eye being saved though. SHE TOTALLY GOT ME. Over the next couple months we talked, we laughed, we cried, and I came out of it SO much better than I was before. I FINALLY have actually and fully asked myself the hard questions – what if Nate’s cancer comes back? What will we do? What if it takes his life? How will I go on? What will I do immediately? What will I do long term? What kind of woman do I want to be regardless of cancer life, wife life, mom life? How can I do that? It was amazing to me that after just one time a week, for a few months I could control my anxiety about it all. It taught me a few big things:

1: LISTEN TO THE SPIRIT. I wouldn’t have had to suffer quite as long if I would have started counseling sooner. However, I was prideful & didn’t want to be seen as weak enough to need it. But our Heavenly Father ALWAYS knows what we need. Right when my counselor told me that she too had cancer I knew that God was looking out for me and wanted me to go there – it was a perfect match for me. I also learned to not be prideful and be willing to do things that the spirit directs you to do even if you don’t want to.

2: HEAVENLY FATHER LOVES ME AND IS STILL SO VERY CONCERNED WITH ME. When Nate was in the thick of cancer it was really easy to feel His love and feel His presence in our life. But as time went on and things got better it was harder. I always knew He was still aware, but I guess I needed another reminder 🙂

3: NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS TO NATE, I WILL BE OKAY.Of course the hardest part of ‘processing’ everything is how I would go on without Nate. I had zero confidence that I could go on. I was so very anxious about it. This was something that I prayed long and hard about. I wanted to know what was going to happen to Nate – was his cancer coming back? would it take his life? And the answer I got was that, no matter what happens to Nate, I will be okay. I have tears in my eyes as I type this out – I can now say that no matter what happens in this life, I will be okay. I’m a little bummed that an angel didn’t just fly on down here and testify that Nate won’t die until we are old and wrinkled ha, but the more I have thought & prayed about it, the more I realized I needed to know more than anything, that I am strong enough to handle whatever is thrown my way. Things might suck, but I will get through it and still have a happy life. Since having this confirmation and really just hashing everything out I have felt so good. Like, Nate traveling doesn’t even bother me as much. I guess I just feel more confident in myself overall.

And now to bring this all back to Erik, the amazing, amazing, young man who passed away on Friday.  When I heard the news I cried. Then later that day, I went on a run and cried about it some more. But I didn’t have an anxious break down about it. I still felt so much love and peace that no matter what, things will be okay. I have this little inkling that Nate will overcome anything, but even if my feelings are wrong, I know that I will still have a happy, successful life. And really, that’s all I need to actually know – that no matter what – things will ALWAYS be okay.

Another thing that really comforted me was reading Erik’s Mom’s blog post which also had a lot of Erik’s words in it. Check it out, here: http://thedennisgrayfamily.blogspot.com/2017/02/sadness-mixed-with-peace-and-joy.html

So although this cancer life of ours is hard, it’s also beautiful. It has brought us SO much more understanding & peace about this life and our purpose here on earth. I will forever be thankful for my trials.

Phew, okay. Let’s end all this on a lighter note, shall we?

First, somewhat related to the above, I need to give a big shout out to my friend Sara. Nate had a track meet all day Friday & Saturday and so I was planning on just riding my bike in our basement. But after hearing the news of Erik I just really needed to run. So I asked and she offered right away. She’s just the best! Everyone up here is just wonderful. I really haven’t felt this rooted to people in my city and I love it.

Second, the track meet Nate had was a home meet which is always so fun. We spent a good portion of the weekend there and all his runner ran great despite having a hard training week. Conference is also at home in 2 weeks and I’m all sorts of excited!

Third, This cute baby turned the big 9 months on Thursday! As a Costco worker exclaimed after I didn’t give her the hot chocolate sample and she was trying everything in her power to get Ames’, “Wow! She’s a fiery one!” haha. yes, yes she definitely is! She is also very loving and will actually cuddle with me if I rub her back. She is on the move these days and gets into EVERYTHING and always tries to steal Ames’ toys (Ames definitely gives her his fair share so it makes me a tiny bit happy to see her fight back ha). She still gets compliments left and right on rolls & beauty. And she is starting to talk! She says Dada (uhhhh), hi, cries Mama, & just tonight we realized she says Kitty Cat! we love her more than ever.

Fourth, pretty much all the snow is melted now and I am way too excited about it.

Fifth, We listed our Equinox to sell which I’m happy sad about. Ames is SO pumped to get a minivan, mostly because they have “a remote that you press the button and the doors open by themselves!!” haha

And now, pictures:

When your Dad is a head track coach…this is your life

Her new favorite thing haha.

he was embarrassed I was taking a pic in church…but how could I not!?

-till next week-