Sunday, August 25, 2013

This is not the downhill.

A friend of mine overcame breast cancer last year. She has this picture, standing in a beautiful wild, with a valley behind. I really like this picture. That range in the distance is similar, but not the same. The climate is pretty much the same, there will be some of the same vegetation, but it's not the same place. When you look in the distance, to the hills behind her, they are steep and once you step down, you're committed, down you go.

Isn't she beautiful?! Jen, we see your strength.
This is not the downhill. The steep slope of a diagnosis and treatment pulled us down, we really just stumbled and had no choice. I feel like we've been climbing up and slipping back down a rocky slope but with the determination of Dory, one foot in front of the other, get to the other side. We're almost there, but it's not the same. The other side of this valley is a strange.

We have so many there cheering us on. That's so great she's done. How exciting! You must be so excited! You made it! You get to have your life back to normal!

Yep, all true.

And now, can I be honest?

We're having a hard time celebrating. We are still beat up...exhausted, sore, disoriented, and bruised. The consequences of the real possibility that this cancer can return will linger through the months and years ahead. Reentering a life you used to live, in a different time and as a different person, is awkward and feels uncomfortable. Add to it that I am plagued by forgetfulness, it's harder than we thought.

As Esther's doctor said at her appointment last week, it is reasonable and expected to be scared. Treatment is coming to close, and now we just have to wait and pray and hope and trust. All of the faith of these last 15 months feels like a scrimmage, this is for real.

Esther is 12 doses into the last 28 doses of medicine to rid her body of this ugly, aggressive, deceitful thief. We have 8 more days of active treatment. 8 days left to clean up any residual disease. 8 days to the summit of this valley. Please do pray for us, hold us up. This climb has not left us without wounds and hurts, and it is hard right now. I wrote in an email last night...

"We are glad to be almost done with Esther's treatment, but are having a difficult time actually being excited. Esther now faces a significant chance of relapse in the next 5 years. So, we want to be hopeful and joyful, but the future is not certain. None of ours is. We we would all agree on that in a general way; however, when you know what you will face if "xyz" happens, it is different than what you could theoretically/imagine facing. Last week Esther's doctor said these feelings are very expected, that there is valid reason to be afraid. [He also said he feels good about Esther's long term survival.] I just appreciated the honesty and freedom to confess my feelings.

... Lyrics from the song, "Worn" by Tenth Avenue North say....

I know I need to lift my eyes up
But I'm too weak
Life just won’t let up
And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

I think I would feel this way just in the midst of regular life without ever walking this cancer road. I feel entitled to a break, to rest, but life just won't let up. I'm seeking my rest in places that aren't satisfying, and as much as I feel I deserve a break, it is a mercy and grace that doesn't belong to me. God only promises to be with us. It is true, life just won't let up. I am feeling that more acutely through some other difficult circumstances.

I know it's been a long time of need for all of us, and it's hard to keep asking, but please hang in there with us as we figure out how to get back into a life that has been lived for a year without us. I feel like the new person a lot. Spending time with people we've known before cancer is strange. It is clear we haven't been a part of their lives. Relationships between friends have grown and changed with each other, kids have grown and changed. We can't just go back to normal and I don't know how to start over as a completely changed person. I feel like I have to get to know everyone again. I suppose it's a bit like Anthony and I. Coming out of this, we are changed people, our soft spots are different, we need grace and to encourage each other in ways we didn't need before. We have to commit to relearning each other in meaningful ways, and I need to do that with the people around me."


This desire for rest will not be met entirely in this life. There will ALWAYS be hurt and pain in some degree. This morning at church we sung "You're Beautiful" by Phil Wickham. At one point in the song I just started weeping.

"Now You are sitting on Your Heavenly throne. Soon we will be coming home. You're beautiful."
"As we arrive on eternity's shore where death is just a memory and tears are no more."

There is a promise ahead. A promise of no more pain, no more weeping, no more death. A promise of perfect relationship with the One who loves us more than any ever could. Life will let up, and the rest I will never completely find in this life will be found. Soon we will be coming home. It was an encouraging morning of worship for me. Honest...I don't want this hurt...and real...I am so, so weak right now. Through one of the other songs, God reminded me of a passage that has long been a cornerstone of my personal faith, 2 Corinthians 12:8-10...

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

It was refreshing to cry this morning and feels good to just confess that this is still really hard, and we are still incredibly needy.

Esther is doing pretty well. The skin on her face is showing breakdown from this final round of accutane. I am so glad we don't have to worry about her Broviac site anymore. She is feeling well and still showing everyone that her tubies are gone. Tuesday we are going swimming! She's going to be so excited. We're trying to soak up as much summer as possible and will be starting school Wednesday. Here's some pictures from the last couple of weeks.

The weather finally got warm enough to ripen some of our fruits and veggies!

Farm Hands
Getting ready to roast tomatillos, garlic, and peppers. SPICY!
Lydia halved all 10 pounds of tomatillos. Zinnia and Esther laid everything out to roast.
That would be 8 quarts of tomatillo sauce. Marinara sauce is next. YUMMMMM!!!!!

We had a dance party after lunch today and taught our kids about the awesomness that is old school Weezer.



  1. Oh Sam. We will be holding you up in prayer that God would now bring healing to your heart, your relationships, that He would give you grace and your friends patience as you re-enter. You have been such an inspiration in your honesty and in your hurt and in your joy. God will redeem what has been lost.

  2. Couldn't have said it better, Emily! Samantha, we are so glad to have your family as our neighbors, on our team. Already, it has been such a blessing to my own heart to have your kids playing in our backyard, and loving the little house! I get little glimpses of redemption when your kids are around-to have them running around playing and bringing smiles and laughter to everyone on our team, as Trevor & I wait on the Lord's perfect timing for our own family. God is blessing through your family, even in your current struggles. He is making beautiful things and redeeming! We are praying for you in this new transition, and I want you to know I'm available and want to be part of your lives! Love you guys, Lindsey

  3. Always holding you all in my prayers. I learned this morning that another cancer fighter we know passed away yesterday. It breaks open the wounds and makes me feel raw again. Why was this precious girl not spared? This road is so hard to walk, thankfully some days are easier than others. Thank you for being so transparent.

  4. I'll be honest too - I would not have thought to pray for "re-entry" into your "normal" lives, so I'm very grateful that you communicated it so that we could pray with and for you. The things that you are feeling and experiencing make SO much sense. Praying for emotional/relational healing - and that the new "normal" that God transitions you into next will be even more amazing, blessed, life-giving and God-honoring than ever before!