I just read my first Caring Bridge post from a year ago on Easter Sunday. I have always found journaling to be like therapy for me. It’s a chance to get quiet, write my thoughts down, and just have a conversation with myself. Every now and then God will show up in ways that totally catch me off guard. It is those quiet times that I feel closest to God because I am not distracted with life.
A year ago I was about to start an intense regimen of chemotherapy, my lymphoma had transformed into a very aggressive form, and I was the most scared I have ever been in my life. It is so amazing to go back and read that post a year later, on GOOD FRIDAY of all days, and be able to completely Praise Him for His faithfulness. Who knew that a year later I would be building sand castles on the beach and riding roller coasters??
From my last blog post 2 weeks ago I had mixed feelings. I had finished the PET scan and received an initial assessment of progressive disease which was disheartening to say the least. The next day the radiologist’s report said stable disease which was uber confusing and left me feeling sort of good, but not in the way that I should have. We went to San Diego to just forget about things and enjoy Spring Break and I did finally receive a phone call from Dr. Miklos last Thursday confirming the stable disease report. To his credit, he humbly “ate his words” and said, “Congratulations, we will see you in 3 months!” No biopsy needed, no additional CAR-T cell therapy for now… HALLELUJAH!!
I have learned from this experience, to ALWAYS make sure the doctor has the radiologist’s official report before you meet with him/her to review the scan results…this will save you a lot of unnecessary stress! Radiologists are trained to read those images … trust them! Thank God for my dear friend Dr. Mark Tu who is a radiologist. I had called him while I was waiting to hear from Dr. Miklos to talk to him about the discrepancy and he reassured me that the SUV (uptake) numbers on the PET scan is what he goes by, as the brightness of images can be subject to the varying contrast on a computer screen. Whew!
When we had gotten the initial assessment that the cancer was progressing, the thing that disappointed me most was not the fact that I had been juicing, detoxing, and practically starving myself to starve the cancer, it was the fact as I lay on that table going through the PET scan machine, I just kept saying to myself “by His stripes I am healed.” It is so affirming to know that, Yes, He is hearing our prayers, and Yes, He is answering them after all this time!!
“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.” ISAIAH 53:5
I love our pastor. Sometime during the weeks previous he had preached on that verse. It just came to me as I laid down on that hard table in that very cold room. They keep that room at like 60 degrees, but as they covered me with warm blankets I felt loved, safe, and confident that God was there in that room with me. And while I had been laden with fear over the past year, I have journeyed to a place where I trust way more than I fear. I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone, but I am grateful for how much I have grown in 365 days.
So for the next 3 months I am going to keep at it. Many people ask me about what I am eating these days and I will say while it was hard at first, it has gotten significantly easier to eat a plant-based diet. No meat, no dairy, no eggs, no processed sugar. In fact I am thinking of starting a new blog about it just to share some of the new knowledge I have acquired from all the research and share process, tips, and recipes that I have enjoyed. Let me know what you think about that! Here are a couple of examples of some new healthy recipes I have recently tried:
This is a parsley tabbouleh with almonds instead of grains! I added extra herbs in it and omitted the oil… yum!!
This is a vegetarian chili over a baked potato… this one has cheese on it for Kaitlyn, but the one I ate didn’t.
On a side note, we had an awesome time in San Diego. We even got to meet up with my sweet cousin Elle, whom we love to hang out with, and meet her boyfriend Eric at Din Tai Fung (a famous soup dumpling restaurant that originated in Taiwan)…so delicious! It’s the only place I have ever been that has a long line to get your name on a list, and then another long line to be seated!!! Yes people, it’s that good!!
My Facebook family and friends have seen the pics I posted, but here are some for you. Despite my being off sugar, the girls were definitely not… it was vacation after all and they enjoyed posting pictures of all the food they ate on Snapchat and Instagram!!
Today is Good Friday. It is the day that Jesus was crucified. The day that the son of God was sacrificed for the sins of the world and I am so thankful that I have a savior who did that for me. I BELIEVE without a doubt He has plan for me.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” JEREMIAH 29:11
I encourage you to take time this Easter weekend to go to an Easter service, say grace before your Easter brunch, or just be thankful for another day that God has blessed you with.
I get so much of my inspiration from all of you and I thank you for following, caring, and praying. It is working!
*I have posted my Easter journal entry from a year ago below in case anyone was interested in reading it. 🙂
Onward and Upward!
FROM MY CARING BRIDGE WEBSITE:
The start of a longer journey…
Journal entry by Kay Blackburn — Apr 16, 2017
Normally my early Easter morning would be busy preparing food for the post church feast, putting Easter Baskets together, or filling eggs for our Easter egg hunt later in the afternoon, but today I sit here quietly creating my CB website to prepare for this long journey ahead so that I can widen the path that will allow to take others with me on this road.
It is ironic that 6 months ago, I had anticipated battling this cancer thing and winning. I was expected to be finished with treatment by now, but in fact I am just getting started. I could be questioning “Why?” and honestly at times I do, but I know deep in my heart that this was planned all along and God meant for me to go through this for a reason and now more than ever I need to cling to Him for the courage and strength get through this.
I am heading to the Mayo Clinic tomorrow to start the first of probably 6 cycles of aggressive chemotherapy (it’s actually a concoction of many drugs called Dose Adjusted EPOCH-R). I will be hooked up for 6 days in the hospital and the “dose adjusted” means that they will adjust the amount of drugs they give me based on what my body can tolerate, the more the better. I anticipate that this is not going to be very fun. I have always been a very positive person and looked for the silver lining in every situation. My greatest passion in life is to inspire others which is why I started posting my cancer story on Facebook for everyone to see. But the nature of this particular disease is scary, and for the first time since November … I am afraid.
But I have faith and I am about to have a lot more of it because I know God has a plan. That is what Trinity said to me when I told her the bad news. It was the silver lining, to know my 11 year old daughter would say that to me at a very dark time. We never know what cards we will be dealt and I always tell them that life isn’t fair. Perhaps I am getting this opportunity to show my girls what it means to be strong, tough, and have courage. I know that a positive attitude has everything to do with how a person heals and for me journaling has always been therapeutic.
I appreciate you checking in from time to time to see how we are doing. Brandon or I will be putting updates on our story here and we welcome all prayers, messages, and help. I know so many people are right by our side, near and far, standing by to help and it looks like there is a way to do that on this site so we will put it out there and update what we need. But beyond all things, we need prayer that this treatment will work.
We have hope because He is Risen and we will celebrate today that Jesus Lives.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25