August 2009


Up until yesterday I had enjoyed a pretty good run with this whole chemo thing.  I’ve said it before, that I wasn’t just going to sit and wait for the brick wall to hit.  Instead, as far as I was able, I would be enjoying each day of my life with as much energy as I could muster up for the day.

Well, I must have slowed down just enough for the brick wall to catch up with me.  Yesterday I felt lousy.  Nausea hit and I was out for the count.

To top matters off, Jeff spent the early hours of the morning in the ER with pains from a kidney stone.  He was out for the count too, morphine helped.  We’re all still recovering from our day but I’m back on my feet and Nathan and I are hoping Jeff will be joining us soon too.  The “Better-Than-Treehouse-TV” award goes to our friend who welcomed Nathan into her home yesterday so that Jeff and I could sleep.

I hate it when Jeff is sick.  It really makes me realize all that he does around the house and for Nathan and I.  He’s the one that brings the fun with him and shares it with the rest of us.  I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Jeff, I love you!  Get well soon.

**After Nathan and I prayed for Jeff, Nathan assured me that God is healing Daddy’s body so I expect a full recovery soon.**

Advertisements

That’s probably a strange title for today’s post because today was a chemo day.  Today was Day One/Round Two of the CHOP chemo and we arrived down at PMH, got Nathan settled and were called in quickly to get set up with an IV.  My nurse today was awesome and we had some good conversations as she went about her work.

But truthfully, the chemo was just the backdrop to my day.  It is the catalyst that caused or allowed all the other events of the day to unfold.

Chemo Party: Jeff stayed with me for my infusions, but at lunch he went down to eat with Nathan and to listen to the “Music in the Atrium” concert (two cello’s and a keyboard).  While he was gone, a good friend from high school who happened to be across the street for the day came by and to visit.  What a great way to pass the time during a chemo appointment!  And then, before I knew it, my sister and my Auntie came in with Jeff following behind.  With four visitor’s in the chemo room it was a bit crowded, but what a treat to catch up with friends and family.  As they left, I thanked the other patients for allowing me this impromptu Chemo Party.

Hat Sale: After I had my own lunch we went back downstairs where there was a hat sale, 50% off.  Unable to resist, I found a new hat for my growing collection that will look great at a wedding this weekend.

Family: We went for a walk downtown for a bit to just look around some of the shops and the day finished off with some great ice cream. Believe me when I tell you that watching a two year old eat an ice cream cone is both delightful and disgusting.  He had a blast and it was worth every drippy bite.

Home Sweet Home: As we drove into the driveway I could tell that something was different about our house.  There was a bench in the front entryway that wasn’t there when we left this morning.  I questioned Jeff about it but he pretended not to know anything about the transformation to our house today.  After walking through the front door, I could see that our house had been transformed.  I was bawling before Jeff and Nathan could even make their way through the door.  A few weeks ago a friend began to put a plan in action to gather a group of people to come and clean our house.  It is significant to me that the last words I spoke this morning as I left the house this morning were, “yeah, I know, it looks like a bomb went off here”.  And more than just cleaning, there are meals in the fridge and freezer and other gifts to make the days ahead easier for me and my family.

The Biggest Thing: I think that the most significant thing to me is this:  That you guys love my family.  That you know that Jeff and Nathan are being affected by all that is happening to me and that you are loving and caring for them in significant ways.  That brings such joy and blessing to me.  It makes it easier for me to face an upcoming long stay in the hospital for the bmt procedure and the long time of recovery because I know that they are loved and cared for.  They are not forgotten.

So thank you, all of you who were a part of today.  Despite the chemo and the cancer, today was a great day.  A day I won’t ever forget.  A day that I will tell and retell of God’s ongoing and overwhelming provision to us.  A day that will stand out as a forever reminder of God’s character and His love to us.

Overwhelmed.

H.

p.s.  I don’t know who cleaned the downstairs bathroom but I know that you must have drawn the short stick.  I hope there’s an extra jewel in your crown waiting for you in heaven.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

As I’ve been preparing to lose my hair, I’ve been reflecting on fleeting nature of beauty.  Isn’t it true?  We all get older and our physical appearance starts to change.  Wrinkles, gray hair, thinning hair, and “love handles” are just a few ways that our bodies betray us as we advance in years.  And the health and beauty industry is right there to offer all kinds of solutions with lotions, diets and exercise plans to make us feel better about our aging bodies.

I was watching TV this afternoon and a commercial for Cover Girl came on.  Their spokeswoman, Ellen, starts of the commercial like this:  “Inner beauty is important, but not nearly as important as outer beauty.”  My jaw dropped.  I just watched it again and I’m still stunned.  I realize that she’s trying to sell a product, but I wonder what other messages she’s selling with these words?

Then I found this verse, talking about the Proverbs 31 woman.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25

What a woman! I really liked this verse because I hope, in some small way, that I am like her.  She can laugh at the days to come.  I don’t know all of what is around the corner for my family and I (and for those of you who are standing by our side) but I sure hope to face it all with a smile on my face, joy in my heart and a room full of laughter.  Not that nervous laughter that comes from fear but the deep belly laughs that bring cheer to my heart and to those around me, the joy that comes from having this confidence: If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Update: This week has been a bit crazy here at our house.  Monday morning I woke up and felt like someone had poured cement into my lungs while I was sleeping and it was hardening away.  I called my GP and arranged an appointment for Wednesday afternoon.  Well, the appointment didn’t come soon enough and I found myself back at the ER with a temperature of 39.2.  After a good amount of time I was given some antibiotics and sent home.  I was warned by the pharmacist that it would leave a metallic taste in my mouth.  She also suggested eating popsicles, sour candies or other strong flavoured food to mask the taste.  I’ll be trying that as soon as I get myself to the store for some sour keys.  Yuck!

Also, this week I’ve been in bed a lot.  Jeff has picked up the slack and he’s tired too.  I was glad “the boys” took him out for a movie last night as an escape from all his work here at the house.  I’m hoping that my tiredness is just a result of the chest infection (which is clearing up) and that I’ll return to having a bit more energy when it’s cleared up completely.

And, for the big “ta-da”: I went to the salon and had my head shaved.  If I was going to lose my hair anyways, I had decided to lose it all on my own terms.  A few weeks ago Jeff had met with the Manager, Katie, at Salon Chic to have my hair cut and to be pampered a bit.  So, I called on Wednesday morning and booked an appointment.  I arrived and started off with a scalp massage (where I lost obscene amounts of hair) and then a shampoo and condition (where I continued to lose more hair) and then for the cut.  She cut all my hair short to start with and SURPRISE my hair is very curly!  Strange.  Then we moved on to the clippers with a #2 guard.

I must admit that it’s a bit strange to have a shaved head.  I’ve always had A LOT of hair.  The strangest thing is catching sight of my shadow.  My hair continues to fall out and I’ve got a pretty good bald patch at the front.  All in all, I’m still laughing at the days to come.

With laughter in my heart,

H.

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life. Proverbs 16:31

This is probably one of the best practiced verses in my family. Us Norman’s, we do gray hair really well. And really young.

Grandma and Grandpa Norman, my Dad’s parents had beautiful silvery hair. They had gray hair FOREVER. I’m not even kidding.  My Uncle Bob once said that he couldn’t remember my grandparents with dark hair, ever.  And what about their kids… all gray hair.  The grandkids too.  So believe me,  it was no surprise to me that I would one day follow down the same silvery path.

I remember finding my first gray hair. I was sitting in Sign Language class and “listening” to the teacher. I must have been paying deep attention, because that’s when I found it. I was 16 years old and I knew that it was all downhill from there.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my gray hair in the last year.  This spring I was talking to a friend about making the decision to colour my hair again or just leave it be.  I said that it really just boils down to one question:  “Am I too young to have gray hair?”  I thought about that question for a long time.  The more I thought about it, I had to really wonder, who says that I’m too young? Who determines what is young and what is old?  Who has pushed this idea on our culture?  I’m pretty sure that the beauty industry has had something to do with it.  I’m also pretty sure that God made me this way. I mean, yes, science is involved, my genes determined my gray hair before I even had any hair on my head, but is that all there is to it?  I don’t think so.

The Bible says that gray hair is a Crown of Glory and that it is gained by living a godly life, or attained by righteous living.  Now that makes me think a bit differently about the colour of my hair.

My hair is starting to slowly fall out.  Soon I’ll be bald.  I won’t have to worry about colouring my hair or if I’m too young or old for gray hair.

But my life goal remains the same:  to live a godly life.  If gray hair is attained by righteous living, then I’m going to earn every one!

Update: It’s day 9 of my 21 day cycle and I’m still feeling pretty good. The strangest thing so far is the change to my taste buds. My food all tastes different but I’ve decided that I’ll have to just get used to it. The other option just leaves me very hungry. I also noticed an increase in my appetite for the first few days, which was surprising to me, but I think that this was a reaction to one of the medications that I was on at the beginning. My hair is starting to fall out, one by one, but I understand that this will increase dramatically over the next few days.

This week the nurses have been coming in to give me a Neupegon injection over the course of 7 days. The nurses and Dr. Crump all suggested that I could learn to do this myself or that Jeff could learn to administer the needle to me. Not being a big fan of needles, and since I love Jeff a whole lot, I decided that if the nurses were happy to come to the house, I was happy to be home each day when they arrived. So far, so good.

Hugs and Kisses: As I reach the middle days of the 21 day cycle, I know that the chemo is at work attacking my blood cells and lowering my immunity to all kinds of health risks. That means that I have become super conscious of hand washing and the potential risks that my environment and other people present to me.

So what does that mean? Well, I had a decision to make. I could decide to either 1) walk around with non-latex gloves and a mask on in all public places, OR 2) I could stop shaking hands and greeting family and friends with a hug and kiss. Both are socially awkward, but wearing gloves and a mask seem a bit over the top for me.  Just try it… Next time when someone leans in for a hug, take a step back and say “I can’t do that.”

Hearth Place: Yesterday we traveled out to Oshawa to visit Hearth Place. This is a Cancer Support Centre that offers a variety of programs including counseling, support groups, yoga, walking classes, children’s groups and a wide variety of programs designed to meet the needs of patients, caregivers and their families. We had a tour of the centre and Nathan was given a care package that included some toys, crayons and colouring book and stickers. Also included in his gift bag was a booklet for children about cancer and a guide for parents as they talk with their kids about the changes that are going on in their family. I’m looking forward to taking some time to look over the resources that are offered at Hearth Place, attending some programs and learning more about how to best talk to Nathan, my nieces and other children (and their parents) who I know that are impacted by my cancer story or a cancer story of their own.

That’s it for tonight. I’m doing my best to enjoy each day with Jeff and Nathan and enjoy living my life.

Love to you all,

H.