Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sometimes Life Just Stinks...and then what?

I am finished! The radiation is complete and just 7 months after learning that I had cancer and having had my peace interrupted, my treatment is through. When I was in the Tomotherapy machine for the last time, I pondered and took a deep breath, I thought about the journey…HOW INCREDIBLE…HOW UNEXPECTED! So much of this experience has been unbelievable and we have made a conscious decision to be positive in the process. This decision has altered the route and outcome and has reinforced in my mind the curative power of positive thinking.

At the back end of the thought about positive thinking, I had to stop myself from giggling out loud when I thought about a couple of experiences that brought back the clear reality that SOMETIMES LIFE JUST PLAIN STINKS (even when you have made the determination to be positive)!

The first came when a friend wanted to find a little reprieve from the hot day and hectic schedule and retired outside on the deck. As you can imagine in the solace of the early evening’s cooling temperature, being alone with her book except for the chirping of some birds, the early whisper of the evening crickets and the dogs frolicking in the yard, she was in peace; and oh how peaceful life can be sometimes!

That peace continued until the frolicking dogs bumped headlong into a skunk, and as you can imagine the scene as it unfolded in a mess of yelping anxiety and a disdainful stench that landed right back in the lap of the caregiver, my sweet friend. The pungent aroma overwhelmed her senses as the peace spoiling cloud enveloped her. She had become a part of the trial and sadly, as life is sometimes, an innocent bystander’s peace was altered for a time by the not so sweet reminder that life really can be unfair sometimes, and SOMETIMES LIFE REALLY DOES STINK!

About a week after my friend’s unfortunate, yet comical reminder, I had one much closer to home and I did not giggle nearly as much, but I knew once again that SOMETIMES LIFE JUST STINKS! A friend and I had taken our boys to South Jordan to visit with a dear friend and welcome her new baby girl into the world. She was beautiful and life seemed really peaceful; all was right! When we got into the car to head home, we realized that the boys were starving and decided to stop by a local McDonald’s (I will not disclose the exact location—either to keep you guessing or to not dissuade attendance—I do not want to be liable!). Anyway, we pulled into the McDonald’s to the thrill of all four boys and they ran into the play land while we went to place our orders. My friend finished first and was the first on the scene; I was close behind and bumped into her as she froze mid-step and stuttered, “Th-that was not here when we got here!” Time slowed and so did my breathing as my eyes caught a glimpse of the subject of her disbelief…a small pile of human waste!

Still in slow motion, I turned to her and we both frantically looked for the boys, who were already up in the play land structure. Then they came shooting out of the slide… one little boy, two little boys, three little boys…where was Eli? I rushed to Isaac thinking for sure he had had a diaper malfunction; he had not. The other boys were checked; all was fine!

“Eli, ELI! Where are you?” No answer. Despite my abnormal dislike of play lands and their varied germs and other fungi I started to crawl up into the structure, trying to have a calm voice as I knew that he was probably hiding and scared, he had never had an accident of this kind before. I soon realized that he was not in the musty, nasty play land and I had to crawl backwards out of the structure, I now know why they post a maximum height restriction, so in addition to my germ phobia being in hyper overdrive, I was now hyperventilating with claustrophobia trying to get myself out of the plastic cesspool!
As I rushed to the women’s bathroom, I passed my friend who was trying to communicate to the Spanish speaking McDonald’s employee about the situation, and realized there were subsequent piles illuminating the path to my boy. I opened the door of the bathroom, “Eli, Eli! Are you in here?” No answer. I almost got sick thinking about what the silence meant…THE MEN’S BATHROOM! Here I was, every button of disgust already pushed and then it culminated in the realization that he had sequestered himself in the quiet, dirty reaches of the men’s bathroom!

The door seemed to reverberate back to me, almost laughing, as I knocked on the door hoping not to hear a deep voice in reply. All I heard was the scared, cracking voice of my 4 year old, “Mommy, I had an accident!” This would prove to be one of the largest understatements in current history!

My need to help him was much more compelling than my phobias and I ran past the urinals and the foul odor to the back stall and threw open the door only to find the most horrific scene my mind could imagine…Eli was now resting on the uncovered toilet seat, an 8 to 10 inch pile of toilet paper between his legs on the floor (a personal attempt at cleaning up), feces all over the seat, all down his legs, in between his toes, ALL OVER, and big, huge alligator tears streaming down his cheeks! I almost lost all my senses and curled up in fetal position in the corner, but realized I HAVE TO ANSWER THIS CALL (and I would be curled up on the floor of the men’s bathroom)! I kissed his face, wiped his tears, and then went in and out of the bipolarity of compassion and anger …”HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?” “It’s OK. We will be fine!” “WHY COULDN’T YOU MAKE IT TO THE BATHROOM?” “This has happened to a lot of people.”

Every time my tone heightened, he would start to cry again, so I would try to calm down and get into problem solving mode. My mind jumped forward, I will get some paper towels wet them wipe him down, get some disinfectant etc, etc, etc…I peered around the stall door to make sure the coast was clear and to my dismay recognized that McDonald’s had gone green! No paper towels, only air dryers. I almost started to cry. “What am I going to do?” I thought I had said to myself until Eli started informing me about what should be done. I lost my temper again and told him that his time to help had passed. He started crying again. I apologized and informed him that I would be locking the stall door behind me and he was to talk to no one. I had to go to the car and hope for some redemptive items in the trunk.

I hadn’t comprehended how fetid the air had become in the bathroom until I walked back into the restaurant. I just shook my head as I made eye contact with my pal and ran from the establishment. On my way to the car I just prayed that I would have something, anything that might make this a manageable situation. The prayer was answered, I had a pull-up, some heaven sent wipes, a plastic bag, and one of Justin’s shirts that would work as Eli’s new pants AND shirt. I felt grateful and I loved my boy more for the experience!

I walked back into the McDonald’s with a renewed sense that it was going to be OK, only to find that a man in a 10 gallon hat and big ‘ol handle bar mustache was entering the bathroom. I expected him to rush right back out, but several minutes later came to the chilling realization that the deplorable situation inside wasn’t too far out of the ordinary for the men’s bathroom (reinforcing my previous position!). While waiting for TEX to leave, another man went in. I did not get back to Eli for about 5 minutes. In that time, the deposits on his bum, legs, and feet were starting to form a hardened shell. I spent the next 20 minutes scrapping and cleaning up Eli and the bathroom…SOMETIMES LIFE JUST STINKS...and then what?!

Sometimes our peace is interrupted in unexpected ways and we can easily be pulled into the details of what is happening, but if we can find a way to trust what the Lord has said and believe that ALL THINGS CAN BE TURNED FOR OUR GOOD, then and only then will the truly STINKY parts of life make sense. In this way cancer makes a lot of sense. In this way the losses and heartaches that I have experienced in my life make a lot of sense, so I will TRUST THE LORD and let Him make of me what He will!

“VERILY I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks; Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted. Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord.”(D&C 98:1-3).

With love,


Friday, August 6, 2010

Only a moment in time!

Andy and Justin think it is really funny to talk about sick things, like bed bugs, spiders, or snakes right before I am put into the tube for the radiation treatment. Inevitably, I will start to have an itch, which obviously cannot be scratched or the entire machine will shut down, so I lay there trying to focus on something else so the itch will not drive me crazy! Usually before I can get my mind focused on something else, I have about four different areas on my body that begin to itch (power of suggestion!) at the same time.


I was in a particularly troublesome itching episode unsure if I was going to make it, when I remembered something Robin, the Radiation Oncology Nurse had told me a few weeks ago when I was having a hard time emotionally, she said, “THIS IS ONLY A MOMENT IN TIME!”

Robin and Kari

That thought helped me the day I was tearing up about not being actively engaged with my boys, like I had been last summer, and it helped again in the Tomo machine. I forgot about the itch as my mind rested on, THIS IS ONLY A MOMENT IN TIME.

I couldn’t help but think back on other situations throughout my life when I was quite sure that I would be in that place forever and I would never think or feel differently than I did at that very moment. As I grew and matured out of some of those situations, I did indeed think and feel quite differently than I had before and my actions changed along with my new perception. Those “forever” situations where indeed ONLY A MOMENT IN TIME!

As I go through the radiation phase in this cancer treatment, which smacks of going on forever! I have recognized that my emotions are raw and I often find myself on the verge of tears. This realization has struck me as odd as I am coming to the end of treatment, so I have thought and thought about why and I have realized that for all of the other aspects of treatment, I have had loved ones and friends there at every turn. They were a part of the process right along with me. Radiation is different! I drive myself there, I have the treatment and interface with the great staff (laughing and crying) and then I drive myself home.

While in the machine, I have reflected on the Savior and his mission; his perfect example of completing a mission with honor! Throughout most of his life, people couldn’t help but be around him as they watched him heal the sick, raise people from the dead, and love in a perfect way. I am certain that they never anticipated that this would ONLY BE A MOMENT IN TIME!

I do not think it is by chance that he experienced sheer and utter aloneness. Whether in a radiation tube or the quiet recesses of our own minds, we have periods in our lives of feeling alone. Our Heavenly Father knew that Christ would need to experience the pain of this type of loneliness to be able to have true empathy for all of us and support us in this way.

For Christ, as he did in all things, he experienced the most poignant and deep loneliness in the history of the world (Matt 27:46). He had too! He had to know how to take the burden of cancer patients in a lonely radiation tube, sooth the broken hearted, as well as taking on him the pain and loneliness of God’s children who willfully removed themselves from His presence through sin.

I can only imagine that for Christ’s loved ones who watched him be spit upon, beaten, mocked, and scourged, that these scenes of terror must have felt like they were going on forever. I am so grateful for God’s perfect son who allowed himself to be nailed to a cross and submitted to all kinds of torture and ridicule because he knew perfectly that THIS WAS ONLY A MOMENT IN TIME! He knew that what he was choosing to submit to would eventually end and the result would be eternal life for all man and the possibility for exaltation for those who accessed the atonement. He rose above the loneliness and pain and fulfilled the mission that he was sent here to accomplish (Matt 26:38).

I hope we can all ponder Christ’s perfect mission and recognize that he has already paid the price for the loneliness and pain that we are feeling; whatever that pain may be! We can give that burden to him, “his yoke is easy and burden light!” (Matt 11:28-30), thus leaving us open to fulfilling the mission that we were sent here to accomplish.

Satan would have us focus on the “forever” feeling of the pain and misery, and our Heavenly Father would have us focus eternally, knowing that our experiences in this life are truly ONLY A MOMENT IN TIME!

I am grateful for the insight that Robin shared that lonely day in radiation and I am grateful for my elder brother, Jesus Christ who is there with me because he intimately knows my personal “forever”, as he knows yours. 

Love to you,


Mom’s Heart Moment: The boys and I joined Valerie and Denise’s boys at the Ogden Nature Park. We were learning about red-tailed hawks and other buteos. The instructor was very cute with the kids and encouraged them to be curious and to ask questions (Eli needed no prodding!). Eli had been SUPER curious for most of the presentation, when the instructor asked, “What makes a bird a bird?”

Without hesitation, Eli proudly announced, “Heavenly Father!” The instructor smiled back and said, “Yes, and feathers!” Giggles were heard around the room and my heart smiled.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pioneering Spirit

I appreciate this time of year and I love the 24th of July, as we celebrate the pioneers coming into the Valley. The definition of PIONEER is a person or group that is the first to do something or that leads in developing something new. I have thought a lot about PIONEERS as of late and feel grateful for the power of newly tread water and forging through territory previously untouched, bringing to light a new way of thinking, feeling, or behaving.

A couple years ago, Justin and I were asked to help out with a simulated PIONEER trek experience for the kids in our ward. We were all asked to research out a name and be prepared to share the story. Unbeknownst to myself at the time, I was literally the product of those early PIONEERS as I discovered that Margaret McCann Porritt, my great, great, great grandmother, traveled with her three small children across the ocean (from England), and then traversed the plains with the Martin Handcart Company, where she arrived, tested and changed in the Salt Lake Valley with my great, great grandfather, Thomas Porritt in tow.

She endured many hardships, including the perils of single parenting, and losing one of her babies to the frigid temperatures on the trail at Martin’s Cove. She understood deeply the pain that can rush in to one’s life and the peace that can be found in the knowledge of and the active use of the Savior’s Atonement. She solidified her character as she weathered the ups and downs of her life. She did not ask for the pain, but endured it well. I am proud of her example and my heritage.

Over the weekend I was asked to participate in the 2010 Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo—Tough Enough To Wear Pink night. When I first got the invitation, I thought it might be a prank and giggled thinking about me on the back of some nasty, dirty, spitting bull and trying to dust off a spot to sit just before being bucked off to certain injury! As it turns out, they just wanted to feed my family and I and honor me, along with 20 other women at the beginning of the rodeo (there was a little danger in the fireworks that were shot off right above my head!).

While at the dinner, I recognized Mrs. Butler, Jenny and Becky’s mom from high school. The ironic (or orchestrated) part of the story is that Mrs. Butler was diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time as my grandma Nelson, but her diagnosis was far graver than my grandma’s and I remember consoling Jenny and Becky as they were dealing with the probability of losing their mom and almost feeling guilty about my grandma’s more favorable diagnosis. As time passed and treatment decisions were made in both cases, the Lord’s will was made manifest…he took my grandma home and Mrs. Butler is in her 23rd year of survival.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I recognized her and realized that she was truly a PIONEER in the field of breast cancer and its diagnosis and treatment. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude as we talked about her journey and the advancements that had been made on her back, as well as thousands of women that had come before. I was sitting there in the company of PIONEERING women that have made my personal journey much easier.

Despite my journey being easier, there have been tears and anger and disappointment. There have been unanswerable questions posed by my own mind, as well as by others. I have cried out from the depths of my soul, just as I am certain there were times for Mrs. Butler and my grandma Porritt where they cried out wondering how they could have ended up in THIS PARTICULAR SITUATION and the thing that remains, despite the pain is the resiliency of the human spirit; our innate need to conquer and rise above.

Mrs. Butler and my grandma Porritt decided that they would rise above the odds of their circumstances. They decided to keep fighting in the war, despite having lost some of the battles. I don’t think they were immune to negative thoughts or doubts, but ultimately made the conscious decision to fight.

I think about my grandma Porritt’s experience in Martin’s Cove when she had to leave her baby’s body in a shallow grave and just keep walking around the bend despite hearing the howls of the hungry wolves waiting for her departure and I feel compassion for her and I feel grateful for her PIONEERING spirit, that despite the hardships, she JUST KEPT FIGHTING, which was the sentiment reflected by Mrs. Butler

My mind reflected on this reality for all of us…WE ARE ALL PIONEERS of our own existence. We will be asked to break new ground and tread new water as we create our unique and special reality. We will all have hard and challenging days, mixed with triumphs and defeats. None of us are immune to pain, loss, or suffering, but all have access to the same heritage as children of God. We are His children and He desires for us to be happy. He sent his son as a perfect example, who offered a perfect sacrifice, so that we could indeed overcome the challenges of this world. I hope we can all find a quiet moment to honor our own experience, with its ups and downs, soaring moments and shortfalls and find ourselves like Mrs. Butler and grandma Porritt still FIGHTING

“Whatever our challenges in life may be, our burdens may become light if we not only believe in Christ but also in His ability and His power to cleanse and console our lives. Our lives are healed as we accept His peace.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Mom’s Heart Moment:

We were over at Justin’s brother’s house and the food was all prepared. All we needed was a prayer. Some of the teenagers ducked their faces while both of my boys gleefully volunteered! Uncle Matt selected Isaac to say the prayer, who then selected Aunt Sandy to help him with the prayer. Everyone, except for Isaac, closed their eyes and Sandy started to whisper the prayer into Isaac’s ear. He began to reflect what he was hearing and then shouted out, “There’s fire!” Everyone gave a polite gesture to quiet down and then he said it again. At that point we realized that there was indeed a fire on the stove as the corn was boiling over! Thanks Isaac and we thought he was just identifying the power of Sandy’s prayer!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I started radiation last week, but not without some very interesting points of preparation, for instance, I was given an initial CT scan to map the area that would be radiated, a mold was made of my head turned to the left (keeping my jaw bone out of the radiation beam) and my arms raised above my head, clasped on posts near the crown of my head. When both of these steps were completed, the three lasers were lined up and I received three tattoos. OK, it really was just three small dots of ink, which will be a permanent gift of this process, but I call them tattoos to validate the pain that was motivated by the small pricks (just a side note—I have a whole new appreciation for people who have tattoos---OUCH)!

Once the CT scan, mold, and tattoos (who would have ever thought I would have a tattoo!) were in place I waited for about a week and a half for my radiation treatment plan to be generated by Dr. Harris and his staff and treatment to begin.

As has been the case on this entire journey, we feel so blessed with the caring staff of Gamma West. Dr. Harris, Kari (my sister-in-law’s best friend!), Robin, Andy, Justin, and Jessica make me feel almost lucky for the opportunity (ALMOST:)!). This particular “opportunity” will be 5 days a week for the next 6 weeks, but only entails a small percentage of my day.

Each day I drop Eli and Isaac off with a hug and kiss, trying to answer the questions about why I am going to the doctor again when I was just there yesterday and why do I have to go to the doctor when the bad cells are already gone? The questions continue until they see the sweet face and warm arms of one of the many caring women in the neighborhood, for which I entrust my most valuable parcels. Those same parcels have been loved and fattened up a little by the baking of cookies, cupcakes, and any number of other things that their old mom limits. In other words, this will be a great 6 weeks for the boys and I am so grateful for the kind and selfless acts of service from my friends!

I then make the short drive to Cancer Treatment at Davis Hospital in the Robert F. Bitner Medical Building, say “hi” and smile at Kari and Robin, change my clothes and get into what is called a “CAPE” (which made me giggle initially as I imagined myself as a super hero! The first day I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized…I was unquestionably not a super hero!).

The image in the mirror caused me to pause and the smile quickly faded from my face. Familiar tears filled my eyes as I stroked my head, and I took a deep breath in as a quick realization of the toll the last few months has taken on me physically, emotionally, and spiritually swept across my mind. The cape gaped open to reveal many of the scars of the journey on my body and the tears that rolled down my cheeks exposed my emotional and spiritual landscape that has been forever changed.

I gathered my emotions and the cape around me (as best I could!), and found a place in the waiting room. Andy soon appeared and we walked down the hall to the TomoTherapy room. I climbed onto the Tomo bed and Andy and Justin gave me the instructions that I would be asked to follow for the next 6 weeks. A tear escaped my eye as I was all alone and moved into the unfamiliar tunnel of radiation. I tried to find a place to orient myself and quickly realized everything looked the same, so I closed my eyes and my mind rested on the experience with the mirror from the dressing room and not just that mirror, but the crashing down of my favorite mirror at home.

Earlier in the week, the boys and I had been out running some errands and I came home to find the mirror in Justin and my bedroom crashed to the floor, its frame broken in several places. I sat on my bed and just stared at the mirror, with its broken corners and displaced iron works, as it rested on the floor. I felt sad!

In the tube, I couldn’t help but think of myself as that mirror, at one time, like the mirror, I was firmly positioned in my place…matching with all the surrounding “furniture” if you will! Then, with a single phone call, my world came crashing down and my previously well defined corners and ornamentation had been broken away. Despite the broken parts of the frame, the mirror was still intact and still served its purpose of reflecting an image back; that aspect of its nature had not been broken in the fall, just like my core nature had not been broken with the cancer call.

My mind immediately raced to fix-it mode and just like past experience, when I needed something fixed I always thought about my dad, who can fix anything! Imagine how blessed I have been to have this sweet, jack-of-all trades in my life. But, as fate would have it, my dad was out of town. There was no fixing of that mirror that day, but I was able to sit in front of the mirror and just think.

What did the image in that mirror really reveal? Do we take enough time in our life to really evaluate the image that stares back at us in the mirror? Or, do we check our hair, teeth, and make-up and never really take the time to really see our core nature?

I am grateful for the journey of this cancer treatment because it has given me that time! There is true power in really evaluating where we stand and what is reflected in our eyes (Matt 6:22-24). As I take the time and really see, I know there are things that I really like about what is reflected and there are undeniably things that need to change! I am grateful for the power of the atonement, that unbelievable sacrifice of our older brother, which truly covers that which has happened to us physically, emotionally, and spiritually (Alma 7:11-12). I am grateful for an earthly father who so closely emulates my Heavenly Father. In this, I am blessed.

I hope we can all take a little time in front of the mirror. Not to adjust our hair (for those that have it!) or grumble about some bulge here or wrinkle there, but to really look into our own eyes and evaluate our current station, that we may actively take part in the atonement of Jesus Christ and bring ourselves back into alignment with God’s will.

Love to you,


Mom’s Heart Moment:

I was out of town on a Sunday morning and the boys, Justin included, were fending for themselves. Eli was asked to get his church shoes, and he grabbed the shoes without shoe laces. Without warning, he marched himself down to my mom and dad’s house (2 doors down) plainly knowing that my dad could “fix him up”. He was truly surprised when my dad did not have spare shoe laces on Sunday morning, he reflected, “Papa can fix anything!” (an obvious strong mom influence).

As I stated earlier, I am grateful for my dad and I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that truly can “fix anything”. He desires for us to be happy and happiness comes when we align our will with His.

I will leave you with this thought from the Youth Spectacular at Weber State:

“When you look in the mirror do you see who He sees?”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Road Trips

I have had a few road trips in the last few weeks. One was to Logandale, Nevada, another was to Park City, Utah, and the third was to North Fork, Utah. All of the road trips changed my mind and heart in different ways and all have had some very similar themes.

The trip to Logandale was in support of the second ‘Anything for a Friend’ event, which was held for Cher Freeman. She was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago and had no health insurance. The tiny community turned out in droves for her support! It was an incredible display of love, support, and encouragement.

The trip to Park City was in response to an invitation by a non-profit organization called ‘Image Reborn’, which was set up by a two time breast cancer survivor and is in place to help with those who are dealing with the effects of breast cancer and its treatment. It was also an amazing display of love, support, and encouragement on a smaller scale.

The third trip was with our family to North Fork, where we camped over the Fourth of July weekend. It was full of food, dirt, and good times, and it was also a wonderful display of love, support, and encouragement on a personal scale.

I have reflected in my mind how these three different road trips, each unique and particular in their own right have evoked the same feelings for me of love, support, and encouragement. Why do these three elements work together to bring relief? I think it is because they are the healing balm needed to overcome despair, hopelessness, and discouragement.

Many of us have asked the question, “Why does God permit suffering?” And “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Both of these questions serve to subjugate the inquirer and it makes perfect sense that the author of such futility would be Satan, the father of all lies, deception, and confusion.

So if Satan authors such questions and we put that on the table as a known, what is the answer to these pressing questions?

Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “…the tests given to us here are given not because God is in doubt as to the outcome, but because we need to grow in order to be able to serve with full effectiveness in the eternity to come…to be untested and unproven is also to be unaware of all that we are. To deprive ourselves of those experiences, much as we might momentarily like to, would be to deprive ourselves of the outcomes over which we shouted with anticipated joy when this life’s experiences were explained to us so long ago, in the world before we came here.”

It brings me a great deal of comfort to think about trial in this way! Heavenly Father already knows how it will turn out. He already knows if I will be valiant and brave or falter. He knows beginning from end, so the reality is that I am learning more about me and my abilities through trial. In that way, and quite possibly, only that way, I feel grateful for what I am going through and I feel blessed because of the love, support, and encouragement that I have received from those around me.

So what makes the road trips to Logandale, Park City, and North Fork connect in a related circle? It’s about the love and unconditional regard for another human being. I saw it with Cher’s friends and neighbors; I saw and felt it from the young survivors in Park City; and I was embraced by it in North Fork.

“…when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”
 (Mosiah 2:17)

I hope and pray that as we on the “road trips” of life, where ever those roads may lead, we can all see our lives and trials for what they really are and glean love, support, and encouragement from those who have been placed in our paths.

Thank you to all of you who have loved me, supported me, and encouraged me through this process. You have made this particular “road trip” unbelievable.

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God.”

Orson F. Whitney

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I can’t believe…

…I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 37 years old.

…I really did lose all of my hair and even had a Mohawk!

…My hands literally burned and raised my finger nails off the nail beds.

…I had and survived 16 weeks of chemotherapy.

…I lost a part of my body and now have a 12 inch scar in replacement.

I can’t believe…

…the goodness and generosity of people.

…the connections with family and friends that have been created or re-established.

…I had complete clinical response to a Triple Negative Tumor

...I can't believe I am CANCER FREE!
…I know God’s love at a deeper level.

…I feel blessed beyond measure!

Life is about opportunity and opportunities present themselves daily in the form of choice. Within each of us resides a power; a power that cannot be muted by circumstance or unforeseen detours, the power to choose. I often think about a cross stitched saying that hung above my grandmother’s bed as she battled and lost to breast cancer, it said, “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.”

I often thought about those words while fighting fear and tears and questions of why as she struggled with the last few months of life on this earth. I watched the winds and waves of pain and loss roll over her time and time again, but I never saw her give up. I never saw her rest her mind on the negative “I CAN’T BELIEVE’S”, she rose above and when it was her time to go, her eyes were fixed upwards as if to leave her last statement of, “I CAN’T BELIEVE” how good life has been.

Her example has left an indelible impression in my mind and heart. I love and miss her terribly and am so grateful for the way she battled the negative “I CAN’T BELIEVE’S”. I don’t think it is by chance that I have had cancer; the same cancer as my grandma Nelson. I don’t think it is by chance that my 20 year old mind had distinct impressions as I watched her battle. Only a loving Heavenly Father would know the strength I would draw from those impressions and lessons, so the Spirit spoke to my heart almost 20 years ago and those concepts have marinated in my spirit, becoming a part of me.

I have drawn on those lessons to help me focus on the positive “I CAN’T BELIEVE’S” in this experience. I love life and know deep in my heart that it is not designed to be easy, only worth it. I know each of us have waged or will wage our own battle in this life. Some battles will be lost, but if we can find a way through the storm and see the lighthouse in the distance, we will arrive (not unscathed) at our safe harbor and win the war.

About a week ago there was a terrible wind storm. It ripped siding off from our house, torn down trees, and left devastation for many flower beds. My flower beds were not immune to the beating and I felt sad as I looked over the little flowers that had been whipped around all night. My mind rested on a particular group of flowers. I have forgotten the actual name of the flower, so for this example, I will call them the positive “I CAN’T BELIEVE’S”. The “I CAN’T BELIEVE’S” did not fare well. They were laying in ruin and had I not just had surgery, I would have been cutting them at their base and moving on to replace them, but I just had to watch and be sick.

Then it happened, my little flowers turned their faces towards the sun and began to grow again. I couldn’t believe it! Though they had been blown to the ground and knocked from their previous station, they rose above and tried again.

I hope we can all, whatever our battle may be, rise above the storms of life and find a way to turn towards the Son once again. He has paid the price for our pain. He knows what it feels like to have life beat upon you and to find yourself different than you were before, but He is also the perfect example of looking at the positive “I CAN’T BELIEVE’S” (Luke 23:39-43). I hope I can, like my grandma Nelson and little flowers, turn my face towards the Son and state with all that I am, “I CAN’T BELIEVE” how great my life has been!

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers”

Love to you all,


‘Mom’s Heart’ Moment: The other night it was Isaac’s turn to say the prayer. He voiced his pleasure and thankfulness for his grandparents and his Eli, and then he stated, “Please bless that mom’s bad cells will go bye-bye”.

This is not much different than the prayers that he and Eli had been saying for months, but this night was different for Eli because he had been told that the “bad cells” were gone, so he leaped to his feet and smack in the middle of the prayer yells, “Isaac, Isaac the bad cells are already gone!”

It made me smile!