Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm Walking!

I'll be four days post-op (tympanoplasty) but as long as I keep it to a walk, I'll be joining Dr. Fink's team (Fink's Fighters) at the 4th Annual Dallas/Ft. Worth Brain Tumor Walk on November 7!

This event benefits the National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS), which funds vital brain tumor research across North America. As the benefactor of this research, I am happy to support this cause. My husband, son, and daughter are joining me in this, and we each have a $250 fundraising goal so that the "Mighty Oakes" can contribute $1000 to NBTS.

This means the four of us are each looking for 10 people willing to donate $25, or 25 people willing to donate $10. (See, I can still do math!) Donations can be made online using the links below:

My fundraising page:
Dallas-Ft. Worth Brain Tumor Walk:

Jared's fundraising page:
Dallas-Ft. Worth Brain Tumor Walk:

Jacob's fundraising page:
Dallas-Ft. Worth Brain Tumor Walk:

Emma's fundraising page:
Dallas-Ft. Worth Brain Tumor Walk:

If you're in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and would like to walk on the Fink's Fighters team, go to Dallas-Ft. Worth Brain Tumor Walk: and click on the "join team" link.

Any and all support is very much appreciated!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Clear Sky and Clear Head

The rainy weather lifted today, and along with the cleared skies came a clear verdict on the MRI. "Stable, and low perfusion, consistent with treatment effect." (Translation: still only seeing scar tissue from the radiation.)

As I was heading down to the medical center today, a phrase from a favorite hymn kept going through (what's left of) my mind: "Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake..."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Not On My Mind...(I hope)

Yes, I'm less than 48 hours away from another MRI verdict. I've learned long ago that there are a million reasons not to be anxious about this. And I've been floating along on my prayer cushion, which makes things a lot easier.

Even so, as the day approaches I still find myself fending off the discouraging little thoughts that creep into (what's left of) my mind.

Today started off as a wonderful day. My children spoke and sang in their Primary program today at church, and I was also able to hear good news from friends whose long-awaited hopes for a child may finally be realized soon.

Later I learned the sad news of the passing of a young man who also had GBM. He had long outlived his prognosis and was able to achieve some personal goals in his life, and I guess it was finally his turn to be called home from whence he came. I am grieving for his mother, and I am also having to remind myself that his passing is no reason for me to be discouraged.

When I came home from church I started to remove my jewelry and noticed that I had lost one of my earrings. It was a minor "aw shucks" moment until I took off the other earring and put it in my jewelry box. That's when I noticed the other earring sitting in the box, and I realized that I hadn't lost an earring -- I only put one on this morning. I rolled my eyes and began removing the rest of my jewelry and noticed that I was wearing two LIVESTRONG wristbands instead of one. These were new little "oops" moments. My "baseline" friends (those with intact brains) assure me that this kind of stuff is perfectly normal for someone who is forty-something with small children.

(100/93/86/79/72/65/58/51/44/37/30/23/16/9/2 -- I can still count backwards from 100 by sevens without any problem. Just checking.)

And of course, I started noticing a minor headache this evening. It might have something to do with the high pollen count that's giving everyone else a minor headache, and it might also have something to do with the big hole in my eardrum that feels every change in barometric pressure (and there's a storm approaching). But these are all things that get nothing more than a shrug when I'm not less than 48 hours away from the MRI tube.

After years of experience with both good MRI days and bad MRI days, I think it's silly to have any thoughts like this making their way through the screen door of (what's left of) my mind. But here they come, and thankfully they are small and easy to swat away. I just have to be vigilant and keep swatting, because they like to come buzzing back.

This is where I notice how nice the prayer cushion feels. (Thank you thank you!) And this is where I remind myself that discouragement is never an inspired feeling, and never belongs on (what's left of) my mind.

Friday, October 23, 2009


We have a series of tests going on this weekend. Today my son has his usual lineup of spelling and math tests at school. This evening my husband is testing for his second-degree brown belt, and tomorrow my daughter is having her first karate belt test. On Tuesday I go in for my MRI test.

These are all very different kinds of tests, but they all have a couple of things in common: 1) they reflect what exists at the time of the test, and 2) they provide opportunities to learn something more.

This series of tests is very short-term. In the long-term picture, we are always undergoing a series of tests called "life."

Sheri Dew said, "For indeed, this life is a test. It is only a test—-meaning, that's all it is. Nothing more, but nothing less. It is a test of many things—-of our convictions and priorities, our faith and our faithfulness, our patience and our resilience, and in the end, our ultimate desires."

The experiences we go through in life do test us in these ways. Each new experience gives us the opportunity to demonstrate what already exists within us, and it also provides an opportunity to learn more.

I am grateful for the comforting knowledge that life is an open-book test when we know who we are, why we are here, and where to turn for help any time we need it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Being remembered

Yesterday was a tender mercy moment, made possible with the help of my youngest brother.

Twenty years ago, shortly after moving to Texas, I decided to take a sign language class. My husband was taking night classes, and I already had my degree, but I had worked in a special education school in Utah and gained interest in sign language.

Shortly after the semester ended, a family moved into our congregation. They had a son about the same age as my son is now, and he was deaf. My husband was his primary class teacher, and I was asked to be his interpreter so that his mother could attend the adult classes.

This became one of those experiences where I felt like I was the one being ministered, when it should have been the other way around. We came to love this family, and I especially appreciated this child's patience when it became obvious that he could read lips better than I could sign. I remember him rolling his eyes and correcting me (or filling in for me when I hesitated). This was long before we had children of our own, so it was a time when we especially enjoyed opportunities to play even a small role in the life of a child.

After a few years, the family moved away and we regrettably lost touch. Not long ago (maybe because of my own hearing loss) I was thinking about this person and whether there was any way to see how he was doing. My youngest brother is the same age, and they were both in our class. He heard me wonder aloud whatever became of our young friend, and somehow worked his magic to find him and reunite us on Facebook last night! We spent a little time chatting online, which is a lot easier than talking via sign language -- at least for me!)

I was happy to learn that he is doing well, he served a mission for our church, and he has a good career. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he remembered my husband and me, even though it has been nearly two decades since we've seen him.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer (wow -- coming up on FOUR years ago!) one of my initial worries was whether I would live long enough for my children to remember me. This little reunion last night was a way to remember a happy time in our young married life. It also later dawned on me that if my brief and trivial stint as a bumbling sign language interpreter was memorable to an eight-year-old child, perhaps I don't need to wonder if my eight-year-old son will still remember me.

(NOT that I plan to go anywhere anytime soon!)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


(and one day!)

Ferris Bueller was right: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." And so was John Lennon: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

My son had surgery on his broken wrist last week. He's doing great, and he's home with me this week with a huge pile of make-up work from school. My husband had a birthday on Sunday, and we'll continue celebrating with a trip to the state fair and his favorite store (Dallas Mustang) this weekend. Between birthday-ing and playing school, it took me a while before I finally noticed that another month of survival has passed.

Not only that, but another YEAR has passed since my husband's birthday in 2006, when I received the unfortunately-timed news about tumor progression and had to begin experimental chemotherapy. That was the last time I'd received such a report, and I'm hoping it will continue to be the last time. (Especially since my next MRI is in two weeks.)