In the Book of Mormon, there is a record of a family who traveled from the Tower of Babel to the American continent. The family of Jared soon received their first glimpse of a vast, stormy ocean, having been required of the Lord to crawl into some mysterious air-tight vessels they were promised would carry them safely to a better place. As they gazed into the deep, moving water, they breathed the unfamiliar sea salt and felt the ice cold water lap at their feet. "What will become of our family?" "Can we do this thing that God requires of us?"

These were the questions we asked as our family stood on the edge of a new journey in February 2011. Before Cathi was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, we saw the waves of an unfamiliar storm brewing and felt the fear of anticipation. When the cancer was certain, our family was required to wade into the cold water, crawl into a mysterious vessel and trust the Lord would be in charge.

The family of Jared was given stones touched by the finger of the Lord that provided light inside their vessels "that they might not cross the great waters in darkness......and it came to pass that...(they) set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God. And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind. And it came to pass that they were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind. And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish, and also they were tight like unto the ark of Noah; therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters. And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind. And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord. And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water." Read the rest:

This blog is the captain's log of our family's journey. It will serve to keep all of you updated on Cathi's condition but also be a place where I can express the lessons we are learning so that it might be a source of strength for others who are going through difficult challenges. We are certainly not unique in this regard. I hope to continue trusting in the light we have been given and to lead our family when we are encompassed by the dark ocean or tossed by its waves. We sincerely seek for your faith in asking the Lord to calm the water, give strength beyond our own and lead all of us of us to a better place.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

One Year Anniversary

This week I passed the one-year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. I must admit that I've been dreading this date--so many bad memories of things that were happening last year. Lots of tests, lots of waiting and worrying, and then a phone call with bad news. I remember February 15, 2011 as being quite surreal. It was hard to believe the bad news. Yet once I did, it was time to take action. That's how it is with any challenge in life, I suppose. You have a hard time believing it or accepting it at first, but then you just move forward and put your trust in the Lord.

 I also remember the day following my cancer diagnosis. It was a GREAT day, filled with lots of love and service from dear friends. It started out with breakfast at a friend's house. This friend (along with two other dear friends) made me laugh and forget my worries, as we sat at her kitchen table and gabbed for a couple of hours. It was just what I needed! Then two other dear friends took me out to lunch that day. Being with these two wonderful women and their sweet little kids was such a calming influence. And then that evening another dear friend brought our family a delicious dinner. (As if I needed any more food that day!) Wow, my day was so packed with love and service that I didn't have a bit of time to brood over my troubles.

That day was the beginning of what would be a very eventful year. I'm not grateful for cancer (I'm not crazy, after all), but I am grateful for the blessings it's brought me. I've always been thankful for the good people in my life--my wonderful husband and children, my extended family members, dear friends from all parts of my life, and even people that I don't know very well (my kids' teachers and Jerry's co-workers). This past year has given me an even greater appreciation for those good people! This past year has helped me to "stop and smell the roses" a bit more. For example, just driving through our beautiful little town to run errands makes me happy. I love to see the snow in the fields, the beautiful clouds in the sky, and the mountains in the distance. (I think I've taken those beauties for granted far too much.) I've learned to laugh at silly, ridiculous things, rather than getting upset by them. Our family has had plenty of giggles about my expensive prosthetic breasts and how I take them off at night and "put them to bed" in my dresser drawer. I've learned (well, I'm in the process of learning) not to sweat the small stuff. I still love neatness and order, but I'm not quite as obsessed with it as I was a year ago. Most of all, I've learned just how much the Lord loves me. He knows me far better than I know myself, and He is there to guide me and bless me at all times, even when I don't quite recognize it. I just need to let go of my worldly worries and let Him do what He knows is best.

As for the practical part of my recovery, things are going well. My hair is now long enough that it feels like a semi-normal style. My energy level is great, and I'm enjoying better exercise and eating habits these days. That feels good! I'm doing plenty of follow-up visits with doctors and am keeping on track with my body "maintenance." Yesterday I had three doctor appointments, back to back--with my primary care doctor here in Castle Rock, with my eye doctor for new glasses and contacts, and with my radiation oncologist at the cancer center. It was so good to see the radiation nurses and to chat with them and get hugs from them. They are terrific women!

The biggest thing I've been "working on" during the past six weeks is physical therapy. Because of losing nineteen lymph nodes and also having radiation, my lymphatic system is a bit messed up. Consequently, I've struggled with lymphedema. I've had quite a bit of swelling in my right arm and hand, so my physical therapist has helped me with this challenge. I've gone to many treatments with her, and she's had me wear lots of bandages and foam to decrease the swelling. It's been a pain, not being able to do much with my right arm for a few weeks, but gratefully, all of the compression has helped a lot. The swelling has decreased as much as 2.5 centimeters in various parts of my arm, wrist, and hand. So now I often wear a compression sleeve and glove (with foam inside for extra compression) during the daytime. At night I wrap my fingers and hand in gauze, then put on a big puffy blue compression sleeve (bulky and not exactly pretty), and then wrap the sleeve with bandages. When I first attempted to do this wrapping on my own, I didn't think I could do it. But now I'm a pro and can do it all in just two or three minutes. Eventually, I won't have to deal with all of this, but for now it's helping a lot. And it's become the "new normal" for me. Jerry has nicknamed me "the paw" because of my large blue arm, and it's just another one of those goofy cancer things that we laugh about.

Before I wrap up this blog post, I want to include a couple of quotes that I love and which have meant a lot to me (long before cancer entered my life). They give me peace and perspective, when I need it most. Hopefully, they'll give you a bit of added perspective today, too. Remember: Life is good!


It isn't as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don't worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out! If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us.   Gordon B. Hinckley

"Fret not" is the first step [in the process for improved faith and prayers]. To fret means to worry or to brood about something. The first thing we must do is stop worrying. When we worry about the future, we create unhappiness in the present. Righteous concern may lead us to take appropriate action, but worrying about things we cannot control can paralyze and demoralize us. Instead of worrying, focus on doing all that you can, and then leave the worrying to your Heavenly Father. If your heart is right with Him, He will take care of the worry and the fear. We must learn to "fret not."   Joseph B. Wirthlin