December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas!

   As Christmas approaches, I want to take this opportunity to give an update on how I am doing and reflect on my life over the past several years.  I wish I could take a magic wand and wave it over me six years ago filling me with the knowledge of the future I am living today.
    My future was looking pretty grim as I received the diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma filling 80-90% of my bone marrow.  The prognosis did not look  promising.  
    I began treatment by preparing for a stem cell transplant just a few weeks before Christmas.   Then spent a year undergoing chemo, tandem transplants, and powerful steroids that all completely wiped me out.  The fun continued over the next two years with more medications and a weak immune system.
    Everyday was a challenge to stay positive,  live in the present, and learn to rely on the countless kind and generous acts of my family, friends, and my faith.  When you are in the middle of the dark tunnel  it is hard to stayed focused on the light at the end. There were many days I honestly never thought it would get better.  Then gradually, with out me hardly noticing, my health has slowly improved!  I actually can go several days without even thinking about cancer!!  I never imagined that was possible six years ago.
    Has my health returned to normal? No. Although my labs continue to improve, I still have some lowered kidney function,  a lower than normal immune system, and some lingering nerve pain.  
    I used to be in constant pain and on lots of medications.  I have managed to decrease my pain meds to the lowest possible dose, and my daily medications are almost down to normal.  
    I try to live everyday with gratitude in my heart.  I have been so blessed!  I know far too many who began on this mm path about the same time as I who are no longer alive, in remission, or are struggling to gain their health back.
   I will never know why I got cancer, or why it is now in remission and my health is returning.  I also don’t know how long, or if this remission will last.  But I do know I don’t want to waste this experience.  I know that there are many things I have learned and will continue to learn and grow from, from having lived through this life and death journey.
    I am a stronger person.  I am learning that I have the ability to decide how I choose to live my life.  I am learning to get rid of the, “I should's and I have to's,” and instead dwell on the, “I choose to's.”   Much of the busyness of the past have slid off my plate.  I am learning to replace them with things of more lasting value.  I am by no means perfect at this, but I know that cancer was a catalyst in examining and changing my life for the better.
    One of the new blessings in my life, has been  the opportunity to be involved in my church.  I am helping  in the Relief Society of my LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) ward.  This is a voluntary women’s organization in my local area.  It is amazing how good I feel when I am serving others and have a purpose which reaches beyond myself.
     My husband continues to be my rock.  He has a tough job with lots of responsibilities and has had some of his own challenges over the past few years.  He still manages to keep this ship afloat!
     My family is growing.  Our oldest son and his wife just welcomed their third child into the family.  Beautiful little Violet joined her 4yr old sister and 2 yr old busy brother on December third.   
     Our daughter and her husband built a home about five miles away.  Their jobs,  school, and a busy two year old daughter keeps them on their toes.
     Our next son was married last January and I gained another daughter! They are both juggling work and school.
   I am so lucky to have all my married kids live close by.  The best part is getting to see and tend my grandkids regularly.  Being a grandmother is one of the greatest blessings in my life!
  Our third son is serving an LDS mission in West Virginia.  He left last July and will return home July of 2016.  Two years is along time for this mom, but I do this with faith in God that he will be able to serve, teach, and turn the hearts of the people to Christ.
I cherish his emails each week.  It is amazing to watch the growth that is taking place in his life as well as those he teaches.  I get to talk to him on Christmas.  Can’t wait.
    Our youngest son is still at home.  He is a sophomore in high school.  I am so glad I get to be involved in his life.  He is such a good kid.  
    With the exception of our missionary, our whole family will be getting together for Christmas eve.  Music, games, dinner, and our own nativity.  I better get off the computer and start checking off my list!
   I am so THANKFUL to be here! To feel well enough to enjoy my family, and to celebrate Christmas together.   I love Christmas and the opportunity to reflect on the birth of my Savior, Jesus Christ.  I know that His life neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on the cross.  That He lives today!  That because of His life and atonement I can have peace in my life and hope for the future no matter what may come.  Because of Him I know that their is a purpose and a plan in all of our lives, and we all have the opportunity to live with Him again.

     Merry Christmas and may the New Year bring you love and peace!

I Belong to