Thursday, December 24, 2015

But you look so great!

Dear family and friends,

Merry Christmas Eve!  "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given...and He shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."  (Isaiah 9:6) He has been all those things to me during this third round of chemo to treat my metastasized ovarian cancer.

As you know, I came home from Europe in late October to learn my cancer was back--in my abdominal cavity and some spots in my lungs.  I began a new chemo treatment called Doxil which is infused through my port every 4 weeks.  After treatment number one in November, I only had two days of nausea and not much loss of energy.  I thought this would be a cake walk!  But Doxil is a drug that builds up in your system over time.  After treatment number two this month, I had a full week of constant nausea (but only vomited once).  I have learned to time my anti-nausea pills so I can eat small meals, but no food sounds good at these times.  On the bright side, I have not gained my traditional five pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas!  Immediately after the week of nausea ended, I caught a horrible cold, and pretty much sat in an exhausted heap for four days straight.  I'm coming out of that now, going on short walks again, but notice that my energy is indeed lower than normal and that this is most likely my new normal for the next several months.

My hair is thinning, but I still have plenty, and when people see me they inevitably say, "but you look so fantastic" or "you look like the picture of health!"  LOL.  What I look like on the outside has nothing to do with what's happening on the inside--poison running through my veins, making me sick and weak, and hopefully, killing some cancer cells along the way.  

In thinking about all these "outer me comments," I have realized that life is like that for everybody.  I see people and I think they look great on the outside, and I assume they are physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy.  But on the inside, what I can't see, might be an entirely different picture.  When we ask how people are, they say "fine, how are you?"  But perhaps they are coping with a chronic illness, depressed, lonely, fearful, stressed, grieving, questioning their purpose in life, whether God exists, or who knows what else.  

When my kids were little, I taught them this verse that I love--"Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."  (1 Samuel 16:7)  This Christmas, and in the new year, I hope to do this too, and to enter into honest one-on-one conversations with people that get below the surface and let us share what is truly going on in our lives.  

I want to close with one final verse that I have been meditating on and clinging to during the many sick and weak days I have had this month.  "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." (Hebrews 6:19)  "This hope" came to earth as a baby in a manger who would become the Savior of the world.  Thanks be to God.

Love,

Gabrielle

P.S.  Please pray that the chemo will be killing the cancer without killing me, and that my thyroid will normalize without needing a radiation blast.  

P.P.S.  Below are some pictures from a wonderful trip to Hawaii the first week of December (before the nasty chemo number two)!

Daniel heading out for a snorkel in the crystal clear water in front of our hotel!

I love this photo taken on a walk along the shore. Big Island, Hawaii.

A little bit of Christmas in paradise.

A fabulous snorkel site called Two Step.

We get these rings at the ABC store for less than $5.  They bring countless amounts of joy to us!

Yep.  Love floating in our rings!

On a boat trip to go night snorkeling with the manta rays.  We swam for an hour with nine of them, four inches from our faces!

One of our favorite beaches--Mauna Kea.

I've been told I'm too upbeat in my blogposts.  That I can't truly be cheerful while in chemo.  I can't help it.  Cancer doesn't rob me of the joy of being alive each day!