Archive for the 'Reflection' Category

June 9th 2009

Top 5 Questions Asked

These are some of the top questions that some of you are asking, so I thought I’d think about them a little and see if I can answer them here.

  1. How’s Kai doing?
    The simple answer is that he’s having a hard time.  He daily talks about or asks about mommy.  The first couple of weeks his sadness was obvious, and he often would get angry.  It tore my heart apart every time, and in some ways I was more hurt by Kai’s frustration and sadness than my own.Lately, he seems to be less angry about her being gone.  I’m a little concerned though, because when he says, “mommy’s dead” (which he says every time he talks about her), he adds a little forced giggled at the end.  He might say something like, “Hey, those are mommy’s keys.  Mommy’s dead.  She’s in heaven… (little forced giggle)”.  I reply with something like, “Yes, mijo.  Mommy’s in heaven.  Jesus is taking care of her.  We miss her, but one day we will see her again.”  He usually replies with something like, “Yeah… she’s dead (little giggle).”On the other hand, he has definitely gotten a lot more whiny and is acting out more than ever before.  I think a lot of that is simply him being a 2 year old going on 3, but as a concerned parent I still can’t help but wonder how much of it is his little broken heart.
  2. What are you going to do?
    Typically I think people are asking if we’ll stay in Whittier or if we’ll move back to Fresno where my family lives.  Since my main concern is Kai’s stability and ability to cope, I want to do everything I can to keep things as consistent and “normal” for him as possible.  That means we are staying here in Whittier.  Kai loves his teacher at day care and she has really been great for him.  I am so grateful for her and the support and attention the school gives Kai.  Actually, the network of people that have come forward to help us through is amazing, and it wouldn’t make any sense to leave.At the same time, as you know, one of my bosses died two days after Monica.  Since I worked closely with him, I feel like I need to do everything I can to hold the fort and come through for my co-workers and my other boss.  The company that I work for is a small business and we are like family.  I could never fill his shoes, but I can certainly do my part to keep things moving.  Fortunately things are going smoothly as I take on some new responsibilites.
  3. What do you need/Is there anything I can do?
    This question has been one of the hardest for me to answer; mostly because I just don’t know yet.  Today is the 29th day, and I still don’t know.  For sure I’ll need babysitters, but otherwise I don’t know.  What am I supposed to need?  Do I need something that I just don’t see yet?  Sometimes I wish people would tell me what I need so I can go after it.I’ve thought about it a lot actually.  The first thing that comes to mind is sleep.  I’m physically exhausted and it has nothing to do with exertion.  I’ve always had a problem sleeping; when I lay down my mind goes crazy.  Now my thoughts stray to a more acute awareness of Monica being gone.  Even tonight I tried to go to bed early and felt so sad/awkward/scared knowing where my thoughts would lead, that I decided to write this post instead.  Hopefully I’m not totally rambling, ’cause I’m so tired even my eyes are blurred.  The night before I called a buddy who I know hasn’t been going to bed early and we chatted til it got really late.  ACtually, the worst part has been Kai’s new eratic sleep schedule.  He’s been waking up several times a night and getting up each day about two hours earlier than normal.  His teacher even told me today that he’s been taking wonderful naps at school lately.  Hmmm… I wonder why?!The other thing I think I need is a new dream.  For most of my formative years, I always had the dream of being a professional musician.  As I got older my dreams changed, and I didn’t need a band to feel “fulfilled” or like I was doing something worthwhile.  I was happy to move on, and taking care of and growing with my family became my dream.  I loved the role of husband and dad.  Now, that dream is gone.  The role of dad is not the same with mommy gone, and although I still will do everything I can to be the best dad I can be, it doesn’t much feel like a “dream” anymore.  In the meantime, I feel lost.  What am I doing here; what’s my purpose?  Who am I?  Who do I want to be?  I don’t really know anymore.  It’s one of the most frustrating feelings I’ve ever had.
  4. Are you OK financially?
    For the most part: yes.  Monica did not have life insurance, but I have a good job and we had saved a little to buy a house, so I’m not in ruins.  Since we were a two income family, however, I will most likely have to make some changes at some point.  I bought one of those money manager computer programs and sucked in the incoming and outgoing data from the last several months.  Without Monica’s income I am currently cash flow negative.  I will certainly tighten the belt in some areas and make it work, but I may have to find a smaller apartment or something.  Kai will receive a small monthly benefit ( about ~$200) from social security until he’s 16 so that will help.
  5. How are you doing?
    Hmm.  How do you answer that?  There’s the safe “hanging in there”, or the “some times are better than others”, but I think those are more like polite responses.  I don’t think anyone (others or myself) really has the time to answer that in passing anyways, and I’m not sure that most would really feel comfortable really hearing it.  When I was in third grade, a local Indian chief from a San Joaquin valley tribe called the Yokuts came to visit our class.  He came to talk about his culture, but the one thing I’ll never forget that he talked about was how our society is willing to make a greeting out of an important question like “How are you?” and not expect anything meaningful in return.  His argument was that we ought to really care how people are doing, but instead we’re satisfied with just being polite.  I don’t think he would be happy with me as I give my safe/polite answers.  😉  I don’t mind the question and I appreciate people’s concern, but I’m usually not ready to give an answer without pulling up a chair and a box of puffs tissues.

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July 28th 2008

Can’t Sleep…

Well, like many other nights I wait for sleep to come – only this night seems more sleepless than others.  I cry out to God for healing, and for help in this trial.  I am scared, tired, afraid and overwhelmed.  I don’t know what else to do, but pray!  How come prayer is so often the last thing we come to?  Is it because after praying there is peace that comes and we stop searching?  Or is it because we are fix-it people?  We try everything in our power to do it ourselves, just like a two-year old, and when we realize it’s too much for us we finally ask for help!  Why are we like that?  I look at Kai trying to accomplish some “great feat” beyond what he can do, knowing that he’s going to need my help, and just wait patiently for him to ask.  How much more is God just waiting for us to ask?  We are His children, and He wants to help us.  He wants to hold us like a little baby, taking care of our every need.  I am crying out to Him for his help.  I want healing, and strength for this journey.

Tonight before I logged on to post, I read a devotional from a book my mother-in-law gave me called “More Joy for the Journey.”  It was on God as our Provider.  The verses that went with the devotional really touched my core tonight, and I just want to share them with you.  May they touch your life as well.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1

“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.”  Isaiah 40:29

“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”  Isaiah 53:4

“We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:15-17

I know that God is bigger than this cancer and that He can heal me!  I wake up each morning starting new.  Each day is a gift.  No one knows what will happen or when, all we have is today with hope for tomorrow.  “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

I want to end with some specific prayer requests:

1. I go in tomorrow (I guess technically speaking that’s today) to get the port checked.  Please pray that they tell me it is ready to use!

2. Wednesday they’ll be drawing blood.  Please pray that the White Blood Cell Count is normal and that I won’t have to have any shots to boost them or that I won’t have to delay my next treatment because they are low.

3.  Thursday is Chemo.  Please pray that my anxiety will be calmed and that the side-effects would not be as bad as they were this time. 

4. Please pray against any depression of any kind.  This battle is long and I can feel it starting to take it’s toll.

5. Pray for Sol, my wonderful husband, terriffic father, friend, and greatest blessing.  He’s been so strong, but I know that he’s hurting.  He wants to fix it, but can’t.

I want to thank everyone of you who are lifting me up and praying for me.  Keep storming heaven for us! 

Much love,

Sleepless in the Suburbs – Monica 

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July 13th 2008

Prayer this morning

Thank you so much Kent and Keri for setting up the prayer time this morning.  Thank you to all of you who were there and those of you who were and are praying for us elsewhere.  It was amazing to me to see the amount of people who were there and to know that there were so many others I knew who were praying right along with us.  Thank you also to those of you who sent me your thoughts and prayers through email.  Reading those precious words touched my heart, and I believe they have been heard by our Father in heaven.

I was truly touched when hugging a dear soul, who is 80+ years young, and he said to me, with tears in his eyes, “If I could take it from you, I would.  I’ve lived a full life.”  He is currently being treated for bladder cancer and says he prays for me more than he prays for himself.   Bless him!

My appointment is at 4 pm tomorrow.  I’ll be sure to update the site tomorrow evening when we know what the doctor has said.  Until then, blessings to each and every one of you!  Keep praying!

P.S.  My younger sister has been admitted to the hospital and will be having her first child any minute!  :)

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February 28th 2008

Decision about Surgery

Thank you for the kinds words, success stories and prayers. After much prayer and consideration, I have decided to have a double mastectomy. I don’t want to to be thinking about the “what ifs” all the time, and I don’t ever want to go through this again. The HMO authorization came through on Monday, and today I got the call that surgery is officially scheduled for 7:30 am on Friday, March 7th. I have to be at the hospital to be admitted at 5:30 am! Talk about early! At least I don’t have to fast for very long and I think I might be the first one on the list, so it could happen on time!!! I am getting pretty nervous and scared. I will be glad to finally have the cancer out of my body, but am nervous about it none-the-less.

My parents are arriving on Thursday, March 6th. There is actually going to be a prayer meeting for me that night at a friend’s house, so you can join in where ever you may be. If you’re local and want directions, let me know.

I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow with the Oncologist. I don’t expect there to be much to talk about, but who knows. I’ll keep you informed.

Here is my new schedule:

Friday 2/29 – Oncology Appointment at 9:45 am

Monday 3/3 – Bloodwork for surgery

Thursday 3/6 – Prayer meeting

Friday 3/7 – Surgery at 7:30 am

Thank you for your prayers and for your support,

Love,

Monica

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February 10th 2008

Feeling Pretty Good So Far…

Well, it’s Sunday night, and I’m feeling pretty good.  I’ve been craving everything sweet and greasy, but not feeling nauseous.  That’s a good sign, although I’m still not positive it’s all over.  Last time I was puking Monday night, so I’m still pretty nervous about what might come.  I am really thankful to have tomorrow off…Lincoln’s Birthday…and plan on resting much of the day.

Tuesday I have my appointment with the surgeon to set up the surgery date and discuss possible courses of action.  I am fearing that appointment because it means that it’s really time to do this.  I have known it was coming, but am really anxious for some reason.  My parents are planning on coming down for the surgery.  I haven’t seen them since Thanksgiving, so it will be nice to have them here to help and support me in this time.

I still can’t believe that chemo is really over.  It doesn’t seem possible!  Anyway, as I write this I am smiling knowing that it IS over!

My heart is heavy with prayers for my friends and family.   Marriages in trouble, hearts failing, scary medical situations, new cancers popping up…the list goes on.  In all of this, God is still God and is in control of everything.  I have seen His hand on my life and been able to smile in the midst of much disappointment and fear.  I know He walks with me.  I don’t understand what is happening or why, but I know He is with me and take comfort in that fact.

Much Love to you all,

Monica

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November 19th 2007

Top 10 Things We’ve Learned About Dealing With Cancer

In the last six weeks we have learned more than we ever wanted to know about a lot of different things.  Looking back already provides thought provoking list, and we’ve got the better part of a year yet to come.  This list is by no means comprehensive and it isn’t really accurate to call it a “top” anything list, but it just seemed to sound more interesting putting that “Top 10″ in there.  :)

  • 10- Puffs with Lotion is the superior tissue!  I know the name Kleenex is used in the vernacular to mean tissue because the Kleenex brand has become ubiquitous in American culture, but if you’ve never used the Puffs brand tissue with Lotion, you need to treat your nose to the ultimate in tissue comfort.  After all the boxes of Puffs we’ve gone through in such a short time, we ought to consider buying stock in it!
  • 9- Oncologists Have One of the Hardest Jobs  It must be so hard telling people what they are about to encounter.  Cancer is such a scary word, and to have to tell people it’s really bad must be so difficult.  Somehow even though I knew we were the ones with the bad news, I felt sorry for the oncologist because it seemed like he really cared and it was hard for him to tell us.
  • 8- It’s Good to Hear From People You Haven’t Talk to in a Long Time  There have been so many people who have gotten in touch with us after many, sometimes 10, years.  People from past places in our lives have come out of the woodwork to encourage, support and pray for us.  The world wide web is a gift!  (Web 2.0 is helping save my wife!)
  • 7- Toddlers Can Tell Something Is Wrong  Kai has changed over the past 6 weeks, and we believe that is in some part related to what we are going through.  Although he is taking everything in stride, he’ll kiss Monica’s leg when he sees her crying and gives the biggest hugs right when you really need it.  He has become more clingy and needs constant attention.  It might just be an age thing, but we think it’s a bit more. 
  • 6- Rocky Road Isn’t a Good Healer  Although rocky road might seem to take away the problems for the moment, it isn’t a long-lasting fix.  We indulged in some comfort food, and ended up putting on a few pounds in the process.  Mentally it helped, but physically it did nothing good!
  • 5- Don’t Assume It’s Good to Take Time Off Before You Get the Facts  When Monica found out she had cancer, she took 12 days off.  After doing some research, she realized that wasn’t the best move.  She was taking time off when she felt fine.  They say you have the most strength toward the beginning when fighting cancer.  Now she’s in danger of running out of days (and thus insurance) toward the end of the process.   This is when she’ll most likely feel the worst and need those days off the most.  Since realizing this, she has gone back to work and has only missed two days in the past month (both for chemo treatments).  Thank God she’s been feeling well enough to go to work.
  • 4- There Are Miracles Happening Around the World We Don’t Normally Hear About  So many prayer warriors have seen God’s miracles first-hand and have shared with us God’s Mighty Hand at work in our world.  With these encouraging accounts, our spirits have been lifted and our faith strengthened.  We don’t always know what the Lord is doing today in peoples’ lives, and maybe it’s time we paid a bit more attention.
  • 3- It Can Be Hard to Ask For Help With Some Things  Everybody has been really great about offering help, but when it comes down to actually asking for it, it can be a struggle for us.  One of the hardest things has been to ask for a baby sitter.  Kai has gotten pretty aggressive and fussy over the last several weeks (probably ’cause he’s still not sleeping), so it feels awkward to ask someone else to deal with that.  Other things can be awkward too.  This is an area where we are struggling and trying to grow; especially as Monica’s strength is projected to decline.  Please pray about this. 
  • 2- If You’re Lagging About Getting Life Insurance, Go Do It Now!  We had been thinking about it for a while and actually had the papers in the mail being sent to us when we found out about the cancer.  Now it’s too late.  We’ve always been healthy and thought we had many more healthy years ahead.  Please don’t put it off.  It’s that important; facing your own mortality is hard and can really change your perspective on things. 
  • 1- God Answers Prayer!  There have been unexplainable times of peace in the midst of this terrible season.  The fact that we can visibly confirm the decrease in size of the tumor after only one chemo cycle is a direct reflection of prayer in our eyes!  The Lord is good – all the time.  He has allowed this to happen but has not left us alone.  He has provided support, encouragement, meals, babysitting, family to be here, friends (old and new), the internet, good days, sleep, hats, a nicely shaped head, peace, love, joy, good doctors,  speedy authorizations, reunions, and an incredible growth in faith.

If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading this whole thing.  We love you and are very grateful for you all.

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