I know, I know, this is way overdue!!
The last few months have been an emotional struggle for me and I just haven’t been able to write. I sort of went into a mini depression and really struggled with how I looked. It didn’t seem to matter how much I prayed or how many blessings I was able to count, I still felt sad, and guilty that I wasn’t more positive and grateful for the huge blessings I had already received. I also felt vain and wondered why I was so caught up on how I looked. I think I went through a bit of a grieving process as I came to accept my new look. Thankfully I didn’t have a ton of time to focus on all those things, and life went on as I attended young women camp, Aaron’s wedding, helping with a new grand baby, and a trip to Japan! Life has been busy!
A few details:
I had my surgery on July 9th, and everything went as expected. I went back to have my stitches removed on the 19th and while I was waiting for the doctor to come and check on it, I looked in the mirror and saw my face for the first time without any bandages, stitches or the pedicle from the skin graft since March 12. It was shocking to me, and I did not like what I saw. I expected the doctor to come in afterwards and tell me the plan for how he’d finish repairing my eye. Instead, he told me he wasn’t sure if I would be able to have any additional surgeries at this point. Protecting my eye ball was his top priority. He is such a great doctor and spent about an hour just talking to me and helping me deal with how I was feeling.
The Good News:
The cancer is gone! I had a CT scan of my face earlier this month which showed that there has been no further abnormal growth. The oncologist said he will probably order another CT scan in 6 months and if that is also clean, he will not need to see me again.
I can see out of both eyes! I was reminded of my blessings when I went to my main surgeon recently who had some new residents he was telling about me. He asked about having double vision which I haven’t had, and his response was simply, “that’s remarkable.” He indicated that with the location of the tumor and where they had to cut, they didn’t expect me to have full vision, although that was the hope. I don’t think I still realize the many, many blessings and miracles I have received throughout this journey. It took a long time for the swelling to go down on my right eye, but it mostly has, which has increased my sight. I can see distance pretty well, the challenge is more with reading and close up because I have to keep drops or ointment in my eye, which causes blurry vision.
I am in a much better emotional place than I was! I had several things that helped me turn the corner. One was quite simple. I invited a couple friends over to my house and made them breakfast. Service changes and blesses the server more than anyone! It’s not like I hadn’t done anything for anyone since all this started, but somehow this was different, and I felt happy. The second blessing was going to Utah and spending a couple weeks with Elliot, my new grandson. What a choice blessing that was. He is a chill baby, so cuddling him was easy and I got to do it often. I felt the love of God through this new little spirit sent from heaven. Being with all my family and seeing my children thriving and happy was a huge blessing. The whole trip was very therapeutic for me.
Things I have learned:
This isn’t an excursion: In my first caring bridge post, I wrote that I was not going to call it my cancer journey, because I was hoping it would be more of an excursion than a journey. How naïve I was!! It is a journey because experiences like these change you. At least I hope I am different now than I was before. I have learned so incredibly much and I don’t want to forget them.
Prayer and love are real, powerful and create change! I have continued to be humbled with regular reminders of the many people who have prayed for me and continue to pray for me. I know those prayers have brought me strength, hope and miracles. Behind those prayers is pure love, which I have felt in abundance! Love is powerful! I was touched and amazed when at Aaron’s wedding my brother-in-law told me that they had been praying daily for me to look beautiful at the wedding. They knew that it could be a hard time for me, and so they had been praying specifically for that. The miracle of it is, that despite the struggles with my looks that I was in the middle of going through, I did feel pretty!! It was a wonderful day and I was not worried one moment about the way I looked. I was able enjoy the day rejoicing in Aaron and Alyssa’s eternal union, seeing family and friends and smiling happily in all the pictures. We continue to get comments from people who let us know they are still praying daily for me. I am so blessed!!!
Life is easier when you embrace the plan: I listened to a talk by Elder Kim B. Clark when he spoke at a BYU devotional about embracing the plan Heavenly Father has for us, even if it isn’t the plan we want. I feel like over the last month or so, I have finally gotten to the point that I am ready to embrace plan B. I wrote in that first post about how as soon as I learned that I would likely have a change in my looks, I wanted a family picture. Larry went to great lengths to make sure that happened, only two days before the surgery. Since then, we have added two people to our family, Alyssa, and Elliot so we are planning a new family picture in a couple weeks. Even if we didn’t have additional family members, I still feel like that March 10th picture is outdated, it isn’t how I look at all! It surprised me when I realized I felt that way. I am getting more and more okay with embracing the plan!!
Latest Update: I went to my plastic surgeon yesterday, and I will be having another surgery to open up my eye on November 13! That came as a complete surprise. I knew I might be able to have another surgery, but didn’t think I could get it so quickly. He will open up the skin graft a few millimeters this time, and plans to do an additional surgery to continue to open it up in a few months. I’m grateful it will be done in two steps as it will give my eye time to adapt to more light and more air exposure a little at a time. I am quite excited!!