Sunday, February 19, 2012

Keep on Swimming

People ask me all the time: "how are you doing Katie?"   and I usually give my standard answer: "I'm hanging in there."  What do you say when you feel like you are fighting for your life?  How do you convey, while you pass a friend in the hallways at work, all the complex emotions that you are feeling.  How do you burden others with your own pain and fears?  One day at work, when I was feeling tired and run-down, a friend asked me how I was doing and I told her: "I'm here."  She looked at me and said "keep on swimming - keep on swimming." Many of you will know the reference - Dora, in "Finding Nemo" says it when she is feeling lost and doesn't know what to do; she says to herself over and over again "keep on swimming - keep on swimming."  That's how I feel on most days.  That's why I still insist on going to work on days I don't feel well - it isn't because I am so strong - no - I just need to keep on swimming.  I need to go about my everyday life like it is every day.  It is so easy to let cancer consume your life  - your every thought.  But you can't.  You have to keep going.  Keep living even on the roughest days.

Today I had an experience unlike any other I have ever had.  The ladies at my church asked me if they could have a Healing Service for me.  I felt honored but I had no idea how it would impact me.  As I sat, with a circle of family and friends surrounding me, while they all shared a common prayer - for God to physically heal me - I felt overwhelmed.  I felt their hands on me and felt their love.  I heard their prayers and I felt their hope.  For a minute I felt like I didn't have to keep on swimming.  I felt like I could sit there and cry and acknowledge how scary and uncertain my life is. In that moment I silently begged God to save me but I also asked him to give me strength to keep going - to keep fighting.  It was an amazing service and something that I will never forget. 

As I sit here and type this I feel tired from the hectic activities of the weekend.  I'm tired, but ready to take my kids to my parents' house tomorrow and have another great day.  I don't know if the Healing Service will heal me - I have a strong faith but I don't know what God's plan is for me.  What I do know is that no matter what, God continues to answer my prayers.  He continues to give me strength to keep going and living each day to the fullest.  So the next time you see me and I look like I'm having a rough day - please don't worry - just give me a smile and say: "keep on swimming."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What do I put for hair color?

I really must be the worst blogger ever because I post so infrequently.  Today's post isn't earth-shattering...just something small and trivial weighing on my mind, but here goes...

I was cleaning out my wallet last night and taking a good look at my driver's license.  I was thinking about how different I looked in my picture with my long "blond" hair when I noticed the expiration date on the card...February 24, 2012.  Oh, no.  My license expires this year!  Naturally the first thing that came to mind was my lack of hair.  They won't normally let you get your picture taken with a hat on...what about a scarf?  Surely they won't make me pose bald.  I don't own a wig because they are hot and itchy.  And what am I supposed to put for hair color?  I have no idea what color my hair will be when it finally grows back in some day.  What do they do for bald men?  Write "none" for hair color? Or do they actually write "bald."  I know this all sounds so trivial but I show my license all the time.  All my cards say "ask for ID." I can lie about my weight, I can lie about my hair color if it is dyed, but pictures don't lie. 

Who cares...I know...but I care.  Not because I am vain but because it is just another reminder that I'm not healthy.  I try so hard, every day to keep a grasp on the "normalcy" of my life.  I try to take care of my kids, to continue taking them to their activities, and play with them when they want attention.  I try to cook and take care of my husband as best I can.  I still go to work each day and try to remain upbeat for the children I help teach.  I try, even on my sickest days, to still look my best despite my lack of hair and swelling.  I try to not let Cancer run my life.  I don't want it to own me.  The license is just another ugly reminder that Cancer is all too real in my life.  An ugly reminder that I might die.  No one wants to say it out loud but we are all thinking it...this cancer could kill me.  I am optimistic that it won't...but there are no guarantees.  I don't need another constant reminder of this unknown.

So, yes.  I am more than a little annoyed by the timing of the expiration of my license.  Maybe I should go get a sexy red-head wig just for the photo.  Who knows, maybe then the next time my license goes to expire I will be annoyed, not because I still don't have hair, but because my real hair isn't nearly as great as my "red-head" days.