Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Pleasant Dream...

I just woke from a very pleasant dream. I was at a sporting event that allowed us to bring our cars on an elevator (dreams!) I was with Sharyn Henderson, Valerie Macogni, and several other nurses I'd worked with for many years. We were having fun.

Maybe my brain hasn't adjusted to the fact that when it hears "you are going to the hospital" it no longer means "you are going to work."  My sister Mary Ann asked what it was like to be a patient after years of being a nurse. Well, I used to pray before work, "Please give me wisdom to do no harm and ears that really listen to their needs." Now I pray, "Please give them wisdom to do no harm and ears that really listen to my needs." Not so different, right? My bag is packed and looks very much like my work bag except I now bring a blanket for comfort.  I used to bring chocolate to work for comfort.

I did learn something on this week of getting stronger. Lids is not a hat store unless you are going to a sporting event. (thus, the dream?) And Macy's has a plethora of hats.

I will never stop saying it. I am so thankful to have all of you who support me in whatever way you are comfortable or led to do. I am peaceful today. I won't need the Xanax so far anyway. (Non medical people: this is a pill for anxiety which is given to you when you get a cancer diagnosis). The scripture that worked for me today came from Anna Herbst, another nurse. "Be still and know that I am..." Ps 46:10. This is not a competition friends. I love ALL the scriptures that have been sent to me and keep reading them because God uses them through you. I'll write you again after chemo when I'm feeling up to it! Happy New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Feeling Alright...

The past few days have been good.  Pam has been feeling better as though the chemo treatment finally wore off.  It's been a great blessing to see her feel better.  Tomorrow we go back to the treatment center for another dose.  They have modified the plan and switched out one drug and eliminated another so I'm praying that the side effects will be lessened.  The new treatment plan calls for a weekly dose and who knows how that will work out but I'm hopeful that it will be better.
Pam's sister Laurie came for a visit and they did a little hat shopping.

O Lord, let Pam not suffer so much with this next round.  

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

First of all, thanks to everyone who prayed for me for my port placement. It went in like a charm with no side effects from anesthesia. Thank you Lord!
Before the port I had a real roller coaster ride. We had a 10am appointment with the oncologist before the port placement. I was expecting NOTHING new at this appointment. Well, that didn’t happen. The doctor expressed real concern over the ordeal I had been through. This barrage of side effects was not expected. We can never know how much the influenza added to my problems, but she has to believe I had a reaction (allergic not side effects) to one of the three drugs. Now I’ll tell you another secret. At the first “class” I was told about this tiny percentage of people who go through cancer treatment without any hiccups along the way. This meant no hospitalizations or odd side effects. I decided in my heart then and there to be in that number and on day 9 was hospitalized. Now I was being told I’m in some tiny percentage of people who can’t handle the gold standard cure for my disease. What? Excuse me? I’m a failure at being a cancer patient? Well, that’s how I took it at first anyway. And, it was the first time a tear fell out of my eye in front of a medical person. I feel sorry for that. I know she felt bad enough before I let that happen.
So what happens next? Do I make new goals? I think not. They are too performance based and I literally have no control over my body’s reactions anyway. Instead, after a fretful night and a wonderful chat and prayer session with my beloved Walt (have I told you how much I love this man?), I am thinking I need to change my thinking.  
First thing that came to mind was our pastor’s sermon from Sunday. Fr. Michael said the highest level of spiritual growth was to surrender. That means a lot of things to a lot of people, but as we look at Mary the mother of God, we see a difficult life full of surrender moment by moment to the will of God. Another words, “Thy will be done” and really mean it. What a place of no anxiety. What a place of trust. What a place to behold the face of God. I guess I’m beginning to think that Mary was actually a woman who could go with the flow. She wasn’t emotionless, but she was never doom and gloom. She just looked for what God would be doing next in response to the circumstances.
So what does that mean in my life today? Well, I’ve had all that prayer so I guess I don’t need that gold standard drug anyway. I have an oncologist who is working overtime to make my life more comfortable. I need to say thank you for that! She has decided the best thing is to delay treatment by a week so I will not be having chemo tomorrow. I can worry. But I’m choosing not to. I need a week to get stronger to feel ready for another dose. What’s the bright side here? I’m going to get to have a glass of wine with Walt on Christmas and celebrate the birth of Our Savior with a pretty sure thing of feeling at least as good as I do right now. I have no food restrictions until New Year's Eve. My prognosis has not changed. Thank you Lord for an oncologist who believes she can get me cured from cancer without me being miserable all the time. Thank you Lord that I have mega prayer power behind my healing so I know you will give my oncologist wisdom. And thank you, Lord, that when I have a bad day like yesterday, you will use those I love to get me back on track. And thanks for the roller coaster that helped me to grow. Life without faith is no life for me. Or anyone.

One other side effect that my body reacted extremely to is the hair loss thing. At Dr. Mina’s encouragement, I had Walt shave what was left on my head (not much) this morning. I had the most comfortable sleep that I’ve had in weeks. I had never heard that losing your hair in chemo was painful, but it is! Putting my head on my pillow has been a slow decline into extreme discomfort. If you’re a girl, think about what it’s like when you have a pony tail in too long or you suddenly try to change your part that you’ve had for years. This is the feeling at every root because they are all dead shafts. Ouch! So now, no hair, no pain. I’m okay with that. 

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Well, Advent is almost over. Are we ready for the coming of Christ? I’m not even ready to attack my email inbox or start writing thank you notes for the wonderful expressions of love that have found their way to me from all over the world. And there’s another dose of chemo with my name on it for Christmas Eve. But, I have an amazing life. The request for prayers has gone farther than my own personal life – which is a lot bigger than I ever thought it could be thanks to knowing Jesus Christ!
But what’s the question? Am I ready to open my heart to know and love Jesus in a new way from last year? That’s what a real merry Christmas is, right? Has it ever been a bad decision? Never! So, yes, I’m ready. It looks very different this year, but I’m ready.
I read Katie’s post (wow, what an honor to be her mom!) and I thought she might have been reading my mind. I truly had to work at saying yes to this very aggressive treatment I’m doing. I’ve always said – to many a friends’ discomfort (you know who you are) that I’m ready to go whenever the Lord wants me and I’m eager to see Jesus face to face.  I thought about refusing chemo for maybe a day. Then I realized I was being given a new opportunity to respect life. Wasn’t it Pope Frances who just this fall said that respecting life was more than a fight against abortion? (Rhetorical question here. It was he.) So how can I show the Lord my gratitude for this precious gift of life I’ve been given? Well, I’ll fight for it, that’s what! I’ll accept the fact that God will bring me “home” whenever he wants, but until then, I will be grateful for each day I’m given. Of course, I want to go to the family weddings (hope you’re praying Scott and Chelsea!), grandchildren’s sacraments, graduations, and everything I can get to!
So how will I learn to know and love Jesus more this year during chemo, surgery, and radiation? Well, I’m not sure exactly. Last week in the hospital I was having some really “hard” times (that’s cancer lingo I’ve heard used for hurting like h_ _ _ in the midst of extreme exhaustion.) I’ll try not to mention that again. But in a bleak moment I remembered a sister in community, Donna, telling me how remarkable it was to her that during Christ’s passion he never once stopped focusing on others.  Even from the cross, he took care of his mother by putting her in John’s care. He was on the cross! Wow. So I decided to have an outward conversation with my night nurse. Just chat to get my mind off myself. What a beautiful exchange we had as she told me her life’s story and how she wanted more but hadn’t a lot of faith. I ended up praying with this woman for more of the Holy Spirit. Now that was a lesson well learned. And if I can learn more about how Jesus suffered well, I’ll be glad for the opportunity. Because something about Jesus is: the more you know about him, the more you love him.
             Merry Christmas! I offer whatever I go through this next round for my children and grandchildren (same as round #1) and for the healing of our dear friend Geriann. She taught me how to be strong way before I needed to be strong. I love you all. Thanks for everything and I’m counting on your prayers! Blessing of the weekend: I got to see the Kadeli’s from NOVA. Thank you Jesus! Congratulations to Gjon Kadeli who graduates from Purdue tomorrow. You will be missed by us!

Friday, December 19, 2014


Our dear friend and sister in the Lord from the Servant Branch in MN, Geriann Raway, is going to Arizona in January for brain surgery.  The tumor needs to go before it causes any irreversible damage.  Two of Geriann's wonderful daughters live with us here in our campus work in Indianapolis.  Thanks for lifting her up along with Pam.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thoughts about chemo

I've been thinking a lot about my mom's chemo journey. I'm proud of how she is dealing with the side effects and bumps in the road. I'm proud to be the daughter of Pam Seale, a warrior who clings to Jesus. Always.


This whole process is so hard to understand. We have never dealt with chemo in our immediate family. 

We take medicine to get better. Quick. Antibiotics... expect a 24 hour turn around! Ibuprofen... relief in 25 minutes! But chemo is quite different. It's extremely taxing and damages the body for the sake of healing.

I've had a hard time wrapping my brain around it. So much suffering for what? Life. To be there for the next weddings, baptisms, graduations, and to enjoy them with your spouse. To love and to be loved. 

Mom's fight is a gift to all of us. A gift of herself.


Thank you, Mom, for enduring this suffering and showing others the power of Grace, a gift you are freely accepting and is evident by your words and actions.

Love you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Home Again

Pam was discharged from the hospital yesterday.  The painful symptoms are gradually calming down, which is so welcomed.  She is very tired and has no reserve energy.   The next chemo is on Christmas Eve.  Appreciate prayers that this next round is easier than the first.

Thank you for praying.  We know it helps.  Thanks also for the cards and messages.  They help too.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Joke's on Me

So, like Walt said, we were educated that chemo side effects were much like having the flu. Now I'm in the hospital with the flu so I will have to wait for the second chemo to find out what chemo without the flu really is like.

Right now I have no energy. My white cells are beginning to come back. My productivity is pitiful, but I really don't care. And I'm glad my mom and I had a pedicure before my first chemo. I'm getting lots of compliments as I'm "assisted" in my activities of daily living.

Thanks fo Laurie and  Naomi who stopped by with things to read. Can't say I'm reading, but it's always nice to see your faces. But they really don't want visitors. Apparently we have an untrustworthy batch of immunizations this year. I had my flu shot before the start of chemo. Oh Well.

Thanks to the women of 1450 who will be doing my prep for Lord's Day tonight. And thanks for the calls I am not answering because when I think I can sleep I go on airport.

Looking forward to better days ahead. Oh, and thanks to the kind health care workers and oncology team at IU Health. They are treating me very well.

Oh Come Oh Come Emmanual! Come to save us! My hope and my trust is in you!

My grandson Jack Strasser is getting Baptized in Colorado Springs in a couple of hours. Thank you Lord for this new life we share!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Influenza B

Mom has been diagnosed with influenza B and is currently in the part of the chemo cycle where she has 0 white blood cell count. (Forgive me for not knowing all the correct lingo.) She will stay in the hospital until her flu symptoms go away. She's comfortable and beginning to feel better with the start of antibiotics. 

Thanks for your prayers,

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Request for Prayer

Hi Friends and Family!

Mom went into the ER tonight because she had a 101° fever and that is the protocol for chemo patients. She's been able to eat a little something and they've started giving her antibiotic via IV. 

Please pray for her fever to go down and for peace and strength. Thank you!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Not so Fast...

The chemo regimen is set up in 21 day cycles.  Day One thru Day Three went quite well for Pam.  She was tired but otherwise well.  Then Day Four -- she described it as feeling as though she had a very bad flu.  Aching muscles and joints, very low energy, -- just plain feeling bad.  We're not really sure what to expect despite the health professionals efforts to educate us but the good news is that Day Five was  a little better and today, Day Six is again better.  She's not quite back to Day One but the improvements are encouraging.

Prayer that Pam would tolerate the treatments better are appreciated.  We're hoping that this trend toward feeling better continues.

Thank you for your prayers and the many encouraging messages.  They both help a great deal.


Friday, December 5, 2014

My Journey Begins

Well, I never blogged before, but I’d like to have the opportunity to tell a few secrets, share a few thoughts, and give glory to God as I move through this new journey with Christ by my side. Let me start at what I remember as the beginning:

Three years ago I was called back after a routine mammogram. My reaction was, “What a waste of time. I’m not the kind for that. Not me.” The diagnostic study showed nothing. Two more years of clean routine exams. This year I got the call and I heard the words (not through the phone), “This is yours. Own it.”  Wooah! Well, that’s how I remember my breast cancer coming into reality for me. This voice actually gave me peace; the peace I’ve only known from Christ. I walked through the myriad of further tests with no surprises and everything confirmed for me that 2015 was not going to be as we had planned. My poor dear Walt. He loves to travel. Good-bye first trip to the Holy Land. Hello Simon Cancer Center. It's less than a mile away on campus. Bless him Lord. 

Here’s my first secret. When I was about to deliver Katie, our oldest, I got rid of anxiety by going to the mall. Every time I’d see a woman pushing a stroller with what looked like an infant in it (I wasn’t a mother yet, remember), I’d think, “Look at her. She’s talking. She’s smiling. She did it! I will survive!” My first day at the oncology office was like that. Women with their hats and turbans were talking to the person who brought them. No one was sobbing. The human spirit reaches for peace and encouragement. At least most do. I felt sorry for the only woman there alone. I hoped she was alone by choice. I said a prayer.

I had my first dose of chemo (three different meds over 5 hours) on Wednesday. I had prayers from all over the world counting over 300 from Facebook alone. The side effect list is awful but I feel great. I could say I'm just down a couple of gears. (Some have thought I was in too high a gear for a long time.) Thank you friends and thank you Jesus! Keep up the prayers for me and all those with illnesses. I was praying before I knew about all this, and I was thinking about the apostle Peter leaving the boat to meet Jesus on the water. He started strong and was walking on water, then he started sinking. I want my story to be that without the sinking. I want to be brave. I want to leave my familiar and look to Jesus and keep my eyes on him. He has never misguided me. Your prayers give me that strength. So thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you like detailed intercessory requests: Week 2 starts Wednesday for me. That’s when my blood count will be dipping way down. I need a real change in behavior to guard against infection. I have had my fingers in my mouth since I was a baby! Ok. Secret #2? I get food stuck in one space of my teeth. I have cuticles that need “help”. You name it. It must stop. I also need to learn to like antibacterial gels. I hate alcohol on my skin and my skin is destined to get drier during chemo. Pray for behavioral changes! They are hard! 

What did I do before my first treatment? I had a fun week!

               Melanie brought her kids: Isa, Xavi, Diego, and Lucas from Dexter, MI for a visit!

Katie brought her younger half: Michael, Mary Kate, David, and Tim. They are also from Dexter, MI.

           Brian, Mary, and George came from South Bend, and I can't believe I only have this picture!

          We celebrated "Pie Night" (before students leave for Thanksgiving) with the Campus Team.
                                                 Awesome entertainment and dessert folks!

And my Mom, my sister, Laurie, and I took an afternoon after everyone left to go to the Penguins 3D 
                                  movie downtown. Because: girls really do need to have fun. 

Thanks again for being with me in this. I love you all.