Friday, August 27, 2010

Late Friday Afternoon

Liver scan - all is well. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

I should have added in the last blog - the person I mentioned (blog) is the mother of dear friends during our time in Augusta GA. Praying for you and for your family today and everyday.

I've been reading and meditating for several months on "living in the moment". Illness may be troubling and difficult, but there are these jewels, these things that open your heart and eyes for this person who suffers with severe multi-taskingitis - like learning to pay attention 'to the moment'.

So I'll close with a partial poem: (thanks to Kathleen Norris)
I rub the dark hollow of the bowl
with garlic, near to the fire enough
so that fire reflects on the wood,
a reverie that holds emptiness
in high regard.
--margaret gibson

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Neuropathy has settled into my feet. It feels like I am walking with someone else's feet. Constant tingling and buzzing, sometimes painful, involving my lower legs. Same with my hands - the answer to my clumsiness. While this is nothing compared to what others are experiencing for there is always someone sitting nearby who are coping with very difficult and series matters. However, this is ever present". Comfortable shoes, epsom salt soaks, tylenol & sitting with your feet up is suggested. I find those things help a bit.
My thinking for the past month: "tomorrow I'll sit and put my feet up" day, "tomorrow I'll put my feet up for a bit" day, "tomorrow, I'll sit for an hour with my feet up." Sooooo, "that tomorrow arrived" (yesterday). My body and brain came to agreement. "This is the day, THIS is the day you WILL put your feet up, sleep and deal with the nausea. I couldn't "man up" any longer. I am better today.
I read to help with symptoms, you need to sit, "even when brushing your teeth and cooking." I am still mulling over "sitting & cooking". Sitting & brushing my teeth is realistic. I will put wheels on my kitchen stool, introducing my own "Meals on Wheels." : ) A very minute problem in the grand scheme of things. I'm am going to heed the advice, to keep this minute.
Lightening whipped and cracked across these NM skies a couple of nights ago. If we had been in Oklahoma, I would have been looking for the "fraidy hole". The color of the sky faded into "that" greenish copper color. In a moment, it melted into an orange sherbert colored sky - the trees and bushes, black against the orange backdrop. A "Gone With The Wind"sky. The last scene before intermission....Scarlett returning to Tara. Great storm; ushering in the first cool front of the season. Earlier in the day, I read an article on varieties of apples in New England. Yesterday evening was a Rhode Island Greening kind of evening. A perfect mix of cool and crisp. A thought: I CAN make an apple pie sitting down.
One of my online friends, someone I have never met but am a faithful reader of her blog, is struggling today. Her most recent tests have revealed the chemo she was taking wasn't effective. It was also revealed the very tumors she was undergoing chemo for have grown and there are new tumors. I've written about neuropathy and as I said, here is the 'person sitting next to me' - dealing with very serious matters. She has lifted my spirits with stories of her past and her family; sharing her brave journey through cancer and most of all, being such an encouragement to her precious family and friends. She is a passionate follower of Jesus. Continuing to pray for a deep and abiding peace as decisions are being made. She and her family are praying some "isometric prayers"; God is at work.
"I am the Lord you God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go." Ps. 48:17
love to all, kathryn

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Home Again

Molly is settling into college life. LCU has a 3 day orientation program. They meet and greet and do all of those silly things to break down walls and help everyone get assimilated. They also take tours and learn about all of the things available to them while they are in school.
We ate breakfast with Molly this morning. She looked very much at ease. We pray all goes well for her.
Just a quick note tonight. CAT scan of the liver/abdomen tomorrow morning. I get to drink my barium "shakes" tonight and in the early a.m. I'm ready to get this test done. We all agree this is probably nothing - I am not concerned. When I was in the hospital, one of the CAT scan reports indicated a "spot". At that time, no one could make a determination about it.
Next on the agenda - slowly, slowly begin pushing up the dosage of Xeloda. I'm on a small dose at this time to see how well I would tolerate the drug. I am tolerating it well. Since I had 9 lymph nodes involved, it's good to get out the biggest "guns" I can tolerate.
Praying for all who are sending your children off to college - either for the first time or their 4th....5th....6th....
You may be surprised I was not a "shoulder shaking, sobbing mom". This morning was very similar to her first day of kindergarten. On that momentous day, her words were, "do not come in, drop me off at the curb" - off she went. We parked our cars and went in - she was already busy; we watched a few minutes and left. The difference this time...she said, do not be a shoulder shaking, sobbing mom. I didn't even cry in the car. She's ready.
I heard another page turn.
Scout is now hanging out with us. She's eaten a dried zinnia and a pine cone is in crumbles on the floor. She's had her bath and clean bedding. She too will be going to school. Miss Manners for Dogs. It will do me good. : )
Blessings and deep appreciation for your many prayers and support. We are just so very grateful and so blessed!
love kathryn

Saturday, August 14, 2010

College - Already ? How Can This Be?

Tis the weekend before college around here. Though Molly does not live here; she still has a stack of stuff to pack up and stuff into a very full car. I assume she will quickly learn what she really needs and wonder why she thought she needed so much stuff?!
The empty nest. This nest is not empty. There is a weenie dog, a Norwegian forest cat and next week, Scout The Energizer Dog arrives or Minnie the Muncher. Of course, Jim and I still live in this nest and have become accustomed to the slower pace after Molly left. We will return to our roots - we spent 12 yrs together before Molly came along. Though we're slower than we were pre-Molly - we'll find our way to the next road (I remember seeing pavement somewhere...)
and yes, there have been some soggy days on my's hard to say "so long", it simply goes by too fast.
I started Week 2 on Xeloda today. My hair is still leaving its home of origin. Experiencing some of the hand and foot syndrome. (neuropathy symptoms). I saw a PA who tried to convince me I needed real shoes and socks. It's nearly 100 degrees and I'm not to wear anything that creates friction or puts pressure on my feet. I think I'll stick to sandals and flips flops. Sometimes we have to figure out what works best for us. What with hot flashes making an appearance on a regular basis....having air conditioned feet seems much more sensible and appealing than soggy cotton socks tucked inside squishy shoes.
There are obvious reasons for college: attending classes sometimes in your pajamas, having a lot of fun, eating unhealthy food, and meeting a lot of great people. Learning how to set up your own schedule, make it to breakfast on occasion and being responsible for getting your work completed with out mom and dad breathing down your neck.
While hanging out with friends, drinking overly caffeinated drinks, absorbing brilliant thoughts, checking out the important matter is pending -- doing a personal archaeological dig , discovering who you are, because when you know who you are (and I will add, AND who you belong to) you will know what to do. What arrives next is the beginning of peace in your life Identity is important and knowing where we draw our identity from even more crucial. Ok, back to College Algebra and another Starbucks.
"Trust in God and trust in me." John 14:1 (that is for me and I'm sharing it with you.)
Good evening, love kathryn

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The New Kid on the Block - To Arrive Soon

'I just like wood, I like the taste of wood.' Scout (full name: Jean Louise Finch) will be joining our family very soon. She keeps the yard clear of all things related to wood...chips, sticks and pinecones. She is 9 mos old, about 8 lbs and keeps herself very busy. She even smiles. She is energetic, loves to be loved on, enjoys cornering the cat, (Sophie is capable of beating her soundly). She will add another dimension to our lives. Welcome to our home, Scout! kathryn

Monday, August 9, 2010

Stop Counting.....

I've thought a lot about it I keep running my hand around the sink, this hair o' mine is heading down the drain.
Of course, we can all (well, some of us can go back in time) to "Hair"...give me a head with hair, long beautiful children of the 60s - I'm handing it off are able to finish the song...
How our hair defines us. In my case, I have enough hair stories to fill a book. Having lived in a multiple places, the biggest stress upon landing in a new land...who will I trust my hair to? Even my own hands have done some pretty evil things to these locks of mine. The burgundy: a strong memory. When a room full of preschoolers run up and shout, "We LOVE your purple hair, Miss Kathryn!". Though they were thrilled - it was not my look.
In this time of giving up all of my control (thank you Amy Grant); I got it. God is my hairdresser. God is at work. He numbers the hairs on my head; he is able to keep up with the numbering. I can get out of the way. I am in the hands of a master hairdresser. Another temporary matter to set aside....but I will continue to fluff and pouf - as long as I have a something to fluff and pouf!
(to think; I spent over 2 years "helping" my hair "go gray"....I think the joke is on me!....'gray hair is splendorous; so is gray, thinning hair : )

Little of This; Little of That

The weatherman said the heat is returning this week. Such are the dog days of summer. Fall is around the corner. The best time of year as far as I'm concerned. My heart always returns to New England. That is for later. I'm trying to live in the moment...anticipation of something you love is similar to a gift you know is going to arrive. I like that.
This low dose of Xeloda and I are getting along. The neuropathy is more significant, but the nausea is not - just 'waves' that are easier to cope with. My hair is falling out continually. No clumps..just those single strands. I do not believe I will go bald, I will "go thin". I too realize I'm only on week one, but I've read many good things about this drug. Some are on it for years and do quite well. I'm going to do "quite well".
I'm reading an book by Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade. He knew how to live; he also knew who he lived for. He wrote this book as he was dying. He lived for Christ and died with the thrill of knowing he would live forever with God. Though this book may sound a bit on the depressing side; quite the contrary. It is not a brushing aside of what he had to endure, but He saw the purpose. To glorify God. When we are struggling with whatever comes this way; we turn to God in prayer. I most certainly have prayed for "what I need." He is my Father, He knows and knew what I needed. I am to trust. I'm learning (how very slowly), He has been working in this situation all along. He wants me to acknowledge that and praise and thank Him for the work he is always doing in my life. He writes, "Too often, we may find ourselves trying to tell God what we need. He knows! He knows!!" "My God shall supply all of your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (phil. 4:19 NKJV) He went on to say, he continued to pray, his family and friends continued to pray for healing; but praying in God's will....he learned to say honestly, "my grace is sufficient". God's grace abounds! Abounds! I speak of fall coming as a gift - grace abounds - well, that tops my love of fall.
I am upright - thank you God. I have been shoveling out dark corners and cleaning our house a bit at a time. That is my exercise (vacuuming is great exercise!) I am able to get out and do a little weeding and puttering around in the yard. After my experience this summer, I learned a couple of things. I need people - you were ever present. I needed help. You were there to lift a hand. I saw God's grace over and over again. I asked from the beginning to grow through this. I still have many miles to go; God is growing me.
Thank you to all who shared their stories yesterday; heart wrenching, funny, deeply moving. Thank you for having the courage to stand before 'the many' and share your part.
Have a great Monday!
love kathryn

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Some Thoughts

I've had a quiet morning. 67 degrees and a wonderful time to sit on the patio and enjoy a glass of iced tea. I'm a coffee girl, but chemo drugs interrupt my taste buds sometimes. It's like the other treatments. When something sounds good, that's what I try to find to eat/drink. A strange obsession that occurs with cancer patients - I'm in good company on this food obsession!
Reading a short book by Bruce Feiler. He was diagnosed with bone cancer and decided to create of Council of Dads for his two daughters in case he didn't survive this very rare cancer. Wonderfully creative man that Bruce Feiler. He is the same man who walked the Bible. Walking is his life. And it seems he is still doing that today. Very inspiring and uplifting.
A friend passed on a piece by John Piper and David Powlison...both cancer survivors. It's entitled "Don't Waste Your Cancer". JP writes:
"It will not do to say that God only USES our cancer but does not design it. What God permits, he permits for a reason.. And that reason is his design. If God foresees molecular developments become cancer, he can stop it or not. If he does not he has a purpose. Since he is infinitely wise, it is right to call this purpose a design. Satan is real and causes many pleasures and pains. But he is not ultimate. So when he strikes Job with boils (Job 2:7), Job attributes it ultimately to God. (2:10) and the inspired writer agrees. "They...comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him" (42:11) If you don't believe your cancer is designed for you by God, you will waste it."
DP: "Recognizing his designing hand does not make you stoic or dishonest or artificially buoyant. Instead, the reality of God's design elicits and channels your honest outcry to your one true Savior. God's design invites honest speech, rather than silencing us into resignation. Consider the honesty of the Psalms, of King Hezekiah (Is 38) of Habakkuk 3. These people are bluntly, believingly honest because they know that God is God and set their hopes in him. Ps 28 teaches you passionate, direct prayer to God. He must hear you. He will hear you. He will continue to work in you and your situation. This outcry comes from your sense of need for help (28:1-2). Then name your particular troubles to God (28:3-5). You are free to personalize with your own particulars....having cast your cares on him who cares for you, then voice your joy (28:6-7): the God given peace that is beyond understanding....Illness can sharpen your awareness of how thoroughly God has already and always been at work in every detail of your life." From "Talking in the Dark"...this would fall under the prayer of Jesus "nevertheless, not my will but yours". Those small words (or big words) can be missed. Nevertheless prayers are incredibly challenging...but the pay off is great. Learning as I go, o! please remember. My brain is sometimes a sieve.
My heart is with my family today as they have celebrated Irene's incredible life. No movie star, no rich financial wizard, no magazines covers - an amazing Christian woman, with troubles that were mind boggling to days of sitting in the backyard making a freezer of ice cream as we were playing, yelling and having fun in their backyard on a summer evening. A perfectly "normal" life lived in an extraordinary way - because of her love of God. I believe she truly knew he was faithful to his word: Fully trustworthy.
Health: pretty good. Neuropathy is pretty intense and some nausea, but nothing to create problems. Knowing full well chemo is cumulative in nature, I take today and enjoy it. I like feeling "pretty good". It's a gift.
Wishing you a good day as well.
love kathryn

Monday, August 2, 2010

Gone From Our Presence, But Forever In His

Here are some comments from family....I would never pretend to be able to post all that has and will been written and said - but i will include a few here. We are looking forward to the day when we sing with you again, Irene and share in laughter as well. There just must be laughter and joy in heaven.

Gone? I'm not sure if anyone could be any more shocked and surprised. Given the fact that this last week was filled with good visits, got to sing with her, her hand still had such a strong grip, her gaze was so intense. Now I only wish I'd spent more time with her but what we enjoyed together was so good. I'm only now waking up to the huge impact she had ... and wanted to have. Paul, Linda, Neal, Dennis and Paula, you were tremendously blessed. She would of course demure over what we've all been saying about her, but she's not here to complain about flattery. And we know it's the truth. We will all miss her smiles and laughter, her quick wit, her undeniable faith. Some of us, some of us less, but we all got to witness and be blessed by what God can do with a humble woman who loves her family, the life given to her and above all the Giver. chuck parker

Those four sisters could really bring down the house when they got tickled. I remember one year in Sulphur Springs.. they were sitting in the kitchen.. just the four of them, and they were all in their pink reunion shirts. and their laughter carried all over the entire house. Everyone kept going to see what was so funny. .. That was such a good reunion.
We are all going to miss her soooo much. Kay

She had an amazing inpact on her community - all of her communities. I will forever miss her emails and hearing her laughter. She's bound to be shouting it up with the angels on high in her brand new body.
I will so miss her emails and her laughter. I'm like that - a little bit selfish and she is happy beyond imagination. Special love to the entire Stewart family. love kathryn

I couldn't agree more. I always loved to hear Aunt Irene laugh especially with her sisters. They could really get it going. I loved it. I think my favorite Bible verse I have with my signature is always a good one to those who know and love God and to those who may be searching for God ....."God brought Irene to a spacious place because he delights in her." I hope all of us will stop and ponder what the Lord has in store for all of us. Irene would have wanted it that way. She wanted all to know Him and love Him. Teresa Killebrew
He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. II Samuel 22:20

Life to LIFE

Irene Stewart,wife to Paul for over 60 years, mother, grandmother, aunt and friend - to so many people. She touched a great many lives with her gift of service to others and seeing the funny side in life, though her life was not always a picnic in the park. She graduated from this life and is shouting with the millions on high. In this midst of all of this, Irene was just like the rest of us. She had good and bad days, but she never missed an opportunity to help others, if she could help it.
I will miss her emails and her laughter. And o! those hugs of hers. She has gone to the place she has been preparing to go.
We will miss her so.
Thank you for your kind and thoughtful prayers. She was delivered from her pain and lives in a land where there are no tears - no heartaches - just pure love.
Praying for her family. We know this God of all comfort and peace. Take courage - he has overcome death and we will all live with Him and never have to hear the phone ring, delivering this kind of news again.
Meanwhile, those of us here have a great deal to live for. Shine your precious light into this dark world. It counts. She knew how to shine.
love kathryn