Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

I have struggled since surgery, both physically and emotionally. This journey that I’m on, though abundant in blessings, is a difficult one. There are great achievements and considerable disappointments.

Ready to head into surgery. (6/14)

Ready to head into surgery. (6/2014)

Surgery last week went well. The doctor was able to remove the entirety of the left adrenal gland and the tumor with good margins. Besides commenting that my insides were “sticky” because of the amount of scar tissue from my three surgeries prior, the procedure (though an hour and a half longer than expected) was smooth. He was able to complete the procedure laparoscopically, allowing my stay in the hospital to be swift. Surgery was on Monday, and by Tuesday night I was walking out the front doors to head home. Though it was a quick stay, it wasn’t an easy one. The majority of my time in the hospital, I was in pain. At times it was excruciating, and I couldn’t help but cry out in agony.

My incisions were not the problem. In fact, though the doctor had to move my stomach, spleen, colon, and other organs out of the way, my insides weren’t even that sore. Gas was the culprit. As is standard in a procedure like mine, they inflate the abdomen with carbon dioxide gas. This allows the surgeons better visibility and to have space to move instruments around. Once surgery is complete, they deflate the abdomen and close the incisions up. Sometimes, not all of the gas is removed. In my case, gas was trapped in my diaphragm, unbeknownst to the medical team. When I woke up, I was in immense shoulder pain. Both of my shoulders felt dislocated and I was entirely confused. What was wrong with my shoulders? Why were they screaming in pain?

During the first night after surgery, I woke up quite loudly. Typically, I internalize pain and am able to breathe through even the most intense discomfort. This pain, however, was on a different level, and I could not contain my screaming like a banshee cries. My husband immediately jolted awake and ran out of the room to grab nurses, doctors, residents… heck, I don’t doubt he would have grabbed the janitor. He was desperate to find someone to help me. To be quite honest, I thought I had a blood clot in my lung. These are extremely dangerous and often can be fatal if not tended to. My right ribcage and shoulder felt as though a fist was trying to push through from the inside out; As though they would explode any minute. It was pain that I had similarly experienced with my first surgery. However, this gas would not be able to naturally escape. It was up high and would not be heading towards an exit. My body had to absorb it over time. The nurses and doctors, (and quite possibly the janitor) ran in and quickly tended to my ailment. Before I knew it, more pain meds began trickling through my IV. Slowly but surely I felt by body relaxing and the pain quieting. I was able to sleep that night, and felt well enough to be discharged the next day.

Once home, I rested peacefully in my own bed. With a memory foam topper, marshmallow-like mattress pad, and divinely fluffy pillows, I didn’t want to be anywhere else. Within two days, I received a call from my doctor. After surgery, as usual, my tumor was turned over to pathology where it would be tested to determine if it was malignant or benign. My doctor called with the news. It was not the news we were desperately hoping and praying for. The tumor was malignant. Neuroendocrine cancer has recurred once again. For a fourth time to be exact… but who’s counting?

I can’t begin to describe the rush of emotions that both my husband and I experience upon receiving this type of news. Though it’s our fourth time learning that cancer has invaded my body, it never gets easier. With my husband at work, and I, alone at home with our dogs, I cried out to God. “Lord, you have to protect me. I can’t keep doing this! Please heal me here on Earth. I’m not ready to die.” Once I told Matt the news, he left work early and came home. Together, we sat on the floor of our bathroom and cried. We prayed and pleaded with God to rid my body of cancer. We prayed for strength, wisdom, and direction moving forward.

Cancer sucks. And recurrences are worse. A real-life version of the film Groundhog Day. A nightmarish merry go round with zombies and evil clowns. One that slowly comes to a halt, but before stopping to allow me to get off, quickly picks up the pace and continues wildly spinning about. I have zero control; All I can do is hang on and pray that the ride stops eventually. Recurrences are truly what nightmares are made of. Once you’ve had cancer, the fear of the disease returning hides in the darkest part of your mind. Though you may not think about it often, it lurks and appears at the first sight of vulnerability.

The truth is, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m ready for this seemingly never-ending chapter with cancer to end. I’m ready to move forward with my life, and for Matt and I to step into the greatness that we believe God has for our future. I’m ready to step out of my role as a cancer patient. I’m ready to be a full-time survivor, with cancer a thing of the past. I’m emotionally exhausted, yet I have to continue if I want to survive. I have no choice. I must fight to gain more time here. If I don’t, my end may arrive sooner. Cancer sucks.

Regardless of how defeated Matt and I may feel, we know that God is not defeated. No matter what the news is, God still holds the entire universe in His hands, and not one speck of our lives is unknown to Him. He knew that we would receive these results. He knew that I had a fourth fight in me. He knows. He believes in me. He believes in my future. He believes that, with His help, I can overcome this. So why shouldn’t I believe the same? We place our complete trust in Him. We know that God has purpose in this recurrence, and we cling to the faith that He is stirring up a story so big, we can’t begin to fathom it.

This may sound weird to you… it sounds weird to me sometimes. It is an honor to have this story. It is an honor to be chosen to fight this battle. It’s an honor to have the platform to share of God’s goodness through the darkest pits of despair. It’s an honor to be a cancer patient, and an even greater honor to be a child of God with the knowledge that I will survive, no matter what.

photo-9

Psalm 63:1-4, 7-8 (MSG)

“God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath; My arms wave like banners of praise to you… Because you’ve always stood up for me, I’m free to run and play. I hold on to you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post.”

10 Comments on Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired

  1. penny keller
    June 27, 2014 at 11:51 AM (4 months ago)

    Oh how I was praying, hoping and trusting with you that this was a non functional benign sort of an issue. I am heartbroken for you to have to face this yet again. Having had cancer myself, I know those feelings of recurrence fear.
    Stephanie and Matt – you are the utmost of troopers. I will pray for the utmost of strength, courage, steadfastness, hope, and trust and that it will be poured on your in abundance. I continue to pray for your healing, your complete healing here on earth; that you may never hear about cancer again, having anything to do with your body. You remain beautiful!

  2. Jennine
    June 27, 2014 at 12:50 PM (4 months ago)

    I admire your strength and courage. I’m praying for you.

  3. Christy
    June 27, 2014 at 1:24 PM (4 months ago)

    Stephanie, I’m so very sorry to hear this. I just pray God’s sweet GRACE and PEACE around you and Matt. Words fail. Hugs flying your way from California.

  4. Candy Rosenau
    June 27, 2014 at 10:47 PM (4 months ago)

    Stephanie, you are in my prayers. Your light is shining brightly fur all who read this post to see.

  5. Bill Mohl
    June 28, 2014 at 5:37 AM (4 months ago)

    Stephanie, your blog is amazing. You are so so courageous. We lost our precious daughter in law Sarah to the same cancer you face about a year ago. It is a brutal cancer but as you indicate, you can never give up. God is good and you are in his hands. Stay faithful and strong. God bless you and Matt.

  6. KC
    June 28, 2014 at 6:20 AM (4 months ago)

    Oh dear Steph! There doesn’t seem to be words in the English dictionary to respond to this news! I can’t even begin to fathom what you and Matt are going through! You too are amazing of how you’ve been strengthened by our Lord to be warriors for Him to now fight Battle #4. We do have an amazing God who loves you and has created you for His Glory! Isaiah 43:7 You and Matt have been such great testimonies of glorying God through this and trusting Him with every inch of your body, soul and spirit. My love, prayers and hugs go out to you both!

  7. Donna Carlson
    June 28, 2014 at 4:35 PM (4 months ago)

    Dear Stephanie & Matt: I can hardly write this through the tears streaming down my face but I want to tell you thank you for your recent post. Today was a tough day emotionally for me as I was driving and asking God so many selfish questions. Why was I in this lonely place in my life now, I was lonely and afraid and why, why, why. Then I got home and sat down on the couch and started reading FB and saw your post for your blog! How ashamed I am! What an amazing girl you are Stephanie and you are a wonderful encouragement and testimony to this old gal! I’m so sorry that you have to fight this horrible battle but don’t think for one moment you are alone in this battle! You are amazing and my prayers are for you and Matt every day! You go girl! And thank you for sharing this struggle – I love you!

  8. Joyce
    June 28, 2014 at 5:30 PM (4 months ago)

    Stephanie, I have been reading your blog since you began. I am sorry that you got this disappointing news. But you are right. God has a plan and a wonderful story for you and Matt. I continue to be amazed at your faith. I have never had to face such a trial as you are facing so I have no words of wisdom for you. But I do know that God loves you so much and will use your story for His glory!!! I continue to stand in the gap and pray for you, Matt and your family.

    Love and blessings, Joyce

  9. Deanna Greiling
    July 2, 2014 at 5:53 PM (4 months ago)

    I have been following your posts. After reading this one, it reminded me of a section I wrote my book called Strawberry Wisdom. It is about living by faith on a strawberry farm.

    “God prospers our abundant life through the unbearable in addition to the awe inspiring experiences. We prosper by choosing to trust when everything happening persists in wanting us to distrust. An abundant life flourishes while relying on God’s truth especially while going through heart wrenching, life-altering circumstances that are intended to cause us to stumble.

    “God is magnificent. He loves us and has plans for us including ones that disrupt and shift our lives into places we never wanted or imagined. Some plans will even prevent us from recognizing the blessings that come in many forms besides what we have accepted as being from God.

    “Those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ will have unending wonderful blessings in the eternity that awaits in Heaven. Until then, God will define and refine through the good and the bad.”

    May you feel His loving embrace and I pray His healing touch.

    Hugs!