June 24, 2009

Mike and I got the opportunity to go on a vacation to the Outer Banks, North Carolina with his extended family. There were 23 of us in all, 12 adults and 11 kids. We left on Friday June 12 and drove to Fredericksburg, VA before we called it a night. That put us about half way there. We continued our drive on Saturday and arrived at our beach house at around 5 pm. Our place had three floors and 8 bedrooms in all... plenty of room for all of us. I had never been to the Outer Banks before this, and I love getting to go to new places. As we drove up the two lane road that would lead to our house, I realized that the area and surroundings reminded me a lot of our family vacation to Topsail Island, NC back in 2004. I didn't expect to be reminded of that trip, as that was when Jeff first showed symptoms of what was a brain tumor. Sunday morning I woke up with a sore throat and could just feel a cold coming on. Despite this, we had a fun first day there. That evening, Mike's family arranged to have a photographer come out and take some professional pictures of our family as a whole, and also each separate family, on the beach in the sand.

Monday morning, I called and talked to my mom for a little while. As I said, I didn't expect to be so suddenly reminded of my family's last beach vacation together in 2004. It was harder for me to shake than I realized it would be. That night I slept really well. I had a dream, though, that was so short but so vivid. In this dream, Mike and I went to a wedding and when it was over, he came outside to get the car. People were parked in the grass over a fairly large distance, so I stood near the doors and looked to see if I could find the car. As I looked, a woman dressed in all white came up to me. She was shorter than me by a few inches, and she had short gray hair. She faced me and put each of her hands on my shoulders... her left hand on my right shoulder and her right hand on my left shoulder. She looked me right in the eyes and said " You did a good job five years ago." I didn't quite understand what she meant by this, but then she looked to her left and I looked to my right. Standing in front of us was a man, also dressed in all white and he had white whispy hair. Somehow I knew this was the woman's husband. He had this excited expression on his face and held his hands out to his side as if to say "TA DA!". Standing to his left, and directly in front of me, was my brother Jeff. He had on tan khakis and a greenish blue shirt that my niece Kaylee still sleeps with to this day. His hands were in his front pockets, with his arms bent slightly and he just smiled the biggest smile at me. Then Jeff and the other man turned and walked away. Neither one said a word, but he looked so happy. I immediately turned to the woman with tears rolling down my cheeks and my hands cupped over my mouth and just kept asking her "How did you do that??" over and over. She just smiled and walked to join them. That's when I woke up and literally had tears on my pillow. I got up and walked into the bathroom and just thought about what the woman said to me. "You did a good job five years ago." What could that mean? What was five years ago? Then I realized our family vacation to Topsail Island was five years ago. I am still not totally certain what the meaning behind those words are, but I do know that I felt like I saw my brother that night and it gave me a lot of comfort. He looked so happy.

We had a really nice and relaxing week with Mike's family. I did end up developing a cold, and by midweek I had completely lost my voice. We made it home Saturday evening, the 20th. My mom and I then hit the road on the 21st for my chemotherapy in Chicago. After riding 13 hours in the car Saturday, I was not looking forward to another 7 on Sunday with the 7 hour trip home Monday. That's a lot of driving! We checked into our hotel around 10:30 pm Sunday and went to bed. I had to be at CTCA at 8:30 Monday morning to check in. My port was accessed and blood work drawn. This was the first time in a long time that I was not nervous or uneasy about my trip. Our beach house in the Outer Banks had 30 steps leading from the1st floor to the 3rd floor (yes, I counted them!) and I was able to go up and down with no discomfort in my hip or leg. This gave me a lot of comfort. I saw my doctor at around 11 am. We talked about my vacation and how my feet are (which they have healed very nicely). He let me know that my CEA tumor marker is now up to a 122. That is the highest yet. And somehow, it has yet to discourage me. My doctor, whom I am going to call Dr. L from now on, was not too concerned because he said I seem to be jumping all over the place when it comes to this number. He pushed on my sternum, and my back, and my hip, all to see if I had any pain, which I do not. He said that they would do my three month scans again in August, unless I developed some pain beforehand in which case they would x ray me early.

I started my chemo around 12:30 pm and finished later than expected, leaving the hospital at around 6:30 pm. We made it back home just before 3 am. I have been really tired the past few days... I am sure from the combination of all of the travel, getting over a cold, and getting chemo. Somehow, despite being tired, I can't sleep so I decided it would be a good time to write and update.

I posted a song awhile ago by Francesca Battistelli that contained the line " A war's already waged for my destiny..." This line keeps playing over and over in my head. I really do believe that when each of us are born, the battle begins. If we could see past this realm and see what God sees, there would be a war going on all around us. God knew what I would be going through as the 28 year old I am today. That war was waged a long time ago over my destiny. It is through God alone that my body is being so well protected from this disease, and that is something I will never give anyone credit for except for Him. And I also believe He cares enough for me that every now and then, He gives me a glimpse of how happy Jeff is now, even if it's only for a moment in my dreams. I'll get to see it on his face again for real one day...

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