hope is true.

As many of you know, my cancer ride has been particularly bumpy these past couple months. In October I experienced progression in my hip – which we treated with radiation.  Then, in December a scan showed progression in the lining of my lung.  But when we went in to draw out a diagnostic sample of the fluid… it was gone.  (The reaction to which I shared in this emotional live facebook post.) Oh my, what a day that was! I left the hospital high-fiving everyone I passed. Hundreds of you celebrated with us. (thank you!) We were enveloped with peace and had a glorious holiday.  Spending 10 days at our farm (our first Christmas there) welcoming family & friends from Michigan, traveling to Chicago to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary.  Each toast and hug made more special in the context of our shared gratitude. Often, I just looked around and silently breathed, “thank you.”

The plan was to give it 6 weeks and scan again to see if the fluid was truly gone . Wednesday was scan day … UGH…  Over the past 5 years living with metastatic breast cancer I learned to ride these waves of paranoia.  Some days not giving it a second thought – others, more recently, each inhale a worrisome wonder.  For someone who uses breathing as a healing act of grounding myself … the idea of cancer in my breath was unsettling.

As a result, I was pretty down and I couldn’t quite articulate it.  Until one day on a trail run it hit me.  Literally stopped me in my muddy tracks. I had fallen victim to the “possiblity of progression.”   I was living in the hope that… The hope that the cancer was stable.  The hope that I didn’t have cancer in my lungs.  The hope that my medicine was working… Somehow hope had become contingent.

We have to live in hope.  Not in the hope that

On Tuesday I emailed myself this reminder.  So that if I got bad news I would remember:

Hope is true.  It isn’t contingent on something happening.  It is believing in something bigger than ourselves, when we can’t see it and trusting.  Believing we are safe even when we feel threatened.  Arriving at a place of trust and surrender.

I needed the reminder.

The CT scan showed more fluid than in December.  So, yesterday I went back to the hospital for a thoracentesis to drain a diagnostic sample from my left lung.  As I clutched the pillow and leaned over the table I closed my eyes and remembered the joy of the last time I was there.  I buried my head in the pillow and cried.  This time they found fluid. A lot.

They drained 3/4 liter of fluid from my lung.  I was floored as I watched the yellow liquid squirt into the jar.  How did I not feel this?  I had run 3 miles the day before… The docs said this was probably due to the fact that I am healthy and my body just made up for it.

After a long day and some ugly tears, I was finally home around 6pm and took it easy on the couch studying the Civil War with Wills.   The boys were great putting themselves to bed and didn’t seem phased by the fact I didn’t get off the couch (maybe I should try that more often).

When I was getting ready for bed I passed out in the bathroom.  Luckily I felt it coming on and laid down.  I yelled for the boys to wake up and had them call our friend Charlotte, a doctor who lives nearby.  I was dehydrated from not eating or drinking all day while I waited for the procedure.  And,  I was in a good bit of pain.   A little gatorade and TLC and I was feeling better before long.  I hated having to call the kids to help me – but they were champs.   Charlotte stayed with me until Jay’s flight landed from Minneapolis around 1am.  I was sound asleep.

It has been an overwhelming couple days. Grateful for a community of friends who drove me to the hospital, sat with me, made me laugh, drove our kids where they needed to be, brought dinner and helped me up off the bathroom floor.  You can’t face cancer alone.

I am in much less pain today as I take it easy at home. The fluid was sent for diagnosis. We’ll know more in a couple days.  And, we’ll make a plan.

I have been incredibly fortunate to have five years of stability on my first line drug (Arimidex).  When I was first diagnosed I sank into a dark depression.  I’m grateful I climbed out of the darkness and embraced these past 5 years.   When I was first diagnosed I would never have imagined there could be so much joy – the strength of my body running marathons & all night relay races, mountains climbed, waterfalls to swim in, cheering our boys to victories, new friendships, marriages, cliff side champagne toasts, swimming with sharks and dancing all night.

Hope is true.  It isn’t contingent on something happening.  It is believing in something bigger than ourselves, when we can’t see it and trusting.  Believing we are safe even when we feel threatened.  Arriving at a place of trust and surrender.

Thank you for loving us and your prayers.  I will update when we have more details.

hope & peace-

Mary Lynn – Bardstown, KY

Mary Lynn is a bright spark. Diagnosed in 2016 with Endometrial Adenocarcinoma, she shortly thereafter received a Hope Scarf. She then honored us by donating her story and more scarves to our program. We are so happy to share a little about this special bluegrass lady!