Last Sunday, three weeks of having major surgery, I cried that I can’t clean up my house, run up and down the stairs, put the dishes away, go food shopping, etc. But the real reason for crying was I struggle to rest.
With the encouragement of my husband, I did rest. Dwelling on the events, later that night I connected some dots of my own life. When I went to college, I became the heaviest I ever was. I would not only fill up one plate, but three in one meal. Sporadically I would try to become healthy; working out occasionally, going for walks, and drinking a glass of water before I ate a meal. Those changes weren’t lasting. It wasn’t until I was teaching that I started using Weight Watchers’ main idea of portion control. It took lots of discipline, and of course there was some regression, but over the course of three and half years I lost ninety pounds. For the last seven years, I have maintained my weight by continuing to focus on portion control.
I connect this life experience to my present one- rest. Using the analogy, “there’s too much on my plate”, I finally see my plans and to- do’s as the real food I would put on my plate. What’s more, God is my portion. Staring at my calendar is like staring at my food plate. I can only put so much on it and I need to make sure it’s healthy. I plan less overall, more rest time, and engage myself in different areas of life. For me that means more reading, blogging and crafting.
I tell the truth that I am not always “good” with my eating habits. Holidays, vacations, family dinners and all kinds of reasons come up to eat a little extra. Life can be similar, however sometimes we choose what’s on our plate and sometimes we don’t. We didn’t choose cancer, but it filled a lot of our plate, not leaving a lot of room for other things. Now that there’s open space( Praise the Lord!), I need to choose the healthy things to go on it.
Luke (written on New Year’s Eve):
Shannon is at the wedding rehearsal for our dear friend and former team mate Jamie from our first year in China. I’m in the back of the car with a blanket in the hillside of Virginia because I stayed up way too late last night and am sleepy. But before I take a nap, I thought I’d catch you up on some more very good news. Shannon’s surgery was successful; she is recovering (enough to be a bridesmaid), and the prognosis is that the cancer was caught in time and neither chemotherapy nor radiation will be needed. The obvious and necessary reaction is to thank God, and we do, but to be honest, the emotions in the aftermath are complicated. Everyone else is overjoyed, yet our feelings are subdued. There is relief of a heavy and fearful burden, but then the settling of the old familiar, “what am I supposed to do with my life now?” The everyday burden we all tote around from day to day is back like it’d never left.
That’s why I’m grateful we’re going to a wedding. It’s a reminder that change comes with time and choice. We may feel like we’re moving in circles but it’s more like we’re swaying like trees, going up and up and up and up. and when the answers do come, the waiting was always worth it. Every choice is simultaneously liberating and terrifying.
Shannon (after returning home):
Through the beginning of our cancer journey and still acclimating into American culture, hope has been and remains with us. I liked Luke’s title “a new hope” which reminded me one of my mentors shared Psalm 23 with me as soon as we found out about Luke’s cancer. She reminded me that we all are walking through the valley every day, but in the diagnosis of cancer it was more apparent how much closer we were to death. However, the hope lies in God’s arms: for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. He comforts us in the everyday life and in the harder times.
Our dear friend shared before getting married, “We’re excited to be doing life together.” That statement was profound to me agreeing with her and realizes how Luke and I are doing life together. Their marriage vows were sweet to hear, claim again and give us a new hope.
We now move back to Luke working full time teaching and Shannon recovering and gaining strength day by day.
Thank you for following us as we write sometimes sporadically about our lives. As we’ve discovered more and more together, we’ve got to take the bad with the good. Shannon needing an operation for colon cancer is certainly a bad thing we did not ask for, yet there is blessing in it. If I could fashion a scale in which each trial we’ve faced was weighed against the provisions provided, the weight would continually favored provision, and by faith we trust it will continue.
Medically, we feel we’re on top of things as much as we can be. Shannon went to the doctor with some concerning symptoms and was referred to a GI doctor who scheduled some exams. A concerning mass in her colon led to an appointment with a surgeon to have it removed and she is recovering. That’s the short story. The bottom line is that we are doing everything we can to deal with this challenge.
The provisions already given us are many and extremely helpful. Luke still has time off for his own recovery and insurance to cover most medical expenses. Shannon does not have a full-time job to worry about. We have a wise and faithful network of friends and family who’ve provided time, experience, connections…all sorts of service and support.
As our surgeon reminded us, the next thing for us to focus on is getting Shannon home from the hospital. After that, we need to know the pathology which will help us understand what needs to be done next. We’d prefer to get a good report telling us that it hasn’t spread and should simply be monitored, but most of all we pray for accuracy and the means to responsibly care for each other. Keep moving forward!
I drew a picture to celebrate my last day of chemotherapy. Because words are not enough.
We were inspired by the Appel’s whom we visited. They had artwork displayed around their house that I think was made my Tom’s sister along with other interesting displays they’d made for each other or their kids over the years. We’ve made some progress in this area with the help of Mom Weaver who has blessed us with some collages from our adventures and pictures of special little ones in our life. We also wanted to take a little responsibility to have some fun and take some creative ownership of our space. Shannon was really interested in getting some pictures related to fall, and I’d been reading Calvin and Hobbes and admiring his work on trees especially.
The following is the result of several hours on my Glaxaxy Note 3 using the sketch-up app. It isn’t photoshop by a long stretch, but its a heck of a lot cheaper and faster than buying art supplies. I’ve been able to pretty much do whatever I’ve sent my mind to. The picture is meant to reflect all the seasons of the year. I think Abby turned out the best because I repainted her to fit a new canvas size for printing. I used a reference picture the second time which helped a lot!
Special Thanks to Rick and Beth Barr and Bruce and Lyma McFall for helping me push through extreme chemo fog to get the picture printed for our anniversary. Step two will be hanging it up…
Silers For All Seasons
This is the latest update for my students about my cancer treatment so far:
Culture shock hit for the first time in a while when the beauty of the changing leaves became peppered with signs for candidates. I realized I felt as helpless and frustrated about these signs as when I pass the homeless. Then I realized there wasn’t much difference. They’re both begging for enough people to help them hold on to a way of life. In China the people don’t have to deal with this unwelcome pressure-from candidates I mean, not the homeless.