Books/ Cancer Journey/ HEALTH

Panic, What-Ifs & Self Pity — a Health Update


I felt it last night and this morning, a type of panic starting to rise up within me.  Worrying replacing peace, “what-ifs?” swirling, self-pity in place of thankfulness.

The shot in my stomach to cut off all hormones is showing its power in the intensity of hot flashes throughout the night and this morning..  What I used to call a ‘hormone’ headache has been throbbing all night, its name changed to ‘no hormone’ headache.  My right reconstruction site joins my head in the throbbing, a pink, inflamed & burning reminder that I may be in for more surgery that would remove the progress and the shape of feminine.  Progress that was bought with a lot of pain and many dollars earned by my hard working husband. All the while a bottle of meds sit calling to me, their purpose is to sweep up any leftover hormones.  I am scared of these tiny white pills. I was supposed to start them a week ago. Can I handle their side effects on top of everything else?  I’m already the mom who has been spending most of my day in bed, sleeping for hours in the afternoon so I can enjoy my family or an outing in the evening.

I can see my girls are pretty over it all.  Disappointed when I can’t take them somewhere, and numb to the familiar answer of “Mom doesn’t feel well.” I hear my door creak open mid afternoon and then shut again,  I wonder what little one needed and feel sad that she sees the familiar lump of mom asleep in the afternoon.  I think of how my Todd is handling most of the parenting, and wish that I could handle more, emotionally and physically.

I feel overwhelmed with all there is to do.  Pumpkins need put away and replaced with reds and greens.  The house filling up with evidence that the kids have been home on fall break. Gifts need bought and wrapped.  Groceries need bought. Meals need planned. December paid posts need written, my contribution to our family budget.

One doctor calls wanting to scan my ovaries, this week. Another doctor’s office calls reminding me to come in for my second stomach shot. Yet another doctor calls wondering about my pain level and wants to see me Tuesday.  He reminds me that if all goes well and no infection we need to make a surgery exchange appointment by the end of the year.

I feel it rising, the feeling of overwhelmed.

But then…this.

{The Greatest Gift – Ann Voskamp}

I scroll through my Facebook feed and find an angel, Ann Voskamp.  I remember it is December 1st, day one of advent.  For a moment it becomes just another thing I need to do, but then, I click play and listen.  Her voice so soothing.  Her words go straight to my core an loosens the ball of worries.  Truth words that have the power to change my thoughts. I release pending despair and take breath of fresh air.

I am reminded that GOD HOLDS IT ALL.
I am reminded why I have hope.
I find my determination
I find my perspective.

I resolve to ride out this December advent season, upside down.  Like her sweet tree, hanging all upside down in the video.  Perfectly imperfect, looking to the only One who is perfect. My hope -giver, my life- giver, my story- maker.

I will count the gifts…there are always so many, even in seasons of hard.
I will remember to trust Him with my story.
I will be ok with the imperfect, and remember what it took for me to find this hope…

…a perfect babe born, so that the imperfect could truly LIVE.

I will remember that this baby, the star of this advent season, would one day save me.  Has saved me.

I will find my hope.

{Click here to buy The Greatest Gift}
{Click here for week one}

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  • Julie Luse
    December 5, 2013 at 5:32 am

    Thank you. Your honesty overwhelms me! You courage inspires me. Your pain/guilt proves to me that I must cease my good moments! I know we don’t know each other very well, we know of each other. But I can’t get over your journey with cancer and recovery and I probably never will. And I just want you to know how powerful your story is. How amazing you are! Thank you for being so real and authentic!
    If there is anything this stranger, soon to be friend can do for you, I would love to.

  • Katrina Johnsen
    December 2, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    I truly believe that we feel more dissapointment and guilt within ourselves than the kids actually feel when we see that we aren’t playing with the kids or don’t have the energy to have time for a special project. I think it is the sign of an amazing mom that has a deep burden to be involved in the lives of our children and feel the guilt when we cannot do so, even when sick. I look back at how much my mom “played” with me and I truly don’t think it was that often as we went out for hours in the woods or played in the playroom and yet I feel that she was a good mom, that she loved me. You take care of yourself and know…KNOW…that your girls will be ok only if you are ok…that is your job right now. Praying for you. Be strong and lean on the STRONG ONE that hides you under HIS wings.

  • Angela
    December 2, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Amy,

    Jesus is using you! I am blessed by your words. Could I have your mailing address? I’d like to send you something. My email address is Blessings~~angela

  • cgashley
    December 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Praying for you, still, Amy.

  • fleur
    December 1, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Hi Amy! I can so relate. We have Tera sleeping next to me in the familiar “sick lump” as you so eloquently described it. I am the kids being disappointed and detached to each pain and bump. I also see Tera’s suffering to her diabetes and other illness related. I will be patient too and hope. I will maybe decorate on my own some this year which is very lonely but all in the name of the upside down Christmas. Maybe we need to start a sub-blog called “Upside Down Christmas” for all of the sick and the caregivers whose lives are affected this season. I loved your reminder of hope and positive spirit of riding out the holidays upside down. It made my heart lighten today and I appreciate all of your positive writing. We too have had many hardships of finances and doc calls and appointments and pain and misery. I am trying to tread water thru it all and think positively. I have my surgery on Dec 5th and it should be a simple one (trim meniscal tears in knee) and then I have recovery which comes at the worst time. My friend’s sister is in the hospital dealing with her ill daughter that I told yo about named Angela. Friend is praying for a miracle.So far she’s defied the odds of her prognosis of 1% survival rate over 2 weeks!! She’s our miracle girl but we’ll see if she will survive. I’m cautiously optimistic but it’s still way early. She did get up and walk this week which was a miracle in itself. I will send you the video b/c it’ll put a smile on your face. Hang in there and let your hubs handle the girls right now. I know it sucks but it’s not forever to have chest expanders dealt with and hopefully this will provide a healthier mama for them going forwards. It’s a hard time to not be able to be there for the girls. If they want to talk, though they don’t know me, they’re welcome to email me at I am happy to listen to their life and have a pretty grounded sense of parenting ideas so you can trust me. I just feel badly for them and you and your husband. BUT, this IS going to solidify your and kids’ idea of what the season is about. Maybe you can send them an email about it or chat with them when you are up to it about the Upside Down Christmas. lol I think it’d be a cute idea and you could even hang your tree upside down for a theme. It might lighten their spirits!!
    I hope your headache subsides, the pain in chest will STOP and if it’s not, PLEASE be sure to manage your pain well so you can feel at least sane. I take excedrin for migraines and ultram for chronic pain and if i need it, i will take vicodin for break thru pain. It’s a bad thing to have to live in chronic pain and be tired and checked out but your family will be stronger for it. PLEASE tell the girls that they have a friend in Seattle that they can talk to if they get lonely or want opinions on xmas ideas, etc. I’m here. HUGS and get well!! Love from The Other Amy upside down!

  • Erin
    December 1, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Amy, I have followed your blog for a while now and enjoy it so very much. My mom is a survivor of breast cancer- diagnosed 6 years ago the week my daughter was born. Your blog has helped me so much to understand things my mom went through but could not verbalize to me as her daughter. You have shared so openly and gracefully your own walk. I am praying for you and your family: for your continued healing and awe-inspiring walk of faith through this. This side of heaven, you’ll never know the impact your journey has in strengthening His kingdom. Thank you for your example and no doubt, you are suffering well!

  • Robyn@SimplyMe1970
    December 1, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    What a beautiful post Amy.. I can’t even imagine all the what ifs that go through your mind but you are grounded in Christ and you know better than most that He WILL see you through it all to the other side.. Bless you dear..

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