Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Good News/Bad News

Marilyn, Lisa, Will & Michelle. My Ohana.

You know the old thing where someone comes to you and says, "I've got good news and bad news- which do you want first?" Well I always choose good news first, so that is where I will start today. Eventually...

If you have read this blog at all over the past few years then you know of my dear friend Lisa Jewett. She has been a part of our family for quite a while now, and we love her. You may also recall that last August she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer and began a long uphill battle against that horrible disease. She did not face the struggle alone. She has had wonderful support from family and friends, and many prayer warriors who have held her in Light of Christ over these past 10 months. She also had consistent love and support from my family. Lisa lived with us from late September through the end of January as she went through chemo treatments and surgery, and Marilyn gave of herself, her home, our finances and her time to help take care of her. Will gave her his room and took the guest room when he would come home from college, and he and Michelle called often to check on Lisa and visited whenever they could. In the toughest days of her recovery from all that had to be done, our home was her home. And we would have had it no other way.

But to be truthful (and perhaps a bit selfish) the last 10 months were a journey that Lisa shared primarily with me. Back at the beginning, when all was so scary and unknown, I quoted a little Bon Jovi to her- "take my hand and we'll make it, I swear!" And together we did just that. My life circumstances have given me the gift of free time, which often feels like a burden. For theses past 10 months it has been a tremendous blessing. Lisa trusted me to be her caregiver, and I was honored to take on the job. We laughed together, cried together, were afraid together and rejoiced together. I held her hand through every minute of 8 long chemo sessions. After her cancer surgery her room became my home away from home for 10 days and nights. There were countless trips to the doctors, numerous lab appointments and even a few emergency room trips that led to more nights at the hospital. During many of the most difficult days she just gave me her phone and I became the communications link to her family and friends- making some new friends myself along the way (You know that thing that everyone has to do after surgery before the hospital lets you leave? I texted about pooping with people I had never met before!). At one point after the cancer surgery, I had to give her a shot every morning for 2 weeks. Lisa hates needles (not to mention the location of the shots) so every day was a new moment of trust. Just when all of the chemo was done and we awaited good news on her cancer cell count, her gallbladder went south and there was more surgery and recovery. But we got through it together. In the process not only did our friendship grow much deeper, but I learned some very important things about myself and my own life.

When I look back over the hours and hours we have spent together during these 10 months, there is one thing that stands out in my mind- LUNCH! From the moment she had to stop working right up through a surprise visit yesterday, there have been very few days over the past 10 months when we did not eat lunch together, most often at my house. I made her a lot of sandwiches (peanut butter and banana, turkey and cheese, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff) and the occasional baked potato. In the beginning there were lots of Ruffles Sour Cream & Cheddar potato chips and pickle spears; more recently lots of fresh fruit replaced those things. We ate a lot of ice cream and pie early on, again replaced by Snackwells and popsicles as time passed. And she drank gallons of unsweetened tea- with just a little sweet added for flavor. I often felt like a bartender! We watched hours of TV together in the afternoons and spent hours talking. Lunch was our time. And that time is now, for the most part, over. Between her trips and ours, yesterday marked the end of the lunch bunch. She can get back to family, back to work and back to her life. I know how important it is to her to feel normal again

The good news I promised you is this- Lisa has come out the other side of cancer treatments and gallbladder surgery and is feeling great!!! Her cell count is good, her hair is coming back and the doctors are happy. She is back to eating what she wants and is once again full of energy. She can play full-tilt with her grandkids, go to Disney World with Marilyn, Will & Michelle and do most anything she chooses to do. She will resume teaching again at the beginning of August and she doesn't have to see her oncologist again until after school begins. She left last night on a big 10 day family trip to NC where she will get glorious time with all 4 of her grandchildren, and later this summer the same bunch will do a Disney weekend together. It's always too soon to say someone has beaten cancer- the war will continue. But to this point, Lisa has won ALL the battles! Her courage, faithfulness and perseverance have astonished me at times and have been nothing short of heroic. She is back to living life, and living it abundantly. And there is no better news that that...

The bad news? Honestly, there is no bad news for anyone but me. The bad news is I am REALLY gonna' miss my lunch buddy- even if she never lets me win any of the games we play! It has been a long hard struggle for Lisa, but somehow we have found some joy in the journey. And now it's time to celebrate! I'm praying that she has an amazing time in NC and a spectacular rest of the summer. Join me, won't you?

Because of Jesus,

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