Sunday, May 4, 2014


I had a dream the other night.  My little girl was swinging in a park.  Ben was playing fetch with our dog, Miken, close by.  Everyone looked happy.  There was a woman pushing her on the swing….that woman was not me.

Here’s one thing I’ve learned, when you are pregnant you dream like crazy- this is common.  While I have lots of silly dreams that really make no sense I know where this one comes from.  It comes from fear.

A couple nights ago I lay in bed, feeling the tumor that hangs out in my left breast.  It’s gotten bigger in the last couple weeks.  Not as big as it was in the beginning – but it hasn’t continued to shrink.  I also can feel a second tumor in my lymph node which provides a constant aching pain.  My oncologist said it’s most likely due to the last stages of my pregnancy.  My estrogen is at an all-time high.  The cancer which resides in my milk duct and feeds off of estrogen has a direct line to it.  They say a pregnant woman will produce more estrogen during her pregnancy than in the rest of her entire lifetime as a whole and as you can imagine there’s a steady climb of it to the very end.  It’s because of this that our care counseling session offered news that came quite unexpected.  I will deliver much earlier than anticipated, May 6th to be exact, at 32 weeks.  We had a team of doctors, specialists, and nurses in a room to discuss our situation.   They discussed the risks.   The risk of continuing my treatment which is limited with the baby in me versus the risk of taking the baby before she naturally wants to come.  We always expected it would be planned and earlier than term but because of this now slowed response to treatment the plan has been bumped up a month.  The Neonatologist went through the statistics with us.  We learned there is very little risk to take the baby at 32 weeks.  In fact, in most of their graphs they showed us there was nothing listed past 29 weeks because the risk was so minimal.  Of course, they were talking about major concerns. There are the little things.  For example, we officially have a room on reserve at the Special Care Unit.  She will most likely live there for her first month of life.  We had to tour the NICU, just in case.  They don’t expect her to go here but if she has problems breathing she may be there a couple nights.  I’m getting 2 steroid shots 48 and 24 hours before delivery to help her lungs prepare for this world.  She also will be small and need to catch up both physically and mentally but this usually takes place in the first year.  Let’s be honest, lots of babies are early and are just fine.  Once she’s out we can begin to fight this effectively by stopping the production of the estrogen that continues to make my body a happy environment for this crappy disease. 

In the beginning of this journey I was filled with fear.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of dying.  Fear for my unborn child.  I believe through many prayers I was relieved of this.  I had the most astonishing peace and I was truly in my battle zone.  Admittedly, in the past couple weeks that fear has crept back in.  It’s to be expected.  All warriors have their moments of doubt.  Think of the great action movies you’ve seen.  It’s at that moment when the fighter feels like he can’t go on anymore that a surge of power and belief in oneself lifts him up and he finishes off the fight.  That’s what makes a good battle.  I think back to running.  When running long races there’s always “the hill”.  The point where you get tired and discouraged and you push through and persevere and a wave of energy comes back.  Once over “the hill” that energy carries you home to the finish line.   I wonder if that’s where I am.  This news…it brings on the climax of the story that’s coming.  The upcoming moment of delivering with a body that’s been beat up the last 5 months.  There’s more of the unknown as they plan to deliver our little girl 2 months early.  She’s still breech.   A C-section is the last thing we want; it halts my continuation of treatment after.  Hearing my cancer seems to be “chemo insensitive” at this time and thinking about a lapse in treatment on top of that is hard to swallow.  I continue to have chronic side and rib pain.  Originally the doctors felt it could be an ulcer so we treated it as such.  Then we checked for a blood clot which was a nothing.    The doctors are fairly certain that this is pregnancy related but there’s always the worry that it’s progressed cancer which has made its way to my bones.  We won’t know until I can do my PET scan….scheduled May 9th, immediately after it’s safe because baby is out.  The accumulation of these recent events and news brings on fear and discouragement.
I finished a book not long ago, “Fearless” by Max Lucado.  I believe everyone facing a life threatening situation should read this book.  Scratch that, everyone…period… should read this book. 

Fear creeps in for me unexpectedly.  I’ll be going on with my daily routine and suddenly I’ll begin to think about Ben and what I would want for him if I’m gone.  Would I be ok if he remarried?  Of course, I would want him to be happy.  Would I want her to make him happier than I did?  Would we be together in the after-life?  While I’m painting our little girl’s nursery my mind wanders to a thought of my daughter waiting to walk down the aisle…wishing her mom was there to see her now. While organizing gift wrap, I think of my family having their first Christmas without me. 
Max Lucado says that fear is a natural emotion and we use it to help our bodies sense danger; but that does not mean that we need to let fear take control.  In the bible there is no other command that God urges more than to not be afraid or have fear.  And rightfully so, there is no reason to be afraid when we have God on our side.  Over Easter I realized this.  While sitting in church I listened to numerous stories of how Jesus healed people.  The Gospel is plump full of this among many other miraculous things He did.  And here’s the kicker….Jesus was real….let me rephrase…is real…He walked on this earth….there are accounts of this happening in history.  Yes, I am human and like many of you there have been times that I question my faith.  Trust me, you really start to think about those things when you’ve been told you have a diagnosis that many people have died from.  But it’s not hard to grasp that my God walked on this earth and healed people some 2000 years ago and for that same reason I can expect to be healed as well! 

The opening of the book talks about a story in Matthew where Jesus is on a boat with His disciples.  There is a terrible storm.  All of the disciples are freaking out and Jesus takes a nap.  And when they go to Him asking Him how He could be so calm and why He isn’t up and helping He asks, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”.  Good question.  With a track record like His I really have nothing to worry about because regardless, in my situation, the end result will be good.  This big nightmare of a storm that I’m facing is of mere, little concern to God.  It’s not that He doesn’t care; He just doesn’t sweat the small stuff.  I don’t just got this…He’s got this!
And as I’ve said before, I am in no way super human.  Just because I’ve lain fear to bed once doesn’t mean it won’t hit me again.  Just a couple days ago I saw that a young lady my age passed away after battling my same diagnosis for only a year and a half.  I was shaken and didn’t know it until I couldn’t concentrate during a customer presentation I was giving.  Afterwards I prayed to God that I wouldn’t go to that place again in my head….and then, I received a call right at that moment. My pastor was calling because I was heavy on his heart.  I told him he had good timing.  He told me “God has good timing”. 

God has good timing…that struck a chord with me.  God does His finest work when He’s got your attention…and boy, does He got my attention now!  I’m in His care.  It’s not my plan, it’s His. To quote Mr. Lucado, “His call to courage is not a call to naïveté or ignorance.  We aren’t to be oblivious to the overwhelming challenges that life brings.  We’re to counterbalance them with long looks at God’s accomplishments.”  This lesson has brought me to a new place.  When I feel scared or discouraged I now know where to turn.  My focus shifts to those things that are true, honest, just, lovely, and of good report.   I look to those little things that I’ve seen along the way that help me remember I’m held in His balance and care….and then I feel safe.


  1. I am praying hard & loud for you and your little girl and husband. Keep you heart on God and take each day at a time. Sounds like you're going to have a VERY busy & exciting week. Can't wait to see pics of the baby & I hope all your scans/tests go good.

  2. My thoughts and prayers are with you and you loved ones.

    -dave haas

  3. Athena, Your writing is marvelous and strong. I am praying for your family also. I can feel God by your side. Carol