Sunday, December 6, 2015

In Between Hope and a Hard Place

Y’all. It’s December. As of writing this we’re only a few days in and already it has shown itself to again be the season of Red Cups, food drives, merry carols in every store, and SoCal winter clothes. (Our temps have dropped to the 60’s - out come the jeans, beanies, sweaters and boots!) Elves posed on Shelves are dominating the Face Book feed while many well worn traditions that date back far before them lend comfort and joy in predictable approach to the Christmas season.  

And for four Trickeys in San Diego, the whole world is about to change.

If you're reading this, you have likely heard at some time through this last year and a half our saga as Eric has heroically battled stage four colon cancer. When last we left you, he had just entered into the recovery phase following a drastic liver resection and rewiring of the remaining organ. We were awaiting the regrowth of new liver tissue, and were anticipating multiple scans to show us exactly where the surgical gamble would leave us. Our surgeon said there was an 11% chance of seeing a “clean” scan in the months following surgery (as the surgery itself can stimulate microscopic cancer cells into new tumor growth), and we were full of hope.

Eric’s recovery went well; he's really very strong. Quickly he began to chew through magnesium, which was significant of liver regrowth as it is a building block of the organ. He was able to come home after less than a week in hospital, and that very night we took a crawling midnight walk up and around our cul de sac - first steps of many, eventually increasing in distance and pace as he continued his fight to be well. 

And as he regained health and strength a funny thing began to happen. The first phone call came while he was still in hospital - a men’s group in Texas wanted him to lead a retreat in October, did he think he might be well enough to do so? The doctors said he was doing well, and even if he eventually needed another round of chemo it would probably not start until after October. With their full blessing he said yes.

His first CT scan of the liver looked good…nothing indicated growth of disease, but they wanted to recheck and order a full body PET/CT to look beyond his liver at his entire body. As we received these incredible results, another church contacted him and wanted to maybe talk with him about interviewing as a candidate to consider a call. (In our church, a “call” is the extension of an offer from a congregation to be their pastor.) Feeling renewed purpose and potentially facing a recalculated prognosis, he said yes, simultaneously quite certain that he didn’t want to prematurely shut down something that, regardless of outcome, may be from God and that after a quick conversation in which he may encourage them in their ministry he would likely never hear from them again.

The PET/CT went smoothly enough as tests go. While I was in the waiting room I had my first glimmer of promise (I’ve been asking for one since his first moment of diagnosis!) as I felt prompted to watch another patient who came in for his imaging exams. I saw a much older man walk across the waiting room towards the water cooler with a spry step and a smile on his face. He was distinguished looking, exceptionally tall and quite muscular for his age but still slim, and very little closely cropped hair. The thought crossed my mind of how he reminded me of Eric, a MUCH older Eric. The flicker of a thought passed that I was being shown this gentleman for hope, a window into my future Eric, and a reassurance that he still has a lot of healthy time in his future balance.

The man sat down, relaxed, with his handsome, dark haired, also tall and early middle aged son - they both carried the air of ease, as if they've done these periodic scans on the regular for quite some time together, and within a moment the nurse came to call him back for his scan. I second guessed my first intuition to focus on them, dismissing the silliness of grasping for any hope for promise of healing. BUT…this is the first time in the last year and some odd time that I have felt even anything like this kind of healing-related impression. I continued to discretely watch.

Holding the door open to admit this next patient, the nurse called out clearly “Eric?” Father and son both stood up immediately in response to their shared name, exchanged a brief laugh as the son said “I guess she always means you!” and Eric the Older went back for his seemingly routine scan. Eric Jr. sat down and flipped through a magazine in wait for his father.

Giant tears slipped unchecked down my face as I lingered in the waiting room, wondering at what I had just seen. It felt so big, so significant for all of it’s simplicity. Was it a promise, a coincidence, or simply a small shot of hope?

We waited for the PET/CT results, far more anxiously than I would love to report. After what felt like forever, but was in all likelihood about 3 days, we received a call - everything looked “unremarkable”, with the tiny exception of an area in Eric’s liver which they were highly certain was residual inflammation from his recent, significant surgery. He had moved into the patient category of “surveillance,” no imminent treatment was necessary and we were to schedule another PET/CT to take another look in a couple of months. I told Eric through even more tears how happy I was at his being so very “unremarkable!” 

Within the next two hours we received another earthquake of a phone call…the church in Decatur Illinois, that we were contentedly certain we’d never hear from again, wanted to fly Eric and I out for a series of interviews; they were still interested in considering him for their senior pastor position.

I began furiously Googling anything related to Decatur Illinois, and overall the results weren’t too pretty. I read statistics and tales of racial tensions, economic decline, environmental concerns, high rates of addiction, and the infamy of The Informant. What good could possibly come from Decatur? But Eric and I have agreed and encouraged each other not to shut down possibilities where God is moving, even if we don’t want or understand it, and He seemed to be moving rather clearly in this situation. And no matter what else I uncovered online, I couldn’t escape the overwhelming sense that Holy Spirit was moving powerfully there. I decided maybe God’s purpose was that we encourage them in their process, and prayed fervently for them and the three other candidates that were coming that when they meet they find their right pastoral match.

But as I was making my rational and highly unbalanced lists of pros and cons I forgot a couple of fairly important things. Firstly, the “what good can come…” line has been used before, much to the necessary correction of the asker. Also, there is much foolishness in MY deciding God’s purpose, every. single. time. And finally, a huge one - the trend in our life thus far has been that every new significant move in ministry has followed traumatic yet miraculous birthing of new life. 

Eric took his first call as a pastor almost 15 years ago while our impossibly tiny preemie girl was still in the NICU…and we were on an airplane flying cross country to our new church in SoCal when she was only nine days out from her four month start in the hospital. A couple years after that, following six months of bed rest and and this time only about a week in hospital, we found ourselves again at a new congregation in San Diego with our newborn son by the time he was less than a month old. Do I dare hope that the new life that has been birthed through this year long fight using poison-filled needles and on prayer-ful knees carries the same fullness of promise as that of a nascent babe? And as much as I want that to be the story that I am being given to write, one of God sized movement and full and complete miraculous healing, is it possible that the deeper story is in His beautiful and loving prompting to continue to trust Him each and every day no matter what?

Eric and I went to the interview, met many incredible people, and on our return flight I added an item to the scant plus column of my Decatur lists…I think I love them. Whatever the future may hold, I felt knit to the hearts of many of the individuals we had met, as well as their church as a whole, and I prayed fervently that God would make it clear to them the man whom to invite into their ministry.

Once home in San Diego we went to Eric’s new oncologist for a post surgical follow up, and were told that he was to schedule a second PET scan in mid December, but other than that was not in need of treatment - there wasn’t anything they saw to treat. Later that happy afternoon the phone rang…St. Paul’s leadership had unanimously chosen Eric and wanted to solely present his name to the congregation in voting to extend the call of Senior Pastor.  

The following two weeks were a dizzy blur of wonder, dreaming, terror, bittersweet remembrances, and a solid dose (for me, at least) of denial. For a time I was able to remain happily ensconced in glitter and hairspray through tech week for our school’s production of Cinderella, but as soon as the curtain fell on final bows it was time to address reality. That very same morning, Eric had announced to St. Mark that he was accepting the call to St. Paul’s. My strong-in-any-locale (but truly hates being cold) Man, this city-loving (because, seriously, the best shopping) Calirado girl and our beach-soaked SoCal kids were moving to Illinois…to the not-Chicago part of Illinois. 

So that brings us to today. These days are packed with boxing up our every possession so we can truck it thoroughly across America. Filled with moments and events to hold tender hearts overflowing with love, shared memories, and sadness at our imminent parting. As we practice loving well in goodbyes it is excruciating to tear away from the very people and places that have been sewn into our shared existence which shapes the fabric of this life. How can we possibly express how much everyone means to us, how they’ve carried us, loved and shaped us in the life we’ve shared? So we press in to the even more Firm Foundation, the One who has adventures beyond our wildest imagination in store for those who closely follow Him, and encourage everyone we must leave soon to do so as well.  

And we do it all with hope. I know that while there is every evidence of God’s plan in our California exodus, and He has flung doors wide open in places we’d never dreamed, that there is no guarantee that cancer is forever behind us. We move in between the very real hope of clean scans, renewed energies, and new life altering callings and the hard place of the painful releasing of a life and people we’ve LOVED and the future unknown. I bask in the exquisite privilege of facing these things side by side with Eric, however hard they may be, and am overwhelmingly thankful for the health that he, today, has.

And I wonder at the hindsight we might one day gain in considering this in-between-the-unknown time. It is my hope that with daily, hourly, minute to minute practicing of trust in our Great and Always Good God we can look at what felt like the hard place and ask “Where else do I brace myself for blessing?”  And hope-fully laugh at what we find.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

1G0D

Summer is now in her last (hot!) throes, and I am feeling madcap launched into yet another school year. My repeated refrain has been "I'm not ready!!"

And a LOT has happened since last I've written.

It has been quite on my heart to share this part of our story in writing, but every time I feign to begin I have allowed anything from the actually urgent to entirely nonessential to thoroughly interrupt my intentions. And so, tonight, I will share a slice of our story in retrospect. Fair warning...there are a lot of somewhat boring insurance details in this one, but hang in if you will...they serve a purpose.



In April, the decision was made to extend Eric's chemo on a lesser dosage for an additional three months. Due to a cacophony of further events, we, as a result, lost access to the UCSD system and as a result of that, the surgeon who had been the most consistently hopeful voice of expertise in Eric's care.

I fought the ensuing insurance battle as best I could, and played the HMO game having been given the assurance that when this round of chemo was up, we could again revisit the surgeon to discuss liver resection.

Now one quick word on resection...it is a drastic, highly detailed, not always available for a variety of reasons (patient's presenting disease, surgeon's skill, etc.) It is also the ONLY consistent path in publication for stage four disease to reach full remission/NED status. Pretty much, to our understanding, the people who have been able to fully beat this from stage four have likely gone this path. It is also, from that very first week or so of learning of Eric's diagnosis, the only option that fully "felt" right.

In May it was determined that the lesser chemo wasn't working, and the disease was growing. Treatments with increasingly involved side affects and decreasingly effective rates of success began to be discussed. Prognosis of shorter and shorter terms began to be thrown around, and it was at about this time that I asked the insurance company to allow us to see the original surgeon for an updated opinion. And then things began to get a bit squirrelly. Even within the HMO approvals began to have inexplicable delays, and at one point I was told that a request wouldn't be written because "we just know it will be denied...so we won't even write your referral request." When I asked to be referred regardless, I was willing to take a denial, I was told in no uncertain terms that they absolutely would not. (Denials can be legally contested, as opposed to ambiguous spoken refusals to even attempt referral.) And as the hours of conversation and pages of notes added up...the disease in Eric continued to grow untreated and unchecked.

At this point we made the decision to go as an out of pocket patient to the surgeon for a second opinion. It was a little frightening as the office visit alone could easily cost upwards from $800-$900, but we figured with the stakes we were dealing with it was worth it. Because of the rigamarole we had already encountered, it was now the end of the month. We had a wild plan with slim margins of time to work with...and it's success hinged on a "yes" for surgery from the world renown liver surgeon. We had already visited another liver surgeon who told us Eric's case was inoperable, but we both felt it was worth asking.

The UCSD surgeon looked at Eric's films and still saw possibility. In fact, his survival percentages, although still small, were growing  even from previous conversations. Instead of a picture of bleak, quickly decreasing health with perpetual life long chemo, with resection he saw room for long stretches of treatment free health, if not a tiny possibility of full recovery. Where we had earlier in the month been told to begin to resign ourselves to maybe another 2 years, this doctor spoke of "touch ups", if needed, 5-10 years down the road. Our wild plan was gaining fast momentum.

In the car after the visit (after which, by the way, the surgeon knowing our situation DRASTICALLY adjusted his fee!) I felt a bit giddy with possibility...and began to consider what I needed to do to try to get coverage for Eric to have access to this surgery. It was a Friday afternoon, and Monday would be the first of the month - if we wanted to even try to get Eric in for surgery anytime soon, we would have to set our plan in motion and drop our insurance company that very afternoon. We made the call from the car, and started the process right away.

A diagnosis of stage four cancer, without having any insurance, is a terrifying thing indeed. When I could start making phone calls that Monday I was told we could possibly get some coverage at the fastest in maybe three weeks, but it would likely not start for at least another month, maybe even two. That would have, at the earliest, put us into July. We needed active insurance that would include the UCSD system and surgeon in order to even reserve an operating room...which with his schedule would be at the fastest about a month away from the day we started to request a date. So, I told everyone who would listen that I needed to have insurance approved, valid and set to go by Friday. Most people either laughed or audibly gasped and emphatically told me that there was absolutely no way that could be done.

But here's the thing. I didn't just make up Friday.

From the get go, in praying this surgery has felt like the best option for Eric. And in praying over this part, Friday was the day I was given to ask for. So I did. Every day, for hours and hours, keeping copious notes, from the beginning of their office hours to close. I started each morning asking God who I needed to call that day, and I didn't stop until I got through that day's list. And as each day's list was completed, I stopped. I didn't look for more to do, I waited until the next morning and repeated the pattern...ask, call, stop. And through it all, I prayed as well that I not get impatient, insistent, unkind, or hopeless. I asked that my heart be delivered to the other side of this project intact and able to love. Because insistent and driven me, when I don't get my way, is anything but loving.

Wednesday we were accepted into Anthem Blue Cross, but were told we would have to wait until July 1st for it to be active. I told them I needed it active by Friday. They said that even their fastest appeals process would take even longer than that. I appealed anyways.

Friday came and my "to call" list was very short...in fact, God had me wrap it up mid morning without any more answers and I began to get a bit concerned. He then told me to do math with my kids - we were trying to wrap up the school year, and needed to plow through quite a few lessons. So I stopped. Somewhat hesitantly, but I wanted to stick to my commitment to listen and stay in love. Even if I had to do math.

The kids and I worked on their math for hours. I began to nervously look at the clock, knowing that business hours for more easterly time zones were coming to an end. The phone rang at 3pm, closing time for some of the offices on our case. The completely awe stricken voice on the other end of the line told me in amazement that our appeal had incredibly already been returned (and they "had NEVER seen this happen!!") and we were approved...we had active insurance. They didn't think the system was physically able to generate our codes until Tuesday or Wednesday, but technically we were insured. I almost cried.

I hung up the phone and it immediately rang again. This time it was another department...the one in charge of generating ID numbers and codes. They wanted to call me because they "truly didn't understand how this could happen, it NEVER had before!" but we had a contract code assigned to us. As I took down the numbers the tears came even closer. I had to hold it together though...I needed to find the number for the surgeon's office, to see if I could catch anyone and start the process of setting a surgery date.

But as I hung up the phone, it immediately rang again...it was, of course, the surgeon's office. They "had been thinking about us just then, and were curious if I had made any progress toward getting insurance taken care of." Within minutes we had a surgery date, and as I ran to tell Eric the good news, the tears fell unchecked.

Now...are you ready for this? Take a look at our contract code - I had to take a picture because it just is too good to be true.




1G0D

However we have felt throughout this last year, He has still been so good. He has been Present, He has been Provider, and has carried us through.

1G0D

After the surgery, in which one of only two surgeons nationally who are even able to perform the degree of resection that Eric needed removed 70% of my husband's liver, the surgeon told me "We just did something beyond the cutting edge of medicine...there's a reason the other doctors told you this couldn't be done, because it isn't."

1G0D

And we wait now for morning...Eric had a CT scan today to give our first peek in to what has re-grown in his month since surgery. We will get the results tomorrow when we meet our new oncologist (recommended by our incredible surgeon), and are PRAYING for clean healthy liver tissue with not even a single cell of disease. 

1G0D

It is our greatest hope to move from this year of survival into one of revival! To shift phases and embrace health. But whatever the morning brings, may we follow God's daily plans for us, keep our hearts soft, and love well.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Cancerversary...One Year in Numbers

It hardly seems possible that a year has already flown by. One year ago today we took our sleepy selves to urgent care for a quick remedy to Eric's odd stomachache, and one year ago as they kept us there the most dreaded C word became a part of our everyday lives.

Having had a twenty four week preemie, I remember the paces of revisiting mental landmarks through the years following a trauma, pausing with thanks or sadness as I considered where we were or what we had been doing at the same time that year. This summer I again felt pangs of rememberance as I considered the sweet days of "not knowing" we had shared the last time we were in this part of our journey around the sun.

But today itself passed fairly quietly. My thoughts have been more centered on the sheer number of unexpected things that have been fit into this last year's calendar...

3 Surgeries removing...
4 Organs and installing...
1 Port
1 Primary Tumor with
"Innumerable" Liver Mets
2 Hospitalizations
12 Rounds of Chemotherapy
A Few Sleepless, Tearstained Nights
4 Tesla3 MRI's
Many additional CT scans and MRI's
3 Oncologists
2 Transplant Surgeons
2 Hospital Systems
2 Insurance Companies
50+ Pages of Notes from...
100+ Hours of Telephone Conversations to get...
1 Yes. Well, maybe that could be counted as a few more yesses. But one big one.
30 lbs Eric gained and then lost, largely due to steroids with treatment.
30 lbs I gained and haven't lost. (Blech.)
1 Week for our kids at Camp Kesem, which was amazing for them.
2 Weeks in Texas for the kids and I to immerse ourselves in family.
5 (I think) Trips to Disneyland...Our Happy Place
1 Brief Getaway, just Eric and I, to Wisconsin of all places!!
So Many Dr. Appointments
Hundreds of self injections for...
1 Blood Clot
1 Clinical Trial
Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars Billed
Tens of Thousands of Dollars Donated (I can't even.)
Countless Prayers, Acts of Love, and Expressions of Support
1G0D

I know this doesn't even cover it all, but these are the things that readily come to mind. I have been thinking, too, about Thalassa's vision, a year ago last night. She later painted what she saw that night over Eric's abdomen, when we hadn't yet ANY idea of the severity of what was really happening and I thought she was being quite dramatic for an upset stomach. What rest has come in this last year has been solely through an indwelling of the Peace that Passes All Understanding, and we continue to wait with hope for full and complete healing.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hard Things...a guest post by Thalassa

 
This post was written by Thalassa as an essay for school. She brought both Eric and I to tears as she shed light into moments of how this experience has affected her. I think she should consider starting a blog of her own! But in the very least, she is always welcome here. :)


Hard Things  
            This summer, I was exited for my whole world to change as an 8th grader, but my world changed in a whole new way no one would ever suspect. One Sabbath Day (day of rest and relaxation), I was woken up in the middle of the cold dark night to see my parents worried faces looking down at me. “Is something wrong?” I asked startled. “Dad is going to the hospital,” mom replied, “he is having some stomach pain, he will be fine. Nana and Poppie will be here soon.” (Nana and Poppie are our grandparents.) This comment was met with my brother’s wide eyes starring up into my anxious parents’ faces, and both of us held on tight to them. In a few minuets, they were off in the car and my brother and I were waiting in an empty dark home. A few days later, Eric (my brother) and I were sitting in a bland but clean hospital room, the kind that smells of strong disinfectant, next to my dad in the bed. I was staring in horror at the wall next to my dad, as my mom, in a heartbreaking tone, explained that my dad was just diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer which had spread to his liver, and he maybe had 5 years to live.

            Immediately, my mom sprung into action, and in a little while, had a fully functioning plan with the cancer center at UCSD. Dad was going to have lots of chemo and then, if all went well, a liver resection. A plan was in place, and dad could leave the hospital but our lives were changed forever. We began to cherish every moment we spent together, we began to pray more to God for healing, and whenever we could we would use our new annual passes to go to Disneyland. But even at Disneyland, the feeling of loss never truly went away. In everyday life between trips to Disneyland there was still work to get done. My math bar kept growing, and schoolwork from school kept piling up. The everyday challenge of getting in the right mindset to do school was hard. I wanted to shrink away and hide, to cry and dwell in self pity. Instead I ran to God, Whose grace and mercy held me and washed away my fears. Then the first chemo day came. My mom and dad sadly trudged out the door into the cold of dawn to get poked with needles, and to be filled to the brim with poison. Eric and I were left at the house, to do school alone while our grandparents looked on. But, God was with us. Dad came home from chemo tired, and feeling drowsy; we never knew if he needed to sleep or could stay awake for a little longer. And I, a scared little girl, could just wait. Still, I got some little goals done. I sang my heart out in musical theater, trying to escape the icy grip of fear but mostly failing. Also, I learned how to ride a bike which has been a goal of mine for five years. 

            Cancer is one of those things that you have to take on day by day. Sometimes we just cried, sometimes we got a lot of things done but as long as we had God we were just fine. Pretty much nothing I thought would happen this year went the way I thought it would. 8th grade I think is safe to say, was the worst year of my life. Despite that, I still kept my grades up in the A range. And I learned how to deal with hard things - pray and love the people that are around you instead of attacking them, even if you feel like it. I still shared my “world famous coloratura” in the theater, and pedaled faster then everyone else in my bike class on two wheels. Working through difficult things is hard, especially when it keeps going with no end in sight. And it’s still going - the newest update is that my dad’s tumors in his liver are getting bigger so liver resection might be thrown out the window, and that the chemo has stopped working. Even with this news, my family still has hope. I have learned to, even through hard things, truly pray, have faith, and love others.

LOST...and Afraid

It has again been a while since I’ve written…I’ve had a number of posts cross my mind, but I’m finding that the energy and concentration/creativity it takes to flush them out into something cohesive and understandable doesn’t come easily when I’m fighting fear. And these past few months have been quite consumed with fighting fear.

What I have been more diligent about is shows. There have been many evenings where the most the four of us could muster after engaging in our respective battles of the day was a solid session of binge watching. I’m certainly not claiming that this is the very best coping method, but it is one we’ve employed. We’ve traveled the world with the Amazing Race, uncovered the mysteries of time and space alongside the Dr. in his TARDIS, and most recently found ourselves LOST.



I’m the only one of the four of us who watched this during it’s first go-round; the kids were so little when it originally ran, and Eric was still steadily advancing his drinking career. One thing that, oddly, caught my attention from the pilot episode all those years ago was how Jack handled fear. 


     “
          Well, fear's sort of an odd thing…the terror was just so crazy. So real. And I knew I had to deal with it. So I just made a choice. I'd let the fear in, let it take over, let it do its thing, but only for five seconds, that's all I was going to give it. So I started to count: one, two, three, four, five. Then it was gone. I went back to work...
                                                                                                                                               —Jack   ”

Over the years that somehow stuck with me, and in scattered situations I tried this method out - take it in, feel the fear, then force it out. I don’t know that it has ever worked all that well for me, but what I’m recently finding is that when given even the slightest bit of reign, fear is a frightful adversary capable of lightening fast exponential growth. Through these last months, it feels there has been so much lost and so many things to fear…the time frame we had hoped for Eric’s surgery was pushed back somewhat indefinitely and chemo was extended, we lost access to the medical system that had become Eric’s “home base” and were moved back into the system and oncologist that had originally told us there were not many options available to him, we’ve lost large portions of any semblance of “normal” in our day to day living, and I fear for how that wears on every single one of us in unique ways, I’ve lost the dreams and plans I had for my last year fully homeschooling my daughter, and just last week we received news that the maintenance chemo that Eric has been on for the last two months has lost it’s effectiveness. That one more than anything, given even just the slightest number of seconds, can bring me to growing afraid.

But if that’s all that I focus on from the events of the last few months, I’ve also lost perspective…for many, many things have been gained. Memories of laughter and family walks and days at Disney, watching our children perform in their fantastic school musical, experiencing the swelling joy of our daughter accomplishing a goal she set for herself this year and finally learning to ride a two wheel bike, the kindness and generosity of both strangers and friends, five precious years of sobriety, and only just yesterday the addition of another year to our son’s running life count.

What I have been finding to be true for me in handling fear is that while it may be natural, understandable, and in many cases even seem fully reasonable…I have to let it go. And this isn’t just a random release into the ether, but a moment by moment invitation for Perfect Love to cast out all fear. The two cannot coexist. In the places where I find myself so fiercely clutching fear, rather than giving it seconds to grow I have to ask for it to be released and I look for the love. Or, I look for how I can love

And do you know what happens? I begin to lose things again…my narrowing of perspective and full insistence on how something (or everything!) must be done, my lack of patience with everyone around me, and my bitterness, however entitled I feel I am to it. Only then are these lost things replaced with a growing love and wonder. Only then am I even able to begin to clearly hear and respond to God’s direction for me. Only then can I be effective, and know true peace regardless of circumstance.

This week there will be many opportunities to continue to hone this growing realization and practice. We will get results from CT scans to show us if the cancer has spread beyond Eric’s liver. We will meet with multiple surgeons to discuss options (which will be greatly influenced by the results of said scan), and with the oncologist to discuss non-surgical options. I will make many, many phone calls to continue the campaign for Eric’s access and insurance coverage, and the kids and I will do our best to begin tying up loose ends so we can finish out this school year learned and intact. 


Learned and intact. In my opinion that sounds so much better than lost and afraid.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Happy Fifth Birthday!!!

So this year, on May 2nd in the middle of it all, Eric turned five. Here, in his words, is how he got to five years of sobriety. I love you, My Husband, and am so very proud of you.



Eric's Five year celebration...our good friend, Ken, gave him his cake and the most generous chip I have seen to date. (Will post Eric's share separately.) So proud of you My Love!!
Posted by Sara Trickey on Sunday, May 17, 2015



Here are Eric's own words on five years of sobriety. Simply put, he's amazing.Eric was also celebrated today at Church...five years of sobriety embraced in a place where he has pastored for twelve. That simple equation shows me that while God's Grace is wholly sufficient, it's an incredible thing to experience His people living grace saturated lives as well.
Posted by Sara Trickey on Monday, May 18, 2015

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ravel and Fray

The mechanical whir of his chemo pump breaks intermittently into the night quiet...I feel a visceral reaction to it every single time. This methodical interruption keeps a steady flow of poison coursing directly into My Love's heart in forty second intervals, a series of blasts that are both harming him before my very eyes and, hopefully, giving him his best medical chance at beating this beast.

We are so sick of cancer.

It's wild what you can become accustomed to, and we have fallen into a terribly uncomfortable cadence of life that includes biweekly chemo, a slowed pace necessitating lots of down time with just a few bursts of high activity, and much exhaustion resulting in many naps (on Eric's part) and some telling signs of ravel and fray (largely on mine). Sadly, it's often not very lovely.

I posted a video update on Monday, and went outside to record so that it would be a prettier setting than the grey drab of treatment rooms. Eric wasn't up for being filmed, but with new information at hand I wanted to get a few quick details out to friends and family. I gave a short monologue, ran back into the cafe to grab Eric's breakfast (incredibly, he actually eats during chemo), and headed back downstairs to him. It wasn't until later, after posting, that I watched back through the video myself, and my first thought was I look so tired.
(This is my accidental selfie, when I thought I had turned my phone to video. It was on "square." Thankfully I didn't talk too long before realizing it.)




In addition to being tired, my stress tells include a general malaise toward or outright neglect of any tasks that require scheduling and consistency - sorting/filing mail, straightening up our home, timely arrival to events, replies to phone calls/email (I'm sorry), and a myriad more. Creativity feels impaired - our Christmas tree, while still up, is all but undecorated. Well, except for three paper snowflakes, which are actually sheets of the children's old homework we used to practice for a Children's Church project.




Oh, and this...we missed removing it when we assembled our new tree, and decided to leave it on and just pretend it was an ornament. Because sometimes things like that make me laugh.





But quite possibly my very best high stress tell would be periodic outbursts of strong emotion. This has looked like crying in the middle of Sprouts over meatballs, and more tears, of joy, in the midst of small accomplishments or extended kindnesses. It has taken on the shape of a voice in the crowd (erm...mine), calling out the injustice of an individual's lying to the Catalina Express ticket taker while trying to jump line and board first. It was entirely unnecessary, and I wasn't really all that invested in boarding order, but all too quickly words flew out that I wished I could immediately rescind. On another night, I nearly ruined an attempt at a "normal" evening out with friends by screaming "HE HAS STAGE FOUR CANCER!!!" in the middle of a crowded concert at a fellow, albeit insensitive and not entirely without her own share of fault, concertgoer.

Thankfully, my friends love me anyways. Even if I embarrassed all of them. Especially Eric. But he has continued to mock scream those words at me periodically ever since that night, so I'm not quite so sad for him.

Here's what's hard - the ravel and fray, for all that they might be normal, are proof positive of the degree to which I am trying to carry so much of this myself. God continues to whisper "Trust...trust Me." And there are so many places that I know I just am not. This blood clot complication has tucked itself into a crevice in my brain, and has burrowed deep. I feel afraid, until I surrender that fear and replace it with love and there I am able to find peace...until I give fear purchase again.

In previous situations I have asked God for a promise, for specific words from Him that I can hold on to through the painful parts. With each of our children He gave me verses that I clung to with a vengeance in the face of every odd and statistic, knowing that He had promised that they would live. I have asked for the same promises through this, and He has told me no. That we've already done difficult things in that way before, and I am being grown into somewhere new. He continues to call me to trust. And I continue to tell Him at least daily how much I don't like it.

But after Monday, when I felt so very full to bursting of worry, fear and doubt, I again remembered to turn it over to God. I remembered how little control in all of this I have anyways, even if cancer weren't in the picture. And I began to see how much I was trying to force through on just my own sheer will and wanting. I released it, again, to Him. Immediately He reminded me that He is moved by His people's entreaties, and listens to their pleas. That restoration is His, and we are able to move in true purpose only after having a humbled heart. And that The LORD, He is God. He didn't give me a definitive promise of healing, but He spoke.
Tomorrow we meet with the surgeon. He has determining say on whether or not this blood clot will delay or fully waylay surgery. I don't know what the next step will look like, but I feel that we are on another precipice of change...our great desire is that we move into a phase that includes surgery. More than that, that Eric be completely healed. It is all so out of my control. But for my part I will continue to entreaty and plea before God, I will seek wisdom and listen with careful detail to what we are told, and when the ugly tells of ravel and fray make evidence of themselves yet again, I will, hopefully, ingrain just a little more deeply this hard learned lesson of trust and surrender.