Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Month of May

First I must ask your forgiveness for not posting an update sooner. I took some time after graduation and my last intense chemo to recuperate as I was rundown. I also felt like I didn’t have a lot to say about graduation, because  Cancer or no Cancer I knew I had to graduate. I endeavor to be relentless in pursuing what I set my mind to, which recently has included waging war against Ovarian Cancer.
Me on my last day of IP chemo with all
the goodie bags.
My last day of chemo came with fear and anxiousness, but still there was hope knowing for now it would be the last day I would have chemo pumped into my belly. I wanted to pass along the hope and joy I felt on that day with those who I would be sharing the chemo room with, so with the help of my peers at the OU School of Social Work a goodie bag, including many items I have found beneficial, was given to every patient receiving chemo that day. It was my hope that I could pass the goodie bags out myself, as I have come to enjoy, but I was in too much pain and overburdened with sickness. Even though I had anticipated chatting with other patients a caretaker stopped me on the way out and said "thank you, my mama needed some of those things", which is all I could have wanted to hear.

My hooding
I only had two days after my last chemo to recover for the graduation ceremony in recognition of obtaining my Masters in Social Work. It was amazing that I was able to feel well for the ceremony considering the two days of recuperation where met with a lot of sickness and difficulty. In a prayer said by my husband that day he expressed thankfulness for God's provision through this battle, and a heart of thankfulness helped take focus off the difficult circumstances around us.  
Benjamin holding me up at OU  while displaying
my grad cap proclaiming "Fall in Love and Accomplish
What you Never Thought Possible".
Surprise looking out
at all the people standing
and cheering.

May 11th , 2013 was very different than the graduation I had been anticipating for almost three years, certainly  I had envisioned that day without Cancer, but still it could not have been more perfect. I was blessed by friends and faculty who chose to wear Teal for Tarah and support Ovarian Cancer Awareness, and I will always remember how I unexpectedly felt the urge to hold up my graduation cap when walking across stage revealing my bald head to the auditorium. Still the greatest feeling was the surprise in seeing everyone stand and cheer as I was hooded, and then again when the Social Work Association announced their sponsorship of the goodie bags

 I never could have expected to begin a ministry in the chemo ward after receiving an ominous diagnosis or graduating from grad school with a 4.0 two days after my last intense chemo, but I hope this journey shows how limited Cancer, or difficult circumstances, can be when you know Christ. Cancer cannot shatter hope or overcome  courage, and I do not have to fear because my God comes through always.

Me Rocking Teal for
Ovarian Cancer
Awareness on graduation day
I am continuing to Fight Like a Girl, and have begun maintenance chemo with only mild side effects. Overall I am feeling well, and working on readjusting back to reality a little bit. I have a couple cat scans coming up and will post an update on what’s next soon.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Mountain

Loving each other through happiness and hardships
Sometimes when climbing a mountain one does not realize how much dependence on God it will take or how much labor and emotion it will require to reach the top. It is not until you are at the top and taking in the view that you realize how much effort you put forth to get there, and although the view is breathtaking, looking back you realize your toil has been great.

I am at the top of the mountain, and the mountain has changed me. Today I was struck by the rigors endured over the past few days, and the walk I've taken through the valley of the shadow of death. While I was glancing over pictures I was taken back by what Cancer has done to my body, and looked at  family gathered around me seeing seven healthy individuals surrounding one very sick and feeble Cancer patient. Still these pictures have captured moments in time. They capture emotion, hardships, and most of all they capture love.
My closest gal pals

Words from my family captured on a beautiful gift from special friends.
Here is a link to where  you can get one

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Day of Gifts and Celebration!

I caught her brushing
her teeth—getting
ready to leave
Hello, Tarah's Daddy writing here...

Marylynn helping Tarah
prepare for the day's infusion
Yesterday was Tarah's last infusion on her last round of the heavy Chemo therapy. It was a day filled with mixed emotions in that we rejoiced that it was the last infusion, but saddened knowing the effect the chemo would have on her. I'll have to admit that seeing her first hand for the first time in many months was a bit tough for this Daddy to see. Cancer is an ugly disease and the cure is almost as bad as the illness. Still, my daughter has plenty of "fight" in her—a characteristic that has served her well these past few months.

Sister, Marla, caring a box of
gift bags into the chemo ward
Tarah and her gift bags ready for
To celebrate her last day of therapy Tarah, and company put together several gift bags to hand out to all the patients having therapy on that day. In the gifts bags were various items that she found helpful to have while enduring her treatments. It was my honor, with Marylynn, to go around to the various patients and hand out the gift bags. To the person that were all very grateful for Tarah's gift and ask about our daughter and her progress. The entire ward lit up with their smiles. 


One of Tarah's nurses
with her flower
Jan, our family friend that
prepared the flower gifts for us.
Along with the gift bags, each nurse received a flower in a vase as an express of our gratitude for the wonderful care they have given her. When I came on the floor, the receptionists quickly ask if I was Tarah's father and then began share with me how much they love and enjoyed my daughter. This theme was repeated by several nurses making similar comments while I was there.

We left that day with a young lady feeling very sick but very grateful to have the worst behind her.

Enjoying a blow of strawberry on the back patio the next morning.
Freshly teal painted toenails ready for the big celebration for Tarah's graduation on Saturday
My entire clan
A Dad could not be more proud.
Silly Sisters
I can't tell you how much Marylynn and I appreciate all of your prayers on Tarah's behalf. I continue to say that we are a family that are riding on the prayers of many people. Our hope and faith is in the loving God that first gave her to us.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Final Round

My sisters and I during my last big chemo
A Goodie Bag for every patient
Hi friends! I finished 18 rounds of chemo today. Although it will go down in history as one of the most difficult I was loved and supported through it, and am now able to rest at home. I have commissioned my dad to write a post(with pics) about the day tomorrow. What I do want to say is thank you to the OU Graduate Social Work Association that made it possible for my parents and sister to pass out a Goodie Bags to every patient at the Stephenson Cancer Center. A caretaker stopped me on the way out and simply said "thank you, my mama needed some of those things". Wish I could have chatted with the family and other patients more, but that sentence is all I really could've wanted to hear. Thank you for the prayers and kind words today that covered me in a dark time.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Trust vs. Mistrust

The girls formerly known as "The Green  Girls"
on the back patio today

Life would be much simpler without having to navigate all of the do's and don'ts and why's and why not's that make up the good and bad days of life. Without this complex navigation, however,  life would be somewhat boring, and provide little opportunity for growth and enlightenment.
Through this journey I have tried not only to grow, but look for silver linings. I've learned how to appreciate  good days with much more depth and understanding, and gained a keen awareness about the fragility of this life. 

Today was a mixed day of emotions that reminds me although I have grown in my understanding of my Creator I still need to practice trusting  the One "whose got the whole world in His hands". 
I must resist darkness that tells me "I'm too sick" or makes me question where I am headed. I must trust and cling to The Light during what at times feels like the darkest moments of  life; complicated relationships, stress from life's rigors, and the never ending list of "must dos"

If I had the ability to tell you all something you must do in life it would be this. Trust in a God who created you for something much more than what this life has to offer. Through your trust in Him be confident in your tomorrow, but not overly confident that you become complacent. Take the time to live out your hopes and dreams with reckless abandonment that confirms your Faith in a God who created the stars, and with  detail created you and I. Finally, but most importantly don't forget to Love; love God, love your family, and love to live a life worth exploring.

I am entering the chemo room tomorrow for what is proposed to be my last full day of having chemo pumped into my belly. I await tomorrow with a queasy stomach and sickness that has lingered, but I also await tomorrow with trust. Trust because I have come this far, trust because God loves me, and trust because if all else fails what shall I fear with an eternity in paradise to spend with the one's I love and have yet to love. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chemo #17

Me with my mom, Marylynn, and younger sister Andrea
May 2nd Chemo #17
Two more days of chemo in the books, which  brings the grand total to seventeen infusions. The next several days will be tough, but prayers, family, friends, and knowing the end is just around the corner helps me continue to fight! Much Love to all those who have supported and prayed for me, and all those who have gone before me and those who continue to fight the good fight!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Last Round Knockout

Fight Like a Girl

Because you are my help I sing in the shadow of your wings.
 I CLING to you; your right hand upholds me.
Psalms 63: 7-8

Benjamin and I were watching OKC vs Houston playoff game 4 on Monday night ( If you weren't you should have been). It was a great game, and has become an intense playoff series since one of our best players, Russel Westbrook, was hurt during a lame move by Houston. Still in true Thunder fashion we have rallied, and will face off with Houston again in game 5 tonight. After the game ended on Monday Benjamin asked me if I was going to watch game 5 even though I would have chemo that day. If you would have been in our living room you would have seen my eyes widen, but inside something ensued that I have never experienced before. My body had a physical reaction to the idea of more chemo looming, and suddenly, minus nausea, my body felt like it had just been pumped full of chemo. 

The experience kind of rocked me, and anxiousness pursued. As we were getting in bed I noticed Benjamin was extremely tired as my husband often is from the 12-15 hour days he puts in at work. Sometimes working so much makes him a little loopy right before his head hits the pillow, and in that tiredness he began to sing a song (we like to sing around our house). It was a tune I have not heard in many years, and although he was putting different words to the song (we like to make up songs too) the message came on loud and strong, and I sang it to myself several times through that evening. Some of you may know it and some may not, but the old hymn speaks truth.

                                        "He's got the whole world in His hands"
                                         He's got the mamas and the papas in His hands
                                         He's got the itty bitty babies in His hands
                                         He's got YOU and ME brother in His hands
                                         He's got the WHOLE WORLD in His hands"

Kind of hard to fathom and cynics will ask how is this even possible, but ask and you will receive.
Today is the beginning of the end, and instead of pondering on doubt and suffering I will rejoice with hope, peace, and love. I have chemo May 1st, 2nd, and 9th, which will complete cycle six. After that I will take my chemo pills and have an infusion once every three weeks for maintenance, which is minor in comparison to the cycles I am enduring now. Maintenance chemo lasts for about an hour and currently each infusion in a cycle lasts about six hours. In addition, for maintenance I will not experience as intense side effects as I have learned to anticipate with each cycle, so today really marks the beginning of the end.

Go today and be encouraged that He has you by the hand, and that is just where He wants to be, walking side by side each of us. Someday we will now how someone we have never seen can do this, but for now we must have faith.