What Will We Do Without Pamela?

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What will we do without Pamela?

We will love a little more deeply.

We will walk a little taller.

We will dance freely.

We will talk to anybody and everybody and let them know they mattered.

We will be kinder and gentler.

We will smile widely and laugh louder.

What will we do without Pamela?

We will be hospitable, joyful, and caring!

We will make lists and cross off each item.

(At least some of us will)

We will make sure each person we meet gets our

undivided attention, knows they matter, and leaves

our space smiling.

We will treasure children always and find ways to help them.

Generosity will flow easily from hands and heart.

We will read a whole bunch and then read a whole bunch more.

We will spend time with family and friends while working to make millions of

memories and moments that matter.

What will we do without Pamela?

We will find joy in moments and try not to worry

about tomorrow.

We will work every single day to make the world a bit better.

We will sing a bit louder, stay a bit longer, and say I love you a

bit more often.

We will make the time to connect and take more time to listen.

We will find out who people are and call them by name.

We will invite people in and not push them out.

We will practice more compassion and understanding and be

all the better for it.

What will we do without Pamela?

We will walk a bit closer, lean a bit harder, and find bountiful strength and courage

from our Creator and each other.

We will cry and hearts will ache.  Pain will dwell right along side joy,

but on some days

and

in many, many moments;

We will smile when we remember how blessed we were to have

been a part of Just Pamela.

Dear Pamela,

I want you to know, it was so easy being your friend.  I’m also really glad you’re no longer bossing me around from your bed or your cozy reclining seat in the living room.  You were like some crazed CEO from a Forbes Fortune 500 company.  Giving orders and people jumping up to do them.  Sarcasm oozing from you as you are reminding me in a room full of people that Tammy always does what you want and why couldn’t I be more like Tammy?  You were crossing items off your list as the days went by.  Making that list shrink with the help of many willing and loving hands and feet.

I’m really happy that you’re safely Home, pain free, and starting the next part of your journey healed.  It was honor to be near you as you finished this earthly journey with so much courage, guts, and sassy finesse.  You had so many cheerleaders cheering you on, prayer warriors praying, and lovely people sending love, courage, and strength from across the country. Food kept pouring in, too,  and you were right, your boys eat a lot!  There was also overflowing love, strength, joy, laughter, conversation, and kindness filling you and your house up.

You were Just Pamela to the very end.   Crown on your head.  Scepter in hand.  Issuing edicts to anyone in your path.  I was really nervous, holding my breath wondering what you and that scepter had in store for me. Scary…..thinking…..”Oh Lord, what is she going to command me to do?”

I’m going to miss talking to you every day and I think this “after” will be one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.  It’s already brutal. You made me better in so many ways, just by being beautiful you.  I’m really happy, though, thinking that your “Just Pamela” tribe got everything that you wanted done, in exactly the way you would have wanted it to be.

Farewell for now.   I’ll always think of you as one of the best things that ever met up with me.  

Cheri

Hospice Care

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Dear Friends,

I found this today.  The start of her final blog post.  She left the hospital with her always to-do list and writing must have been on that list.  She gave it a title and she put in the picture of her and Drake and I’m sure she had a beautiful-Just Pamela kind of post to write.  I don’t know exactly what her final words to you and I would have been. This is what I do know, she loved each and every one of you and she prayed for you if your were on her mind, heart, or in the contact list on her phone.  May you find joy and spread joy……….. Just like Pamela……..

Cheri

Broken

Psalm 40: 1-2 

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.”

I stayed in the “pit” much longer than I could have imagined.  The past few weeks have been extremely hard and I am so thankful I am being restored.  I had a complete emotional breakdown and needed to start taking an anti-depressant.  I have new empathy for those who struggle with depression.  It takes herculean effort to just get out of bed.  I could not smile, laugh, or find joy in anything.  To compound this, I became nauseous and unable to eat and there seemed to be one physical complication after another.

I could not have regained some of the old Pamela without the antidepressant.  I knew it was working when I wanted to read again and then actually left my home for a short car ride.  Apparently in another two weeks I will experience its full effect so I expect to be my sassy self again.  Watch out world!

I want to thank everyone for all the support, even from afar, whether it was prayers, cards, food, or small gifts.  It is all appreciated.  It has been extremely hard on my family and friends to have witnessed what I was going through. Richard has been amazing and many days he would just stay by me holding my hand until I felt okay to be alone.  My neighbor Janet laid in bed with me when I just would not get out of it.  True love.

Well, I am out of bed now and trying to build back my strength.  The first week I walked to the mailbox, the next week was the mailbox and around the yard, and this week I am tackling the road, going a little further each day.  My friend Cheri said this is how she ended up being able to run a marathon.  Inspiring.

The Pit

I feel as though I have fallen into a pit these past few days, and I keep trying to claw my way out.  If you have visited me recently, I am sure I have cried in your presence.  I seem unable to stop, which is so unlike me.  Usually I have a good cry, feel better, and move on.  I realized that it was a combination of life events which were most likely the culprits.

My youngest son moved into his college dorm room last week.  I feel extremely grateful that he has this opportunity to both learn at the secondary level and run track which he loves.  I know in the bottom of my heart that he is right where he belongs, and I am happy for him.  Yet, it feels like another loss.

I didn’t think I would be affected by the first day of school. A retired teacher came over on the first day of school. She had made curtains for my bedroom and we got all artistic on an old bookshelf of mine.  It was fun and felt a little like we were skipping school.  Yet I could not control my emotions when a speech therapist stopped over after school.  She is such a sweetheart, and I really wanted to chat with her about her school day but all I could do was cry.

Earlier in the week I made an appointment and told the receptionist that my schedule was wide open. I didn’t realize until later that I didn’t have a ride to this appointment as I am not able to drive while on the pain medication.  Another privilege taken away.

To add to all of this emotional garbage, I have not been feeling well physically.  When I spoke with a nurse about a new symptom I was having, she felt it was due to the cancer being in the lungs and I should increase the pain medicine and then increase the medicine to counteract the side effects of the pain medicine.   I feel like a walking pharmacy!  It was just too much to handle to believe I would continue to feel this way and then I went to that dark place about how it will only get worse from here.

My purpose in this blog is not to completely depress you but to be real about what is going on in my life and maybe to explain why I may not have returned your phone call, text, or email.  I am trying to reclaim my “fighting spirit”, and I feel like I am beginning to climb out of this dark pit.  I listened to Joyce Meyer’s podcast “It is God’s Will to Heal” THREE times.  I needed to hear the good Word, to have my Hope strengthened, and to be reminded to never give up. Today was a better day both physically and emotionally and I am believing for each future day to continue to improve.

I am ending with a picture of my youngest son in his dorm room.  I am trying to give him one last piece of IMPORTANT advice, but I am just not getting the vibe that he is taking it to heart.

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3 John 1:2 “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”

A New Plan

purpose for pain

While I knew the Yervoy treatment had not worked due to the growing tumors in the groin, I did not know that it had also metastasized further in the bone as well as new small spots in the liver and lungs until receiving the CT scan results yesterday at my appointment.  I am starting a new immunotherapy treatment called Keytruda this Wednesday, August 19th at Lacks in Grand Rapids.  From now on both of my infusions,  Keytruda and Zometa (bone strengthening medicine) will occur together every three weeks indefinitely.

While the oncologist reminded me that mucosal melanoma is more aggressive than the regular type of melanoma and that there is not targeted treatment for my type of cancer due to it not being caused by the typical mutations, I still feel hopeful for this treatment.  In fact, I have always felt this was the treatment I needed but was unable to have it until I first tried the Yervoy (according to the FDA guidelines).  Recently, I came across an article about a man who was diagnosed with mucosal melanoma of the nasal cavity in 2008 whose cancer had spread throughout his body.  Yervoy failed and he had to stop Keytruda due to the side effects.  However, a month after discontinuing, his tumors shrank and he has no evidence of cancer today.  This is the type of story that I need to hear to give me a boost and help me to remain hopeful.

The other recommendation from my appointment is to meet with a palliative care doctor to develop of plan of care to control the pain.  Please also pray for this meeting as it is important for me to have the best medicine to help the pain but also allow me to function as normally as possible.

Even though I knew the stakes going into the appointment, it is still tough information to hear.  I felt strong until thinking about telling my sons this new information.  That is when I crumbled.  Isn’t it every momma’s desire to protect her children no matter how old they are?  I also let myself wallow a bit in self-pity yesterday, feeling more sloth-like than ever.  But today is a new day, and I am keeping my eyes and ears open to all that God has in store for me.  I ask for continued prayers for my family that we hold strong in faith and hope.

 Hebrews 1:11 “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.”

Powerful Words

This morning I was soothed by the powerful words of today’s Jesus Calling devotion.  It was exactly what I needed to hear. Here is a portion of it “Do not compare yourself with others, who seem to skip along their life-paths with ease.  Their journeys have been different from yours, and I have gifted them with abundant energy.  I have gifted you with fragility, providing opportunities for your spirit to blossom in My Presence.  Accept this gift as a sacred treasure: delicate, yet glowing with brilliant Light. Rather than struggling to disguise or deny your weakness, allow Me to bless you richly through it.”

I still struggle at times with my lack of energy which causes me to miss out on certain events.  I continue to work on knowing it is okay if I do not accomplish as much as I desire in a day.  I needed to read these words as a reminder that even in my fatigue-laden state, that I can be used by God and can be considered a gift.  Of course, I also plan to throw these words back at the guys in my family.  Perhaps tonight when no one is preparing dinner, I will remind them how they have been gifted “with abundant energy” and that I need to let my “spirit blossom”  while resting on the couch!

Last week I had what I deemed my “lazy woman’s sale” to rid myself of my years accumulation of school materials.  I did not price anything, put the items in the garage, and left a donation jar.  The best part is I played with an adorable ten month old baby inside while my teacher friends shopped and then they came in afterwards to visit.  It was a lovely day and less emotional than I thought it would be.  I am able to listen to them talk about the upcoming  school year without sadness. God has healed me of the grief I felt at the loss of my speech language pathology work and has given me an idea for a new passion.  I will reveal this idea if it comes to fruition.

I am needing to take the pain medicine more regularly now. Being a teetotaler for many years, this is quite a new experience for me to not be in complete control of my thinking.  Last night after taking the meds I was determined to become a brunette to hide the roots and lessen the need for highlights. I was ready to make the purchase when a kind friend talked me out of it.  My family knows to not let me make any decisions in the first hour after taking these meds.

Surprisingly, I have remained peaceful while waiting for the results of the CT scan. Today my friend Jen is coming from Lansing and we are going to make zucchini bread and then sit on my Amish neighbor Fanny’s porch and visit with her.  Sounds like a lovely, “spirit blossoming” day!

My favorite verse this week:  Isaiah 42:3  “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice.”