My friends, Tammy and Denise, and I made it back home on Wednesday evening after a long, but uneventful trip from Vienna. We’re now catching up on some sleep and trying not to eat in the middle of the night. I’ll tell you more about my month adventure in Vienna later in this post, but first I want to give you some exciting news. On Friday we found out that there were two donors found that are both perfect matches, meaning that with the markers they look for they both scored 10/10. They are now deciding which will coordinate the best with my blood-type and will proceed from there. This is a huge answer to prayer, and I praise God for these people who willingly made themselves available to potentially give me the closest thing to a cure to Follicular Lymphoma. I hope I get to personally thank my donor some day!!
Now that a match has been found the speed on this next adventure is increasing. This week I will undergo a whole day of tests in Lexington, Kentucky having to do with checking my kidneys, lungs, liver, heart, etc. That will be on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. Then I’ll need to have a PET scan here in the Louisville-area in the coming weeks, and a bone marrow biopsy approximately two weeks before I’m admitted into the hospital in Lexington. Right now the tentative date for being admitted is May 20.
It’s a lot for me to absorb after having a break from chemo and yucky-ness for about two months. It’s not something anyone would look forward to, but I’m thankful for the possibilities of what it could mean afterward. God is faithful and I have to be reminded to only take a moment at a time. He will help me through every step in this next adventure.
ways you can pray
Please pray for every detail and timing of this next transplant adventure. Pray for the doctors and nurses I’ll have on a daily basis, that God would give them wisdom and discernment through this process. Pray for my body as I undergo intense chemotherapy that God would protect what needs to be protected and kill whatever cancer may be left. Pray for the side-effects I will experience in this transplant that they would be minimal, purposeful in telling the nurses and doctors how to help me more, and that they wouldn’t keep me from gaining weight or regaining a healthy immune system. Pray that God would give me the strength I need for each step. That He would be my Sustainer and that I would rely solely on Him, all for His glory. I hope and pray that somehow God would use this story He’s given me to touch lives, whether through this blog or those I haven’t even met yet in Lexington.
Pray for those who will be with me at the hospital, my parents, friends who may be able to come and visit. Pray that God would provide them with the strength and stamina they also need to be a good support system. Pray that God would again give me eyes for the funny and that laughter would infuse such an intense time. I know God will lead you as you pray, and if you want to share what you’re praying feel free to leave a comment here. I’d love to join in on your prayers as well. Thank you for being prayer warriors!!
Let me just say that I’m so thankful for the time I had in Vienna. It was so full, both in schedule and in how it impacted my heart. Like I said before, the month began with about five concentrated days on a retreat in Italy that focused on being still with God. That time was perfect. It was great to stop and be still and reflect, journal and just be with my Creator without my to-do list staring me in the face. It was also incredibly important since the weeks following that time were jam-packed and didn’t leave much margin for being still.
Raclette Night with Alex, Binc, Stephan and Karin
For each of you that I got to spend time with in Vienna, I was extremely blessed. Thank you for your time, for the meals we shared, for the sweet cards and gifts you so generously gave, thank you for your prayers that are embedded in my heart, for the hugs that I will miss soooo much, for much laughter and amazing memories that I’ll be recalling during this next adventure. I loved our conversations and getting to catch up where we left off, those are the blessings of my friends in Vienna.
Emily and I before adventuring on the Riesenrad
spa night with two of my favorite girlies!!!
Thank you, Kagran (my church community in Vienna) for the opportunity to share my story one Sunday. I shared a bit about how God creates pearls out of intruder. I only got a little bit of it on video, but you can read my entire talk below. And check out this picture my friend, Lynn created for me. I love it!!
Pearls – what starts as an intruder in the life of an oyster, turns into something beautiful in the hidden security of these shells. The oyster uses a substance to cover this intruder, as a form of protection, and this results in a pearl. An average, natural pearl can take two or even three years to form by the process of being covered in this protective substance. Now instead of shells, imagine hands holding the pearl. Imagine Huge Hands, the hands of our Creator and Redeemer.
Cancer has been an “intruder” in my life. It has come in and tried taking over. But God holds me in His hands. Instead of allowing this “intruder” to take over, He instead creates something beautiful. Yes, He allowed cancer to come through His hands, but only because He desires to use it to bring more glory to Himself. Sometimes when there are many questions like why?, it is easy to forget the Truth that He is making a pearl in the hidden, security of His Palms. He sees something more than chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, sickness and limitations this disease causes. He sees beauty, that some days is hard to see with our human eyes.
As you may know, I am packing up my Austrian home to return to the United States because of an upcoming bone marrow transplant. This decision was difficult to make, but by having a bone marrow transplant, afterward I may be able to live life without chemotherapy. What has happened in my life may not make sense or seem fair, but I know and can hold to who my God is and His promises to bring good and glory to Himself from the “intruders” in our lives.
Romans 11:33-36 says, “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give Him advice? And who has given Him so much that He needs to pay it back? For everything comes from Him and exists by His power and is intended for His glory. All glory to Him forever! Amen.” Thank you so much for your prayers while I was away in the United States receiving chemotherapy and for your future prayers as I return to the United States in a couple weeks. I am thankful for this church community and the friendships I have gained during my time in Vienna. I am thankful to currently be in remission and am hopeful in God’s plan as I face this next intense treatment. Join me in watching for the pearls God will create in the weeks, months and years to come. Thank you for letting me share.
Besides hanging out with friends in Austria there were a lot of tasks to complete to move me back to the U.S. You saw a picture of my packing adventure in the last post. But some of the other to-do list tasks included re-painting one of the walls in my living room (that has an entire story in itself that I will share sometime. . . thank you Beth!!!!!), redirecting my mail, selling whatever electronics I had (including a washer and dryer, that I sold just a few days before moving out Praise Jesus!!), cancelling my TV service, closing my bank account, cleaning my apartment (which I hardly did anything . . . most of that was accomplished by amazing friends who worked so hard to get it looking better than when I moved in!!), and many trips to the hardware store.
Since I’ve been back I thought, Did that get packed? I don’t remember seeing that get loaded.
Which are my thoughts only because so many other people took charge and got things done before I even realized they were done. Thank you, GEM-Austria team for helping with so many details of loading day and helping me cross things off my to-do list. Thank you, Dan, Jim, Peter and Gregory for working so hard on getting everything loaded. I still can’t believe Dan fit my HUGE relax sack chair in the elevator and then proceeded to go down with it!! Amazing!!! I always thought we’d have to throw it out the window.
special moments with teammates: the McCauley family and enjoying ice cream with Kim!
This was my last photo in my apartment building. Everything happened so fast we didn’t think to get a photo in the actual apartment until we were already out of it. But here I am in front of the elevator. hee hee!
Thank you, Tammy and Denise for flying across the pond, sacrificing a lot of sleep and time with your families, in order to help me in so many practical details as well as be an awesome buffer for stressful moments. I was extremely blessed to share a bit of my Austrian-world with you.
Somehow in the midst of a to-do list I was able to sneak in fun moments with friends and do touristy stuff toward the end of my time in Vienna. I’ll finish this post with some pictures that capture the month-long adventure.
eating kebabs with Denise
enjoying the gardens at Schönbrunn
i wish we had bought all of these chocolate pretzels to eat, but we only bought one! the consensus was that one was not enough!!
Tammy and I being silly in Salzburg
when in Austria you must go to as many Cafes as possible!!
Tammy and Denise enjoying some Wiener Schnitzel and Kartoffelsalat!!
yummy desserts at Cafe Central!
riding the U-Bahn . . . this was my Easter Sunday attire. It was freezing!!
we hung out with Marilyn Monroe at the Riesenrad (the large ferris wheel) in Vienna
Tammy and I in Salzburg – it was a one-night excursion to take a break from packing and cleaning
Oh and in case you’re wondering, the reason we also lost sleep this month was because the Louisville Cardinals kept winning in the NCAA basketball tournament. We’d get up in the middle of the night to watch the games. Way to go Cards!! Good thing I didn’t lose all that sleep for nothing! hahaha!
For those of you who are financially supporting me, please continue to support me through GEM through the end of July. The funds I have left in my account through the end of July will be used to cover the costs of my health insurance as I transfer from a group plan to a Cobra plan. Thank you for your support. After the end of July there may be an opportunity for tax-deductible giving if you’re still interested, but we don’t have the details of that currently.
Have a great week!!