Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! I have been pondering. Probably because I don't want to clean my house. That's why I did everything today. To get out of cleaning my house. It's avoidance behavior and I am the queen. I did 113 loads of laundry today because it was better than cleaning. I went to Sam's Club and winked at all the other ladies there who were also avoiding the inevitable. So back to pondering. 'Tis the season and all to be grateful. I'm grateful because you are greatful. That was a play on words. Homophone. ANYWAY.
So here's what it is. My race is next Saturday, December 6th. As I was running a "long run" (9 miles- yay me) I was very bored. Bored, bored. Running in a circle for a couple hours is boring, who knew? I thought that it'll be even more boring to run 13 miles. Brittany says the race is 90% mental and 60% of the time she is right EVERY TIME. So I tried my best to come up with some motivation. Something to make those miles fly by. And of course I pondered why I signed up for this crazy race anyway. I've never run before. I don't like it. So why? It's because sick people can't run 13 miles and I am not sick. I think that's really why. It's proof. Like when you give someone a t-shirt that you made and then you see them wear that t-shirt and think,"hey, I exist. If I didn't, they'd be naked." Proof. See?
So here is the rest: I've made the number 13 significant by having it be the sum of 12 weeks of chemo and 1 month of radiation. It's also the number of people who sacrificed so much to come and spent a week with me. These people all have busy lives!! Paid for their own flights, cleaned my house, played with my kids - basically my slaves and all because of love. My mom, Melanie W., Julene, Katie, Dave & Kristin, Amy K., Brittany, Jamey, Melanie S., Tami, Nancy and Andrea. It is still so overwhelming to me. So many other people and groups helped as well. I've decided to dedicate a mile to everyone that made my recovery possible. I know that doesn't sound like anything and it really isn't, but I promise that for that mile I'm going to think about you and what your service meant to me. Inevitably, I will forget someone. I almost didn't do this because I knew I would. A lot of that time is foggy for me. Please forgive me. I do love you, I promise!
(Of course, I owe all the miles I'll ever walk to the Lord, so that's just a given.)
These are not in order of love. This is long and boring and I don't think you need to read it all. Just do what I would do and skip to YOU.
Mile ONE: This mile is for Melanie. She was there at the beginning. She was with me when I found out. I've said it before and I'll say it again, that was no accident. Heavenly Father knows my needs and He let me be with her so we could laugh about it. She came right out and took care of me when Mom left and got me through losing my hair. She made this blog for me. There's no way I would have taken the time to write down this stuff without it. It is a treasure to me. (She also taught Mason how to do the dishes. Teach a man to fish - that's what that was.) She and Jeff paid for Jaymee to fly out and come get me. Jeff helped so much, too. He gave me a great blessing and would even call from time to time to see how I was. Those Wellmen really care. I'm hoping thinking about her will help me to not be afraid or have doubts about my abilities to get through this - just like it did before. I love you too much, Mel.
Mile TWO: Jaymeson. How tacky of me to put my husband after Melanie. He's the most important thing in the world to me. Truth is, however, it wasn't until mile two that he was able to start running with me and I couldn't be more grateful. When I first found out what was going on, nobody was more devastated than Jaymee. He knew too much. He'd seen the reality of cancer every day for the last four years. He was so shaken. I'm grateful. I never knew until those moments how much he loved me. I married up, you see, and so I always assumed I loved him way more than he could ever love me. He's closer than I thought. And we're closer now because of it. Poor husbands. They hear, see, and get in trouble for it all, don't they? I am truly myself around him and he's seen my dark side. I can neither confirm nor deny tears occurred on more than one occasion during this trial - but if they did, Jaymee was always there to wipe them away. He would have also held my hair back when I threw up, but that wasn't necessary, so he would pat my back. He told me what I needed to know and held back what I didn't. In that way, I think it was much harder for him. He told me I was beautiful with half an eyebrow and blue paint all over my chest. He was there for all of my chemos and all the junk that came after them. He is an amazing oncologist now and his patients are already benefitting from his struggle with the disease. Nobody, including me, gave him enough credit. He should have had help and a blog and blankets sent to him because it was as much of a trial in his life as it was mine. He's amazing. Mile two will be an easy one. I have lots to think about and be grateful for... not to mention the fact that thinking of Jaym will give me some extra adrenaline, if you know what I'm talking about and I think you do...
Mile THREE: My Price family. Before I even got home from the hospital there were packages and letters from my family and my cousins. Lexi sent us a bunch of toys and magazines and love. I know she wanted come out more than anything, but her trials are harder than mine and she couldn't leave them behind. I knew she wanted to and that counts as much as if she came. She was doing a better, harder work at home. Katie came out and stayed up all night with me when I couldn't sleep. We laughed and laughed. I'm lucky to have her as a sister. Jamey came out and worked his whole break on our sunroom and building forts for my kids. All of my extended family sent packages and letters and a freezer. Granddad was too generous yet again. My Aunt Nancy flew out and helped and I feel so lucky to have the chance to get to know her better. She's wonderful. I work full-time for Doug & Marti and they gave me the time off WITH PAY. That was so huge. They took away my worries so I could just think about getting better. Bazzill has always been so great. I love everyone there. Lisa is a good handler and made sure I was never overworked or had to work when I was sick. I was born into a goodly family.
Mile FOUR: My Stroud family. I know that I didn't even think twice about Jaymee's family when I married it because I was so focused on Jaymee. I certainly lucked out. They are all so good to me. They have always treated me so wonderfully and this was no exception. There are step-sisters and step-brothers and step-steps and I think maybe Jaymee and I are even related somehow but it doesn't matter because we all family. They sent packages and called and built rooms with their bare hands and bare money. Dave & Kristin, Melanie, Brittany and Andrea all came. Julene came twice! That's a lot of love. Melanie and I have been friends our whole lives and that was a week I will treasure because we stayed up reading our yearbooks and journals that we kept with each other. We were and are DORKS. I love you, dork. I'm glad we fulfilled our 7th grade dream of marrying "hottie brothers".
Mile FIVE: Shiloh/O'Fallon 1st Wards. Our ward split a couple years ago, but you'd never know it when I was sick. I got help from both. I had so many meals and pies and babysitting and love. I remember one day Denise called and said,"I'm going to the grocery store and to Target. What do you need?" Stuff like that happened every day. People took my kids to the zoo and to the park and to the pumpkin patch - their life was more fun then than it is now. Vivian came over once and said,"I have seven minutes, what do you want me to clean?" I'm amazed at what she can do in seven minutes. Karen sent me fun emails in the middle of the night when she knew I was awake. I always had babysitting when I went to chemo (which could take up to eight hours!) and dinner when I got home. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We lift and carry each other and mourn with those that mourn. It's another reason the church is true. This is how Christ's church would act. I love you all and I'm so glad I get to stay here and hopefully do some good for you.
Mile SIX: Old friends. I still can't get over the fact that Amy White-Knowlton came and spent a week helping me out when we hadn't seen each other in over seven years. That was so much fun and more kind than I can believe. (I hope that she's not still pregnant with her baby - i haven't heard and she was overdue by like a month last I checked). Tami Wellman-Gordon found a way out here as well. Unbelievable! I think about it all the time... would I be able to find enough babysitters and finances,etc. to take a week and go help an old friend? I would hope so, but I don't even know if it's possible. What a huge sacrifice. You guys are my sisters.
Mile SEVEN: New friends. What would my life be like without Amy and Mami? Don't think it's lamey that they rhyme with Jaymee. It's how I choose my closest associates. Rhyme. Amy was my personal assistant. She set up all the dinners, play dates, and anything else that was going on. She called or came over EVERY DAY. Without fail. Mason pretty much lived at her house and she ran my kids everywhere. I called her from the hospital in Arizona and she said,"Let's hope your plane crashes into an island with cancer-curing powers. It's the best we can pray for right now." That made me laugh and laugh and she continues to make me laugh. I'm a lucky girl. Mami took me to my chemos and pulled things out of her cleavage. That's love, mister. She listened to me complain and whine and yet still nodded her head silently when people said,"That Shelby is a trooper. She never complains." She knows all my deepest, darkests and loves me anyway. Her family and mine are one in a very annoying way. I really think of all the Youngs as my family. I love them all so much and they are so good to me.
Are you still reading this? What if I say,"love them all so much" again? Will that be the final straw? Or is it because I haven't mentioned you yet? We're past half way. We can do it!!
Mile EIGHT: Dr. Bartlett and modern medicine. We live in a day of rush in, wait forever, spend ten seconds with your doctor and then pay on your way out. Dr. Nancy Bartlett is probably the best Lymphoma specialist in the world. Really. And yet, she took the time to learn my kids' names, look at pictures, play with my wig and make me feel human in a time when it was a struggle. I am grateful for chemo. I'm grateful for doctors and scientists who thought of taking someone to the point of death and then bringing them back as a way of saving them. I'm grateful for radiation. Who knew that harnessing these scary powers could do so much good? Or buy me this great house?
Mile NINE: My Kids. They are better than yours. They loved everyone who came unconditionally. Sienna wrote me notes and poems and explained everything to anyone who wanted to know about "having cancer". Camryn was the one who brought me glasses of water all the time. Even without me asking. mason put away his mania for a few months and Preslie learned to not sit right on my chest. I think it will be interesting to watch her grow up, because she was raised at such an important stage by so many. She is the ward mascot now and is really spoiled.
Mile TEN: This BLog. Oh look! YOU. You made it. I love this blog. I love all of the comment and support. It kept me going and motivated me to write things down. Something about finding one's voice is healing. I found old friends and did better keeping in touch. I could access you day or night and there was always something there waiting for me. I made friends from other countries and have never felt so loved. Thank you guys. Really.
Mile ELEVEN: Brittany. By the time I get to mile eleven, I will have run farther than I ever have. I have Brittany to thank for that. She is the one who encouraged me to try it. She actually thought I could do it. She calls me and listens to me complain about how slow I am and answers stupid questions like, "when I'm running, I want to go forward, right?" She's been very patient. She also came out when I was sick and also got on Shelfari and found out all the books I've wanted to read and bought them and mailed them to me. That meant a lot because I love to read more than anything. She is a good sister and I want to be more like her. I get to run this race with her and I'm thinking since she is running the whole marathon that she'll probably be lapping me about this point.
Mile TWELVE: Mom. I put mom down here at mile twelve on purpose. By mile twelve I know I am going to feel so tired. I am going to think it's impossible and I'm going to be scared. That's how my mom felt and she came out here anyway. She's afraid to fly, but she got on a plane and came and took over my busy life all the while dealing with cancer yet again. I couldn't ask for a better mom. If there is any good in me - any fun, any service or any overwhelming love for others - I got it from her. Anything that I have accomplished in this life is because of who she made me. She is the ultimate cheerleader and I know thinking of her will get me through this hard mile. I love her with all my heart.
Mile THIRTEEN: Me. This last mile is for me. It'll be easy to think about me for a mile. I do it all the time. But really, this one is for me. There was a lot of icky stuff that I didn't want to do during this trial. I remember wishing on the wishing star that something would happen and I wouldn't have to go to my last chemo. I wanted to quit so much. I was sick and tired and miserable. But I did it. I found a strength I didn't know I had and the Lord increased my capacity for suffering. It made me better. Literally and figuratively. I did that and I can do mile 13.
So that's it. I bet you feel like you just ran a half. Good for you. Go eat an extra piece of pie - you earned it.