Grace April 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 7:48 am

What a difference a day makes!

Thursday’s experience was overwhelming for me, with the questions about elevated heart rate and possible blood clots in lungs and delay in starting chemotherapy. Even the incredible news about the shrinking of the tumors after the first treatment and the lowered C-125 cancer marker seemed caught up in the whirlwind of my Thursday.

Then I woke up on Friday confident in the power of prayer. The resting heart rate was down to 106, still slightly high but not 134 as on Thursday. The port was accessed, the meds started right on time, I had no reactions, and the treatment finished in 4 hours 15 minutes as scheduled. I had a good afternoon and evening—and an uneventful (!) and thus restful night, which is praiseworthy indeed.

This morning, I’m thinking about grace. I’m thinking about how often I get caught up in rocky moments. I’m thinking about how in those moments, despite my best intentions, I’m often sidetracked from the glimmers of grace in front of me. I’m blessed with a loving husband, tender daughters and granddaughter and son-in-law, supportive and kind family members, dear and precious friends, faithful prayer warriors, incredible people whom I have known through the years and who have rallied around me, and a wise and compassionate physician and medical team. I’m safe in the hands of a mighty God who is not surprised by any circumstance or glitch in what I thought the plan for the day was. In the midst of what overwhelmed me on Thursday, God also covered my day with glimmers of His grace. I guess I knew that with my head, but I only see it now as I consciously think back over the last two days.

May I remember who holds my life in His hands today and in the upcoming days when I’ll experience the inevitable side effects that can obscure those glimmers of grace. May I recognize those little moments for what they are—evidence that His grace is sufficient for me and made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

The treatment is working. There will be setbacks and struggles, but His plan for my life is working according to His purposes.

Thank you for your prayers and your love. I am truly blessed.


Chemo #2 postponed til Friday 4.27 April 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 7:05 pm

Well, today reminded me—as if I needed reminding—that God answers prayers. Since midday, that verse in Romans about the Spirit’s intercession for us keeps ringing in my mind: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26).

A day that started with some potential and frightening news ended with unexpected and great news that I wouldn’t have had otherwise this early in the process.

Let me begin at the beginning, and please stay with me to the end.

I arrived on time at 10:40 for my 2nd chemotherapy treatment, but after lab work I was a bit surprised at the unusual delay to see the oncologist before beginning treatment. It turned out that my heart rate was elevated and there was a real concern that I had developed a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in lung). After an EKG (regular heart rhythm but elevated heart rate) and a CT scan (and a wait for the radiologist to interpret the results), I learned that the blood vessels were fine, and I was cleared to begin chemo. By this time, however, it was almost 2 pm, and I was thankfully given the option to return tomorrow morning for treatment. I quickly accepted.

Who knew? Students and teachers and friends and family prayed this morning and throughout the day for me. The doctor seemed to think it likely there might be an embolism. Because my heart rate was elevated this morning—and it’s never been before—everything stopped so they could check it out. Several indicators seemed to suggest a serious problem. If my heart hadn’t been racing before, it certainly was then. Waiting for the results was almost as troubling to me as the question, What if this had not been discovered before the chemo began?  I didn’t go down that path though.

A mere two hours after the problem was discussed with me, it was ruled out. Of course, there are and will be some changes in medication and more monitoring in this next cycle, but I am so grateful for prayers, for an attentive and wise physician and his staff, and for some wonderfully good news that came as a result of the necessary scan today, news that I would not have learned until the end of all of the treatment cycles at the end of July.

Now for the amazing news: The largest tumor on my lung has shrunk in the three weeks since the 1st treatment. The blood test taken two weeks ago showed that the C-125 cancer marker is down to 48 (!) from the first number of 585 in February and 250 at the beginning of April. The treatment appears to be working, and God is to be praised for what He has done.

Oh, I know that I am still at an early stage in this process, but after the stress of the midday hours, I loved hearing such tremendous news. I am hopeful for a regular chemotherapy #2 treatment tomorrow. I’ll be there at 8:30 am and should begin treatment by 9. After what happened today, I will be most grateful for your prayers tomorrow.


the buzz April 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 11:47 am

There’s something about getting a buzz, I guess. Through the years, I’ve seen countless guys shave their heads for spring or summer. Of course, I never thought that I’d willingly do such a thing, but I should never say never.

Image         Image       

Actually, as it turned out, the styling salon—on the patio outside the Dining Hall near the middle school—was perfect. Lots of middle schoolers observed the process and enjoyed the show. Chandler Ganick would wave the clippers at some boys and ask who was next, and they seemed relieved when I told him not to touch a hair on their heads. The entire process took about 5 minutes, and it was done.

Emily went with me to the restroom to change my clothing and to put on my scarf. When I looked in the mirror, however, I was dumbfounded, but I have no explanation for why I was so shocked. My first reaction wasn’t good: “I guess I really do have cancer.” Emily’s response was perfect: “Yes, you do.”

ImageThis is the next part of my life.

Hair is hair, and it will grow back.  I am  determined that this won’t scare me or change how I face each day, although getting ready to face each day won’t actually take as long in the morning now.

I am also excited about having a new way to wear the scarves that I love. I’m going to enjoy this, I think. At least now there isn’t as much hair to fall out.

I can’t express how much hearing from people has meant to me. Cards, notes, emails, comments, visits, flowers, food, treats—I read and remember and am so grateful. I love to write notes, but right now I can’t respond as I want; I will. Until then, please know that your prayers and support remind me each moment of God’s faithfulness.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus….May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 16-18; 23-24


shifting my perspective April 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 9:10 pm

My hair is starting to fall out, so tomorrow at school one of the coaches has volunteered to give me a buzz. I can’t wait.

How is that for an attention-grabbing introduction? Can you tell that I love to teach writing?

I’m 14 days after the first chemotherapy treatment and a week away from the second one. All things considered, I’m doing well. Of course, there are the expected side effects of the drugs and a weird kind of feeling that something is going on inside me, but it’s not as horrible as I feared it might be.

What’s changed for me this week is that I realized that my perspective on this process was a bit skewed. I’ve been trying to push on through, to get up and go to school, and to stay there until I couldn’t stay any longer. I haven’t really been taking medicines for the side effects, and so by the time I’d get home all I could do was crash all afternoon and evening, often sleeping for 16+ hours at a time.

Now I’m trying to be more intentional about what I do. I’m still working from home, but I’m not trying to do everything every day. I go to school to teach my class or for a meeting; otherwise, I’m home taking care of myself.

What I’ve realized is this: I am absolutely certain that healing will happen, but I don’t know which side of heaven that will be. I also am absolutely certain that I can’t mess up that healing because I’m trying too hard or not trying enough; well, sure,  I obviously could if I expose myself to infection or if I do the things that I’m told to avoid, but I’m not talking about that. What I’m saying is that I trust that God is at work in my life.

I do think that how I have been reacting has affected my family and friends. When I am hurting or not feeling well—and trying to act as if everything is just fine—they are concerned for me. They want to help, but they can’t since I won’t let them.

All I know is that I’ve felt better for the last few days. I’ve been treating the side effects and resting.

I hope that this perspective lasts. If I backslide, I also hope that those who love me will remind me of this post!

Now for the sentence to bring this entry to a close:

You can expect to see pictures and maybe even film of the big buzz tomorrow. Don’t worry, though, the event will come with a warning: Guys, do not do this on your own without your mother’s knowledge and specific permission!


Here I Am… April 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 12:18 am

A week and a day, that’s how long it’s been since I started chemotherapy.

A week and a day, that’s how long it’s been unpredictable.

Gee, did I really think that I’d figure this out and get on a routine? Of course, I did.

The treatment day itself went well. I had no reactions to any of the drugs, and for the first two days I felt fine. Actually, that was probably due to the continued steroids prescribed for the day before and two days after, but I claimed it as a victory. Then, on the fabulous advice on the oncology nurse, I started a preemptive 48-hr anti-nausea drug cycle, and I had no nausea!  On Tuesday, however, the anti-nausea drugs were making me too “whirly” and I stopped the meds, but by then I had other issues. Every day since has brought a new reaction, some tolerable and some not-much-fun, with only a glorious pain- and symptom-free Thursday that made me think that I had turned the corner. I hadn’t.

Since I’ve reached the age when my body is predictable, it’s a bit disconcerting to discover that predictability is a joke. Actually, I cannot anticipate what the next moment will be like, much less the next hour or the next day. I’ve been telling myself that today is day 9 but that makes me think “day 9 of a whole lot of days” and that doesn’t sound great. I’m trying to make myself think in three-week cycles and hope doing so will allow all of the moments to blur together.

James keeps reminding me to savor the good moments and the good days because they don’t happen as often I’d like. I’m trying.

Here are the good moments in my first week:

• Hearing rave reviews for my short cut!

• Learning of the creative ideas from guys at school for my transition from short to bald, including having a faux ‘hawk or a mohawk or a colorfully striped mohawk, signing my head like a cast, and allowing Jim Chapman to use my head as an art canvas. (We’ll see...)

• Having my granddaughter Abigail hug me so tightly today and say, “I love you, Gramma.” She hadn’t put those words and the hug together before without prompting from Sarah James, so I was overwhelmed, to say the least.

• Having students stop me in the hall or in the parking lot or in my office to say “I pray for you every day.”

• Receiving notes from people I have known and loved who write, “You may not know or remember me but…” (Of course, I know you!)

• Never ever feeling alone or afraid.

• Getting a helping hand at just the right moment when I am struggling to breathe or to stand or to walk or to move.

• Knowing that there is always someone available to go to the doctor with me, to give me a ride to school or home, to ask how I’m doing.

• Enjoying the beauty of our yard after 40+ BA guys and coaches spent an afternoon planting and weeding and trimming. (James is still amazed at how much they did!)

• Hearing that Sue Gering went to her Franklin nursing home to visit my mother since I haven’t been able to do that in awhile.

• Being able to be at BA every day, to teach and to interact with students and colleagues.

• Knowing that my family and friends are praying for me and loving me.

There have been lots of good moments. The rough patches are, after all, just that—patches, and I’ve learned this week that those patches don’t last. God always is there, in the good moments and the not-so-good ones, in the words and actions of those around me, in the food and the texts and the emails, in the quiet of my soul. None of what I experience is dependent upon what I do or how I react; all of the details since my diagnosis on February 17 are flowing through His hands.  There’s something restful for me in that image of the details of my days flowing through His hands—flowing, not stopping or pooling or pounding or striking.

You know what? I’m realizing that there is predictability in my life after all—the predictability of grace and mercy and love, and that’s the best routine I can expect from any day, especially right now.

“Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.” (Hebrews 4:16)