Tag Archives: anxiety


2017 word of the year for us: Sacrifice! Eric and I were called to give up a lot, I mean, A LOT! But we chose obedience over acceptance, as difficult as that was at times.

I won’t undercut those who suffer from true depression, but I have felt depression deeper this year than I have ever known even when dying from cancer. Truly. Although we know we still “have” our church family from New Holland (and love them!), it still felt like God was telling us to give that up as our place of worship. For Him. Not because New Holland is any way bad, NO, not at all!! But because it was time. For us.

We felt led to plant a church and that NH would no longer be our place of worship, after 12 years and the fact that it’s the only church home I’ve ever had, that was hard. I have cried more over these last few months at the “loss” of this family, and most specifically at the loss of being a part of the youth group, than I ever have at anything regarding to cancer. Yeah, seriously….

But God had not left us without. Not even a little. He has given us a new church and a new vision and this has been an amazing blessing to our family. Church planting is, well, WAY more work than I ever thought it would be. That’s not necessarily bad, it just is what it is.

2017 has been very hard for the same reasons that it has been wonderful: People. We love and value all of the relationships we have and that have flourished this year and we mourn the loss of those that we have lost. We have lost friendships and for that, I grieve. But I don’t want to lose focus on my goal of spreading Christ simply based on the disapproval of Christians who don’t agree with my methods. I just can’t. It’s too important and they can say literally whatever they want about me, I know the truth and so does God. And my mission is pure, regardless.

It’s been a hard time because I felt like I needed to hide all of this hurt. But our old church has supported us so much and so have many others and for that we are thankful!

I’m praying that God will do BIG things in us and through us this year as we try to reach those who do not know Him!

We are totally unworthy of this calling to plant a God-honoring church but so excited because that’s how we know God works – through those of us that are unworthy.

May His strength be shown in my weakness as my weaknesses have been on full display this year. I’ve been quick to anger. Oh! So quick. I’ve said less than kind things as a reaction to being hurt. I’ve tried to be a pleaser of people. I’ve lost sight occasionally of the ultimate goal and passion of living for the purpose and life that only Jesus can give. Sadly, even after all I’ve been through with cancer, it’s possible still to lose sight of the most important things because of hurts caused by people. How silly, ultimately.

And I’ve been listening to way too much Taylor Swift. Haha! But seriously there are times that “Bad Blood” has seemed way more appropriate to me at the given moment than any Chris Tomlin song.

I’m a work in progress.

But I can’t and won’t live to please people. God is real and He is good and I will live to please Him only. This has been a surprisingly hard realization to come to regarding all of the testing we have endured this year, but I believe things are looking up and I can’t wait to keep giving God the glory!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2018!!


But What If

“But what if you are sick?!” She questioned, bottom lip quivering, with all of the composure a 4 year old can muster.  My mind raced with all the intricacies of cancer and how best to soften that blow for a child.  Teary-eyed, I explained to her that if that was the case, that God would take care of us.

But she didn’t want to hear that.  She wanted to hear that Mommy was ok and that Mommy wasn’t sick.  My little girl, who is usually an eager sleeper, refused to go to bed because she knew when she went to sleep that when she woke up I wouldn’t be there.  

So much for routine scans!  “Routine scans” are a mysterious blessing not afforded to all cancer patients and not guaranteed to us at any point.  There was a time in my cancer journey that those words, “routine scans”, sounded like a pipe dream.  Literally something that just wasn’t for me because my time had come and gone.  I always feel great until the night before scans.  And even then, the bad feelings are usually reserved for just me.  But tonight, my daughter caught wind of something that she never really fully understood before.  Yes, Mommy was sick through most of her life but from what she can remember, Mommy has always been there.  Tonight as I laid her down for bed, she wrestled with the fact that I wouldn’t be there when she woke up.

“Mommy just needs to go to the doctor for the day so they can tell me I’m not sick!”  I told her.  She seemed relieved at first, until she thought about it more.  But what if…

Our son is almost 7 and he has always just sort of understood all of this.  Not that it hasn’t been hard on him, but he always took it in stride and seemed to understand.  He didn’t like when I wasn’t there but he got it.  This is the first time Brit has asked so many questions and she just is not ok with the answers.  And I don’t blame her, I just wasn’t ready for this tonight.

Tonight as I was laying with her while she fell asleep (something she begged me for tonight, and never does this) she kept trying to figure out ways, through tear-soaked cheeks that she would get through tomorrow.  She finally said, “Ok Mommy, I will sleep as late as I can then pretend you are at the store and will be home at dinner.  Mommy, promise me you will be home by dinner!”

Of course I can’t promise any such thing, but I see my broken-hearted child before me.  Faced, for the first time in her life, with the understanding that Mommy may not always be there.  And so I try to assure her, with as much confidence as I can muster, that I will do my absolute best to be home for dinner tomorrow.  

My son comes out of his room, curious as to why his sister is crying.  And I have to tell him that he needs to be there for her tomorrow and things will be different but that he can make sure she’s ok.  On the surface, I’m only talking about tomorrow.  But in my heart, I know I’m talking much longer term.

What if?  Well, if something shows up, then I will try my best to be here.  And if I can’t, I need him to step in and help her when I can’t.  It’s symbolic and it’s heavy and it’s real.  I have scans tomorrow and they may be just fine.  But what if…



As many of you know, I had my scans and visit with my oncologist today.  I got to meet with him after my full-body PET/CT and brain MRI and his initial read of the scans were that they looked good!  Like as in, no new cancer and zero growth of the old.  And, not to brag, but I’m pretty sure at one point his exact words were “Your brain looks Great”. So maybe there’s still that pesky brain tumor.  And maybe I have scar tissue from radiation that’s affecting my memory and some other cognitive functions, but still.  It looks great.  A win is a win in my book!

I also received some very comforting validation that as people were on this drug longer And longer (remember, when I started keytruda it was still in clinical trial) they have seen certain chronic issues emerge like…wait for it…headaches!!!  I am plagued by headaches every day And I tell ya I felt like I was going crazy because I’ve had every test in the book but there didn’t seem to be a reason for them.  Well there we go.  Validation.

And as a little cherry on top, I don’t have to go back in three months.  Oh no, I get to spread out my PET scans and oncology visits to every 4 months and my brain MRIs to every 8 months! I never, ever expected that.  He asked if I would feel anxious spacing them out and I told him that usually I forget all of this exists until a few days before and then I’m a wreck so we are spreading them out! Woo hoo!!  Now I can adequately worry about other things, like our first baby going off to kindergarten in a few short weeks….

Ok, so maybe I’m not officially “cancer free” but I do feel free from cancer, and quite officially, I might add.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief today that I’ve been holding in for a very, very long time. I mean come on! I was supposed to die by Christmas of 2014! This is insane…but a good kind of insane haha.

Thanks guys so so so much for all the love.  Every message, note, text, snapchat, encouraging verse and everything else seriously made my day and had me smiling and feeling the love. ❤ I seriously am blessed by those God has put in my path, and it does not go unnoticed.

A rainbow so vivid the other night that my jaw dropped. It was right over our church ❤

There’s always hope and God’s promises are always true!


Cancer Maintenance and the Mind Games

*deep breath* Ok so tomorrow I have a PET scan.  And I’m sort of freaking out about it.  Why?  I’m not entirely sure.  I don’t have any specific symptoms screaming “cancer!!” but anything out of the ordinary plants a seed of doubt.  Plants a thought or a twinge that the scan will find something horrible and that this reprieve I’ve been granted will be over before I could even know it.  The day before a PET scan is always the most difficult.

For those new to my story, I have stage 4 metastatic melanoma.  Long, long story short: melanoma on forehead removed 2011, metastasis to neck lymph nodes found in 2013, surgery (full neck dissection with transplant), head and neck radiation, ipilimumab, metastasis (brain tumor, lungs, and hip bone) found in May 2014, keytruda, and cancer has been held at bay for over a year now.  I have officially lived a year and a half after my prognosis said I’d die before Christmas of 2014.  It’s still so wild to think about…

So every three months come scan time we do this all over again: the doubt, the fear, the crazy scenarios that play out in my mind non-stop.  Torturing me with the pain of imagining my own death.  Logically I fully comprehend that I shouldn’t even be here and that I should just be happy with whatever outcome I’m given.  But I’m human, and no amount of time will ever seem like enough.  I am desperate to see my children (now 5 and 3) grow up.  And while that seems like just an insane pipe dream for someone in my shoes, I’m at least desperate for them to be old enough when I pass that they’ll remember me.  Why?  It’s purely selfish, honestly.  I can admit that.  I’ve thought this through many many times and that truly is what it is.  And to make things even better (worse?) tomorrow, when I have scans and a marathon of appointments at Penn, is my husband and I’s 8th wedding anniversary.  What a way to spend it, huh?

Just one blip on the radar could mean the end.  And I’m not trying to sound dramatic, that’s just the reality that I am faced with every three months.  I’ve lived the last three to the fullest.  Everything has been as normal as I could have ever imagined it would be again.  When people would ask me how I am and I’d say, “I’m doing really well!” I have actually meant it for the first time in years.  It’s been fantastic.  And I’m scared it’s gonna end.  That it will be taken from me just like that.  That I’ll be back to worry, fear, treatments, and being physically helpless all over again. 

I will not lie, this is, for whatever reason, a very heavy burden for me to bear.  I almost deal better with things when they’re looking bad.  But now this mounting anxiety is hitting a fever pitch.  Today was my quarterly trip to the dermatologist (only one spot biopsied this time!) and when she asked me how I was doing (I seriously have the best and most caring dermatologist) I couldn’t help but mention that this mental struggle is weighing me down today.  “It’s always the day before scans,” I explain, fighting back tears.  “Well we’ve all been so impressed with how strong you’ve been through all of this, it’s ok to have tough days.”

Strong.  A word I do not think was ever in my life attributed to me before cancer.  Courageous?  Nope.  Brave?  Lol…no.  Inspiring?  Not so much.  But when cancer hit, I knew deep down it was an opportunity for me to grow closer with God and so I believe if these things are seen in me then it is only by His grace and mercy.

So right now, at this very moment, I’m really struggling.  It was moments like this that I would always pull out the very large laundry basket that I had in a closet downstairs that held all of the cards and notes people had given me since the very beginning of this.  I had kept every single one without exception.  Well about a month ago, we discovered that a pipe had leaked in that closet and that everything contained in that basket was completely ruined.  Gone.  It had to be thrown out and I’m just devastated by it right now. 

So I’ll just sit here for a while and cry and then head to bed.  I feel sad and lonely, and although I certainly have no reason to feel lonely it’s just what happens.  I just so desperately want to cling to this normalcy that I’ve been blessed with these past few months.  Of course, if it’s not God’s will then I really don’t want any part of it, but it sure would be nice if it was.  I mean, I’ve so much wanted to distance myself from this cancer and the identity I have in it that I haven’t even blogged in a long long time.  Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, I suppose.






I’m just not ready to give this up yet.  And it’s selfish and it’s desperate and it’s not even up to me.  Maybe that’s where the problem lies.  Within this frustration is the realization that I have zero control over my own situation.

God’s gonna have to help me work on this.

What I REALLY Want to Say to My Oncologist…

Ahh, everyone’s favorite part after a test or scan: waiting on results!  Yay!  Guys, I’m not trying to brag but I think I’m handling it really well this time.  I had a little extra time last night when I was, you know, not sleeping so I made a few memes.  Just for fun.  No particular theme.











And my personal favorite….


I’ll let you know if I hear anything.  I’m not too worried about it obviously 😉


So my oncologist dropped a bombshell on me on Tuesday. 

Apparently…I have anxiety.


I know that my doctor cares and is truly only looking out for me. But I couldn’t help but think, “Doesn’t everyone in this situation?  How many of your patients don’t?”

Like is it really that weird that a 30 year old with stage 4 melanoma who is married with 2 little kids and has already outlived her prognosis might be a little uneasy here?  How someone with mets in her brain, hip bone, and lung might be a tad bit curious about what those little turds might be up to? Is it soooo far-fetched that someone whose chemo is taming these mets for the moment might be an eensy weensy bit concerned considering the last MRI showed something possibly suspicious with my brain tumor? And how about the fact that I had a seizure last Wednesday (even on my meds. Not a big one, but a seizure nonetheless) that makes it even worse??

Preach it, Mr. Brown

Then tack on the fact that they are, for whatever reason, making it extremely difficult to schedule said brain MRI that I’m overdue for. There is a lot riding on this, so excuse me if I seem a little frazzled! (Sorry, I must have put on my sassy pants this morning).


I guess he somehow sensed my slight inner turmoil and began to talk about calming strategies.  It seemed odd.  Not unappreciated, but odd.

What kind of things do I already do?  I’m glad you asked!


He also had some fun suggestions!  Like meditation!


I almost lol’d at that one. I’m imagining me trying to meditate and be all zen while the kids are doing one of three things: not leaving me alone, trying to kill each other, or teaming up together and getting into mischief while mommy’s humming “ommmm”.

Cancer is a constant mind game. It’s always there in the back of your mind, and I’m certain that even if I would ever hear that I was “cured” some of these anxieties would linger in the back of my mind forever.  Maybe that’s just me, or maybe it’s just how the disease changes you, not just physically, but mentally as well.

I don’t see this as an issue, quite honestly. Maybe a little lack of sleep and maybe some headaches that I wouldn’t have otherwise, but I see this as a normal part of the cancer experience, a normal part of the human experience.  It’s tense and it’s ugly sometimes, but I’ve become more mindful of balance in my life and am afforded what probably looks like a pretty stress-free life if you didn’t know the situation. 

Plus I know I will feel better after I get this MRI. I just need to know, ya know?


Longing For What I Can’t Have

This coming Friday, October 24th, will mark a year since my life was changed forever. A year since my diagnosis. A year since my whole life as I knew it was taken from me, never again to be returned. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful that I’m doing as well as I am, a lot of stage 4 patients do not feel this good and are not as physically capable as I still am and have not gotten some of the positive results that I’ve been getting and I do not take that for granted. This fact in and of itself is usually enough to shake me out of any pity party I may be having, I mean, why waste time being all bummed out while I still have some semblance of health left? Unfortunately, for the last few days, that just hasn’t been cutting it.

I think part of the problem is that my one year cancer-versary is coming up and I find it impossible to not ruminate on the way things used to be. I miss the life I had. I miss the stress of getting the kids ready for daycare and I miss being reunited with them and hearing all of Evan’s stories about his day. I miss working. I miss my job a lot. I miss driving and independence. I miss feeling productive and valuable. Life was stressful, and hectic, and crazy, and….normal. It was a normal life, and I miss that terribly.

These days, I find myself drawing more and more inward. I don’t know if it’s some sort of permanent damage from the last seizure or maybe it’s the new chemo, either way, if I thought focusing was hard before, it’s getting darn near impossible now. My home is beginning to feel more like a cage or prison, I mean, I’m pretty much always here. But, on the same token, the world outside is getting less and less inviting and everyday seems a little bigger and a little scarier than the day before and this makes me more and more hesitant to go anywhere or do anything, no matter how anxious I am to leave.

I’ve gotten into a bad habit of not caring in any form or fashion how I look (it’s really easy to let yourself go in this situation haha) so 99.9% of my time now I look exactly like this:

I stopped caring that people who may not know me might be weirded out by my face or what they might think when they saw it. I stopped wearing makeup and never, ever do my hair anymore.

But last night as I lay in bed unable to sleep, I was kind of counting my losses and all of these things kept resounding in my head. I have let this cancer seep into every single part of my being, it controls my thoughts, my appearance, my day to day life, just about everything in my life now is either determined by or the result of my cancer.

Today I said, “Enough! I am not letting this cancer control my day today!” So, I was unsupervised with the kids this morning while my hubby went hunting, it was hard, as I tire easily, but I did it! And then, we decided to go to our friends’ kid’s birthday party and I knew there would be people there that I don’t know, so I thought, “I’m not gonna look all cancery today! I’m gonna hide it and try to be normal!”

Please excuse the selfies, I’m really bad at them and really don’t like them, but I use them today to prove a point: cancer still won this round. Even if I did look “normal”.

Conversations are still hard, my memory is shot, I can’t focus for anything, my brain is slow, and foggy, and awkward, there are connections that I can almost feel my brain trying to make, but it just can’t now and that’s not really something I can hide. I knew that cancer could take my life, but I never imagined that it could take my spirit, my personality, my “me-ness”, whatever you want to call it.

I’m still adjusting to this new normal. I pray that it can be used for God’s glory somehow. It’s kind of neat now though because as my brain slips further and further away from my grasp, I feel a closer connection to God and a huge openness to His Spirit that is almost a little surprising to me while it’s happening. For example, the last time I spoke at a church, I had my 30 minute message all prepared, only to get up there and not say anything that I had written. The Spirit led me a different way and since I’m too slow to object, I went along with it haha. But in all seriousness, it went really well and was a really cool experience.

I realize that as I am becoming more and more attuned to the leadings of the Spirit, I probably look pretty batty sometimes. I’ve taken to constantly scribbling ideas or thoughts down as they come knowing that I will surely forget them if I don’t. The notepad in my phone is full of dozens of “random” thoughts, phrases, paragraphs, ideas, concepts, just the oddest things. Maybe someday I’ll be able to make sense of all this, because if I don’t, someone’s gonna look through my phone after I die and think I was some kind of lunatic!

Haha, perhaps there is still a purpose for all of this and I pray that God keeps using me. But I also pray that I can get back to being my more outgoing, gregarious self again here soon, because I miss her, she is way more fun than the pensive, anxious, introspective Kim that’s been here lately 😉