The next two weeks

Where to begin this post?
Well, for one, it will be my last post on cancer for the next two weeks.
I will not think or talk about it once more after this post, so don't ask... please.
Why? This are my last days before we start chemotherapy. I feel better from my mastectomy and I want to use my strength, my heart, my thoughts in living fully with my family. I am so grateful the girls are doing much better from their food poisoning from last week. It is such a joy to see them laughing and playing again.
The doctor was very disheartening yesterday.
The results said I have a triple negative breast cancer. I thought that was good. Turns out it's not.
Being triple negative limits the possible treatments and gives a higher incidence of recurrence.
My mastologist said she gave me a prognosis of 30 years.
My oncologist wasn't as giving. He says my cancer has a high recurrence within two years. If there is a recurrence, he says it is incurable. He says that worst case scenario, and we are no where near that worst case scenario, he gives me one to three years.
Definitely not what you where expecting to listen.
He keeps repeating the words that have described my cancer from the beginning: aggressive, so he wants to be aggresive.
Chemotherapy sessions are usually given every three weeks. He wants mine every 15 days.
This means that I need tons of prayers for good health and good resilience to the treatment, as chemotherapy has various side effects that will be harder on me with treatments so close together and little time for recovery.
This means my "good days" will also be scarce and trying to live normally will be a challenge. With this in mind, we have decided that my only responsibility from now on will be to rest and recover and use what energy I have to spend with the girls.
People feel bad for me for getting a cancer usually seen in older women at such a young age. I really feel bad for my daughters. They are so young and have such a great need for me. I wish they could have their mommy at their disposition more.
We are trying to focus on the positive.
Let us list those positive news:
1. My tumor was removed and we only found metastasis in one lymph node and the lymph node was intact (it had not erupted).
2. Fast growing cancer responds better to chemotherapy than other forms of cancer.
3. There are no other tumors in any other organ so the spread of the cancer is local.
4. My young age will help me withstand better the treatment.
5. We will try our best to have all or most chemotherapy done in the public hospital to lower our expenses.
There is still an enormous monetary stress for our family with the tests and the meds to control my side effects and keep blood platelets high, because chemotherapy gives various blood diseases and with a low blood platelet count I can't have the next session.
There is a high risk of infection during treatment and the minor side effects of throwing up and losing my hair.
I have voluminous hair. I stir clear of shampoos that say volumizing. I pride myself that I would never go bald. Guess you can never tell.
I guess you understand why I do not desire to hear or talk about cancer in the next two weeks.
Many people want to help and share alternative treatments, diets, their own survival story or the story of their relatives. I appreciate it, but for the next two weeks, please, just let me live like my life won't revolve around it.

There are many factors that need prayer.
1. Triple negative breast cancer at a young age has a worse prognosis than for women diagnosed at an older age.
2. The recurrence in triple negative breast cancer is usually to the liver or the brain.
3. The period of high risk recurrence is 5 years after treatment.

I want to explain myself a little.
I am not being brave. I am trying to live each day. Please don't praise me because I am not crying none stop.
It is not that I am not scared; it's that I am trying to trust God.
The odds are not in my favor, but God is.
I don't know if I'll live. That is not my greatest fear.
I'm not trying to act strong; I am trying to get out of bed to be with my girls.
I am not trying to do it all; all help offered is well received.
Cancer will strip me of any pride.
If you wish to come cook for us, look after my girls so my husband and I can have a date night, come hold my hair if the chemo is making puke, watch a movie if I am too weak to get out of bed, help me go for a run (which will greatly improve my recovery during the chemos), bring an arts and craft to do with me and the girls, donate, send letters, whatever... please do so.
Please pray.
If my faith falters, let yours be unwavering to sustain mine.
If my strength is missing, push me to greater limits and get me out of my bed.
If I get cranky or rude, love me anyway and remember that's not me.
Sit by me and read me some scripture.
Come and pray with us when the treatment becomes too hard.
Pray long and hard no recurrence will ever come to me.

But for now, remember I get two weeks of no cancer talk!


More blessed than ever

I have cancer.
I have never felt more blessed in my life.
It sounds like an oxymoron. How is that possible? 
God is capable of showing such great love in such great trial.

Let me get you up to speed. 
In my last post, we were waiting on Thursday the results of the biopsy.
My husband got to come home earlier, and he was able to go with me to pick up the results. 
When we got to the lab, the receptionist handing the results opened our envelope, gave it a read, put it back in the envelope and gave it to us saying "If you have any questions, the doctor can come out to explain the results." We knew what that meant. I didn't understand most of what the paper said except for one word: carcinoma. 
I sat down and looked up at my husband. "I have cancer."
My husband could only hold my hand as we stared into our eyes for a brief moment. 
We went back to the doctor who had done my biopsy to discuss treatment. 
We wanted to be aggressive and we wanted to be quick. 
"I want a double mastectomy tomorrow," was my first request. The doctor talked me out of taking out my perfectly healthy breast. She tried to talk me in for a breast implant that I adamantly rejected. 
"At least I'll still be able to breastfeed my next baby." I said.
"You should not get pregnant again." was her answer. 
I cried more to this news than to my cancer news. By no means am I done having more children. 

She sent me to have a full body ultrasound. Having hypothyroidism for six years now and with three friends under 35 with thyroid cancer, that was the scariest part of the scan. Luckily, my thyroid was clean. The radiologist checked my liver, kidneys, ovaries, other organs, and lastly my uterus. 
I erupted in tears.
"What's wrong? You've been so calm all this time," said the radiologist. 
"That uterus shouldn't be empty. I would be able to see my child's heart beat by now," I said barely controlling the tears flowing. 
The rest of the time I was in peace. My father-in-law asked me how I was feeling. "In a peace that I can't explain, so we know from where it's coming," I said. Friends came over. They overflowed my house. They thought it was going to be a house of tears. It was a house of party. Our good friends George and Marilyn brought chicken wings and cheesy-bacon fries for my "last supper." We ate and laughed. Everyone was amazed at the time we were having with such news. People kept telling me they felt more at peace after talking to me and seeing me take it so well. We did have some tears when we got together and prayed. It was so beautiful. 

Let me tell you where God showed His blessings and mercy in my life. 
"You probably would have never found out about your cancer in time if it hadn't been for your miscarriage," explained the doctor before entering to surgery. 
You see, the hormones from the pregnancy that lingered in my body triggered a fast growing tumor that made it possible to detect a cancer that at my age would have never been suspected or sought. 
I wrote of how Sammy's life mattered and had purpose here, but I never thought it was to save my life. I wasn't expecting God to give me an answer to the reason He took Sammy. I don't even view it as a reason. No reason would ever suffice my desire that Sammy would have stayed with me. I would have carried my Sammy at the cost of my life. 

God has been so gracious in pouring love over me. 
First with my mother. She took the first flight to be there with me before surgery. She paid for my surgery. She used her savings to save my life. She gives so generously and without reserve. Her biggest pain was that she hadn't been with me to grieve Sammy, and she was scared she was not going to make it on time to see me before surgery. We got to spend plenty of time before surgery together, giving me greater peace. If my mom was there, everything was going to be OK. She is a super mom

My husband is so amazing. He has had trouble processing everything that's happening. It is all happening so fast. He also felt sorrowful for not being with me during Sammy's miscarriage. And he was scared he was not going to be able to be with me through this as well. I think he is the only one who hasn't cried. He keeps himself busy. Busy caring for the girls, caring for me, cleaning my room sterile, buying meds, going to the lab, whatever he can do. I think that he thinks that if he stops, he is going to collapse. Yesterday he was giving me my first full bath without bandages. We looked together at the mirror showing my new body. "What did you think when you saw my body?" I asked. "I thought what I have thought from the moment we got married: I love your body and to me it's perfect." What a beauty to experience God's unconditional love through the unconditional love of your husband.

With my mom and my husband before going in to surgery.

My father has been there all along. He's had huge economical problems, yet he immediately got a loan to give me some money. His wife has been so loving as well, offering to get a loan herself. I've felt loved. They have been coming to visit, to give me massages, encouragement, love.

My family has been amazing.  Tia Sara has been our champion. She was with me since the biopsy and is at my house at this very moment. Both my daughters got food poisoning from some chicken nuggets from McDonalds the day I got home from surgery. She has been cleaning my daughters' vomit, holding my daughters that only want to be held on arms, sleeping them, bathing them, changing them, holding me back from being with them to protect me, knowing it is the hardest thing for me to do. getting me and my husband to eat. 
My mother-in-law and my father-in-law have been only mother and father to me. They have loved me as their own. They have cried for me, prayed for me, held me, cared for me, cared for my girls. My aunts and uncles have been there. My husband's aunts and uncles have been there. Arturo and Gaby even traveled to be there with him. My husband's grandfather and grandmother have been there for me.

Friends and family in the hospital lobby with my girls.

My friends have been amazing. They have been there caring for my daughters, filling the hospital lobby, helping my husband prep the house for me post-surgery, helping with food, helping with money, helping with prayers. I can't even answer all the messages I've received. Jenny, Adina, George, Marilyn, Tito, Keren, Diana, Alejandra, Melissa and so many others have been here none stop. My husband has relied on them and found rest in their help. I am so grateful. They have gone beyond!  
God even provides from the most unexpected sources. I've been a member of Facebook group of Honduran mommies called Mommy Daily where we share mommy advice, jokes, talks. I posted asking for prayers and the response has been overwhelming. Mommies have been writing, calling, donating money, bringing food, sending messages, posting prayers, posting verses, fully on top of everything. It's been so humiliating to have such support from mommies who don't even know me. 
My sweet students from back in 2009 when they were six graders and are today college students are throwing a fund raiser for me.  

My church has been so amazing. Great Commission Panama all donated to buy a plane ticket so my sister can come see me on Thursday. I am sure I have yet to see all their support.

I have cancer, but God has never blessed me with more love than I have this very moment. 
Thank you to everyone who has poured loved in my life. 
I love you!
My mom and my daughters in the hospital room. I love that they are making the most of this situation spending time together. Emmalee looks just like her Grandma Linda. The same smile.


Like I'm gonna lose you.

The girls have been Peanuts crazy lately. It's a good rest from the Frozen craziness of last month.
My youngest watches me come in from work, hugs me, and then searches my purse for my Ipad to watch "Foopy." Isn't that adorable for Snoopy.
The girls are so Peanuts crazy they makes us listen to the theme song "Better When I'm Dancing" by Meghan Trainor in the car every single time.
I don't complain much because the song is very lovely and I liked Meghan's voice.
So my dear husband downloaded other songs by her and we found the beautiful gem that is the song "Like I'm Gonna Lose You."

Here are the lyrics:

I found myself dreaming
In silver and gold
Like a scene from a movie
That every broken heart knows we were walking on moonlight
And you pulled me close
Split second and you disappeared and then I was all alone

I woke up in tears
With you by my side
A breath of relief
And I realized
No, we're not promised tomorrow

So I'm gonna love you
Like I'm gonna lose you
I'm gonna hold you
Like I'm saying goodbye wherever we're standing
I won't take you for granted 'cause we'll never know when
When we'll run out of time so I'm gonna love you
Like I'm gonna lose you
I'm gonna love you like I'm gonna lose you

[John Legend:]
In the blink of an eye
Just a whisper of smoke
You could lose everything
The truth is you never know

So I'll kiss you longer baby
Any chance that I get
I'll make the most of the minutes and love with no regrets

Let's take our time
To say what we want
Use what we got
Before it's all gone
'Cause no, we're not promised tomorrow

So I'm gonna love you
Like I'm gonna lose you
I'm gonna hold you
Like I'm saying goodbye wherever we're standing
I won't take you for granted 'cause we'll never know when
When we'll run out of time so I'm gonna love you
Like I'm gonna lose you
I'm gonna love you like I'm gonna lose you

Not only are the lyrics a masterpiece to me, but could anything be better than the voice of John Legend to accompany it?

With my husband travelling away from home always and living far away, the song struck a big chord with me. The very little time I have with him (twice a month), I have to make sure I love him like it'll be my last chance. 
But this is how we need to live our life always. 
No, we are not promised tomorrow. 

I had been a little sleep deprived last week and on Saturday I was a raging mess. I was raising my voice for everything and not being very kind to the girls. I felt I was in over my head. The Spirit showed me that sleeping is not a privilege I must feel unworthy of (ask me later why I was feeling like that). Sleeping is a necessity that I do so that I may wake up early with renewed strength that enables me to serve my family rightly. I was glad I could turn the page to the horrid, grumpy mother and be a loving, engaged mom the rest of the weekend (which lasted until Monday because we had the day off). 

I was singing the song to the girls reeling on the wonderful days we shared together, thinking how important it is to live life this way. 
And then, horror struck. 
While I was bathing, I felt a very hard, very large lump in one of my breasts. 
I was about to go all panicky and frustrated, and again the Spirit called me not to let my flesh steal from the joy of walking in the Spirit, where fear and sadness is not a fruit, but love and joy. 
I prayed with the girls, long and hard, tears flowing down, Emmalee comforting me, and falling asleep talking to God together. 

Yesterday I took the day off from work to get that lumped checked out. Because I had had a revelation into the importance of my sleep, I did my best not to spend the night in Google reading about breast cancer and lumps. I am me, however, and I did do some research to know what were my odds and what I was up against. 
If the lump was liquid inside or with regular edges, it was not likely cancer. The lump was solid and with irregular edges. It was also painless, which is another sign of cancer. 
I couldn't help crying in the middle of the hospital. 
A woman approached me and told me not to cry. She told me how she has been fighting for her life for the past nine years and how she is still fighting. She told me whatever they had found, I would fight. 
The biopsy wasn't as painful as I thought. The needle was big and thick, but the local anesthesia did it's job well. 
I will get the results today.
Today at 5 pm we'll know if I have breast cancer or a benign tumor that needs to be removed. 

I'm still grieving Sammy so much. 
I asked if the cancer could have any bearing in losing Sammy. The doctor said no. 
I already had a before and after life changing experience. 
I am just hoping with all my heart the tumor is benign. 
The doctors say the odds are in my favor due to my age. 
All I know is I'm really scared. 
I don't want to leave my girls. 
And so, my mind goes back to that song. 
No! We are not promised tomorrow!

Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.

I have that verse etched in my heart. As I laid in bed thinking of what to be grateful for, I found out there was plenty. 
I am blessed everyday I am breathing. 
The first thing I was grateful for was the fact that it's all happening to me. 
My life is on the line, and no one else's.
So many mothers living in a chair next to a hospital bed where their little one is fighting for his or her life. 
Babies, infants, children being diagnosed with cancer everyday. 
And I am blessed that is not me. 
My girls are healthy and I thanked God for that and asked it remained that way. 

I was grateful for friends who are like family. 
Yesterday, Tia Sara was with me during the procedure and while talking to the doctor. 
Later, Jenny brought my favorite chicken wings which are my comfort food of choice. 
My dear friend Keren also showed up. We had a total of 4 toddlers running around the street. 
For the rest of the evening, I didn't even think of what had happened and what could happen the next day. We just laughed and comforted crying toddlers that cry about everything and ran around like rascals. 

I was grateful for family. 
My dad came to my house a minute after I called him. He told me he would help me pay for the biopsy, which had a cost of $200. He held me and prayed me for me. He said he'd go home to get everyone in his church and in the family praying.
My mom called at night crying, offering to come to Honduras as soon as possible to be with me through all this. I was very moved by her offer. I told her that it would be best to wait for today's result first. 
My brother and sister have been texting. My in-laws have been there for me. 
My church family has been showering me with texts and encouragement and prayer. 

Dear Lord, 
Let us learn to count our days. Let us learn to make them count. Let us learn to live them fully in the fruits of the Spirit, loving you and loving each other. Whatever the result today, let my heart praise you and say "Blessed be Thy Name." 
I love you. 


Dear Sam

Dear Sam,

Hey baby. That is your name. Sam.
I chose the name Sam because it has always been my favorite unisex name. I
I don't know if you were a boy or a girl. People always wish my next baby is a boy, but I really never care. Another girl would make me just as happy.
There has been a change in our relationship since I named you. I am able to pray for you using your name and that makes me feel closer to you.
Saying your name when I talk to God about you has made your life more real to me. You have no idea how you changeD my heart forever.
My heart grew in size to make room for my love for you. Keeping you in my prayers makes me feel that space has some love, but it has also left a space in my heart empty.
People keep telling me "It was God's will" which I know to be true, but not in the way they say it.
You see, my sweet baby, even most Christians today view children as an inconvenience, a burden, an unaffordable expense. They view my loss of you as something God was protecting me from. Economical difficulties, health issues on your part or mine, and the million toils of a new baby with two sisters under 4 years of age that still need me a lot.
Sam, I say this with difficulty because I have two little ones that need me, but I would have given my life for you too. I would have kept you inside me even if that had put my life at risk. I would have done everything in my power to keep you if there was something I could have done.
I didn't care my economical situation wasn't the best. I knew the Lord was calling me to have you, as evident in this post before you were conceived.
Sam, God placed in me a desire for you. I wanted you with all my heart. I hoped we had conceived you when dad came home and we did. I was looking for you and found you.
My family's reaction to me finding you will forever hurt me. Try to understand them as I do that it is not that they didn't want you; it's just that they were afraid.
It's easy to be afraid. It's easy to believe in the lies of world. It's easy to think it was not the time for another baby. It's easy to think it never is.
But dearest Sam, I believe in God. It's not easy to trust Him. It's not. But I do. And He had called me to you.
I do believe it was His will to take you with Him, but not for the reasons so many share that "consoling" phrase with me.
No. God had great purpose for your life and it was accomplished.
You forever changed my heart.
My life has a before and after since losing you.
I am not the same and it was your life that caused that change.
I can't give an answer to the questions life? and love? and why?
I can't say what is the purpose of this change in my heart.
I can only trust God.
And I will continue to trust Him.
Thanks to you, I can say that with a braver heart.
For the moment, I no longer desire another baby. You fulfilled that calling from the Lord, and for the moment, He is not calling me to another one yet.
I think that's good. It gives us the time to be together. It gives me the time to think of you and give thanks for your life.
I have cried almost everyday since you left my body.
I was holding on to a last shred of hope that maybe my bleeding had been an unusually heavy implantation bleeding, and maybe you were still there, though my body was clearly telling me you weren't. I was holding to wishful thinking. I now know for sure you are no longer in me.
My tears of losing hope have been hard to bear, specially alone.
Only I mourn you the way I do. Only I call you by your name. Only I think of you every single day.
I don't know if it will be this way for the rest of my life.
I don't know if time will make me forget. Not forget you, that is not possible. But forget to remember you and keep you close. I don't have experience with this, thank God.
Your dad said he really likes your name. He often thinks of you too.
My dear Sam, I write this letter because I want to let everyone know how much I love you, wanted you, prayed for you, sought you. I love you, my baby. I am a mother of three. I hold you in my heart in a space reserved there for you forever.

Dear Sam, you have the sweetest and loveliest big sisters in the world. 

I would have loved having a new born near them and our puppy Alee. She is also sweet and would have taken care of you. 

Dear Jesus,
Please tell my Sammy that is the name mom has chosen.
Please tell my baby how much I love my Sammy.
Please tell my Sammy mommy says thank you.
For coming into my life.
For changing my heart.
For answering my prayers.
For fulfilling his or her life's purpose in me.
For being my child.
And thank you, Lord, for the hope of knowing Sammy one day.  


Dear Kaylee 2 years

Dear Kaylee,

No! You are getting big too fast. I want to freeze time and keep you my baby forever. You are such a sweet girl. I don't even know where to begin to describe your sweetness. I love hearing you giggle when your sister is being silly just for the sake of making you laugh. And I love when you do that for her as well. Oh, those sweet giggles are also heard loudly when you play with your puppy Alee. I named her Alee for your sake. I wanted a name you could pronounce, and it's the sweetest sound when it comes out of your mouth. Your voice doesn't have that low register that was hilarious anymore, though your dad and Aunt Sara still think it is. You love singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and are crazy about the new Peanuts movie. You don't say Snoopy, though; you say Poopy. It's hilarious. You are such a good sleeper. You won't know how grateful I am to you for this until you become a mom yourself, so know how immensely grateful mommy is to you for this. You haven't entered your terrible two stage. I am thinking you'll skip it all together. You are such an obedient little girl. You greet and you say thank you and please, even in English and Spanish. You are no longer the crazy little monkey you were when you were younger. Yesterday, Emmalee went to bed really early, so I got to spend alone time with you while bathing you. We have this tall bucket in the shower that you love to get in and use as a "tub." You are so careful of getting in and out of that bucket to avoid slipping. I really loved that if I am holding your hand, you'll just jump out of it. If I am holding your hand, you'll run down stairs or jump of beds. It made me think of Jesus' words: Be more like children. If I am holding your hand, you are confident nothing will happen to you. And read this:
Isaiah 41:13
13 For I, the Lord thy God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, ‘Fear not; I will help thee.’

Isn't it wonderful to know we can always take a leap because we are trusting the Lord is holding our hand. May we take more steps in faith knowing Who is holding us!

You are still my little Linus. I just love watching you go around with your blanket in hand. I love watching you cuddle your baby dolls. Sweet girl, you don't know this, but you are a big sister to a sibling in Heaven. On Saturday, we were shopping for your birthday gift. You just wanted another baby doll to your collection. I refused because you and your sister fight a lot for those baby dolls. There was this naked baby doll in a bath tub and you ran to pick it up and held that baby in such a lovely, motherly embrace. It brought mommy to tears thinking of the sweet big sister you would have been and will be for your future siblings. 
Your favorite word is no. I think you just use the same scheme I do. When I don't understand what you or your sister said to me, I just say "yes." You must do the same, just with no instead. You can already count, jump, categorize, pick up after yourself, feed yourself (mostly with utensils), understand shapes, sizes, and colors. You are just so brilliant. Mommy has been failing to read to you more. I just really enjoy our prayer time. We pray every night together. 
You have learned how to play better with Alee. She has been with us for three weeks, but poor thing had to survive your rough play. I love her for not being a resentful puppy. I mean, you did try to use her as a horse and the poor thing is smaller than both your legs together. 
The night mommy knew she lost the baby, you and your sister were laying next to me, one at each side, in bed. This never happens. You can't stay still. We were in bed with the lights of and mommy was feeling downtrodden, crying in secret. In the darkness and silence of the room, you just started softly singing Twinkle, Twinkle. Mommy and Emmalee join you singing, and we sang it like 5 times. I have to say that is one of the most beautiful moments I have experienced in my life. Mommy was without daddy, and she desperately need him, but she had you and Emmalee and you were the perfect comfort. 
Thank you for being my little one. Thank you for your sweetness, your independence when you play, your dependence of mainly mommy when you want someone to hold you, your good eating and sleeping habits, your obedience, your playfulness, your love to your sister, puppy, mommy, and daddy, and everyone around you, specially Yuhu (great grandpa). Thank you for being eager to share time with Aunt Lilly and Grandma Linda when we went to Panama. You had your first plane trip and you were a perfect trooper. You played with Aunt Lilly's ferret and made even Sarita fall in love with you. 
May God give you many more years and may He grant me the honor of watching you grow and continue learning from you. 
I love you more than words can express. 

Playing with Aunt Lilly's ferret Atsui

Monkeying up with Aunt Lilly

With mommy in beautiful Panama

Bird-watching with Grandma Linda

You are the most most beautiful view in sight!

Sweet girl

Birthday cake with family. Daddy was joining us through skype 
These two share a special bond! We love you Tia Sara