Friday, June 18, 2010

Priorities & Perspective

Priorities. It’s amazing how the minute you are faced with your own mortality, your priorities seem to change in an instant. What seemed so important at that moment, now seems so trivial. This challenge has helped me to recognize and remember what matters most: My family, my friends, and my relationship with God. I have hugged my kids a little tighter, kissed Jake a lot longer, and said “I love you” so much more. I have been in contact with many friends and family who have buoyed me up and helped me hold it together when I felt like I couldn’t. I have had countless e-mails, phone calls, dinners brought in, offers to babysit, and ears to listen. It is incredibly humbling and has given me extra strength to get through this. I’m so grateful for all of you and hope, someday, somehow, I’ll be able to return the favor.

Perspective. I’ve gained a lot of it this week. My biggest stressor this past year has been dealing with our job situation, which includes our Foreign Service drama. Will Jake pass the OA? Will we all get Class 1 medical clearances? Will Jake get his security clearance? When will we get on the register? And now for the past 3 months we have wondered when that long-awaited e-mail from Pat Evans will come, inviting us to DC for A-100. Well... that all just doesn’t seem to matter so much anymore. We found out today that Jake is ranked 56 out of 169 on the Political register. Ten days ago I would have been really frustrated, cursing those dang 6.0s which seem to get added to the register daily. Today, though, I’m okay with it. We obviously are not meant to be traveling the world right now. We are where we should be... which leads me to my next thought.

Why? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this question. I’ve been taught that God will never give us something He feels we cannot handle. God and I have had quite a few conversations this past week about what He feels I can handle, and what I feel is my limit. Obviously He feels I’m strong enough to deal with this, and so I should be comforted by that, and in a way I am. I just hope this is God’s limit for my trials, and not just the beginning. ;) As I think about this past year and the struggles we have gone through, I’m beginning to see how all those seemingly ‘hard’ things have in a way prepared us for this ‘hard’ thing.  Jake and I decided that we might try and pursue a career with the Foreign Service. What did we have to lose?! Jake ended up passing the OA in DC in November and the entire family needed extensive medical exams to make sure we were ready to live anywhere in the world. It was at that exam when the dr first saw the mass in my lung. I was only two weeks out from my bout with pneumonia so we all figured that’s what it was. My dr recommended that I come back in 2 months for a follow-up, just to make sure my lung had cleared. The State department also asked for that follow-up, and so I waited 2 months to have my second chest x-ray. The mass was still there. My third x-ray was on my birthday, June 8th, and still no change. I was sent to the hospital two days later for a CT scan, and an hour after I left the hospital I got the call. I know that this past year of uncertainty has prepared us for this.

I told my mom how if this had happened at any other point in my life the past 10 years, it would have been much more difficult. I’ve been overweight, pregnant, nursing, overweight, pregnant, nursing, overweight, pregnant, nursing... you get the picture. It has only been in the last 2 years that I’ve really started to focus on getting me healthy. I’m in the best shape of my life. My heart is strong. My lungs are strong, despite having the tumor. My thyroid is regulated. My cholesterol is “near perfect,” so my dr says. I’m not pregnant, thank goodness! I have youth on my side. I know as hard as this will be, my body is prepared and ready.

Yesterday I had lunch with some runner friends of mine and at one point we talked about Heidi’s friend, Julie, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. She is just a little bit older than me, with two kids, and has maybe 6 months left. She is going through chemo and having a hard time. When people ask why she’s doing the chemo because of all the pain and sickness it causes her, and knowing that she’s going to die anyway, her response is that her 1 1/2 year old isn’t going to know who she is and so every extra minute she gets to spend here on Earth with her family is infinitely precious.

That is perspective.

Yes, I know what I’m going through is hard. I would rather keep both my lungs and not have to go through this. I still have moments daily when I feel scared and anxious. I'm not superwoman. I'm worried, even with the biopsy findings, that there is still something they overlooked. (The dr wants to do a CT scan on my abdomen on Monday since I've had stomach issues for nearly two years and we have found nothing wrong through ultrasounds and a HIDA scan last year. He just wants to rule the cancer out to give us all peace of mind.) I'm a little anxious about the surgery, hoping nothing goes wrong. I wonder if my body will ever be 100% again so I can continue to compete in races and push my body to its limit, something I really love and enjoy. So YES. I'm worried. But you know, I have a lot to be thankful for. This cancer isn't very aggressive. It was caught early. I’m ALIVE. And I will beat this.

My dear friends, Meighan, Abby, Kim, Selena, and Amber had the idea of making lung cancer awareness bracelets. Last night we gathered at Abby’s house and made one for each of us. We chatted, ate wonderful food and enjoyed each others’ company until 2am. I know they were all exhausted and probably just wanted to go home and get some shut-eye, but no one made a move until I said I was ready to go. What sweet friends. I’m so lucky to have you ladies in my life. Love you, girls!


Ashleigh said...

You know, I was thinking some of the same thoughts when you called and told us about the cancer. At first I was like, "What the heck! How does this happen to someone so young and healthy? Why is this happening to her?" The more I thought about it, the more I kept thinking how even though this is horrible and it sucks and you shouldn't have to deal with this, it is the perfect time to have it. You ARE healthy, thank goodness. You had to get those x-rays because of the Foreign service stuff, which you wouldn't have applied for if Jake hadn't lost is job. You are young and you've got the support of all your friends and family around you.

That's so sweet that you and your friends made those bracelets. It's great to have their support and love.

You WILL get through this and you'll be stronger for it. We'll be giving you a call on Tuesday to check up on you and to hopefully give you some awesome news.

Emily H. said...

Jamie, I'm so sorry that this is happening to you. You're right, though, Heavenly Father doesn't give you any trials He knows you can't handle and obviously He knows you guys are very strong. I miss seeing you guys more often. We just love you guys and you're in our prayers.

Emily and Dave Heinhold

Melanie and Chauncey West said...

You are going to beat this. The lord was obviously blessing you. Just the chance that because Jake lost his job, you were looking for a new one, had to be tested, and found it. That's a HUGE blessing. Just goes to show that while at the time losing jakes jobs seemed to be a actually ended up saving your life. Amazing.

Megan said...

I admire the way you are already seeing the hand of the Lord in your life throughout recent years and this current trial. I'm sure His guidance and influence will become even more apparent as you continue to fight this thing. You are certainly never alone, both spiritually and temporally!

Becky said...

I am so proud of you Jamie! You have kept your sense of humor and perspective. And you still have such a positive outlook, finding your blessings in every possible place. We love you and you are in our prayers.

Naomi said...

You are amazing and I think you ARE superwoman! i know you will touch a lot of people with your experience. I am grateful for you and i know you will rise above all of this. It is awesome you have such wonderful friends to support you! love you tons!

Dream Big Designs said...

What perspective! And just remember, you love to push your body to the limit, you will get that chance again! I love you sweet gal and I am praying for you! I am so close, and I really want to take you out to dinner and chat it up again. But you let me know when you have the time and feel up to it! Hugs!

The Cherry Family said...

I am not worried in the least about you ever racing again. You will be the "Mommy" Lance Armstrong and come back even better. I keep thinking this is going to solve all those frustrating issues with working out you keep having.
You are a great example of positivity and I think all your hard work you have put in the past while has helped your positivity!

Digger said...

Just wanted you to know you are in my prayers.

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Nancy K said...

Wow-love everything you said and how you said it. Life is a funny thing, but thank goodness for the gospel perspective, family and friends. Love you much!

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed your blog and the trials and tribulations of the FS life. I am in the same boat! I just wanted to say, you are in my prayers.