Early Evening

Most of you are aware by now that I entered hospice the beginning of February. I went to see the Wizard for my next dose of chemo and he walked in and said it was time to stop treatment. The chemo drugs, and every other form of deterrent we had tried had stopped working. My tumor markers kept going up, and not just in small increments, but by the 100’s. One week they were 700 and the next time they were over 900.

I stared at the Wizard for a moment, my heart beating and that pit of helplessness forming in my stomach, oddly enough, I began to feel a bit of relief. The Wizard had kept his promise. Way back in the beginning of this metastatic treatment plan, I had asked the Wizard to let me know when he thought I should stop treatment. I had seen too many others keep treating until they were frail and very sick. I didn’t;t want to do this. I would feel like I had missed time the time to say good bye. To talk to each other about what we really meant to one another. I wanted time at the end to say goodby. Many others make other choices, This is a horrific disease. It takes away so much and we should all honor each other’s decisions. I could not be more proud and happy, yes, happy, about the way my medical team had treated me for the last 13 years. They had become family. I knew they really cared about me and did their best to keep helping me achieve my goals while living with MBC we’ve made almost all of them, with one left to conquer this May.

This has been hard and scary. Thankfully I also have an amazing hospice team. They are phenomenal and I really mean that. I have the fierce and protective love of a friend who is determined to keep me safe, comfortable, and rested. Everyone should have someone going to bat for them like this. Beyond my friend, there is my wonderful husband and family, and a group of amazing friends and caring community.

I feel my medical care has been beyond exceptional. Did I get a second opinion? Yes I did. Did I try every nutty suggested cure out there? Well, within reason. I grasped at straws as much as the next person. I will say that I think exercise and nutrition did support me.

It’s a shocker to change your way of thinking from “what can I do to get better?” To one of finding peace with those I love and getting my soul ready for what comes next.

This has been extremely physically painful. When I came out of the hospital in January I had 6 compression fractures and at least 5 broken or cracked ribs. Since then I’ve had two more what I would call “crisis” incidents where the pain is so bad I wonder how God expects me to handle it. The hospice team and I are still learning about each other. Most of the problem is me, not trusting their expertise. I’m getting better at this. When I do, the pain is dealt with more quickly, but I have to balance the pain control with feeling loopy and sleepy.

I’ve been trying to write this for weeks, but I’d keep falling asleep while I was trying to type.

There are so many things to talk about and explain. It’s impossibly hard for me to watch how much pain I am placing my family and friends in as they watch me deteriorate. I’m even surprised by that. Most of the time it’s hard to imagine I’m in hospice (at least my vanity likes me to think so.) But as more and more medical equipment begins to fill my bedroom, I’m starting to think it might be true.

Wednesday it looked like I was ready to die in a week or so. I was hunched over and I was unstable when I walked. I was horrified as I realized I was starting to look like I belong here, on a road of transitions. Its heartbreaking. I manage more grief then anyone realizes. My loss is incredible and sometimes I let myself feel the burden of all of it so I maintain my sanity. We need to feel the intensity of our emotions sometimes, or we will loose site of our humanity.

Odd to be using face lotion and notice that its running out and think to myself, “should I buy a new one, or will this make it?

I feel overwhelmed when I try and think about what I should leave for the boys to remember me by. I freeze when I think of the enormity of the task. How can I put all of my love into some kind of momento? My heart breaks when I see my husband break down. My sons, 2 amazing human beings have been living within the all consuming grip of cancer since 8 and 5th grade. They are now 27 and almost 25.

But, as they have said, they appreciate how this has taught them to appreciate and make time for those they love and they like how hospice actually gives them time to say goodbye. They’ve taken turns in small ways of taking care of me. Luke and Jacqueline were phenomenal when they were here last week. Ranen does small things to show he cares and is noticing.

I think I still have a ways to go before I die. I plan to still be here for our May event. But if there is anything I’ve learned about this disease it’s how fast things change. I test my will and we’ll see how far my body will take me. Each week there are small changes I hate to see. But, I focus on the present as much as I can. I continue to advocate for mbc.

37 thoughts on “Early Evening

  1. I stare at this comment box and know that it can never contain all that I would like to say or hope to make you feel. Your soul will be so welcomed whenever it moves to its next place for it is beautiful and wise, generous and true. Just like you.

  2. Judy, we have never met in person but you are a friend that I connect with. This is beautiful. I think you’re pretty darn amazing!

  3. Judy-
    So much love and grace in this post. You have taught your family, friends and care teams so well. Know that many of us are praying each day that you get the moments you want and find the words you are looking for with your family and friends.
    Peace, Mo Shaver❤️

  4. I will never forget the influence you had on me while I was trying to manage raising 3 small boys. You were my parent educator in ECFE and needless to say your class was always the highlight of my week something I always looked forward to. I remember you saying “praise what you can’t take a picture of” that has stuck with me throughout the years and always will. Love to you sweet Judy.

  5. Judy, your soul so beautiful. I’m convinced tranquility awaits. Sending you Love and light, praying for peace from pain. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  6. Judy,
    I will never not feel you and your love. Thank your for the privilege of including me in your life and teaching me how grace and gratitude should look…especially at life’s end.
    I love you! ❤
    Sue Craig

  7. Judy,
    I will never not feel you and your love. Thank you for the privilege of including me in your life and teaching me what grace and gratitude should look like…even at life’s end.
    I love you, my friend. In my heart you will stay! ❤

    Sue

  8. Judy, you will leave an amazing legacy of grace, courage, strength… and of course your incredible family and friends. We are all so blessed to know you. Wishing you a good day, today, and wishing you peace. We love you. Georgia Burton

  9. Judy, I first met you when my kids were in ECFE…and thought you were an amazing person then. Even more so now. What a road you have traveled since then. Gentle hugs and prayers for you.

  10. You live and share compassion, understanding, intelligence, and humor. We’ve all been surrounded by your remarkable spirit and grace. A gift to be sure. Sending warm hugs, peace and love – Maureen

  11. Judy; I have to admit that I have been avoiding saying goodbye! I’ve had to do so to other friends and I’m tired of the good byes! I’m sick of it! That’s my rant. But I can’t even imagine the goodbyes you have to say to your kids and to Steve. My heart breaks. I am in awe of your courage and strength. Team Judy will continue your voice. I am honored to be part of team Judy ! I’m not worthy to be called your friend but I am honored to know you and watch your courage and bravery. ❤️ Love you Judy

  12. You are an amazing person. I am in awe of your strength and courage as I was of my beautiful sister- in- law Linda, and my sweet friend Donna. May peace surround you and your family! 🙏💖💖

  13. Dear Judy,
    I am overcome with awe and emotion as I contemplate your next steps. I thank you for your candor and your eloquence as you so generously share this very personal journey with all of us. I have watched, I have listened and I have learned. All that you have taught us by your example will be a small part of your rich legacy.
    God’s peace and grace to you and to your family.
    Gail

  14. Having lost my Mom to this terrible disease and many friends, I so appreciate how you have communicated your journey and have made it more real and tangible. Judy, we have learned so much from you. You lift me up! You inspire me to be a better person each and every day. Love to you and your family and that cute puppy!

  15. Judy, although we never met in person we share this horrific disease, MBC. Your strength & eloquence is so inspiring to me. And your words so resonate with me. You have shown me how to go through this cancer journey with such grace. My day too will come one day and you’ve shown me by your example how to do it best. My heart goes out to you during this time Judy. Big hugs to you beautiful lady. Just know you’ve touched my heart even having never met you. Peace be with you & your family my fellow MBC friend. 💗

  16. Judy-
    works again escape me and I am in awe at your ability to find the words to express this journey to the end. You have truly been blessed as you have lived with a horrific disease.
    So sorry that the end is near but I also know that you have found an inner peace. Steve, the boys and Jacqueline will support each other and your strength will live on. You are in my heart, my mind and my prayers daily (sometimes hourly). I cherish the friendship that we have and know that I am a better person because of you.
    Love forever …..Krisite

  17. Judy, we have never met, but I saw you at the MBC conference in November. You are an inspiration and have traveled with such dignity and grace. You are an inspiration to many. Wishing you peace.

  18. Judy, Your strength and compassion are rippling around the world. Everyone that has met you has been touched by it and they continue to share it with others. You are a remarkable person that words can’t begin to describe. You are what love is. You are going to be one awesome angel. Peace and God’s love to you and your family.

  19. Judy,
    Your beauty shines strong through your words. Sharing these intimate thoughts will help many others, not just those on the MBC journey, but all of us on our journeys through life, appreciate life and those around us. I am so thankful I have had the opportunity to cross life paths with you.
    Fondly,
    Barbara Zuhlke

  20. Judy
    Long ago we met when you hosted a picture party for our freshman before sweethearts. You welcomed us into your home and treated us like a life long friend. I have followed your journey over the years and am always amazed by your courage and strength. Thank you for sharing your journey and keeping it real and honest. You are such a beautiful person and I am grateful that I had a chance to know you. Prayers for you and your family as you transition into your heavenly spirit.

  21. I am speechless. The enormity of what you have been through fills me with so much sadness. It is so hard to understand God’s plan and to accept why you have had to suffer so much. You have been the epitome of love and grace; Luke and Ranen are lucky to have you as a mom. God Bless you, Judy, and I will continue to pray for peace, love, joy and comfort for you, your family and your friends.

  22. Judy,
    You are an inspiration to all. Your strength, your grace, your work, your attitude and most of all your ability to be real and to be vulnerable in sharing your journey. Thank you for being you. You are a true gift. May your days with your family and dear friends be complete with smiles, tears and love. We will hold you all in our prayers.

  23. Dear Judy,
    We have never met, but your heartfelt blog entry puts into words how so many of us are feeling. May your journey continue with peace and grace.

  24. Dear Judy, we have met, a long time ago we worked together while you were still attending college. The first time I met you I thought you had the longest legs I’d ever seen and so pretty with your long hair. I have also had breast cancer (2009), and am now in remission. Everyday day when I wake up I am grateful. Cancer has taught me a lot, I’ve become a better person because of it, I appreciate the everyday stuff (good or bad) and I see in your writings how much we think alike at times. I have thought of you often throughout the years. I remember bribing your dad with pizza so he would take us out on Lake Minnetonka in his boat and going to your dad’s condo and playing with the window treatments that had remote controls, I think you said something like “watch this, it’s like a James Bond movie,” we laughed and laughed. I send my love and wish I could take away the pain. Have a safe journey my friend, I will never forget you. Carol

    1. Carol, were you at My Pie? I think I remember you! Such a long tome ago! As you can see, Steve and I stayed together and have been married almost 34 years. I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis, but happy you have found gratitude and appreciation for the small things in life. Thank you for re-introducing yourself.

  25. Judy,
    We met at ECFE. You were a parent educator, director, and a friend when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. You have always been a mentor and inspiration to me. Thank you for sharing your journey, and for all you have done for learning more about mbc. You are such a lovely and wise person. Your courage and strength are so admirable. Wishing you peace.
    Ann

  26. Judy, you are such a gigantic blessing to everyone. Thank you so much for writing this entry. I think about you every day and wonder what you are thinking. Now I know. What a gift you are to everyone. Blessing for a smooth transition. Love…

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