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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Clearer Days

The post treatment wait for my scan passed more quickly than I feared. The five week interlude is standard to give the chemo more time to do its job and allow some of the inflammation to subside. Physically, I began to feel a lot better, regained much of my energy, but continued to have some side effects; continuing hair loss, some taste bud damage, peeling skin, strange nail changes, and blufferitis of the eyes, all of which were tolerable.
It was an anxiety filled few weeks but I kept busy and had a lot of pleasant distractions to help take my mind off of the looming tests.  My amazing group of college friends had a get together for me where I received a few wonderful surprises and enjoyed a day catching up with these special ladies.
I had a weekend getaway to Nantucket with another group of wonderful friends where we relaxed, shopped, took walks on the beach, ate out, cooked in, and drank lots and lots of wine (making up for six months of no alcohol consumption). I had a dear friend from high school fly in for a night out in Boston with our other high school bestie, we had dinner at a nice restaurant and stayed overnight in the city. I had a couple of girls' lunch dates and some special family time highlighted by a long weekend trip to the white mountains of New Hampshire.
We hiked and took in the amazing foliage, sat around a cozy fire and enjoyed each other's company away from it all.

I took time to stop in church from time to time over the waiting period and visit a prayer circle where an intention was made in my name. Over this waiting period friends lit candles for me in Rome and relatives made a pilgrimage to Medjagorie, returning with blessed Rosary Beads and Holy Water. Although I had my moments of worry, and one panic when I thought I felt a lump, which thankfully turned out to be nothing, I tried to remain positive and focus on the outcome I wanted. I heard from so many people who told me they were praying for me and so many sending well wishes and positive thoughts my way.  I continued to pray for a full recovery and felt the energy of the prayers around me. I had a few signs leading up to my test which helped me to keep the faith and reminded me to trust in God's plan for me. Perhaps I'm reading to much into it, perhaps they were mere coincidence, perhaps I'm conducting a desperate search for meaning, or perhaps, God really does reveal himself when we need him the most. The first was exactly one week before my test, I happened to step outside in the late afternoon to see the most unusual pink cotton candy sky. I walked to the middle of my road to get a better view and a beautiful double rainbow appeared in the sky above me. I put the kids in the car to drive and try and get a better view and we made it to an opening where we could see the full arc in all its glory.
The kids suggested we should follow the rainbow to the end in hopes of finding a pot of gold. To humor them, I set off driving in the direction of the end of the rainbow, them directing me, "that way, now that way." Soon we were one street away from our house, looking at the rainbow which disappeared into our very own roof line. "I guess we found the end of the rainbow", they exclaimed and we headed home to our own pot of gold. Just that week in school, Cameron had learned the rainbow is a symbol of God's promise to His people. The rainbow leading to our house was a reminder that God's love was all around me and my family during this time and always. More uplifting moments came as I watched John Lester pitch two amazing games helping lead the Red Sox to victory in the World Series. He is a lymphoma survivor and seeing how well he is doing just two years after completing treatment served to give me hope for a full recovery and more good things to come in my future. The afternoon before my scan, I had some time to myself, I did a little retail therapy, then headed to church to say some prayers.  I found the church empty, so I walked in, made my way to front pew and knelt down, resting my head in my hands . The calm was soon interrupted as I opened my eyes to the sound of hammering. A man had quietly entered the church and immediately began working on the alter. He was wearing a tool belt and I noticed that the altar was off balance and he was working to secure it. I grew annoyed as he took out a drill and began screwing in a piece of wood. I only wanted a few moments of peace and quiet, time to myself to pray, and  now there was a full construction zone taking place  on the altar. I closed my eyes and tried to tune out the noise, and when I opened them again I saw the man kneeling at the alter, bowing before the cross. I looked down, burying my face in my hands to give him some privacy in his moment of quiet reflection and when I looked up again he was gone.  My annoyance turned to peace as I realized that this was perhaps another sign. A carpenter, sharing the the same profession as Jesus, appearing out of the blue in the church and leaving as quickly as he came, symbolizing the fact that the Lord was in that moment, right there watching over me.
The last sign came as I headed into Boston for my PET scan. It was slightly overcast, clouds dotted the morning sky; I notice the sky more now than ever before. As we drove I saw beams of light shining down from the clouds. I thought back to riding in  a friend's car when we were young and her pointing to the rays saying that in her family they call those, "God's fingertips". And now when I needed a touch of grace, God stretched his fingertips down from the Heavens, giving me the confidence to enter the Hospital, strength to take the elevator down two levels to radiology and the faith to leave everything else up to Him.
After I had labs drawn and received the injection of the radioactive contrast, I sat in an isolated room for an hour then was brought in for the scan where I could still feel the rays of light shining down. Afterwards, I met Jim in the waiting room and we left together knowing that a long anxiety filled weekend awaited. I tried to put the looming results out of my head and accept that it was no longer in my control. I then focused on making the most of the weekend with my family. We had a family celebration at home for the twins 5th Birthday.
Preparing for this helped to take my mind off of the test and focus on this positive occasion instead; celebrating the fact that my identical twin girls, born prematurely weighing just 4 pounds, were now healthy and happy five year-olds.
They love to perform, sing and dance. They love fashion and puppies and baby dolls. They love to color and paint and pump on the swings. They love to play elaborate imaginary games. They love their family and each other and their mom. And nothing I want more than to be around to see them grow up, see how they maintain their twin bond as they grow, see what kind of strong, independent and compassionate women they become.
Tuesday was there actual birthday and the day I was to receive my results.  To make the morning special for them, Jim and I filled their room with dozens of purple and pink balloons.
We prepared a yummy breakfast, took them to school together then headed into Dana Farber. There we were met by my sister and father in the waiting room.  The wait was nerve wracking and the air felt heavy around me. I could feel my heart beating hard inside my chest and my hand sweating inside Jim's.  We were brought into my Dr.s office and a long wait commenced again.  My doctor finally entered and without hesitation, immediately delivered the good news, the news I had been waiting over six long months to hear; my scan came back clear! There was no longer evidence of the disease. We all cried with joy and what an emotional release it was. There will be a lot of follow-up going forward, I will be closely monitored, the port will stay in place for awhile  until the doctor feels confident that it can be removed, I will have appointments every 3 weeks initially to have the port flushed, a check up in six weeks then scans every six months going forward. The fear of relapse will be ever-present but for now I am thrilled to be celebrating every moment and enjoying every glass of champagne that comes my way.

Thank You for all the prayers, they worked, and there is no better feeling than that.


  1. Thank you for including all of these details, Amanda. Your witness to God's grace is inspiring.

  2. Such wonderful news! I am so happy for you all!

  3. So happy for you and your family! I'd been checking back here every week or so praying everything was in your favor. You deserve every glass of wine and peace with your family...I know you will especially enjoy every second of this holiday season!

  4. Hey, I have a quick question I wanted to ask you about your blog, do you think you could send me an email when you get this? Thanks!