The Dance and the Arm Holders

Written Sep 13, 2013 2:05pm by Cindy McMurry

My Mom needs to go home… Kevin reports that Dad only cooks one item at a time… a gallon of potatoes, tomato soup etc.  They eat that till it’s gone, then and only then will he cook something else.  Kevin says he’s “starving to death.”  Poor boy!  lol  Dad hasn’t resorted to salsify soup yet… but he will if Mom doesn’t get home soon.  I’m sure she misses being in her space, with her friends and church and I know they miss her too.  I’ve even heard the rumor that “Dad has Mom’s house a mess.” I choose to believe this is only a rumor.  🙂   I don’t know what we’d have done without her though and she’s staying to take me to my appointment next week.  She’s been amazing… and she coddles John, getting him ice cream etc.  Thank you Mom!

I’ve given a lot of thought to scars lately, and what has brought about the one’s my body bears.

As a teen scars worried me and I mentioned this to Dr. Wiley.  I’m sure he must have thought to himself that I had no clue how hard he was working just to save my fingers, hand and arm from Maffucci Syndrome.  Thankfully, he was sweet and understanding with my vulnerable self esteem.  I can’t even count all of my incision scars now, much less fret over them… I feel certain there are over 75, some reused more than once.

As I’ve gotten older, scars represent much more to me than just a gash on my once smooth skin.  They have become a part of our story.  Most of the people in my life who have tattoos seem to have thought them through and they represent something about their story.  Personally, I do not love tattoos, but I do understand they may tell a story, much like my scars do.

Each time a tumor/hemangioma/lesion has rebelled and gone rogue; swelling, causing pain or in 3 instances become cancer, we had to decide how to respond.  Do we watch and see what happens or do we fight by going into the OR?  It’s a big decision… I’m really tired of surgery.  It’s no fun and while I may have been in pain before surgery, surgery is likely going to make things more intensely painful for a period of time.  And then there is recovery time… PT, adjusting to changes in our lives, modifying our lives once again.

However, I’ve decided that when necessary, going into the OR is the best choice for me.  Deciding and having surgery to remove a tumor or tumors that are challenging our lives and then the recovery process has become to me the Victory Dance.  We’ve decided to take authority over and fight that which is threatening to destroy my life.  The scars serve to simply remind me… “You fought.  You are not defeated.  You have danced the Dance.”

Dancing “The Dance” has come at a cost for all of us… for my husband, my children, my parents, my family, my friends.  Sometimes I cry when I see the scars, they aren’t just physical, they represent an emotional toll as well.  As in any battle, there are always others who are affected.  I grieve over the days I have missed playing with my children and grandchildren, days I cannot get back.  I miss the way my husband and I used to sleep in the bed and may never be able to again.  I miss driving and pray I will be able to again.  I miss cooking for my family and friends.  I miss dressing myself and wonder… Will I ever again?  I wonder if brushing and flossing my teeth will ever be painless again.  Have my husband and I reversed roles… I loved being able to care for him, but will he spend the rest of our days taking care of me?

John said the kindest words to me last night… he was helping me get in bed and covered me up (I cannot pull up the blankets) and he said “I think I could get used to this.  I enjoy helping you get in bed and ready for sleep.”  He’s been so tender and so kind… I am often overwhelmed by my husband’s goodness.

I chose to and continue to choose to fight The Fight… to dance The Dance.  Some days, I admit the dance is exhausting.  It’s a lot of work to do the simplest of tasks.  But fight we will… we will not give up.  We are richly blessed to be surrounded by family and friends who stand with us and who have promised they will help us through the challenges ahead.

We are overwhelmed by the way so many of you are demonstrating your love to us.  Thank you!  We are humbled by your generosity and kindnesses.

The love, support, concern and compassion that John, my family and our friends have shared with me reminds me a lot of one of my favorite Bible stories:

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim.  Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”  So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill.  As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.  When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.  So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army.  Exodus 17:8-13
May each of you who face “The Dance” (surgery/health/spiritual/emotional/family) have your own Aaron and Hur to hold your arms when you grow weary.  May they prop you up and help to sustain you as you dance “The Dance.”  Praying this for Margaret, Mary and others who are facing cancer and my family and friends who are fighting for their children who have experienced early childhood trauma today.

We love you,
Cindy and John

The Best Question

Written Sep 9, 2013 8:02pm by Cindy McMurry

Please be in prayer for my friend Margaret and her Momma, Mary as she began the fight against cancer today.  She started chemo and radiation today.

My Brother in law, Rich asked me the best question of the day.

Today is my b-day and he wanted to know if I had big plans?

My answer… “Yep!  Living another year!”

Somehow getting presents seemed much less important this year… last year we took a lot of action concerning Bethany, John’s and my health.  Derrick fought for the year in Afghanistan.   This year we are going to live as fully as we can.  Praying that we will be a blessing to each person we meet and bring God glory!

We love you and are praying for you!
Cindy and John

“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

It Was, But is No More.

Written Sep 5, 2013 2:33pm by Cindy McMurry

My surgeon, Dr. Wurtz just called to share my pathology report.

He reports that the cancer was intermediate grade (“was” being the best word of the day).  My two previous cancers were considered low grade, I was hoping for the same grade this time.  But, as I said earlier “was” is the word of the day!  All the borders are clear.  The tumor had broken through the bone but they removed enough tissue and cartilage that nothing was left behind.

So there was cancer, but there is no longer cancer.  Now that is good news!

Thanking God for his goodness!

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful to him, and bless his name.” Psalm 100:4

I love you,
Cindy

These are the Moments…

Written Sep 4, 2013 2:24pm by Cindy McMurry

These are the moments I get tickled and laugh at the things we take for granted. These are the moments I’m in wonder at the goodness of God. These are the moments that the change in my body distresses me. These are the moments that I try to process what our tomorrows will look like while being eternally grateful for our today.

I’m healing. Thanks be to God. There are some obvious challenges and some obvious changes. There are also obvious blessings.

John gave me a shower today and I realized washing my own hair was something I took for granted. Now my husband is learning how to care for me in a way I hadn’t expected and demonstrating love for me in new ways. Receiving care from others that we expect to provide for ourselves is both humbling and a blessing. John has teased me that I “have more skin surface” than he does even though he “is nearly double my body weight”… and has wondered if all girls wash their ankles. 🙂 I’m amazed at how tenderly he’s caring for me.

Yesterday John left quickly for work, before making himself a cup of coffee. I discovered the coffee maker hadn’t been plugged in since we returned home and there was no water in it. Not being able to reach or being steady with either hand made plugging it in rather interesting. Essentially I hiked my belly on the counter, braced my left arm with my right hand and the counter just to get the thing plugged in. Then I had to add water and hit the button on top to turn it on… I’m sorry you missed it. I’m sure you would have laughed… I’m learning to contort my body to meet our needs in ways you would be amazed. Yoga friends… beware. I’m going to need you.

Eating is not too rough. I brace my arm on the table and move my mouth to the fork instead of the fork to my mouth. I’m not sure if everyone else enjoys my meal that way, but I’ve found the food tastes the same… it’s also more work so perhaps I will eat less. I might be starting a new diet trend, who knows?

When I had my left scapulectomy I was much younger and it worried me that I “looked like a ballerina on one side and a football player on the other” because of the way my muscles adapted to accommodate my needs. Well… I don’t match this time either. I took a good look in the mirror today and I’ve lost my corner… no more sharp turn at my shoulder. It’s a lot more like a slope. Who knows how clothes will fit… most of my time right now is in pajamas.

My Mom is here and doing her best to help every way she can and our friends are preparing meals. I continue to be in awe of the sweetness, kindness and generosity of our family and friends. Just today we had three visitors, a fresh pineapple from Hawaii and flowers from my Rotary friends and a girlfriend.

In the middle of these moments I’ve been reminded that in 1987 a physician told me that my life expectancy was less than 5 years. F.I.V.E. Y.E.A.R.S. When I struggle to relearn to function and when I get discouraged because of the changes I remind myself what a glorious gift the last 26 years have been, even the struggle itself is a gift.. I may have to relearn to function in some areas, but I’m alive.

In those 26 years there have been more gifts and blessings than I could begin to mention… Derrick grew from a toddler to a man. He became a husband and a father, he serves our country with honor and dignity. Our girl Bethany came into our life and through her struggles has taught all of us to be better people and what courage it takes to face the challenge of everyday life. I met and married John who is an extraordinary human being. My Father has beaten bladder cancer and been a trooper through many accidents. All of my nieces and nephews have been born and grown into fine young men and women. And our grandchildren… Alex and Emma… let’s just say John says I have “Grandmother Derangement Syndrome.” What a gift they are to us. I’ve had the honor of serving God in churches as pastor and youth minister. We’ve been richly blessed with relationships that have challenged us to grow in faith, courage and strength.

Today I am not the same girl I was when I received that scary diagnosis 26 years ago and the prediction that my life expectancy would be less than 5 years. No way. Today I’m so blessed it’s hard to fathom. The fact that I CAN plug in the coffee maker is a gift. My shoulder may slope, but it’s still a shoulder and moves and will learn to do more. These are moments I will treasure, reminding myself that I CAN and if I can’t, there are others who will. What a great life I have.

I love you,
Cindy

And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 1Timothy 1:14

Miracles, Mercy and Grace

Written Sep 3, 2013 2:00pm by Cindy McMurry

Dearest Family and Friends,

We have so much to tell you and so many thanks to share but before I begin, I’d like to ask you to please pause and pray for our dear friend Margaret, her mother Mary and her family as they too face the difficult journey of cancer.  They are precious to God and need to experience his presence, peace, healing and comfort today.

Miracles look different today to me than they have in the past.  Leading up to this surgery, the surgery and the week following I’ve discovered that miracles come in many shapes and sizes, in voices, in touch, in breath, in strength of character, in laughter, in prayer, in humor and sometimes even in insistent voices.  God uses the strengths and sometimes the weaknesses in the nature he’s created in each in of us to accomplish his will.

This week I’ve spent a lot of time being the recipient of many blessings and watching God transform and work miracles in and through others.  I experienced a young child lay hands on me and say a prayer that I’m certain made God happy and the angels sing hallelujahs.  My young friends lifted their voices in song to God’s glory and as a way to encourage us.  Many friends who have struggled with their own spiritual walk joined together to pray, sing, read and listen to scripture, facing their own frustrations and fears to support and encourage us.  Each of these things are miracles.  And there are so many more…

To my darling husband John, Thank you!  I can barely type through the tears at how grateful I am.  You have been willing to be sleepless, to stay by my side, sleeping in chairs, sofas whatever was available to be near me.  You have not complained when I could not feed myself, or hold my drink, when my coffee was too hot to sip through a straw, when you had to go searching for whatever I needed and taking care of my most intimate and personal needs.  You’ve teased and laughed and coped through complete exhaustion.  And when needed, you allowed the doctor/husband/tiger and hero to come out.  For over three hours you comforted me tenderly, advocated for me with the staff, put yourself in physically awkward positions trying to calm my body that was out of control in painful spasms and were stormy when you needed to be in order to get me some relief.  Many years ago I told you I needed you to be my “Giant,” the person who would stand behind me and support me when I couldn’t stand or fight for myself.  I’m not sure “Giant” is even an adequate word… you are my Hero, my Lover, my Best Friend, my Giant Slayer… a Miracle in my life.  God has richly blessed me with you.  I love you!

My parents drove from WV to stay with us through the duration of my hospital stay.  My sister, Betsy flew to Indianapolis to spend time with us on Sunday and Monday.  Cathryn drove to Indianapolis to support John and me through my surgery and recovery.  Mom, Dad and Cathryn gave John a break (hello Barnes and Noble) and during that time my body went into rebellion again, with spasms that were equally as bad as in the night.  My parents and Cathryn did not leave me, they advocated, pleaded with staff to find a way to give me relief, massaged, prayed, played calming music, everything they could think to do to get me relief… meanwhile I was asking God for mercy… mercy Dear God.  I can never say enough thanks to my parents and Cathryn for helping me and being there during this time.  John desperately needed a break and even though he wishes we would have called him, he needed to take care of himself too.  It was difficult, but in the midst of this, there was grace, there was mercy and there was the miracle of family and friends.

I found myself amazed at the sacrifices other were willing to make on our behalf.  Some of you texted, some of you visited, some called, some wrote, all of you prayed.  The gifts and miracles continued…

Betsy went home and she and Rich turned around and drove to Louisville from Raleigh, NC to help me get ready for Taylor’s wedding (can you say Spanx?)  John worked hard to try to apply mascara… good thing we can both laugh… but his effort goes unmatched.  Cathryn persuaded a salon to open exclusively for me and an employee agreed to come in on her holiday weekend to apply my makeup and style my hair for Taylor’s wedding.  Bill attended all of the wedding events with us and hosted us for the weekend.  He made himself available to take me late, bring me home early whatever I needed because we all understood John needed to be available for all of Taylor’s events.  Taylor and Jeffrey added folks to the wedding guests just so I could have the needed help available.  Jeff’s parents, Rob and Renee welcomed extra guests to their barbeque to accommodate our needs.  When John was busy doing wedding events, Bill, Betsy and Rich made sure to cut my food, and provide anything I needed.  Bonnie and Meg encouraged us and were a source of joy.  My long time friend, Cindy Yerkes started a pinterest board in my honor (Cindy, I’m overwhelmed by your love!)  My friends, church family, Harlan “Sisterhood” and neighbors are bringing in food.  My Mother is coming to stay with us.  Libby’s caregivers and friend Marybelle made sure things have run smoothly for Libby, which was a huge relief!!!

You have each made this very difficult time much easier and I’m overwhelmed by your love.  I believe you are a gift of God in our lives.

I’m in awe of God’s goodness, his grace and the miracle of you.

I love you,
Cindy

This text has continued to remind me of each of you…

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matt 5:16

Your lights are shining brightly and God is being glorified.  I love you!!

Home

Written Sep 2, 2013 7:51pm by Cindy McMurry

Folks,

I will try to update you better tomorrow.  Just wanted to let you know we’ve gotten home.  Taylor’s wedding was lovely.  John is a SAINT!  He’s done more to help me than you can imagine.  I’m more blessed than I could possibly deserve.  God has been so good to me.

My pain is much less and I think we both will be able to sleep tonight.  More tomorrow…

We love you and thank you for your prayers,
Cindy and John

Taylor’s wedding

Written Aug 30, 2013 11:54am by Cindy McMurry

John has been so faithful to help me. I know he’s exhausted and he’s got a very important weekend ahead of him… The marriage of our lovely daughter Taylor. Please pray for his strength and peace. We want Taylor’s day to be all she’s dreamed of. The demands of taking care of me are not easy… But we want none of that to diminish the joy of Taylor’s day and the tremendous pride John has in her. Pray the days ahead will be filled with grace and joy.

Thank you. I love you,
Cindy

Great is thy faithfulness

Written Aug 28, 2013 6:36pm by Cindy McMurry

To say yesterday was a difficult day would an understatement. I had two sieges of muscle spasms that lasted nearly 3 hours each.

Today has been considerably better. The pain is managed and spasms greatly reduced. I plan to leave hospital tomorrow.

Many of you have prayed and continue to. We are so grateful.

We believe they got all of the cancer. They did an acromionectomy and partial scapulectomy.  We are so thankful to be on the path to healing.

Great is thy faithfulness oh God my Father…

We love you,
Cindy and John

Cindy has had a difficult night/day

Written Aug 27, 2013 8:20pm by John McMurry

Cindy bids me keep every one updated. Lord help me!

The local regional block used to treat Cindy’s pain vanished at 3:15 AM.
For the next 3 hours I was engaged in a conflict to get Cindy adequate pain relief with a resident doctor who was intent on showing me who was in charge.
We finally got Cindy comfortable with my pestering him all night.

The orthopedic surgeon comes at 8 AM. We put together a good pain plan and all’s right with the world, Right? Well anesthesia comes riding in shortly there after, thumping their chests regarding their great regional block. The young attending is annoyed that I increased the flow rate on the pain pump…it’s Novacaine for crying out loud (not really Novacaine but something very similar) AND the other attending told me I could adjust it…I was hardly adjusting OxyContin for crying-out-loud. Really?!??  This little power struggle is getting under my “Ive been up all night”…Skin!
Ok, what ever, Cindy’s doing better…just let it go.

So Cindy’s parents, her sister and Cathryn, Cindy’s friend are going to give me a 4 hour break…I of course, went down the street to a brand new Barnes & Noble; wouldn’t everybody after being up all night fighting for your wife’s pain relief? So I got a badly needed shower and luxuriated in 3 glorious uninterrupted hours in Barnes & Noble. I even exercised great will power and dutifully wrote the titles and authors down of 12 new books (I absolutely must have!!) so I could buy them after I finish the 35 books on my shelf I haven’t read yet.

So I get back to the hospital more-less refreshed. Then I discover that Cindy has had two serious muscle spasms. Terrible pain! The team of residents came back re-dosed her regional block ….this time with an appropriate med that lasts 4-6 hours instead of the subpar blocker that only lasts 1.5 hours (Well Duh!!!)

They give her ORAL  Zofran vs IV which I think is more effective.
They give her oral Toradol instead of IV Toradol (does oral Toradol even work??) and they max her out on get this, IV Tylenol. Yes, IV Tylenol! Cindy we are no longer in Kansas!!

So I guess we will see. Stay tuned…more will be revealed tomorrow. John, regarding Cindy’s odyssey through a resident run tertiary care center somewhere in Indianapolis.

Post-op Cindy is back!

Written Aug 26, 2013 3:30pm by Cindy McMurry

Cindy is awake. She is talking without any difficulty (always a good sign :)))). Pain is well controlled. We have a very nice room with a view. Doctor believes he “got it all.” No nausea.  Cindy’s parents and Cathryn are here distracting me very well. It would appear that Cindy has already become the nurses’ pet. I on the other hand, well my “intensity” has some of the hospital staff on edge. I am doing my Lamaze breathing and trying to “keep my powder dry,” in case a line is crossed. Any one with a family member in the hospital will know  exactly what I mean. More later.Thank you for your prayers and support. John and Cindy