Monday, January 17, 2011

my heart.

i feel a little broken today. mostly because i finished this book yesterday and oddly enough watched an interview on nightline with michelle williams about heath ledgers death (weird i know. as they are celebrities). the book is called the middle place. its about a women who is married and has two young daughters. its her journey of breast cancer. and in the middle of her own diagnosis, her father is diagnosed with cancer as well. although it was sad in parts. it did help me begin to process cancer. and what is means and what is does not mean. and that its okay to feel the way i do because someone else with cancer has felt that way too. and in the interview how everything in life can change in a mere instant. not something i recommend obsessing about as it could cripple your life. and the joy in it. to live in such fear. so its not that it made me scared. it reminded me that its true. and part of me is beginning to mourn the loss of the past five months. for what i thought they would look like. and feel like. and what would happen. and how it looked terribly different than i ever imagined. and as you know. if you read this blog. i am joyful. i trust God. i know He is using our cancer. but at the same time i think its okay and normal and possibly therapeutic to feel sad. and angry. and to really begin to talk about the parts of my heart that hold lots of pain. and simply deep deep sadness over cancer and what it does to you and how it changes you. forever. that this morning for example. life with no cancer would mean ava would eat her banana nut cheerios in her highchair. justin would make coffee. and we could talk in the kitchen about what we had going on today. and if ava slept through the night...

and all that is true but this conversation was added. today justin said...i think its time. time to shave your head. to which i respond...what? really? you think? why? i mean i am almost done? to which he says...babe, you told me to tell you when it was time. to which i say...i hate you (but i don't really. and i told him that after i said it). to which he you really want to wait until you only have three hairs left? i laugh. because that is funny...but maybe i do. we go back and forth. i even try my wig on for the first time. i hate it. he says i look beautiful and that i would no matter what. to which i say...thank you. but come on i hope i look better with hair. and because i am in denial and will continue to be i say...babe, everyone tells me it looks good and they are surprised i still even have some hair (but as i type this i am thinking...possibly everyone who has said this is lying). so he says...okay. don't shave it then. so we/i opt out of shaving for today and instead use my trusty old hats.

what is interesting to me is that last night before bed. for the first time in a while. like a while while. i took out my handheld mirror and checked the back of my head out in the mirror. since i do not check it out that often i was a bit shocked at what i saw. wow. getting pretty thin. but put the mirror away and went to bed. and then we had the conversation we had this morning.

so that is was what our conversation over breakfast looked like. and its fine. because life never turns out exactly the way we thought or imagined. at least not every detail. and that is okay. life is hard sometimes. but for today. or maybe the past week or so i starting to process cancer a bit more. maybe something that is impossible to do right in the middle of it all. i do not think you can really. and what i feel in my soul is so hard to articulate. because its bigger than just sadness or anger. its beginning to realize that in many ways i am not who i was before. but also still very much the same. can the two exist? i think so. and i sometimes think i am supposed to come to some conclusion or answer about it all. all that is going on inside my heart and head. but i know i don't. not yet at least. and maybe not ever. it will simply be a new chapter in my life. one that i did not think i would ever need to include. but i do.


  1. I promise I wasn't lying when I said you looked beautiful in your hat. Zipdog.
    But, I hope you do what's best for you. If that's shaving it, then so be it. If that's rocking 3 hairs until March, that works too.
    We're still going to love you...the old you and the new/changed parts,

  2. Praying for all the hairs on your head. You'll do what's right for you.

  3. I hope the book was therapeutic, but it sounds like it would make me cry all the way through. About your hair, do what you feel is right. You have to be good with it....the hat looks great! (if that is what you choose)....remember 10 down...2 left..there is definitely an end in sight.

  4. Oh Libby...this is hard. You don't know me, but I've been reading your blog since the beginning. I'm sorry this decision is ahead of you and although I have not personally traveled down a similar road, I can imagine it is painfully hard in many ways. Praying for your heart today. In His love, Heather

  5. I love your heart Libby. We're still praying for you and for your family.

  6. Libby, my heart literally ached for you while reading this. For many reasons. Everything you said is true. It took me a while to finally grasp all of this. Anger, sadness, tears, etc are all normal and expected, even of the strongest.
    My heart ached the most though when you mentioned shaving your head. That was by far one of the most difficult times during it all. I kept thinking "I'm supposed to be a young, beautiful girl with my long flowing brown hair. Not a bald, sick looking cancer patient. For me, losing my hair made everything REAL. Because until that point, I didn't LOOK like a cancer patient. But my hair came out...quickly. Within 14 days of my first treatment. So I did shave it. My mother held my hand and we balled our eyes out. I refused to look at myself in the mirror. My wig was glued onto my head for 30 days. Then I'd go back, they'd remove it and wash my head an reapply it. I never saw myself bald until my 5 months of chemo had ended. I was so upset. To me, bald wasn't beautiful. Even when it grew in, no one saw me without a wig. I was so upset over it.
    I share this to let you know you aren't alone. Your thoughts and feelings and fears are justified and normal. If you EVER want someone to talk to, I'm here. Hang in there. You're amazing and will overcome. Stay strong and never lose that smile.
    "God gave you this life becaus He knew you were strong enough to handle it.

  7. What a surprise to come here and discover you have been reading the exact same book I am now reading! Also, I did NOT shave my head til chemo ended and it was the right decision for me. I post about it on my blog if you are interested. Good luck with all you are dealing with. I'd love to know your thoughts.

  8. Thanks for sharing your heart--

    God cares enough to know how many hairs are on your head--and he cares enough to know how you feel about them--

    I understand a bit more every time I come here--I don't deal with cancer--and sometimes my compassion is so slight--you make me understand more and with understanding, comes compassion. Thank you for that--

  9. I have learned, though I have not had cancer, that recovery from things that break your heart - for me it was growing up without a dad due to divorce - and that rejection and how it affects your life- that in order to get through it, you have to face it - just like you are doing - and facing it means forgiving it - even cancer - and you cannot get to forgiveness until you allow the anger it's moment (not sin-ful anger) and then release it, let it go like balloons.

    It takes bravery to face not only the physical-ness of cancer, but the spiritual side and the emotional side. It's not a battle in part, but a holistic battle you are fighting on 3 different fronts - and I just want to say that, if you were my daughter, I could not be more proud at your courage to face each aspect like you are doing, so that when the cancer, physically is all gone, there will be no cancer in your emotions or your spirit - because you will have rid yourself of that, too!

    Nobody ever said fighting the good fight was graceful or beautiful - but somehow, you seem, through your faith, to show the beauty, the hope, the truth and the God in the midst of the stuggle!

  10. What is the name of the book. Wouild love to pass it on to some people. Praying for you! I love your heart and truth!

  11. What a candid post. Hard stuff. Praying for you as you navigate through it all.

  12. Libby~ So well said. I have thought many of those same thoughts with what the Lord has allowed in my life recently. Especially the last paragraph......You are awesome. God is using you in the middle of the storm. I was thinking about that today...I am thankful for the peace that He brings us--- Not that He calms the storm, the storm is raging, BUT He brings us peace that comes with His presence.....and yet the storm rages on. Praise Him for His presence. You are partnering well with Jesus as He walks you and your family through this journey. Bless you and your family~ Love~ Monica Zylstra

  13. Libby, One gift you seem to have had through this season of your life is a sharpened awareness...the ability to be in contact with your true self...your true heart. That is what I get from reading your posts. As you can be changed, but in many ways still be the same. Thank you so much for the post. The hair is your decision, but you are beautiful either way. Stay strong.I miss you all...prayers

  14. I'm new to your blog but I love it. My grandmother had cancer & I remember her losing her hair and not wanting to shave it. My heart was breaking for you when I read this - but through it all I can see {read} your strength and I think that's so amazing. I don't know you, but I'm proud of you. I'm inspired by you & I think that speaks volumes about who you are as a person. I'm praying for you and your family as you guys weather this storm.

  15. Libby –
    I see how grateful you have been on your entire journey for every new and healthy day you have. It helps me to work harder to prioritize my own life. I know you are getting better by the day and I am sure that great things await you. You are so inspirational and such a fighter through all of this. I have seen you and Justin turn this fight into great opportunities by sharing your story and with that being said so many have been strengthened. Thank you for sharing. Love you all. ~Shirl

    ps ........never forget you are truly beautiful inside and out.

  16. The hair thing is crazy...its crazy how much emotion and weird feelings you'll get just from HAIR! haha Who would have thought! When I had to shave my head I cried...and cried more when my son didn't recognize me...BUT all in made my "cancer life" easier. My son loved me the way I was (actually a friend w/ no hair came over recently and he couldn't stop touching his bald head...I think it was b/c he missed my bald head!) Keep your chin'll honestly look back at these posts in a few months and be like "Darn I feel GOOD now, and I held it together pretty good when I was sick!" Your doing great!! Keep it up!
    Do you know if you have to have radiation yet?

  17. Dearest Libby,

    My heart was a bit more broken over this week-end due to a huge disappointment...but I know that a broken heart require's God's hand to mend it and then it's stronger than ever.

    So here's to mending hearts and then moving forward as we seek God's path. We don't always know why, but we do know Who loves us. Thanks for caring about my broken heart even when yours was aching so.

    Love you guys so much...

  18. I am amazed by your blog, your strength, your outlook, and that I found it the very day I was cured by a miracle 5 years ago. When people find out I had cancer they will begin to tell me their story, and those that don’t have a history of cancer will inevitably honor me by asking me to speak to someone they know who has been recently diagnosed. I would like to share my story with you and let you know that what your feeling is honest and true. You are putting the words to emotions that many of us have experienced and not been able to express as beautifully as you are. My story is much the same as yours and I am praying for you. I want you to know that you are not alone. God is with you and we (your supporters) are as well. Staying positive and keeping faith is a key to surviving…cancer and every day. My family also says that laughing at yourself and finding the humor in situations helps a lot too.
    Please contact me at my blog ( ) if you would like, as I do enjoy offering support, and listening when you want to vent and not worry those you love. I took my first chemo the day before I turned 30. By the grace of God MIRACLES HAPPEN....I am proof. Before Christmas I wrote the following in my blog…
    Ele and I were talkin last night and she began asking questions, which led to the talk. Now when I say "the talk" I don't mean what you are thinkin, I mean that she began asking just how sick was I. I believe with every cell in my body that when you are facing serious issues you should not hide them from your child. When you hide them the child knows something is going on and is automatically scared because the issue has not been explained to them in terms that their maturity can handle.
    We told the girls I had a boo-boo that you could not see....they were 2,5, and 6. So last night Ele began asking questions, and at the age of 10, and a maturity that is wise for 10, I knew that she could handle the gravity of the situation we had been in. She and I talked for sometime with her asking MANY questions. I had to explain about the stages of cancer and that I was a stage 4., that I was Chemo resistant, and that a Miracle happened, because I was so diseased that I was supposed to have three phases of medium dose chemo and a double radiation, along with high-dose chemo and stem cell transplant. Yet God performed a Miracle because at the first phase of medium chemo, which I was allergic too....the cancer was gone.
    During this whole talk we had smiled and chuckled together, yet when I told her about the Miracle I began to cry. You see....I realized something. I told her how the Miracle was that the tumor was gone, but more importantly I only had to have high dose chemo and transplant, and I did not have any radiation. I looked at her crying and said, "Baby do you know what would have happened if that Miracle would not have happened?"
    She looks at me and says, "Yeah, I'd have had to eat noodles for the rest of my life!" I busted out laughing! Then we just laughed together! When I got myself back together and said, "Thank you for making me laugh...I needed that." I went on to cry again and tell her that we were told that because of the location of the tumor if I had radiation my life expectancy would have been about 5 years. This would have probably been my last Christmas on this earth....this spring will be five years. I then told her that she should always be strong and confident for God loved her soo much and she was so special that God gave her a Miracle, and to never forget that. I then asked her if she knew why I lived...she simply responded, "For us."

    God Blesses....and MIRACLES HAPPEN

  19. Libby---BTW, I lost my hair twice. The first time I prayed a lot about it and tried to decided how to do it. God gave me such a blessing at that moment when the girls were looking at me....I said, "Now listen....ONLY sick Mommy's do this...." I went on to ask them if they wanted to cut my hair...they were so excited! We had a party on the back porch and cut it off. All during cancer my youngest would try and take off my scarves and say, "Your hair soo pretty! I did that!"
    Feeling aprehensive and anxious is sooooo right. We all feel it. I was scared. My whole family was, but it turned into such a special memory.
    Cancer gave me courage, but more importantly, Faith gave me confidence. During, and now I have learned to accept the fear, then attack. Everyone has their own way, and however God directs you shall bring you peace.
    My suggestion, if you haven't already decided or already is Thursday...this weekend, borrow some clippers, invite some friends and family over for an hour, and say we're having a party....then let them take turns wacking it off, laugh, take pics, and overcome. Jesus is our Savior and strength!

  20. Praying for you Libby! My husband told me when it was time recently to shave my head from my chemo. It was a lot harder than I thought but now Im getting use to the no hair and its getting easier. I hope yours hangs on a little longer until your done :)

  21. Hi there

    I just came across your blog today, and this was the very first post I have read of yours......

    I too have to wear a wig - but not because of cancer, because I have alopecia.

    When the day came that I finally knew I had to shave my head, it was so so hard, and I thought that I would never feel pretty again - but do you know what? I do - some days are hard, and you wonder why you can't just be the same as everyone else, but other days you wake up and put it on and think - this is awesome, no matter what, I ALWAYS have a good hair day!

  22. Coming over from Kelle's blog..

    Many prayers for you and your family. I've been reading back through your blog. Your strength is amazing. I pray you beat this nasty thing. And that eventually you can look back, and tell your daughter about this journey. I'm sure she already knows how awesome her mama is though.

    Many thoughts and prayers. Many.

  23. Libby,

    Thanks so much for your email earlier this week. I came back to read more today and see how you were doing. Your strength, all the raw emotion that seeps out of your writing, has me in awe (and in tears). Truly inspiring. You will get through this. God is definitely using you to teach and inspire others. I am glad I am one of them.

    Sending you a big ol' Texas-sized hug from Dallas, and MANY prayers!



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