Sunday, February 28, 2021

She Died, But Left Me Something Unexpected

All of this started for me in the summer of 2020. For over four months the pain progressed. Several doctors couldn’t pinpoint the root of my issues. “I’m not calling you a liar. I’m just saying we can’t find anything wrong with you,” a specialist said. “And without other evidence, there’s no way your insurance will pay for an MRI.”

This happened long before we knew it was stage four “terminal” cancer...back when almost nothing seemed worse than blind, debilitating suffering.

Without answers, I doubted myself, wondering if I’d die from a strange malady only found in an autopsy. I could barely walk—feeling suddenly crippled—so, why couldn’t the “experts” help me? 

As I sat at my writing desk, mulling mortality, I wondered what my purpose has really been. Raising my kids, yes. But beyond that? Why have I felt the need to write so much about my life and then share it with the world? Was the courage it took, and the sacrifice of my pride, worth anything to anyone? 

Feeling that my last lifeline hung, severed, that’s when I got the unexpected text: “She wanted you to have this....” 

The words brought me to a time before, when I ran a little newspaper in Blackfoot, Idaho, and wrote opinion pieces about the amazing people in town. I’d been vivacious and fun—not this shadow of myself. 

While there, I briefly met Norma Furniss, the kind of woman who shone with an unforgettable intensity. Her eyes saw much more than they should have, and she carried a wisdom befitting her 96 years. Ever-changing like time, it appeared she’d outlive us all—and maybe that’s why her death surprised me. Yet, months later her wishes lived on, and I got a message from her son, Nolan.

He came to my house, and when Nolan walked from his vehicle with that Quiet Riter—the same typewriter Norma herself had used—well, I could have burst into tears. I hugged him, telling him how very much it meant to me.

That night, my husband cleared a special place on my writing desk where he set up the typewriter. And there it rested, waiting....

Soon after that, the doctors told me I was dying of cancer. Some hope did remain, in surgeries and immunotherapy, but despite that, they said cancer would cut my life short. At only 37 years old, I’d need to get my affairs in order and draft a will.

The news hardened me, and one day I found myself sitting in front of the typewriter, soaking in the feel of metal keys beneath my fingertips. To keep from crying, I imagined Norma from years ago, sitting in front of that same typewriter. The machine is nearly 70 years old, and it must have been something she’d owned early in her marriage. Norma was a brilliant woman, a storyteller who lived the kind of life people wanted her to relay to others. I could only imagine what she had written. And as I touched the keys, so much courage suddenly came to me. 

I thought I might not really know my purpose...and maybe none of us always do, but Norma must have seen something in me. She was always insightful. 

That day, I decided to share more about my experiences with cancer. Writing everything down seemed natural for me. It was terrifying to read some judgemental messages from people, saying they knew why I got cancer: bad diet...too much sun...even my sins.... Despite roadblocks, I received so much positive feedback that it buried the negative ones. I slowly started helping myself and somehow it seemed my words benefited other people too.

So, I keep the typewriter displayed as a reminder. It doesn’t serve as a symbol that I’m meant to be a “great” writer, it’s a reminder that I’m supposed to share my journey—the good and the bad—so people won’t feel alone. So...I won’t feel alone. 

Life can be hard, but troubles halved, cut in fourths, eighths, tenths... When troubles are shared they’re much easier to handle. 

And that’s what I’ve learned. Maybe her typewriter made me strong enough to keep sharing my journey about cancer, but it’s something else that’s given other people the strength to now share their stories with me. Carrying the load for each other, we’re bound to make it through. No matter what my purpose is, I’m grateful for the lessons Norma gave me through that typewriter. 

I will never forget her or her kindness, even beyond death. Maybe someday my words about cancer will be like that for others.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Cancer and the Frequency Bias

 You know the feeling, you buy a car and suddenly notice that same car everywhere. Well, that’s happening to me...but with cancer. The Frequency Bias (or Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon) has become quite disturbing, and I’m hoping my “bias” for noticing this everywhere will stop.

Despite my hopes, it seems like almost every movie I watch has some tragic end or features a side character who’s fighting cancer. I even watched “Tenet” (an action-adventure), hoping to get away from the cancer theme, but then a villain randomly has (you guessed it) cancer at the end of the film.

I read a smutty romance last week, with a cowboy, a damsel...and cancer. I turned to newspaper articles and shorter stories, but those too are about cancer. AND I’ve been getting emails from drug reps pressuring me to try their “cure for cancer”—I wish those sharks would leave me alone.

I had yet another MRI on Friday, to see if I need more radiation since they found a new growth in my shin, plus issues with my hip. And the whole thing felt so different. When they make you change your clothes and leave all of your jewelry behind...well, as I stayed in the MRI machine—which honestly felt like a coffin—I kept thinking that this is the perfect metaphor for death.

I stayed in the machine for an hour and 15 minutes because they ended up doing two scans after finding something in my back. 

As the machine whirred around me, I thought of leaving my worldly belongings behind. When you strip me of ability to play the violin, my health, my love of writing...when you get to the essence of who I am... Well, I just wonder if I’ll be good enough to spend eternity wherever God is.

The MRI finally ended and it was a good thing because I’d been fighting a panic attack. As I collected my things and dressed in regular clothes, I thought of how it’s time to breathe and find some semblance of peace. I might be seeing cancer everywhere, but I think it’s really just because I’m scared. I’m not scared in the traditional sense. I’m not necessarily scared of dying (not right now anyway) but I’m scared of the suffering: Going to treatments every six weeks. Enduring radiation. Possibly getting even more surgeries. 

If anything, I find this a fascinating study on America’s preoccupation with preserving life. If we’re not producing movies, books, or newspaper articles about it, we sure are talking about it over coffee...fearing the inevitable. Why? Since when did something so natural become villainized to this extreme? No wonder—deep down—everyone is so scared. Instead of being willing to embrace death when it’s time, we continue fighting, spending every dime we have to stave off something all of us will experience some day. Yet, I’m doing the same thing because more time with my family...well, that’s priceless. I just want to see all of my kids turn 18. I’m not shooting for the moon...not really. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

A Stranger’s Point of View

A man paced on the street about 50 feet from our parked car. He became a stark contrast under a tall street lamp that perfectly illuminated the snow. It was freezing, and by the way he shoved his big hands into coat pockets, he must’ve been even colder than I imagined. He wore a bowl cut, something that hasn’t been popular for decades. Normally—before cancer—I would have imagined this man with a modern haircut and clothes. I might have thought about his potential—and what changes he could make. Not now though.

Instead, I deduced that the man, probably in his 40s,  doesn’t like change. What are his hopes...dreams? I bet he’s never moved out of this small town, but even in that there is something to ponder. I always have to be moving and changing. I get bored so easily and can’t stay in the same place for too long. I’m adaptable to a fault. Yet, the thought of someone who can stay, that content—with the same haircut, living in the same small town for decades...well an equanimity like that is something I may never understand.

He pulled out a phone, but the call appeared to trouble him. And I know I shouldn’t have kept watching, but I literally couldn’t pull my eyes away. Who was this man? What were his troubles? Finances? Was he sick, like me? Or something worse: Did he worry over the sickness of a loved one? And I suddenly felt that his burden was so very great, but that few people knew. I prayed for him as he looked up to the moon and sort of bounced to keep warm after he hung up the phone.

It had been a few minutes when my daughter turned off her music. “Whatcha thinking?” she asked.

“Nothing really. We should go though. I bet my prescriptions are ready now.” But my eyes lingered on the man who had paced on the sidewalk not too far from our car. He pulled something else from his deep pocket, and placed it on his head—a headset—then trudged to a fast food restaurant where he must have worked.

Whatever he worried about on the previous call, I sure hope it’ll get resolved. And whatever he hopes for, everyone deserves a chance. It’s so strange trying to imagine life from a stranger’s point of view.... We all offer so much perspective. I sure hope customers will be nice to him. When they order food, they have no idea what must have been bothering him on that call...and the truth is I don’t know either. I don’t know anything except what I imagined....

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Merely a Flesh Wound

 I feel like I should stop posting medical updates because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about cancer...well, it’s a roller coaster. And no one wants to hear the tedious ups and downs of how it’s better and then it’s not OVER and OVER—especially me.

Let me quickly interject by saying that last week I had some decent news that degenerated this week (just like my hip apparently). Add that to the fact that someone said, “You’d be healed if you have more faith,” and my brain practically burst into flames. Yep—it made me that sad/angry. Flames. Flames, folks. No one wants me to be healed more than me...because I have kids. That’s why.

So let’s find what I can be happy about today DESPITE “trying” circumstances.

I’m gonna look at the bad and twist it positive. Sound good, shnookums? Now watch a master work ;)

#1 Immunotherapy “infusions” are not as fun as they sound. They make me tired and nauseous for about two weeks after. And now I have to do this every six weeks... *slow motion voice* EVERY. Six. Weeks.

My answer: Do your worst, cancer (okay that’s too bold)... Let’s try that again....

Try me, cancer! I’ve been pregnant freakin’ five times. I know how to deal with nausea and tiredness. Give me a bucket and a bed—I got this!

#2 The doctor said there’s no cure for my cancer, and they’re just trying to stave it off for as long as they can, trying to find a cure.

My answer: “Trying to find a cure” means there’s hope, and guess what, even if it doesn’t work out, the most I have to fear is death, right? It’s always nice to know what we’re facing. 

If I had to randomly die tomorrow or be able to plan for it, well, call me a planner. That’s much better than being taken out by a semi...or a mountain lion. Or something. (I don’t know where the mountain lion thing came from—sorry, it just popped in my head as a bad way to die, that wouldn’t offend people because it’s rare...that’s why.)

#3 They found a growth/tumor in my shin. What the $&@£! to make this good?

My answer: It’s an...excuse not to run a marathon (that one of my friends in Utah kept trying to pressure me into before I had cancer). I SUCK at running. In fact I speed-walked Ragnar—and THAT was tough. Now I can get out of marathons and maybe even doing the dishes. One point for Elisa. Bing!

#4 The last (terrifying) thing...

My bone and muscle are showing slight degeneration in my right hip. 

My answer: At least I still HAVE two hips. BAM! So what if I’m slowly falling apart. *insert Monty Python voice* “‘Tis merely a scratch!” 

I have another MRI on Friday. So after work I will be traveling back down to Utah again. Let’ this thing. 

The only moment that is/shouldn’t be funny, happened when my son heard about the degeneration of my hip—and he immediately said, “Are they gonna be able to save it?”

“Save what?” I asked naively because I hadn’t yet gone to THE WORST possible outcome.

“Your leg? Are they gonna be able to save your leg?”

“Good Lord that got dark fast! They might do radiation on my HIP. But I hope they won’t lop off my leg just yet.” Then I broke out laughing, so grateful that I have a leg—well, two of them in fact.

And he laughed too. “Sorry, Mama,” he said. “I’m so glad you can keep your leg. Remember that pirate from Blackfoot?”

“Yeah. The guy who owned the gun store. The man with only one leg?”

“That’s him. I guess you’d be all right if you ended up like him. I always did like that guy.”

That’s the spirit. I COULD end up like that ornery pirate in Blackfoot! Yaaass! No matter the outcome, it’s all coming up roses. 

Call me a Pollyanna if you want. It’s better than being bitter about everything, walking around dead when I clearly have so much livin’ to do. 

Merely a scratch...a flesh wound. It’ll be all long as a mountain lion doesn’t take me out in the meantime.

Friday, February 12, 2021

She Lost an Eye

met the woman in radiation over two months ago. Her appearance in my life shocked me since I’d been feeling bad for myself, embarrassed about my limp and my bald spot. I kept remembering a girl from high school; she was honestly one of the cutest girls in town but because she “walked funny” none of the guys asked her out. These memories flooded over me as I hunched, looking in the mirror. I just hope Mike means it when he says he thinks I’m beautiful and that he’s not embarrassed by how I look and move.

Anyway, I didn’t say a word about this to anyone as I dressed in my hospital gown and waited for radiation. Then it happened. SHE slumped into a hospital chair, dejected because of a tumor in her head. It had required treatments that had somehow caused a bumpy, purple rash to spread all around her right eye and cheek. 

I offered a quiet greeting—acting like nothing was wrong—and before I knew it, the woman told me everything. She was mortified about the rash; people stared, and then when she said it was melanoma no one thought it was a big deal. “They all say they’ve had skin cancer. But it’s NOT what I have. And it’s like they have no concept of what melanoma can do. I don’t want them to minimize this.”

We were quiet for a while. “I have melanoma, too,” I admitted, and she was taken aback. “Stage 4. They had to remove my L3 vertebrae because a tumor had eaten the whole thing. That’s why I can’t stand up straight anymore.” Another long pause. “You’re right though: People do not understand how serious melanoma is....other than that small aspect, I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I’m so sorry.”

“Well, I don’t have Stage 4. But, there is something really tough about having it all over my face.... It’s honestly really hard.”

I never forgot the woman, so devastated and sad.

Time has passed, and I’ve thought about her often. But this week, I actually saw her again! I’d just gotten my IV, and was ready for my infusion and more scans, when I spotted her. She hobbled past—and I almost said “hi” when I realized she was—missing an eye!

Sure they patched the thing, but she’d recently had surgery to remove it because the melanoma had spread. I heard her mumble to the receptionist about what had happened...and I almost fell apart.

“I have to use the bathroom,” I told my husband. And I hurried in there to cry. That woman—the sweet, scared woman—had been worried about a rash. How  in THE HELL is she supposed to live without an eye??? The whole thing hurt too much. I had to quell the pain rising in my chest because some of the things I’ve seen and heard since starting this journey, well, they’re crippling.

After returning to my seat, I heard a receptionist complaining about her boss and her job. It took everything in me not to walk up to that counter and smack her. Why? Because she still has both of her eyes!

Anyway, a couple of times during my treatment Mike would catch me crying. “Are you okay?” he’d ask.

“Yeah, there’s just so much to this that I never expected. I know these doctors are helping us...but it can also be torturous too. They took that woman’s eye. I mean, I’m sure it saved her life, but.... It’s just so hard seeing other people suffer.”

I hate the whole concept that we should feel better about our own situation because someone else has it worse. Shouldn’t that just make us even more devastated because we feel bad for ourselves AND the other person? Yet, I caught myself thinking that way today. I’m grateful my tumors are all up my spine and my brain and not eating at my eyes. That poor woman. 

What’s especially interesting is the big impact that woman made on my life—and she doesn’t even know it. We had a brief meeting, and yet I’ll be praying for her every day. I hope she’ll find the strength she needs to get through this. I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must be. And for her to have a stage of cancer that wasn’t as bad as mine, yet now, she’s facing something so much worse.... Life can be so unpredictable.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Cancer Diagnosis...A Sobering Reality

Well, today has been a sobering reality that I’m on a long, hard road. The doctor confirmed that this probably is what I’ll die from, BUT we just don’t know when. 

Sooo, let’s look at the positives:

No. 1 I might have longer than two years. 🤗

No. 2 Everything looks remarkably unchanged—they said “stability is not something to sneeze at” EXCEPT *drumroll please* after radiation my cancerous brain tumor is a little smaller than last time. Whaaa??? That’s awesome!

No. 3 There’s a support group for juveniles and young adults with cancer who are 39 and under. I might have “squeaked in” at 38 years old, BUT I’m considered a young adult with cancer. (Nothing like a cancer support group to make me feel young.) 

P.S. I walked past a man who’s probably 40 with cancer—too bad that schmuck missed the cutoff (bwa-ha-ha).

Sooo, the news isn’t bad...and it isn’t stellar. I’m a little deflated because it would’ve been super cool to be automatically cured like those folks in the Bible. But no.... Apparently I’m still terminal, I still have cancer, and I still have a brain tumor. Yep. That is hard to write. 

Today, all of this is so hard to believe...again. #SlowLearner I have days like that, ya know? When reality is tough to digest.


A Young Adult with Cancer

She Has Cancer, and She is NOT Happy About It

 I’ve met a lot of people through this experience, but the new friend I think about often is a cantankerous woman who actually lives by me. She has terminal lymphoma and is NOT happy about it. 

“It’s such a beautiful day,” I told her last week.

“If you like that sort of thing.”

“It’s just gorgeous. The sun is shining. The birds are singing.”

“There you are, talking about the day when we both know we’re dying.”

“Everyone is dying,” I say.

“But we’re dying faster, and it’s a slo,  painful death. I hate my life. What did I do to deserve this!”

“Well, I don’t think either of us did something wrong. But while I’m going through this, I’m appreciating every day I can.” 

The conversation continued much the same until I told her how I’d be getting test results this week, and how I “might” get good news.

“But you might get terrible news,” she practically spat the words.

I paused. It’s hard because I understand that this whole experience has beat her down, but I don’t get why our responses are so different. I hung up the phone and kept wishing I could make her life better...easier. Just like she can’t sober me the way she wants to, I can’t help her grasp onto hope. We’re both stuck in the same situation—on opposite sides of a chasm—and no matter how much both of us want to “help” the other, we just can’t.

I’ve met a lot of new people through sharing my story. People who live far away and close to home. There’s a boy who’s heroically battling cancer; I read his updates and find strength in my own circumstances. There’s an older lady who offers me sage advice and encouragement despite her own terminal situation. (All she thinks about is others.) Then there’s a loving son who messages me and talks about the struggles his mother goes through as she fights for her life—all while finding the kindness to pray for me.

Cancer has been debilitating, to say the least, but because of this situation I’ve met so many people who have literally changed my life for the best. I don’t have an answer for why this is happening to all of them, but for myself, I’m grateful for the lessons and glad to still be on this journey to hope. 

God is a Biker in Heaven

 I’m hiking, but I’m not alone. The man to my left appears to have stepped out of a biker bar. He’s massive with muscles bulging from his sleeveless leather jacket. The whole thing makes me smile; I never imagined God to have a long, gray beard—or to look like such a legend.

We traverse rocky terrain and dangerous boulders. Even when I’m not looking directly at the man, I know He’s there. Sometimes I’ll catch His scent or hear His voice, and each time I almost fall, something helps me safely stay the course. 

Finally we reach the top of the mountain, but it’s not what I expect, and my heart sinks. “God,” I turn, “why are we here?”

His face wrinkles with sorrow, and as He stares at a stone altar, He doesn’t say a word.

“What is this place?” I press on.

“This is where all men must be tested. The tests come at different times and in different ways, but they always come.” He motions for me to hold out my hands. “Do you trust me?”

I nod and do what He asks despite my human desire to run.

God, that gnarly-looking biker, gently ties my hands before motioning for me to lie on the cold, stone slab.

“Am I going to die?” I ask.

“Everything has a season,” He says.

My stomach turns. I’m so scared. But as I stare up into His eyes, I see the mysteries of the universe and understand that He knows so much more than I ever could. He must have a reason for all of this.

“I don’t want to die,” I say, my voice shaky as I sit on the stone altar. Then, ever-so-slowly, I swing my legs up and lie on my back. 

“Close your eyes,” He says. 

And as I study His features for the last time, I realize that this is what it must be like to fully surrender.... “ you,” I whisper. And I believe wholeheartedly that whatever comes next is for the greater good.


I had several tests and scans yesterday. I’ll have more tomorrow. But as I wait for results, I keep remembering the previous story and how it came to me long after reading the story of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22). 

I have no idea what the future will hold, but I’m amazed how liberating it feels to finally let go. I have no control over this situation. It really is in God’s hands now. I love how I picture Him; I bet He owns a Harley to ride on those streets of gold.

I really hope we’ll get good news tomorrow, but right now I’m lying on that altar, just trusting God.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Looking for Rainbows

 Why do bad things happen to good people? This is something I’ve been asked a lot—especially when someone finds out that I have cancer. But it hits me funny because I’ve always seen God as a clockmaker. 

In my imagination, He works and works to build these intricate, multifaceted clocks and watches. They run for however long they’re supposed to. Maybe a clock is caught in a house fire or an earthquake. A watch could be left out in the rain, even when it’s not weatherproof. The clock might get cracked or overly worn with time. Maybe the thing lasts and lasts much longer than expected. But the point is that at some point, the clock will stop. When it’s run its course, only a fool would blame the clockmaker. Cancer sucks, but I’m not about to blame God. He gave me life—He wound my clock—death was just part of the bargain.

Our world is filled with so many terrible variables. But if something “bad” does happen, it can usually look good with a change of perspective. Even a crack in a clock’s face can look like a rainbow when turned in the right light. So that’s what I’m looking for today: rainbows. Sometimes even the biggest imperfections can make life beautiful. 

We can always find the good if we take the time to look for it...always.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Fishducky Died, But She Still Beat the System

I limped back from the mailbox, so proud that I didn’t need to use my walker. “Of course the letter didn’t come,” I told myself. She died in 2020 and no amount of trips to the mailbox would make the letter magically appear. 

Fran was unlike anyone I’ve ever met, so energetic and full of sass. I just loved joking around with her and seeing how she could make literally anything funny. And I know it sounds trivial, but I looked forward to the birthday card she sent to me each year because it meant she was still doing well, happy, and loved by everyone she met.

But this year I would never be able to talk with Fran again, and the hilarious birthday card wouldn’t come. So, I told myself to stop checking the mailbox!

My birthday progressed—honestly one of the best I’ve ever had. Despite pains from cancer and intermittent nausea, I really lived in the moment, enjoying my family with every bit of me. But as I started opening my gifts, my 11-year-old suddenly panicked. “The green envelope. Where is it?! The green envelope.... Have you seen it?”

I shook my head. “No. I haven’t.”

In fact no one knew where it was. 

“But I made you something really awesome! I have to find it.” Then she got up and started rummaging through drawers that rest to the side of our kitchen. “Like this!” she spouted, before running over waving an envelope. “The envelope looks just like this one. Have you seen it?” She placed it on the table in front of me, and my eyes grew wide.

“Indy, where...did you get this?”

“The last drawer, why?”

I held my breath as I picked up the envelope. It was unopened, postmarked Dec. 13, 2018...addressed from Fran and her husband...when they were both alive.

My hands shook as I opened the card. It felt as if Fran sat there with me, almost smirking because she’d somehow rigged the system. And when I pulled the card from the envelope I burst out laughing. She’d sent me a holiday card with a duck on it. Of course she had! Fran absolutely loved ducks so much that some people called her “Fishducky.”

I immediately told my family why this was such a strange thing. “It’s from 2018! We always open our mail. And it was in the drawer with our tax returns! This is unreal.”

That night, I clutched the card and thought of my dear friend. Wherever she is, I sure hope she knows how much I love her—and how much her friendship meant to me over the last decade.

“Fran sounds like she was a character,” someone said after I told them the story.

“Oh, she really was. She could make anything better. Even a birthday when she’s no longer here.”

Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Kindest Eyes

A few Sundays ago I was pretty surprised when the Baptist pastor called me out by name during a prayer! And it wasn’t short either. He prayed for my health, my renewed strength, but most of all, he prayed for God’s will. This was all a shock because I’m not a member of that church, I don’t even believe in Jesus.... I just like hearing the sermons. Yet, there they were, praying—for me.

After the service ended, I noticed a family to the left of us. A couple of them gazed curiously, probably wondering why I hobble or why I’ve lost my hair. And now that the pastor had prayed for me, well, that incited even more interest.

Sometimes these humanly curious stares can make me uncomfortable, but they didn’t that day. And instead, I met the older couple’s eyes and smiled. Time stopped. 

It was an intimate moment shared between strangers, and I honestly wondered about it all week until Wednesday night when my son came home from youth group.

“Remember that man to the left of us in church? He was a little older?”

Of course I remembered. He was the man with the kind eyes. “Yeah?” I said.

“Well, he died this week in an accident.”

I had to sit down. It felt so surreal.... To think, they’d been praying for me in church, when all of us should have been praying for him.

I might have been given an expiration date by the doctors, but this unexpected death was a stark reminder that all of us face the same inevitable end. 

I wish I would’ve gotten that man’s name. I looked over at my son. “It’s so hard to believe that he died. He really did have the kindest eyes.”

Friday, February 5, 2021

A White Feather Means Hope

My mom used to tell me that if I found a white feather it meant an angel was around, looking out for me. I didn’t believe her, even if I did think it was a neat idea, and as the days have passed, I’ve sure wished an angel could be here, with me as I fight cancer.

My oldest daughter paid for me to have a wig fitting. The two beauticians pulled a stocking over my scalp, and Mike helped me pick wigs we both thought would be cute. We all laughed and joked about a white bob. At one point I told them a story and said, “Well, I’m glad I finally found something worse than cancer. It’s THAT wig!”

But something happened halfway through the session. As if the music slowed to more foreboding melodies, I looked in the mirror, and the gravity of the situation hit me.  

I look so much different than I did six months ago. How much worse might I look within the next year? The magnitude of stage 4 cancer falls on me in waves every once in a while. I never know when or where the sadness will hit. And as tears started to flood my eyes, I wished again that someone somewhere—even if it were an angel—could be looking out for me right now. But even if God is as real as ever, angels have begun to feel like the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny, and as I continued looking in the mirror, I rushed to wipe away the tears before the beauticians or Mike could see.

I finally picked a wig, and the beauticians let me wear it home. The thing is a blonde number, hanging just to my shoulders. It is meant to make me feel fun and free, but as we pulled into our driveway, I felt fake...and sick.

The tears really came then. “What’s wrong?” Mike asked gently, parking the car. “What do you need? Are you nauseous again?”

“No. Today, I’m just scared.” It was a huge confession, something hard to even say out loud.

We stayed there, parked in the driveway. And as he held me, I gazed out the windshield. 

Then, as if time had stopped, the strangest thing happened. When my fear was at the worst it’s ever been, a white shape started falling from the sky! I watched as it ebbed and flowed, barely swayed by the wind. Then the white feather landed on the windshield, resting RIGHT in front of me!

I immediately stopped crying. “Hang on,” I told Mike and hobbled out of the car.

The feather remained despite gusts of wind. So, I gingerly picked it up, almost cradling the thing, and brought it back into the car.

“My mom always says that when you find a white feather like this, it means an angel is watching out for you.” My voice caught on the words. 

And as odd as it sounds, a strange peace folded through me, from the top of my head, down, through the rest of my being. A peace so thick that it has stayed...

After we’d walked into the house, I hung up my wig, stared into the mirror and touched my own sheered hair. As I placed the white feather in my keepsake box, I couldn’t help shaking my head. Maybe even when things are at their worst, when we feel like they won’t get better, someone, somewhere is looking out for us. 

And now there’s hope.... I still don’t know what to “really” think about the feather. But maybe—even when I’m all by myself—I’m not fighting this alone after all.