Celebrating Mom's Strength

I think te are a lot of things that we don’t share with each other for some reason or another. I hope that I don’t continually miss the opportunity to share. I believe that one of the tactics of Evil is to keep us isolated where we believe lies such as “they won’t understand” or “nobody really cares or knows me.” Community is radically healing and empowering for joy!

So, I admire my mom (not just today) for allowing her friends and family to be with her as she fought the good fight this past year. She continues to bring joy and blessing into our lives just as before. I was asked yesterday of one of the good memories of my mom and the first thing that came to mind was this:

When I was in grade school, my mom would come into my brother’s and my room (with me on the top bunk) to wake us up for school. But, she would take the time to make it fun. She had these little hand puppets that were such an expression of her being – fun and loving. She would poke at us for a bit and then have them talk to us in funny voices and they would sneak around when I rolled over as if these little animals wanted to play. I also distinctly remember many times waking up before she came in, but pretending I was sleeping hoping that it would be a morning of the little hand puppets.

So, I wanted to take this as an opportunity to share a bit more about my mom and consolidate some of the notes, activities and details of this past year for me, my family and friends.

  • My mom’s breast cancer blog that she updated throughout the journey (registration required, but free): http://www.carepages.com/carepages/strongtower
  • Pictures of a party celebrating the last chemo treatment: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2317991&id=1508003
  • Excerpt from my dad’s take on the journey (75MB): Dick’s Celebrating Strength Speech
  • My first publication about how I was dealing with it (not long after the news): http://www.jason1365.com/2009/05/03/i-trust-you-audioblog/
  • Finally, more than anything, my friend Abby absolutely was/is an angel. She jumped in as soon as she found out and called my mom frequently (having never met her before or anything); she sent flowers and packages to my mom with all the items that would make her day; she drove down to the farm to work and support my mom; she made a scrapbook for my mom; she reminded me about how to support my mom and she eased my own fears. I cannot say enough good things about her; she is probably the sweetest girl I know. She is a nurse and helps run Georgetown’s ICU. Finally, she has battled breast cancer twice and knows the difficult journey well. I don’t know how our family would have dealt with this without her. Was it divine intervention that I met her a few months before my mom was diagnosed? Or just coincidence?

Strongtower / Celebrating Strength Scrapbook

Mary’s Story

Mary is the amazing mother of two handsome young men and the strong and sustaining wife to her husband, Richard. Those who have the pleasure to know Mary know that she lives a lifestyle of joy and compassion. Mary exudes hope and peace at every interaction. Not only does she rejuvenate her friends and family, but they know that she is willing to come alongside and enable them to strive for what is good, right, and beautiful. This is evident each week as she enables people to change their work lifestyle to achieve professional goals that align with their values, gives opportunities to those who had opportunity skip over them by tutoring adults, and constantly sacrifices for her family in the daily activities which are so easily overlooked – rising early, preparing meals, tending to the cows, growing gardens, healing the sick, and meeting any need the family has.

Mary is strong. She continually lives her heart of hope and joy. Mary is the linchpin for the annual UVA football game festivities. Without a second thought, she purchases tickets for a dozen people year after year. Each game she (with her husband) shows up bearing many foods prepared the day before or morning of the game to entertain and enjoy life. Because she wants others to share in her joy and excitement, she saves the clappers, thunder sticks, or other fun toys from the games and brings them to subsequent games. In case, you missed that the fact Mary isn’t pretentious, she has painted her kitchen a bright yellow which is an outgrowth of the joy and fun that constantly flow through her.

Mary is our strong tower: Strong Tower.

Mary was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer on 2/5/09. When news came that Mary was diagnosed with breast cancer, her spirits remained high & her focus returned to the up-coming business seminar she was host/delivering the first week in March. In fact she scheduled mastectomy surgery 2 days after the event (no cancer ‘scare’ was going to alter her immediate goals). Her deep trust in God & love of others has gives her strength and a can-do attitude. She is confident she will meet this challenge & emerge stronger for it – not unlike how she did with her first battle with cancer some 30 yrs ago (Hodgkin’s).

Her surgery was deemed a success with no complications & no surprises. Lymph nodes under her left arm were also removed. Pathology reports from the removed tissue are pending – they will give us more info on the progress/stage of the disease. We remain confident in a complete recovery – God is good & will guide us through the struggle.

Post surgery 1 wk update [Posted Mar 14, 2009 8:26pm]

I am overwhelmed with the out pouring of love & prayers from everyone including people I do not know from all over the country. Thru these prayers, God has given me strength and no pain. Thank you very much for your cards, calls, books, emails, flowers, blanket, food & most importantly your thoughts and prayers. You truly have given me courage and strength to continue this journey.

March 18 – 1.5 wk post surgery update [Posted Mar 18, 2009 3:00pm]

God’s arms have wrapped me in his love and healing. Thank you for all your prayers and support, He has listened to everyone. God is awesome.

Treatment plan [Posted Mar 30, 2009 10:51pm]

Thank you for your support and prayers – the prayers work! I was able to plant some garden yesterday.

April 2-3 1st Treatment [Posted Apr 4, 2009 5:37am]

I was praying the last 6 mos for the strength & fortitude to loose 20 lbs. I hadn’t counted on Him answering in this manner, but that’s ok. So be careful of what you pray for. I sincerely appreciate all your prayers because His blessings have been bestowed upon me with minimal discomfort and a positive attitude. (I do not personally know who ALL of you are, but I thank you through God as I know you will never see this!)

Vacation/Massanutten Up-date (Dick) [Posted Apr 8, 2009 4:42pm]

Her strength has decreased & her sicknesses have taken over her body & to some degree her spirit.

I had thought that the overnight hospital stay would translate into some miraculous recovery – on the contrary. Her night was not good – they put her on O2, continued IV’s of antibiotics & instituted rules that anyone coming into the room must where a mask.

Vacation week wrap-up (Dick) [Posted Apr 11, 2009 3:35pm]

Mary has now been at the Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, VA since Tuesday (it’s now Sat 4/11). The last few days have been tough for both her & I (but especially her), with little improvement in her energy or general well-being. Her white blood count was nearly 0 and her temperature was up and down Wed & Thursday. Her oxygen level was also lower than optimal, so she has been on oxygen sporadically through Fri.

April 22 Update [Posted Apr 22, 2009 8:39pm]

I can’t believe it’s Apr 22 already! Thank y’all for all your prayers. It has been a while since our last update.

Finally left the hospital at 5 pm on Sunday, the 12th, arriving home about 8 pm.

Jason, eldest son from No. VA, organized a work on the farm weekend, Apr 17-19. As you may know, Dick & I are somewhat private people, having made the choice in 1981 to have a working farm with the goal to be able to be relatively self sufficient. So it is definitely outside our comfort zone to ask people to help with the very hard manual labor that is required to maintain a farm. I know that this is a critical learning that God is trying to teach us – to trust in people that He has placed in our path, that there are many great & good people in the world. So, THANK YOU – Jason, Phil, Whitfield, Abby, Lacey, Stephanie from No VA, Jeff (younger son from Richmond) & Tasha, Locally – Todd C, Todd T, Z-Paul, Danny. Tasha, the pasta salad has been my mainstay this wk.

A special thank you to Abby for the ‘cancer survival kit’ and Streams in the Desert and cutting my hair. Sore scalp as my hair quickly falls out.

Thank you again for all your prayers, cards & thoughts. I don’t go anywhere without my ‘pink blanket.’ I know and look forward to the many learnings during this journey.

2nd treatment update [Posted May 3, 2009 1:14pm]

All in all, sunny skies are ahead. The wk after the 2nd treatment was better than the wk after the 1st. Next treatment on May 14 and the wk after should be better than last. I guess this is an iterative learning process as is the rest of life. Again, I am humbled by everyone’s prayers, thoughts, cards & wishes and I want to thank you. God has truly blessed me with having YOU in my life and I don’t even know all of YOU. THANKS!!

Half Way There [Posted May 27, 2009 10:24am]

Half way there – I feel like Luke Skywalker – ‘keep your eye on the target!’ So this is treatment 3, wk 2 and finally am able to sleep in my bed. However, at the end of this torture, a fitting result would be 20 lbs lighter (also half way there).

We are blessed to have you all in our lives supporting and praying for us. With bunches and bunches of love, Thank You. Mary & Dick

Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me? (John 18:11)

And the Lord answered – Shall I take away pain, And with it the power of the soul to endure, made strong by the strain?

Had else awaits us on this trip? (Dick) [Posted Jun 3, 2009 12:25am]

Just when you think things are going pretty well; we have a process that keeps nausea under control – then you get hit with the unexpected! Mary got stung by a cicada killer bee (some know them as bell hornets) & shortly thereafter, I found her lying on the kitchen floor – it was scary, & I almost called 911 – I know I lost her to unconsciousness twice (she is allergic to bees). We tried to get Benadryl pills into her, but nausea immediately counteracted those efforts – we finally got the anti-nausea process administered & 1 Benadryl pill was kept down (normally 2 are required – she actually took 4 pills over the course of the “event”, but only 1 stayed down). She gradually improved & the swelling/anaphylactic reaction diminished after about 2 hours of horrible reaction (poison from many fronts) – what a relief! Too many challenges/tests of courage & common sense – what else could happen? I guess these are learning experiences & rescues from God. In the end, God has shown his love, strength, compassion, & healing powers – we will prevail.

4th treatment -June 19 [Posted Jun 19, 2009 5:16pm]

I have a request for everyone to please insist on breast health to the females that you know – moms, sisters, friends, daughters (yes, even 17 yr olds). Physically, surgery is easy compared this 4.5 months of chemo (only 1 lymph node involved) & last time I had radiation for 2.5 mos. Early detection is the key.

To aid in self exams for early detection, Olivia Newton-John (16 yr “thriver”) has a new product Liv Aid (www.olivianewton-john.com) which enhances the feel of abnormal breast tissue. She has partnered up with Curves to distribute the product – free for the asking for Curves members but can also be purchased for $10 from Curves. Check it out & give as a gift.

Your prayers, thoughts and support continue to be an inspiration to me and I pray for you all daily. I don’t feel worthy of all the love you have bestowed on me.

Abby, please call me Mary, and thank you for the package & running for me. I hope to be able to do the same for someone in the future – just because I will be able to. (can’t even walk 100 ft now)

Such a blessing to have Theresa, Joel & Rocky here Tuesday at 6 am in the drizzle to work the cows and calves all morning.

“Men see not the bright light which is in the clouds” Job 37:21

5th treatment [Posted Jul 9, 2009 10:01pm]

The abyss was very comprehensive physically & mental, wide & deep, challenging anything Existential. ‘But his flesh upon him shall have pain, & his soul within him shall mourn’ (Job 14:22) doesn’t seem strong enough. Knowing that all abysses come equipped with a ladder, the only way out was with the Lord’s outreached hand and then His willingness to carry me across the darkness as He encouraged me to read Job.

I am not looking forward to the last treatment & was considering asking the Dr. about forgetting it – I’ve had enough of this. A lady briefly popped up while channel surfing – ‘take all the cancer treatments your doctor recommends’ – I guess the message was for me. It is the only time I’ve seen it in 14 wks.

Early detection is the key.

Friends, I am grateful & blessed with all your prayers and thoughts.

‘A friend is someone who reaches for your hand, but touches your heart.’ ~Kathleen Grove

last treatment [Posted Jul 21, 2009 9:01pm]

However, we are doing something a little exciting for the next 2 days (Fri-Sat) – visiting Jeff (younger son, 25) & Tasha in VA beach camp ground. Of course, I can’t be in the sun & it may rain, so we will be prepared. Getting away from the never ending farm work & TV routine.

Wow the camp ground was packed but Jeff & Tasha were able to get the only cabin open for 1 night. This was surely the result of a higher power & we were blessed by having a great time.

Jason, elder son from NOVA drove home Sat night to help troubleshoot & fix some of the many damages from the storm. Thank you for your energy and spending 8 hrs on the road to help for 1 day.

We are truly blessed to have 2 awesome sons & God’s providence! Thank you Jason & Jeff!

2 Free Thursdays! [Posted Aug 13, 2009 12:59pm]

Today is 4 wks since my last treatment (#6) which happened every 3 wks for past 18 wks. So it has been nice to have 2 Thursday’s FREE & CLEAR and not to have to anticipate the darkness coming the following 1-2wks. Now, everything can only get better.

We have been brought thru the hard part of this journey with the help of God, everyone’s prayers, love & support, now, sunny days are ahead & I know He will give us the strength & courage as we move forward. All we can do is praise Him as He has brought us very close to the breaking point but not over the edge and He readies us to travel on the next high road of life.

Ps 66:12 We went through fire & water, but You brought us to a place of abundance.

9 wks out [Posted Sep 18, 2009 2:16pm]

It’s been 9 wks since my last treatment. Recovery is going slower than Dick & I like which is somewhat frustrating. I was asked recently where I thought I was. I think physically I’m at 10-20% & mentally about 50% of normal. I also understand that there may be a new normal.

I am still on the journey. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers & support.

Just finished reading Martin L. Kings 1957 speech “A New Nation” which is the basis of my analogy

To become free from cancer (or anything), we need to look back at the process (suffering thru freedom) of the Israelites — the chemo is like the Egyptians, now I am going thru the desert, looking for the Promised Land of normality.

May you be blessed & always have hopes & dreams.

A Few Notes

Dear friends Mary and Dick,

You are being tested beyond all measure. The couple who struggled to understand the goodness of a God who would allow a calf to die or crops to wilt in the field, have become mighty warriors of faith who trust in Him come what may. Our father God must be so proud of you, his precious children, his trophies. We love you and continue to pray for you through this time. I love what you said: God has shown his love, strength, compassion, and healing powers–we will prevail. YES, you will and God will be glorified by it.

Love, Linda

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Lund,

What a journey this has been! I am glad to hear you made it through the confrontation with the “Giant Hornet”. Mr. Lund, I can only imagine the fear and adrenaline rush you got when you found Mrs. Lund on the floor. Bless your heart–I applaud you for holding it together and helping her get through it.

Mrs. Lund, you continue to amaze me with your perseverance through some difficult times. You have passed beyond the halfway point–May that bring you some hope and encouragement to see all that you have overcome!

Tomorrow I am running in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. I’ll be running for you, Mrs. Lund–running to celebrate your spirit of strength in the face of many trials. I also run for hope because I know there will be brighter days ahead for you. Just know that there will be a sea of pink out there fighting for this cause and for you.

I think of you both often. Hope this latest treatment behaves. Never hesitate to give a holler if either of you need anything!

Much love and prayers, Abby Butts

Hi, Mary.

Keep on hanging in there. Your resilience is remarkable. Thanks for promoting the life saving message of early detection that we of Beyond Boobs, Inc. are trying so desperately to get out there to women. I have felt one of those devices at Curves here in Williamsburg, and it really does help – even though I can’t use it myself since I no longer have any breasts to check. Keep on hanging in there, and thanks for the updates.

Love ya!! Mary Beth

Mary,

My heart is with you, friend. Wow–look how far you have come! All those baby steps eventually add up…Painfully slow at times, but you are getting there! I’m excited for some of the joys that await you (like being able to taste food again.).

Dick,

Thank you for your unending love and devotion to Mary. Thank you for caring for her and being there day in and day out. It is not easy to see your loved one go through hardship, and I hope that you, too, will continue to be sustained.

My prayers and love continue to be with you. Can’t wait to celebrate you!!! Love, Abby

A wise person once told me that God only gives us what he knows we can handle. Faith, love and strength to you and your family. ~Susan

Love always, from your friends –

Abby Butts; Adrienne Miller; Ami Punatar; Amy Patton; Andrea Mendieta; Ann Knight; Barbara Baker; Barbara Batchelder; Barbara Grimes; Ben Sterling; Betsy Page; Blair Warren; Brent Epperson; Carol Thompson; Carol Willis; Catherine Tung; Cheryl Johnson; Cindy Bondurant; Dan Lynch; Dave Hayes; Debby Ruffin; Dick Lund; Donna Hollin; Erik Scheer; Gina Barker; Graham Hollenbeck; Heather Henderson; Jaclyn Durant; Jan Wicks Fiske; Jane Choe; Jared Warren; Jason Lund; Jason Peel; Jeffrey Lund; Jenna Fowler; Jennifer Tucker; Jenny Brueckner; Jenny Van; Jenny Woollett; Judith Dawson; Kate Evers; Kathleen Mcelroy; Kathy Ruoff; Kay Wrenn; Kaye Lewis; Kristina Hopper; Ky Hasaka; Lacey Hanson; Lalala Mon; Laura Schneider; Linda Irvin; Linda Settles; Liza Mosca; Lizette Pirtle; Mark Allen; Mary Beth Gibson; Mary Lund; Mary Peel; Mary Smith; Molly Cousins; Monica Comparetta; Nataly Mautino; Natasha Hanvey; Ngoc Vu; Nick Cohron; Patrice Robinson; Patrick Griffin; Phil Spradlin; Rachel K; Rd Brummett; Robby Wright; Robert Batchelder; Robert Kantmann; Robin Smith; Ron Beverly; Sarah Likins; Sarith Ruiz; Shirley Quinn; Stephanie Lin; Stephanie Sharer; Steve Mcilvaine; Steve Thomas; Susan Baracco; Susan Myers; Susan Scotts; Terry Gross; Theresa Hesch; Tim Geisland; Tobey Thurston; Tracy Sterling; Vincenza Castello; Virgil Hollender; Winston Bersch; Yun Lee

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