Thursday, October 10, 2019

Six Years--Rejoice!

This week is a big anniversary in my cancer journey. Six years ago I had my major surgery that removed one tumor from my colon and two tumors from my liver. I went in with stage four metastasized cancer and came out with no tumors and clear margins. It was a long ordeal and difficult recovery, but I was surrounded with a multitude of prayer and community from so many of YOU.

I have written about this before, but when my son turned eighteen last year, he had been planning his first tattoo for awhile. One week after his birthday he had the date of my surgery (and being cancer free) tattooed in Roman numerals on his forearm. He wears this with joy knowing the gift we were all given--that I have continued to live for six more years and counting. Despite the cancer spreading and coming back, I still live a beautiful and purpose filled life.

I realize that those of you who have been following my story and my blog for all these years may hear the same thing repeated over and over again. But anniversaries like this are meant to be remembered and celebrated. My reminders to myself and to others to let the petty things go and to pick your battles are so relevant with each day that I live. I find myself at times falling into the trap of self pity or resentment, or pickiness over little things (like when Greg leaves his shoes out in the family room, when there is a basket for shoes five feet away). Now really, in the scheme of things--how is that an issue? It is NOT. I make choices on what is worth expending energy (emotional and mental) and what is not. It is a mental game and a spiritual choice--guided only by the Holy Spirit, not of my own accord.

As I stated in my previous post, I had a really rough time in my last round of chemo. My doctor gave me an extra week off and I started infusion again this week. It took a ton of mental and spiritual preparation to go in knowing that I would have to go through this all again, and I still have two more rounds ahead. But God gave me the sustenance and His sufficiency to go in with a calmer attitude than I expected. And I know I was completely covered in prayer. The side effects began earlier than usual--within 24 hours--and I get my pump disconnected today. As I was praying and preparing, I realized that I can and will go through 5-10 tough days per month, but that leaves me with a heck of a lot of good days and beautiful moments. I have been taking in the majestic sunsets, walking my dogs in the cooler evenings, having quiet moments of rest and reflection, reading for my book club, meeting with friends, and trying to watch all six seasons of Downton Abbey before seeing the movie this weekend. That has been quite a commitment--I am not one who sits much and when I do it is to read and not watch shows. But I have been giving myself a lot of grace to rest and not have to be going and doing all the time. (I still do that, but not quite as being an empty nester sure changes up my time schedule).

As I celebrate this anniversary of the gift of six years of more life, would you too find reasons to celebrate? There are so many and they come in big and small sizes. Gratefulness changes hearts and minds and allows you to appreciate what God has given you. It's certainly okay to grieve and moan and lament where needed, but always remember that God's mercies are new every morning. You may be in a season of pain or lament, but always try to find those gifts you have been given.

I know that I am a living, walking miracle. Even though my cancer and my treatment continue, I look forward with hope and belief. I never want to take for granted that I have a Savior who suffered on my behalf and who understands and knows my pain. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are my refuge and my strength. So I celebrate today and each day. I pray you would find those things to rejoice in and celebrate as well.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Maybe it's Okay

Sometimes (okay a lot of the time) I feel like when I write a new post that I am saying the same damn thing over and over...and I kind of am...because this season has been soooo long. Thanks for being faithful readers, supporters, friends through this never ending journey.

I had a set back last week. I had made it through chemo infusion the week before and the side effects were minimal (hard as always, but manageable). And then out of nowhere, on my OFF week, when I am supposed to get stronger and rest to go to yet another round of chemo, I had side effects that came like a torrential downpour. I will spare you the details, but for three days I could barely leave the house and I couldn't even sleep much because I was so nauseated. I usually book more into my schedule on my OFF weeks, and I had to ease back (which you all know me--that is hard to do). I had to be okay with lots of rest and restlessness and a lot of pain and misery. After the fourth day, I started to feel better, but I knew chemo was coming again and my mind and body started freaking out. So I called my doctor and asked for a reprieve from chemo this week and then I saw him yesterday. His discussion with me really helped me gear up for what is ahead. He said I have full freedom to take a break from chemo and that there have been some studies done of colon cancer patients who took three months off of chemo and their cancer did not grow or come back. He reminded me that I have been a super woman and he knows of few patients who have handled what I have both physically and mentally. He gave me lots of encouragement and hugs and a few tissues as I cried in his office. I tried to put words to my emotions and the best word I came up with is WEARY. I am broken down--mentally and physically and I am tired of the continued treatments and putting up with the side effects. BUT--it IS working, and I look at my beautiful life, my precious family, my incredible community, and I find hope. But this week I am allowing myself to be weary, broken, tired, frustrated, and simply NOT OKAY.  My doctor gave me two weeks off chemo and gave me the green light to make it longer if needed.

As of now I am feeling better, but I know what is ahead and my mind goes to fight or flight and right now I choose flight. I just want OUT. So I am doing a lot of praying and reading and resting.

There are a number of songs out there that resonate with me, but a song came out about a six months ago by a band called We Are Messengers. The song is called, "Maybe It's Okay" and here are a few of the lyrics:

Maybe it's okay if I'm not okay
Cause the One who holds the world is holding me
Maybe it's all right if I'm not all right
Cause the One who holds the stars is holding my whole life

That is what I cling to right now. It is OKAY if I'm not okay and I cling to God's promises that He is holding me.

I urge you all to be okay with being NOT okay, and to give yourself permission to feel those weary moments, those broken dreams, those exhausting days.

If we all put on game faces every day and never share our struggles, we are living a fake existence. I know that is hard for some people, and I don't expect everyone to share their struggles and weakness through a blog. But I do encourage you, with whatever your fight is--to share with someone--whether it is a friend or a counselor. We are built to be in community which makes us vulnerable and can cause hurt or mistrust. But the alternative is loneliness and God promises us that we are never alone.

Hang in there my friends, with whatever your fight or struggle may be, and know that there is a God, a personal God in the person of Jesus who holds the stars and holds your whole life.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Time to Fly

This was a big weekend in the Loy household. We went to Denver to move Micah into his new space--the University of Denver. It was a beautiful time of connecting with former youth group "kids" who are now adults and go to school or work in the Denver area, plus seeing our friends, the Divjaks, plus doing all the necessary things to move a kid into the dorms. Trips to Target, Bed, Bath and Beyond, REI, Home Depot, and of course eating and drinking our way through all the beautiful and fun places in the amazing city of Denver. Noah is such an awesome big brother--he drove to Denver and back a couple times. We went to his college town at CSU Fort Collins on Sunday--went to church with him and took all his roommates out to lunch. I got to spend some girl time with my "Colorado daughters" and the guys did major work on finishing the fourth room we built out in our new house in Fort Collins where Noah and his roommates live. They went from living in a mold infested house they dubbed "the dog pound" to our lovely new home that they have named "the resort". I am so thrilled they are happy and I can't wait to continue building out and designing the basement area for other renters or VRBO.

But this post isn't necessarily about all we did (we packed a LOT into the four days), but how we felt and how we communicated (or didn't communicate). It is about parenting, and allowing your young adults to flourish. It is about a mama bear's fierce love for the boys she raised. So here we go....

For those of you familiar with the Enneagram--I am a ONE wing Two. ONE is the "moral perfectionist" and TWO is the "helper/counselor."  It is really hard being a ONE. I am my worst inner critic and I want all to be right and just in the world. I am deeply sensitive about causes and people dear to me. The TWO in me can't help but love and serve and counsel and be a light to others. All of this came out in me this weekend as I spent time with my boys, my husband, and my friends.

First--moving your child into the dorms and watching him experience the newness of everything is emotional and stressful. I wanted everything to be perfect for him. Micah, the independent one--had no desire to decorate his room while we were there. Noah and I made his bed for him and Micah put up his clothes, a desk lamp and a fan. No cute lights and fluffy pillows and bulletin boards with pictures for him (yet)--not all those cute posts that my friends who are moms of girls get to post. So I had to go along with what he wanted, even though I wanted to help him create his space. That was hard.

Second--trying to stay out of things when you know your boys are going through a myriad of emotions--many they can't identify--is nearly impossible. I held my tongue and my thoughts many times, and there were many times I didn't. I snapped and cried and tried to deal with my own emotions. We drove a LOT, got lost a few times, and tried to navigate the area, along with navigating our emotions. Micah was anxious, excited, and ready to get on the move. Noah was helpful and loving, but also knew his little brother was feeling a number of unidentified emotions and Noah tried to keep the peace when one of us got edgy or angry.

Third--I know my boys are in the places God wants for them. A lot of prayer went into the colleges they chose. They were both blessed to get into places that have amazing community as well as many opportunities to get involved. Noah is a senior at CSU Fort Collins and has been thriving. I am so proud of him. He is resourceful and reaches out to achieve his goals. He has been involved in the incredible ministry of Young Life--both in college YL and being a team leader himself at the local high school. The church, the mentors, and the friends he has, all support him in his faith and his walk with Jesus. Micah has already sought out college Young Life on his campus and is excited to meet new friends and start his academic career in Business Entrepreneurship and Art Design. The school had a convocation ceremony for the parents and students that was bar none. All the speakers challenged and inspired both students and parents. The Dean of Diversity lead us all in an African chant and song called "Welcome to the Table."  I am so excited that Micah is in a place where he can learn and grow.

Fourth: I know my boys are ready to navigate life on their own. I am thankful that we were able to raise them in a life giving, faith filled community. They have a firm foundation in Christ and they know they are never alone. They know how to make friends; they are strong academically and socially. They are independent and strong, as well as compassionate and kind. They both have servant hearts and love others well. I know that this is God's work and not ours. I know that Jesus has led our family over the years to the place where we stand now. This is our job as parents--to let our kids go. To let them fly. To allow them to make mistakes and not jump in to FIX it. To stand back when needed and yet be there when needed. To let them figure out trials and work through them without our help. To let them find and live out their own faith.

Fifth: I know Greg and I will be okay. We love our boys and miss them immensely, but we have each other, our dogs, our church, our community, our friends, and Jesus. Our boys might be away, but we are still family. And we will all be okay, in fact, we will be great, because our Lord stands before us. He leads us and guides us and He does the same for our boys.

We are in a new phase of life and I am excited where God plans to take each of us. We are beyond blessed.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Continuing with Cancer

In three days we fly out to Colorado and move Micah into the dorms at University of Denver. In six days, we will return home and be official empty nesters. The last few weeks have been "all things Micah"--making his favorite foods, shopping on line together, prepping for the last details of moving to college in another state. In the midst of that, of course, cancer continues. Let me start by saying thanks to all of you who have been asking about my medical updates. This is the best platform to send out the info. As usual, it will be a bit medical, and a bit personal.

I had my CT scan on Monday and met with my oncologist to review it yesterday. This was after my eighth session of chemo in the last four months. As I have stated before, I have learned to not have expectations. I used to have all these plans in my head of how it would go and when I would probably have surgery and then I just let that go. I seriously walk in with no anxiety and no fear (at least the last two times). According to my oncologist, the news is GOOD.  The three tumors in my lung are, in his words, "invisible to the point of undetectable." The tumor in my pelvis has shrunk by one centimeter, and there are NO new tumors anywhere. My kidney function is back to normal and all my blood counts are great. However, at this point, he still wants me to continue chemo to keep shrinking the tumor. This could change if my colon surgeon decides that the pelvic tumor is small enough to be removed. Of course all this news is great with the exception of... MORE CHEMO. It looks like four sessions (which is about two months--every other week) and then another scan. I do NOT like this. BUT--according to my oncologist--this is the protocol--to shrink and kill as much as possible to eradicate the cancer. So--I continue. But I continue in the way I have always continued which is to live my life to the fullest and cancer is just a part of my everyday routine. I want to rejoice in this news (and I truly am so thankful that the chemo is causing forward progress)--but I really really hate chemo. I hate the smells, the sound, the tastes, the side effects, the time strain it puts on my schedule. But I must go on, and I will.

My next chemo is scheduled for September 10 and I have a stent replacement on September 5. But in the meantime, I move my baby boy to Denver, I see my oldest in Fort Collins, I work on the design for the unfinished basement in our FC house, I read, I walk the dogs, I hike, I spin, I cook, I pray for others, and I work. Life continues. I have said this so many times, and since my blog has been going for 6.5 years, most have you have heard this on repeat--BUT, let me repeat again:

Live your life NOW. Embrace the season or journey you are in. Accept and unpack your feelings whatever they may be. Understand that ordinary is absolutely OK. You don't have to to be a celebrity to have a platform. I always say to live a "purpose filled life." Don't misunderstand this. We all have to take care of kids, work, cook, grocery shop, sleep, do errands, go to appointments. Most of life might seem mundane. It isn't all balloons and rainbows. It is messy and raw and hard. It is joy filled with bursts of true happiness. But most of the time it is simple and basic. Complicated yes, and fraught with emotion and unexpected circumstances. But it is YOUR LIFE. So I say again and again, live it to YOUR fullest and don't put yourself down because you haven't met all your goals or aren't doing something that you deem "important or impactful."

DON'T wait for a death or a diagnosis to set your priorities in line with your actions. What is important to you today? Are you loving those around you well? Are you learning something new about yourself or others? Are you adding REST to your schedule? Are you adding FUN to your schedule? Are you setting goals that will better you? Are you accepting THIS moment?

I will say it again--your actions should line up with your priorities. Think about this. Whatever your struggle is--work on it, reflect on it, and surround yourself with community and push on.

I have cancer. It continues. But so does my beautiful and precious life.

Thanks for your love and prayers and support.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

God's Majesty and Intimacy

It is time for an update and I can't wait to share all that God has been doing in our lives. I have been s in awe of how majestic, yet intimate Christ is, and I have accounts of that in this post. I write this at a time, though, when mass shootings have rapid fire shot across our nation and our social media feeds are blasting with blame and fury. In the midst, I and a number of friends are facing our own battles with the evil of cancer. But this is a positive account--an account of the beauty and faithfulness of Jesus, despite our broken and bruised world. I hope you come away from it feeling hope and yes, even JOY.

As many of you have heard, my sessions of chemo were extended last month. Instead of four rounds, I had to add more, so a total of eight rounds. I had session seven two days ago and still have my pump in which will disconnect today. As of now, the plan is one more session in two weeks, then a scan is scheduled, and then my doctor says, "I will gather my SWAT team and we will execute a plan."  What that is, I won't know until after the scan, but I am praying for no more chemo (duh).  The side effects after session six were brutal as I described in my last post and I entered this round all prayed up--singing the song over and over again, "My fear doesn't stand a chance when I stand in your love."--love love love that song. (Bethel Music-songwriter Josh Baldwin).

But let me tell you about my sweet sweet week in Colorado, when I got to take a break from chemo and blood tests and doctor appointments, and simply bask in the beauty of nature, family, friends, and community. We went to Colorado for a special wedding (Jake and Darby Landon) in which Noah and most of his best friends from Poway were in the wedding as groomsmen. We went out with our friends Carolyn and Steve and Dee Dee whose sons were also in the wedding. We got a VRBO for all of us which was right in the middle of old town Littleton which is an adorable town in Colorado. Each night I would google the closest hiking trail, and each morning I would get up and hike an hour taking in the beauty of the area. We shopped (story of THE DRESS is on social media), ate, drank, and laughed.

The wedding was held at the Manor House in Littleton--a beautiful historic mansion that looked out over massive hills, red rocks and had a view of downtown Denver in the background. Jake and Darby couldn't have done a more beautiful job of weaving family, Christ, and beauty into their wedding. There was so much joy and smiles and great dancing. (video of dancing with my son Noah also on social media). Now mind you that three days prior to heading out to Colorado, I was puking and pooping and sleeping and enduring the side effects of chemo. I had prayed to the Lord to please give me His strength to not only endure this trip, but to enjoy it. I had prayed that I would have no side effects and great energy. While I did have some side effects (I have to be careful of what I eat and drink)--I felt God's energy and strength.

There was another big side story in all of this. I have mentioned briefly before that we bought a house in Fort Collins where Noah goes to college. We wanted it to be for Noah and his roommates and then in the future for any college kids in the YL college community to live. We prayed for it to be open for ministry and love and community just like the home we have here in Poway. We closed escrow in June and had to start making mortgage payments in August.  The problem was that Noah and his roommates had to get out of their current lease which they had to sign back in January for the upcoming year. (That's how it works in college towns).  The property management company made us pay $500 and then Noah had to do all the work to advertise, show, and get new sub-letters. The property management company denied one of the interested parties and Noah was starting to get stressed. It was getting close to crunch time, so we decided to put our house up for rent as well, just to cover bases, even though we knew we still had time (school starts mid August). So here is the cool and crazy part (our God is like that ---cool and crazy). When we arrived in Denver on Wednesday, Noah called us and said that he got a group of guys who applied and were approved to get into their current house, BUT--they had to be out by Sunday! The wedding was Thursday, and Noah was taking his boys to camp in Minnesota on Friday night. So.....Greg rented a U-Haul, two of Noah's roomies came back to help, and on Friday they all busted their butts to move everyone's things out of the old house and into our new one! We had planned to take Carolyn and the Beesons out to Fort Collins to show them around on Friday, so that turned into me dropping them off in Old Town and saying, "Have fun!" then driving to WalMart and stocking up on all things boys need for a new house and getting back to the place and making the front porch a cozy little place. The boys were exhausted, but we all met up at one of our favorite places in FC with our friends and the boys and celebrated friendship, love, and God's answered prayers!

Noah got off to camp at ten that night; his sweet roommates stayed and finished some cleaning and moving, and Greg went back to San Diego. I finished my trip off by driving up into the mountains to Winter Park/Fraser (ski mecca in winter, and biking/hiking mecca in summer) to visit the Marbrey family who were one Young Life assignment at Crooked Creek--another gorgeous YL camp in our country. I had rented a small condo just down the hill from the camp and each morning I woke up, hiked and then went to the camp to spend the day with Mat, Janell, and their precious kiddos. I would be there from 9:00 am to usually 9:30 pm and God gave me surreal strength. This is my element--I was YL Area Director from 2000-2007 and have either been on assignment or taken kids to camp for over 15 years. I watched Mat and Janell grow up (they were my students and then YL kids, and then Mat was my assistant youth pastor when we both did church and YL ministry for five years). Now they are a family of five and killing it doing ministry in the name of Jesus and sharing the gospel with teens.

I saw God's creation and majesty in the wildflowers, the creeks, the trees, the vanilla ice cream melted snow streams on the summer mountains, the faces of teens who had never seen a place of beauty like this, the servant hearts of all the staff and work crew who were there because they have been overwhelmed by the love and grace of God.  I saw God's intimacy in that He has grown these special relationships through Christ centered community....Jake and Darby, their YL leaders, the groomsmen--friends for life, the relationship I have with Mat and Janell--fused together because of the cross and the grace of Jesus. I saw His intimacy in the way He answered our prayer for the house, and understood once again that His timing in not always our timing. I saw His intimacy in my time with my son Noah, and with my husband Greg and with our friends dancing at the wedding. I saw intimacy in spending time with each one of the Marbrey girls as we drank a smoothie together or held hands on the way to club, or sat at a bench and made bead bracelets. I saw His intimacy in how He brought so many people involved in YL together in one place---Noah's friends from Colorado were either there on assignment, summer staff or as leaders bringing campers. I saw his intimacy as I visited with my dear friend Sharon and lifetime friends, the Wrights, before I left the state to fly home. So much love of Christ gathered in one precious week in the glory of His creation in the beautiful state of Colorado.

I may be going through cancer, but God gave me such a taste of His glory, His grace, and His perfect love during this week. He gave me His strength, His energy, His healing. I am back in the routine of treatment, but God gave me this gift--of Him--and for that I am beyond thankful. I have hope. I have joy. I have family. I have Christ. I have....a beautiful life.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Yes, I have been silent for over a month. It has been a really tough go of it—not gonna lie.  My last post in June was filled with all the joy of Micah’s graduation and trying to fit cancer appointments in with all the festivities. I have tried my best to live a full life, but the chemo treatments are really wearing me down. So here it is—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I have had two more rounds of chemo since back in June when my oncologist reviewed my scan and  wanted to continue more chemo. There was good news. My tumors are shrinking. There are no new tumors. The cancer hasn’t spread. And the best of all is that my cancer blood markers were at 1.7 which is the lowest of all time since this journey began in 2013. Back in January when I started my treatments, my markers were up to 57. So this is amazing stuff. BUT. But in the midst of the good news comes more chemo, more blood draws, more appointments. It has become extremely taxing. Greg was in Uganda when I started the next rounds of chemo. Micah was a trooper and took great care of me (Noah is working in Colorado) and my amazing support community kept meals coming and kept praying and checking on me. But the last round of chemo which was on July 8 literally kicked my butt. The side effects of nausea, itching, headaches, and diarrhea just kept going and going. Usually the side effects kick in the third day and last about three days. This time I didn’t feel well for 12 days. I had one day when I only got out of bed to go the bathroom. When I am down and nauseated, I can’t read or watch tv because it is hard to focus because I am so miserable. There were a few days where I forced myself to get at least two things or errands accomplished and then would come home and take a nap. Speaking of naps—I love them—they are when I get my best sleep. It is often hard to sleep at night because I go down rabbit holes of thinking, so my daytime naps are good, strong and sound sleep.

I did have days where I simply pushed through in spite of the nausea and diarrhea. I had my book club, I went to a wedding, I had a lunch with friends, I walked the dogs in the evenings with Greg or my friend Mary to take in the beauty of the crisp air and the gorgeous sunsets. But it has been hard. I have been impatient, unfocused, and frustrated. Unfortunately, my husband, Saint Greg, gets the brunt of it.

I want this post to reflect the hard, but also the hopeful. During this time of rough side effects—my friend Kathy Bevill had set up a dinner for me to finally met Pat Sheffler. I have known Pat’s wife Caren since she was my trainer years ago. Turns out that Kathy went to high school with Pat and through the world of FB, we all connected the dots that we knew each other. Pat was diagnosed with stage three prostate cancer 14 months ago. He has been a beacon of hope for others going through any kind of trial. Like me, he wants to use his cancer for the good of humanity. His amazing family set up a walk with the ZeroProstate foundation last September and were the top fundraising team in the nation! Pat writes on his FB about his Positive Vibes attitude and how cancer has opened him up to embracing life to the fullest and to focusing on what is important—family, friends, community. It turns out that on that day we were to all have dinner together, both Pat and I were having really tough side effects. We were tired and nauseated and weak. We both took naps. But we went to the Bevill’s house for dinner and sat around sharing and talking about hope and recovery and also the really hard side of what each of us is going through. I am blessed to know Kathy who is such a light and is also a gatherer of people. She loves community and friends and shows through action how much she loves others. Caren and Pat are a strong couple who adore their grown children and love and care so much for others. 

Pat and I together are going to be a force to be reckoned with. We can empathize with each other. We understand the hard times. But with faith and positivity, we push through and do all we can to live an abundant and purpose filled life. We acknowledge that this treatment is hard, that there are times when we need to rest, there are times we are knocked down and frustrated. But we get up. Even when it is hard. I want all my blog reading friends to know Pat, to be inspired by him and his wife Caren. They are real and raw and share it like it is. Pat and I have some creative visions of how we can work together to really promote cancer awareness—early detection, positive attitudes, and faith, combined with the love and support of community. Right now we are both continuing treatment—his goes through December and mine goes until…don’t know until the doctors do the next scan. 

The treatments and side effects are really really hard and I am wearing down. But then I pray and I think of this beautiful life and the beautiful people in it, and I have hope. When I meet with Pat and read his posts, I have hope. When I feel well enough to take a walk, I have hope. When I gather with friends for a movie and dinner, I have hope. When I go to weddings and watch new love, I have hope.

I have an extra week off chemo so I can go to a wedding in Colorado and get to see Noah and his best friends who are all in the wedding (yeah Jake and Darby!) I can’t wait to celebrate it all with friends.
If you are struggling and there are days that you need to lie in bed all day—it is okay. If you are dealing with anxiety or depression or hopelessness—it is okay to feel it. If you are in physical chronic pain, cry out and feel it. If you have struggles with relationships or work or the state of our union or scrolling through your FB feed, then allow yourself to feel the pain. Acknowledge the hurt. Get professional help if you need it. And then, when you are able, get up and go out and do just one thing that gives you hope.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Cancer in the Crazy

Many people have been asking for a blog update, but hold up—life has been so full with great stuff that I have been living abundantly which leaves no time for writing. BUT—there is much to fill in, including my crazy cancer updates, so this will be a mishmash of all things good and beautiful here in the Loy household.

To start, here is the medical update. I had six appointments within ten days before Micah’s graduation so that I could completely focus on my amazing graduate and all the family and friends who helped celebrate our STAR!  Here is the news: my kidney is doing well—the stent is functioning, the tumor has shrunk and there is no swelling on the kidney. YES, this is good. As for the tumors in my pelvis and lung—they have shrunk and the cancer blood markers are down—all good—but my oncologist wants me to go through four more rounds of chemo to continue to shrink the tumors (and get rid of them) and to avoid lung surgery if possible. I go in this Monday, June 24 to start the chemo again—same story—nothing new. The chemo sessions are usually every other week, with time in between to recover, but since we have plans to go to Colorado in late July—some of the sessions will push back into August. I am planning people—chemo isn’t going to stop the glorious family fun plans we have!

Now to back up to all the celebrating that has been going on despite having cancer, chemo, and appointments. On Memorial weekend, my dearest friends from college all descended upon Casa Loy for our annual “Ranger College Reunion.” My life changed many years ago, specifically in September of 1984 when I became a Resident Advisor during my senior year of college. I was assigned to San Nicolas—the freshman tower, with a room that overlooked the lagoon, cliffs and the ocean. Not bad, especially since my room and board were also paid for due to working as an RA. Why did this change my life? Because I met MY PEOPLE. The seven of us who were RA’s became fast friends and co workers and we basically comingled for the entire year. (and let me mention that we are all so different in many ways).  We went through many highs and lows (mainly related to the many trials and woes of our resident students), but we became stronger through it all. Since then we have been rock steady for each other (35 years of friendship)—with our own weddings, births, graduations, and now the weddings of our kids are starting. We try to meet once a year with each other and often our spouses and when possible, even all the kids. It is one big happy family. Because of my cancer and chemo schedule, the group all came here for the weekend and basically hosted everything for me from my house. We ate, drank, hiked, played games, and talked our usual banter. I can be wholly me with these people, these friends for life, these people who are honest, genuine, generous, hell of funny, and extremely smart. They came from across the country to be together—Northern and Southern California, Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee. I can honestly say that these friends would die on a sword for me and I for them.

Next up was Micah’s graduation. As senior class president of a class of 520 grads, he had a LOT going on in his last month. Besides prom, there was senior breakfast, senior picnic, GRAD night and then the graduation ceremony. My family came in from Washington and Oregon and Greg’s mom came in from Arizona and stayed with Greg’s brother in Temecula. Noah flew in from Colorado. Our wild and crazy family was all together for five straight days and we survived! So much fun banter, a lot of good food, many grad parties to attend, and then Micah and his best friend Tor’s grad party (of which Hanne, Tor’s mom, hosted and helped so much since I have been still dealing with cancer and its side effects). It was non stop, and I got my rest in when needed, plus my exercise and everyone pitched in to help. Micah gave his graduation speech as president, and emceed most of the ceremony—introducing speakers and singers, and then leading the “turning of the tassel” at the end of the ceremony. To say that I was bursting with pride doesn’t even cover it. Micah has always been his own guy—strong and independent and never following the crowd. He is a good friend, a great listener, and a strong leader. He loves Jesus and is true to his faith and his family and friends. I am in awe of this human that God created and gave me the honor of being his mom. 

We are rich with community, love, family and friendship. As I said before, I have cancer, but that will not stop me from living the rich and abundant life—doing what is important which is spending time with those that I love. If the side effects get to me, I rest. I have learned to live with some of the inconveniences. But the most important thing is that I am alive! God has given me a supernatural strength to endure all these festivities—not just to survive them, but to completely embrace and enjoy them.

There you have it—the medical update and the crazy Loy family adventures. All glory to God for His provision and care for our family. We stand upon the solid foundation that is Christ alone.