If I had to describe 2020 in one word, it certainly would NOT be “normal”.
(I have a few things I’d like to discuss in this blog …including my upcoming scans on November 17th, so bear with me. I’ll get there⭐️)
Anyway, I started thinking, what IS the new normal in 2020? Masks, social distancing, cancelled events? I have to say, it’s *almost comical to look back at my calendar and read what “my” plans entailed prior to the pandemic. For reference, if you follow my blog, you probably know that my husband *technically died for 2 minutes in June of 2020 when he had a massive pulmonary embolism (strike #1 for 2020….do NOT mess with my husband😇). I wrote a blog about that experience called “Mr. and Mrs. Miracle” in case anyone needs to catch up😉
I’m happy to report that God had his hand on Mark that night and he is doing well and back to his old self. (However, that debacle scared the sh#t out of me, so 2020 STILL gets a strike for that one….even though I am SO incredibly grateful that Mark is okay).
On to strike #2 for 2020. I haven’t discussed this topic because I honestly didn’t know how to write about it. I also wasn’t sure if I could (or should) write about it….but it seems inauthentic to purposely dodge the subject since I’m so open about everything else. The truth is, my sweet and amazing Dad took his own life on March 26, 2020 a couple of days after his doctors told him he had dementia (we didn’t know that until after the fact). If you’re wondering how I received the news, believe it or not, it is pretty much like the movies (it was for me anyway). There was a knock at my door in the middle of the night and on the other side of the door stood a policeman with his head bowed. He asked if he could come in, and suggested that I sit down. The news was unexpected and heartbreaking…and I still think about it every day. It was Dad’s birthday yesterday and I’m not sure how to feel about it. I miss talking to him. Sometimes I still pick up the phone to call just for a second before I remember. Mark and I started yesterday with a prayer wishing him a happy heavenly birthday. I like to think he’s watching over me (and TRULY appalled with the pandemic!) If you didn’t know my Dad, he was funny, kind, compassionate, and incredibly charismatic. He was a natural athlete and earned a spot on his college gymnastics and diving teams (hence my love of gymnastics). When Dad died it felt like the rug I was standing on for 37 years had been yanked out from underneath me. I had the same feeling when my doctors told me in August that my cancer had returned. Between my Dad’s passing and my own cancer reoccurrence….suffice it to say we have arrived at strike #2 AND #3 for 2020. (It goes without saying that the global pandemic is another strike.) I feel badly writing about this in a negative way….but don’t give up on me yet, I do have a point …..and it’s not negative 😉 However, let’s face it, overall 2020 has been a LITTLE bit of a sh#tshow if you ask me. So, here we are. How do we pick up the pieces?
Unsurprisingly, I don’t have all the answers (or any answers actually). Nevertheless, I think we should start with gratitude. What I tell myself is that anywhere you find pain or hurt (or a proverbial wheelbarrow on fire rolling downhill) there is ALWAYS something good that comes from it. Think about it, in 2020 something good has happened to all of us. I don’t think God makes bad things happen, but I do think he can take bad things, and turn them into blessings. For example, I was able to spend a ton of quality time with my mom during cycle 1-2 of my chemo (side note…we were in a tiny hotel room for 35 days and only had one little tiff….which I think is pretty incredible) 😉
Moreover, during my most recent chemo (cycle 3), my friends Anna and Becky were with me every step of the way, which was another blessing. Even though I felt horrible for a lot of my treatment, I still had good days….and plenty of reasons to smile and laugh. How often do you get to spend 10 days with your close friends? With that in kind, I think we made the most of it 🙂 Here are some other blessings I can think of offhand….
See? Little blessings everywhere. (And there were so many more that I don’t have picture representations of).
Moving on….if you’re still reading, kudos and thank you for following along! So, next week on November 17th I have my BIG scans. These will let us know if the chemotherapy has been working. (They will look at my liver, lungs, and bones). The last few weeks, I’ve been fortunate to have a weekly zoom call with a couple close friends and 2 pastors (it’s like personal training, but church!) I love it! Those meetings have given me the peace and calm that I need to get through these scans. (I don’t ever want to push my beliefs on anyone else). But, the way I see it (as it was explained to me) Jesus has already paid the ultimate price for my healing. Now, we just have to ASK and wait (and do what the doctors tell me!) If you have any church prayer lists, please consider putting me on it, and specifically my November 17th scans💜💜 I want to be here so badly. I feel like my work isn’t finished in the land of the living. I do have moments where I feel petrified with fear….but working through the scriptures has given me the tools I need to get through it. I had my weekly Zoom prayer meeting today. This quote stood out to me: “Tragedy with God involved turns into testimony.” Powerful words that reinforce my hope and desire that my story isn’t over💙
Sometimes no matter how hard I try, doubt (aka the devil) finds a way in. For example, last night I woke up and had one of those moments where I felt afraid and started letting doubt creep in. I think that’s normal, but I had to remind myself that we have EVERY reason to be hopeful. I want God to give us a miracle so big that there isn’t even a question where it came from. I want my story to be a testimony for God and his power to heal. I think I told my friends the other day “I want to be the kind of miracle you can’t ignore.” ❤️ (Again, “tragedy with God involved turns into testimony”)❤️
On to some other housekeeping issues and FAQ’s. I’m just going to number these so I can address them quickly (lazy blogging 101).
1. If you sent me something off my Amazon Chemo Wish List thank you SO much!!! Can you do me a favor please? If you sent me something and didn’t get a thank you text or message on social media from me….please reach out and make sure I received it. Some of the items didn’t have the sender name in the box so I didn’t know who to thank. I also want to make sure to say thank you in case I missed someone by accident. Naturally, the southern part of me is dying to send handwritten letterpress thank you notes…but the odds of me actually completing that task during chemo while I’m still working is not looking great at the moment.😉
2. FAQ: Where are you staying? Answer: At first we tried an airBB but it ended up not being a good fit for us for a lot of reasons (chemo makes me very sensitive to smells and it was an older historic home. The smells just weren’t working for me no matter what we tried. So, after one night in the airBB we found a hotel. However, after 45 days in a hotel…..living off microwave food tends to wear on you. I also felt cramped and unsettled in one little room. (A functioning window or balcony would have been helpful so I could get some fresh air). So, with all of that in mind, we decided to rent an apartment near my treatment center for now. I’m so excited to that we will be able to do laundry, cook healthy meals, AND I can open a window. #TheLittleThings. Anyway, if you want my new address feel free to DM me on Instagram (HollyHollisStars), text, call, etc. I’ll be moving in this weekend which will hopefully distract me from the upcoming scans. Once we get settled in the apartment this weekend I plan to update my Amazon Wish List this weekend and next week because I’m sure there are things we will need that I don’t even know about yet. Thus far I have a regular mattress and a blow up mattress….so we have a little work to do this weekend to make things livable 😉 Disclaimer: PLEASE do not feel obligated to get me anything. I made the Amazon list because I’ve noticed that my friends and family want to help….and it’s hard for them when I’m so far away. I will say the Amazon list has been amazing because most of the time I have NO idea who reads my blog. It has been so encouraging to realize how many people are fighting with me💜 #NoOneFightsAlone
3. FAQ: How is the nausea? Answer: Let me put it this way, I do not have the luxury of skipping (or being late) to take my nausea meds. The Cisplatin chemo can cause delayed nausea weeks later…so we are having to stay on top of it. I slept through my 1am and 5am nausea meds and spent most of last weekend throwing up. Lesson learned 😉 Speaking of nausea, the “hospital smell” started making me very nauseous before I even started chemo…so I ended up coating the inside of my mask with Vicks VapoRub and that seemed to help. I would imagine that essential oils like peppermint could work too.
4. FAQ: How can we follow what is going on with you other than this blog? Answer: follow my “cancer account” on Instagram! Username: HollyHollisStars (I usually post stories in real time). Also, if you’re like me and discovered TikTok during quarantine…follow me and let’s be friends! (My TikTok username is hollyhstars). One day I’d love to write a book about this experience…..but I’m fairly certain I need more followers to convince a publisher that my story is worth telling 😉 It’s just a pipe dream at this point….but you never know 😉
I’m sure there is more to discuss but I’ll leave it there for now. Don’t forget to please pray pray pray for my scans on November 17th❤️❤️❤️
Hopefully next time I blog I will have good news!
⭐️Holly Hollis Stars⭐️