Chemo Hand

It’s just all so weird.

Chemo is what people in documentaries do.

It’s that far-removed thing that your cousin’s friend’s aunt went through.

It’s not something you do.

I really hate it.

Make yourself sick to make yourself better?

Toxic drugs make your tumor shrink?

What the hell?

And yet it all makes sense.

Makes so much sense, in a deep, spiritual, metaphorical sort of way.

Sometimes you got to get sick to get better. Get low to get higher. Get sad to get happy.

And am I really surprised?

When I really think about it, I remember that from my deepest pain has come my brightest light. And that my crying-on-the-floor sadness brought renewal, life, and growth.

BJ’s always been optimistic.

I’m looking forward to chemo, he says.

(What a lunatic.)

It’s medicine, he says.

It’s going to make me better.

It’s medicine.

So I think, what if we looked at our dark times, our sad times, our deepest pits, and thought to ourselves

It’s medicine.

It’s medicine.

Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe this means nothing to you.

But maybe a shift in perspective could bring encouragement. Or even healing.

That shit you’re going through? Maybe it’s medicine.

Maybe it’s healing something, letting go of something, bringing forth new life.

Maybe it’s refining you.

And maybe it’s medicine.

It sounds crazy.

But it feels like we could be on to something.

 

 
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  • Kate Hunte - July 29, 2014 - 4:17 pm

    yet again – this cancer things gets to the very core of why we’re here and why life is so damn hard at times. Why do we face trial? To burn off the bonds that are keeping us from the “real life” that Jesus promises for this age – not just in the next. We’re getting refined. You’re getting refined. And it has to get worse before it gets better. The reward as you’ve seen in the past is a fuller joy. A deeper appreciation and experience of God’s grace. I love you both deeply. Thank you so much for this ongoing witness. It continues to touch lives in ways that you can’t even yet see.ReplyCancel

  • steph - July 29, 2014 - 9:36 pm

    This is so healing. Been through a SHIT TON in the last several months health wise so it helps me to hear this. “Maybe it’s medicine”.ReplyCancel

In Sickness and In Health

Our Wedding Day
July 31, 2011
Photography by Bryan Rupp

 

In sickness and in health.

When I said those vows, I thought to myself, If I ever get sick, BJ better still love me.

And then matched it with, If BJ’s sick, I promise to still love him.

In sickness and in health.

I  thought it meant

I vow to love you, whether YOU’RE sick or healthy.

But now, in the midst of the sickness we vowed about, I’m wondering if we ever thought it meant

I vow to love you, whether I’M sick or healthy.

Can you catch that difference?

Because I can. And it scares me to the core.

BJ, are you going to be too sick to love me?

Because cancer doesn’t mean you can stop loving me. Because I still need love. Because I still need it, need it most of all, MOST OF ALL now.

I need your love even if your sick.

I need active love, persistent love, the-same-as-before-you-were-sick kind-of love.

Survival mode love won’t be enough.

Because I still need my partner, my lover, my husband, even if you’re sick, even if you’re sick.

Because the Cancer Card works for many things but I don’t think it will work for this.

And that’s just the rational stuff. Then we get into

YOU BETTER STILL LOVE ME, BJ. I NEED LOVE EVEN IF THERE’S CHEMO, BJ. I NEED KISSES EVEN IF YOU’RE WEAK, BJ. YOU BETTER LOVE ME, BJ. LOVE ME, DAMNIT. SICK? WEAK? TOXINS? NO EXCUSES, BJ. STEP IT UP, BJ. LOVE ME, BJ. I STILL NEED A HUSBAND, BJ. I STILL NEED LOVE.

Just the Classic Andrea fear, anxiety, and panic attacks. You know, THE WORKS.

And I feel terrible.

I feel like asking my cancer-stricken husband to still actively love me in the midst of this is unreasonable and selfish.

I feel guilty.

And yet it feels so real, so honest, so true.

In sickness and in health.

It all comes back to those vows.

Those damn vows.

He said ‘em.

In sickness and in health

In sickness

(and in health.)

And even though we didn’t get it at the time, even though we didn’t know we were swearing to love each other even if we were in pain, even if we were exhausted, even if we ached-

YOU MADE THAT VOW, BABY.

And even though it will be different than before, because with the cancer and the chemo love will be different, WE will be different-

YOU MADE THAT VOW, BABY.

And there’s no way around it. We are going to have to figure out a way you can have cancer and still love me.

I won’t survive otherwise.

I love you too much to let you get away with just working and chemo-ing. I love you too much to let you get off scott free. I’m not going to let cancer, or anything, keep you from loving me, and from being the best husband you can be.

And you know why I can say this? Post is publicly? Share it with the world?
(Or at least my friends on facebook.)

Because I would want him to say the same darn thing to me. Sure we’re in his sickness and my health right now. But the tables could turn. And someday it might be in my sickness and his health.

And I’d want him to say, NEED him to say.

“Don’t let sickness take our love, baby. You gotta love me AND be sick. I’m so sorry, baby, I know it’s hard, but you just GOT to.”

 
 
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  • Sarah Varadi Miller - July 28, 2014 - 5:40 pm

    I’ve buried two husbands. Now that I have diabetic neuropathy. kidney failure and I’m facing dialysis, there is no husband around to hold me up. I have friends and relatives, but only the Lord to lean on and I can’t see his face. Andrea, may God give you the strength and courage to face this trial with grace and purpose and please don’t get mad at God (as I did) but thank Him so you minister and grow in faith. YOU CAN DO THIS.ReplyCancel

  • Anne-Marie - July 29, 2014 - 5:14 am

    Andrea, thank you for this. Amazing honesty, in the midst. 99 percent of the time people polish and perfect and wait until things are better before talking about the worst. You’ve given a piece of the moment. What a lovely offering. Grateful for your trust and linking up. So sorry for the incredible difficulty you and your husband are going through so early in your marriage. We hit a different kind of awful some years into our marriage. I thought we could face anything gracefully until those moments. They change you. Grace to you in the midst, and great strength.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - July 29, 2014 - 7:29 pm

    This is one of the most profound things I’ve read and I’m glad you are daring to feel & vocalize these thoughts so you don’t make the same mistakes as me. Sending you & BJ love. XoxReplyCancel

faultinourstars

 

I bought a copy of The Fault in Our Stars the night before I found out BJ has cancer.

Seriously. The night before I found out, I made a Walmart trip. (OMG WALMART. Cheap. SO cheap. Big. SO big. It had been a decade since I’d been to Walmart.) And I wanted to pick up a book because I had a feeling I would read the two I brought with me quickly so I wanted a back up. Well this book had been all over the place so I thought HEY, I’ll give this a read. I’ll do the legit thing and read the book before I see the movie.

So I bought it. And the next day I got The News.

It’s either the best or the worst timing ever.

And if nothing else, it’s just plain ironic.

So now I’m not sure if I should read it.

Like, maybe now might not be good time.

But part of me is also thinking that maybe, JUST maybe, it would.

Like, if I read it, it would be some sort of emotional laxative where I could just have one big cry and get SO MUCH emotion out of me.

So what do you think? Should I read it?

Please note that 1. I like to cry and 2. I’m feeling a little pent up right now.

But also 3. My husband has cancer.

 

 

 
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  • Ana - June 25, 2014 - 6:01 pm

    If you do read, please do so with caution!! I obsessively read the endings of books first, so that I can avoid any and all sad books–I just can’t handle them. I’ll be staying as far away as possible from this book and movie, but I’m a wimp, so do what’s best for you! Big hugs and prayers for what you guys are going through!ReplyCancel

    • Andrea Enright - June 26, 2014 - 3:03 pm

      Thank you, Ana. I think I MIGHT actually give it a read- after a few “maybe it was meant to be” comments from when I posted on Facebook. We shall see!ReplyCancel

  • Deborah S - July 12, 2014 - 5:35 am

    It’s really, really heavy, but I loved it. You will cry huge ugly buckets of tears. John Green is a great writer. Sending you and BJ love and good vibes!ReplyCancel

IMG_1620

 

FOMO.

It’s the Fear Of Missing Out.

Also known as the FOMS,

The Fear Of Missing Something.

And I got it bad.

One night I stayed in my hotel room while others went out.

The reasons to stay in abounded; tired, HGTV, cancer, rehearsal the next morning, already in pajamas.

I should have stayed in, so I did stay in.

And yet the FOMO hit me like a shock the next morning.

You know how it goes.

You start hearing the details of all the fun you’ve missed.

And you start to question your decision to stay in.

And you start to get anxious and regretful.

I think my FOMO, like most things, comes from a place of anxiety, which is basically a lack of control, which is essentially a lack of trust.

It’s a trust issue.

I don’t trust myself to make the right decisions  (like staying in when I need to.)

And I don’t trust others to still love me and accept me if I miss out on events (like if I don’t go out I’ll be forgotten.)

And I don’t trust that there is and always will be more fun to be had (like if I don’t go I’ll miss the last and best thing and there is no hope for more fun the future.)

And I don’t trust that God sees all things, is watching out for me, and guiding my footsteps (like not trusting that I’ll be FINE if I don’t go out for ONE night.)

I used to articulate my greatest fear as everyone having a great time- laughing, cheering, uproarious conversation- and then I have to leave to go to the bathroom. I don’t want to because I don’t want to miss out, but then I leave because I just HAVE TO go. And though I’m the fastest restroom user this side of the Mississippi,  when I come back, everyone has dispersed and are engrossed in different conversations and I have nowhere to go.

This is my greatest fear, ya’ll.

MAJOR FOMO.

And it’s more than a nagging problem, it’s a lifetime phobia.

I need TRUST in my life, not regret.

I need to trust myself, and trust that others will recognize and respect that.

(And remember the ones that don’t probably shouldn’t be in my life anyway.)

And I think that naming and sharing this fear might, even in the smallest way, help me do that.

Hmmmm….

_______

Do you experience the Fear of Missing Out? What do you do? 

 
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  • Maddie Stafford - June 23, 2014 - 5:22 pm

    Yep. My social anxiety can be a bitch at times. I like how you nailed it down to a lack I trust. I feel it’s also, for me, a lack of self-confidence. Rather than focusing on me and what I need, want, and care about, I allow my worries about what others need, want, and care about to take precedence. Or I’ll think that I need to please others in order to please myself. And I’ll tell ya, it’s harmful. It takes away the love that I need to have for myself. So I guess what I try to do is to refocus my cares. “What does Maddie need right now? I’m gonna go ahead a say screw other people and just love myself in this moment.” And it’s easier said than done. But yoga is one tool that is helping me to build up my self.ReplyCancel

    • Andrea Enright - June 26, 2014 - 3:05 pm

      Maddie, the confidence thing is a HUGE part of it. I so hear you. For me it looks more like codependency- I need approval and wanted people to like me- and then I lose myself in the process. Clearly we have a lot in common and need to work on loving and trusting ourselves more! But JUST LIKE YOU SAID, it’s easier said than done! (And I think I need more yoga in my life, too!)ReplyCancel

07(pp_w849_h564)

JESUS ALERT.

Stop reading now if quoting Bible verses creeps you out.

I totally get it. Christians are SO WEIRD. (I think I’m a “with-it” one, and if you don’t like Christians, you’ve probably met an “out-of-it” one, but ANYWAYS, I hear you. You don’t need to explain yourself. Just stop reading.)

But man, this is some serious shit I’m going through. God HAD to come up at some point, ya know what I’m sayin?

So here we go.

And stop reading….   Now.

Jesus. Bibles. Verses. Damn.

It hit me across the head yesterday. My devotional read:

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Proverbs 17:22, ya’ll.

You see, BJ has that wonderful, Biblical, cheerful spirit. (God bless him.)

But I just have that extra dose of drama. I’m a worrier.

A crushed spirit, as they say.

And the verse hit me.

You see, as much as I love to emote, I don’t think my crushed-ness is good medicine.
I don’t think it’s going to treat the root issue.
And it isn’t going to bring healing.

Now this doesn’t mean I think this verse is saying ANDREA, PRETEND LIKE EVERYTHING IS FINE AND PLASTER ON A SMILE AND FAKE IT TILL YA MAKE IT. HAVE A CHEERFUL HEART AT ALL COSTS.

Hellllllll’s to the no.

I know it’s FINE for me to worry and be crushed. I can be honest with my life, my circumstances, my shit storm.

But I do think it’s reminding me that my crushed spirit isn’t good medicine.

Now I know what you’re thinking. If I’m saying it’s OKAY to have a crushed spirit, but ALSO saying that a crushed spirit doesn’t bring healing, doesn’t that contradict?

I don’t think so.

Because there has to be a pathway FROM a crushed spirit TO a cheerful heart.

And that journey brings healing.

So what’s the path? What’s the journey? How do I actually move from CRUSHED to CHEERFUL?

I think the answer is trust.

And it’s something I’m notoriously bad at.

Brings me back to my year of counseling, where it seemed like EVERY problem I had looped back to trust.

I read this:

“Does the clay say to the one who fashions it, ‘What are you making’? or ‘Your work has no handles’?”

Isaiah 45:9

And I just imagined myself as some clay. And I really believed that God wanted to make me into something masterful, splendid, and more beautiful than I could imagine. And I really believed He didn’t want to destroy me, He didn’t want to ruin me, his little clay pot Andrea. 

And I remembered He’s like GOD. And He MAKES THINGS. Things like mountains and hydrangeas and ocean waves. Like REALLY cool things.

But that because I didn’t have trust, I’ve been over here with my crushed spirit being all

WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME???

And UM GOD, YOU FORGOT TO GIVE MY CLAY POT HANDLES. DID YOU REALIZE THAT? GET WITH IT.

And I’m sitting here annoyed, complaining to God LIKE I HAVE ANY RIGHT TO CRITICIZE HIS CRAFTSMANSHIP! LIKE I KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HOW TO MAKE CLAY POTS.

(For the record, I don’t.)

So I’ve had a dose of reality. And I’ve reclaimed my trust in God.

Because when I really think about it, I believe, I mean, really believe, with EVERYTHING in me, that

God is up to something with all this.

The cancer, the separation, the crushed spirit.

And I really believe He is making my clay pot of a life SO beautiful and SO intricate (I’m thinking cancer makes your pot REALLY fancy and intricate) that I am going to look back and say

HEY, GOD, YOU MAKE THINGS THAT ARE LIKE AWE INSPIRINGLY PHENOMENAL AND YOU KNOW THINGS BETTER THAN I DO AND YEAH, MY CLAY POT LOOKS INCREDIBLE, SO THANKS, DUDE, GLAD YOU GOT THIS.

And that trust makes me cheerful.

Like God’s got my back.

Or at least my clay pot.

 

 

 

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  • Eyslyn - June 19, 2014 - 4:16 pm

    Andrea, love this blog post and love you very much! This post is so well written and moving and inspiring. thank you for continuing to write and share even through this storm. I’m continuing to pray for you and for BJ. love your blog. i hope you keep writing! :-) ReplyCancel

    • Andrea Enright - June 26, 2014 - 3:06 pm

      I’m gonna try to keep writing! It definitely comes in bursts of inspiration, for sure!ReplyCancel

  • Kate - June 19, 2014 - 4:25 pm

    Really love this one Andrea!! And so glad that you’re looking in Proverbs for direction (it was the topic of last week’s message! http://everydaycc.com/2014/06/the-story-season-3-episode-11-the-king-who-had-it-all/). I think your wisdom in this post is spot on. God can and DOES use the most seemingly un-beautiful circumstances and transform them into beautiful, awe inspiring masterpieces. Love you! and excited about this journey and the way God is revealing himself to you through it. It’s ripple effects – which are greater than you yet know – are already having an impact, on my own life and the lives of people we don’t even know yet! Keep Trusting. God is in control! And his plans and purposes are more glorious than we know!ReplyCancel

  • Whitney - June 19, 2014 - 4:42 pm

    The struggle is so real… And will be so rewarding. I loved this post, and as a baptized Christian, I can say it reminds me that GOD is good, we just won’t always be privy to how, and it’s in those harder times we will truly grow and become the humans we were destined to be. Thanks for writing this. My heart is with you and your whole beautiful family. ❤️ReplyCancel

  • Mom - June 19, 2014 - 4:47 pm

    Andrea,
    You made me cry again. I love you. Love the way you can share your heart. Love you.
    Love, MomReplyCancel

  • angel - June 19, 2014 - 5:27 pm

    Andrea,

    again, this is so awesome, I want to recommend a book by Gary Thomas called Sacred Marriage, this book is CRAZYYYY AMAZING- like you said, God is up to something, do we know what it is, no…will we ever…NOPE..but guess what….we have to go through it. We have to go through it because He put us in it. Often times we just think there is NOOOO WAY this is going to work out, or that we will ever get over what just happened, like you said, the crushed spirit can lead to healing,and cheerful heart. My pastor spoke about the tests and trials that God puts us through and he made it a point to have joyful perseverance-the suffering that we face will bring us happiness becuase that is how we are programed.
    In the book, Sacred Marriage, Gary talks about suffering in the marriage, and he says, “So often sorrow is something that is to be avoided at all costs. Sorrow is the enemy, the persecutor, the fearful emotion…I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openess, and the willingness to remain vulnerable.” I think that it is perfectly fine for you to have the feelings that you feel during this time in your life and marriage, it will make you stronger. My pastor also said that sometimes we are exercising the greatest degree of faith in God when we honestly and authentically complain to God” So go ahead! lol!!

    much love and prayers!!

    Angel

    ” Our Lord has sovereignly ordained that our refining process take place as we go through difficulties, not around them. The bible is filled with examples of those who overcame as they passed through the desert, the Red sea, the fiery furnance, and ultimately the cross.”

    God will take you through this!!! :) ReplyCancel

    • Andrea Enright - June 26, 2014 - 3:08 pm

      Thank you, Angel! You are such an encourager. And I will definitely check that book out!ReplyCancel

  • Allie McCaw - June 20, 2014 - 2:55 am

    long time reader, first time commenter! ;) first of all, I’m praying for quick healing on all fronts, sister. big big love to you and BJ and your families. yesterday at my fellowship the teaching was about how to live a life of freedom, and we looked at matthew 6:25-34, which i was reminded of reading this entry (by the way, your writing is just so great. raw and real and wonderful. i am so blessed to be able to read it. thank you.).

    but yeah, i especially love when this passage talks about the beauty of wildflowers: “it that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you?”. which is not to say that BIG HUGE REAL PROBLEMS are to be taken lightly. it is very frustrating to hear other (well-meaning) Believers say things like “God has a plan!” or “Worry less – pray more!” when you are dealing with a major f*ing crisis. like, hello, i AM going to worry. i’m not stressed out about what color to paint my nails, it’s CANCER (or insert other crisis).

    but all the same, i do think it’s so awesome to know that the attention and love God gives to things as small and insignificant as a wildflower PALE in comparison to the love and care He gives us. He loves us SoOoOOOOOOoooOoOo much. You are his precious precious little clay pot that He created the heavens and the earth for (!!!!!!!!!!). He will never leave you nor forsake you and you are so right about this being part of your amazing life, not to mention your amazing relationship with Him.

    trust in Him, sister, because God is good – ALWAYS.

    i love ya and am sending you big hugs to Texas!

    xoxoxoReplyCancel

    • Andrea Enright - June 26, 2014 - 3:11 pm

      ALLIE MCCAW I LOVE YOU. So glad you commented! Thank you for the prayers. The analogy with the wildflowers is SPOT ON. Why do we think God clothes the fields but DOESN’T CARE ABOUT US? It’s insane. Of course he does.ReplyCancel