Sunday, February 27, 2011

& If Our God Is For Us

I apologize for taking so long to post this. I am trying to do better about updating, especially about the important things. Like our appointment with the oncologist (henceforth referred to as Dr. Andrews... what's that make you think of Linds?) on Wednesday. 

Something about the cancer center puts me on edge. It makes me mad. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I don't like the way I feel when I'm there. Maybe it scares me because cancer is such a scary word. All I know is that Wednesday afternoon I was not feeling like myself and I was ready to get this appointment on the road. Waiting in that waiting room makes 5 minutes feel like 5 hours. It's like time ceases to pass as usual. It's painstakingly slow. And I was nervous. But putting on my best smile... and playing words with friends to distract myself.

Dr. Andrews began by telling us that Cosbie's bone marrow test came back negative (meaning that the cancer is not in his bones- thank You, Jesus!), that it hasn't spread anywhere else in his body, and was stage 2. We can do stage 2. But the more he looked at the scans the more he began to think it is actually stage 1. What a blessing! We caught it very early. He's looking at 2 months of chemo- 4 rounds, 1 every 2 weeks, a month break, a PET scan (the one that lights up all the cancer cells), and about 2 weeks of radiation. If all goes as planned, which is my prayer, he will finish chemo on April 11.

So what about the wedding? We talked with Shad last week and I almost had my heart set on moving the marriage up and the wedding back. I am in this with him 100%, so why not go ahead and make it legal? But we wanted to get Dr. Andrews' opinion. With such a good prognosis, he says leave it May 21. He won't have much hair, but who cares? I still have my reservations, but they say he will feel fine and Cosbie swears he's up to it. So May 21 it is. This isn't what we had planned between now and then, but we are ready to do it.

When we left I didn't even know what to say. I was beside myself with excitement, but conflicted about being excited about cancer. But what an answer to prayer! We could not have possibly gotten better news than we did. All I could do was thank God over and over. Even today, Cosbie and I were talking about this very moment and agreed that we both said to ourselves, "we can do this. no big deal." 

He starts chemo on Monday at 10:45. The hardest thing is to not be able to be right by his side the whole time. I am so torn between wanting to be with him and having to be at school. I love my sweet Kindergarten babies, but I love him more. 

I find myself repeating over and over, "and if our God is for us then who could be against?"

Bring it on. We're taking this lymphoma down.

Monday, February 21, 2011

In Sickness & In Health

When I started writing this 4 days ago, I was sitting in the waiting room of a hospital while Cosbie had surgery to remove some lymph nodes from his neck. He has been sick for a few months now. Around Thanksgiving he went to the doctor and they said he had mono. The day we went to get our engagement pictures taken he woke up with a very swollen neck, mostly on his right side. He had been to a couple of doctors with a couple rounds of antibiotics, but nothing worked. Week before last he went back to the doctor and was sent to the ENT on Tuesday. The ENT was pretty concerned and sent him to get a CT scan right then and sent the results back to the doctor that day too. When they met with the doctor and looked at the scan, they were almost certain that he had lymphoma.

Tuesday Cosbie called me during my lunch break. He asked me if I was sitting down and I knew I wasn't going to like where this conversation went. I wish I could say that I kept it together and was able to be strong for him, but I couldn't. I lost it. I was devastated and terrified and angry all at once. I was mad at myself for not being more concerned sooner. I was mad at the doctor for not doing anything about it sooner. And I was mad at God for threatening to hurt the man I had prayed to come for so many years. Somehow I made it through the rest of the day at school. I could have never done that without the awesome teachers that I work with here. I am so thankful that they were here for me. A few minutes after I left school, the tears just wouldn't stop. I pulled over into a parking lot and just cried. I couldn't breathe. Everything started to look black and fuzzy and I thought I was about to pass out. For a few minutes, fear and anxiety completely gripped my body. It was the scariest thing I have ever felt. I was alone and terrified of what was about to happen to me. And then it was just like God got in my face and said, "ok, we're done." And I was done. I felt peace. I was still crying, but it was different. This was of God, not of Satan. Even though I was upset, it was still glorifying to Him. When I got back to Dahlonega, Savannah came over and sat with me, let me cry for a few minutes, and then just talked and ate dinner with me. She was exactly what I needed- someone to let me cry but also someone to let life be normal for a few minutes too.

I needed to be with Cosbie. There was no way I was going to be able to stay in Dahlonega and not be with him, so I packed a bag and headed to his house. I am a crier, but I also have a hard time dealing with things. I have these mood swings where I go from needing to talk and cry to wanting to pretend that nothing is happening within seconds of each other. I know it's ridiculous and very difficult for people to deal with, but that's how I've always been. I can already tell you that this is going to teach me to talk about things and deal. I had a hard time Tuesday night. Cosbie was the one calming me down and comforting me, and it should have been the other way around. I wanted so badly to be able to get myself together and be strong for him, but I just couldn't do it.

Wednesday I was still in denial. I was mad at everyone for talking about it all the time and I kept thinking it would just go away. I was putting up walls to everyone, including Cosbie. I knew he didn't need to deal with me on top of everything else, but I couldn't figure out how to deal with this. Thursday was surgery day. The whole time he was in surgery I was still thinking this was going to be nothing and we would be done with all of it by the end of the day. The surgery would fix whatever was wrong and we wouldn't have to worry about this anymore. When the surgeon came out, he told us that it was pretty evident that Cosbie does have lymphoma. The good news is that his body has already started attacking it. I couldn't think straight. I couldn't see. I felt like I was going to be sick. This couldn't be happening to him. To us. I don't remember much else. I remember sitting down next to my mom and just crying. I don't know what anyone else around me was doing. I couldn't breathe. I was focusing all my efforts on trying to breathe and not pass out. I was scared and angry and just kept telling my mom, "I can't do this." I was afraid. Afraid of what was going to happen. Afraid of what I didn't know. And afraid that I wasn't going to be able to be what Cosbie needs me to be. I am so thankful for the people that were sitting in that room with us. I could have never done that without my mom there with me. Some of Carol Ann's friends were there and they prayed over us and helped me feel peace. And the sweetest volunteer that was working there, Chica. I knew I had to get it together. Sweet Chica let my mom and I go into a nurses' bathroom where we sat and cried some more and prayed and then sucked it up. I was never going to be able to be what Cosbie needed if I couldn't get it together. So I did. (sucking up the tears is one of my spiritual gifts.) And I kept it together. Because that's what he needed. He knows me. He knew I was hurting. He knew I was scared. He knew I had cried and would cry some more in the days and hours to come, but that's not what he needed to see when I walked in that room. He needed me to be strong. He needed me to be honest with him about what the doctor told us. He needed me to learn to change his drain and pay attention to the nurse talking about his medicine. What we do know is that this is very treatable. Yes, it is cancer, and no one ever wants the one they love to have cancer, but I'm not afraid of losing Cosbie anymore. All of my fear comes from the unknown of what is to come.

It has been a long week, and this is only the beginning. There have been moments when I cried and yelled and screamed alone in my car. There have been moments when I have been on my knees begging God to be the God who gives and not the God who takes away. There have been moments when I have been angry. There have been moments when I have been mad at God because I know and believe that He can heal Cosbie and that He is choosing not to. I will admit that I struggle with those moments more than anything else. I have asked why. I have asked to take his place. I have been sad and mourned the loss of all of our plans- a wedding, a honeymoon, a family, a normal life. There are times when I would give anything to go back to Monday afternoon- our first Valentine's day together. Mexican food, a movie, and Cosbie. My heart was full. 24 hours later it was breaking and terrified.

We don't know what we're doing about the wedding. We don't know when we will be married- sooner than May 21? on May 21? or after? But what I do know is I am marrying him. I'm not leaving. I'm going to be right by his side every step of the way. Cancer is not our life; cancer is our next 6 months to a year. We have the rest of our lives after this to be together cancer free. It's not going to be easy. Some days will require more faith than others and some days will involve more tears than others. Some days he will lean on me more and other days I will lean on him. There will be awful days and then there will be ok days. But at some point every day I still see my Cosbie. I see the man I love in his smile. He won't be overtaken by this and neither will our marriage. I believe that God allowed this to happen now and not before we met because we can take this on together. There are a lot of questions without answers right now, but I don't care. I only love him more through every day of this and there's nowhere else I'd rather be than by his side.

Our God is bigger than lymphoma. He's bigger than us and bigger than our fear, doubts, and tears. No matter where we are, He is the same. He has been so faithful to us and He won't stop now.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Hello, Double Digits

In 98 days I will be Mrs. Caitlin Hollenbeck and I could not possibly be more excited about it. At least once a day I have a moment where I think to myself, "I can't believe I'm getting married." Sometimes I still can't believe that the man I have prayed for for so long is right here in front of me and I get to spend the rest of my life with him. I am one lucky girl, that's for sure. 

There are also many days when I wonder what the heck I was thinking when I thought it would be a good idea to plan a wedding and student teach at the same time. Turns out that's a lot harder than I thought it would be. Everything is going great, but it's crazy. And stressful. And I wish I had all the money in the world to hire someone to do it all for me. :) But here's where we're at so far.

We've pretty much gotten all of our registry stuff done. I am not so good at all that jazz so I have also enlisted the help of Jessica and our moms to finish it up. Tomorrow we are going to go to Crate & Barrel to finalize some things... such as which place mats match the plates while I pine after the kitchen table I fell in love with that I am sure is no longer at Macy's and the Christmas dishes from C & B that I swear I will have one day, if only in my dreams.

I have so many wonderful people in my life who are planning some great showers for me. I am so thankful for all of them. Savannah is getting married 2 weeks before me, so between the two of us, we have a shower almost every weekend starting at the end of this month. I'm so excited to start getting stuff for our house!

Speaking of, no, we still don't have a place to live. But we have some options to start looking into soon. It's hard right now because we don't know where I will be working so it's hard to know where to look.

Bridesmaid dresses have finally been chosen and most have been ordered! It took me forever, but I think these are going to be great!

I am getting a good bit of stuff done. Almost all of our save the dates have been sent, and I have this fabulous dress that I adore for the rehearsal.
Today we bought all of the wedding invitations! (pictures coming soon!) And the honeymoon has been booked. We're going on a cruise that leaves out of New Orleans and goes to Costa Maya, Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel. We got 2 nights in New Orleans (thanks, Priceline!) before heading home. And I got a real cute new bathing suit already. I just couldn't help it. Plus nothing says weight loss motivation like a new bathing suit.

This is such a sweet time and I am trying so hard to rush through it or wish it away. So thankful that I get to spend the rest of my life with this man.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

you're my favorite part of this story

{one} my throat has been hurting for about a week now, but it was mostly at the end of the day when I had been talking a lot so I thought it wasn't a big deal. last night it got worse. this morning I woke up freezing but burning up, with a horrible headache, and an achy body. I didn't really know I had a fever because I literally don't run fevers, so I just went to school. After about 30 mins I went to talk to the nurse and she sent me home, thinking I had either a sinus infection, strep, or the flu. long story short, strep it is. I've had it for about a week apparently (oops) so it got pretty bad. so I've been in bed all day mostly, fighting with this fever back and forth. thank you, Kindergartners. but you are so worth it.

{two} tomorrow (as long as this fever stays away) I get to see this girl!

I'm headed to Madison to spend a weekend with Linds doing a whole lot of nothing/ whatever the heck we want to do. I am beyond excited.

{three} The Museum released a new song this week to help spread the word to fight human trafficking and end slavery. you can download it here for free. free, friends. do it. 

{four} I have the greatest neighbor. Today when I was talking to Linds she said, "who is going to take care of you?" and I must admit that I got sad because I didn't know. this morning Ashley gave me some great hot tea I've been drinking all day. then this afternoon she brought a thermometer and nyquil. ADodd to the rescue.

{five} Cosbie is in Washington (like the state) this week which means he is 3 hours behind us. When he's on the west coast I feel like he's in a different world. It's very strange. 


At this point I am so overwhelmed with the lack of my blogging that it makes me not want to even do it. Hence why I haven’t in so long. But then I get frustrated at myself about it because there is soooooo much to say and who wants to read the blog of a girl who never blogs.

Welcome to my head.

Now here we go.

For the first time in my life I know what it feels like to legitimately feel like I don’t have enough hours in a day. I thought I was busy and thought I always needed more time, but I really had no idea until I started student teaching. My day begins at 5:00 am and I usually don’t get back to my house until at least 5:00 pm. When I get home it’s time to make dinner and then finish homework and plans for the next day and then go to bed and do it all again. To say that I’m exhausted would be an understatement.

But I love it. I seriously, seriously love it. I have fallen in love with 82 five year olds. They make me laugh and make me mad and make me want to cry and push my buttons and love on me and I adore them. I feel like I belong in Kindergarten. I sing all day and make all kinds of songs up. I’ve always thought that my life should be a musical, I just had no idea it would be one that starred 5 year olds. I use words and phrases like friendly neighbor, lock it like a rocket, and criss cross applesauce and have found a new octave I didn’t know my voice had. We go to the nurse no less than 4 times a day, and most of the time come back with nothing more than directions to drink some water and tough it out. Indoor recess consists of watching a movie such as Nemo, Cars, or Toy Story and they all have a whole new meaning to me having seen them through little kid eyes. I make things up about our stories coming to life at night (so of course our pictures need lots of details!) and our classroom is a movie theater where we get kicked out (to our seats and off the rug) if we talk.

They are some of the most beautiful children I have ever met in my life. They open their mouths to talk and I just want to bottle them up to have forever. When they smile their snaggle-toothed smiles it literally melts my heart. And when they cry when I make them move their clip it breaks my heart. They bring me so much joy and wear. me. out. I had no idea it was possible to love children who aren’t mine so much.

This week Mrs. T (my cooperating teacher) was in and out for random parent conferencing, a sick day for her son, and interviews for an incoming parapro. This left me alone with the kids for most of the day. Of course that was a little intimidating at first, but I learn best by being thrown in and having to learn as I go. For the first time I felt like I can do this. I can be a teacher. This is where I am supposed to be. This is what I am supposed to be doing. It has it’s ups and downs and moments when I think that I can’t, but I can. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if I’ll be able to find a job, much less a job teaching Kindergarten. But I know that I am right where I am supposed to be. And that is enough for now.