Leslie's Journey.....

Thank you for being a part of the journey.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Friends in Need.....

Sounds like our dear sister needs some help to get over that mountain. Who better to assist than the prayer warriors scattered all over the world. We have all followed their journey with the words they have so graceously shared. We have cried, laughed, and felt some of their pain.

Many of you have asked what you can do ...send the love......be creative......be funny......be that friend.

Here's the address:

Leslie Aschliman - 432 Butterfly Road - Bolingbrook IL 60490

Blessings to all of you - ginny

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Its Still Raining......

This final mountain is so much bigger than it looked before I started climbing it. Tomorrow I will complete my 15th radiation treatment, halfway finished. I thought I would be at the top of the mountain by tomorrow and making my way back down for the final 3 weeks. Instead, I find myself at the most treacherous part of the climb, still going up. The rain is pouring, and I see no light from where I am. It's getting more and more difficult to see God through this storm. I know He is here, but I can't see Him, and I don't know what He's doing.For those of you who have told me how strong I am, you should know that my strength has run out! Maybe it's been more of my pride and stubbornness that has taken me this far, but those have run dry too! I am finally realizing and admitting to myself how crappy I feel 95% of the time. The radiation is only making matters worse as my sinuses continue to swell and my congestion has no where to go. Sleep is becoming more like a dream as opposed to a possibility. I share these thoughts and feelings with you because we need prayer! We are so tired. At this point in our journey I think we would prefer to stay in our cave, but it does give us hope knowing that all of you are still praying and haven't forgotten about us.I will say that I have never been more thankful for my husband and for who he is. As I stare at our wedding picture I can't help but think, "You guys have NO idea what is going to happen to you in 5 years! Can you handle it?!" Tyson, you have risen to this challenge more than I ever could have imagined. I could not be making it through this without your strength and encouragement. Thank you for letting me complain, cry, and just "be" when I need to. You are my hero. leslie

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Process Shmocess

It's been way too long since I've tried to get my thoughts down in writing. Now that my brain is starting to function again, which could be argued by some, I am having a hard time hearing one thought at a time. In the midst of daily hospital commuting, there are times when I enjoy the solitude and the opportunity to think, sing, pray, or just stare blankly up ahead. My moods change daily, if not moment to moment, dependent upon anything from the state of my congestion (my nose, not traffic!), the weather, the music that is playing, or simply the fact that I am a woman who is fighting cancer, and I think I have every right to be moody!One personality characteristic that I have never particularly cared for in myself is my INABILITY to enjoy things "in process". I guess there are some things, thankfully, that I am enjoying as they are happening. Raising TJ has been a delight from the very beginning. I am in no hurry for him to grow up, yet I continue to enjoy him as he grows. I am always striving to be a better wife, to have a better marriage, but I am content in how it is growing richer through life's experiences and time in general. I am certainly in no hurry to be in our 90's having attained the "perfect marriage", yet I look forward to those days when I will be looking into the same eyes, only wiser and full of more love.OK, so maybe I'm not completely hopeless. Maybe I can learn to enjoy other things too as they are unfolding and not just look to the finish line for closure. Here are some examples of me not enjoying the process.... Christmas shopping. Don't really enjoy the search, just the purchase once the perfect gift has been found. White water rafting. I went on a rafting trip, and I pretty much hated the whole thing until it was over. Once we were climbing out of our boats SAFELY, I could look back and say, "I guess that was fun.."! Labor. (If there is any of you who says you enjoy this you are either crazy or lying!) But, isn't the end result worth it?! And to look back and say, "I did what?!!" My point of all of this randomness is that I am neither enjoying nor finding contentment in "my process" of fighting cancer at the moment! Yes, I definitely have joy and laughter at times. But overall, I am just waiting for this all to be over. I find it so difficult to REST and be CONTENT if I don't know the ending! This all seems like an interruption to my life, and I just want to get on with it, my life as I had planned. I can't get past the fact that my head feels like it might explode from congestion and the need to blow my nose every 15 minutes or the fatigue that just won't allow me to do all the things I want to do. This is where I am at right now in the "healing process", but I am not happy about it. I know it's normal. But, I refuse to stay in this place for any longer than is necessary for me to move on to the next phase of healing. What comes next? Acceptance??? Come on, psych majors refresh my memory. Well, I have completely lost my train of thought since I have been pulled away from the computer for the last 4 hours! My mom has been here which always brings me much needed rest and encouragement. My spirits are feeling lighter this evening after spending the day with her. I realize that I need to feed myself more truth, ignore the lies, and let time heal. Give myself a break. Let the emotions sway as they will. Ride the waves. Keep my eyes on the goal but be fully aware of the present. Love my family like I've never loved them before. And trust God for His provision of strength each day just as I trusted Him with my life on the operating table. We will see how that goes. Leslie

Friday, December 7, 2007

It Could Be Worse.....

That's what I keep reminding myself. I got to keep walking. We will not always be so tired. We won't always be sick. I am quickly realizing that the radiation techs and my fellow radiation buddies will soon feel like family. Because my appointments are the same time every day, I see the same people every day. No, I'm not one to strike up a conversation with strangers, but there is an underlying camaraderie among cancer patients/survivors. I am by far the youngest person there, except for one boy. If I had to guess he is probably a young teen, but the chemo and radiation he has had to endure makes his face look much older. I heard someone ask his mom how much more radiation he has to have. She answered, "Another round after this one. And then we will check his levels again to see if it's time for surgery." This boy and his parents always have smiles on their faces. I have so much to learn. In my mind I think, "It could be worse." But is it necessarily "worse" if it brings your family closer together and if it brings us closer to our God? Life would certainly be more fun if it was easy, but would we feel fulfilled?As much as I hate throwing up, I HATE when Tyson is so down. It's such a rare occurrence that I never know how to deal with it. I don't know what to say to make him feel better. He's the one with the wonderful words that can encourage even the faintest of heart. My instinct is to start serving him in some way. A massage. Make him something to eat. Offer to play cards or watch something that he wants to watch. Anything. But when he gets like this I know I need to just back off and pray and let him work through it. We have switched roles in this particular moment. He has learned how to back off when I am feeling down. I need to do the same. Helpless.So as we are continuing to walk through this valley, I am starting to see some light up ahead. I am praying like crazy that this will be the only round of radiation I will ever have to go through. I am hoping that it is not burning flesh that I am "smelling" right now. I am learning to accept my radiation mask as "my friend". Today I was able to go to a "happy place" for the 10 minutes or so that I was locked into position. Only 28 more treatments to go.....Yes, Tyson, this IS about you too! You are being dragged through the trenches with me. No doubt we have different internal struggles, battles to fight, and roles we have to play. But some are the same. At any given moment I think we would trade places with each other to relieve the other of our specific crosses we are having to bear or just for relief of our own responsibilities in this whole ordeal. I look forward to talking with you years from now as we will begin to sort all of this out. You are so strong, but God is making you stronger. You have a childlike faith, but God is taking you deeper. Isaiah 40: 28-29 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does become weary or tired. His understanding is infinite. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Leslie

Therapy Time

Therapy time.
(I've mentioned to many people who have "thanked" us for the blog that truly, it's been a blessing for us. There's something therapeutic for me to get this stuff out, where I can see it, where I can acknowledge that it's' real, where I can pour some of the burden-- and blessings-- out to be shared with my brothers and sisters in life and faith. And tonight, as we used to say in baseball, "I'm hanging, coach"... worn out. tired. need to rest the arm. got no bite on the curveball. So it's therapy time...)It's been a crazy week-- I'm back to work and there was much business (or busy-ness) to deal with-- some good, some tougher. All for the greater good and progress of the company... and so-on. Truth be told, work-wise, it was a very enjoyable albeit tiring week. All while trying to do what needs done around the house... (which is less and less, really, as Leslie's strength continues to improve), and all while being quietly and constantly "burdened" by the prospect and commencement of Leslie's radiation. It's so hard to think that she's basically being put into a microwave 2 minutes a day, 5 days a week. I'll let her get into details, if/when she feels up to it. (but a bit of foreshadowing-- her sense of smell may not be gone totally... not that the scent of singed flesh from deep inside your nose is a sensation that one is really that "thankful" for...) I went with her for her first "treatment" yesterday. I still have a hard time calling it that. But "horrible necessity" or "modern medicine's best guess at what torture may just scare the rest of the cancer away for good" just takes too long to say. And today she went alone. For the next 6 weeks she'll be going alone. That's hard for me to take. I hate that I was in a meeting today while she was going in, and I didn't even think about her until about the time she was done. I feel guilty-- like I should somehow at least interrupt my day for the 15 minutes she's there and do something I don't care to do-- maybe something uncomfortable. Walk barefoot through the slushy streets, or something. Not that it would be particularly useful or helpful in any way. But it's not fair that this is so physically "easy" for me, and it's only the less tangible emotional, mental, and spiritual "struggle" I have to endure, personally. And after all this typing, that little voice in the back of my head is growing louder... screaming now... "IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU!!!" just frustrating myself even more.I hung Christmas lights in the snowfall Tuesday night. It was a truly worshipful and wonderful time of solitude and nostalgia. I remember the first time my dad let me help him hang the lights at my childhood home on 13 Monterey Court. And then the first time he let me do it myself. I "offered to take care of it for him"-- I was 12 or so, I think-- and now I know it was really Dad that was doing ME the favor. I took great pride in creating my little winter wonderland right there in the front yard... and then the first snow-- how it covered the lights in the bushes, but not enough to keep the light from shining through when it got dark. It was then that I knew it was the Christmas Season. So, when I heard there were 4+ inches of snow coming on Tuesday night, I headed to Meijer to buy the lights. And then the snow came. Most of the shrubs were covered before I got to them... but I buried the lights into the powder and kind of "smoothed" it over, so it still had the same effect. I thought of the symbolism of the lights. The star in the East. The "light in the darkness" that this child was to be... I felt "Christmas" more deeply than I have in years. I'm just so thankful to be sharing it with my family this year. I shoveled the driveway with my brand new shovel (another Tuesday evening Meijer investment)... twice... and once more in the morning. The whole ordeal was not just a "Christmas" worship service... it was a "Thanksgiving" of sorts, all over again... being a steward the best I could of this home we've been blessed with... being thankful and wanting to enjoy the snow... the season... even the cold. I needed Tuesday night.But tonight I'm so tired again. And I came home to see a very pale TJ cuddling with Mommy. She had a very sad and tired look on her face and didn't say a word as I walked in... "TJ has the flu...?" I knew it as soon as I saw them there. "Threw up twice in about 15 minutes, about an hour ago." The poor little guy was eager to muster up the strength to verbalize the details for me, from behind his pacifier. "...all over the fyoor..." "on Mommy's bed..." etc... There's quite a bit of flu going around, and Leslie had been specifically praying for health for the three of us, against the flu, for the coming week(s). Oh well. You can't win them all, I guess. But now I'm anxious about the prospect of Leslie getting sick... what will that do to her treatment schedule? She HATES throwing up. (I know-- who enjoys it?... but she hates it more. Trust me.) What if I get sick? When I get the flu, I basically go catatonic for a couple days-- delirious, almost. Not in any condition to try to walk up the stairs, let alone carry a puking kid or help a fatigued (or also puking) wife with the dishes. ummm... so we could use some prayer for the next 72 hours, I guess is what I'm saying. I guess the good news is that typically-- once he's done throwing up-- TJ sleeps for about 20 hours a day when fighting off a flu bug. Maybe this will all be over and we'll all be well-rested before we know it... and then back to radiation.At least it's not Sunday night tonight. Always the optimist... We're trusting that Providence will have this whole little thing taken care of by the time next week's routine comes around. Oh, the "foolishness" of faith, eh? Tyson

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

...and then there was peace.....

Over the last several days as my body has been healing from this infection, my emotions have begun to finally show themselves. Some have been ugly. Anger. Frustration. Self-pity. Fear. Others, like tonight, have been more of what I have been hoping for. Thankfulness. Joy. Love. And Peace. Thank you, Father.Peace covers this house tonight as Tyson hangs Christmas lights outside, and TJ is falling fast asleep in his bed. I just enjoyed (or so I pretended since I still can't taste) some Peppermint Joe Joe's and milk, and I am now listening to the quiet after a wonderful day with a very chatty 2 yr. old. We have had a great week of re-bonding, if that's a word. All is well, thankfully, as we get ready to start our 6 weeks of chaos tomorrow morning. I am praying for good health and cooperation from TJ as we have to hurry along in the mornings, which neither of us do well, and get out the door to go drop him off somewhere different every day as I head down to Loyola for radiation. This should be interesting. I was struck again tonight with thankfulness and humility as I was thinking over the last several weeks. As much as it stinks to have to go through this, I am so grateful for the circumstances in which it all happened. 1) How this cancer was even found! 2)Being led to two amazing doctors. (Our insurance case manager has worked with Dr. Zender 3 times, and she is based out of Ohio!) 3)A very faithful church who spent the entire surgery day in prayer just for me! (I am truly humbled by this! Thank you so much to the women who organized this. We know who you are, and we are extremely grateful.) 4)Family and friends who have been checking up on me, helping me, sending card after card, gift after gift, and meal after meal. 5)All of this happened AFTER a very fast and chaotic move. 6)That we only have one child to take care of during all of this. 7)That I have been able to still enjoy the holidays with family. The list could keep going, but you get the idea. Even in this hard time, God has still shown His goodness.Please be praying over the next 6 weeks. I think we have mentioned it before, but pray that the radiation would take care of any cancer that might be left. That the final MRI I will have to have after radiation is finished would be clear and there will be no question that the cancer is gone. For good health and stamina for the whole family. For minimal side effects from the radiation. I would love to be able to breathe through this "million dollar" nose one of these days!!! God has surely not forgotten about us as He has been constantly reminded by the prayers of His children. Thank you! If I could hug you all, I would. Leslie