Why did I go to work the day after chemo?
Because of this story.
I knew the kids in grades 1-4 wouldn’t blink an eye seeing me in a pink wig, as I wore wigs most of last year.
It’s my kinders this year that I was worried about.
They all walked in and stared. Some giggled, some asked what happened, and some looked at me like I was the most magnificent, beautiful and magical thing they have ever seen.
During writing workshop, I explained and wrote my story. Now, kindergartners are notorious copiers, and it takes imagination to write a story that no one can copy yet seems real. If I write, “I went apple picking yesterday,” suddenly the entire class went apple picking and got the same apples as me. If I said I went to Disney that weekend, I’ll get at least ten other stories saying they went to Disney. .
So yesterday I told my best story yet. I told them I went to Superhero teacher school. I even drew a brick building with no windows so no one can look in, with me doing the superhero pose outside the door. The Superhero pose is feet firmly planted, hands in fists and placed on hips, chest out, then look up to the right or left. There was actually a study that doing that pose before a task makes you more confident. We practiced the pose and I said that the pose was all I could teach them superhero school. Then I demonstrated my flying button and how if I press it, I can fly. My feet lift off the ground slowly, but I let go right before liftoff because rule number one is no flying during the day. I showed the my superhero tracker, which was the blinking green light machine on my arm so the superhero school knows my location. As for my hair, we need to change my disguise depending on my mission. Every night the superhero hair fairies will come and give me my superhero disguise for the day. I’ll never know what it is, but I hear there is purple hair, silver hair, red hair, mint hair, blonde hair, all sorts of hair.
I told them they can tell their family… but it’s a secret for everyone else. Only the kids who cone to school know about this secret superhero training I’m going through.
At lunch, my assistant principal texted me from the lunch room. Apparently my class all told him, “Mrs Stromski can FLY!!!”
Mission accomplished, friends.
I’m going to ace superhero teacher school, I think.
As the day went on, my face got redder and redder from the meds I got Thursday. I broke fast as I felt incredibly sick on the way home. I hadnt eaten since Tuesday, and had been mostly doing juice and water the week before anyway. My body needed some food fast. So I ran I to the deli before I got sick and ordered a sandwich. I’m not proud, but it was the best damn sandwich I’ve ever had. I’ll go back to eating well, but that sandwich was heaven, and my friend lisa who passed away in July was with me in spirit as I ate it on my couch.
I forgave myself.
All day long my friend Melanie sent me pictures from Washington DC. She participated in the die in, and she told me she thought of me and all my friends who have died as she laid on the front lawn along with 115 other allies and advocated for stage four. She also sent me pictures of so many other friends I’ve made who she met there. It’s a Small world if you make your heart big.
She has a huge heart, and I am so glad she is advocating for me and others.
Rob and my oncologist were in communication all afternoon about the tumor markers. Rob wanted clarification and waited until he knew he would be home for the rest of the night to tell me we got them. So after tennis, he laid down on the couch and showed me.
The dark place rushed in.
They rose drastically.
The dark place whispered, “It’s not working. Get ready to say goodbye. Look at yourself. You look like your dying.”
And it was true. More hair came out when I took off my wig and their were more bald spots. I had on a black scarf, and my face was flushed. The acid reflux was horrible all day, and the anti nausea drugs weren’t working.
He came armed and prepared to slay the dark.
He showed me his emails back and forth with Dr Stopeck. I had been warned at the hospital that there can be a spike after the first cycle or so, due to tumor die off. I didnt expect such a large spike. But rob reminded me how soft my breast felt when Maureen examined me for Dr Stopeck, how my one breast was always burning and now it’s cooled off, how my liver pain has decreased and I can breathe deeper, and my nipple is no longer sucked into the breast.
I also sent the labs to my secret nurses and they all agreed it can be tumor die off.
He cleaned the tub for me and ran me a bath.
We figured I would keep on detoxing as much as possible.
I spent an hour and a half in the tub, and by the time I got out, I had to rinse off my body and the tub and unclog the drain.
My little short hairs have almost all fallen off. I looked at myself in the mirror and gasped and cried. I look like a dog with mange.
I didnt want to go into the bedroom and have rob look at me. I cried as I walked in, sharing and in shock and embarrassed and mortified, and he just held me and told me I’m beautiful. He doesn’t care.
Then kasha the wonder dog crawled up on his chest and looked at me too as I cried and we all held hands and breathed. He reminded me it is possible it’s tumor die off again. I read my new book on unbecoming and becoming and getting to know God again and again.
It talked about how storytellers are brave when talking through questions they have in life, questioning God out loud, sharing hard times, and telling the ugly and scary stories of their life as well as the beautiful.
Stories connect us.
Once you hear a story, it stays with you.
Thank you for carrying my story with you.
I’ve never even met a lot of you, or barely know you, but you want to stay for my story.
I love you all for that, and get so much strength from you and your stories I read. Every heart and like and comment I see carries me through the day.
Every single one.
There is so much ugly in this world.
You help make my world beautiful.
I’m working harder and harder on carrying Jesus with me… or letting Him carry me.
Some may wonder how can I keep such faith after everything I’ve been through?
Because faith is the light in the darkness. It lets you know that even though it’s so dark now, there is light coming. The darker the dark, the brighter the light will be when it shines on your face.
And it always is.
I’m going to ask for prayers today.
I know… I KNOW…. I am supposed to go to Brooklyn tonight for the Bethel concert. I prayed to God on Wednesday as I cried out in the shower with clumps of hair around me and as I listened to a worship song to one day be able to see them in concert. I didn’t tell anyone. The next morning I was offered a free ticket.
My friend Eileen is one of the most spiritual women I know. Her daughter Johanna and I are a bit like Elliot and ET. We both tend to go into the dark times at the same time together. She was just in the hospital again, and has had over 100 brain surgeries. Eileen said to pack a blanket and pillow, and she will drive us both in to this healing concert. She is a caregiver, and I won’t be embarrassed to sleep as she drives.
Come hell or high water, I’m going.
God wants me there.
I know I will be prayed over and filled with His healing.
I am a child of God, the daughter of a King, and He is within me.
It will be a total rest day until it’s time to go. My dad is going to the giving room to get some juices from Paula to help me detox my liver and build up my healthy cells.
Madison is at BLT for ROTC and is away all weekend, teaching young cadets the ropes.
Quinn keeps hugging me, and Morgan has made herself my nurse.
I may have told my kinders I’m going to superhero school… but the truth is, Rob is my superhero. He is doing this all by himself. I’m so thankful for him. I still can’t believe he chose me all those years ago.
Tonight I’ll be surrounded by the Word, by those who believe that Jesus still heals today, and that by His stripes I am healed as well.
In Jesus’s name, amen.