Thursday, March 26, 2009

Combatting the Why MEs

Earlier this week I was sitting with some other moms at softball practice. The wind was blowing hard and I was seriously concerned that my wig might just fly off my head at that moment and pelt some poor unfortunate 7 year old softball player in the face. I had just had a doctor's appointment with my breast surgeon and had spent the day focused on what my upcoming surgery was going to be like. I was watching these other moms talking and laughing and I had a tinge of jealousy. Why? Because their life right now was "normal." In the midst of it all I began having a few "WHY MEs." Why did this have to happen to me? Why did cancer have to come and disrupt my life? Why...why...why...

I've been through the genetic testing and there's no known genetic reason for my cancer. I've analyzed my lifestyle before my diagnosis. Did I eat all the wrong things? Did I not exercise enough? Should I have worn gloves when I cleaned the house? Did I get myself exposed to some sort of chemical? I've been over all these questions in my head a hundred times. Alot of people have offerred advice on what I could do better and I appreciate it. It's true we can all reduce our chances by making good choices but the ultimate reality is cancer is something you cannot completely avoid or completely control no matter how healthy your lifestyle. I have yet to meet a chain-smoking, obese, alcoholic breast cancer patient. All the ones I have met are active, vibrant, "healthy." I keep listening to all the advice though because deep down I really wish someone could just tell me why...why I have cancer.

In my heart I know I will never have the answer. I know many of you out there are going through hard experiences, many so much harder than mine. I'm sure you are wondering "Why me" in your situation as well, whatever it may be. If you dwell on the "WHY MEs" I have learned it will drive you crazy. All you can do is focus on the knowledge that God has a divine purpose for your life and try to turn something awful into something good.

When I was having the "WHY MEs" earlier today, I had a picture come into my mind of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. How he must have gone through those same emotions and oh how much BIGGER was His burden than mine! Jesus never promised that life as a Christian would be easy. In fact he promised the exact opposite. Matthew 16:24 says "Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'" That is so hard to do. Do you ever find yourself wanting to say "Why can't it be easy Lord...why does it have to be so hard?" I find myself saying that all the time. But Jesus also said in Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (NIV)
So whenever I am feeling a "WHY ME" coming, I am going to close my eyes and picture Jesus in that garden and I am going to make a choice. I am going to choose to rest in Him. Lots of love,


Sunday, March 22, 2009

We Painted the Town PINK!


I just got back from sister's weekend with Shannon and Mitzi and what a wonderful time we had!! We did our best to boost the sagging economy by eating and shopping, eating and shopping. (The things we do to support our country!)

Yes that is the three of us in our flashing neon pink breast cancer pins that Shannon and I picked up at the Expo. (I am sorry to say the picture does not do their flashiness & their bling justice).

Mitzi's husband John and my nephews were hiking the Appalachian trail in the freezing cold while we hiked the malls this past weekend. I told her on the boy's next expedition they could take one of our pins along in case of an emergency. They could hold it up at night as an SOS for the rescue helicopters to find them (not that the Busic boys would ever need rescuing mind you!)

Thanks to Randy, Dennis, John, Brooke, Gramsy & Pops and Nana & Papaw for watching the kids so we could go. Roanoke is definately a little "pinker" than it was before!

I continue to do well. The only difference between this go round and the last is a little nausea. After talking to my doctor I tried dropping one of my nausa meds (a steroid) and it came back to haunt me. I went back on it but have been left the last several days with a quesiness that brings back memories of morning sickness. The metal taste in my mouth is more pronounced this time around too but that is all. None of it has seemed to slow me down.

The shirt orders continue to come in well. Race for the Cure events are coming up and I plan on looking into those. How cool will it be to have a group of us walking together in our shirts! I can't wait! I will have more details soon! Thanks for your continued prayer and support. Lots of love,


Saturday, March 14, 2009

I Got a Hug From Robin Roberts!! Godincidences Galore!!

Hello Prayer Warriors!

Your prayers worked! I made it to the Women's Expo and if I had to sum it up in one word I would say INCREDIBLE!

It wasn't easy getting to the expo. Thanks to some very special friends and family members I made it. My wonderful husband Randy drove all over town Friday trying to find Robin's book which was a noble (and not so easy) quest. Along with me I took some GOD IS SO MUCH BIGGER THAN CANCER shirts that traded hands four times Friday afternoon before ultimately geting to me. (Thank you to the couriers Melony, Melissa, Felicia & Shannon).

When my sister Shannon and I set out it was cold and rainy. Several parking lots (which charged fees) were full but a free one right across the convention center was empty. We grabbed our spot (quite proud of ourselves) and ran through the rain inside.

No sooner did Shannon and I get out of the rain into the convention center than we ran into Angela. She is the breast cancer survivor I met a couple weeks ago. I had given her one of our shirts just after she finished an MRI to see if her cancer had reoccurred. She said that the cancer has come back and she is having a bilateral mastectomy on Tuesday. We shared some hugs and told her we'd be praying for her. Her smile and positive attitude were as strong as ever.

Inside we looked around the expo. We bought ourselves some flashing breast cancer pins for a $5 donation to the cause. (We brought one home for you Mitzi. It is so flashy I promise we will never loose sight of each other over sister's weekend).

At 12:30 pm Robin Roberts took the stage. We got there early but by that time all the seats were taken. We stood way in the back but fortunately they had two large screens on either side of the stage so we could see her. Robin's speech was inspirational and very down to earth as well. She talked about how her parents brought her up with to follow the three D's: Determination, Dedication and "D" Lord. She talked about her coworker Joel Siegel (the movie reviewer's) battle with colon cancer and how, before his death, he urged others to get checked because it would have saved his life had his cancer been caught earlier. She mentioned that she found her breast cancer lump right after his funeral and talked about her whole journey through treatment. Originally she was not going to go public with her condition but her mother said she should take her MESS and make it her MESSAGE. I thought that was a powerful statement. She also said you should always put yourself in a positive position of influence to reach others and to get that message out. Everything she said was very encouraging to me because it fit right into my beliefs about God being so much bigger than cancer and being able to take something so awful and turn it into something positive.

Following the speech Shannon and I hustled over to the book signing line. There I met a 20 year cancer survivor named Charlotte and her friend Pat as well as a girl whose sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. I gave them and others in line some of my extra shirts. As we waited we got lots of questions about the shirts and a woman from the Knoxville News Sentinel came and interviewed me. An article discusses it in today (Sunday's) local section. Here is the link.

We stood in line for over 45 minutes and it soon became apparent that we weren't going to make it to see Robin. We passed close to her at one point and I asked one of the women helping her to put my shirt and note for her into her personal box just to make sure she got it. 2:15 came and the book signing ended. You could hear the mumbles of disappointment from everyone around us as it looked like she was leaving. We were only about 10-15 people away from her. But you know what? As she left, she headed down towards the line. She kept shaking hands and signing books. I grabbed mine back out of my bag and she came right up to me. She graciously signed my book. I told her that the first thing my kids said about my diagnosis and loosing my hair was "You're just like Robin." She smiled and gave me a big hug. I wish I'd had a chance to get my picture with her and tell her about the shirts, but I bet she'll make the connection when she reads the note inside her own gift shirt. We were so close to missing Robin that Charlotte right behind me got her signature but her friend with her did not. Whew! That was a close one!

Remember the chemo nurse who hates ghost stories and told me that running into the same people during my treatments was not a coincidence? I ran into her and got a big hug from her too.

As we were leaving I had the pleasant surprise of running into Deborah, a wonderful survior from my church who has been a huge encouragement to me. I asked her if she'd like the last shirt I had but it wasn't her size. No sooner did we leave than we ran into two other women who wanted to know about the shirts. One of them was named Missy. She is my age exactly and dealing with advanced breast cancer in her spine and liver. She'd had a reoccurance. Pregnancy and breast feeding had masked her cancer for several months. She is an incredible lady. She had just finished her third chemo treatment with the TAC medicine just like me. We traded each other's web site information and said we'd be praying for one another. I know she's in a tougher fight and I was humbled and inspired by her spirit. I gave her my last shirt. It was just her size.

So this was my day. What do you think? Incredible right!! Thank you all so much for your prayers and all your support. My "mess" continues to grow into a fantastic "MESSAGE"! I know our GOD IS SO MUCH BIGGER THAN CANCER message got out at the Women's Expo yesterday!! Lots of love,


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Half Way Through Chemo!!!

Dear Prayer Warriors,

Thank you all so much for your encouraging words the last couple of days about motherhood and raising kids. I love the analogy Shelly mentioned about parenting being a roller coster ride. It is filled with lots of "hair raising" twists and turns but I can truly say it is the most joyous blessing ever. I plan on coming back and rereading your posts whenever I have another "Calgon take me away day!"

Today was my third chemo treatment. I am now half way! Yeah!! And Guess what? You know that big ol' 6 cm + lymph node under my arm (we've affectionately called Sponge Bob)? Well it has shrunk to next to nothing!! The Oncologist and I can barely feel it. Last month it was 3 cm. What a miraculous change!! Praise God!!

Today in the chemo room I ran into Neil and his wife, Susie again. Neil is the patient struggling just get nourishment. Jello was about all he could get down and even that was tough. His wife Susie said the thrush sores in his mouth did finally go away which was a huge answer to prayer. He's back on his regular chemo but the chemo works with a particular enzyme in your body that Neil somehow lacks. It has made his progress slow. They are also traveling up from Athens, TN (about an hour 1/2drive one way) 5 days a week, and he is undergoing radiation at the same time. They are the nicest couple. She is a 5 year breast cancer survivor, so they've been through alot already. I was encouraged just to see Neil eating some crackers while I was there. Please keep praying for them.

While in the chemo room, we actually had fun telling ghost stories. I am always amazed by the laughter those chemo nurses share when they see so much sadness everyday. One nurse said she hated ghost stories and while the rest of us were sharing them, she was stomping her foot and yelling "Blah, blah, I can't hear you!!" There wasn't a cancer patient in the room who wasn't laughing. Those ladies truly have a gift for healing the heart as well as the body.

In the waiting room there was also a hospital volunteer playing music on a piano to soothe the patients. She was playing movie tunes. I am the type of person if I watch a gushy Hallmark card commercial or hear a sappy song, I can cry on the spot. One of the songs she played was from an early 1990's Robin Hood movie with Kevin Costner in it. It is not a Christian song but as I listened to the lyrics it really made me think of our relationship to God. It is "Everything I do" by Bryan Adams. For the first time I listened to it as though God was speaking to me and it made me get a little teary right there in the cancer ward.

Look into my eyes - you will see
What you mean to me
Search your heart - search your soul
And when you find me there you'll search no more

Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for
You can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for
You know it's true
Everything I do - I do it for you

Look into your heart - you will find
There's nothin' there to hide
Take me as I am - take my life
I would give it all - I would sacrifice

Don't tell me it's not worth fightin' for
I can't help it - there's nothin' I want more
Ya know it's true
Everything I do - I do it for you

There's no love - like your love
And no other - could give more love
There's nowhere - unless you're there
All the time - all the way

There's no love like HIS love. Cross your fingers for me about the expo and have a great weekend! Lots of love,


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Letting Go

Today I attended a workshop with other female cancer patients for the "Look Good Feel Great" workshop put on by the American Cancer Society. They gave makeup tips for lost eyelashes and eyebrows and showed us how to do head wraps with scarves and fabric to cover those bald heads of ours. We received free makeup and lots of tips as well. It is a wonderful ministry. We all joked that we looked so good we needed to go out and paint the town red (or pink as I joked being a breast cancer patient). It is so encouraging to be around other women dealing with cancer who just "roll with the punches" so to speak. They just pick themselves up and carry on.

The workshop today came at a great time. This week motherhood has felt like controlled chaos to me. Do you guys remember those old commercials where the mother is pulling her hair out and yelling "Calgon take me away!" That is what I was feeling like last night. I know part of the reason I feel stressed is because sometimes I have high expectations of myself and my children. We expect our children to be exceptionally well behaved in public, to do great with their schoolwork and always listen to us. I feel like this week I've had an issue with all of those things. Laura has achievement testing next week and I know she is not taking it seriously. My children misbehaved in front of someone I know and respect this week. I was embarrassed. Being a mom is very messy (and I'm not just talking about dirty diapers). I know these things are little in the great scheme of life. I know they will pass but they can be so frustrating.

This week I am finding myself just throwing up my hands and saying "Help, Lord" because the truth is I can do everything to my fullest but there are some things I just cannot control. I am clinging to several verses one of which my nephew just wrote on the blog today Psalm 62:8, "Oh my people, trust Him all the time. Pour out your longings before Him, for He can help!"
I'm not giving up, but I am letting go, praying, and just trusting in Him... not just with the cancer but in everything else too. Lots of love,


Monday, March 9, 2009

I've Hatched a Plan!

Dear friends and family,

When I was at Carson-Newman my college roomie used to call me "plan woman." I was always planning ahead. Spontaneous was never used to describe me. Ironically planning ahead is one of the best ways I am coping with breast cancer. Taking medicines at just the right time, not driving in the afternoons when I get drowsy,taking naps. All these have helped. I am also always looking forward to something to keep my spirits up like coop, church, pep moms functions or the garden we just started in the side yard.

Well I've already hatched a plan for next weekend. The Women's Expo is taking place in Knoxville. Robin Roberts, a co-host on Good Morning America and breast cancer survivor, is going to be speaking there. When I was first diagnosed and told Laura and Leslie I would be loosing my hair the first words out of their mouths were "You're just like Robin." We had watched her own breast cancer journey unfold on Good Morning America last year.

I have heard that they are giving away tickets to breast cancer survivors for the expo. I am sure there will be a sea of ladies in pink there. I've decided to wear my shirt and give out some to any survivors who might be interested. I would like to give an extra one to Robin Roberts as well.

The only hitch is my next chemo treatment is this Thursday. Saturday is usually the day when the bone pain and other side effects start kicking in. I will be on four medications (taken 2-3 times a day each) and can't drive. My sister Shannon is going to drive me and keep me company. Please pray that I will feel well enough to attend. I think this is a great opportunity to reach out to other breast cancer patients.

Please remember two others today. The first is a relative of mine named Marian. The second is a man in my community group named Robert. Both are undergoing medical testing. Robert's is today and Marian's is tomorrow morning at 8:30 am. Please pray that these turn out well. Lots of love,


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bearing Each Other's Burdens (or I wish I could be an Octopus!)

Hello friends and family!

What a blessed couple of days I have had. I had a fantastic visit with my parents on Thursday and two days of fun and fellowship with others. I am still doing well and starting to gear up for my next treatment when I will be halfway done with chemotherapy! I am continually blessed by everyone's generosity, everything from cupcakes & food to inspirational cd's and devotional studies have come my way the last couple of days and I am so grateful. Donations, orders for the shirts and crosses continue to come in. I will give you the new numbers as soon as I get them but I am sure we have shattered the 100 goal on shirts now! Yippee!!

Today I was thinking about all the people who have come up to me recently and told me they were praying for me. Many of them are going through incredible hardships of their own: long illness, financial hardships, loss of loved ones. I am constantly humbled and blown away by these people who are asking me how I am doing when I know their situation must be so much harder.

There was a mother at coop yesterday from a single-income family whose husband has been laid off for a few weeks. I just found out about it yesterday. She has a son who asks me every week "So Ms. Kerry is that cancer gone yet?" I always makes me smile. She was saying how God had spoken to her in January to get their income tax done early and how they had felt led (personally and by their church) to really save up. As a result she said they had enough to get by for a couple of months. They are about to take a trip across the country to see if the job prospects for her husband would be better there. She just kept saying "God is so good, isn't He..He's so good." I know exactly what she means but I had to wonder how would I feel in that situation. Could I just leave my home, family & friends and just trust that God would provide? Would I have her faith in that situation?

Galations 6:2 tells us "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." I just feel like I have a thousand arms wrapped around me all the time helping me bear my burden. My heart is heavy with all the other burdens out there too. It makes me wish I could be an Octopus! The neat things is as long as we're praying for each other it is like we all have exta arms, reaching out to & supporting each other. Have a blessed weekend. Lots of love,


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Shawl That Made Us Smile

Dear Prayer Warriors,

My daughter Leslie has reacted to my illness by becoming ultra helpful. During a recent trip to Walmart, she had to carry all three bags herself to the car. Mommy wasn't allowed to carry a thing. If there is one piece of pizza left at dinner, she wants me to have it. If I ask her to do anything, she hustles to get it done. It is very sweet.

But this morning Leslie woke up yelling for me. It turns out she had a nightmare. The nightmare was that "Mommy had died." When she told me about it it nearly broke my heart. At first I told her all the usual comforting things, "It's just a nightmare. Mommy is going to be okay." But none of these things seemed to completely convince her.

Fortunately I had a little Godincidence to share with Leslie. Many of you remember that my Dad was praying one day and had a vision of me as a Grandmother, wrapped in a shawl and reading a book to my grandchildren. A couple weeks ago a dear friend of mine at coop gave me a beautiful crocheted shawl. She told me that she had started it several weeks ago with no one in particular in mind. She just felt the right person to give it to would come to her, and after my diagnosis, she felt led to give it to me.

Today I showed the shawl to Leslie. I told her about my friend and about my dad's vision. She is upstairs right now all cuddled up in it. It is more like a blanket on her than a shawl, covering her from head to toe. The good news is she is also smiling from ear to ear. The shawl isn't the exact same color as described by my Dad but that doesn't matter a bit. It sure is a wonderful Godincidence to me (and to little Leslie). Lots of love,


Monday, March 2, 2009

Pipes v. Pots

Dear friends and family,

A funny thing started happening to me yesterday. My bald head started itching. It is yet another small side effect that seems to pop up. There are lots of them... a constant chemical smell, dry eyes, dry mouth, bloody nose, dry skin, a metallic taste in the mouth. I haven't talked about these much because in the great scheme of things they aren't that bad. They haven't disrupted my life, but they are there. Some are off and on. Some are a constant reminder that life right now is "different."

Well yesterday I received a very special care package from a King George pal with 20+ items that addresses just about every side effect I have ever had or could possibly have as well as some fun accessories like scarves and hats. The girl who sent it went to a store run by a breast cancer survivor, asked her what I needed and bought the whole list. A couple years ago this same girl went through an incredible trial of her own. I remember praying for her at the time, wanting to help in other tangible ways but not knowing what else to do. Since my diagnosis I have received so many kind gifts: breads, books, breast cancer accessories, cards, meals, phone calls and so much more, all of them so very wonderful. I am left to wonder how on earth can I possibly repay all these good deeds.

I guess the only answer to my own question would be to pass it on. Our pastor has used an illustration alot, comparing the difference between people who are like pipes and people who are like pots. Pipes receive on one end and then pass it on. They are givers. Pots receive but never give to others. They are takers.

A person in my Sunday school class whose son battled lymphoma a while back tells the story of a little girl with cancer who gave out angel pins at the treatment center. Anytime she met someone, even someone passing by her on the elevator, she would tell them about Jesus. Five years after her death there are still nurses who wear her pins faithfully on their uniforms every day in honor of her.

That little girl was a pipe. I want to be a pipe too. So many of you have given me so very much. Thank you. I can't wait to pass it on. Lots of love,


Sunday, March 1, 2009


Dear Prayer Warriors,

I am still doing very well. We've had a wonderful weekend topped off with a wonderful visit from Randy's parents. Our freezer is about to bust with food (thank you Nana & Mamaw) and we have surpassed the $200 mark in donations for the shirts now. I have also heard this weekend from Isabelle (the little girl at St. Jude's) mom. She sent me an email asking how I was doing. I was blessed by the kindness and thoughtfulness of it.

Today I am reminiscing a little bit. Ever since my diagnosis I have begun to look at things in the past more and more as Godincidences. I believe God puts certain people into our lives for a reason. Some are meant to teach us about life and love. Others are meant to teach us patience and help us grow. I remember at a Pep Moms meeting last year our speaker Marla Delong called some of these people "sandpaper people" because they rub us wrong sometimes, but they smooth out our own character flaws. And then of course God gave us the ultimate example of His own love for us when He designed marriage. Today I'd like to share two stories of how I believe Randy's and my being together is no accident.

When I was in college the beginning of my Sophmore year there was a one time meeting of an academic organization called Alpha Lamda Delta Phi Eta Sigma. I saw Randy for the first time at that meeting. He was sitting two rows over from me. I remembered saying to myself "He looks nice. He looks like the kind of guy who might ask me out." It was a rather strange thought at the time because I had never been asked out on a date by anyone. It was one of those fleeting impressions you get of someone when you pass them by except that it stuck with me.

Now flash forward two years to my Senior year. Let me preface the rest of the story by saying that many of you already know that we three Booth girls "can't get away with anything." It has been a running family joke for years. We all have our own examples of this but mine happened to take place when I was dating Randy. I was also dating one other guy at the time named Doug. I had been upfront with both of them about it but it still came back to haunt me.

One night Doug and I went to a see a movie. I remember quite well it was Jurassic Park. Randy was in ROTC at the time. Well guess who we ended up sitting beside during the movie. You guessed it. Half the ROTC department (including a bunch of Randy's military buddies). Once the movie ended they heckled us out the movie theater all the way through the parking lot. My date's car was in the shop and I drove. I still remember them driving by us honking and laughing. I was so embarrassed.

A few months later Randy was stationed at Fort Knox, KY. One weekend I was at my parent's house and the doorbell rang. Doug was on the doorstep holding a bunch of flowers. Only they weren't from him. Randy had decided to send me flowers and called FTD, one of those national flower numbers. Doug's parents owned a flower shop in Strawberry Plains, about 40 minutes away on the other side of Knoxville. Even though there were about 50 flower shops closer to my parent's house, FTD chose that one to deliver the flowers. Randy had no idea, but the odds you see were in his favor all along.

Isn't that amazing! If any of you have any similar stories of how God has put someone in your life in an amazing way, I would love for you to share them on the blog. Please continue to pray for Isabelle and her family as well. Lots of love,