Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Every goodbye holds more pain. Every goodbye looms over my words, wondering whether it could be the last one. This past weekend, I had to do it again. It is heartbreaking every time.

The January stroke which stole my mother's independence also stole her sweet light-filled apartment, her mobility, her strength, her vitality, and some of her mental clarity.

My smart, ebullient, vital, thoughtful, and very active mother did not want to end her life story like this. People want to end their stories on their own terms. Mom did not get a choice. She would tell you, if she could, that she would want to die sitting at a bridge table with her 3 girlfriends, having just bid one-no-trump. 

And yet, what remains is undimmed and canyon-deep love for her children and grandchildren. When she may not be able to express her preferences for dinner or what to wear, she can still be profoundly articulate about her love. 

"I love you more than that."
"Nobody will ever love you as much as I do."
"You are in my heart everyday."

I soak it in. My brothers soak it in. The 3 of us have been loved intensely our whole lives. Maybe mother-love is the one enduring constant in life.

When I am about to leave her room, we can't hug and kiss enough. And we talk about how much we love each other. And we try to say goodbye. And I die a little tiny bit every time because I don't know how I am going to live without my mom. When the time comes, I really don't know how I can do that.

Mom's rich rich life was diminished because of this stroke. But she still has love. Lots of love. Love given to her, and love given by her. 

Of all she has lost, I know that if she had the choice of losses, she would have chosen everything but the ability to love her family.

That remains.

Saturday, May 9, 2015


In exactly one month, this beautiful, sweet young woman will be my daughter-in-law. I am so blessed.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


I continue to be "cancer free" according to yesterday's CT scan of my torso. You won't find an oncologist willing to say those words to anyone with a stage 4 daignosis. But it is what it is. I have stable disease, with nothing new or growing in and around my lungs, kidneys, liver or bones. So I will call my torso cancer free!! And we have unwavering faith that my brain will also be labeled that someday.

For now, we take this news as a blessing. I only wish my body felt as good as this news is. I am on steroids for one more week. Our deepest prayer is that I am able to remain off the steroids and to recover my strength, lose my bloating, and reconnect with my head!!
We are praying mightily against headaches in any form to recur. That would mean steroids again.

Dick started me on a PT rehab program last night, and I am motivated to regain as much muscle strength as possible. I couldn't lose any more or I would be bed-ridden. If it is last thing I do this summer, I am going to dance with my son at his wedding, and so I am dedicated to the weights and the Theraband and picking up my walking distances.

Thank you to all of you who are my prayerful friends and family, for the sustaining prayers and the encouragement and support as I have plodded through these past 3 months of "hell." I am humbled to ask you to continue to pray for no headahces and lots of recovery.

Friday, May 1, 2015


I don't think it has been this tough for 4 years. I feel like my body has betrayed me. Juggling this many symptoms has left me struggling. I continue to have severe muscle weakness (I did impress myself being able to walk up 2 belabored steps unassisted this week). My mind continues to be very fuzzy and I feel "disconnected" to my body in most ways. My body is still bloated. And now extreme fatigue has set in, expected after brain radiation. All I want to do is sleep. I am even falling asleep while reading a book (avid readers do NOT do this!). My energy level is nil, and I am struggling with depression creeping around my spirit, trying to cope with all this.

I am trying to let the Lord battle for me, as I have no energy for active prayer right now. I have my warriors praying for and around me, and they are what keep me afloat. It is a time of silence, waiting on God to show up. 

I have a lung scan on Monday to see what is happening in that realm. 

My prayer request would be that I do not spiral into depression right now. That would exacerbate every other symptom, and I fear it would pull me under. Thanks.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


I thought my next post would be filled with promise and progress and hope that I would get 5 weeks of steroid-free time before June to begin side effect-reversals.

Did not get what I wanted. 

On the day that I was supposed to be finished with steroids last week, they slapped on 2 more weeks of decreased dosage. Sigh.

But then, the scenario got worse. I got another massive excruciating headache on Thursday, painful enough that they felt they needed to double my steroid dosage for 3 more weeks.

3 more weeks. More steroid, not less. Oh, my.

I sent a picture of my body to my best friend. She has no reason to mince words with me. Her comment, "You must be heartbroken." Well, she got THAT right. It is an eerie out-of-body experience to look at yourself and see very little of what you are supposed to look like staring back in the mirror.

My black and blue face is beginning now to fade. Steroids delayed wound healing and bruising, I have learned. No wonder it is taking so long.

I am living in the silence, in the waiting, not knowing how this steroid experience will leave me, not knowing in what condition I will be in terms of mobility when it is over. 

I am not good at waiting.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Last Sunday evening, I took a bad fall at a gas station. If my muscle weakness was not so prounounced, I would have caught my trip with my right leg, but I do not have that capacity on steroids, and so I fell head first onto the cement. I am grateful to God that it did not slice my head open, but I landed face first, and within seconds, Dick saw the beginnings of what was to come.

The left side of my face is black and purple, and when you add that to my incredible bloating, I do look like a freak show of sorts.

The devil has tried his level best all week to assault me with lies and his own special brand of reassurances that falling is the first step toward the end. He wears on my spirit and my soul and I hardly have the strength to fight him. I am so grateful to my prayer warriors for surrounding me and letting me "rest" in the promise that God is doing the battling for me.

I still am looking about 7 months pregnant with no neck left. I have 2 pairs of stretch pants that I have worn now daily for 6 weeks. Only pairs of pants that fit underneath the big belly. I still can't do stairs or squat. My head is still very foggy and disconnected to my body (like chemo-brain). 

Wednesday is supposed to be my last dose of the Dexamethasone, but I know the effects do not reverse themselves immediately. My niece Anna has a pharmacist friend who she is going to consult today and see if she can give me an "average" length of time before the changes will begin. 

Please pray that the tide will begin to turn in time so that I might be able to buy a dress for Sam's wedding. I only have 6 weeks to try to look anything like Mary Hieb again, and I am storming the heavens over it. Those of you who think of me occasionally, please join in in that prayer!!!

Monday, April 6, 2015


Our family had an incredible Easter Sunday in Minneapolis yesterday morning. John Piper was the guest preacher at Sam's church for Easter services!!!. He preached from 1 Peter 1:3-9 on the meaning of the living hope we have in the resurrected Christ. He is all (and more) of what his reputation is for his preaching style and his deep theology and his passion for The Word. His sermon was nothing less than amazing and soul-stimulating. What an Easter blessing----up close and personal!!!