Sunday, May 29, 2011


We have been here for a week, and I knew it was time to do it. I had to put out the deck chairs. It was the one task I knew would carry the most emotion returning to this scene of my first days with cancer. The 3 chairs were nestled together, two touching, much like the warm, bitter grief that spilled from each of our souls onto the other’s as we sat and tried to assimilate what we had just found out last August. It was on those chairs that shock and sorrow rained down on our bodies and hearts until we felt we would never be able to come up for air. It was on those chairs that I said goodbye to my life as I once knew it. It was on those chairs that the devil convinced me that I would never see this place I love again.

Sam and I took them out of the garage this afternoon and set them back on the deck. I had my “moment” and then, I did what my sweet friend Lee told me to do: look at those deck chairs with my “new eyes.” Lee reminded me that last summer, I had the inevitable eyes of defeat and loss and sadness. I now have new eyes of faith in healing. And that is what I did. I looked at them with my new eyes of faith.

I did it, and I was not swallowed up in the old grief. As my faithful prayer partner Julie (whom I will dearly miss all summer every Wednesday at 1:00) told me, “Do NOT let the devil steal your joy.” Ju, I did not let him. He might have come to settle in and stay last August 13. But he is defeated. He was kicked out of this scenario a long time ago. A party guest that was not invited and stayed too long. He brought his cancer and planned to crash my life party. But when Jesus reigns, he has to flee. He has. He will not steal my joy.


Thursday, May 26, 2011


I am working on a post for the blog, but I wanted to let my friends know that things at the lake are VERY different than at home in terms of being connected. It is like, "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore." For those of you who have voice-mailed me or texted me on my cell phone, I can't retrieve anything because we have no cell service out here. I can see they have been left, but I can't do anything about it. If it was important, you'll need to call me on my landline. The internet service that we have is not only dial-up, but because we are in the boonies, it is BEYOND snail-pace. We sometimes have to wait 4-5 minutes to bring up a website. And then another 4-5 minutes to click on any link. It is so painfully slow that I rarely check anything anymore. I may look at my email every couple days, but I won't be doing my usual blog-following. So, if I seem slow in answering your emails, that is why. I look at our computer and I just want to walk away!! Til I get the next post done......

Friday, May 20, 2011


Dick bought an Easter lily from a student for a fundraiser. He brought it home, and while it looked healthy and had several buds, it was still very closed up. I was disappointed that we had an Easter without the magnificent scent of lily wafting through the room. But it wasn't the lily's time at Easter. It was 10 days later, when 8 huge flowers appeared, with a ninth still to come. The scent of lily filled our living room and every time you walked by it, the air stirred and the scent carried all over. It was the most beautiful and fragrant lily I have ever seen.

A bit like waiting for healing. It is not being done on my time. I remember how disappointed I was when the first PET scan showed no change in the tumors. I was so sure that THAT was "the time." Like the lilies, I need to rest, knowing that the scent and beauty of God's glory will shine forth on the day He releases me from cancer.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


For those of you who know my feelings about living at the cabin for the summer, you will be surprised to hear that I am really struggling lately with going. It is my favorite spot in the world, and yet the last 4 days of being there last August hold such powerfully difficult feelings. There is a tsunami of grief and utter terror and devastation and sadness now associated with my cabin, even though the property had nothing to do with my diagnosis. I am usually packed by the end of April and chomping at the bit to move up there. This year, I feel none of that. I have reluctance and trepidation and a sense of  fear that another crisis could send us back to SD in the middle of our summer, ruining it for my husband and son. I have visions of the 3 of us lost in grief and fear sitting on the deck, not knowing how to put one foot in front of the other. Sam and I are supposed to go up there on Tuesday (after a time in Fargo), and I do want to conquer these mental fears. I know satan is trying to steer me away from any joy I might be able to find, and he is being successful right now. I could really use some heart-felt prayer that God would bring me the peace I need for this transition, and that He would calm my anxiety. Thanks!

Monday, May 16, 2011


I am not a technology aficionado. I do not have an iPhone, an iPad or a Kindle. I still like landlines and answering machines. I have a cell phone that receives and sends texts from my son and is rarely used for phone calls. Frankly, the thought of being available 24/7 with a phone on my person at all times is unsettling. Before cell phones made people feel as if they are that important, it was perfectly acceptable to return phone calls when you returned home. Used to be that no call was so vital that it could not wait to be made. Does anyone else feel less than pleased that when you shop these days, you have 3 or 4 cell phone conversations swirling around your mind from other shoppers with phones attached to their ears?

Is it just me, or has the world become less conversational, less relational and more screen-oriented? You go to basketball games or restaurants and people are not watching or visiting. They are TEXTING! People seem obsessed with their cell phone screens, computer screens, TV screens, iPod screens, and their electronic book screens. Seems we now have a generation of kids who ask a date to prom via a text message, a generation of kids who eschew phone conversations and in-person direct-eye contact. Technology has changed human interaction for sure.

For those of you rolling your eyeballs, I can only plead some Luddite blood running through my body, probably more than most people. Ergo, I can write Ludditian.

In my mind, with technology, less is still more. Unfortunately for me, the world does not agree, and every technological advance adds “features” that I neither want nor need. I still like cameras that simply point and shoot, video cameras that have a start/stop button and nothing else, and cell phones that store a few numbers and make phone calls. I like the weight of a good tome and the feel of either new or musty pages of a real book. Why would I read something on-line or on Kindle when I can go to the library and get the book?

I will admit that a GPS system has saved my directionally challenged son hundreds of hours of being lost, and I do have a simple MP3 player that I enjoy on my walks. But you will not find me anytime soon with a phone that tells me where the nearest toilet is in the mall or coughing up big bucks for a cell phone plan that costs any more than my current $8 per month.

All that being said, after my low-key weekend of post-chemo and watching more TV movies than I usually watch in 3 months, I have to say that the one piece of technology that I really like, can understand and use, and am amazed by, is DVR. I love the fact that I can push PAUSE during a live show, take a phone call (on my landline), get a snack, and come back, press PLAY and not have missed a beat. I love DVR’ing the 4 prime time shows that I do watch and then watching them in half the time because I can fast forward at bullet speeds through the commercials. I like the fact that I can electronically store DVR’d shows for as long as I want.

Yeah, DVR rocks. I would not choose to give it up anytime soon. I suppose that takes a half-pint of Luddite blood out of my body. 

Friday, May 13, 2011


I've been too busy to blog! I worked full time Monday thru Thursday and spent the evenings doing errands and helping the guys pack up a load to take to the lake (they are up there this weekend turning on the water system and getting the dock in). This morning I left the house at 7 to drive to SF for chemotherapy and spent a few hours doing SF errands before leaving. Am finally home now and ready to take a walk then RELAX!! I'm alone for the stocked up on taped Oprah shows from the week and 4 new books, so I'll be snug as a bug. 

I absolutely LOVE my new doctor. How many times can I say it? He is amazing in his compassion and his faith and his demeanor. Since August, I have been so discouraged that my old doctor never EVER said to me something like, "Gee, Mary, I think you are doing well." I longed for those words. I just wanted that reassurance from her. Today, Dr. T got done visiting with and examining me and turns to me and smiles and says, "You are doing so great!" And then hugs me. I could hardly keep the tears back. Connecting with him is one of the many abundant treasures I have found on this journey.

As I step into my weekend post-chemo, I would just ask for prayer that any side-effects would again, be minimal or non-existent. Last round, I did not have 1 minute of nausea or fatigue, and that is quite an answer to prayer. So, I appreciate any intercession for the same results!!

Sunday, May 8, 2011


        I was given the most incredible Mother’s Day gift this year....simply being alive to celebrate being a mom for one more year.  

Mother's Day 2011

      For about 6 years, I wrote a monthly column for a regional magazine. In cleaning out file drawers last week, I stumbled across this old column, and want to reprint it here. I wrote it on my second Mother’s Day, 17 years ago. And so, to honor my own mom…..

          This will be my second Mother’s Day as a mom. The occasion has sent me a-pondering about “mother love.” The experiences of these couple of years have taught me that nobody can truly prepare you for the profound feelings of being a mom and loving a child, and I realize now that the best preparation for mothering my son was being mothered by my own mom.
          My mom, Pat Bolger Hieb, was a woman of the ‘40’s and ‘50’s. She was a highly respected professional until her marriage, when she assumed the role of full-time wife and mother. She created a warm and comfortable home and cooked wonderful meals. She was on numerous civic committees.
          As president of a national auxiliary, she took several trips to national meetings, and twice she took me along. Just mom and me. To Chicago and San Francisco. I was only 11 or 12, with beanpole legs and thick, pink, glittery glasses. But Mom introduced me with pride to “important people.” She made me feel so grown up and special.
          Mom did Girl Scouts, choir concerts, school plays. She made almost all my clothes. She baked truck loads of chocolate chip cookies and played chauffeur without complaint. She threw me an incredible surprise party on my 13th birthday. She praised my daily piano practices. She went to home games and watched me cheerlead. Mom encouraged, guided, and listened. She hugged away hurts.
          Mom was eventually caregiver for both my grandmas and did so with love and devotion. She even organized a candy-striper program for our local nursing home.
          As my mom has stepped into her later middle age, she has done so with vigor and beauty and finesse. She continues to give generously of her time and her heart. She is an inspiring role model for how I would like to grow older. And today, as I watch her with my son, I see visions of how she must have mothered me as a baby….and it warms my heart.
          I have spent many Mother’s Days as a daughter, loving and appreciating this woman who gave me life, roots and wings.
           But on this Mother’s Day, I understand my mom in a way I never have before. I’ve always known she was a great mom because of all the things she did with me and for me. I knew she loved me a lot. I knew she hurt when I hurt. I knew she took pride in my achievements. But until now, until I had my Sam, I never really knew how the love and the pride and the hurt felt.
          On this Mother's Day, I realize that the bond that holds our hearts together is not just that we are mother and child, but that we are mother and mother, two women who fiercely love our babies. Even when one baby is near 40.
          I guess it is not until you have your own child that you wholly understand your mom. And not until you have loved a child of your own can you know how much you are loved by her.
My sweet mama

  Happy Mother's Day, Mom!!

Saturday, May 7, 2011


One of my most anguished moments was lived out on that hot muggy August day last fall when we took Sam to college. Seven days post-diagnosis, the three of us were all emotionally fragile to begin with. We sat in the freshman parents’ convocation and heard the words that repelled off my damp, wounded skin. “You will all be here in 4 years to see these young men and women graduate……”

Like shards of steel piercing away at the core of my heart, I just knew that not only would I not be around in 4 years to see Sam graduate, but that I likely would not be around to even see him through his freshman year. The pain was almost more than I could bear. Only my husband knows the details of that day, and there they shall stay. Suffice it to say, my heart was ripped to shreds by the time we drove in our driveway.

But by the grace and mercy of our almighty God, this was the scene in our driveway yesterday, 9 months later.

I am forever amazed at the extravagant love of my Savior who has allowed me to say these words: My boy is home, a sophomore.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


If I have learned one thing during this cancer journey, it is that disease and sickness are NOT of God. I have studied Scripture for months and it is clear that disease and sickness are straight from the devil. Disease did not exist before the fall of man in the garden of Eden. It is Satan's handiwork. And I am so grateful that we have a God who heals!

I must share with you an amazing story of God's goodness from last night. I woke at about 4 with labored breathing. Every breath felt like it was being pushed through sludge or water. I turned to my other side, my back, and my stomach, all with the same results. My innate response was fear (read: the tumor must be blocking my airway). I got up and went to the bathroom and when I returned to bed, it continued for about an hour. Just as I was about to wake Dick up to tell him, I was overcome with a feeling of certainty that this "glitch" in my breathing was not right and too sudden and acute to be a tumor-related issue. Convinced that Satan was working his hardest to haul me back to wavering faith, fear and despair, I said, "In the name of Jesus Christ, Satan, you take this sludge out of my lungs now. This is your doing. In Jesus's name, my lungs are restored."

It brings tears to my eyes to say this: Immediately my lungs cleared. Immediately. I turned to my left and right and stomach, and they were fine, any way I was laying. 

There is a devil, and he basks in the glow of sickness. But God is so much more powerful than he is. He knows he has to flee at the sound of the name of Jesus. It was such a blessing to experience that. I know my Redeemer lives.....

To God be the Glory!!!

Monday, May 2, 2011


Dick and I drove to Sioux Falls yesterday to worship with a church that has been incredibly supportive of us for the past 8 months. Pastor Sam Allen and his wife JoDee (who is one of Dick’s PT students at USD) are the spiritual leaders of Life Abundant Church, a fellowship of devout and loving believers who have not only prayed for my healing, but have gone further to stand on God’s Word with us that healing is happening. Their church believes as we do that healing is one of God’s redemptive blessings, and that healing needs to be accepted in faith just as salvation is. They have even prayed about the healing ministry that Dick and I believe we have been mandated by God to start.

I am SUCH a chemo-brain, and forgot my camera to take some pictures. Wish I could put their faces on my blog for you all to see! When we arrived, a dear gal named Denise (who has also made meals for us) had a white rose corsage for me! They all were so warmly welcoming and it was probably pretty nice for them to finally put a face to my name. Dick and I were able to get up and give a short testimony of what God has led us through the past 8 months, and it was a blessing to be able to share God’s goodness in our lives. There were so many hugs from so many people….even young children. What a great church family they have! God is so glorified in every minute of their service and Sunday school. The Holy Spirit was so alive in Pastor Sam and his congregation……we just simply were blessed by the whole morning. I know we will be going back to worship with them again this fall.

I continue to fight with my right leg every day. The radiation effects have created stiffness and arthritis and I work at least 2 hours every day to loosen it up. Every day is different as to whether the heat, massage and stretching will help. My personal goal is to get back to being able to touch my toes to my nose, which I can easily do with my left leg. Not being as limber as I used to be is frustrating, but all I can do is keep at my “treatment.” Three nights ago I was able to reach my nose, but could only hold it for 2 seconds. My friend Sandy told me I have to keep working at it and I will.

I strained my back 2 weeks ago and that is making my leg worse. I am hoping my back will turn around soon so that I can be helpful getting this torn up house back together when the day finally comes. The new sinks come this morning, and the tile floor is in. That is progress.

Bless the Lord, O my soul…....who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases!! Psalm 103:1-5