Family Vacation? Just kidding…

“People make plans, and God laughs.”  

That’s how the old saying goes, or at least that’s how I remember hearing that quote.  I don’t think God was laughing at me this week, rather I suspect He was holding me up and looking out for me, but the unfolding of this week was a great reminder of how volatile life can be.  It was a slap-in-the-face wake up call reminding me that I have a dream, and I better start making plans and taking actions to make that dream a reality.  

About eight months ago, we decided to take a family vacation to Hawaii over spring break.  It started with a week in Maui, and then we decided to tack on a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines of the Hawaiian Islands.  Fifteen years ago, we went on a similar journey, only that journey included our marraige, a wedding on the beautiful white sand beach of Makena Cove, or ‘The Secret Cove’ beach on Maui.  After we realized we recreated our wedding trip, we thought it would be fun to renew our vows, since it was our fifteen year anniversary and what a better way to celebrate than with our beautiful boys.  

After we decided on the plan, I visited our local bookstore and picked up a beautiful Dot Grid Planning Notebook to capture all of the plans – the logistics, itinerary, adventures, etc.  We started a family countdown and everyone was eager to embark on the family journey across the US to the beautiful islands of Hawaii.  

Only…I had a ominous feeling that it wasn’t going to come through to fruition and in fact, at work last week, I sent my husband a text and said “I have an ominous feeling we’re not going to Hawaii.”  

Two weeks ago  I noticed that I wasn’t feeling quite right.  I drink a ton of water during the day, and often frequent the restroom between meetings, doing my business and not thinking anything of it only I realized that I really had to focus to empty my bladder.  And what felt like a full bladder, ended up with only a few trickles.  “Hmmm…something’s going on.”  I assumed I was getting a UTI so I made a mental note to keep an eye on it went about my day.  It got worse over the weekend so on Sunday morning, 12 days before our trip, I decided to head to the Urgent Care.  Better get this taken care of before the cruise.  I went in to urgent care and ‘led the witness’.  “I think I have a UTI” and I reviewed my symptoms – loss of appetite, frequent urination, pressure in my lower abdomen, dull ache on my lower right back.  They did a urine culture which came back negative but she sent it out for a culture as when caught early, it sometimes doesn’t show up; she prescribed me with an antibiotic and I was convinced I would be healed.  

Only, that night, something just didn’t sit well with me.  I looked up the symptoms of appendicitis…oh my goodness, I have all of the symptoms.  (Sigh). I waited until Wednesday, still not having relief and while at work, asked a co-worker if she wanted to take a walk for coffee – something I used to enjoy but lately, has not been pleasant.  I was telling her of the symptoms, and said “we’re going on a trip, I don’t have time for this, I’m sure it’ll get better.”  She shared some experiences that she had and said “You need to go back to your desk and schedule a follow-up with the doctor.  This is serious, whatever it is. You need peace of mind.”  So I did just that.  

The doctor said that the symptoms didn’t necessarily sound like appendicitis but rather an ovarian cyst and she put in an order to have an ultrasound done – Monday – 4 days before we were to depart.  

Monday morning rolled around and I was energetically ready to start the week – a lot to be done, but our vacation was finally only a few days away.  A new Club Pilates facility opened near by and Monday was their first day of classes.  I was scheduled for the 6 am class.  My alarm was set, clothes all laid out only through Sunday night, I kept having an odd feeling that I shouldn’t go.  Something’s not right. The alarm rang to get me up in time, and I shut it off.  Hubby thought I slept in, but I intentionally decided not to go.  I shrugged it off as “whoops – guess I was more tired than I thought.”  I started the day and felt great.  Whatever I had must be on the mend…there’s no need for me to go to the Ultrasound.  I had a few meetings in the morning so I sent my hubby a text and said “You know what, I feel fine. I’m sure I’m on the mend. Can you call the Imaging Center and cancel my appointment.”  I got a text back “Done.”  

And then, out of the blue, my high school friend Kristin and her cousin Sarah popped into my head.  Now as a side bar, I’ve been trying to be more diligent about where I spend my time, and made a deliberate effort to remove Facebook off of my phone and limit the time I was spending on the app.  Kristin and I keep in touch through Facebook and since my deliberate avoidance of Facebook, there had been no reason for them to come into my mind – I didn’t see a post, had no idea what she was up to.  The odd thing, is that her cousin passed away several years ago to Ovarian Cancer. “You owe it to yourself to get this checked out” passed through my mind.  

I sent Hubby a text again “Can you call them back?”  I went to the appointment, fully knowing that the technicians aren’t allowed to say anything about what they are seeing.  I am a by the book rule follower but decided to try “I don’t suppose you can tell me if you see anything.” And her response “Let’s say I see what’s causing your problem.”  I looked up at the white sandy palm tree filled beach that was on the ceiling, meant to calm patients and thought ‘that’s as close to a Hawaii beach as I’m going to see.”  

The doctors called that night, and it turns out I have a large mass on my ovary – 9.5 x 8 x 6 cm.  The size of a large coffee mug.  Now. I’m not a very large person, 5′, 105 pounds – when they told me the size, I made a model out of post it notes on my desk and realized this mass was about a quarter of the size of my torso.  Fast forward to the end of the week – our vacation has been cancelled, I’ve been tested for Ovarian Cancer and am awaiting the results, and have a follow up with a Gynecological Oncologist to have the ovary removed in 2-4 weeks.  

As I’m sitting here writing this, Hawaii seems like a distant dream but it’s been a refreshing reminder of how precious and volatile life truly is.  I do have dreams, to become an author, and this week made me realize that I need to turn my dreams into plans and start making focused efforts to get there.  

You may wonder how I’m holding up, and I will tell you surprisingly well. This week was horrible as we had no plans – were we going on vacation or not? is there something going on or not? do I have cancer or not? But after the official diagnosis, and the path forward set by my doctor, I’m doing ok. We have a plan and there are things that are just simply out of my control. I spent some time today just relaxing, visiting a local bookstore and starting to stock up on my book pile while I’m down and out recovering from surgery and bought myself a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

And as the painting on the wall reminds me “Be Strong and of Good Courage. Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you where you go.” Joshua 1:9.

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