Archives for category: Illness

Over the last couple of years, I’ve told you of my experiences with Relay for Life. I’ve told you about Kate, my friends Nick and Kelly’s daughter, who passed away from cancer when she was eleven.

You’ve already heard from me.

So this year, you are going to hear from Megan, Kate’s little sister. Megsie was 8 when Kate died, and at [almost] 16, she is still working hard at raising money for Relay in memory of Kate and her Grandpa Marv.

She creates luminaries that show her love for them…

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and she writes letters to let people know why she participates in Relay for Life.

I’m sharing one with you today:


Over 7.6 million people die from cancer each year. About 20,000 people die each day. Our goal is to help people celebrate more birthdays. Every donation helps towards having someone turn a year older.

As most of you know, we celebrate Relay in memory of my grandpa and my sister. My sister would have been celebrating her 18th birthday this year. She would be graduating, going to prom, and applying for colleges. My grandpa would be 77 years old. He would be outside, riding his bike, driving his Porsche, and enjoying life.

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We raise money so that one day we will be able to say that we helped people find a cure for cancer. No matter how big or small, every donation helps us take a step towards finding a cure for this terrible disease.

For the last 7 years The Smiling Kate’s have been the top fundraising team. With your help last year, our team was able to raise over $18,000 in memory of my grandpa, sister, all the other people who are survivors, and people who have lost their lives. It was great!!! This year we would love to beat that.

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This year Relay is on June 18th and 19th at Hawkeye Community College. It is from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday.

We would love your donation!!! To donate online go to, and then click “Donate.” Click “Search for participant,” type in Megan Evens. After that click on my name and then click donate!

We appreciate your donation! Every little bit helps!

If we can help more people celebrate their birthdays and get to do the things they look forward to in life, the world will be a much greater place.

Thanks again! Hopefully someday soon our work will pay off!

~Megan, Kelly, and Nick


Thanks for reading, and letting Megan have a voice here.

If you are so inclined, follow the link above and donate… Megan and her family will be walking through the night tonight in memory of those who have lost their battles, and in celebration of those who get another birthday.


It’s been raining a lot here. And by a lot, I mean all. the. time. Ok, the sun does shine from time to time, but more often than not there is some sort of system brewing and some sort of precipitation in the forecast.

The other day I was laying on the couch, listening to the rain pounding against the windows. I am often more tired and in more pain when the weather is changing, so the couch and I were fast friends that day.

What became interesting to me, as the rain showers started and stopped and started again, is that every single time the sound of raindrops subsided, the sound of birds singing took over. As one faded away, the other began as if a radio DJ was playing a commercial during a break from the regular programming.

There was rarely so much as a pause after every single storm before the birds sweetly sang once again. They sang to welcome the sun and celebrate the reprieve. They alerted everyone to the beauty in the aftermath.

But what did they do when it was raining?

I tried to picture them hiding in the little wren house I have hanging next to my patio door, or securing their safety by nestling in the branches of a bush laden with leaves. Did they tuck their beaks and hide beneath their wings? Were they afraid of the storm and later singing because of their gratitude for having safely survived?

Or were they singing all along?

Were they singing through the storm?

Were they singing, and the rain pounding on my windows drowned out their voices?

Were they singing, always joyful in the middle of the storm, even when I couldn’t hear them?

That’s the bird that I want to be. That’s the song I want to escape from my lips. That’s what I want you all to know in those times when you don’t see or hear from me.

As I often skip a Thursday of posting when the previous three days of writing are all I can muster. When I’m quiet on Twitter because rest comes before tweeting. As I am still tackling an inbox full of emails that go back an entire year… emails I am determined to get to but are falling silent right now because I am digging my way out of them.

Even when there are storms of pain or illness or exhaustion that keep me from being heard, I want you all to know that my beak is not tucked under my wing.

I am not hiding, nor am I silent.

Sometimes, you just can’t hear me from the sound of the storm beating on my window.

But I am always singing.

I am writing at the (in)courage blog today, and my inspiration for the post came when I was reading Angie’s first book, I Will Carry You. She managed to take a personal journey of joy and loss in her life, and turn it into something every one of us can learn from in our own lives.

Not a small task. And she did it with grace.

Below is an excerpt from my post:


It’s an amazing book, one that feels like a bible study mixed in with the beautiful story of her daughter, Audrey. I was only fifty or so pages in when she was talking about the story of Abraham and Isaac, which prompted her to look up the meaning for the word “trial.” This is what her book said:

TRIAL (Old Testament) noun: from the Hebrew word sara which comes from the root srh, which means, “to bind, tie up, restrict.” Thus, the noun comes to denote a narrow place in life where one is bound or restricted

I read it, and then read it again. And as I tried to digest it, I kept muttering to myself, “God, what are you trying to say here?!?!”


To read my post in its entirety, click here: Trial Personified.

I think it goes without saying that it’s been a heck of a year. Last Friday was a year to the fateful-day that I left the house to go to the doctor, made some decisions and had the reaction to end all reactions.

Which means it’s been a year of living inside the house, a year since opening windows, a year since – well – everything. And, ironically, the past week I’ve been pretty miserable, sick and unable to breathe because I need some maintenance done on the air purifier that keeps me breathing inside the condo. Yep, even inside isn’t always safe when filters need cleaned.

In some ways, it feels a little disappointing to me that it’s only been a year because it seems like it’s been so much longer. But when I look back on all this year has held for me and all the obstacles that presented themselves, I understand why a year doesn’t seem like enough… I think I lived at least three years worth in this past one. And as much as I feel like I’ve lost stamina and abilities in this year, I also am so grateful for how far I’ve come.

My Cushing’s is getting better, my vitals are getting back to normal and I’m learning to work around some of the other limitations it’s left me with. More than anything, I am so grateful to see myself again when I look in the mirror. I’m not going to lie… I’m not where I want to be. I’m incredibly impatient to lose the last 40 of the 70 pounds Cushing’s has left me with. But the swelling and the deformities that left me looking like a completely different person… that part of it is gone.

Which means that the face I see in the mirror, although heavier, is now mine. That I am grateful for more than anything else. And while I’ve learned a lot of lessons in the past year, the hardest and wisest one came from a very sweet five year old.

When I say I looked scary, that is seriously an understatement. I scared myself. People walked in the door and gasped. Some cried. They all knew me and loved me, but my appearance was literally shocking if you weren’t ready for it. And, more than anything, I was really afraid for the kids to see me. I didn’t want them to be scared. I didn’t want them to worry. I didn’t want them to see the reality of my world.

Susie called one day to tell me about a conversation she had with the boys while driving in the van… it had been a number of months since I had seen them and they kept wanting to come over. She explained to them [again] that I was really sick and didn’t look like myself. She explained to them that I was embarrassed and they might be a little scared.

My Tyler started in with, “But Mom, doesn’t she know she’s the nicest girl I ever knew? She’s also the sickest girl I ever knew. But doesn’t she know how much we love her?”

Silly me. Didn’t I know?

That statement pierced my heart. But it was the next one that made me tell Susie to drive them over immediately. Tyler was talking about how I was the best godmother he has [yep, I’m the only one he has, but I take it as high praise anyway] when Jonboy said to him, “She is, Tyler. But don’t be sad if your godmother dies.”


Here, these sweet little boys who would love me if I was blue, these boys I was trying to protect from being scared of how sick I was, had imaginations that exceeded the scariest reality I was facing. In protecting them from seeing my truth, they created a more frightening one.

Didn’t I know?

In truth, they were scared when they came. There were no big hugs as usual. Jonathan immediately went into the bathroom and Ty kept his distance at first. But then we started talking… he realized the person inside this crazy looking body was still me, and then we couldn’t get him to shut up for the next half hour. He was over it. He saw ME underneath all the illness. Jonathan, it became clear, wasn’t scared of me. He was sad beyond words for me. But my smile became his smile, and hugs were given by the time they left.

I still couldn’t look in the mirror. I still couldn’t see myself there. But I could see myself in those sweet little boys. They taught me a lot this year.

They were over here a few weeks ago, posing for photos as they always do, when they took a vote and insisted we take one together. I look good compared to how I did last summer, but my mind is still completely adverse to my chubby cheeks and thinned out hair. I’m still embarrassed to be the size I am compared to the size I was. But how much I love them is more important than being embarrassed.

So we took the picture.

I’m so proud of them. And proud of how they love me. I’m done with, “Doesn’t she know how much we love her?”

I know, I get it.

And I love them, too.

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I’ve decided the difference between being chronically ill and having a brief illness is the activity of the mind.

When you have the flu and you’re laying on the couch… shaky, achy and miserable… your body can do nothing and you want to do nothing. You wonder after a day or so if you remember what being healthy feels like, and decide that nothing in life is important enough to risk moving from that very spot.

You’ve all been there, right?

You desire to do nothing except feel miserable until miserable has run its course.

Chronic illness can be similar in a lot of ways. I lay on the couch… shaky, achy and miserable… my body can do nothing, but I want to do something.

I know health isn’t coming at the end of this run. I know that whatever is around the corner – in some way shape or form – is  going to involve this illness. If history is any indication, around the corner will bring a new hurdle, not a smoother road. But unlike short term illness, my brain doesn’t tend to slow down and give in to my body.

I still watch Funny Girl on the weekend and dream of being discovered and put on a stage. I still look out the window and wonder if the water at the lake is warm yet, if people are grilling out and eating sweet corn. My mind drifts to past gatherings and I wonder what the current ones are sounding like.

Because I know those things are unreachable, my mind is constantly shifting to what I can do here. Letters I want to write to people, gifts I want to make, dishes I want to dare prepare in the kitchen.

My mind is constantly on the go.

But my fingers are too sore to write on the card, my body is too tired to stand and paint, and cooking is a pointless task when my hands and wrists no longer let me do something as simple as cut a piece of meat.

I’m a girl who desires a goal. I’m a girl whose mind goes a million miles an hour with ideas. But I’m also a girl who doesn’t have a body that can back it up. Often, despite my best efforts, I find myself to be a girl whose body allows her nothing.

That’s where trust keeps coming into play for me.

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I trust that if my body is allowing for nothing that my mind can create, then I am meant to be doing something my mind can’t create. I’m trying to keep my eyes open all the time so when something small crosses my path that I am capable of, I can respond and participate. I’m trusting that God will put ways I can help people within my reach, and that my body is not allowing me the things of my mind because the things of His mind are more important.

What about you?

Are you living your life fighting for what your mind wants, or are you trusting and being open to the things that He may be putting in front of you?

I’m skipping a few years of Memorial Day celebrations so I have the space to show you all the layouts for 2007.

We may have taken a few photos that year. 🙂

I love capturing moments, and my sister Laura had just gotten a DSLR for Mother’s Day, so we had a hay day with the cameras. I also took a lot of pictures that year because I had this nagging pull on my heart the entire time. It was one of those weekends that I was purposefully taking in every moment because it was becoming very clear to me that it would be my last year traveling home.

I had no idea my health would continue to spiral like it did, as quickly as it did. I just knew my limitations were escalating. I remember standing in the kitchen with mom, after everyone else had left to go home, and saying that it was the perfect weekend to end on for me. The kids were all so good and played so great together, everyone was relaxed, there was no schedule. It was calm. And happy. And I felt so blessed in that moment to have it.

I think Mom was still a bit in denial at the time about whether or not I’d be making any car trips after that, but she agreed that it was a lovely time. I hope you can see in the photos the kind of happy it left with us.

I look back on these pages often.


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So, last Friday I had every intention of blogging.

I intended on blogging in the same way I intend on blogging every week day. Except, some week days it just doesn’t get done. I was really tired on Thursday and not really moving so well, and the thought of sitting up and saying something sounded like a lot of effort, so I just didn’t do it.

I skipped. It happens.

I just happened to skip writing on the two year anniversary of starting this blog.


Hey! Thanks for sticking around for two years you crazy people!!!!

Thanks for sticking around while I ramble on about the antics of the most ridiculous blog dog.

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Thanks for sticking around while I sometimes write about things that probably only seem important to me.

Thanks for sticking around when I pour out my heart and am feeling less than completely thrilled with my life.

Thanks for sticking around when I write posts about choosing joy … posts that are a reminder for me just as much as they are for you.

Thanks for sticking around while I tell you silly stories about my childhood that I write simply so I won’t forget them.

Thanks for sticking around even when I’m not around. For those days when I’m not well enough to blog and you all are here for me anyway. For those moments when you all have been my lifeline to a world I want to be a part of and sometimes just don’t have the energy to be in.

Thanks for all of that. And all the other stuff I haven’t mentioned.

Just, thanks.

For being you.