Scars in the Sunlight

With Shelly Vaughn

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February 28 Update

A lot has happened since round #2 of chemo on Thursday. Thursday night Rob buzzed off my hair for me (with some “help” from the girls). It was emotional, but it was falling out and I wanted to cut it off while I felt physically ok and before the chemo side effects set in over the weekend. Friday, Trisha was here hanging out when I got the best heart-warming surprise visit from 2 of my life-long friends from PA (Megan Nagel and Carly Caruso). Never thought I would be saying that the day after chemo was one of my favorite days ever. It was beautiful outside… a nice way to get used to a bald head. We had lunch at Market District (because you all know I love that place) and looked at old photo albums from middle school. Nothing like wonderful memories (and crazy fashion photos) to get your mind off of an illness. Saturday, I got another visit from my dear friend Mindy Brisbane Vickers, and started feeling the side effects so I slept most of the day. Trisha and I already had tickets to Disney on Ice with the girls, so the wonder-woman she is somehow managed to get our 4 girls ready and packed for the show in Pittsburgh, and get me to the show while I slept in the car. I woke up for the show, then slept on the drive back home. I’m so thankful I had that time with the girls… it was a great experience. My mom brought the girls and me home where I slept away the rest of the weekend through Monday while she helped around the house and preoccupied our kids. The bone pain this time seemed a little more intense and I’ve had a harder time with nausea/eating. My fatigue has lasted longer, too, but that’s expected. I went to work for part of the day today, trying to wear my wig for the first time. Thankfully, I have amazing friends at work who help me and cover for me when I can’t last a whole day. Thank you again to everyone who has sent cards and messages and everything. I’m feeling loved; which is a much needed balance to this physical crumminess.

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The Unmaking

“This is the unmaking.
Beauty in the breaking.
Had to lose myself to find out who You are.
Before each beginning,
there must be an ending.
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars…

…Only when we’re broken are we whole…

…I’ll gather the same stones where
Everything came crashing down.
I’ll build you an altar there
on the same ground.”

This song played through my head the entire morning of my first treatment. And I’ve listened to it every day since then… several times. I feel like “unmaking” is a perfect description of how I feel. For the first time in my life, I have very little control of my physical health. I have to follow protocol to have poison injected into me for 5 months. I have to feel fatigued and nauseous. I have to lose my hair and feel less like myself than ever before. And it’s all for healing. Every negative symptom shows me that the chemo is working and every healthy cell that is killed (“unmade”) in the process is beautiful in that it will eventually be replaced by only healthy cells. I’m feeling physically broken, but hopefully this is a temporary dark night before a beautiful new beginning. That my body will be “normal” again in the future, and can be re-made as a healthier altar where the Holy Spirit dwells to use me for wonderful things.

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It Is Well

You all know I have a strong faith that has helped me through difficult times in the past- especially losing a close cousin and also a dear friend to cancer. I know I will get through this, but it is still scary to be standing in shoes similar to theirs at the beginning of their experience. My friend, Allison Armstrong chose to have the song “It is Well” played at her funeral and it forever changed the way I heard and understood the power of those words. Now, in the middle of my own experience, I can’t help but feel an even deeper, soul-reaching sense of peace when I listen to the lyrics. For anyone who does not have a relationship with Christ, I hope you can see His presence in my experience. He didn’t cause this, but He will carry me through it. Enjoy this beautiful version… “This mountain that’s in front of me will be thrown into the midst of the sea.”

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February 13 Update

Hey everyone. Just wanted to let you all know I’m doing well. Feeling more like myself today after sleeping away most of the weekend. I’m learning the balance of the meds and their side effects- like that nausea meds knock me out for a few hours. Better to sleep than to be sick though. 🙂 I so appreciate everyone’s texts and messages the day of my treatment and through the weekend. It was hard to respond to everyone, but know that I read them all and love hearing from people. My friend also started a gofundme page yesterday. I don’t know how to show appreciation for that… it’s so beyond generosity that I expected. I’m thankful to everyone who has contributed to easing the financial burden for us, and mostly for allowing us to have some sense of normalcy for our girls. Words are not enough…

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First Round


First round done!! I worked this morning to try and keep myself distracted, but how to you suppress the thought that your chemo treatments start that afternoon? (You don’t!) I was anxious beforehand and when we first got there, but once the medicine started I was ok. It didn’t take as long as I expected, accessing my port barely hurt, and I’m feeling ok so far. (The effects will start tomorrow.) thank you for all the cards, gifts, messages, texts, and prayers today. I love feeling the love!!

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Good Day

Today was a really good day. It’s the first day that felt good since my diagnosis 2 weeks ago. Though I didn’t sleep much last night, I was excited to wake up this morning. I started with an early morning haircut- with a great friend who got hers cut short, too. Then headed to meet a special group of friends for brunch. It felt so comforting to be surrounded by friends and be able to laugh and enjoy their company. Then we just hung out at home with the girls doing regular Saturday things- coloring with Liana, watching Olivia do her cartwheels and dances. The girls had a friend’s sleepover tonight so Rob and I had a nice evening of dinner and a movie (both with coupons which made it even sweeter). I needed a day like today- no medical procedures, not much pain or discomfort from my port anymore, and a true feeling of contentment that I’ve been missing. I’m sure it’s fleeting, but I’ll enjoy it while it’s here.