Exotic Trip Coming Up!

Those of you who know and love me (or at least like me) know that I fell in love with Europe in 2001 after my first visit with my mother and little sister. I've been back twice since. Now, I get to go again!

James and I have wanted to do a mission-type trip and our heart was set on something having to do with children. My heart was affected about six or seven years ago about the plight of unwanted children in the Eastern block of Europe: Russia, Romania, Kosovo; areas such as that. The people are so poor that many times they abandon their children. The children are in state run homes/orphanages and many times don't get much attention, and even less love. So we researched several organizations for a few years and we finally zeroed in on one facilitated by an older couple in Romania. She ministers to over 11 of these homes (some hospice-type institutions too since many children battle disabilities or illnesses) and even more on a more peripheral basis. She packs packages full of goodies, treats, and just visits too. At Christmas and on Children's Day, which is June 1st, she supplies gift boxes for each child. Needless to say this is a LOT of work.

We will be heading over there to work with her to prepare for Children's Day. We'll be there for about 6 days helping put together the packages as well as deliver them and spend time with the children. The average age is toddler through about age 12.

From there we'll fly over to the exotic Istanbul for a few days. We are very excited about visiting the bazaars and taking in the Byzantine architecture. We've been boning up on the history of Turkey so we can be somewhat informed as to what periods came when in history; like was the Ottoman empire before the or after the Byzantine?

From Istanbul we'll jet down the coast to Izmir and we'll explore a couple of the "seven churches" like Ephesus. Then we'll take ferries and head off to the Greek island of Naxos. We'll end our stay in Athens after taking in the Acropolis.

We're very jazzed about the trip and most of the planning and plotting are complete. I'll make sure to blog while we're gone too.


March Madness

My travel schedule in the last month has been full. I went to Las Vegas for a Pink Elephant conference (a IT consulting firm). And yes, they actually brought in an elephant with "jewel" encrusted flowing pink drapery into the conference hall, carrying the Pink Elephant CEO. It was pretty amazing. Then 10 days later I was in LA for a week and then again the following week for another offsite. The good part about it was I got lots of sunshine in LA (Vegas, not so much).

Somewhere in all that I went in for my annual mammogram. While in LA on business I got a message from the imaging center to call in. I tried to call, but I had missed them and had to wait until after the weekend. Back in LA again the following week, I managed to reach them and found out that there was something that didn't look so good on the films and could I please come back in as soon as possible. Given that I had noticed a lump in my own exams for two months running, my blood ran cold. I setup the appointment for my first available day home, Friday, March 14Th. Given my mother had breast cancer, everyone's concern is doubly founded.

I went in late Friday afternoon and they took more pictures and validated that there was some "densities" that caused them alarm and asked if they could do an ultrasound right then and there. Of course, I said yes. After the ultrasound, they said they saw more detail and needed to do a biopsy, and would I mind if they did it then and there. Of course, I said yes.

Ouch! Big ouch. They numbed up the boob, inserted monster needles that pull out the offending tissue (they did three samples). They bandaged up my poor bloody booby and sent me home with the words "we'll know something sometime next week when the test results come back." Now it was the waiting game. I had all weekend to stew and baby my black and blue body part (hard to lift my arm even).

Well, I decided not to stew. For a few moments on the table there panic hit me as my mind was flooded with "what ifs." What if I have to have chemotherapy, what if I can't go on my trip to Europe? What if I'm sick when my grandson is born? Within moments tears welled up and nearly spilled over. Then I prayed. Lord, I'm not going to dwell on this. You are my comfort. You can save me. With You, all things are possible; even getting through this weekend without falling into an anxious meltdown. I started whispering parts of Psalm 23: "the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...thy rod and staff comfort me...I will fear no evil. He makes a table in the presence of my enemies."

My weekend went well overall. I managed to hang on to my sanity and not panic. I did have moments where I was not keen on making long-term decisions like purchasing airfare for a trip in the summer until I knew what the outcome was. I changed my hair appointment for the following week even. (Didn't want to spend $150 on my hair when I might lose it).

Monday came and went with no news. I called Tuesday afternoon to find out if they had any news; my nerves were raw, reminiscent of the feeling before a musical solo. I swear someone could have seen my blouse shiver with every beat it was beating so hard. The news? Benign. Whew! I felt like I lost a 100 pound weight off my shoulders that day. Relief flooded my body and within minutes the low-grade headache, muscle aches, and underlying tension slithered away. I immediately call James and let him know and then email my kids so they won't continue to worry. Relief all around by all.

But wait! The next day I got a call from my doctor's nurse. He wants me to come in and talk to me about my results she says. He won't discuss it on the phone. Concern immediately stalks right back and sets up camp. I have to wait two days to see him. On Friday March 21st his office is running behind so I have to wait for 20 minutes in the waiting room (uncharacteristic for him). I read, I make phone calls, anything but think about what bad news he might have to share.

Dr. Harrington finally calls me in and starts with pleasantries. "How's James and Ricky and Rosie?" "Am I excited to be a grandma?" Stuff like that. "Get to the point!" My mind screams out as I smile at him nicely. Finally he hells me that all is fine but I have cysts, densities, blah, blah, blah.... Another big "Whew!"

So all is well, the scare is finally over. All-in-all, I did manage to hang on to peace and not let myself get worked up. I've known many people who panic for days, but I kept myself busy, prayed, and generally tried not to dwell on it. I thank the Lord for that.

I thank my family for their prayers which I'm sure were what kept me safe and mentally sound through this mad, mad, March.