Today is another landmark day or anniversary. It has officially been a year. "Since what?" you might ask. Since I got the WONDERFUL call from my Nurse Practitioner that I was in REMISSION. PTL! How time flies! I can't believe I've been in remission for a year! 2009 has come and gone. I can't believe it's coming upon a year anniversary of having graduated...time is just moving right along, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. As Ferris said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in a while, you might miss it." Profound words from a slightly less profound source.
I realize that it's been a while. Jumping back into things in January is always crazy, as you surely understand. I've been thinking of blogging for a while, but I hope I'm not so narcissistic that I think I should post because everyone is waiting on that. While I find that blogging has been incredibly therapeutic for processing, for some reason it seems hard to justify blogging when I don't have a ton of Hodgkin's related info to convey since I don't want to be self-important and think my voice needs to be another one to add into the mix of this day and age where everyone can be a "writer" by their own standards. But, that's another topic...one that I get hung-up on as a former English major and current English teacher.
All of that is to say, if you HAVE been checking for updates, I am so sorry. I do think it's fitting on this 1-year celebration of CONTINUED remission (yes, I had scans over break of which I will get to in a minute) to update on my health and to maybe explain how Christmas break went since some of you either saw pictures or read in our Christmas card that we had a pretty exciting break. :)
So, Christmas break. On Wednesday, December 23rd, my mom and I went to Baylor Plano to have my 6 month CT scan. It was a slowwww process of waiting, but once they called me back, the scan itself only took 5-10 minutes. We waited for 3-4 hours. Good times. ANYWAY, the Dallas guys read them and said they were still clear, so that is a huge praise! As I've mentioned, Hodgkin's is really curable, but if it's going to come back, it's usually within the first year or two, so this is the time to watch for it. Dr. Gordon in Chicago still has to read them additionally, but it sounds like they're good!
After that less fun day, we had a great Christmas! This was the last one for my parents to have any kids still living at home, so it'll be interesting next year as Madelyn comes back from Charleston, I'm back from Honolulu, and Katie's back from Colorado Springs--all to celebrate Christmas. I'm predicting it will be LOUD since someone will have all kinds of new adventures to share about...and she tends to be loud anyway. :)
On Wednesday, December 30, we flew to New York City to celebrate New Year's Eve. Being in Times Square and watching the Ball drop was something I'd always wanted to do, and it was SO COOL! I would recommend everyone doing it at least once. Some people had told me that it's the "best thing you never do again," and I might agree with that, but if the weather conditions were perfect, I'd probably do it again. It was fun. I don't know if you realize (I didn't), but there are over 1 million people there, so the crowds you see in Times Square itself on tv are not even close to the majority of people, thus lots of people are lined up many blocks away where they essentially watch the action on a tv screen set up outside. Hearing this from my best friend Sarah, we decided that if we were going to spend the money, take the time, and freeze, we were going to do this RIGHT, which meant we were gonna be IN the heart of Times Square.
And we were (check out our vantage point). We got to the epicenter of Times Square at 12pm on December 31, and we were standing there for over 12 hours (it takes a while to celebrate and leave). Despite waiting for eternity and the sleet/snow/rain mixture that started coming down on us by about 9pm, it was INCREDIBLE! We made some friends actually as soon as we got there--an engaged couple named Brett and Chi, and they ended up staying with us and joining our family the whole time! We had so much fun "holding the lines" to our space and giving evil eyes to those that tried to infringe on it (which happened about every minute), we played Mad Gab, we listened to music on a portable speaker, and eventually, when the entertainers started coming out, we watched/listened to them. This second picture is of the family with our family "mascot" (?) Cheese...you had to be there...or have seen Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends...
Here are some more pictures:
The first is of the official countdown. Here it's down to 12 seconds (BEST NUMBER EVER):
The second picture is of the stroke of midnight!!
The final picture is of all the confetti--apparently they drop more than 2 tons of it...and yet, not ONE SINGLE PIECE fell on us.
It was AWESOME. I'm SO glad we did that! And, on top of all of that, we got to see 3 Broadway shows, which I am in love with since I think the coolest job ever would be to sing on Broadway. :) My mom, Madelyn, and I flew back late Saturday, January 2nd, and then I flew back to Honolulu the next day at about noon, so it was a bit of a whirlwind, but it was absolutely worth it, and I had a great time with my family.
Back in Hawaii, things are going well--again, it's weird that there are no seasons, so it really doesn't feel like February, and more than that, it feels like it's the same day, every day, but I think I'm adjusting. Plus, I definitely DON'T miss those days in the teens or even below 0 that my Wheaton friends have been reminding me about lately. I've been busy with school, Homecoming (it's in January here because they have it for basketball), and then Junior Camp which is like a retreat with the whole junior class. That was great, and though the junior class has apparently been known previously to not have a lot of drive or unity, it was really cool to see them bond and come together for Homecoming week and the competitions that went on last week with that.
Also, I got to share some things I'd been learning in the form of "myths" we sometimes have about God, so that was good--probably for me as I continue to process, especially. I basically shared about my myth that sometimes I think God is "out to get me"--and not directly, but subconsciously that shows up. For instance, the first few months I was here, I remember just thinking that it was almost too good to be true--that I'd gotten something I actually PLANNED on, which is usually NOT the case--and I almost had this feeling that I was just waiting for something bad to happen, which is TERRIBLE of me! So, I got to share how I realized that that kind of thinking is definitely a myth--sometimes God does have to teach us hard lessons, and to be honest, usually we don't get what we want. BUT, it's not like God is sitting up in Heaven all nonchalant thinking, "yeah, just you wait Hannah. This won't last. Don't get too happy." And yet, when I feel like I'm waiting for something bad to come along and mess it up, that shows that I DO sometimes forget that God has the BEST for me, that He is GOOD, and that He is on my side. I think I've shared all of that before, but I figured that if I'm going to tell you that I shared at Junior Camp, I should probably tell you what I shared about.
Aside from that lesson, people have been asking me, "Where are you in your relationship with the Lord?" lately, and it's been hard to answer. It's not that I think I'm in a dry spell because I think I'm growing, but then again, I don't know that I've been growing incredibly. I don't think I'm in an apathetic spot or anything, but the reason it's hard to answer is because I don't KNOW! That sounds like a cop-out, but really, I feel like I'm not SURE where I'm at. I'm not talking about what I believe--I know that--but as for how I'm growing in my walk with the Lord, I think I am, but I just can't pinpoint it. If that's not the vaguest thing or the most confusing, then please let me know where I'm at. :) You can see my struggle with answering that question. So, in the meantime, I'm trying to grow and pursue the Lord, and I realize that, most of the time, we don't know what we are learning DURING the lessons anyway. I was reading to my homeroom from The Red Sea Rules the other day, and I love one of the phrases Morgan uses. He says, "The Christian life is less of an unveiling than an unfolding," and I agree. I don't think the metaphorical curtain ever just drops and TA-DA! we know. On the contrary: life is more of an unfolding step by step as God shows us one day at a time how to follow and what that actually looks like.
While I'm at it, I should share another quote that has a great contrast of what the Christian life ISN'T with what it IS: "God's people don't live on explanations; they live on promises, and those promises are as unchanging as the character of God" (Warren W. Wiersbe). That comes from a commentary on Psalms that I've been working through, and I feel like that is great advice to remember, and it's been helpful as I think through last year. Yeah, we don't always get explanations. BUT, we do receive hundreds of promises, and the God who promises us all of those good things is FAITHFUL. I like that quote a whole lot, basically.
On a few last notes, in case you are wondering about lingering side-effects, my toe nails have almost grown out all the way to where they are almost all connected to skin again. :) Also, I am wearing my hair short. I came back from Christmas and decided that, even if I absolutely HATE this short hair, at least, by the end of this, if people ask me how I liked short hair, I can answer fairly. However, if I wore a wig until it was shoulder-length at least and people asked me that question, I might never know if I hated it or loved it. And, on the hope that this lymphoma will not come back nor will I contract another kind of cancer in the future, I decided that, if I do HATE it, I never have to wear it short again. My current thoughts are: 1. it's growing on me. haha...pun intended. :) 2. it's cute. not pretty, but it works and it's different, and again, I never have to wear it short again if I don't want to. 3. I am SO jealous of girls who can throw their hair into ponytails. People tell me that I'm "lucky" because it must be so easy to style, but that is not true. It's not easy if you don't know HOW to style it, and I can't just throw my hair into a ponytail that I try to make look decently nice for work. No, I have to wash it and attempt to style it much more frequently than I did with my long hair.
And now, on to the future. February is a short month--in case you didn't know that--so it should go by pretty quickly. I'm not anticipating much happening this month outside of GRADING GRADING GRADING (why am I an English teacher?!?). The reason for so much grading--and planning--is because I'm trying to work ahead for March. Why, you might ask? March is going to be a month of fun (and work, but fun, too!). My mom comes the first week on her spring break, my best bud Caroline (who went with me to the Dallas chemo and was shopping with me when I found out) is coming the next week on her spring break, my cousin may or may not be coming to stay one week, the juniors and seniors have Prom which junior advisers help plan, so I will be there, and then we get two weeks of spring break! The second week I'm going to Kauai, so I'm excited. I'll update on those as they come, but I figured I'd at least lay out why it is that February will probably be a super low-key month.
To those who would be jealous: please realize that I still do not go to the beach every day. I happen to have a job where I work INDOORS most of the day, so that is why I do not look like someone injected me with Hawaiian blood. Also, I should probably clear up that Hawaiians do not wear grass skirts around, do not surf to school, and do not live in grass huts. I'm sure there are a couple of THOSE people who do that just to be different--or maybe on surrounding islands in rural parts, but since the students complain that people they meet ask them these questions, I figured I'd go ahead and clear up those rumors for you. My fellow Texans: you understand their plight because it's like all of those other Americans who ask if we rode horses to school, how many pairs of cowboy boots we have, and how many cows we own.
Ok. I should go because I have a lot of grading to do. Thank you SO much to everyone who has continued to lift up my family. I am floored again and again by people's love and continued support even now, a year into remission! Thanks for encouraging me, and thanks for letting me share. God is so faithful, and as I look back on the last 15 months, I am reminded of that again and again. God bless!
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,