Blessings at my feet

Aug 03

Last August, when we were on our post-chemo vacation that was gifted to us by some dear friends, I snapped a picture of my feet.


I know, I’m weird.

(I found the picture as I was organizing photos and trying to decide how to group photos into albums.  I miss the age of photography when this had to be decided every 24 pictures when the film roll was full.  I’m more than a little overwhelmed by the thousands of pictures on my hard drive.  Suggestions?)

Today, I looked down at my feet, and I see that I have flip flop tan lines.

Flip flop tan lines = happy, carefree days.

Seeing the picture of last year’s feet made me remember how high maintenance my feet were then.  Oddly, my feet were plagued with the most problematic side-effects during chemo last year.  I lost a toenail early on, after my first round of Adriamycin (chemo agent), so that toe lived under a band-aid for the whole summer.  Throughout my twenty weeks of chemo, I had 7-10 infections (like hang nails) that my weakened immune system couldn’t fight off, so I was on antibiotics for each of those infections.  I learned to call the doctor as soon as I felt the pain start, otherwise I was left at 3am with my foot awkwardly elevated above my heart in a desperate attempt to make the throbbing pain stop.  There were some days/weeks that I couldn’t run because my toes were too fragile.  But, for the most part, I put on bandaids and carried on with my day.

By the time our vacation rolled around, I had just finished 12 rounds of Taxol, a drug which is notorious for causing nail trouble.  Most days when we went to the beach, I put bandaids on all ten of my toes to try to keep my nails on in the surf.  (Band-aids + sand = bwwahahaha).  I would come back from the beach and soak my feet in hydrogen peroxide and use q-tips to clean the sand out.  I should have bought stock in band-aids.  I ended up losing four more toenails when it was all said and done.

It’s funny to think about all of that now.  It sounds like a lot of drama, but it didn’t feel like it at the time.  I was bald, after all, and that made my bathroom routine seem gloriously breezy and efficient.  Band-aids and beach just went hand in hand, and I knew that my toenails, and my hair, would recover.  Toenails and hair are not the good stuff in life.

I have so many fun family memories of that trip.  I am so grateful that I did not get sidelined by toe infections or baldness or awkwardness.  I would have missed Greta’s first steps in the ocean and Maren’s first boogie board rides.  We adapt, don’t we?  We shove aside what doesn’t matter to soul-search the things that do matter.

I am still running 1-3 times a week: I wear a compression sleeve on my left arm (where I had lymph nodes removed) to prevent my arm from swelling and feeling tight.  (Incidentally, I got my compression sleeves from a fantastic company called Lymphedivas; I highly recommend them if you are having lympedema (swelling) issues after surgery.  Their customer service was exceptional.)

I am swimming 1-5 times a week, depending on the weather and schedules: I wear a suit that covers up my chest and my port.  I think I would feel more self-conscious if I had time to think about it.  Usually, I’m too busy with my kids to think about body image; this, I know, is a great blessing.

All of my hats feel too small this summer because I have, you know, hair instead of just a bald head.

Things are different; there are always challenges and adaptations, but the sweetness is always right there too.

I see the picture of last year’s feet, and I don’t think about the drama/pain/issues.  I think: “Dang, look at that mama out there in the sand with her family.  Overcoming hardship often leads to a greater reward.  She’s having an awesome day!”

I look down at this year’s feet, and I think: “Wow, flip flop tan lines.  I am one lucky lady.  To count my blessings is to number the stars.”

There are a myriad of blessings that lay at my feet.  I must choose to see them for what they are.


  1. Amanda /

    During chemo I did photo books on a website. One of each year in chronological order. That way I have some favorite pictures somewhere other than my hardrive:). Now to find time to keep up with them. Good problem to have all things considered.

  2. Rebecca /

    You and your words are such a blessing. Carry on, sister!

  3. kathleen /

    You continue to inspire!

  4. “Flip flop tan lines” sound like a wondrous thing. So glad you are out and about enjoying your summer in the sunshine.

  5. You have an amazing way of looking at the positive side of things when someone in your “flip flops” could easily just post about the difficulties you face. I am glad that I subscribe to your posts. My little medical issues don’t even come close to comparing to yours, but some days I just decide that I feel like crap and I’m going to sit around and do nothing because of it. Your posts kick me in the butt and get me moving again!

  6. Aunt Annie /

    Keep on sharing and inspiring us. You are an amazing woman. God blessed us with your awesomeness! Much love.

  7. You make re emember to enjoy the best of every day – there are days that are tough, but you remind me to look for the good.