Medal Round: Top 3 (un)Helpful Things People Said

In honor of the Winter Olympics, I thought I’d share with you my top  three favorite things people told me when I was going through cancer…and by that, I mean these are the three statements that were meant comfortingly but probably should have just been replaced by a hug and silence. 

Lest this sound too cynical, know that I understand these words were spoken from sincerity and out of a loss for the right words to say, so I’m not bitter at all. However, there are times when, if you don’t know what to say, sometimes it’s just best to admit that and give someone a hug (but more on that in my next post!).

So, here we go with the bronze, silver, and gold of my favorite things people said followed by my (sarcastic and internal) response.

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“Be exalted, O Lord, in Your strength; we will sing and praise Your might.” ~Psalm 21:13

(Written on Friday, 5/14):
Today is a day of celebration. Why, you may ask? Well, today is exactly one year from my last chemo treatment!!! That, my friends, is definitely a cause for celebration.

I’m kinda liking that May 14th is one week from my birthday because I think I’m going to annually give myself a reason to celebrate one week early, which will, of course, carry out through the following week, so it’ll be like one big week of celebration, basically. 🙂 Anyway, as I think back to one year ago, I first cannot believe it’s already been a year, and second think that at the same time, it feels like that was in another lifetime. Weird how that happens, isn’t it??

I guess I really don’t have that much to update other than the fact that today is such a day of praise, but I have been learning some things lately that I’d like to share.

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“Oh Lord my God, I called to You for help and you healed me.” ~Psalm 30:2.

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.

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“You turned my wailing into dancing…that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.” -Psalm 30:11-12

Wow. One year ago on this date, it was the day before Thanksgiving, and I was shopping at Northpark Mall in Dallas, TX with my friend Caroline. I got a call from Dr. Santi back in Wheaton who explained that my biopsy from that Monday came back positive, meaning that I had cancer. As he proceeded to explain my diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I looked around for something to write on, but all I came up with was my shopping bag, so I wrote down all the information on that Nordstrom bag. WHAT A BIZARRE day! What a bizarre time and place to get such a diagnosis, and what a bizarre year that followed!

As I think back to last Thanksgiving, there were so many uncertainties. I was just reading over my very first blog from this day last year, and so much came back to me–needing to find a doctor, figuring out all the scheduling, all of the tests, what chemo even MEANT–so many uncertainties! Needless to say, this has been a November of reminiscing.

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“He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” –Psalm 40:2b-3a

That verse is pretty poignant: in the last year, God definitely brought me through the fire, picked me out of the metaphorical pit, and placed me on solid ground, giving me a new song of praise to sing to Him!

I realize it has (once again) been a LONG while since I last updated, and I’m going to try to fix that bad habit in the future. BUT, I wanted to make sure and blog tonight since today is such a poignant day in the history of Hannah McGinnis. Why, you may ask?

One year ago on a beautiful Friday morning in Wheaton, IL, I went to the Wheaton College Health Center to get my flu shot. Once again, God’s timing was SUCH a blessing: I waited until Friday to get the flu shot because (lamely) I wanted to wait until volleyball season was over. In my mind, I’d just jumped back into the game with two weeks left of my season, and since my knee was still in killer pain, I didn’t want to add a sore arm from a flu shot into that mix. Again, what a BLESSING that, though lame that I didn’t want a little shot to interfere with my hitting (because really, what are the chances that would hinder me from wanting to hit the ball?!?), GOD’S timing in that was PERFECT because my waiting allowed me to close the chapter of playing volleyball before opening the next chapter (of which I was completely unaware when I woke up that Friday, November 7th).

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“But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for He has been good to me.” –Psalm 13:5-6

Wow. Once again, it’s been WAY too long. I’ve been meaning to update for a few weeks now, but things have been crazy, and time is FLYING. Literally. Ok, not literally, but it’s gone by quickly.

Friday concluded our fifth week of school at Hawaii Baptist Academy (see what I mean about time flying?!?). We are now only 3 weeks away from Fall Break, which means 3 weeks until I get to see my family and friends back on the mainland. Don’t get me wrong–things in Hawaii have been awesome, but it’s definitely far from those I love and miss (but more on that later).

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“The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.” –Psalm 126:3

ALOHA!!! I am writing from our hotel room in Maui, and it has been a great day! Let me give you a little rundown of the past few weeks, and then I will get to the big move.

I think the last time I posted, I was about to pick up my cousin Ali and start the drive to San Diego. It was a long drive…21 hours, and 10 of them in Texas alone. It was my first time to West Texas, and no offense to those who live there, but I’d love it if it was my last. Obviously I knew that I live in a huge state, but once you leave Dallas, there is just not a whole lot out West except for land, prairie, and lots of dust. We arrived in Oceanside, and we got to stay with my teammate Ashlie, which was so much fun and just another reminder of HOW blessed I was to go to Wheaton and have such amazing friends.

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“Let me live that I may praise You, and may Your laws sustain me” –Psalm 119:175

WOW, it has BEEN a while! The last month has been a bit crazy–make that SERIOUSLY crazy. I’m fixing to go pick up my cousin Ali because we have to leave for our drive to San Diego, but since the next 2 weeks are gonna be psycho, I figured I should at least update as I can!

WHY, you may ask, are we driving to San Diego? Well of course, to get my car out there so it can make it on the ship over to HONOLULU!!!! Ok, so I told you a ton has happened in the last month. For those who have already heard, you can skip over the next section, but for those who are wondering what’s this about Hawaii, below is what I e-mailed to my teammates and friends from home:

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“Sing to the LORD a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have worked salvation for Him” –Psalm 98:1

PRAISE THE LORD I AM DONE WITH CHEMO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That said, I realized last night, while taking a sentimental journey down memory lane from my very first blog post until the most recent one, that it has definitely been FAR too long. Almost a month, two treatments, the END OF CHEMO, graduation, and another year in the life of yours truly have all passed since my last post. AND SO, because so much has happened, and WE have so much to celebrate (for all those who have partnered in prayer and support with us, you can celebrate, too!), I have decided to make this long-overdue post a photo-journey through my favorite month of May, starting with where I left off, after chemo number 11 (which was April 30th).

At chemo 11, the doctors and nurses were kinda freaking out about part of my white blood counts, which were apparently at 90 out of 10,000ish. Yes, that is clearly bad, but I finally pulled my nurse Michelle aside and said, “ok, I understand this is bad, but aren’t we usually at like 100?” to which she replied in the affirmative. I followed up that question by pointing out that, although 90 is clearly bad, when you’re at 90/10,000 versus 100/10,000, it really doesn’t seem like those 10 extra points make that much of a difference, and she agreed, so that eased my mind as people continued to tell me HOW low my counts were. However, since I was flying home the next day for my high school co-captain Becky (Cunningham) Ellis’s wedding, and since the Swine Flu was at it’s peak “freak-out” stage at that point, the only way they were okay with me flying was, YES, if I wore a mask.

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“But the LORD has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge” –Psalm 94:22

So, it’s definitely been a while. I looked at the date of the last post–April 5th–and realized that was an obscenely long time ago, so I should probably get on an update! A fair amount has gone on, and the last week or so has been crazy, so I’ll go back and highlight some of the bigger points, starting from where I left off, at Easter.

I went home and got to spend Thursday night through Tuesday morning at home. I realized when home that, though technically I’d been there at two other times in the semester, both were while passing through and for less than 24 hours. So it was nice to rest and relax at home…at least as much as you can when thrown back into the craziness/busyness of home. I actually didn’t sleep a whole lot leading up to Easter, and while I was home I certainly did not catch up, so I was a little beat when I got back. And by “I didn’t sleep a whole lot,” I mean I was getting 7 hours of sleep a night instead of the 9 or 10 that I have so come to look forward to during this semester–the one good side-effect (aside from being able to do my “hair” for nicer events and then let it sit on a stand while I finish my makeup).

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