Our trip to Medjugorje

Cross Mountain

Cross Mountain

 

Well I’m home recovering from another lung surgery. I’m a horrible patient because I don’t listen to anyone. It’s not fun recovering. It’s actually rather boring because I’m not supposed to do anything. But I’m familiar with the drill and decided to use this time to write about my trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina in February.

First, I need to be honest by telling everyone that I was insecure about talking to people about my trip. The trip sounded crazy. I was going to a small farming town in Bosnia where the Virgin Mary has been appearing to a few residents for the past 33 years. I was worried about what people would think of me for going to Bosnia. Not only was I going to this war-torn country, but also the reason why I was going to this country was because the Virgin Mary appeared to six kids there on June 24, 1981. I remember telling my oncologist I was going to Bosnia to “get cured”. His eyes got big and he asked, “What medicine are you trying to get?” I explained I wasn’t going for medical care, but for spiritual care. I went to Medjugorje to get cured.

This trip was not a vacation. At no point was I drinking out of a coconut or lying on a beach listening to the waves lap onto shore. Janie called this trip a spiritual battle. This trip was full of tears and prayers and more tears and more prayers. The trip allowed me to deal with two years of fear, pain, and loss.

While in Medjugorje, we developed a routine that would consist of going to church in the morning and the evening. In between church services, we would go on hikes to different spiritual sites and pray. The hiking trails were different than any hiking trails I’ve been on in the US. The trails weren’t made of dirt, but were made up completely of rock. Janie and I met at a wilderness school and have lots of hiking experience and were looking forward to these trips not thinking it would be that challenging. The funny thing was we got lost twice within the first five minutes of our first day of hiking. The destination of each hike ended at a place of prayer. I often prayed and reflected on Mary and how she helplessly watched her son suffer. I thought about how it is similar to the way my family and many friends who helplessly watch me suffer. It pains me to see helplessness and sadness in the eyes of people I love. Especially since I’m the source of the pain and sadness. All I want to do is help people and it hurts that I can’t even help the people I’m closest to. Knowing that I’m helpless was the reason I truly turned over my troubles to God. I can’t explain the feeling I had while I was over there. It is best described as a calming feeling. It became clearer when I returned.

Upon returning home, I was thrown back into the roller coaster of medical appointments and the uncertainties that accompany the appointments. I thought I was feeling rundown because of the emotional stress of everything. What I now realize is that while in Medjugorje, I didn’t have any distractions. While I was there my life was strictly focused on prayer, God, Jesus and Mary. Since being home, my life is full of daily distractions that keep me from focusing on prayer and meditation. However, some distractions aren’t bad like fixing dinner and helping Katie with homework.  Those things are necessary for a healthy functioning family. I believe it is impossible for me to have the same state of mind here as I did in Bosnia.  After experiencing the power of prayer and meditation, I realize the importance of incorporating daily prayer and meditation into my life.

I truly did not know what to expect going there, but I now know it was what I needed. I had such a wonderful experience I am going back in August. It will be interesting to see if I will be able to experience the same intimacy level in August compared to February. We were alone in February and in August we will be part of the summer masses.

 

Blue Cross at the base of Apparition Hill

Blue Cross at the base of Apparition Hill

 

Hiking up Cross Mountain

Hiking up Cross Mountain

Statue of the Risen Christ

Statue of the Risen Christ

 

Special thank you to Dragan and his family for being excellent hosts. Hope to see you soon.

Our wonderful hosts

Our wonderful hosts

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Another surgery

It’s been a little while since I updated everyone about my health. Since my lung surgery on March 25, my lung has collapsed three times. As I write this, my lung is partially collapsed and I’m now collecting fluid in my chest cavity. There is a hole somewhere in my lung that is allowing air to fill up in my chest cavity. The air that builds up puts pressure on my lung and the lung collapses. Each time my lung collapses, a chest tube is put in to remove the air, which allows my lung to expand. The lung usually heals itself, but it can’t when it’s collapsed. The doctors are not exactly sure why this is happening. Since fluid is building up and I’m experiencing pain, I’ll have surgery soon, possibly this Wednesday. The surgery is similar to looking for a hole on a tire. After putting some liquid over my lung, the doctor will look for bubbles and then decide on the best way to seal my lung. This will be my first surgery where they are not planning on taking anything out so I’m hoping it will be quicker to recover, but it still is a major procedure. I’m more concerned about being off of chemo an additional four weeks. I know that may sound strange, but I have been off of chemo since the first week of February and this surgery will push my chemo start date back another four weeks. I’m anxious because each time I’ve been off of chemo for an extended period of time, my cancer has come back.

This past month has been really hard on my family and me. All of this is complicated and out of my hands. I drive myself crazy trying to predict all the different scenarios ahead of me and trying to control the future. I read this quote, in a daily devotional book, and found it appropriate for my situation; “A mind preoccupied with planning pays homage to the idol of control. ”  This quote pulls me back to living in the present and appreciating the moment.

Here is a great article from Psychology Today showing the mindset of advanced stage cancer survivors. The article describes common characteristics of cancer patients who have lived past the past the five-year survival timeframe. I’ve also known many beautiful cancer patients who lived this way and didn’t live to the five-year survival timeframe. It goes to show you how complicated cancer is and how it is individualized. Either way, I really connected with this article and believe this article closely represents my mentality with fighting cancer.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201503/the-new-cancer-survivors

After reading the psychology today article, you can look up my name and my work personal statement at psychologytoday.com. Please refer anybody to me who may be struggling with a chronic illness or disease.

Kevin Wein’s profile

-On a different note. I had a great pre-surgery weekend with Gerrit Benson, Matt Leslie, and Roger Nouer. We shared many funny stories and I had a lot of painful laughs (laughing, coughing, hiccups, and shortness of breath episodes are painful). Also, thanks to Kevin Gladstone who ran in a marathon this weekend and dedicated it to fighting cancer. You’re the man Kevin.

Please send prayers and good vibes my way these upcoming weeks.

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