When I first meet with a new doctor or someone asks me about my past medical history there is usually some exclamation of wow how did you…. 13? What? Is that possible?They shake their heads and seemingly question the rarity of it all. In fact just this past week I met with my Pulmonologist and she has said to me on more than one occasion (exact words), “There is no one like you.”

In the past, I often felt overwhelmed to talk about it and didn’t really enjoy the attention. I also worried that the spotlight shined too much on me and this would take away from my children or other family members. In my current health and mental state, I don’t mind the attention because through this rare and difficult experience God has and is teaching me how to find love and knowledgable compassion for others who suffer with difficult medical and mental health conditions. I have heartfelt desires to serve others in anyway I can, particularly those who suffer from cancer.  Frankly, unless you are a cancer survivor (same for any life threatening disease) you just don’t understand the often unbearable mental, emotional and physical pain “It” causes.

On a brighter note but still on the “rare topic” last summer while hiking near McCall, Idaho we found a field of Glacier Lillies.

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Stunning, right? Glacier lilies are rare to find and can most usually be spotted in the mountains of the Northwest corner of the United States.

My Midnight Gardener found this hike, that was said to be “kid friendly” so we decided it would be okay for me. Kid friendly hikes for me? The rarity of lung lobe removal combined with radiation now makes hiking up steep hills very difficult. It is kind of like a person with asthma, the change in elevation and the uphill climb can be beyond our capability.  I was told before the surgery that running would no longer be an option for me. I was never one who enjoyed running so giving it up was no love loss but hiking is entirely different. First, I am fiercely independent so needing support is, well you can imagine! Second, I love mountain hiking with a passion so this still remains a bit of a disappointment for me. I am feeling a bit better about it now as I can still do easy hikes and my kids and husband are super supportive so I can go on steep hikes if everyone with me is willing to be extremely patient with my slow progress, odd breathing sounds and need of a long nap after. My Mama’s Boy lets me rest my hand on his right shoulder and pulls me along the best he can and as he grows I am sure he will keep helping me enjoy nature. My older daughters and husband tighten up one of their arms so I can be pulled along by them.

Anyways, at the trailhead I notice that we are going to be hiking straight down. I began congealing my husband about his choice of trails but I still don’t stop myself from going down all the time knowing (kind of) the cost of hiking back out.

We were hiking with my amazing sister and her IMG_7436family whose little ones are all under the age of eight and she was pregnant at the time so this wasn’t an easy family hike for her either. Spotting the lilies along the way and the mountain lake views cast off any concerning thoughts about the uphill climb that awaited.

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The time did come to hike back out. The elevation of the hike was more challenging than I anticipated and I think both my husband and I were worried that I would be able to make it out. My anxiety set in and of course I started crying, big baby! My little niece asked her mom, “Mommy, what is wrong with Aunt Jenny?” Poor thing she was so worried about me. After many stops to rest and kids waiting impatiently, I had exhausted my lungs for the day but I had arrived at the top. Oh, Yeah!

I am learning more and more that these difficult and sometimes rare life trials often exhaust us, cause us to cry, feel alone, bring on anxiety or quite simply bring feelings of “I just want to quit!”  Although, these emotions and suffering will happen (trust me) I know, I believe in reaching for the top and enduring well (willingly accepting help)  along the way. I have experienced more growth in the past three going on four years of rare trials perhaps more then the ten previous years. I am becoming glad for this rare growth spurt and my hope is that you each will be glad for rare trials too in time and with God’s endless love.

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