Monday, April 16, 2012

Radiation treatments...

   It's interesting to look back, to see my journey in hindsight as God uses each phase of treatments, each new emotion to teach me and help me grow.

"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."               Philippians 1:6.


    I have completed 18 out of a 33 radiation treatments. Every morning at 7:45 I arrive, strip off my top and lie down on a hard narrow table. Adjustments are made, then the technicians walk out of a 2 foot thick lead door and leave me there, my arms over my head, lying very still, the machine buzzing and murmuring. Slowly a huge arm of the machine begins to lift up and rotate around my body, ending up inches beside my face, dosing out the radiation that will hopefully keep the cancer from returning. Even though I'm used to it by now, every day it always feels a little scary. So I pray. I imagine that I am lying in God's hands as he cures my cancer. I pray for whomever pops into my mind. And quickly, the treatment is over.


   I celebrated my 45th birthday last month. My amazing husband somehow managed to throw me a surprise party (I was completely surprised!).  It was wonderful, so fun. How do you compare being surrounded by those who love you the most? Loving you and cheering you on... How do you thank everyone? My face hurt from smiling so hard. I love you all so much, you are so important to me!  Thank you.

 And yes! My hair is sprouting!  It is growing, slowly but surely, just like my spirit. I wish it would hurry. I wish it was grown and beautiful. Even in appreciating hindsight, I am impatient!  (Do we ever learn?) As my hair and my spirit grow, I know that I will always be a work in progress, always growing. I thank God for this. Grateful I can grow.

"And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."
1 Peter 10

Thursday, March 22, 2012

 2/18/12      What am I to do with this new place I have landed in emotionally? This place of fear, anger, pity, and jealousy? How am I going to live with the knowledge of this disease that could take my life at any time? - and not let it "take" my life?  Living in fear, anger, pity and jealousy is not living. It is barely surviving. It is destructive and it takes away my peace and my joy. Is this learning to walk in faith?  Perhaps it is the walk for me. I struggle with faith. I struggle with understanding that God really knows me, is not judging me, loves me implicitly. I struggle with understanding how we cannot earn God's love...  How is that possible? I have spent my life trying to earn others' love and acceptance, it has become a way of life, I am good at it! It is how I have survived up to now. I am an expert 'people pleaser', I'm great at caring for and nurturing others, I know how to do those things.     Yet, as I struggle to walk closer with the Lord, I'm beginning to realize that if I had to earn His love I'd be out of luck! Daily I become more and more aware of my sins - impatience, criticism, gossip, judging others, taking instead of giving. And what am I doing to bring others to Christ? - for that matter, I don't even know what God wants me to do with this life of mine.
     Everything I read and my fellow Christ followers say "just open your heart and receive, you cannot earn it, you must just believe and accept". How exactly do you do that? Why does that seem easy for some and so difficult for others? Just imagining God holding me in his arms brings tears to my eyes. How can He love me like that?
     So this is where I am, and I am hoping others' prayers will help me work this out in my heart and mind. I do believe somewhere deep inside me that God will use this season in my life to bring much growth, maturity, peace and eventually great joy. I just wish I could fast forward to that season...  :0)

                                    *  *  *
      And now here it is 3/18/12. Slowly, an understanding has evolved from that place of pain and doubt. As I struggled with my faith, hope, understanding and acceptance, I wondered where God was leading me. I have wondered how God would again use my weakness to help me grow--  in faith, hope, understanding and acceptance.
My heart and mind have battled with this new reality of mine - this reality that I have had cancer - and this cancer could return. And that this new reality will be with me for the rest of my life, every day. Of course, none of us knows when our life will end... We say -
" I could get hit by a car tomorrow!"  But that is too easy to say, just as it is also easily pushed to the back of our minds, to not really believe it. We live safe in our ignorance, dulled by the fact that we don't know when our lives will end, beckoned by more 'concrete' and 'realistic' worries.
I no longer have that luxury. Living with this new reality - is a forever changer. It grabs and keeps my attention, it demands exploration. Yet somehow, this realization, this exploration, has brought me full circle. Back to the simple beginning that I now know I did not truly understand...

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is a gift from God- not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9.

     It is simple. I am living in His grace. Every day, every moment - in and by His grace.  I never really understood grace... what is it exactly? how do you get it? what does it do?   It is so hard to put into words. The dictionary's definition of grace reads: the unmerited love and favor of God toward mankind; divine influence acting in a person to make him/her pure and morally strong.    Unmerited love and favor, divine influence.  Yes.
For me it is also Acceptance - Release - Peace.  For I cannot walk a life of peace alone, I cannot make my life better of my own works, I cannot fight this cancer of my own strength.   I can only relax and depend on Him, lean on Him, knowing that however long or short my life may be, it is only by relying on Him can I truly live, truly know joy and peace. It is so simple. It is the beginning and the end, all at once:   His love for me is His grace.

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God"  Ephesians 3:14-19.

So here is my final reality: Loving each day that is given to me. Soaring with God. Existing, breathing, in His grace. And grateful-  so grateful, so very grateful.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

     Haven't written in a while. Been in a funk. Still tired, tired of this way of living. Feel I have nothing to give, I'm empty. Simply feeling sorry for myself. I'm over it, changed my mind. This is no "fun" anymore... at first I had this enlightenment, this new closeness to God, this new understanding, this new relationship with Him. I was positive, I will be a testimony, I will be "super cancer girl!". OK, not anymore. Isn't it amazing how even in fighting cancer, I still also have to fight my ego? Still have to learn, again and again, it's not me, its Him. I'm not my creation, I'm His. He calls the shots. My job is to be obedient and to receive. Why is that so hard? Why is trusting Him so hard sometimes in the deepest dark, in the face of fear, in the depths of despair?  You have nowhere else, you are powerless, why not turn to Him and simply relax, receive? I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually numb. Nothing to give, no hope to deliver. Silly me, poor pitiful me. It's like this realization has evolved over the last (long) five months- my fight is barely half over, I dont want to fight anymore, I will face this the rest of my life. I am terrified of my cancer coming back.  Why God?  Why did I have to learn this way? What do i need to learn? Couldn't there have been another way?  Why did I run from you for so long?- my greatest regret - would that have changed this for me? So many unanswered questions. So many more feeble steps of faith to take....

      I've finished my first round of chemo. I've decided not to do round 2. Both rounds together carried  a 2-4% chance of preventing re-occurance of my cancer. I did my research, I prayed. I finished my first round, then met with my oncologist. He told me I had already received most of what I was to get from my chemo already, if I did not want to do round 2 - he would not block the door. If, however, I were to tell him I did not want to complete the other aspects of my treatment - radiation, removal of my ovaries, and 5 yrs of tamoxifen, he would block the door to say "lets talk about this some more".  It was my personal decision - made under the guidance of my physician, and I feel a peace about it. It was not an easy decision, it was only MY decision. Not everyone in my life is in agreement with me. I feel it was right for me and my particular cancer and my particular cancer circumstances.
          I say - let's get on with the other forms of treatment that carry much greater weight than 2-4% - radiation, removal of my ovaries and hormone blocking... and no one can convince me that lifestyle - nutrition, exercise, spiritual support, human support - carries less weight than 2-4% !!    As I said, my decision, my peace.

        And yet, in spite of all my pitypot talk, I know somewhere deep inside myself- My physical discomfort... it will not last forever. And my emotions are just that, emotions. They are not the Truth. The Truth is that somehow I will be given the faith and the strength and the desire to take the next feeble step in this long journey, to ball my hands into shaking fists, to open my heart and my arms to receive the love and support that surround me - if only I accept it. If only I allow it.

      "He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young man shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint". - Isaiah 40:29-31.
                                 This is Truth.

             I write to you tonight with a raw heart, an exposed wound. I am weak. I am vulnerable. I am needy.  I am in a new place I don't quite understand yet. AND IT IS OK.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

falling apart

  This last chemo weekend was more difficult than my previous ones. I felt worse and for a longer period of time, not to mention I also started a cough that would not quit. Kevin had to work all weekend so my sweet sister came to be with me. I slept a lot, ate even less, and coughed non-stop. Started more drugs. Fun.
  Missed work Mon and Tues - coughing/no energy. Left early on wed, came home and just let the tears flow. I'm just so tired. I want to be upbeat, see the positive, learn God's blessing during these dark times, but all I could do was cry. Everything is just so hard. I want my old life back. I want my old boobs back- I'm tired of these uncomfortable bricks on my chest;  I'm tired of dreading my next chemo-- wish I could just go back to simply dreading Mondays!  I'm tired of feeling like sh#*t most of the time, I remeber when i used to think I felt bad. I'm tired of trying to smile at others and keep a positive attitude. I'm just so tired of the effort of living this way... so I sat and cried and my dear compassionate husband who had a 102 degree fever yesterday and also feels like sh#*t stood 4 feet away from me with tears streaming down his face because he could not even hug me to comfort me.

We were lost at 4 feet apart.

All I could think to journal were the words to a song that's new to me by Josh Wilson:

"Why in the world did I think I could
  only get to know you
  when my life was good
When everything just falls in place
The easiest thing is to give you praise
  Now it all seems upside down
'Cause my whole word is caving in
But I feel you more than I did then
  How can I come to the end of me
 and somehow still have all I need?
God, I want to know you more
Maybe this is how it starts
 I find you when I fall apart.
Blessed are the ones who understand
  we've got nothing to bring
  but empty hands
Nothing to hide and nothing to prove
Our heartbreak brings us back to you
  And it all seems upside down
I don't know how long this will last
I'm praying for the pain to pass
  But maybe this is the best thing that
has ever happened to me
My whole world is caving in
 But I feel you more now than I did then
How can I come to the end of me
  And somehow still have all I need
God, I want to know you more
Maybe this is how it starts
I find you when
You will find me when I fall apart"

I ask God for forgiveness in my not standing, smiling, and strong in the midst of this storm,  for it could be so, so much worse. But, thank you Lord, for showing me love from just 4 feet away.

Monday, January 2, 2012

another lesson in humility

    My head, or rather, my hair started hurting about two days ago. It even hurt to lay down on a hair started coming out. This morning as I gently rubbed my scalp, I drew back palms full of tiny black hairs. This afternoon after work I went after my head with a washcloth. I'd say probably 3/4 of my hair came out. I stood there at the sink, tiny black hairs everywhere... and I noticed the sun slanting through the window and into one of my eyes, making it look so blue and beautiful, my head a mismatched patchwork of sparse black and pale white. Again, I sobbed.
This is nothing if not a lesson in humility.

    In my heart I know all of this is just superficial, not really what's  important, and still - so hard to let go of. Standing in front of that mirror, topless, covered in a healing rash, red scars where nipples used to be, bruising all along my abdomen from the shots, tears streaming down my face... what a mess! What a humbling mess. And yet again, I must find it in myself to be grateful for this mess -

     ...because I am learning that only with humbled gratitude do I truly grow. So, thank you, Lord, for the mess that is me, thank you for loving this mess, and helping me to become more spiritually beautiful- like the light shining through my blue eye...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

two down six to go!

     Had my second round of chemo yesterday. I'll admit I was still quite nervous. (Wonder if the pre-chemo nervousness ever goes away?) Feeling ok today. I was a little frightened because I was told my MD wanted to see me about something and you know how our silly brains can take something like that and run with it... as is turns out - nothing going on, no new (bad?) news.     Praise God!

     My sister came down from VA to "celebrate" the occasion with us, and of course my Kevin was with me strong. Haven't lost all my hair yet- in the meantime thanks to Nancy and my sister I have two adorable wigs and plenty of comfy cute hats. You know this not having hair thing isn't so bad. It takes me half the time to get ready in the mornings! no expensive hair cuts/colorings/no "bad hair" days...

     Let's just look for the blessings as there are many! My wonderful friends and co-workers are still bringing by meals to help my little family - and what a help it is! My employers continue to be amazingly supportive and understanding and flexible-- I don't know what I'd do without them? I continue to witness new and exciting ways that the Lord is showing me how my fight with cancer will change EVERYTHING for the better- and I am so GRATEFUL!

"Many are asking, 'Who can show us
          any good?
    Let the light of your face shine upon
          us oh Lord.
You have filled my heart with greater
    than when their grain and new wine
I will lie down and sleep in peace,
    for you alone, O Lord,
    make me dwell in safety"
               Psalm 4:6-8

You have filled my heart with greater love than I have ever known!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Guest Post by Missy.
Laura through MY eyes....

Two weeks before I leave on the biggest adventure of my life, I begin another journey with my sister Laura.  

We've done the hurting... 
Now it's time for the healing. 

It's time to thank the Father for what He will do,
and for the poison that pumps through my friend's blood in order to cure her. 

It's a day to celebrate chemo, and all that it brings.

And as I watch the locks fall to the floor,
I see what is really happening in this room.

We are taking her down to her core. 
What will be left?









And a fearless face that shines so bright with the Holy Spirit...

with the love,
the joy,
the PEACE,
the patience....

What's left is the fruit.

When the Lord shines on our faces, do we reflect it?

When we are asked to face Him,
to really face Him
in our fears,
with our lives,
with our futures, 
do we trust Him and let Him continue to shine?

"A happy heart makes the face cheerful,
but heartache crushes the spirit."

-Proverbs 15:13

Thank you, Lord;
For making her heart so happy
that we will never know of any heartache.