Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yipee! One year cancer free!!



Merry Christmas and Happy South Dakota snow storm to you all! It is so hard to believe that exactly a year ago today, I was saying good bye to “my girls” and hello to life! This morning, I started to read my caring bridge from start of journey to present day…I wasn’t able to finish reading, the journey still seems too ???….

With the remembrance and celebration of Christ’s birth tomorrow, I can’t help but compare it to my surgery a year ago and the rebirth of me…I would like to share a few of the outstanding memories of surgery day…

When I was in the “foggy” portion of coming out of surgery, I remember hearing one of the nurses say, “don’t use her left arm for blood pressures.” As a nurse, I knew that the only reason they couldn’t use my left arm was the fact that the surgeon had to remove my lymph nodes. I had failed the test. My sentinel node biopsy was positive for cancer. (there is a special test they do for breast cancer patients…a dye is injected to light up the sentinel node, the surgeon removes this node, if there is cancer than they have to remove the rest of your nodes, if no cancer than they leave the your nodes: the thinking is that the sentinel node is like the “keeper of the gate”. Before surgery, I had signed a consent form that if the sentinel node showed cancer, the physician had permission to remove the rest of my lymph nodes.) I remember the instant tears and my first thought was “God, you could have prevented this and you didn’t!”…I was a bit surprised at my initial sadness and anger. After thinking about my response, a joy filled my heart. There have been times in my Christian walk; I wondered how deep my faith is? Do I really believe, or do I just think I believe? Well, my response, even while I was still “foggy”, was a great affirmation to myself that my faith and belief that God is truly GOD!! I knew (and still know) in my heart that God is in control. Yes, I was sad that I had a positive lymph node, but I also knew (and still know) that God is the great physician!

My children and husband continue to share about all the support and love that was given to them while I was in surgery…you were all vessels that God used to help a hurting and very scared family. Thank you for your caring and love, not only on the day of surgery, but throughout this journey.

Since it seems at Christmas there is much talk about presents, I thought I would share with you a few gifts that I have received through this journey:

The gift of knowing that God is ever present, He knows our needs and
always provides…

The gift of love, this has truly changed my whole my life…through
almost losing my life, I learned to not only love myself, I
learned how to receive and believe in the love from others.
My family and I have been so blessed by the love of so many.

The gift of life, need I say more…

The gift of family….

The gift of friendship….

The gift of meeting some really remarkable women who happen to be
on the same journey as I....

The gift of joy and laughter…

The gift of health…

The gift to dream…

May you also experience the gifts of God, love, life, family and friends, health and dreams this Christmas Season!

Thanks again for your prayers and love!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

One year ago today I heard the fateful words....You have cancer!

Since I am short of time and energy, I am going to post my caring bridge entry here:
To think it was a year ago today that I heard the words that started my family and I on a journey that has forever effected our lives. A journey that is still being traveled, with still unanswered questions…a journey many of you have walked beside us with, blessing us with your love, care and prayers.
I thought I would share a few of my thoughts on this anniversary day.
BLESSINGS: I am alive! I am loved! I have the greatest family, friends, faith community, and medical community!
THINGS I HAVE LEARNED: I have learned that I am a very blessed woman. I have learned that there can be peace amongst challenges. I have learned that courage doesn’t come from an absence of fear, but an abundance of faith. I have learned to trust in God. I have learned there is no sweeter sound than the laughter of a grandchild. I have learned there are so many beautiful women who are also being challenged by breast cancer. I have learned to dream!
CHALLENGES: Pain is a constant nuisance that challenges my days, thankfully not really limiting my activities…just a bit wearing. Fear is my companion that I carry in my back pocket. Most to the time I am able to sit on this fear and keep it contained…however there are times when the fear escapes from my pocket…mainly at night when I am all alone and the house is quiet…I work hard at reminding myself that 33% chance of reoccurrence is actually 67%chance of being cancer free. So, I take this ugly word “fear” and put it in a box, wrap it with some pretty paper and a big pink bow and give it to God. So, thankful that He takes the gift from me and gives me a gift in return—peace.
Speaking of peace, recently I was reading a novel by Lisa Wingate called Word Gets Around, here are a few segments from the book that really touched my heart…
Have you been battering the same barriers over and over and over, thinking the answer lay in breaking through and leaving the past behind? Maybe the answer isn’t getting beyond where you come from but in learning to accept things that went into your making. Maybe the secret is in looking at the end product and figuring out what its good for…maybe the point of life isn’t in getting past it, but making something of it! In the last paragraph of the novel…Peace doesn’t lie in all that we run to, in the independence we struggle to maintain, in the things we embrace that don’t embrace us in return. It is not in the noise of the world, but rests in the quiet place we last look. It waits until we stop running, stop battling the fences, stop searching outside and look toward the center. There in the very heart of who we are and what we were created to be, we find it-the greatest thing in this world or the next, the very essence of God.
On a quick end note, the other evening Ferlin and I were blessed with a gift from some friends to go see Glenn Beck’s Christmas Sweater Performance. I will admit, I was only going to please my husband, as I am not into politics, etc…so I didn’t really think I would get much out of it. WRONG: Mr Beck did a wonderful presentation on redemption. I walked out of the theatre wishing that everyone could receive the blessing of the Christmas Sweater. So, if you’re a reader, check out the book and let me know your thoughts. I have to share one quick last note…this was kind of an “oh my goodness moment”—At the end of the show Mr Beck says “V is either for victim or victor—we get the choice!”…a year ago, when I went to the front during church, announcing our breast cancer journey and asking for prayers, I remember stating that I was not only a breast cancer survivor, but a VICTOR, as in Christ we all can claim VICTORY!!