Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Midweek Musings

The women's LifeServe group that I belong to is currently reading the book What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst.   

In the chapter called Roadblocks and Reassurances, Lysa writes this:

The enemies to a great life are not tragedy, heartbreak, and hard times.  The enemy to having a great life is to simply lead a good life.  A life where you seek comfort and ease above growth.  A life where you avoid the risk of taking chances with God.  We live in a fallen world, so no one can avoid every pothole in the road of life.  You will have hard times.  You will get bumped and bruised, but you don't have to get bewildered.  Say yes to God now. Say yes to whatever He brings your way.  Seek Him wholeheartedly through it.  Ponder what He is teaching you. Surrender what He is requiring from you.  And know that He is working out His wonderful plans for you right now behind the scenes.

What a great thought for the middle of our week!

Please post any great thoughts you may have to share!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cancerversary part 2

In honor of my 2nd cancerversary, I thought I would share some tips for walking with someone who has been diagnosed with cancer.  This list is just a sample of some things that helped my family and I through our journey.

Tips for walking with someone who has been diagnosed with cancer.

Offer them hope at ever opportunity.  This can be through words wisely chosen, cards, emails or little gifts.  It is really easy to get discouraged, especially when you feel ill, battle fatigue and are in pain. 

  • Freezer meals were a life saver in our home.  Simple meals that can be put in the oven.  Knowing my family's nutritional needs were being provided for offered me the chance to concentrate more on healing.
  • Snacks are good too.  When you are getting groceries for your own family,pick up an extra bag of chips, cookies or goodies.  Members of the household will love you!  My shopping trips were very limited d/t fatigue and infection potential so snacks were limited.  Plus, cancer treatment includes many extra costs, so "treats" are something that often get cut from the budget.
  • Other:  A friend of ours brought such delight when they dropped off a big pack of toilet paper and some paper towels.  A few less things that my husband had to remember to pick up when he did errands and helped save us some costs.
A group of our friends came and cleaned our home every two weeks while I was going through chemotherapy.  This gift was very appreciated by all.  (If cleaning house isn't your thing and you can afford too...give a gift for housecleaning services.)

  • If the cancer survivor has a blog or caring bridge page, comment on their updates.  The comments that were left on my caringbridge were a great source of encouragement to me, especially during the lonely and fearful times.
  • A friend of mine printed encouraging scriptures on post cards.  I still carry these cards with me. 
  • Give a "blue bag."  Put several small gifts in a bag that can be opened whenever the survivor feels "blue".  The gifts can be silly or practical.  A friend gave me a blue bag and I had so much fun anticipating each gift.  (yes, it did help me from feeling blue--knowing someone loved and cared about me enough to take the time to make this gift.)
  • Offer support for dreams to be fulfilled.  Encourage the survivor to think about lost dreams and to set future goals and plans.  Assist in helping them obtain their dream if possible.  A few "dream believers" walked into my life and supported me so I could fulfill a dream of mine to attend the SheSpeaks conference in North Carolina.   (A gift I will cherish forever!)
  • Pray with the survivor.  Some days I was to weak to pray, but I coveted the times when someone would visit and pray with me, call on the phone and pray with me, or email me a prayer written for me. 
At every opportunity--celebrate!  Celebrate clean scans! Celebrate the half way point of chemo!  Celebrate the end of chemo!  Celebrate the end of radiation!  Celebrate any chance you can! 
Simple ways to celebrate are goofy hats or necklaces, bubbles, confetti, or special food treats.

Cancer treatment is really hard on the body both physically and emotionally. 
Some ideas:
  • Pretty hat or scarf (if they lose their hair)
  • Pretty and soft lounge wear
  • Message when treatment is completed
  • A gift certificate for "make over"  to be used a few months after treatment is completed.
  • Jojoba oil
When I was going through treatment, I felt as if my life was on hold, while everyone else was out having a good time.  I still cherish the times when someone would take the time to just sit with me.  Time is really a precious gift you can give someone.

If the cancer survivor has a spouse or children, try to remember them.  They often suffer along with their loved one.
  • One night a group of friends came to our home...the guys took my husband out for supper and the gals stayed and babysat me.  The evening was such a blessing to us both.
  • Another friend took my 13 year old daughter for a "beauty make over."  She delighted in a day of pampering.
  • If you can, give them gift cards to the movies, bowling, swimming, fast food and offer to sit with the cancer survivor (if needed.)
  • Please, please, please don't tell them about your Uncle Henry who puked his guts out when he was going through chemo.  Knowing this isn't going to help, it just increases fears.
  • Please, please, please don't tell them about so and so just dying from cancer.  Death from cancer is a reality.  We know that.  We live that.  We don't need anyone reminding us of this possibility.
  • Please don't tell me that cancer is a gift.  If you think it is gift, I can wrap it up and give it to you.
  • Please don't tell me that God must really love me as He gave me this burden to carry.  This goes against all my theological beliefs.  God loves me!  Period!  The previous statement makes me want to say, does that means He doesn't love you as much, because you didn't get cancer? 
  • I love you! 
  • You can do this! 
  • I believe in you! 
  • You are an inspiration! 
  • You are beautiful!
  • You are courageous! 
  • Can I pray with you?
  • God loves you!
  • God is with you every step!
  • God can carry you when you are too weak to walk on your own! 
  • I am here! 
  • I am proud of you! 
  • Keep it up, your doing a great job! 
  • How are you? (don't forget to stop and listen if you ask this question.) 
  • I am praying for you!  


My dream is to be able to walk beside other cancer survivors providing them
the love, hope and support that blessed me. 

If you are a survivor or have walked with this journey with someone, what tips can you share?






Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cancerversary part 1

In celebration of my two year cancerversary, I thought I would do a two day blog.  Today's entry will share bits and pieces of my experiences, blessings and thoughts through the cancer journey. Tomorrow's entry will be tips on supporting a cancer survivor.

Love:  Before cancer I equated love with service and works.  I couldn't believe a person could be loved for just "being."  Well, I am excited to say, it happens.  When I was my sickest and weakest, I felt and experienced such love from my family and friends.  Amazing to me, it didn't matter if I was able to cook supper or not, clean the house or not, or get groceries or not...many days, I just "sat."  It is within this "sitting" that I finally understood the love of God--He loves us, for just us, not for what we do!

Dreams:  Coming to the realization that a person has only one life with only so many days, gave me permission to rediscover dreaming.  Some of my dreams were buried deep and some are new developments coming from the cancer journey.  I had always wondered about writing, but too scared to put pen to paper.  Now, I am putting pen to paper, exploring and experimenting, trusting that if writing is something the Lord has in my future, He will show me the way.  A new and surprising dream has come from the cancer journey: it is a dream for the chance to walk with other cancer survivors through their treatment--to provide them hope, support and encouragement.  Both dreams are a work in progress and I am so excited to see how God works out the details.

New Friends:  I have met some wonderful people through this journey.  Friends that I might not have ever known had I not experienced cancer treatment.  Friends that understand the fears and hope.  Friends that will always have a special place in my heart.

Bloggersville:  I had no idea what blogging was...and all my new blogger friends have enriched my life in a very profound and remarkable way.

Kindness:  My family and I have been blessed with the kindness of many.  Also, I have learned to be kind to myself.  I find that I am not as hard on myself when I make a mess of things or make mistakes. 
Beauty:  There are some women who are naturally beautiful, this wouldn't be me.  I always described myself average...but something about being bald, without eyelashes, breastless and weak that helped me find that my beauty came from within....a gift that I will cherish (especially now that I have 'bad hair' days again.)

God:  My faith muscles had to be exercised a lot through this journey...allowing me to finish a race that on my own I would have lost.  It still amazes me when I think of God's love and provision.  It was when I physically broken, that I was spiritually healed. 
I am posting this knowing this blessing list is incomplete...but it is a start!

Thank you my friends for letting me share just a few of my many blessings of this journey!

How about you, what blessings have you found through a challenging journey?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hope Lives Now!

One of the things I love about bloggerville is the opportunity to meet others and read some really inspirational writing.  A few days ago I read a post by Elaine at Peace for the Journey that has challenged and altered some of my thinking.  Elaine states "I’m also a soul walking in solitude right now..."  What a beautiful statement!   Her words made me do a "stop and think."   To think about sitting in solitude with the Lord instead of being "sent to the couch".  How much more uplifting and positive was Elaine's statement than my thinking?? Her statement offers hope, mine sounds more like punishment. Hmmm....Perspective and attitude.

I admit when I realized how my attitude was not in line with God's perspective,  I went on a spiral downward into "no good thinking"?  Even though I celebrate with Elaine and am so inspired by her faithful walk,  I was left doubting my own walk.  Can you believe that I actually wondered if I "did" the cancer journey right?  I kept asking myself....Was I faithful enough?  Was I positive enough?  Did I encourage others on my walk?  Were they able to see God's light shining through my challenges? 

After beating myself up for a few days....and reading other inspiring blogs especially the one today by Lysa at Lysa TerKeurst ...I realized I was fiddling with foolishness.  Lysa's post reminded me we all have our own story.  There is no "right" way to do life or to experience the "cancer" journey.  All survivors have a past and we each have different circumstances that make up our walk. 

So, my story is what it is...and I believe a theme that has developed in my life from my cancer journey story:  Hope!   HOPE that no matter how dark the nights or how fearful the days, there is a very living and loving God walking with each one of us every single step. HOPE lives through us as we walk in faith! HOPE lives now in each one of us! 

If you have the time and want to be inspired check out Elaine's blog at Peace for the Journey or Lysa at Lysa TerKeurst

PS.  This week I cut back on all activities except for working 8-4....and it is helping my body heal...I actually went for 2 20 minute walks today.  So, I am planning on keeping the activities limited through the month of December, anticipating that in January I will be out sharing that "Hope lives now!"

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Swimming or Sinking in the Moat??

These past few days being void of work obligations has allowed me the benefit of slowing down the pace, catching up on some rest and spending time with my family.  The other evening I watched the movie Eat, Pray and Love with my youngest daughter.  (I haven't read the book yet, but it is definitely on my TBR--to be read list.)  One of the lines in the movie has really been tugging at my heart and it goes something like this:
At times in life a person has to go through the moat, before they reach the castle.

What a great word picture about the journey on the road to healing from cancer treatment.  When a person is first diagnosed with cancer, you are in shock.  You walk around in a disbelief and and find yourself going to many doctor appointments.  You get poked and prodded in ways you never knew possible.  Some have surgery, some have chemotherapy, some have radiation and the really lucky ones get all three! (Just a bit of sarcasm.)  Than you are done with treatment, often emotionally and physically exhausted.   Every survivor swimming through their own moat to reach their castle.

This next weekend will mark my two year "cancerversary!"  The past two years I have had four surgery's, 16 treatments of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation, all the while working full time, along with my other life roles: wife, mother, grandma, friend, etc.  With this latest surgery (complete hysterectomy and instant menopause), I am finding it a challenge to bounce back, the waters of the moat starting to feel like quick sand.  My body is so very tired....Today, I found myself wondering, "Am I ever going to find myself in the Castle of Good Health and Wellness?"  Shortly after asking myself this question, God, once again, reminded me  it is often in my weakness that I slow down enough to hear Him.  Today He spoke through a blog I follow: At the Well.  Today's blog entry discusses a  "challenge" to memorize Psalm 121.  The words from this Psalm offer such hope and encouragement!  What better way to celebrate this week than to write these words of my Father on my heart.  Would you like to join the challenge?  If so, check out At the Well.
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

ps. regarding my fatigue...I know...I know.... it has only been six weeks....  the doctors and nurses have warned me that I should expect a year or two of fatigue and I am trying to listen. (but do so hope that I can prove them wrong!)  And yes, to me, every day is a true miracle and blessing and I am grateful for the opportunity to even complain of fatigue!   I also consider it a great blessing to have the opportunity to share my thoughts in bloggersville (and practice my writing :)

My prayer is that other survivors will find encouragement knowing that you are not alone in your moat!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Just checking in!

Hi everyone!  Wow, it has been two weeks since I lasted updated...Unfortunately Mr Fatigue has me looking like this:

The reality of working full time, daily physical therapy and normal life has left me with little energy....BUT....I am doing really good considering what my body has been through these past two years.  The lymphedema is getting under good control and thankfully the only menopausal symptoms that I have been experiencing are a few hot flashes and random headaches. 
I am hoping to be able to update my blog more regularly, but if I am absent, please extend me grace.  Two years ago this week, I found the lump that forever changed my life....and as any cancer survivor knows...when the day of your cancerversary approaches, along comes many emotions and ponderings....

Thanking God for His ever presence on this journey!

Some pondering thoughts from the movie the Bucket List~
1)  Are you living your life with joy?
2)  Does your life bring joy to others?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tator Tot Thoughts

A few weeks back a group of us from our church had gathered together to prepare some freezer meals. Our gatherings are always a good time. Not only do we feel good about making meals to assist others, our relationships with each other deepen. Typically we prepare BBQ’s, lasagna, chicken potpie and tator tot hotdish. Since I have been making tator tot hotdish for over 25 years, I confidently gave the instructions to the individuals assigned to this task. Brown the ground beef, drain, mix with cream soup, a bit of milk and spread out in pan. Add a layer of your choice of veggies. Dump the tots on top. Viola’ you have tator tot hotdish. Imagine my surprise when one of the individuals, instead of dumping the tator tots, he was carefully lining the tots up in a rows. Now, I am a gardener, so I am familiar with corn rows, bean rows, carrot rows, etc. Rows of tator tots?? I hadn’t ever seen anyone put tator tots in rows. I didn’t know such a thing could be done. With my heart racing… I politely asked, “What are you doing?” He explained to me, the rows of tots look nicer and with the rows it is easier to serve. Amazing…all I ever knew was to dump the tots on top and scoop out your serving. Now, you are probable wondering, why am I wasting your time writing about such a simple thing as tator tots in rows or dumped? Well, you could say, I found a few spiritual lessons with those tots. First of all, there is more than one way of doing things. As a church community made up of several individual members, this experience reminded me that there are multiple ways to achieve the same goal. Like the tots being lined up or dumped, neither is right or wrong, just different. Both end up with same result, a delicious meal. Secondly, I learned that in a community there will be some individuals, like the tots, who need to be lined up and neat, while the others of us are okay being dumped and scattered. The reminder is that God loves us either way!!

How do you make your tatortot hotdish? Do you line up the tots in a row or do you dump the tots on top? Is there an advantage to either?

Sometimes life can be like a tator tot hotdish...we take the time to be all pretty and lined up and there are times when all we can do is dump and scoop.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Just give me a hammer

After yesterday's pity party, I have been doing some pondering and reading.  Currently I am reading Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick.  This book is an excellent book for anyone who is willing to take the challenge of living a life of audacious faith!  When I finish reading the book, I will share a review, but today I wanted to share how one story from the book has helped change my "couch" perspective.

In the book there is a story about Norm. Mr Furtick, being the pastor of the church, was expecting that he would have to offer words of encouragement to Norm when he received his prison sentence.  Instead of being upset, etc, Norm asked the church to teach him how to share Jesus with other prison inmates. 

Get out the hammer....Attitude adjustment time for Kim!!  With the recent bumps in my healing journey, I have been getting a little whiny with "getting sent to the couch!"...Frustrated that I can't be out and about with my family and friends...doing, sharing, and caring.  What a lesson Norm has taught me and how I need to to refocus my direction on how best to use this couch time.  Thanks Norm!!

Here are just a few ideas that come to mind:
1) Rest...as I will still be working full time, therapy and have had a recent surgery
2) Spend more time in God's word and develop a stronger prayer walk
3) Set a weekly goal of memorizing a scripture a week
4) Read, read, read
5) Write cards of encouragement to others
6) Continue to explore the world of writing and get caught up in reading my fellow writers blogs
7) Educate myself on resources for survivorship
8) Redisign my blog

Okay, I will stop there...as I am getting too long of a list and hopefully won't be on the couch that long to complete it all!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Here we go again....

Have you ever had one of those moments where you thought "You've got to be kidding me?"  Well, that was my thought Tuesday morning when I noticed an increased swelling in my left "foob", under arm and back.  I placed a call to my surgeon and was referred to a physical therapist who specializes in lymphedema.  It turns out I have what is called truncal lymphedema.  (For those of you who are interested here is a good site that explains truncal lymphedema)  Thankfully we caught it quickly and with daily therapy for a few weeks, the lymphedema should be able to be managed. 

The thing that is most frustrating is trying to arrange these daily hour appts in a full work day. Plus the treatments have been making me feel "yucky" and really tired.  Thus, I have had to scale back on any other activities besides work and therapy.  (I was co-facilitating two LifeServe groups through our church and it just bums me that I need to temporarily "take a break.")

This morning I had a party, sorry, I didn't invite you as it was a "pity party" with only one guest allowed--and since it was my pity party--yup, the guest was me!  Now, I am not proud of my tears or frustration, especially since I am so thankful for my life and many, many blessings.  Once in a while, christian or not, pity party's happen to the best of us.  (Yes, I had a little quilt with this party, as I am very aware that there are many others who have a lot more challenging situations than I.)  My pity party did have  party crashers--the gremlins.  You know those little voices that say horrible things to you.  "What did you do now?"  "Your being punished."  "God is mad at you." "You can't do anything right."  In the past, I would have listened to the gremlins. However, during this pity party, I made a different choice.  I claimed God's word for my own and told those gremlins to boogie on out!! I am choosing to trust that God continues to have a plan...even if that means I go back to the couch for a bit more training!

 Praising and Thanking God!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Avera Cancer Gala and Lance Armstrong

This past Friday night I was blessed with a "Fancy Nancy" night and the memories of attending the Avera gala are engraved in my heart.  A special thank you to S for the opportunity, to M.D. for giving me the opportunity to wear a fancy dress and to J for the little black bag.  Here are some pics from the evening!
Lance Armstrong on the big screen!

S--friend and breast cancer survivor, L--S's friend (and now our friend too!), me, and C--friend and breast cancer survivor

The night was inspirational as well as beautiful!  It was so much fun to see everyone so fancy and celebrating the opening of a new, absolutely spectacular cancer center.  Prior to Friday evening, I really wasn't that familiar with Lance Armstrong's story and vision.  I vaguely remember checking out the Livestrong site when I was first diagnosed and being encouraged of his success despite having advanced cancer.  In his speech on Friday night, Lance not only shared his story...he issued a challenge.  A challenge that has begun to haunt my days.  He shared with the audience that one of his physicians explained to Lance that he could either go out the back door of the hospital and pretend cancer never happened...get back on to your former life...OR....you can go through the front door--for the whole world to see....to share your story....to support and encourage....to make a difference in the world of cancer!

When I was first diagnosed, I remember thinking (after the shock of hearing those life changing words) "Okay--let's get this treatment done, so I can get back to my life!"  UMmmm, yah, it's not working like that--Cancer isn't who I am, but it is part of my life journey!  Now, the challenge...what does my "front door" look like? 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Fun Things

Happy Friday!  A bit of randomness going on today!

Update on hysterectomy recovery:  I started back to work full time this week, working from home--it has been going good, still have to take a few random "cat naps."  I am up to walking 15 minutes at a time and my activity is increasing--doing dishes, making meals, etc....as long as I don't lift over 10 lbs and pace myself, I do really well.  Regarding menopausal symptoms:  a few warm flushes, one "hot" flash when I yelled at the Vikings and "knock on wood" that's about it, so praying it stays that way.

When I am not working, I have been spending a fair amount of time reading, pondering and praying....I truly believe there is a purpose for all things and I heard an interesting radio clip the other night that is really tugging at my heart.  Ron Hutchcraft had a segment titled "Survivors to the Rescue." He shares
"A person is saved from a deadly situation and they instinctively go back to help save someone else. That's exactly how lives are saved eternally. The rescued are supposed to turn around and be the rescuers. When they're not, they make it out, but they leave others to perish. It's not supposed to be that way.  If someone rescued you spiritually by telling you about Jesus Christ, then the eight words in our word for today from the Word of God are personal orders from God to you. Jude, verse 23, simply says, "Snatch others from the fire and save them." The implication - you got snatched from the fire, now go back and get someone else."  I keep wondering where does my cancer journey play in this and how can I offer encouragement and support to others who find themselves on a this path.
Last night was a tough night sleeping and for once it wasn't do to health challenges....it is because tonight someone asked me to be their guest at the opening of our new cancer institute....Lance Armstrong is the guest speaker and it is a "gala" affair!!  What an exciting opportunity...and a big thanks to S for the invite, to MD for rescuing me with a dress so I don't look like Heidi from the Hills" and J for the clutch.  (Last Friday I almost cancelled out because of nerves, unworth, etc...decided to cover it all in prayer...and it all fell into place.)  Wouldn't it be cool if I actually got to meet Lance?  Although I haven't been a Lance "groupie". He was an inspiration to me while I endured the rigors of cancer treatment.  I am planning on posting pics this weekend.

In bloggers world I received to interesting emails this week.  The first email stated that my blog is mentioned in their blog on breast cancer sites.  How cool is that?  Here is the link to Navigating Cancer.  The other email I received this morning and it was a post of the top 15 breast cancer sites, if you are interested here is the link:  15 Inspiring Breast Cancer Blogs

I would like to leave you with a quote that I read on a post at Journey Beyond Breast Cancer this week. 

“The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.”
~ W.M. Lewis

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Review: The Prophecy Answer Book by Dr David Jeremiah

Although prophecy is often beyond my thinking, I really appreciated the handy, pocket size book recently written by Dr David Jeremiah. The Prophecy Answer Book helps the reader to understand past events while explaining events prophesied for the future. The layout of the book is a question and answer format that is easy to follow and understand making this an ideal book for group bible studies, discussions with your teen children or travel topic. Dr David Jeremiah uses scripture in his answers, allowing the reader a documented reference. This is a great reference book for beginners and advanced students of prophecy. *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

Life from the couch

Just checkin' in with a few thoughts from the couch.  Last weeks surgery went well...it is amazing  how you can have body parts removed and be discharged from the hospital by 10 the next morning??  Thankfully, my pain hasn't been much different than the pain I had prior to surgery.  Fatigue continues to be my biggest battle and although I think napping is a waste of time... I am listening to my body and am resting appropriately.  I am excited to report that the day after surgery, I was able to start back on my walking program, going short distances (5 minutes) six times a day.  (Lest you think I am Ms. Physically Fit--I am in a wellness program at work and we receive points for our activity--got to love competition!)  Due to increased pain--I didn't walk yesterday, but every other day I have been able to complete my goal.

Sitting on the couch allows time to stop and ponder the how's, why's and what now's...

Still pondering...still praying...still resting....still trusting in the Almighty God!

One funny thought to leave you with this Saturday morning:  What do you get when you have "instant menopause" and a 15 year old daughter who received her driver's license in the same week?....yup, could be interesting! 

Have a great day and may you find some "white space" in your day to take a step towards your dream!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Womb memories

As the minutes seem to be increasing in speed(and the closer Wednesday comes) I find myself wanting to scream, “STOP, TIME, STOP!!” or “I don’t want to!!” or “This stinks!!” or “You’ve got to be kidding!!” For some women a hysterectomy is welcomed procedure, a reprieve from pain and “female issues.” For me, the thought of a hysterectomy has caused many tears and memories of yesteryear.

Rewind back to the days leading up to my bilateral mastectomy, I found myself grieving over the thought of my precious breasts being cut off. My breasts were a source of food for my babies, a source of pleasure for my husband and a source of comfort for a hurting heart. They were a part of my identity which I had to give up to save my life.

Now as I think about the upcoming hysterectomy, I find myself once again grieving. When I think of my female organs, I think of some of the greatest blessings of my life—my children! To me, removing these parts is like giving up part of my blessings! (It doesn’t make sense, but that is how I feel.)

I would like to share a few of my most precious memories.

Kalina, my beautiful oldest daughter, I can’t help but smile when I think of your birth. Evan back than you were in a hurry to do it your way, so much in fact, you didn’t even want to wait for the doctor when you decided to enter the world. My sweet girl, you have grown to a beautiful and loving woman, daughter, wife and mother. You are a wonderful blessing and I am so proud of you!

Brett, my handsome son, unlike your sister, you liked your mamma and you weren’t in any hurry to leave the comfort and coziness of my womb. Two inductions and three and half weeks later you made your appearance and our lives have been so blessed by your love for life. I am so enjoying watching you grow into a man. Although, I know you would rather be living on your own, I am so thankful for the extra time we have together. You are a wonderful blessing and I am so proud of you!

Kelsey, my beautiful youngest daughter, you “starring role” even before your birth. Your dad and I made many trips to the hospital anticipating your arrival, only to have you miss your curtain call. What a delight to watch you explore and enjoy your teen years! I pray your zest and energy for life will continue to bless you always. You are a wonderful blessing and I am so proud of you!

Last, but not least, to my hubby. How are you doing it? I know my losses are in essence your losses, as when we were united in marriage we became one. What will you be thinking on surgery day? Will your heart be crying as mine has been crying? At times it seems so much has been taken from us. First my breast, than my health, and now the rest…I wonder, when you look at me, what do you see? When you see the scars on my chest—do you see illness and cancer, hurt and pain, or do you see VICTORY, the scars a symbol of God’s provision? When I look at you, I see a TRUE MAN—a man after God’s heart—a man who has stolen my heart by his love, kindness and support. Thank you for continuing to hold my hand on this unexpected journey.

Dear blogger friends—thank you for sharing this stage of my journey beyond breast cancer. I do know that I am blessed beyond measure and so very fortunate to have had children before facing a hysterectomy. My heart and prayers to those women who haven’t been able to experience the blessing of a child growing in their womb, I can only imagine the pain. Through much prayer and support, I am prepared for surgery Wednesday—still not liking it, but choosing to make the best of it!

I am not going to judge Jesus love by my circumstances;
 I am going to judge my circumstances by Jesus love!

Monday, October 11, 2010

caring bridge update

"This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." John 11:4

There are times when our life path has many twists and turns, causing us to wonder “Will we ever reach our destination?” From diagnosis to surgery to chemotherapy to radiation and then more surgery…my family and I wonder is the next step going to be our last?  I am thinking the cancer journey will never truely have an ending destination, but will be forever part of our lives with detours, surprises and blessings.

Before I share this latest detour, I would like to share a wonderful surprise and great blessing. Due to severe back pain, I recently had a PET scan which shows me dancing with Mr. NED. (No Evidence of Disease.) NED is an awesome dancer whom I hope will be my partner for life. Now, for the detour: Like most women who are treated with chemotherapy I went through menopause. The majority of women stay in “chemopause/menopause.” Well, once again, my body proved its resiliency. In March, my female organs woke up with a vengeance, creating all kinds of health issues and concerns. (Some have accused me of being an overachiever, so it should come as no surprise that my ovaries are overachievers too.) Well, after many doctor appointments and second opinions and third opinions (along with much prayer) it has been decided that the last of my female parts have to go…so on Wednesday, I will be having a complete hysterectomy. The greatest concern I (and my family) have at this time is that I will be in “instant menopause”—WARNING: do not google surgically induced menopause or you may be afraid to come visit me. (Thankfully, I have had some time to put resources in place to help with any challenges I may experience.)

Many women feel a hysterectomy is no big deal and are actually relieved and happy to have this procedure. I wish I could say I was one of them. For some reason I have struggled greatly with this surgery and have spent many weeks grieving the loss of additional body parts. (If you care to read more about my thoughts, etc on this process…check out my blog post as I share more of my heart.)

Last week one of my dear friends shared with me a sermon that addressed the topic of sickness and suffering. The timing of the topic was perfect and a great encouragement. This pastor shared the story of Lazarus and also examples on how God allows suffering to bring glory to Him. With this suffering it is our choice if we are going to grow bitterness or love. God has proved so faithful to me that it is easy for me to choose love.

One final thought by the same pastor: I am going to judge my circumstances by Jesus love, I am not going to judge Jesus’ love by my circumstances.

Even though I still hate the idea of a hysterectomy (circumstance)….I thank God for the blessing of His everlasting love that walks with me—always!

Thanks for your prayers on Wednesday and the weeks to come…

Blessings, k.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cancer from my hubby's point of view

It is real easy to go through the cancer journey just thinking about yourself and "your" cancer.  But the reality of the cancer journey, it isn't just about you.  There are so many affected by our journey, especially our families.  Too often, we don't realize the stress and emotional impact cancer has had on our loved ones.  (At least I didn't.)  It was easiest for me to understand and empathize with my children, even though they played  the "cancer card" a few times to their advantage. I am embarrassed to say, however,  My hubby got the short end of my stick...I wasn't very empathetic to him and his needs.  I remember thinking "Buck up, I'm the one going through treatment, you still get to live your life."  It is within the last few months, I am beginning to understand and appreciate how challenging this journey has been on him.  When reading about breast cancer survivorship, I missed the chapter on how to reconnect with your spouse after treatment ends.  For some reason I thought everything would return to normal...however, life will never be normal like we knew it. 

During a discussion with my hubby on Friday night, he explained the cancer journey to me from his eyes. 

"Our home is our castle.  I am the King. You are the Queen.  A horrible enemy broke through the castle gates and attacked my precious queen.  There was nothing I could do to protect her from the enemy and I couldn't kill the enemy.  I had to sit and watch her as the enemy was cut out, poisoned out and burned out.  I want to protect my queen and there wasn't anything I could do.  My castle was invaded while I stood guard."

So, my breast cancer sisters, please join me in appreciating the challenge our spouses face while they watch from the sidelines cheering us on when their heart is crying, wondering why they couldn't protect us.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for my husband.  Thank you for blessing me with a man that has held my hand, especially when I wasn't the nicest to him.  Please help him remember that all security comes through You.  As we are now in the healing phase, please help me to be sensitive to his needs and fears.  Lord, I know all blessings come through you...please bless and heal our marriage, as you have healed me!

Ps.  I should add, my hubby has never read my blog, so he is unaware of this post...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Living Life??

So, this morning, I was pondering on my last two posts and thinking some more about the living life question.  Before I share some thoughts, I want to clarify (in case you don't know me well)--I tend to be a bit of an overachiever and set my standards pretty high on most things.  Take for example the other day.  It was my turn to bring goodies to our women's lifeserve group.  I was craving caramel apples.  Since I worked all day and limited on time, I could have purchased prepared caramel dip and sliced apples....but, no, I went home and made homemade caramel dip and sliced the apples.  (Yes, I think the homemade tastes better, but really-- I could have saved some time and stress.)(Plus, I burned the first batch, so I had to make a second batch.)

Today, I found myself asking the question...is this moment enough?  Can going to work, making supper, cleaning up the house, taking a walk with my husband, driving my daughter to dance and writing on my blog, be enough?  Do we always have to be pushing for something more?  This could be a critical question for those of us who may be experiencing survivor's guilt.  We think--God saved our lives, now I must do something or be something to make my life worthwhile.  But, maybe, just maybe...we are doing what is required of us?  Maybe just being kind to our loved ones, coworkers, people on the street is enough?...Maybe just getting up in the morning and attempting to put a smile on our face is enough? Maybe this is what Paul meant when he said in his letter to the Philippians "I am content in all things."

So, tonight finds me still striving and dreaming, yet at the same time...with contentment and peace--knowing that I am right where I am supposed to be!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I am not afraid of dying, I am afraid I have never lived!

I think I am probable breaking "blogger" rules by reposting on yesterday's topic.  I can't help it.  It is on my mind and I feel a need to share.  The statement "I am not afraid of dying, I am afraid I have never lived!" is definitely impacting me.  It has haunted me since I heard it spoken at the symposium I attended yesterday.  What is really interesting that on Friday, I had lunch with my brother and the "death" topic came into our discussion.  His philosophy is that you start dying the day you were born and that he isn't afraid of death.  He stated, "Of course, I have not face the reality of death like you have, but that is my thoughts."  I shared with him that I thought he was blessed as I think one of the reasons many people are afraid of death is because they aren't living the life they desire. 
There seems to be a recurrent theme to my weekend, with two thoughts tugging at my heart.
1.  Am I living life?  For the most part, I believe I am living life and yes, like many cancer survivors, I have cancer to thank for my wake up call.  Instead of putting my dreams and desires on the back burner, they have moved up the front burner with the temperature turned up higher.  My biggest goal is to live a life honoring God and sharing His love with others.  As of now, the path seems to be leading to possible working with other survivors, along with possible some speaking/writing.  (Right now I can't say I have a clear direction, just taking the steps when prompted and continuing to pray for God's guidance and direction.)
2.  What can I do to help others LIVE?  As I look around my circle of friends, coworkers, and family, I see so many who are doing life, but not LIVING life.  Is there anything I can do to help encourage them to take the risk to explore their hidden dreams? 

Dear Lord,
Thank you for bringing an awareness to my life about LIVING!  Thank you for blessing me with a  brother who can share his heart and ask the tough questions. Thank you for tugging at my heart.  Now, I pray and ask for direction.  How can I use the words you have shared to help and encourage others, knowing that YOU desire for us all to develop the talents you have given us?  Thank you, Father, for the gift of life!

Q.  How about you, are living  today?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I am not afraid of dying, I am afraid I have never lived!

The above phrase was said by Linda, a pancreatic cancer patient, when she was attending a class on resiliency.  Today, I, along with local health care providers and cancer survivors/caregivers, had the opportunity to attend Avera Oncology Symposium.  This years focus was on survivorship.  Before today, I never really thought too much about being a survivor, just knew that I was one!  (And to think I almost didn't go and only went on the prompting that this was something I needed to do!)

The speakers were wonderful and inspirational, the topics were educational, and it was a great day! 

Since I have done much research on my cancer treatments, I was surprised to learn of the many long term side effects to cancer treatment (sometimes showing up 10, 15, 20 years.) We, as survivors, need to become aware of any potential for long term health consequences.  This new awareness has caused me to be even more vigilant about implementing good health practices to protect my heart, lungs and bones.  My treatment saved my life, but with it comes an  increased risk of coronary artery disease, heart attacks, pulmonary issues, osteoporosis, etc.  We have a  long way to go in educating survivors and their primary care physicians in follow up of cancer treatment. 

An interesting session this afternoon was on "Building Resilience--the Skills of Survivors."

Here were a few things that I walked away from this session:
  • Resilience is....
                  "it is about bouncing back from problems and stuff with more power and more smarts"
                                                           --(Sean, a 15 year old inner city student)

  • Research has found that in many ways resilient patients will be more self assured, focused and happier because of their journey with cancer.

  • "Physicians shouldn't talk about patients going back to normal after treatment.  We want to help people find the best 'new normal'."--Dr. Catherine Alfano

An interesting exercise the speaker, Deb Carlson, challenged us to participate in was the Resiliency t-test.
Draw a "T" on a piece of paper.  Across the top write your name (or someone else's name).  On the left of the line write down all the problems you see in your environment (or the person's who's name you wrote down.)  On the right side of the line, write down all the strengths in yourself (other person) and in your (his/her) environment....talents, potential talents, personality qualities. Typically it is much easier to write down things on the left side.  It seems as if our brains are programmed for the negative.  We tend to focus on what is wrong and sometimes have a difficult time seeing what is right.  Research shows that we focus 90% of our energy on the left side, with only 10% focusing on the right. (We also tend to do that with people in our lives).  We all need to focus our shift to the right, allowing our strengths to grow in power and influence.  If we want something to grow we must nurture it and reinforce it!"
If we think we are fragile and broken, we will live a fragile, broken life.  I f we believe we are strong and wise, we will live with enthusiasm and courage.  The way we name ourselves colors the way we live.  Who we are is in our eyes.  We must be careful how we name ourselves."--Wayne Muller, 1996

Create YOUR best life!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sparkling in South Dakota

This past week, one of my blogger friends, Journey Beyond Breast Cancer shared an insightful post on survivor's guilt.  One of my most favorite (and encouraging) paragraphs from this post was:
In his book, Travelling Light (The Columba Press) Daniel J. O’Leary quotes Bearwatcher, an Apache medicine man. “In the Apache language there is no word for ‘guilt.’ Our lives are like diamonds. When we are born we are pure and uncut. Each thing that happens to us in our lives teaches us how to reflect the light in the world; each experience gives us a new cut, a new facet in our diamond. How brilliantly do those diamonds sparkle whose facets are many, to whom life has given many cuts!”
Simply Sparkling in South Dakota!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Simply Sunday

My ponderings lately are on this video that was posted on  Peace for the Journey.  The Cancer Crusade Movie....here are the words to the movie:

I have cancer but cancer does not have me.
Cancer is not who I am.
It is only a bend in the road that is my life’s journey…
An unexpected detour on my path.
It is a lesson in the cosmic school room that is human existence.
So I will pause to rest…..and heal…and study the lesson…
Before I move on to my life beyond cancer.
I will not give into fear.
And I will not be discouraged by setbacks.
Setbacks are only opportunities to review the lessons.
I will not be ashamed of my scars
My scars are the brushstrokes in the masterpiece that is my life.
I will be thankful for the many blessings that cancer has brought into my life:
People I would have never known.
Love that I have never been still or quiet enough to witness.
Humility I needed.
Strength I thought I had lost,
Courage I never knew I had.
I will remember I can still have fun.
And that its okay—even healthy! to be silly.
I will remember that to find joy in rainbows…
I must endure the rain.
And I will remember always that…
While I may have cancer…
Cancer does not have me!

This poem was such a beautiful encouragement today as I am once again "couch bound" due to the cyclic back pain.  Instead of getting frustrated and discouraged, I am using this setback as a time to review the lessons of my cancer journey.  To reflect and meditate on the plans that God has for me.  Some days I wish God would hand me the map with the directions clearly marked.  I am good at following the directions, it is just interrupting them that trips me up. 
When doing some reading this morning in Lysa Terkeurst's book, Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl and Lysa states "I have finally landed.  That's the way I feel since I stopped that intense search for what I am supposed to become in life.  I still have goals and hopes for my future, but they no longer send me into a striving frenzy. But I must continue to pursue truth that keeps me grounded and God's love that keeps me filled."
So, today finds me pursuing truth...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Walkin' with my little buddy!

Over the Labor Day weekend, my family and I took a quick trip to Montana to see our daughter, son in law and grandson. (Quick, like in 13 hour drive, 4 days, quick!)  We were blessed with many precious memories.  I thought I'd  share with you one of these special memories and how I had an "ah, ha" God moment in an unexpected event.

I would like to introduce you to my little buddy, Apollo. 

After a nice supper at the local coop, I suggested that Apollo and I walk home. My daughter, the wise mommy she is said, "Are you sure about that?  He likes to dawdle and gets side tracked real easy."  I quickly reassured her, after all, how hard could it be to walk with a 15 month old?  Besides, their home was only four blocks away.  Well, let's say, those four blocks will be forever engraved in my heart.

My first clue should have been when we had taken only a few steps and Apollo sat down on the sidewalk to pick a blue  flower.  After a few minutes of picking the petals off, I gentle took his hand and coaxed him up.  We walked a few more steps.  Oh, but than his eyes spied a yellow flower.  Again, he sat down to explore (and destroy) this new flower.  He grabs my hand and again, we proceed on our journey.  Oh, no, Apollo sees his mom and dad drive by in their car, which you would think since he started fussing when he saw them, that he would have wanted to run after them. But no, not this kiddo.  He turned around and ran the other way.  We are now back at the Coop--our starting point.  I thought to myself, okay, we are not getting anywhere little guy.  I  offered my hand and he proceeded to make his feet stick to the ground, look at me, plopped his bottom down (with a big grin on his face) and proceed to lay down on his back to watch the  sky.  After a few minutes, I bent down and picked up my 30 lb buddy and carried him about 1/2 a block.  Since my mastectomy, I haven't really carried that much weight, so a 1/2 block was all this grandma could muster.  I lowered him to the ground and we walked hand in hand...oh, for about 3 steps.  Apollo spotted a water puddle.  Yup, you guessed it!  He had to splash in the puddle.  When he finished splashing, he spotted a rock.  Now, this child loves rocks almost as much as he loves his mommy and daddy.  We stopped and played with some rocks and I once again, picked Apollo up and carried him another 1/2 block.  We crossed the street and I gave him my hand so we could proceed to home.  Well,  after a few steps Apollo decided he didn't like the direction I was going, he turned around and ran back to the corner.  Once he got there, he plopped his bottom down, proceeding to lay down and watch the clouds. (With a big grin on his face.)

By now, I am thinking...Hey little guy, I love taking the time to explore with you, but if you just hang on to my hand I will get you home.  Apollo, buddy, the road home doesn't have to be this difficult.   It was right then I felt the "God" tug.  That tug where you know a lessons-a-coming!  I could almost hear God say to me--"Kim, don't you see the parallel?  Like you trying to guide your grandson, I try and guide you.  I am holding out my hand, wanting to guide you to the destination I have planned for you.  Instead of holding my hand and listening to my voice, you get side tracked, stomp your feet, plop on your bottom and run the other way.    Also, like you have carried Apollo, I have carried  you." An amazement to me is like I patiently waited for Apollo, God is standing there waiting for me.   Just waiting for me to hold His hand and let Him guide me on my journey!!

Apollo and I did make it home that day after this grandma did a few more 1/2 block carries.

Q  Where have you learned a lesson in an unexpected place?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Dance!

Ok, so I wasn't too worried about the scans, but when your world has been rocked by cancer once, it is hard to not be a bit concerned.  Thankfully scans and labs were good!  My oncologist was a bit puzzled on my continued back pain, presumed endometriosis, etc...but after much discussion, it looks like a hysterectomy is still in the plan...unless, of course, God shows me another option.  Thanks for your prayers!  Doing the Happy Dance in South Dakota!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The journey up the mountain!

When I was done with cancer treatment, I thought I had reached the top of the mountain and the challenge was to find my way down.  One year later post treatment, I find that I climbing a new mountain that has a few meandering paths that appear to be taking me off my path. 
As I have shared with you all, the last month or so, has been challenging for me health wise.  Last week, I emailed the breast navigator for my oncology clinic, asking her when do I need to be concerned about certain symptoms or when can I just chalk it up to post treatment side effects.  Well, apparently I have enough variables showing up that I have raised some eyebrows and I am scheduled for a PET/CT scan this Thursday.  At first I wasn't too worried, but as the day gets closer, I am finding scanxiety creeping in.  It is so frustrating as my heart and mind know that God is in control and He is walking beside me...but to be honest it is hard not to have a bit of fear.  Thankfully, I have the scan at noon and appt with oncologists at 430, so I don't have to wait long for results.  The Lord is in control.  and I trust He knows my heart and how much I want to serve Him with my life.  (After all my mind feels like a gerbil on his wheel with how many ideas I want to explore (and hopefully implement) for providing support and encouragement to others who find themselves walking the cancer mountain.)

Ps.  I also have some really awesome blog topics that I can't wait to have some time to finalize and share with you all. 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Chai from the Sky

This past Tuesday I had an appt with the obgyn's office which led to some procedures.  Good news--ultrasound appeared negative for any cancer (I guess once you have cancer this is something that is always going to be a concern.)  Bad news--horrible back pain continued for most of the week.  The gyn MD had offered surgery, I politely explained to them that I had a trip planned for Montana over the weekend and surgery wasn't an option at this time.  I did agree to return for an appt on Thursday if pain continued.
After my appointment, on my way to work I had called my  husband in tears:  partly from pain, partly from fear and partly from being sick and tired of being sick and tired!  As usual, Ferlin asked me if there was something that he could do for me.  I quickly told him PRAY!  He asked, "what should I pray for?"  I replied, "Two things:  One for some definitive answers and second, for a chai to fall from the sky!" (Chai tea is one of my most favorite comfort drinks.)  Well, imagine my surprise when I got to work and my coworker had picked me up a chai tea on her way to work (about 1 1/2 hours before my prayer request.)  We all enjoyed the moment of a simple prayer requested being answered.
On Thursday, the pain continued so I once again found myself at the obgyn's office.  We had the talk (amidst my tears).  Unless a miracle occurs, I will be having a complete hysterectomy mid October.  My gyn thinks that my pain is coming from ovarian cysts and endometrosis.  To my best understanding (from the limited research I have found)...when a woman goes through chemotherapy it can affect the ovaries.  Since I never really had any female issues prior to breast cancer, I am thinking my ovaries have gone "crazy".  It does make me a bit angry that I have to have another surgery, that I will be in "instant menopause", but it is what it is.... 

Mood wise this has been a much better week--thank goodness!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Many Thanks

Just a quick "Thank YOU!!!"  I appreciate your prayers and encouragement!  Today finds me with more "zing and zang!" emotionally, just still struggling with some physical challenges.  I have an appt on Tuesday morning with my obgyn specialists...praying they may have an answer or at least help me get pointed in the right direction.  Here is a bit of a song that we sang at church on Sunday--May it encourage you as it did me!

I may be down,
    but I will rise.
It may be dark,
    but God is light!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gremlins gibberish

Please accept my apologies for the sporadic posts and ponderings.  As mentioned in the last few posts, I have found myself in the leaning over the "pit"  stage of my journey recovery.  This past week, I am humbled to admit...I sat in the pit!  The first few days of the week found me in tears and experiencing a deep sadness, which I couldn't understand.  Not to mention, I just don't feel well.  On top of that, I cracked my crown on the tooth that I had a recent root canal done.  Perfect food for the gremlins to start growing.  Those gremlins kept trying to take over my mind telling me all sorts of lies.
1) What did you do wrong now?  You just can't get life right can you?
2) God must be really mad at you.
3) What aren't you getting, that you have to continue to suffer physically?
4) What good are you to anyone when you can't even put on a smile and make life work?

Thankfully through my past experiences, I was able to combat the gremlins and shot them down with God's truth.  Anytime one of them would try to speak a lie...I would take out some scripture cards a dear friend of mine gave me and start reciting them.  God's word to the RESCUE!!  Another pivotal point in my journey this week was that one of most sweetest, Godly woman whom I am so blessed to have in my life, took time to meet in a chapel and pray for and with me.  Have you ever had someone take your hands and offer prayers on your behalf?  Such sweet, tender words praising and seeking our Father...through my sweet sister in Christ...God saw the tears, wiped them away, wrapped His arms around me and carried me until I was able to get up and walk again.  (okay, I am barely crawling right now...but trust that I soon will be walking!)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Breast Cancer Treatments and FDA

Recently there has been talk of the FDA pulling the chemotherapy drug Avastin.  From my limited understanding of it all, according to some of the studies, the life expectancy of a cancer patient who has taken Avastin doesn't increase and since this drug costs lots of mula, the outcome doesn't support the financial expendature.  The concern I have (and I think we all should have as free citizens in our beautiful country)...is this the first of the many?  If the drug is pulled because of safety, side effects, etc...totally understandable.  But just because of cost??  If the FDA stops approving this drug, than the insurance companies won't pay for it either, thus, for the breast cancer patients who are having success with this drug, they will no longer have this option for treatment.  Maybe Avastin doesn't affect you or your family personally, but one has to ask, what drug will be pulled next? Here is a video that a young man has put together showing how important Avastin is to his family.  I hope you can take a few minutes and watch it...although the message made me sad, the thought of the love this son has for his mom, warmed my heart.  Triple negative breast cancer mom and Avastin treatment

Guess this was kind of a random post??  

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rejection, Nah…. Refinement!!

I did it! I sent off my first ever article to a magazine for consideration for publication.

I did it! I received my first ever rejection from my first ever magazine submission.

I didn’t do it! Cry that is…I know that I made an important first step by actually submitting…and as my husband so jokingly stated…your rejection email will be the first of many, that is just the name of the game, but it is proof that you are taking a step.

Well, I am off to review the suggestions from the editor on ideas for improvement—what a blessing that she offered constructive criticism so I can improve as a writer.

How about you? What have you done in taking a step towards your dream?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Talking truths

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Does anyone remember Lamb Chops and the famous song that was sung on this show?

This is the song that doesn't end,
Yes, it goes on and on, my friend.
Some people started singing it, not knowing what it was,
and they'll continue singing it forever just because...

And thus the song repeats infinite times.

I can’t help but think of this song and how it relates to my cancer journey. The past few months I have had a cancer “holiday.” (And I have been refreshed with the time to let my body heal.) A few weeks ago, I had a follow up appointment with my obgyn/oncologists, which I started seeing in January for abnormal vaginal bleeding and severe back pain. (Chemo had put me in what is called "chemopause" or otherwise known as an early menopause.)  After a laparoscopy it was discovered that I had endometriosis. The last six months, I have continued to have abnormal and excessive menses cycles and increasing back/pelvic pain. Dr S has agreed to give my body a few more months to try and regulate, if this doesn’t happen, he has recommended a complete hysterectomy with oopherectomy. Since I am not a candidate for hormones, this surgery would mean “instant menopause!” Unsettled with this course of action, I proceeded with a second opinion and prayer… “God, please let this doctor look on me with favor and allow me to receive her guidance.” I am not kidding when I say that she wasn’t even in the room for five minutes and stated with a loud and very clear message, “I agree with Dr S, a complete hysterectomy is the best plan for you!” Blinking back the tears, I left the physician’s office and started slipping into “the hole.”

Are any of you familiar with “the hole?” For me the hole is where the darkness starts to crowd out the light, where I start to lose my peace and hope, and it is where I start to hear the enemy’s words, instead of my Maker’s. In my hole there are no rational thoughts and a lot of ugliness. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that this past week has been a real challenge for me emotionally and physically. I blamed hormones. (I couldn’t even stand to be in the same room with me, unfortunately, I couldn’t leave myself.)

Last evening, as gently as my hubby could, he shared with me some of his observations of the past month or so. To sum it up, he stated that it appeared as if I lost “my peace and hope”. He shared  how he has noticed an increase in my anxiety, moodiness, anger and a decrease in my zeal, happiness, etc. I quickly defended, “I think it is hormones, my body is all whacked out.” As calmly as he could, he stated, “I don’t believe it is hormones and maybe you need to think about what is really going on…” OUCH!!! That hurt!!! If it is not hormones, than it must be something wrong with me. So, with tears in my eyes and a prayer in my heart, trying like a dickens to not want to slap the man, I kept my mouth shut and  listened as my hubby shared his thoughts. He stated, “You are repeating some of your old behaviors that I haven’t seen for a long time. What has triggered your spiral into the hole?” In an instant, I stated I thought I had been doing good, etc…but the doctor’s appointments, thoughts of surgery and extreme fear of cancer returning have been consuming all my thoughts. After I made that statement, the sobbing began…God helped me see that I had once again fallen for the LIE! You see, there was a time in my life, when I believed that I had to “do”, not understanding that I just have to “be”. The past few weeks I had allowed more and more activities to creep into my life, to prove that I was “well” again and to prove that I had some worth and value. Through the busyness of life, I allowed myself to get exhausted and away from spending quality time with God. Perfect time for Satan to whisper in my ears…lies of being unworthy, lies of insecurity, lies of rejection, lies of busyness and lies of fear.

So, I took this morning off…spending time reading God’s word, praying, contemplating, and throwing the “lies” in the trash! In my reading I came across the story of Zerubbabel and how he let fear stop him for many years from accomplishing good things for God. Oh, how I want to capture today and not let fear stop me from living out the call in my life.

I would like to share with you my prayer:

Dear merciful Father,

I am praying to you this morning in utter amazement of how you forever keep your hand on us, even when we forget you are there, when we try and do it our own way, and when we fall for the LIE. Thank you for a husband who isn’t afraid to speak truth in my life. Thank you that my heart was open to hearing the truth, even though it brought pain and tears. Sometimes, Father, life doesn’t make sense, but I know that You are there…just waiting for me to call out to you. Please help me to make wise decisions regarding my health. I want to focus on your truth and we both know that I can get lost in research. Thank you for guiding my efforts in seeking out the proper treatment for my body. Lord, it is my greatest prayer that I can keep my eyes focused on you and to praise you, even when life hurts. Thank you for helping me to throw the “lies” in the trash can. Please help me to use your word to replace the fears. Lord, I also pray for those who may be reading my blog. If there are any lies they believe, please help them to see the truth, because it is within your truth, we are set free!

In Jesus Name,

Ps…please know that there are some instants were emotions/anxiety/etc are hormones, but this time for me it was an excuse to not face the truth.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Simply She Speaks

They say a picture is worth a thousand words...so here's the pic that says it all.  I was there! 
One of the greatest things about the conference was the chance to connect with some new friends that I have met in bloggers world. 
This is Amelia who is a blogger/writer from California.  There are people who come into your life that you hope will become a "forever" friend--Amelia's one of those!  (This is really cool, especially since she is so very Type A and I tend to fly by the seat of my pants!)

Okay before the next few pictures...I have to share a quick story.  Guess who forgot her curling iron and hair brush?  Very funny, God!  A women's conference...and one would have thought that someone who was bald the previous summer....hair would be important!  One can never have too many lessons in humility.

In this next picture is Cindy, who is not only a sister in Christ, but a fellow breast cancer sister.  Cindy has started a non profit organization called Cindy's Hope Chest, that assists and encourages other cancer patients.  I so appreciated getting to know Cindy better and appreciate her sharing her knowledge on starting a non profit organization, etc.  (Yes, the wheels in my brain are spinning on overtime.)

Many of you know that I never attended college, so I haven't ever had the privilege of experiencing a room mate that I didn't know...Too me, this was one of the best parts of the conference.  Oh, how I prayed that the Lord would be part of the selection process...and He showed up in a big way.  I was so blessed to share a room with Tanya from Kansas City.  What an absolute delightful and inspirational sister!  Please join me in prayer as Tanya works on her book, that God would help her complete her deadline and use her words to encourage and inspire others on their journey.

The last few pictures I have to share with you is that of the prayer room.  This room was such a haven to sneak into when the busyness of the conference became a bit overwhelming for me.  The Proverbs 31 team prayers for each of the women attending and they also put our names by a name of God.  It was interesting another breast cancer survivor and I were sharing how we were so hoping that our name would be on "God who heals."  Interestingly neither of our names were on this name of God, we are assuming it is because we are both healed.  (I am still exploring the message that God has for me regarding the location of my name.) For me, the prayer room was an intimate time with our Lord.

Blessings to you as you begin your week...hoping I will have time to post again in the next few days to share more of my delightful trip!