Sunday, February 28, 2010

Preparing for surgery

For time sake, I have just copied my caring bridge entry...

These last few weeks have found me really busy trying to balance doctor appointments, working fulltime, being a mom and a wife, implementing new health routines (walking two miles a day—yippee!!) and …..exploring a whole new world—blogging!! To think, a few months ago, I didn’t even know what a blog was, now I find myself not only writing a blog but enjoying the discovery of some really awesome people in blog world.

I am excited to share that my doctor appointments were all great! If all goes as planned, my second stage reconstruction surgery will be on Wednesday morning at 10 am. The surgery will last between 2-4 hours long with one overnight at the hospital. My chest will be wrapped tightly for a few weeks along with those yucky drains. I will be on a 5 lb weight restriction for lifting and no “jiggling” for 6 weeks, so I will have to wait before I can start training for a 5K. (Bummer) We are really hoping that this surgery will relieve the back pain that continues to plague me throughout my days.

With second stage breast reconstruction the expanders that are currently under my chest muscles will be removed and replaced with the softer implant. “Good bye turtles, hello new girls!” As I anticipate this next step, I am filled with fear and anxiety, excitement and joy. The mastectomy was extremely painful and the memory of that surgery fills my mind with dread and fear, not to mention I am not anticipating recovery that I will once again have to endure. Yet, there is great excitement knowing that I am one step closer to finishing this segment of the journey. What joy that I have experienced a very living and vibrant God who has walked with me every step! I am so blessed knowing that God will be in the surgery room, guiding the physician’s hands, providing comfort and the strength to me to continue this race. (I will admit that lately, it has been a bit of a struggle to not feel a bit weary, my body is physically tired from the different cancer treatments and surgery.)

As I reach this stage of my journey, I find myself meditating on the experience of these past 15 months, trying to put the cancer experience into a proper place in my life. Today at church, the scripture that was shared really touched my heart….

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will find true life.” Luke 9: 23-24

I am humbled knowing that for the next few weeks my cross will be simply just getting dressed in the morning…I am excited though, as I do believe my healing is preparing me to carry a new and exciting cross for Him. As I continue to trust that true life is in Christ, I am encouraged by Paul’s words to the Philippians, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (can I add whether in sickness or health?) I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Blessings to you all for a great and prosperious week! Thank you for your continued prayers and support!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Exercise and Green Tea May Help Breast Cancer Survivors Beat the Blues

Here is an interesting article from Cancer

Exercise and Green Tea May Help Breast Cancer Survivors Beat the Blues

Exercising and drinking green tea may help prevent depression among breast cancer survivors, according to the results of a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.[1]

Depression is a major concern among breast cancer patients and survivors. Some estimates report that the prevalence of depression in this population is as high as 55%.[2] Depression can reduce quality of life and also potentially affect survival.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University conducted a study to determine whether lifestyle factors prevented depression among breast cancer survivors. They analyzed activity levels; food, tea, and alcohol consumption; smoking; and supplement use among 1,399 Chinese women who were treated for breast cancer in Shanghai, China, between 2002 and 2006.

Eighteen months post-diagnosis, 26% of women experienced depressive symptoms and 13% met the criteria for clinical depression. Women appeared to benefit from regular exercise—exercisers were 20% less likely to be mildly or clinically depressed. Furthermore, the higher the exercise level, the lower the likelihood was for depression. When compared with non-exercising women, those who exercised two hours per week were 28% less likely to be depressed, and those who exercised more than that were 42% less likely to be depressed.

Regular consumption of green tea also appeared to reduce the risk of depression. Among the 183 women who drank tea, the risk of depression was about 36% lower compared with the non-tea drinkers. The majority of tea drinkers (90%) reported drinking green tea.

The researchers concluded that regular exercise and tea consumption could help prevent depression among breast cancer survivors.

So, I have the tea boiling and my walking shoes on....see ya later!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Homeless with Cancer

When I got home from work tonight, this was posted on one of my favorite blogs.  I was so blessed to be able to go through my treatment with a home and lots of love and support.  My heart and prayers go out to this couple.  With permission from , I copied and pasted...

Homeless with cancer

February 23, 2010 by JBBC

Cancer is never a straight-forward journey. Right from the moment of diagnosis, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by treatment decisions to be made, practical arrangements to be put in place for your job, your home, or child-care arrangements. For the lucky ones, we can turn to a support team of family, friends and community. Or perhaps there is just one person you can turn to – your spouse or partner or a friend, or parent or sibling. Cancer isn’t an easy road to embark on, but having social and practical support confers a degree of well-being and has a protective effect, which helps in recovery from treatment.

But what of those who are alone with no one to turn to, what if you have lost your home, or your job and you feel isolated and alone? My friend Taiya Evras is reaching out on behalf of a couple, who find themselves in a position of homelessness, while dealing with cancer.

Kathy and Paul live in Los Angeles, and have been married for 15 years. Kathy has endometrial cancer, stage 2. She has had a radical hysterectomy and salpingo oopherectomy and biopsies of her lymph nodes. Her surgery and hospital stay have been paid for through medical financial aide and if she requires chemo and/or radiation this too will paid for.

Paul and Kathy had been staying in a shelter in Glendale. Recovering from surgery is something even the best of shelters is not equipped to help with. There is no privacy. All space is shared and come early morning, residents must leave. A private individual has paid for the couple to live in a budget hotel up until this Thursday, but after that, Kathy and Paul will have to leave their haven.

I am appealing to any you who may be in a position to help provide accommodation in the short-term, to please consider helping out this couple. Or perhaps you would think of paying for a night or two in this hotel, until a more permanent arrangement can be made? I can assure you that this is a genuine case. Before I posted this, I spoke with both Kathy and Paul on the telephone and they are, as Taiya had told me, a gentle, devoted and genuine couple, who are so grateful for the help they have received so far. They are not addicts, they are not mentally ill, nor any of the preconceived notions we may have of the homeless; they are just two people who have fallen on hard times – an all too familiar story in today’s economy. They are not asking for cash; they just need somewhere safe and clean for Kathy to recover.

So if you can help in any way, please contact us directly at The hotel per night costs about the price of a restaurant dinner, or the price of a new dress, or a beauty treatment – really not much at all,when you consider that the price of a restful night’s sleep to someone recovering from cancer treatment is priceless. Of course, I realize that this is a price too far for many, so if you know someone who might be able to help instead, please forward this information to them.

Many of us have been lucky to have had great support and help while we recovered from our own cancer, so please then, spare a thought for those who are not so lucky. No one should have to face cancer in even more difficult circumstances than are warranted.

Let me leave you with this one last thought. Whether you believe in some kind of final judgement, or karma, or just the brotherhood and sisterhood of (wo)man…”we will be judged on whether we fed the hungry, welcomed the stranger , clothed the naked, comforted the sick…” It is powerful to have an opportunity to re-learn this wisdom – who might we feed, welcome, clothe, comfort or visit this week?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blogging Changes and Cancer of the Heart

A few weeks ago, I tried to revamp a schedule for blogging…although the format was with good intentions and was a good guideline; I am finding my healing process isn’t following the same path. The days I am scheduled to write about wellness Wednesdays, I want to write my thoughts or I think of a fun thing to do and it is Tuesday…so, I have decided to write what I want, when I want and see how that fits me. I guess that is the great thing about blogger world, a person can do whatever they want…whether they have any readers, now that is another question??

Speaking of blogs, these past few weeks, a whole new world has been open to me. I have really enjoyed reading others blogs and exploring the blogger world. After researching and living cancer for the past 15 months, it was such refreshment to the brain and spirit to meet new friends and explore new ideas and dreams.

Well, the countdown has begun, 10 days until surgery for the second stage reconstruction…anyone who knows anything about this process will understand when I say “good bye turtles and hello new girls.” In preparation for the surgery, I have stopped taking advil 600 mg at bedtime, thus today finds me in pain and a bit grumpy. I am so hoping, yes, pleading to God, that after the exchange surgery, the muscles in my back will loosen up and the pain will be gone! With all the pain and heartache in the world, I feel a bit silly complaining of back pain—but it is my reality.

This morning when my husband and I were having our “quiet time”, my hubby posed an interesting question/thought…when a person has a disease such as cancer, diabetes, etc…they have a treatment plan: surgery, medications, lifestyle changes, etc…but what about when a person is in bondage to anger, hate, pride, selfishness, etc?? This “cancer of the heart” isn’t always diagnosed and when it is diagnosed, the treatment plan usually isn’t easy. However when “cancer of the heart” is treated and healed, what joy and living it can bring to our life!

Today I am pondering any undiagnosed sins I have in my life, oh I pray for God’s grace and strength as He reveals to me my next stage of reconstructing my character.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Just in case you are interested

This was in my in box this morning.  Although I am not a believer in an all vegan diet, I am interested in learning about some healthier nutrition ideas. 

Kickstart Your Health on March 1!

The PCRM 21-Day Vegan Kickstart program is back on March 1, and we want you to join us! Based on the success of the program earlier this year and wonderful feedback from participants, we have pumped up the content to make the Kickstart more informative, interactive, and easy to follow. AND we have an enthusiastic group of celebrities on board who will help encourage you with personal tips, new recipes, and even live chats. Now is the time to take charge of your health!

Sign up now for an all-access pass to daily messages that will include a breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu, nutrition webcasts, and a chance to win coupons redeemable at PCRM’s Marketplace. The message will also contain links to the Kickstart Web site where you will find:

Celebrity tips providing guidance and inspiration from actress Alicia Silverstone, four-time NBA champion John Salley, and more


Daily e-tips that are designed to put you on the path to weight loss, better health, and greater well-being

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Fun

For those of you who are finding that winter is getting a wee bit long…here is a fun activity.

Materials needed:

1 to 2 bags of large marshmallows

How to play:

My youngest daughter and I were upstairs and we started calling out everyone’s name in a real quick, excited way…and as they came running up the stairs, we bombed them with marshmallows declaring it was time for a marshmallow war. (At first they were stunned, but soon they joined in the fun and lots of laughter was shared.) We were still finding marshmallows months later in unexpected places.

Hope you have fun and if you get a chance, drop me a note on something you are doing to add fun to your day!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wellness Wednesday

Every day there are new headlines about this food or that food being bad for you. Don’t eat a cheeseburger or you’ll get heart disease. Alcohol causes cancer. If you drink coffee you’ll get Parkinson’s diseases. So on and so on. I believe it is much healthier to have a balanced approach when it comes to nutrition and I follow the 80/20 rule. Hopefully 80% of the time you will find me making wise food choices and 20% of the time, well, let’s just say, I am enjoying a little indulging!

When researching healthy nutrition habits to incorporate into my diet after cancer treatment, I was so excited and a bit surprised when I learned that walnuts are so good for us.

Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids promote heart health, preventing or controlling high blood pressure, lowering LDL cholesterol levels, and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Omega-3s may also act as an anti-inflammatory, protect bone health, ease symptoms of depression, and boost cognitive function. During the U.S. 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, it was reported that 70 % of Americans are deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids and 20% of Americans have blood levels of Omega-3 so low they cannot be detected. Omega-3’s are important for everyone, including children as they continue to grow and develop.

Just a quarter cup of walnuts contains over 90% of your daily omega-3 requirements.

In some recent scientific studies, there was research that showed a 50% reduction in breast cancer tumors in mice who had consumed the equivalent of two handfuls of walnuts a day. ( Of course, keep in mind that walnuts are calorie dense, so as with everything, balance and moderation are key to any successful nutrition plan.

I purchase my walnuts in bulk from the local food coop. When I get home, I package them in single size servings, so this instant snack is ready to go when I am.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cancer: 50 Essential Things to Do by Greg Anderson

There are several books that have helped me heal both physically, mentally and spiritually through my cancer journey. I thought I would share a few of my favorites in the upcoming weeks. This first book I have chosen is one that was given to me by some very special friends. I believe I am on my 5th time reading through this book. It is an excellent book for the newly diagnosed, someone going through treatment and for someone who is in the recovery phase trying to prevent reoccurrence and heal.


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This definitive guide, revised and updated with over 25% new material, empowers cancer patients and their loved ones to move beyond their disease. Greg Anderson, a cancer survivor, has designed this book for the recently diagnosed, those with recurring symptoms, and those who are well but have a lingering fear that the disease may strike again.

Informative and inspiring, Cancer: 50 Essential Things to Do goes hand-in-hand with the patient's medical treatment and is an invaluable roadmap to recovery. Filled with practical, healing "action steps" that have been used by thousands of cancer survivors, the revised edition also contains important new information--including recently approved medical treatment options, updated cancer research, and Internet resources--geared toward making sense of the fast-changing world of cancer treatment and recovery.

* Preface by Kenneth Cooper, M.D., M.P.H.

* Foreword by O. Carl Simonton, M.D.

"Expert instruction and loving encouragement--the wisdom of someone who has made the journey from near death to a healed life."--Bernie Siegel, M.D.

About the Author

Greg Anderson was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1984 and given only thirty days to live. He is founder and chairman of the Cancer Recovery Foundation International group of charities and today is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading wellness authorities.

I found that this book gave me realistic hope when I was scared and fearful. There is so much information available to cancer patients on health, diet, supplements, etc. I found it to be a challenge to decipher truth vs false claims from people wanting to sell a product. This book helped provide a sense of direction that I could easily understand and try to implement into my daily living.

I strongly recommend this book for anyone that has been diagnosed with cancer and for those who just want general knowledge about healthy choices that may help prevent cancer.

If you have read the book or do read the book, drop me a comment and let me know what you think.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thin Places by Mary E De Muth and Thursday Thoughts

In my mailbox a few weeks ago was the book, Thin Places written by Mary E De Muth. Since, reading is one of my number one passions; I couldn’t wait to get started with this new read. Generally, I can easily finish a 200 page book in a few hours; however I quickly found that with this book, it was to not be so…this book was more like an excellent cup of chia tea. It is meant to be sipped, the flavor lingering in your mouth, the sweetness that is left on the tongue…to be processed and savored. Ms De Muth is an authentic and very real author, who has greatly encouraged me as I continue to walk through a thin place in my life with the completion of cancer treatment. I loved the author's description of thin places: thin places are “snatches of time, moments really, when we sense God intersecting our world in tangible, unmistakable ways.” I thought I would share a few excerpts from the book for my Thursday thoughts….

p. 23 Jesus washes me that night with my own tears. Or are they His? But as the Psalmist so aptly writes, “Those who sow I tears shall reap with joyful shouting” Psalm 126:5

p. 26 I am Jacob in times like this. Wrestling with God over my lack of a father, He injures me so I limp. The limp reminds me of God’s God-ness and my frailty—the most humbling thin place.

p. 45 It confirms the thought that worms its way through my sojourn here—that I’m unworthy of occupying space on this earth. The weight of it is now a cannonball on my chest. I cannot roll it off. Those who pray for me watch me struggle. They weep alongside me. No safe place after all. No haven. No one who really cares just for me. Of course my mother and grandparents love me, even in that moment when I felt unwanted, illegitimate. My inability to discern their love, coupled with, perhaps, their inability to express it in a way that makes sense to four-year-old me, is what matters.

P. 47 The memory is a thin place where I have the painful privilege of extending forgiveness again, to walk with Jesus through the memory with grace-filled eyes. Any time I’m wronged (or, in this case, perceive I am wronged), I have a window to see Jesus clearer by the way I react. If I forgive, I get to experience Him. If I growl bitterness, he seems farther away. Forgiving is the deepest kinship I’ve experienced with Jesus so far, but it’s not an easy kinship.

p. 65 When I’m rejected, it sends me to this very dark pit, to this place where I wonder if I’m worthy enough o take up space on this earth.

p. 99 Clean shiny folk don’t have the sacred privilege of understanding God’s greatness or power because they’re so full of their own beauty. Messy folks understand the metaphor of an earthen vessel, a clay pot, a canister that holds refuse. And, in that humble state of mess-dom, we welcome the beauty of Jesus within.

Everyone is invited to tell their story of a thin place in their own life . . . and an opportunity to win a Kindle reader for doing so!

Here is the link:

Here is my 259 word thin place:

In December 2008, when I was 40 years old, I had an unwelcomed guest that tried to take up residency in both of my breasts. This guest was an aggressive, invasive breast cancer which has forever changed my life. Instead of preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ with my husband and children, I found myself starting cancer treatment which consisted of a double mastectomy, followed by aggressive chemotherapy, and extensive daily radiation. My treatment road has been rough with many potholes and unexpected detours. My body has been stripped physically; I experienced baldness, am without breasts, experienced extreme fatigue and weakness, along with debilitating pain. I have been broken emotionally, experiencing loneliness and deep sorrow, along with a very real reality of life and death. I have been strengthened spiritually, experiencing God’s love for me, in a fresh and exciting new way. Throughout this long journey, God has met me at every step, many times arriving before I. I have learned to trust, even when I don’t understand His plan. As this type of cancer has a high rate of reoccurrence, I am still in a thin place, wrestling like Jacob, walking every day with the scars of treatment yet trusting in our Lord, finding comfort in His promises. The road of cancer can be hard and challenging, filled with frustration and tears at time, laughter and joy at other times…I take comfort in knowing that there is a God who gives me strength when I can’t stand, courage when I am frightened, and love through it all.

Thin Places by Mary E De Muth

provided a review copy of this book

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wednesday Wellness: Naturally Nutritious

With over 41 million entries listed from a search on Google for the word: nutrition, it is no wonder there is so much confusion on a relatively simple subject. I am a reformed pepsi-holic, I love pepperoni pizza, and my absolute favorite: Mc Donald’s French fries. Even before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was trying to make changes to a healthier lifestyle. Now, after cancer treatment, I would say, I have taken it up a notch or two. For the record, eating healthy does not come natural to me…let’s just say I am fruit and vegetable challenged. When it comes to a healthy lifestyle many of us have the “all or nothing” or “do or die” approach. That mentality has kept me from succeeding many times. Lately, I have been finding that I have the best success with really small easy changes. Here are just a few changes that have been successful for me.

I don’t like berries, but I can tolerate them in smoothies or with low fat vanilla yogurt. (To save money, I buy the big container of Stoneyfield (it’s organic, so it makes me feel better about eating dairy), I portion out ½ cup servings and add my fruit.)

To increase my veggie intake, I try and bring a container of tomato juice and baggie of carrots to supplement my lunch. (so if I splurge and go out to eat, I eat my veggies on the drive to the restaurant.)

I take snack size baggies and portion out walnuts or almonds. (Both purchased at our local coop.)

I aim for five fruits and veggies before I allow myself any treats.

I snack on whole grain cereals.

I have switched to agave syrup in my teas.

I try and have 2 – 3 cups of green tea daily.

We have slowly switched most of our meat consumption to grass fed, hormone free. At first it took a bit of experimenting to find a source as I didn’t like the taste of some of the local companies. We now have found a source that tastes delicious. We have noticed that we don’t need to eat as much meat as the taste is so good that it really satisfy’s us.

Well, these were just a few quick tips. If you get a chance drop me a note and let me know some of the nutrition changes you have implemented into your diet.

Monday, February 8, 2010

While doing some research on healthy living and cancer, I came across a very interesting web site that I thought I would share with you. I listed below a Q and A from their site. (Guess I better get some more exercise.)

Q: What are the benefits of a healthy lifestyle for cancer patients?
A: Adjuvant treatments for breast and colon cancer lowers disease mortality by 25-40%. Weight management, alone, may lower disease mortality by 40% and moderate exercise after breast and colon cancer may lower disease mortality by 40-50%. Paulette Chandler, MD noted at the 2006 Cancer Project Symposium that “Social action to promote health and prevent disease saves more lives more cheaply than high tech medicine across all cultures.” Leading a healthy lifestyle also sets important examples for our children, leaving a legacy of healthful habits and values for generations and generations.

Exercise is also very important. Exercise helps you feeling better all the time, even during and after medical treatments. It improves your chances of disease-free survival, combats fatigue, depression, anxiety, and improves strength and overall quality of life.

Sleep is important because of the powerful benefits of melatonin. It has been shown that women who work night shifts are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer.

Here is the link:

Well, I am off for my's -12 out right now....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thoughts and ideas

On Wednesday evenings, my husband and I co-facilitate a community group through our church. This session’s topic is on God sightings. This past week our topic centered on the Matthew 22:37. “Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’” The general census was that it is pretty easy to love with all your heart, but a bit harder to love fully with all your mind and soul. Prior to my journey through breast cancer, I believe that I would have agreed to this thinking. Now, I have to wonder?? When you are faced with a realism of the possibility of a shorter time on this earth than you anticipated, it can change your thinking just a bit. There is a risk involved with loving God with your whole heart…what if you give all your love and the answer you get back is an answer you don’t want to hear? So, in my heart I had to be real…will I still love God in adversity and sadness? I know He will never leave me, but the question is would I leave Him? When I started my journey, I didn’t know if I had it in me to fight and if my faith would hold true…After the peaks and valleys of this last year, I found that I had a strength that fortunately didn’t come from me, it came from a God who loved and cared about me. A gracious God who I learned through my journey has a sacrificial love for us all. We don’t have to do anything. Amazing!!

In my inbox yesterday was the announcement o f the upcoming SCBWI conference. One of the speakers is Chris Richman–Agent, Upstart Crow Literary. In researching Upstart Crow Literary, I came across an interview of Michael Sterns, founder and agent of Upstart Crow Literary. Mr. Sterns made an interesting statement that “jump started” me into some serious writing and planning this weekend. When asked about new authors, he stated, “I like to know if the writer is a member of a workshop, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, or does anything that indicates she takes writing seriously and is in it for the long haul.” So, I have been seeking God’s guidance on if this is the direction He wants me to direct my energies and focus. Although, I haven’t received a strong answer either way, I took the plunge and I have written some goals and specific measurable details to help reach my dreams! (Trusting that if the Lord has other dreams for me, He will guide and direct, after all, this morning I read about the parable of the talents in Matthew. How sad would it be to not use a possible talent, just because I let my own fear get in the way.)

When I started this blog, I had no idea what blogging really is…sure I had read a few blogs and even followed a few, but truly no clue what I was doing. Even though, I still have no clue, this weekend I spent some time updating my blog and researching other blogs to see what features I liked/disliked. Let me know what you think about my changes. (Good or bad…) A blogger whose blog and comments I enjoy is Journey Beyond Breast Cancer at Not only do I enjoy the information she provides, but I like the system she follows according to the days of the week, yet still allowing for some randomness. So, I have decided to pattern this blog after her example. This is the tentative schedule, of course, allowing that some weeks; life will definitely get in the way, so I may miss a few days. (lol).

Medical/Marriage Monday (I love to research so if anyone has a topic or interests send me a comment or email. If I don’t have anything in the medical world to share, thought I might explore some ideas on marriage.

Wellness Wednesday (since I am a wellness coach, this is a high area of passion.)

Thursday Thoughts (thinking this will be more of a pondering topic…perhaps, based on my Christian walk.)

Fun Fridays (this year my only new year resolution was to have more FUN!! Open to ideas…)

Simply Saturdays (hoping this topic will look at ways to simplify our lives.)

Since it is already Sunday, see you tomorrow!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Finally, an update...

Due to lack of time, I am reposting my caring bridge entry. Also, I have been inspired by the movie Julie and Julia to become a more faithful blogger...I was bemoaning to my son that I don't know when I will have the time and he politely stated...maybe you could not spend as much time on facebook games and devote that to your boy!

Poem of reflection by Helen Mallicoat
I was regretting the past and fearing the future.
Suddenly, my Lord was speaking:
“My name is I AM.” He paused.
I waited. He continued,
“When you live in the past,
With its mistakes and regrets,
It is hard. I am not there.
My name is not I WAS.”
“When you live in the future,
With its problems and fears,
It is hard. I am not there.
My name is not I WILL BE.”
“When you live in this moment,
It is not hard. I AM here.
My name is I AM.”
This poem was shared with us at church yesterday by Pastor Allen…it captured so many of my thoughts, feelings and emotions of this past month. I am not sure how many of you are familiar with the story of Jacob in Genesis 32, the verses where God and Jacob wrestle through the night. Not quite two weeks ago, I felt like I was Jacob, wrestling for the promise of tomorrow and like, Jacob walking away with a limp, I, too will always have the physical scars of this journey with cancer. January marks the first really big “scare” of reoccurrence of cancer. Up until mid December, I had started feeling really good, regaining my energy and spunk. Slowly, I had started to notice that I was getting more tired and a bit more apathy towards activities that typically charged me up. At the beginning of the new year, I began waking up with low back pain that would disappear during the day…as the days continued, the back pain became increasingly worse and more challenging to manage. It was odd, I could basically manage through the day, but the nights were getting longer and longer. I finally relented and emailed my oncologists and this began a series of appointments with specialists, biopsies, labs and x-ray testing. After one particularly tough night, I made a big mistake and goggled…bone pain at night—bad idea—of course; this is one of the main symptoms of bone cancer. The thoughts, feelings and emotions that ran through my mind and heart…can you imagine? When I tried to talk with God and ask the question, “Lord am I healed?” all I kept hearing is you have been healed emotionally and spiritually…I couldn’t get a “gut” feeling on if the healing included physical healing, too. After all, my body betrayed me once, what’s stopping it from betraying me again? And, I had the worst case of “urgency nesting”…kept wanting to get everything caught up and organized. (Things I haven’t touched in years.) The morning that I received my bone scan results, I made this statement to my husband—“It will be so easy to offer praises to God if the scan comes back negative, but will I be able to offer praises if the scan comes back with cancer?” After much prayer and meditation, I do believe that although I would be sad if the cancer had all ready returned, I was mentally prepared to offer praises to God, regardless of the answer. God is a good God and I know He wants the best for us all—I, once again, had to learn to trust! I had to learn to surrender! So….the results of the scan came back negative for any cancer (yippee!!), however the scan did show a rib fracture and TMJ. Neither of which I knew previously…the rib fracture is probably from the tissue expanders and/or radiation. Since I continue with a fair amount of discomfort from the tissue expanders, I am hoping the second stage reconstruction surgery on March 3 will provide some relief. These results still didn’t explain the low back pain. The day after the scan, I received a phone call at 430 in the afternoon from the gynecologists and he asked “Are you still in pain?”…it was so hard to not say, duhhhh…He then states “We do laparoscopic surgery at noon tomorrow to see if endometriosis is the cause.…” I wanted to say, “Back up buddy, surgery, me??? At this late notice, you have got to be out of your mind…” After all, anyone who knows me knows I over research everything…endometriosis?? What’s that? Where did that come from?? Can’t this wait until March when I have surgery? So, after a few quick calls to my oncologists and primary care doctor…I agreed to the surgery. (Maybe this explains the “nesting instinct” for the past few weeks.) The surgery went very well and Dr Samir was able to zap the endometriosis. The back pain going into surgery was about an 8-9, now it is probable a 2. Since surgery (a little over a week ago, now) I have noticed an increase in my energy, along with the desire to set more and more goals for my future!
Through this scare, I am still left with some pondering questions…how come a gentleman who is 40 was recently diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer or the 31 year old gal from our home town passed away from cancer last week…I ask myself why? I, can’t help but wonder, will that be me soon? Does someone just shake dice and if doubles are rolled on your turn, you’re out? I am by no means, questioning my faith or living in fear…just pondering the challenges…why do some experience physical healing now on earth, while others have to wait to experience it in heaven? Also, I have been asking myself, how do I make the best use of my days? (regardless if it is one day, one year, 10 years or 50 years.) How can I best use the challenges of this journey to help others?
Someday, as God’s children, we will know these answers…some day there will be no pain and suffering…but for today…I take great comfort in knowing that I have the gift of walking hand in hand with our Maker, I have HOPE and I have the PROMISE of God’s love…
Thank you for your continued prayers and support for my family and I through this journey. February is a busy month as I have several rechecks and a pre-op physical. I am hoping to update my caring bridge after these appointments and before my next surgery.