Sunday, June 27, 2010

Simply Saturday

Most Saturday mornings will find me in my jammies, cup of coffee in my hand and my bible on my lap.  This Saturday, I decided to fill my hubby's "love language" and ride to town with him, while he ran errands--Walmart, Sam's, etc.  I hate errands, so I asked to be dropped off at the Outdoor Campus.  They have nice trails that I love to run/walk.  As I proceeded on my run/walk routine, listening to my ipod, I started to get a bit dizzy (humidity was 97%).  I had a choice. I could continue to push with my set schedule or listen to my body and finish the route walking. I listened to my body and finished my route walking, listening to my ipod, just enjoying the morning.  Well, my hubby, wasn't finished with errands when I finished my walk/run, so I decided to rewalk the trail, only this time I walked it a bit differently.
I started where I ended and retraced my steps, took off the Ipod and did a pray walk.  I thought I would share with you parts of my prayer and how God met me in my morning walk.  

Oh, Father Lord, there is so much of this wooded path that reminds me of you!  The trees remind me of your strength.  The twists and turns of the path remind me how I have to keep  putting one foot in front of the other, trusting in You to guide me on this wonderful and amazing plan You have for me!.  

Dear Lord, As this King Toad was sitting in the middle of the path, I want to thank you for always be my protector and watching me on my life path. You are the greatest King!        

 Oh, Father, the dragon fly's eyes remind me that I need to keep my eyes on you. I know that when I keep my eyes on you, I experience true peace.

Look how many ant hills there are on this path...the little ants so busy running too and fro.  Is that what we look like to you Lord?  Lord, I want to be a worker like the ant, storing up for the winter, yet I don't want to be so busy that I miss You.  Please help me to find the balance needed in developing a strong and vibrant relationship with you!

As the fruit of mulberry tree lay scattered at my feet, Father, I wonder about the fruits of the spirit spoke about in Your Word.  Oh, how delicious the berries taste when they are ripe!  Thank you, Lord, for your continuing pruning of me, even when it hurts.  My prayer is that I bear Your fruit, not only so that I can enjoy in your sweetness, but that others may see Your sweet love.

     As I walk by this pond, I am reminded of my baptism and the washing away of my sins.  I am so sorry that it is so easy for me to forget. 

The beautiful robin with it's red breast reminds me of Christ's blood shed for me.  Lord, when the challenging times of life come and I ask "why?" please help me remember that the question I should be asking is "How can a God love His people so much that He sent His son to die for us?"  What a loving and remarkable gift you have given us!

This wooden bridge that I am crossing reminds me how everyday I have a choice...I can choose to cross the bridge to You!  To have a life full of peace, protection and abundance, growing more and more in my relationship with You.  Or, I can choose to stay where I am at...not a bad place, but missing You! (Lord, I choose YOU!!)

Wow, can you believe all the things I missed on the trail when I ran it with my ipod on...makes you wonder how much we miss of life.

I am so thankful for the blessing of the opportunity to slow down and experience a walk with MY FATHER!

How about you, when was the last time you experienced time alone with our Maker?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Eyelashes and Exercise

It started so innocently, I noticed an eyelash on my desk at work.  What?  There's another one?  Very quickly I count 20...can you believe it?  A year ago on June 25th, I celebrated my last chemo day, which was why last week, when I lost a good share of my eyelashes (again) I was so surprised!...I quickly got over my frustration and disappointment when I remembered how I felt a year ago.  No comparison!  Compared to active chemo side effects, I will take delayed lost eye lashes.  (After all, isn't that why we use mascara?)

On another my new best friend!

My boss recommended a 5K plan, so last week I started training. Here is the link to the program she recommended Couch to 5K.  Due to all the recent health challenges, I have revised this to a little to fit my energy, but so far so good.  I just love the stop watch and it is a great motivator for me.  My workout right now is stretching (5-10 minutes), walk 5 minutes, run 1 min, walk 2 min, and keep alternating for 20-30 minutes.  My energy has increased a bit and back ache is slowly getting better.  (someday I would love to run in the mountains--maybe over Labor day if we travel to see our children in Montana.)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday to my man!

If ever anyone needed proof of a living and vibrant God, they need to look no further than my marriage.  For it is by His grace alone that Monday we will be celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary.  Without airing dirty laundry, let's just say that our marriage has had more stormy nights with lots of thunder and lighting than the calm, sunny days of summer.  Lately, as I ponder about life's choices and directions...I have been able to see with much more clarity the mistakes that I had made in my marriage.  What really stinks, is that I thought I was the "good" one...loving God and serving my family.  I was so wrong!  Neither one of us were the "bad" or the "good" one...we both were just two ships who got off course.  Thankfully we had the same commander and after a few challenging months of marital seperation, we were introduced to a couple who became our marriage mentors.  Through God's love, forgiveness and advise from our mentors, we were able to reconnect and try to repair the brokeness.  I would like to say the "recovery phase" was smooth and blessed, but it too has had many pot holes.  I think one of the biggest turning points in our marriage has been since I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  There are several reasons for my thoughts:  1)  Cancer puts a very real reality on death  2) I learned to trust that my husband was going to be there when the road was really yucky 3) both of our faiths have gotten much stronger 4)  It was in the brokeness of my cancer journey that I was healed spritually and emotionally and with that healing came the ability to love freely without conditions or "strings" 5)  we both have learned to appreciate and love the differences in each other that makes us unique and 6) we have learned to put the "fun" back in our lives. 

I hope that this post will encourage anyone who is in a broken relationship (either with a spouse, child, parent, sibling, friend) pray, to trust, believe and hope!  Trust me, if God can let two very broken and very different individuals remain married...He can do anything!

Thanks Ferlin for being my David--a man after God's heart.  I love you and hope this anniversary day and birthday is a special one!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dancing in the dailyness of life!

Wow!  It's been a week since I last posted.  Mr. Fatigue has been haunting my days, so when I get home from work, I pretty much just do the daily stuff that is needed to make it to the next day.  Next week is my one year anniversary from chemotherapy.  I was so hoping that my energy would return to precancer, but it hasn' instead of being frustrated or discouraged, I am pacing myself through this phase of the dance.  According to the studies I have read (and  my oncologists warning), it can take 1-2 years to return to "normal."  Now, don't get me wrong, I am able to do most things like work all day, run errands, exercise and keep a home...but just find that my energy really drags by evening, so I haven't had the energy to keep up with my blogger friends, email, etc. 

Random thought:  Tonight I went to my daughter's dance program...I just love the quote that was on the wall at the dance studio:  "Dancing is like dreaming with your feet"--Constanz. 

Can't wait to share with you some life lessons I have been learning...just need some energy and time to write 'em down!

Friday night is my hometown's Relay for Life event.  We are excited to be participating with four of my siblings, their spouses, children and our parents.  (Now that we are all adults with families of our own, 5 siblings out of 7 siblings is a great turn out.)  Here are our tshirts.  The zebra is in honor of my younger brother who has carcinoid syndrome and last year had to have his liver removed due to tumors.  Thankfully my sister was able to be a live liver donor (green ribbon) and both of them are doing great.   My brother and I will be walking the SURVIVOR lap together.  (I all ready warned him that I will probable have tears.  Somedays it still is so hard to believe the journey we have traveled.)

Thanking God for the blessing of being able to dance in the dailyness of life!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cancer Survivorship

I came across an interview on survivorship that I thought was very informative and encouraging to us walking through the healing process.  It is my hope that as the number of survivors continue to grow, more and more resources will be made available. 

Here is the link Cancer Survivorship and here is the interview:

From Medscape Medical News

Cancer Survivorship: An Expert Interview With Nancy Jo Bush, RN, MN, MA, AOCN
by Norra MacReady
May 28, 2010 — Editor's note: Nancy Jo Bush, RN, MN, MA, AOCN, knows cancer from both sides: as a patient and as an oncology nurse. Her latest bout with cancer occurred in 2007, when she was diagnosed simultaneously with ovarian and breast cancer while working in a women's oncology unit. The following year, after her treatment had ended and her physical disease was in remission, Ms. Bush was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In her Mara Mogensen Flaherty Memorial Lecture, which Ms. Bush delivered at the Oncology Nursing Society 35th Annual Congress, held May 13 to 15 in San Diego, California, she described her experience with PTSD and the role that oncology nurses play in advocating for their patients.
Ms. Bush, currently an assistant clinical professor at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Nursing, and a nurse practitioner at Premiere Oncology in Santa Monica, California, spoke with Medscape Nurses about the concept of survivorship and why it is so important in the long-term management of cancer survivors.

Medscape: What is cancer survivorship?

Ms. Bush: Survivorship is a psychosocial concept. It implies that someone can meet the challenges presented by their disease and its treatment. Even if someone doesn't ultimately survive, he or she is still a survivor. The important thing to remember is that the patient becomes a survivor at the time of diagnosis.

Medscape: Why is survivorship such an important topic in oncology now?

Ms. Bush: Survivorship is important because more and more people in this country are surviving cancer. The medical community believes that once you're over the chemotherapy, it's all downhill from there. They don't acknowledge the side effects of radiation therapy, the fear and fatigue involved, and the fact that it totally wipes you out.

People who have survived childhood cancers can look forward to long lives, but they also will have to deal with some residual long-term effects of cancer treatment. And some of the treatments we use are themselves carcinogens. For example, young women who are diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease have a higher-than-average risk of breast cancer because of the type of radiation they receive. So we're saving patients, but the way in which we save them sometimes poses a risk to their future health. Survivorship addresses these issues.

Medscape: What kinds of psychologic issues do cancer survivors face?

Ms. Bush: It has been pretty well documented that some patients who move through the cancer continuum have high rates of anxiety and depression. Depression is one of the psychiatric illnesses that is least acknowledged and most poorly treated in this population.

In survivorship, we also address the psychiatric and psychosocial issues, because there are a lot of survivors out there who need help. Even if you're fortunate, as I was, to have your cancer caught in its early stages, the challenges don't end with the treatment because you still have things that will trigger that anxiety and those fears of a cancer metastasis or recurrence. Once you are diagnosed with cancer, you continue the journey for the rest of your life, because you need to be closely monitored.

Medscape: Tell us about your own brush with cancer.

Ms. Bush: I am a 3-time cancer survivor. The first time was when I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, when I was 28. The diagnosis came 1 month before I graduated with my master's degree as an oncology nurse. At that time, my fears mostly concerned how I could be a clinical nurse specialist in that field when I was already a patient: How would I know the appropriate boundaries?

My second worry was over starting a family. I'd already had a miscarriage during graduate school, and by the time I graduated, I had been married for 4-and-a-half years and was ready to start my family. But I was told to put it off by at least 3 years because of the hormonal influences on melanoma. So I learned at that young age that your stage of life and your goals when you are diagnosed must be considered when someone evaluates your responses and your coping mechanisms. It's not just coping with the cancer; it's coping with what the disease and the treatments dictate what you can and cannot do.

My most recent journey began in 2007, when I was diagnosed with both ovarian and breast cancer. It was very shocking. Ironically, at the time, I was working as a nurse practitioner in a breast/ovarian clinic. So that set me on another course of 6 months of chemotherapy followed by 2 months of radiation therapy.

My depression and my posttraumatic symptoms hit just when I thought I would be able to go back to my job and function as I did before. I realized that I could no longer do a 2-hour commute, I could no longer work 10- or 11-hour days on my feet, I couldn't think straight. I woke up 8 weeks after they said I could go back to work and I was still bald, and bloated, and so fatigued. It felt as if my whole world had been invaded and turned topsy-turvy. It disrupted my personal life, my occupational life, and my social life. And it doesn't stop.

Medscape: Is PTSD often missed in cancer patients?

Ms. Bush: Absolutely. Research on PTSD in cancer patients began in earnest in 2000, when the American Psychiatric Association published the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), and listed having a life-threatening illness as one of the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

One investigator has compared it to the PTSD seen in combat veterans, such as the men and women fighting in Iraq. Whenever they take their trucks out, they never know if they're going to be blown up by a homemade bomb or a roadside sniper. Cancer patients are diagnosed and have active treatment, and then they go into remission, so they are in this quiet, on-guard, heightened alert-to-danger mode. If a recurrence happens, it's like the enemy coming back. Of course, none of us knows when we are going to die, but cancer patients always carry that fear with them.

The National Cancer Institute has stated that approximately 20% of newly diagnosed cancer patients suffer from PTSD. It can be acute, meaning it lasts about a month; it can be chronic, meaning it lasts 6 months or more; or it can be delayed-onset, meaning you can get through your cancer treatment and try to adapt to your new identity or your new life, and then suddenly something will trigger the trauma. I personally was diagnosed with the delayed form of PTSD in 2008.

Medscape: What words of advice do you have for your colleagues who work with cancer patients?

Ms. Bush: I tell general oncology nurses that they are the first line of defense for cancer patients. They can use simple techniques and ask simple questions to find out if the patient is experiencing PTSD. For example, they can ask if the patient is having nightmares or panic attacks during the day, or if they are adapting to the residual effects of their treatment, or if they are easily startled or are sad most days. These are simple questions they can use to perform an assessment, and then refer the patient to someone who can diagnose them accurately, because there are many overlapping symptoms between anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

Medscape: How has your experience with cancer affected other aspects of your life?

Ms. Bush: I am so grateful just to get up every day and think about seeing my friends more often and doing what I can for those I love and who need my help. I feel that if my time is limited, I want to live my best life and find some peace and security with it. I am on a spiritual journey now.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It is such a comfort to drop the tangles of life into God's hands and leave them there.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tuesday's Tidbit Tips

Do any of you struggle with eating nutritious foods, getting enough physical activity, or practicing stress relief techniques?  I sure do, especially if I am tired or stressed.  Recently I have trying to be intentional about changing just one thing.  When I have that one thing mastered, I move on to one more area that needs to be changed.  Here are a few things I have recently added or changed in my lifestyle.
1--All chocolate at our home has been switched to dark chocolate (we aim for 65% or more cocoa).  In order for me to have my daily piece of chocolate, I have to eat at least 5 fruits and/or veggies for the day.
2--I love pepsi!  Now I try and treat myself to this beverage on Fridays and special occasions.  (Okay, some days I think breathing is a special occasion, but I really do try and limit this sugared beverage.)
3--I try and drink 2 cups of green tea (with a little honey) before I drink any pop, etc.
4--I restrict fast food to once a month on a Friday lunch.  Life's too short not indulge in a few fries!
5--I try and walk on my breaks at work, so than I have less stress when I get home.
6--When I am using my lap top, you will find me sitting on an exercise ball trying to build up some core muscles.
7--Before cancer my hubby and I would enjoy a beer/glass of wine on the patio after work.  This new habit has been changed to herbal water, tea, or water.  If I walk 2 miles during the day, I sometimes will treat myself to a beer/glass of wine (but no more than 3 drinks a week.)

Well, those are just a few of the tips I have been intentional about...I would love to hear your intentional health tips!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Merry-go-round of Life

No, Forrest, life isn't like a box of is like a merry-go-round. 
We pick our favorite horse, hop on, hold on as we go round and round and round.  A never ending circle.  If we are smart, we get off our horse and walk away before the horse starts galloping too fast. Unfortunately some of us aren't that smart and we find ourselves holding very tightly on to our magical horse as our carousel spins out of control.  Before breast cancer this was my life.  My schedule was filled to the brim--I didn't believe in "white space."  I enjoyed the stress and busyness of my life.  I took pride in working long and hard hours.  I loved wearing the "martyr" badge.  My self worth was achieved by fulfilling others needs.
Ouch, I was bucked from my horse.  There went the pride. The badge was broken.  No longer could I work the long hours. My schedule was now filled with doctor visits, procedures, and treatments, in addition to work. I never want to have to experience the pain of being "bucked" this hard again. 
All through treatment, I couldn't wait to purchase my ticket for a ride on my favorite horse.  This time promising myself I will get off before the merry-go-round spins out of control.
I can't do it!
I kept trying to purchase a ticket, but no matter how hard I try to stay on the merry-go-round, my horse keeps bucking me off.  (hint--don't pick the pink one!)
So why am I sharing this with you?  A few weeks back, I decided to stop purchasing a ticket. And you know what?
The thing that is utterly amazing to me....for this moment, I am okay.  I am okay with sitting, watching, and listening to the music.  I am enjoying the peace and simplicity of my evenings and weekends.  I am no longer chasing...I am waiting for direction from the Lord...for Him to show me His dreams for my life.  (the lines of the dream are still a bit fuzzy, but they are coming into focus more and more every day.)
Some day, I once again will purchase a carousel ticket, pick my favorite horse and enjoy the ride.
Until then, I will be sitting here watching, listening, pondering and learning!  (And smiling with simplicity!)

How about you, what fair ride best describes your life?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Today I had an image of God shaking His head at me...smiling and asking "When child, when??"

You see, I woke up a bit later than usual and thought, I have 15 minutes before I need to get ready for work.  Typically, I would use this time with the Lord, after all, you can't build a relationship if you don't spend time with the one you love.  But this morning I thought I would help my hubby (as he was running behind) and I would water the flower pots, herb and vegetable garden.  I can't believe it.  I put off time with God to water the plants.  So, imagine my surprise when two hours later we are having a downpour...boy, did I feel silly!  It saddened me that I missed an opportunity, a chance and I had a choice!  Tonight, I am thanking God that He loves me enough to help make me aware of the choices I make...He loves me enough to understand...and He loves me enough that I get another chance!  I would love to say that tomorrow I will make the right choice,I know better than that...however, I sure am going to try.

I would like to quick comment about my post on revisiting the roots.  Yesterday was a mile stone in our marriage life, as we haven't been able to revisit the past without the wounds of our mistakes bleeding causing us to relive the pain.  Yesterday, we faced our mistakes and celebrated the glory of God's redemption!  It was good to remember and now it is time to ponder...and I have a feeling that God is going to use these "hurts" to help others find "HOPE!"

Thank you all for your continued kind comments and support as I travel down this path to healing.