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 can go through the front door--for the whole world to share your support and 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, 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 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 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 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...