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) 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 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!!