Monday, February 21, 2011

Seasons of Life!

Blizzard Warning, Winter Storm Warning,
Ice Storm Warning, Flood Warning!

Welcome to life in South Dakota. (Yes, we had all four of these warnings at the same time yesterday.) This morning as I sat with God, a cup of hot coffee and my thoughts, I reflected on how the weather seasons compare so similarly to the cancer journey.

  Summer Days. 
Do you remember the long days of summer from your childhood? When the only things on the “to-do” list were swimming and lying in the sun. Or the days of eating cotton candy at the county fair? Or the days of gathering the neighborhood kids for a game of baseball? Like longing for the summer days of yesteryear, there are times I find myself yearning for the days before cancer. How often I wish for days of no pain, no fatigue, no hot flashes and no fear. When I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 40, I was in the summer of my life. With only one child still at home, my husband and I were enjoying reconnecting as a couple. I had started a new job, along with joining a new church. I was starting to unearth some long buried dreams. When suddenly, like a destructive thunderstorm, I was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. As my family and I found ourselves cleaning up from this unexpected storm, our trust and comfort came from the Lord.

Autumn Days.
With a treatment plan in place, I began the autumn season. Like the trees preparing for winter, my body was preparing for battle. Did you know that as the days get shorter a chemical change is triggered in trees? Not only does this change stop the tree from growing, it starts moving all of its energy down to the root system. As this process happens, the leaves change color and fall from the tree. So, like the trees losing their leaves, I lost my breast, my hair, and my energy. Along with my outward physical changes, I was experiencing an inward spiritual transformation. Being rooted in God’s word provided me comfort and hope.

Winter days.
The season after treatment ends and before your new life begins. Although I am still struggling through some physical discomforts in this season, for the most part, I am doing very well. (However please note, that 25% of cancer survivors find themselves facing darkness during the days of winter. My prayer is that we can all help provide support to each other through all the seasons.) The last few weeks have found me busy preparing and actively involved with many things, so I was a bit surprised to receive a special weather bulletin just for me: Winter Storm Warning! Slow down icy roads. Hmmmm… Here I was thinking my winter was almost over. Unfortunately, in my busy days of preparing for spring, I had slowly forgotten to feed my roots. Thankfully, I got a “stop and think”…or maybe it should be called a “stop and seek?”

Spring days.
Spring is a time of renewal and a time to come out of hibernation. It is often the season that brings us the most hope! It is a time of new beginnings and a time of birth. The last two years, I feel I have missed the renewal of the spring season…instead; I was still struggling through the effects of the treatment that helped save my life. As I “stop and seek” in preparation of this spring season, I have been reminded that God has a glorious plan in place us all.

Even though I would love to have days without the pain, fatigue and other side effects of cancer treatment, I wouldn’t give up one day in any of my seasons, if it meant giving up the lessons and blessings!
  • The blessings of knowing, trusting and believing God is with us in every season.
  • The blessing of sharing love and time with my husband, children, family and friends.
  • The blessing of deeper and richer relationships with loved ones.
  • The blessing of seeing love in action through the care and support provided to my family and I.
  • The new friends I walk with on this cancer journey.
  • The blessing of the opportunity to provide hope and encouragement to others who find themselves on this walk.
  • The blessing to have the opportunity of living a life of no regrets!

Please remember that whatever season of life you are enjoying (or struggling through), there is a God in Heaven walking with you every day!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Renewal and Refinement

Beginnings are scary. Endings are sad.  It's the middle that it's all about!
                                                              --Movie Hope Floats in 1998

The last few weeks have found me challenged with some new beginnings, some endings and lots of middle time.  Since I am a bit short on time this evening, I am going to share just a quick glimpse of the past few weeks.

A few of us from our women's LifeServe group traveled to Sioux City for a woman's conference.  The speaker for this conference was author and speaker, Lysa TerKeurst.  Many years ago Lysa wrote a book, Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed.  Besides my bible, this is one of my most cherished books.  The book offered me great hope on some of my darkest days....and guess what???  That's right, while everyone else was having Lysa sign their shiny new books, I was able to have her sign my
tattered, worn and very dear to me book.  Thank you Lysa for offering me hope and direction!  The weekend was a filled with great teaching and shared times with some very special women.  (Renewal)

Soon after we came home, the refinement time started.  Have you ever found yourself traveling down a road only to meet a roadblock?  Yup, that was me...I am happy to share though, that I didn't fall in the pot hole.  Instead, I put on my emergency flashers (prayer), consulted with my mechanic(God), sprayed some windshield washer fluid (tears) and worked on my repairs (heart.)  Although road blocks can be a bit frustrating, it excites me that God cares so much about our life journey's that He loves us enough to give us directions.  So, while my repairs are healing, I am sitting by the fireplace with a hot cup of tea....just a waiting!  (Refinement)

Blogging has mixed blessings...the blessing is that I have been able to share life with some very remarkable and encouraging people.  People I consider friends...the mixed part comes when one of your blogger friends has experienced tragedy in their life.  Recently, Brenda from Breast Cancer Sisterhood lost her sweet husband.  How can I convey my sympathies to her?  How can I let her know that my heart cries with hers?  Is there a way to show support and love, to provide hope and encouragement?  Along with this sadness, another blogger friend, Daria from Living with Cancer passed away from metastatic breast cancer.  How does one grieve for someone you never met in person?  My hearts and prayers are with both of these families.

A few weeks ago, my low back started hurting (yes, I know the hysterectomy was supposed to take care of this....yah, right.)  Anyways, I went to a physician who specializes in physical medicine.  I decided to be blunt and state to her "I think all this pain is related to my bilateral mastectomy."  And guess what she said, "You are probable right."  Evidently the implants are under the "pecs" and with the trauma of surgery and radiation, these muscles are tightening up, which is causing some pull on the muscles along the spine, which creates muscle strain along the low back.  So, for the past two weeks I went to a physical therapists, learned some stretching techniques and viola' the pain has remarkable decreased.  YIPPEE!! 

Well, my dear friends....until next time!

ps.  If you need a little extra dose of hope.  My dear friend Shelly shares her cancer journey at the River of Hope website.