Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dancing

I try to stay joyful around my kids.
But who am I kidding?
They know.
They know when I am afraid. They know when I am sad.
I can see it in their faces. I can see it in their behavior.
My four-year-old knows.
And sometimes when I am sad, he crawls up on the desk.
He knows all the buttons on the stereo. He turns on the most joyful, worshipful CD.
He comes to me, grabs my hands and pulls me onto the dance floor (our living room).
We dance around joyfully, praising the Lord. For our God is worthy of praise. Always.
And my kids know that too.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Unspeakable Joy

I'm a procrastinator. And I've never been particularly good at making myself do things that I don't want to do. Today was the first step in a race that I don't want to run. As we were driving to the hospital to have the port installed in my chest, every ounce of me wanted to turn the car around and go back home. With tears in my eyes, I told Damie, "I don't want to do this." I thought about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. It brought me comfort, remembering that Jesus felt the same way. He knows the cry of my heart. He feels my sorrow.

Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." ~Matthew 26:38-39

That was my cry today. "Take this cup from me!" The second part didn't come as easily, "Not as I will, but as you will." And I realize that this trial is a death to my will. Death to all the things that hold me back. Death to the things in my life that don't matter. Fear. Insecurity. Vanity. Selfishness. I find freedom in that. And joy. Unspeakable joy.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. ~1 Peter 1:6-9

Saturday, June 26, 2010

On Being Brave

I've been thinking about bravery lately. Sometimes I feel full of faith and strength, other times I am crippled by fear. I keep coming back to the story of Joshua in the Bible. God says over and over to Joshua,
"Be strong and courageous."
"Be strong and VERY courageous."
God even says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
It finally clicked...courage is not a feeling. It is not an emotion. It is a choice! If God commands courage, then it is clearly something I can choose. Courage is a discipline of my thoughts. It is a discipline of my emotions.
It's source is in the wonderful knowledge that God is with me wherever I go. God. Almighty God, who spoke and the world was created. He is with me. How incredible is that!

As I go forward, from discovery to treatment, here are some things to pray...
1. Praise God for his faithfulness and for not giving me more than I can handle
2. No serious complications from the treatment
3. That the treatment would be effective and the cancer would respond, shrink, disappear
4. Minimal side effects
5. Grace and peace for my family
6. God's miraculous healing!
7. As I meet new people, especially other cancer patients, that I would be able to encourage them
8. That God would be glorified through this

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Long Day

Today I was brave. Not really. Things just turned out to be easier than I expected. The tests in the morning were uneventful. The people administering them were very kind.
The CT Scan was pretty funky. They put this dye in my veins that felt unbelievably strange. I had a short break in between the CT Scan and the Echo. My step-dad was with me and we walked to Starbucks for some tea & coffee. It was one of those moments where everything is good; where I can just sit back and appreciate the little things that most of us take for granted.
The Echo, which turned out to be just an ultrasound of my heart, was quite interesting. Since there was (most likely) nothing wrong with my heart, I was able to show interest in the test. I think I've now seen almost every part of the inside of my body.
We had a break for lunch, then returned to the hospital for a two-and-a-half hour class on chemotherapy, now accompanied by my mom and husband. It was overwhelming, but informative. There were other cancer patients in the class. It was interesting how each one was handling their situation; one with humor, one very professional and factual, one quiet and one with obvious fear and sadness. My heart swelled with compassion.
The oncologist was waiting for me when the class ended. We walked down to his office for the tests results. This was the moment that fear started to rise up within me. But the test results were good! There doesn't appear to be anything more to worry about. No more tests! Woohoo! Praise God!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

God is good

The goodness of God.
We talk about it. We sing about it. But do we really believe it?
I had a deep conviction about God's goodness a few months ago.
Before all this started.
Experiencing through the trials of life that God's timing is perfect.
I always heard that God was good. I even thought I believed God was good.
But then came the revelation that God is good. Really good.
I don't ask all the "why" questions anymore. I spent years doing that.
Today someone said, "Isn't there an easier way for you to learn whatever you are supposed to learn through this?"
My answer: "God is good." And I really believe it.
I know He will work this all out for good. Not just for good...for the very best.

Oncologist

I apologize in advance for the stream of consciousness writing. I'm a bit shook up. I keep having to remind myself that doctors are there to help me. I dread every visit. They are all very kind and compassionate, but despite that, I dread the appointments.
Today I was bombarded with information. It was overwhelming. I tried to be brave, but only made it half-way through my appointment before I completely broke down. All the details of chemo, all the side effects, all the possible complications, surgery, radiation, more chemo, more side effects, more possible complications...scary words like heart failure, anaphylactic shock, blood transfusion. Then another exam where they wrinkle their brow and poke around, feeling body parts that seem very distant from breast cancer...like my feet. What in the world could be wrong with my feet? I really don't want to know. I didn't even ask.
At first they said the MRI indicated that the cancer was isolated to the area they knew about. But then they said there was a lymph node in my chest that was a little big, but probably nothing to worry about. Of course, it is hard NOT to worry about it. Then they said there was a little spot on my liver. Once again, probably nothing to worry about. But then the doctor did an exam of my abdomen and ordered a CT scan. Honestly, my courage is failing. Another test. More results. More waiting. More dread.

Friday (6/25): CT Scan, Echo Cardiogram, Chemo Ed.
Monday (6/28): Port Surgery
Friday (7/2): Chemo starts

It's all a blur. I don't quite remember everything they said but I think that one drug will be administered weekly, then a different one every third week. I'm young and the cancer is aggressive so they will treat it with everything they've got. Three to four months of chemo. Then a mastectomy. Then more chemo, radiation and hormone blockers.

Thank you friends for your continued prayers, words of encouragement, calls, emails, letters, gifts. I can't express how very much they mean to me. Each one coming at the opportune time. Each one bringing tears of joy and thankfulness. You are all so dear to me!

Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
~Psalm 61:1-2

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dates

MRI: Monday, June 21
Meeting with Oncologist: Wed. June 23
PowerPort Surgery: Monday, June 28

One more week of sweet freedom!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Meeting with the Surgeon

Thank you friends for praying for me! Today was pretty scary. In fact, there were moments when I felt sheer terror. It was like a small glimpse of hell...a place I never want to visit!
Last week, all the news we received was bad. Each report was even worse than we could have possibly expected.
So today I was anticipating the worst. In light of that, today's visit was relatively good news. Praise the Lord! I needed some good news.

My lab work and chest x-rays were clean. Yay!

They did decide I need to get an MRI, just to get a better picture. I imagine that will happen in the next couple of days.
We haven't yet met with the oncologist, but the present plan of action is as follows:
14 or so weeks of chemo. Surgery. Radiation maybe. Hormone blockers and more chemo. Chemo could last up to a year.

Tomorrow I get to rest. No doctors. No tests. No results. One more day of calm before the storm.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Refuge

Darkness creeps in.
Crushing my chest so I can barely breathe.
Do I have the courage to make it through?
Is it really courage if there is no option to turn and flee?
O God! Where are you? I need you near!
Can it possibly be true that you love me as much as you say?
Who am I, that you would consider me?
So little faith. So weak. So frail.
Yet, I humbly come before you with expectation.
With great expectation.
Knowing you are good.
Knowing you are faithful.
I will praise you with all that is within me.
You are my Rock.
You are my Strength.
You are my Refuge.

Monday, June 14, 2010

More Tests

Tomorrow I go in for more tests. On Wednesday at 2:00pm, we will meet with the surgeon. He will give us the complete diagnosis and treatment possibilities.

Please pray...
1. That the cancer has not spread
2. That I will be brave!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

History

This is a bit difficult for me to focus on. So it will be brief (maybe).
It all started with a lump I found a few weeks ago. I went to the doctor and he set up an appointment with the radiologist. Here is the rundown of the last week.
Monday: Excruciatingly long ultrasound where they found multiple lumps and a swollen lymph node - followed by many mammograms. Damie was out of town. The experience was dark and heavy and I was overwhelmed by fear.
Tuesday: Damie flew back into town just in time for the biopsy. They took samples of two of the lumps and the lymph node. Received much prayer support from friends. The procedure, although much more invasive than the previous day, was actually much brighter and peaceful than the day before.
Wednesday: Waiting. Peace. Calm. Mom stayed with me while Damie was at work. As it got closer and closer to evening, I started panicking. Dread. Fear. Gnawing stomach. I went to bed and had the most amazing nights sleep.
Thursday: PEACE! Unbelievable peace! I was joyful, almost giddy. Anyone who knows me and knows what a coward I am of things like this, knows what an incredible miracle this is. Damie got home at 5:00 and we called the Radiologist for the test results. All three tested positive for cancer. Continued peace; that peace that God promises us; that peace that passes all understanding.
Friday: Friday was hard. I had to start weaning my sweet, little 5-month-old girl. She's never taken a bottle. Her little cries for food and comfort broke my heart. I received many phone calls. None from the doctor who we should be hearing from in the next few days. Instead the calls were from administrative type people. They went over the process with me and all the possibilities. All I heard all day was cancer, cancer, CANCER. I started to get discouraged. Then out of the blue, I shouted to my mom, "I don't want to be one of the 10 spies who could only see the giants! I want to be like Joshua and Caleb, who kept their eyes on Almighty God!"
My step-dad prayed for me, and peace returned.
Regardless of the outcome, I trust in God. I trust that He really does work all things together for good. I believe that His grace is sufficient. I know that He is good. He will give me just what I need to make it through each day. One day at a time. Day by day.