Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!


My piano is covered with Christmas cards, mostly photos. I gaze upon the smiling faces of so many friends and family and my heart overflows with thankfulness. I have the most wonderful family and friends. How could I have survived this past year without them?
The thing that amazes me most is their faithfulness. It has been a long journey. I must confess that I thought they would grow weary, or that they would get busy with their own lives and forget. But they didn't. They stood by me. They have helped and encouraged me, in so many ways.

Thank you friends, family, and church family...

For seven months of delicious, healthy meals for my family.
For the most beautiful and thoughtful Christmas Eve food extravaganza!
For cleaning and organizing my house, mowing the lawn, and pulling weeds.
For watching my kids...and for loving them.
For taking me to doctor's appointments and treatments.
For so many gifts, flowers and cards.
For handmade hats, made-with-love, especially for me.
For generous financial help.
For handling the medical billing and insurance company.
For visiting me, when I felt so out of touch.
For extra-long hugs.
For kind words. You have no idea how much the constant stream of encouragement has kept me...encouraged! Every call, every note, every email, every facebook post, every blog comment, and every sweet word spoken in passing.
For being available.
For godly counsel.
For prayers. So many prayers.

You've given me strength and health...by providing food, enabling me to rest, relieving so many of my responsibilities and making all of the details of battling cancer relatively stress-free. I can't think of anything more you could have done to make this as easy as possible for me and my family.
You have been God's hands and feet. You have demonstrated His faithfulness and provision in my life.
What an amazing gift you are to me...each one of you. Old friends and new friends, near and far. Each one of you lifting my burdens.

May God bless you abundantly! May He reward you for your faithfulness and generosity, far beyond anything I could ever do to repay. May the love He demonstrated that first Christmas become even more real to you this coming year.

Merry Christmas, my faithful friends!

Radiation

I met with my Radiation Oncologist for the first time two weeks ago. She was very optimistic about my case and very pleased with the results so far. She also said radiation will seem like a cake walk compared to what I've already been through.
Radiation treatments will be five days a week for six weeks. Each treatment will only take a few minutes. I will not be radioactive! There will be minimal side effects. The most common being a slight burn, like a sun burn.
I went in for pre-radiation imaging last week. They gave me three pen-mark sized tattoos. One on my breast bone, and one on each side, under my arms.
On Monday, I get to attend a Radiation Ed class. The following Monday I'll start treatments.

Over the last few months, I have been encouraged by many friends to seek out alternative/natural treatments. Up until now, I have been resistant for a number of reasons (that I won't go into now). Next week I will meet with a naturopathic doctor to discuss ways to get my body healthy and strong once again.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bonking

I'm a runner. At least I was before cancer. I've run many races and a few half-marathons. At the beginning of a long race, you feel great. You are trained and ready and full of adrenaline. You run hard. You run well. The adrenaline and training carry you through many miles. Then, at about mile 10 in a half-marathon, mile 20 in a full marathon, you hit a wall. You bonk. Your body protests. It screams, "No more!" Your muscles go numb, you get chills, your brain completely shuts down. You switch to auto-pilot. One foot in front of the other. Step after step. Just trying to make it to the finish line. It hurts. You want to stop. But you press on, despite the pain, despite the fogginess. Dazed, confused, but determined. Step. Step. Step.

I've bonked. I've hit the wall.
The chemotherapy drugs make my brain fuzzy. I can't think straight. I can't remember things.
The chemo drugs mess with my emotions. They make me depressed. They make me despondent.
The chemo drugs wear me down physically.
I'm on auto-pilot. Pressing through. Headed for the finish line. Determined.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Uncomfortable Agony

I had my last chemo treatment last Wednesday. I dreaded it. I cried and cried the night before. I broke down again that morning, in the few minutes I found myself alone. Then I prayed that I would get in a wreck on the way to the hospital. Anything to avoid that last treatment. It has been horrible. Agonizingly horrible.
It was just 8 weeks. How hard can that be?
It is hard to explain why it was so horrible. The nausea wasn't any harder than morning sickness. But there was pain. Weird pain. My body did not feel right. My organs didn't feel right.
My body became weak.
Mentally and emotionally, I became weak.
And pathetic.
I was broken.
My will was broken. Like a wild horse being tamed. The spark in my eye went out. Something in me died, and I'm not the same person I was before.

I am beginning to see the pieces of the puzzle coming together. I've quoted this verse before. It came to me last June, and I knew it was a significant verse for me in this season, but I didn't understand. It has come to mind again and again. It gives me great hope.

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." ~John 12:24-25

Saturday, December 18, 2010

First Birthday

Today is my baby girl's first birthday. It is bittersweet. We did nothing to celebrate. I spent the day in bed. I did sing happy birthday to her many times. Maybe in a couple of weeks I will feel well enough to throw her a little party.
Eva has brought me so much joy and hope this past year. And yet, I wonder how I will look back on this year. I want to put cancer behind me. I want to forget. How will I remember 2010?
Cancer, sickness, loss?
All of my precious little girl's firsts: first smile, first giggle, first steps?
Can I separate the two?
The weeks I've gone without holding her have caused much heartache.
And after all the discomfort, and all the treatments, I still think the hardest thing for me was having to wean Eva prematurely.
She did fine. God has taken good care of her. She is happy, healthy, and full of personality. All of her needs are met. I'm so thankful for that!
She won't remember any of this.
But I will. Bittersweet.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Trials of Faith

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" ~Philippians 4:4

I've experienced God's ability to deliver me from a trial.
And I've experienced God's grace to endure a trial.

Before my diagnosis, when I heard about someone with cancer, I felt sad, and horrified. Cancer was one of my greatest fears.
This was the wrong response.

There should be compassion.
Definitely compassion.

But for the christian who believes God's word, there should be joy. We are commanded to rejoice through trials.
This is partly a decision. But it is also the realization that it is through our weakness that God is made strong in us. It is the realization that we experience God most in our trials and that we are refined by the fire of affliction. Through trials, God's miraculous power and glory are revealed in and through us. Now that is something to get excited about!

Our greatest fear should be the lukewarm life of comfort and complacency.
A life without God. A life wasted.

I had to repent.
I haven't been rejoicing.
I haven't been trusting.
I've been focusing on myself and not the source of my hope.
So I'm holding on to God, with all the strength I have left.
I can endure. I will rejoice, because I have been redeemed!

"Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." ~Psalm 37:4-6

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~John 16:33

"You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal." ~Isaiah 26:3-4