Saturday, February 26, 2011

Finding A Cure

One in eight women will get breast cancer.
My friend, Kristie, battled breast cancer right before me. When she heard of my diagnosis, she took me out for coffee. She couldn't hold back the tears, knowing what was in store for me, having barely finished treatment herself.
"I thought I took the hit for all of us." She said.
One in eight.
I had that same feeling. I'm taking the hit. None of my friends will have to go through this. But, I have a lot more than 16 friends.
I have finally come to terms with the fact that my battle with cancer is not over. I will have to face it over and over and over again. Every check up. Each new case among friends. Until there is a cure.

So join me in finding a cure.
Come race with me on May 7th (I'm doing the 5k walk).
Raise money with me.
Or make a contribution. Every little bit helps.

I started a team for this year's Race For The Cure. It's called Day By Day.
Click on a link below to get involved...

*Join my team!

*View my personal page, or make a donation.

Thanks!!

One more thing, Komen provides grants to almost all local hospitals and clinics for breast cancer screening. If you don't have insurance or can't afford a mammogram, you can get one for free. Early detection is the key to survival!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sisters

My mom remarried when I was twelve. That marriage granted me not only an amazing step-dad, but also three adult siblings. Over the years, we have grown close and you will rarely hear me add the word "step" when I talk about them. The youngest, Tracey, and her husband Steve have been a light to me. They live in the Seattle area, but came to visit as soon as they heard of my diagnosis. They came to visit multiple times, each time cheering me up, making me laugh, taking my mind off cancer, and showering me with love and generous gifts. And when it was time to say good-bye, my heart sank and I held back tears. They are so special to me!
There is no blood relation. We didn't grow up together. I guess that's why it was such a shock when I got the call last Thursday.
"We are sisters again." Tracey said.
I didn't understand.
Then she said very casually, "I have breast cancer."
Disbelief.
"No, you're not serious."
How could this be? I couldn't breathe. I wanted to hang up right then and completely break down, but I needed the details. I needed to know how she was.
We talked.
She was doing great. God's grace was upon her just like it was on me.
I, on the other hand, didn't handle it so well. We got off the phone and I collapsed. I've never cried like that. Sobs. Gut-wrenching, heaving sobs. I couldn't stop.
I would do anything to take this from her.
I don't want her to go through this. Not one moment of it.
Yet I can already see how God has graciously prepared her, every detail of her life. God will carry her through. The refiners fire will shape her, and make her even more beautiful than she already is.
She can do this.

But can I?
Wasn't my own battle with breast cancer enough?
How can I watch her endure this, knowing every detail of the battle, every pain, every frustration, every heart break?
I want to scream, "Stop! Pause! Rewind! Delete!"
I want to wake up from this cancer nightmare.

Oh, how I long for Heaven! No more suffering. No more bad news. No more tears. So often, I wish I could go there now. But God has chosen to preserve my life. I want to use each day to the fullest. I have one mission:
To teach my kids and to tell the world
about a God who loves them beyond measure,
about a God who can satisfy the deepest longings of their hearts,
about a God who can rescue them from a broken world.

Tracey & I

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Psalm 30

 I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up,
         And have not let my foes rejoice over me.
 O LORD my God, I cried out to You,
         And You healed me.
 O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave;
         You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
      
 Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His,
         And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
 For His anger is but for a moment,
         His favor is for life;
         Weeping may endure for a night,
         But joy comes in the morning.
      
 Now in my prosperity I said,
         “I shall never be moved.”
 LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong;
         You hid Your face, and I was troubled.
      
 I cried out to You, O LORD;
         And to the LORD I made supplication:
 “What profit is there in my blood,
         When I go down to the pit?
         Will the dust praise You?
         Will it declare Your truth?
Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me;
         LORD, be my helper!”
      
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
         You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
         O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Prize


I've run many races and never won. I've never even placed, not in any division. Not first. Not second. Not third. I've never had a medal of victory to hang around my neck.
My only hope of winning was the New Year's Day Run. The fast runners sleep in. The first few years I raced, my running friends always finished in the top three for their age groups. I never did. The last time I participated in the race, I knew I would win. I was in top shape. I ran my best time. Any previous year, I would have placed in my age group, maybe even won. But that year, the fast runners showed up. I left with nothing.

Tomorrow is my last day of radiation. I'm not completely done with treatment, but the worst is behind me.
Every Thursday I meet with my radiation oncologist. Today she gave me a big hug and a gift. It was my prize. I finished the race. I looked down at the butterfly-shaped medal and read the words, "Breast Cancer Survivor." My first medal, and it says I'm a survivor.
As I walked out to my car I felt happy. For the first time in months, I felt happy. Happy about surviving. 
I got in my car, looked down at my ribbon, and cried.
I knew it was coming; the moment to finally let go. 
Work hard. Fight. Stay strong. Keep focused. Day after day.
But not today. Today I let go. Today I cried.
I cried over the pain, the frustration, the loss, the fear.
I cried for joy. I made it. I finished. I survived!

I've been content in the present, but afraid of the future. 
I've been afraid to hope and afraid of disappointment.
Today I dared to believe,
to believe for a future,
a future of living and not just surviving.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Rebuilding

Radiation is going well. This is my last week. The skin on my chest is burnt, red and peeling. It hasn't been bad, but I'm anxious to be done. The doctor told me that my chance of recurrence is low. Praise the Lord!

I've been busy. I feel much better and have enough energy to make it through the entire day.
I'm busy, trying to get my home back in order.
I'm busy, trying to win back my kids.
I'm busy, trying to return life to normal.

Conflicting emotions constantly bombard me, but I don't find the time to process them. I'm confronted with new struggles, new sins.

Envy.
Everything is hard. Rebuilding takes work. Baby steps. And envy whispers in my ear,
resentment
over the ease in which others achieve, even the simplest things
and their physical strength, to do what I cannot, but once could

Impatience, frustration
The hard part is behind me and I want normal, now.
And yet, I don't want to go back to normal. I want life to be different, better, less wasted, but I still lack the strength.

I should be thankful for how far I've come,
instead I get frustrated by how far I have to go.

I'm learning to trust
that God is directing my steps
that God will use my life as he desires
in his timing
and I'm right where he wants me to be

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths."
~ Proverbs 3:5-6