Thursday, April 24, 2008

My Faithful Friend!

No cancer in the lymph nodes! What a relief to hear those words yesterday from my doctor. Which reminds me of one of my favorite treasures. Words. The most powerful force on earth. A mere word can change your life. Your heart. A single word. Think about it. Cancer. Clear. Goodbye. Accepted. Declined. Words... I have such a respect for them. Words can transport you - deflate you - immerse you - deliver you. If all my words were taken from me and I could only have one word - one word alone... that word would be ... Jesus. Talk about a word changing the atmosphere... that one word can change situations - lives - people! Immediately! I know I'm one of the privileged. I not only know this word... I know the meaning of the word. I know Who owns this word as His name. Wow. Know what else? This Jesus... He's my best friend - my faithful friend. Clear. Clear nodes. Uh-huh... that's what I'm talking about!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Praying for a good report!

Forgot to mention... biopsy results should be in Wednesday when I go to get the staples out. I'll post as I get updates.

It's All In Your Head!

I was not trying to be difficult - or super woman - or any of the many other egotistical things of which my friends and family accused me. I simply wanted to go to NC Ladies' Conference. Bottom line. I had carefully protected these dates on my calendar all year... a chance to be with my dear NC lady friends AND to hear two of my favorite women in the world... Nona Freeman and Vesta Mangun! So what if the lymph node biopsy was scheduled for Thursday... the first day of the conference. Surely, I could leave the hospital and sleep on the two and a half hour road trip... rest a bit in the hotel and take in as much of the conference as possible. It's only been 24 years since I've had general anesthesia... probably why I forgot that afterwards you pretty much don't know what planet you are on or from! My wise husband suggested (although my bags were packed and ready to roll) that we go home first and see how I felt after a couple of hours rest. Well, long story short - I slept all day and night. I chose not to take the pain meds because they make me loopy and I wanted to be alert on Friday. So we got up Friday morning and drove up to Greensboro... I missed hearing Sis. Cyvonne Davy's wonderful message, but made it in time for Sis. Freeman... went to the room and slept for about five hours then went down to the evening service with Sis. Mangun. What a refreshing! The atmosphere... the presence of God... seeing my friends... having them pray with me... seeing the relief in their eyes when they saw that I was still smiling and healthy... it was wonderful. As an added bonus, God made a way for my big sister (well... she's older - not bigger) Pattie and her girls, Taryn and Tanis, to come up for the conference and then come home with us. They just headed back to SC after lunch, following our morning service. ...Yeah, I'm worn slam out... but its a good tired. If I can make it back to evening service tonight - I'll rest tomorrow! (I've always loved Mondays).
Tanis helped me change my bandage last night and I about flipped out! This is my fourth biopsy in my life and the first one that didn't just have a steri-strip holding it closed. I was shocked to find a 2.5 inch incision with STAPLES hiding under that bandage! YIKES!... if I had seen that gash under my arm and those ugly staples... I probably would have stayed in bed all weekend with all the pain meds I could handle! I'm such a baby when it comes to that kind of thing! But since I thought I had a steri-strip like last time... I was fine. Another lesson learned! Half the misery is all in your head anyways!
I have to add this - it is funny today - but last Wednesday, it was not! I sent an email out to a long list of friends on Tuesday, telling them about the cancer results. I was strong. I was fine! Then on Wednesday... even though I had let everyone know NOT to feel obligated to reply - I opened my email to find this long line of replies. Every email was full of love and encouragement. More love and encouragement than I could handle at one time, actually. (My parents told me that as a child, when I got hurt, if they babied me I would cry all day - but if they left me alone - I was fine in two minutes. Some things never change!) All of this began to make me feel like, "my friends think I'm dying and these are the things they want me to know before I die"... (remember I'm stilll peri-menopausal!) So, I spent the biggest part of the day blowing my nose and crying. I was scheduled to speak at several Ladies Retreats and meetings, and my friends were calling to tell me... please don't feel obligated to come... stay home and take care of your health. I even mentioned to my husband as we got ready for church that I dreaded going to church, because if anyone said something nice to me, I knew I'd burst into tears... I didn't want to be crying in front of our people. I want them to see me strong and full of faith! I can't remember his comment - but I'm sure it wasn't of the "stay home and rest - I'll make excuses for you" variety - because there I was at church two hours later- trying to worship through my emotional roller coaster... its time for my husband to teach the Bible Study. He nods at me to play the piano and as he walks by me he leans in and says "Let's sing 'Address Change Notification'." I'm totally numb as I play the intro. Address Change Notification??? He thinks I'm dying too! This is our "classic" FUNERAL song! What is he thinking? I can barely sing my harmony part - because I am caught somewhere between hysterical weeping and psychotic laughter! He's clueless - does a great job - on the song and on the Bible Study... and now - I can laugh about it all. God does those things just for me - because He knows I find humor in everything eventually.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Another Day In Paradise

Peace... it still surrounds me; saturates me; empowers me. Bright and early tomorrow morning I go to the hospital for the lymph node mapping and biopsy. All is still well. I am wide-eyed and all ears; my heart and mind open to God. What will He show me? Where will He take me? How did He choose cancer? Will the healing come quickly - or will I pass through the fire? Questions that really don't need answers. Just anticipating the ride... praying that I bring Him glory. Honored that He trusts me. Grateful for all of the wonderful people in my life. My husband. My children. My parents. My siblings. My family. My Church. My wonderful friends. My grandbabies. I am so blessed - so loved - and totally amazed by it all. For the past two weeks it seems that time moves at a slower pace. In slow motion, I watch my husband work - preach - study - and I savor every moment together. Like a slow movie reel I watch my grandchildren play - sing - and fight over me (MawMaw), I watch my sons - study their faces - covet every conversation. I see my parents - so strong in their Faith - trying to take care of me - loving me more than life. Yes, I am blessed. God has cleared my calendar and I am His alone. This is the same planet I've lived on for nearly 49 years - and yet everything seems clearer... brighter... more vivid. Another day in paradise!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Up Close and Personal God

God is continuing to blow my mind. He gave me Jeremiah 29:11 as a promise from His Word... "For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you... thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome" (Amplified)
Knowing that I am in His thoughts every day comforts me. He has proved to me that He is not only going to be WITH me, but that He is taking pains to ensure that I am comfortable with every detail.
If you know me well, you know that I am very interested in the natural homeopathic healing methods of supplements, essential oils and such. I won't take the time to give every detail - but God just allowed me to re-connect with a friend via email that I have been out of touch with for about 15 years. She is an RN and has been for nearly 40 years. She had no idea what was going on with me - and I had no idea that she was working with a team of doctors and researchers as a consultant to people (like me) that have been diagnosed with a disease, or that have lost their health due to age, disease, accidents and so on.
I have even told my family and friends that I am more afraid of the treatment than the disease. I have seen the devastation chemotherapy has wrought on so many. My friend has already got me accepted as a patient by this team and they are going to monitor and support all the treatment my doctors recommend. Their methods help keep you strong and healthy through all the stress of cancer and the treatment of it while at the same time support your body to fight off the cancer itself.
I can't explain the impact this has made on me. I know God has ordered my steps. He knows me. He knows my fears. He knows my beliefs... and He honors all of that by leading me to people that He can work through to give me total care, comfort and support.
I know that He is able to completely heal me - at any instant! And I also know that He has something to teach me through this situation, so my ears and eyes are opened. My pen is in my hand and I'm taking notes like crazy - because the Teacher has the floor.
I am so blessed... amazed... overwhelmed and moved by His loving attention to the details of my life.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

He prepared me... He has a plan!

Well, the results are in. The surgeon called me in a day early for my appointment. (my first clue something was going on) There is bad news and good news. The mass was cancer. A non-aggressive (well-behaved) type the doctor says. He is sure he got it all and I am so glad I told them to take the mass out instead of just doing a biopsy of it. It is totally treatable and totally curable... but totally inconvenient! The surgeon is sure they will do radiation to that breast. They are still waiting for a couple tests to come in to determine if the cancer is estrogen driven. I'm scheduled for another biopsy on Thursday, the 17th. This time they will inject a nuclear dye and follow it to the first couple of lymph nodes - which they will remove and biopsy. If there is no cancer in the nodes - that will be great news. If any of them are cancerous, they will remove them all from that side... and probably recommend chemotherapy. I am more afraid of the treatment than the cancer. When they gather all of the results of the biopsies, they will give me all the options for treatment. I know God will guide me. He has been so near to me.. assuring me that I am in His hands. A couple of days before we got the results I felt like God spoke to me and let me know that there would be cancer found. I even warned my husband to prepare himself. I hesitated to tell him because I didn't want to speak "doubt". But my faith is intact. I know God is in control. Sunday night the praise team sang, "We're blessed in the city... we're blessed in the field... we're blessed when we come and when we go..." and the part that keeps going over and over in my mind is: "Late in the midnight hour - God's gonna turn it around - it's gonna work in your favor" In the middle of all of this uncertainty and chaos, I am amazed at the under current of excitement that I feel. I KNOW God has a plan. I'm anxious to see what He has in store for me. I KNOW I'm going to get to know Him in a new and deeper way; and that appeals to me. I know that whatever He has planned will give Him glory... and that is why I live. My prayer for several years has been what Mary prayed when Gabriel revealed that she would bear the Messiah.... "be it unto me according to Your will". I want what He wants - and I pray that I can bring Him glory in the way I respond to this situation.
On a lighter note... not only did God give me a warning of the results... he totally prepared me. He let me go completely through Menopause - come completely out of it and then go into it again! The perfect preparation for cancer. At least folks are a little more patient and understanding of cancer patients than they are menopausal women!
This God of mine... He constantly amazes me!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Its a Win/Win/Win!

I was just doing what I always do... getting my annual check-ups. Life has been so busy with no signs of letting up. Although mammograms are no fun, I know it is imperative that I get checked out regularly. Mom has had breast cancer and now two of her sisters have died with breast cancer being a contributing factor. This year, I didn't feel any kind of premonition or warning. I just went to my regular appointment. The phone call came while I was in St. Louis... they found something. A mass. A mass which was surgically removed yesterday. I am still on some major pain meds and feel like my head is in a fog, but I wanted to write. I want to try to share my feelings.
Everyone tells me not to be afraid. Funny... fear is not one of the emotions I'm feeling. Uncertainity maybe. Not knowing stinks. I will get my lab results on Wednesday. But I already know that I can handle whatever comes my way. God is my peace... my refuge... my ever present help in the time of need. I feel so much peace and I am so grateful for that. God is awesome! He has put me in a win/win/win situation. If its cancer - and He heals me... I win! If it's not cancer... I win! If its cancer - and He doesn't heal me... I still win! Amazing...