Sunday, May 31, 2009

Come Alongside...

Music in my head today, “And I hear the voice of many angels sing, ‘Worthy is the Lamb’, I hear the cry of every longing heart, “Worthy is the Lamb’” 
I join them in singing…


I’ve met a lot of cancer survivors over the past two days – I am counting myself among them!!!

It has been sweet to experience the Body of Christ in action, living as God intended, loving as God commanded:


Thursday a very dear friend called out of the blue.  She had no idea what was going on in my life.  She was calling to tell me that her breast cancer was back…we talked, cried, and laughed together.  She has been down this road before.  It was so good to hear from someone who understands what I am feeling and experiencing…


Later our good friend, Derek came to the house and hung out for a while – Derek is the kind of guy you can make cancer jokes with and he doesn’t freak out.  Thank you, Derek, for letting me laugh with you.  I needed to laugh.


Then my sweet friend Donald came by the house to finalize plans for the weekend services.  What an incredible gift to have someone on my side who has walked this path before, who understands how Mark is feeling, and who is fiercely protective of us. 


 “He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”  2 Corinthians 1:4


I love all three of you.  I feel like I am in a safe place. I know you have our backs.  Thank you for living your faith for the world to see.


Shout out to Sydney, Chandler, and Bryce!!!  Thanks for being there with me this weekend!  I love you!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blame it on the Cat

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mark did a great job tonight sharing with COF all that is going on.  I didn’t even really cry, just shook the whole time. Donald picked awesome praise music for me.  Mom, Dad, and Cary were there.  They told me that when Mark started reading my journal that Daddy laid his head on Momma’s shoulder weeping.  I’m glad I didn’t see that, it would have been the end for me.  Momma is strong…

I dropped a bowl with cat food in it tonight and I lost it – I’m mad at the pets, as if they’ve done something wrong…. I don’t want to be this person!  I don’t want to be the person with cancer.  I don’t want my plans to be messed up.  Everything was going so well…Mark and I just spent the last week talking about our life and how everything was getting ready to change.  We will have an empty nest.  We were making plans for next steps at COF and our work around the world.  Everything is on hold now and I’m angry at the cat.

My prayer for my life, my family’s life, and for COF at the beginning of the year was that we would all say, “I am yours, body and soul.”  Like Mary, Jesus’ mother, said.  I’ve been praying that for months.  I even warned the women at the Ladies Christmas Dinner that I was praying it for them and to expect God to be working.  Little did I know it would be my own life where I would see my faith challenged and stretched.  You must have been smiling as I prayed, God, you knew. 

Some sweet anonymous person bought our dinner at Chili’s tonight and left a note for me:    “’Do not fear for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine. ‘ Isaiah 43:1b  This verse helps me.  Love & God bless.”   We have the most amazing people in our church!  

View From a Stretcher

Friday, May 29, 2009

Medical Whirlwind

Woke up today with the lyrics "My God is Faithful" running through my head.  They stayed there all day long...

I have an appointment to get my hair done today and I wonder, will I have hair when it's time to go back to see Patricia in a couple of months?  And how do I tell her?  How do I tell anyone?  
The tears come again...Oh God, please help me to trust you.  I can see I need to invest in waterproof mascara!  

Well, the past three days have been a whirlwind of tests, medical information, advice, and opinions!  I'm not sure the reality of what is happening has even really hit us yet. 

After the colonoscopy, biopsy, and CT scan on Wednesday, I had an endoscopic ultrasound done on Thursday.  The ultrasound showed that although the tumor has grown into the wall of the rectum it has not gone all the way through which is good news.  There appeared to be one lymph node located within the rectal wall that is inflamed.  The biopsy report did not show any cancer cells on the surface of the tumor, however we don't know yet if there are any cancer cells deeper within the tumor.

We have talked to friends who are doctors, family members who are doctors, friends of family members who are doctors, and family members of friends who are doctors!!  LOL!  We have received all kinds of opinions, some of it conflicting.  So, as it stands now, I have a mystery colorectal tumor.  We are still in the diagnostic phase of this adventure, and hope to find out more next week.

I have an appointment Monday morning at 8:30 with a colorectal surgeon who is supposed to be the "best in the city".  He is planning to do a deeper biopsy (doesn't that sound fun?!), probably another ultrasound, and a Pet Scan to check the whole body for cancer cells.  We will continue to take this one day at a time, one test at a time.

I love you all and appreciate so much your prayers, your emails, and your expressions of love toward us.  We are depending on you!!  Please pray for us this weekend as Mark shares with COF what is going on.  I expect it to be a pretty emotional and difficult weekend.

We'll keep you posted!


Today I wake up at 5:30, starving after 3 days of a clear liquid diet, and these lyrics are playing in my head:  “I don’t want to go through the motions, I don’t want to go one more day without your all consuming passion inside of me.  I don’t want to spend my whole life thinking, what if I had given everything instead of going through the motions.”

Day 2 of cancer.  Ashley’s last day of high school. The last time I’ll wake her up singing, “School days, school days, happy golden rule days!”  The last time I’ll spend the quiet morning with her, making her breakfast and making sure she has what she needs for school.  Life is strange.  I guess God gave me something else to think about instead of dwelling on the fact that Ashley will be leaving for college soon and my whole life is changing -  daily motherhood is over. 

It’s a beautiful day outside.  God sent a cool morning with a pretty sunrise.  Thank you that you are here.  Thank you for waking me up with music in my head.  Thank you that you are the God of the universe and you are ruling on your eternal throne.  Thank you that you are Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. 

Today will be another fun day of colonoscopy with ultrasound.  Lord, please be peace and strength for my husband, my children, and my parents. 

I got an email yesterday from a friend of Ronda that said that God has trusted the Shook/Dunham family with this crisis.  I like that. 

Please don’t let my parents suffer the grief of losing a child.

I read this verse today:  “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”  Exodus 14:14

Email to staff and community group:

My dear sweet friends,

My guess is you have probably already heard this news, but just in case, I am sending you this email.  I'm sorry to send this news to you in an email, but it is the fastest way to let you all know.


I had a colonoscopy yesterday for what I thought was probably just internal hemorrhoids... but the news was not that good.  I have a rectal tumor that the doctor says is most likely cancer.  The biopsy won't be back until Friday, but she was pretty certain that it is cancer.  The good news is that after they found the tumor they did a CT scan to see if it had already spread to any other organs or the lymph nodes and they didn't find any evidence of the cancer anywhere else.  I didn't know I could feel so happy about anything on the day I was told I had cancer, but that was pretty happy news!


This morning they are going to do another type of colonoscopy with ultrasound to determine how deep into the wall of the colon the tumor is.  This will help determine the severity of the disease.  From there, I guess we'll be going to visit a surgeon and oncologist next week.


Most of you are probably reading this in the morning, and I'm sorry to start your day off with this news.  But I really need you to pray for me.  Please pray for healing, and for wisdom as we walk this road.  And please pray especially for Mark, our kids, David, Sydneyann, Sarah, and Ashley, and my parents. I think this has been more shocking for them than it has been for me.

I love you guys!  God is still on His throne!



Weird how time/life just keep going.  I’ve always seen that to be true in times of crisis or disaster, but it’s interesting to experience it firsthand.  I HAVE CANCER!!!  …and life goes on.

Tears today – for Mark, for my kids, for my parents, for my friends, for plans that must change, for sweet, sweet emails from my friends.  I love you all!!

What do I say now, when someone casually asks, “Hey, how are you?”  “I’m good!” or “Fine.”  don’t seem like appropriate responses, but neither does, “I have cancer.”  But the truth is, I am good.  Really, nothing has changed from two days ago – God is still on His throne.  He is still good.  He is still in control.  He is still working out His good plans just like He was two days ago.  I’m good.  Really.

Food – I finally got to eat today!  Late lunch at IHOP with Mark, Ashley, Teri, and Callie Chase.  What sweet friends!!  French toast, eggs, and bacon never tasted so good!

Life Interrupted

“’Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

Isaiah 54:10

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

This is the day I learn I have cancer.  Weird.  I never thought I’d hear those words.  Especially not today.  The doctor just comes in, I am still drowsy from anesthesia, and she says, “Well, we thought it was hemorrhoids, but it’s not.  It’s a tumor.  It’s cancer.”  Just like that.  Now I am a person with cancer. 

The strangest part is the peace that I feel.  I have known it was coming.  God has been preparing me, showing me, speaking to me… 

March, 2009, I start bleeding.  It’s never happened before in my life.  I assume it’s hemorrhoids, wait for it to go away.  But something just doesn’t feel right.  And it doesn’t go away. I had the breast biopsy in April and that freaked me out.  Made me start to think about things.  I watch Dr. Oz on Oprah, his last time to be on Oprah, and they bring out all these people who say he has saved their life.  One lady said she went to get a colonoscopy because Dr. Oz told her to.  She had cancer.  No symptoms.  Dr. Oz saved her life. .. I keep seeing advertisements for Farrah Fawcett’s documentary about her cancer journey… a church member suddenly has colon cancer and it has spread to his lymph nodes, just like that, suddenly…I start waking up in the nights with praise music playing in my head., lyrics about God being in control, about his answering when I call out in the night. ..over and over again.  I begin to wonder what God is telling me,  feeling like He is preparing me…I hope he has prepared my family…

So, I decide to see a doctor.  It’s probably hemorrhoids, but better to die of embarrassment than to die of cancer.  The first doctor I call can’t see me until July.  I am stressing over choosing a doctor.  So I call one I found on the internet because I like how their webpage looks – funny world we live in, isn’t it?  They could see me the next week, on Sarah’s 21st birthday.  It seemed like God set up that appointment for me.  The doctor tells me that at my age, 99% of the time it is internal hemorrhoids or polyps and they schedule a colonoscopy for the following week.

I debate having this procedure all week.  So much else is going on.  Ashley is getting ready to graduate.  We are getting ready to go to Africa, Turkey, Greece, and Costa Rica.  I don’t really have time to have cancer…maybe I should put it off.  Then I start doing the colon prep for the colonoscopy.  God help me…I can’t drink this stuff without gagging.  But I get it done, there is nothing left in my system. 

 We wait forever to finally have the colonoscopy, busy place!  I am sitting in a roomful of elderly people, wondering what I’m doing here.  How can this be my life?  I am never sick.  Then they roll me into the room for the procedure.  She turns on soft music – and it is Christian music.  “Our God Reigns” is playing.  This is how I fall asleep.  My God reigns.

I’m in the shower later, getting ready to go see “Fiddler on the Roof”.  This was my Christmas present to my parents.  Everyone wonders why we’re still going, but it’s better than sitting at home feeling hungry, right?  And besides, are we going to let “cancer” run our life?    The phone rings – the CT scan is clean, no spread of the tumor.  I am on the floor of the shower, face-down, crying in praise to my God who is merciful – Grateful that you hear and understand the groanings of my spirit when words won’t come.  Thank you.