Monday, August 31, 2009

"...a time to dance."

Ecclesiastes chapter 3 teaches us that there is a time for everything; "a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance." Get out your dancing shoes!! This is a time to laugh and dance! 

I received a phone call this afternoon from my surgeon. He had the pathology report back from my surgery, and these were his words to me, "They found no residual cancer cells." Let me say it again, they found NO CANCER CELLS!!!! No cancer cells. They found 11 lymph nodes, which was miraculous in itself. Most often the lymph nodes are burned up by the radiation and they aren't able to check them. All 11 nodes were cancer-free as well as the surrounding tissues. 

I was not surprised, but I was speechless. What do you say when they tell you that they can't find any more cancer cells in your body? I have no words other than praise for my God who has blessed me over and over again. We have all been praying for this exact outcome. He heard our prayers and He has answered in a miraculous way! Please take time today to praise Him and thank Him for who He is and what He has done. Praise Him for His faithfulness to us, His kindness toward us, and his mercy toward us. He is good! He never changes. 

Get your dancing shoes out, turn up the music, and let loose!!!

"Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things" Psalm 98:1

I do not know yet what this will mean as far as further treatment goes. Most often they base treatment on the initial stage of the cancer, so I could still face more chemotherapy. Also, because I am young, they have been treating my cancer aggressively to make sure that all micro-metastases have been killed and the cancer won't recur. I will have treatment answers after my next visit with the oncologist.

There is a song I recently heard and fell in love with. It is called "More Than a Friend" by Jeremy Riddle. It is the song of my heart today:

In the quiet of my soul 
In the stillness I hear Your voice call
And I am overwhelmed
And I am lost for words
To describe You

Jesus You're more than a friend
Jesus You're more than my heart could ever express
Your love and Your grace never fail me
Your merciful touch always heals me
You bring joy to my soul

My heart longs to worship You my King
And I long to bring You a pleasing offering
And I am overwhelmed
And I am lost for words
To describe You

Jesus You're more than a friend
Jesus You're more than my heart could ever express
Your love and Your grace never fail me
Your merciful touch always heals me
You bring joy to my soul

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance..." Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Home Sweet Home

The doctor came to the hospital today around 10:30 a.m. She removed my drain tube (which was about two feet long!), answered my questions, wrote me a prescription for pain medication, and wrote my discharge order! My sweet brother, Cary, and my even sweeter niece, Sydney, came and helped Mark load up all my flowers and gifts and drove them to the house for me.

It sure felt good to be home - back to my couch and my own bed! It felt good until around 4:00 p.m. when I discovered that my body is not actually digesting the pain pills that were prescribed for me. My pain level had been slowly increasing during the afternoon until I was at the point of tears. Unfortunately, it hurts my surgery site too much to actually cry...I thought about cussing, but thankfully was able to refrain! Then I saw the problem - undigested pills in my ileostomy bag. I hadn't actually received pain medicine for hours! My sweet husband went to the pharmacy and asked them to fill the prescription with liquid medication, they called the doctor who agreed, and by 7:00 p.m. I was drifting off into a medicated stupor.

I have a follow-up appointment with the surgeon on Friday. Until that time I will be resting and taking pain meds every four hours! The pathology reports should come back sometime this week. Please pray that God will show those dissecting the surgery specimens everything they need to see so that we have an accurate report.

I can't thank you enough for all your thoughts, cards, messages, gifts, and prayers this week. Thank you for always encouraging us! I love you with my whole heart!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

It's a beautiful day.

Ten minutes before lunch, Elsie Fern Dunham bows her head and goes home to heaven. It was peaceful, no suffering, just like so many of us have prayed for so many months. The angels are surely having a party today as grandma joins them and hears her Jesus say, "Well done, my good and faithful daughter."

She joins her parents, her sister, her husband, her son, John Henry, and countless family members. What an exciting, joyful family reunion it must be! I told the girls that when we join her one day, I imagine she will welcome us to heaven with handmade quilts, homemade strawberry preserves, and beautiful afghan blankets crocheted in gold.

For several months I have wondered why God kept her here. I now believe it was for a purpose - to pray her granddaughter through cancer treatment and surgery. Then God said, "You're done," and brought her home. Thank you, God, for having Grandma walk with me through this.

I love you Grandma. Thank you for all you have been to me, to Mark, and to my children. I hope I grow up to be like you. You are dearly loved and will be dearly missed. You fought the good fight, you finished the race, you kept the faith.

Until we meet again.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of one of his godly ones." Psalm 116:15


Friday, August 28, 2009

I recognize Your presence

Mark and I are trusting that all the cancer was removed with the surgery on Tuesday. So, today was Day Three Cancer Free! Doesn't that sound great?

I had another good day. I spent the morning out of bed, eating, sitting, walking, and visiting with family. My muscles were more loose this morning making walking somewhat easier. I'm still not going to win any races, but I'm improving each day! However, by this afternoon the muscles decided that they had had enough and my back began to cramp. I've actually had more back pain since surgery than pain at the actual surgery site! Thankfully, the doctor has ordered medication to help with this as well as a heating pad and I had a comfortable evening.

The exciting news of the day is that the doctor ordered a "regular" diet for me! I ate real food for dinner! It has been several days since I've actually eaten anything of substance so dinner was a welcome affair!

Hopefully some of my tubes will be removed tomorrow. We are shooting for a Monday discharge from the hospital.

I wanted to share with you a couple of experiences that were reminders of God's presence since I arrived here on Monday:

1. I was on a stretcher in the surgery waiting room preparing to go into surgery. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to me and when he was through with all his questions he said, "This is just a bump in the road." I looked at him funny wondering if maybe he was an angel...these are the exact words that I have been saying ever since I was first diagnosed with cancer - just a bump in the road. It made me smile, knowing that God knew this young man would speak these words to me right before I went into surgery.

2. The surgeon came in to talk to me before we all headed to the surgery suite. He asked how I was doing, asked if I was ready, assured me he was ready, and then he said, "Would you like to pray?" He held hands with me, Mark, and my mom and we all prayed together. Now that was a cool moment from God!

3. My radiologist came to see me this morning. He was all smiles knowing how successful my surgery was and knowing that the radiation treatments had caused the tumor to shrink to almost nothing. I told him he did a good job and he replied, "Well, I had a little help," referring to God's hand through the whole process. He said it helped to have so many people praying.

God has surrounded me with the most amazing medical team. I am so grateful for each one of them.

Please pray that the muscles in my back will calm down and let me sleep and move and rest.
Thank you!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Got gas?

Got gas?

I do! And that is good news! My intestines have already come back to life after anesthesia and being surgically resected! So, this morning we went out to Alicia's and got chilaquiles with rice and beans for breakfast...Oh wait, that was just a dream! LOL! But I did get a full liquid diet for all three meals today. Pudding and potato soup never tasted so good! I even had hunger pangs this afternoon!

The lab technician was here at 5:00 am, the doctor was here at 6:30 am, I had breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and met my new drill sargeant at 8:00 a.m. Her name is Coretha and she was awesome! She had me up and in the shower by 9:00 am and walking the hallways at 10:30. She told me that I would have to get up and walk every two hours, and she was going to make sure I did it. She told me that I would thank her next week!

The night was short, and the day has been long. My muscles are sore, my back aches, but I am so grateful for all that God has already done!

  • The ileostomy is functioning well
  • I have had NO nausea!
  • The drain is working well will less and clearer drainage
  • My kidneys are working in high gear
  • My lungs are clear
  • The morphine pump works well!
  • My room looks and smells like a florist shop!
  • My kids, my husband, and my parents have relaxed!

I know that all these things are the results of your prayers and the compassion of a great and awesome God! I should sleep well tonight!

Day One Post-Op

Three cheers for my excellent substitute blogger!! Thank you, Sarah, you are awesome!

Wednesday, Day One Post-Op:

Well, like Sarah said, there is not a whole lot to report. I slept a lot and ate ice most of the day Wednesday! I sat up in a chair twice, and I actually took a walk down the hallway last night. I was pretty proud of myself! They brought me a dinner tray around 7:00 last night and guess what I had??? Yes, jello, again!

I have all kinds of tubes exiting my body! I have four incisions on my belly, plus the ileostomy. The doctor was able to do the surgery with a laparoscope like we were hoping, so the recovery should be easier. He was very pleased with the surgery. He looked at all my nearby organs and they all looked clean and cancer-free. We won't have any of the pathology reports back until sometime next week.

I don't have much pain and I haven't been sick to my stomach! I am sore, of course, and I have a morphine pump so I am able to medicate myself as needed for pain.

So far, so good! Thank you so much for all your prayers! Mark and I can't even express to you what it means to us! We love you all!

Ellen, thanks for the song this morning!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A quick update when there is not too much to update...

Hey guys,

There isn't a whole lot of news from today, but I figured I'd update you with what little has changed!

I talked to Mom today, and she said she has been resting and sleeping a lot today.  Overall, she said the pain is not too bad.  She did mention a sore back, though, which the doctors think is probably just from being on the operating table so long! She also has been given permission to eat ice chips now (It's not much, but at least the coldness feels nice!). With the help of doctors and friends, she was also able to move from her bed and sit in a chair for a while, which was a nice change!

I also talked to Dad, and he is holding up well, too. :)
He said they are in a very big nice room, where he actually has a pull-out couch/chair! When I spoke to him, he was just arriving at the mall to "walk around for an hour to get some exercise."  Somehow, I think this could have possibly turned into going to the bookstore for an hour, but I don't know for sure...

Well, that wasn't much of an update, but it's all the news I heard today! Thank you all for your prayers, keep them up!!

-Sarah

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I am a Terrible Replacement Blogger!

Well, as we all know now, I, Sarah, am a terrible updater....Sorry it took so long!

Well Mamma went into the OR around 1:30, and started surgery around 2 pm.  The surgery was really long (4 hours!!).  I sat in my really boring Intro to Marketing for Non-majors class waiting and waiting to hear an update.  When I got home around 6, Dad called and said Mamma was out of surgery! I didn't get to talk to her because she was still waking up, but the doctors said that they did not see any swollen lymph nodes (!) and the tumor had shrunk down really tiny to the size of a nodule (I don't know what that means, but I guess that means really small!). So this is really good news!! 

Mamma now has her ileostomy bag, or as I affectionately refer to it....well nevermind... But her best friend Teri says we will have to nick name it Betty, now that Bob is no more! 

Mamma will be recovering and resting in the hospital for 5-7 days. During this time, Dad will probably be pretty cranky because of sleeping on the hard hospital room couch (at least this has been my experience in the past during my stays). But he is definitely the best hospital-mate because he is an excellent movie/snack picker. Oh, and he is also quite good at sneaking patients out when they have not been discharged to go eat something other than hospital food...but that is another story for another day...

I know a lot of you are wondering what you can do for Mom during these next few days, and the best thing you can do is keep praying! She won't be able to eat for the first few days (and when she can, it will be J-E-L-L-O!), and needs a LOT of rest so she can heal up!

Thank you all for praying this afternoon, your prayers mean a lot to my mom and entire family!

Hopefully my mom will be back to blogging soon!

Only You and me

Yesterday, as I prepared my intestines for surgery, I had praise music playing in the house all day. One of the songs that came on was "Only You" by David Crowder. I sang it all day in my heart, and it is on my mind today.


Take my heart, I lay it down at the feet of You who's crowned
Take my life, I'm letting go, I lift it up to You who's throned
And I will worship You Lord, only You, Lord
and I will bow down before You, only You Lord

Take my fret, take my fear, all I have I'm leaving here
Be all my hopes, be all my dreams, be all my delights, be my everything
And it's just You and me here now, only You and me here now
You should see the view when it's only You


That's my prayer today. It's You and me, Lord. Thanks for being here with me.


We arrive at the hospital at 11:00 am and surgery is scheduled for 1:00 pm.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Surgery, finally!

Day One of Empty Nest: 

- Stay up until 1:00 a.m. (I thought Ashley just went to college not me!!)
- Sleep until 9:00 a.m. (Wow, when was the last time I did that?)
- Stay in my pajamas until noon (Because I can)
- Eat jello for breakfast... (Reality comes crashing through!)

Oh yeah, I'm having surgery tomorrow! The empty nest will have to wait.

I am happy to report that I survived the colon prep ordeal again! Thankfully, I only had to drink half a gallon this time! Now, I am just praying that I survive the imposed fast until surgery at 1:00 tomorrow afternoon!

My dad always taught me that "prior planning prevents poor performance." I've done everything I can to prepare for this surgery. I've packed my bag and I'm ready to go. The only thing left to do on my list is this:

263. Ask my blog friends to pray for me.

This is where you come in! Just as you have been carrying me through this whole adventure from day one, I am asking you to please carry me through surgery tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Here are my specific request.

  • Please pray for successful surgery and the removal of any remaining cancer cells
  • Please pray for no complications during or after surgery
  • Please pray for quick healing of the surgery sites and no infections
  • Please pray that my intestines will "wake up" quickly after anesthesia and surgery
  • Please pray that I will learn and adapt quickly to the ileostomy
  • Please pray that God's peace will surround my family
  • Please pray that God will work through my surgeon, Dr. Cali, and his team
My daughter, Sarah, will update my blog tomorrow afternoon, sometime, so you will know how everything went. Surgery is expected to last 2-4 hours, and I will be in the hospital for 5-7 days. I'll be back to the blog as soon as I feel up to it.

Thank you so much for your faithfulness to pray for me! 

"The LORD said, " I will go with you and give you peace." Exodus 33:14  




Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Empty Nest

Flying home tonight it hits me. I am going home to an empty house. The tears finally come. 

For 23 years I've had children living in my home. For 23 years I have been up every school day making breakfast, praying for my kids, and seeing them off to school. For 23 years I have welcomed them home and listened as they told me about their day. For 23 years. Half my life. And I have loved every minute of it! I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom! 

Tomorrow I won't be getting up to see anyone off to school. But as they begin their days on their own, I will be up praying for them, just like every other morning of their lives. What a privilege and an honor to be their mother! Thank you God!

I did tell Ashley to take her picture for me on her first day of classes at OU! 

Here are a few pictures of our adventures the last few days:

Ashley and her roommate, Samantha


Chris and Jaime's wedding


Hanging out with my brothers


Hanging out in Silverlake with David and friends


Empty nesters!

Monday morning begins the clear liquid diet and colon prep!  Promises to be an awesome day!

On the road...

The last couple of days have been crazy...probably not what I'm supposed to do leading up to surgery, but we've had lots of fun! We moved Ashley into her dorm on Thursday, spent time with Sarah and her friends, and lots of time with all of them at Super Target in Norman - one of our favorite places!

Friday morning we hopped in the car and drove from Norman straight to the airport in Houston. The road between Norman and Houston is long, flat, and pretty bare. I passed the time by reading the billboards along the way:

"Eat here. Get Gas. Buc'ees"

"Sams. Ham Sandwiches." I thought to myself, that's sure to bring in a lot of customers!

"Two words. Homemade fudge." Now if you had to choose: ham sandwich vs. homemade fudge?? I know where I'm stopping!

We caught our flight to Los Angeles and arrived just in time for my nephew's rehearsal dinner. Chris and Jaime were all smiles all night! What a great couple God brought together! The wedding today was one of the most beautiful and personal ceremonies I have ever seen. I was so happy to be able to celebrate this special day with my family and many special friends!

When my surgery was scheduled they gave me a prescription for the colon prep kit and a list of instructions. I was so excited that I would be able to take Ashley to school and go to the wedding that I bought my plane ticket without reading all of the instructions. When I finally read them I realized that the colon prep for surgery was to begin five days before surgery, not just the day before. So, you can imagine what the last couple of days have been like.

Pre-surgery laxatives + 7 hour car ride and 3 hour plane ride = change of clothes in my bag! (thankfully I did not have to use the spare clothes!)

Surgery is coming up in three days and I think I'm ready.

Pre-surgery checklist:
1. "X" mark on belly for ileostomy - check!
2. Prescription for Halflytely filled - check!
3. Pantry stocked with jello, chicken broth, and Sprite - check!
4. Bathrooms stocked with baby wipes - check!
5. New slippers for the hospital - check!

I know I'm ready to have it over with and move on to the next steps in my healing process! Please pray on Monday that I will actually be able to drink all the colon prep solution!

Update on Stacey: Many of you have been praying for Stacey's healing and her recent surgery. I wanted to let you know that she is doing well! The doctor felt like they removed all the cancer with her surgery. Several of her lymph nodes tested positive for cancer, but her PET scan showed no cancer cells anywhere in her body! She will begin radiation treatments soon to make sure there are no micro-metastases. Please continue to pray for her strength as she receives these treatments and begins the new school year at the same time. Thank you!

"As the bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you." Isaiah 62:5




Friday, August 21, 2009

Answered prayers

Ashley kisses the dog and heads out the door to her new life. She is going to be a freshman at the University of Oklahoma. As I watch the scene unfold it hits me...today I see God's answer to a prayer I began praying 14 years ago.

"Lord, please let Biscuit live until all the kids are out of the house."

A simple request from a mother's heart, honored by a God full of compassion and understanding.

Ashley is going to college? My baby? Where has the time gone? Please treasure your moments with your children. They pass way to quickly!

Somehow we get everything in two cars moved up to the third floor and into a tiny dorm room. A miracle in itself! Ashley is met by one very excited sister, Sarah, and three other friends, Tyler, Megan, and Bridgette, who all help her get things put away and organized. Their kindness comforts my heart. She is going to be OK here.

As we invade the dorm room we awaken Ashley's new roommate, Samantha. She is a beautiful girl who has come to OU all the way from Hong Kong! Most of the girls on Ashley's wing are international students, or have grown up outside of the U.S. What a perfect place for Ashley!

Right away Samantha tells us about her family, and then she tells us that she is a Christian. I have to contain myself so that I don't jump up and down screaming and embarrass my daughter. For over a year I have been praying that God would hand-pick Ashley's roommate.

A simple request from a mother's heart, honored by a God full of compassion and understanding.

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done" Philipppians 4:6

Thank you, God, for all you have done!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

One week til surgery...

Today started off with another visit with the Enterostomal Therapist. I watched a nice video about living with an ileostomy. All the people on the video assure me that I will be able to enjoy all the same activities I normally do even with an ileostomy. They made it all seem so ordinary and simple. 

Then she took measurements of my body to select the best spot for placement of the ileostomy. Her measurements confirmed that I am short. No surprise there! She says I will want to use a short ileostomy bag. She looked at the type of clothes I normally wear, looked at my bone structure, other abdominal scars, and the location of a particular abdominal muscle (I was kind of surprised that she found an abdominal muscle at all!) Then she took out a sharp instrument and carved a small "X" on my stomach. She really should have warned me before she did this! It's just a scratch, but it did sting! The surgeon will do his best to place the stoma where the "X" is if he is able to.

She plans to visit me in the hospital and she will be available to me if/when I need help or have questions about the ileostomy and all the ileostomy gear I will be using. In short, we will be close!

The idea of surgery is becoming more real now!

We spent the afternoon packing up the cars with all of Ashley's stuff for her dorm room! Thanks to Samantha and Shane for all their help! They arrived just in time!












Ashley is going to college! How exciting! We will miss her like crazy, but I know she is going to have a great  year at OU!!  Sarah is excited that they will have this year together!  BOOMER SOONER!!





Monday, August 17, 2009

Wow, God!

Today I woke up back in "medical mode." I had an appointment with the surgeon and an appointment to pre-register at the hospital for my stay with them next week. I was not terribly excited about seeing the surgeon, knowing that he planned to perform a physical exam with his lovely instruments of torture.

Just as expected, he did an exam with his nice little scope. But as he was examining me he said these words, "I can't even see the tumor anymore!" I almost fell off the table! The tumor is no longer visible! Wow, God!

This doesn't change the treatment plan or surgery plan, but it does mean that the tumor responded miraculously to the radiation and chemotherapy! He said this is the very best possible scenario as far as being cured and recurrence goes.  They still need to do surgery since the tumor had grown through the wall and into at least one lymph node and the fat tissue around the rectum. But my chance for a full recovery is great due to the dramatic response of the tumor.

I came home and danced with Ashley, Biscuit, and Demitri; and I couldn't get the smile off my face for the rest of the day!

Thank you for praying for me!

“The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life, the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”  Psalm 121:7- 8

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Why?

We had another great weekend at Community of Faith! We had a question and answer session with a very distinguished panel of "experts"using some new technology that allowed the people in the audience to text their questions to the big screen. Mark, Damon, and Lance did a great job of fielding questions and providing answers to some of the things many of us have wondered about over the years.

One of the questions that came up in each of the four services was some form of "Why do bad things happen to good people?" or "If I am trying to live my life for Christ then whey do bad things keep happening to me?" 

Our panel answered the question well. But as I sat there I began to wonder...

Maybe the problem is not why God would allow these things to happen. Maybe the problem is my definition of "bad". Maybe bad things never happen to me... difficult things, challenging things, tough things, horrific things, tragic things, yes, but "bad" things? I don't think so. 

Psalm 119:68 says this about God, "You are good, and everything you do is good."

I'm not saying that the difficult, challenging, tough, horrific, tragic things come from God, but I am saying that He is good and everything He does is good. And if He is good, and He allowed these "bad" things into my life, then maybe, just maybe, they aren't "bad" after all. No matter how horrible they may seem according to my definition and understanding of life, the One who knows all and sees all and has all understanding of the past, present, and future, determined that this "bad" circumstance would serve a good purpose. I may never understand that in my human condition, but that's OK. I trust that He is good.

Isaiah 61 tells us that Jesus came to give us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. So whatever "bad" may happen in my life, God plans to transform it into something good.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him," Romans 8:28

Thank you, God, for a new perspective and for a tiny glimpse of Who you are. Help me always to remember that You ARE good and everything You do is good.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Friends



Kayla, Chucky, Mary, Laura O., Tracy, Allison, Colleen, Laura P., Joan, Debbie, Sherri, Terri, Michelle, Maria, Steve & Laura, David & Lindy, Rich & Tina, Rose & Larry, Scott, Karen, David & Kim, Jeff & Debbie, Robert & Kellie, Rod & Kellie, Paul & Kathy, Doug & Darla, Noel & Roxana, Antonio, Adina, Dennis & Mary...

And so many good friends here in Houston - too many to list!

Each name brings back memories of shared laughter, deep conversations, whispered secrets, crazy escapades, heartaches, tears, and challenges to be all God created me to be. Each name represents a part of my heart. Each person has helped to make me who I am today, and I am grateful for that.

I am especially grateful for my friends who have been walking through this new cancer adventure with Mark and me. We couldn't do this without you. Your prayers, encouragement, laughter, and understanding have sustained us during difficult days. We are humbled by your generosity, by your goodness, by your compassion, and your protection. You have been true friends.

One of the most amazing friends I have ever had is celebrating her 24th Anniversary today! So I write this to honor her and to thank her for all she means to me. Teri, thank you for being my friend. Thank you for always listening, always caring, and always making me laugh! Thank you for sharing my secrets, sharing my dreams, and sharing my deodorant. Thank you for always bringing the chocolate. And thank you for not being afraid to check the weather! You are such a special gift from God to me and I love you with all my heart!  Happy Anniversary!! And may you and Brent have 124 more!!



(Teri checking the weather.)

Thanks to all of you for being my friends!

Disclaimer: If I left you off the "friend list" it was completely unintentional. Remember...I am suffering from "chemo brain." 

"A friend loves at all times" Proverbs 17:17

"The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense." Proverbs 27:9



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Imagination

"Revelation Song" by Phillips, Craig, and Dean has been in my head today, all day: 

Holy, Holy, Holy 
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing:
Praise to the King of Kings!
You are my everything,
And I will adore You!

I am reminded, again, today that worry is a choice. All my life I have been a very good worrier, and over the years God has been slowly teaching me His truth in relation to worry. Or maybe He's not teaching me slowly, maybe I'm just learning slowly!

My surgery is 12 days away. As it gets closer I find myself beginning to worry - what will they find, what if the cancer is in multiple lymph nodes and not just one, what if...what if...what if...

Imagination is a wonderful thing, but when used in the wrong way it can lead to worry. Every headache becomes a brain tumor, every gas pain is a metastasis, every muscle twinge is bone cancer...

And then I open my Bible today and read these words in Luke 12:25:
"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

I almost laugh out loud. Oh yeah, I forgot for a second, I don't have to worry. I can choose to trust God instead. I can turn my crazy thoughts into prayers. Prayers of praise and thanksgiving because my God IS the Lord God Almighty. He IS the King of Kings. He IS my everything. I really don't have anything to worry about. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Great Adventure

Radiation Recovery Update: 
  • Fatigue is a tricky thing. One day you feel fine. The next day fatigue hits with full force. Makes it kind of hard to plan anything! 
  • Dry, dry, dry skin
  • My digestive system still won't let me eat everything I want to eat - chicken anyone?
I spent the day today working on insurance stuff, medical insurance and travel insurance; making sure all my claims are paid, and that we get reimbursed for the tickets to Africa that we weren't able to use this summer. Fun stuff!

As I was working on these things I was thinking that so much of what we have experienced in the last two and a half months has been new for us, it's kind of like a big adventure.  Granted, not the kind of adventure that you would want to be on or choose to take, but an adventure nonetheless. 

Those thoughts brought to mind an old Steven Curtis Chapman song, "The Great Adventure". When Mark and the kids and I left to go live in Mexico City in 1994, this was our theme song! We were heading out on God's great adventure. The chorus says this:

"Saddle up your horses we've got a trail to blaze
Through the wild blue yonder of God's amazing grace
Let's follow our leader into the glorious unknown
This is a life like no other - this is The Great Adventure"


As I think about my life today I realize that I am still on the Great Adventure! How exciting is that?!! I will continue to experience God's amazing grace as I continue to follow Him into the unknown world of cancer treatment and recovery. This IS "a life like no other" and I love it!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Again...

I read a good book last week called "What Your Doctor May Not tell You About Colorectal Cancer", by Mark Bennett Pochapin, M.D. I was reminded, again, about the fact that colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women combined in the U.S. An estimated 150,000 people this year will be diagnosed with the disease, and more than 57,000 of them will die from the disease. The interesting thing is that colorectal cancer is 90% curable when caught in its early stages. Therein lies the catch - much of the time it is not caught in the early stages. Most often a person is not diagnosed with colorectal cancer until they have symptoms, and by that time the disease is advanced. A simple colonoscopy can detect early colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps. It is truly a life-saving procedure.

So, I am here again to remind you to GO GET A COLONOSCOPY! Please.

Dr. Pochapin lists The Five Deadliest Myths about colorectal cancer and I think it is important that you are aware of them. So, here is his list, with my comments.

Myth #1: Only Old People Get It, Young People Don't
While it's true that the incidence of colorectal cancer does begin to rise significantly as you get older (age 50 and up), studies now show that the incidence of colorectal cancer among young adults is rising rapidly. I have been visiting a website called "The Colon Club" (www.colonclub.com) and it is eye-opening to read about the many young adults, as young as age 22, being diagnosed with this frightening disease. So, don't think that you are too young. 

Myth #2: Colorectal Cancer is a Man's Disease
Yes, it's true that some diseases occur more frequently in men than in women, but colorectal cancer is not one of them! Ladies, please add colorectal testing to your list of regular exams such as a pap smear and mammogram. Don't wait until you have symptoms.

Myth #3: No One in My Family Ever Had Colorectal Cancer, so I'm Not at Risk
No one in my family has ever had colorectal cancer either, and I do. Almost 80% of the people diagnosed with colorectal cancer have absolutely no family history of the disease. It is true that a family history increases your risk, but don't think that you are safe if no one in your family has had the disease.

Myth #4: I Don't Need to Worry About Colorectal Cancer, I Feel Fine
Early stages of colorectal cancer produce no symptoms. Like me, you can feel fine and still have colorectal cancer. And this is the stage you want to catch it! No symptoms = increased chance of long-term survival. Don't wait until you have symptoms to get a colonoscopy, it may be too late. Get screened when you are feeling fine.

Myth #5: Colorectal Cancer Always Starts With Blood in the Stool
Bleeding is only one of several symptoms of a large, growing tumor, and many times there is no bleeding at all. Other symptoms of colorectal cancer are a change in bowel habits; new abdominal discomfort such at bloating, gas, pain, cramping, or fullness; bright red or very dark bleeding; constant fatigue; unexplained weight loss; unexplained iron deficiency; unexplained anemia. Remember early stage tumors produce no symptoms. Don't wait for symptoms.

Your best chance of preventing and detecting colorectal cancer is to have a colonoscopy. Just have one now, whatever your age. If your colon is clean, then you don't have to do it again for five years. It is worth the cost, worth the risk, worth the time, and worth the embarrassment. 

Colorectal tumors begin as polyps. They are naturally slow-growing. Then at some point, normally 5-15 years after they first appear, for some reason a switch flips and they mutate and become fast-growing cancerous tumors. If I had had a colonoscopy at age 35 or 40 I could have had my "polyp" removed preventing it from turning cancerous. I might not have had to fight this fight now.

I know not all insurance will pay for a colonoscopy, but make plans and start saving to have one done. It would make a nice Christmas gift for your spouse! If your colon is clear you'll be glad you did it. If it's not, you'll be really glad you did it. Trust me. I know.