Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Leaning

The last week has been another of those times when God keeps repeating something to me in different ways. Does that mean I'm not listening well? The key word this time has been "lean." 

  • I grew up going to a church where we sang the old hymns, and one of those hymns has been in my head all week, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms."
  • I received a sweet card in the mail with the picture of two little girls, one leaning on the back of the other's shoulder. The card said this, "If you need to lean awhile...I'm here."
  • While I was receiving my first chemo treatment last week Mark went over to the mall for a few minutes to get some lunch. When he returned he brought me a beautiful package with a big purple bow. He said, "I saw this and I had to buy it for you. It's you, leaning on the Lord." I opened the package and found a gorgeous Lladro porcelain figurine of a girl resting and leaning. 
  • Yesterday I went to my brother's Facebook page and his status said, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
Sometimes I am a little thick-headed, but I am starting to see a trend here. God wants me to understand what it means to "lean", He wants me to recognize the benefits of leaning, and He wants me to practice doing so. He also wants me to know when and where to lean and when and where to "lean not".

Just for fun I looked up the definition of the word lean and here is what the Webster's Dictionary says:

to rest against or on something for support
to press against
to incline the weight of the body
to depend or rely for assistance

If you think about the times in our lives when we lean it is when we are injured, broken, weak, sick, unable to carry our own weight; and then we lean - on crutches, on canes, on other people.

But I see God's Word here telling me to lean on Him as an ordinary practice of my day. He wants me to lean daily, constantly, continuously on Him. My human condition, whether I recognize it or not, is one of brokenness and weakness. If I'm not leaning on Him, I will never be able to live the life He has planned for me. 

So my new paraphrase of the verses from Proverbs goes like this:

"Laura, rest against the Lord daily, constantly, continuously; and do not rely for assistance on yourself; in all your ways press against Him and He will accomplish His good plans for you."

I'm going to practice leaning today. I hope you are leaning too!


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Miracles...again!

I feel like I won the lottery today! Your prayers were answered, as always, by a very gracious God! 

I saw the oncologist today to see how my first chemo treatment effected my blood cells. He was concerned that they may have dropped too low due to the previous radiation to my pelvis and possible damage to the bone marrow in my pelvic bones. I know that many of you have been praying specifically for my blood counts... and the news was good!! While the numbers did drop, they are still within the normal range which means that, for this treatment cycle at least, I do not have to add another injection to my chemo regimen (a shot that would have caused pain in my bones!)! So, I am very happy, very proud of my bone marrow, very thankful for your prayers, and very grateful for God's small mercies! 

But that's not even the best news!!  Many of you have been praying for my friend, Bruce, and his battle against metastatic colon cancer. Bruce has been receiving chemotherapy for several months now. He has been fighting hard, and has been an inspiration to me as I follow in his steps. He recently had a new CT scan and PET scan and the doctors told him this week that they found no evidence of cancer in his body!!! This is truly a miracle! Please join me and Bruce's family in praising God for this precious gift!! Thank you so much for praying for Bruce, and please continue to pray for his complete and life-long healing.

I thought you might enjoy a few pictures from last week:

Beautiful flowers from my brother and sister-in-law. Made my day!


Pre-op waiting room before surgery on Tuesday.


White board in my pre-op waiting room. 
You might notice that the handwriting 
for "Expectations" is different... 
Mark filled that in!


Me - Day 1 of chemo while I'm still able to smile!

"Then call on me when you are in trouble, 
and I will rescue you and you will give me glory."
Psalm 50:15

Lord, today we give you glory!


Monday, September 28, 2009

Lifestyle adjustment

When Mark and I first moved to Mexico City it was a major lifestyle adjustment for me. The city is huge and congested. Traffic is a nightmare. Traffic laws even more of a nightmare. The pace of living is very different from how it is in Houston. 

I live by lists. I make new lists every day and I carry them around with me. I have multiple lists in my purse at any given moment. I love to accomplish something on the list and cross it off. It gives me such a sense of accomplishment; and now, those lists actually serve as my brain! 

So, when we moved to Mexico I would make my "To Do" list for each day, and each new day would be an exercise in complete frustration. I would have ten things that I needed to accomplish that day, I would spend hours out and about in the city trying to accomplish those things, and come home totally exhausted having crossed absolutely nothing off the list! Talk about a learning experience!

God used that time in my life to teach me to relax, to learn to enjoy the beauty of each new day, the beauty of a new culture and people, and to enjoy the small moments and victories. I learned to make a "To Do" list with only one thing on the list and if I accomplished one thing each day I considered that a good day! That's a little different than life in the fast lane in Houston, isn't it?

The funny thing is that I find myself in that same place again! God is reminding me to slow down, appreciate the beauty of each new day, and quit judging my life by how many things I can cross off the list. 

So, here was my list for today:
1. Take a shower
2. Wash the dishes
3. Change the ileostomy bag

I got it done! Wow, my life has changed in the last four months! And that's a good thing!

"Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works..." Psalm 66:5

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chemo Round One - Done!!

Wow! I survived week one of IV chemotherapy! Sorry for the delay in updating my blog, but I have been adjusting to my new reality and learning what I can expect in the months ahead. 

I have such a new respect for everyone I have ever known who has had to live through this experience! You are all heroes and you deserve some sort of medal or something! 

You may recall a few months ago when I told Mark one day that "I am not a weenie sick person!" Well, I stand corrected. I most definitely AM a weenie sick person!! I am not a good patient! (Can a nurse ever really be a good patient?) I don't like being tired and I certainly don't like being sick at my stomach! The last few days have been a little rough. I am extremely fatigued, sleeping 12 hours every night plus naps during the daylight hours. I have been sick to my stomach since Tuesday afternoon. The anti-nausea meds do work, and I finally succumbed to the fact that I just have to take them whether I want to or not. Diarrhea is a new normal, which is even more fun given the fact that I have an ileostomy!  Ahhhh...the life of a weenie sick person!

All that said, today was a new day!! I woke up without nausea and have enjoyed eating today! I am one day closer to "normal"! I have 10 days to enjoy before I face round two!

I can't even express to you how much I appreciate all your encouraging messages, texts, emails, and notes! I am especially grateful to those of you who have walked this path and have passed along your advice and suggestions! I know that the effects of chemo tend to be cumulative, so I'm sure that I will have even more difficult weeks to come. I count on your prayers!

As you pray for me this week, please pray for these specific things:
1. Pray that my white blood cell count stays normal so that I can fight off infections. I will have blood work done on Tuesday to see how the chemo effected my blood counts. 
2. Pray that I will be vigilant in watching my fluid output and not become dehydrated.
3. Pray that I will have an appetite and be able to eat to maintain muscle mass. 
4. Pray that I will wait and rest and trust in God and His plan for me right now.
5. Pray that these drugs kill any and all micro-metastases in my body.

Back to the couch!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day 2

I had trouble falling asleep Wednesday night. I was very stressed. I woke up Thursday morning with my head hurting, my back aching, my port site aching, and I was nauseous. I wished I could just skip this day. I don't want to live it. Unfortunately I have to get up and go get more chemotherapy. I don't want to do this. I am totally spent physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I cried most of the day. The tears wouldn't stop. I was sick at my stomach most of the day. I have no appetite and yet I know it is important for me to eat.

We got in the car to come home from the oncologist's office and Jeremy Camp's song was on the radio:

"I will walk by faith, even when I cannot see."

That's what we're doing, walking by faith. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chemo Day 1

Everything went well today. I am tired, which I think is a combination of surgery yesterday and treatment today, and I am a little queasy. I spent 5 1/2 hours getting infusions today, I have a 48 hour infusion pump that I came home with, I will get a two hour infusion at the doctor's office Thursday, and then on Friday they will disconnect the pump and I will be done for two weeks.

We feel your prayers. Please keep it up. Please pray for no nausea, no diarrhea, no peripheral neuropathy, and emotional strength. And, of course, the destruction of any cancer cells and the protection of healthy cells. Thank you! 

I'm off to sleep! Good night!

Update

Thank you to those of you who prayed for me through the night! I slept and am feeling better this morning. Please continue to pray for strength, a calm stomach, and no dehydration.

I woke up a lot during the night (I'm sure I am nervous), but every time I awoke I had praise music playing in my head - all the songs we sang last weekend! "You Alone Can Rescue" by Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin played over and over:

"You alone can rescue, You alone can save.
You alone can lift us from the grave.
You came down to find us, led us out of death,
to You alone belongs the highest praise!
We lift up our eyes, we lift up our eyes, You're the Giver of life.
We lift up our eyes, we lift up our eyes, You're the Giver of life!"

It was a sweet night!

Word to the Wise: When celebrating the successful changing of the ileostomy bag and appliance, always remember to close the end of the bag. Otherwise you will soon have human excrement dripping on your toes and bathroom floor! Thankfully I was not on the carpet. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Surgery #2 - Success!

Hi Guys!

Thank you so much for praying for me today as I had the IV port inserted. The surgery went will. However, I have been sick to my stomach due to the anesthesia. It is 10:00 p.m. and I am still drowsy from the medication! Please pray that it clears out of my body soon. It is important that I feel good tomorrow morning as they start chemo at 9:00 a.m. I need to be able to eat a good breakfast and keep food on my stomach as they infuse the chemo drugs.

Mark and I were surrounded by God's peace today. I woke up and spent time journaling and then I pulled out "Jesus Calling" by Susan Young (one of my favorite devotional books) and this is what it said for September 22nd:

"Trust me and refuse to worry, for I am your strength and song. You are feeling wobbly this morning, looking at difficult times ahead, measuring them against your own strength. However, they are not today's tasks - or even tomorrow's. So leave them in the future and come home to the present, where you will find Me waiting for you. Since I am your strength, I can empower you to handle each task as it come. Because I am your song, I can give you joy as you work alongside Me."

Isn't the power and sovereignty of God amazing? He knew, before the foundation of the earth, that on September 22nd, 2009, I would be facing surgery and chemotherapy. And He knew that on this day I would open up the book "Jesus Calling" before I went to the hospital. So, in 2004, He had Susan Young pen these words in the book she was writing, just for me. Exactly the words I needed to read today. I am in awe of the detailed planning of my God! And I am humbled by the fact that I am on His mind all the time!

"The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt Him." Exodus 15:2

Please pray for the following:
1. No more nausea and vomiting so that I am able to eat breakfast before chemotherapy in the morning.
2. Destruction of cancer cells and protection of healthy cells.
3. That I will keep my mind "fixed" on Christ and take every thought captive to Him.
4. Protection from diarrhea and dehydration.

Thank you so much for walking through this with us!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Meet Roosevelt



I want you to meet my friend, Roosevelt. Roosevelt was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999. Through a series of miracles, he and his wife, Mary, ended up in Houston in 2004 and quickly became members of Community of Faith. Roosevelt has been living with cancer for ten years. The years have been difficult, the battle has been fierce. The doctors, medicine, and science have done all they can do for Roosevelt. He spends his days at home now, resting, praying, trusting, and loving his family.

I saw Roosevelt at COF one weekend not long after my own cancer diagnosis. I gave him a big hug and we sat down to talk for a few minutes. I told him that he was one of my heroes in the faith, and definitely my example of how to deal with cancer. For as long as I've known Roosevelt I have never once heard him complain. I have seen him on days when he was feeling good, and on days when I knew he was in pain and it was a struggle for him just to be at church. In spite of all that he has endured, I have only ever seen a smile on his face, a light in his eyes, and praise on his lips. I told him that day that I would be following in his footsteps and he said to me, "Just don't follow me out the door, little sister!"

Today I went to visit with Roosevelt and Mary, to let them know that we love them and we are praying for them, and to remind them that God is going to carry them all the way. Roosevelt was his same self: smiling, encouraging, and praising the Lord. He told me that God has been "more than good" to him. He said that he "can't shout it loud enough or say it long enough!" Roosevelt told me that he has things in order and he's ready for God to call him home; but in the meantime he will continue to sing God's praises to everyone who will listen.

What a beautiful picture of what it means to walk in faith!

As you pray for me, please also pray for Roosevelt and Mary. Pray for God's strength and perseverance for each new day, pray for supernatural peace for this family, pray for relief from pain, and for Roosevelt's appetite to increase. Pray that these days together for Roosevelt and Mary will be sweet.

Thank you, Roosevelt, for living your life in such a way that I can learn from you and follow in your footsteps. God remains faithful, He will carry you all the way. We love you!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Real...scared

I'm scared. There. I said it. I'm scared of IV chemotherapy. The idea of pumping massive amounts of chemicals into my body really freaks me out. I am one of those people who is never sick. I rarely even take a Tylenol. So knowing that on Wednesday I will have six different powerful drugs flowing into my bloodstream does not feel good to me.

I am also scared of all the unknowns... Will I experience side effects? Will I get sick? Will my liver and kidneys be able to process all these drugs? Will my blood cell production be able to keep up? Will I be really tired (I'm so tired of being tired!)? What will it feel like?

All these thoughts swirl around my head. And then I remember a Bible verse I memorized years ago.

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5

That's it! I need to take every thought captive to Christ, make every thought obedient to Christ!
Instead of just letting these thoughts swirl around my head causing anxiety, I need to grab hold of each one, look at it, and compare it to the truth of Christ. And if the thought doesn't measure up to God's truth, then I need to throw it out.

Will I experience side effects?
"In the world you will have trouble; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Will I get sick?
"I will bring health and healing..." Jeremiah 33:6

Will my liver and kidneys be able to process all those drugs?
"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." Psalm 68:19-20

Will my blood cell production be able to keep up?
"You give me a shield of victory, and your right hand sustains me..." Psalm 18:35

Will I be really tired?
"The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people." Psalm 68:35

What will it feel like?
"My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14

Please help me to continue to fix my eyes on You, Lord, and to take my every thought captive to You!





Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ostomates

In the past four months I have met many, many new people. Doctors, nurses, medical assistants, technicians, therapists, phlebotomists, insurance workers, cancer survivors, and cancer fighters. 

Another group of people I have met are Ostomates! This was a new word for me!

os·to·mate (ästə māt′)noun. a person who has had an ostomy

I am an ostomate! Who knew? These have been some of the kindest and most helpful people to me. They have encouraged me, laughed with me, given me hope and strength, and reminded me of what really matters in life. They have also shared ostomy tips with me:
  • Don't eat gas-producing foods
  • Always carry a change of clothes in the car
  • Always carry at least two clean ostomy bags with you
  • In an ostomy emergency, stop at a nursing home, they will have extra supplies
This is Clarice. Clarice is an ostomate, and she is an Enterostomal Therapist. Clarice is one of the sweetest women I know. She met with me before I had surgery to educate me about ileostomies. Since my surgery, she has walked with me through the whole process; listening to me, laughing with me, instructing me, answering my questions, and imparting courage and strength to me. She has made me smile every time I have been with her. She has also helped me to find the right ostomy products for me, making my life easier and more comfortable. I consider her to be an angel sent from Heaven just for me! Thank you, Clarice!


"And now I have everything, and more. I have all I need...
My God will use his wonderful riches in Christ Jesus 
to give you everything you need. 
Glory to our God and Father forever and ever! Amen." 
Philippians 4:18-20

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Focus

"Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way" Hebrews 12:2

In the days since being told I would need six months of IV chemotherapy I have struggled with the idea of more time spent focused on my health. I was not happy about it and I felt frustrated most of the time, causing me to spend even more time and energy focused on my health! 

And then one day God said to me, "Why are you focused on your health? I want you to focus on Me." He reminded me that whatever is going on in my life, my focus is still to be on Him. That's the only way I will be able to finish the race! Yes, I have to deal with issues related to my health, but the main focus of my life is to be Him.

Another translation of Hebrews 12:2 says "Fixing our eyes on Jesus..." When I "fix" my eyes on something, by definition that means I don't take my eyes off of that thing. No matter what else may be going on around me, my focus remains on the object where my eyes are fixed. When I am "fixed" on something I think about it constantly, I talk about it constantly, I want to be around the object of my fixation, I put everything else lower on the priority list. 

It's so easy to fix my eyes on cancer, but God wants me to move my focus and fix my eyes on Jesus. He's already won the race. I can learn from Him. He will show me the secrets to make it to the finish line. He will show me how to put up with anything along the way. 

Today I choose to keep my eyes on Jesus.

Thank you to those of you who prayed for my brother last week as he had his colonoscopy. His colon is healthy, not even a polyp!! 


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Plan

Mark and I had an appointment with the oncologist today to discuss the plan for chemotherapy. This kind of chemotherapy is called adjuvant chemotherapy. The whole purpose is to prevent recurrence and prolong my life. Next Tuesday I will have outpatient surgery to have an IV port inserted into a vein in my chest. The following day we will begin chemotherapy. 

Chemotherapy will involve three days every two weeks. Wednesday will be a 5-6 hour infusion at the oncologist's office. I will then go home with a pump infusing continuous medication over the next 48 hours. Thursday I will have a two hour infusion at the oncologist's office, and then Friday I will go in to have the pump disconnected. Needless to say, I will get to know the staff at the oncologist's office really well! 

The most common side effects of the drugs I will be taking are tingling and numbness of the hands and feet, diarrhea (the story of my life!), and hand/foot syndrome (the pain, redness, and peeling of the skin I had before). They do not expect me to lose my hair, although there is a slight chance that could happen. Having an ileostomy, diarrhea will be the most serious side effect for me. I already lose a lot of fluid each day so I will have to be careful that I don't get dehydrated. 

They will also be monitoring my blood cell counts. If I experience a drop in white blood cells then they will add another medication that will help my bone marrow produce more white blood cells. This is a possibility for me due to the fact that I had radiation. Many of the bones that normally produce blood cells may have been damaged by the radiation. The doctor does not want to give me this medication unless I need it because it can cause pain in the bones. 

So, that's the plan going forward. Here are the specific things you can pray for me as we get ready for this new chapter in my treatment:

1. Pray that these drugs do what they are designed to do - kill any remaining cancer cells, especially in my liver and/or lungs.
2. Pray that the side effects will be non-existent!
3. Pray that my bone marrow will continue to produce the white blood cells that my body needs to fight infection.
4. Pray for successful insertion of the IV port next Tuesday without complications.
5. Pray for wisdom for the doctor and nurses as they monitor my treatments and make any necessary adjustments.
6. Pray that I will not be bored out of my mind as I sit still for a 5-6 hour IV infusion every other week!! LOL!

My words could never express to you how grateful I am for your continued prayers and support during the past 4 months. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to have so many friends who love me and pray for me; and so many others I've never even met who have joined me in this battle. Thank you for caring enough to pray.

"The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

Monday, September 14, 2009

Family Legacy

My Grandmother was the original scrap-booker! She saved everything! One of the things that my dad sent to me after Grandma's funeral was some of her scrapbooks. It was really fun to look through the books and remember fun times we had together. Her scrapbooks include the usual things such as pictures, newspaper clippings, plane tickets, theater programs, and personal letters. But they also include carefully placed birthday candles, leaves, dried flowers, small rocks, and even a nail found in Colorado! 

Flipping through one of the books I came to pictures and newspapers clippings from Mexico and my eyes filled with tears. My grandmother was instrumental in forming a Medical Mission Team in her church. She was a retired nurse and she recruited doctors and dentists to be a part of the team. Over several years they took trips to south Texas, crossing the border during the day, to administer health care, dental care, eye care, and hair care to the people of the small border towns of Mexico. I knew she had done this because I had heard her stories over the years; but I had never actually seen the pictures. Seeing them this day it occurred to me the power we have as parents and grandparents to leave a legacy for our children, grandchildren, and beyond. 

My grandmother always prayed that one of her grandchildren would be a Pastor or a Missionary. She told this to me one day when I was about four years old and my immediate response was "Not me!" Prayer is powerful, and God honored her request. Several of her grandchildren and great grandchildren are involved in full-time ministry today. All of them are active in their churches using their gifts for God's glory.

The reason I loved the pictures from Mexico is because it was proof of the legacy she started and passed on to her family; physical evidence of her love of God, her love of other people, and her heart to serve. She led the way and now we continue where she left off. 

Here are a few pictures of what she started...

Grandma in Acuna, Mexico


Laura and Mark in Managua, Nicaragua


David in Haiti

Sydneyann in Burundi, Africa

Sarah in La Carpio, Costa Rica

Ashley in La Carpio, Costa Rica

"I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother... and your mother... And I know that same faith continues strong in you." 2 Timothy 1:5

God wants us to leave a legacy. What will your's be?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Weekend

We had a nice weekend! In the midst of everything else swirling around us, I am actually recovering well from surgery. I am getting stronger each day. I did five minutes on the elliptical machine the other day (it felt like five miles!) and today I actually walked all the way around the lake (1.3 miles)! 

I also went to church this weekend! It was so nice to be around all my COF family, to see your smiles and get your hugs! That is always an encouragement to me! I can tell my stomach muscles are healing because I could actually sing all the songs without losing my breath! Of course I came home and took a two hour nap afterward, but that is pretty normal for a Sunday! 

One of the things that Lance mentioned in his message this weekend, and something that we talk about all the time at COF is the idea of making God the "boss of your life." I started thinking about that today in relation to my life right now...

What does it mean for someone to be the "boss"?  
  • The boss sets the values of the company
  • The boss sets the goals of the company
  • The boss sets the time tables for the company
  • The boss decides what will be produced by the company
  • The boss manages, educates, encourages, and evaluates
  • The boss leads
  • The boss is ultimately responsible for the outcome
And if I'm not the boss, what do I do?
  • I make those values my values
  • I strive to meet the goals 
  • I follow the boss's time schedule
  • I learn, I grow, I listen, I change
  • I follow
  • I rest in the fact that I am not the boss
And I think that's what God wants me to remember right now. He IS the boss. He is ultimately responsible for the outcome. All I have to do is learn, grow, listen, change, follow, and REST. He doesn't need me to be in control. I can rest in the fact that He is the boss; and in so doing, I am free to enjoy the beauty of each day, the beauty of each moment. Like five moments on the elliptical machine, the ducks in the lake, the beautiful sunset, and walking hand in hand with my sweet husband!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Peace in the Storm

I woke up today hoping that maybe yesterday had all been a bad dream. But it wasn't. I'm still here and I still have to have six months of IV chemotherapy. I do feel much better today, more settled with what's coming up. 

I called my friend, Debbie, yesterday. Debbie and I went to high school together. She recently fought breast cancer and won. I just needed to hear her tell me that I could do this. She was such an encouragement to me, reminding me that I won't be alone, God will carry me through. Thank you, Debbie! I love you!

I think the hardest thing for me this week was coming face-to-face again with the fact that I am fighting advanced rectal cancer. Everything has been going so well, test results have been great, the response to treatment has been the best it could be.  All of those things lulled me into thinking that this was easy somehow. The news this week was a stark reminder of the true nature of cancer. 

I read a quote from a doctor to a patient this week about that very subject. He said this, "This is not a game. We are dealing with a potentially very deadly disease!" 

But in the midst of all the grim reminders, I also saw flashes of hope. 

When leaving the oncologist's office the other day we rode down in the elevator with an older gentleman. He asked how we were doing, we said we were OK, and then asked how he was doing. He responded, "Just another day in paradise!" He was happy to be alive. He told me that he had been diagnosed with cancer five times. They had initially given him less than 18 months to live and that was 10 years ago. He was going strong and obviously grateful for each new day. I knew that he had seen me in the oncologist's office and he was trying to encourage me. What a sweet man and what a testimony of hope!

I also read the following quote this week. It was not the first time I'd read it, but it was a very timely reminder for me: "Stage 3 rectal cancer is a curable disease." I'm holding on to that!

"With God we will gain the victory." Psalm 108:13


Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Twilight Zone

Thursday, 10:45 a.m., the phone rings. Caller ID says, "Private number". I have learned in the last three months that that means a doctor is calling me. The only doctor I am expecting is my oncologist. This is the call I've been waiting for, the call that will determine my life for the next several months. I pick up the phone:

"Hello."
"Dr. Campos here."
"Hi Dr. Campos, how are you?"
"Dr. Allegra says you  need six months of IV chemotherapy."
(the world stops spinning)
"I will email you his letter. Come see me next Tuesday and we'll discuss everything."

And my fate is sealed. Six months of IV treatments. Six more months of focusing on cancer. Six more months of focusing on my physical body. Six more months of fighting fatigue, fighting for "normal", fighting for life.

I hang up the phone and think this is the worse day of my life. OK, maybe that is a little bit of an exaggeration, but it sure feels like it today. I feel a huge weight on my shoulders and I struggle to let it go, struggle to remember the lesson I've learned about not carrying burdens that aren't mine to carry. 

I look back at my journal entries for the past several days, this is what they say:

"Thank you that Dr. Campos is getting a second opinion as far as more chemo goes. Please give these two doctors your divine wisdom about what I'm to do. You're the only one who knows if I need it, if this will recur, and if there are still cancer cells in my body. So please guide their thoughts, show them everything they need to see, and speak through them to me." 

And I let the burden go. God is in control. I choose to trust Him today.

The purpose of further chemotherapy is to kill off any micro-metastases that may have already found their way to my liver or lungs. These cancer cells are so small at this point that they are not visible with any screening method now available, so there is no way to know of their presence. Since my cancer was extremely responsive to the initial treatment, I have a really good chance of knocking out any lingering cancer cells that are looking for a place to call home. Simply put, these six months are to "kick it to the curb"!

So that is the plan going forward. As I process this new information today, Chris & Conrad's song, "Lead Me To The Cross" comes on the radio, and I feel Him here with me.

"Lead me to the cross where Your love poured out.
Bring me to my knees, Lord I lay me down.
Rid me of myself, I belong to You.
Lead me, lead me to Your heart."

I am Yours, Lord, body and soul.