Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One more reminder

It's the end of March, the last day of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. One of the instructions from my Oncologist last week was to go see my gynecologist and to go get a mammogram and a bone density test before I see him again in June.  So, today I had an appointment with the gynecologist. This has never been one of my favorite days of the year, but I can say with utmost certainty that it does not seem nearly so bad now after all my appointments with the colorectal surgeon! 

The interesting thing today was the shock on the faces of the nurse and the doctor as we discussed the last ten months of my life. They were both surprised that I have no family history of colorectal cancer, surprised that it was found, and surprised that I am so young. Of course I gave them the same advice that I have been giving to all of you: Go get screened. Don't assume everything is fine. Don't wait until you have symptoms. Cancer is not just a disease of "old" people. 

I have been amazed at how many people who actually have a family history of colorectal cancer, or other forms of cancer, who haven't been screened for cancer due to fear - afraid to find out if they have it too. It is so important to catch cancer early so that you have the very best chance to beat the disease. Please don't let fear stop you from getting screened. It could save your life! Call your doctor today!

One last video in honor of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, hope you enjoy it! 

Lou Rawls Colonoscopy Exam

Congressional Butt-In Day!

Today is "Congressional butt-in" day. Please call your congressmen and urge them to support the Colorectal Cancer Prevention, Early Detection and Treatment Act today. Call 1-866-615-3375 to get connected to Congress or log on to www.CoverYourButt.org. Thanks!

Join C3: Colorectal Cancer Coalition and the Prevent Cancer Foundation for the Congressional Butt-in on Tuesday, March 30.

Monday, March 29, 2010

God's perfect timing... again!

Last fall I was unable to attend Parent's Weekend at OU due to my chemotherapy schedule.  Neither Ashley or Sarah mentioned it because they knew it wasn't possible, but I know it would have been an encouragement to them had we been able to attend. So, when I heard that Mom's Weekend at OU was in March I was determined to go! 

I flew up to Oklahoma City on Thursday afternoon and spent the whole weekend with my girls - talking, laughing, shopping, watching movies, hanging out with friends, and eating! It was so nice to actually be able to get away and to sleep in every morning! We enjoyed the Medieval Fair, worshipped together at Ashley's new church, and laughed hysterically over shared memories of the girls growing up! We also had a wonderful time eating frozen yogurt at PassionBerry. Yes, I said "frozen"! 

Friday night we had dinner with some good friends who happen to be in Oklahoma now. Rod and Kellie, and their sons, Nate and Daniel, attended language school with us in Costa Rica when we were new missionaries. Kellie prayed me through language school all those years ago, and she has been praying me through cancer now. They have lived and worked in Santiago, Chile, and Nairobi, Kenya. What a special treat to spend time with them in person after so many years!

As I was flying home yesterday it occurred to me, again, how perfectly God had planned everything out. He has known my schedule all along. I feel like he set the dates for OU Mom's Weekend just for me, right in between my chemo and tests and surgery, so that I would be able to attend. He's good like that.

Dinner at Ted's

Sarah, Ashley, and Katherine at the Medieval Fair

The girls, ax-throwing. Beware.

A new friend

My sweet friend, Kellie, and me. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I had an appointment with the oncologist on Monday. He affirmed that my PET scan looked great! The whole office staff was so happy for me; smiling, hugging me, and congratulating me. He told me that I don't have to come see him again for three months! Wow! That feels really weird after making weekly (sometimes 3 times a week!) visits to his office since June! What will I do with all my free time?

My blood levels were all nearly at normal levels. He told me that I can go forward with surgery on April 6th to remove my port and close the ileostomy. He also told me that I can be in the sun now! Just in time for summer! Can it really be true? Can I be getting my life back?

I also saw the surgeon on Monday and he agreed that my PET scan looked really good. We discussed the surgery and what to expect as I recover. He said he would see me in a couple of weeks at the hospital.

Things I can do now:
1. Walk upstairs without getting tired
2. Drink cold water
3. Carry my purse
4. Clean the kitchen without getting tired
5. Eat ice cream!

My energy is coming back and my taste buds are starting to come back. I still have some issues with the nerves in my fingertips and my feet, but that may take months to resolve. 

Little by little, life goes on.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Joy in Your presence..."

Many thanks to all of you who have been praying for John and his family the past few months. About 11:00 this morning John went home to be with Jesus. He fought a long hard battle. He never gave up. And He never wavered in His faith. He was a constant encouragement to me as I have followed in his footsteps down the cancer journey. I am so thankful he has entered into the "joy of His Master"!

John's wife, Donette, has been the most amazing caregiver all these months. She has been John's strong advocate as they navigated the medical system. She never left his side, and she walked with him all the way. 

Donette sent me the following message today: 
"John has made his way home! He is with our Heavenly Father and is preparing for all of us!"

Please pray now for Donette, their daughters, Kailey and Jordan, for John's parents and for their extended family as they grieve their loss. Pray for God's comfort, peace, and strength to be very real to them during this time.



"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


It is day 23 of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Early detection and removal of colorectal polyps prevents colorectal cancer. It's that easy. This disease is preventable! Talk to your doctor about screening.

I am so proud of my husband, Mark, and my dad who both had colonoscopies done today. Thankfully, their colons are healthy!

Colorectal cancer normally does not produce symptoms until the advanced stages. You can't know your colon is healthy without being screened. It is far better to be a little embarrassed than to die of colorectal cancer. Don't delay! Get screened!

Dad, post-colonoscopy, he survived!

Mark, pre-colonoscopy, wondering if he will survive!

In honor of Mark's healthy colon, I am posting a link to this video. Check it out!

The Colonoscopy Song

Monday, March 22, 2010

Join me in Praying...

Many of you have been praying for my friends John and Donette. John was unable to begin his new treatment last week because medically, his body was not well enough to begin. Over the weekend, John was admitted to the ICU at MD Anderson Hospital. He is sedated and resting comfortably. His blood pressure is low, all of his organs are beginning to shut down. Donette met with the medical team today to discuss the extent of life-saving measures to be taken or not taken when the time comes. Donette asks that you "please pray for strength and peace for the family and joy for John." What a sweet request: "joy for John." Please join me in praying for this family.

Lord, please make your presence very real to Donette and John through the watches of the night tonight. Please wrap them up in Your arms. Give Donette your wisdom, strength, endurance, and hope; and please grant her one request: joy for John. Thank you.

"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning." Psalm 30:5

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Everything is Yours

I have always loved music, especially music that expresses what is in my heart. I'm sure you have noticed the power of music in my life as you read this blog. For some reason, music touches my soul, it produces a strong connection between me and God. He often uses music to calm me, to teach me, to remind me, and to encourage me. And in some feeble way, I hope that my singing praise to Him let's Him know how much I love Him.

All through the months, there have been lyrics and music that have carried me through. Often they have produced tears, at times I have been so overwhelmed with God's goodness that I couldn't even sing. There have been times when I've felt that my chest would explode with the joy I have felt through the awareness of God with me and His peace and power in my life. 

I'll never understand the enormity of God's love for me, or even why He would choose to love me; but He has given me tiny glimpses of that love through this journey. There are no words to tell Him how much I love Him and how grateful I am. 

This weekend we sang a new song at Community of Faith. It was written by Donald Butler and Amos Rivera, two of our worship leaders, and it is based on a prayer of King David found in 2 Chronicles. How cool to know that I am singing words that Kind David penned so many years ago! Maybe one day we'll all sit down and sing it together with him at the feet of Jesus! 

Everything is Yours  
by Donald Butler and Amos Rivera

We who are thirsty, we who are poor cry out to You
You have redeemed us by your mercy

We who are ransomed, we who are healed give honor to You
You have restored us with your blessing

We give thanks and praise to your glorious name
We give thanks and praise

Yours O Lord is the greatness and glory
Yours my God is the power and victory

Everything in heaven and earth is yours
Everything in heaven and earth is yours

We who are strengthened know that our power comes from your hand
We bow down to say you're worthy

Keep our hearts loyal when we are tempted help us to stand
Building your Kingdom for your glory

We give thanks and praise to your glorious name
We give thanks and praise

Yours O Lord is the greatness and glory
Yours my God is the power and victory

Everything in heaven and earth is yours
Everything in heaven and earth is yours
It's all yours

My daughter, Sarah, was home this weekend and as we began to sing the lyrics, "We who are healed..." she leaned over and said, "That's you mom." And my heart almost burst. That IS me. I am healed. God, I do give honor to you. You have restored me with your blessing. I have no words to thank you enough. Everything in heaven and earth is yours. I am yours. Thank you.

I'll post a link to the song as soon as I have it! 

Friday, March 19, 2010


"No tumors were found. Your PET scan was normal."

Two simple sentences, and yet they left me speechless. I hoped it was true, I believed it was true, but to hear the actual words blew my mind! I felt as if my heart actually stopped for a split second. As surreal as it was to hear the words, "You have cancer," last May, it was just as mind boggling today to hear that there is no sign of the disease in my body. I feel like I am in shock again. I lay on the floor and breathe deep. I am alive. I am still alive! I get to go on living! 

Thank you Jesus, for hearing my prayers, and the prayers of so many others. Thank you that you are good, and you would have still been good even if the results had been different. I love you!

Then I call Mark, and my parents, and frantically send text messages to everyone who was waiting with me... what an amazing group of family and friends! God has surrounded me with so much love and support!

My brother, Cary,  responds to the text message with these words, "The PET scan may be normal, but that doesn't mean YOU are normal!" I love that he always makes me laugh!

My friend, Debbie, calls from California, laughing, crying, dancing... and then she says to me, "Welcome to the CANCER-FREE club!" 

I am cancer-free!! I survived!! Thank you Jesus!

"I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!" Isaiah 65:24

Thursday, March 18, 2010

While I'm Waiting...

No news today... still waiting....

I did get a lot of phone calls today, but they weren't from the doctor. They were from Mark and my dad who are anxiously awaiting good news from the PET scan. 

I am hoping that the doctor will call me with the results some time Friday.

John Waller's song, "While I'm Waiting," has played in my head all day:

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

PET scan

Today I had my first post-treatment PET/CT scan. The PET/CT scan is more accurate than a PET scan or CT scan alone. The two scans are put together to form a more complete picture of what is going on inside of the body. I am thankful that this is the scan my oncologist chose to have done.

I woke up this morning with praise music playing in my heart and in my head. It was there every time I woke up during the night last night. I did not feel nervous or worried at all. Mark and I actually made it to the appointment on time which is very unusual for us! 

The same man who performed my original PET scan last summer was there to greet me today. He let me take pictures of the lead lined equipment. They tested my blood glucose level (it was normal) and then injected me with a radioactive glucose solution. I spent the next hour in a small dark room resting and giving my body time to absorb the radioactive solution. I was then led into the room with the scanning equipment. I was positioned and strapped onto a narrow table with my hands over my head. The technician left me alone in the room. 

For thirty minutes I was moved in and out of the scanning machine. I was very careful to be still, but after several minutes in a cold room, even with a warm blanket, my muscles start to twitch, my mind starts to inch toward worry. I recognize the drift and begin to repeat Scripture and sing praise songs in my mind. I pray repeatedly that the scan will show that God has healed me, but I also pray that if there is anything the doctors need to see that this scan will show it to us. 

When I am finished they give me a little gift bag including snacks. I am starved and dive in. They tell us that the radiologist will read the scan this afternoon and that my oncologist should have the results sometime Thursday or early Friday. I make a mental note of when to start calling the oncologist if they haven't called me first. 

Mark and I drive home where I fall asleep on the couch for two hours. I guess I was more stressed than I thought I was. I kind of want to just sleep until I get the results. Tears come. I am ready to know if I can go on living, or if I will have to continue fighting this disease. 

Comforting sign on the door where I spend my morning.

Comforting lead-lined box where they mix the chemicals to be injected into my body. Please note the small lead tubes to the left of the box. These are the tubes that will hold the syringe that will be injected into my vein.

Comforting tray of supplies used to make me radioactive!

Comforting chair where I spend an hour resting.

Me, making a statement by wearing my "I beat cancer" socks today.
God, please let it be true!

Thank you to all of you who were praying for me today! Your encouragement means more to me than you'll ever know! I'll let you know the results as soon as I know.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Get Screened!

If you are 50 or older please go get screened.

If you are under 50 but experiencing any of the following symptoms, go get screened:

  • a change in bowel habits
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • alternating constipation and diarrhea
  • bright red or dark red blood in the stool
  • stools that are thinner than normal
  • excessive gas
  • unintentional weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • unexplained fatigue
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • anemia
  • jaundice
A colonoscopy could save your life!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Morning

It's Monday morning, and for the first time in many months I do not have a doctor's appointment on Monday morning. It feels really strange! What do I do? I feel like God has given me back a tiny piece of my calendar! 

Then I remember Mark's sermon yesterday about practicing the "presence of Christ" in our lives. I decide that if God is going to trust me with a tiny piece of the calendar, then I sure better include Him in my plans!  I spend time with Him, praying, reading His Word, meditating, asking Him to help me be aware of His presence today. 

He speaks His words to me in Zephaniah 3:17:

“The LORD your God wins victory after victory and is always with you. He celebrates and sings because of you, and He will refresh your life with His love."  

What an amazing picture: God celebrates and sings because of me! And because of you! WOW! How can that be? The perfect picture of a love relationship - each one celebrating and singing because of the other!

His praise plays in my heart and head the rest of the day. 

Praise belongs to You 
Let every kingdom bow 
Let every ocean roar 
Let every heart adore You now 

Praise belongs to You 
What can I do but sing 
The greatest joy I've found 
Is to lay a crown before my King 
Before my King 

(Jared Anderson, Glorified)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

The following article was copied from the Sierra Sun of the Tahoe Forest Health System:

"March was designated National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month 10 years ago. Since then, public awareness of screening for colorectal cancer has grown and mortality has decreased. Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum and is equally common in men and women. It is one of the few cancers we can prevent successfully with colonoscopy screenings, by removing polyps before they become cancerous or by detecting the cancer early when it can be more easily and successfully treated. Colorectal Cancer usually takes about 5-10 years to develop.

Early stages of colorectal cancer do not usually have symptoms , which is why screening is so important. Advanced disease may cause: Rectal bleeding or bloody stool, change in bowel habits or stools, stomach discomfort (bloating, fullness or cramps), diarrhea, constipation or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely, unexplained weight loss, constant fatigue, and/or vomiting. The American Cancer Society indicates that colorectal cancer may be treated with chemotherapy, monoclonal antibodies, radiation therapy, surgery or a variety of combinations of these treatments.

Persons considered at risk

• Men and women age 50 and older

• People who use tobacco, are obese or are sedentary

• People with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or benign (not cancerous) colorectal polyps, personal or family history of inflammatory bowel disease (such as longstanding ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease), a family history of inherited colorectal cancer

• People with genetic predisposition- HNPCC, hereditary non- polyposis colon cancer

Reduce your risks

• Be physically active and exercise regularly

• Maintain a healthy weight

• Eat a high-fiber diet (rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains), consume calcium-rich foods like low-fat or skim milk and limit red meat consumption and avoid processed meats.

• Don't smoke

• Don't drink alcohol excessively


• Have a baseline colonoscopy at age 50 and then every 5-10 years, unless polyps are present then repeat colonoscopy in a year except if the polyps are hyperplastic

• The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for colorectal cancer for all people until age 75 and some people older than 75. Ask your doctor if you should be screened

There are still many cases in younger patients who experience ongoing abdominal discomfort, this symptom should not be ignored and a colonoscopy as a diagnostic tool can still be used to rule out polyps and colorectal cancer.

• Several tests are available to screen for colorectal cancer. Talk with your doctor about which test or tests are best for you.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Colorectal cancer screening saves lives. If everyone aged 50 years old or older were screened regularly, as many as 60 percent of deaths from this cancer could be avoided. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Colorectal cancer also is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States. The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases with advancing age. More than 90 percent of cases occur in people aged 50 or older."

I encourage you to talk to your doctor about colonoscopy screenings. 

For more information:

American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org

American College of Gastroenterology, www.acg.gi.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov

C3: Colorectal Cancer Coalition, (877) 427-2111, www.fightcolorectalcancer.org

Colon Cancer Alliance, (877) 422-2030, www.ccalliance.org

National Cancer Institute, (800) 422-6237, www.cancer.gov

Prevent Cancer Foundation, www.preventcancer.org