Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Twisted Thoughts

Overcoming a life-threatening illness that has the potential to return, kind of twists your thinking... at least it has mine. Here is how some of my thoughts go:

"This cancer has the potential to return.
If it returns it will be in my liver or my lungs.
If it returns it will be worse.
I will be more sick.
I will lose more weight.
I better hang onto the weight I have.
Maybe I should gain a little extra.
Just in case..."

Then one day I wake up and none of my clothes fit. They are too tight. I have gained back all the weight I lost during treatment, plus some. I share this with Mark, who says to me, "It might be time to quit the 'support package.'"  

I laugh so hard at his comment, and I laugh at myself, at my silly thoughts. I guess it IS time to do away with the "support package" and get back on the treadmill!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Butterfly

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over...
                                         ...it became a butterfly."     

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Another Mighty Warrior

Another mighty warrior finishes well...

Brandon was 24 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. When I first met him, he was a tall, strong, strapping young man. In spite of his imposing form, he had a kindness to his eyes that opened the door to his heart. He played basketball for his university. He came into Mark's office with courage and confidence, asking us to join him in praying for God's healing. 

Brandon was 24 when he took his last breath. The battle was short and intense. He proved himself to be one of God's elite warriors. His faith never wavered. A few days before he died, he called for Mark and me to come to his bedside. He was in constant pain due to the damage to his nerves. We weren't able to hold his hands or hug him because it hurt him. He could barely hear because his auditory nerve was damaged by the cancer. As he lay bravely in that bed, he said to Mark, "Tell me more about ruling and reigning with Christ. I've been thinking about that a lot."  Fighting tears, Mark told him, again, how God was preparing him for eternity. Brandon said he was ready. 

Please pray for Brandon's  parents, Sherri and Fred, and for his family and friends as they grieve his loss. Please pray for Mark as he performs the funeral on Tuesday. Pray that the words he says will bring honor to Brandon and his family, and glory to God, who carried Brandon every step of the way. 

"You did well. You are a good and loyal servant. Because you were loyal with small things, I will let you care for much greater things. Come and share my joy with me."  Matthew 25:21

"It's been an honor to fight beside so noble a warrior and a great friend." 
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
 by C.S. Lewis

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Miracles, Gratitude, and Love

I was reminded yesterday of what God has done for me over the past year and a half....

I had an appointment with my endocrinologist yesterday afternoon. This appointment was not in any way related to my cancer follow-up, just a regular exam to check the status of my poor functioning thyroid gland. My endocrinologist is an amazing lady and a sweet friend. She was asking me questions about my health now, post cancer treatment. I answered each question, telling of my clear PET scans, and how well I am feeling. 

Suddenly, she stopped typing on her computer, looked up at my face with a look of joy, and said, "You DO recognize what a miracle this is? From where you were to where you are now? You know, right?" 

I was a little surprised to hear her say it. Most doctors don't want to admit to you how serious your cancer diagnosis is. They want you to maintain a sense of hope and a fighting spirit in the face of difficult odds. She confirmed what I'd known all along: my life hung in the balance, in a scary place; and God performed a miracle for me! My heart was flooded with a renewed sense of gratitude. God has been good to me! I felt like I was walking on clouds the rest of the day!

Through the last few days, as we have been encouraging my mother-in-law in her recovery from a stroke, God has reminded me of a few of the things he taught me during my battle with cancer:
  • Every day is a gift, live it fully!
  • Every moment is an opportunity to cling tightly to Him.
  • Don't pass up a chance to tell those you love how special they are to you.
  • Be ready. You never know what the future holds. 
Life is unpredictable. Pain is inevitable. But even in the midst of difficult days, God's love and faithfulness shine brightly! Don't miss Him this Christmas!

Update on Jackie: 
Mark, the kids and I spent the evening with Jackie yesterday. I was surprised at the progress she has made even in just a few days. She is participating in about three hours of rehabilitation activities each day. She gets dressed each day. She has been walking in the hallways with a walker. She is getting in and out of bed and chairs with help. We enjoyed singing Christmas carols with her last night! Yesterday was Damon and Jackie's 53rd anniversary! Damon brought Jackie a lemon pie (her favorite!) from R.J. Goodies. What an incredible example of love and faithfulness they are to all of their kids, grandkids, and everyone who has had the honor to know them. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solitary Road

Sunday, December 12th, I am walking down the hospital corridor and I have to laugh... after all my hospital and doctor visits,  then Mark's mother's surgery, then two weeks with her in ICU, then my father-in-law spent 24 hours in the hospital, and now - here I am again! I just checked Mark into the hospital through the emergency room.  What else could possibly happen?! Everyone here at least knows our faces if not our names. I am thinking we should just keep a room on hold for the next time we need it!

Thankfully, this turns out to be just another 24 hours at the hospital. Mark's heart checks out fine. I'm pretty sure it's stress. We make it home on Monday afternoon and I collapse on the bed, exhausted. I didn't realize how worried I had really been. 

At this point I begin to question, "God, are you sure you know what you're doing? I know you said you wouldn't give me more than I can handle, but I sure feel like I am at the limit." 

There are days when I find myself still struggling. And then I find myself angry that I am still struggling. It seems like I should be able to pick up where I left off and go on with my life. But somehow things are different now. The path is unfamiliar and my steps are tentative.

I read the following quote from Elizabeth Edwards this week:  "The act of looking forward after a setback is a solitary act...It is a gift, but also a learned skill..."

It describes perfectly how I feel - on a solitary road, learning a new skill, trying to recognize this as a gift from a God who knows perfectly what I need. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"I love you too"

I bent over and kissed Jackie on the cheek. It was as soft as always. I whispered to her, "I love you. I'll see you tomorrow." And she said back to me, "I love you too."

I drove home from the hospital, after a long weekend, with happiness in my heart. Happy that Jackie continues to improve a little each day. Happy that she is engaging in conversations, happy that she still has her sense of humor. Happy that she is opening her eyes more, happy that she is eating. Happy that I still have more time with my sweet mother-in-law.

If all goes according to plan, Jackie will be moved to a rehab facility sometime this week where she will receive intense physical and occupational rehabilitation. She will spend about three weeks there, and then she will be re-evaluated to see  what her needs are at that point.

Damon is doing well. He is adjusting to the idea that recovery will be a long process. All of us are encouraged and hopeful that Jackie is going to do great as she works hard to get well.

Thank you for all your prayers on our behalf. "I love you too!"

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Jackie had another good day. When I got to the hospital today she was already up and sitting in a chair. She was talking a lot and laughing. She even told us that she was hungry and that a steak and baked potato sounded good!  They have removed the pressure monitor from her brain. Her vital signs are all normal.

The neurologist came by while we were there. She said that Jackie is doing well. She told us that it is still important for her to rest and not to be overstimulated. Her brain needs quiet so that it can heal. She said that Jackie's body will naturally try to "cocoon" and keep from being overstimulated; explaining why she maintains her eyes closed. Although we all try to keep her still and quiet, no one seems to be able to keep her from talking! 

Mentally, she is very coherent. Physically, she is tired and struggles with balance, but has strength in her arms and legs. Emotionally, she is calm. She recognizes that she had a stroke and can even remember what happened that night. She told Mark that she is not afraid. Spiritually, she is at rest, trusting that God is taking care of her. She is grateful for so many who are praying for her. 

We know healing will be a long, slow process, but we are encouraged by her progress. She is surprising all her doctors with how quickly she is improving.

Hopefully, she will be able to move out of the intensive care unit into a regular room within the next couple of days.

Thank you, again, for all your calls, emails, texts, thoughts and prayers! We are surrounded by the best family and friends ever!