Archive for February, 2012

Quick Update re: Shots

I don’t have much time to post, but I wanted to give everyone a quick update about shot #3 of the new meds. I think my body is slowly starting to adapt. I did get sick, but only once. I was able to go right back to bed and get some coveted sleep.

I’m still feeling nauseous, but the intensity is much less. If Sunday was a 13, today is probably a 7. As each day passes, I am prayerful that the symptoms will continue to lessen.

God is so good. And He loves each and every one of us. He demonstrates it in my life every single day.

Keep your eyes on Him. Remember Immanuel, God with us. There is nothing that can separate us from His love.

Wondering Why

Today my heart is so heavy. Fortunately for me, writing helps lift some of the burdens. Thank you for reading my blog and sharing my journey with me.

Do you ever wonder “why?” Why some things happen to some people and not to others? I usually don’t. God has blessed me with childlike faith. He promised he would provide and that he would always be here with me. He has proven himself over and over and over again. So, when something comes up, I take God at his word. God gently reminds me that it’s all part of His plan. He helps redirect my focus so I can continue on, in peace.

But yesterday, I started pondering “why”.

I learned that a precious friend was being sent home from the hospital with hospice. Pastor Bruce Campbell (New Hope Baptist, Sedalia, MO) learned that after quite a battle with cancer, his liver is failing. They have stopped the chemo and will be sending him home. And soon, Jesus will call him HOME.

Knowing Bruce, he’s probably comforting everyone around him, sharing the gospel with every ounce of energy he has.  My heart hurts so much for the people who will be left behind, but what great comfort it must be to know (beyond any doubt) that you’re soon going to be with Jesus. But why has Bruce had to endure such a difficult journey – one where treatment didn’t seem to have much impact?

I think of beautiful Denise. She has battled cancer for over ten years. She found out she had breast cancer when her precious baby boy was one day old. She won over that; then cancer attacked again – in a different part of her body. It just doesn’t seem to let up. I cannot even begin to imagine the burdens she has carried – emotionally and physically. But through it all, she continues to give glory to God.

Then there’s me. I found a tumor. Got it removed. The doctor talks of my being cured. Cancer doctors rarely (if ever) use the word “cure”. Sure, the treatment is rough sometimes, but I wonder why I’ve had it so easy (relatively speaking) when others are fighting the battle of their lives. For me, it’s been one surgery, one year of treatment. Then it’s expected to be gone.

Why was I the one chosen to go down this road and not one more difficult.   Today, I’ve even felt a little guilty that my cancer hasn’t been as bad as so many others.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to take on anyone’s illness. But when I think of Bruce and Denise, I feel like I’ve been down Easy Street.

I know this world is not our home, and we won’t understand until we get to see Jesus. Then, however, the troubles of this life will have faded, and the reasons won’t matter. We will be with God.

I heard a song on the radio this afternoon that gave me some peace, and longing. May it fill you with peace as well. Phillips Craig & Dean, “When the Stars Burn Down”:

When the stars burn down and the earth wears out, And we stand before the throne With the witnesses who have gone before, We will rise and all applaud – Singing blessing and honor, glory and power Forever to our God.

When the hands of time wind fully down, And the earth is rolled up like a scroll; The trumpets will call and the world will fall to its knees as we all go home.

Star of the morning, Light of Salvation, Majesty;  God of all mysteries, Lord of the universe, Righteous King.

There will come a day standing face to face, In a moment, we will be like Him. He will wipe our eyes dry, take us up to His side, and forever we will be His.

Could I ask you to remember the family and friends of Bruce Campbell.  Ask God to hold them close and fill them with comfort that only He can provide.

May God fill you with His peace tonight and always.

Sinking to a New Low

I don’t think that how I am feeling (physically) has anything to do with my being prideful; but last night, rereading my post, I was a little ashamed at myself. I’M going to make it. I’M not quitting. I’M not taking a break. I’M pushing through. Well, just when I started feeling a little confident, I was reminded how little control I have in this situation.

Thursday, I started a new round of medicine. Because the standard medicine was on backorder, the pharmacy sent me the medicine in powder form. I’m so goofy; I asked the pharmacist if I was supposed to snort the power. Of course not. They send me a vial of powered medicine and a vile of diluting liquid.

And as has occurred with any change in my treatment (no matter how big or small), my body reacted poorly. I had shots on Thursday and Saturday. Both nights I woke up around 2am – sick as a dog. Here it is Monday, and I’m still feeling bad.  Friday, I was honestly just hoping that I had a stomach bug; but nope. Having a repeat reaction on Saturday night was a pretty good indicator that this was the medicine and not a bug.

I have been sick in every way imaginable – ways not fit for publication.  Sunday, if I had to rate my sickness on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, I would have given it a 13. If I had to face this much nausea for the entire process, combined with the depression brought about because of the medicine, I could see how someone might consider suicide. Again, I am NOT in that place mentally. I’m just saying that I’ve been in a pretty ugly place since Thursday night, and am incredibly grateful that it hasn’t been this bad the entire time.

Tonight means another round of shots. I am fearful of the ever-continuing bout with nausea. I will pray, and I will be grateful that it hasn’t been any worse than it has been. And, just so you know, if I do have a repeat of the last two treatments, I’m going to the doctor to make sure that I am administering the new meds correctly. Hopefully, this won’t go on the entire month.

Let us remember that, no matter how bad it is, it’s only temporary. When this is all over, I will be cured of cancer; and God will have given me a wonderful story to share – a story of His faithfulness, His provisions, and His love.

Thank you, my beloved friends, for your faithful prayers and encouragement.

February’s Check-up

Two weeks ago, it was time for my monthly oncologist appointment. The messages were mixed; but nothing too extreme. Before I visited with the doctor, I had to have my blood drawn. They check all kinds of things, but they are mostly concerned with my liver enzymes. I am thankful to say that most of the numbers were good. The white blood count was down a bit, but not enough to cause any real concern.

Drawing the blood was frustrating. I came very close to getting angry with the lab tech. It took them four tries to finally get enough blood to test. Yes, Nathan, FOUR STICKS!! (Inside joke.) And because I have no lymph nodes on my ride side, they cannot draw blood from my right arm. So, two needle sticks in my left arm and two in my left hand. Finally, several bruises and a couple of collapsed veins later, and the technician was met with success – two vials of blood. (Kind of makes you wish you had been there, huh?)

Dr. Elia said that the inability to successfully draw blood was a strong indicator that I was dehydrated. I found that very hard to believe because I drink anywhere between 150-200 ounces of water a day. And, yes, I’m up all night going to the bathroom.

Remember how the Cymbalta (depression meds) was causing me to have a parched mouth? Apparently, the dry mouth was just the beginning – especially after they doubled my dosage. I can’t imagine being dehydrated drinking as much water as I do. I even sleep with a jug of water next to the bed. Lots of drinking and lots of trips to the bathroom. It doesn’t make logical sense. Oh well…

The doctor continues to be pleased with the progress I am making. Each month, however, she mentions that if something were to happen that caused me to want to stop, it would be okay. She reminds me that very few people can make it the entire twelve months. She has even given me the option of taking a break for a couple of weeks before finishing the treatments.

Despite the extreme fatigue, I’ve been feeling pretty good. Then, my pride started to take hold. No way am I quitting. I’m not taking a break. I’m pushing through this until I have finished. I am going to be one of the few successful ones – the few that actually complete the entire treatment. 

Boy was I wrong. More tomorrow…

The Voice of my Soul

While it may come as a shock to some (not really), I really enjoy music. I enjoy praising my heavenly Father in song – not just through my voice, but with my whole body, my spirit. Expressing love and adoration to the Father through music is a tremendous gift given to us, and one we can easily give back to Him. I’ve taught Hannah that music is the voice of our soul. It is definitely a gift.

Unfortunately, during the cancer treatments, I have not been able to express myself with as much joy as I would like. Sunday mornings are hard. I’ve had shots the previous night, and I am exhausted. Standing up to worship – really fully completely throw myself into worship – is difficult. And it hasn’t helped with the depression. When I am worshiping in song, I want to give God my everything! But right now, “my everything” isn’t very much.

I know God understands, loves me, and accepts every piece of myself I can give. I know He is glad to see me there with my brothers and sisters; and I know it brings him joy when I praise Him – even if it is only with my voice. While my heart is still in it, my body doesn’t have much to offer.

Last week, my heart was yearning to worship God in song, and in complete and total abandon. So, I started asking God to give me the physical strength to worship. Boy did he deliver. And as I gave to Him, He gave back to me through the lyrics of each and every song we sang.

Please indulge me as I share some of the lyrics and the messages that God gave back to me. For space and time, I’m not including all the lyrics of each song – just my gifts.

I sing because you are good; I dance because you are good; I shout because you are good. You are good to me.  

God: Then do it. I am good to you. Worship me with total abandon.

Your goodness knows bounds; Your goodness never stops. And in my darkest night You shine as bright as day. Your love amazes me. You are good to me.

God: I will never leave you – promise.

Find rest my soul in Christ alone. Know His power in quietness and trust. When the oceans rise and thunders roar, I will soar with You above the storm. Father you are king over the flood (and cancer too).  I will be still and know you are God.

God: I’ve got this. I’ve got everything. Trust me. I’ve demonstrated, and will continue to do so, that I am King over it ALL.

Faithfulness none can deny through the storm and through the fire there is truth that sets me free Jesus Christ who lives in me.

God: I’m going to keep proving it to you.  Even through the storm – no matter what it is – I am with you.

Giver of every breath I breathe, Author of all eternity, Giver of every perfect thing, to you be the glory. And I am alive because I’m alive in You.

God: I have a plan. I am directing your life. Don’t forget. Share what I have done, and am doing in your life.

Every sunrise sings your praise. The universe cries out Your praise. I’m singing freedom all my days, now that I’m alive.

God: I want you to see me everywhere you look.

My heart and my soul, I give you control. Consume me from the inside out Lord.  Your will above all else, my purpose remains. The art of losing myself in bringing your praise.

God: Give me all of you. I have grand plans – through the cancer and after.

How often we forget or lose sight of the presence of God. He has promised he would never leave us nor forsake us – NO MATTER WHAT. In just my own life, I have so many evidences of that promise. And I have seen it in the lives of my friends and family. Let us hold tightly to the promises of God and live our lives accordingly.

Before I go, I want to say thank you to someone very special, a friend God brought into my life a little over two years ago – Lee Sisney, our worship leader. From the first time we visited First Baptist, it was evident that Lee’s primary goal is to bring glory to our Heavenly Father. There are definitely worship leaders who make it more about themselves than God, but not Lee. He encourages us week after week to bring our best to God.

Lee, forgive me if I’ve embarrassed you, but God really used you last Sunday. I know He does every week, but last week even more so. Thank you for leadership and example. I am honored to worship with you.

Keeping the faith

God’s voice is glorious

It’s a good thing I like roller coasters, because I feel like I am on one. After my doctor’s appointment, I have been feeling more positive, my nerves are calming, my anxiety is going away. Good, right? It is good that my depression and anxiety are getting straightened out, but now a different kind of yuk is attacking.

Last night was shot night. I gave them to myself at 6:30, definitely within the ideal timeframe. I went to bed at 10:30pm (yes, probably a little late for a shot night). At 1 am, I was wide awake and my back felt brittle. I was up again at 3, 5, and 7. By 7am, I was nauseous. I still am. And I’ve gotta work.

As I am driving to work, it is pouring rain, with lots of thunder and lightning. I’m feeling good and sorry for myself. “God, we just worked out the depression; can’t I have a break?”

His reply – “I gave you a thunderstorm. Focus on that.” Wow. In my opinion, thunder and rain are two of the most peaceful sounds God created, second only to being outside at night after it has snowed. So, God knew I was going to feel bad and He prepared a gift for me.

As if that wasn’t enough, he reminded me of a verse – “God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We can’t even imagine the greatness of His power.” Job 37:5, NLT – Our God is an AWESOME God.

And before I got out of the car, this is the verse I heard:

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

We might not see our troubles as “light and momentary”, but God does.

A Letter of Thanks

I realized something this morning. I have made 99 posts to date. So, today is my 100th post. Maybe we should have a party, a celebration, something. My blog; my choice. I’m going to take my 100th post to say thank you to some very amazing people in my life.

I want you to know that without your prayers, encouragement, hugs, notes, meals, etc., I would not have made it to this point – nor would I make it to the end of this.

Mother and Daddy, for your love and your never-ending display of grace. You have spent my entire life showing me unconditional love, forgiveness, and commitment to God. I cannot imagine how tough it has been to watch this journey unfold 500 miles away. Just know that I know you’re only a phone call away. And, Mom, thank you for all the cards. Whether I need a laugh or a prayer, it’s always in the mail. I love you both.

Joyce – Thank you for anticipating my need to have someone with me at every single doctor’s appointment. I would have never asked. But you knew how scary this journey can be. Thank you for teaching me, encouraging me, translating for me, loving me.

Carolyn – Thank you for being my voice, for communicating my needs to so many, and for making sure that my family was fed. Thank you for the Route 44’s and all the lunch meetings at Sonic. Thank you for loving me as if I were your very own.

Debbie E – Thank you for all of your hugs and encouragement, especially when I didn’t have the energy to express any words. It’s like you have a sixth sense about how I am doing. You always seem to know.

Tonalea – Every day, I can expect a voice mail or a text – “Good morning beautiful! I hope you have an amazing day!” Thank you for the constant reminder that someone loves me and cares. Also, thank you for assuring me that no matter what I was feeling (no matter how ugly), that it was okay.

Doug & Erin – Thank you for providing a work environment that has allowed me to give what I could give, when I could give it. Thank you for caring for me as a friend instead of an employee. I realize what a blessing you two have been in my life, and I thank God for you.

Laura – You are always available, no matter if it is once a day or once a month. Thank you for listening, and for not feeling you have to offer a solution. Thank you for accepting what I can give, even when it is nothing. We have been through a lot. I am blessed to know that you will always be there.

Tammy, Vicki, Tommy, Ernie, and Bud – Thank you for the unfailing way that you demonstrate your love for Jesus in my life and the life of my family. You are our family – one of the greatest blessings of our moving to Missouri.

Matthew B – While you may not understand the value of your gift, I want you to tuck this away in your heart. God used your journey, your battle with cancer, to give my children peace. When I found out it was cancer, Hannah’s first response was “Matthew had it, and he’s okay.” I know your journey was tough, but God used it.

Gina – We have been through so much that involves cancer. Thank you for your prayers, your love, your heart. Thank you for my blessings blanket. It was exactly what I needed at the exact moment. God knew. Thank you for following His prompting.

Suzy – Thank you for never growing weary of my telling you (every single day) how horrible I felt. It seemed like I gave you the same answer every day for a long while, but you never stopped asking how I was doing, how the shots were going.

Cara – Thank you for being a constant source of encouragement. Through this journey, our friendship has grown deeper, more honest, and more transparent. Thank you for accepting no excuse when it came to my writing, for pushing me to dig a little deeper. And thank you for the precious pictures of the twins when I just simply needed something to make me smile.

Judy – While I won’t mention specifics, you know what you have done to help us. There aren’t words to convey my gratitude. I also want to thank you for all the cards, notes, and prayers. I am blessed to be part of your family.

And while I can’t even begin to thank everyone by name, I do want to thank all of the gracious friends and family for the meals, the restaurant gift cards, the cards, the notes, the prayers, the unending displays of love – for me, my family, and our Heavenly Father. Even though there isn’t enough time or paper to list everyone by name who has blessed me, please know that I thank God for you.

Thank you to my church family in Nashville. I love you more than words can ever express. I find great comfort in knowing you carry me in prayer, through my strength and in my weakness. Our fellowship and friendship has given me a taste of heaven. We have a lot to look forward to.

Thank you to my church family here in Blue Springs. One of my greatest fears, starting this journey, was that my family was not close by. You have definitely stepped up. I love you all. I never imagined that I would find another family that demonstrated God’s spirit and love like I did at home. While Missouri may never be “home”, it has definitely become my home away from home.

And, lastly, thank you Heavenly Father. Everywhere I look, I see reminders of your love. I am blessed with your provisions. Thank you for affirming, before this journey even started, that you would never leave me, for promising me that all I needed to do was believe. Thank you for preparing me for this journey. Thank you for the lessons you have yet to teach me. And thank you for your gift of Immanuel.

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