Thursday, July 30, 2009

This Is the Day

Well, I ended up spending another night in the hospital. Both the oncologist and the surgeon released me to go late in the afternoon but neither one actually wrote an order, so I had another sleepover party last night. I should have invited Jayda:)

I went for my radiation simulation this morning. Even though I had my quilt, it was freezing in there and the table was like ice. I said to the girl, "wonder why it has to be so cold in here" and she said "it's for the machines". Oh good, I thought. I'm so glad the machines are comfortable:)

I guess, I live a sheltered life because I was pretty naive on the true meaning of a tattoo. I honestly didn't know it involved needles. I thought they were just going to draw some marks on me. Well, can I just tell you, that there are some places needles just shouldn't go!!

Being on the blood thinners caused some bleeding from the needles so instead of blue and orange it was kind of blue and red. So, I'm confused. What kind of a football fan does that make me, now? Blue and red??? Is that half Gator and half something else? Do I cheer for half of the Gator games or just sit in the middle and cheer the whole game. Oh the stresses of breast cancer!!

I came back to my room and got dressed in my regular clothes. I am standing at my door with suitcase in hand showing the most pitiful looking face to anyone who walks by. Maybe that will get me home. If not I have asked my NICU friends to come and bring a baby isolette over here with a blanket over the top, stuff me in there and sneak me out. Whatever it takes, I hope to be home today :)

"This is the day that the Lord hath made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalms 118:24) No matter where we spend it!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My Anchor

Went yesterday to get my port taken out. They came to pick me up at 6am. I went down to the OR and the last thing I remember was them saying you're going to feel a little sleepy. I woke up at 7 am this morning! 25 hours later. Boy now that was some anesthesia! Don't remember much of anything about yesterday. Carl says I kept repeating the same things over and over again. Hopefully any friends that called, didn't think I had lost my mind. If you called, I wanted to say "thank you" , because I don't remember if I did.

Today we are sitting in the hospital room, waiting for the surgeoon to come in and see if I can go home. The oncologist is okay from his standpoint. I started back on the blood thinner injections ( I had to be off of them to remove the port). Hoping now that the port is out, the clot will dissolve sooner.

The area where the port was, is a bit sore, but Ibuprofen is keeping that in check. It's a bittersweet feeling having the port gone. Though it was a constant reminder of cancer and chemo, there was a sense of security in having it, in case I needed chemo again. But, I know that my sense of security does not come from ports or chemo or radiation. It comes from the Lord. To place my sense of security and hope in things other than Him are negating His power and promises.

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure." (Psalms 16:5)

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." (2Peter 3:17)

He is my anchor and in Him I will place my hope.

Tomorrow morning, I go for my radiation simulation. From what I have heard, they place you in a mold and it hardens to make my individual form. Then they place the tattoos on your body to mark where the radiation will go. I'm going to ask for blue and orange tattoos since radiation will be during the Florida Gator football season. Go Gators !!

Monday, July 27, 2009

His Ways and My Ways

"God's ways are so much higher than my ways"

Monday, my oncologist came in and my arm was still pretty swollen. I asked him why it didn't seem to be improving even on the blood thinners. He said once the port was removed it ought to progress faster because the port was causing irritation and some blockage of flow. Then he told me I wasn't to be doing any lifting at all with my left arm for at least 6 weeks.

My worry level immediately jumped up on the scale again. I had been sitting here since Friday trying to figure out how I could get out of the hospital in time to put in my 32 hours of work this week. I am scheduled to start radiation next week and had been worrying about trying to work full time and still have the energy to go everyday for radiation. How is the clot going to work in all this? The whole thing has been a stressor for me. I kept praying about it and had asked friends to also be praying. The hardest part about all that worrying is, that I knew God didn't want me to stress about it. He wants me to put my trust in Him. I would say to people " Well God will work it out". But then I would take the problem back, try to figure a way to work it all out on my own and start to worry about it again.

But God did work it out. Though I didn't understand at the time, He was working through the blood clot ordeal. Since the blood clot is a new condition and not related to the cancer, I am able to go back on short term disability. So while, the clot is healing and I am doing radiation I won't have to worry about trying to work full time also. Stress is gone. My way to deal with the problem was to worry. His way was to solve it.

I will miss taking care of my babies. I was so happy to be back. But hopefully it will be for only a few weeks. And God must know that I will need those weeks to heal. Perhaps as I heal from the blood clot and radiation, I can read more scripture, spend more time with Him and learn to worry less, and trust Him more. He still has much work to do in me.

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher that your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9)

Sunday, July 26, 2009


It is early Sunday morning. Sunday has always been my favorite day of the week. I love to be in worship, sing the hymns, listen to the words of the message and receive a spiritual "boost" for the week ahead. I told Carl as he left last night that I was so disappointed at not being out of the hospital in time to go to church. I could feel my spirit being dragged down at the thought of missing worship. So I got my bible out and read and read and read until I could keep my eyes open no more. I stayed in the Psalms. Verse by verse I was uplifted and literally felt my heavy spirit floating away.

And this morning there is no sadness, no heaviness. I am standing, looking out the window of my hospital room at the most beautiful sunrise that God has painted for me to enjoy. And I will have worship, here at this window, before my Most Holy God. I will sing to Him. I will praise Him and I will receive the message He has for me today as I read His word.

And despite this small setback, Sunday is still my favorite day of the week!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Lesson in the Setback

I will not be discouraged by setbacks. For they are only opportunities to review the lesson. God has a lesson for me through this small setback on my journey. I need only to stay close to Him as He reveals it to me.

The Will Of God Will Never Take You

Well, I am sitting here as a patient at MD Anderson writing this blog. Yesterday, when I was about to go to work, Carl said the fingers on my left hand looked a little swollen. But I didn’t pay it too much attention. I headed off to work and was busy throughout the day. Later in the afternoon I noticed a small lump in my neck. I called and made an appointment for Monday morning to have it checked out with my oncologist. A few times during the day my left arm felt sore but I just thought it was some muscle or joint pain from chemo. I had a long sleeved shirt on so I didn't notice my arms at all during the day.

I couldn't wait to get home that afternoon because my granddaughter, Jayda, was coming to spend the night and I was really excited about it. I had gotten movies to watch and popcorn and we had the trundle bed ready for a sleepover. By the time we got home with Jayda and I took off the long sleeved shirt my left arm, shoulder and neck area were red and swollen. We called the on-call oncologist and they wanted me to come right in to the hospital.

I was so disappointed at having to tell Jayda she wouldn't be able to stay the night. In tears, I said to Carl "Is it God's will for me to always be sick? Can I not catch a break? This is not what I had planned for tonight or tomorrow! I just wanted a fun night with Jayda."
But, that was my will.

We took Jayda back and headed to the hospital where they found a blood clot in a large vein in the left arm where my port is. They are treating me with a blood thinner to try and dissolve the clot and will be taking the port out as soon as possible.

My will for today was to be playing with Jayda, but God had other plans. I have no idea why. But He is continually reminding me that it is not about my will but about His. As if God knew I needed some extra reinforcement, a friend sent me this poem today.

The will of God will never take you:

Where the grace of God cannot keep you.
Where the arms of God cannot support you,
Where the riches of God cannot supply your needs,
Where the power of God cannot endow you.

The will of God will never take you:

Where the spirit of God cannot work through you,
Where the wisdom of God cannot teach you,
Where the army of God cannot protect you,
Where the hands of God cannot mold you.

The will of God will never take you:

Where the love of God cannot enfold you,
Where the mercies of God cannot sustain you,
Where the peace of God cannot calm your fears,
Where the authority of God cannot overrule for you.

The will of God will never take you:

Where the comfort of God cannot dry your tears,
Where the Word of God cannot feed you,
Where the miracles of God cannot be done for you,
Where the omnipresence of God cannot find you.

Remind me Father, that your will is perfect for my life. Forgive me when I selfishly desire only mine. Teach me, Lord, to trust in your will and not my own. Amen

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Morning Time With God

I'm absolutely convinced that when I get up and don't allow a few moments with God before I start my day, it's gonna be a bad day.

Yesterday morning, I decided to sleep through my morning devotion time. I was soo tired and thought that the extra 30 minutes of sleep would help get me through the workday a little better. Getting ready for work was a chore. Walking into work was a chore. I knew by the time I got there I should have called in sick. I had an overwhelming urge to sleep any where I could find a place to lay my head. But I kept telling myself, that once I woke up, I'd have the energy I'd need. By 10:00 I was too weak to care for my babies. So I left work and walked across the street to my oncologists office. I fell asleep in the chair waiting to be seen. When Dr. Baidas came in, I told him how I had been feeling ever since the last chemo a week ago. He said "You have 2 things going on here." You are very dehydrated and you are exhausted. I can give you IV fluids and I can write whatever note you need for you to stay off of work. You need to be taking it easy."

I told him the work thing wasn't an option but the fluids sounded like a good idea to me. They told me to come back at 1:00 for the fluids so I found a little room at my hospital and slept for a couple of hours. Carl came down at 1:00 and sat for while the IV fluids infused. I was hoping they would work their magic, and I would be dancing a jig when they finished but it didn't happen:)

As we were walking out to the parking garage, Carl was kind of quiet. Like that quiet when he has something to say but he's afraid I might not take it well. I often envy his ability to thoroughly think about what he's going to say before he says it. I still haven't learned how to do that, and often times things come out that aren't said like I meant them, or are said at the wrong time.
So I took Carl's hand and said "what ya thinkin' so hard about?"

With a little hesitation, he said, "Well I don't want to act like your father or anything, but you need to give in to this and really rest. Working on sewing projects, doing the laundry, going to Joann's for fabric, it doesn't seem like that much to you but it all adds up to make you exhausted."

Oh God, how you have blessed me with such a wonderful man! How like our Heavenly Father, he thinks. Our Father loves us. He cares enough for us, to remind us that our physical bodies need as much tending as our spiritual minds. He provides chosen people in our lives to help us see that. How thankful I am that Carl is one of His chosen people and loves me enough to remind me of God's desires for my life.

We went home and I slept 13 hours. Going back for more fluids today. But today, when I woke up, I didn't skip my morning time with God and I know it's going to be a better day!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Phillipians 4:13

Phillipians 4:13 was my verse for today. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

Yesterday, Sunday, started out as though it would be a better day, but I struggled getting ready for church and struggled to stay awake during church. After not having kept food down in several days, I was too weak to go into work. So I slept most of the afternoon. Carl and I went to Olive Garden for supper that night and shared a dinner, but my half kept me up sick most of the night.

I really needed to be at work on Monday to be able to get my full time hours in, so every time I woke up sick in the night, I prayed for God to give me the strength to work today. As I was getting ready for work this morning, I figured out that my prayers in the night had actually totaled up to 7 prayers. I thought 7 was a pretty lucky number in the bible and maybe it wasn't just co-incidence that, that was how many times I awoke sick and prayed.

By the time I showered and got dressed I had my doubts, but remembered"( Phillipians 4:13.)" I packed a lunch and drove in to work in the rain. (Phillipians 4.13)
I hauled several bags of Georgia peaches into the hospital to give to my co-workers. (Philipians 4:13).
I took report on my babies seeing the needs that they would have for the next 12 hours. (Phillipians 4:13. )

I was still unable to eat breakfast. ( Phillipians 4:13)
I was unable to eat lunch (Phillipians 4:13)
But I WAS able to take care of my tiny patients in every way that they needed and deserved. (Phillipians 4:13) For the entire 12 hours, when it came to caring for them, God provided all the strength I needed.

And though I left physically tired, I left emotionally rejuvenated at being given His strength to do His work through me throughout this day.

God's promises are true. Even when we have our doubts. (Phillipians 4:13) showed me again today, that when we think we are too tired to go on, He will give us His strength to carry on. And it will always be enough.

Thank you Lord for your strength for this day. For carrying me through. For those that offer love, support, hugs and encouragement along the way. Indeed, your promises are true.
God's promises never fail!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

In His Time

Feeling pretty rough again today. I still think they snuck some extra chemo in the last dose just for good (bad?) measure. As long as I don't lift my arms or legs or wander more than 3 feet from the bathroom things are pretty good :)

The radiation oncologist called yesterday to set up radiation. I mistakenly thought it might start this week. But she said it wouldn't start for a couple of weeks. She told me "Most people think that as soon as chemo is done, they will feel better. But in fact they feel worse for "awhile" and we don't want to throw radiation on top of a weakened person right away." I asked what "awhile" meant and she said it was different for everyone.

So I'm spending today wondering what my "awhile" is. I had plans for my time today. I was going to spend time with Dylan, Jayda and baby Cooper. But it's not going to happen. It would be easy to feel downhearted. But I won't give in to those kinds of feelings. They lead nowhere. Sometimes,though, I have to make a conscious effort to direct my thoughts according to what I know and not what I feel. And what I know is, that all things happen in His time and not mine. He is teaching me daily, on this journey, to trust in His promise that He will make all things beautiful "In His Time."

Friday, July 17, 2009

Knowing The Healer

I had to call in sick to work today. I was too weak to even pick up my arms. I think maybe they stuck some extra chemo into this last treatment :) I have never liked having to call in sick. For one, we were raised to have a good work ethic. It included going in even when you didn't quite feel like it and giving 110% when you were there. I am thankful to my parents for those teachings. I also didn't want to call in because I love what I do. Taking care of the babies is very rewarding to me and I think I receive more from them than they do from me.

Last night I asked God to help me feel well enough to be able to go to work in the morning. But as the night went on, it became evident that He wasn't going to answer like I had asked. So I finally gave in and called in sick. After hanging up the phone, I said to God, "Was that too much to ask? I didn't ask for a big thing, just enough strength to work today. I don't understand, but I trust you do." And I fell asleep.

This morning, I received my answer. It came from a daily devotional and I felt as though God was directly answering my questions from last night. Here are the words of the writer.

"I wonder whether the way God heals may vary according to His objective. If the primary objective is to show His supremacy, for example, perhaps He might choose to heal instantaneously. If His primary objective is to teach sufficiency in Him or to mature and build faith, I wonder whether he heals through the stitch by stitch method.

Remember, God is far more interested in our knowing the Healer than He is in the healing. God can be vastly glorified through either objective."

"I will bring you health and will heal your wounds.." (Jeremiah 30:17)

God's agenda for me today was not in the healing so I could go to work, but in spending time with the Healer, to know Him more, so that through my life He can be vastly glorified.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cradled In His Hands

I spent yesterday wired from the steroids. If only I could figure out a way to bottle all that energy and use it when I need it. After being awake for 36 hours, I finally fell asleep, only to wake up 3 hours later, feeling under the weather. Like my body is broken and mad with me. Headache from the steroids, bone pain and wicked nausea whenever I try to walk around. So, I decided to just sit in my rocker and do some mending. Normally, I don't care too much about mending but today was different. Looking down at the torn shirt, I realized that a seamstress can't mend a garment unless it is cradled in her hands. Stitch by stitch, in her hands, it is transformed from a torn, weakened garment into a new and stronger one. Sometimes the process is tedious and time consuming. But the end result is a new garment ready to be used again.

And as I sat in the chair feeling physically whipped, holding the torn shirt in my hands, I thought of how God mends our torn and broken bodies. He cradles us in His careful hands as He mends the broken pieces back together. Stitch by stitch. Sometimes it takes longer than we would like. But we know that the end result will be a new person ready to be used again.

And for now, I am content to stay cradled in His Hands. Close to Him. And draw on Him for strength and healing, until such time as He is ready for me to be used again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This Day

I was talking with a good friend at work last week. She has a beautiful little boy who has had health problems the entire 4 years of his young life. I have an incredible admiration for her and how she manages all that is upon her shoulders. I think that whatever problems we go through as adults, doesn't compare to having to sit by helplessly and watch your young child go through them.

As we were talking about the trials that we each faced,we shared our worries about the future. She said, "What will I do when he gets old enough to go to college and I won't be close by?" "What if we go on vacation and he gets sick?" And I said, "What if my cancer comes back in a year?". One by one, we looked into the future, asking "what ifs", and soon we both realized that by doing that we were robbing ourselves of this day.

Busy work schedules, illness, raising children. So many things send us flying through this day and straight into the next. But what if there isn't a next? What would we say about the day we had? I think sometimes we get so worried about what may come tomorrow, that we can't stop to enjoy today. And today goes by so fast. God already knew this when He said, "This is the day that the Lord Has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalms 118:24)

If we are given a new day tomorrow, what will we do with it? Will we waste it worrying about the next day or rejoice and be glad in this one that we have been given?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Two Paths

Today was a very special day. It was my last chemotherapy treatment .

It has been a very busy couple of days at the hospital and I have been too tired to write anything when I got home. I teased with some of the girls at work this morning about how busy it was. I said "You know, it's pretty bad when you're so busy that you look forward to chemotherapy just to be able to sit down."

For me, this last treatment brought on mixed feelings. The past week, every time someone would say to me "Yay, your last treatment", I found it hard to share their enthusiasm. Some people might say, "What?? You should be jumping for joy today!" I guess it sounds crazy. But, even though I don't like the side effects of chemo, I had a sense of security that something was always going through my system to keep knocking out the cancer cells. It's kind of like when your child gets an ear infection and the doctor gives them an antibiotic. You feel relieved because you know he won't be sick as long as he is on the medicine. For 10 days you can rest easier, knowing the medicine is doing it's job.

Sometimes the walk on this journey seems like one of those maze games, where there are many winding paths that lead to a dead-end, but one path leads home. When it comes to the chemo treatments, I had wandered off of His path and started walking on my own path . But my path was a dangerous one. This particular path ends in cave. The cave is called "captivity." But God, in His mercy and faithfulness, showed me the two paths today.

Before work this morning, I spent a few moments in the locker room in prayer for the day. I just happened to open a book I had been reading as part of a summer bible study. It is written by Beth Moore. This was written in bold on the page I opened. "A Christian is made captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit Filled life God planned for her."

I put my book away and began my day, but those words kept coming to mind. I knew in my heart, I was being held captive! Putting all my hope and trust in the chemotherapy and not in the hands of the Lord had held me captive. My worries kept me from living abundantly. God made it very clear what path I was on. So I decided to cross over the little wooden bridge from the "self-filled" path to the "Spirit Filled" path. I decided to celebrate this day and be thankful for God's hand in helping me the last 6 months, through all the chemo treatments.

As I walked out of the hospital to go over to MD Anderson, the sun shone brighter and warmer than yesterday. I inhaled deeply and breathed in the fresh air of the gentle breeze. I listened to the birds singing sweetly in the trees. And I asked His forgiveness for wandering off of His path and strength for the treatment to come.

When I walked off the elevator, I was greeted by Nancy, who has provided me with homemade chicken soup through the chemo. She gave me a big hug and a little glass breast cancer angel bear as a token for finishing the chemo. Elaine, the wonderful receptionist on the chemo floor came around the corner with a vase filled with the most beautiful pink roses I have ever seen. They were from my dear friend Ann, to celebrate the last treatment. They were beautiful in the window and brought a sweet scent to the chemo room. As I started the chemo, I thought back to the very first treatment, 6 months ago, and how overwhelming it all seemed for Carl and I. God has brought us such a long way. While I was waiting on the labs, Carl came by and surprised me with a visit. He had to teach today so Ann came over after work and sat with me while I had the chemo.

The best part about the last treatment came at the end. There is a special bell that patients ring three times on the last day of their chemo. It is loud. And it announces to all the staff and any other patients there, that someone has just completed their chemo treatments. Some of the staff gathered around with Ann, while I rang the bell. What a tremendous blessing to rejoice and celebrate, with my dear friend in Christ, all that God had done in the last six months!

So now it's on to radiation. But I am not placing all my hope and trust in the radiation. I have crossed the little bridge from my "self-willed" path to His "Spirit Filled" path.
My hope and trust is in Him alone. And I will praise Him for all that He has already done!!

"For those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope."
( Isaiah 40:31 & Psalms 52:9)

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Best Medicine

When you are being treated for cancer there is a medicine for everything that ails you. Medicine for the nausea. Mild bone pain medicine. Stronger bone pain medicine. Something for the tingling in the fingers and toes. Something to increase your infection fighting cells. Medicine to keep you awake and medicine to put you to sleep. I have a "little bag" full of medications at home.

As I walked into the hospital for work this morning, I was thinking maybe I should have taken a few of those medicines from my "little bag" to get through the day.

But I quickly found that I didn't need them, because I received a much more effective medicine from God. It's the "best" medicine. The timing was so perfect throughout the day that it could have been labeled "Timed Release". A morning prayer time with a friend. The enthusiasm on the face of a new young nurse, as she gives report on her babies for that night. Hugs from friends I work with. A surprise visit from Carl for breakfast. The laughter of co-workers as we talk about funny things that happen to each other. The kind and encouraging words of a caring neonatologist. The loud lusty cry of a brand new 10 pound baby . The little kitten cry of a 2 pound baby who thinks she is 10 pounds.
The smell of the rain on the way home from the hospital. A late afternoon nap. A quiet dinner with Carl by the fireplace at Olive Garden.

Proverbs 17:22 says A cheerful heart is good medicine." Little by little the "best" medicine was released today. It didn't come in a little plastic bottle. It didn't taste bad. It had no bad side effects. It not only got me through the day, but it put a smile on my face and a joy in my heart. I daresay, that I don't have any medications in my "little bag" that can do all that.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hand In Hand

When God led me to start writing this blog, He made it very clear what He wanted me to do with it. But I had no idea at the time, how He would use it. He wanted me to share what He was doing in my life and through my life, on this journey through the desert called breast cancer. For we all have deserts we must walk through. They are just called by different names. I felt like He wanted me to share with others, how He works in the life of a common, ordinary believer going through one of life's many trials. I wanted it to be a means of sharing the medical part of this journey, but much more than that, I wanted to share the spiritual journey. I wanted it to give others encouragement as they walk through their deserts, and help them to feel that they are never alone. I wanted others to see that, though I am a Christian, I struggle with the same worry, failures, disappointments, lack of trust, weakness and other things that are disappointing to God. I wanted to share the good days and the bad days. The laughter and the tears. Because God walks with us through it all.

But I didn't realize what God would do for me in writing this blog. Through this blog, I have met so many people who have blessed my life tremendously. Many of these people I will never see face to face. But the impact they have made on my life is as strong as if they were standing here in front of me. He has provided me with friends who have given me encouragement, nurturing, prayer and a reminder that we are never alone.

I believe when God wants His word out, His hand will be in every single word that is written. Some who read this blog, may never have noticed that there is a link at the bottom of each day's blog that says "Friends shared their thoughts". This is one area where I have been the recipient of God's encouragement along the way. Every comment that I have read, has been timed perfectly by God. The words written have always been the words He knew I needed to hear for that moment. And I know, that God has intended them as another way to speak to me when I needed strength for the journey.

I wanted to share just one example from a recent comment posted on my blog. It is from a dear, sweet lady whom I have never met, but feel as though I have known her forever. (The kind of relationship only God brings about). Her name is Cora. She is a breast cancer fighter also. This particular day I had struggled. I had been to see the oncologist and had chemo and shared my fears and my tears. Here is what she posted:

There is a verse that says, "Now we see through a glass darkly, but then, face to face. . . Now we know in part, but then shall we know, even as we are known." When you travel through this journey called cancer, we can only know in part. We only see shadows in the mirror, and so . . .we act like children, we crawl like babies, and we leap into our Father's arms for security from all we do not know. As we mature in our faith and get to know Him better, we somehow expect that He will tell us everything, show us answers, and we will strut our stuff right through every battle that comes our way. Not so, is it??? It still comes back to "We walk by faith, not by sight!" We can read all the books, search the internet, go to the best doctors, ask all the right questions, and get all the tests, scans, markers, etc., but in the end, tomorrow is still unknown. It all boils down to that simple child like trust that everything --- and I mean EVERYTHING --- that comes our way is first filtered through His fingers of love.
And it is in that one thing that all the "what if's" of this disease melt into a peace that passes all understanding!

I'm preaching to myself here, you know. This past week as been riddled with "what if" bullets for me, and I'm ashamed of it, believe me. I can only be so thankful for His patience and His "I told you so" today!
Wish I could give you a big hug! I know how hard this all is, how scary, and how long and drawn out. Little steps, big breaths, and leaning hard and long on the One who loves you more than life itself!!!!!

What encouragement that post brought to me that day! I have no idea how Cora found my blog but God does. I don't know how anyone finds it, but I know that those who have left comments have blessed me in a way they can never know. I also believe that those very same comments may be words that God wants others to hear. He alone can take what is written and speak it to the individual heart. Thank you to all who share your words of encouragement for they may the very words someone needs to hear. Thank you to those also, who read it faithfully and take the time to pray. For your prayer may be the prayer that changes someone's life. Thank you, also, for passing this blog on to other's as God leads you to. He alone knows who needs it. He alone knows how He will use it.

It is God's blog. It is His story to weave. He has provided the characters in the story of my journey. We are all intertwined and perfectly placed to walk hand in hand through the desert and stand together atop the mountain!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Like a Baby

Many times our premature babies forget to breathe.We call it "apnea of prematurity". Breathing is a natural thing, but these babies are immature and when they stop breathing (go apneic), the alarms go off and we walk over and stimulate them. Pat them on the back, rub their feet, (sometimes a little more convincing is needed). And they take a deep breath and begin breathing again. They do this over and over again, but as they get older and more mature , their apnea spells become less and less and they finally outgrow it.

Sometimes I feel like a premature baby. Being a christian and relying on God continually, should be a natural thing by now. But, in so many ways I am still an immature baby in my christian walk.

I went into work today for an hour or so and then took a break and walked over to MD Anderson to see my oncologist. Carl had to work so he wasn't able to come. My long time friend and charge nurse on that floor, Mary, stopped in to visit me in the exam room. It was a blessing to visit with her. She is a christian also and we shared how God had his hand in picking my doctors and staff there.

Now don't get me wrong here. I love and trust my oncologist and all of his staff. But any visit with an oncologist is not usually a spirit lifting experience and today was no different. We talked again about what to expect after treatment and radiation. My question was, that if we did CT or PET scans only once a year, wouldn't we miss a chance to catch any metastisis earlier? And he gently reminded me again that it wouldn't change the outcome or survival rate at that point. I asked if it spread to the lung couldn't they just take it out, do chemo and radiation and cure it. But he said that breast cancer cells that go to the lungs do not respond to treatment like lung cancer that goes to the lungs. If that was to happen, it would become incurable. He actually remembered telling me this before, but he must have known I needed to hear it again to understand and believe it. He is such a kind and honest man in his presentation. But, I wanted to hear the word "cured" somewhere in his conversation. And I never did.

He asked me how I was feeling and I told him that it was strange, but over the last 2 weeks, I get hit with some crippling nausea and vomiting that doesn't seem to follow any pattern. It's not related to food intake or chemo that I can tell. No rhyme or reason as to when it hits. He asked me if I got headaches. I said, yes fairly often, but they're not real bad. He said that if I found that to be a problem still, after finishing chemo, he would do an MRI to see if the cancer might have traveled to the brain. Basically that is how they tell if the cancer has spread anywhere. By testing any abnormal symptoms. I was very upset by hearing this. How do you go on after treatment and live a normal life, without becoming a hypochondriac? Without worrying that every time I get a bad headache, or bone pain or dry cough that the cancer is back?

I left the visit in tears to go back to work. I really should have walked around the block first, but I didn't have the energy. I headed straight to Ann's office. I knew I was in need of a believing, praying, friend, right then. We talked, we cried, and she prayed. As she was praying for me I received a soft, healing peaceful feeling. We stayed in silent prayer for a few moments, knowing that God was hearing our tears and all of our unspoken words. After praying, I was ready to breathe again. Just like the babies, I had been reminded to take a breath and go on. I even joked to Ann that it's probably a good thing that I don't have many eyelashes left so my makeup wouldn't be smeared all over my face. We both had a good laugh and I went back out ready to take care of my babies.

At 2pm, I walked across the street for chemo. But this walk wasn't the discouraging walk from earlier. It was almost like the medicine you get right before they put you to sleep for surgery. No matter what is about to happen, you feel fine. Peaceful. You only have to lay there and breathe and all the rest will be taken care of for you. When I got there, I received a message on my phone from my friend Maureen in the NICU. Our hospital is a round building with glass windows all around it. The message said "We are all waving to you out the window from Winnie. Love you lots!" What joy a few simple words can bring!!

The chemo went well. Carl came. My nurse, Diane, told me I was very anemic and she was going to call Dr. Baidas and ask about a transfusion. We joked because the bloodmobile was downstairs that day and it was time for Carl to give. He could have just brought it up to me :) I told Diane "Well, I'd love nothing more than a boost for going back to work, but don't take it personally if he says no. He's not a big fan of that for some reason." Sure enough, he didn't want to, since the chemo was nearly finished. I went to sleep and slept through most of the chemo, the ride home and most of the evening. As if God, wanted to remind me once more before the day was over, I got a call from my dear friend Lori, another believer, who lifted and encouraged my spirits.

In our christian life, we start out as a baby craving spiritual milk so that we can grow in him. "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation." (1 Peter 2:2 ) He wants us to grow in our maturity level from milk to solid foods. But He knows that it doesn't happen over night. He knows that, just like that preemie baby, we sometimes forget to breathe. We weren't ready. We fall back from solid food to milk.
"I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready." (1 Corinthians 3:2)

Yesterday, I spent some time as a baby. Though by this time in my spiritual walk, I should be on solid foods, today I drank only milk. But God already knew it. "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!" (Hebrews 5:12)

I forgot to breathe today. But God provided me with believing friends, with prayers and encouragements. A pat on the back. A reminder to breathe.

Tomorrow's plan is to rest, rest and rest. But I first plan to eat solid food. I'm going to read my bible. Learn the "elementary truths" all over again. And pray and give thanks to Him who is so incredibly patient with me as I try to mature from a baby to an adult in my christian walk.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Power in Weakness

"My Little Princess"

Yesterday, I woke up feeling really good and was excited about going to church after being gone for the last two weeks. It was so good to be back. Carl and I got to play a piano and organ duet of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and except for some nerves it was neat to be able to play with him. The scripture reading the pastor had chosen was II Corinthians 12:2-10. As I was reading the scripture, I came to verse 9 "And he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." While reading that verse, I was so moved by the Holy Spirit, I had to pause for a moment before I could go on. I have always liked that scripture, but I didn't know why, this time, I was so gripped emotionally by it. Until much later. Throughout the rest of the service, that verse echoed over and over in my mind. During lunch and the ride home, the verse kept repeating itself.

I really didn't do a good job of energy management, because by the time I got home, ironed a uniform and got ready for work, my energy and strength were used up. As I walked from the parking garage into the hospital, that verse came to mind once again.

But, this time, I realized why God had used that verse to speak to me today. I was weak. He knew I would be weak as I prepared to go back to work full-time. So He told me over and over again, that His strength would be perfect in my weakness. His grace would be enough for all my needs. Now I understood! How perfect is His timing, that this verse would be the one chosen for worship today. How perfect that He would remind me, not once, not twice, but over and over again, that He would supply all of my needs.

I worked Sunday. And I worked today. And God's promise, as always, was true. His strength was perfect. I had enough strength and energy to do the very thing that I love to do. Taking care of very tiny, sick babies.

And to top it off, God blessed me with a special surprise today! I had a surprise visit from a family whose baby I had been a primary nurse for in the NICU. I call her "my little princess". She was born at a little over a pound and is now a 9 1/2 pound, healthy, beautiful baby girl. As I held her in my arms today, she smiled at me and my heart overflowed with thankfulness. And at that very moment, I heard the words to that verse once again. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Saturday, July 4, 2009


We enjoyed a special day today. It got off to a rough start, though, with me getting sick in Target. I'm not sure why all of a sudden the last 2 weeks have been so rough as far as getting sick. Perhaps a build up of the chemo in my system. But I do know, nothing clears out a public restroom faster than a person sick from chemo. Hmmm. Maybe I'll try that the next time the line in the ladies room is forever long :)

We went to Eric and Katie's in the afternoon to celebrate this special holiday with family. Independence Day. In America, it is a day when we celebrate the birth of our country and give thanks for our freedoms. I saw a bumper sticker once that said "Freedom isn't free." How true that is. Someone had to pay the price for our freedom. On this holiday, we pause to remember those who have given their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. We also say thanks to those who are putting their lives on the line by serving our country now.

But, I also celebrate another freedom. This day and every day. One that is more important to me than any other freedom I enjoy. That is my freedom in Christ. This freedom isn't free either. It came with a price. God could not have a relationship with us when we were filled with sin and bound to the laws. But, Jesus gave his life so we could be free from the bondage of laws and sin and death. "Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2 NIV)
Because I am free, I can enjoy a personal relationship with him that enables me to get through the trials of this life. And that freedom promises me, that when this life is over, I will spend eternity with Him!

As an American I say "thank you" to all those men and women who have given of themselves to make this great country free.

As a christian I say "thank you" to my Lord for giving His life so that I can walk hand in hand with Him on this journey.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Little Things and the Big Things

I picked up my lung CT scan results today. It was just a follow-up from the pneumonia I had. Nothing really to do with the cancer. In the grand scheme of things, this would be called a "little thing". The CT results were good. Some residual scarring but no nodules or masses suggestive of metastasis.

As I was walking out of the hospital, I whispered a prayer of thanks and began to think about the "little things" and the "big things" in our life.

I remember in the first grade, being taught about big things and little things. The teacher had a 2 sided weight scale. She would put a big item on one side of the scale and a small item on the other side. She would teach us that the "big thing" weighed more than the "little thing" and it would pull down that side of the scale. Then, we went out to the playground where she would have a big boy sit on one side of the see saw and a little girl (usually me) sit on the other side. As I was left hanging in the air, the teacher made her point. The "big things" weigh down the "little things".

Sometimes I get so focused on the "big things" in my life, the cancer, the treatments, the side effects, tests, etc, that I fail to see the "little things" that God has given me to enjoy.

The first ripe red tomato on our tomato plant. A phone call from Brent, a hug from Eric, talking to little Wyatt on the phone. The smell of baby Cooper on my shirt after he's gone. Friends to eat dinner with. Friends who bring you dinner when you are too sick to go out. Carl, changing the oil, fixing the faucet and all the other little repairs needed. A gentle rain to cool down a hot afternoon and moisten a dry, parched ground. The beautiful butterfly sitting atop the pink hibiscus flower. The sweet fragrance of jasmine as I sit and swing with my grandbabies on my lap. Just thinking of these "little things" makes me feel as though I'm suspended in air.

When I allow myself to think only of the "big thing" I feel weighted down.
But God tells us to give the "big things" to Him and He will take them. He wants us to take all of the "little things" He has given to us and enjoy them abundantly. He'll carry the heavy stuff.

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:29-30)

And today, I am happy to be suspended in air on the see saw. Because I know God is on the other side holding down the "big things" while I sit high and enjoy the all "little things" He has given to me.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Grandma's Hands

It's been a quiet day. Forty eight hours after the steroids, my energizer bunny battery finally died. So I took a day of rest. Had some time to pray for several friends in need today. Read my bible and spoke on the phone with a new friend, Chelle, whom God had introduced me to through my blog.

And I also got an e-mail from an old friend who happens to work as a nurse in the very same area of MD Anderson that I go to for treatments! God is still placing people in my path to help me through! Appetite is a bit better and we enjoyed some homemade quiche made by Ann. She actually, brought it over last night but I wasn't able to eat yet. But Carl sure was! And I really hoped there'd be some left by the time I was able to eat. Wonderful quiche! Thank you, my friend. I got to see Eric and Dylan for a few minutes and that was a joy for me. All in all a very restful day. Perhaps I can stock up on the energy to have for going back to work full time next week.

A friend sent me this e-mail today and it really made me stop and think about our hands and what they do. So I wanted to share it with you.


Grandma, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. She didn't move, just sat with her head down staring at her hands. When I sat down beside her she didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat, the more I wondered if she was OK

Finally, not really wanting to disturb her, but wanting to check on her at the same time, I asked her if she was OK. She raised her head and looked at me and smiled. "Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking," she said in a clear strong voice .

"I didn't mean to disturb you, grandma, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK," I explained to her. "Have you ever looked at your hands," she asked. "I mean really looked at your hands?" I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making.

Grandma smiled and related this story:

"Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. "They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. "

"As a child, my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They held my husband and wiped my tears when he went off to war.
"They have been dirty, scraped and raw , swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. "

"Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special. They wrote my letters to him and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse. They have held my children and grandchildren, consoled neighbors, and
shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand. They have covered my face,
combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. "

"And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well, these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer. "These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of life."

"But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of God"

As I read this story, I thought about so many of the things that I do with my hands. I can caress the faces of my new grandbabies. I can embrace a friend who is grieving. I can wipe away the tears on my granddaughter's face when she falls. I can put my hand in Carl's hand and feel safe and protected. I can lay my hand on the hand of a one pound baby and pray for her. All of these bring me joy. But there will be no greater joy, for me, than when my hands reach out to touch the face of God!

"The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert." (Deuteronomy 2:7 NIV)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It Will Burst Into Bloom!

Some days when you're walking in the desert you get a glimpse of the cactus in bloom! Today has been one of those days.

I have been wired on steroids since the treatment yesterday. Last week after chemo, they gave me some sleep medication to help combat the 48 hours of no sleep after the steroids. But it made me crazy. I was seeing things on the wall, talking crazy and when I looked at Carl his face looked like one of those faces at the fair when you look in the distorted mirrors. Not pretty. So I have been awake and wired since yesterday morning. The nausea is tolerable; just keeping the good old Ritz crackers close by.

I went to have my lung CT scan at the hospital this morning. It only took 2 sticks to get an IV in. YAY! They called in "Mean Jean" apparently known for her expertise in IV's. When she finished, I told her I would have to name her something else because she not only got the IV in after the 2nd stick but she was really nice. During the scan I put in my ipod and listened to the Michael W. Smith songs and had a wonderful worship experience with the Lord. A perfect way to endure any procedure or test.

After the CT scan I visited a friend who is a nurse manager there, ironically in their little oncology unit. I had worked with her on the Mother Baby unit 18 years ago at my hospital. We had a wonderful time catching up on each other's lives over the last 18 years.

After that visit, I went downstairs to see, Debbie, one of my friends who is a chaplain there, but used to be a chaplain in our NICU. When I walked into Debbie's office, there sat a lady I had known almost 30 years ago. She was Debbie's secretary. For the next 35 minutes the three of us sat and talked. It is such an exhilarating feeling to sit with other believers and share openly about what God is doing in our lives. We closed by holding hands and each praying for the others. As I walked out of the hospital, I felt as though I was walking on air and it wasn't from the steroids!

After leaving the hospital I had to stop by Wal-Mart. As I was standing at the counter looking at something, the lady behind the counter came up and asked if she could help me with anything. I said "no thank you, I was just looking." Then she said "You look very pretty." I stopped and looked up at her and said, "You know to a person on chemo, those are wonderful words to hear. Thank You." We got to talking and she told me she was having a biopsy tomorrow for a lump that they found. As we continued to talk, she shared that she had been in a terrible car accident 18 months ago and had nearly every bone in her body broken. She had been through 12 surgeries. But she said, "All of that has made me a more compassionate person. I spent 6 months in a wheelchair and now I have a real understanding of how difficult it is for a handicapped person." She told me that she considered herself blessed and truly a better person than she was before the accident. We both agreed that God allows the trials in our lives to help us to grow. To teach us and make us better people if we will allow Him to do that. What a blessing for me to meet this special lady and I will be praying for her tomorrow. I know that God has hold of her hand and together they will face whatever lies ahead.

Hoping to get a copy of the CT scan tomorrow. I'm praying and trusting all will be well with that. Not even giving the "what-ifs" a chance. I have also called the oncologist and asked for something to sleep during the steroids that won't make me feel "demon possessed." For now, I'll run around like the energizer bunny waiting for the steroids to wear off.

What a wonderful day God has given. How grateful I am that He allows me to catch a glimpse of the flower in the midst of the desert!

Life Can Seem a little prickly sometimes........just before it blooms.

"The desert and the parched land will be glad... It will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy!! " (Isaiah 35:1,2)