Thursday, September 30, 2010

ONE MORE SCAN

Just when I thought we were "all systems go," I find out I need another CT scan tomorrow. For some reason they don't feel the one I had August 10 is current enough and they want to know if there are any more "spots" we need to know about as a baseline measurement. They will then use this scan to determine tumor shrinkage during chemo. Sigh.

Had a wonderful talk last night with two friends from our "Duluth era." Darrell and Sandy are an amazing Christian couple who have been on the same road. After 3 years of chemo, surgery and radiation for stage 4 colon cancer, Darrell was given those precious words this week, "There is no evidence of cancer right now." The Healer did a mighty work in him, and he and Sandy have the blessed battle scars now to share with others. They were so generous with their encouragement and faith and time last night.......I need to hear every story of healing that I can!

S is coming home Saturday night. It will be good that he can spend a day with his ol' mama still looking healthy before we head into the next phase.

I have some specific prayer requests for next week which I will post this weekend.

On that note, D and I have been very moved to consistently pray for others these days. When you feel that you are being bathed in prayer by so many, it really feels right to want to return that. Furthermore, it says in James 5:16: Pray for one another so that you may be healed. So as an act of obedience, we want to pursue diligent prayers for others. PLEASE feel free to leave your prayer request in the comment section, or if you would rather have it kept private, you can email us at my old address (which I will just use for prayer requests) at mahiebek@yahoo.com. It will be our honor to lift you up to the Lord for your special needs.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

GOOD LUCK STILL ELUSIVE

The mutation study came back negative. I had no hope of being able to take the newer drugs since bad luck has assailed us at every turn. It was a disappointment, but not devastating in the least. It means I will use traditional chemo drugs.

My second opinion on Monday yielded just that. A second and different opinion on the drug choices. I was hoping for consensus and thus not having to make a choice between the two options. Last night as I sat deliberating (starting to lean one way), my cousin Mae called me (I had emailed her earlier about my indecision) and offered to get me a 3rd (and free!) opinion from the oncologist she has worked for for many years. I gave her the info he would need and she tagged him early this morning for his input. She called me at 7:15 this morning with his opinion and he suggested the protocol that I had been leaning toward. I felt great relief and felt it a confirmation that this was the right way to go.

It astonishes me how many times God has used other people to meet my needs. That 3rd opinion has made all the difference in my gut today. The anxiety is not there. I don't think Mae will ever realize how much her intervention has meant to me. Mae, I owe you BIG TIME and I love you to pieces! I chose a regime that is less toxic and better tolerated and I am praying that the side effects will be manageable. For the next 6 months of chemo, I SO want and need to be able to go about my life.

There is a weird sense of disconnect choosing to become sick for 6 months, you know? Since my cancer is asymptomatic, I feel fine, and I am choosing to go thru chemo which will no doubt make me feel "less fine." It is an odd cirumstance.

I need to pre-medicate for a week with B-12, so chemo will not start until next week. I plan on taking some pictures of myself with hair this week, just in case I lose all of it and it never comes back quite as thick!! Hair. No hair. The least of my concerns. D has a buzz cut anyway. We can be twins.

I know my great God will be working through the drugs for healing. I read this in my daily devotional yesterday:

Divine healing is actually divine life. It is the Lordship of Christ over the body---or the life of Christ in the framework of the human body. It is the union of the parts of our bodies with His very body, exhibiting His life flowing throughtout our bodies.

As that chemo drips into me, I will be visualizing that union, and thanking Him in advance for all that He is doing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

A LOOK BACK AT LUKE

D and I have independently been spending extra hours in our Bibles lately and we found that we were doing the same thing.....reading about all of the healings Jesus did in the gospels. Whenever I read one of the gospels I am usually looking for something else.....I've never spent any time concentrating on the healings the Lord did. We both found it wonderfully reassuring.

Without going into the background details, here is a partial list of what Jesus did (from the book of Luke):

4:39   So Jesus bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

4:40   When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.

5:12-3   "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" And immediately the leprosy left him.

5:15   Crowd of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses.

5:24   He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home."

6:10   Jesus  said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He did so, and his hand was completely restored.

7:10  Then the men who had been sent (to ask Jesus) returned to the house and found the servant well.

7:14   Then Jesus went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

7:21   At that very time, Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits and gave sight to many who were blind.

8:36   Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured.

8:48   Then Jesus said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."

8:50   Then Jesus said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed."

8:53   They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But he took her by the hand and said, "My child, get up." Her spirit returned and at once, she stood up.

9:11   But the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

9:42  But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.

11:14   Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.

13:12   Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

14:4   So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.

17:14   And as they went, they were cleansed.

17:19   Then Jesus said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

18:42   Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God.


Time after time, day after day, Jesus healed people. Unless we have misread our Scriptures, there is not one instance where Jesus said, "Hey, bub, I can see you need healing, but no, not today. I am not going to make you well." or "You know, your faith is just a wee bit lacking.....I don't think it is quite enough for me to heal you."

Jesus healed people! ALL. THE. TIME. In His 3 years of ministry, He spent His time in 3 different ministries; he urged people to turn from sin, and follow Him as their Savior; he taught the crowds of people (followers and non-followers) how to live their lives and what they should be living for; and He healed people. Some asked. Some didn't. Some had great faith. Some didn't (at first). But bottom line, Jesus did not deny healing to desperate people.

If, as Christians, we believe Hebrews 13:8, which says JESUS IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW, then we can be assured that Jesus is, today, still in the business of healing. And THAT, my friends, is why I can say with confidence that God's promises about healing are His will, and why I am confidently standing on His Word for my cancer's demise.

A shout out of thanks to my Wednesday prayer partners MR and Julie, who faithfully come over to pray with me and stay strong with me in standing on the promises of our great God. You guys are amazing. You have been life-changing as you stand beside us and our families in believing for healing. I am so excited to see what God will do on this journey with you. I love you both.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

LAST DAY HAS ARRIVED

Tomorrow is my last day of radiation. And it is slightly unsettling that this is all the radiation they will do on my pelvis. I asked the doc why they couldn't re-radiate if the find in the future that the cancer is still there, and he said that it has been shown to be no more effective to do it all again. So I lay there every day and visualize the cancer cells dying like ants with a can of Raid sprayin' on 'em. I stand on God's Word that He is restoring my pelvic bone to complete health.

I am heading out on Monday for a 2nd opinion. This, in spite of the fact that we don't have the results of the mutation study. The opinion will be based on the assumption that I do not have the mutation. If I do, the drug choice is a given. I think this will help me feel confident in the chemo leg of this process, and then I am anxious to simply get going.

My friend Rumi brought over wonderful hearty wild rice vegetable soup last night.....how did she know we were about to heat up leftovers? My friend Cindy surprised us with amazing salmon fillets and snap peas the day before. Talking to Cindy does my heart good. She knows all about hope and healing. The way our friends are loving and supporting us is so humbling.

God hears every prayer....thank you for praying!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

SEIZE JUST ONE DAY

My friend Kay sent me something that I need to share with you. The words have really spoken to me, and that's probably why Kay sent it.....she knows me well.

Let me digress a moment. When I was put on 6 weeks of total bed rest 19 years ago, Kay was the person who single-handedly stepped into D's and my life and carried us. She took over my job as administrator of our clinic, she went to the library and got me books, she did my Target shopping, she calmed me when my contractions increased, and she chastised me when I would have a pity party, reminding me of what a gift I was giving "Boomer" by laying on that sofa. And if I said that we will always be indebted to her, she would verbally slap me silly and lecture me that close friends just step up to the plate when they need to, and that's that. But she was our heroine, and we will always carry her devotion to us and my pregnancy inside of us forever.

I think Kay remembers my tendency to look ahead too far. It has gotten me in plenty of trouble over the years. As a Type A, I plan ahead. I have a hard time staying within a 24 hour period. Kay knows me. And so, this is what she sent to me. I share it because it may speak to some of you too.


There are two days in every week about which we should not worry; two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.

One of those days is yesterday, with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed. We cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone.

The other day we should not worry about is tomorrow, with its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance. Tomorrow is beyond our immediate control. Tomorrow's sun will rise, whether in a splendor or behind a mask of clouds. But it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.

This leaves only one day. Today.

Anyone can fight the battles of just one day. It is when you and I add the burdens of two awful eternities......yesterday and tomorrow.....that we break down.

It is not necessarily the experience of today that disturbs one's peace of mind. It is oftentimes the bitterness for something which happened yesterday and the dread of what tomorrow may bring.

Let us therefore, choose to live one day at a time.


We are given one day. Today. God cannot promise any human being tomorrow. We have only today to show our spouses how much we love and appreciate them. We have only today to give our kids extra tight hugs and tell them how special they are to us and how proud we are of them. We have only today to affirm our employees and help out our elderly neighbors. Only this moment. And we won't get it back.

So starting today, I am going to do what my sweet friend Kay wants me to do, and move into today. I will pray for the tenacity to reside there, without looking ahead or back. I will pray for the courage to keep my what-ifs out of this moment, and to seize only what is in front of me. May it be so!


This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.   Psalm 118:24

Monday, September 20, 2010

MY MAN

I looked at my husband last night on the sofa taking a catnap, his five-o'clock-shadowed face, a face my fingers know by heart, serene on the tan pillow. I look at him and know the emotional toll my illness has taken on him. Those first few weeks, we just clung to each other, tears mingling, as we tried to simply breathe, and then put one foot in front of the other until the word "cancer" did not place us in a black vacuum. You can think you love someone with all your heart, and then you realize that the next layer of love never shows itself until there is danger of it being taken away.

D has felt every drop of panic, every stream of sorrow and every wave of fear that has washed over me. It would be impossible to know where his feelings end and mine begin. And yet, he has been next to me, every minute of every test, every minute of every meltdown, without fail. There was never a question if he would be there. There was never a doubt. He lives inside of this new road we walk together.

And now, he stands with me in unwavering faith that our great God and Savior Jesus Christ will heal me. He daily upholds me in prayer, rebukes satan's attempt to steer us into the land of doubt, and fervently prays with me as we take my as well as others' concerns to the Lord.

I knew I had married a man of great gentleness and integrity 26 years ago. I knew I had married a man who would love me through every season of life. But it is when the unthinkable happens that I have realized beyond a doubt that when God made my precious husband, He was thinking about me and how much I would need him decades later.

Our 27th anniversary is on October 1. Though our circumstances right now are very difficult, what will make that day a happy one is knowing.....always knowing.....that D would choose me again. Every time.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

3rd BIOPSY

This 3rd biopsy went well. They did NOT have to numb my nose and throat before sedation this time.....they just knocked me out right away, so the "nastiness" factor was greatly reduced! They used a bit stronger anesthetic, however, so I didn't bounce back within a couple hours. I am so grateful that they feel they got enough tissue for the tests to be run.

Unless there is another setback (which feels like the norm), they should have test results in 5-8 working days. My deepest prayer is that I DO have this EGFR mutation, allowing me to take the newest generation of drugs for lung cancer. These targeted therapies have fewer side effects and overall, are more specific to the lung. I am so sensitive to side effects of all drugs, so this would be a huge blessing in this situation. Either way, I choose to believe that God will work through any of it and heal me.

So next week looks like I will finish up my 5 days of radiation, and be waiting for the lab results. Specific prayer request would be that I have the mutation.

S came home last night for dinner and an overnight. We played a game, listened to college anecdotes, and had his favorite foods. Went to church this morning and watched the Vikes (lose) this afternoon. He'll go back after dinner tonight, but the house and our family has felt full again for 24 hours. He just fills this space. How blessed we feel that he chose a college close enough to get home when he wants to.

I know I keep thanking people for praying for me, and it probably sounds redundant, but you have no idea how it feels to be wrapped in prayer support from so many people.

Friday, September 17, 2010

BIOPSY RESULTS

I am still wiped out from the anesthesia today, but wanted to take a minute to thank you all for prayers uttered on my behalf today. In the recovery room, I asked my nurse about the results of the biopsy. He graciously called the doctor who was in a meeting and reported back to me, "He thinks he got plenty of tissue for the tests."

Praise be to God!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

DIFFICULTY

Difficulty is actually the atmosphere surrounding a miracle, or a miracle in its initial stage. Yet if it is to be a great miracle, the surrounding condition will be not simply a difficulty but an utter impossibility. And it is the clinging hand of His child that makes a desperate situation a delight to God.
                                                                        L.B. Cowan

This quote speaks to my heart tonight. If any of you happen to think of me around 10:30 tomorrow morning, send up a quick prayer for TISSUE, TISSUE, TISSUE!!! Thank you so much.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

CLARITY AND A FEW THANKS

I truly don't know how people navigate through a health crisis without a medical person in their family. From the moment a clinic in Minnesota found a spot on my chest x-ray, I was on the phone with my brother, who is a physician. Every single day of the past 5 weeks, he has been our advisor, our medical sounding board, our consultant who consults other specialists that are colleagues of his. He has spoken to my oncologist, he has talked us through confusion, and he has done it all as a brother who wishes he was not having to do any of it, because he sees his sister facing the biggest challenge of her life. There is absolutely NO WAY I could ever return to him everything he has done for me. I can only hope he needs me some day, and that I can be his rock.

A talk with Mike last night gave me clarity and resolve about what I need to do......and that is, to have a 2nd bronchoscopy (it is such a nasty procedure) to try to get enough tissue from the lung tumor to test for the mutations. Two biopsies have already failed to yield what was needed. I made sure I told my doctor that I wanted A PRECISE QUANTITY needed from the laboratory so the pulmonologist knows exactly how much he needs. I WILL NOT do this a 3rd time. If I do not do this, and they start me on traditional chemo, I would always wonder if I would have been eligible to take the newer drugs. And so.....Friday morning I do it all over again, after my radiation appointment.

This is my 9th procedure/scan/MRI/biopsy.....and I hate medical procedures to begin with. At moments I look back and am awed by the fact that I have gotten through them all. God's strength works in our weaknesses, and this is a weak area for me.

And now, a pause for thanks.

Kelly and Susan J stopped and gave me big hugs......I miss seeing them at work! Susan B, my lifelong soul-sister, loves me more than I deserve to be loved. Her body is in Georgia, but her heart is up here with me, and I am so grateful for her "vigilance" over me the past few weeks.

My friend Karol has been so faithful in calling and visiting. We are ND born and bred gals who happen to have lives in SD, but whose hearts are each planted by the shores of two different Minnesota lakes.....that binds us! Her listening ear, and suggestions, faith and empathy have made me feel so cared for. My friend Jill, with whom I have walked some challenging paths over the past 13 years......what can I say? She has been at my doorstep every step of this journey, with food, hugs, tears, flowers, love and laughter. Together we survived the teenage years with S and K, and together we will walk this cancer journey of mine. She is a constant. 

Friends Cindy and Larry came one night and shared their own journey of pain and suffering and praying for healing. When someone else has walked the path ahead of you, you find yourself holding onto their every word. And their words of encouragement and faith bolstered us in such a huge way. We love their transparency and their support right now.

My prayer request probably goes without saying: That the bronch on Friday would produce adequate tissue for testing. That I deeply want the test to show I HAVE this mutation is a whole other request I will put out there in days to come. One step at a time. For now, please pray that this biopsy is successful. Thanks so much for all your prayers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

AND YET ANOTHER ROADBLOCK

We feel as if we've had a lifetime of bad luck the past month. And it hasn't stopped. We found out that the tissue sample from the bone biopsy is now not able to be used for testing (to see if I have the mutation that would benefit from the newest drugs). They did not get enough tissue from the original lung biopsy, and now the bone tissue won't work because it is decalcified. We can't believe this. We have waited OVER A MONTH for these test results.....all the while this lung tumor is growing and possibly spreading.

So do another bronchoscopy? Once again, they cannot guarantee that they will get enough tissue. It simply isn't possible to know that or not. So start on traditional chemo drugs that may not be as effective if indeed I have this mutation? If we get more tissue, it is another 10 day waiting period. We are absolutely torn and we do not know the best route to take.

Please pray very specifically that we would have a sense of clarity and peace about the decision we come to. Pray that something would happen to make us know the right decision. This has been an agonizing 24 hours.

I started radiation yesterday and had the second treatment today. It will be M-F for two weeks.
So far, no side effects, and I'm hoping it stays that way.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

STANDING ON THE ROCK

I have been waiting for the right time to write this post. And I think the time to share this is now. The entire tenor of this blog is about to change.

I believe I am going to be healed of cancer. The healing may already have begun.

Let me back way up, and move forward. When I decided to become a follower of Jesus 29 years ago, and commit my life to Him, I began a wonderful journey of faith. He has been faithful to me through all the valleys I have trudged through, and has blessed me beyond words. My faith continues to evolve as I continue to seek Him for forgiveness, grace and strength.

But in this Christian walk, there has always been the “but” caveat for me. It was how I always felt I should pray. Through 7 years of infertility, it was, “Lord, I know you can give us a healthy pregnancy and child, and this is what we are asking for, BUT if you don’t, I accept your will.” Through 3 clinical depressions, it was, “Lord, walking in this dark emptiness is so hard. I ask for relief, BUT if you choose to have me stay in this place, I will do that.” And I am not saying that those prayers are not good and right. We always want God’s will for us.


But now I have cancer. A life-threatening illness. Dire situations call for new measures of faith. And God has sent a Godly woman into our lives who has shared with us about this new way to approach cancer that resonates TRUTH with us right now. It is all about eliminating the BUT, and standing on the Word of God. The simplicity of it staggers me, but its execution will take D and me and “the chosen few” who may be willing to jump in this with us, to heights of faith that none of us have probably scaled before.


Why have I not recognized God’s healing proclamations before in Scripture? They are EVERYWHERE! God wants to heal His children. He chooses health and abundant life for them. He stands ready to restore health to those with disease. But the key is STANDING ON THE PROMISE OF HIS WORD, which is inerrant. God does not have the character to go against His own Word. His promises are as true today as when they were written. But we need to claim them as our own, and believe that His promises are His will.


Sickness is not from God. Does He allow it? Yes. Does He use it for our refinement and for His purposes and His glory? Yes. But does he insert cancer into bodies? No. There was NO sickness in creation until sin found its way into the Garden of Eden. Not ANY sickness. Sin was introduced, and sickness and every human evil and hardship accompanied sin. Sin is of the devil. God does NOT choose sickness for us. He chooses LIFE. He chooses HEALTH.


This wonderful woman who has helped us see these truths has provided us with a book with over 40 Scriptures that promise God’s intent in healing. We are choosing to TAKE GOD AT HIS WORD, without wavering, that He will heal me. We will speak these healing Scriptures daily. We will speak them when I am not “feeling” healthy, we will speak them when we are having a down day, we will believe them as I lay under a radiation machine, we will claim them even when it may appear treatment is not working. Together, in solid agreement, D and I will stand on the Rock.

Remember the childhood Sunday School song…..The B-I-B-L-E, yes, that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E!
 
The really freeing thing about this for us is knowing that healing is not based on the strength or eloquence of our prayers, not based on the intensity of our believing or the wavering of our belief in His ability. Everything is based on the Holy Word of our Creator God. Nothing more. Nothing less. We take His promises to heart and believe them. We focus on The Word, who IS Jesus Christ.


We believe God has given us good medical resources to fully utilize in healing and we will use them. We will use chemo or radiation or whatever else is deemed my best chance to fight this cancer. And then we are choosing to believe God will take over the healing. This leap of faith is ours and ours alone. God speaks very differently to different people at different times. We just know that this is His word for us for now.


Do we still believe God is sovereign and in control and that His will for us will come forth in our lives? Of course. We are simply choosing to profess His promises in the Bible as His will as we journey forward. For ME, and I emphasize, this is MY experience with cancer, every time I have hung the “but” on my prayers, I am pulled back into a feeling of fear. D and I know that we can’t walk the road of fear and anxiety anymore. We can’t function in fear. Unwavering belief in healing alleviates fear.


We are not na├»ve enough to think that Satan will not try to transport us back to Anxietyville and Sorrowtown (I’ve been the acting mayor of both cities since my diagnosis), and try mightily to convince us that we are being foolish and unrealistic. There may be days when uttering these promises may be extremely difficult. But together, D and I will walk forward in faith.


As I said, there will be a chosen few people in our lives who may want to join us in this declaration of faith. There will not be many. Doubt is human, and there are people who will be our critics. We hope that they keep their doubts and criticism to themselves. Throughout this treatment process, we will surround ourselves with fellow believers in my healing. We have things to share with those chosen few, and we will be able to discern who they are. To heal, we believe you need healing expectations.


We ask you all for continued prayers for strength and courage and healing. Your prayers have sustained us in ways we would not have imagined a month ago. We are honored that so many are lifting us up in prayer daily.

We wrestled with sharing any of this on the blog. But if I decided to withhold this from those of you following my journey and praying for me, I would be showing doubt. I am choosing unwavering faith. And I want you all to see God get the glory for my healing.


The many of you right now who have a different slant on your theology or are perhaps rolling your eyes or thinking to yourselves that we are not being realistic, are probably saying, “Yeah, so what if after all that, God DOESN’T heal you, Mary?”


And my answer to you is: What have we lost?




Psalm 118:17       I SHALL NOT DIE, BUT LIVE, AND PROCLAIM WHAT GOD HAS DONE!


Jeremiah 30:17  FOR I WILL RESTORE HEALTH TO YOU AND HEAL YOU OF YOUR WOUNDS.



Thursday, September 9, 2010

TATTOO GIRL

I am officially tattooed (I forgot to ask if it is temporary...) and ready for radiation on Monday. The whole lower half of my body is marked up. Trust me. It is NOT a sexy sight. But if it gets those beams on that pelvic bone and those cancer cells killed off, I will sport any marks for the rest of my life!!

The techs showed me the radiation room today so that I wouldn't stress about it beforehand, and showed me exactly what we would be doing. The physicist that OK's the oncologist's plan will sign off on Monday morning and I will head over for a 2:00 kick-off. I will be visualizing God's fingers being those beams of radiation, going exactly where they need to go. I am grateful that the cancer does not seem to have spread to any soft tissue around the pelvis.

Please pray for no or minimal side effects from this treatment. Lymphadema in my right leg would be the one side effect that would NOT be good, though they have said it rarely happens. Red skin, tiredness, and bowel or bladder changes are about the only common ones to expect, and some people have none. I want to be in that category!

Tomorrow my sweet friend Lee and her husband Bob, from northern MN, are driving all the way here to see me. On their anniversary weekend no less. Their commitment to me in friendship blows me away.

We just watched the Vikings lose a pathetic game. They better get their offense in shape for next week, or we are facing a very LONG season.

A QUICK CHECK-IN

D and I are leaving now for my (hopefully) last CT scan before radiation can begin on my hip. Apparently they will also fit me into a mold of some sort that will immobilize me for all of the treatments. I am concerned about all of the radioactivity that has been beamed into my body over the past month, but what can you do?

It was a month ago today that my family enjoyed a carefree, blissful day at the lake with our only emotion delight that it was a perfect blueberry picking day. Though we had no clue in the world, it was to be our last "normal" day for a long time. I wish time travel could transport us back there and we could feel all that again.

Dear friend Angie surprised us last night with dinner, then returned a couple hours later to chat about not only my journey, but all the wonderful mundane things going on in her life. I love her heart. Friends Chris and Lisa have stopped by with flowers and hugs and it has touched me so. Neighbor Mary has offered herself as a taxi service whenever D cannot take me to treatments. So much kindness.

Today as we leave, I am praying for the daughter of a lake friend of mine in Minnesota. She is a mother of four and today is going in for surgery for a brain tumor. I know the family wold appreciate any extra prayers for Darcie today.....that her tumor would be benign and removable, and that the family could feel some peace today as they wade through their fears. 

I have a long post coming. I am trying to discern the best way to say it all. Thank you for continued prayer. You have NO idea how far your prayers have brought me, from utter despair on August 10th to today. The hand of God has been on me, and I can't thank you enough. Please don't weary of the journey with me. We have a long ways to go.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

NO LUCKY BREAKS

I thought that maybe, just once, the tide would turn in our favor. I thought that perhaps, just miraculously, the .1% chance that the hip was not cancerous would be true. It is cancerous. And now we find out that the tissue Duluth was supposed to send to Mayo for testing was insufficient, and now we need to start all over again and wait 2 weeks for results of that (to see if my cancer may respond to a certain drug).

It looks as though I may be starting radiation on the hip next week. I am waiting on phone calls right now. I will need yet another CAT scan first. I will know more later.

I read this quote by Verdell Davis this morning, and right now, am believing it: In the darkness of the tunnel, "keeping on" becomes a miracle.

Monday, September 6, 2010

BEING STILL

It has been a difficult couple of days. Fear and panic and anxiety found their paths back into my head and heart and it makes for hellish living. I become fatalistic and cry and feel no hope, all of which, of course, Satan wants me to feel.

My niece stopped in Vermillion yesterday for a couple hours and talking with her was so beneficial. She showed me that I am fighting anxiety and fear as much as cancer. And I knew that I had to do something about it. Easier said than done, obviously. But I spent a few hours reading about the importance of being "empty" before the Lord, about resting in him, allowing Him to rest in me, about being sheltered under His wings. My mom's words from the Psalms echo always in my head, "Be still and know that I am God." I have needed to be still, and haven't. I have filled myself with utter panic.

D taught me to do slow abdominal breathing last night and today I have been praying for stillness, asking God to fill me so completely with Himself that anxiety and fear and confusion and hopelessness cannot find a place to perch. It will now be my constant prayer. I need peace more than I need anything else. Peace that surpasses all understanding, peace that only Jesus can give me. Peace that covers us no matter what is ahead. I can say that today was a better day than the past two.

We were so blessed by friends Sandy and Gary who walked into our house on Saturday with a box full of food for our freezer. Sandy took a vacation day, no less, to stay home and cook. They put in main dishes and breads and soups and sandwiches and muffin batter.... it brings me to tears thinking about their selfless generosity. Talk about being Jesus's hands and feet in the world. We already know how much this will mean on days after treatment when cooking is the last thing we would want to do.

Blessed by friend Julie who came with hugs and bread and prayers and tears and told me that she is mobilizing a couple of mighty prayer warriors from her church to come with herself and pray with me weekly. I am so moved by her desire to do this for me.

We are hoping for test results this week so that a treatment decision can be made. It has felt like so much wasted time letting these tumors grow.

Please pray for peace for both D and me. Please pray for S at school, that his heart and mind are guarded from worry.

Friday, September 3, 2010

BONE BIOPSY

Of all the 9 tests/scans/MRI's I have had, the bone biopsy yesterday has been the hardest, as it has really been painful. They said it could be so for up to 2 weeks. I am limping and am using crutches at times. I had pulled some muscles in that leg a few days before the biopsy which are still not healed up, so it adds insult to injury. All for a .1% chance that this is not cancer in the pelvis. We won't have results til next week.

They accidentally "overdosed" me on pain meds. Having been given Demerol during the biopsy, they gave me 2 Darvocet before I left for home. I said, "I'll just take one," (I should have explained my uber-sensitivity to drugs) but they told me to take both. By the time we got home (1/2 hour), I was slurring my words and could not walk and D had to hold me up to get me in the house. He laid me on the sofa and I was OUT for the next 4 hours.

My mind starts moving forward in fear about side effects of treatment when I let it. It is so hard to capture my thoughts and corral them in a place of peace and positivity. Some hours are better than others. It is a constant battle to do positive self-talk. I try. I try. I choose recovery. I choose life. 

What is hardest for me to understand is that I cannot read books (other than cancer stuff). I must read near 90-100 books a year. I am addicted to reading. But I cannot get my head into ANYTHING. I have 3 new books sitting here, all I have wanted to read for a long time, and I can't move beyond a couple paragraphs. It would be such a wonderful outlet for my thoughts, but it isn't there. I hope it returns someday.

Please pray for the ability to trust COMPLETELY and UNRESERVEDLY in God's leading right now. 4 weeks ago, D and I had our "future" all planned out.....we had an amazing "5 year plan." Now I see this blank in front of me and that is so hard. I need to believe and trust that the future my Lord has planned for me is good, though I cannot plan it or see it or feel it. The rubber of faith meets the road. Right here. Right now. Trust or not.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

BOUND TOGETHER

Once upon a time an average girl was born into an average family in an average-sized midwestern town. She had a big brother and a little brother and 2 parents who loved
all of them very much. As the children grew up, as siblings do, they fought. The girl and the older brother did not get along well at all. They had little in common and used to
call each other "fink" (which was not allowed to be said in the home but was exchanged
many times anyway). The little brother cut all the hair off the girl's bride doll one day and one day he got her into a heap of trouble when he flew through the glass front door as she was chasing him.

The sister and her brothers grew up and started talking to each other like siblings should as they got into their college years. As they all moved into their 20's and 30's and started having children of their own, they finally became close. The parents were so happy that the children were acting the way they should have acted 20 years before. The sister and her brothers became bonded with an emotional glue that was impossible to define.

One day the sister was diagnosed with cancer which filled the parents and the brothers with fear and despair and grief. All they wanted was to make it go away. Those parents and those brothers, however, acted strong for the girl and even in their own pain, she knew that they would always walk beside her, no matter what happened with her disease. They all wept with her and feared with her and comforted her in ways only the 4 of them could.

She knew that they were a family for the long haul, the 5 of them. She knew that at the sound of her voice saying, "I need you," that they would come, from miles away, in an instant. She knew that those 4 people loved her with every fiber of their being because that was how much she loved them. The girl knew that the love that flowed through all of their souls was far deeper than the cancer cells imbedded in her body.

And for the girl, that was everything.

A DOSE OF HOPE

I will exalt you, oh Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths. You brought me up from the grave. Psalm 30:1,3

In His infinite mercy, God has reached down and taken us out of the depths of
despair and has placed us at the edge of the mountain. We will attempt now
to take baby steps upward, with HOPE in our spirits.Three things have
happened that have helped lift the heavy cloud around us.

One, so many people have been praying for us to find our way out of the tunnel......all those prayers have NOT been in vain.....they are being answered hourly as we live hour to hour right now. Thanks are inadequate for all the prayers. Two, our niece Rachel sent us a book on cancer that is the first piece of literature we literally have been able to pick up and read without a first page chart of survivability stats (which sent us emotionally plummeting each time). She says she "has her sources," but heard it was an essential. It has been. Filled with how survivors survive, filled with wellness and hope. We are devouring it.


Three, an email from my childhood best friend. We have not seen each other in over 25 years, but she is the girl I played Barbies with, the girl I learned about menstruation with, the girl who had crushes on 6th grade boys with me, the girl I had sleepovers with....who knew my every thought and dream. Distance has kept us apart, but here was this email from her, telling me amazing survival stories about her husband and niece, both who lived 10 years after a metastatic cancer diagnosis because they chose to keep living and keep planning and keep believing. Her message reminding me of my strength and courage (which I do not feel) was so timely. She reminded me that of faith, hope, and love.....what you need to walk this journey......the only temporarily missing piece is the hope. Patty made me realize that I need to find that component of my spirit. (Patty, I tried calling you last night, but you weren't home...I'll try again)


And so.....my sweet husband and I knelt down, held hands and claimed as our new direction, Deuteronomy 30:19.  Moses was at the edge of the promised land, reviewing with his people, who had been wandering for 40 years, how faithful God had been to them, and held out before them this new future that was uncertain. He would not go with them into the promised land. And toward the end of Moses' series of lessons, he holds out to them what I really felt God was holding out to me. A choice.


"I have set before you life and death. Choose life, that you and your children may live, and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land promised."   Together, D and I prayed that verse and intend to hold fast to its message. We choose life, for as long as that is.


We know that the Lord may choose the other outcome for me. And my lachrymal system has been depleted because of that reality, for there is so much more living I desire in this life. But if we do all we can do on our side, and leave the rest up to God, then it is OK. We cannot park our souls in the garage of hopelessness any more. We worship a God of hope.


On the medical front, I met with a radiation oncologist today. As if my body hasn't had enough assault, he wants a bone biopsy done tomorrow. All of the radiologists have confirmed the cancer to the hip, and he believes it is 99% accurate. But because the bone looks a bit more sclerotic on the scans, which it probably shouldn't, he says there is a 1% chance that it is something else. So I need to endure a bone biopsy for a 1% chance. You know, I could ask you all to pray that somehow, God would miraculously make that 1% factor true, and miracles happen, but I am not going to read alot into this. He is just being hyper-careful so that he does not radiate something that has a 1% chance of being non-cancerous.


So the waiting game begins yet again. I don't know if I will know results by Friday, but I will update when we know.


My niece Annie sent me ruby slippers...Truly! (red sparkly flats). They are to
help me find my way around "OZ" and remind me that "you have strength you haven't
even imagined right inside of you, just like Dorothy...home was always right there...
and so are we." The baby girl I used to claim was mine, reminding me that the time I
have can be great time, filled with blessings and opportunities and love. Thank you, sweetie, for the truth.


Kate, my made-in-love-by-you Love Bird is so precious. If I close my eyes, I can almost smell Hendy's sweet baby scent on it, and every time I hold it I feel wrapped in your arms. Thank you for love on a crochet hook.


Please continue to pray that since we are finally on the edge of the grave, we could take steps forward and not backward. That is what we need right now. Forward steps. Thank you all for your faithfulness to us.


PS. Lee, you are NOT getting out of our summer pact to memorize Psalm 30. I'm almost there, girl. You better get hoppin'..........of all the psalms that we could have chosen, isn't it totally eerie that we picked THAT one, which would have so much meaning to me....