Friday, December 30, 2011


The days before Christmas were busy, and I didn't take the time to say MERRY CHRISTMAS on my blog. Hope you all had a joyous celebration of our Savior's birth! I then went on a road trip for a week and am just home now. We had a fun holiday weekend with family in North Dakota, and then saw more friends in Grand Rapids and the rest of the family in Duluth, where my brother and two of his daughters live. My 2-yr-old great-nephew Hendy in Duluth is just starting to talk and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time getting to "talk" to him and play with him....he is adorable.

I think I need to tell myself to "grow up" when I reacted to seeing "our" house in Duluth re-painted and looking very junk-yardish, with paint peeling all over the steps and garage. We had taken loving care of our 5-bedroom Victorian when we lived in Duluth. It was painted a cream color with a burnt-copperish trim. The current owners have painted it ugly (and that is not subjective) gray with seafoam green trim. And the backyard looked like a salvage dump. I's utterly silly to still feel connected to a house, but it was where we brought Sam home to when he was born, and we have precious memories of all the years we lived there.

Here are some pics from Christmas weekend....

Nanny in her new "slanket"

Baby Jack (my great-nephew) checking out the guys' big catch from ice-fishing

Jack and his Mimi (My sis-in-law Margie)

Sam and cousin Billy talking what else.....sports.....
 I spent 2 days in Grand Rapids, and decided to head up to check the cabin right away since it was over 40 degrees when Sam and I got there. It was the best 50 minutes I have spent outside since we left the lake in August. There is almost no snow, and the pine needles and leaves were crunching underfoot. Sun shining for most of the time. I checked the cabin, walked our deer trail through our back woods, did some yard work (tops of tall dead trees had fallen and I hauled them into the woods), sat on the deck and prayed, and it was just the best time. The only thing that could have made it better would have been Dick with me.

On a more somber note, my cousin Joe was diagnosed with cancer over Christmas weekend. Our family would appreciate any prayers you would pray for him and his whole family. I remember only too well what these first weeks and months feel like. Bathing him in prayer in the most we can do. God and the physicians will handle the rest. Thanks.

Happy New Year to you all. May it be 12 months of good health ahead for you all!! That is everything.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


I am finding out that people don’t really know how to process why I wrote a booklet of all I have learned about faith and healing the past 16 months BEFORE I AM HEALED.

It’s all faith, folks. All faith. Faith is believing that God will show up and finish the job based only on His promises in the Bible before I have any physical evidence to believe it.  Faith is believing that the healing is done before human eyes looking at man-made scanners can verify it. I believe in every truth I have learned in the Bible about God’s willingness to heal all Christians.

If I waited to write what I believe to be true, then it would simply show my lack of faith. Either the Word of God is absolute truth and His promises are reliable, or it is all a boldface lie and His promises are fluff. So I feel I can cite what I have read in His Word with assurance that He cannot lie, and that what I have gleaned may be used for His glory to help someone else facing a life-threatening illness.

It is my stand of faith. Believing before seeing. That’s God’s standard for faith. I do not hope for my healing. Hope is not faith. It has nothing to do with faith. Faith does not consider what the natural eye can see or the natural ear can hear or what the physical body can feel. Faith looks only to God’s promises, knows they are true, and can therefore stand upon them with boldness. Anything less dishonors God (Without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:16).

As I have sojourned along the cancer trail the past 16 months, I have found it staggering that Christians in general lack the EXPECTATION that God’s wonders and miracles are still available to the masses of believers. Why don’t people EXPECT them? Their Lord set the moon and stars in place. He “releases the wind from its storehouses and sends the lightening with the rain.” (Ps 135)  God controls the night and the day and has sovereignty over the entire universe. And yet they think Him incapable of curing a cancer? Can’t He heal a bone or open an artery? Can’t He cause the blind to see and the crippled to walk? 

Has God become that small to believers today? Are people skeptics because God doesn’t show up more often to display His miracles OR does He not show up to display His miracles because His children have become skeptics? You tell me.

Let’s look at Jairus, the synagogue ruler. In both the 8th chapter of Luke and the 5th chapter of Mark we read his story. He asks Jesus to heal his daughter. Jesus goes with Jairus, but on the way to his house, some men come to tell Jairus that his daughter has already died. Ignoring what they said, Jesus tells Jairus not to fear, but to “just believe.”

When Jesus gets to the house and hears all the grief, he says, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” The reaction?

What does Jesus do with the blatant doubt and cynicism of the flute players and the noisy crowd of friends and relatives of the little girl? JESUS KICKS THEM OUT OF THE ROOM!!

Before He raises the girl from the dead (or asleep, as Jesus says), before He lets His miracle be witnessed, Jesus kicks out the naysayers and keeps in the room only the girl's parents, who had the faith to seek Him for healing, and his disciples. Jesus clearly does not tolerate disbelief. He withholds the witnessing of His miracle from those who dishonored Him with doubt.

The people in Jairus’ house did not EXPECT anything miraculous from Jesus. So He doesn’t let them in on the wonder of the moment. While they are guffawing in the outer room, our Jesus, our mighty Savior and Healer, quietly lets those who EXPECT Him to show His power, see it manifest itself as Jairus’ precious daughter wakes up.

That’s why I wrote my booklet, my friends. That’s why I stand in faith. I decided 15 months ago that I was going to EXPECT my God to show His power in me, and I still do. I am going to be one of the ones who EXPECTS Him to do “the impossible” and I will simply wait for His timing. His Word says He will. That’s all I need.

Friday, December 16, 2011


Two reasons why I am smiling alot today......

My boy is home for 3 weeks!!!!

My book is done!

And it's Friday, besides. Life is good.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I read a book recently in which all commerce stops. Humans are on their own, to survive with only their own resources. No stores, no organizations, no businesses, no clinics, nothing. It got me to thinking. If that were to ever happen, if we lived communally, could the Hieb family make it?

Well, in the health category, we more than have that covered. We have a physical therapist, 2 doctors, 1 dentist, a medical technologist, a cardiac cath expert, a nurse anesthetist and a nursing student. By the looks of it, if we could barter with a pharmacist for some propofol, we could probably even offer some basic surgery at our place!

We have a health and fitness expert to keep us all heart-healthy, and a teacher who can keep all the grandkiddies homeschooled. We have an artist who would bring beauty from many mediums into all of our homes. We have a firefighter/EMT to keep our commune from burning down, and two amazing salesmen who could, I am sure, barter with anyone else in another commune for just about anything.

We have a gerontologist to handle all of the aging issues, a social worker and a counselor to manage all the emotional Hieb irregularities and idiosyncrasies. Our counselor is also a lawyer if we need to re-vamp all our wills. We have a budding journalist to gather info from the outside world.

We have many great cooks, but not as many gardeners. So if we needed to grow our own food, we would need to mobilize nearly everyone to garden (our PT would have his hands full dealing with those gardening backaches). We have lots of avid fishermen/women, and 4-5 men who can hunt bird and game. We also have 3 (soon to be 5) grandbabies to keep us all young.

We have at least 5 guitarists who could keep us in music. Our teacher cans food, which would be a real plus. Many can sew.

Would it work? It makes one wonder. What do we really need to live? How much can we do without? How would our lives be if we had only the gifts and talents of those in our family to sustain our existence?

Hmmmm…..I don’t know. As for me, if only someone in the family was a librarian and still had keys to the public library….

Monday, December 12, 2011


Thought I would share page 1 of my booklet with y'all!! It will give you a sense of what my writing is all about!!


          Usually, on page one of a booklet, the writer is attempting to woo the reader into their writing. The writer wants to inspire readers to “get into it” rapidly.
          Not this booklet. On page 1, right here, I am asking you to stop reading for a moment and search your heart. There are only 2 platforms to stand on regarding divine healing. One is belief, one is unbelief. You can’t stand on both. You have to make a choice. This book won’t make sense to you or help you in your healing unless you choose the platform of unwavering faith in the Word.

          Either the Word of God is true, or it is not.
          Either God speaks the truth or He is a liar.

          Either His promises are reliable or they are not.

          Either He means exactly what He says or He doesn’t.

          There is no middle ground here. This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road when you are talking about God’s promises.
          Imagine a “healing train” steaming toward you. You have the opportunity to get on board and journey with God through your illness, with divine healing as the intended destination. The train stops at only one station platform to pick people up. (I know, cheesy example, but, hey, indulge me.) You can’t be on two platforms at the same time because the train will not stop at both.
          If you can say that you are a follower of Jesus Christ, and you believe His Word, believe His every promise is Truth, and that it WILL be fulfilled; if you believe that God means exactly what He says in Scripture, and you know He cannot lie, then you are heading to the platform where the train stops.
          Get into any car on the train. I’ll be on there with you. You can hear the whistle right now.


This morning, I am relieved, baffled and pleasantly surprised.

My pleasant surprise comes in the form of a chemotherapy side effect. All of a sudden, I have no more underarm hair!! I mean, it has simply stopped growing. There may be 5 or 6 very soft blond hairs there right now, but considering I shaved 2 weeks ago, that is amazing! I see this as a great success! Now, if only it would extend to my legs, I would be in hog heaven.

I am still baffled, 10 days later, as to an exchange between me and one of my nurses at chemo last time. I asked him if I could have one of his wet wipes to clean up the crumbs from my cheese crackers that got on the side table to my infusion chair. He said, "Oh, no, no, no, you don't do that. I'll clean that up. You have cancer." Well, color me stymied. What did one have to do with the other? I said to him, "I have cancer, but cancer didn't turn me into a slob that can't clean up after myself." To which he said, "Oh, no, you're the patient. You just go."

He is a very nice nurse and I like him a lot, but he really made me feel small and condescended to. I mean, I have an illness. The illness does not negate responsible behavior. Since when does sickness get you off the hoof for simple manners? Well, thanks, I got that off my has been bugging me for 10 days, and now I can drop it. But if it does happen again, I have my speech prepared.

And my relief this morning comes from finishing my booklet on healing last night, and it is ready to be taken to the print shop just as soon as I get done with this post. I am only having a few copies made right now. When my healing is complete, which I have faith in, I will add my own story and medical reports, and then make multiple copies. It is going to be so nice to have all the information I have gleaned this year in one publication. I hope God will use the booklet for His glory with others who are suffering from disease.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I’ve received a third informational notice of my upcoming high school reunion next summer. I have an abundance of mixed feelings about reunions. My lingering query about this tradition is: How well can you reunite people who aren’t the same people as they were all those years ago? I mean, are any of us what we were in high school? I don’t even know that bouncy long-haired cheerleader whose picture I see in my yearbook. She knew no angst, she didn’t have enough courage to reach out to the “unpopular” kids, she was always arguing with her brother, she had no direction for her future career. Would I even choose to be friends with her now? I don’t know that I would.

I am not her anymore. I have journeyed through pain and joy and frustration and crisis and excitement and contentment and fear……only to find that the real me was created on that long journey…… and that today’s Mary has very little resemblance to the high school Mary.

I find that reunions place us at the corner of ignorance and wisdom. Balancing an image of who we were….. ignorant about most everything in life.....with the wisdom that we have hopefully accumulated along the way. What are we supposed to do at that intersection? Chinese fire drills?

Now I am not a stick-in-the-mud, and enjoy seeing old friends as much as the next person. I had a wonderful 4 years of high school and had great friends. Reunions present genuine laughter over teachers, pranks, and what-we-got-away-with-then. But all of that eventually feels trite at these two-day events.  I tire of small talk, and reunions have an abundance of that. I don’t drink, so I don’t gravitate to the bar to ham it up with the scotch-and-water set. I don’t golf, so I can’t waste a few hours with pals on the back nine.

I guess I just feel so much of it is shallow. At my last couple reunions, I felt a real lack of transparency amongst classmates. I had heard about others’ broken marriages, rebellious kids, sick parents, bankruptcies, job losses and stillborn babies. But in conversation with those very people, they steer clear of those topics. Why do people feel they need to put on the my-world-is-perfect face? I do not think any of us escaped the hallowed halls and lived out Camelot. But people don’t really want to talk about their lives.

Classmates generally want to know facts about you. I care more about what and Who made me who I am today. But that’s not what reunions are for. They are still for chitchat and random memory-sharing. Struggle, faith, heartache and God are not the topics floating around the banquet tables.

If faith is the river that took me from the halls of Jamestown High School to being a middle-aged wife and mom with lung cancer, then my faith is the most profound part of my voyage. And the river’s meandering that brought me to this place and time is the very stuff of my life. Other than my closest friends (who already know), nobody else really cares about that.

I just don’t care if my old classmates know where I now live or what I do for a living or how many kids I have. I would rather share with people how I’ve faced…. sometimes successfully and sometimes not…….my life’s giants since graduation day, and how, with God’s grace and mercy, I am finally the me I was meant to be all those years ago.

For lots of people, the surface level enjoyment of seeing old faces is enough to make the two-day trip worthwhile and satisfy their curiosities about others. I may just stay home and let them all remember the happy-go-lucky 18-year-old Mary, the Mary that came into her own when real life started to happen and she got on for the ride.

Friday, December 2, 2011


You heard me right.
5 flippin' needle sticks today to get my line in.

One was tolerable. Two had me wincing. Three did me in. Four was like watching a horror show gone bad. It took 3 nurses, 5 needles, 5 betadyne wipes, 10 latex gloves, a blood pressure cuff, a rubber rope, a heating pad and a heated blanket to get me going today. An hour and a half just to get in a catheter.

Each stick went in, but each time they pushed the catheter up......number 1 blew up the vein, number 2 hit a vein valve, number 3 started snake-slithering, and number 4 collapsed. At this point, against my better judgement and envisioning needles near my carotid and in my ankle, I asked the million dollar question, "So what is our last resort?" My nurses say that likely we will cancel chemo and I have to come back and I should really consider having a port-a-cath inserted in my chest wall."

I looked into the eyes of my young nurse (#3) and I say to him in no uncertain tone of voice, "I will not leave and I won't come back. And I do not want a catheter in my chest. If you have to stick the needle in my hind end or any other place on my body, do it. Just get the (I wanted a good adjective here, but controlled myself) needle in me. Now."

Number 5 went in......he ended up picking a very sensitive and uncomfortable site......the underside of my wrist. My arm was immobilized for doing anything and it ached, but it was in and I would have sat still as a mummy if that's what was required. 

Nurse number 2 tells me that this is really a blow to an infusion nurse's pride....they really want to get it on the first stick. I was not overly concerned about their pride today!!

My mom has these enormous veins. Unlucky for her, in her medical technology class in college, she was the human pin cushion for her classmates to practice on. I couldn't have inherited JUST ONE of those veins?

Going on less than 2 hours of sleep, yet buzzed from steroids, this was pretty much my worst day in chemo. I was wiped out. Got home and went to the sofa and my eyes were so heavy from sleep deprivation, but I absolutely cannot fall asleep. I HATE these steroids.

Had a really good heart-to-heart with my doc (before all the drama) about my medical-spiritual dilemmas regarding the continuance of the chemo and about staging of cancers. He is so great. From a medical standpoint, even if my lung tumor were to disappear (which I have faith it will do), I will never be considered "cured." They would consider me Stage IV NED (no evidence of disease). Very odd to me. But as my Christian doctor says, "But if that happens, YOU will know you have been healed!"

I was suppose to be scheduled for the next round on Friday Dec. 30 but I just flat out told them I wouldn't ruin my New Year's weekend in a steroid stupor, so please find a slot for me the following week, and they did. This weekend looks to be exactly what I want to avoid then.....nights without sleep and days dragging and buzzed. But I work on Monday, so am praying that Sunday night I can pull out 3-4 hours of shut-eye.

The best part of today? IT. CAN. NOT. GET. ANY. WORSE.!!!!

I have 5 of these over two arms!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I had my labs drawn this morning. I have, I guess, officially made my inaccessible veins known to the local lab here in town. The intern was doing all the draws when I arrived. She went back to get one of the "old" techs to do my draw, who told me that when they saw my name, they decided not to put me through the multiple sticks by an inexperienced lab tech. Known by my veins. Great. But I am abundantly grateful.

Tomorrow I have my first chemo in 6 weeks. It is supposed to be an every-3-week infusion. Months ago I chose to do it only every 4 weeks. And over Thanksgiving, I told my oncologist that I was not going to do it before and right after the holiday (yes, I have taken charge of my own health care!), and so it is now about 6 weeks out. It has been great not thinking about another infusion for this long. Life has seemed very normal.

I had to start steroids this morning, so I am prepared for the next 4 sleepless nights with 5 novels that all look intriguing enough to make the dark hours drag a bit less. Most chemo patients dread the chemo after-effects. Mine are minimal enough that my dread is only the needle part. I can't tell you how I hate the multiple sticks and bleeding out from collaspsing veins. I do NOT like "set-up."

Sam went back to school on Monday afternoon. We had our traditional Christmas tree decorating night on Sunday (Sam mandated all the components of this tradition when he was about 4 and we're still doing them all). The whole house smelled of pine for 2 days!! I love nights with just the tree lights and candles on and Christmas music in the's still magical even to this middle-aged gal. I feel so blessed to have another Christmas with my boys!!

The bathroom project downstairs is finally done. Whoo-hoo!! The only thing Dick and I have to do is paint out the trim and the door, and we have a "new" bathroom. It is not high-end (it still has a concrete block wall on the backside!) by any means, but it is amazing what a new vanity, new ceiling and lighting, fresh paint, and new toilet seat can do for a tired, 45-year-old room.

Have a great weekend......