Tuesday, March 27, 2012


We spent spring break in a new part of Florida this year and enjoyed the spectacular sand beach without broken shells making it hard to walk barefoot. We had a condo right on the water and spent most of our time outside in perfect 83-84 degree weather every day. To my friends in Florida......one of these years I will have more than 5 days to steal from to meet with each of you. ( I'd love to have a USF reunion, Bev. I think about you and all our grad school classmates each time I am back in Florida! If you ever see Tom or Rosemarie, say hi from me, and tell Helen hi too!!) With travel on each end of the week, we get so little time there, and I admit we are pretty selfish with it. There won't be many years left when our son will have the same vacation week we do. 

I felt amazing (OFF the chemo) and had lots of energy. It felt like a short week, but we had great fun! A new setting allows your mind to absorb new stimuli and it was the break we all needed from the daily grind of our cancer-conscious lives. 

I told Sam at the end of the week I was glad he still likes to hang out with us in Florida every year. He told me, "Yep, I do. We're a pretty tight trio." And so we are. Here are a handful of pictures from our week. 

Sam on the condo's balcony.

Playing mini-golf

Mini-golf....on the ship


Found my kid out on the deserted beach one night doing his environmental studies homework

The gulls move in every day at dusk

Dick in our condo
Sam and me

Walkin' the beach

2012 Ekstrom Spring Break

Our heated pool was awesome. I want one at home :)

We walked down to the jetty. Killed our feet on the crushed shells there.

The guys played tennis after dinner. I was the ball girl.

Sittin' on the curb by the parking garage.

Sam working on his NCAA brackets.

We were on the 3rd level of the building behind me.

There was only one disappointing thing about the trip. It was in the '70's and '80's back home instead of the usual 20-30 degrees. Such a strange non-winter. Came home to people more tan than we were!! No rubbing-it-in this year!!


If any of you follow the NFL's activities in the off-season, and are either shocked/intrigued/skeptical about the new Peyton Manning/Tim Tebow deal, you might appreciate my son's very thoughtful analysis on his sports blog. It's as good a commentary as I have read in any magazine or newspaper. minnesotasportsguy.com

Sunday, March 25, 2012


I find myself in a strange land. I don't recognize the landmarks and the travel is challenging. It's uncomfortable in the least, downright agonizing at the most. Every day has different vistas. All I know to be true for me in this place is that cancer is a whole lot easier than the treatment for cancer. I would venture to guess that many cancer victims would agree with me.

Two out of the past 3 weeks have been very tough. Two hard weeks separated by a week OFF the chemo drug while on vacation (I will get some pictures up soon). I almost did not GO on vacation, as another bowel obstruction and abdominal pain and joint pain from the drug had me feeling that I would just ruin the guys' week. But thanks to the prayers of many, the obstruction was taken care of (as late as the airport in Kansas City) and I had a week of feeling absolutely like the Mary of 19 months ago. Without chemo, life is GOOD!!

Returning home, I again started up the drug and have faced the same old side effects, only a new one has emerged.....joint pain and arthralgia (only 2% of people get it....and I would have to be one). Everything from the waist down aches. I told Dick it is like both legs have migraines. This is very hard for an avid walker, and makes sleeping tenuous. The oncology team has me on a new bowel management program, but I am pretty skeptical. The bottom line is, this drug completely shuts down peristalsis. If I mentioned here what I am ingesting to manage this, none of you would believe me.

The initial post-diagnosis round of chemo left me in a brain fog for a week, but then I would cycle out of that and feel good for three weeks. I had no pain or constipation. Many people do not do well on those drugs that I was taking. God protected my body so well that I came to feel that my system could tolerate any ol' cocktail they could muster up to kill cancer cells. HELLO. Not THIS drug!

This all begs the question of whether or not I choose to stay on this drug. Yes, I know that it is the best choice to attack my ALK mutation. Really, the only option. And yet, dealing with pain and constipation daily is getting very old very fast. We talked about it on vacation and decided as a family that if God wants me on this drug, I am going to have to tolerate it with some quality of life, or we will quit. We know that God does not need this drug to heal me. He may or may not be using it in His plan. My belief in healing is set, no matter what medical science can or cannot do for me. I would like to take the drug until my next PET scan and see what it is doing. However, the three of us are united in the decision to quit if I can't be the wife and mom I want to be.

If you know me well at all, you know that I am NOT a traveler. I hate flying, and crossing 2 time zones is about my limit. I have no wanderlust in me. I have no designs on coursing the continents with a camera and trying to speak new languages. (I guess that is why plunking myself down in my remote woods by the lake every summer speaks to my soul so much). So strange and unfamiliar lands do not sit well with me. And this phase of cancer is both. And while I completely trust that God is sovereign over yet another challenge in my life, I do not like this bus tour.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Yesterday, Gen died. She had filled a span of 92 years on this earth, and her spirit left her body with her 6 wonderful children gathered around her.

For 60 years, Gen and my mom were best friends. They had both moved to Jamestown, ND around 1949-1950 where their husbands were colleagues in the medical clinic. Gen and Mom bonded quickly as stay-at-home moms, and through the years, as they raised their families, they were always there for each other whether it was home decorating, emotional crises, recipe exchanges, medical problems, child care, or merely connecting as best girlfriends do, about nothing in particular. They simply shared their daily lives.

I grew up loving Gen. Of all my mom's friends, Gen was the friend who always asked me about me. She was always interested in what I was doing and thinking. I loved that about her. One summer day when I was in later grade school, she and I had a rummage sale. We talked and laughed the day away....she made me feel so grown up.

Gen was an other-centered woman who loved her large family and friends deeply. She fought back from a debilitating stroke with great determination and willpower. She was funny and self-deprecating and compassionate and sensitive. She said what she felt. She was just such a good person and Godly woman. Gen has been praying for me ever since my diagnosis, and if we continue to pray for others while in heaven, I don't doubt that I am still in her prayers. Her devotion to praying for me has blessed my socks off.

I ache for my mom who will miss her "buddy." She will miss the daily phone calls. She will miss the friendship spanning over half a century that so enriched her life. Yet, on another level, she won't. I love the words from the movie I NEVER SANG FOR MY FATHER: "Death ends a life but it doesn't end a relationship, which lingers on in the survivor's mind." Mom won't ever lose the relationship. It is imprinted on her heart for all time.

Gen's kids and grandkids and friends were blessed....and now face lives without this sweet woman. The night sky will now have one more star. And its light will remind us of a special gal who lived a full life and left handprints of love on so many people. Including me.

Love you, Gen. Until we meet again someday.....

Sunday, March 18, 2012


I spent the last week on the beach. This was my holy moment, my statement of faith in the sand. This was my nod to Mark 11:22-24.

     Whoever (that would include me) says to this mountain (my mountain is lung cancer), "Be removed and cast into the sea (in this case, washed into the sea)," and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

Amen. And amen. And so I believe it shall be.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


For those of you reading my blog who are not at all interested in my posts about the reasons for my faith in my own healing, you can skip this one as well! In answer to those of you who have asked me, I give you my fourth reason....

The fourth truth I have found regarding divine healing was perhaps the most personally revealing and perhaps the most profound "condition" that healing is based on. What I discovered was that my faith was not faith at all. Not Jesus' kind of faith. My faith was always hope.

People use the word cavalierly. I certainly have. I have faith you'll get a good job. I have faith you will have a baby someday. I have faith the weather will be great on your vacation. The faith that we toss around like that is hope. And in the Christian life, I learned that faith is not hope and hope is not faith. Faith, faith that can heal cancer, is an altogether different animal and I had never been introduced to it.


Jesus' definition of faith is shown throughout the Bible, both in the old and new testaments. I will cite just three here.

When the blind beggar on the road calls out to Jesus, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me," Jesus asks him what he wants. The blind man says, "I want to see." Jesus says, "Go, your faith has made you well." 

When the woman, bleeding for 12 years, merely touches Jesus' garments as he passes, Jesus says, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. You are cured from your illness."

When the two blind men approach Jesus and ask for mercy, Jesus asks them if they believe He can do this. "Yes, Lord," they reply. And Jesus says, "What you have believed will be done for you." And they could see. Their faith in Him healed them.

I believe Jesus was saying to all of these people, "I am going to use My divine power to grant your request because you believe that I will do it." These needy people were not HOPING that Jesus COULD heal them. They BELIEVED that he WOULD heal them. That is faith.

I found that doubt nullifies faith. Jesus withheld the witnessing of miracles from those who dishonored Him with doubt. He even left Nazareth and refused to do any more miracles because the locals had no faith in Him.

If I hope for healing, I have no faith in it. Real faith changes hope to reality. Faith acts in the face of contrary evidence. It is the assurance of what cannot be seen by the eye, based only on the promises of God, counting the promise as good before God has even acted. Genuine faith doesn't look at circumstances. It lives in the light of anticipated results. If God has promised something, He will make it good. Faith means we believe we have what God has said even before we see it.



Unwavering faith, I found throughout the Bible (great examples in the 11th chapter of Hebrews), is what God expects of His followers if we want His favor, His power, and His miracles in our life. And so it was unwavering faith that I was going to learn and gather up and live by.

I had already learned that God is our Healer, that illness was included in the atonement of Christ, that Jesus came to earth as God's representative of His will and healed all who asked Him. It was an easy leap for me to begin to have genuine faith instead of hope. I made the choice to believe that God is healing me. It is done. I believe it will be manifested in my body in His time.

I do not hope for healing. It is happening because my God is a Divine Healer. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. God is who He says He is and He means what He says. That's all I need to know.

He is faithful---------and so I have faith.

The person who has God's approval will live by faith. Heb 11:38

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I went to my doctor today. There is no magic cure for yet another bowel obstruction.....I need to keep taking OTC remedies and drink lots of water and hope for the best. I am on day 7 of another bout of it. My life has been reduced to praying for peristalsis. Sad. He doesn't want me to try to take the 2 pills per day again because I am having too many side effects with just the one. Between the low blood pressure and constipation and abdominal pain and increased PVC's, I am having more and more time wondering if I should even continue this drug. I really need to pray about that possibility. I just do not feel well ever.

Sam comes home on Thursday for spring break. I am taking a week's drug holiday so that I can be the mom he used to see.....the mom before the tiring and frustrating side effects from cancer treatment stole a piece of my essence. I am hoping we have an enjoyable week together.

Friday, March 2, 2012


I am very aware that every time I present another one of my beliefs about divine healing, I am setting myself up for someone to tell me that what I believe is not “correct.” I love that I live in country where I can respect what you take from the Bible, and you respect what I take from the Bible.

What has convicted me most about sharing these beliefs is not just that I have been asked what I have learned, but that I have asked God over and over and over again in this 17-month-long investigation into divine healing, to check me if I am out of His will in any way or if what I am finding is not His truth. I have asked Him to make it very clear to me if I am off base in any of my beliefs. In 17 months of study, I have had nothing but confirmation from God. And so, I share my third “find.”

My search led me to an astonishing fact…..Jesus bore my diseases on the cross just like He bore my sins. WHY, I have asked myself and others, doesn’t the global Christian church around the world today TEACH this? Why hadn’t I ever heard this before? It is a hidden pearl of great price. My pastor told me that yes, in his seminary, that doctrine was taught. So, too, in probably many seminaries. And yet, this doctrine is rarely heard about.

In my book, I have written most about this prophecy and its fulfillment. I will again try my best to summarize this in general terms.

Isaiah 53 clearly teaches that bodily healing is included in the atoning work of Christ, His suffering and His cross. The church today teaches that He was wounded for our sins, but it neglects to look at the sentence which precedes it which says He also bore our infirmities!
            Surely He has borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows (also
            translated as pains). But He was wounded for our transgressions,
            He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace
            was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed. Is 53:4-5

Some translations read “griefs” instead of “infirmities.” My resources said that the original Hebrew word for griefs is everywhere else in the Hebrew Bible translated as “sickness” or “physical affliction.”

Jesus was made sick with our sicknesses and made sin with our sins. We are redeemed from disease as we are saved from sin, because Jesus bore them both. The verse below confirms that Jesus bore our sicknesses, and was fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy with His ministry on earth:
            Jesus cast out demons with a word and healed all the sick. This
            was to fulfill what was written by the prophet Isaiah [which says] 
           He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases. Matt 8:16-17.

We appropriate healing, then, in the same way we appropriate salvation when we are
saved. By faith alone through grace alone. To be saved, we confess our sinfulness,  accept that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is the only way to heaven, and claim salvation. As I have come to understand this, we can claim healing, then, just like we claim salvation when we accept God’s free gift. This does not necessarily mean that healing is instantaneous. It means that the Word of God SAYS he bore our diseases, so that is what I believe. I take Him at His word.

Even David spoke this biblical truth before Jesus ever came to earth: Bless the Lord, Oh, my soul…..who forgives all our sins AND heals all our diseases. Psalm 103:3.

The requirement for forgiveness of sins was the shedding of blood. Torture was not a requirement to provide salvation. Only the shedding of blood. But Jesus’ body was completely broken and tortured for our pain and disease. He was flogged and beaten until Isaiah tells us that He was unrecognizable:

            But many were amazed when they saw him.
            His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, 
            and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he
           was a man. Is 52:14

By those stripes we are healed. He did not need to be beaten to save us from sin, but to save us from disease. It was God’s will (Isaiah 53:10) to bruise him and make Him sick, because He wanted full deliverance for His followers.

I have chosen to take these words as truth. I believe what the Bible says. My illness was borne by our Savior. It doesn’t matter if I still have cancer cells on a PET scan. It doesn’t matter that there are tumors in my lung. Those things are testimonies of my human senses. I do not listen to the witness of my senses. I accept the Word of God over my senses and I have chosen to act on it. Seventeen months ago I found this truth, and from that day on, I have said to everyone who asked, “God is healing me.” And He has already healed one tumor of mine and one lymph node. I don’t know God’s timetable, but I have total faith that I will see total healing.

If I have never once doubted my salvation once I accepted Jesus as my Savior, then I should not doubt my healing either. Scripture is clear that he died for both. I stand on that. When it will become manifest in my body, I do not know. But by faith in the Word, I will wait and continue to see myself as God sees me, healed by His stripes.

It is simple. It is profound. He was tortured for me so I would not have to bear this cancer. I have accepted the indescribable gift of that, and have unwavering faith in it.