Let’s Get Cookin’

(…a bit more…)

Part of my cancer treatment included three sessions of internal radiation. I didn't know this even existed, this abnormal process of trying to kill off microscopic cancer cells near the tumor site.  It had to be a group of mad scientists who came up with such a thing!

As I arrived at Stanford for the first treatment, fear was again accompanying me every step of the way.  I was to change into a hospital gown and then the nurse would begin medicating me.  The idea was to find a balance between pain meds and tranquilizers.

The morphine slowly began to take effect and the procedure was started.  Because the type of cancer I had was uterine, you can imagine where tubes, cylinders and markers were being inserted.  Several x-rays were then taken and all medical personnel disappeared for an hour and a half to run calculations…making a treatment plan.  My part was to now lie perfectly still and wait.

Eddie came in to chat and help the time move along quickly.  About a half an hour into the waiting, my pain became unbearable.  Tears were beginning to flow.  Ed called for the nurse.  I was given more morphine.  The nausea and pressure subsided a bit as the entourage of doctors returned.  They had a plan and began moving equipment into place for this next phase.

"Let's get cookin'," came flying out of the new resident's mouth as the whole room stared at him in horror.  It was not the appropriate signal to give just before administering radiation.  The room cleared out.  Everyone, but me, left…standing behind a thick, massive wall- safely protected from the particles that were about to fill the room.

The actual treatment took only about 15 minutes.  In my altered state i prayed as best I could for complete healing.  Though everyone had so carefully left and shielded themselves from the nuclear matter, I knew I wasn't really alone.  I found myself again relating to Joseph in the book of Genesis.  Even though he was unfairly imprisoned, chapter 39 repeatedly states that God was with him (verses 21,23).  God was with me and I confidently knew it.  He would not leave me now.

The physicist was the first to slowly re-enter the room, armed with a geiger counter "gun."  I assumed it was telling him if all was clear- no stray particles floating around.  My mind resorted to the familiar phrase, "This cannot be good for a person."

He gave the thumbs up signal.  Doctors and nurses came flooding back in.  It was done.  I had made it through session number one.  Thank you, Lord, for choosing to stay by my side even when all others had fled.  You truly will never leave me nor forsake me.  I love you so much and pray that I will be as loyal to you as you are to me.

2 Timothy 2:13   "He will remain faithful- even if we are faithless."

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Snap To It

(written last year as I had finished 4 surgeries and was not starting the treatment phase)

I could feel the excitement growing.  It was just moments before the house would be still with all family members gone.  As they drove off, I instantly had tears in my eyes, greatly anticipating the quiet connection with my best friend.  I was depleted and in need of Jesus.

I find myself longing to withdraw from people.  In many ways I am barely coping.  Eddie asked me why I was so snappy.  "It's a snappy time of life," I responded.  I'm in week four of external radiation and the side effects are starting to get to me.  The constant fatigue and discomfort is very wearing.  So, Wednesday nights have become a favorite date night with my Savior while the family is at church.

As I read my Bible and pray, my faith is beginning to resurface.  Psalms 16:11b says, "…You will fill me with joy in your presence."  When I began this medical path about a year ago, God was teaching me it was time to grow the fruit of the spirit, joy, in my life.  A key point I learned last summer was that joy equals strength.  The verse in Psalms rewritten with that synonym would say, "You will fill me with STRENGTH in your presence."   That's the key!  Being in the presence of God brings strength.  Psalms 18:1 "I love you, O Lord, my strength," … my joy.

God is my strength, my joy.  I desperately need Him.  Life is hard right now AND (not, … but) AND God is incredible.  He is there, ready to meet with me, with you, with all of us- as we carve out that special alone time with Him.  What are you waiting for?  Snap to it.

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Dress Rehearsal

(more of my story… beginning of radiation treatments)

As I slid back the curtain of the dressing room it was immediately apparent that I was the "odd-man-out."  Everyone (okay 4 or so other patients) was sitting with their hospital gowns tied to open in the front.  I had put the gown on backwards and now had to be paraded down the hallway feeling like a dope.  Talk about insecurity in being the new patient who can't even get the first thing right.

My external radiation treatments were to be a daily appointment that would last 5 weeks.  I couldn't even begin to fathom how my life would possibly accommodate trips to the hospital everyday.  "Don't over think it.  Just keep moving forward," I often chanted to myself.

This was my dress rehearsal.  The technicians were to practice with the settings that had been mapped out on a previous scan.  X-rays would be taken and final adjustments made.

I apologized for the backwards gown as I climbed up on to the table.  Everyone was gracious and friendly about it.  As I laid on the stone, cold, hard table I began thinking about my mom.  She had been through all these same steps.  Her initial appointment had not gone well.  When she had first assumed the position on the table, tears welled up in her eyes  Her doctor's uncaring response had been, "What's wrong?  Haven't you accepted what is happening with you?"  Someone should have let that doctor have it!

My own tears were now present as I not only reflected on my mom, but also as I dealt with my current sadness over my situation.  This was not fun, but necessary, and would ultimately be for my good.  Just as I was identifying with my mom, there was a realization that Jesus sympathizes with me.  Hebrews 4:14-16 (msg) "Now that we know what we have – Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God – let's not let it slip through our fingers.  We don't have a priest who is out of touch with or reality.  He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all – all but sin.  So let's walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give.  Take the mercy, accept the help."  

Jesus is that incredible friend who understands suffering.  He wants to hear all about it and offers grace and help.  What a comforting thought.  Not only is my Savior with me at all times, He can relate, on a personal level, with what I'm going through.  He's been there.  He gets it.  He painfully died on a cross to bring a better outcome to those who believe in Him.  My journey is small potatoes compared to that!

As my appointment was coming to an end, I had to walk back to the dressing room, again feeling foolish for my lack of proper gown etiquette.  The technician began giving me final instructions on what to expect next week as the official treatment plan would begin.  Her closing words to me were, "Oh.  By the way, you won't need to change into a hospital gown.  We can take you just as you are."  All that insecurity and worry for nothing.

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Happy Anniversary

(written on my 25th anniversary June 9, 2009)

It was one of the most tender moments of my life.  Literally, a "words cannot describe,"… "time stood still"… kind of moment.  Eddie was standing in the driveway as I pulled up from my early morning workout.  As we embraced each other, it hit.  We both were struck at the same time with the same, equal emotions.  We held each other and peacefully cried.

Being married 25 years is an amazing accomplishment.  Not only because you are still together, as in not divorced, but because you are still together as in both alive.  The last year had been a tumultuous ride in the cancer world and we were grateful to be holding each other on this very special anniversary.

Eddie and I had been at a loss on how to celebrate our special day.  We were unable to plan a big getaway due to the treatments I was undergoing and the potential treatments soon to come.  There were no concrete answers to how I would be feeling or what was around the next corner.  It was a bit depressing because you definitely want to mark this anniversary with something you'll remember the rest of your life.

Ecclesiastes 11:8 states that "however many years a man (woman) shall live, let him (her) enjoy them all."  God was working with me on this point.  Celebrate life.  Appreciate life.  Live life and feel life.  Soak it all in and trust God with everything because "His banner over me is love."  Song of Songs 2:46.  For me, that verse applies so well to Ed, also.  He loves me, protects me and so graciously walks through life, even cancer, with me.  He stands out to not only me but all who know him.  Song of Songs 5:10 also perfectly describes him;  "My lover is radiant and ruddy – outstanding among ten thousand."  

When someone asks me how we celebrated our 25th anniversary or what gift Eddie gave me, I'll have to fight back the tears as I answer.  You see, our love for each other truly is indescribable and that tender moment we shared was worth more than any card, gift or trip we could have planned.  Eddie is the gift and he is worth celebrating.  

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Peace, Peace

(more of my cancer story from spring 2009)

I arrived for my first appointment at Stanford Medical Center in a state of awe and disbelief.  How had my case been elevated to the point of needing the counsel of possibly the best doctors anywhere?  It was like being at the mecca of the medical world.  I was grateful and extremely anxious all at the same time.
As Eddie and I maneuvered through the job of parking and looking for the correct building, we located the much needed restrooms.  A lady came through the door after me, singing, in a not-so-soft voice.  I couldn't believe it.  She was belting out the words to an old worship chorus that I knew as a child.
            "Peace, peace- wonderful peace.
             Coming down from the Father above.
             Sweep over my spirit, forever I pray.
             In fathomless billows of love."
That moment so ministered to me!  God was using her melody to reassure me that He was offering His peace.  Genesis 16:13 says, "You are the God who sees me."  God was with me and He wanted me to know it.  
As I met with the radiation oncologist and his assistant, it was very informative, nerve-wracking, and, at times, physically painful.  I found myself singing the song of peace over and over in my mind. God was with me and He was not leaving.
I have a lot of treatment ahead of me which means it will be a continual wrestling match with my nerves.  While at times it might appear I'm losing the fight, one thing is certain.  God sees me and He will not allow me to be pinned down by fear.  

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