Eeyore on Steroids: “I’d Look on the Bright Side if I Could Find it!”

I gave my usual ‘I need your best person because I’m a really hard stick’ speech to the pleasant lady checking me in for bloodwork. She was unable to locate orders which was strange as I had literally JUST walked across the hall after meeting with my doctor with clear instructions to go straight to the lab. The last thing I needed was more waiting, escalating the anxiety.

I had prayed for an uneventful appointment with my Stanford doctor, and so far, my prayer was answered… other than a possible naked man leaning his backside against an apartment window on the hospital grounds. I say possible because at first glance, I would SWEAR that’s what I saw and not wanting to stare, I can’t completely confirm.

My anxiety was simply based on dreading needles, NOT on any unusual findings. Everything was fairly routine with a quick scope procedure and check-up. The biggest challenge for all my doctors is managing follow-up care for lynch syndrome. My oncologist stated she spends a chunk of time the night before she sees me analyzing where we are and what needs to be done.

High maintenance in yet another area of my life! Hah!

After 30 minutes of entertaining myself with heating pads on my uncooperative veins, it was finally my turn. The lab is set up in a circle with full view of everyone getting their blood drawn. While contemplating the reasoning for this, I was directed to take the one and only chair in the middle of the awkward circle. I guess she hadn’t picked up on what a baby I am and how this might not be the best idea to have all eyes on me.

Even though the lab tech was amazing, I still found myself fighting the usual tears as I prepared to leave. It’s my moment of feeling sorry for myself, sad I have to walk through this. I’m sure it’s just my way of releasing all the emotions of getting through another doctor visit and hoping everything is fine.

Rounding the corner to the waiting room, I saw a family friend. It was great to see her and she quickly caught me up on the details of the last few months of her life. Cancer had been found in her spinal fluid and now she was undergoing harsh treatments of radiation and chemo in hopes of prolonging her life.

As crazy as it sounds, she looked wonderful! Even in the midst of describing horrific details, she was absolutely radiating with positivity. She laughed often, joyfully declaring how God is in control no matter the interruption to how she thought her life would unfold this year.

I was convicted to say the least.

I KNOW I’ve grown in my faith, but my friend challenged me to take it to the next level with God. Just that week I had been describing a woe-is-me, negative person to a friend and used the phrase, “She’s like Eeyore on steroids.”  I now felt like the phrase could accurately describe me and how I’ve been viewing God’s ability to work in certain areas of my life, mainly having to do with my kids. I’VE been the Eyeore-on-steroids person who only sees the impossible obstacles we are facing and not the God-who-can-move-mountains-Heavenly-Father who is more than able to meet all our needs, big and small!

I’ve been reading Priscilla Shirer’s book God Is Able, and the description on the back starts with, “Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing.” She explores Ephesians 3:20-21, building her case that God is always up to great things.

This is my summary/narrative of the verses based on her book:

Ephesians 3:20-21. “Now (our current reality and God’s present ability) to Him (eyes on Jesus!) who is able to do (for YOU) exceeding abundantly beyond (Lord, please do this or something better) all that we ask or think (He’s got it totally covered) according to the power that works within us, (flip the switch— depend heavily and consistently on the Spirit of God— make room for HIS ability) to HIM be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. AMEN!

I began journaling prayers for my three kids; what am I believing God for in their lives? On Cory’s page (which happens to be the longest right now…TEENAGERS!!) I wrote a specific prayer for his grade in summer school math. This is actually a HUGE concern in that he missed passing the second semester by one point. ONE POINT!! High school math is HARD and it has been challenging for little mister. Under my journaled prayer, I wrote…

God Is Able!

The class is now halfway done and Cory has a 95!

GOD IS ABLE!!

It might be a small example to you, but to me… it’s miraculous! AND… as I sat down to blog, I literally could have written about each one of my kids. God has answered a specific prayer I had for each one of them THIS WEEK!

So… rather than being an Eeyore in the circumstances of life, I am looking for God in everything and believing He Is Able!

In the words of the rumbly tumbly theologian Winnie the Pooh:

“Yesterday is a history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.”

I’d love to hear from you and how God is working in your present situations. After all, “A friend is someone who helps you up when you’re down, and if they can’t, they lay down beside you and listen.” (Pooh)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking with Friends Through Cancer

It’s my friend’s birthday today and I just keep thinking about her and all she did for me 8 years ago as I walked through scary times with a cancer diagnosis. This is one story that made me smile in the middle of facing my biggest fear.

(summer 2009)

My friend had her blinker on, ready to pull in to a prime parking spot when all of a sudden, a man jumped into the space saying, “We’ve been waiting a long time to park here.”

Where did HE come from?

It was all very odd and, frankly…a bit maddening! The beach was humming and parking spots were hard to come by.

My friend rolled down her window and took me by complete surprise as I heard her shout, “Oh FINE. I’ll just keep driving around my friend who has cancer and is going through CHEMOTHERAPY!”

Our new foe quickly answered back, “Well.  MY friend only has ONE leg!”

It was just the comic relief I needed.  I could not stop laughing at the outrageousness of the exchange I was witnessing. Two people determined to look out for their suffering friends.

It was my first week of chemo and my friend was making sure I was being taken care of.  She had gone with me to get my hair cut super short in anticipation of it all falling out in the next couple of weeks. We had gone out for lunch at a local deli and now wanted to walk on the beach.

Proverbs 11:25 says, “A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

What a beautiful Biblical promise! As we purposefully pour our lives into others, God fills US up.

Humility is a fascinating concept. On the one hand, you have to humble yourself to accept help from others. It is very hard to admit you need this assistance. One definition says, “Acknowledging that achievement results from the investment of others in my life.”

Likewise…if you are the one helping someone, you are also showing humility in that you’re putting aside your own interests, schedules and plans for the sake of another.

It’s two sides of the same coin that Christ uses to keep us from pride.

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

It was a wonderful day with my friend.  After we circled the parking lot a few times, a spot finally opened up for us RIGHT next to the man we had just encountered. We pulled in and humbly unloaded our things. And…

yes… his friend really DID have only one leg!

 

 

 

Rock Star

My hair had started growing the first of January, about six weeks after my last chemo treatment.  I continued to wear hats to cover up the awkwardness of this stage.  It was coming back the most blah color ever – kind of brown, kind of gray, slightly red – just BLAH!!  Nothing attractive about it.

After two months of growth, I had just enough hair to start coloring it.  Secretly, I made an appointment.  I did not tell anyone, mainly because I did not want input from anybody, especially my family.

As I arrived home from my clandestine appointment, my three children came out the back door ready to bombard me with school questions.  They took one look at me and their reactions went as follows:

Jessica (13 years old):  “Mother!  That’s horrid!!”

Cory (10): Shook his head, walked away, refusing to speak to me for over an hour.

Olivia (3): “Your hair looks cute, Mom.”   (If I were to have a favorite child, it would be O at this moment… just sayin’)

Well, that was quite a welcoming.  “Don’t I feel so loved and encouraged,” were my initial thoughts.  I realize the shock factor was playing into the scene, with my kids being completely unprepared to see my new “do.”  I found it astonishing that they could be fine with my bald head, choosing to react now to my head of new hair, simply because of the color.

So… the color… you ask.  Well, I had persuaded my hairdresser friend to bleach my hair.  I was now a platinum blonde with a Billy Idol kind of look and style.  In all honesty, it was a way for me to “entertain myself” through this phase of my journey.  I was choosing joy, choosing to make myself smile… to find a tangible, visible way to celebrate what God had done in my life.

Psalm 150 is a psalm of praise that lists ways to praise the Lord.  It encourages praise by the trumpet, harp, lyre, strings, flute and resounding cymbals.  The final verse says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” As corny as it may sound, I felt I was praising the Lord with my hair.  My Billy Idol look was my version of sounding the trumpet or clashing the cymbals.

Jess and Cory slowly accepted the new me, even admitting they kind of liked it.  Ed gave me his reluctant approval, probably (and rightly so) wondering where this would all lead.  Olivia showered me with affection and encouraging words.  Friends flipped over the look, making me feel extremely loved.  All of it – from funny family responses to jubilant friend reactions – brought me such joy and opportunity to again share my story.

Verse 3 of Psalm 150 states, “Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.”

AND… here is my personal paraphrase of verse 6:   “Let every head that has hair praise the Lord.  PRAISE THE LORD!!!”


(hair began growing back January 2010)

Chemo Card

My emotions were brimming over as we walked through the entrance to the happiest place on earth.  I was on the brink of one of those hysterical, out of control cries of rejoicing.  We were here.  We had set our sights on the magic kingdom as a point of celebration.  Disneyland with my family was where I wanted to go when chemotherapy was all over.

It had been a difficult summer and fall.  Eddie and I had tried to find many ways to laugh and just lighten the load.  He had accused me many times of “playing the chemo card,” to get my way.  It seemed to be working for me!  Part of my “playing the chemo card” was in getting what I call “chemo prizes.”  These were several significant gifts from Ed, beginning with an iphone at the start of my treatment.  In fact a friend of mine very wisely stated that I should receive six chemo prizes since I had to have six chemo treatments.

Disneyland was my fourth chemo prize.  I wanted to stay at the Disneyland Hotel for the first time, and have a memorable family vacation.  We all needed something to look forward to in order to make the ending of a very long season.  Life is hard and when there is reason to celebrate we should seize those moments.

Esther 8:16 says, “…it was a time of happiness, joy, gladness and honor.” Our trip was all that and more.  We had a great time together.  Everyone enjoyed the rides, shows, parade, fireworks and especially the snow.  It was life-giving to getaway, realizing all we had made it through.  God had been with each one of us in a very real and special way.

Psalm 40:1-3  “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”

As I walked around the amusement park all week wearing my “I’m celebrating” button, it truly was a happy occasion.  Lots of laughter accompanied us.  This was a wonderful chemo prize!  And… if I play my (chemo) cards just right, I still have two more prizes to go.  Watch out, Eddie!

(This event took place Dec. 2009)