Friday, May 29, 2009

Birds

Matthew 6:25-27 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life."

It has been an out of the ordinary Spring around the Karrmann household.  Not just because of the obvious reasons, but because we have had an unusual amount of birds making nests around our house.  The Robin that made her nest under our deck has moved on.  The babies have grown and have left the nest.  Another Robin has chosen to make a nest in a little tree by our front door.  The babies have hatched and are soon ready to leave the nest as well.  Barn Swallows have made their nest, as they have done so year after year, on top of our dryer vent. And in the last couple of days, Blue Birds have chosen to make a nest in a bird house that my daughter, Kendall, built and painted.  The bird house is sitting on the gazebo on our deck and every time we are sitting at the kitchen table we have front row seats to watching a miracle take place...watching the female make her nest, stick by stick while the vibrantly blue male watches over her.  

I know this may sound silly, but these birds have become a blessing to me.  They are a constant reminder of the power of God and his love for me.  I was given the verse above days ago about how much God cares for the birds and provides for their every need.  It is a great reminder that if God provides for these birds in every way, he will provide for us in every way.  If God cares for these birds, imagine how much He cares for us.  I think God sent these birds to our home to be a reminder that he is watching over us and to remind us of his love during this difficult time.  And most of all, a reminder that we need to completely trust God.

Yesterday was a very busy day.  I had an appointment with Radiation Oncology to begin planning for radiation treatment.  The radiation must be very precise since it will be given on my face and in my eye.  They are trying to minimize any damage that might be done to the eye.  They took several scans to better determine the anatomy of my face.  They also molded a mask that starts at the top of my chest and goes up over my head.  This mask will be placed over me every time I have radiation to prevent me from moving and to map out the precise area that is given radiation.  When the mask is placed over me, it is bolted to the table.  It has very little holes that I can see out of and breath through.  It is not a pleasant experience and somewhat claustrophobic.  I am not sure how I am going to handle having the mask on me for 30 minutes.  After the appointment with Radiation Oncology I was off to have the MRI and PET scans completed.  I will not know the results until Monday.  On Monday, they will decide what the next step will be.  If I had a good response again from the second round of chemo, they may decided to do another round.  If not, I will begin radiation on June 8.   It would be nice to have another week off from treatment, but on the other hand it is hard to wait.  I just want to get things rolling and done with!

Please pray that the cancer gets out of the orbit of my eye and that my eye is protected from the Radiation.  These are my biggest concerns, other than getting rid of the cancer all together.  My eye appointment went well the other day and my eye sight is perfect as well as my peripheral vision.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Believing

These past couple of days I have been struggling with believing...believing in God's plan for me.   Believing in God's purpose for my life.  My faith is shaken and I am starting to doubt. I am scared of the outcome. Scared that this cancer will never go away.  The waiting is difficult.  The anticipation of what the results of the next scans will be is awful.   I have been doing the best I can to take one day at a time and enjoy the break from treatment.  But it is hard when radiation, scans and more chemo is looming over me.  I have been in a "funk" and just wish I could feel a sense of calm and peace this week.  

This morning I was spending some time reading my Bible and I was reminded of why I am having the feelings of doubt and hopelessness.  I was given the verse of Romans 15:13 "May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing with hope."  My lack of hope lately is a result in me doubting God.  Doubting God's unconditional love and his purpose in my life.  Doubting his power to heal.  

Recently, a friend sent me a link to an online devotional that she uses on a daily basis. I ignored it for some time until I felt a nudge to check it out. The daily devotional for the day was about David and his divine confidence.  He rested on nothing less than the Lord's work. David's confidence rested on not what he had done, nor what he resolved to do, but entirely on what the Lord would do.  The devotional reminded me that during this battle with cancer I may give up the battle in despair; but thanks be to God, He will complete that which concerns me and bring me to the desired haven.  I can never be too confident when I confide in Him alone, and never too eager to have such a trust.  Psalm 138:8 "The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me."

Why can't I just believe that God does not want to harm me and wants to give me a hope and a future?  This week I am going to try to check my believing so that I can experience the joy and peace that faith brings.  I have to believe God's purpose will be to heal me and to let me be a Mom to my girls and a wife to Jason for a long time.  That my time here on earth is not over.  

Tomorrow, I will be heading to the eye doctor for an special examination that will be checking my peripheral vision and depth perception.  The Radiation Oncologist wanted me to have my eyes examined before radiation begins so they will be able to track any change in my vision. The eye doctor did a routine examination and the results were good.  However, the doctor wanted to do the extra tests to make sure the cancer has not affected any of the nerves in the back of my eye that would affect more than just the vision.  On Thursday, I will be having another MRI and PET scan to determine the effectiveness of this last round of chemo.  I am praying that the cancer will no longer be in the orbit of my eye.  I am still fighting the cold and I am hoping it will be gone within the next couple of days.  I am worried that if I cannot shake it, that it will affect the treatment next week.  While I am not looking forward to beginning radiation, I do not want to delay any sort of treatment.  Please pray that this cold will go away and for positive scan results!  And pray that I will start to believe!

Sue

Friday, May 22, 2009

Life Goes On

I am so excited today...I am going to Mackenzie's track and field day at school.  I have not been able to participate in the girls' activities for quite some time now.  I have missed out on Mother's Day teas, concerts, performances and end of school year activities.  It has really bummed me out to tell the girls that I can't go and see the disappointment in their faces.  

I think one of the hardest parts of going through this is that I can't participate in life, in what is going on around me.  I often look out the window to watch the kids playing and the neighbors talking.  I want so badly to be apart of it all.  I long for the days when I was out there with everyone enjoying the activities.  

I am trying to take every moment that I can to spend time with Jason and the girls.  Because these moments are rare...due to not feeling well or having the energy.  I have been really frustrated these past couple of days because I am not bouncing back as fast as I thought I would from this last round of chemo and I am fighting a nasty cold.  I was hoping to have some time before radiation to feel great and participate in life again.  I need this time so that I can regain my strength and renew my mind.  If I feel the way I have felt lately going into radiation, it is going to be tough on me physically and mentally.  

So my prayer today is that God will help me to get rid of this cold.  I also pray that my body will heal a little faster in the next couple of days.  And I pray that next week will give me a chance to renew my strength and mind.  

I want to take some time to thank all of you that have been providing meals for my family during this time.  It has been a HUGE blessing to our family to not have to worry about cooking dinner.  I am overwhelmed by the amount of people who are friends, neighbors and people we don't even know that have volunteered their time to make a meal.  MANY THANKS!

Sue

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Then I Shall Live

I grew up in a conservative Baptist home filled with love and faith.  I am so thankful for the values my parents instilled in me.  It is because of these values and faith, along with the love from family and friends, that I am able to get through what is the most difficult time in my life.  


Many of my memories also include a lot of gospel music especially from the Gaither Family musical group.  Yes, they sing old time gospel and you may or may not like this type of music.  But, for me it has a special place in my heart and the music ministers to me in more ways than one.  The Gaither Family is very special to my Dad's side of the family.  I can remember my grandparents watching their videos and listening to their music even in their passing.  They ministered to my Grandma, who had Alzheimers.  She didn't know who any of us were, but she still clung to those Gaither videos.  To this day, we find ourselves sitting together as a family:  my family, my Aunt, my Uncle, my cousins, my kids, watching those videos or listening to the music as we are spending time together up North. 


Today, I received a great e-mail from my Aunt Sandy.  She sent me one of their songs and highlighted some of her favorite lyrics.  I quickly downloaded it from iTunes and listened to it.  It moved me to tears.  It has become my anthem...my promise that if I shall live through this..this is how I will live my life.  For the things said in this song are what I am learning about...what is most important in life.  And I especially love the title of the song "I Then Shall Live."


This title has confirmed many verses that I have been reading lately in Psalms.  Verses that God has given me when I am down or desperate.  And there has been a common phrase in each of these verses...PRESERVE MY LIFE.  So this morning, I decided to research this phrase and I found it to be common throughout the book of Psalm.  Because of the verses that God has given to me, I am going to choose to believe he is going to PRESERVE MY LIFE and heal me.  I would like to share some of these verses with you.


First, consider the definition of Preserve.  It is as follows: To cover or shield from danger or injury; to defend; to guard; to preserve safety; as a father protects his children.


Psalms 41:1-4  "Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble.  The Lord will protect him and PRESERVE HIS LIFE; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.  The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.  I said, "O Lord, have mercy on me, heal me, for I have sinned against you."


Psalms 143:7-11 "Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails.  Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for you I life up my soul.  Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you.  Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.  For your name's sake, O Lord, PRESERVE MY LIFE; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble."


Psalms 138:7-8   'Though I walk in the midst of trouble, your PRESERVE MY LIFE; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me.  The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord endures forever-do not abandon the works of your hands."


I have put a video of the Gaither's singing the song my Aunt sent me on this blog.  The words are described below.  It is a great song.  Please take the time to watch to it...even if gospel isn't your thing.  


I am feeling a little better today.  Yesterday, I took the time to grieve and to express my anger about all of the pain and suffering I have been experience and will experience through radiation.  I am very scared about what is to come, but I am trying to cling to the promise God has given me in the verses above and in this song.  Thank you for sharing this journey with me.



I then shall live as one who’s been forgiven; 

I’ll walk with joy to know my debts are paid. 

I know my name is clear before my Father; 

I am His child, and I am not afraid

So greatly pardoned, I’ll forgive my brother, 

The law of love I gladly will obey. 

 

I then shall live as one who’s learned compassion

I’ve been so loved that I’ll risk loving too

I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges

I’ll dare to see another’s point of view. 

And when relationship demand commitment, 

Then I’ll be there to care and follow through

 

Your kingdom come around and through and in me; 

Your power and glory, let them shine through me; 

Your Hallowed name, O may I bear with honor, 

And may You living Kingdom come in me. 

The Bread of Life, O may I share with honor, 

And may You feed a hungry world through me. 

Amen. Amen. Amen. 

 




Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Worst Is Yet To Come...

I am slowly coming out of the abyss.  It is taking a lot longer this time, but each day gets better.  It has been a rough few days.  I am not bouncing back as quickly from this round of chemotherapy.  The nausea and heartburn have been unbearable.  My kidneys are not functioning properly so I have been going back to the clinic frequently get IV fluids.  

Today, I also had my first meeting with the Radiation Oncologist.  An appointment I have been avoiding because I knew that it would be a hard one to go to.  After this cycle of chemo, I will begin chemo/radiation...the worst is yet to come.  Just when I thought it was bad enough.  Radiation will make chemo seem like a breeze.  The Radiation Oncologist went through the process and the side effects that will take place.  It will be radiation every day for 7 weeks straight.  On top of that they will continue to give me chemotherapy.  The radiation has to be very precise because of where the tumor is located. I have one of the most difficult cases because it is in the orbit of my eye and in my face.  So much damage can happen from radiation and may happen including losing the eye sight in my right eye, hearing in my right ear, nerve damage, severe burns, dried up saliva glands, extreme sores in mouth, damaged taste buds, thyroid damage and on and on.  And the list literally goes on. They said it will be very tough, but I will get through it.  I immediately wanted to walk right out of there and say I am done, no more.  How can one even do this?  How can one endure so much pain and suffering?  Especially when there is no guarantee in the end.  I don't want to go through all of this hard work and then end up not surviving.  And all the time that I could have spent with my family was wasted.  It is very overwhelming, too much to handle.  I am still trying to process it all and not sure how I will ever get the strength to do it.  I am already emotionally and physically spent after this second round of chemo.  

Lord, I am at a loss.  I am so tired, so weak.  So done.  I want to live.  I want to survive this for Jason, for my kids.   But at times, it is just so overwhelming.  Why do I have to go through all of this pain and suffering?  Why is this happening to me?  I am on my knees with my hands to you...praying for your healing.  Praying that you would spare me a lot of the horrible side effects from the radiation.  Praying you would save my eye.  Pray for wisdom for the doctors.  Praying for strength..for me, Jason, our parents, the girls.  Praying that you would keep my body strong.  Praying for some encouragement...an answer to all of this. Because it is only through you that I will be able to do this.  And I need you now more than ever God. 

Sue

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Please God...

These past couple of days have been rough...back into pit of nausea and heartburn.  My energy level is also a lot lower this time around.  Worries of blood clots overwhelm me.  One more day of chemo...

It's days like these that it is hard to keep positive and looking up.  The road seems never ending. It would be nice to have an end in sight...a definitive plan of what is going to happen next. Unfortunately, the doctors cannot give me one.  It is literally one step at a time.  A wait and see situation.  

I just want to feel normal again. Feel like my old self, feel like a human being.  This cancer has robbed me of my dignity, happiness and my femininity.  It is hard for me right now for me to see the good in all of this.  

I pray that God will give me some encouragement today.  I pray that this chemo will do its job...get rid of the cancer.  Get it out of the orbit of my eye...AND NEVER COME BACK!  

"Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails.  Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.  Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.  Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you.  Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.  For your name's sake, O Lord, PRESERVE MY LIFE; in your righteousness, bring me out of my trouble.  Psalm 143:7-11


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Word of God Speak

Wouldn't it be great if we could have a face to face conversation with God?  How great it would be to ask God the questions we so need answers to.  I know exactly what I would ask God:  Am I going to survive this battle with cancer?  Am I going to live?  Why is this happening to me?  What are you trying to teach me?  How is Aubrey?  Is she there with you?  Describe her to me.  What is she like?  So many questions.  

Unfortunately, we cannot sit down with God and see him face to face.  As a result many people, including myself, often question whether or not he is even there.  Where are you God in all of this?   Are you listening?

Often I know God is speaking to me and listening to me, but I myself am the one not listening.  Or I am not giving him the chance to speak to me by not spending time in the Bible.  Disbelief or anger also plays a factor in my ability to hear clearly from God in an intimate, personal way.  Lately, I am learning that if I want to hear God speak to me it is as simple as just listening.  I am finding that if I just be still in a quiet room I can hear a voice telling me, "Sue, you are going to be OK." But I struggle with discerning whether or not these are my thoughts or if it is truly God speaking to me.  

I read the other day that we are one of God's sheep, and the sheep knows the Shepherd's voice - the voice of a stranger they will not follow.  You can hear from God; it is part of your inheritance - don't ever believe otherwise!   John 6:13 says "But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth).  For he will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever he hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future]." 

I am also learning that God is speaking to me through others.  Many of you have given me words of encouragement and Bible verses to read.  Your words are often the same words of encouragement that God has given me.  It is a confirmation that what I am reading and hearing is the truth.  So God is using many of you in more ways than one.

If it was so easy to experience God by having a face to face conversation, would we earnestly seek him or take the time to get to know him?  If we never went through difficult circumstances in life, would we ever learn about how much God does care for us?  I do know that ever since I have been diagnosed with cancer, I have been seeking God more than ever. I have been experiencing God like I have never done before.

Today, I am on day three of chemo.  The nausea does not seem to be as bad, but my energy level is much worse.  My kidneys seem to be working over time to get rid of the fluid retention so please pray that there has been no damage to my kidneys this time around. Please continue to let me know when you visit my blog.  I love to hear from each and everyone of you.  It uplifts my spirits and keeps me going.  

Love,
Sue

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Believing

Chemotherapy went surprisingly well yesterday.  I really felt at peace and had little anxiety. I know it is because of all of you that were praying for me.  I felt each and every one of your arms around me.  The infusion center is a much more positive environment than the hospital. There were people there just like me, a little healthier, and on the road to recovery.  People came and went exchanging hellos and hugs with nurses and staff.  It is definitely a family environment as everyone gets to know each other.  I will have no problem going back there again.  

Today, I am hooked up to the infusion pump which will run continuously through Sunday.  It has become my companion and goes with me everywhere I go.  It makes showering a little difficult, but I manage.  This morning I woke up feeling pretty good.  Just a little stiff from all of the IV fluids I was given with the chemo yesterday.  I feel like a marshmallow.  I was able to spend some time with Kendall as we worked on a few art projects together.  I think she really appreciated that time with mom.  She seems to cling to every moment we have with each other and this completely affects her mood the rest of the day.  Unfortunately Mackenzie is terribly sick and we have had to confine her to her room to protect myself and anyone else getting sick.  She is laying in bed watching movies and to be honest I think she is thoroughly enjoying it.  A nice break from school.  She needed it.  Please pray that she will get better quickly and that no one else will catch her cold.  I feel so bad that I can't give her any hugs and kisses right now.  When I am in her presence I need to wear a facemask.  

As of 10:00, my nausea is starting to kick in.  It isn't too bad yet, I anticipate it to be terrible tomorrow.  I am prepared to kick the nausea in the butt with the gazillions of meds they have given me.  I set up a med schedule on my computer so that when it is time to take a med it will alarm me.  The hardest part is that some of the medications can't be taken within a certain amount of time of another med so juggling it all gets difficult.  The important thing is that I stick with the schedule so the nausea does not get out of hand.  I have already sent Jason to get some bean burritos at Taco Bell for lunch.  Yum!

Today, my biggest fear I have right now is the fact the cancer is still in the orbit of my eye.  Stupid me decided to read the PET scan results while at the infusion center yesterday and it read that the cancer was in the interior and posterior of the orbit.  This was extremely concerning to me and I am worried that I might lose my eye or eye sight.  It never bothered me before, but reading the report made me realize this is more serious than I thought.  I want so badly to believe that God will take the cancer out of the orbit and out of my sinus. 

I want to share an e-mail my Dad sent me the other day that reminded of me the countless times I chose to believe God would take care of me and how he pulled me through some really difficult circumstance.  It was a great reminder of how mighty God is and that he does show mercy on us. If he chose to pull me through all the other battles I have faced in my life, why would he not do it now?  Here it is:

Dear Sue, 
After reading your blog, I recalled an experience you had and I observed years ago. It was an experience that I would never have put myself through. In this case, you were much braver than I was. You decided you wanted to go sky-diving. We went with you. You went up in a plane with your sky-diving expert. From the ground, you were up so high, the plane looked like a little spec in the sky. You strapped yourself into a harness which in turn was strapped to a person you had never met before. What happened to all the "what-if" questions?
  • What if --- the harness broke?
  • What if --- you became disconnected from the sky-diving expert?
  • What if --- the expert lost consciousness?
  • What if --- you lost consciousness?
  • What if --- the plane lost power and started falling to the ground?
  • What if --- the parachute didn't deploy?
  • What if --- the reserve chute didn't deploy?
BUT YOU MADE A DECISION. You chose not to let your mind focus on any of these negative "what-if" thoughts. You chose to believe everything would be alright. You chose to put your faith and your life into the equipment you wore and to the ability of a human being (a stranger) to "do things right" such that you could live to see another day.
 
So what's changed?
  • You're now a wife and a mother with a strong need to be there for your children. God understands that.
  • You've experienced the heartbreak of a broken engagement. But God had a better plan for you. Jason is exceptional and he's an exceptional father for your kids.
  • You've experienced the trauma of a car accident that could have ended your life or severely crippled you. But God was watching over you and you survived with minor injuries.
  • You had complications in your first pregnancy, complications that could have terminated any chance of having a baby. But God carried you through that difficult time and you've survived two pregnancies.
  • You've experienced the trauma of a childbirth where one child died and the other lived but under very difficult circumstances. But God was watching over you and MacKenzie and she survived many operations and months in the hospital. Now she's a beautiful girl who is full of joy, who has the ability to run and play, who has the ability to read and learn, and who has a future to look forward to.
Sue, the God of the universe, the one who created you and your loved ones, the God who loves you, cares for you, and protected you in the past. He wants the best for you. He is able to carry you through these circumstances. He wants you to trust Him, just as you trusted the sky-diving expert with your life. You, Sue, have a future and a hope because of God's love for you.  

Love, 
Dad
Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declare the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  

Yesterday, I receive a beautiful gift from my neighbor.  She knit me a shawl.  A shawl unlike no other I have received.  It was a shawl that she knit while thinking of my future.  With every stitch, she imagined my future with Jason and the girls.  Little moments that would be special to me in the future.  This was the best encouragement I received these past couple of days.  I nearly sobbed because when going through cancer it is hard to think of the future.  It was so nice to hear someone could think of it for me.

This is a verse I came across this morning. Mark 9:23, "And Jesus said, [You say to Me], If You can do anything? [Why,] all things can be (are possible) to him who believes!"  Please pray for the cancer to get out of the orbit of my eye and sinus.  I think the doctors, and myself, will feel very relieved.  I am going to try to believe it will happen!

Love,
Sue



Monday, May 11, 2009

Control Freak

These past couple of days I have been a bit down.  I am not feeling as positive about my situation as I have been over the past couple of weeks.  I am sure some of this has to do with the fact that chemotherapy is starting again tomorrow. But the majority of it has to do with the little bumps in the road that I have been experiencing lately, like the blood clots.  It is hard enough to deal with the emotions and fear that come along with cancer.  It is overwhelming at times.  I am barely hanging on.  So adding further complications, like blood clots, makes it too hard to handle.  I have become angry with God these past couple of days...asking him why things just can't go smoothly.  Why give me more to fear...give me more to worry about?  Isn't cancer enough?  Now blood clots?  What is next? 

This past week was filled with so many tests, scans and visits to the hospital.  It makes me feel so sick...so fragile.  I am surrounded by so many people, fighting their own battles with cancer or other health issues.  It is hard to remain positive.  I often leave my appointments feeling scared.  Today, I had an appointment with my Oncologist.  While the chemotherapy is working, the cancer is still in the orbit of my eye.  This is the one thing that is holding the surgeons back from performing surgery.  If the cancer does not come out of the orbit of my eye after this round of chemo, then I will be having radiation and chemotherapy to continue the attempt to shrink this tumor.  It just is never simple.  It just seems to always be complicated.  Why God...why does it have to be in the orbit of my eye?  

Fear is starting to overcome me again.  I am afraid of dying.  Afraid of these blood clots.  Afraid of the chemo.  Afraid this is never going to end.  When I get scared, I often call my Dad and he is quick to remind me that my fear is a result of me trying to take control again.  You need to let go and let God, he says.  I know, I know, I know, I say.

But I really don't know, yet.  I am working hard on it.  Working hard on letting go.  Letting go of wanting to control everything in my life.  To completely trust God with everything.  I read an amazing story in my devotional book the other day that was a slap in my face.  It made me realize I have a long way to go with completely trusting God.  The story is titled "Trust God More Than Yourself" and it is as follows:

"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping] and you will be saved."  Acts 16:31

This is what Paul and Silas told the Philippian jailer who asked them "What must I do to be saved?"  This is what salvation really means - giving ourselves up to God, taking ourselves out of our own keeping, and entrusting ourselves into His keeping.  God wants to take care of us. He can do a much better job of that if we will avoid a problem called independence, which is really self-care.  The desire to take care of ourselves is based on fear.  Basically, it stems from the idea that if we do it, we can be sure it will be done right.  We are afraid of what might happen if we entrust ourselves totally to God and He doesn't "come through" for us.  The root problem of independence is trusting ourselves more than we trust God.  We love to have a back-up plan.  We may pray and ask God to get involved in our lives, but if He is the least bit slow in responding (at least, to our way of thinking), we are quick to take control back into our own hands.  What we fail to realize is, God has a plan for us too - and His plan is much better than ours. -  From New Day, New You by Joyce Meyer

This story describes me to a tee!  I am so quick to take control back into my own hands when things are not going the way I expect them to.  I started to do this ever since I learned about the blood clots.  Things have not been going as smoothly as I want them and I am starting to feel that God will not come through for me.  The end result...I am afraid.  Fear is starting to overcome me again.  

Please pray for me to be able to completely trust in God...trust in his ability to heal.  For me to have peace going into this next round of chemotherapy.  That there will not be anymore bumps in the road.  And if there are, that I will not react they way I have been...wanting to control.

I do feel comfort knowing you all are out there praying for me.  I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for the support you have given to me and my family. 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day With New Meaning

Happy Mother's Day!  Today I will celebrate this day as I have never done before.  This day has new meaning for me now that I am battling cancer.

When I first got my diagnosis, my first thought was what would happen to Mackenzie and Kendall if I die?  One of my biggest fears in life.  I do know that Jason would love them, care for them and raise them well.  But there is just something a Dad cannot do for his children like a mom can.  I don't want to miss out on being with my girls when they get their ears pierced; when they go shopping for a prom dress, or a wedding dress; when they have their heart broken by a boy; when they go through pregnancy; when they have questions about being a mom to their own children.  Who will be a role model to teach them what it means to be a strong woman with courage, strength and faith?  I want to teach my girls so many things and be there for them for every stage in life.  I have prayed so many times, please God don't take me away from my girls.  I want to be their mom.  

So today on Mother's Day, I will truly celebrate being a mother to two beautiful blessings that God has given me.  It is an honor to be their mom and I will cherish every moment of every day that I get with them.  They are so special to me.  Mackenzie reminds me almost every day that God is taking care of me.  She has such a gentle and wise spirit.  Because of her own life experiences, she seems to have a calmness about her. It is as if she knows in her heart that God is there and always taking care of her.  She has so much joy that is contagious.  She celebrates life which is a good example to all of us...and she is all of this despite the many challenges she has in her own life.  Kendall is my high-spirited child.   A day with Kendall means a day with much laughter and energy!  She has a great sense of humor.  She takes on life full speed ahead.  She likes to wear dresses and be a girly girl and at the same time be playing outside in the dirt or baseball with the neighborhood kids.  Kendall also has a very sensitive side and there will be times that she senses my fear and sorrow and will rub my arm or give me a hug. She never fails to let me know how much she loves me.

So today, I celebrate being a Mom as if it will be my last.  And I hope that if I make it through this battle with cancer that I will never forget the feeling that I have today. Especially on the days when the girls are not behaving or following directions.  Never again will I take for granted the opportunities that I get to spend time with my girls.

Happy Mother's Day to the many mothers reading this blog. May your day be filled with laughter and love with your own children.  Happy Mother's Day to my own mom.  Thank you for all you have done for me in my own life especially these past weeks.  I could not have made it this far without you.  I love you!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Good News, Bad News

I know many of you have been anxiously awaiting for the results of my PET scan and MRI yesterday.  I received good news and bad news.  Sometimes I wish it was just good news, but that doesn't seem to happen to often.  Good news....the PET scan has shown that the density of the tumor has gone down by 60%.  This means that the chemotherapy is working and is effective. Praise God!!!!!!!  I cannot tell you how relieved I was to get this news and now I have the strength and courage to move forward and do whatever it takes to beat this thing.  Bad news....I have a clot in my lung.  This is common in cancer patients, not only because being in bed a lot but because the body's ability to dissolve clots isn't as effective after chemotherapy.  So what this means is that I now have to give myself two injections of blood thinners daily in my abdomen.  Not the highlight of my day, but at least it will prevent any further clotting and it will help to get rid of the clot in my lung.  

I also want to let you all know that I felt your prayers during the tests yesterday.  I felt unbelievably calm and at peace.  I did not have any anxiety.  In fact, I almost fell asleep during the PET scan.  Thank you all for your prayers.  Please know that they are working!

I have three days left to enjoy spending time with the girls and Jason before round two starts.  I am going to eat everything in sight...still having a hard time putting some weight on.   And I am going to make sure I am prepared for the hair to go.  It is coming out more and more each day.  Today, the doctor said that patients typically feel a tingling sensation on their head just before the hair falls out.  I had that feeling this morning in the shower...I was wondering what it was and now I know.  So I am anticipating that the rest of my hair will be gone within the next few days.  Whether it falls out on its own or if I shave it...it will be gone.

Again, thank you for all of your prayers.  They are working!  

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Greatest Gift of All

Lately, the highlight of my days are getting my mail.  Each day, I have been receiving piles of cards from people from all walks of my life.  People I grew up with, people I went to school with, people that know my parents, people that know my in-laws, people that Jason works with, people in my neighborhood, and so on and so on.  Each card brings forth tremendous words of encouragement and bible verses.  I cling to each and every word written; words of encouragement and hope.  I find myself sobbing, overwhelmed by the amount of love that has been shown to me and my family.  It is truly a gift from God.  The greatest gift of all - Love.  What more can I ask for during a time like this?  At times, it is very humbling.  I wasn't always as supportive to many of you when you needed it.  Yet, you continue to reach out to me out of love.  Please know that every thing ever written, whether it was in a card, in an e-mail, in a posting on Facebook or posted on this blog...it has NOT gone unnoticed and it is GREATLY appreciated.  

These cards are being collected in a basket and kept on my kitchen counter.  I do go back and ready them when I am down.  They have also been a source of encouragement for our parents to read as well.  They too are overwhelmed by the amount of support given to me, much of which has come from their own friends.  I also keep the many 3x5 index cards inserted into the cards filled with bible verses.  I have taken some of the verses and posted them on this blog.  The one verse that has been shared with me over and over from many of you is THE verse that was given to me during my daughter Mackenzie's birth.  It is a special verse to me and the fact that it has reappeared during this time is confirmation of God's love.  It was also the first verse that I read in my Bible when I was diagnosed with cancer.  My Bible was still bookmarked at the location of the verse so I was immediate led to it.  Is this a coincidence?  Some may say it is.  But I am choosing to believe it is a message from God.  The verse is "But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore I boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong"  2 Corinthians 12:9-10   Our family, along with many of you, were witnesses to God's power during Mackenzie's birth and hospitalization.  It is because of Him that Mackenzie is alive today.  Now, through my illness, I am experiencing the same awesomeness of God's power.  

The last couple of days have been a little stressful.  My hair is starting to fall out.  It is making this whole experience a little more real.  I am now feeling a little more like a person living with cancer.  I am thinking by the end of next week, it will be completely gone.  I am trying to prepare for it mentally, but I am not sure one can be too prepared to lose their hair.  I stocked up on makeup so that I will be able to feel somewhat feminine and "pretty" and I have started to practice tying scarves on my head.  Jason has the clippers ready to shave my head when it is time.   

I am having a lot of anxiety as tomorrow's day of scans approaches.  I am hoping the news will be positive and that the chemotherapy is working.  I could use the good news.  Please pray that I will be able to remain calm and feel peace during the scans.  These scans are not fun and the last time I did not handle it well.  Since I have "been there and done that" already, I am anticipating I might handle it a little better.  But because of the anticipation of what the results may be, I might still be anxious.   

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all of your prayers.  It is so comforting to hear about how many of you are praying for my healing.  


Monday, May 4, 2009

Seize The Moment

This is a week that I will truly learn the meaning of seizing the moment.  After getting some blood work done today, I found out that chemotherapy round two will start next Tuesday.  I think I lost track of time because this seems to be a lot sooner than I thought it would be.  So I will be savoring every moment of every day this week that I am living nausea free and somewhat energetic.  It will be my "vacation" until I have to go back to work.  Two of my goals this week will be to exercise and put some weight back on.  I want to go into next week strong so that I will be able to bounce back quickly.  This time around, they will be giving me the first two chemo drugs at the infusion center.  There will be no hospital stay.  I will be at the infusion center all day and then they will send me home with an infusion pump to finish the remaining four days of chemotherapy.  I am not too sure what to think about not being in the hospital.  It has its pluses and minuses.  There is something comforting for me to be in a place where I can get immediate attention from a doctor or nurse when I need it.  But, on the other hand it will be nice to be in my own bed, in my own home and without a roommate that is also going through cancer.  

On Thursday of this week, they will be doing another MRI and PET scan to see how the tumor reacted to the chemo.  I think I am more nervous about the results of the scans than I am of the next round of chemo. I am so worried that they will tell me the tumor has not shrunk.  I am not sure if I will be able to handle that kind of news.  Learning that the tumor has shrunk will bring me so much hope that will sustain me into the next round of chemotherapy.

Today, I had the echocardiogram to determine what has been causing my heart to pound and beat so fast.  We do not have the test results as of yet, but the kind technician who performed the test did let me know that he did not see anything abnormal.  He knew he was not supposed to say anything, but I think God nudged him a little to relieve my fears. So I am just going to tuck that one away and assume everything is fine and chalk it up to anxiety and the medications I was taking.  

So as I am going through this week, my biggest challenge will not to worry about what is to come.  But to take on every day one day at a time.  To seize the moment.  

The manna in the wilderness was given one day at a time.  There was no storing up.  That is the way we must depend on God's mercy.  You do not receive today the strength to bear tomorrow's burdens.  You are given mercies today for today's troubles.  Tomorrow the mercies will be new. - "Loving God for Who He Is" - John Piper

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."  1 Corinthians 1:9


Sunday, May 3, 2009

I Surrender All

These past couple of days I have found myself randomly breaking down and crying.  No, sobbing.   I haven't quite understood why, what it all meant...until now.  I recently, downloaded an old traditional hymn titled "I Surrender All".  As I meditated on the words to the song, I realized I had truly not surrendered everything to God.  My life, the outcome of my healing, the security of my family and kids.  I have not fully put my trust in God, partially, but not fully.  I was still clinging to my own understanding, clinging to the need for control in my life and as a result it was causing so much stress and tension.  My back was aching and my heart was pounding.  Like an addict going through withdrawl, my body started to purge the need for control in my life.  I needed to surrender it ALL.  I AM NOT IN CONTROL.  I can't control this thing.  Lord, I am on my knees, humbly before you.  I am finally surrendering it all.  I am asking you to HEAL me Lord.  Allow me to stay with my kids, with Jason honoring you the rest of my days.   



All to Jesus, I surrender;
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my bless├Ęd Savior,
I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus, I surrender;
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power;
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender;
Now I feel the sacred flame.
O the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory, to His Name!

These past few days have been wonderful!  I am nausea free and getting my energy back.  I was able to get out and exercise a little yesterday by going for walk and enjoying the beautiful weather.  The only side effects I am battling now are poor circulation in my feet and hands, minor aches and pains and an unusual rapid pounding heart rate.  It has been difficult to sleep at night due to my heart rate.  I went to the doctor on Friday for an EKG to make sure everything was OK.  The doctor said it was normal, but different from the last time I had an EKG so they are sending me for an echocardiogram on Monday.  This has been stressing me out and I am hoping it is just another side effect of all of the drugs and medications.  This combined with the waiting to see if the first round had an affect on the tumor has made it difficult, once again, to just surrender it all and let go.  I pray that everything will be just fine and that I can experience peace over the next days before round two.