Monday, November 14, 2011

Believing and Persistent Prayer

My sister recently wrote an article on prayer and it was purchased and published in the The Lutheran Magazine. The article was about the transformation that takes place when one prays. The article included a brief story on my battle with cancer and how prayer was important to me during that time. Prayer was my way of taking what little control I had in my life at the time and using it in the only way I knew would be the most effective - by praying and casting my cares upon God. Prayer gave me power to move on and face whatever was ahead of me whether it was good or bad.

I am now finding myself relying on prayer once again as the long awaited surgeries to fix my face will be started within the next few months. However, I am learning something different this time. I am learning the importance of praying persistently until the answer itself has come or until I have received the assurance that it will come. I am also learning to pray with belief that my prayer will be answered. This is what faith is all about.

"Have faith that whatever you ask for in prayer is already granted you, and you will find that it will be" (Mark 11:24)

More and more, as we live the prayer life, shall we come to experience and recognize this God-given assurance, and know when to rest quietly in it, or when to continue our petitioning until we receive it. --The Practice of Prayer

The plan to fix my face started back in March. It has been another long road for me to travel and I have had to be patient and wait on God for the right time to come. After much time spent meeting with several different doctors I finally have a team of specialists that have experience with facial and oral reconstruction in someone who has radiated bone and skin. The surgery I will undergo will be risky...I soon discovered this as I was turned down by several doctors who avoided working on patients like me. It has been a long process, but I now see an end in sight and feel like there is a solution that does have its risks, but can be done. I met with an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon this week who will be doing the surgery along with my Surgical Oncologist. Over the next few months, he will be deliberating with specialists around the world, performing a simulated surgery and mapping out the best way to fix my face with as little risk as possible.

As of now, the plan is to reposition the transplanted bone in my face so that it is not so prominent and lower to accommodate future teeth implants to replace the teeth that were and will be extracted. In addition, a plate will be placed underneath my eye to raise it up and fill in the space that was once occupied by the bone I lost during my maxillectomy and later by the infection. After healing for 3-4 months, additional surgeries will be required to tweak anything that does not look right and implants will be placed 6-12 months down the road. The risks involve infection, rejection of the plate and skin breakdown. The surgeon feels the risks are low, and all precautions will be taken to avoid what happened to me in the past. When I asked the surgeon if this was his face, what would he do...he said he would do it with no hesitation.

Up until now, it has been a wonderful year filled with NOTHING but school homework, driving my kids to and from sports or activities, boating and swimming up at the cabin and spending time with family and friends. There is happiness in our house again. Plans, activities and vacations are made with no hesitations. I am able to RSVP to invitations with a confident YES I WILL BE THERE! Life has been normal and this normalcy was much needed to gear up for another year that may be challenging for me and my family. It has been wonderful to experience normalcy again, but I still don't feel quite like myself. I am trying to figure this out…could it be that although I have recovered physically, I haven't recovered mentally or emotionally from battling cancer? Or could it be because I am living with a face that makes me feel uncomfortable in my own skin and insecure when I am around others? Whatever it is, it isn't allowing me to feel complete peace. Ultimately, I sense my journey hasn't quite ended yet.

My next MRI will be in early December. Should this next MRI be clean, it will be two years that I have been cancer free. My surgeon said this will be a huge milestone in my remission. He rarely, if ever, sees this type of cancer return after two years. I am clinging to this hope.

Today, I am praying not for my life as I did when diagnosed with cancer, but I am praying for the ability to have my face fixed in a way that I will no longer be embarrassed to go out in public or be ashamed of the way I look. I am doing my best to have persistent and believing prayers for the following:

-Wisdom for the doctors to make the best decisions on how to go about fixing my face
-Wisdom for myself to decided what is in my own best interest and the interest of my family
-Peace when the right decisions are made
-A positive outcome after surgery with no complications
-Quick healing
-Insurance coverage as much as possible

I was taking a break from blogging so that I may be able to move on in my life. But I did miss it, and feel the need to get my feelings and experiences written down again. It is somehow healing for me and it brings me courage to read the many messages left from my friends, family and people I have never met before. And if my blogging brings hope and healing to anyone out there reading, it gives purpose to my journey.

Much Love,



Anonymous said...

I do understand....that feeling of not being able to "put your finger on" whatever it is that is different. Even after being cancer-free. I have come across a few friends/family members that have been able to sweep it under the rug (so to say) and seem to be able to move on like nothing ever happened. But it did.

I can't sweep it under the rug. Even with the wonderful prognosis, and positive news I keep receiving at every scan and check up...things are still "different" As much as I don't want to put a label on it...I'm a cancer "survivor." It's a part of who I am, and has changed my perspective on how I do/perceive certain things, and has influenced how I make certain decisions. It's not a bad thing...just "different."

Please know that the "different" piece of you is validated. I continue to pray for you and your family.

Much love,
Jami Helvick

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing more of your journey. I can't claim to know what you're going through, but I am blessed to be able to pray with you for the requests you have presented. Blessings to you and your family!

Dani Erdahl

Jen Zick said...

Sue, just want you to know that I pray for you frequently - especially as I walk or run past your house, which is usually a couple times a week. I'm sure you're very well-supported with your church, family, closer neighbors, etc. But we have a Bible study that meets here at my house every-other Monday night, and if you'd ever like to join us and meet or reconnect with some gals on "this side", we'd love to have you! Hugs!

Anonymous said...

Sue, I have not had cancer, but have had those Dr. appts where you hear, "another appt. where everything looks good!" It is music to your ears....two years will come and go, and then turn into five, ten, etc. YOU ARE A SURVIVOR and an inspiration to many of us. I have missed your blogs and your wisdom. The doctors sound very encouraging and sincere...follow your heart for yourself and your happiness! You are loved by your family and people who have never even met you for hundreds of reasons, not for the way you look! You are beautiful 24/7!!!Stay strong, you have made all of the right choices so far...hugs to you and your family! Kari Karrmann Sides

Anonymous said...

Just miss you so much! Ugh, I just want to run down the street and hang out and talk and drink coffee and solve the world's problems. But instead I will pray for peace and send good wishes your way and be a little lonely. Love you, Kelly

Anonymous said...

Hi, Sue --

It was so nice to bump into you yesterday. I'm so glad that you've been able to have a sense of normalcy back in your life over the past year. The kids make sure that we pray for you all the time and we will continue to do so. We'll pray for a cancer-MRI next month and for your upcoming journey that will start in March. Great to see you and your blog again. I love the picture of your girls! Love, Tracy G.

Cindi said...

Hi Sue,
I love reading your blog and am glad you are back at it. We've never stopped praying but now have specifics so that is good. Remember to be still and in those quiet times God WILL speak to you and give you peace. Love you guys! Cindi & Jeff

Anonymous said...

Dear Sue,

I don't know you but I sure wish I did. I am not battling cancer or any other major (or for that matter, even minor) disease. I am just in the middle of the "human condition" with all of it's inherent dis-ease. When I am more in the middle of the "God condition" my dis-ease settles down. Thank you for your story and the courage to share it. You inspire me in the middle of my human condition to strive for greater heights, to not be so rooted to the earth, to not question God so much (even though I know God can handle my little questions!)

I wanted to say thank you. Continued prayers for you and your family and wishes for a blessed Thanksgiving.

Helen Thoenes

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue,
I just wanted to let you know that I've never stopped praying for you and your family. I'm glad you posted again, it's good to know what to pray for. Whenever I see you, I still think you're beautiful, and you're probably one of the strongest woemen I know. I'll keep praying and I hope you have a wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving!
Andrea Wackerfuss

Anonymous said...

As I sit back and think about this Thanksgiving, I wanted to let you know how thankful I am for in so many ways. I am thankful that God has healed your cancer. I am thankful for for posts and how they allowed me to see into your life so I knew how to pray. They also allowed me to understand how you were feeling throughout the journey. You put a voice out there for so many who struggle with cancer and can't express how they may be feeling. Most importantly Sue, during your struggle, you still found the courage to come to my mom's funeral. That meant so much to me. You were very special to her and she connected with you in a way that others couldn't connect because you shared a common thread. I also want to thank you for taking the time to connect with me after at Jake's. I hope and pray for God's leading in the journey that you have ahead. I am confident that if you continue to look to Him for your guidance, peace, and comfort that you will find exactly that. Thank you for blogging and Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy the taste of food, the love of family, and the gently Spirit of God.