Archive | January 2013

Good News !

Who doesn’t like to get good news?  As I wrote last week, I had my first diagnostic mammogram since all this started one year ago.   I received my letter in the mail stating that the results were NORMAL!!!  I expected that result as they did not take any additional pictures after a radiologist looked at them while I was still there. It was still good, however, to actually see the results in writing.  I give all thanks and glory to God for the good report.

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The rose I received after my mammogram.
Photo credits: Joshua Siniscal

There’s something about the written word.  Obviously since I blog I like to write.  I’m old fashioned and I like the feel of a real book versus an e-reader, being able to FEEL the written word as well as to see it.  Think about how much more important and final any kind of deal or contract is once it is in writing.  Two parties can verbally agree on anything…a purchase price for a product, a job offer/contract, an estimate for services, an exchange of goods, etc. but once it’s in writing it makes it more official or real.  Maybe what’s appealing is that it can’t be revoked or taken back.  It stands until another contract is written up.

The written word of God is such a powerful thing.  It’s amazing to think that the Word always was as we see in John 1:1. “In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself.” (Amp)  There’s no denying the reality and truth of something in writing.  John 17:17 shows us that His Word is truth, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (NRSV)

I like to think that because I have this valid report that cancer can’t come back and change its mind.  Unfortunately that’s not the case and it could rear its ugly head again one day.  I already have an MRI scheduled next month.  I am not going to dwell on that but will instead revel in the fact that TODAY I have the victory and will shove my letter in cancer’s face and remind it that my mammogram was normal.  YES!

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My good news!

I shared my good news on Facebook with my friends and so many “liked” it or commented.  They truly rejoiced with me because they have been through the journey with me  whether in body or  in spirit.  Romans 12:15 says, “Share the happiness of those who are happy, the sorrow of those who are sad.” (Phillips).  I have seen this over the past year as friends have been there through the hard times and can now rejoice with me.  This is an answer to many of their prayers.

Although this is the best news I could hear right now, the grammy winner for all time good news has to go to the gospel.  Did you know that the word “gospel” is from the Old English “god-spell” meaning “good news” or “glad tidings?”  From Greek it is translated as “good message.”  The gospels are the first four books in the New Testament that tell of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and his teachings.  I can’t think of any better news than that.

Waiting

Well this week I had my first mammogram since this whole thing started.  My radiologist gave me a script to have a diagnostic mammogram done this month and I went early one morning before work.  It felt so strange to fill out the paperwork and check off the box and write  breast c-a-n-c-e-r on the information.  I think this was the first time I had to include that word and put it in writing under my medical history.  There was no denying it and it literally stopped me in my tracks for a moment.  This is real.  This is part of MY history now.  It was a weird feeling I didn’t like.

Can’t wait for this day!

Back to the mammo.  It cracks me up that they always tell you not to wear any powders or deodorant.  In my opinion it is one of those things you have done where you definitely need the deodorant!   After it was done I was told to sit and wait to get changed until a radiologist looked at my films in case they wanted to take more pictures.

In the meantime I could hear others getting their mammogram done and when they were finished the technician would tell them they could leave and would get the results in the mail in a few days.  It was the waiting game.  The longer I sat, the more I envisioned the technician returning only to tell me they wanted to take more pictures because they saw something.  It was probably the longest 15 – 20 minutes I remember in a while.  It is hard to wait.  Finally she poked her head back in and told me to get dressed and that I could leave.  Whew!

I have not heard anything back from my doctor yet…so I’m still waiting… but I’m believing that it will be a good report.  I’m not going to sit around worrying in the meantime.  I have learned to trust God no matter what the circumstances.  He has been with me every step of the way and will be with me regardless of what the future holds.

There’s many things that we have to wait for during our lifetime.  Think of the amount of time you spend just waiting in lines whether it’s at the bank, at a store, a gas station, on hold on the telephone, for something to download, for clothes or paint or nails to dry, for food to cook, for something to come in the mail, for someone to get out of the bathroom, for a party, for a check, for someone to take your order, for someone to get back to you with an answer or  for news, for someone to ask you out, for the next train or bus or plane, sitting in doctor’s offices, for an event or ceremony to start, for water to boil, sitting in traffic, waiting for something to cool off, for summer to come back, for a vacation, to get over an illness,  or for a cure, etc.  Supposedly the average person spends an average of 45-62 minutes a day waiting, or by the time you are 70 years old you will have spent 3 years of it waiting.

Some waiting is minutes, some is days, some is weeks, some is months, and some is years.  It all depends what we are waiting for.  My question is what are we doing while we wait?  Think about how much of your lifetime is spent in a waiting or even in a holding pattern of sorts…possibly even unable to go forward until the waiting is over.  Often we don’t know how long the wait will be.  I try to be as productive as possible if the wait is anticipated.  I will often bring something to read with me or if it’s longer, a task I need to accomplish.  When my kids had lessons of some sort I would bring coupons to clip and file or homework to work on or I would run an errand while I was out.  When it comes to longer term waiting I still try to focus and keep going in the direction I would like to be once the waiting is over.

I think this waiting principle applies to the most important thing I’m waiting for.  Jesus told us that He is coming back one day.  Many have predicted to the day when this would be but obviously they were wrong.  Matthew 24:36 says, “But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.” (Message) No one knows how long this wait will be but I want to be ready. “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him,”  Matthew 2:44.  I won’t sit and do nothing while I am waiting for that day.  I am determined more then ever since having cancer to live my life to the fullest for the Lord.  I don’t want to waste time while I wait for His return.  Isaiah 25:9 says, “They will say on that day, ‘Look! This is our God, for whom we have waited—and he has saved us! This is the Lord, for whom we have waited; let’s be glad and rejoice in his salvation!'”

It is interesting to see that in Psalm 37:4 where we are told to WAIT for the Lord, depending on the translation used, it says to HOPE in the Lord.  These are synonymous.  The way to do our waiting is by putting our hope in Him and trusting Him during our time of waiting!  We are told to “follow him,” “keep his way,” “rely on the Lord, keep his commands,”  “wait for the Lord’s help and follow him” in various translations of this verse.

My question is, “What are you doing while you wait?”

 

Who’s to blame?

I’ve learned a lot over the past year.  It was ONE YEAR AGO this month that I went in for a routine mammogram with plenty of things on my mind.  One thing that was not on my mind was concern for the results from my mammo.  I had had one plenty of times before and wasn’t having it done as a result of a lump I felt or because of any pain or tenderness.  It was “routine” after all!  Little did I know at the time how the results from that one screening would change the course of direction for me last year.

Ever think about how one action, one choice can make such an impact on your life?  I didn’t know much about cancer other than that it was something that happened to “other” people.  I wasn’t really overweight, got plenty of sleep, some exercise, ate fairly well with healthy choices, didn’t smoke or drink…why would I even think that cancer would happen to me?  Especially breast cancer…after all, I had nursed four children and each at least for one year and went for yearly exams and  check-ups.  After cancer happened to me I realized that no one is exempt!  We all live in a fallen world where there is sickness, poverty. disease and evil.  It is a sinful world and we are subject to many things.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to live a healthy lifestyle or that it is in vain, but it doesn’t exempt any of us from  disease or illness.

I would not choose to redo last year.  Going through tests, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, prescriptions/medication, continued infusions,  pain, discomfort, all the side effects (long and short term), the inconvenience, the monetary expense, missed work and activities,  the paperwork, the follow-ups, the appointments, the dependence upon others for meals, rides etc. is no fun.  In a word it is suffering!  I would not wish it on anyone.  Your whole life changes overnight.

The Blame Game

However, some changes are for the better and would not have come if it wasn’t for the suffering.  As much as cancer in any form is a negative thing, how you deal with it as an individual will determine whether it can be used as a positive in your life.  I have seen this over the course of the last year running into many cancer patients throughout my treatment.  Some are angry and bitter and curse and blame God asking, “Why me?”  Realizing that no one is exempt living in a fallen world I ask, “Why not me?”  I don’t blame God for my cancer.  He chose to send His Son that He loved to a sinful world and die a painful death to accomplish salvation  for us.  I am sure that there is a purpose and plan in my cancer.  Some of that I have seen already and one day the rest will be revealed.

Do I blame God?  Let me answer that again.  As a matter of fact I do.  I blame Him for making me fall more in love with Him.  I blame Him for making me more empathetic towards others who are physically suffering.  I blame Him for making me re-prioritize my life and think about what really is important.  I blame Him for trusting Him even more with my life.  I blame Him for strengthening my faith. I blame  Him for giving me a platform to share my faith.  It is a direct result from my battle with cancer that these things have happened and for that I am thankful.

Dr. John Piper has written an article/booklet about his personal experience with cancer called, “Don’t Waste Your Cancer”  which can be downloaded as a free PDF. I highly recommend it.  Our sufferings teach us not only about ourselves but about the true nature of God as well.  It is our opportunity to get to know Him in a way that you only can if you are sharing in His sufferings.  Dr. Piper writes, “Satan’s designs and God’s designs in our cancer are not the same.  God designs to deepen our love for Christ.  Cancer does not win if we die.  It wins if we fail to  cherish Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 3:8-11 says, “ Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ  and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.  I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death,  so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (NLT)

I believe the difference in anyone’s journey though cancer or other suffering is whether you choose to avail yourself of the HOPE that is yours for the taking.  Instead of blaming God for the suffering, praise Him through it and allow Him to work in you.

Whose report will you believe?

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Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Well I got my year-end report on my blog and the statistics are in.   My blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2012. The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers.  If my blog were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.  Not too bad considering I didn’t start my blog until August, so this was only for 5 months of the year.  Readers from 36 different countries visited my blog.  Most were from the United States, India, and the United Kingdom.

My goal in starting this blog was not to attract a big fan base.  As stated in my initial post I started this to keep my friends and family informed not only of where I was in my treatment but to help others understand a little more of the how’s and why’s of breast cancer treatment and also as a means to encourage or inspire others going through a similar experience (or a not so similar experience).  If I have accomplished any of the above through this blog, then my blogging has been successful thus far.  The success of it for me is not based upon the number of readers or how many countries they have fared from.

Perhaps one day when I am not working full-time and going through treatment and a lot of other things, I will have the time to devote to blogging on a more regular basis.  There are probably a lot of things I could be doing to make my blog more “successful” in the eyes of the world using key phrases and all kinds of fancy technological things that I don’t have time for now that would get me more “hits” and “likes” and referrals but now is not that time.  Once I am done with my initial treatment I would like to have these posts printed up in a small devotional type book and left for free in the waiting areas of breast cancer treatment centers.  If others could be encouraged through them then I would consider this to have been successful.

This reminds me of other reports in the Bible.  Isaiah 53:1 says, “Who hath believed our report and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (DRA)  In The Message it reads, “Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?” In John 12:37-38 this verse is quoted after Jesus performs many signs and miracles and people still don’t believe in him.  I have seen the “arm of the Lord revealed” in my trial this year.  His arms have held me and carried me.  I would not have thought God’s saving power would be seen in the face of breast cancer, but it was the miracle of His strength and joy and peace that saved and sustained me.

In Numbers 13 the spies are sent to check out the promised land. They return and the spies give a report saying the land is fruitful but the cities are fortified and large and the people are big and powerful.  Caleb gave a good report and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (v.30)  The others spread the bad report and grumbled and complained.  In 14:37 “these men who were responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the Lord.”   Things that are foreign  and new to us (like cancer treatment) can be scary to face but we must have the faith and confidence like Caleb and say, “I can conquer this!”

The “year-end” statistical report on my blog did not tell me the facts that I really wanted to know.  It cannot measure whether anyone’s life was touched or changed in any way.  I only know when you leave me a comment.  That’s the report that I will believe.  Thank you readers for taking a ride on “my Dreamliner”.  I hope that you have been encouraged or inspired in some way through my posts in 2012.  I am looking forward to delivering a good report in 2013!