Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Rant

Bottom Line:

Some of the cancer spots have grown by 80% in the last eight weeks. Progression of disease, as I said in the previous post, necessitates a decision about treatment or not. The treatment that has the highest response rate, 60%, would mean treatment every week three out of four weeks. The other two options only have a 25-30% response rate. One causes horrific problems in about one out of three patients. The other I need to learn more about.
These are some of my current thoughts, off the top of my head, and probably subject to change:

Whatever happened to dying naturally??? Why should I choose between the equal evils of a variety of treatments, all of which are just delaying the inevitable? Why is the inevitable, death, such a bad thing? Why do I want to stay on this earth with horrible chemo side effects when I could be in HEAVEN??? Isn’t Heaven supposed to be good? Why am I delaying eternal healing and freedom from suffering?

Am I making decisions for myself or for other people who are thinking about the issues from a totally different, or at least an a lot different, paradigm? What if their paradigm isn’t congruent with mine? What if they are basing their responses on their own fear of death, not realizing that death is the doorway to Heaven? Should I base my decisions on my paradigm or theirs? Ultimately, I need to do what I feel God is leading me to do, regardless of anyone else.

What IS God leading me to do????????????????????????????????

If I were to do the weekly treatment, I couldn’t keep working. Stopping work = taking the first step toward death. If I’m going to die, I want it to happen as quickly as God in His mercy will make it happen.

I don’t want to leave work I find very fulfilling and rewarding to live as an invalid, all the while knowing that eventually I’ll run out of treatments to try and my body will be so weak and destroyed that it will eventually give out, maybe in a much worse way than if I were to stop treatment now while my body is relatively healthy. Healthy, by the way, seems like an oxymoron for describing someone with cancer....

Why is it that the emphasis for so many people seems to be on being alive at all costs, regardless of physical condition and quality of life??

When do the stress and side effects of treatment outweigh the benefit? What is the benefit? Who gets to measure that? I think I do.

What if I stop treatment, let God keep me alive for as long as He wants, and enjoy the greatest quality of life possible for however long I have left and do the most good I can while I’m here, instead of becoming so weak and dilapidated and miserable from mouth sores and horrible skin problems ETC that I can’t do anything at all well?

And along these lines:
Am I finished with the work God has given me to do?
Should I use the medical interventions available or do they extend life unnecessarily?
How do I envision the rest of my life on weekly treatment if I can’t work?
Do I want to live without a purpose, and what defines purpose, my purpose?
What loose ends do I need to tie up?

A side note: December 29,2008 is the date of my very first medical appointments related to cancer. So, today is, as some people call it, my cancerversary...

On another side note, I read Psalm 27 this morning and am including it here, for obvious reasons...

The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.

My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.

Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.

Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

CT Scan Results

Bottom line: The CT scan yesterday showed definite cancer growth, and therefore definite progression of disease. Progression of the cancer means the current treatment is not working and necessitates a decision about treatment or not, or changing treatment. A treatment decision means I need prayer for wisdom. I’m asking God for a very, very clear answer about what He would have me do. I’ve already posted earlier on my thoughts about decisions and treatment and implications, so I’m not going to rehash all of that.... I'll meet with my Dr next week to discuss treatment options etc. Please pray for me. Thank you :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009


O my hair
it was down to-

Where to begin...
I cut it to my chin
I cut it to my brow
Chemo took it anyhow

O my hair-
it was not there
my head was Bare

O my hair-
you are not me
you never will be

martha depp 12.20.09

Saturday, December 19, 2009

CT Scan Tuesday...

I have a CT scan Tuesday. Please pray for peace and wisdom. I will post on the results when I get them...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hair Page for Cancer Book

Hair Page: Hair from before chemo cut, hair from buzzing cut, hair from fuzz cut... Plexiglass, wood, screws, hair, board book page
To see it larger, click on the image.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Incision/Staple Page for Cancer Book

Incision page, with all of the 26 staples from my surgery incision. If you want to see it better, you can click on the image.

Saturday, December 5, 2009


I have wind in my sails again.

Where to start...

I’ve been struggling against crushing darkness for roughly the last month.

A big part of it was feeling like I had to make a huge decision at the end of this month about my work. Another big part of it was seasonal depression. Another big part of it was a bunch of physical problems. Another part of it was just the reality of how much this cancer thing has affected every area of my life.

Part of understanding the issues, to try to get some resolution, was trying to sort through the layers of what was physical, what was emotional, what was spiritual, what was mental.... Unfortunately, those things don’t sort neatly into nice little organizer boxes with tidy little labels.

When I first found out I had cancer, I had this idea that my spirit could somehow be kind of separate from my body. I thought I could compartmentalize my spirit and prevent the physical stuff from affecting it. Not possible.

The bottom line is that we are integrated beings. Things are all tied together, with bonds that cannot ever be torn loose. All of our parts, our spirits, souls, bodies, minds, wills, emotions—however you choose to define the parts of us—they are all inextricably intertwined.

I can’t have something wrong with my body that doesn’t affect my spirit. The same with all of my other parts.

As I agonized over what was going on, God used a variety of interventions to minister peace and wisdom and healing to every part of me.

He used my sister-in-law to communicate to me about Vitamin D3. Taking Vitamin D3 has made an incredibly dramatic difference in my attitude, my emotional resilience, and my physical energy.

He relieved me completely of several physical symptoms I’d been having and gave me direction in eliminating some others. Right now, I feel pretty well for the first time in months.

He used three very intensely encouraging experiences at work over a two day period of time to tell me that what I am doing there is of value and that I am to keep working there. Any one of those three experiences would have made a huge difference but all three combined had the effect of being struck by a lightning bolt. There is now no looming decision to worry about making in the end of December. He has already showed me what to do. He made the decision for me. He directly answered my prayer and He did it more than three weeks early.

He showed me that when I’m feeling sorry for myself and all of the ways that cancer has affected my life, praying for other people takes my focus off myself.

He also pointed me toward the story and music of Emmanuel Jal. Emmanuel is from Sudan and was forced to be a child soldier and nearly starved to death. You can listen to one of his songs HERE and you can read his story HERE. The suffering he experienced could have destroyed him.

Reading his story and listening to his music has brought a sort of revival in me. In some way I can’t articulate very well, the stories of other people who have suffered deeply bring me peace. Maybe it’s simply the reminder that other people are also suffering deeply. Maybe it’s seeing how Emmanuel has chosen to respond to his suffering by choosing to use it as a force for change and hope and transformation, not just in his own life but in the lives of so many others. Maybe it’s seeing how God can use broken, damaged, nearly destroyed, frail, fragile human beings to bring hope and light to other people. Maybe it’s how he shares his story with courage and passion and isn’t afraid to be graphic and tell it like it is.

The light has obliterated the darkness.

God has kept His promise to never leave me or forsake me. God has answered prayer with answers that can’t be questioned.

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD;
I will wait for the God of my salvation
My God will hear me.
Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy
Though I fall I will rise;
Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me.
Micah 7:7-8

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Book Cover

 The rest of the book is still in process.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shut Up Tight

shut up tight
surrounded by
darkness, silence, pain

shrinking back
shrinking in

one Light
the only light

shut up tight
surrounded by
endless questions

battening down
drawing in

one Answer
the only answer

shut up tight
surrounded by
endless unknown

standing still
standing small

one Known
the only known

shut up tight

martha depp 11.21.09

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Since Wednesday, I’ve been reflecting, okay agonizing, on/over medical/treatment decisions I anticipate needing to make at the end of December. I don’t know how to describe how heavily medical decisions weigh on me. Not only do the decisions have the potential to end my life on this earth, they also affect other people deeply. Most of the people who I talk about these decisions with understand that they are my decisions to make. They say they will support me, no matter what I decide. While this is the most freeing and helpful thing they can say, I still can’t quite let go of how my decisions will and do affect other people and my life... They are decisions I don’t want to make.

It occurred to me that I could be praying that there would be no decision to make. I could be praying that whatever is going on at that point would be so clear, one way or the other, that it wouldn’t require a decision. This is God’s project so I’m going to pray that HE would make the decision. Gideon laid out a fleece, a donkey spoke, the ram got stuck in the thicket....

God has been clearly guiding this cancer process, since before I even knew it started. Asking Him to make whatever needs to happen so clear that it's impossible for it to be questioned, second guessed, or become a source of anguish, seems like the right thing to ask.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Design Issues

Every so often I find myself fighting the way God designed me, I always have. Cancer occasionally magnifies the issue. Sometimes I start to get angry and I feel restricted and limited and boxed in. God has a way of using verses like these to remind me that I am in the hands of the God of the Universe and that I can trust him.

Isaiah 45 (selected verses...)

I will go before you
and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.

I will give you the treasures of darkness,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the LORD,
the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

I am the LORD, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the LORD, do all these things.

Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker,
to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground.

Does the clay say to the potter,
'What are you making?'
Does your work say,
'He has no hands'?

This is what the LORD says—
the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:

Concerning things to come,
do you question me about my children,
or give me orders about the work of my hands?

It is I who made the earth
and created mankind upon it.

My own hands stretched out the heavens;
I marshaled their starry hosts.

For this is what the LORD says—
he who created the heavens,
he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth,
he founded it;
he did not create it to be empty,
but formed it to be inhabited—

he says:
I am the LORD,
and there is no other.
Turn to me and be saved,
all you ends of the earth;
for I am God, and there is no other.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Facing life and facing death with an equal level of acceptance has been a goal of mine since last December, when all of this cancer stuff started. Part of being able to do that has been trying to understand how to take the power away from the things I fear. It seems like almost all of what I’m afraid of involves an unknown. Some unknowns can be demystified, taking away the fear and replacing it with factual information. Two unknowns that I've struggled with over the last eleven months have been dying and Heaven. Not knowing what to expect from either has been a source of fear.

So, I’ve been doing some research on dying and Heaven.

I know that for me as God’s child, death is an instant transition from being alive on this earth, to being more fully alive than I’ve ever been, in Heaven. The part that continues to be a potential source of fear is dying. What will it be like to die? How intense will the suffering be? How horrible will the pain be? How long will it take? What will my body do during that process? Finding the answers to some of these questions has been very, very helpful.

Here is some of the helpful information I found on dying:
The Last Weeks:
Body changes
Most cancers affect the body’s ability to use the food that we eat to make energy. This can make you feel exhausted and weak, and no longer able to fight. The cancer cells can prevent the body from working normally, and may cause a change in the chemical balance in the body and sometimes a build up of waste chemicals.

These chemical changes can make people begin to lose weight, no matter how much they eat. Your appetite for food will gradually reduce. Your appearance may change and you may also start to look older. Once a person stops eating they usually only live for a couple of weeks.

As you become weaker and less able to do things, just trying to carry out ordinary daily activities such as getting up and dressing can make you feel exhausted. Your muscles may waste away. You will feel gradually more and more tired and will need to rest or sleep more during the day.

Loss of interest
During this time, it is common for people to lose interest in things that were previously important to them. It is sometimes as though people need to withdraw their attention from the world in order to prepare for death.

Care and support
People may need quite a lot of physical help and support during this time as they get weaker and less able to do things. However, a lot of the time they may just want to lie still and may want other people to just sit with them, without necessarily having to talk.

Occasionally, a dying person stays aware and able to talk right up until very close to the end, and can have a meaningful conversation with people around them. However, this is the exception rather than the rule, and it is important to say all the things that you want to at an early stage

The Last Few Days
As all these changes continue, there comes a time when people feel very weak and are not able to get out of bed at all. From needing to sleep and rest a lot, people move into a phase where their sleep becomes deeper and they spend time drifting in and out of consciousness.

At times you may become confused, and not recognise your family or friends. You may also hear or see things which are not there (hallucinations). You may have thoughts or experiences which are like dreams, in which you are not sure whether things that you experience are real or not.

The drowsiness and confusion can be due to the chemical changes that are happening in the body and the build up of waste chemicals (toxins). They may sometimes be partly due to the medicines that you need to keep you comfortable. Sometimes, to the people around you, you may appear distressed and restless.

Your feet and hands may feel cold, or your skin may feel very sensitive to any touch. People looking after you may need to be very gentle when moving or touching you.

The drowsiness and sleepiness usually gradually develops into a phase where people become unconscious and can’t respond at all to anything around them. You may seem to be peacefully asleep or may move, twitch or grimace occasionally as though you are dreaming. Although you will not be able to respond to the people around you at this time it is likely that you will be aware that they are there. It is likely that you will be able to hear them if they talk to you. This phase may last only a few hours or can continue for a few days.

At this stage, food and drink are not necessary as your body is no longer able to absorb or use them. Moistening your lips or mouth are all that is needed. Once a person stops drinking they usually only live for a few days.

If a person is not moving around, the fluid normally produced by their lungs is not able to drain away and may collect in the air passages, so that when they breathe they make a slight groaning (rattling) noise. This can be upsetting for the people around, but does not seem to be uncomfortable for the dying person themselves. Their breathing may also become irregular, with long gaps between the breaths.

Final Moments of Life
For most people, the final moments of life are very peaceful, with their breathing becoming gradually slower and more irregular, before stopping. With some people this seems to take a long time, while for others it happens over a few minutes.

It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact moment of death. Often the person’s body will relax completely and their face will look very peaceful. People often say that they can sense when the person’s consciousness has gone from the body.
All of the above information on dying from cancer is from: http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Endoflife/Dyingwithcancer/Attheendoflife.aspx

It’s also true that the process of pain and suffering and dying can’t last forever, it has an ending point. From the perspective of eternity, the time involved in dying will be just a minute pinpoint in time.

Learning about Heaven has been a source of encouragement and excitement. Reading Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, has been thrilling. It has taken away a lot of the ambiguity I felt about what Heaven will really be like. I knew Heaven had to be better than earth but that was about all I knew before I started reading...

Here is a tiny bit about Heaven, from Heaven, by Randy Alcorn. I'll post more as I read more of the book...:

Earth leads directly into Heaven or directly into Hell, affording a choice between the two. The best of life on Earth is a glimpse of Heaven; the worst of life is a glimpse of Hell. For Christians, this present life is the closest they will come to hell. For unbelievers, it is the closest they will come to heaven. (p. 28)

The present Heaven and the eternal Heaven are not the same. We can be assured that there will be no more sorrow on the New Earth, our eternal home. But though the present Heaven is a far happier place than Earth under the Curse, Scripture doesn’t state that there can be no sorrow there. At the same time, people in Heaven are not frail beings whose joy can only be preserved by shielding them from what’s really going on in the universe. Happiness in Heaven is not based on ignorance but on perspective. Those who live in the presence of Christ find great joy in worshiping God and living as righteous beings in rich fellowship in a sinless environment. And because God is continuously at work on Earth, the saints watching from Heaven have a great deal to praise him for, including God’s drawing people on Earth to himself (Luke 15:17, 10). But those in the present Heaven are also looking forward to Christ’s return, their bodily resurrection, the final judgment, and the fashioning of the New Earth from the ruins of the old. Only then and there, in our eternal home, will all evil and suffering and sorrow be washed away by the hand of God. Only then and there will we experience the fullness of joy intended by God and purchased for us by Christ at and an unfathomable cost. (p. 73)

I’ve found that developing a response to recurring fears makes a huge difference in maintaining some level of mental/emotional/ psychological/spiritual equilibrium. Dying will not be _________ because _________. Heaven will be _________ and I know this because ________.

Romans 8:38-39 sums up the bottom line on life and death:

For I am convinced
that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers,
neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Some Information

This is a concise summary of basic statistics and symptoms of ovarian cancer, it's the reality those of us with it are living with:

-One woman out of every fifty-five (approximately 1.8%) will develop ovarian cancer some time in her life time.

-In 2009, approximately 21,500 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Approximately 15,500 women will die of the disease.

-Over 70% of all women with ovarian cancer will not be diagnosed until the disease has spread beyond the ovary. This is because the symptoms of early ovarian cancer are often vague and can mimic other common medical problems.

-Ovarian cancer is most common in women who have already gone through menopause. The average age for developing ovarian cancer is 61 years old.

-For the small number of women who are fortunate enough to have their cancer diagnosed before it has spread beyond the ovary, the chance for cure is 85 to 90%. However, for the majority of women in whom the disease has spread beyond the ovary, the chance of living for five years after the diagnosis is between 20 and 25%.

Symptoms most often associated with ovarian cancer include:
• A feeling of being bloated
• Vague abdominal and pelvic discomfort
• Gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, nausea, indigestion
• Constipation, diarrhea, frequent urination
• Back pain and fatigue
• Discomfort during sex
• Vaginal bleeding


Friday, October 30, 2009

CT Scan Results

Well, the news is ambiguous. The CT scan results were inconclusive. There isn’t anything showing on the CT scan that explains the symptoms I’ve been experiencing. There are some new spots, but they are small so the plan is monitor them with another CT scan in two months. Meanwhile, we’re going to continue the same treatment plan.

Now I can hang up my bird feeder. I didn’t want to hang it up and have the birds get used to the extra food, and then lose a resource they’d gotten used to if I had to move out.

So this is life for a cancer patient. One day I’m wondering if I should start taking my personal possessions home from work, the next day I’m looking at probably being at my job for at least another two months.

I know I have existing cancer in my body, I know new stuff is there, I don’t know how fast or if it’s growing, or if it has actually been there the whole time and was just now seen, I don’t know if the new stuff is cancer but it’s hard to imagine that it’s anything else.

The tangible sense of peace that I’ve been feeling can’t be explained by anything other than God’s hand on me and many prayers for peace. My goal was to try to react to whatever I found out with acceptance and no emotional drama, and that has happened so far, thank God.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Peace

So every time this cancer drama really winds up and gets intense, God overwhelms me with this insulating, almost tangible sense of peace. I started feeling that last night.... Meanwhile, my whole midsection has been feeling weirder and weirder all week, to the point where I haven’t been able to eat much in the morning or evening because of a feeling of fullness and pressure... Maybe it’s my odd cooking habits. The peace is nice though...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Some Peace

This is the Isaiah passage that God keeps promising me. He gave it to me again last Sunday, and then it was somewhere else I was reading last week, then my sister emailed it to me a couple days ago, then it was used at church this past Sunday. He’s been reiterating this promise over and over, especially over the last ten months. It’s what keeps me grounded in His reality.
Isaiah 43
1 But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

1. Make mental list of all minor side effects, get in speculative mental tangle about many possible causes for each side effect.
2. Decide to wait until CT scan Friday because that will tell me something.
3. Remember that CT scan Friday might not tell me anything. Most of everything that was there last time only showed up on the PET scan.
4. Worry about how disappointing it’ll be if I don’t find out what’s going on.
5. Remember that the God of the Universe will keep His promise to never leave me or forsake me.
***Repeating many times per day or hour, shuffling order of numbers 1-4, shufflling worries and side effects... Answer is always number 5.

These are two songs that God has used to bring incredible peace and healing to my troubled self over the last month or so:
Here are the lyrics for the second song, the lyrics are awesome:
"Be Still, My Soul"
by Catharina von Schlegel, 1697-?

1. Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul, though dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears;
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrows and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
From His own fulness all He takes away.

4. Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


It's amazing how cancer infiltrates every area of life. Yesterday I was cooking for a very long time, something I despise doing... and I found myself wondering several times why I was making so much food to eat when I don't know what Friday's CT scan outcome will tell me about all of the minor symptoms I've been experiencing, and therefore how much longer I'll be living here to eat this food.

On a different note, our pastor said something today about God that I've never quite understood. He said that God feels our pain. I knew that God knows about our pain, but that God feels our pain was new for me. I'm not sure how to articulate how deeply this encouraged me, but it did.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Recent Thoughts on Treatment or Not

These are two posts I've recently posted elsewhere:
This is a very raw post. Please don't read it or respond to it if you don't want to be bothered about death and mortality.

I'm wondering if I'm the only one who is ready to just go to heaven and be done with this stuff? Not in a theoretical, philosophical kind of way, but in a I'm tired of being tired, know that death for me will be a quick doorway to Heaven, and I'm not afraid of what's after death kind of way.

I'm not talking about ready as in, oh someday I'll die. I'm talking about like, if I find out my cancer is growing when I have my CT scan next Friday, I'm going to stop treatment and do what I need to do to be physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, and financially ready to leave this earth.

Maybe I've always been pretty well ready and the cancer is just making me more ready. Sometimes I wonder if God is preparing me for the time because the time will be soon. Maybe it's the book I'm reading, Heaven by Randy Alcorn, that's the most interesting, hope giving book I've ever read in my life.

The bottom line for me is that there is a very high likelihood that treatment will stop working at some point. The people I love, and who love me, will at some point have to release me-be it because of cancer or something else. When God chooses to have that happen is His decision.

I'm trying to live a balanced life, do what I can to take care of my body, spend my time well, etc. I'm just ready. And I'm tired of wondering, I'm tired of ambiguity. Knowing more about heaven and what I'll be doing there has only intensified all of my feelings about this whole issue.

If you have a thoughtful comment please respond. But I'm not looking for lectures about antidepressents or needing to fight, neither is the issue here. I'm not up for an argument, or for a debate, or some attempt to change my mind.

This was a post I left later on..
You all have made me feel much relieved. I read about all of the fighting and I just have a different perspective. I honestly have been praying for wisdom about this for months, actually all along the cancer journey, and I can only assume that this is God's answer for me.

I need to be ready to accept whatever information I get next Friday with complete neutrality. If the cancer is gone, I need to be able to embrace that. If the cancer is stable and I have to continue treatment, I have to be able to embrace that. If the cancer is growing and I need to stick with my decision to stop treatment, I need to be able to embrace that.

Most of my family and friends know my thinking about this. Some agree and some disagree but the bottom line is that it's my body and I'm the one in it dealing with all of this. And as I said, they are going to have to release me, and I them, at some point anyway. It's going to be very hard to be strong about my decision when the time comes, I'm sure of that.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On Perspective

For the last few weeks I've been feeling like I'm drowning in worry, speculation, physical symptoms.... And as I was reflecting on the teaching this morning at church, it occured to me that all of my concerns and questions are answered on a macro level by God's promise to never leave me or forsake me. If the God of the Universe is holding me in the palm of His hand, why am I allowing myself to wallow in all of this self-created chaos?

If I can just nail the chaos before it starts by reminding myself that God will never leave me or forsake me, it will take care of the majority of what overwhelms me.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Beginning of this Journey

This is something my sister-in-law wrote for me based on our conversations last spring. She wrote it because her sister was participating in a Lance Armstrong ride to raise money for cancer research...

I am 31 years-old. I am a daughter, a teacher, an artist, a sister, and a friend – and I have cancer. Before being diagnosed, my only symptoms were digestive upset and abdominal swelling. There was no pain, no dramatic warning signs, until my abdomen started growing larger and harder very quickly.

On December 29, 2008, my doctor found a soccer ball-sized tumor in my abdomen. My oncologist planned to remove the tumor during the first week of January, along with the ovary to which the tumor was attached. When the doctor operated, he found advanced cancer in the tumor, along with an additional smaller tumor, also cancerous. Because the cancer was so aggressive and growing so quickly, the doctor performed a complete hysterectomy. On January 7, I became a 31-year-old with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer. I am undergoing six cycles of intense chemotherapy every three weeks, in addition to weekly blood draws. Because of the aggressive nature of the cancer, I will have ongoing follow-up treatments and frequent medical check-ups to monitor my body for potential cancer recurrences.

When you are 31 and bald and have cancer, it is a bit of a conversation starter. I am an elementary school art teacher, and had to take two months off of work for my surgery and first two treatments. When I returned to teach, I explained to my students that I am taking medicine that made me lose my hair—to make sure I’m all the way better. My students’ questions have ranged from, “Are you going to die?” to “Can you still get lice when you’re bald?” And while people of all ages don’t come outright and say it, the question of “WHY?” hangs in the air. “Why you?” “Why in such a young person?” It doesn’t make sense. Heck, even my doctors can’t explain it. I can’t tell you WHY, but I can tell you that that God knows why and what for and for how long. And I can tell you that He is doing something beautiful with this whole cancer thing, that He does know, and that my only hope is in Him and in His faithfulness to keep His promises.

Cancer sucks, that’s all there is to it. It’s a painful, intensely challenging experience in every way – physical, emotional, and psychological. God has prepared me for this in many ways over the years and as I see His hand guiding this process, even in the tiny details, I feel loved and protected.

Through my family and friends, and friends of family and friends, I literally have hundreds of people praying for me, maybe even thousands. And in these long few months since my diagnosis, I have seen God answer many prayers in tangible ways. I have returned to school to teach again, even though I am in the middle of intense chemotherapy. My health insurance coverage is very good, making my bills relatively affordable. I have seen an outpouring of love from friends, family, co-workers and students since my diagnosis.

After my diagnosis, several people sent me some of God’s promises found in the first few verses of Isaiah 43: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze…You are precious and honored in my sight… Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”

If going through chemotherapy isn’t walking through fire, then I’m not sure what is. Every three weeks, I sit through a day of poison being injected into my body to kill the cancer cells, and yet I am not burned. This is not my fight; this is not my inner strength; this is not just me gritting my teeth and getting through it as my body is rocked by the aftershock of each treatment. This is God’s fight, His strength, His work.

Cancer is an awful, awful disease. I would not wish it on anybody. I have been blessed to have the love and support of friends and family, and the financial provision to get through this. But cancer does not discriminate – and there are many, many people fighting this disease without access to treatment, health insurance, or a support system of family and friends. The Lance Armstrong Foundation provides these things and more for people who need them. Please consider supporting my friend Jen in her efforts to raise $5,000. And please keep me in your prayers.