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.