Wednesday, December 29, 2010

TWO years. Two Whole Years...

Today is my two year cancerversary. I’m glad today is not December 23, December 29, or December 31, last year. I’m also glad it’s not December 29, 2008, or January 2009.

I am glad to be where I am, as opposed to where I have been, even with the impatience and the fatigue and the wanting to be done with all of this cancer (curse word).

My Eucatastrophe and Thank You post still sums up my thoughts and feelings about my process.

Somehow I need to figure out how to be glad to be here, for however long I’m still here, instead of feeling like I’m making up stuff do to while I’m waiting to go Home.

I have recently had the terrifying thought that this cancer (curse word) could drag out for another year, or several more years.

Part of my struggle with being here is that I have this mental picture of “death,” of the final Transition Home, and I have more and more limitations here.

Oh well, that’s it for now.

Today is also my parents’ 48th wedding anniversary. My parents are an outstanding example for their ten children and they are responsible for instilling in us the mental, emotional, and spiritual resources we continue to grow in. One of the most awesome things about my parents, for me, is their ongoing desire for personal change and transformation as they seek God's direction for their lives.

I will always think I have the most amazing parents in the world.

Peace and many thanks to all of you for all of your support, prayer, and encouragement throughout the last two years... Martha

Friday, December 24, 2010


May the Peace and Joy He offers fill your heart and mind today, tomorrow, and every other day.
This is what Jesus did for me, and continues to do for me, and this is why I celebrate Christmas:

Lord Jesus, come yourself, and dwell with us, be human as we are, and overcome what overwhelms us. Come into the midst of my evil, come close to my unfaithfulness. Share my sin, which I hate and which I cannot leave. Be my brother, Thou Holy God. Be my brother in the kingdom of evil and suffering and death. Come with me in my death, come with me in my suffering, come with me as I struggle with evil. And make me holy and pure, despite my sin and death.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Peace, Martha

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Stuff and (Curse Words)

Several things:
--My scar is healing beautifully. It looks amazing. I still haven't had any post-surgical pain, which is awesome.

--I can’t eat solid food; not even saltines, rice, or pasta. I can’t drink anything other than Ensure and water.

I ate four bites of plain spaghetti with a minute amount of cheese and margarine, and thirty-six hours later, I’m just now feeling a little bit better.

There could be a shared cause between the digestive (curse word) and these (curse word) clots. See following....

-- I’ve been learning about clots this past week. This information sums up what appears to be going on in my (curse word) body most concisely:

Some types of lung, stomach and bowel cancers produce a substance called MUCIN. This mucous substance increases your risk of developing a blood clot. If you have cancer of the pancreas, bowel, lung, stomach, ovary, or womb, you are at a slightly higher increased risk of developing a blood clot. (Source)

Trousseau Syndrome: Mucin that activates clots in certain cancers that is associated with venous thrombosis and hypercoagulability; the blood may spontaneously form clots in the portal vessels, the deep veins of the extremities (such as the leg), or the superficial veins anywhere on the body. These clots present as visibly swollen blood vessels (vasculitis), especially the veins, or as intermittent pain in the affected areas; marantic/non bacterial thrombotic endocarditis. (Source)

Basically, it appears that this mucin is my problem. The bottom line is that the tumors in my body shed their malignant outer surface cells and these cells get into my bloodstream and mess my blood and digestive systems up. (Source)

It’s okay to only be able to drink Ensure and water when I’m home with Dresden; it’s a lot harder when I’m with other people who are eating and drinking all kinds of delicious things that I want to enjoy with them. Even when I’m at home, I can’t have the few things I was still able to eat a couple weeks ago...

--As for the clots in my arm and leg, they appear to be resolved or resolving. My left foot started hurting very badly on Saturday and I began putting Arnica gel on it... It took away a bit of the pain and I’m pretty sure it somehow helped prevent whatever was trying to start going on there. So that’s good, and it's something I'll know to do in the future.

That’s what’s going on with that stuff.

--I’ve also been having some insanely intense chills that last for hours and hours—and don’t stop until I sit in a bathtub of hot water for about thirty minutes or put socks on my hands and feet and get under a mountain of blankets.

I never knew my body could get so cold. The weird thing is that after I begin to warm up, my body often feels like someone turned up an internal furnace about twenty degrees, usually for about fifteen minutes to an hour. It’s very strange.

--I think that’s enough for one blog post.

I’m ready to be Home and it’s extremely difficult to keep this (curse word) in perspective right now.

I’m ready to be done with clots and mucin and Ensure and being exhausted all of the time and my hip hurting and random veins hurting and digestive anguish and cold chills etc etc etc.

In His Grip, Martha

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Clot #2 and Thank You

First, thank you very, very, very much for praying for my recovery from the general anesthesia. The problems I had were actually not from the anesthesia but were almost certainly from eating at Wendy’s last Tuesday. It could have also been a virus. Regardless, it was way worse than recovering from general anesthesia and it is better now.

I’m about to eat my first non-liquid food since Monday night. I’ve been drinking chocolate ensures and water since Tuesday morning... My stomach has been feeling much better on this diet than when I was eating other foods, but I guess I should start eating some gentle food again.

It is really good to feel better. Thank you for praying for me.

Second, the off and on pain in my right bicep for the last 4-6 weeks turned into a blood clot in the fold of my elbow this week. Side note: why is clot such a disgusting word, just as a word, apart from what a clot actually is?

The first lump/clot was there for several days and yesterday a second lump/clot formed a little bit below the first one. Here’s a picture of where they are. The little black dot at the bottom indicates where the vein softens again. From the dot up to the first clot, the vein is ropey and taut. If you look carefully you can see the slight discoloration along the vein...

I also have pre-clot pain in my left upper leg. Hey, if I can go Home by the ways a clot would take me instead of the ways tumors etc would take me, it would be wonderful.

Meanwhile, these clots hurt quite a bit at times. Pain meds help; just don’t grab my arm or knee me in the leg (like my dog accidentally did yesterday)...

Meanwhile, I’ve been crocheting a ton and will post pictures soon of what I’ve been making. Today is a painting day.

Peace, Martha

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Still Marveling...

I’ve spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (surgery) pain free... I still have the lower back pain and the slowly resolving aftermath of general anesthesia, but no post-surgical pain from the tumor/golf ball removal.

Friday night, after feeling wonderful and pain free all day, while I was at a performance of Handel’s Messiah listening to my dad and others singing, I had two thoughts...

One was: What will it be like to be in the worshipping multitude surrounding the Throne—singing the Hallelujah Chorus and the other songs in Revelation, singing with voices like I heard Friday night, physically in the presence of God?

I closed my eyes during several of the choruses and hoped I’d open them in Heaven... It didn’t work. But it felt like I was there. It really felt like I was there in His presence filled with joy.

The second thought was: Did I really have surgery yesterday? What if I’m not in any pain because there’s no incision? The golf ball is gone but what is under this bandage? Is there an incision under this bandage? I'm SUPPOSED to be in pain. WHERE IS THE POST-SURGICAL PAIN??? (Not that I wanted it, it just didn't make any sense.)

When I got home Friday night, I took off my bandage from the surgery, as I had been instructed to do, and there was/is indeed an incision. There is an incision and nice neat layers of carefully placed special surgical tape to reinforce the stitches for the first week or so.

So, my body was cut open, the tumor/golf ball was taken out, and I was sewn back up after considerable surgical stuff (for lack of a better word or risking grossing anyone out) and I’m not in pain.

AND all of that happened under general anesthesia because the golf ball was located on bone and muscle and if I had just had local anesthesia, "I would have felt pain during the surgery," according to my surgeon.

AND my surgeon specifically told my mother after the surgery that I would probably be sore/in pain when I moved my left arm for a while because of the golf ball’s former location on the muscle/bone.

So, the only time I feel any discomfort is when I do something kind of stupid, like shutting my car door with my left hand—which uses the muscles under the incision area. But even that doesn’t hurt that much. And I can lift my left arm higher with no pain than I’ve been able to for several months.

Anyway, I’m still marveling at all of this. I am still astonished that I’m not feeling any pain while I’m sitting here typing.

The only answer big enough to explain this for me is Divine intervention in my physical body.

 “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind.
 Is anything too hard for me?"
Jeremiah 32:27 

Please pray for fast recovery from the anesthesia. I’ll spare you the details.

In His Grip, Martha

Friday, December 10, 2010

Prayer, Surgery, Pain-YOU Tell Me!

My wise hospice chaplain, told me, among many other helpful things, that I need to present the honest reality to people and not worry about their response/reaction.

So here are two sets of facts for you and you can decide what you think:
Note: The term golf ball refers to a cancerous tumor that I had on my sternum.

- Prior to my golf ball removal yesterday, I have had three surgeries, one major and two “minor.”
- Both of my minor surgeries were very painful to recover from in the days following.
- I was/am expecting intense pain as part of my recovery from the golf ball removal.
- My pain med is “take every two hours, as needed.”
- The last time I took my pain med was at 1:30am last night and it is now 11:00am.
- Hundreds of people are praying for me and asking Jesus to care of me and have mercy on me.

-I am in less pain right now that I was yesterday morning BEFORE the surgery.
-I can raise my left arm higher without pain right now than I could yesterday morning before the surgery.
-I had ZERO (0) pain upon waking this morning.

You tell me, why am I in not in intense pain right now?

-Last Thursday, December 2, I went to visit my surgeon about the golf ball.
-My surgeon with thirty years of experience, his nurse with many years of experience, and myself with no experience saw the stem that went from the golf ball down between my ribs on a sonogram.
-Before my surgeon even pointed it out to me on the sonogram, I distinctly and clearly saw the stem.
-He saw the same thing and pointed it out to me as the stem.
-He told me that I could have the tumor/golf ball removed if I wanted to but that he couldn’t tell me when or how fast it would grow back because it had the stem.
-Before I left, I wrote down in my notes that there was a stem.
-Before I left, I double-checked with his nurse to verify that my surgeon said it had a stem and she said yes.

-When my surgeon did surgery yesterday, Thursday, December 9, there was no stem.
-When my surgeon did surgery yesterday THERE WAS NO STEM and he was able to remove the whole entire tumor (see previous post for surgery info).

You tell me, what happened to the stem?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

IT’S GONE! It’s Gone! It’s GoONe!

My surgery, surgeon, and medical staff way exceeded my expectations today, it was wonderful. They were all professional, kind, and helpful.

The very best part of it? It turns out that the golf ball did NOT have a stem going down in between my ribs, it was ALL on top—Which means that my surgeon was able remove the whole entire thing and it WILL not grow back, not ever, not at any rate.

And that is a truly awesome, very incredibly cool surprise, especially after expecting the mushroom shape which would have been very likely to grow back at some rate, at some point. I think God is feeling gleeful about this right now... He likes giving me happy surprises.... “Merry Christmas, Martha.”

My surgeon did have to use general anesthesia because the golf ball was located on bone and thin muscle, not soft tissue, but, so far, other than asking my dear patient mother the same question five million times in the first hour while I was waking up, it doesn’t seem to be a big deal in terms of recovery.

There will be healing pain, and it will get worse today when all of hospital/surgery meds wear off, but whatever. I have pain medicine, it will get better in a few days, and the golf ball is GONE : )

Thank you so very much for all of your prayers.
Please keep praying for Haiti.

In His Grip, Martha

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


PLEASE pray for my brother and his wife and the people of Haiti. There are two brief posts HERE and HERE that will give you more information.

There is some very scary stuff going on.

Thank you, Martha

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Surgery Stuff

I forgot to mention that my surgery in about 37.5 hours is outpatient, will only involve local anesthesia and IV sedation (so no general or twilight anesthesia to recover from, which is really nice), and I’ll be staying with my parents after surgery for a few days.

It should be no big deal, except that I am VERY excited about getting this golf ball removed. It has grown since last week and it has been itching and hurting. I can’t take Ibuprofen until after the surgery because it’s a blood thinner, haven’t been able to take it since last Friday, and I miss it.

Note: My new pain med is working great so far, and is also awesomely helpful for the shortness of breath/coughing problems that have increased recently. It does make me a little sleepy/slow and unable to drive my car... So it puts some limitations on me... (It's not grass, in case you're wondering).

I have found that the Arnica Gel the nice lady at Whole Foods recommended works almost instantly to relieve the itching/aching of the golf ball and it takes the edge off the lower back pain... It is amazing. It is made directly from a plant AND it has no side effects. Too bad all of our meds can’t be like that. The only bad part about it is that it doesn't work for internal pain, only superficial pain.

I just wanted to clarify the surgery stuff—I would welcome prayer but don’t want anyone to spend their energy being worried.

Peace, Martha
P.S. Picture post below, a more-than-one-post-in-a-day day...

In the Past Few Weeks...

Thank you to the people who took these pictures and shared them so nicely... You can click on any of them to see them larger.

Dresden got back to her inner feral dog in one of her favorite spots... I love watching how insanely happy this makes her.

I’ve been crocheting and helped teach my nieces how to crochet. I learned about ten new stitches amazingly easily by watching video tutorials like this one, and this one and this one for more complicated stitches. If you want to learn how to crochet, forget the books and diagrams and look at video tutorials, it makes it 500% easier and it’s nowhere near as headache-inducing and time-consuming... Crocheting is so relaxing it’s addictive. Maybe it channels excess energy and stress out through the fingers, whatever it does, it’s great.

I also did a lot of hanging out with family over Thanksgiving.

When I spoke with my mother one recent morning, she asked me if I was going to paint that day. I said no, because the single pane, mostly glass door next to my painting space made it too cold. Being the ever-resourceful and creative mother that she is, she suggested using an old foam mattress I’ve had leaning up in my workshop to cover the door.

It works perfectly and it is a perfect fit for covering the glass.  Thanks Mom : )

Hopefully the paintings I'm working on will be finished soon and I'll be able to post pictures of them...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Surgery Date

December 9, 9am.
I have to point out that it is VERY unusual to see a surgeon the day after you call to make an appt, and it is VERY unusual to have surgery within a week. The God of the Universe IS involved with me, and with the lovely people who made this happen for me.

"I will go before you and make the rough places smooth;
I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars.
"I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden wealth of secret places,
So that you may know that it is I,
The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.
Isaiah 45:2-3

Surgeon Visit, Awesome Photograph Link

I had a great visit with my surgeon and his nurse yesterday. They were both exceptionally kind and helpful. The bottom line is that the ping pong ball starts under my ribs, sneaks up in between them, and balloons out on top of my ribs... If you can picture a mushroom top with a skinny stem you’d have the jist of it... He did a sonogram of it, so I got to see it.

He said he can only remove the part above the ribs. He said he didn’t think I’d want the kind of surgery it would take to go inside my chest wall and get the whole thing. I agreed.

He said he couldn’t tell me when or how fast it might grow back. He also asked me if I am okay with having another scar. Hmmmmm, let me think about that, another scar and it might grow back, or a grapefruit stuck to me in another few months? I basically told him, what’s one more scar? When I go Home and my body is healed, it won’t have any scars. Scars schmars, death schmeath... Whatever. Scar's and death’s days are numbered anyway.

I’m waiting to hear the surgery date and I’m pretty surprised by how excited I am about getting rid of this thing. I guess that tells me how much it’s been annoying me.

On another note, check out these pictures, they will amaze you:

My question is this, after looking at the human made stuff in these pictures (it is incredible, even if not all of it is good): If God has given us the creativity to build stuff like this with the current usage of "only ten percent of our brains" that people say we use, what spectacular things will we create when He heals us and the Earth, and we can use 100% of our brains, and we use them only for good?

Peace, Martha

Thursday, December 2, 2010

For Clarification

Okay, when I posted the thing about asking God to take me Home between November 26 and December 10, it was supposed to be funny. I realize that it was (and still is) only funny to me, and I would be ecstatic, euphoric, and overjoyed if that did happen, but want to clarify that I was at least partly joking... Furthermore, God has changed my disposition toward being here for Christmas, so don’t worry, I’m not going to flip out or anything.

Peace, Martha

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Peace/Encouragement, Lumps, Pain Meds....

These are the verses that God has given me recently, for obvious reasons. He never ceases to amaze me with how clearly He shows verses like these to me:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.... As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
James 5: 7-8, 11

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.
Romans :35-39

.... I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

....I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

Thus says the LORD: "Keep your voice from weeping,
and your eyes from tears,
for there is a reward for your work,
declares the LORD...
Jeremiah 31:3, 13, 16

I’m pretty excited about tomorrow... I’m going to see a surgeon about getting the most annoying, aching, itchy one of these lumps removed-it’s growing fast and it needs to get gone. Hopefully it will be removable and hopefully he’ll be able to do the surgery soon. I’m not worried about the surgery: been there, done that. It will be inconvenient and there is a little bit of recovery but it’s a heck of a lot better than having this thing growing and growing to God only know what size during however long He's planning for me to be here. I have been trying to ignore it but it has past the ignorable level.... Removing it is a comfort measure.

Other than that, I’m going to try a new pain med because the one I have was terrible. I had some substantial pain in the last couple weeks in several places, so I tested out taking the pain med that I have... The first time it was fine and I was amazed by how cleared my body was of anything uncomfortable, but the following four or five times I had worse and worse problems with it.... Let’s just say that the first few times it kept me awake, then I had one night of waking up dripping with freezing cold sweat four or five times, and then I had another night full of cold sweats and two terrible nightmares—the first of which I couldn’t wake up from, and knew I couldn’t wake up from, until I finally did wake up after the thing had gone on and on and on.

So, hopefully the new pain med will be better. I’m usually just taking ibuprofen and it is usually fine, but sometimes I need something more... I'm not in bad pain all the time, there is usually only relatively low level stuff that needs to be taken care of, and occasionally, some worse pain.

I’m trying to get some pictures together to post... I’ve been doing some fun stuff and some creative stuff and it’s been good.

In His Grip, Martha