Archive | September 2016

Surviving Cancer: Fight the Fight

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“We have nothing to fear but fear itself” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fear is a word that fits quite naturally in company with the word, cancer. Before I could wring my hands in fear or be scheduled for surgery, I happen to come across this piece that addresses fear head on. I would like to share portions of it with you, layering it between my own words. Perhaps it will serve as a reminder, through the lens of my own experience, that fear can immobilize. (Citation is listed at the bottom.)

“A new president was about to take office. After Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in, he gave his inaugural address. One of the things he said as he tried to bolster the morale of his disheartened countrymen has become immortal. He said, ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself!’

“What a profound statement! Roosevelt knew what fear can do. Fear paralyzes us. It causes ambition and courage to leak out and leaves us without resources to face even the simplest situations. Fear is defined as ‘an emotion aroused by threatening evil or impending pain, accompanied by a desire to avoid or escape it; apprehension or dread.'”

I have something that looms large on the horizon. As I mentioned in a previous blog, it’s cancer. Should I fear it? I can’t say that it was ever on my bucket list, but then . . . neither was suicide. Surviving the loss of my firstborn to suicide shattered my heart and hobbled my soul, but I refuse to allow it to kill my spirit. I pray that cancer will not do me in either. I face both journeys in Christ.

 For God did not give us a spirit of fear. He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a good mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 NLV

“Fear is part of our Creator’s loving provision for us. Properly controlled, fear protects us from harm and motivates us toward positive action. If you were to see a bear in the woods, you wouldn’t go up and pet it—you’d flee as fast as you could. Your sensible fear protects you. Uncontrolled fear, however, can lock us into an emotional prison and stunt our personal and spiritual growth. Unrestrained fear darkens our lives; it colors everything we do. It is a great obstacle to our spiritual growth.”

Now I face surgery to remove the cancerous tumor. A portion of my feminine curves will be removed. That fact is certain. How this will impact me emotionally is uncertain. I assume that I will deal with it as I go along. But first, the scalpel in the hands of an experienced surgeon, who entrusts her work to the hands of my divine Physician, will remove the “enemy.” Then the long healing process can begin.

In this day and age one can look at anything on the internet, including breasts. In fact, did you know that you can look at hundreds of before-surgery and after-reconstruction pictures of breasts, and it’s not considered in poor taste? I am learning that the World Wide Web is yet another way to gain knowledge about my cancer surgery. I am both amazed and grateful to other women, diagnosed with breast cancer, who are willing to reveal their private selves to inform patients like me. I suppose I am also attempting to desensitize myself to my new reality. Actually the after pictures look quite normal. Perhaps I have nothing to fear, and in part, I have these brave women to thank for it.

“Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is the most common type of noninvasive breast cancer, with about 60,000 new cases in the United States each year. About one in every five new breast cancer cases is ductal carcinoma in situ.” (Cancer Treatment Centers of America)

“If God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear and we know that He loves us perfectly, why are we still afraid? How can we be freed from the paralysis this kind of fear generates? We must learn to fight fear with fear—another kind of fear that is the antidote for our uncontrolled fears. It’s called the fear of the Lord.

“When we have the fear of the Lord, it means we look upon God with awe or reverence, an attitude accompanied by obedience, knowing, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10a NIV).”

I appreciate all the prayers from my readers as I embark on this new adventure into the unknown. Perhaps I will give an update in the future (at the one-year mark if not before), as the shock of surgery wears off, comfort returns, and I begin adjusting to yet another “new normal.”

Quotes from Lesson 5, “Nothing to Fear But Fear” in the series entitled “Facing Your Feelings” (“Bible dot org”)

Scripture quoted from New Life Version (NLV); New International Version (NIV)

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This entry was posted on September 30, 2016. 4 Comments

Surviving Cancer: Riding Tandem

I was powerless to change the course of my precious child’s life. I am not powerless to change the course of mine.

My grief journey has taken a companion. The fire-breathing “dragon” has struck again. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. It feels foreign to type a sentence that begins with “I” and ends with the dreaded “C” word. Perhaps the more I type it, the less foreign it will sound? I’m in good company as you will note in the current statistics for 2016 from the American Cancer Society:

  • About 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 61,000 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 40,450 women will die from breast cancer.  

Some of my readers may be waging their own battles with cancer or other diseases. Maybe if we continue to share our struggles ~ no matter what they are ~ inspiring and encouraging one another to keep moving in the right direction, we will diminish the power that disease seems to hold over us. After all, God says in 3 John 2 that He wants us to prosper and be in good health, so He’s is on our side, too!

For years now I have awakened remembering that my firstborn will never come home again. Sadly there is nothing I can do to change that fact. With the new diagnosis, I wake up not only remembering that my son will never come home again but also  knowing that I have cancer. Death is a fact I cannot change. I am fortunate that this type of cancer has given me a choice. I can choose to succumb to fear and do nothing, or I can take action and continue to live.                                                             

To share or not to share. (I would not want to embarrass any of my male readers.) Okay. Maybe in the sharing I am reminding all of us to search for humor in even the most humorless situations.  

Most of us have likely experienced the dreaded mammogram. The results of mine suggested that further testing should be done, and I was scheduled for a biopsy. At first glance the set-up for the biopsy appeared similar to the mammogram, except the ratio of clinician to patient was 4 to 1, not the usual 1 to 1. There was the doctor, three clinicians, and me. Instead of standing, like one does for a mammogram, I was allowed to sit. Piece of cake, I thought.

The ladies were nice, and the doctor was gentle, but they pulled and pushed and squeezed the stuffins’ out of my, ah, piece of meat” in order to guide the doctor to the spot in question, so she could insert a needle. The needle would munch little tissue samples from the lesion, which would be sent to the lab for examination.

Suddenly I felt a familiar touch of wooziness. Oh, no! Surely I won’t faint! Apparently I had been pushed, prodded, and told one too many times to keep my eyes closed so I would not see what the doctor was doing, and yep . . . I fainted. I’m sure it was only seconds later when I opened my eyes. My chair had been tilted back, and I was looking up into a “sea” of faces. A voice asked me to state my name and birthdate, the usual, “Do you know who you are?” drill. Apparently I passed. lol

There was chatter about calling it a day and rescheduling my appointment, but I had already been numbed up, which was no picnic, so I asked if there were other options. In response they suggested that I roll unto my side. They wanted to find out if they could do a biopsy with me lying in that position, which translates to “guinea pig.” There was more pushing, pulling, and taping the other “girl” out of the way. Thankfully there were no pictures taken to mark this event, and the doctor was able to complete the biopsy. The staff expressed their relief that the “trial and error” worked. Me, too.

Two days later my doctor gave me the results. It was cancer, but caught early. The next step would be surgery. I have always tried to be fully honest and transparent with my grieving readers. With your permission I will add my cancer story to ride tandem with my continued journey into grief. It will be a part of the path that meanders where it will as I embark on this new unknown.

Day after day there is the temptation to quit, to succumb to the pain: pain from sorrow, disease, or chronic illness. Each day I choose life, I may also choose to face the pain with courage.

Just like every day in my journey thus far, I choose life. I choose to do whatever it takes to continue living, and if that includes surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, so be it. Wow. Do I have a choice? Absolutely. I could take a chance with my life. I could face each day knowing an “enemy” has invaded my tissues ~ uninvited and unannounced, and do nothing about it. But I’d rather fight this enemy. Actually, I want God to fight this enemy with me.

I would love for you to add my name to your prayer list. We are in this mess together, you and I ~ this mess called life. We lift each other up, and, hand in hand, we take new steps forward each and every day.

My simple prayer to God is tucked in the pages of His Word:

When struck by fear, I let go, depending securely upon You alone. Psalm 56:3

Scripture from The Voice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on September 16, 2016. 6 Comments

Have No Fear

Grand Teton Afternoon - Mountains

I look up to the mountains ~ does my help come from there? Ps 121:1

Do we dare trust the words written under the picture above? They were obviously written a long time ago by a man named David. Not only old, they are outdated, right? How can they apply to us, today, in a world which seems to be going mad.

Sometimes I feel like our world is careening out of control, teetering precariously on the cusp of a cliff ready to hurl off course into the vast unknown. Ever think that when you close your eyes at night, you may awaken to the end of the world? Some of you may enjoy movies which have frightening titles like: Armageddon, Doomsday, or World War Z. The titles, alone, suggest gloom and doom to me, even if the substance is more silly than scary.

What are we to make of all the horror and havoc going on within our blue planet? From outer space, it may look pretty, calm, and serene, but civilization as we know it, seems to be running amuck. You agree? Not a day goes by without the nightly news blaring that, somewhere in the world, someone has donned protective or explosive gear, gone to a place teaming with humanity, and blasted the innocent with bullets, killing many instantly. Police quickly rally, return fire, and either kill the gunman, or he blows himself up. The carnage is sickening, horrific. If this is not bad enough, we now have to be on the lookout for crazy truck drivers who intend to plow into crowds of celebrating people, mowing them down like grass. It’s too much.

This world is full of sick people, who think nothing of killing others just because they are different. Almost daily now, bad guys are picking off good guys in blue, who put their lives on the line to protect Americans.

Not long ago we watched our televisions as videos captured the people of Dallas running away from the sound of gun fire while police ran toward it, risking their lives. Five of those brave men never arrived home that night.

I don’t like calling our attention to the current state of play, but it’s hard to ignore. Those of us who are living the worst pain ever, having lost children to suicide, can’t absorb more tragedy. We are bursting at the seams in sorrow already. Is there no safe place to lay down one’s head without dreading tomorrow?

We know that our country is poised for change in Washington DC as we approach an election this fall. I don’t envy those who are actively campaigning to be our next President. That person’s plate will be heaped high with trouble before the first day in office. Who is best suited to put on a hard hat and attempt the impossible? Can either candidate promise peace and safety? These last three words, “peace and safety,” bring this text to mind:

They give assurances of peace when there is no peace. Jeremiah 6:14b NLT

Today “there is no peace.” I have come to realize in my own mind, that there is no leader in Washington DC, or in the world, present or future, who can keep me safe; one who will have my back before he protects his or her own. Even those closest to me don’t have the power to keep me safe. The way I see it, no one but God has the power to protect me. Only He can keep me safe. When I read my Bible, considering it as a whole, I get the distinct impression that God is more focused on keeping me safe for eternity rather than safe in the here and now, and I’m okay with that. The concept makes sense to me.

Some readers may agree that we cannot rely on a human being to carry us to safety. I look up to the mountains, and higher still, from where my help comes. Jesus has promised to return, wake up those who loved Him, and wing us to heaven where it will be peaceful forevermore. The bad stuff of earth will become a distant memory.

While others are crouching in terror and fearful of what may come, those who put their faith and trust in God don’t need to fear. In fact, the last book in the Bible tells us not to fear (Revelation 1:17). I know. It’s easier said than done, right? But think of it this way: if I take Him at His word day by day, trusting Him to keep His promise to comfort me in my grief, I will soon learn that I can lean on Him completely as He carries me forward step by step. He is reliable and trustworthy. And why should I trust Him? Because there is no one on earth who loves you and me more than God does. Not one. Nada.

You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything. Colossians 2:10 MSG

Is there hope? You expect me to say, “yes,” and I won’t let you down. I have good reason to hope. I don’t have to rely on a single person to carry me to safety. I rely on Jesus Christ to take care of me now and wing me to heaven when He returns. Like a popular gospel song promises, “I’ve read the back of the book, and we win.” Yes. I’ve read the last book of the Bible, Revelation, “the big reveal” if you will, and He does win! Jesus Christ wins!

Therefore, friend, let’s not worry about the future. There will certainly be more trouble. Scripture has promised it (John 16:33). But there are also plenty of assurances that, no matter what happens, God will see us through until Jesus returns. So why should we fear? You and I have experienced the worst . . . we are surviving the worst, are we not?

Scripture shared from the New Living Translation (NLT); The Message (MSG)

 

 

This entry was posted on September 2, 2016. 6 Comments