Thursday, March 31, 2011

Let Faith Arise

Today the miracle I prayed for was sun. I think what I actually said was: 'God, I don't know if I can get through this without sun. Please, please, let us have sun for the next 6 months.' And it really would be a miracle here in the rain capital of the world (alright - I don't know if I officially live in the rain capital of the world but it sure feels like it most days)

I've been thinking about trusting in God and faith and all those things that I've been trying to hold onto as we wait. They are easy words to just say - 'have faith', 'we're trusting in God', 'he'll never give us more then we can handle.' I know all the phrases, what I also know is that they aren't always as reassuring as we want them to be when we spout them into someone's place of grief or pain or uncertainty.

But they are truth and I was wondering how they have manifested their presence in our lives. Here are a few thoughts on what living with trust and faith looks like for us this month:

the absence of fear
the presence of peace
conversations about life and the future
the ability to say cancer without any accompanying feeling of dread
being fully present for take-home reading and piano practice and outside road hockey games

And yet in-spite of what I know to be true, today was a sad day. Many different family members are experiencing loss and grief and I felt the ache of sadness today for and with them. We are still waiting for news and praying for the best but God's promises are true even when we hear and experience the worst. Tonight my prayer is that they would be reminded of these promises that are still true even in their darkest places. He is our refuge and strength. Let faith arise.

I lift my Hands by Chris Tomlin

Be still, there is a healer
his love is deeper than the sea
His mercy is unfailing
His arms a fortress for the weak.

let faith arise
let faith arise

I lift my hands to believe again
you are my refuge you are my strength
as I pour out my heart these things I remember
you are faithful god forever

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Step One √

Surgery is done, tumor is removed and nodes are being dissected at a lab somewhere. It was a long day of waiting yesterday (what else is new!). I had to be at the hospital at 8:15 for an appointment to inject radioactive particles into my lymphatic system so my doctor could find the lymph nodes easily. 'It'll sting a little,' the tech told me. And man was that an understatement! That was the most painful thing I've experienced to date.

Then I was to check into surgical day care even though my surgery appointment wasn't scheduled until 3:30. I'm not sure why I couldn't have waited at home but that option was never presented to me. Finally at 3 I said goodbye to Sam and followed the nurse to the operating room where she got me up on the table and then chatted with the anesthesiologist about chocolate chip cookies while I fell asleep.

Unfortunately the morphine made me quite sick afterwards and very dizzy. All I wanted to do was curl in a ball and go to sleep but Sam made me dress and drove me home (with my eyes shut the whole way). It was good to fall asleep in my own bed.

Some things I remember from today...
  • painful radioactive injection
  • kind nurse Dave who put in my IV without any problems
  • It was Bunyan removal day in surgical daycare
  • Funny German lady who blamed unplanned cesareans for making her appointment late and her diabetic husband who wouldn't eat no matter how many times she told him to do so. (I think he ended up having a candy to placate her)
  • My OR team talking about baking while they put me under
  • The kind nurse in post-op who held my hand while she took out the IV and with tears in her eyes asked how I was doing with everything.
  • Finally the clean, peaceful house (courtesy of mom) and the two great kids who greeted me when I came home. I think they were disappointed I wasn't smurf blue - only slightly tinged with green.
It'll be 2 weeks before we know anything more. So more waiting but it feels different this time. Maybe the Tylenol 3's with codeine are to blame for that. They are definitely to blame for the lack of deep thoughts today and the things I find uproariously funny in this post that most of you will just scratch your head at.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Steadfast Love

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
Psalm 36: 7-9

I've experienced the steadfast love of God this week through the many words, prayers, flowers and gifts that have been poured on our family. Thank you so much to everyone of you who have taken the time to lift us up to heaven's throne and bring our concerns to the feet of Jesus.

Tomorrow, finally, is surgery. I feel like I've been waiting months when in reality it is only 10.5 weeks since my first doctors appointment and only 3 since the results of my biopsy were known.

These weeks have been consumed with thoughts of cancer but thankfully with very little fear. We've talked with the kids in small bite size pieces that they can grasp about surgery, cancer and have asked them what they think that means for us. Interestingly enough they were most worried that I'd come home from the hospital tomorrow totally bald and I think they weren't sure what to think of that. It was reassuring for them to know that I'd still look the same tomorrow, (besides being tinged blue from the dye that will be injected during surgery!). Please continue to pray for Ana and Zach that they would be open about their fears and concerns but also that they would be protected from fears planted by the enemy. We claim peace, joy, life and hope for them today and every day, in the name of Jesus.

In a book I read this week called Anti-Cancer, the author talks about the benefit of meditation within cancer treatment. I immediately renamed this 'sitting at the feet of Jesus' and was so relieved that instead of just focusing on breathing in and out I would be able to focus on the one who gave me breath and the promises he has for me. He is our Jehovah-Raffa, he built us from the inside out. My life has always been in his hands.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Most of the time I like information. Even if it's bad I want to know. Knowing is better than not knowing.

It seems like this breast cancer experience so far has consisted mostly of waiting. Waiting for appointments, waiting for surgery. With waiting comes lots of time to think...and Google. Google has treated me well these past weeks. I Googled the items on my pathology report, what surgery will be like, what sort of non-traditional therapies are out there, what chemotherapy will be like, radiation, if hormone therapy will work for my kind of tumor. All very safe from websites like the BC breast cancer web page, Canadian breast cancer web page, get the idea. I should now say that I promised Sam I would keep my Googling to a minimum. He's worried about what I may come across even though I've explained to him that I just need to know stuff and 'don't worry, it's not affecting me.'

Except for yesterday. Yesterday was a TMI day. Way, way too much info. I freely admit that there is a line between being prepared, with questions for the doctor, knowing the terminology, even where you can buy a wig close by and information overload - that superfluous knowledge that is no longer helpful and yet you just can't stop looking at it.

And for me it was blogs. At first it was good to read a first hand account from someone who went through the same sorts of things I expect to go through. Then I started to compare pathology reports and come across all the complications. And then I spent the night tossing and turning praying for morning to come so I could shut off my brain!

My doctor has told me from the beginning that it's important to stay within the present. To focus on the next step, not 3 steps down the road. And I've been meaning to do that. I think we've done a pretty good job of it even. I also think that is what it means to put your trust in Jesus. To hand the chart over to him and let him be the lead physician. So tonight that's what I'm doing. Maybe Sam was right after all (he made me add this last line).

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139:14-16

Monday, March 21, 2011

Not Surprised

The word cancer has a lot of emotion attached to it. Fear, uncertainty, anger, sorrow. It was not a word I thought ever to associate with 'me.' I'd only ever thought of it as a 'you' word. Someone else, somewhere else. In truth the word meant little to me, that is until that day only 3 weeks ago when my doctor used it in relation to my own diagnosis. 'the tumor is cancerous' is what I think he said. I nodded and said 'alright, okay,' but thinking to myself – what? Did I just hear that right? And immediately – what does this mean?

Okay – I have breast cancer. The main thought I had for those first few days in combination with those words 'breast cancer' was 'boy is this ever random'. And that's how it felt, how it still sometimes feels.

We were leaving the surgeon's office a few days after the initial diagnosis and it had been a sobering appointment with words like lymph node biopsy, chemotherapy, radiation and I think I said something to the effect of 'boy this is sure random' and Sam told me – 'no it's not random. This isn't random to God. It isn't unknown to him.'

And that's true. There are no surprises to Him. And I wonder how he has been preparing me for this?

That's one of my many questions. A good friend asked me last week what I've been writing. Up to that point all I'd written were questions to God. Pages of them. 'You're a writer,' he said, 'you should write.' And I think he's right. Not just work on my going on seven-year-novel-that-may-never-be-finished but my thoughts about this abrupt turn our lives have taken in just 3 weeks. And maybe as I process my thoughts God will answer some of those questions.

As of now I have a surgery date of March 28th for a lumpectomy and lymph node biopsy. Further treatment will be discussed with an Oncologist after the results of the surgery are in. Please pray with us for "clear margins" around the tumor and for cancer free nodes.

And if you are in the area, a friend and mom from the kids school is organizing meals for us for the week after surgery and then again when chemotherapy (not for sure but more than likely) starts. The website for that is here - if you are so inclined.