Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Death by cancer is all around us. It always has been, but now, within the reality of my own cancer I think I see it more. Or maybe I think about it with greater awareness. And I often wonder what it is exactly I should be feeling about this.

A cousin of mine was recently taken by cancer. Just this past week we were all confronted with the death of Mr. Layton and more recently in my own city I heard about a woman who died of breast cancer just a mere month and a bit after her diagnosis. Yesterday I found out that David Serven-Schreiber author of the book Anti-Cancer: A new way of Life (a great book about living an anti-cancer life), passed away this summer after a 3rd recurrence of cancer.

Should I feel fear? This same disease that killed these people and countless others was in my body (and may be again) and will always and forever be on my radar. But mercifully fear is not the first thing I feel. After the sadness, the sorrow for family left behind and for a life shortened, I feel anger. Anger that cancer has the power to take life.

And immediately I feel like living. I think I've always been a bit contrary. If you think I should walk I'll decide to run, no I do not want a smaller piece of pie, yes I do want seconds of thai food, yes I can walk for an hour, not just half even though I just had chemo yesterday. (I think I may get this from my dad - but trust me he's way worse :-)

So lately I've been thinking about life. About living. What it means for me now, what I'll do with it. This week when I learned of these unfortunate, devastating deaths I wanted to walk. Up hill. Fast. So I did - maybe not as fast as usual but my heart pumped, my legs burned, and my lungs laboured. My pared down walks a few times around the duck pond without a hill in site are done. I want to Live and I will Walk!

Sam was sharing a few thoughts with me out of Jeremiah 29 the other day and I thought I'd post them here since they speak to Life. The Isrealites are in exile in Babylon and Jeremiah decides to send them a letter. A word from the Lord to the exiles.

I love what he says to them in vs 5. "Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there and do not decrease." and then in vs. 10: For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

After which is the famous verses about plans for a hope and a future - a promise that won't come to fruition for 70 years!! This is what I get from these verses. When you are in exile (for 70 years) - LIVE. When you feel like you can't go on - LIVE. When you are missing your family and feel like everything is going against you - LIVE. Keep living. And enjoy it - build your house, eat your food, have a big family and enjoy them.

Okay - that turned into a mini sermon but you get my point. Yes in the back of my mind I worry about recurrence of cancer, leaving my family too soon and all that stuff that fear brings but for today I am alive and I will Live.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

power vs. Power

I had this idea that cancer would be a year out of my life and then I'd go back on my merry way doing everything I used to, being exactly who I used to be. I'm starting to realize this may not be the case. When I said that exact thing to Sam the other day he said - you will go on with life, it just may be in a new way, a way you're just learning to navigate.

To be honest, I don't like that, not one bit. I feel like cancer has robbed me of some things I liked about myself. Mainly - a healthy body. Yes - when this is done I hope to be healthy again, healthier then I ever was, but there will be changes that I will have to work with or around. Like my left arm, where I had lymph nodes removed. I could always have problems with it, or my heart which shows a slight decrease in the pumping action after my first round of chemo.

In contrast to cancer these things are minor, they can be monitored and I can live with them a long time. But somehow, that doesn't make it easier to bear. And it makes me angry that cancer has power to change my life in ways I did not want.

Then I remember that Jesus is bigger then that. His Power is bigger then that of cancer, or death, or my suddenly narrowed view of life. When I feel like I can't see past the next 24 hours it is some comfort to know that he can see forever.

"I lift my eyes up to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. ...The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore." Psalm 121: 1 and 8

And for a brief update: I received cycle 5 of chemo on Thursday and Friday and am happy to report that I'm not totally incapacitated by it like I was the first 4. I haven't spent the weekend in bed nor have I been sick. I do have pain in my legs and joints which I'm hoping will soon fade. It feels good to have completed 5 chemo cycles and have 3 left. And as I am nearing the end of chemo we've been talking with doctors about radiation benefits vs. risks and will decide soon our next treatment plan. So please keep praying for us as we make yet more decisions.

Friday, August 5, 2011

And time moves on

I can hardly believe I'm half way through chemo. I finished my fourth treatment on the 21st of July and after a week of feeling bleck I am finally feeling well. AND I have another week before the second round. I feel like I'm on a vacation from chemo - a very good feeling and one I'm trying not to mar with thoughts of what the next round will be like.

Treatment 3 was a low point for me. I was discouraged, fearful, anxious and felt as if it would never end (hence the lack of any blog posting after that). Fear is such an irrational thing. Suddenly I couldn't lay down without thinking of what could go wrong. Every heartbeat was analyzed, every pain, every nauseous moment revisited. And yet through it all my rational mind was saying - don't worry, think of something else, trust in Jesus.

And that's the crux of it isn't it? Trusting in Jesus is easy when your mind is clear and fear is held easily at bay. I had to get back to the basics. Remembering why it was I didn't fear the word cancer way back in March when it was new to me. Because I knew that Jesus was my doctor. That he had my back. I had to remember that he still is the one in charge of my treatment. He alone decides whether the chemo works or doesn't. He protects my heart and body from extra damage.

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." Ps 20: 7.

Psalm 20 has been my staple these past few weeks. I will trust in Jesus, not in chemo or surgery or any other treatment that will come my way in the next months. And I will enjoy this gift of reprieve and the completion of what should have been the "worst of it" (according to my Oncologist who is lovely but very optimistic :-).