2 months post-surgery, 4 weeks into radiation

“Give thanks in all circumstances; <sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”> for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5:18

God is so good to me. I am so blessed, I cannot believe how much I whine about being tired or unhealthy. There are so many worse problems to have, and I HAVE BEEN MIRACULOUSLY HEALED. What else do I need?.But God puts up with me. He gently reminds me of His goodness instead of hitting me in the head with a frying pan. Or with a bullet, like all those people in Colorado. We were at the opening night show of Batman here–with just a few different life choices we could have ended up there instead–winding up dead, or desperately wounded, reminded constantly of what life had been like before. I read that the parents of a girl who died were praying that people would not lose their faith in God after this tragedy. Can you imagine having such grace, faith, and peace a day after your daughter was brutally murdered? I sometimes am too burnt out to wish I was like that, because I become fearful that He will put me in the circumstances that would make me like that. As if He would say, “You asked for it. Let’s see much do you really want to be like me.”

“The fear of the Lord <sup class="crossreference" value="(S)”> is the beginning of wisdom; <sup class="crossreference" value="(T)”>
all who follow his precepts have good understanding. <sup class="crossreference" value="(U)”>
To him belongs eternal praise. ” Ps 111:8<sup class="crossreference" value="(V)”> 

Sometimes during cancer I felt like I’d brought it on to myself. Not because of eating too much sugar or other ridiculousness, but because of all my prayers to be refined, used, etc. I guess I still do feel that, but not as strongly. He chose me for the challenge, but I will never know why. They say faith is tested not to show God what you believe, but to show yourself and others. Maybe that’s all it was. My faith was tested, and ultimately strengthened, through it all. I’m not the same person now, and even today, as I struggle with exhaustion and am disappointed in a variety of my own behaviors, my “worst” is different than it was a year ago. I won’t dare to say it’s “better”, because I’m too tired to view it clearly and do not want to overstate it.

“Give praise <sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”> to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations <sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”> what he has done.”
1 Chron 16:8

I have many issues to update everyone with, but a few will have to wait for more detailed posts. The important things are that, 2 months after surgery I’m looking and feeling good. Every professional who sees my wounds wants to know who did the surgery and commends Dr. Crooms on his awesome work. I’m still tender to the touch, and my upper back hurts, but they are the level of pain we all live with anyway. My radiated area just became burned and sore to the touch yesterday, and because it’s the weekend has had a chance to heal. This will be my last full week, so I imagine it’ll be a painful one, but there are only 7 more times total, so that’s fine. I’m getting the genetic testing done that I mentioned but the results won’t be in for 6-8 months. I got involved in a genetic (non-treatment) study, and if the Lord chose not to adjust my mutation, my adult relatives can get tested through them for free. So, it’s a win-win, especially because my cousin couldn’t convince her doctor to let her get tested. Apparently some doctors balk at testing when it comes before a diagnosis. Sort of undoes the point of genetic testing, if you ask me. But it’s expensive and different, I guess, so we shouldn’t expect anything else.

“And we boast in the hope <sup class="crossreference" value="(C)”> of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, <sup class="crossreference" value="(D)”> because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope <sup class="crossreference" value="(F)”> does not put us to shame, because God’s love <sup class="crossreference" value="(G)”> has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, <sup class="crossreference" value="(H)”> who has been given to us.” Romans 5:2-5

Finally, the girl we prayed for on 7/26, with the lung cancer got some good results–she is involved in a non-chemo clinical trial and her cancer has significantly decreased after just a few weeks on the treatment. So, thanks for the prayers and to our Amazing Lord!


Cool Things Happening

What a nice day! I’m officially half-way done with my radiation treatments, and that in itself is very exciting. The treatments aren’t bad and I enjoy the people there, but going every single day has been taxing. It’s in the middle of the day, which also happens to be Naomi’s naptime, so it feels like I never get a break. I prayed a lot about it yesterday, because it was making me very unpleasant to be around, and I guess my answer was a much easier, more peaceful day today.

So the first cool events occurred during radiation today. I have to depend on my radiation therapist to use a speaker and tell me when to start the special breathing I previously described. If she happens to forget, I start when I hear the machine kick on but so far that has been too late. I have to redo it, and the extra few minutes of fancy breathing is tough. So today she set me up on the machine and as soon as I got inside God told me to start breathing. If you don’t know God, that’s one of those times you would later say, “something told me…”. I recognized that as His, not my own, voice and started it. It turned out she did forget to tell me so we would have had to redo that one. So that was cool.

It turned out the machine went offline while I was in there anyway, so we did have to redo it. After a delay I went back in and heard that same idea of “Start your breathing”. This time I didn’t recognize it was God and thought, “she would NEVER forget to tell me twice in a row.” So, I didn’t do it. A second later, the speaker made this garbly sound and I heard the therapist’s voice quietly say, “Okay, start your breathing”. I did. When the scan was done she ran in and apologized for not having told me to breathe. Amazed, I told her I had heard her voice through the speaker. There was another worker who was with her and both insist she didn’t say a word into the speaker, or about breathing!!!!!!!!! WHAT?!? Who was that? Ahem, it was the great “I AM”.

Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM who I AM’. This is what you are to say to the Israelites, I AM has sent me to you”

Another interesting thing that happened today was that I got a call from Dr. McAlpine’s office. Basically, he is still concerned that I’m going to get ovarian cancer, because that’s really common with BRCA 1 people (usually after age 40, but I’m always the exception!). Dr. Rassam is not at all concerned that I’ll get it so doesn’t want to screen me for it. So I’m still seeing Dr. Rassam for breast cancer screening but also McAlpine for ovarian screening. Ovarian screening is really behind the times, so we’re doing all that’s possible–blood tests and utrasounds, midway between the scans I get from Rassam. Anyway, last week I had that blood test and it happened to include one for the breast cancer too. I was not concerned at all until today when McAlpine’s nurse left a message to call her. She sounded devastated and I almost forgot Deut 31:8, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; Do not be discouraged.” I really didn’t think I suddenly had cancer, but did think some of the (notoriously inconsistent) results might have been bad and would result in a little chaos and additional testing or problems. Anyway, I called back and she still sounded like she was about to tell me someone died. But she said both tests were normal, hooray!!!!

Habakkuk 3:2, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, i our time make them known.”

Updated Prayers for today, Monday and beyond

In case anyone on here is a prayer warrior (I know the answer to that!), there are some upcoming important events for a few of the severe illnesses I’m following. I have been trying to not give away as much identifying info as I did in the past so that’s why I’m just using initials:

Today (Thursday) from 6-7 pm we will be praying for DP. She is undergoing chemo and was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer a few months ago. She has an upcoming CT scan and Friday is her chemo day. There is a specific prayer we’re all praying for her. If you want to join in, email me and I’ll forward it to you. Please pray that she will believe not just that God CAN heal her, but that He WILL heal her. Pray for her continued comfort and ease of treatments, and that she will enjoy every moment and blessing around her.

“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, if you have faith and DO NOT DOUBT, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe you WILL receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Mth 21:21-22.

Monday we will be fasting and praying for AA.AA has a really crummy case, too. Six years ago she was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer called endometrial stromal sarcoma. I think there were only 300 cases then or something. It was Stage 4 upon discovery, but she was miraculously healed. When I was first diagnosed, everyone from church told me about her, as the example of how one could be healed. Well, a tumor recently returned and Dr. Crooms removed it (Dr. McAlpine is her other amazing local doctor, woohoo!). There are no tests and very little treatment for this rare condition. Her youngest daughter is 13 now, and this fear of recurrence is the last thing she needs. The last thing anyone needs. I’m particularly saddened by it because the return can make AA lose confidence that she was ever healed in the first place. She is getting another opinion from MD Anderson next week. They’re obtaining her slides and reviewing them that way, so we don’t know Monday is it. But it’s a good day to petition the Lord, in unity, for her true, final healing. There is some debate about whether it is low or high grade, so she would like us to pray that it is low grade. I will be praying for her confidence and peace as she trust the Lord with her health, and that there is no evidence of any sort of disease in her, forevermore.
An elder from church is also a doctor, and he blogged about AA. All the details are here, ipressontothegoal.blogspot.com/2012_05_01_archive.html

Phil 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

A young lady named JH was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, and felt the Lord guided her away from the traditional treatments. She has no children but desperately wants them, so she had her eggs frozen and recently began a clinical trial for a non-chemo drug. She is having a CT scan on July 26. I don’t know what day she’ll get the results so that’s the day I’ll be praying especially hard.

James 5:14-16, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has GREAT POWER as it is working.”

Please pray that all these women will have supernatural peace and belief that God is in control. Pray they will boldly push aside any doubts that they will be healed, and instead embrace the opportunity to be a part of His glorious plan–a plan that involves their true hope, full healing, and awareness of His glory. Pray they will live as though they have already been healed, the way Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Pray they will persevere in the face of odds, and they would be protected from the evil one who comes to destroy them. Pray this experience will strengthen, rather than ruin them, mentally and physically.

There are three other cases to pray about, but I don’t know what they have coming up so I’ll wait to post them. For the most part, I don’t think it matters when you pray for someone, but if we’re joining together for the common purpose it feels right to do it at the same time. “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them” Mth 18:20

Whenever I set aside specific times or days to praying for something like that, I fast from food and entertainment when possible. Once in awhile fasting from food makes me very sick, so I take that as a sign to eat. The idea is to stay as focused as possible on the thing you’re praying about. Also, when the disciples couldn’t drive out a certain demon, some Bible translations say Jesus replied, “this kind can only come out by prayer and fasting.”. Some versions don’t say the fasting part, so I imagine there’s controversy in the original Arameic term. But, I figure we are called to fast at times, and if there is a chance that some situations are dire enough to require fasting, it wouldn’t hurt. When I give up a lot of things like that I’m also more attuned to what God wants, so I pray more in synch with Him.

“When you fast, do not look somber like the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” Mth 6:16

"Crazy" Prayers for a Crazy Girl

I just wrote half this blog, pressed the wrong button, and lost it all. Usually I would take that
as a sign that I’m being too bold, too pushy. Not this time. This time I feel there is a reason the enemy doesn’t want me to spit out what’s in my heart. So I will carry on…

If you didn’t already think I was crazy, you probably will after this post. That’s okay, I am no longer trying to serve men, but I serve God instead (Galatians 1:10). I have a new prayer request that is bolder than any I’ve prayed before. The good news is that our God is bigger than what I realized before! There is no limit to His power, but only a limit to our perception of Him. He created me, my ancestors, and my DNA. Now I am asking Him for evidence that He has CHANGED my DNA. I have been praying about whether He might want me to pray for my genetic mutation to be gone, and whether I should have a test done to confirm it. As soon as I forgot about it, a bunch of doors opened and I have found myself in a great spot to get a new genetic test done–for free, no hassle, no worries.

I am aware that this could be a set up–a snare by the enemy to make me look like a fool. Bad results could discourage me and cause me to lose focus. That’s why I need prayer. I need to make sure it is His mighty will for the test to be performed, and that I should be praying for proper, BRCA negative genes. Ps 25:21, “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.”

Here are my thoughts: My doctors still want me to have my ovaries removed, and I’m extremely resistent to this. If I’m not BRCA positive, they won’t care nearly as much about that. And, honestly, it would help me be more comfortable in my refusal to have them removed. More importantly, if God removed the genetic mutation from my body, there is no way my girls would have that mutation. When they turn 18 they wouldn’t have to be concerned with those tests and deciding what to do about potential results (it would be recommended for them to have prophylactic mastectomies, ovary removal, and hormone therapy very early on). Finally, and MOST importantly, I do believe God has answered my prayers of a total healing and forgiveness of the generational sin I think started it all. If so, it makes sense to me (can’t speak for God, of course), that the genetic mutation would be gone as well.

The more I pray for and attempt to minister to people who are in pain, the more convinced I am that we have not because we ask not (Luke 11:9), and because we do not believe He will answer us. People make really good arguments for not believing He will answer, but I can’t find those in the Bible. Instead the Bible is filled with promises that if you believe, He will answer! People see what they consider to be unanswered prayers and attempt to explain them away. Those become whispers and arguments against true belief (Gal 5:10, “The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty”). Those arguments are just fears though. Perfect love drives OUT fear! I don’t want to limit God by setting parameters on what I believe or expect Him to do. He is El Elyon, Sovereign over ALL!

So, that’s that. I plan to continue praying to ensure that my heart is aligned with His (James 4:3, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives…”), and in the meantime I will proceed with the test and pray for BRCA negative results. Obviously if it comes back negative this time the doctors will just say the first test was wrong, but we’ll still know…and they might start wondering a bit more…

“And I will do anything you ask in my name, so that the Son will bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:13-14

Always something to whine about…

So, I never asked it while dealing with the diagnosis or treatments, but now that God has a tiny, insignificant request of me, I find myself a tad depressed, moaning, “Why me?”. It’s embarassing to even type it, but there’s no point in pretending I’m something that I’m not…over the past few weeks God has put it on my heart to stop watching tv. I sort of swept it under the rug with a variety of my own solutions: I tried watching a bit less, not watching for a day or two and only watching while I work out. I thought the issue might go away. It didn’t. Last night, after cutting my Bible time short to watch Netflix, I couldn’t fall asleep for hours. When I did I had nightmares and felt very strongly that I was surrounded by evil. I prayed it away but lost 4 hours of sleep total. Somehow out of that I was quite certain that God had allowed it because He wanted me off tv, so I promised not to watch until He said I could. Today of course, that didn’t make any sense so I watched an episode of Bridezillas. I realize it is a ridiculous show, but I had no other options. Anyway, I tore myself away to listen to a message about Exodus (still studying the Old Testament), and the second I thought, “when this is done I’ll watch one show”, Jon Courson said somehing like, “Your motto should be, ‘there’s no time for leaven [sin], I’m on my way to heaven’. You know, you can’t take communion on Sunday then go home and watch a bunch of junk on tv.”

You can call that a coincidence, but if so it was about the tenth one since I started suspecting He wanted me off tv. That equates to some sort of memo from God reminding me, “No tv. Tv doesn’t feed your soul, I do.” Message received. Finally. I imagine if God wasn’t so perfect and patient, He would be rolling His eyes at me right now.

But….why me? Why does everyone else get to watch tv but me? Why can’t I enjoy some lighthearted entertainment? What does it hurt? As I type this, my husband is in our bedroom playing video games online against his brother. I actually hear them shooting each other. How is that better than my watching an innocent tv show that only shows a few “minor” sins?

As much as I hate to admit it, God’s answers are clear. His motives are clear. I just don’t like them. It is so hard to embrace things we don’t like! I am so wrong to take issue with being asked to sacrifice a miniscule part of my life. For one, I can’t compare myself to other people, I must instead strive to be like God. 2 Cor 10:12, “But in measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves to themselves, they lack understanding.”. I have also clarified that I wasn’t watching quality, life-giving television, but I don’t know if that matters. He may just want more of my time, be watching to see how much of my own desires I am willing to give up, or be unpleased with the specific entertainment I was selecting. I don’t know what shows I have access to that are filled with joy and love, and that’s because I don’t seek them out. If God gives me the “okay” to watch things again, maybe I need to pursue those, but I’ll take one step at a time. For now, I have more time to spend pursuing eternal goals and I will embrace that without questioning Him about it.

To the One who saved me from eternal damnation, I am fully devoted. By the One who blessed me with an amazing husband and two perfect children, I remain awestruck. For the One who chose me to display His miraculous power with supernatural healing, I am humbled and grateful. And when  am tempted to forget I will remember that “I love the Lord, for He heard my voice. He heard my cry for mercy.” Ps 116:1

Radiation et al.

Alright, here’s the whole schbeel on radiation. I’ll go blow by blow so people have an idea what to expect for this type of treatment:

I go every business day, I think 33 times total, for 6.5 weeks. It takes exactly 20 minutes, but there can be time spent waiting around. It’s at the same time every single day, 11:40 am. That wasn’t my choice but is working out nicely, because it’s during Naomi’s naptime so I don’t miss anything.

So, I had two set-up appointments, one week apart. At the first one I laid on this pillow with my arms holding handles over my head. It was then vacuum sealed to pull all the air out of it. The result was a plastic form molded perfectly to my back and head. I lay on that hard plastic mold every time now, and it keeps my body in the exact same position it was in when the initial measurements were taken. They used all kinds of lasers and scans to figure out exactly where to radiate, and marked my body all over with a rainbow of Sharpie markers. At the end of that, three important marks were covered with clear stickers that cannot be washed, bathed, or swam in order to protect the marks. Tomorrow I will be getting tattoos in those spots so the stickers can come off and they’ll always know where to line up the beams.

After the first measurements, a physics team figured out the exact angles and details that are being used to radiate the area that previously had the most cancer. In many cases, the radiation is used to kill the cancer, but in mine it helps keep it from coming back. The area of the original tumor spot is where it is most likely to return. The downsides are that once it has been radiated one can’t get it again if cancer does show up there, and of course there are side effects of putting all this radiation into your body. These are not concerns of mine because I trust in the Lord. If He wanted me to go through this, He will take care of the rest!

The scans showed that my heart sits in the exact spot they need to radiate. So, they have me do a ridiculous breathing technique to move my heart out of the way and get a clear shot. Dr. Bolek (my radiologist-oncologist), and all three of his staff who have looked at it, have all remarked how amazing the difference is when I’m breathing the special way and normally. They say that with the breathing my heart just scoots over, entirely out of the way. They say not everyone can do this breathing technique, but because I have low anxiety and am willing, I do it. Maybe that’s one more reason the Lord has been showing me not to fear–because the one time I sort of messed up and got stressed out, it compounded the problem and was a bit disastrous.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

This breathing technique can be hard to imagine, so if you’re bored, do it with me! I lay on my back, on that hard mold I described. My arms hold handles over my head, parallel to the floor. The mold was created with my head looking forward, but I have to turn it to the right during treatments and scans. That means fitting the whole side of my face into a hole made for the tiny back of my head. There’s even a pointy part that pokes me.That part is painful. Once my upper body gets moved into the machine, the radiation therapist tells me when to inhale. I breathe in as deeply as I can, but only exhale a smidge. I can’t release my lungs the whole time (I think the first is a scan for 3 minutes, the second is a treatment for 5 minutes).Instead, I just inhale and exhale at the upper part of my lung capacity, short little breaths. It’s hard because I have to stay really calm. In that position I can feel my heart pound heavily, like it would if I was terrified. Somehow, that hints to my brain that I AM terrified, and if I don’t stay calm my already-short breaths speed up like I’m panting. In case you didn’t know, altogether that spells a freak out session. It brings back memories of asthma attacks. The worst time was during the second scan ever, and my legs took over, wriggling to get the rest of my body out of the machine. All the other times I’ve been better though.

I have heard that radiation is very lonely, because the worker is in another room, and you go into this machine that reeks of sadness and pain. How many people have cried inside that thing? How many have died from the same cancer that brought them there? Who prayed aloud for relief in there but heard only the echo of her human voice in response?

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” Ps 27:14

I am not lonely in there. Maybe I’m too busy breathing, or maybe I’m too focused on living. I got my miracle! That doesn’t make it any easier for other people, of course, but my view differs now. There’s been a lot of heartache for people I know lately, and even though I have more compassion than before, it doesn’t bring me down like I would think. I have the utmost faith and assurance that God is in control. There will ALWAYS be a happy ending, even if it is too far off for us to see and feel. At the beginning of this journey that idea bothered me so much, because I wanted to dictate my own happy ending. But with so much more trust in the Almighty I see the big picture more clearly. And for those times I can’t see the literal picture, my confidence in Him assures me that it’s still there; It’s just not my job to see it. It’s His!

“Nehemiah said, ‘Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength’.” Neh 8:10

It’s easy to see how people let us down, and when you’re in the midst of trouble you get sucked in to allow Satan to convince you they can’t improve. But beyond the fact that you can always believe in miracles, you can also remember that God is bigger than humans. It doesn’t matter how awesome a man of God might seem to be; he’s still just a MAN of God.

“This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD.” Jer 21:5

We aren’t doing Him any favors by doing His work. It is out privilege and an honor to do it. And if we don’t, God will take care of it. When all else fails and every man falls short (as we do), God can use billions of other options to get His work done. Remember King Belshazzar in Daniel 5? God sent him a message through a human hand–with no body attached to it! “Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the kand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way.”

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31