Generational Stuff and Alternative Medicine

As an update, I’ve been done with chemo for 10 days or so. Feel the same as always but I don’t know if that’s because I was doing well with chemo in the first place or I haven’t started recovering yet. I can’t figure out a tangible measurement to compare the way I felt pre-chemo to now. When you live with stuff long enough, it becomes “normal” anyway. I see Rassam Thursday and believe he will schedule me for another PET scan. After that one comes back as cancer-free I plan to ask him to cut back on those to decrease my exposure to radiation. I’m also praying more about whether to definitely have the mastectomy and radiation treatment. Common sense says yes to both, I just need to make sure that’s what God says too.
If you’ve followed this from the start you’ve noticed that I went from 100% backing medical science and shunning alternative medicine to dabbling in alternative stuff. Everyone I speak to has an opinion on it and I thought clarifying my current thought process here would decrease a bit of the need to discuss it so frequently. I’ve done more “research” lately (remember what I do is not scientific, I really only read reviews of articles, and someone forming life-altering opinions with more time should read the original articles). Over the past few months I really developed an interest in and pursued alternative medicine. For the most part, what I’m talking about is looking at the studies and theories on eating natural stuff to specifically control or reduce cancer. Everyone I talk to has a bias toward either that, or regular medicine, or just following the Holy Spirit. Obviously my goal is to just follow Him, but I still have to look into things sometimes.

After all my dabbling, the verdict is in: For me, I feel like being open to the guidance from the Holy Spirit is a lifelong pursuit, but for now He’s pulling me away from the alternative stuff. So until I hear differently I’m following traditional medicine and advice. I am still following certain dietary guidelines but believe that for my post-BRCA1 “stage 4” cancer, there isn’t a lot of alternative medicine that would help me. I’ve spoken to a dietician-type person, met with a naturopath, spoken to the workers at all the health food/herbal places, and read a ton of stuff. I feel like a lot of the information is theoretical instead of scientific, or makes enormous generalizations (e.g. colon cancer can be controlled with diet but that doesn’t mean lung cancer can be). I also read my grandmother’s medical records. They didn’t know about BRCA genes back then, but when she was diagnosed they knew it was aggressive, like mine. They estimated that she had 6-12 months to live without treatment. She was treated by Dr. Max Gerson (founder of Gerson therapy, a big alternative treatment that is still going strong), and died in just 3 months. He told my grandpa that he probably couldn’t help her, btw. The opinion I have formed from all this “research” is that his juicing treatment is sort of the ultimate alternative therapy for cancer. It’s all natural, all the healthy superfoods, no sugar, flour etc., and from the research that institute has done they have concluded that for genetically-based cancers it is ineffective. So, when people suggest less extreme alternatives to me I am even more skeptical that they would work. I do believe there are certain situations and types of cancers that alternative stuff can help, so don’t think I’m forming an opinion for other people. And I’m generally trying to continue some simple changes that I hope will decrease the chances of future cancers for my whole family.

As for the whole family, I have been praying that the girls do not get the genetic mutation. There is a 50/50 chance for each of them without God’s intervention. I believe He has already answered that prayer. We’ll see when they’re 18 and we’ll just keep petitioning Him on their behalf until then. Here’s where a weird part comes in: Someone who was praying for me and who seems to be very in touch with the Holy Spirit, did not know anything about my jewish ancestry. While praying for me she felt strongly that my cancer came from a generational curse brought down from my jewish ancestors. Now, false prophets exist, plus we’re all human so sometimes we can get messages wrong. But it doesn’t go against any scripture I know of so I’m not going to discard the idea. The thought she had was that my ancestors were those in the crowd who told Pilate Jesus’ blood would be on their hands and their children’s hands. I just read those verses and the 3 hairs on my neck stood up. I hate the idea of being related to them. Obviously in some way I am because of my jewish heritage, but like, directly related to some of the worst people ever is not a good thing. I think we all like to hope that if we had lived back then we would have been with the few standing up for Him. But I just realized it has taken 2000+years for anyone in my family to even believe in Christ, so I must come from a long line of stubborn, hard-hearted people. However, I am standing up for and believing in Him now! I’m the first female in our family (that I know of) to accept Christ, and it’s interesting that I’m the first one (again, that I know of) who has been miraculously healed of our genetically-based cancer! So, these are a lot of “ifs” that I won’t know until heaven, but I like the way it all goes together, and it gives me more hope that my precious girls, who already love Jesus, will not be cursed with the wretched BRCA1 mutation.

I think this pertains to everyone because even if you don’t believe Jesus is the Messiah it’s still clear that He was put to death under false pretenses. Ugh. Just thinking that might have been my great-great-great-great-great-great-great (and so on) -grandpa condemning Him is no good. You’d think it would be a grandmother but I don’t know if they got to scream at the leaders too. Maybe breast cancer is a curse for the men anyway because they have to live without their awesome wives.

Here it is: Matthew 27:19-31
“While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: ‘Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.’
But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. ‘Which of the two do you want me to release to you?’ asked the governor.
 ‘Barabbas’ they answered.
‘What shall I do, then, with Jesus, who is called Christ?’ Pilate asked.
They all answered, ‘Crucify him!’
‘Why? What crime has he committed?’ asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify him!’
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’
All the people answered, ‘Let his blood be on us and on our children!’
Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around hijm. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the jews!’ they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.”

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Joy to the World, the Lord is Come!!!!!!!!!

First, I have to apologize for my posts from the last few days. In my efforts to document this journey I was insensitive and self-absorbed, which resulted in my downplaying the support people have been giving me. I am so sorry to you all, for if you read this I know you care for and support me. Thank-you all so very much for putting up with me.

More importantly (not because support isn’t important, but because miracles are so great!), I have to share that not one but TWO cancer friends got amazing, cancer-free reports today. One is a for a friend I made through the blog who recently had a lumpectomy. She went today for the pathology results and the doctor said there was no evidence of disease in what was removed. She had no treatment prior to the removal. They are saying they must have gotten all the cancer in the initial biopsy but I don’t buy that. They wouldn’t have done the surgery if they thought they could get it all in a biopsy. They saw something they thought should be removed in the first place. I believe God took it all away between the biopsy and surgery.

The other case is a girl I’ve just become acquainted with through blogging. She sees the same doctor I met in Texas. She had stage 3 cancer so similar treatment as mine, and had her bilateral mastectomy last week. They told her the cancer had been looking good but would only be entirely clear in 20% of the cases. Dr. Litton (the skeptic) found them today and was ecstatic to tell her it was ALL CLEAR. Again, no evidence of disease. She’s not saying it’s a miracle or anything, but she did tell them she rarely gets to tell anyone that it was all gone prior to surgery. So, God is healing people AND He’s answering our prayers for helping Dr. Litton know Him. She might not have been great to me, but she has a soul and I have the feeling she’s not acquainted with our Savior. A few more of these incidents and she might be singing another tune. Let’s keep praying for her.

As a reminder, we’re praying for no evidence of disease in the results from my upcoming bilateral mastectomy, too. I do believe it helps to have specific stories like those above to pray for, because nothing I’m going through is new. If God did it for them He can do it for me. It wouldn’t be a huge miracle to the doctors for the rest of the cancer to be gone because I’ve been through so much chemo.  But the longer they see I have no cancer, the more likely they are to believe it. And I’m praying God will actually change my tissue so it appears that I never had any cancer in there. That would get their attention. We’ll see though. It’s not too much to ask of God, but I don’t know that He gave me that idea or if it was my own.

Anyway, I am so filled with joy about these women’s reports. Two in one day seems so huge, too. How can I complain about anything when a God like that is on my side? How can we fear if we have Him to take care of us? How dare we worship ourselves or someone else when all He asks is that we follow Him? Who do we think we are? Who do we think He is? How do we keep forgetting what He’s done for us?

“In that day you will ask in my name. <sup class="crossreference" value="(AK)”> I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father HIMSELF loves you because you have loved me <sup class="crossreference" value="(AL)”> and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” John 16:26-28 

Struggles

I’m hanging on by a thread…I feel like I’m in the middle of a war and can’t help but wonder how I got here. And why did He leave me, alone and defenseless, in the midst of it? Haven’t I been good about praising His name? Isn’t this the time I should be on vacation, recovering from the worst part of the storm? Why has He allowed darkness to overtake my body so that, starting yesterday I look even uglier than before? Why must I struggle so much with the mental and physical side effects of these “life-saving” drugs? Why does my soul refuse to rest when my body aches with exhaustion? I thought I’d been to the bottom, why am I being broken even more? What is left of me to break? When will it stop?

Is this God showing me that I should not have prayed and tried to live, but should have embraced the sweet opportunity for death?

No.

I feel like I’m in a war because I AM in a war. But I am not alone. God promised to never leave or forsake me. Ephesians 6 talks about preparing for this battle, and as a family we studied that a lot over the past year. It is a call to action, and I will do my part. The key for this battle is that we are rarely offensive, the lessons are primarily defensive. But that does not make me a wimpy victim, using a fly swatter to bat uselessly at the roaring lion. I have the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, sandals of peace, shield of faith, and the sword of the spirit (Eph 6:14-17). Most importantly, God is on my side. He is for me. For us. I might not feel Him today, but that is because I have been focusing on me instead of on Him.

I will embrace this opportunity to demonstrate God’s love and speak of His goodness while my outer body wastes away. Hopefully it is only for a season, but either way I must consider these trials to be pure joy. My inner self will never fade, and that is what is important.

“For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that His life may be reveaed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” 2 Cor 4:11-12

“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 acheiving 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 Cor 4:16-18. I don’t know everything that’s going on with me, but these words are so beautiful. Perfect. True. Amazing. The fact that those words are in the Bible for this time of my life gives me so much comfort and strength. He is not some mean, heartless God storming around, punishing everyone. He is a loving God who is allowing me to go through this so more people can eventually know Him. He considered my soul worthy of saving, then He consiered my body worthy of keeping around, and now He cares enough to refine me through trials. And to use me to ultimately reflect His son! Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

“REJOICE in the Lord always, I will say it again, REJOICE! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Phil 4:4-6.

NOT Cancer

Well, Rassam was wrong. Whatever is wrong with my hip is not cancer. It’s entirely manageable, no big deal. I only asked him about it because I hoped it was a chemo side effect and wasn’t sure how to treat it.

I knew God wouldn’t allow this to be cancer, but still had moments of uneasiness. I definitely started crying with joy when I spoke to the nurse today. I need to remember that these “cancer-scares” will happen for the rest of my life, whether or not I am truly healed of cancer now (I AM, btw). Because once you’re stage 4 the doctors are just waiting for the new spots to come up so watch you more carefully, etc. He said I’ll have a PET scan every 2-3 months and then extra tests depending on pain, etc. However, in my case every time the results come out clear, there will be more credence to the idea that I am actually healed from this disgusting disease. So, I’m going to embrace these times.

Ps 116:1, “I love the Lord, for He heard my voce; He heard my cry for mercy.” That is MY God!!!!!! OUR God. If He is for us, WHO can be against us??!!?? Satan might be the prince of this world, but God is the KING of the universe. Nothing happens that He does not permit. And He does NOT permit cancer in my body. My body is the temple for the living God. No room for nonsense in here. The end!!!

NOT Waiting to Exhale

I had my 9th Taxol treatment on Thursday, and also had my monthly meeting with Dr. Rassam. I will tell you it was surprising and disappointing when I mentioned some hip pain I’ve been having and Dr. Rasssam immediately told me it must be that my hip is filled with cancer. I had an x-ray and am awaiting the results.

It has been a difficult few days and I hope the challenge from it is in trusting God while I wait, not from the actual results. I think I’ve done considerably better during this waiting game than I would have in the past. My mind raced a few times Thursday when we first disccussed it, but God comforted me and helped me stay distracted.

I really wanted to keep all this quiet because I didn’t want to give Satan and his minions the satisfaction of letting it affect me (or others). But I do feel prayer is so important in all this that I went public to ensure it was still well-covered in prayer.

I listened to a sermon last night that talked about the nature of God. He is not the one who comes to kill and destroy. He does not enjoy watching us suffer. In fact, He sent His son to suffer in the short run so we wouldn’t have to in the long run. That is the polar opposite of the enemy. Satan is the liar who tries to make us doubt God. 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be sober-minded; Be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”

Satan wants me to be all bent out of shape about this cancer-scare, but with God’s help I will not allow that. I will resist him and focus on remembering all the amazing things God has done for me. I will be anxious for nothing and trust in the same God who has gotten me this far. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and my faith will remain steadfast throughout.

James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

A Better Reminder

Turns out I didn’t need to try too hard to remember God’s awesomeness, so I wanted to share and end on a better note than the semi-depressed one I left earlier. I keep a faded little note in my purse that comforts me, but it’s been there so long now I sometimes forget about it. I noticed it and remembered today though, and feel amazing now.

Soon after my diagnosis an important verse to me was Zephaniah 3:17. That was new to me, it’s not like I read a lot of minor prophets, but I recorded it in my journal. Then, right after the miraculous PET scan results, Yaacov and I went to a coffee shop and the owner gave me a rolled up “blessing”. I guess they have different scriptures on them, and I was expecting something like, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son…” (John 3:16). But what do you know? My little blessing quoted Zephaniah 3:17! The verse itself is comforting, and the way He brought that all back around and described that amazing moment was perfect. He is perfect, and His love is perfect. No matter how ridiculous and unfair the circumstances seem, they all work together for our longterm best interests. It’s just so hard to see because we have no real clue what “longterm” means when it’s involving the afterlife too.

Zeph 3:17, “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah was talking about my God. Your God. Our God. He who takes GREAT DELIGHT in you. HE will REJOICE OVER YOU. It does not matter what a piece of crap you’ve been your whole life. It’s not too late. You might be unlovable to everyone you know, but not to Him. He will quiet you with His love. No one deserves this unconditional love. In fact, we all have done something specifically to be UNWORTHY of it. But He loves us in spite of what we’ve done. In spite of who we are.