PET Results and Whatnot

I guess I never got around to reporting my most recent PET scan results–ALL CLEAR, hooray! At this point it’s not exactly a surprise because I already knew I was healed. But it is great, great confirmation!

I am still praying about having radiation and taking the Tamoxifen. These are expected by my healthcare providers but I have a hard time doing it while knowing I’m healed. However, the more I pray, the more I believe God wants me to keep it up. So, we’ll keep praying and planning  on it. The short version of the reason to do it is that these things keep the cancer from coming back. I just have a hard time with God wanting me to do it, because that hints again that there’s a chance it will come back. But I felt the same way about finishing chemo and He showed me some other good reasons to go through with it, such as the people I got to speak to because of it. 
There’s a fundraiser this weekend called the Ride for Hope (www.therideforhope.com). They are going to recognize me tomorrow because I’m supposedly a “Hero for Hope”. I am still wrapping my head around this. It is one of the nicest things man has ever done for me, but I’m just accepting the honor on God’s behalf. 
It will be a great chance to tell people about true Hope, the God of Hope. Hope that is more powerful than circumstances. The great Hope that opens more doors than any man can. The Hope that saw me through this mess, and will see anyone else through theirs. No matter how bad it seems. Or even how minor the situation can appear to other people. God gives this hope freely, we just have to ask. And believe. He will give anyone hope, the only problem is that it doesn’t always look the way we want or expect it to. I think it can be really scary to hope in things we do not see because it’s giving up control. But if you do it right, it’s exhilarating to release that control, especially as it’s a perceived notion anyway–none of us really have control, we just think we do.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” Romans 15:13 
Romans 8:24-25, “For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
That took a different direction than I originally intended. But it’s all true so maybe someone needed to read it. Blessings to you all!
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NEVER Smelling Again?

I just got a call back from Dr. Rassam’s office. He said to tell me that my loss of smell is likely from the Taxol and won’t necessarily ever come back. Oh, and that, “we’ll continue to watch it”. What is there to watch? It is gone. Gone. Not desensitized, etc. With a few exceptions I haven’t smelled anything at all for days. During the exceptions I had very brief moments of smelling something, then it was gone as fast as it returned. Thankfully the last thing I smelled was Naomi’s sweet baby head. I’m so glad I got to smell her once more, no matter how it ends. But I’ve already forgotten the smell. I remember the moment but can’t recall the scent.

God can redeem me from this, too. I’m not going to get all bent out of shape about it (I type as I wipe away those stupid tears that tend to betray me). It makes me wonder more if I should quit chemo though. I mistyped the other day when I said there were 6 more rounds–there are really 7. My taste is barely here, will it be completely gone if I keep getting the drugs? If I believe God healed me is it a lack of faith to continue with the drugs? Or is it foolish to go against my doctor’s advice? ARGH!!!

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

Originally this post had a request for people’s input right here. I think I’ve made the decision now though so more info would probably burst my brain. Thanks for the input I got though, and I’ll post my decision soon.

“Even to your old age and gray hairs…I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you.” Isaiah 46:4

Chemo…blah blah…God…blah blah…

I had my fifth Taxol treatment last week. It wasn’t bad but I’ve officially lost my sense of smell. I barely have any taste left but can tell if something is salty and one more sensation I can’t exactly label. Close to bitter but not exactly. The smell thing is really weird and I don’t know when it left because I’ve been sick and assumed it was from congestion. I’m still sick but have moments of breathng freely and there isn’t even one iota of a scent, no matter how strong.

I hope everything improves after chemo is done, but if it’s just temporary it isn’t a big deal. This is Yaacov’s busy time of year so he’s already been gone for two weeks lately, and has two more trips coming up. I’m slightly concerned about the dangers of not smelling fire, etc. while he’s gone but I’ll just pray a lot.

I had an awesome experience the other day but won’t be able to describe it well. I had been in a deep, deep fog lately and it was painful just trying to form a thought. It interfered with my sleep so I tossed, turned and barely dozed through the nights. The only emotions I could feel were bad ones (sadness, fear, anger), so it made it particularly difficult to tell people about all the good healing news. I thought it was that “chemo-brain” people talk about but was feeling so negative it seemed like I would never get back out of it. Anyway, I took a bath to relax and was reading this book on healing on Thursday, and as I was reading and semi-praying about the author’s awesome story the fog lifted! I could truly feel it go, and immediately knew I would be able to sleep. I pratically ran to bed and passed right out.

I’m so glad this fog is gone, and it hasn’t returned. I’m still physically ill but it’s so much better without the mental issue that was bringing me down. I’m back!

I’ve been limiting my schedule a bit to get more relaxing in, but I’m praying about whether that’s enough. I don’t know what else to really do but it seems like I’m sick so much that I’ll never get through the next 6 weeks without a change. In the meantime I’ll pray to figure out what changes to make and about whatever God is trying to tell me through these interesting spiritual encounters. There’s something big going on there but it’s in such an infancy that I can’t even describe it.

Isaiah 58:11 “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”

Weakness & Chemo #7

I had chemo #7 (third Taxol treatment) Thursday, and have the next one this week. That marked the halfway mark for the 20 total weeks of chemo.

I’m doing better with the fears and other issues, because for the most part I avoid thinking about them. God helps when I do. I’m not going to talk much about them because that makes me think, and so on.
Psalm 34:4 reminds me, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

I’m going through an interesting time of life. I’m officially the weakest I’ve ever been–I’m completely exhausted because of all-things cancer/chemo, have some sort of ailment all the time, and am constantly struggling just to get through the day. Obviously I have the ongoing vulnerability aspect from having made the cancer journey so public, but to top it off, I have stopped covering my head which ends up being a public proclamation that I am a weak cancer patient.

The interesting part comes in because despite the resounding weakness, I feel absolutely empowered in every way. It is an entirely novel feeling for me so I struggle with attempts to describe it. However, it affects everything. For one, I have absolutely no shame about being bald. I feel unattractive when I look in a mirror, but when I interact with people I don’t shrink back or hide because of it. I apparently am very approachable now because I am frequently stopped by strangers who want to tell me their own stories of healing. Something about choosing to be an ear for those people makes me feel strong. I’m entirely confident in how I look, feel, what I do and what I say. Not because there’s anything about me to be confident in, but because my faith is stronger and standards have changed. “When I called, you answered me; you ade me bold and stouthearted.” Ps 138:3. It’s SO cool!

Paul discussed some version of this phenomenon in 2 Cor 12:10, but I couldn’t understand it until now. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” It is so true.

Becoming Fluent in God…and Chemo #6

I had my second Taxol treatment yesterday and it went better than the first. I didn’t get sick or fall asleep. I was so prepared to pass out that I barely brought anything to do, so it was really boring. Fortunately, there were big things on my mind so there was plenty to pray about.

After posting about love the other day, it became abundantly clear that I am worse at it than I had realized while blogging. Several things came up that required my being loving toward other people. I actually did do some good things, but was slightly missing the mark. For example, I barely slowed down while passing a broken-down car. Afterward I did realize what I’d done and turned around, but barely and with hesitation. I am so glad I did, but I know it would please God much more if it had been immediate. I should have put my hazard lights on the second I noticed it, not debated the pros and cons for a quarter mile before stopping. Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’.”

I’m slowly coming to realize that my head is a pretty good Christian. When given a scenario to contemplate I can give relatively good advice about how to proceed. And in the midst of something huge like “terminal cancer” I can at least follow the basic tenets of my faith. However, that stuff isn’t typical life. In day-to-day, minute-by-minute life I struggle. ALWAYS! I backslide more than grow, take the wimpy way out more than not, and “forget” the lessons I’ve been taught. My goal is to be fluent in all things God from now on. I was reminded in a Bible study the other day that Paul talks about living life on earth as a race. I need to pick up the pace. Not because other people are passing me–too often we think of where we’re at in reference to others. But because that’s what I’m called to do. If I say I am a follower of Christ I can’t pick and choose when to apply the principles of the Bible. I can’t make up my own rules because they make me fit in better with other people or help me get more done in a day. He says show love, so I will show love to the nice people as well as that really annoying person holding up the grocery store checkout line. He says be patient so I will not give Abigail a guilt trip because she is making us late. He says “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect” (Mth 5:48), so that’s what I’ll strive for. No excuses. No vacations.

2 Cor 4:6-7, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

Chemo Treatment #5 (Taxol 1/12)

I’m a little late on this one. Had my first Taxol treatment yesterday. There were a lot of upsides–Rassam felt my lump again and reported, “there’s nothing there”. I think he meant “virtually nothing” though. There’s still fibrous tissue there that needs to be removed, regardless of the number of cancer cells that might have been hiding in there (I believe 0). More good news was that I feel find today, no side effects at all from the treatment. I did get sick from the pre-drugs yesterday, which turned out to just be Benadryl pumped into y IV. That was miserable but short-lived.

Much more importantly, I’m learning a lot more about prayer and faith through all of this. I guess beforehand I really thought of faith as believing in God and Jesus, that the Bible is true, and that God can do anything. Now I think of real faith as deeper than that. It’s the literal trust that certain verses in the Bible are intended for us. Right now. “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6:2b). We can’t keep running around praying with question marks at the end…”God, will you please heal me?”. NO! We should pray for wisdom (unless our sinless hearts are already lined up perfectly with God’s). Then pray with full belief that He will do it. “God, you alone can heal me, please do this for me!”.  It sounds so stupid and obvious as I write it, but it reflects a huge change in my thinking and faith.

Early on in this journey I told you about how several members of my church came and prayed and anointed me with oil. They did this because of the passage in James 4:14-15, “Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.” Before they came over I felt like I should request that only those who believed I would be healed would actually do the praying. But I chickened out because I thought it was better to get prayer from people who wanted me healed than no one. Right before they prayed, an elder announced that he did believe I would be healed, and that meant so much to me. I want to be like that. I can’t say for sure if he was the only one who believed it, but he was definitely living out the command. It is the prayer offered in faith. Not faith in God. Faith that God would listen and heal me.

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” I think an example of this in the Bible is also when Peter walked on the water. He was up there and doing alright until he noticed what was going on. Then he seemed to doubt and started sinking. He was literaly being blown and tossed by the wind!

I am going to continue to pray boldly. I’ve seen tons of answered prayers already this week. My current MO is to pray for wisdom first, and if it seems like something I should pray for, I pray it with the full expectation that God will answer.

Chemo Treatment #2

Abigail has become afraid that I’m going to leave and never come back. I have no idea where that idea came from, but it could not be timed worse. I guess none of us should ever promise that won’t happen, because we can’t control everything. James 4:13-16 says, “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” I’m really aware of all that right now. I want to promise and assure her that I’ll always return, but I just can’t. Now or after I’m healed. I will settle for promising her that I would never purposely stay or go away from her.

The second chemo treatment went well and if I wasn’t so tired I would be encouraged. The chemo nurse says I seem much better than the other people she gives these drugs (Thank-you, the Lord is my healer, Ex 15:26 and strength, Ex 15:2). Dr. Rassam noted my lump is much smaller, which means the chemo is working on the other parts of my body as well. He is really concerned about my going to Texas, thinks I should just do that as a last resort after standard treatment doesn’t work. I see his point, but I know God wants me to go there. So maybe I’ll get better results than the standard treatment. Or maybe I’ll go and glorify God to all the people who need to hear about Him there. Maybe I’ll be so humble that I’ll get out of His way and He can use me in the most amazing ways that none of us would ever expect. All these options are amazing blessings, and I can’t wait to see how He works. The appointment isn’t scheduled just yet but it will be the week of January 9.

Romans 15:5-7 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”