Ready for Surgery

The part of Christianity that makes our message urgent involves the afterlife–we will all live forever, but whether it is with God in heaven, or an eternity separated from Him in hell remains to be seen. Jesus will stand there on judgment day and say, “I didn’t know you” or He will defend you because He already paid for your sins on the cross.

Some people stop there. They think they have the basics down (“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”, Romans 10:9) and can live however they want. But they miss out on the part that matters here on earth. Generally, devoted believers aren’t spending their time focusing on getting into heaven or fear of hell, they are nurturing their daily relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. The closer I am to God, the more I am aware of my helper, the Spirit of God. He whispers to us, intercedes for us, and guides us. But the more steeped in sin we are, the less we discern His voice. And the more I am aware of Him, the more I obey and do what He wants. My desires transform to match His.

I first learned about the mass on my ovary over a month ago. I tried hard not to think about. The last time I had a cancer scare (when I was waiting for my primary tumor diagnosis), I indulged the fear. It was sinful, but not in an obvious way. Doubts would creep in, and little by little they would chip away at me. Soon I lost all focus on God and other important things, and was consumed by fears, what-ifs, and imagining the worst. There were times it took over my life, and the more it did, the harder it was to crawl out. It seemed like there was no helpful truth to hold onto or believe. 

While awaiting this biopsy I have been much more aware of those doubts and tendencies. Satan is clever but relatively consistent. He always starts with trying to pull me away from others. Just like he approached Eve when she was alone (Gen 3). He knows we are weaker when we’re away from other believers, so he makes me try and pull away. When I would tell myself that many people have benign masses, he would remind me that my breast cancer journey was not like anyone else’s. No one can relate. He picks at my faith by causing me to doubt whether I really heard from God about not removing my ovaries last year. Just like he asked Eve, “Did God really say…” He does this to get me to doubt whether I can hear God. When He gets me to doubt that, I lose confidence in future decisions that I need to trust God in. He also uses memories I have about other people’s problems to make me doubt that God will take care of me. A few of these are, “You were never healed and this will show that”, “The naysayers will think they were right”, and “You will never be healthy again. You will always be going through some health problems. By  the time you die everyone will just be relieved.” Satan is the father of lies and this is his fruit (John 8:44). But he disguises his words as common sense and gives evidence to back them up. If you aren’t on guard, you will buy into them.

This time around I have been much more aware of the damage it does to everyone around me when I fall for this nonsense. It keeps me from being the best wife, mother, and friend I can be because I’m distracted by fear. So early on, I started rejecting those fears instead of letting myself consider them. The more I refused to indulge them, the less they came. Now I sit here, just one full day before surgery, with no anxiety at all. I am filled with peace and faith. I know God will take care of me and I completely trust that this is not cancer, and that He has a great plan for this. I am actually excited to get this surgery under my belt and see what amazing things He brings out of it. 

Romans 8:9, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. “

1 Peter 5:10, “But may the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you.”

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This time last year…

It was November 18 last year, but I will always remember it on the day Abigail has her Thanksgiving Feast at school. It is November 16 this year. Today. Last year we were so excited–it was her first presentation/show ever. It was a Friday. Two days before I had gotten the call that my mass was NOT cancer. Finally, we could breathe easy! Time to enjoy the holidays!

About this time, 10:30 am, I got a call from my friend Nicole. We were chatting about how I didn’t have cancer when Dr. Crooms clicked in on call waiting. I didn’t recognize the number but I knew it was him. He had mentioned that the results of the permanent-section biopsy would be in on Friday. I hadn’t been worried, less than 5% of the initial biopsies are false negatives. He had no need to call and I didn’t expect him to. Unless there was bad news after all.

I knew as soon as I saw the number flash on the phone. My heart raced. I listened. I cried. I died a little inside. A lot, actually. I called Yaacov at work. Didn’t want to tell him over the phone but had to get him home in time to meet with Dr. Crooms to make a plan.

I had an hour to process it, then had to get my act together and go to the presentation. The Thanksgiving Feast. When things like this happen people usually report everything was a blur. It wasn’t. I was aware of every second that passed. I watched my little girl walk shyly in line with her class. Watched her hiding behind her friends, forgetting all the hand motions she’d practiced since September. Wondered how things would change. I didn’t know how bad it was yet, but knew I would go through life-altering treatments. Imagined how her fragile confidence would be shaken if her mommy wasn’t around to encourage her.

One year ago was the beginning. I didn’t always have strong enough faith to be certain of how it would end. It was hard. So hard. It’s still so hard, and my storm is over. But God helped me every second of every day. He sheltered me and yet I still remember the pain. If I didn’t have Him there is no way I could have made it through.

Philippians 3:4-11

[Paul said] though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:  circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee;  as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.  But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

I can finally say I am truly grateful for the experience. I have moments I still hate it. Hate the fact that there is always a twinge of fear for the cancer’s return. Hate my repulsive new body and that my hair looks like Corey from Boy Meets World. But my faith has grown enormously, and I value it more than ever. I don’t mean faith like just believing in God and His goodness. I mean faith like the actual act of believing in what cannot be seen. Believing that JESUS GAVE ME THE AUTHORITY TO MOVE MOUNTAINS (Mth 21:21). Believing not than “God Can” but that “God WILL”. Back then I thought I had to wait for God to assure me He would do something, and then He would. Now I know that TRUE FAITH is believing that the nature of Him is described in the Bible, and that believing He will do things that fit His nature is what we are called to do. It is a whole new element to my world, and it is more important than anything else I know. It took me 32 years of experience leading up to my miraculous healing, plus that whole journey to get it, and there is no other way I would have preferred to learn it.

Here’s to the Lord God Almighty. The maker of heaven and earth. Creator of you and me. He loves your soul, whether you love Him back or not. If you don’t, please consider it. Consider Him. It can be hard to believe, but even harder not to.

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

After our death on earth we are all going to carry on for eternity. You can spend it in heaven with Him, or in eternal separation from Him. Hell. If you’re reading this it’s not too late. But tomorrow it could be. Only He knows the number of our days, and this could be your last chance. Once it’s too late it’s over. There will be no take-backs or do-overs. Love yourself enough to look out for your future. Love your family enough to do what it takes to spend forever with them and God. Love your friends enough to drag them off the path to hell and onto the narrow path of righteousness.

Romans 10:9-10

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Revelation 22:17

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

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!

Today

This is my first bad day since the surgery. I had successfullly stayed in a daze of denial until now. To give you an idea, it is 9:30 am and I am still in bed. Remember, I have children so staying here until 7:30 would have been a luxury. So, the sun was streaming in on me more than usual, and I gingerly stretched and opened my eyes, as if I was to see a beautiful ocean view. Instead, I saw my femininely-painted pink nails, resting on the special mastectomy camisole I slept in. When zipped, the camisole hides my drains and pads my chest, so I almost feel human. But I suppose I unzipped myself for comfort during the night, as my hand was resting comfortably on the zipper, between two enormous sets of hideous scars and staples. The scars look very much like those on Frankenstein’s head, to give you an idea. But they’re bloody and brown, with a rainbow of bruising surrounding them, instead of a pleasant green that he had.

I’m so down today and don’t know how to get through it. I suppose there’s no real way to “give up” now anyway. Even if I opted to kill myself I couldn’t, because I would look like this in my casket.

Alas, I will get through this too. Something good will come of it, right? I must outlive this cancer to know for certain that the generational mutation I have has been broken and my girls will not suffer from it. I can’t tell you how desperately I don’t want them to go through this. The testing is supposed to be a good thing, because there are things they can do to decrease their chances of the cancer. But, don’t you know, the recommendations are that they have prophylactic mastectomies and their ovaries removed as soon as they are done having children. I understand that as the best-case scenario there are worse things, but right now those are the very difficult realities that are nearly breaking me.

By the way, no pathology report yet but last week I don’t think I updated that my tumor markers came back great. A score of 0-40 is for normal people, and mine was 26.5. Amazing!

Romans 5:3-4, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perserverance; perserverance character; and character, hope.”

Excuse me while I go rejoice…