Thankful

I had an unexpected burst of energy yesterday morning and took full advantage of it by putting up my fall and thanksgiving decor around the house. I hadn’t planned on putting it up this year, bracing for chemo thunder to hit me over the weekend, but something inside of me was bound and determined to celebrate this Canadian Thanksgiving like no other. After all, I have so much to be thankful for!

Being thankful is a choice. It has little to do with circumstances, and everything to do with giving God all the praise and glory in the midst of any and all situations. I will praise Him for the mountaintop experiences as well as the valleys. In the storms and in the calm, gentle streams, I will remember His provision. I will seek and find Him, thanking Him for Who He is.

I know the Thanksgiving holiday in Canada has become yet another watered-down secular celebration without thought to our Lord’s provision around us. Families gather to watch football, and eat turkey dinners, and enjoy the day off. I don’t malign those activities. I can’t cook up a big meal this year, or even have family over because of my health, but next weekend, once I’m over the chemo side-effects, we all plan to gather over a take-out meal and enjoy one another’s company. There will be laughter and frivolity no doubt, but more than that, there will be a deep sense of gratefulness to God for his watch-care over us these many months.

It has been a hard year health wise for me. Each member of my family has not only journeyed this road with me, but have had their shares of personal challenges as well. Career changes, job lay-offs, grieving over a loved one passing,…if we focus on the hardships we have faced this year, we might become discouraged and embittered. I choose to be thankful. I read a cute meme the other day: “They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. At this point, I should be able to bench-press a Buick!” Yep, I can relate.

That said, I am glad I have a God Who gave me all the strength I needed this year to bench-press any “Buick” that got in my way!

My heart is full of thankfulness, and I am thrilled I was able to put up my fall decor, decorating my home with little offerings that honour this special season. As I look about me, I am constantly reminded to give God all the praise, glory and honour not only during this holiday season, but in all circumstances.

Being thankful is a choice!

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Posted in Proverbs 16:9 - Journey Thoughts | 3 Comments

Last Chemo!!

How can one be so excited and yet have an overwhelming dread at the same time? That’s how I felt going into my sixth and final round of chemotherapy yesterday. I hadn’t slept in two nights in anticipation of finally wrapping up these particular treatments, hopefully to never undergo chemo in the future, while at the same time fully aware that chemo thunder awaited me midweek. It’s the expectation of better days ahead, but bracing myself for the final storm I still have to journey through.

After the welcome news of a clear CT scan for me last week, I learned of the passing of a sweet lady who had fought Stage IV ovarian cancer for several years. On Sunday my daughter-in-love lost her precious grandmother to kidney disease. We now rally around those two families in prayer, but rejoice too that both ladies loved the Lord and have received their crowns of glory! Mary and Leslie leave wonderful legacies for their children and grandchildren and in Leslie’s case, great grandbabies too. I am so thankful my son’s two boys were so well-loved by her and I know my son and daughter-in-law will keep her memory alive in their hearts.

It was also a couple of weeks of seeing God work in miraculous ways for our young friend, Sarah. She continues to fight Stage IV metastatic breast cancer with brave determination! It’s been a rough few weeks for her, so she needs continuous intercessory prayer as she undergoes more chemo treatments. Please add her to your prayer chains at your individual churches and to your personal prayer lists too.

I have been texting back and forth with a young dad, Michael, who finished his last chemo treatment last week. He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Hodgkins lymphoma and his chemo has been absolutely brutal on him! He now awaits his scan results. Please pray it comes back clear!

Yesterday, as the nurses poked me three times to find a vein to put the IV in, I felt that under-current of trepidation of having to go through chemo thunder one more time, but tempered as well with sincere gratefulness for all those who have cared for me these many months. The nurses, doctors, and volunteers at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary are the very best! There is a tradition there for patients who have finished their last chemo treatment to ring a school bell to mark the occasion. I have been looking forward to getting to ring that bell since round one, and when I finally rang that bell with gusto, the whole department, patients and nurses together, applauded and cheered. I felt slightly embarrassed and like a rock star at the same time! When I passed the nurses desk to go home, my nurse called out to me, “Congratulations and good luck! I hope we never see you here again!” It was the nicest thing she could have said to me.

As I walked through the waiting room jam-packed with dear people of every nationality, and age waiting their turn for treatment, I purposefully smiled my widest smile to assure those who saw me come from the treatment room that their time for bell-ringing will come. We are all unified in our cancer journeys. We all share a common purpose. Our stories may be vastly different in getting to this point, but we travel similar paths in fighting cancer. I believe in the power of prayer. I hope many there do too. I couldn’t have gotten through these last few months without people encouraging me and praying for me. I start radiation treatments in a month. I will appreciate all the prayers as I finish up my second battle with cancer.

Last night my family gathered with me to celebrate. After each chemo treatment my husband would take me out for a “fish feed”. We did that when I battled breast cancer nineteen years ago and thought to keep that “tradition” this time too. My son and son-in-love cooked the fish feast last night and having my loved ones around me, laughing and toasting my “good health” just reinforced why I’ve fought so hard to beat cancer for the second time! While being fully aware that God has indeed numbered all of our days and for those who love and know the Hope that is only found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we do not fear death. However, until we are called Home as Mary and Leslie were, we battle on, fighting the good fight every step of the way! I posted this on my Facebook page and it encapsulates why cancer patients, survivors and thrivers do everything humanly possible to conquer cancer, the rest of course is up to God!

Posted in Proverbs 16:9 - Journey Thoughts

Doctor Appointments and a CT Scan

Last week I met with a Radiation Oncologist. I was still shaky from the chemo thunder from round five, but I listened politely while she described the pros and cons of having radiation therapy after chemotherapy. “I know it’s a lot of information to take in,” she said.

“No kidding,” I thought. She said it was entirely up to me whether or not I wanted the treatment. I was already dreading my last round of chemotherapy on October 7th. I wasn’t sure I was ready to think about more treatment options, different side effects, and the time commitment involved: 25 sessions, 5 days a week, Monday through Friday, starting four weeks after my last chemo. I’d been through so much already. What were the benefits of having radiation too?

The doctor explained that with all “women cancers” (breast, uterine, ovarian in particular), there is a risk of reoccurrence or metastatic cancer spreading to other organs. The chemotherapy wipes out the cancer cells throughout the body but there is always a chance of lingering microscopic cancer cells at the “place of origin”, in my case, the abdominal cavity. Targeted radiation on that area would be another preemptive strike to combat reoccurrence in that area. “Of course there are no guarantees,” she hastened to inform me. I’ve learned Doctors never 100% commit to saying we are “cured”. Still the odds of living five more years past a cancer diagnosis increases with each treatment. Another statistic they use in calculating survival rates is in five year increments.

“Oh, and we can only consider radiation if your CT scan tomorrow comes back clear. We are 99.9 % sure it will…” Those were the best numbers I had heard since starting this journey. “…but if it doesn’t, you’ve got way more troubles than radiation can help.”

Thud.

The thought of more surgeries, and more chemo nearly overwhelmed me. I already knew I would do anything and everything possible to fight for as long as I was able, but I knew the struggle would take a heavy toll on me and my family. I prayed silently that God would spare me of that, but whispered, “Not my will, but Yours.”

When I got home from the doctor’s appointment, I asked my family and prayer warriors to pray the CT scan would be clear. I had all but decided to go ahead with the radiation treatments if the scan was clear. That way, I reasoned, I could say I had done everything humanly, medically possible to combat this second go round with cancer. I was at peace with the decision.

CT scans are relatively easy diagnostic tests to undergo except if you have veins like mine that hide themselves, or “blow up” when IV’s are warranted. I told the technician he’d get a gold star if he didn’t have to poke me more than once with the needle. He smiled confidently, but minutes later looking dejected he said, “Guess you can keep the gold star.” I felt sorry for him. He called for backup and briefed the young nurse how he had to give up a gold star opportunity. She was unsympathetic. “I will find a vein!”

She did, first try.

I think I’ve shared before that waiting is not something I do well. All weekend it was on my mind. Would the scan come back clear or not? A friend sent me this video last week that I’ve looked at about a three or four dozen times since he posted it on my Facebook wall. The song is so poignant and has such an encouraging message. I am so aware and grateful for the countless many who are loving me through this journey with cancer, but none so faithfully as the Lord Himself!

The doctor called me today.

“The scan is clear.”

Rejoice with me today, gentle readers.

“O God, my heart is quiet and confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!” Psalm 57:7

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