Monday, October 26, 2009

Hold My Heart

I'm sitting in the infusion center staring once again down the long hill of the upcoming week. Even with seeing God answer prayer and work in such an amazing way with a large medical bill being written off just last week, I still find myself struggling to accept the path he has laid out ahead me.

I don't want to feel drugged. I don't want to feel sick. I don't want to feel sore and worn out. I don't want to spend the next couple weeks having to deal with my body not working the way it should!

My body is starting to really feel the cumulative effects of continued treatment and it's all just getting old. I'm tired and... as much as I know my God is right here wrapping his arms around me, carrying me through, answering prayer, and giving me grace and strength to face each day... I still get enveloped by the difficulty of treatment and I end up crying out to him because I don't feel his presence through the low times.

The following is a song that mirrors how I feel during these times:

Hold My Heart
by Tenth Avenue North

How long must I pray, must I pray to you?
How long must I wait, must I wait for you?
How long 'till I see Your face, see you shining through?
I'm on my knees begging you to notice me.
I'm on my knees, Father will you turn to me?

One tear in the driving rain
One voice in a sea of pain
Could the Maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breaking heart?
One life is all I am
Right now, I can barely stand
If you're everything you say you are,
Would you come close and hold my heart?

I've been so afraid, afraid to close my eyes
So much can slip away before I say goodbye
But if there's no other way, I'm done asking why
Cause I'm on my knees begging you to turn to me
I'm on my knees, Father will You run to me?

One tear in the driving rain
One voice in a sea of pain
Could the Maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breaking heart?
One life is all I am
Right now, I can barely stand
If you're everything you say you are,
Would you come close and hold my heart?

So many questions without answers; Your promises remain
I can't see but I'll take my chances, to hear you call my name
To hear you call my name

One tear in the driving rain
One voice in a sea of pain
Could the Maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breaking heart?
One life is all I am
Right now, I can barely stand
If you're everything you say you are,
Would you come close and hold my heart?

Hold my heart, could you hold my heart?
Hold my heart.

Thank you, God, that even when I don't feel it, I know you are right here with me. I know that through the clouds of doubt and difficulty, your promises remain. Thank you. They are all I have to cling to this week...

I'll post again when I'm feeling better.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My God Provides!

I just had to write to fill you in on what God has done for me...

I called St. Luke's billing department last week because I had received a bill in the mail this month saying that I owed $10,704.14 on my PET/CT scan from back in May. That amount is the final figure after both my insurance and medical assistance had made their payments. I was calling to ask some questions because I thought there might have been an error in what was covered and then I knew I was going to have to set up a payment plan for that large of an amount.

When I gave the account number I was informed that there is a zero balance on the account... St. Luke's wrote off the balance!!! Can you believe it?!?

I was so heavy-hearted about incurring this debt, but I was trying to keep a positive attitude knowing that in the big picture it's a small price to pay for my health. I knew that God would provide for me even if it meant paying it off little by little over the years, but he is so gracious and good to me beyond what I could ever imagine and definitely beyond what I deserve! I can't believe that the whole amount was just wiped clean!!!

I'm sure I'll incur more debt, so keep an ear open over the coming months - I have some wonderful friends who want to eventually hold a benefit to help me out. But for now... I'm speechless over this!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I think generally I'm a pretty sane person (relatively speaking). I've had my share of ups and downs, but overall I think I handle most things pretty well. However, going into my surgery, I wasn't so sure what to expect of my reaction afterwards. What is a young woman supposed to do when she's never been married, never had kids, and faces the prospect of a radical hysterectomy? How is she supposed to feel?

Prior to surgery, I wasn't upset about the prospect of losing my uterus. In fact, the very first day I met my oncologist, I was on a mission to make sure he knew that I was not attached to my reproductive system. I told him in no uncertain terms that he was free to remove whatever needed to be removed if it meant I'd be that much closer to becoming cancer-free. You see, I'm in my mid-thirties with no immediate prospects of getting married and even if I were looking at marriage now, I'm really not interested in having kids at this stage of my life anyway. Besides, I had always thought that if I had gotten married earlier in my life that I would've wanted to adopt anyway. So, for several valid reasons, I was not concerned in the least before surgery about retaining my ability to have children. I hoped, of course, that I wouldn't somehow wake up from surgery with a changed mind.

Even though I normally handle most things pretty logically (or at least I think I do) and I don't usually change my mind on things, I was concerned that somehow in the wake of major surgery and with the sudden onset of menopause, I'd find myself being unnaturally emotional about losing a key part of myself that, at least physically, makes me uniquely feminine. Though I told no one, I had a secret fear that I would wake up mourning over some new-found longing to bear children of my own. Would I somehow feel like less of a woman?

Well, I didn't... and today I came to the clear realization that I won't!

In my women's Bible study group, we're reading through a book called Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. Women, if you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. This is my second time going through it and I'm still gleaning much from it. It's had a huge impact on how I see myself (more to come on that later). Anyway, we're going through this book and today we read a chapter on Mothers, Daughters, and Sisters. My knee-jerk inclination was to groan when I read that... but as it turns out I was feeling really uplifted by the end of our time together. A portion of this chapter put in a nutshell all that's been swirling around in my mind these past months regarding motherhood. Check it out -

"All women are called to mother. And all women are called to give birth. Women give birth to ideas, to creative expressions, to ministries. We birth life in others by inviting them into deeper realms of healing, to deeper walks with God, to deeper intimacy with Jesus. A woman is not less of a woman because she is not a wife or has not physically borne a child. The heart and life of a woman is much more vast than that. All women are made in the image of God in that we bring forth life. When we enter into our world and into the lives of those we love and offer our tender and strong feminine hearts, we cannot help but mother them."

I couldn't have stated it any better myself. I don't mourn the fact that I'll never bear children of my own physically. I've just never been that girl! I look at my life and realize simply that my calling is different than that. Even though I'll never be able to do the one thing that most women long for with every fiber of their being... even though that's not even a part of the fabric of who I am, I know in my heart of hearts that I still have a similar calling... and one that's just as valuable, too! Like so many women of Scripture (Naomi, Ruth, Esther, Mary, Lois, Eunice... and so many more), I want to be a woman who brings life with her wherever she goes. I want people to feel uplifted after they've been with me... not because of me really, but because of the Life-Giver that lives within me. I want to be the kind of woman who imparts something of value into this world - a woman who changes people's lives for the better and leaves an indelible imprint of the Lord on them after she's gone.

Giving life is so much more than bearing children. Motherhood extends beyond bloodlines. I envision a day, if I'm around long enough, that I can say I have many sons and daughters... a day when I will be remembered fondly as someone who imparted life to many... in spite of the fact that I don't have a uterus! I want to be like my Savior who came saying, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10).

Friday, October 9, 2009


"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." ~ Philippians 3:7-11

As I'm studying through the book of Philippians, I've found myself standing squarely in the face of this passage. I knew it was coming. It's a passage that has somehow found its way into my reading a lot lately and I've got to be honest... I haven't been thrilled about it. It's one that at first I felt very akin to. Truly, as I have gone through the processes that naturally happen when you receive a major diagnosis like mine, I have learned to count a lot of things as loss and I have learned to desire knowing Christ all the more. At the end of the day, there's not really much more to hold onto.

Yet, I now find myself wincing at this once comforting passage. As I've said so many times before, treatment is a long and difficult process. There is no getting out of it. You just have to bear down and get through the many days of sickness, pain, and misery. I thought that having gone through these trials these past months would have made me love this passage all the more as I cling to my Savior to get me through. Not so.... Instead, as I wade through the weeks and months, I am coming to realize something about myself - about many Christians - that I'm not so fond of.

You see, often I have thrown these words around... "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings," but do I really? I'm fast coming to a place where I'm realizing that I want to know Christ, but I really don't want to know his suffering. Why would I? Sure, I want to know Jesus more and more. Sure, I want to be close to him and as much like him as I can be... but at what cost? What price am I really willing to pay to be like my Savior? I'm afraid I'm learning that my cost is a lot cheaper than I thought it was. It seems the longer I go in treatment, the less I want to go through it... even if it means that I forfeit the lessons God has planned for me to learn. I'm just tired of the struggle.

Don't get me wrong - I do want to know Jesus and be like him, but in all honesty, I'm realizing that I still want life to be easy. I don't want to face hardship or pain - not at all! There's one problem with this, though... one nagging question: Can I ever truly know him or be like him without suffering? I don't think so.

So here I sit... realizing once again that my heart is failing and my faith is weak. So often I throw around Scripture quotations and boast of my great desires to make a difference in this world for the Lord. So often, however, I'm not even thinking of what my words really mean. So often, I don't think of the cost. So often, I forget the tremendous price my Savior was willing to pay for me and I make promises to him that are no more lasting than the air on which they're breathed... promises that in the end, I may never be willing to actually keep. In the end, it's all just "Christianese." It sounds good, but it really doesn't mean a whole lot.

I think a lot of us do that. We talk big, but when we're really pressed with hardship, we crack and we fold. When things get rough, we want out. I think there are a lot of people out there just like me.... If we're really honest with ourselves, we'd have to admit that we want the blessings of the Lord, but we want things to be easy, too. What a shame! How will we see real transformation in our lives? How will we ever make a difference for the Lord if we're not willing to suffer in some way as our Messiah did for us? It seems there is no other way. The ways of the Lord are backwards to this world. Death brings life, trials bring growth, and suffering brings joy....

At least, that's what he's promised us. For those of us who go through the long nights of trials and tribulations, we are offered a tremendous hope in the Lord. It's not necessarily the hope of getting out of the difficulty immediately. It's the promise of deep joy and lasting growth for the one who perseveres (James 1:2-3; 12). I so long to be that person.... May I not fail under this long test! I don't want my promises to the Lord to be empty words. I want my life to mirror his and make a difference for him! So, I reconsider and realign my thinking (yet once again)...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Another Update

Yesterday I got the results from my latest scan. In talking to my doctor's team, they said it was all positive and they seem to feel very good about it. I, on the other hand, felt like it was a mixed bag. So here's the scoop...

There is nothing showing in my pelvic area and none of my remaining pelvic lymph nodes are swollen, which means that my doctor removed everything that needed to be removed during surgery. Great news!

When they started talking about my lungs, I was a little taken back. They said that there are nodules remaining, but they continue to shrink. They are down to 2 mm and they're not showing any signs of cancerous growth, so they do not pose any reason for concern. Good news!

I just wasn't expecting to hear anything at all about my lungs. When I got the results from my previous scan, they had said that there was no sign of cancer left in my lungs. When I asked them for more details on why these nodules were showing up now, they explained the difference between the two types of scans I get done. My previous scan was a PET scan, which measures metabolic or growth activity. On this scan, anything cancerous will "light up" - the stronger and more rapidly growing the cancer, the brighter it will appear. The scan I most recently had was a CAT scan. This type of scan only measures mass, not growth activity. My doctor would prefer to have both scans done at the same time, but unfortunately, my insurance won't cover that. At least, I've been reassured that we can still get all the information we need doing the scans separately.

So, on my previous scan, there was no cancer to be found in my lungs. However, on this scan, some small apparently non-cancerous nodules were detected. They could be treated cancer or calcified cancer and there's a chance that they could never go away and always show up on my scans for the rest of my life. There's also a chance that they could continue to shrink and totally disappear after these next three treatments. I guess only the next scan will tell...

Obviously, that leads to a prayer request -

Please pray that the nodules in my lungs continue to shrink through these next three treatments and completely disappear by my next scan.

While you're at it, please pray for strength (both physically and emotionally) to get through my next three treatments. To say the least, the cumulative effects of treatment are difficult to get through.

Finally, please pray that my treatment schedule won't hinder me from going on a much-desired mission trip to Haiti this winter. For now, my doctor is saying that I should definitely plan on going (awesome!), but I'm realizing more and more that I very well may still be in radiation treatment by the end of February, which is when the trip is planned for. One thing I know about radiation is that an expected side effect is extreme exhaustion and I so don't want that to keep me from being able to go see Jenny, Linda, and the kids at the House of Hope!