Thursday, June 21, 2012

Body Parts

Another lesson God has taught me is that we are not meant to or designed to handle everything on our own. That's been a tough lesson to swallow at times, in the course of my cancer battle, as I find I am just physically unable to do all the things I used to or want to do. As much as I want to cook a fabulous dinner for my family, go pull weeds in my garden, or dust those bookshelves that have really been bothering me, I have to let go of things, let others do for me and keep my butt firmly planted on the couch.  It is so frustrating when my body just can't do what my mind wants to.

My latest challenge involves my heart. Good grief, it seems like it's always some new body part breaking down each week, but now it's my heart! I have always been strong, physically fit, no problems or limitations, before the cancer. But now my heart is challenged and has been taking a beating (no pun intended!) due to some of my treatments and medications. Its not supposed to be this way! I should still be running and turning cartwheels! But now I have to be careful, limit activities, and take special care of myself..... and accept help and allow others to do FOR me.

The truth is God often answers our prayers and ministers to us through the hands and feet of His people. He refers to the church as the BODY of Christ -- each part has a different purpose, a different ability, a different talent. An eye cannot serve you in the same way a stomach does, and no one person can do all things. That's why God gives each of us a different gift and puts us together in the community of a church, so that we can help and support each other.

I have a dear friend who tends to go MIA for months at a time when she is dealing with a problem, whether that might be physical, financial, or emotional.  Instead of seeking the support of her friends and family in Christ -- other parts of the body -- she tries to take it on all by herself, and the problem becomes overwhelming.  I start to wonder why I haven't heard from her in such a long time, then find out she's been hiding all alone with this huge problem.  I love her so much and it hurts me as well to see her pain. This is not at all the way God intends us to live.

Over the years, it has also taken a lot of pressure off me, knowing that I don't have to be Martha Stewart, Chef Ramsey, etc., etc. - - - - - - all rolled up into one. It's OKAY! That particular thing just isn't my gift! God gave me a different gift! I am an elbow -- not a knee! I am a different part of the body, no less valuable, no less useful, no less needed, just different. When you're facing a problem or find that you need help, don't guilt yourself about it and don't hesitate to accept help from others.

Thank you, Father, for Your perfect design and plan -- for the different gifts You have given each of us and for fitting us together so well. Please help me to be a willing recipient as well as an instrument of Your Hands and Feet. You are so good to me. How grateful I am for those people who have helped me with the gifts You've given them. Please bless them for their willingness!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My Cancer Journey Continues -- Am I Losing My Mind?

I've just gotten home after a short stay in the hospital dealing with side effects from treatments and the progression of this disease. We're unsure whether the mass in my lung has changed in spite of combined chemo and radiation treatments that were no walk in the park. Damn cancer. It is a stubborn adversary.

"Just breast cancer" has become a battle on many different fronts and the war rages on. About 6 months ago scans revealed it had spread to my brain, opening up a whole new can of worms. I had to explore and consider various possible treatments. Considering their side effects was perhaps the most frightening of my battles yet. If I qualified, I could have a "cutting edge" but non-invasive treatment that would not cause brain damage. I looked at it like one of my son's video games -- zapping the enemy with a laser gun! Zzzzt! And he vanishes in a puff of smoke. However, qualifying would depend on a panel of doctors analysis of the spread, size, and current control of the cancer in my body. We waited anxiously a couple of weeks for their decision, insurance authorizations, etc. This was the time when my friend's friend was praying for me and felt an answer from the Lord that we would get a good report -- and we did! Thank you, Lord!

The procedure was successful but there may come a time in the future when I will have to go for the other option, which would cause some brain damage and memory loss. I wept when I considered this. Among other possible effects, I thought about losing my ability to speak, to read, to write, to communicate with my loved ones, to remember. It seems like losing the person I am. I wept some more.

Think about that one and let it sink in a bit. What would you want to do if you faced this possibility within weeks or months?

Since I was first diagnosed several years ago, I have felt strongly about communication with my family -- leaving nothing unsaid. Over the past couple of years I have put together ancestry information for our families, made a family history book, and wrote a memory book for my sons. Now my thoughts turned to my future grandchildren who are yet to arrive. (And I don't mean to "imply" anything here -- there is nothing in the works!)

Over the years, in anticipation of grandchildren, I have picked up various little items for those precious little ones and packed them away. Now I have started to make a "Grandma's memory book" filled with photos and stories, experiences and little nuggets of wisdom I want to pass down. I want my grandchildren to know their Grandma and fortunately I have Shutterfly and about 4,000 slides my father took (that's no exaggeration!)

I am working furiously to get the contents of my brain on paper. I also seek to serve the Lord through my blog writing. I know that the Lord promises that He has prepared good works for us ahead of time and I know He has a plan for my life and will use every last minute of it. I just keep praying that He will grant me enough time to complete all the things He has planned for me!

His promises:

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)

 "Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalm 127:3)

 "For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

 "Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained  for me, When as yet there was not one of them." (Psalm 139:16)