Tuesday, February 11, 2020

A New Normal

My journey through recovery has been full of new challenges; some that I expected and others that knocked me off my feet. I've sat down many times over the past few months to tell you about them, but I just couldn't find the right words to say.

Throughout my cancer journey, I was constantly looking for God to teach me lessons. Not because I thought I was being disciplined for some bad behavior, but that in the adversity, my heart could be purified and my character developed. I decided to be a lump of clay back on the Potter's wheel and allow His hands to mold and shape me for His purpose.

I was asked recently, "What was the greatest lesson God taught you?" As I looked back over the many lessons He had given me, I could sum it all up with one-word; contentment. I don't know if any of you have ever experienced a longing for something more, but that longing plagued me. As if who I was, wasn't enough, or what I did just didn't measure up. I was always seeking to be worth more; valued more.

I think I got to that place because I unconsciously was trying to make up for my past mistakes and failures. You know, those things God has already forgiven me for but I was still working to "make it right" as if His forgiveness wasn't enough. My friend Janie always says that failure is the back door to success.

God sweetly, in His tender mercies, helped me to see with every little lesson last year. He gently pulled back each layer, little by little as I could hear. At the end of my treatments, He revealed the core and gave me a new heart.

So, this time of recovery has been a recovery for my whole body; not just physically, but emotionally, and spiritually too. There have been many personal challenges that I have successfully overcome and some that I am still working on. I have had to rearrange my priority list and purposefully work within that list. I have had to say no to things, events, and people that I would normally have said yes.

It is a new process of retraining my thinking, habits, and lifestyle. I have become a bit of a recluse. I am thankful for my friends who are understanding and supportive of where I am on this journey. I have been told by many cancer survivors that you never get your old normal back, you just find a new normal.

I am learning to walk here, sorta like we want our toddler on the soft carpet when they are learning to walk in case they fall. It's almost as if I'm in a cocoon, I may not emerge as a beautiful butterfly but I do want to allow God to develop this new way of life in me and hopefully, I will emerge completely transformed into a new normal. 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I love this time of year. The temperature changes, the leaves turn beautiful colors, and the feeling of change fills the air. Usually, these things happen in October around here, but this year the seasons have been off just a little, so Fall was short and taken over quickly by freezing temperatures.

I think the feeling of change in the air is what I love most about Fall. There is an excitement of something new coming and I look with anticipation over the horizon to what it might be.

This time last year, I had no idea the change that would be coming for me in 2019, although it was a difficult year, I am so thankful for it all.

The month of November tends to bring out the grateful side of us. This is a great time to look back over the year and remember the good, find the positives, and express thanksgiving. Oddly enough, for me, the good and positive came through the diagnosis, treatment, and pain of cancer.

I am grateful for God's gentle hand in the midst of the most difficult year of my life. I am thankful for my family and friends, and there are no words to describe how much I appreciate each day I live.

🎵 I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart I will enter His courts with praise. I will say this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice for He has made me glad. 🎵

Saturday, November 9, 2019

A New Journey

I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Triple Negative Ductal Carcinoma in my right breast on January 11th, started chemotherapy on February 12th, had surgery on July 15th, and radiation began on August 29th. As of October 29th, I have completed my last treatment for cancer. Every treatment has come with several side effects that caused pain and fatigue. Weeks of treatment followed by weeks of recovery. It has been a very long year of fighting and by God's grace, I have won the battle.

From the beginning, I knew that my life would never be the same, so I wanted to be changed for the better on the other side of this journey. As I take the time to look back, I can see change, growth, and insights into parts of myself that I had never known before.

I have a new appreciation for my family and friends. They supported me in prayer, encouragement, sacrifice, acts of kindness, and love. They took the time to send cards, texts, and food. They made trips to visit me, researched ways to help me, and gave gifts of love. I am blessed beyond measure.

Some of the unknowns, in the beginning, were a bit scary. I didn't know what my hair would look like when it grew back but I am pleased that it has given me a slight resemblance to my daddy.

I have always considered myself "daddy's little girl" and today, at 50 years old, married, with children; I am still his little girl in my heart. I have always been impressed by his physical strength, but it is his strong love for God that I admire the most. 

I suppose all "daddy's girls" have a special daddy-shaped-place in their hearts that no one else can fill. Daddy is always the one we hope will be the proudest of us. We look for his character qualities in the man we want to marry, which I am happy to say that I found.

I am definitely a daddy's girl, but for a while, I looked like my brother. My mom said that when we were born we were like twins 5 years apart. We both weighed 8lbs 13oz, 21in long, and looked exactly alike. Now, 45 years later...poof...twinkies again!

This has been an amazing journey that has come to an end, but oddly enough, I find myself on a new road. What will life be like when the recovery is over. I will no longer be sick, in treatment, fatigued, in pain, or being lifted in prayer. 

I have been through the Refiner's fire. When I rise up from the ashes and shake off the soot, who will emerge?

I am looking forward to walking this new road, exploring the new sights, and experiencing a new life on this journey to the other side of cancer. 

I want to thank everyone who has prayed for me and walked with me through this year. I am so grateful for you and blessed to have you in my life. I love you all.  

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Character Counts

Radiation treatments have become quite painful. The radiation burn on my skin has caused open wounds and much discomfort. The striking pain through my breast is almost constant. It causes a great deal of distraction - from my thinking process to staying on task. I often find things half-done around the house and have trouble finding words to complete my thoughts.

I have completed 27 treatments on a large area from the center of my chest to under my right arm. I have 2 more treatments that cover this large area, then 7 treatments that will focus on the tumor area only. It is nice to be almost done, but exhausting at the same time. There are so many things that I want to do but I have become so tired and the pain adds to that.

I wanted to go to Rachel's band competition today in Bixby but I am unable to make it. I am so proud of the entire Grove High School Band. They won second place last week in Oolagah. They have a grueling schedule: workout and rehearsal every morning at 7am, Tuesday evening, and Friday afternoon; followed by Friday night football game where they might not get home until after midnight, then they are back early Saturday mornings for all-day competitions. Not to mention the fact that they began all-day rehearsals three weeks before school started.

These young men and women are devoted, determined, and disciplined. They listen to instruction from their directors and show them respect. They know the rules and follow them. They work hard and do their very best even when they are exhausted, even when people get up and leave for concessions during their show, even when it seems no one is listening. They are true to themselves and sacrifice for the whole of the team.

I don't know most of them, but their character is seen at every ball game, homecoming coronation, parade, bonfire, competition, concert, rehearsal, and individual encounter. They are an inspiration to the rest of us (or at least they are to me).

Even if people don't know me, do they see my devotion, determination, and discipline to God? Do they see the character of Christ in me? Does my life display that I follow God's instruction and respect Him? These are scary questions to ask but also scary not to know because the character I display counts for eternity.

So, next time you are at a game don't think of the band as the background music to your conversation. Take the time to give them a big cheer, ask the announcers to turn off the speaker music when they are playing, postpone your snack run to watch them perform, and let them know you appreciate their hard work because they deserve our respect and our character counts too.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Prone to Wander

This week is the fourth of eight weeks of radiation treatments. It has been a long journey but with only five more weeks to go, I can say that there is a light at the end of this cancer tunnel after all. It is brighter today than it was on January 11th when I received my diagnosis.

It's been a long year, and through it all, God has taught me a great deal. I am thankful for the lessons I have learned, and the ones He is continuing to teach me. I can say that it was much easier to hear Him when the responsibilities of life were not constantly ringing in my ear.

While I was taking chemo there was a great deal of illness and fatigue that came with the treatments. I willingly let go of most of the household responsibilities and daily errands. I spent my days resting and caring for myself; all of me, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I was constantly seeking the Lord and listening for His voice.

There were weeks I could hardly wait to tell you all what God had taught me. I knew that cancer was going to change my life and I wanted to be better on the other side of this trial than when I began it. The more time I spent with Him the hungrier I was to learn and grow.

But then, as I started feeling better and able to do more, there was so much that screamed for my attention. The little things that piled up while I was down, running my kids to and from school, and extracurricular activities, then soon the everyday chores around the house.

My time with Him became less and I can totally relate to the old hymn: "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Take my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above."

Why I ask, am I so prone to wander from the God that I so dearly love? Do I wander from my husband? Do I wander from my kids? If I evaluate my life honestly, I can say, yes I wander from them as well. Doing for those I love can take me from those I love. Busyness has robbed me of my time with all of those that I love.

Time is a valuable commodity and spending it wisely with those I love is a lesson God has continued to remind me of over and over again. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever get it! Maybe it just becomes a matter of getting it sooner than I did before.