Thursday, December 31, 2015

Good bye 2015. Hello 2016! Flawless.

Good bye 2015.  Hello 2016!
On December 31, 2014, last New Year's Eve, I had been living 6 weeks since my cancer diagnosis.  

6 weeks.
A puppy needs to be with their mama 6 weeks until they're "weaned".

6 weeks.
The usual time for recovery from surgeries.

6 weeks.  
At the end of 2014, I listed the issues that had arisen since my diagnosis.  Here they are with their current status:

My sister-in-law was battling her second bout of breast cancer.
   - Her last treatment will be next month.  She continues to have a strong, positive attitude.  And who wouldn't?  She will be greeting her a grandchild from her daughter!  Last year at this time, she was fighting for her life - and still is.  This year she is preparing to greet a new life!

My Aunt was undergoing radiation therapy to treat her breast cancer.
   - She has successfully completed radiation and is cancer free.  She is back to taking care of her "orphan" cats!

     - I'm cancer free - a survivor.  I've realized that I'm not ready to call myself a "thriver" yet.  But soon.  I'm even more in love with my dear husband, closer to my son, taking in the beautiful views of nature from all around me.  I have found a new "quiet time" space in my craft studio next to my window.  The view is beautifully inspiring.  One foot in front of the other to a new life.  Hello 2016!

                               Happy New Year to all of you!
new years quote
During my 6 weeks (ha!  another 6 weeks time frame!)  of radiation, I discovered a phenomenal Christian radio station - KLOVE!  As I drove down Mesa to Texas Oncology I would listen to it - sometimes blasting it as a specific song spoke to my spirit.  I would even sometimes sing to it as loud as I could - not a pretty sound - but hey, God hears my singing through my Big Brother, so it's o.k!  I purchased these songs and now listen to them at home, as well as to KLOVE.  

Yesterday He gave me a song that I sang all morning.  It was a great time of being in His presence as I went through my morning activities.  I was also preaching to myself through music, reminding myself of the lessons He taught me during those 6 weeks - and knowing that those lessons still stand.  I also know I will continue to glean from them in the future.

Then, this morning, at the same time, the LORD gave me another song!  Then I realized He wanted me to share them with you.  Sometimes, I may share the same song more than once - it's His plan - not mine!  :)  Here's the part I sang!

And here's the song!  Enjoy!

We all have bumps, bruises, hurts - but by the blood of Jesus, we are flawless.  This year, I have definitely experienced bumps, bruises and hurts, but by the blood of Jesus, I am an overcomer - and so are you my dear friend, so are you!

For today, this is my truth.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Speak? Live.

Today I read Proverbs 29 and, while a couple of verses really spoke to me, verse 20 really stood out.  I learned a valuable lesson about another scripture close to my heart.  First, let's look at Proverbs 29:20.
This scripture immediately reminded me of my husband, who is so thoughtful in his speech.  I hoped to be a person like him, who speaks thoughtfully, yet as these words were written, the LORD reminded me that we are all individuals.  He reminded me that many times my spontaneous remarks bring joy to my listeners.  

Another reminder not to compare myself to others, but to enjoy and rejoice in their positives attributes - and my own.  

Psalm 139:14

I'm slowly learning about this thing called living after cancer.  It's strange.  I still think about it everyday, though not as often.  I asked someone, "How do I move on now?  How do I 'live my life' now?"  She said, "How did you get here?  Did you drive yourself?"
Yes, I did.  She told me, "You go to  your car, drive yourself home, and live."

Sounds simple.  

Feels more complicated.  

Is it really that complicated?  That big of a question.  Can I be getting so lost in the question that I'm not allowing myself to live the life God gave me?  Then I remembered this lesson learned from a childhood Christmas movie, Santa Claus is Coming To Town. Wow, I'm really dating myself, aren't I?  :)

So, I'm living life by simply putting one foot in front of the other.  I hope this helps other cancer survivors to live their lives as well.  

For today, this is my truth.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Recap. Merry Chirstmas!

December 24, 2015
Merry Christmas to Everyone!
               I hope and pray this letter finds you all in the best of health and spirits!  I pray you know how much each one of you is loved and appreciated for the way you have touched our lives.  This newsletter will be a bit different, but then again 2015 was indeed a very different year for our family and friends.  Since Thanksgiving, I contemplated whether or not to send out a Christmas letter, then, this morning, I realized that I ABSOLUTELY HAVE to.  The desire to share with you, my loved ones, God’s mercy and grace overflow - I am compelled to share with you His goodness and grace.
               Late October 2014, I was visiting a family member who was fighting breast cancer for the SECOND time.  The night before I was to fly home, my dear dad let me know that another family member had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Right then and there I prayed, “God, things usually happen in threes, who is the third person?”  His swift response was, “You.”  Okaaayyy.  Me.   So that night, I knew, even before the mammogram and doctors’ phone calls, that I had breast cancer.  And you know what?  I was peaceful in the knowledge that God would answer my consistent prayer as I faced various health issues:  “God, please let me learn what You want me to learn from this.  And please let me be a blessing to the doctors, nurses, medical staff and anyone else I come in contact with during this season in my life.”   Throughout the following year, He was faithful to answer this prayer as well. 
               The Wednesday before Thanksgiving Ray and I listened to the radiologist who read my many mammograms tell us that the location of the tumor was difficult to operate on and he highly recommended that we begin our journey at MD Anderson.  Not surprisingly, the LORD had shown me that we would be taking a road trip to Houston and even which quilt I would be hand sewing the binding onto.  We began sharing this news with our children, family and friends.  At this point, I started a blog which I still write in occasionally:  .
After a several months battling with our insurance company, we were in Houston where the doctors discovered the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes.  That was scary to hear.  Despite that news, there were so many opportunities to encourage and be encouraged by my dear family, my dear friend who drove from Dallas to visit us, the staff and residents in our hotel!  I would go to the lobby/dining area and hand sew.  This was a conversation starter so I shared with as many people as I could and, by God’s grace, encourage and be encouraged.  I decided to continue treatment with the wonderful surgeon and oncology team I had already met with in El Paso.  I somehow knew my purpose in Houston had been fulfilled and there was no reason to return. 
               After 6 months filled with 16 grueling chemotherapy treatments, a lumpectomy and ancillary node dissection, 6 ½ weeks of radiation and now facing 1 – 2 years of recovery from all the toxins, I am finally cancer free!  Hallelujah! 
               Lessons learned?  Here’s just a few:

1.  “Let the Big C (Christ) take care of the little c (cancer).  Praying Through Cancer by Susan Sorensen and Laura Geist. 
2.  Live more fully, love without reservation and with all my heart and laugh with gusto daily.
3.  "God is bigger than the boogie man.” qtd. Raquel, a youth from our church.
4.  Some things just don’t matter – most things actually – so simply (I know it’s easier said than done.) let them go.
5.  El Paso has a great radio station – KLOVE.
6.  Life, and you my dear, sweet loved one, are beautiful. 
                   Merry Christmas!  Happy New Year!

Celebrate Life!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

One Day at a Time. Just Be Held.

One Day at a Time.
So, I've been pondering this whole Breast Cancer Survivor issue.   In my humble opinion, there is no "right" way to continue life after breast cancer treatments are over.  It's an extremely personal and individual journey.  Naturally, one would hope that we recover and rebuild our lives in a healthy manner. 
I've never done this before.  Have no idea how to do survive breast caner after treatments are over.  I have spent the last year fighting, yes my friend, fighting breast cancer, fighting for my life.  And now I've won.  Now what?
Go forth and live my life, you say.  Yes.  Obviously.  But how? 
Right now my life feels like a Tetris game.  I've built up all these rows and finally got the one long piece that will wipe them out.  My foundation is gone. 
Time to rebuild.  One day at a time.  Trusting in God.  One day at a time.  It's a process, a slow one. 
There's so much I want to do, yet I sense the Holy Spirit telling me, "Whoa, Horsey!  Take your time!  It's a process."
One day at a time.  There is no safer place to be than waiting on the will of God (Majetta Morris, Okinawa, Japan). 
One day at a time.

  Just Be Held.
So while I'm walking on the beach with my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, taking life one day at a time and trusting Him, I'll follow the advice in this song by Casting Crowns.

So, I'll move forward one day at a time and just be held. 
Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on
And when you’re tired of fighting
 Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go
So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held
If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will
And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands
Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won’t let go

Friday, December 4, 2015

Surgery. The End of the Journey?

Surgery.  The End of the Journey? 
Today, in fact in 12 hours I'm having what should be my last treatment - the surgery to remove my chemotherapy port!!!  Yes!  It's an exciting a time.  Yet, somehow, as I sit in my living room typing at almost 2:00 in the morning, it feels anti-climatic.  Is this journey really over? 

No, it isn't. 

I realize it will never be over.   I'm a cancer thriver now.  My life will never be the same.  This part of the battle against breast cancer will be over, but it feels like the war will continue for the rest of my life.  After visiting with other cancer survivors, I realize that I will wonder, "Will it come back?"   In spite of these thoughts,

I know in Whom I can rest and trust. 
I know Who holds my future. 
I know ever day is a gift to me from Jesus Christ.
The least I can do is give Him the gift of my life - of a life fully lived in His will.

I have to believe that there will come a day when the words "breast cancer" or even "cancer"  won't enter my thoughts.  Will that day come?  I wonder......

Either way, tomorrow is the end of this part of the journey.  Now my husband and I, along with our family and friends, can begin the process of healing, of discovering what our new normal will be.  

I want to share a scripture, an image, something wonderful that will inspire you, as well as myself.  But, there's nothing at this point.  Nothing the Lord is leading me to write, except what I've already written. 

I'm moving forward to whatever God has in store for me.  And I trust Him.

For today, that is my truth.