Monday, April 20, 2015

Ramblings After My First Chemo Treatment

Saturday was such a good day after my first chemo treatment, that I was not prepared for Sunday. I lay around the entire day and felt pretty awful. It was discouraging after feeling so good on the day of chemo and the day after. Today, I feel better, and I have a little perspective. I think without the bad days, I wouldn’t appreciate the good ones as much. Today, I am more thankful than ever that I have a bit of energy, and my stomach doesn’t ache. Today, I don’t feel as fragile, and I now know that when those bad days come, they won’t keep me down.

On to my confession for the day . . . one thing I’m struggling with right now is receiving help. I honestly do not like it. It makes me feel like a burden, and it makes me feel weak. Many of you have offered help and really, really want to do something for me. I’m much more comfortable being on your side of things, and I much prefer it. Just like you, I mean it when I offer, and it is not a burden to me to help someone in need. It’s a blessing when that person accepts my offer! So, why am I struggling so much?

Pride is the bottom line. I think we all think we need to feel like we can do things on our own, but in times like these, I’m painfully aware that it’s not the case. God’s children are all dependent on each other. He designed it that way; we are one body. I think that is one of the many reasons the Bible says to not neglect gathering with other believers and that we are to do good and share what we have. We need each other for encouragement and sometimes tangible help. When we act like we don’t, we rob each other of the blessing of being in true relationship. And if I don’t receive help from you, how will you ever feel free to receive help from me when you need it? I must let go of my pride.

Unfortunately, I don’t really know what help I need right now. I want to keep life as normal as possible for my family and continue normal tasks as I can, but I also don’t want to overdo it when I think I have energy, only to come crashing down the next day. Transportation for the kids to and from school when I’ve needed it and food have been the most tangible things that have helped. Not having to worry about the safety of my kids while I’m at appointments or whether there will be food to eat when they get home are huge deals! My amazing husband is always ready to grab something at the store and grill it, but it’s been so wonderful for us to be able to warm something from the freezer or eat a snack someone sent for breakfast. Until now, I never realized what a huge deal that could be.

Unexpected cards, little gifts and gestures, texts that don’t even require a reply, and flowers have lifted my spirits so often during this time. I wouldn’t have thought of them as needs, but they’ve carried me through some dark days.

Encouraging comments on the various sites I’ve posted on and reminders of God’s character and His Word have lifted me from moments of depression.

One more confession . . . while I do trust in God’s love and the goodness of His plan for my life and my family, I do have down times. I don’t want to give the impression that I am some superwoman of faith. I am just a pilgrim on a journey and the strength you think you see in me is not in MY faith but in my God. Most days, my faith is “as small as a mustard seed,” but my God is much bigger and stronger than that. He is allowing me to go through this to see just how great my need for Him is and to conform me more to the image of His Son, and He will hopefully use me to comfort others with the comfort that He has given to me along this journey. I’ve already received that type of comfort from some of you cancer survivors who have reached out to me, and it does give amazing hope on the dark days.

But the dark days do come, and the tears stream, and the self-pity rears its ugly head, and the fear grips, but the prayers of many carry me, and the strength of my God prevails. Ultimately, my biggest need is to rest in Him. I am needy. He meets my every need, often using His people. Thank you for letting me need you!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter 2015 -- A Death Sentence?

It’s Easter 2015. Much has happened in the first three months of this year . . . many unwanted things.

On January 7th, my eye started swelling. On January 16th, I saw the doctor and an MRI was recommended. On January 23rd, I had an MRI that sent me to the hospital because of an “infection” it showed that was touching the brain. On January 29th, a PICC line was inserted to treat me with IV antibiotics for six weeks. On March 11th, an MRI showed no improvement of my infection. On March 17th, a craniotomy was performed to biopsy the area above my left eye. The initial suspicion was a 50/50 chance of infection vs. cancer. On March 24th, I heard the words “high probability of malignancy” for the first time. On March 25th, my diagnosis was made official: I have Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma.

As I face what the future holds for me now, there are days when my mind wanders down the terminal path, that perhaps this is not curable. I don’t dwell there, but I can’t help but see that as a potential destination on my roadmap. Perhaps this is a death sentence.

Today, as I reflect on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I remember that we have all been given a death sentence. We have all been born separated from relationship with God the Father. We are all God’s creation, but we are not all His children. We are spiritually dead in our sins, and we would remain that way without a Savior to rescue us. (Ephesians 2:1-3)

For me physically, with the wisdom of doctors and the advances in medicine, my cancer diagnosis may not lead to death, but there is no guarantee. No one can take my place to remove the consequence of this growth, and none of those doctors love me enough to do that, even if they could.

For me spiritually, there is no doubt that my prognosis would be death, EXCEPT that Jesus COULD and DID take my place. Because of His love and mercy, He willingly took the cancer of sin that had killed me spiritually and put it on Himself, and He breathed His breath of life into me as He died the death I deserved (Ephesians 2:4-10). He CURED me! I am no longer sick, and there is no death sentence for me!

My prayer this Easter Sunday is that all of you will recognize the proper diagnosis in your own lives. No biopsy will show you the condition of your heart, but rest assured, your condition is terminal if He has not already cured you! There is no program, medicine, regimen, diet, or human relationship that can change your prognosis. There is only One way to be cured, and that is through the free gift of a selfless, humble, powerful, sinless Savior. He’s offering you a cure today! If you have not already been cured, I hope today is the day you receive a life sentence in place of your death sentence!

He is risen!