Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009: A Week of Uncertainty

It is so quiet right now I can hear the clock ticking. The house is dark with the exception of the lights glowing on the Christmas tree. The rain that was annoying me earlier today is now quietly tapping on the windows.

We are now officially done with a long weekend that has been filled with go, go, go. It started last Wednesday with my PET scan. We've been to Thanksgiving meals with the family, a wedding shower, and a fund raiser. We also put up the Christmas tree and decorations (since we had so much extra time - not). I just came from the last Thanksgiving get-together which was in Jenison with Brian's family. Nathan and I had to leave early so we could get him to church in time for practice.

So now I sit alone in silence. The initial feeling was "aaaaaahhhhhh". Physically it is great to finally crash. Mentally though it's never a good thing to have a mind that has nothing to focus on. As I look at our calendar for next week I start to stress out. Brian's uncle will be receiving the results tomorrow from a test last week to check his carotid artery. My brother-in-law is scheduled to have a feeding tube put in on Tuesday. If my grandpa gets the "all clear" on Tuesday from his doctor he will have surgery on Friday. I will be jumping every time the phone rings wondering if it is my doctor with the results of my PET scan or a family member calling with an update.

As I started to wonder how I was going to make it through the uncertainty of this week I had a thought that comforted me. God already knows what this week will bring. He already knows the results that I will hear and knows what I will need from Him to make it through. There is no way I can survive this week on my own and yet I am sure I will try hard to take control. I will try to be super-mom and get my kids everywhere they need to be (which itself alone seems to be a full-time job!), keep the house picked up, get laundry caught up and put meals on the table. I will run from store to store trying to find the right Christmas gift at the best possible price. I will try to plan menu's and start thinking about Christmas parties. I will do whatever it is that I do that seems to take up every minute of my day. I will fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day feeling like I didn't accomplish anything. It is usually at that point that I realize in my quest to become super-woman that I didn't even stop to say a prayer. I didn't stop and just listen to what God had to say. Despite my best intentions, I will have tried to take control of something that is out of my control.

One of my favorite books is "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World". This morning I read this . . . . "When we put work before worship, we put the cart before the horse. The cart is important; so is the horse. But the horse must come first, or we end up pulling the cart ourselves." I'm tired of pulling the cart.

I am so thankful that our God is filled with such patience and grace. I have been trying to be more focused on Him and less on me. I have tried to be aware of His presence all day long. I have the best of intentions and quite often fail miserably. Every time I do though He just says "that's okay, stand up, wipe the dust off and let's try this again".

So now I'll stand up, wipe the dust off and go forward through this week. One day at a time, one thing at a time and sometimes just one minute at a time. I will survive this week and by God's grace I will do it with a smile on my face, focus in my mind and peace in my heart.

In the world of Martha and Mary's I am definitely a Martha. This week I will try my best to be Mary and choose "the better thing" . . .

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better thing and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009: The Test is Done, The Wait Has Begun

The pet scan went well today. I was extremely tired this morning (I wasn't able to sleep good last night). My blood sugar was at 68 because of the low carb diet. Combine low sugar with the sleepiness and I was a zombie. I was able to sleep while waiting for the sugar water to flow through my veins. They put the iv in my arm with minimal pain (yeah!). Everyone was super nice there and treated me like royalty. I think the best part was when they took the iv out of my arm and then brought a tray filled with snacks and drinks - hooray for carbs!

After eating some cheese & crackers and a granola bar I felt a lot better. I washed it down with hot chocolate - yum. I was home shortly after noon and then slept for a few hours. My stomach is upset now because of the contrast I drank but that always happens after my ct scans too. I should be back to normal by tomorrow.

I was considered to be "radioactive" until 2:00 this afternoon. That was a bit strange. I can't imagine the amount of toxins that went through my body today. The pros outweighed the cons for me having this scan. Now we wait for the results. Tick tock. It will probably be the middle of next week before we hear anything. So far I'm doing okay with it. We have a busy weekend so that will keep my mind off of it.

Tomorrow we are going to count our blessings and instead of thinking about everything we want we will be thankful for what we have.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009: I Want My Carbs Back!

To prepare for the PET scan tomorrow I had to follow a very low carb diet today. I didn't realize how much I love my carbs! I will not be able to eat anything when I wake up in the morning but the scan is so early (7:40) that my stomach won't even be awake yet :)

From what I understand, I need to arrive at 7:30 and 7:40 is the scan. They will inject a glucose something or other (I think I saw the word radioactive - yikes!). I need to sit still for 90 minutes after that. I will have a private room with a tv and dvd player during that time. The actual scan may take between 30-60 minutes.

Right now I'm not too nervous. I probably won't have any results until the end of next week. I need to get up at 6:00 AM tomorrow (if anyone reading this is an early riser say a prayer then that I will actually be able to get out of bed at that time!). I know, I'm spoiled. I'm sure there are a lot of people that get up that early or earlier every day.

I'm off to bed now. If I want to be able to function tomorrow morning I'll need all the sleep I can get!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009: Family

My PET scan has been scheduled for next Wednesday already. I'm glad to get it done so soon but at the same time I'm nervous and not looking forward to another round of the waiting game. My nurse said it takes at least 5 days to get results plus we'll have the holiday weekend so it will be a while before we hear anything.

I mentioned in an earlier post that my grandpa was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had a ct scan this week and the cancer appears to be confined in his colon and has not spread. They believe it was caught early and he will be meeting with a specialist soon.

I think a lot of people reading our blog also read my sister and brother-in-laws blog as well. If you haven't, there is a link on the right side of our blog. Eric's ALS is progressing and they are facing some tough decisions. Their faith continues to grow through all this which can only be by the grace of God.

There is also a link to my brother and sister-in-law's blog on the right side of our blog (Kevin & Stephanie). They are adopting an adorable little girl from Columbia and hope to be able to go get her by the end of January. They are having a fund raiser next week Saturday at the Urban Mill Cafe in Grand Rapids to help with all the adoption fees. They will have autographed children's books and posters from many authors to auction off. You can get some Christmas shopping done and help support their family at the same time :) There is more information about the fundraiser on their blog - just scroll down to the 11/5 & 11/13 post.

Please say an extra prayer for Brian. He is extremely tired again. He had recovered from his flu bug and seemed to be doing pretty good but today he was hit with a headache and major fatigue. He sleeps a lot and still doesn't feel rested. It is so frustrating for him.

Life is hard, in fact some days it is harder than I ever imagined it could ever be, but God is good.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009: My Weakness, His Strength

Last week after hearing that my number had gone up I read a devotional that made me want to scream "noooooooooooo". I showed it to Brian and told him that I didn't want this. Here is how the devotional began . . .

"Why won't God heal me?" Doesn't he love me?" Perhaps you've asked similar questions. Maybe you've been frustrated because God didn't answer a prayer the way you had hoped. Could it be that he is using those very difficulties to keep you dependent on him? Like placing sparkling diamonds on black velvet, our human weakness provides a contrasting backdrop against which God's power can be displayed.

When I was first diagnosed I was excited. I wasn't excited about having cancer but I was excited about the things God was going to do through me. I didn't know what was going to happen but I did know that He was going to use me to show His power.

Last week before I had the results for my new CA125 I heard God telling me "it's time to shine again". I pretended not to hear it. The thought wouldn't go away so I started to process it. Time to shine again? No, I'm done - it's someone else's turn. I don't want to shine, can't I be dark for a while? It's almost been three years - can't I just be done already?

The more I whined the worse I felt. I started thinking back about my willingness years ago to be used by Him and what a privilege it was that He would use me to show His power. Where did that passion go? It has been a long bumpy road but God has always provided for our needs.

The devotional went on to talk about Paul and the thorn in his flesh. Paul asked three times for God to remove his thorn and three times God said no. It wasn't because God didn't love him. He wanted Paul to be dependent on His strength.

Our "thorns" can make us feel weak and useless. They can cause us to become focused on ourselves and wallow in self pity(I've had more pity parties than I can count!). The devotional suggested another way to look our struggles. We can allow it to keep us on our knees - praying for strength. We can learn from our struggles and then use that knowledge to help others. We can let His strength shine through our weakness.

If God wants me to shine then I will but I'm going to fight and kick cancer's butt while I'm shining. My doctors office is finishing up the paperwork and will be scheduling my PET scan soon. I will have my CA125 checked again in three weeks and will meet with them after we have some test results. Who knows, my number could even go down next time. You just never know.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009: The Joy is in the Waiting?

Today I have been waiting. Waiting for that phone call. I've had a couple calls today but not "the" phone call. I've had a call that was a prerecorded voice from a solicitor. How do they get our unlisted number??? I've also had a call from my mom. She was at the hospital with my grandparents. They just found out that my grandpa has colon cancer.

So now we wait for yet another phone call. The call with his surgery date. Then will be the next call . . . the call with the results. Wait, wait, wait. I was having a chat with God while I was in the shower this morning. Why? Why, why, why?! I could hear "be still and know that I am God". Yes, I'm being still and I know that you are God. I heard it again "be still and know that I am God". Yes God, I hear you, I know you are God and I am being still. I just kept hearing it over and over. Then it hit me. My mind wasn't being still. It was racing everywhere. It was thinking of my grandparents, thinking of my sister and brother-in-law, thinking about the phone call I am waiting for.

I turned on the radio shortly after that. The song "My Last Amen" was playing. I love that song - I love the rhythm, the singing and the piano. Today I heard the words. Near the end of the song are the words . . . .

And while the thrills are fading
The joy is in the waiting
Somewhere in the grand design
It's good to be unsatisfied
It keeps the faith and hope
a little more alive.

The joy is in the waiting? Say what? I don't think I've ever thought of being joyful during the waiting. It does make sense though. By waiting and not knowing, we are forced to rely on our faith. To rely on something other than ourselves. It does keep our faith and hope a little more alive.

That is what I am trying to focus on now while I wait. And I am trying to be still - physically and mentally. Not an easy task.

I wrote this post early this afternoon and planned on posting it after I got the call from my doctor. The call just came . . . I'm not surprised, just disappointed. My number went up to 76. Now what? Well, tomorrow I will call and schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Downey. We will talk about where to go from here and also pursue the PET scan. Ready or not, here we go . . . . again.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future". Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: Tick Tock

With all the waiting we have done over the past couple years you think we would get used to it. I think I've gotten a little better at it but that doesn't mean I like it. I went in this morning to have my CA125 tested. I can't believe it has been a month already!

I have been doing a pretty good job at not thinking about the results. So much can change with one little phone call. One little number. Or at least I hope it's little :)

The odds are stacked against it going down or at least staying where it is. In fact it is highly unlikely that it will be the same or lower. Over the years I have learned to be "optimistically realistic". I know God can do anything, however, I don't know what His plan is for me. I usually plan on the number going up because then if it goes down it will be a major bonus. If the number goes up I have already mentally prepared for it.

My thoughts have wandered to the possibilities . . . what if it jumps big time - do I need chemo again? or pursue the pet scan? Or maybe it just jumps a little . . . we wait a few more weeks and check again. I haven't let myself even consider it going down. Should it go down though . . . dare I say to a single digit . . . my screaming will be heard cities away :)

So now we wait. And pray. Lots of praying. Lots of redirecting of my thoughts.

On a positive note - Brian is finally getting better!!! Yea! It has been a very long week for him. He was knocked down hard, absolutely miserable and exhausted. Yesterday he finally started to look somewhat better. Today he was able to work for about 1/2 day. His boss put yellow "caution" tape across his office - I thought that was very funny - and a good idea. He kept to himself mostly and did his conversations by phone. He looks much better tonight. It was a rough week but we're very thankful that no one else caught it.

I will update tomorrow when I hear from my nurse with the new number.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009: We've Been Hit

The flu bug got Brian,
It caught him off guard.
It hit him fast
And it hit him hard.
He has aches and pains
From his head to his toe.
They don’t get better
but continue to grow.
He’s confined to his room,
Keep those germs away!
I’m doing my best
To keep it at bay.
Please pray that it leaves
As fast as it came.
This bug needs to go –
I’m not playing his game!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009: Can You Hear Me?

God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

Eight days ago I started to lose my voice. I can still remember joking with my friend saying “I think God is trying to tell me that I need to listen more”. At that point I had no idea how true those words were.

A couple of days later my van started having issues and by Friday it was in the shop. No voice and no transportation. Talk about feeling isolated!

I have heard God prompting me to slow down and focus on listening for Him for quite a while now. Sadly enough it took losing my voice and my van to make me stop and listen. I spent all of Friday working on things around the house while having a conversation in my head with God. Instead of telling Him everything I thought He needed to be aware of (like there is anything I could tell Him that He didn’t already know!) I began listening. I heard a lot that day.

By that night I felt so focused and in tune with God. My goal is to be aware of His presence 24/7. I know this isn’t an attainable goal but it is definitely something worth aiming for. When I’m in tune with Him my hard times aren’t as near as hard and my good times are multiplied. I am much more at peace.

I feel like I have been just going through the motions for quite a while now. About 2 weeks ago I started a new medication for depression and I have felt the fog lifting. I feel a renewed passion to share my story again. I didn’t battle cancer just to sweep it under the rug and go back to “normal life”. I don’t know if I’m supposed to speak or write or what but I need to share my story. God is making that clear to me.

There is a time for everything . . . a time to be silent and a time to speak. Ecclesiastes 3:1; 7

I received a letter yesterday from our insurance saying that they have approved my PET scan! I had honestly forgotten about that. I had talked to Brian a while back and said that if coverage was denied that would just be a sign to me that the door had been closed. I wasn’t planning on an open door here! I go in next week Wednesday to have my CA125 checked again. It will already have been a month then! This time has flown by. Depending on what that number is I may or may not pursue the PET scan. I know God will lead us to the right decision at the right time.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:21

The support that everyone continues to show us never ceases to amaze me. We are about to reach 160,000 hits on the blog and this is the 500th post.. Wow. What a long journey this has been. And yet this journey is not over . . . in some ways it has just begun.