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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reflections

The year is quickly coming to an end, I always tend to be a little reflective this time of year...looking forward to the next year....thinking about what might be ahead....things I might like to accomplish. Spent the day doing various errands...and oh yes, a doctor's appointment was included. The number of doctor's appointment's I have had in the last several months is mind boggling. These guys take up more of my free time than some of my friends do...if things don't change soon I'm going to have to include them on my next years Christmas card list! Although this sounds like a complaint, I am really thankful for the doctor's God has provided. The most recent appointment I had was for my eye and honestly, these doctors have been top notch! They were aggressive with their treatment, thorough in their followup and probably prevented me from losing vision in my eye. The infection is finally gone... doc wants me to continue with vancomycin four more days just to be sure, then continue with the steroid drops...for who knows how long....it will be for a couple more weeks at least. I would never had guessed this would have been such a slow process. January doesn't look to be much better for appointments, I already have four scheduled and I'm sure that is going to change...not for the good!! (I like these docs and all but, appointments consume a lot of my time) Our snow still hanging around, I am still enjoying it. Youngest son will be cooking tomorrow....part of our Christmas present....always a culinary treat.....I think we are getting baked Alaska for dessert....friends will be joining us...should be fun. These are the sweet days...the days when all seems right with the world....but  I know there are days when things aren't quite as sweet, harder days....but that does not change my standing with God, I am just as loved... just as cared for...he still has a purpose for my life...I am still justified by grace...still have that eternal hope. Harder days are just part of what this life is about sometimes....but because of Christ I have an eternal hope...I will dwell with him forever....those hard days will be done!!!

"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 a hope and a future"  Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Your Word I Have Hid in my Heart

 Our snow "event" is over and it left us with over 14 inches, quite impressive. We were able to get out in it a little bit and  take some pictures. The snow closed just about everything down the next day....of course the stores opened at noon! It was fun while it lasted! Our Florida trip coming up soon...praying for warm weather, and a healthier me.The last week and half have been dotted with ER and Urgent Care visits.....most recently yesterday. It has been really hard on my husband...I can see it in his eyes ... so my prayer is that I will get well before we go and stay well the duration of the trip....I don't have a lot of other goals at this point for the trip, don't care anymore what we do, just want to enjoy the time with my husband.The other thing I had thought about today was when you are feeling bad physically you don't always feel like having a "quiet time" You are in survival mode....just trying to feel better. Having the Word stored in your heart is like buried treasure, so important during these times, treasures that you can pull out and feed your soul. Treasures that can help point you to the promises of God, that give you hope, comfort and a peace.




Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Snowing!

Snow... what fun! Started snowing last night,  just in time for Christmas. The weather man is calling for continued snow all through the day. This snow makes me happy, I feel like a kid again. Best part is we don't have to be anywhere today (church was canceled because of the weather) So it's a pajama day, maybe drink hot cocoa, lounge by the fire, watch old movies.....day's like today are a gift! Especially after the last several days. I have been very emotional..... feel like I am losing my mind at times..... not thinking straight....grieving over how our lives's have changed etc....then it  occurred to me....is it possible.....could this be effects from the Arimidex?....or am I just looking for something to blame my roller coaster emotions on?  Just knowing that it might be effects of the drug has helped...it's like...ok.... I'm not going crazy! So we move forward.....taking one day at a time...looking to the Lord for strength....and now wisdom in how to proceed... (this drug may be the culprit in running my blood pressure so high as well) I will see my oncologist in January and we will have a discussion. Christmas sweet, enjoyed family, fun watching the excitement of the little ones.....Vacation soon....getting very excited.....My husband and I are looking forward to this time...a time to reconnect as a couple....relax....have fun together....try to remember what it was like before my cancer diagnosis.

"You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light"  Psalm 18:28

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Letting Go

Looking a little bit more like Christmas at our house. The tree is up, not totally decorated but its up. We have no outside decorations this year. Have not baked my usual cookies or my toffee and decorations inside the house are minimal. There are several reasons for this, limited time due to travel, limited energy. Part of what I have been learning on this journey is how to let go of things...some things have been easy....house doesn't have to be perfectly clean... letting go of my expectations, agendas...not so easy...that continues to be a work in progress. Realized today we were letting some traditions go this year....adding to my "to do" list not helpful....I know this so I am willing to let them go for now. We continue to make time for the important things, like decorating a gingerbread house with the grand kids.(making memories) We are prioritizing, and that really is a good thing.
On another note appointment with plastic surgeon went well. He asked me if I wanted to talk about when the exchange surgery would be....ahh no.... (As Scarlett O'Hara would say, "I can't think about that right now. If I do I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow") I am still a few months out, his response to me was...that's fine we can think about it when you come back to see me in January. I did find out the pain with expander's perfectly normal...sorry...continue with Advil. Urinary tract is resolving, blood pressure back to normal, more med changes...last doctor appointment this week will be to see if corneal ulcer healed yet. Having to continue to deal with all this physical stuff helps me see my weakness, helps me realize my abilities have their limits....forces me to trust/lean on the Lord for my strength....so there has been good that is coming from all of this....it's all a matter of perspective.

"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect"  Psalm 18:32







Sunday, December 19, 2010

Are we There Yet?

Last couple of days have been difficult...I have been very emotional...major meltdown that was triggered by having to glaze a cake....don't even ask!  Finding myself in tears frequently for seemingly no reason....all someone needs to do is to ask how I am! (checked on reservations for a vacation event yesterday and  ended up in tears.... get the picture?) I see my plastic surgeon tomorrow and am anxious for my appointment, I continue to have pain from the expander's which seems to have gotten worse, not better, I really want to know what he has to say about the possible causes of the pain.  Blood pressure better but not sure I can continue with the medications the doctor had me try....experiencing some side effects...spent a couple hours at Urgent Care this morning before church because of symptoms I was having that felt like a urinary tract infection.....it was! Needless to say, feeling kind of crummy today. I know I have it better than many breast cancer patients do....I am not doing chemo...and I don't have to do radiation....and yet this still has been so hard. You know how kids are always asking "Are we there yet" when going on a long trip? I was just thinking, with some amusement, that today I feel like that kid in the back seat asking"Are we There Yet?"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

And the Beat Goes On

It's snowing today, kind of unusual for us, especially in December. Busy today despite the snow, two doctors appointments, yes they never seem to stop....and more challenges to deal with. I have had high blood pressure for almost twenty years but very well controlled, this morning it was 220/110....made my doctor stop in her tracks!! She took it again, then tried to figure out what in the world was going on, so meds added, (and taken before I left the office) dosages changed...buy a cuff, monitor blood pressure this weekend, call Monday.....and the beat goes on! Eye doctor in the afternoon, they were gracious enough to wait until I came in because they were closing early due to snow. Corneal ulcer is healing but I will need to continue with all the drops for another week....this was disappointing because I wanted to be able to finally stop the drops....four different drops four times a day...ok not that big of a deal, but I wanted to be done! Sometimes I just have to wonder what in the world is going on. We watch what we eat, exercise, do all the right things. Breast cancer.... ok fine, one out of eight women get breast cancer, the corneal ulcer...well things happen, the blood pressure....come on now!  The Lord reminding me that these bodies are perishing...you can do all the right things, doesn't change that fact. The Lord is continuing to lead me to just rest in him, trust in him...so that's where I am at right now..this is all part of his purposes.

"Therefore we do not lose heart, though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal"  2 Corinthians 4:16-18


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reminder to Self



Read something today that I needed to "hear" again. Taken from the book "When Life is Hard" by James Mcdonald
"Every trial I face is allowed by God for my ultimate good. For my good. Say it out loud...for my good. This truth is the rock our feet need to be on when the waves of satanic lies attempt to sweep us under. Say it again...this trial I am going through...is for my ultimate good.
This truth is the anchor that I can hold on to in the storm.This truth is the wind that fills my sails of hope.This truth is the light that guides my ship of faith safely into the harbor.Every trial I face is allowed by God for my ultimate good" I needed this reminder today

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose"  Romans 8:28                 
                                                      
                                           

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Change of Scenery


 Because my eye had improved at my last doctor visit I do not have to go back to see him for a week, this gave me the opportunity to travel with my husband to Washington DC. Thankful for the healing that is taking place in my eye and thankful that I am able to accompany my husband. I love DC, even though I have been here more times than I can count, there is always something new to learn, to explore. I hoping to use this time to build stamina a bit, get moving physically. We are due to go on vacation soon, will be significant walking involved and at this point I am not ready for it. So I will do what I can this week to prepare, but I also feel like the Lord is  prompting me to trust in him, rest in him, listen to him and to accept where he has me no matter what physical level I am at by that time. This has already been a struggle this week. I went back to work on Tuesday and because I could not start work on Monday as I had planned, I said I would work Thursday (to make up for the Monday I missed) no one asked me to do that, it was guilt I felt for being sick Monday. (misplaced guilt I might add)  Thursday was a day I was supposed to have used for preparing for DC trip, (if I had gotten the ok from eye doctor) so instead I worked all day, ran home finished packing and then we were on the road all evening. Exhausted can't even come close to how I felt. I basically let man's opinion of me dictate my decision to work a day I was supposed to be off. Old patterns resurface so quickly! That being said, I feel like the Lord is speaking to me on the need to be satisifed (content) where the he has me, let him direct my steps, decisions. I have always been strong physically  "I can do it myself", this continues to be difficult, (again does this sound like a recurring theme in my life) but realizing he can use my weakness.

"But he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness, therefore I will baost all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ power may rest on me" 2 Corinthians 12:9

Friday, December 10, 2010

Learning to Dance in the Rain

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to end....it's about learning to dance in the rain" (author unknown) I love this quote! My life has been pretty "bumpy" these last few weeks and just when I thought there might be a light at the end of the tunnel, a new problem crops up. In my mind the storm we have been going through has been useful, God has shown us alot during this time and I have been so thankful for his faithfulness.....but I wanted the storm to be over...I was "done"...after all don't I "deserve" a break already (I do have a flair for the dramatic!) Then I heard this quote and it just stuck with me. I don't know when my storm will finally be over, and even when this ends there may be another around the corner. There is always going to be storms in this life, some never end....not in this life anyway. I don't want to be stuck where I am, not moving forward because I am waiting for the storm to end....it doesn't always. Instead I want to learn to dance in the rain....I have reason to.....because Christ died for me, I can look forward to eternal life with him.

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all"
2 Corinthians 4:17

Monday, December 6, 2010

Walking with the Lord

This seems kind of random but I heard a sermon today about walking with the Lord. I don't even remember who the preacher was but he was saying if you are walking you are making forward progress, you are going somewhere. So if you are walking with the Lord you should be making forward progress. I never really thought of it that way but I like the description. I don't want to be stuck, stagnant, my spiritual life not going anywhere. I have been blessed the last several weeks, illness has a way of keeping you close to the Lord, has a tendency to drown out distractions. Brings home what is really important, what is lasting. Makes you think more about eternal things. Helpful for forward progression. I am in a reflective mood tonight, remembering all the Lord has done during my illness...there has been good along with the difficult....I am so thankful. I read something today that really rung true in my own experience; 

"When we embrace our hardships we will find ourselves rejoicing in the parts that are good" from When Life is Hard by James McDonald

I am going back to work in the morning....my eye is responding to the latest antibiotic....so even though corneal ulcer is no better at least we are headed in the right direction. (another appointment on Thursday to check progress) I have been blessed with wonderful caring doctors, I have three that have been following me with the eye problem. One that has been calling me at home to see what the progress was, and how I was doing.....just amazing. Again the Lord reminding me to see the blessings in the trials. Forward progression!


"Draw near to God and he will draw near to you"  James 4:7

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Be Still

Well tomorrow was the day I was supposed to go back to work and because of the trouble with my eye I felt it best to delay my return, at least until after I see the eye doctor tomorrow. I had actually gotten to the point where I was ready, so this has been pretty frustrating. I think if there was any word that could describe my mental state the last few days it would be discouraged. I think it.s all about expectations...... my expectations are not being met....plain and simple! I expected to be at a certain point physically by this time. I could see the frustrations playing out in how my husband and I were relating to each other yesterday....not always pretty. I have been through so much, I saw first hand  God's faithfulness, his care for me.....the only thing that has changed is my situation...... he has not changed! Obviously I still have an agenda, I am not trusting God, still leaning on my own understanding. So what's next.....not really sure. Doctor should be able to tell me something tomorrow, will know if I will be able to go back to work anytime soon. The scripture the Lord keeps bringing to my memory is this...Be still and know that I am God....I need to stop fretting, worrying about what tomorrow will bring and just focus on what His "truths" are. Drawing nearer to Him

"Be still and know that I am God"  Psalm 46:10

Friday, December 3, 2010

Still not good news

Return appointment to the doctor today to see if my eye was any better and it is worse. When I woke up this morning my vision was pretty cloudy but it had improved and was feeling better, so I was surprised by the news. My heart sunk a bit...now what? The doctor added a third antibiotic drop, so I will be doing drops of some kind every hour.  My contacts are out, which is always a challenge for me because I am not good with glasses. Since I only need them for reading I am forever laying them down, then forgetting where I put them. I also tend to be hard on them, the current pair I am wearing are sitting crooked on my face because they are in the process of breaking. Road trip tomorrow to get a couple new pair! My prayer is this newest drop will work and that any vision loss I have will not be permanent, and that it not effect the other eye. I take my vision for granted, I have been thinking of all the things I use my eyes for.......praying this will resolve! I have a followup appointment on Monday to see if the eye is improved. Trusting in God, he has been faithful thru the breast cancer, I can trust that he has this under control as well, I can rest in him, rest in his promises

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Battle Weary

Today started out like a normal day...well almost. I started having trouble with my eye Tuesday night, Was experiencing searing pain in my eye any time it was exposed to light. Saw the eye doctor the next day and he told me it was a "divot" in my cornea (don't think divot is a medical term..but I understood what he was talking about) Spent the day yesterday wearing sunglasses sitting in a darkened room. I felt better this morning and proceeded to attend to the various errands and stops that I had to make. I went to Occupational Health and was cleared to go back to work Monday, then I stopped by the office, said hello to everyone and sat down and talked to my new boss. Discussed how things were going what I would be doing, how I was concerned about the pressures associated with my job and how I wasn't  going to be able to work with the intensity I had prior to surgery, no extra hours, different priorities, just now starting to really process all that has happened in the last several months......as I am talking I start tearing up...again...not sure if hormones or lack of or just a response to everything that has happened. The effect on my boss was one of compassion, she asked me what I wanted to do... will start me out slow, will partner me with someone....I think everything will be ok.
Next stop was my eye doctor, he wanted to take a look how te eye was progressing, and things were looking worse instead of better, they wanted me to go right over to see a specialist...today. As I was driving over to see this doctor I was feeling so discouraged. Things were starting to settle down,  falling into a routine again...now this. The doctor took some cultures, did some more scrapings, gave me more antibiotic drops and have another followup appointment tomorrow. So in addition to a corneal ulcer, there is some type of infection. My sight in that eye is blurry, praying it does not get worse.
I really never asked God "why me" when I was diagnosised with breast cancer. I struggled with fear and anxiety but never asked why I got cancer. I am weary from that battle and I did find my self asking why tonight, not about the cancer, but why do I have to deal with this eye issue, I was looking forward to some calm waters for a little while. I am thankful the pain is not as bad as it was Tuesday but I am discouraged tonight, praying that this respond to the medications and this will just be a little bump in the road. I am just tired, but I need to remember that I am not in this battle alone.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Relationships

Thanksgiving holiday is over and what a sweet time it was. Got to spend time with my two sons, my daughter in law and grandchildren, always enjoy that, such a blessing. We were also able to see friends we have not seen in almost thirty years...what a joy that was. I was amazed at how easily it was to just pick up conversation, like we had just seen each other, when you are united by the blood of Christ you are family, time and distance are irrelevant. I have been thinking about the importance of relationships. We are not meant to walk the Christan life alone, God has put people in our life to walk the walk with us. People that will rejoice with you, laugh with you, celebrate with you, cry with you. People that will walk along side of you when you are going through tough times, that will help bear the burdens, that will point you to the promises of God, that will love you with the love he provides. People that will encourage but will also be willing to point out error in your life. To experience this it requires a willingness to be transparent. This has always been difficult for me, It will require me to be real, to be open with my struggles, my pain, my fears, my dreams. I am at the point in my life that I welcome this, I want God to continue to change me....and I believe the people he puts in my life are all part of the process he will use.

"O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways"   Psalm 139:1-3

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankfulness

Each Thanksgiving our family takes the time to reflect on what we have to be thankful for, this year is no different but I am more acutely aware of the many blessings in my life, the many things I have to be thankful for, so in no particular order
  1. I am thankful for my family, my friends and all the various people that God has put in my life. I have felt so blessed as I have been loved, cared for, encouraged, and supported, especially these last few months.
  2. I am thankful for God's provision, for our home, jobs, food, transportation etc....for the many creature comforts we have become accustomed to (like turning on a facet and getting clean water, or turning up the thermostat and getting heat)
  3. I am thankful for days when I can sit outside and drink a cup of coffee and check out my garden, or pick a tomato I grew in that same garden, or watch a hummingbird, or a rabbit munching clover. Thank you Lord for these little pleasures.
  4. I am thankful that my cancer was found early.....I can't really say I am thankful for my cancer, that would be a lie...but I am thankful for how the Lord has met me during this time, for his faithfulness, for his comfort, I have never felt alone during this time..I have always felt like he was with me.
  5. I am thankful for my salvation, and even though I have listed this last it is the most important, the thing I am most thankful for, because of my salvation..I have a future and a hope. 



Monday, November 22, 2010

Reality Sets In

Feeling better, beginning to do more and more each day, and  with  that comes the realization that I have been pretty insulated these last several weeks. I have not had much to worry about except taking care of the basic necessities during this time (showering, dressing, eating), that is now beginning to change and I am starting to feel a little overwhelmed. I continue to work on getting all the paperwork together needed for work.....no small task I might add! I think everything is at least in motion. I have found out that my boss has changed and my tasking is not going to be what I expected. The one thing I can be thankful for is she has agreed to the work schedule I have asked for, and the time off I need. Hoped that I could float or partner with someone and that is not going to happen, at least not now. I could trust Him with the cancer why am I having such a difficult time giving this whole work situation to him as well. I have to come to the place where I see my work situation with the same eyes that I saw my cancer diagnosis. That it is no surprise to God, and it can be used for my good and his glory, If only I will just give it to Him.....trust in Him.

"Be at rest O my soul , for the Lord has been good to you"  Psalm 116:7

Friday, November 19, 2010

No Regrets Please

We never really know the number of our days. We make assumptions, at least I have, that we will live to a nice old age. This year my younger sister lost her husband, without notice, at age 45, then my cancer diagnosis, so much for assumptions! You never really know, do you. The Lord has given me the opportunity to face my own mortality, to see just how fragile life is, to see that things can change in a moment. I don't want to have any regrets at the end of my days (be the days few or many). I am thankful he has met us during this time, continues to help me see things with "new eyes", and I am thankful that my prognosis looks good. My fear is I will fall back into old habits, that I will cling to what is familiar, take things for granted again. That I will be too fearful to make changes in my life as the Lord directs. I want to be receptive to the Lord's leading, even if it's in a direction that is not in my comfort zone. I want to learn to trust him more, leaning less on my own self sufficiency. I have a tendency to lean on my God given abilities more than God, yes acknowledging that my abilities come from God but not always asking how he would have me use them.  My prayer is that I would be more receptive to his leading, so that at the end of my days I will have no regrets.

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom"   Psalm 90:12

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Drowning in a Mountain of Paperwork

Days ticking down and I do have to start thinking about going back to work. Received an email yesterday from leave management, because I had not responded to request for short term disability they were closing the file. How did I miss that. Searched through my emails for the request and there it was dated 10/12. All of the emails looked the same, I had just disregarded, plus received right before my surgery and was not thinking clearly. I have been on the phone all morning and have thankfully resolved that issue. The amount of paperwork is daunting. I had to have physician submit paperwork to extend my FMLA, then I have to have ALL physicians and the hospital send all my progress notes to leave management to get the short term disability started and finally when I go back to see surgeon I have to have him fill out yet another form saying I am "fit for duty". I sit at a desk all day, seems ridiculous! I have started the process, done what I can do for now. How easily can the anxieties of the day just rob my peace. I pray that I can learn to give it all back to him (the problems, concerns etc) as I find myself getting anxious. Remembering his care for me, and that it has not ended.
Physically I am getting better. I had another fill on Tuesday, but told the plastic surgeon of the pain I was having and he only put 30cc in, I ended up being much more comfortable. Best news is I may not have to have anymore fills, I will not see him for another month! I still have pain, especially at night, but I have managed to stay in the bed  without having to go down and sleep in recliner. My left arm continues to be a problem, I have a tight cord that runs down from my axilla, and I have pain down to my wrist. I continue to do stretching for it and expect to need physical therapy. I think that is one of the sources of my anxiety and work, physically I do not feel ready. I need to remember I do have a couple of weeks left before I am due back, much can change during that time. I need to sit back and trust the Lord in the details of my life. He knows me, the bible says he is "familiar with all my ways".

"Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you"  Psalm 116:7

"When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul"  Psalm 94:19

That is my prayer today, that I would find rest and peace, free from anxiety, and that I would remember how he has faithfully met me during these last weeks. Remembering that he has not changed, his word remains the same, his promises remain the same.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Results

Long awaited results are in for Oncotype test and they are good. I received a score of 11 which is at the very low end of the intermediate risk. A score of 10 and under is a recurrence rate of about 6%-8% and get little benefit from chemotherapy, in fact the risks of chemotherapy outweigh any benefit. An 11 is a little higher recurrence rate, but not by much. My husband and I had done quite a bit of research and each had our own numbers in mind concerning chemo. I had decided I would do chemo if I scored a 17 or above, he had decided that if I scored 15 or above I should do chemo. My prayer had been, not that I wouldn't have to do chemo, but that it would be clear cut choice, either high or low results, so that I wouldn't have the burden of yet another hard decision to make. The oncologist had told us that if the numbers fell into the "gray area" we would be making the decision with his guidance. He said he helps to educate the patient so they can make the best decision. Thankful it was an easy decision. Although I would love to have guarantees about never having to worry about a cancer recurrence, I realize that there are no guarantees. I know fear is something I will continue to battle, especially anytime I have a new ache or pain or unusual symptom. Cancer will always be in the back of my mind and I will be seeing an oncologist for years to come, another little reminder of my cancer diagnosis.
 My focus though, needs to be on the great news we received yesterday, the faithfulness of the Lord in all of this and his sustaining grace. His many mercies, which indeed have been new every morning. The next step for my treatment has been the addition of Arimidex. My cancer was estrogen positive, the estrogen in my body helped it to grow. This drug is supposed to help decrease estrogen production and it will help decrease the recurrence rate of cancer as well. Lots of side effects, will navigate those as they occur, two other drugs to choose from, if this one causes too many problems, we shall see.  Reconstruction will continue, but now I have a better time frame for when it will be finished,  probably in the spring. This also means we can go ahead with our plans for our delayed anniversary trip this January. The tissue expander's might cause some problems, but I pray that I will be more comfortable with them by then.
Again wanting to be more thankful than anything else at this point, I want to be very aware of God's care in our life's, his attention to the details, and his great faithfulness.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22-23

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend in Williamsburg

We came back from a very relaxing weekend in Williamsburg yesterday. The weather was gorgeous the entire weekend, sunny and 60's and the trees were just bursting with color. We did some shopping,  touring in Colonial Williamsburg and then drove down Colonial Parkway and took some pictures. The little cottage was nice, perfect for our needs, we had no set schedule just went out when we felt like it came back to the cottage when we (me) were tired. Thankful for the opportunity to get away and it made things feel "normal" again.
New week started and more paperwork to attend to. I still need my physician to fill paperwork out to extend my FMLA, not sure that is done yet, now I find out I will also need more paperwork filled out saying I am OK to go back to work before I return. More calls to the doctor...UGH! I am also waiting for my oncologist to call back with results for my oncotype test. I had called his nurse this morning and they have results, in fact she had put in the mail this morning, surprised he had not called me yet! So is this a good sign or a bad sign? Finding it difficult to wait on others to take care of things...out of my control....again! Does this seem to be a reoccurring theme?
But then, if we really believe God has everything in his control, is it really people I am waiting on or is it him? Something to think about. So I will make my calls then I pray that I can just have peace to trust that the Lord has got this situation well under control.
I have been listening to a study on Habakkuk on "Revive Our Hearts" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss the last couple of weeks. It has been a great study and can be accessed thru her web site, it has challenged me and I hope to go through it again at my own pace (and with a clearer mind)


The scripture that she ended with today really made me think.
"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crops fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights"  Habakkuk 3:18-19

I had to ask my self if this was really true for me, especially when things weren't going according to plan or as easily as I would like. When tests results are not as I would like, when doctors are slow to respond, when I still wake up in the middle of the night because I am uncomfortable, when I find out there is yet more paperwork I have to have filled out. Do I still rejoice in the Lord, am I still joyful in God my Savior, or does all the things that we will deal with in life tend to steal that joy away. I am not always joyful, in fact I have a long way to go. What I am seeing is how easily my joy can be hijacked. Again seems to be a recurring theme in my life.... What I do know is my God is faithful, he will see me through, he is constantly there, helping me, letting me see things with new eyes, provoking me along the way.






Cute sign we saw at a coffee shop

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Unexpected Weekend




Feeling the effects from my last "fill". Had been feeling pretty good yesterday afternoon, just some tightness, little achiness but nothing pain meds were not handling. Deteriorated as the evening progressed, not only having achiness but lots of sharp pain as well. Unable to sleep in the bed, unable to find a position that was comfortable. I went downstairs to sleep in the recliner. Good news is after I got settled in the recliner I slept all night. When I sleep my husband sleeps. I feel bad when I am restless because it keeps him up, with me it's not a problem, I can nap during the day, but he has to go to work and I know he is tired. Starting tomorrow he has the next couple of days off and I am praying he can recharge, and feel rested before he has to go back to work. This week we celebrate Veterans Day. We have traditionally gone to Williamsburg during this time, because all of the attractions in Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown are free to active duty and retired military in honor of Veterans Day. Mike and I had talked about going maybe for the day but there was concern about how I would do. He came home yesterday and told me that he had arranged to stay at a cabin for the weekend. We have stayed there before, it's very peaceful, right on the York River. This was a wonderful surprise. We can now go and enjoy the attractions, and head back to the cabin as I get tired for a recharge. The cabins are fully equipped, have a kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom and porch to sit outside and enjoy wildlife and the beauty of the changing seasons. Thankful to my husband for doing this, it will be nice to have a change of scenery, thankful for my daughter in law who has volunteered to take our dog while we are gone. I am thankful for this opportunity to get away, to one of my favorite places to go. I will enjoy  sitting on the porch drinking coffee with my husband and just spending some time with him. There are places to walk aong the river, plenty of picture taking opportunities. My prayer is that this will be a time of rest for my husband. I also pray that my pain will be manageable before we have to leave, there are no recliners in the cabin :) So this is a blessing, but I don't want to just focus on the upcoming weekend, I want to be thankful for each day the Lord has given me, good ones and bad ones, knowing that all my days come from him.
 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Grateful



Another visit to the plastic surgeon another "fill".  I know what to expect by now so it is easier to plan. I know that I will be sore, so planned for a low key afternoon, OK, so my afternoons are already low key but I decided to make sure I napped. Have also learned that taking Advil regularly before I get too uncomfortable is key. The nurse showed me some exercises to do to help with left arm pain and tightness from surgery and I will begin doing those. Will get another "fill" next week, so much for my 2 week break, but at least this part will get over with more quickly. Spoke with my surgeons nurse and she said doctor may order therapy after I see him on the 29th. Made some calls about extending my FMLA a few weeks, does not look like it will be a problem, it goes to the 24th of November right now. I would like the option of being out until mid December but we will see what happens. There are still so many unknowns. I also called my manager at work today, gave her an update on my status, talked about what I would be doing when I came back. I would like to decrease my days to three days a week (Monday through Wednesday) and she was fine with that. Talked about time I wanted to take off for travel and she was fine about that. This was a call I was dreading and it went very well. Work is still one of those things that is hard for me to think about, but I had to start talking to people and make some tentative plans. Thankful that the Lord cares about all the details of my life. I continue to be blessed by the care of those I work with, not only is my manager showing me much grace but I continue to get kind words and encouragement from coworkers through emails and phone calls. An old hymn comes to mind....Count Your Blessings

"Count your blessings, name them one by one
 Count your blessings, see what God has done
 Count your blessings, name them one by one
 And it will surprise you, what the Lord has done"

I want to be very aware of the blessings that God has given us, what we have to be thankful for despite the cancer diagnosis. There have been hard things we have had to go through these last couple of months, but the Lord has provided for us so well, he has put people in our lives that have helped lighten the burden, events he has orchestrated.  When I get discouraged my prayer is that I will focus on the many blessings that God has given us and that I will have a heart of gratitude.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gift of Time

Improvement seen this weekend, things feeling a little more "normal". Pain as been more manageable and was able to get out a few times the past couple of days. Realizing I do have a window of opportunity for any "outings", two hours seems to be the maximum, then my "anchor" drops and I am done. This was quite apparent when I went to the grocery store on Saturday with my husband, we were just about finished when the fatigue set in and all I was doing was going thru the motions as he finished the shopping. We spent the rest of the day chillin and then I was fine.  We were also able to go to church on Sunday, which was nice because I had missed three Sundays and although you can get fed on your own there is just something about being with other believers praising God. We finished the day with a quick trip later in the afternoon to Botanical Gardens for some picture taking and a short walk. The day was sunny and cool but also beautiful and I loved the opportunity to be outside in the gardens. With feeling better comes the desire to do to more and more. This is a good thing, but for me it is also a time of caution because my tendency has always been to try to do more than I should. The Lord did quicken to my heart that my limitations are really a blessing and they have given me the gift of time. My life is usually pretty busy (not sure why because children are grown but...) There is work and errands and stuff that is just clamoring for my attention. This has given me a new view of all the stuff that took up my time and perhaps some changes need to be made, that will be part of this journey I am sure, but for now I just want to be thankful. Thankful that I am feeling better, thankful for this time, looking for ways that I can be used in my limitations. Husband has given me several suggestions, stuff I never seemed to have time for when I was working. We give extended family photo type gifts for Christmas, he wants me to work on that, calls that need to be made, checkbook to balance etc. Then there are the pleasures of just reading a good book or looking through gardening magazines and seed catalogs planning next years garden. I also have this great camera husband gave me as an anniversary gift that I am not using to it's full potential because I never had the time to really learn all the functions. I have that time now. Limitations are going to give me time, time to do things that need to be done. I want to see this as God's care for me,  providing for me, I want to see this as a blessing not a curse. A time to be used for good, a time to rethink things. A time to seek him, hear from him now that the busyness of my life has been quieted. A time to "bloom where I have been planted"

"Lord you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance"  Psalm 16:5-6

Friday, November 5, 2010

Marking Time

Another week almost done, three weeks since surgery. Last couple of days have been difficult, pain has been a major issue. Found my self having to take more and more Advil without much relief. Weather had been wet and cool, not sure if that had anything to do with it or if it was just because of the last "fill". I did see my family doctor yesterday and she was concerned about the amount of Advil I was taking in a 24 hour period. Her concern not just GI bleeding but possible bleeding during a "fill", gees never thought of that, definitely want to avoid that! The Doctor gave me some neurontin (supposed to help with nerve pain) told me to take it at night. I am encouraged, first of all I slept all night, didn't wake up until 6:30, which is pretty good for me, the best part is I have been able to cut the amount of Advil I have been taking in half. I still have pain but it seems to be much more manageable. The other thing that had been bothering me was I had lost some range of motion with the pain. Now that the pain is controlled better, I have been able to resume the exercises I was doing to stretch out my muscles. Still numbness, swelling  under left arm but no worse than it has been. 
Celebrating feeling better, by putting "real" clothes on, you know pants with a button and  zipper, of course since I didn't even get dressed until after noon, not sure it really counts. When I was working I would wonder what it would be like to be home. I would think of all the things I could do, work in the garden, whip up new recipes, take classes, putter around in the house. OK, so I am home and of course I can't do any of this stuff yet. I could focus on what I can't do but that would be unproductive. I can do allot though, I am able to focus enough to read again. I have a stack of books that I have never had enough time to read, I have time now. My lack of schedule has given me the opportunity to connect with friends,haven't always had the time to do that, I have time to listen to my IPod, lots of teachings/sermons are loaded on it, lots of opportunity to feed my spirit. I may not be where I would like to be right now, not doing all that I would want to do, but I know I am where God would have me. Can there be a better place to be?

"As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the Lord? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect" Psalm 18:30-32

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Contentment

Rainy day today, a day conducive to laying around and napping. Not one of my better days physically. I had my second "fill" yesterday. The plastic surgeon put in 50cc saline into each of the expander's. That makes a total of 300cc with 150cc left to go. I have another "fill" next week then they are going to give me a two week break. I ache for days afterward but the plastic surgeon promises it will get better. I also got a call from the lab that does the Oncotype DX test they informed me they had received the specimen, asked about my insurance, advised me of the copay and said it would be 14 calendar days before they got results to the physician. Realizing I still have my timetable and agenda and none of this is falling into my plans. I had thought by now I would be feeling much better than I am, I figured I would probably be able to go back to work by the end of November and that I would know whether or not I would be needing chemo by Monday. Lord's gentle reminder to me, that I am not in control and that my contentment cannot come from my circumstances. (you'd think I would get this already but I seem to be a slow learner) I just "happened" to listen to a teaching on contentment yesterday from Charles Stanley and he described contentment like this;

"Freedom from worry and frustration about unfulfilled desires in my life"

So how do I get contentment, how do I keep contentment. These are the steps he suggests:
  1. God I am going to accept this circumstance as coming from you - when I make this decision I don't feel helpless, hopeless. I feel like a child of God cared for by Him
  2. Submit to God as seeing this circumstance coming from Him - God is working in my life, it's His plan, I know He has my best interests at heart that's why I submit to Him
  3. Trusting God that he knows what's best for me
  4. Learn to draw from Him instantly
Taken from October 1, 2010  "Contentment in All Circumstances"  In Touch Ministries

Charles Stanley says's, "contentment is something you learn to experience, it is not something you are given." I can attest to that. It has been hard for me, and I am not there yet, but I do want to be content. I do want to be satisfied in where He has me. Can I be content, laying down my desires, my plans, it will be a process and it is going to require trusting that He knows what's best for me better than I do. Let the journey continue!


Monday, November 1, 2010

Oncologist



Long awaited oncologist appointment today, oncotype results were supposed to be back by today but that did not happen. Apparently this test is only done in one lab in the country, all samples are sent there. The doctor called to see when the results would be ready and was not going to be before Wednesday at least, so we wait. The appointment was not a waste though. Oncologist very much into educating his patients and I felt like I learned a lot. We went over the pathology report, he explained that my tumor was just over a cm, estrogen/progesterone positive. I will be getting some type of anti-estrogen drugs to treat it. He explained a little about the oncotype test, what the scores meant. If below 10 he will not recommend chemotherapy, if above 30 I will have chemotherapy. His guess is my number will probably be between 16-20,


which would be considered a "gray area". When we asked him what treatment do you recommend when it's in the "gray area" he said that he helps educate us so we can make the best decision on what to do...hmm.  Also said there was a clinical trial available that we might be interested in,but this is to think about for later, don't even know where I stand yet. I thought I would be upset about not knowing the results but actually, I'm OK with it, gives me some time to do some research, there is no hurry, they are not going to do anything until I heal from surgery anyway. One thing he was able to do was to give me some information on the difficulty I am having with my left arm. He did not feel like it was lymphadema because it was so localized to the axilla and upper arm. He showed me where lymphadema would start, what the symptoms were that I should watch for and what they do when they have someone who develops it. He measured my arm, edema localized to upper arm, felt it was trauma from the surgery and that it would get better in time. Also told me some things I can do to help the pain. That he took my concern seriously and took time to check the arm out and explain everything to me, gave me great peace of mind. I still have two more doctors appointments this week. When I was a visiting nurse my patients would always complain about all the doctors appointments they had, I can now understand the inconvenience of it all. Tomorrow I see the plastic surgeon, will probably put more saline in the expander's. This is a pain, literally, helps stretch out my chest muscles, so at some point I can have implants put in. The pain I have with the expander's is an everyday reminder of my weakness, my limitations. I need that reminder, because too often in the past I relied on my physical strength, my health, my abilities. I now realize how fragile that can be. I believe the Lord would have us do what we can to take care of ourselves but it is His strength we must rely on.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong"

So that would be my prayer, that I can find delight in my weakness, that I remember that this is for a season and for God's purposes

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory"

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Enjoying the Day


Beautiful fall day. The sun out, temperatures a little crisp. Perfect opportunity to get out a bit. My husband planted a raspberry bush that has been sitting in a pot for at least three months now, no worse for the wear I might add. It joined the one I already had planted this past spring along the fence. I was able to walk around the garden a bit, picked some tomatoes and jalapenos. Feels good just being able to get outside. Husband then cleared an area for me to plant some lettuce and spinach. He did all the work, I just directed and sprinkled the seeds. Once the weather gets cooler we will put a cold frame around it and hopefully will have greens through the winter. This was
something I was hoping to have but really did not expect it was going to happen, so very thankful to my husband for doing this for me. Endurance still is not great so, after all of this had to rest, lunch etc. I have to remember improvements are going to come in small steps, and  to be content with that. We took a little drive later in the day picked up a
prescription and walked around for a while taking
photo's. It was cool outside and I was tired so it was just
short trip. I am encouraged, though, and it was nice to go 
somewhere besides the doctor. So I have much to be thankful for today, the weather was beautiful, my stamina is increasing, I have a husband who was totally thinking of me when he planned his day, and I had the opportunity to take more photo's, something I enjoy doing. My prayer is I that I will continue to find things each day to be grateful for, that I will be content in my circumstances, whatever that might be, and that I will use the opportunities that the Lord has given me. I may be on the "shelf" for the time being but that doesn't mean I will not have opportunities to be used by God. How I'm used right now may just look a little different then it did before.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Going Solo


 
Today is my first day alone since surgery. I am feeling better so I am
OK with this. I know it was hard for my husband to go back to work. I am able to do what I need to do for myself. I can make a cup of coffee, have plenty to eat in the fridge thanks to the sweet ladies from our care group who have been providing meals for us this week. Because my range of motion is improving, I can shower and get dressed by myself. My wardrobe still consists of sweats and zip up hoodies. I have a little "nest" built around where I spend most of my day. Books, phones, remotes and IPod on one side and lap top on the other, in addition to pillows, throws etc. I can slide my lap top on and off as needed. I continue to have swelling and pain in my left arm but I think it may be improving. The plastic surgeon recommended massaging the areas that were swollen to help drain the lymph nodes, that along the exercises and elevating arm while at rest seem to have been helping. I have been trying to learn what I can to prevent problems with lymphadema. The surgeon told me that catching it early is key, once
it takes hold it is hard to "cure" it. So I will take the precautions I need to. It's a rainy day today, the perfect kind of day for just laying around, which is all I want to do. I did go into  the garden and took some photo's of my rose It's still flowering even though summer has long been over. I have lots of green tomatoes which will probably never ripen before frost hits, and the pansies. I am so glad we planted those pansies. I walk out my front door and it's like they are smiling at me with their blue and yellow faces. Even my inpatients have taken on a new life now that the heat of summer is over. With a little care we might be able to keep things going a few more weeks. Signs of fall are here as well, even though the temperatures don't feel like it. The leaves have started turning colors and the mornings are cooler. Even though not my favorite time of year, I want to appreciate the beauty and the little blessings each day brings. I came across a scripture yesterday that ministered to me and I felt described the season I am in right now. It's from Jeremiah 17

"But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him, He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its root by the stream. It does not wither when the heat comes; it's leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit" Jer 17:7-8

Another scripture that goes along with this one would be found in Psalm 1

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yield it's fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers."  Psalm 1:1-3


My "heat" is breast cancer, but because I trust in the Lord and put my confidence in Him, I am like that tree that sends out it's roots by the stream, I will not wither, my leaves will always be green and I will never fail to bear fruit. The key is to trust in Him, feed on his word and to put my confidence on his promises.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fighting for Joy

Progress continuing, slow but sure. Range of motion improving in my arms, stamina improving day by day and able to do more for self . My left arm is not making as quick of progress as my right arm. Having swelling, pain and numbness down to the back of the upper arm. Range of motion not as good on that side either. Saw surgeon yesterday for routine followup. He said they had a hard time finding sentinel node on the left so more manipulation done on that side, thus the swelling, numbness from nerve irritation, may get better may not. Instructed me to watch for any signs of lymphadema. Gave me some things to do to help. I left office feeling annoyed that this was an issue. I wanted a smooth post-op recovery. I spent most of the day in a bad mood, totally focused on these new issues. Going down a "rabbit hole" as my husband said, and trying to take him with me. It took me until today before the Lord showed me I was tying my happiness/joy into how I thought I should progress. My joy cannot depend on complications or lack of, prognosis, treatment plan or how I feel my day is going in general. As a child of God my joy should not depend on my circumstances. My joy comes from within.

"Joy in trials says I'm going to find a way to trust Him even though I am not seeing Him" James McDonald

Instead of focusing on what is not going the way I think it should, I need to focus on the great gift that I have. He is with me in all my trials, he is the shade at my right hand, he knows what I am dealing with, again this has not taken him by surprise and he will give me the strength to walk thru whatever I have to walk thru. When I focus on His promises instead of what I am dealing with my with my perspective changes. Another reason to draw closer to Him.
"When anxiety was great within me your consolation brought joy to my soul"  Psalm 94:19

Saturday, October 23, 2010

On our own

 My friend left early this morning. I was sad to see her go but anxious for her to get back to her husband. Her presence in the home made this first week post-op so much easier for both myself and my husband. While I spent my days on the recliner, she cooked, did laundry, cleaned and generally helped take care of me. I don't think she will really know how much help she was to us, especially those first few days when we were kind of shelled shocked after the hospital stay. I am getting better physically each day. Have been able to sleep in the bed for the last two nights without having to come downstairs midway to sleep in recliner. Appetite is slowly improving and we even took a little walk to the end of the street and back. I continue to nap during the day but figured my body is in repair mode so am giving myself permission. I still sleep thru part of most movies I try to watch. I have begun to do some range of motion excersises with my arms to help mobility, it's going to be a slow process, still have pain.
Have begun again to be able to get back in the Word. First week was hard, too hard to concentrate. Friend would read scripture, or I would listen a little on my IPod but it was hard. My husband and I talked again today about God's purposes in trials. Still believe there is much for us to learn. Read something today from a book called:
 When Life Is Hard by James McDonald
  " if life is especially hard right now, my word for you is this, Don't waste it! Don't go through these hard times and then, at the end, not even see the purpose for it or get the good God intended for you. Open your life wide to what God wants to accomplish in you"
So that is my continued prayer, that I don't waste this trial. What a pity if I came out of it no different. This cancer has been an interruption in my life but maybe I needed to be interrupted. It has been a wake up call for our family. So I pray that I will be sensitive to the Lord's leading at this time, to see what he wants me to see, to be changed.

"But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.  Job 23:10