Tuesday, November 30, 2010


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


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


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


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


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


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"