Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Cause for Celebration!

My first bald photo back in 2008!
When I first started writing this blog in 2008, I did so with purpose and passion. My original plan was to keep family and friends informed about how life was as a cancer patient. I can't recall who suggested I start blogging about my journey - hence the name (My Journey.) But it surely was a jolly good idea. Tomorrow will be the fourth anniversary of my first blog. My debut post was on Friday, August 1st, 2008. Here is a snippet from the beginning...

The good news is that I am now half way through my chemotherapy. This entire cancer issue has changed our lives in a dramatic way. No one ever knows what is around the corner so if I had to offer some advice, it would be to love your family unconditionally...hold them close if you can or make sure you keep in touch; pray and trust God for the big things and the details and talk to Him regularly; pursue your dreams and make sure you forgive with fervor, laugh without restraint and dance whenever your heart wants.

I actually like that advice about forgiving, laughing and dancing. And it's probably something we should do whether afflicted or not.

When I wrote that post I had no clue that I would still be here four years later. I rejoice. God is so good. But you know what? Even if I wasn't here, God would still be good. I am slowly coming to terms that I need to come to terms with life and death. We all live. We all die. I just read in my Bible last evening, in Philippians 1:12 - Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. Paul was speaking about how he was going through a difficult situation but he remained strong because it would help further the gospel. Verse 22 goes on to say: If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! Paul knew. He knew that heaven was a better place, but he also felt he had work to do. It's not up to us whether we live or die. Pain and suffering can be a platform to share. That's what I want my life to be.

The butterfly danced in my garden! Perfect symmetry! 
God has taught me much these past four years. He has introduced situations, experiences and moments of realization. He has put special people in my life. He has taught me how to be very still and to trust Him in ALL situations. He has shown mercy and grace. He has chastised and forgiven. I know without a doubt that there is a God. He is mighty to save and desires all of His children - His beloved creation - to come to Him - heavy laden or otherwise.

I took a picture of a butterfly dancing around my garden the other day. As I tried my best to get a good shot, I found myself really focusing on the tiny winged creature. The beauty in the perfectly painted petal wings. The splendid colours and the arrangement of pattern. The attraction of insect to flower. A bee joined the party as I was snapping one picture after another. I watched them both interact and dance around the flower bed. How? I mused. How can anyone say such loveliness is born out of blackness and a big bang of randomness scattered thusly to achieve perfection?

I don't have all the answers. I actually have a million questions. But I choose to believe, to trust, to rejoice, to give thanks and to love. When I do that, I have that perfect peace that really and truly does passeth all understanding.

Friday, July 13, 2012

How to Save a Woman's Life

"Looks like a ridge of tissue and perhaps an accumulation of more tissue around the duct, but I am no doctor."

The technician was gracious. Her reassuring words gave me some measure of sweet relief, although I didn't have any sense of impending doom before I went in for my ultrasound yesterday.

The mammogram a week and a half ago did not show anything untoward so there was no need to step up the battle stations, however the two palpable lumps were a bit of a concern that had to be investigated.

As I tucked the front of my non-glamorous gown in after the ultrasound, the technician said the doctor would read the report, make out his response and then they would get back to me. I am not worried.

When I think back to Miss Casey who did my ultrasound and found the tumours in my ovaries, she did know (she told me that later.) But of course she was not at liberty to say anything. She was the sweetest, kindest first person on my journey of 'discovery' and every time I went back to see her for more 'lump investigations,' we chatted and laughed. As I think back, Casey did not say anything about 'things looking okay' or 'nothing to worry about,' like this gal yesterday. Which was a good thing at the time.  Must be hard for technicians when they really do see something.

 I guess I am a little more attuned now - sometimes a little too much! I tend to be a bit of a lumpy person [benign lipomas here, there and everywhere] but I cannot help being concerned with every lump now, until it is investigated. I think it has something to do with me missing the 'big, real, nasty' ones before. I will be forever on guard.

The news wasn't so good for my friend, however. Her routine mammogram showed something untoward and she was also called back for an ultrasound (she had no palpable lumps or pain) and at 50 years of age, she just thought she would follow the doctor's advice and get things checked out following her physical.

I guess the moral to the story is to never assume. My friend experienced no signs or symptoms. No warning indicators that something may be amiss. No niggling feeling that something isn't quite right. Cancer is like the creeping lion looking for someone to devour  [Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NIV]
This lovely gal who is now dealing with the diagnosis of breast cancer is also dealing with the good news that things look hopeful for her because she has been caught early. She has a bit of a road to travel, yet all seems manageable at this point. She has to go through the rigours of radiation and they are doing some further testing to see if she might have to undergo chemotherapy. I sure hope not. That is not an easy thing to endure. Been there. But she will endure...her faith will get her through.

Each day I light a candle for my friend. I love candles. I love what the light symbolizes. When I see that candle burning quietly on my counter, I think of my friend and I am reminded to pray for her. I am reminded of the Light of the World. [When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."John 8:12

I will keep this candle burning for my friend for as long as needed. Some may call it silly, but to me it is symbolic. Far too many women have died from breast or other gynaecological cancers. It's my reminder. We need to help make sure women are aware and alerted to the importance of an annual physical. No woman should have to die an early death because of this hideous, creeping, devouring disease - cancer. 

I rejoice that my friend was caught early. 

I pray that mothers, daughters, aunts, sisters, grandmothers, granddaughters, nieces...everywhere will be alerted to the importance of early detection.

This little light of mine; I'm gonna' let it shine...