Thursday, May 8, 2014

Irony or Intention? by Glynis M. Belec


   Today is World Ovarian Cancer Day. Today I am on my way to London; to the cancer clinic, ready to face the music.

     The cancer song drags on; the lyrics unchanged. The beat, rhythmic, still dictates my day. Almost five and a half years since that wretched, bitter-sweet chemo last pulsated through my veins. Life does go on but every time I revisit 'the place' everything comes rushing back and it seems just like last week.

     Today I am expecting to hear a different tune. I am hoping and praying that God, in His great mercy, will release me from the clutches of cancer and I will hear with certainty - free from cancer. We don't need to see you again! World Ovarian Cancer day; a fitting day for me to hear such words.


    I have been called in to the examination room. quickly. Usually I have to wait for almost an hour.

     "We are actually on schedule," Nurse Nancy tells me. I look at my watch and plan a little what I will do with the extra time.

     I wait in the tiny examination room, hospital gown draped, wondering about the verdict. I feel good. The niggle in my abdomen is still there, but the CT scan showed zero reason to be concerned, the medical receptionist had told me.

     Now I long to hear those freedom words, but there is a silly twinge in my soul that scares me about being set free. I've spoken to a few other cancer survivors about this phenomena. They know how I feel. There is something reassuring about being under the watchful eye of experienced medical staff and an oncologist every six months, who know how to spot the early signs.

     I look through my journal and read my heart. Maybe I will always carry cancer in my pocket. I smile and think about all the people who have come into my life as a result of cancer. I will never say that I am grateful that I had cancer and I have trouble counting it all pure joy, my brethren, but I do marvel at how God taught me so much and blessed me equally as much as I travelled down that road.

     I think back to last evening (Wednesday) when I had the privilege of speaking and sharing my story and doing my best to help raise awareness about ovarian cancer with over fifty lovely women from four different churches. I remember well, my words of hope to each of them. I determine, today, to practise what I preach!


     Dr. S walks in grinning his little boy grin. His hair is longer than it was six months ago. Shouldn't he have a haircut, the mother in me wonders? Something about doctors these days. Dr. S looks more like my son than my wise oncologist. But he knows his stuff. My chart looks thick. He leafs through the papers and finds the latest CT scan report.

     "All clear," he reminds me and smiles.

     He examines me. We chat a little. I realize I am a number. I understand. So many cancer patients. Then we talk about the niggle in my abdomen. Dr. S assures me it is likely a side effect of the chemo that is here to stay for the duration of my days. It's okay. It's far from unbearable. At least the pins and needles in my feet have settled most days.

     "How about I see you in one year?" Dr. S suggests. I remember my separation anxiety.

     "Yes, suits me," I reply.

     He leaves and I dress, thinking about how time actually flies. This very same room was where I learned of my fate and the craziness began. I thank God that the appointment was quick today, and the news was good. I touch my World Ovarian Cancer button pinned to my top and I smile and then I think of my sisters who did not have the privilege of a day like this. I vow to remember my promise to do what I can to help raise awareness. I toss my gown onto the examination table and head out, determined to make a difference in my little corner of the world, at least.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Heart Song

An excerpt from my Journal - Wednesday, July 23/2008

                                  We sit, looking at each other
Married 30 years so we hold
Each other's hearts
Instead of Hands.
"We'll get through this."

"I know."
Cling tight. Trust God
And taste the Glory. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Holy Hush

JOURNAL ENTRY: Monday, July 21, 2008

Sometimes we would argue. We were confused; scared; waiting. After one foolish argument. I played it over in my head, adding thoughts and words so that it would intensify my pain. The chemotherapy played havoc with my brain. 

Fiery darts fly across the path
Of the unsuspecting couple
Accusations rampant as they spar:
"You said. . ."
"No, you said. . ."
Becomes the battle cry.
"You make me feel small."
"You don't really care if this cancer kills me or not."
"I don't like what you said."
"I don't like your attitude."
"I'm leaving."
"Go and take your ugly cancer-ridden body with you."
"But what will I do?"

"Maybe we should think this through."
Satan guffaws.
"He wants you dead."
"She wants to control you."

Lies. . .lies. . .lies.

Hush. Wait for the Holy Hush.

[The silence deafens the couple]

Love enters - a crimson cross reflects a sacrifice.
"Forgive them Father."
They embrace, pressing their hearts together.
The fiery darts fall to the ground -

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Enid Latham 1926-2007

JOURNAL ENTRY FROM July 20, 2008. 

I was thinking about death. I thought about my Mom who had died exactly one year ago on this date. I wrestled with God and remembered. 


My maternal, matriarchal influence. . .
I miss you as the flowers might miss the rain.
A year has frittered away
And what do I have to show for it?
Cancer. . .and that's naught to behold.
Thankful that you did not see me like this
Selfishly wishing you did (so you could fix it like you used to fix everything)
Will I soon be with you?
Some days I ache for your hugs;
Your smiles;
Your poorly timed telephone calls
Your motherly words of wisdom;
I want to be with you
Yet I am torn.
I don't want to die yet. . .
God make me die to self for now.
When I think of you, Mom, I am reduced to a little girl again.
"You will always be my little girl," you would laugh.
Other days I cry, softly thanking God
That you are safe in the arms of Jesus.
Heaven is but a gateway.
I love you SO much Mom.
(And I miss you)

Psalm 23: Yea though I walk through the valley. . . (Your favourite!) 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Write What You Know? No!

Journal Entry poem - Thursday July 17th 2008

Obviously I was having a heated debate with God as this poem implies. The last part of this entry, right before I wrote the poem says: My head feels a little 'tight,' but hasn't quite made it to a headache yet! I had oft complained about not having time to write. God was certainly prodding me in an interesting direction with my words. And there I was kicking and screaming all the way.

Have You released me to write?
Why don't I listen to my heart?
To You? To Gilles? To Fran?
Rejoice in the time you have, You say?
I know I prayed for more time to write;
But do You really want me to write about
"Write what you know," they say.
But I don't know anything
About the 'C' word;
Button my lip, You softly smile
You will learn soon.
Write. . .write. . .write
Right. . .right. . .right
Bounce along the papyrus

Sunday, March 9, 2014


Journal Entry poem. Wednesday, July 16th, 2008.

I was frustrated with the nefarious cancer that had silently pervaded my organs and had crept into my life, consuming cells and forcing my existence into a whirlwind of questions and decisions. I think the chemo was wreaking havoc on my brain.  As I read through the journal entry that accompanied this poem, I sensed that God was helping me peel away the façade and making me seek within. Then rise and conquer. . .

Peel away the plastic;
Revealing layers
Protective strata of
Insecurity, apologies, fear, busyness
Misdirected anger; hopelessness.
An inspirational attitude
Undergirds failings .
Make your resting
Nesting place elsewhere
Unwelcome banners waft
In the windless frenzy
Search within. . .
Stinking, sulphuric plastic
Let it burn.
Raw emotion beckons familiarity;                                                                                
I can see clearly now the pain is gone.
God revealed.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Elusive Slumber

Journal Entry: Tuesday July 15/2008 I was having trouble sleeping.  Kate, my nurse, advised me to take the sleeping pills. I had hesitated. But my whole being begged for slumber. So I partook of the drug and drifted blissfully away. . .

The moon casts a milky glow
The firmament is charcoal
With an intermittent halo of light
The stillness of the land
Boasts no echo nor untoward motion
What should be still is still
What should be silent is silent
All is calm
All is peaceful
Come slumber, peaceful slumber
Watch over me Jesus
Rock me in Your arms of peace
I beg for rest
Goodnight. . .

If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
                                                                                                                                                        Proverbs 3:24

Friday, March 7, 2014


Journal entry: July 14th, 2008 (Feeling sorry for myself but trying to smile through it!)

I look in the mirror
Who looks back at me?
I'm unrecognizable
Who do I see?
I used to complain
About having no style
I wanted to have
A nice, whiter smile.
My hair would be wild
And all over the place
I was unsatisfied
With marks on my face
Now I'd be happy
If I had some hair
Being bald is no fun
There is way too much air. . .on top!

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised
                                                                                                                                                  Proverbs 31:30

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Piece of My Heart

I was sorting out some shelves in my bedroom last weekend and came across the journals that I'd penned as I was going through my chemotherapy. After a few deep breaths, I dove in. I was curious trying to recall my emotions at the time. I wrote much and I cannot believe how I poured my heart onto the pages of this little book during that time.

Each night, before I nod off into never-never land I have a little read. I've discovered, as I relived many bittersweet moments of that traumatic time, that much of the emotion that perhaps I couldn't put into declarative strings of words, turned out better as I attempted poetry.

For the next little while, I'm going to post some of the poems I wrote. . .

Sunday, July 13th, I have trouble falling asleep and I relive the chemo treatment three days prior -

In enemy territory I tremble
Too near, I feel the foe approaching.
Poison courses through my veins
And the pain journey commences.
At first it is slow, almost teasing
Then the burning begins
Then desolation.
I sit, motionless willing it to cease.
But the battle rages on.
Insidious in motion
Obvious in effect
Then I hear a trumpet;
Not a brassy pitch; moreso a gentle reminder
Sweet sounds
Jesus is near
Jesus can hear
Jesus is ready for battle
The soul - my soul
Is no longer in jeopardy.
I sleep.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Survivor by Janis Cox (Intro by Yours Truly!)

     Sometimes it's good to talk to others and hear how they dealt with their demons. A writer gem friend of mine contacted me last week and told me about a very special lady. Mary Ann lives in Arizona and she valiantly fought a cancer battle and so far, it seems God wants her around a little longer. After facing the rigours of chemotherapy treatments for uterine cancer, her attitude showed that she was far from being a sister to doom and gloom. 
     Jan, my fellow scribe, told me how she had interviewed this soul sister and how affected she was by her story. Jan wanted to get Mary Ann's story out there so that others might be encouraged. I told Jan I would be happy to let her post her interview on my blog. Anything to help a sista'! 

Before the interview, just a little bit about my friend, Jan: 

     Janis Cox is follower of Jesus – first and foremost. Then she is a wife, mother, grandmother, a sister and friend. She has been married for 42 years to a wonderful, caring and patient husband – they have three grown children who are married; they have six grandchildren.
      She is a writer, watercolour artist and person always involved in doing something. She has her fingers in many pies – but all of them are delicious. A friend once told her that she saw a vision of her – with a whole bunch of coloured balloons and she tried to capture each one of them.
      As a retired public school teacher Jan loved to write poems for her kids. With this background and her artwork she has now published her first illustrated children’s book, Tadeo Turtle.
     Jan runs a group blog Under the Cover of Prayer. And another blog with Kimberley Payne called Family and Faith Matters. She is a member of The Word Guild and Inscribe and now His Imprint. You can find her at her website

An Interview with Mary Ann – a Cancer Survivor.
By Janis Cox
February 25, 2014

What were the circumstances leading you to discover you had uterine cancer?

I had been spotting, but the doctor did not think this unusual. After seeing a different doctor a year later, I was told that any bleeding after menopause should be looked into. I don’t blame the first doctor as I may not have been clear in describing my symptoms. But this is a warning – any woman who has even a tiny drop of blood after menopause – see a doctor.

When the spotting got more frequent, I went back to my doctor. She sent me to a gynecologist, who examined me; then immediately got me in to see an oncologist at the Ironwood Cancer Center, Mesa, AZ, who sent me to St. Joseph's Hospital to meet with a gynecologic oncologist surgeon.

Of course this was a Friday so everything slowed down over the weekend. It was first thought I had cervical cancer stage 2. Then after exploratory surgery they found it was uterine cancer stage 2. I finally had a complete hysterectomy and the cancer had spread to one lymph node which changed to uterine cancer stage 3c. Later a PET scan found there was activity around my stomach. That finding changed the diagnosis to uterine cancer stage 4. Our son wondered how that cancer got from cervical cancer stage 2 to uterine cancer stage 4.

God gave me a peace through this whole process. Everything happened so fast. I didn't have to make any decisions. God was in control.

2   Can you tell me what your initial reaction was? Your husband’s? Your family’s?

Besides God's Word, God put books about a glimpse of heaven in my path long before my diagnoses. I read His Word of course. Two other books I read were Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo, a story about a little boy’s trip to heaven and back, and To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal, a doctor’s extraordinary account of her death and life again. The week before going to my doctor I found the third book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, at an estate sale. I read it after surgery and thought if the author could go through what he went through, this will be a piece of cake. His words taught me so much about being on the receiving end of people who care. So with what the Bible tells us about heaven and the accounts of several who have experienced it, I know it is for real for those who believe. And God has given me peace.

I had peace with the thought that I might be going home to see the loved ones who have gone before me.

I am 73 years old and have been married for 49 years. My father was 73 years old and had been married for 49 years when he died of cancer. My mom never got to celebrate their 50th anniversary. I prayed that my husband and I could celebrate our 50th together before He took me home.

I called my husband from the gynecologist’s to come and get me when I went to the first appointment. I’m sure he panicked not knowing what was wrong until he got there. He said he couldn't put his shoes on fast enough. Once he heard the diagnosis, he took over. He said that at first he felt fear overwhelm him, but the calmness God gave me put him at ease.

Our son wanted to make sure I was in good hands. He wanted to know all the details and suggested I come back to his state for treatment.

Our daughter had questions – lots of questions that she wanted me to ask the doctor. The doctor said she would be glad to talk to her. I called my daughter and let her ask the questions. I think the call helped. My daughter’s relationship with God helped her walk with me through prayers and lots of phone calls.

Our senior pastor came and prayed with us. Even a nurse in the hospital prayed with me. I knew Jesus was with me the entire time.

3    What Scriptures did you lean on throughout the procedures you needed to go through?

A little book, Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, gave me peace through all of this. The words were like God talking to me personally each day.

The main message I received when reading this book was to focus on Christ. These words went through my head: Trust in Me; focus on Me; communicate with Me both listening and speaking; I will keep my promise and will always be with you; I will give you peace; focus, focus on Me.

Jesus has been with me every step of this journey. In Bible study I had attended it was said when we have a mountain before us, God can take it away, give us an easy way around it, or be with us all the way over it.

4    What else helped you to keep peaceful through all this?

I guess watching God at work kept me at peace from the beginning of my diagnosis and through the treatment. When the doctors did a PET scan they found activity on my stomach. After four sessions of chemo I had another scan and the PET scan was clear.

My friend Louise started a Caring Bridge site for me. The Caring Bridge ( allows protected websites for connecting people to share your prayer needs and other concerns. I can't thank her enough. It was a way to let friends and family know with one message what I needed prayer for and how I was doing. The words of encouragement meant so much to me. I could never have imagined there were so many people who cared and prayed for me.

My cousin Kathy came while I was in the hospital and was company and support for [my husband, Jake, as he drove back and forth and was a great support when I got home.  My brother and his friend visited while I was in the hospital and came back after I got home. My sister came for a week to help. My cousin Joan came for a month for encouragement. My sister and cousin Kathy came back at the end of treatment with a lot of great tips on eating to prevent cancer.

Friends, family and acquaintances told me stories of hope and encouragement with lots of stories of recoveries. People sent cards of encouragement, flowers, books on how to eat healthy, and a beautiful blanket which had words embroidered, "The Lord did not promise that life would be easy, but He did promise to go with you every step."

I also received a prayer shawI. I took that shawl to every chemo treatment. I knew that the woman who had made it had prayed over every stitch, taken it to the altar at her church and prayed for me there, too. What a blessing. I felt those prayers. I also was given a pocket cross with the story of how Jesus died for me. It also went to every chemo session.

The cancer center blessed me with hats and a wig. I have quite a collection of hats from my loving caring friends.

But....most of all God gave me a supportive, loving husband whom I could count on to be there for me.

5    Can you tell me if there was any growth in your Spirit during this time? And if so, explain how you have changed

I learned to trust God and that He holds my future no matter what any doctor says.
I learned that as I backed out of commitments there were others to step in to take over. Letting go of those commitments showed me there is time for the Lord and people.

     There must have been highs and lows – can you explain any of them – how you felt and how you were able to adjust to the circumstances?
I had unexplainable peace through most of this journey. My low point was two weeks after my first chemo. It was Halloween. I looked in the mirror. My face was covered with a rash but I still had my hair. I got in the shower and was washing my hair... my hair was in my hands and my hands were not on my head. I felt emotions bubbling up. As I sat on a chair later with tears rolling down my cheeks, I took out my book, Jesus Calling. I was a day behind in my reading. Tuesday October 30th, said, "I am with you, I am with you, I am with you." 

I went to my computer to write something funny on Caring Bridge, like Happy Halloween. Instead I stopped to check my email first. There was an email from Pastor Donavan suggesting I listen to "All Sons & Daughters". I had a good cry with Jesus to some beautiful Christian music. The words from one of the songs were, "God made me beautiful." It was just what I needed. I finished my meltdown with a good friend, Louise.

During my first chemo session I had a bad reaction to Taxol, the chemo drug the doctors used. I was warned ahead of time of the possible reactions and what doctors could do to reverse them. I had a heavy pressure on my chest and neck that went down my back. It kept getting, worse and I guess my face was the reddest red. It took 20 minutes to reverse these effects. The doctor came out and asked if I wanted to try again and warned me that I might end up in the hospital. I said okay and they started me again on the Taxol. I had the same reaction. That meant, no more Taxol for me.

Then they gave me Carboplatin and I had a different reaction. I got cold and couldn't stop shaking. The medical staff had not seen that reaction to Carboplatin before. The nurse gave me Benadryl and a warm pack on my stomach that helped me to stop shaking. They continued the chemo and this time I was able to tolerate it.

I told my nurse that God had prepared me for this, that morning in Jesus Calling. "When the road before you looks rocky, you can trust Me to get you through that rough patch. My Presence enables you to face each day with confidence."  And in the previous paragraph, "Before you know it, the ‘obstacle’ will be behind you and you will hardly know how you passed through it." That is exactly how I felt after my treatment was behind me. My nurse said why didn't you tell me you had a talk with God? Then I would have been prepared too.

Several hours after my 5th treatment I had an experience similar to what I had had with the Taxol but not as strong. The doctor said that after each treatment my system did not fully recover so by the 5th treatment there was more chance of a reaction. I had a PET scan after my 5th treatment and the result was clear and I did not want to have the 6th treatment even though the doctors advised it. My fear grew. Several friends prayed God would take the fear away and He did. I was given some extra Benadryl before that treatment and I didn't have the reaction I had had with the 5th treatment.
I adjusted to it all by focusing each day on Jesus and knowing that He had given me that day. I let Him take care of the mountains.

A blanket that my friend gave me says it well:

“God doesn’t say life would be easy but He says He will be with you every step of the way.”

Thank you to Jan for sharing Mary Ann's story and to Mary Ann for sharing her heart.