Saturday, August 4, 2012

Time Flies when it Crawls



Not sure if the title makes any sense to anyone right now. To be a little clearer, I could say that I feel like I have lost so much time, waiting for approvals, answers, recovery time, next treatment, results. I got caught up in everything, or lost in it all, forgetting about the importance of “living” the journey, not just anticipating the destination. Reminder to brain… Live while I live!

Goodness, I don’t know where to begin, it has been almost a month and a half since I have written here. I’ll start small … my self-portrait made a lot of progress for a couple weeks, but has been on the back burner since. J Although it is far enough along that I get the gist of what I want to feel when I see it. I will get back to it soon.

Also, not sure I even brought it up before, but I am moving in with a roommate. My friend here in the apartments where I live, that has my fuzzy friend and with whom I attend my new church is going to be my roommate. I made her promise to tell me at any itme if she bit off more than she can chew (me) J.  We move into the new apartment in a couple weeks. So I suppose much of my time, I have been trying to clean up this apartment and pack what few things I have kept around. Fortunately I cleared out my material things a few years ago.

The results of the tissue testing from chemo did not turn out too great. Basically the only chemotherapies that may work are the “harsh” ones, with lifetime limits or potential difficult side effects, so for now I am staying with hormonal type treatments (not hormones), anti hormonal in a way. I should have another scan session the end of the month and know if they are working at all or at least stabilizing the bone mets. I found myself thinking, “why wasn’t this tissue testing done before, I probably wasted a year and much pain with chemos that had little hope of helping” but looking back doesn’t help the future. These tests are not done right away because of their costs, although compared to the costs of the chemos that didn’t work, it would have been small potatoes. So ????

On the liver front (yep it’s a war in many ways). I had the initial “mapping”, which was fairly tolerable with some pain accessing and closing the artery in the groin. The actual procedures (left and right lobes separately) were approved and I had the right lobe treated almost 4 weeks ago, with the left scheduled for the 8th of August. Briefly the first procedure had a glitch… my body had created a new branch off the liver artery that went to my intestines?? Sine the mapping 3 weeks prior and since it was late in the day, the procedure could not be completed that day and I had to return the next. First the pain was excruciating compared to that of the mapping. The Dr thought it was because I had developed scar tissue in the groin where the artery had been accessed before (during the mapping). So the actual day of the procedure, they used the left leg artery instead and the pain was much less. The first few weeks weren’t bad, I didn’t have the usual side effects of anorexia (don’t think my mind can comprehend that) J. Although after two weeks I had some difficult issues a day long of vomiting followed by intense pains (probably from all the vomiting) then I could not eat much without discomfort. Sooooo, now my Dr. says I am atypical (no kidding – I try to tell all my Drs that up front). Anyway he believes I may have developed an ulcer, as some of the radiation can “ooze”? in to adjoining organs. Not huge amounts of radiation, as the mapping procedure assured that. But I suppose it doesn’t take much these days to throw my body out of whack. Anyway, I go in Monday to have blood work and a CT to assure all is ok for Wednesday’s procedure.  I can tell you that medicine is not black and white, by far; There isn’t any sure-fire med for anything or anyone.

This whole experience has given me new insight into the “pain meter” (gauging your pain from 1 to 10). Thank God, literally, that we cannot relive physical pain the way we can relive emotional pain. I realized that I can compare the levels of pain, not by recall of the actual pain, but what I prayed for while enduring it. I won’t share the specific prayers.  But think about your own pain experiences… It isn’t just childbirth that you cannot recall the pain (because of the miraculous birth of a baby) but all pain, we can not relive it, only what we were thinking or what our bodies were doing while we were in pain. Thank you God, for that enormous blessing.

Friday, June 22, 2012

No Negatives = Positive



Wow, I didn’t realize how long it had actually been since I’d written anything! I have been riding the dip of the roller coaster for far too long! Time to kick myself in the rear and head upwards.

Well, I have been reading during this lapse. I think I was stuck in the “Old Testament” portion of the bible for too long. While I want to know the whole bible, the beginning can be, well a little overwhelming with fire and wrath, so to speak. I thought I was being a “smart planner”, for lack of the appropriate word, by reading more of the old than the new portion, since it is 3/4th of the Bible.  Well, I don’t think that is a good idea. I think I would rather reread the new 3 times for reading the old once… a little more uplifting. J

I think God knew this, as a few days ago he brought one of my neighbors to me. I was sitting outside and she had just returned from a nice weekend away, refreshed and bubbly. She noticed me and we spoke for a while. At the end she brought down one of her books for me to read, one that I had heard of but not yet read – “The Secret”. It truly was uplifting, and not contradictory to my faith, even though it could easily be a good read for someone who has not necessarily dove as far into the spiritual world as I have of late.

As a result of the book, or rather my feelings after reading the book, I took out my paints and my last canvas yesterday, as I have not painted in some time, but was inspired to do a visionary self-portrait for me to focus on. It is not my usual realism type painting, but I was driven to do something more whimsical and cheerful. In it I am somewhat a little nature fairy in the painting, with morning glory eyes and rose lips. As the eyes are the mirror of the soul, I want to see the glory of every morning as I wake. As for the smile, well we all know it is very difficult to be down when we are smiling at ourselves. Hey I can be whomever I want to be, right! J I might post it on my blog when it is complete… I will decide later. Right now it is for me, to focus on the positive, to be doing something productive and positive, and steer my life in the right direction, up! J

Now, for a brief medical update: I had the liver testing procedure, and I am a good candidate, all went well and I was out of the procedure right on time with no complications other than some tenderness in my gut. I am tentatively scheduled for the SIR Spheres procedure on July 5, although that is subject to change as approval from insurance has still not been received. Although I was assured, by the woman scheduling, that they have a 99% approval on appeal of cases they feel are good candidates. So, I will wait a little more, or not? Haven’t heard anymore from here, and they supposedly need to order the spheres 2 weeks before the date, so maybe I am approved. I think we are past that point now… I am a little lost on what day it is sometimes J

As for chemo, I did see my oncologist. However, since I have already had so many of the options and have experienced bad side effects from many, he decided it would be best to send some of the tissue from my mastectomy to a lab that determines which chemo or chemo combo is most likely to work. I suppose they do it in Petri dishes, if they still even exist, science has come so far! Although he said their turnaround was 10 days, and it has been 3 weeks with no word, I wait… But I am waiting with a positive attitude. I asked God to heal me, as the bible says, ask and believe. It is the believe part that is difficult and is somewhat contrary to how our minds work, analyzing everything, needing proof. I am working on that, the truly believing, deep inside my soul, leaving all doubt aside. The book I just read also relays the same message, to focus on your situation as if you have already received your request, you just have to believe and your body, or God and my body that he created in my case, will do its job. So regardless of odds, and analyzing, I must believe and continue to believe. I have to push the negative away, give it no attention. After all, I have already passed the mortality date, that only 20% do that have my diagnosis, so why not another 40 or 50 years, actually good, intentionally spiritually productive years. J

So that is where I am for now. I am certain I have left things out of this update, but there is always tomorrow. For now, I think I will work on that self portrait… need to wake to it each morning! J

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ready Set Go



Okay, time for me to fasten my spiritual safety belt and get ready for my roller coaster summer. The scan I had last week shows that not only is the cancer still growing in my bone and liver, but also has spread to some distant nodes, so chemo is back in my future. As the radiology Oncologist said, it wouldn’t make sense to do the liver sit spheres procedure if the rest of the metastasis went unchecked.

So I have an appointment Friday with my regular oncologist to go over chemo options that might work. There aren’t many chemos that I haven’t already done, so he is thinking of a combo of some sort, possibly Adriamyacin and Navelbine. However, Adriamyacin has a lift-time limit, and I believe I have already had more than half. So we will decide this Friday, and probably start the following week.

At the same time, I am still proceeding with the liver procedure. I received a call today to schedule the first step, which is an angiogram? They insert a catheter into the Artery in the groin (as that is the one that goes to the liver) and inject a dye. After the tracer travels trough the artery to the liver, they take images, to make certain there isn’t much overflow to other organs and to create a “road map” for the sir spheres (to directly radiate the liver tumors). Supposedly the only pain is inserting and removing the catheter and is done with just light sedation. I’ll let you know after J

The actual procedure has not yet been approved, however, doing this initial part now will let us schedule the procedure asap after insurance approval. I was informed that the sir sphere procedure, when the liver mets are breast cancer, is initially declined by all insurance companies. However, the hospital personnel assured me that they have a 99% approval on appeal. So it is mostly a matter of time, and making sure I am a candidate for the procedure, which the angiogram next week will tell.

I think I mentioned in another post, that the Radiology Oncologist wants to do the liver procedure twice, once for each lobe (right and left liver lobes). The second procedure would be about 4 weeks after the first. I am imagining they would do the worst side first, but actually don’t know. We will also have to try to schedule it around the chemo or vice versa, so this should be interesting.

Surprisingly, I am taking everything pretty calmly. Can’t say how I will feel when I am in the throws of it, but hopefully I will be able to write about it. I must say that my newfound spiritual calm is making a huge difference in anxiety level. The hope is that throwing everything at the cancer at once, for a relatively short time, might give me a year or so of remission or at least stability. Only God knows. I pray for patience and strength, and the knowledge to know what God wants. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Words Alone Cannot Explain



I woke this morning with so many thoughts spinning in my head, so much to ponder, and wanting desperately to try to understand it all within myself so that I could share it here with loved ones and any who care to read. Before I state the following, please understand that it is not in a negative or defeated way: When I awoke this morning, the pains in my gut had returned. For just a moment, it was disheartening, but then I realized that all the other feelings of wellbeing were still there, overriding the discomfort in my physical being.

I have also been thinking of my last post since I wrote it, and how I pray every time that my true intent is heard, not just the words, as words can only go so far. With that being said, I will delve into what occurred last night and today, in my experience, my physical self, and my spiritual self.

First addressing my last post. I do not want to sound like a self-proclaiming profit, that I will continue to live on this earth until this specific date and that no harm will come to me now that I have truly found God. It is my DESIRE to live another 50 years, not for my self, but to live for God, as I did not in my previous 50 years. It is my desire to atone for those things that I regret and now understand to have been entirely selfish and not serving of the Lord. I do not however, take back the words describing that I felt God within, around, above and beneath me, in these days since I have accepted Jesus as my savior. I may though, continue to describe what that feeling, ever-expanding, is in words so that others, may have a glimpse into my soul. As I know that some may not yet have experienced these feelings, or similar, as I do not know how God presents himself to all, just to me as it occurs. As I know the feelings and experiences may change and evolve with time, as it is a continual conversation/journey, so to speak.

Last night, my neighbor friend, who has entered this spiritual journey with me, asked me to try to describe how I actually felt, speaking with God, since I mentioned that it was NOT like in the movies for me. The sky did not open to a vision for my eyes to see God before them, and I did not hear an amplified voice in my ears, not even actual words. While struggling to come up with an adequate description, to put into words, which can only be felt by the soul, I struggled with words like serene, complete, safe, etc. I thought deeper to try to come up with some analogy, as the Bible speaks of parables to help us understand God’s intent. The best I could come up with at this time, was that for me, it is like being a healthy, happy, content newborn baby swaddled and being held, loved, protected, supported, and cared for by a most loving mother. No fears enter my mind while praying, only gratitude and praise. I may pray to live on and for disease to leave me so that I may serve the Lord here on earth, but that is for my needs, my desires to atone and to work fully for the Lord here on earth. However, I understand at this time, that what I feel may actually be reassurance that God is now with me forever, in this life and the one beyond. That, in and of itself, is actually more comforting.

I believe that every day is a testament to God’s love of his children here on earth. I try not to let a pleasant moment lapse without thanking God for it, and try to let go of things that could poison my heart with any evil feelings like anger, resentment, jealousy, and greed, etc. I know that only God’s love can give me this complete overwhelming feeling of being blessed and of being one of his many children, for whom his love has no bounds. Yes, I believe he is also disappointed in me when I do not heed his commands, and wonder off into my own self-fulfilling desires, just as any parent would feel, when a child goes astray into acts that you know will not lead to a good life, but that of disappointment and pain.

I continue to pray to live on this earth for many years to come, but only so that I may do so to serve God, and hopefully be a comfort to those on earth who desire reassurance that I am well, in my entirety. I will continue to write as long as I am able, to attempt to explain my journey and all it’s amazing enlightenments in words, so that others may at least find comfort in them, if not encouragement to begin their own quest for God, and all the joys that it brings. I have also had other thoughts this day and those past that I want to try to write about, but will save them for future posts.  For now, I will simply take note of them, to remind my less than perfect memory in the future.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Upping the Ante



In a previous post, I believe one of my first, I mentioned a book of prayers that I had received from a nun in Santa Fe, a very special person. Also, that after that, my prayers were more structured and focused. Well, I keep upping the anti, so to speak. Praying deeper, praising harder and more often. And must say, that after this weekend, I know that my prayers are being answered.

Lately, along with thanking of God for all my blessings, from my amazing family, to the soft dry bed I sleep on, I have also been praying to be healed. Yep, healed. I have seen it (miraculous healing) before with others, in people that I know personally, who had been turned away from Doctors, told to get their affairs in order, decades ago, and that are still alive today. I want so much to live now, more than ever, but to live for God. I also didn’t really pray for healing before, but for strength to endure and help for my family and those close to me. But I believe now, and can feel not only spiritual changes within me, but physical as well.

After I lay in bed each night, after my prayers, I now also have a long, hard discussion with my mind and body. I say (internally) that we were created with abilities beyond human conception, and everything is possible through God. Our minds have the ability to tell ours bodies to do their job, so to speak, all the different elements of this amazing machine we call humans, working in harmony. We are so complex that not even the greatest minds understand even a fraction of the mind and body abilities. With knowing that, I tell my mind to tap into all that God has blessed us with, to rid my body of disease, as Jesus died not only for our sins, as if that were not enough, but also for our sicknesses, and throw them into the dark sea, to never afflict another with their evil.

Is it working? I BELIEVE it is. I do not have physical proof as yet, but that does not stop me and will press to not let it stop me even if my health turns worse, as every journey has ups and downs. This weekend, I pressed my physical abilities to do what I didn’t think possible anymore. I prayed for God to give me the strength and endurance to take on the blessing of being responsible for my two lovely grandchild for a 24 hour period, while my daughter and son-in-law, celebrated their 5 year anniversary away from home. This is not only something that I was apprehensive about in the beginning, but also a “first”. No one had babysat my grandchildren overnight yet. They are 4 and 2 years of age. I know, I love my grandchildren deeply, but have to say, without prejudice, that they behaved extremely well during the entire time.

Well, now that I am back home, I do have some aches in my bones and muscles and had to take a very long nap, BUT, I just noticed, the continual pain I have had in my gut for the last few weeks, most likely from my liver cancer metastases, has just subsided, it’s gone. I do not feel them, and remember now that I did not feel them last night when I went to bed either, when it is usually most obvious.

Now whether there is “physical” healing going on, only time will tell. But as long as I believe, and I am now saying I am going to live another 50 years, but a better 50 years, not greater in possessions but in life style, I do feel like I will. I can get up each morning feeling better and with more purpose. I intend on continuing to “up my ante” as only good things have resulted, and my heart and soul are so unbelievable full.



Monday, May 14, 2012

Motherhood


I find it more amazing everyday, when my prayers are answered, in one form or another. Yesterday, was Mother’s Day, and I was fortunate to have been able to spend time with both my children, my son-in law and my daughters two children (my grands). It was a leisurely day full of smiles, and yes a couple of small tantrums J.  However, last night, for an odd reason, I could not sleep. It wasn’t my mind keeping me up in bed, rather an empty, eyes-wide-open waiting for something, type of restlessness.  So, with not going to sleep until my body said “enough” at 6:00 am this morning, I slept the day away. Waking at 4:00 pm, I felt guilt of a sort, wasting time like that. So I picked up my Bible and read, and read, and read. Later in the evening something happened, which I won’t mention the specifics of, but it made everything in the last day and today clear, all the pieces of the highlights of the day and my recent readings fit perfectly together.

I should write about my most important role and one that I treasure and also have regrets about… being a Mother.  Not about having been a mother, but how I mothered. And, I am not talking about becoming pregnant and giving birth, while that experience in itself is a bundle of physical and emotional highs and lows. It all takes place in less than a year, while being a mother is for a lifetime. Once you are given the blessings and the burden of another human being, your life is no longer your own. Some may say that is negative, but it isn’t, in my eyes, both the blessing and the burden, as well as no longer being responsible only for myself are glorious.

Trying to keep this brief and to the point is almost as difficult as raising a child, so much will be omitted to try to let my core message out without all the adornments, so to speak.

To begin, I was a mother at a very young age, yes I take responsibility for that. At Twenty-two, I was divorced and a mother of two beautiful children. Life definitely threw obstacles at me, from every which direction: emotional, financial, physical, you name it. I know, we all have our hard-luck stories, but that is not the point. It is what I did with them, and also acknowledging that I am not a victim, and that much of what happened, I actually brought upon myself (knowingly or not) that is important. It is so easy to blame others and exterior circumstances, and so much harder, yet more rewarding, to accept what is my doing, bad along with the good. If we do not accept what is ours, how can we change it or take pleasure in it?

As I mentioned in another entry, I did not really grow up practicing a religion, and, not necessarily justly so, I did not bring my children up learning the Word of God either. This I regret. I did try to teach them good from evil, right from wrong, along with the ideals of being open-minded, non-judgemental, charitable, forgiving, etc. I also regret if I ever gave them the impression that material wealth was more important than being humble and being thankful for what blessings we do have, as I did continuously try to achieve more in my career to provide more “objects” as well as needs over the years, always battling between time for them and time away to provide for them.

Later in their lives, but still while they were minors, I married again. I may have provided more monetary treasures and benefits, but in the process, I also took me from them, more than was necessary. It was for a number of reasons and circumstances, but again, I take full responsibility and regret some of the consequences that hurt them rather than me. I pray only that my mistakes serve as a lesson to them as they have to me, and that my love for them was and will never be in question, only my own sanity and choices.

I have been more than abundantly blessed with my children and who they have turned out to be at present. They have many years ahead of them, and I pray to instill only good memories from this point forward. I know I may falter, as I am human, but plan to make every effort to demonstrate by example what I wish I had been and want to be for them, the one who sows in good earth and tends the resulting crops.

Although I have written for some time now, at least by my current standards, I have barely touched the surface of most of my life being a mother, really no specifics at all.  It is abundantly clear, that I need to write more on this topic. Also, this has served as a reminder to me that I have been blessed many times over with the so called burdens of motherhood.

Thank you, my beautiful children. I will love you with all my heart forever, and Happy Mother’s day to all the people who also have been blessed with this burden. May you overcome all obstacles, not all but some in the presence of your children, so that they may benefit from your mistakes, but also without expectation rather with hope that it will be absorbed, as we all will have obstacles, each with varying degrees of difference, and we don't think anyone else could possibly understand what is in our unique minds.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Journey Rather than Destination



It has been a few days since my last post, as I have spent time with family, reading, crafting, thinking, and yes, resting.  A few days ago, I began reading a new portion of the Bible, the Book of Ezekiel. Oh my, what a different aspect of teaching from the Book of Matthew. At first, I admit, it tested my faith, actually scared me, as much of it is about the Wrath of God.

After that first day that I read from it, I felt I had to set it aside, listen to more uplifting messages, do more pleasurable activities, and spend time smiling with family and friends. Then yesterday, I was listening to a CD that my lovely neighbor, one of my earth angels, lent to me for encouragement. It referenced a portion of the book of Ezekiel that I had not reached yet in my reading. The message was much more positive, loving, forgiving, and uplifting, so today I finished reading this particular book.

What did I learn, even though I was confused, as much of it was repetitive and I could not quite grasp the timeline of events, as it seemed to wander, did made sense eventually of the my earlier reading. Although, I must admit it was immersed with mathematics of measure that boggled my mind, in all, I did learn from it positive and treasured lessons.

I have a long way to go. In fact, I may never “complete” my understanding of all of the Word of God. However each reading (journey into the Word) gives me new insight, whether it be in a parable or testament. So, even though my reading may be slow, as compared to someone who has studied the bible their whole life, I am able to absorb more and more with each step. As it is with life, if we apply what we learn along the way, as we learn it, we become more and more informed, and with it more and more whole in mind, body and spirit.

One thing that really stood out to me was that charitable actions should be done anonymously, not in sight of another to gain favorable impressions. But, rather, in secret so as only God knows your good deeds, as it is more important for Him to see your actions, than praise from other people.  Obviously, some good deeds I do for someone, may be noticed by the recipient, but should be without advertising to others, and with request to the recipient not to announce it either, as I am just doing what is right, nothing superior to others. I may need to drill that one in many times, as well, I have had a need for praise in the past, maybe not on the surface, but I realize it was within me. Please God help me be humble.

Another lesson, very difficult for many, was not to rejoice at the punishment of others, even if their actions are public and deplorable, it is not for me to gain pride in that I am better. I know that is a mind twister, but I think I grasp it now. As with other lessons, it is putting it into action that is hardest, but most rewarding internally, which is more precious than any material object or receipt of praise.

Please God help me be humble and not prideful. I am not writing this blog to make others feel inferior to me, but rather to expose my faults and lessons and to speak aloud (writing where all can see) to Praise God and hopefully serve only as encouragement to others. As there is a fine line between being humble and expressing ones misgivings in an effort to change others. I pray that this message is received as it was intended, and not in any means demeaning or pressure on others to conform, but only to enlighten them to my journey of learning, as my destination will never come, all of life is a journey.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Know "It" to Live "It"



Know what? The Word. The Word?  Yes, the Word of God. Okay, yes, this will be another post about spirituality.  I do not want to force anyone to hear it, but I have to say it, or write it in this case. This is much of my life now, and will be from now on. Not that I won’t have other things to say, but this has taken front and center for me.

Today is Sunday. Church service was wonderful as ever today! And, yes, when I came home, I napped, but only for three hours this time, not five, hurray! 

I have tried to live most of my life with "good conscience" decisions, but not necessarily spirituality. Since I have opened my heart to Jesus, so much has been brought into question. In the Christian faith, we are to live the Word of God, but I realized I didn’t know it. Yes I understand the basic principles and all the “biggies” but I had only read from the bible once, when I was a lost teen, and even then it was a short-lived practice.

The church I am currently attending, a non-denominational Christian church had given me a bible back when I first said I wanted to be saved. I am still very confused on terminology and what to say when, which is why I love this church, because that is okay, they encourage discussion. Like today, one question was asked from the speaker, that I must have misinterpreted, because mine was the only hand raised, at least within my vision. The old me wanted to shrink within myself, but the new me, just smiled, and the woman ministering had a smile too, I think she saw me, since I was the only one, in a church that holds at least hundreds, with their hand raised high slowly pulling it back down.

This got me to thinking, I have been meaning to pick up the bible and begin reading it, but I just hadn’t done it. I had put all my attention into trying to figure out what I was supposed to DO with this gift of life. Today, I realized that I really should know the word of God, to be able to live it.

So I randomly started todays reading with the book of Matthew. Why? Well, not completely arbitrary and maybe somewhat superstitious, which is not what spirituality is about, but yes okay, because that was the name I had chosen for my first son… but since I did not have a reason, I just liked the name. My son’s father, my first husband, and I agreed to name him after a relative I had not met, but that had been greatly admired.  He was so greatly admired that I believe he has 4 or 5 name sakes. Which was fine, as he is still my son, who I would love by any name. Then get this, yes, more coincidence or superstition; My only son-in-law is named Matthew.

Okay, away from the silliness.  So, I completed “reading That book”. I now know this "task" is not something that will ever be finished. Yes, I can finish reading the bible with time, but I will study it as long as I live. I have decided to just READ the bible for now, not that it is a minor task, but as compared to “studying” the bible. There are many sections, that with the change or difference in the use of language, or with just my mind not working at full capacity, that I will have to re-read, make notations, research etc, in order to have a greater understanding.

But, I also want to do… the clock is ticking… I understand mortality… which priorities… OKAY – MODERATION. Whew, see why I find it hard to get to sleep at times. My mind spins around non-stop. Now if only my body could have that energy, and yes, I do pray for that as well J Speaking of which, I should start letting my mind slow down for another night, which leads to my next and first day of the rest of my life! 

I know, sorry, I love some clichés!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Messengers of God



Yesterday, I spent much of the day trying to practice what I preach… Patience, Faith, being Open and Positive, as I was dealing with trying to arrange times and dates for upcoming medical appointments and procedures. At one point in the day, my neighbor friend, the one who refers to herself as the old Indian woman and I refer to as one of my earth angels, stopped by to visit and bring a book to me to read, if I so desired.

We spoke for a while, about our lives, mostly her sharing many of her experiences with me. What an amazing woman, she is and serves as a testament to God. She lent me the book “Healed of Cancer” by Dodie Olsteen, a very small but powerful message. I gave her a couple of bookmarks I hade made of crocheted cotton thread, just as a gesture of thanks for her gifts and her presense in my life, and because I know she is an avid reader, even though she recently had cataract surgery in both her eyes. At one point in the conversation, she said, you know that us meeting was not an accident. I smiled and agreed wholeheartedly.

I had been praying so hard to God, especially the last few days, to show me what he wants of me, I now know at least one thing, to be a testament to his power and grace. I will be healed of my physical ailments, as God has made his will known to me, not as a voice in my head, but through a messenger of great faith and love. I have accepted God into my heart, into my soul, into my entire life, and desire only to live for him on earth.

Today I began reading the book that my friend had loaned me, and it affirmed all that I believed and strengthened my faith. After reading it, I had to do something productive, I have to believe I am healed. So…. I washed my kitchen floor. It does not sound like much, but in the year that I have lived here, I have only wiped up areas at a time as needed. This time I got down on the floor, not on my knees, as well, that is too painful, but on my rump and scrubbed the floor with a sponge of gentle cleaners. It looks and smells wonderful. Granted it is a small floor, and I would have done it in no time when I was physically healthy, but this time it was a pleasure, not a chore, because I AM still able to do it. Afterwards, soaking with sweat and a little achy, as my body is not accustomed to work these days, I took a nice cleansing bath. I feel so renewed. It is not what I do, it is how I do what I do.

I firmly believe that I am healed, it may take time for my body to catch up with my heart and soul, but it will happen, and I intend on being a testament to God as well. Not in a preachy way, the way that turned me the other direction, but in an example and as a testament, like my wonderful messenger from God, the elderly lovely Indian woman. I feel like more of a whole person than at any time in my life.

As with everything else, this is not the end, the final declaration, but the beginning of my new destiny that has no end. I know I will face challenges, pains, and other obstacles, but I can and will withstand them, in Jesus’ name.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Patience



What a simple word, yet extremely difficult to achieve on any sort of a regular basis. It does not come easily, at least not for me. It encompasses something as little as waiting for a traffic light to turn green, waiting for your loved one to return home from war, and in my current situation… waiting for insurance to approve a medical procedure that I need to hopefully stop the new metastatic tumors in my liver from progressing further. The specialist told me to prepare for a long wait, possibly 4 to 5 weeks as all insurance is cutting back on approvals for this procedure because of cost, and yes because I have advanced cancer with poor prognosis. Medicine, and getting what might help, as well as many aspects of life, are not black and white, not a certainty, and cannot be predetermined. Everything is weighed and judged.  I understand this now more than ever.  There are limits and decisions to be made, but knowing that, doesn’t lessen the stress on ones’ patience. Only we can lessen the stress for ourselves by not wasting the time we have to spend waiting.

Patience is such a wide subject, that I will limit this post to just part of my cancer journey, the most recent few months (dealing with the new liver mets). I had considered having a mastectomy one year into my journey, but when I was told it would not change my prognosis, and not being fond of surgery, I dropped it. In December, since there were few chemo options left, and I no longer wanted to live with the extreme side effects, my oncologists and I discussed that if my pet scan showed the cancer only in my breast, that it would be a good time to discuss the mastectomy option. I had initially considered a mastectomy earlier because, well, I am odd, and so is my cancer. There are so many variables with cancer, but this specific reaction I had is rare. Usually when cancer has metastasized (spread to another part of the body from the original tumor), if the cancer responds to chemotherapy, it does so in the original tumor faster than in the mets. I was opposite even the first time through chemotherapy five years ago. So after this oddity repeating a few times over the last couple of years, as well as it progressing in the breast first, rather than the mets, my current oncologists agreed that in my weird situation that a mastectomy might be worth a try, to slow the progression.  There is no scientific data on rare situations because, well, because they are “rare” and how do you study a large group of people if a large group does not exist. Mind, scans can only detect cancer if it is something like 5mm in size. So having a clean scan was also not a sure thing, but would be a good sign that the timing was right.

Now on to the PET/CT scans, not good news, it detected uptake in the liver and suggested I have an MRI to confirm. Well this put the mastectomy on the back burner, if it was continuing to progress, and in new organs, why go through surgery. But then in January when I had the abdominal MRI, rather than the usual pet scan, nothing was detected in the liver. I am thinking miracle! (I didn’t usually have MRIs and didn’t realize that it could “not see” it.

So, now it was on to scheduling the mastectomy the end of February.  Then, one month after the mastectomy, it was time for another PET/CT scan, which is basically every three months when you are progressing and for a while after being stable or regressing. So guess what? Masses were detected again in the liver, bigger and more aggressive than in December. Why the MRI did not pick it up, I don’t know for certain. The two scans use different technologies to detect cancer. Maybe because I have inflammatory breast cancer, which grows in sheets before in becomes a tumor (at least in the breast). So what next, I could dwell on having had the mast and all it’s complications, when I was not going to have it, had I known there were indeed liver mets. But it was done and could not be undone.

Next, onto another Doctor, a radiology oncologist in Baltimore. The procedure I was hoping for (yes I did a little internet research beforehand), with the least side effects and less intrusive, was no longer an option, as one of the tumors was now over the size that is compatible with this technique. Surgery is not a good option as the 3 tumors are in completely different areas, including both the right and left lobe, and I imagine recovery would be difficult even if the surgery was possible. So I wait, wait for approval from medicare and my medigap insurance for the best , if not only option for me. Then If approved, I will have a test to make certain I am a candidate for the procedure, a basic mapping of the main artery that goes to the liver, to make certain there aren’t branches (?) or other situations that would make this technique possible. And, all the while, I don’t know if the tumors are growing, most likely though.

I did start on another non-chemo medication, because, the pathology report based on the mastectomy tissue did determine the hormonal aspects of my cancer had changed since my first biopsy five years ago. So maybe the mastectomy was not a waste after all??? I know most if not all things happen for a reason. Maybe God intervened so to speak so that the tumors would not be detected on the MRI so that I would go ahead with the mastectomy. Why, how, when really don’t matter now, as they are done, in the past, etc..

Anyway, back to the “having patience” topic. I cannot do anything about this wait, any more than I can most of the time. If I spend all my time worrying about it, I waste more than a month of my life, and at this point I have realized that each and every day is precious. So I continue, march on, as if there is no end in sight. As we all should, as we don’t really know when the end will come. I actually have been given a gift, so to speak, knowing how precious this month is, and to live it larger than ever… No, not wasteful, or diving out of planes J, but living for God, for my family, church, friends, neighbors, strangers. Every day and every act is important. No, I am not a saint, and I have “mental” medications that help as well, but it has been drilled into me over and over during the last five years, that living the life of a victim, giving up, is not living.

So today, when my daughter and her two glorious kids (some of my special earth-angels) visited, I actually made dinner. Nothing special and most of it was done while sitting in my scooter, but it felt good to accomplish something. It feels so much better than a few days ago when I wasted an entire day with the blahs watching movies. AND my evening ended with lots of hugs and love. What could be better!

Tell someone you love them today! And try to have patience… the alternative only hurts you, …well most of the time, there are always exceptions. J

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Blues v. Blahs



I haven’t written in a few days, as I was having the blahs. To me anyway, the blahs are an empty feeling, just numb. Whereas the blues, can have a topic or not, but it is definitely sad. Why did I have the blahs? I don’t know… because I am human? Maybe some of it was that I realized my last blog went somewhat off topic, more a “preaching” on being kind, than inspirational or narrative of a particular experience.

So… this is Sunday, I woke 2 hours before my alarm went off. I REALLY needed to go to church. Yes, I had prayed often the few days prior, asking God to guide me to do what he has planned for me. I am still here; I keep asking; I keep attempting different things; Yet I feel I have not gotten a clear answer. Maybe I won’t, but today’s songs at church seemed specifically pointed at me, although I know I am not alone in this situation, and many ask the same question of God, repeatedly, but it just hit the spot. The words were essentially “God take all of me… I want to do as you wish.” I obviously paraphrase, as my short-term memory is quite hampered.

Anyway, there I was, I sit while others stand in the beginning, as my back somewhat yells at me, and I figure God understands. But as I sung, deep from my heart, the words echoing my sentiment, especially of the last few days, and tears were rolling down my face, my friend bent down to hug me and tell me she loved me, and I her. They were not sad tears, but tears of being touched by God and blessed with this friendship, this church, and this day. I am not alone; God is with me; I need to keep digging deeper; I will know what I want to know when I am supposed to know; Until then I will live as closely as I can to what I believe God would want me to do. For now, it is to spread my experiences, and the fulfillment of faith in this journey. And to do everything I can do, to the best of my ability and in an unselfish, loving, giving way. I stray, as we all do, but I know, above all I must focus on that. My life, my journey, and my faith are His.

I do not have an answer to my question of purpose, but I have some peace. I am no longer empty, but feel God’s love throughout my being. I also know it does not stop there; There is no end; I must live each day to the fullest; Thank God for all of my blessings; and Continue to pray for guidance… at all times.

Thank you God for vanishing my blahs.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Shooting the Messenger



I am not sure how this subject came to mind at this time, as I have not had a recent occasion that spurred it. However, I have often thought about it in the past, and I am certain it will arise again. Let me narrow the topic even further to dealing with service employees with patience and empathy.

First, I am certain we are all aware that our education system in the States has fallen dramatically over the decades. I know that what my children were required to learn in High School was equivalent to that which I learned in Junior High. Also, when I attended college again, recently I might add, and at a State University, much of the curriculum for college students, was more equivalent to what I had been taught in High School. Second, above and beyond the material and expectations in school being lowered, our children are not being taught how to really think and reason, but rather to memorize. How do you recall something you had to memorize without understanding the basic principles behind a theory or piece of literature?

Now, fast forward to the people who sit behind the phones at customer service desks, behind the cashiers counters, etc. Not only were they most likely deprived of an adequate education to prepare them on how to deal with dilemmas, but overall, employers are spending much less time and effort into training. Often the person you deal with, as a first contact, has absolutely no authority to alter the situation. Not because they don’t want to help, but because they do not have the tools or authority to do so. They may be a very helpful empathetic person, trying to br a productive part of society, while also trying to provide financially for themselves and perhaps a family. Maybe they are a single parent, in a job where they are not allowed to have personal calls or visitors while “on the clock”. She or he may worry about their children’s’ welfare, while working to provide for their needs. Maybe this person simply was not blessed with the abilities to do this job, but has not had the direction or opportunity to serve in one more suited to their abilities. This does not make them less of a person than the CEO of a large corporation, if anything, they may lead a “better” life, one of love, empathy, caring, giving.

I try, no I am not always successful and I ask for forgiveness for those times when I allowed myself to become frustrated or angry, but I try to be calm and start my conversations with “I understand this has nothing to do with you specifically, but I have a problem that needs to be addressed”. Most of the time this opens the person up to wanting to assist you rather than hide behind the counter, or perhaps “spit in your beverage”??? (no, I am not encouraging this action, but well I'm certain it happens, maybe not as often as TV and movies depict it but well, the idea came from somewhere).  Another thought to keep in mind is “What goes around, comes around” J


Also, if you have to go over this person’s head, and ask for a supervisor, make it clear that you know their authority is limited and while they have tried to be helpful, you need to speak with someone with authority. Again, most of the time you will be granted that request much quicker, while sparing the feelings of the first line personnel.

Companies, Businesses…. What happened to “the customer is always right” even though sometimes that is not the case, decades ago, I was taught techniques, within basic training, how to try to calm the customer, to understand their frustration, and have the knowledge to more adequately serve them, rather than spouting off pre written answers that just increase the customers’ frustration and hence their temper. If you want return business, train your staff adequately, and treat them as individuals, people with lives outside of work. AND train anyone in authority that “staff reprimands, if actually deserved” are NOT addressed in public, especially in front of customers.

Okay, I suppose it’s time to step off my pedestal. J Again, I do not mean to preach, as I am as guilty as the next at allowing my emotions to get carried away and directing that frustration at the first person I contact. Deep breaths, forethought, and knowing ahead of time, that in today’s world, problems are rarely solved with one phone call or even two, but they are solved quicker with honey than vinegar. Sorry for all the clichés (but they exist for a reason – they usually get the point across).

Have a blessed day, where the sun shines within your heart J


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lazy Day

video

Borrowed my neighbors little sweetie today; Took a scooter walk to enjoy this glorious day; Now time for a little snuggle nap. 

My mind is clear, happy, and serene. :) May be more, ummmm, in a writing mood later or tomorrow. But for now, this is heaven :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Being Open



Open? Open to what? Everything. By opening our eyes, hands, minds, hearts, etc., we are welcoming insight, friendships, knowledge, experience, and faith into our lives.  Yes, sometimes it is a little scary to open ourselves up to new and different possibilities, but the reward is well worth it.

One day, while sitting out on my patio area (if you can call it that, as it is the size of a small apartment balcony, but it serves it’s purpose), a neighbor was taking a walk. She caught my eye, or me hers, and she started walking toward me. Yes, I was a little apprehensive, not because of her appearance, as she was a gentle petite older woman, but I suppose just because we had not met. What were her intentions? Anyway, she introduced herself to me, and asked if she could sit, as dumb me had not yet offered a seat. She said she had seen me out there many times on her walks and wanted to introduce herself to me. Her demeanor was very pleasant, had a soft voice and loving eyes, but I was still hesitant. Why?  She spoke mostly of religion and wanted to say a prayer for me, not later, right then, right there, out loud. I hesitantly said okay??? At this point in time, I was still working on my faith, keeping it to myself so to speak. But at the end of our conversation, we exchanged telephone numbers and wished each other well.

Since that day, I have seen her many times. And, I suppose as my faith grew, and our encounters multiplied, the awkward feelings, I had at first, vanished. She is now a very welcome visitor, often telling me stories of her grandmother, sitting in her garden, surrounded by the beauty of flowers, reading her bible, and of her travels and experiences.  As I have found out over time, she is half Italian and half Indian, and her husband, I believe, is African. He served in some type of diplomatic career, so they traveled extensively. I also recently learned that she is 90 years old. I thought she was elderly, but closer to 70. I now not only welcome her into my home, but I admire her, and her courage to come up to a total stranger and say a prayer for them. What a gift I received when I opened my heart to her presence in my life.

Another example of being open… which actually started this blog idea in my head, was last night, late, I saw a tall man, I do not know of what age or race, all dressed in black, with a hood over his head, and caught myself feeling afraid. Why? He was not coming after me, acting aggressive, or giving off any sense of danger. I immediately thought of the recent case in the news and all the ridiculous comments about hoodies. I have a a couple of hoodies, and yes when it is cold, I pull the hood over my head. Many people dress in black, as it is often considered elegant, classic, and complimentary. So, why was I apprehensive? He could simply have been walking at a good pace and wearing his hoodie, because he was cold and afraid himself, or neither. Rather, just simply out for a brisk walk at night.

So I suppose being open, also means questioning those innate or learned hidden fears. Yes, sometimes those feelings are intuition, but sometimes, they are completely off base. The point is to be open, to examine why you are feeling the way you are, and to question if there could be another explanation, one more pleasant perhaps (cup half full, or even brimming over) J

Monday, April 23, 2012

Jobs v. Careers



Yesterday, I did not post, as it was my day of rest… well these days most are days of rest. But, I literally took a 5-hour nap again, after returning home from church services. Today, Monday, most of the people I know are back at their jobs, frantically trying to keep up with their work, wishing it was still yesterday. I am not saying their days are not difficult, but I long for days of being productive, one of many reasons why I started to blog.  We all need a purpose, although many of us serve the majority of our day(s) in “jobs” that do not fulfill them. If only we knew when we were young, what we know now, what direction would we have taken? Well, as far as I know, we cannot turn back time, so what now?

So many say, if you do a job you love you will never work a day in your life. How many can truly say that is true for them, to have been fortunate enough to know how important that was when we were young?  Now, more than ever, at least in OUR lives’ history, people work longer harder hours in jobs they despise, or worse - desire to have any job, even one they despise.

How do we dig out of our holes… or are they holes? Remember without the bad, we would not recognize the good as anything other than the norm. What do we do with our lives, how can we evoke change, in today’s economic peril. One way I have coped in the past, is to somewhat departmentalize things, not easy, I know. But, if you are in a job that is not your dream, focus on the fact that it is your job, a means to provide sustenance, not your dream.

When you are not at your “job” evaluate yourself, your life, your dreams, and how you might work toward changing things for the better. It is difficult to give examples as all situations, as well as people are so varied. But for me, about 6 years ago, I decided to go after my dream, one that had been buried for many years while I worked to provide for my family… Art. I had gotten to a place in my life, that fortunately I had the means to pursue the education for a few years before I would have to take another “punch the clock” type of job. But knew that would be okay, because I would have my art on the side, and with favor, possibly as a career someday. Well my cancer journey interrupted that path, as we all encounter obstacles along the way. I spent many years in self-pity, feeling my dreams were now lost to me forever. But they aren’t, I simply have to adjust them to fit into my new life style. Painting, was my main love. However, with some physical restrictions, it is difficult to do these days, even though I know of many with more restrictions than me that paint with great passion. But for me, I try to find outlets that allow me to create something of minimal expense, anything meaningful, mostly small gifts for loved ones. As even old talents (crochet, knitting, and such) take much longer for me these days, my projects have become smaller, but still fulfilling.

I know there is only so much time in a day, and only so much money to go around, but as the old saying goes, “Where there is a will there is a way”. I never thought I would be “writing”, as I am by no means a professional writer. But I have been praying for God to show me my purpose, now more than ever; Asking him to hit me over the head, if needed, to get me to recognize his purpose for my life.  Well a week ago, I was sitting outside, thinking, pondering, mind wondering in all directions, as I do often, and I found myself grammatically correcting my thoughts. Yes, very odd. I know I am odd, but that was so strange to me, I took it as a sign, whether it was or not. I believe intuition is more than just chance intuition. So here I am blogging.  I still pray, asking for guidance, but oddly enough, I feel what I am doing is now part of my purpose, as I do not feel as empty as before, since I started blogging. Maybe it is not my purpose, but God’s gift to me to pacify my need until I discover it ???

So, I suppose my advice, if wanted, is to first self evaluate, searching inside, outside, your past, your present, and through God, to try to discover your next step. Don’t look at the end of the dream, as many obstacles (opportunities to learn) will come up along the way, altering your path. Go with your intuition while not letting go of common sense, such as your need to provide food and shelter. I don’t think many, if any, have survived moving to an island and living off coconuts in a grass hut. Meshing reality with dreams is difficult, but it is better than living in a hole.

May you have a blessed fulfilling day.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Positive Thinking



First, I apologize for not posting yesterday. It was the first time receiving a new shot to treat my cancer, and although I do not feel really painful side-effects, it did put me down for a long, solid 5-hour nap, which for me, basically consumed the majority of my day. So, last night I prayed to come up with a topic that is inspirational or at least positive. Hence, this morning I decided I would continue with my last post’s “cup runnith over” or cup half-full topic.

In today’s economic, ecological, political situation, it is sometimes difficult to see positives, but if you intentionally try, you can see an abundance of blessings. Is it worth it? I say yes, it is worth it ten-fold, even more.

Night before last, I did not want to sleep in my bed, because shortly before bedtime, I saw a bug run across my bed, so… recliner it was. Last night, when the vision was not so clearly in the present (short-term memory loss can be a benefit at times), I decided I needed to face that silly fear and have rest-full night in my comfy little twin bed, bug or not. Knowing that even when we don’t see them (bugs, in this case), they are likely there anyway, and most are harmless. I have to tell you that once I crawled into bed after my nightly prayers, I pulled the covers over my shoulder and snuggled up on my pillow, I just had to thank God for having such a marvelous comforting place to lay my head at night. Well, I slept like a baby, or even better, and woke refreshed this morning. I am still a little sore on my rump, as the shot was in both cheeks, but I have a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eyes. J Thank you God, for a new and glorious day!

Yes, I fall prey to the blues, just like anyone, but I refuse to stay there, as it feeds upon itself and grows and grows if left unchecked. It is easy to fall victim to negative thoughts, it takes no effort at all. Sometimes it feels impossible to find the positive in a situation, but once you do, and focus in on that, you can use that strength to climb out of the hole we bury ourselves in. Is it hard? Yes, sometimes extremely overwhelming, that is where faith comes in. God does not always give us what we want, but he does give us what we need, whether we can see it our not.  I suppose that is where the title of my blog came from “Faith in the Dark”.

We usually get what we give out, in one form or another. What we receive for our efforts is not always immediate, related, or even visible. But, the positive does multiply on it's return, sometimes, in just being able to sleep at night, knowing you did the righteous thing, or in brightening someone else’s day, who then passed that smile forward (Tangent... I love the movie “Pay it Forward”). Imagine the feeling in the air, the fullness of our beings, if we were surrounded by positive people, deeds, visions, etc.. Yes, bad things will always happen and sometimes to whom we judge as being a “good” person. However, how else would we know what is good, without the comparison to bad? It is what we do when we encounter negativity that determines what we will gain from the experience.

Some people ask me “how can I smile and be positive?” (again I am not always positive – I am human) when I have terminal cancer, osteo-necrosis of the jaw, possibly MS, multiple side effects from the diseases and the treatments, etc. See how easy it is to ramble off all the “bad” things. I just respond, that it is nothing to admire, rather, to me, it simply beats the alternative. If I give up on me and thus God, why should anyone else care about me? If I can hold on to the fact, that God is there, in the dark as well as in the light, even though I cannot see him, he lifts me up and gives me strength to try to see the good in all things.

With that, I am going to go sit on my little patio area, and relish in this beautiful spring day, thanking God for all that surrounds me J