Monthly Archives: March 2010

Not What I Planned

A whirlwind weekend, this was one that I had not planned for.  The biggest lesson I’ve learned on this journey, 2 biggest lessons, fact is stranger than fiction and go with the flow.

For those who know me, know that I have an adventurous side.  It wouldn’t surprise many that I had plans to take off this past Friday after my “Happy Hour” for a retreat to write.  It was all set up, a friend of a friend had offered the location, it was only a couple hours away.  Perfect, I made sure all was well after the treatment, rested, got on the road headed north for a weekend away to write.  I was so excited to get out of town, a sense of freedom that I’ve been missing for a while.

After some much needed drive time, that’s favorite time to disconnect and think.  I arrive in Oklahoma, greeted by John and shown to my retreat that  his friends had graciously offered.  It was a beautiful home with a detached apartment that had been opened for me to use, the kindness of strangers!  I was so excited, I thought this is perfect, I can’t wait to start writing.  But first, off to dinner, I was starving and John was quite the host.  I don’t think John was prepared for my after “Happy Hour” buzz that comes on Friday evenings but he was quite the trooper as we closed the restaurant with our visit.

After a great night’s sleep, I woke ready to write.  I started my morning refreshed and excited about the time that I had ahead of me to write and reflect on this whole journey.  As I was having my quiet time the phone rang.  Normally, I would not allow for an interruption but I noticed it was a friend who knew what I was doing for the weekend and would only call if it was urgent.  I answered the phone and received news that would turn my day upside down.

My doctor was calling me and when he couldn’t reach me, he called the person listed on my “next to contact” list.  Christie called with a message that I needed to call my doctor back right away.  This is a very uneasy feeling on a Saturday morning and 3 hours away from home.  I reached my doctor and he explains that he does not know any information of the cancer but the radiologist had called him Friday evening after reading the CT scan and there appears to be a blood clot near my lung.  He continued to explain that an advanced CT scan was needed immediately to know for sure and though there was no reason to panic, we needed to do the scan “today”.

Not at all what I expected.  Change of plans, phone calls to be made, shower, pack and no writing.  About an hour later ready to go and the ultimate act of kindness coming my way, John graciously offers to drive me back to Dallas.  So we set off, there are a whirlwind of thoughts in my head, trying not to panic, trying not to be angry that this has interrupted my plans for the weekend.  But most grateful that I had friends willing to interrupt their schedules to take care of me.

A few hours later we arrive at the ER at Medical City, oh by the way, this is the only place I can get this scan done on a Saturday.  Great….this shouldn’t take long at all.  My doctor had called ahead to let them know to expect me.  Friends arrived, one to stay with me and another to get John to the train station to head back to Oklahoma.  I’m sure he had better things to do with his time on Saturday but he was a trooper to spend it with me.

After a few more hours in the ER, I had my vitals checked multiple times and finally my CT scan done.  I think that was just to get their monies worth out of my visit.  I had 2 nurses, an EKG tech, an RN, a patient advocate, a radiologist and the doctor all visit me.  Rumor was, all was clear but I had to wait for the final word.  Finally, it came, NO CLOT, nothing, probably a blur on the original scan, all clear….as crazy as all this was we broke into laughter.  We were relieved that the news was so good but we had to laugh at all that had happened to get to that point.  I was supposed to be enjoying a weekend away, writing.  The doctor did order one last thing, “a second date with that guy who drove you from Oklahoma to the ER.”

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”  —  Ecclesiastes 3:1

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Spring and Snow?

I only have a quick moment to give an update….all is well.  We had a lot of snow over the past weekend and it was all gone by Sunday afternoon.  It was crazy to say the least.  On Friday we had temps in the 70’s and Saturday we woke up to cold and rainy with snow coming in Saturday night.  As I was looking out my window in amazement at all the snow on the ground (a few inches) I noticed tire tracks across the snow.  Tire tracks where there are grass and hedges cannot be a good thing….nope, a car had gone off road and crashed into our building.  I don’t know all the details but it hit the building and the truck parked next to my car.  When I went out it’s bumper was laying in front of my car.  Crazy, I tell you!

This week has been much better, I gathered with my friends for dinner on Monday to kick-off Spring in the backyard oasis.  We fired up the grill and threw on the ballparks and asparagus.  Yes, I said asparagus.  It’s Meghan’s and my favorite summertime meal.  The guys indulged us and grilled, well, Schlegel grilled for us.  It’s always a great time when we get together, we eat, we talk and we laugh, oh do we ever laugh.  I love these friends and I wouldn’t want to do life without them.

It’s been a busy week and last night this girl went down for the count….in bed by 8:00.  Oh, I haven’t done that in a while and it felt great.  Ten hours of sleep, look out Thursday here I come…..

Pray for me this weekend as I’m going to get away to write.  I hope to spend a lot of time on the book and get as much written as possible.  I’m so excited, I truly feel like I’m dreaming and it’s a good feeling.

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

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I Do Not Walk Alone

Finally back to normal, whatever that is these days.  It feels like a roller coaster ride, just when you think you know what to expect it turns.  I can’t keep up with how I’m going to feel from one day to the next, I certainly can’t expect anyone else to.  There’s seems to be an emotional element that comes along with the “chemo hangover” that I haven’t really thought about until this week.  I recognized the emotional low I was feeling yesterday as I fought back tears while I drove to work, it’s good to have a 30 minute commute on days like that.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I gave God my last bit of temper tantrum.  I knew I couldn’t face the day on the emptiness I was feeling and I didn’t know how but I knew He was more than able to fill me up.  So I marched into my day expecting something.  Waiting on my desk was a card from a co-worker full of encouragement and a cross that said, “I am with you always.”  If that doesn’t speak to you, I don’t know what will.  As my day went on I continued to receive encouragement from far and near, most have no idea.  But He does, he knew exactly what he was doing, his little girl needed some love and he was filling me up.  By the end of the day I was feeling better physically and emotionally.  Not to stop there, He gave me 2 more pieces of encouragement in my mailbox last night.  One thing I know, when God gives he gives generously.  Yesterday was one of those days I received an abundance with a grateful heart.

I continue to be reminded that I do not walk this journey alone.  God has given me so much more than I could ever ask for in each of you.  Thank you for walking this with me.  My heart is overflowing with gratefulness.  Each of you continue to amaze me with your love and support.

Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  —  Matthew 28:18-20

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One Day at a Time

Taking it one day at a time, with a ‘chemo hangover’.  Last Friday was my second dose of carboplatin.  I get this every three weeks in addition to my weekly dose of Taxoll.  Not as bad as it could be, doesn’t mean there aren’t side effects.  Mostly, nausea for a couple days following.  This weekend was worst than the first.  The upside, I only have to go a total of 16 weeks which means only a couple more treatments of carboplatin.  I press on toward the goal…

So, what’s next?  At this point, I will have a CT scan in a couple weeks before my next treatment of Carboplatin.  This will be the end of a cycle before we start a new one.  What is a cycle, it’s how they measure the treatments, 1 Carboplatin with 3 Taxoll is a cycle.  This scan will measure the 2 spots on my lungs that were discovered back in February.  To measure now, gives us insight if they are cancer or if they are from the radiation.  Best to know now before we complete the chemo.  Staying ahead and well informed is the key to the battle.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  —  Philippians 3:12-14

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Blown Away by The Father

I continue to be amazed how daily God meets us right where we are.  He continues to show me He is here in the midst and wants to take care of everything.  He truly wants us to have an abundant life, we often confuse what abundance is.  My heart is full this morning as I came away with so much from time with the Father.  It was a great follow-up to what I wrote on Thursday so of course I have to share it with you.  (Please read Thoughts from Under the Wig)

Learn to live above your circumstances.  This requires focused time with Me, the One who overcame the world.  Trouble and distress are woven into the very fabric of this perishing world.  Only My Life in you can empower you to face this endless flow of problems with good cheer.

As you sit quietly in My Presence, I shine Peace into your troubled mind and heart.  Little by little, you are freed from earthly shackles and lifted up above your circumstances.  You gain My perspective on your life, enabling you to distinguish between what is important and what is not.  Rest in My Presence, receiving Joy that no one can take away from you.

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

(Jesus is speaking to the disciples) – “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.  In that day you will no longer ask me anything.  I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.  Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.  Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.  In that day you will ask in my name.  I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.  No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.  I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.’

Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech.  Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions.  This makes us believe that you came from God.”

“You believe at last!” Jesus answered.  “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home.  You will leave me all alone.  Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.  I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  —  John 16:22 – 33

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Thoughts from Under the Wig

Every day I get dressed and put on “my hair” better know as the wig and pull myself together to go out looking as normal as possible.   The first thing I do when I get home is “let my hair down”, almost literally.  It’s one of the first things I do when I get home, remove the wig.  Today, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I did and for a moment realized what a difference a little “stuff” makes or does it?  Every day I put on “stuff” that makes me feel and look as normal as possible, all the while I know I’ll never be the same.  Change is good, if it causes growth.

As I looked for a moment, I realized that to the outside world I look like I have it all together.  It’s easy to appear as though you have it all together, each day I put on a wig to cover the loss of hair, a little more make-up to “cover up” the loss of color in my skin and a prosthetic to hide a scar that will forever mark this season in my life.  At first it’s easy to “hide” cancer but over time it takes on a whole new look.  There’s very few people who have seen me without all the “stuff”.  Why?  Because I don’t identify myself by cancer, it’s not who I am.  I identify myself with Christ, that’s the identity I want live under.  At the end of the day, no matter what cancer does to my body it cannot steal my identity.

I am blessed to work with amazing men and women of God.  We are a company made of imperfect people trying to live like Christ and serve churches.  We have fun and we love what we do.  I have a great team that I serve with.  We often laugh and crack jokes at my cancer, please note I said the cancer not me.  Today a good friend of mine teased me and said that we may be the most “politically incorrect” team he’s ever seen.  He said it with a smile on his face and was taking a stab at me about our humor.  It made me think for a moment and he’s right, we may be but I’m o.k. with that.  If I ever thought for a minute that anyone was serious it’d be a whole different conversation.  I know for me that I will not let cancer steal our joy and any opportunity that we can poke fun at it.  Not to be disrespectful to anyone, I know it is an ugly disease, but it doesn’t get the last laugh on me.  So I will be politically incorrect about my cancer because the power that lives in me is greater than cancer.

I know some may wonder if God caused my cancer.  My answer is a solid, shout it from the rooftops….NO!!!  I do believe He allowed it to happen.  What’s the difference, He could stop it, prevent it or heal it.  And sometimes He does.  But I know that we live in a fallen and broken world full of things that break his heart.  This is not what He intended when He created the world.  It is up to us to choose what we’re going to do when we realize this, it is His desire that we would cry out to Him in recognition that we can’t do it on our own.  We can’t work our way to heaven, we’re not good enough no matter how hard we try to earn our way into eternity.  It is only by accepting the gift of salvation from a father who sent his son to die on a cross for our sins.  He is the way, the truth and the life, No one comes to the Father except through the son Jesus Christ.  How do we do that?  Submitting our will, acknowledging that we’re not the boss of our life and asking him to live in our heart.  It’s knowing and admitting that we’re not in charge.  We were created in His image and the longer that we fight that the longer we live dissatisfied.  This world is temporal, this is not as good as it gets.

At the end of the day, when all is stripped away, I look in the mirror and it’s not the look of cancer that I see but Christ who is changing me to be more like Him.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”  —  Genesis 1:27

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God , who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”  —  Galatians 2:20 – 21

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Second Opinions

Tuesday was the day for second opinions.  I am confident with my doctors and their care, the time came for more information and knowledge.  With the help from a friend, I was able to get into great doctors at UT Southwestern.  I started the day with a surgical oncologist and then onto meet the medical oncologist.  I spent 3 hours at the surgeons office going over history and treatment.  It was surreal telling the my story of the past 5 months.  As I spoke there was part of me that still can’t believe that’s my life I’m talking about.  After a short break with a little nourishment to refuel, we were off to the meet the medical oncologist.  He again was very supportive of the course of my treatment.  His recommendation was to pursue another CT scan sooner than later to measure the spots on my lungs.  At this time they are the only markers we have to indicate my chemo is effective.  No change would support that they could be the result of radiation, growth could indicate active cancer and reason to change treatment.

I left with more confidence in my doctors and treatment.  I feel I have more knowledge than I did before.  There’s a part of me that was very nervous, what would I do if I got conflicting information?  Again, I feel the Lord put a peace in my heart.  It is evident that He continues to guide my steps.  I don’t know what each day holds but I do know that He is not caught off guard and He has ordained my days.  I continue to walk boldly in this journey.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power of love and of self-discipline.”  — 2 Timothy 1:7

“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.”  — 2 Timothy 1:13

“He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge.”  — Isaiah 33:6

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