Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I guess the hardest thing is when I run into someone who does not see me often but has kept up with my medical condition. The last “news” was that there was no cancer in my lymph nodes and that the cancer on my cord had regressed to CIS. These people are all beaming “Oh! It is sooooo good to see you! I was so excited to hear your wonderful news!!!” The news is wonderful, but not the same as being cured. I am not cured….not yet. Usually when these same people hear my voice, their excitement wanes. It is obvious that my voice is…well, terrible. The people that actually know me well enough to ask are starting to ask “is it going to get any better? What does your doctor say?” They asked this before, but I told them it was too soon to tell…they are asking again. Someone told me today that she thinks my voice is actually getting worse.
This is a hard week…the week of my next appointment…the days leading up to seeing the good Doctor. I go in to see him on Friday. Not that I mind seeing him. He’s great. I like going in because “everybody knows my name” kinda my own special version of Cheers….or not. I am not looking forward to going in because I know my voice is terrible. I know that I sound demon possessed and I know that he told me when this all started that “polyphony” means that there is something on the cord. I suppose it could be scar tissue. I suppose it could be a scab or something. But I also know that I sounded like this, though not exactly the same, after Christmas and the January biopsy was the one that landed me in the OR getting my neck dissected because I had officially been diagnosed with “cancer”. I also know that there were 6 weeks out from the first surgery when he told me “your voice should be crystal clear by now”. Of course, I also know that this last surgery was MUCH more invasive than the first. This is a hard week because I don’t think I want to hear what Dr S is going to say. I don’t think I want to see that same look on his face when he says, “Well, we won’t know until we get in there and see what we’ve got”.
When I did hair replacement at Apollo, I would “fuss” at my cancer patients because they didn’t want to go in to see their doctors. I would tell them “going to the doctor doesn’t give you cancer. Either you already have it or you don’t. Going to the doctor just makes it go away.” Oh! If I gave that speech once, I gave it 100 times. Now, if I did not so desperately want my voice back, I would not want to go to the doctor myself.
The thing about cancer is...at least in my case...you can't feel it. I realize that I have CIS, which is not the same as full blown cancer, but I don't feel bad, and I didn't FEEL bad when I had progressed to invasive carcinoma. I'm not sick. If my voice were not completely terrible, no one would even know there was anything wrong with me. So now I am beginning to understand what my clients were feeling when they told me "I'm not going to go to the doctor until i have to go". If you are feeling well, you really don't want to go in, because you know that the doctor might tell you that you are "sick".
I guess that's one of those things that a person can't understand until they've walked this road...
At any rate, Dr Schweinfurth is looming in the distance, as is my next surgery and subsequent pathology report. Maybe I'll follow the statistics now and will have regressed to dysplasia. Maybe not. Either way, this is the road i am on. I am not going to be like Jonah and sit under a vine and fuss and fume because i don't think God is acting right. This is the road I am on and I am going to do what I can to glorify Him every step of the way....some days more than others I guess.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Billy is a 70+ year old war veteran, did 2 tours in Vietnam, was a POW in Vietnam and came home to find that his wife, thinking he was killed in the line of duty, had buried him and had remarried and was expecting her first child. Billy eventually remarried, had 2 sons, twin boys. One of the sons died…Billy never told me how he died. These are just some of the things I could tell you about Billy’s life. Billy is one of the most amazing, caring, giving.....a-ma-zing men I have ever met.
The end of last year, Billy told me that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He went through 6 weeks of radiation. We have kept up with each other via e-mail.
Today Billy called me. Said he wanted to check on me and see how I'm doing. I said fine and he said "you don't sound fine." I laughed and promised that I do not feel as terrible as i sound. He said that he is “going away for a little while” and wanted to call me before he left. I asked where he's going, He said "it's complicated". I asked when he's leaving. He said "maybe as soon as tomorrrow". He said “You are dear to me and an e-mail wouldn’t do. I want you to remember something….the difference in the steel used to make a paper clip and the steel used to make a sword is the temperature of the fire that it goes through.”
I think he was telling me good bye.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I truly believe that admitting that there is a heart issue is the beginning of healing. So many times we think that if we THINK the right things and KNOW the right things then we are okay. I have just recently come to understand that knowing and believing are truly two totally different, although related, things. We first have to realize what we BELIEVE and FEEL about God…not what we are supposed to believe and feel, but what we REALLY believe and feel. When we are honest with ourselves and with God, then we have an accurate starting point….
Believe: to accept that something is true or real; consider, think, suppose, deem, judge
Perhaps you truly believe that God has failed you; that He has let you down, that He should have done more, that He should have protected you or someone you love. Believing something that is false does not make it true. For years, people believed that “bad blood” was what made folks sick. They believed it totally and without question –“with all their hearts”…to the point of draining blood in an attempt to heal everything from a headache to a fever…but the fact that they believed it, did not make it true, and many people died as a result. Perhaps you believe false things about God….and it is draining the life out of you. Be honest with God. Confessing your belief about Him does not change the truth about Him, but it does allow your heart to be opened to understand the truth.
Feel: to experience an emotion or physical sensation; sense, be aware of, be of the opinion, experience
Maybe you don’t believe that God has failed you. Perhaps you believe that God is perfect and that His ways are perfect and that He is in total control of your life, but right now you feel hurt, scared, angry, frustrated, impatient, disappointed, or just confused and that you have lost your focus. By checking what you feel against what you believe, you may find that you are truly closer to God than you thought. Your feelings can betray you. Just because you feel something does not make it true. I know that I ate 45 minutes ago…Still, I “feel” hungry….I believe that what I ate was enough to nourish my body and that I should not be hungry, but the fact remains that I FEEL hungry. Even though I feel hungry, I know that I do not need more food. I believe that my body is not truly hungry and that the “feeling” of hunger is deceiving and will cause me more troubles in the long run if I believe it…I will over eat and I will gain weight….and that will negatively affect many other areas of my life. Perhaps what you FEEL is in contradiction to what you know and what you believe to be true about God. Giving in to what you feel can lead to behaviors that will negatively impact other areas of you life.
Know: to have a thorough understanding of something through experience or study; understand, be aware of, comprehend, be knowledgeable about, appreciate, grasp, realize, see, get
You may KNOW a lot of things about God, but I am praying that you will figure out what you FEEL about Him, what you BELIEVE about Him. When you know where you really are with God (not where you wish you were, or where you think you should be, or where everyone else thinks you are), you allow GOD to come in where you are. I believe this is where so many of us unintentionally deny Him the privilege of completely healing us. We let Him in where we wish we were, or where we think we should be…and where we really are is still broken and beaten and battered. Be honest with yourself, and be honest with Him. Let Him come in where you are. In doing that, you are allowing HIM to take you where you need to be, and you will arrive there whole, healed, and ready to move on.
Trying to get my heart right reminds me of Jacob fighting with God. It is exhausting. It is a wrestling match. It is the ultimate battle between my human-ness and my spiritual-ness. Trying to get my heart right requires desperate desire for nothing aside from God’s presence. Trying to get my heart right requires me to let go of everything…everything…let me say it once more…every-thing. Getting my HEART right requires me to stand, kneel, fall flat on my face before my Savior….for no other reason than to get MYSELF right with Him. It is an ongoing battle. Over the past few months I have learned to trust what I know to be true about God and have come to BELIEVE what scripture says about Him and His nature, despite how I feel and despite my understanding of my circumstances.
Getting our hearts right with God requires complete submission, total trust, and absolute faith in God our Father for no other reason than because of who He is. It is a heart issue. It is between your heart and God. No one can fight this battle for you. Like Jacob, you may come away physically wounded (He may not dislocate your hip, but, like we said last night, He may not do what we think He should and that may hurt terribly), but your HEART will be where it needs to be…whole, complete, healed, and totally completely uncontrollably passionately madly in love with your Creator.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Only one small step was taken on my part and God entered my soul in away I could never have imagined. He has filled me to overflowing. He has made His presence so real that, at times, it makes me gasp.
With only the slightest effort on my part, God came into FULL view (as much as I can stand) and RADICALLY changed my...everything. With Him in His proper place, all of the things that only a few days ago were breaking my heart are no longer significant. With Him in His proper place, everything else falls away...there is only God.
He has, in 24 hours, radically changed my life.
All I did was wake up early to meet Him.
One little thing. I simply got out of bed a bit early, settled in my chair in my sun room, opened my Bible, and asked God to speak to me through His word....and he did.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
One of the things we talked about was the simple fact that sometimes we don't wasn't to seek GOD's guidance because we REALLY don't want to hear what He has to say about what it is that we are wanting to do. I know that in my early years I definitely wanted God's promise of Salvation and was eager to attend Church on Sunday, but was not willing to allow God to guide my actions Monday - Saturday. I wanted to live my life my way and then give God some time on Sunday morning. We talked about that attitude last night and we all decided that that attitude simply does not work.
Jesus says in Mark that "Man cannot serve 2 masters. He will love one and despise the other". In that passage He is talking about loving money, but the principle is very much the same. You also cannot serve God and serve yourself. You gotta choose.
Another thing that we discussed was candidly thrown out as "We run to the phone instead of the throne". Oh! How true this is! I know that I am definitely guilty of this. I will shoot out an e-mail or (when I can talk) pick up the pone and ask my closest friends what THEY think I should do when I SHOULD be asking my CREATOR what HE would have me do!
We talked about "microwave faith". Many of us "confessed" that we are likely to first call a friend or pick up a book that someone has written about the problem we have rather than pick up the Bible and see what Scripture says. We want a quick fix, an easy answer....microwave results.
We also talked about the fact that, if we are honest, we don't always trust God. That sounds terrible, but if the shoe fits....
I came home late last night and then couldn't sleep. The things we talked about rang in my head. The main thing that haunted my thoughts was the discussion about "regurgitated" information. Information that someone else has processed and reworded and put into a book or Bible study or devotion.
This morning I realized something that made me pause. God has answered one of my prayers. (One that has nothing to do with Cancer.)
Calvin has an amazing hunger for God's Word. My sweet husband devours scripture. He reads his Bible with the same enthusiasm that I read Peretti, DeKker, Rivers, or Moore. I have, over the past year or so, asked God to give me that hunger- to place in me the desire to absorb His Word. I read my Bible and I look up scripture, but it is nothing like what I see in Calvin when he is reading his Bible. Calvin reads his Bible as though he were reading a love letter...I want that.
Today, God answered that prayer. I realized this morning that I am no longer satisfied with regurgitated Bible Study. I want more. I need more. I no longer want to know what God told someone else. I need to know what God wants to tell ME. I, for the first time in a long time, am hungry and thirsty for, not only God's presence, but His Word!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I have learned (or remembered) that not being able to see what God is doing does not mean that HE isn’t doing anything.
I have learned (or remembered) that not understanding His purpose does not mean He does not have one.
I have learned (or remembered) that the validity of His plan is not dependant on my approval of it.
I have learned (or remembered) that God loves me and His heart aches for me and that He will hold me close to His chest so that I can listen to the gentle beating of His heart and the soothing sound of His breath until I am ready to move forward.
-that sometimes the bravest thing we can do is to crawl up in His lap, lay our head on His chest and just cry.
-that sometimes we have to love God and praise Him and Trust Him, not for what He is doing or for what we believe He is GOING to do, but for what He has already done. He died for me. He forgave my sins. He adopted me as his very own daughter. That is enough. He does not owe me anything else. I don’t even deserve what He has already done.
-that when we allow Satan to turn our focus inward we are unable to bask in the warmth of our Creator’s love. This is why we feel cold, empty, and alone.
- Allowing Satan to deceive me into thinking that God has also turned a deaf ear to my brokenness is worse than what I am going through. God has not left me, but I have to turn to Him and lean on Him and just trust Him. I find peace and comfort when I just fall into the arms of my Savior and simply rest in His embrace. No conditions. No expectations. No questions. Just rest. Trust that He has done enough. Trust that He knows what is best. Trust Him simply because of WHO HE is.
Today I met with 3 of the finest young Christian women I know. I have asked, and they have agreed, to help me out. This was not easy for me to do. The Women's ministry has been my "baby" and I am extremely protective of it. But I know God sent these women into my life and I know that they are trustworthy. I have not stepped out of the ministry, just out of the spotlight. I am not leaving the Women's ministry, just assuming a different role. That's okay. The more I think about it, I realize that, along with the tinge of sadness, there is also a sense of relief. Having them with me, on the Women's Ministry Team, will allow me the freedom to dream, plan, and prayerfully seek what God wants from this ministry. This is going to be a great change.
Also, not being totally responsible for every detail of the Women's ministry will allow me to grow personally and seek new ways to share Christ with others. I am warming to that idea.
What a difference a day makes!
Monday, March 16, 2009
I was reminded of my Jr. High experience on the way to lunch today. See, I have been terribly angry at God for the past few weeks. At this point, I really don’t even care if you think less of me for it. I’m not proud of it, but I see no point in trying to sugar coat it and turn it into something it is not.
I didn’t REALLY realize that I was angry until yesterday. For the past two weeks I have felt myself slipping into sort of a depression. Looking back over the past couple of weeks, it is pretty obvious, but I do usually see things better in hind sight. Last week, I finally started admitting to a few people that I am “really tired of this” and that I am “frustrated” and then on Saturday I spent most of the day in the bed…asleep. I WAS tired, but not so tired that I needed to sleep all day. I just wanted to disappear. I had finally had enough and I absolutely did not want to play this game anymore. I’m tired of it. So I slept…all day.
I confessed to my Sunday School class yesterday that I am frustrated and just don’t understand WHY God is doing this. Then in “big church” I realized that not only am I confused, not only am I frustrated, not only am I tired of all this….I am mad…really mad. Totally ticked off mad….at GOD. When I realized that, yes, I was really ANGRY with God…well, that sort of freaked me out because a part of me immediately began to SCREAM “You can’t be angry with GOD! He’s, well, GOD! He will strike you dead. You had better get a grip and get happy with God again or else!” But I can’t just turn it off. My heart hurts. I feel betrayed, abandoned, alone, and confused…and like it is all God’s fault.
This is when logic tries to kick in and say “Well, you don’t have cancer do you? Quit whining. It could be soooo much worse.”
True, it could be so much worse. BUT the reality of how bad it COULD be does not change the reality of how bad it IS.
So that’s where I’ve been.
I don’t necessarily think that God is going to take my voice away forever, but I am trying to accept the fact that He could….or that the trade off for not having Cancer is not having a voice.
I don’t know what to do now. I can’t teach. I can’t talk. I can’t. I certainly can’t sing. Why would God do this? What is the point? What good is it possibly doing for me to have to be silent? I just don’t understand. That’s where I am now…I just don’t understand....which is why I thought about Jr. High….I didn’t understand then either, but somewhere deep down (WAY deep down) I knew that Mom still loved me and had a reason for not letting me go to the “dances”. I know God still loves me. I know he has a purpose in this. At least I think I know He does….maybe I just HOPE He does.
I don’t know what to do now. I don’t know who to be. If I can’t teach, what am I going to do? Even if this is “short” term (already been 6 stinkin months, remember that), what do I do until things are back to normal?
Of course, I am reminded that Paul was thrown in jail and I am sure that was not in his plan and he was certainly doing more to share the love of Christ with the people in his world than I am doing to share the love of Christ with the people in mine. Who am I to think that I can’t be side-tracked if God allowed Paul to endure all he went through?
I just wish I knew what HE has in mind. I feel so lost and so deflated. I feel useless. I feel like what I have been doing was not good enough and so He took it away. That’s probably not true, but that’s how I feel. I just hurt. I’m just sad and confused and I just don’t understand why God would take my voice. I just don’t know how I can serve him if I can’t talk.
Even worse, this is between me and God. No one can make it make sense. Like I “tell” my Sunday school class all the time….it is a heart issue. I just have to keep searching until I get an answer.
So that’s where I am
Monday, March 9, 2009
Went to see the Good Dr Schweinfurth on the 2nd. It was a good visit... By far Calvin's favorite. Dr S said that everything about me is "completely bizarre". Calvin said "Can I have that in writing?" Dr S also referred to my "condition" as "That Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde thing you have going on".....fun stuff. Quite the comedian, my doctor.
On a serious note, it seems that I misunderstood what was going on regarding the cancer and Carcinoma in Situ. I THINK that rather than the CIS progressing to Invasive Carcinoma, what actually was happening was in two totally different areas. The reason I say this is because Dr S said that he has never seen someone test positive for CIS, negative for CIS, and then positive for CIS. The cancer cells are gone. There were only 40 of them anyway....40 out of several billion (or is it trillion) doesn't sound so bad. Anyway, he biopsied a lot more tissue this time and only came back with the CIS, which is in the same place it was before...i think.
He scolded me for whispering....Calvin ratted me out. But I ask you...Have you ever tired to communicate with a 3 year old and NOT talk???? I mean really. We are ALL getting very tired of the whole "mom can't talk" thing! My 9 yr old has gotten very good at answering my cell phone and saying "I'm sorry, my mom had cancer removed from her vocal cords and cannot talk. Can I give her a message?" the people who actually know me have gotten very good at talking to me on the phone thru Brian. He is a blessing, that's for sure.
Izzy is doing better than I had really expected. We are having some of the same behavior problems we had when I had the 1st surgery, when I couldn't talk for a month. Thankfully this time it is just few more days! I can start talking on the 12th and I cannot wait!
I did e-mail Dr S and mentioned to him that my "voice" sounds different than before when I clear my throat, cough, etc. He said to be patient. At that point I was only a week out of surgery and his exact words were "Helloooo! It's only been a week". Like I said, Dr S is quite the funny guy! Cracks me up really...sarcasm loves company.
Oh! and when I was in to see him on the 2nd, he said "We're going to be good friends for at least the next year." I'll be seeing him once a month for at least a year and having surgeries...
oh yeah, we are back to square one with the surgeries. I will have surgery every 6 weeks or so until we get a clean biopsy. At least it isn't radiation or Chemo! The surgeries aren't that bad. 2 weeks of no talking and I am good as new...until the next time anyway.
That's all I have for now....just waiting to be able to talk again so that things can get back to normal.
My incision is healing well. The scar is not going to be a big deal at all. Izzy checks it every day for me and faithfully tells me "It is not so red today Mommy". Occasionally she will kiss it so it will get better.
Hugs to all!