Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Weakness & Chemo #7

I had chemo #7 (third Taxol treatment) Thursday, and have the next one this week. That marked the halfway mark for the 20 total weeks of chemo.

I'm doing better with the fears and other issues, because for the most part I avoid thinking about them. God helps when I do. I'm not going to talk much about them because that makes me think, and so on.
Psalm 34:4 reminds me, "I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears."

I'm going through an interesting time of life. I'm officially the weakest I've ever been--I'm completely exhausted because of all-things cancer/chemo, have some sort of ailment all the time, and am constantly struggling just to get through the day. Obviously I have the ongoing vulnerability aspect from having made the cancer journey so public, but to top it off, I have stopped covering my head which ends up being a public proclamation that I am a weak cancer patient.

The interesting part comes in because despite the resounding weakness, I feel absolutely empowered in every way. It is an entirely novel feeling for me so I struggle with attempts to describe it. However, it affects everything. For one, I have absolutely no shame about being bald. I feel unattractive when I look in a mirror, but when I interact with people I don't shrink back or hide because of it. I apparently am very approachable now because I am frequently stopped by strangers who want to tell me their own stories of healing. Something about choosing to be an ear for those people makes me feel strong. I'm entirely confident in how I look, feel, what I do and what I say. Not because there's anything about me to be confident in, but because my faith is stronger and standards have changed. "When I called, you answered me; you ade me bold and stouthearted." Ps 138:3. It's SO cool!

Paul discussed some version of this phenomenon in 2 Cor 12:10, but I couldn't understand it until now. "For when I am weak, then I am strong." It is so true.

Monday, February 20, 2012


"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." Philippians 2:3-4

According to Beth Moore's daughter, the Greek word for humility in the NIV means, "the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one's self-importance". That's beautiful to me for a few reasons. First, it pinpoints exactly why I'm uncomfortable when people act like there's something special about me that caused God to heal me. I do think He chose me for this adventure for specific reasons, but it's not because I'm special. Or at least no more special than anyone else who seeks His face. The other reason is because I've had a big problem throughout the past few weeks with wanting to put myself above others. On some level I started feeling like I deserved the things I wanted, even though those things interfered with what other people wanted.  I was getting a really bad attitude and harboring a grudge when I wasn't getting my way. So, if anyone sees me getting frustrated by a change of plans or something, please ask me just how impressed I am with myself...but maybe do it while standing out of arm's reach in case you catch me on a bad day!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Becoming Fluent in God...and Chemo #6

I had my second Taxol treatment yesterday and it went better than the first. I didn't get sick or fall asleep. I was so prepared to pass out that I barely brought anything to do, so it was really boring. Fortunately, there were big things on my mind so there was plenty to pray about.

After posting about love the other day, it became abundantly clear that I am worse at it than I had realized while blogging. Several things came up that required my being loving toward other people. I actually did do some good things, but was slightly missing the mark. For example, I barely slowed down while passing a broken-down car. Afterward I did realize what I'd done and turned around, but barely and with hesitation. I am so glad I did, but I know it would please God much more if it had been immediate. I should have put my hazard lights on the second I noticed it, not debated the pros and cons for a quarter mile before stopping. Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me'."

I'm slowly coming to realize that my head is a pretty good Christian. When given a scenario to contemplate I can give relatively good advice about how to proceed. And in the midst of something huge like "terminal cancer" I can at least follow the basic tenets of my faith. However, that stuff isn't typical life. In day-to-day, minute-by-minute life I struggle. ALWAYS! I backslide more than grow, take the wimpy way out more than not, and "forget" the lessons I've been taught. My goal is to be fluent in all things God from now on. I was reminded in a Bible study the other day that Paul talks about living life on earth as a race. I need to pick up the pace. Not because other people are passing me--too often we think of where we're at in reference to others. But because that's what I'm called to do. If I say I am a follower of Christ I can't pick and choose when to apply the principles of the Bible. I can't make up my own rules because they make me fit in better with other people or help me get more done in a day. He says show love, so I will show love to the nice people as well as that really annoying person holding up the grocery store checkout line. He says be patient so I will not give Abigail a guilt trip because she is making us late. He says "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect" (Mth 5:48), so that's what I'll strive for. No excuses. No vacations.

2 Cor 4:6-7, "For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I can't believe God is teaching me so much about love on Valentine's Day! It started yesterday when I went to a cancer support group that teaches patients how to look better. The woman I sat by was really nice and proud of herself for how well she'd been dealing with the cancer. I have no idea why, but instead of building her up, my heart was hard to her and I engaged in a verbal competition to make sure she knew that she wasn't any more special than the rest of us. The details aren't important, besides that I was completely wrong. It seemed like I was being really nice, but my intentions were way off.

I am a firm believer that everyone wants to feel special, it's just the things that make them feel that way differ. This woman wanted--needed--to be bolstered for the bravery she displayed through the course of her illness, and I didn't give it to her. It might be that she was arrogant and self-dependent and God doesn't like that. But it's not my business to put her in her place. 1 Cor 5:12 says, "What business it is of mine to judge those outside the church?".

Instead of subtly putting people down, we shoulld be building them up. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34

Not only did God put me in my place by the shame of what I did, He also used it to answer other prayers. I have been extremely concerned lately about "losing" my healing. It was on my mind constantly and I had been pushing a lot of fears away that were succesfully stealing my joy. I knew satan was ruining everything but I couldn't figure out exactly what to do. I was afraid that if I made a wrong move He would punish me and the cancer would return. I was feeling like I'd be looking over my shoulder forevermore, which effectively made me fear cancer (and thus, satan), more than God. I knew that wasn't the way to go but didn't know what was. Then the spirit showed me the answer!

John 15:9-12, "As the Father loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love." (I was healed because He LOVES me! Now, how do I "keep" my healing?) It continues, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: LOVE EACH OTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU."

Following Christ isn't about treading lightly as not to stir up the wrath of God. It's not about doing good things to stay on the "nice" list. It's about love. The love He showed by His sacrifice. By the abundance of love He gives us, our hearts should overflow with peace, love, joy, and gratitude. If they don't, we're doing something wrong. I was.

I hope and pray that everyone who reads this will be consumed by love today and always. You've all made a difference in my life so let's see how loving more can make a big impact on even more people, and ourselves!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chemo Treatment #5 (Taxol 1/12)

I'm a little late on this one. Had my first Taxol treatment yesterday. There were a lot of upsides--Rassam felt my lump again and reported, "there's nothing there". I think he meant "virtually nothing" though. There's still fibrous tissue there that needs to be removed, regardless of the number of cancer cells that might have been hiding in there (I believe 0). More good news was that I feel find today, no side effects at all from the treatment. I did get sick from the pre-drugs yesterday, which turned out to just be Benadryl pumped into y IV. That was miserable but short-lived.

Much more importantly, I'm learning a lot more about prayer and faith through all of this. I guess beforehand I really thought of faith as believing in God and Jesus, that the Bible is true, and that God can do anything. Now I think of real faith as deeper than that. It's the literal trust that certain verses in the Bible are intended for us. Right now. "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." (2 Cor 6:2b). We can't keep running around praying with question marks at the end..."God, will you please heal me?". NO! We should pray for wisdom (unless our sinless hearts are already lined up perfectly with God's). Then pray with full belief that He will do it. "God, you alone can heal me, please do this for me!".  It sounds so stupid and obvious as I write it, but it reflects a huge change in my thinking and faith.

Early on in this journey I told you about how several members of my church came and prayed and anointed me with oil. They did this because of the passage in James 4:14-15, "Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up." Before they came over I felt like I should request that only those who believed I would be healed would actually do the praying. But I chickened out because I thought it was better to get prayer from people who wanted me healed than no one. Right before they prayed, an elder announced that he did believe I would be healed, and that meant so much to me. I want to be like that. I can't say for sure if he was the only one who believed it, but he was definitely living out the command. It is the prayer offered in faith. Not faith in God. Faith that God would listen and heal me.

James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." I think an example of this in the Bible is also when Peter walked on the water. He was up there and doing alright until he noticed what was going on. Then he seemed to doubt and started sinking. He was literaly being blown and tossed by the wind!

I am going to continue to pray boldly. I've seen tons of answered prayers already this week. My current MO is to pray for wisdom first, and if it seems like something I should pray for, I pray it with the full expectation that God will answer.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

For the Naysayers

I don't believe there are any true miracles without naysayers. In Exodus 4:8-9 God told Moses how to convince His own people that He had spoken and it took 3 supernatural signs.  "Then the LORD said, 'If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.” So, far be it for me to expect everyone to believe God did a miracle here.

However, I don't hear a lot from naysayers myself. Of course there are a few who anonymously comment on here, but for the most part people are asking my friends about it instead. So I thought I'd address it in case there's anyone out there who just doesn't have someone to ask about it, or doesn't have the nerve.

The way I see it, there are a few specific ideas the naysayers may have about the events I've blogged about. First, maybe I made it up. Second, maybe I am not really healed. Third, maybe something other than God healed me. I'll talk about each of these below, but if you know of another argument I'll be happy to address it.

Argument 1: Maybe I made this all up. I think I'll scan the two PET scans in (not tonight but soon) to show some evidence, but that wouldn't appease everyone because they could be forged or different people. Nothing will satisfy people like that, so let's move on. So, if I made it up my goal would have been to convince people to become Christians. If that's the case I either a) think more people should follow Christ, or b) am an atheist and think it's hilarious to get people to believe in anything. There are problems with both of these ideas. If I am a real Christian (which I am!), to have true faith I don't lie because it's a sin, and trust God to make His own miracles without my help. I hope those who know me recognize my honesty and if you don't know me you can tell that my faith is deep. So I do trust God to show Himself as needed. If I'm a huge liar and just watching to see how many people I can get off course, I'm really messed up because making people believe in different things than I do would actually hurt my cause. So, hopefully that suffices to demonstrate that I don't have any reason/s to lie about all this.

Argument 2: People may believe I'm not really healed. They could say the cancer is coming back. Time will tell, so stay tuned I suppose. Although there's "no cure" for Stage 4 cancer, 5 years of remission is when people tend to be convinced cancer is permanently gone.

Argument 3: People may say the chemo cocktail or combination of drugs healed me. To be clear, I received 4 doses of A/C chemo, an extremely common type. For 10 days before the PET scan I followed  a diet that many other people follow. The author of the diet book studied the evidence and purported that, at best, the diet slows or stops growth of cancer. Doesn't remove it. Time will tell with this argument also, because if somehow the common chemo + 10 days of eating more vegetables can now cure an incurable disease it will be the best news to hit the medical community in a long time.

By the way, if that's the case, I will still give God the glory. He created man, He made our world turn with very specific laws and rules that man is able to use to help us survive. He is the one who gets to break those rules when He sees fit. And for me, He broke them last week. For you, He might break them tomorrow.

One last thing that's been on my mind--God performs miracles all the time. ALL the time. For us on earth we only recognize them when they are impossible for us to define in other ways. However, every answered prayer or move from God is an equal "challenge" or effort for Him. But whether He answers your prayer for help with finances by having your bills add up to a lower amount this month or by having you find the winning lottery ticket in the pocket of your brand-new jeans, they're all miracles. You ask, you believe, you receive. James 1:6-7, "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."

Monday, February 6, 2012

Silly Pics

Abi and me posing after the news

                        Family photo: All of us, including Buddy Bear wearing silly mustaches
The girls and me in our matching hats

I have a lot more pictures from the celebration, but we need to figure out how to post them all. I'll post a link if we put them on a website instead.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

He reigns!

Hello friends!
Thanks so much to all of you who came by the park yesterday to share in our joy and celebrate God's goodness! To be certain, God is great all the time, but it was an amazing chance to reflect on His most recent miracle.
A lot of people were there so I didn't have a chance to get very deep with anyone. That probably wouldn't have happened anyway because I was still processing it all. I think it finally hit me so I'll share what I can...

A lot of people asked how I have been feeling but it wasn't until today that it really hit me. I was driving down the road and put on an old Newsboys cd. The first song just filled me with the Holy Spirit and I was flooded with peace from His awesomeness. There's nothing amazing about the song itself, but the chorus is, "It's all God's children singing 'Glory! Glory! Hallelujah, He reigns!". And that is the summary of this journey. Because of all those people praying for us and passing the information along, people in all parts of the country and world  knew about this. Because of His mercy, love, and kindness all those people are now singing "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah, HE REIGNS!". No matter what your circumstances look like, no matter what junk you're dealing with, no matter what the naysayers shout, God reigns now and forever. One day everyone will recognize it, we just have to wait patiently. "As surely as I live', says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God." (Rom 14:11; Isaiah 45:23).

I mostly feel joy today but I am also extremely humbled. I want to make sure everyone knows what He did for me, but I can't get past the fact that it is me He healed. Funny how I never once asked, "why me?" about getting the cancer, but I need to know why He picked me to be healed. It doesn't matter, of course, and I'm so grateful I can't even handle it.

There are a few things I am certain of: 1. My "believer's prayer" from Mark 11:23-24 (discussed a few days before the results) was the hardest, scariest part of my life and I know the way I attempted it pleased Him. I had to wrestle with it, go against all common sense as well as the believer's I spoke to about it. I believe I had to face all that and declare it publicly before I could be healed. To be clear though, I do NOT believe I did something to "earn" this miracle, any more than I "earned" my salvation. But I did need to get it together, and that included stretching myself and my faith farther than I would have guessed it could go.

2. There were multiple purposes for all this. I believe one was to get so many people praying and allow them to witness the miracle. It is very important to me that it's clear that you're all part of the body who prayed in unison. No one/part is more important than another, so you should all reap the benefits of getting to share the good news and not feel insignificant. Galatians 1:6 says, "As for those who seemed to be important--whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance--those men added nothing to my message." So, for those of you who prayed and believed, embrace the fact that He answered in such a big, big way. He did this great thing for you, for me, and for HIM and His glory. We should all be praying Rev. 4:11, "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being."

3. This experience has helped me grow in faith and I know of several others who feel the same. I have a renewed thirst for the word and can't get enough of it. I had gotten lazy with God and will pray and try not to do that more. I suspect there are some I haven't spoken to yet who are unsure how to deepen their relatioships with God. Please don't be afraid to ask. If you don't know someone safe to ask, send me an email and I can try to help or find you someone. Most importantly though, God is the one with all the answers so start with reading the Bible (try John maybe).

I'm praying a lot for everyone who has supported us through this journey because when God moves satan often follows. So be aware and "do not give the devil a foothold" (Ephesians 4:27).

Thursday, February 2, 2012


I know this isn't a very formal way to invite people, but we'd love to celebrate God's healing with as many people as possible. We will be at Tom Brown park Friday (tomorrow) from about 4-6pm. That way kids can play, we'll have food and lots and lots of joy. There may be dancing. Consider it canceled if it rains. We picked that time to try to catch kids before dinner, or parents on the way home from work. Hopefully lots of you can be there, and I'm sorry to those it doesn't work out for.


Well, well, well!

When it was finally time for my appointment I was called back to the nurse's station to get my vitals. Dr. Rassam walked by and said, "Your PET scan! It's all gone, your cancer is gone and I can't explain it!" I jumped up and asked him to repeat it and he said, "well, there's a little in your lungs still."

We waited in the room for quite awhile and while we did, we prayed that he was wrong about it being in my lungs. I prayed that his eyes would be opened to what the PET scan results actually said. Finally, he walked in and that's exactly what happened! All the metastases are gone--it's gone from my spine ("impossible", they'd said!), GONE from my lungs (5 minutes earlier he'd said it was there, but I saw it in writing), lyphnodes are cancer-free, and just a tiny bit is left in my breast. He felt and said it's primarily fibrous tissue in that.

Yaacov was with me and we both said, "it's a miracle!" to which Rassam agreed.

He said there is no such thing as restaging me, I will just always have the diagnosis of Stage 4. But I know I don't have it. As of now, I will continue to follow the doctor's directions, but if God leads me to stopping the medications I will. So the plan is the same as before--12 weeks of this easy type of chemo, then discuss surgery, and be on a hormone forever. One step at a time though and that's praising God for being awesome, amazing, wonderful, wonderous, perfect and perfect and perfect and perfect.

For once I am actualy speechless. What He did for me is so unfathomable I'm still awestruck. Despite all my prayers I didn't exactly expect this to be the best day of my life. I just can't wrap my head around it. Why did He do this for me? How could He love me this much?

"Sing to the Lord, all the erth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Decare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength, ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness." 1 Chron 16:23-29

"Give thaks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Cry out, "Save us,  God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise. Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting." 1 Chron 16: 34-36

"I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be ver all the earth." Ps 57:9-11

"Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sancturary; praise him in his mighty heavns. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for hs surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing ,praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord." Psalm 150

And by the way, God is good.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Still Waiting

Can't sleep. Suspense is killing me. I was just telling God I've never prayed so much in my life. Not that He didn't know. Then I realized if there was ever a time, this is it. So I guess I'll just read and pray all night.

A lot of good things happened today. The early morning was crummy so I was praying about some things and feeling lonely and discouraged. Then I got to my AM bible study and a woman there (who has been miraculously healed herself) pulled me aside and told me exactly what to do and pray. She had no idea that's exactly what I'd done this AM. That was nice encouragement, and a great reminder that I'm not alone, no matter how it feels sometimes.

Later I was still feeling a little down and opened my devotional. It happened to be incredibly encouraging and reassuring. It included Galatians 6:9, "for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart", and 2 Cor 4:1, "do not lose heart".

Finally, at my PM bible study (yes, Wednesdays are filled with God times!), we are studying James and learned that the original Greek term for 1:1's "Greetings" is "Joy to you", and that we all have joy as a birthright. I don't feel a lot of joy right now, except when I imagine telling everyone I'm officially healed. That will be a great day and I sure hope it's tomorrow. But if not, my joy is actually in the Lord no matter what, and I have to remember that.

If the results are bad tomorrow it's okay, because I will still be healed in His time. God is good no matter what, and we're going to have a little celebration in His honor tomorrow, regardless of the circumstances.

So...that's it. I feel like I've been waiting years to get these stinking results. It's definitely time.