Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Can You Find Peace With Cancer?

I've been thinking about peace lately.  I was surrounded by peace this last weekend while my family was camping.  I was able to listen to the birds sing and my wind chime from my daughter play.  It was a calming feeling to have this peace during a time where I didn't want to face the reality that I have had cancer for three years. 

That peace in the home was easy to find with my family gone.  Sometimes that peace is very difficult to find with the constant craziness of kids, responsibilities and just life in general.  That peace is just the peace of sound.  Peace of mind or peace of your soul can be even harder to find when you are facing something difficult like cancer.

But can you find peace with cancer?  Can you ever accept what is happening in your body and to your body?  When you are struggling with a disease, or any other struggle long term, can there ever be a time where you can truly be at peace with what is happening?  I believe you can, but it is a process.

The apostle Paul of the Bible is a great example of this.  He had more trials than anyone I have ever known.  He suffered hunger, beatings, shipwrecks, almost dying, imprisonment, stoning, and the list goes on and on.  But with all these things God was teaching him something.  He was teaching him contentment.  He says in the book of Philippians, "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 

Paul wasn't content and full of peace because of anything he did.  He was content and full of peace because he knew that God's strength, not his own, was getting him through everything and would continue to get him through anything else that would come his way.  He leaned on God rather than himself or anyone else.  That's how you can find peace with cancer.

I will be the first to admit that I don't always have peace with my cancer.  There are those days when I'm missing my kids' activities again, or I'm feeling horrible, or even when I hear of someone who has been blessed with the gift of beating cancer that peace is seemingly far out of reach.  That's when God calls me to repentance and reminds me in some small way to once again lean on Him for strength. Then that peace comes back.  Sometimes, like this weekend or when I first started this journey, I'm flooded with it.  That's God's great gift.  Other times it's small, like a calming voice whispering in my ear when I've felt like I've reached the end of my rope.  That's also God's great gift.

The best way I have found to find peace with my cancer is to stay in my Bible.  Gems come out all the time that remind me that God is taking care of me and fighting for me.  One of my favorite passages comes from Exodus where the Israelites have their backs against a wall.  The Egyptians were coming to attack and they had nowhere to go because they were by the Red Sea.  They were mad a Moses for bringing them here to die.  Moses already knew God had great plans in store.  This is what he told them.

God had a plan for them and He has a plan for all of us.  When we remember and focus on that, we can have peace in any situation, even cancer.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Three Years and Still Learning

The day I have been dreading is upon me. There is nothing I can do to avoid, escape or forget it. May 28, 2012 -- three years with cancer.

Just seeing it in print floods my eyes with tears. This is not where I expected to be three years ago. The surgery was supposed to prevent cancer, not find it. The treatments were supposed to cure me. My family was supposed to have a healthy mom and wife, not a sick one. I was going to be getting to all my children's activities, not just trying to make them.

It was a beautiful, sunny day as I was getting ready for my surgery. I was reading books that day. I remember so vividly thanking God for the surgeon He led me to for this surgery so I could avoid the cancer my mom had. I remember feeling confident that even though the recovery would be hard, this was going to make our lives better because we wouldn't have the fear of ovarian cancer.

It was also a beautiful, sunny day the day of the surgery. I was tired, but upbeat and positive about God getting me through the surgery. As they were prepping me, that's when my surgeon came in with those fateful words, "We need to talk."

None of this seemed real. I remember by the time my now oncologist found Paul I had a million things for him to do. We cried, the nurse prepping me cried and held my hand. They changed my surgery to one of removing cancer. Paul prayed with me before they took me back. The rest is just a blur aside from my surgeon squeezing my hand and telling me she would take care of me.

I remember trying to wake up, wondering where Paul was. My biggest fear was that they opened me up and had to close me back up. I kept asking for Paul, but couldn't quite wake up. They were worried about my blood pressure. Then I heard when I fell asleep it was fine. I just wanted to see Paul.

Finally they took me up so I could see him. He assured me they didn't close me up and that they got all the cancer they could. Finally some peace. I'm still alive. There is hope. God is giving us some of that peace that passes all understanding.

Now I needed to get ready for Melanie to hear the news. A good friend brought her. We told her. Oh, she was so brave and didn't shed a tear. We assured her that I was fine and I was going to beat this. It was so good to see her, but I didn't want it to be this way.

The rest of that time is a blur, but it was the peace that we felt that will stick with me. There are times when I wish I could feel that same type of peace God granted us that day. We needed to be flooded with His peace those weeks.

That was the day we started learning about so many things. Yes cancer was one of them, but we have learned so much more about God and His everlasting, unconditional love. Some might say that God wasn't there that day when I was stricken with cancer. But I know He was, because I wouldn't have made it through that day without Him.

Three years later I am still learning how God takes care of me in many ways. The latest CT scan showed a tiny progression in a few lymphnodes, but that growth is less than .2cm. My cancer number has dropped again. My oncologist is trying to get me on a parp inhibitor (I'll talk about that in a different post) Something else to pray about.

Three years later and I still have cancer. Honestly, it hurts seeing those words. It hurts alot. But through it all God has been by our side and we learn more about Him every day. I don't know what the next days, months or years hold for me, but I do know that God will be with me in more ways than I will ever know. That's the best thing I've learned

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Why I'm Blogging

Three years ago, on May 28, 2009,  I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  I was only 39 at the time.  I'm still fighting this disease.  On my three year anniversary I decided that I wanted to start a blog to show others how it has been possible to walk with cancer all this time.  It is because God is walking with me. 

This will be an honest blog about the ups and downs that I have had and will continue to have.  But through it all I hope to show you my loving God and all He has done for me.