Tuesday, February 17, 2015

    1st chemo treatment  
March 2014
I've been blogging my cancer story over at Blog for a Cure.  It is a place to share your story with other cancer survivors.  Considering that these words have been shared with my family and friends, I've made the decision to move my thoughts here to my old art blog.  Here is my most recent post:
Jan. 15, 2014
I'm not a very deep thinker, although my mind is the bank of every internal speculation.  Words seldom leave my tongue without careful consideration, which oftentimes results in just keeping them in the vault.  This is part of the reason I don't update my blog often.  Sometimes I ponder whether sharing this uncomfortable, vulnerable situation was a smart thing to do.  But it' too late now.  
Giving you information regarding my health serves three purposes for me:
1.  Encourage others to get checked, watch for symptoms and ask for genetic testing when your family tree is displaying cancer so that you can be pro-active (I'll touch more on that in a moment).  Exercise and keep your nutritional needs met.  Learn about signs and symptoms. 
2.  Enlighten your soul with God's perfection.  I never really understood what the scripture "Teach me to number my days that we may gain a heart of wisdom"* meant (Ps. 90:12) until cancer, and I consider it a true gift.  It is my commission as a believer in Christ to share God's love.
3.  We live in a great community with many praying servants.  Requesting prayer for myself always seemed so unmannerly to me.  I would think about it (refer to the first paragraph), then decide there were far too many people more deserving of prayer than me.  Much bigger burdens to bear.  But I've learned the opposite.  Asking for prayer can be a humbling, and faithful means by which life can become richly blessed, even in the throws of cancer.  Believing prayer should be specific, causes me to be straight-out with you.  
My purpose for raising awareness is not to scare anyone.  It's really to educate.  Looking back, I never knew anything about cancer before January 27, 2014 at the age of 44.  I actually had convinced myself that because I worked out and kept a nutritionally sound diet (for the most part), I would heartily evade cancer.  Because of this arrogant attitude I did not listen to my body's warning signs in time.  Later, I would learn that my body was tricking me.  I have a haywire gene (or more specifically, a missing protein in the chain) that caused the cancer switch to be turned on and there is no off.  (K-Rass, if you're interested.)  I really have no family history to speak of, but those of you that do are at a higher risk and should look into getting a scope sooner than age 50.  Also, if you have any common generational cancers, you might consider seeing a genetic counselor.  As an example, Lynch Syndrome is a genetic mutation that is passed down from family members.  A person with Lynch is at a high risk of developing colon and female cancers.  (If this is boring you, I don't blame you a bit.  I would've skipped over this part too, back when I thought I was immune to cancer :) Armed with this knowledge, you could stay stay ahead of the ballgame, and hopefully catch things before they get hairy.  I did see a genetic counselor recently and don't meet any of the generational risks, but because of my age (44 is the average age patients are diagnosed with Lynch), my tissue is being analyzed.  I will have those results in a few days, but it's highly unlikely.  Thankfully.  Even in light of all this information, you ARE still at a lower risk of cancer when you eat right and exercise.  So don't go out and blow your great eating habits thinking it's all just a matter of luck; it's not necessarily.  
I was reminded recently of Psalm 90:12*.  Upon hearing the news this week, that cancer cells have regrown in my liver,  I've thought a lot about this verse.  I was told by the doctor to consider my illness chronic, like a diabetic.  Chemo will be my insulin for as long as I live, barring a miracle. (She didn't say that last part, I did ;)  I still have options, depending on the chemo doing its job, but remember, there is no off switch.  (scientifically, anyway...)  So, suddenly, I begin numbering my days.  My legacy is filled with too many shames.  Regrets and wrong choices.  I only have so much time to teach my children things I should've taught them already, but assumed I would always have tomorrow.  Suddenly, I am soaking up each moment with David, mindful of his love and ignorant about the position of the toilet seat.  Oh if only I had been numbering my days before.  Whether you have cancer or not, no one is promised one more day.  Not even doctors can tell you how long you'll live. They can guess. But only God knows our expiration date.  That's how smart the good book is. True words. Every one.  Through cancer, I have been taught why it's important to number my days.  
I encourage you to get off the fence.  Accept the grace and mercy that God offers and become a contagious Christ follower.  Don't wait till it's too late and especially don't wait until you're perfect enough.  That doesn't happen.  I am the most imperfect person I know, which is why I need that grace and mercy so much.  I decided as a young child to dedicate my life to Christ.  And I can honestly say, there were times when I wholeheartedly lived it.  But, often I didn't, and still don't.  The times I make myself to be near him, are when I am most at peace.  That's a gift, given by a perfect savior.  He takes me wherever or however I am.  Yuck and all.  
So, I ask you to continue to pray.  Pray that the chemo will do its job, and when I go back to Houston in 2 months, scans will show good results.  Pray for healing.  Not just for me, but for all those that I've met during this trip who also have cancer.  Especially remember kids with cancer.  Pray for caregivers and family members of those with cancer.  They are suffering too.  
Be the Love you are made to be.  Start.....NOW!