Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Don't forget....Exams, Exams, Exams!

Today I feel about 50% myself. I still have pain and other side effects but I don't feel as out of it as I did yesterday. When I feel really bad, I lose my motivation to blog...so please forgive me. I love to read comments and encouragement on here so I know that I must do my part...sometimes my body and mind are in 2 different places. I know those who read care and understand so I will not labor this point.

However, the point I would love to labor is for everyone to keep doctor's appts., yearly exams, etc. I know in the past when I read something like that....the thoughts that go through everyone's mind..."yeah, it happened to them so that is why they are crusading but it isn't going to happen to me" and on we go with our life.

Well...I for one should be an example of thinking it won't happen to me. I didn't have any of the high risk factors for colon cancer (including family history). In fact, I've never had a problem in my life with my colon, any other organ for that matter and nothing ever that serious. I would treat doctor's appts. as less important as meetings or day to day activities.

If I set an appt. and an "important" meeting came up at work, I would just call and reschedule. Please understand that I have excellent management at work who did not ever make me feel as if I needed to change anything...I did it myself! I wish I had that luxury now but guess what...you do!! Make Appointments and keep them!!

When I went in for my colonscopy, just to make sure the side effects I was having from medicine I was taking for restless legs wasn't anything serious....they almost rescheduled me because they weren't sure I was prepped enough for the exam. Thank the Lord the Surgeon went on and did the exam, as I would have talked myself out of the exam and would not have gone back any time soon. I would most likely have met my Maker or have been very close.

As most know, the tumor was so large that they had to work to push the small scope through the tumor to do my exam and said they weren't sure if they were going to get it through. The Surgeon told me it was only a matter of approx. 3 months and it would have been completely blocked and that most certainly that would be the end of my journey! This is why they call cancer, a silent killer. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! :-)

I was going through life, attending all the "important" meetings and day to day activities while anything but normal was happening within my body. There is no need to fear cancer or anything else....it is more important to know that you don't have anything than to fear that you do. Just check to make sure you don't. Pretty Simple!

My oldest brother, Jonathan, just had his colonscopy and he is totally fine! Praise the Lord! Every person in my family who has an exam and is clear, is a victory. My Surgeon and Oncologist said all my siblings, including my children needed to get an exam (this is one area where my children are blessed to be adopted and not have to worry as much about this particular disease). :-) This is the only point of having exams....just to make sure everything is fine and if not, catch anything while you can early. It was always a mind battle with me....it will never be again.

My cancer is very aggressive and my Surgeon thinks it grew in 6-8 months but the events surrounding how it was found and why to me are God's protection on my life. It was always shrugged off as lasting effects from food poisoning I had several years before. My Surgeon wasn't at all concerned, even said he wouldn't normally do an exam but since I was now 39...he would go ahead.....at this point, I would have pushed for more testing because my intuition had me alarmed for the 1st time in my life about myself....so there you go...medicine does not know everything but YOU must do YOUR PART to make sure you are available for all the "important" meetings in your life.

Every day I live this journey I think about all the things I wished I had done differently or would have made more time for....Honestly, I don't really have regrets but the one thing I would regret is if I were remiss in being one other person to say...."Don't forget about your Exams, Don't fear and Always Keep God Near"....No amount of love, education, money will cure you. It affects, old, young, rich, poor, educated, uneducated...it is not biased toward anyone. Believe me, it is a very tough journey but I'm so glad to be walking it with God, Family and YOU!

As always, love to all! :-) Each one of you are making my journey worthwhile...and believe me, everyday I'm looking for something positive in this walk.
Leah P.S. I'm putting up more pictures at the bottom should you want to peek!

Improving ....

Today is a brighter day.
Will blog later.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Praying for brighter days...

Just a quick update on Leah. She did not have as many good days going into this last treatment and the past few days have not been easy. Nausea and more nausea, weak and hurting. Imagine having a really bad flu that you can't get over and it only continues to get worse and you are trying to find some kind of relief. One minute you start feeling better and the next minute you are not feeling so well. It is all part of the process.

The Doctor is adjusting her medicine to see what might be the best medication and dosage for her. Sometimes it takes time for the body to adjust and to see what might be the best formula as every medication has side effects and works differently for everyone. It is trial and error.

She is now able to rest more than she had been which helps. It is also a blessing that her cell count was only down 1 pt. this last time and as of now won't have to have any shots and we are praying she won't have to in the future.

We thank God for everything he has done and for everything that he is going to do for her. In everything give thanks. Please continue to keep her in your prayers and pray for God to give her strength, comfort and brighter days. He is our healer.

Psalm 121:1-2. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

Again, thanks to everyone for everything you have done and continue to do for her and the family. It is appreciated very much.

God bless you!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Well, I'm officially 25% of the way completed!

Yeah! Although I've gotten my infusion pump removed and I have the next 2 weeks to go through any side effects, technically I completed my 3rd treatment!

I've tried to meet someone each time I go to Emory. This helps me understand my own journey, pray for others on their journey and realize that no matter how bad I may have it, someone else is doing worse.

I have found that the older people are doing much better on chemo than I am. I guess it was right when they said that chemo side effects are worse on younger people than older. I met a lady who was carrying the same pump and she said she was Stage 4-most advanced and has been doing chemo for 1 1/2 yrs. I couldn't believe it! She said she takes all the pills but has gotten so used to it that it doesn't bother her. Another classic example of someone older than 50 that says the side effects were manageable without pain. Just the opposite of what I've experienced. So happy for them, very frustrating for me!

My nurse said less than 5% of the people have nausea. Here we go again....I fall into the 5% category. I get very nauseated and the hiccups from the nausea medicine. I hiccuped all night long even in my sleep. We did everything to help me get rid of the hiccups but it didn't last long. The nurse said is is from the anti-nausea drugs. Well....I have to have them so I guess I will hiccup until my body gets over it!! ha.

Interestingly enough, my dog has been sick the whole time I've been sick. We have to keep giving him anti-nausea medicine too! Funny thing is the vet gave him the same medicine as me. I can't understand why he has been sick....other than the smell of the chemo or just sympathy pains for me. I feel so bad when he looks at me with his sad eyes. I try to keep him away but the more sick I am, the more he wants to lay on me to comfort me. Crazy Animal!

I'm praying for a much better time this time. I believe wholeheartedly with all the prayer that has gone up that this is going to be a better time!

I didn't want to lose weight as a result of chemo but I didn't want to gain weight either. Yesterday when they weighed me, I had gained weight. They told me it was from the steriods. Oh joy! Or maybe it is all the great cooking everyone has been bringing over! :-) My cell counts were really good, in fact they had only dropped 1 point from the treatment before, which was unbelievable! The time before they really dropped alot but my cell counts have been holding steady. I just pray they stay this way because I won't have to have additional shots to create cell counts that will sustain chemo and it won't delay treatments. I want to slide on through, finish this stuff and get back on the road to normal! Whatever normal is.......:-)

Have a good weekend! Love to all,

Friday, September 26, 2008

Good morning! I had to share an e-mail that I came across this morning that Leah sent to me
on 7/9/2002.
Leah has always been quick to give words of encouragement to her family and friends. She has a unique way of making you look at the situation in a different light. By the time she is finished with her “preaching" you go away with a different attitude, and feeling so much better.
Through her father's illness, Leah was one of my biggest cheerleader always giving me words of encouragement.

So today Leah I am sending you a REPLY..
Life is an echo. What you send out--- You get back. What you give -- you get.

It’s about the Message! Yes the message!! Same Message ..... Just a different day.
Jesus Christ is the same, Yesterday, Today and Forever. He is still the “I AM” He is still in the healing business.
This is the message that you sent me in 2002.

I was regretting the past and fearing the future.

Suddenly my Lord was speaking: "My name is I AM"
He paused. I waited. He continued, ......................
"When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets it is hard.
I am not there. “My name is not I WAS.”

When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, it is hard.
I am not there. “ My name is not I WILL BE.”

When you live in this moment it is not hard.
I am here. "My name is I AM."
When you need Him just pray, because he is ALWAYS there. This is something I am learning to do and no it’s not always easy to step back, take that deep Breath and ask for help. It’s impossible to regain control when you were never in control to begin with. God is in Control and I have come to understand He does not need me to help Him with day to day business. All God asks is that you let him handle the problems.
Love you ,
Stop telling God how big your storm is and start telling the storm how big your God is

So as you can see the years have gone by, but the message you sent me in 2002 is still the same message today.
Leah comes from a place of faith, a place of family and a place of principle ...and that throughout her journey with cancer she has been fueled by the blessings of this rich foundation.
When you realize that people of all faiths are praying for you it is truly a humbling and powerful experience. Also humbling -and inspiring are the many e-mails, cards, gifts,and food that Leah's family and friends have offered. Receiving cards is one of the highlights of her day. She is blessed by them all. With a heart full of gratitude I say " THANK YOU"
Despite the tremendous support the days and now months are full of challenges.
Leah has always been very engaged in everything she does. She went from making major decisions in a corporate world to making decisions on when she should take her medicine.
The impact of the treatments is "losing self" just not being present. This really hurts.
Physically the aches and pain she is experiencing took her by surprise.
I know good things will come from this. When the sun finally shines again in Leah's life she will take this experience and use it for good. Giving back and helping others is something that comes very naturally for Leah. I can see her now becoming a " cancer warrior"
Pease keep her in your prayers. Every day becomes a little more difficult to handle.
All my love,

Thursday, September 25, 2008

After tomorrow, I will be 25% of the way done with chemo!!

Yesterday was another very long day at Emory...we left home at 7am ish and didn't leave Emory until 4:30 p.m.

We asked about all the pain that I was in Friday, Saturday and Sunday and they did a thorough check-up and couldn't determine anything. They said it was symptons of pleurisy but didn't hear any fluid around my lungs or heart so at this time, they aren't sure. I'm having the 2 MRIs on my spine next Friday. They hope this will help determine the pain in my lower back after surgery and the this new pain that keeps creeping up.

They lowered my dosage of steriods so I could sleep. I went for days without rest and during the day, I couldn't sit down because I was so keyed up. My steriods are a form of speed and for those who know me...caffeine is about the hardest stuff I've put into my body. ha. My body is not quite sure what I'm doing to it but I guess it is pay back....ha. Somehow we are one and the same so this war needs to cease immediately! ha.

The change in the medicine has seemed to help as I was able to sleep last night but have felt more sleepy today so I've been resting. I really don't look forward to the days I have to sit in my granny grump chair and sleep all day but if it makes me better....well okay...they do say....sleep is good for beauty...so just maybe this was the purpose! ha. Gotta find humor in this madness...

The cancer survivor that called me last night to help me through the process was somewhat helpful except she said she didn't have most of the symptons I've had and the ones I do wasn't until the 5th month of her chemo and she wanted to quit. Her family made her keep going. I guess this is why they say chemo is much worse on a younger person vs. an older person. I'm not quite sure I felt better. :-( After all, only a month into this.....

Today has been a much brighter day. A little light-headed, cold sensitivity to anything cold...can't reach into the refrigerator and pick anything up, can't drink anything cold (feels like I'm drinking shattered glass)....everything has to be room temperature and then at times that isn't enough and even my drinks I'm been putting into the microwave, my jaws feel at times they are trying to lock up and I've started feeling some tingling in my fingers/toes but it has still been a great day. Just pain in my back and the other things I've mentioned....God is good!

I still cherish all the communication, although I can tell my strength at times is wavering so please bear with me...I can't always respond right away. For those who have sent phone numbers, e-mail addresses, etc.....more than likely I will not initate. However, should you wish to call, e-mail me, etc. please do. There is too much going on for me to keep up and many days this is all I get done....or attempt to get done. However, as I always say, I covet your prayers, thoughts, and care!
I'm so happy to have almost completed 25% of my treatments! I'm so happy to have another good day...not exceptional but still a great day.
Love to all,
Good morning! I had to share an e-mail that I came across this morning that Leah sent to me
on 7/9/2002.
Leah has always been quick to give words of encouragement to her family and friends. She has a unique way of making you look at the situation in a different light. By the time she is finished with her “preaching" you go away with a different attitude, and feeling so much better.
Through her father's illness, Leah was one of my biggest cheerleader always giving me words of encouragement. Today I came across an email that Leah had sent me in 2002...So today Leah I am sending you a REPLY..
Life is an echo. What you send out--- You get back. What you give -- you get.

It’s about the Message! Yes the message!! Same Message ..... Just a different day.

Jesus Christ is the same, Yesterday, Today and Forever. He is still the “I AM”

This is the message that you sent me in 2002.

I was regretting the past and fearing the future.

Suddenly my Lord was speaking: "My name is I AM"

He paused. I waited. He continued,

"When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets it is hard.

I am not there. "My name is not I WAS."

When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, it is hard.

I am not there. My name is not I WILL BE.

When you live in this moment it is not hard. I am here. My name is I AM."


When you need him just pray, because he is ALWAYS there. This is something Iam learning to do and no it’s not always easy to step back, take that deepBreath and ask for help. It’s impossible to regain control when you werenever in control to begin with. God is in Control and I have come tounderstand He does not need me to help Him with day to day business. AllGod asks is that you let him handle the problems.Love you , Leah Stop telling God how big your storm is and start telling the storm how bigyour God is!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Today is Beautiful!

Today I woke up without pain!!!!!! The first day since my last treatment. I'm really going to enjoy this day. Tomorrow is my 3rd treatment.

I received a call from a Cancer Hope Network that puts a cancer survivor with someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer to offer assistance through chemotherapy. I'm really excited to have someone who went through the exact regimen of chemo. I can compare when my symptons are normal and when I should call my doctor. They are supposed to contact me in 48 hours.

I praise the Lord for this day!! Thank you to everyone for your prayers....I want many more days like today!


Monday, September 22, 2008

It's getting about that time....

Well.....I sit tonight a little unmotivated knowing tomorrow is my last "free" day before I go back for another round of chemo.

This round really knocked the wind out of me!! Oh my, it caused side effects that were never explained or even brought up as possible issues. One is severe tissue/nerve pain..I didn't realize chemo caused pain...I thought it was the flu like symptons that came with chemo. I've had that in very small moderation compared to the other side effects. As I was explaining to my sister-in-law today, they typically don't talk about the least common side effects because only a small percentage of people have those....well, for whatever reason my body likes to be "special" and fall into the "most people don't have these and this is rare" category. Just like less than 3% of people under 50 ever get colon cancer! Well...little ole' special me...just has to fall into the less than 3% category. Why can't I just be standard/normal and be like 97% of the population? Can it really be that difficult to just be normal? ha.

I'm still in my pjs. I hurt everywhere but not like other days. I exercise even though I'm feeling bad. This helps me feel a little better. My sister and nephew come over so she can schedule my tests, deal with insurance companies, etc. She spends the day trying to set up the 2 MRIs I'm supposed to get and decided I should discuss having a PET scan since I will be having 2 separate MRI tests.....which will both take an hour long and the tests would be separate days and would require IVs so here I go again with getting stuck, driving an hour each way while feeling nauseated, and being in the test tube for approx. 45 min each....and then they think they will be asking me to come back for an ultrasound as a result of my mammogram so I feel like I'm still in a test oven.

The PET scan is for the whole body so I'm going to check with my doctor to see if the PET will cover my spine, the extreme pain I've been going through in my shoulder and side, and will take care of the ultrasound. One test sounds better than all the individual tests and will be easier on me having to travel. I don't travel very well. My body is not up for it most days.

We try to call someone who specializes in oncology massages to see if it will help with the pain. They are out until the 24th in educational training. Mom hears/sees a special on chemotherapy and how accupuncture really helps and doesn't hurt. I can't even fathom all those needles but I keep hearing you can't feel them...hard to believe but I would love to know anyone who has had accupuncture and how it feels. My company gave me American Express Cards and one of my customers, Wachovia sent me a gift certificate for massages. I'm definitely going to use them over the next 6 months. I don't even want to think about it getting worse but I'm reminded that the Lord promised he would protect me....so I'm standing on his promise...and all the wonderful family and friends who hold me up in prayer everyday.
Love to all,

Sunday, September 21, 2008

YouTube - Natalie grant held

YouTube - Natalie grant held

You must click and listen to this song.

In my daily struggles, I know God is holding me and this song reminds me of that. I cleave unto him and know that I'm safe.

Still under the weather, pain is somewhat under control, very weak......however, I still Thank the Lord for his awesome mercy and goodness in the midst of my storm!



Hello Everyone! My name is Lisa and I am Leah's sister. You will hear from me from time to time. From the beginning we decided that I would blog sometimes for her. Please do not panic if we do not blog everyday as some days are very hectic with Doctor appts., etc. but we will continue to blog along the journey.

Today has not been a good day. Leah has been in a lot of pain. This evening she was doing a little better but the pain has not completely went away. She is now resting and we are praying she starts feeling better soon. She is trying to keep her strength up for what is to come in the next few days. She will have more tests and her chemo. treatment this week.

This ugly thing called cancer has her on a roller coaster. She physically is up and down because of the chemo. and meds. you never know what to expect next. The side effects can happen at anytime and sometimes days later. It is the not knowing what is next that is unsettling at times.

My sister is a fighter and will continue to do so with help from God and the prayers and support of family and friends. You will never know how much your prayers and words of encouragement mean to her. She loves getting cards, posts and email. She may not feel well enough to respond to them but she does read them and it is so much encouragement to her.

Thank You for everything you have done for the family. It has been a blessing.
Please continue to keep Leah and family in your prayers.
God Bless You,

To my sister,
God made us sisters,
Our hearts make us friends.
Love keeps us bonded
Thru thick and thin.

Love ya, Lisa xoxo

Friday, September 19, 2008

and the answer is......"I don't know"

Yesterday I went to Emory for my ultrasound 1) to view 2 masses in my right breast 2) the ultrasound would provide better pictures and my port was in the way to do anything else.

After I got there and waited forever (they always make a big deal on the phone about being 15-30 min. early but always call you back over an hr. past your scheduled time) they asked me why I was having an ultrasound vs. a mammogram. I explained the reasons the doctor gave and they said the pictures would be better with a mammogram. I told them I didn't care, I just wanted the test and wanted out. They told me that if they did an ultrasound, it would take 2 hrs. and most likely wouldn't show anything we were looking for....I said, "do what you feel is best, I don't really know".

They did the mammogram. The tech doing them said she thought the pictures looked "fine" and that the lumps were probably okay but not to be surprised if they didn't call me back. They found another lump on the left side that might not be fine and they would have to do an ultrasound in order to determine if it was okay or not??? What? I just thought you said the ultrasound doesn't give as good as pictures and now she was telling me, it is more detailed and would use it to clear up any issues. She assumed they would call me back in to do more.....what???? I'm confused....

Once I told Steve as we were leaving, he said, "why don't they just continue to do whatever they need while you are here"....as for me and all the stacks of ladies piled up in the back waiting for our name to be called....I just wanted to move out of the madness....and let a doctor sort out what I should be doing....but most importantly and what I fail to hear anymore, "your done, nothing to worry about, go home!" Does this exist anymore? I just feel more frustrated.

I still have MRIs I'm scheduled for to view 2 different sections of my spine. I wonder if I go in and they change that test too...I'm looking for the day that I don't recognize people as I walk into the hospital....the volunteers at the front desk don't greet you like a familiar face and I look lost getting my way around. I don't want to be on the elevator directing other people to the right floor! UGH!

So the answer to the answer is, we still don't know our results.

Back to chemo this week...hard to believe....I guess I haven't had the up days like the last time so I haven't had time in between to build myself back up. Please pray for the few remainder days to be good days because it sure helps going in.

As always, love to all for your constant comfort in this journey.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Yea though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil

This passage often conjures death in my mind immediately but I was most recently taught a new way of viewing these scriptures that I felt were most encouraging.

Another view of these scriptures:
Life's circumstances of being in the valley with mountains all around you so all you have are the shadows of the mountains on both sides of you....it is so so dark in this valley that even the shadow of death hails over you.....everywhere around you seems hopeless but the scripture goes onto say, "I will fear no evil"............."For you are with me"......"Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." So even at the lowest place and most certainly the scariest place you could ever be...it says, "I won't fear evil".....I know God is with me and he's even given me tools to fight off whatever might cause harm or pain with his rod and his staff. So, I'm there but yet he is protecting me in the journey....coaching me on.

The scripture starts off, "Yea though I walk....it doesn't say run, skip, or merrily get through this valley...it just says if we keep walking....look straight ahead to his promises and use his rod and staff for comfort....there will be table that awaits me. So if we stay with the journey and finish it, it is no different than someone who runs a marathon and finishes their race. They are bestowed accomplishment, maybe a t-shirt, maybe some sort of satisfication of funds they have contributed to a worthy cause, or maybe it is just a "I survived the _____race".

In this race, my head would be annointed, my cup would runneth over and surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. FOREVER!

So this passage which used to make me think of sorrow...really brings me joy because in my shadows of sorrow and pain, I'm reminded to keep my eyes on him, keep walking, not give up and my days would be blessed. This promise is to all of us. My valley right now is battling my physical body. Your valley may be relationships, financial, jobs, mental or physical as well. It doesn't matter but if we believe and follow HIS word, I know we will be victorious.

Sometimes the walk through the valleys seem very long and can be tiring. I know I'm already tired of mine but cognizant of the fact that my mission and my mind must stay true to the route and journey because at the end, I want to reap the bountiful blessings.

Today, I'm headed back to Emory to get my ultrasound done. This will identify breast masses that keeping showing up on other scans. I'm expecting results of benign cycsts or something unsubstantial but nonetheless, it will be good to know.

So far today, I've only had a headache and some loss of hair. Nothing substantial compared to other days. I thank God for another great day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What is going on out there?

So many things happening, financial markets collasping, Hurricane Ike and the like sweeping through, gas prices continue to climb and in the midst of all this....my mind weaves one word after another through my soul's intermost thoughts.

How can there be so much catastrophy yet so little impact on me right now? Why is my mind screaming with so many other things that no one else is noticing? Why don't I care that anyone notices? Why am I glad that others' are not affected?

This battle is not for anyone else, I tell myself....it is the journey I must walk alone. Not because I'm alone because I know there are so many holding me up but because the actual walk is mine alone. God and me. me and God. How wonderful that sounds but today, the sound is not so sweet because it is a difficult journey. It comes with alot of pain. It comes with sleeplessness, restlessness, pain and suffering. I do not despair. I do not feel sorry for myself. I just wonder how I can make this all go away? Is there something magical I say? A special prayer I pray? Didn't I ask for this when I prayed that I wanted purpose in my life? I prayed, "Lord, let me know without a doubt the direction I am to take." I think it is pretty obvious the route I am to take now.

My trust is ALL in GOD! I know the Power to make it through is all in HIM. However, I have to put each step behind HIS and follow.

The other day I mentally had to get myself out of the darkest woods. I was physically in a very bad place and mentally I was following....I visually took myself to a very dark forest. Most hunters, Girl Scouts, etc. can attest to a very dark, scary night when you realized there is only one person who has a lantern to see your way around. You very quickly realize that you must trust that person. If there is more than just you to follow, you must also listen and lean on the next person to get where you want to go.

I mentally put myself right on the leader (my case, it was Jesus) and closed my eyes because I knew all I could see on both sides was darkness. Many times, listening to someone who can direct you because they know where they are going is better than trying to look and figure it out for yourself. Yet, most time...we'll still try to do it ourselves.....

So, this is what I did....I mentally shut my eyes, put my hand on the leader because I knew he was leading with the only light out of the situation. I heard the crunch, crunch, crunch of the boots as He waded out of the woods and with each crunch, crunch, I put my foot where I heard HIS last footstep and kept following. The process of walking through the woods was several hours but in my mind, it didn't seem that long because I knew I was depending on the ScoutMaster who knew the woods inside and out...had been there before and really didn't need the light to lead but it was more to make me trust that HE knew what HE was doing. It was a Promise that he was going to protect me. I just had to believe, listen and follow.

We, as people or Christians find it very hard to follow. I know I find it hard many times because we think we have it figured out and leaning on someone else is going to take more time.

I've often thought of the person who is in the foxhole in the middle of a war all alone? Where is all that bravery? Where is all that strength when you can smell the breath of your enemy? As for me and my house, I want to serve the Lord and for him to be the Master and Leader of our Home. It is knowing the Master is in control is the reason that everything can be going wrong around us but we know who is holding the light leading us out and is going to take care of us.

So, what is going on out there? Nothing, nothing at all that God isn't already in control of. Praise him for your direction because this too shall pass and he will guide you! Just learn to listen...

I also want to thank those who still send cards, gifts, dinners.....I say it all the time but you can't even imagine how much it is appreciated....especially on days like today when it could have been easy to give up. Victory!!

Love to all,

Monday, September 15, 2008

I'm already looking forward to the day that I say, "but for the Grace of God, we made it!"

The past couple of days have been a whirlwind physically to put it mildly. Ever remember how you felt when someone had you on a merry-go-round and kept sendng you around and around to their heart's content and your face was frozen from how physically your body was going to respond? Thus is how I've spent my last couple of days......on a phyiscal merry go around praying that today will be the day I get off. Please help me pray that today is the day I get relief from this thing.

Will blog more later.....not up for the full challenge yet again.

Not feeling well....will blog later!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lord, Just carry me through!

As I sit at my computer drinking Peppermint Tea to settle my stomach, after all, I look forward to going to church....I look down on my sheet of paper that mom had made out to keep track of my medicine and today's quote from mom is, "He will carry you through". I realize everyday she has written a quote for me.

This is my prayer today. I'm trying so hard to get my body to carry me through this morning so I can go to church. Each day is a challenge because each day you wake up feeling a little different. One day you may be nauseated, another day you may be weak and sore, so and so forth...depending on how bad this all makes you feel, determines whether I get out of my pjs or not. I keep getting up trying to do what I can to hasten the process of feeling better but so far, nothing has progressed. I determine a little sweet peppermint tea, time with the Lord, time with my friends on here...may go a long way in helping me this morning.

Dekota, my protective dog, who has followed me around everywhere the past couple of days, has been following me throughout the night...but he has grown tired and finally went over and just lay on the couch....looking at me, wagging his tail...and appears worn out from just following me around throughout the night. I understand how he feels, I just wish I could roll over, wag my tail and it all be okay. :-) I know it will be but it takes time and patience, which at times, I find difficult to give. I just want the show to get on the road. I don't want this to be my life...whatever purpose it serves, is what I want to do and then move on, "next?", I think in my mind.

Poor Steve, I know he notices how many times I'm up in the night, I don't know how the poor man gets any sleep but never complains....always making sure I'm comfortable. It is those people who in my life have been carrying me through. The prayers first and foremost, those who bring dinners, those who make comments and encouraging words, those who offer to help and my family members who are always right here at my beckon call to make sure I'm okay. I don't know how people go through life so involved in themselves that when something like this happens, they don't have anyone to turn to! I really believe I've done so well because of the prayers and the care of my family, church and friends! I keep hearing how much worse it is going to get...and for that, I feel a little apprehensive but then again, I heard it before I got started and God has carried me through! He has given me so much grace and mercy throughout this process so far that I'm just amazed! I just can't thank God enough or anyone reading this blog who sends up prayers toward heaven for us! If you only knew what I'm going through but through the hands of God, I'm making it because of YOU! Thank you Jesus and thank all of YOU!
Love again to all,

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Finally Unhooked-A little Nauseous but I'll Make it!

Another day at Emory to get my chemo bag unhooked. The tape didn't stick as severly as last time so all in all the process wasn't bad. I had Tim, the same nurse that hooked me up Wednesday. This is the first time I've had the same nurse. He was wonderful and helpful. We talked about how my white blood cells had dropped considerably from the 1st session to the 2nd session but they have a growth hormone replacement shot if need be...however, what they don't say it how it creates severe bone pain. We discussed the possibility of me having to have this shot but it also just gives me another prayer request for all you....please pray that my cell counts stay so that I don't have to have additional shots to raise counts for my treatments. It slows down the process and adds alot more pain!

Emory didn't seem to have as many people in the infusion center as they did on Wednesday when I was getting hooked up. However, the people were all very young that were in the same bay as I was. Again, you could see cumulative effects of chemo and how much sicker they were. I just keep praying, "Lord, just let this be my miracle, getting through this without the severe side effects".

I did become very nauseous and sick when I got home from the ride to Emory. Thank God mom had me take an additional pill for nausea or it would have been out of control. My temperature starts dropping immediately. The way I notice my temperature take a quick drop is my nose gets real cold while the rest of my body is warm. Steve took my temperature and it had dropped to 95 degrees again but it goes up and down really quickly....so quickly that mom and Steve put the blankets on me, I'm immediately throwing them off and on....it causes my head to feel like it is spinning out of control and my body is just responding in very quirky motions making it very difficult to get my body to relax. Mom, Steve and Kimberly come over and pray for me as I can't get my body under control and I start getting upset. Prayer always calms me. Mom makes peppermint tea and after a few minutes....I lay my head back and begin to fall asleep. Chemo is a very weird poison....you don't know what to expect....it just comes on you full throttle and acts different each time.

However, by the end of the evening, I was feeling tired but had a good night's rest....so Thank you Lord. I get up this morning wondering how this day will go. Thus the way it is....you can't really make any plans because your body makes them for you but not in an advance way. You can feel great and within hours feel horrible.

I still Thank the Lord because it could be so much worse at this point! I've seen worse from others so I know the prayers are sustaining me.

I may blog later but for right now....I'm going to take it easy and try to see if I can keep my body calmed down so I can go to church tomorrow. I know I have to watch because my cell counts are down so even the slightest sickness I can't go anywhere but I'm still going to try to conserve my strength. UGH....the highlights of a weekend....Yeah rah for me! God is still good so I must focus on his goodness rather than my aggravation over the process!

Everyone have a good weekend! Love, Leah

Friday, September 12, 2008

Still hooked up to Chemo #2

I'm still hooked up to my chemo treatment #2. I just got up to get some crackers so I can take my steriods. I have an appt. today at Emory at 2 p.m. to have my bag unhooked. Mom, my Aunt and Uncle are going to take me. The worst part of this day is removing all the tape. They are using the least sticky tape but for some reason, my body really takes to the adhesive and my skin always rips with the tape. Ouch! They have tried using acetone and slowly try to remove it but typically they are in a hurry and ripping it off is faster and easier. Just leaves me sore. I work to get it healed just to return and start the process all over.

For some reason, chemo makes my back, legs and jaw very painful. I've had to live on Vicodein the past couple of days. However, I'm thankful for it because the last time I didn't have it and was miserable.

On the bright side, I keep a bag beside my chair that I have been putting all my cards, etc. Mom made a quick count of all the awesome cards I received.....knowing this isn't all of them but I had 171 cards!! This doesn't include over 900 e-mails, the countless calls, dinners and gifts I receive everyday!! It that isn't love, care and concern....I don't know what is! This is what is keeping me going....giving me strength to see past all the pain and know that so much prayer is going up to heaven for us. I am amazed at the prayers from those I don't even know! God has been so good that I find it hard to complain at all.....so typically I don't.

My famous words when asked how I am feeling is, "i'm fine". Mom gets so mad at me and says, "stop saying that....you are sick, you are not fine"....she is concerned that my kids are so used to me finding the brighter side of this that pretty soon they won't realize that I'm truly sick and do need their help. However, God has given me so much grace that even at my worst, I'm know that "I'm fine". :=)

Again, thanks to all for your support....as already stated, you can see through the communication that I'm being supported by many and this is an awesome feeling. Do not ever think that your communication gets lost with all the others. I notice each one and read the encouraging words over and over. It gives me so much inspiration that I hope that I'm able to return the favor to everyone in some small way.

Again, because of you.....today will be another great day! Love to all, Leah

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chemo Round #2-Long Blog

Last night after chemo, I came home and blogged. Unbelievably after blogging my system said it wasn't connected to the internet and I lost everything so I will try to recreate what I wrote yesterday. Sorry for the late blog!

Many have asked about chemo...what the day is like, what you go through, why you get so sick, etc. etc. so I thought I would use this day to better explain the yuccky process you go through to get well.

First of all, age works against you in chemo, contrary to what I thought. The doctor said he has seen 39 yr. olds die from chemo (obviously this is my age). I may be really sick and a 70 or 80 sitting beside me will do really well.

Why? Chemo is meant to kills cells. Unfortuately science has not been able to perfect any medicine (or poison as I affectionately call it) to differetiate between good cells and bad cells. The chemo kills the good and the bad but the side effects are not from killing the bad cells, rather the good rapidly dividing cells. A younger person has many more rapidly dividing cells than an older person, thereby making a younger person much sicker.

The first day of each chemo treatment starts like this.....

1) We live approx. 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. away from Emory depending on traffic. Days like yesterday where the leg of the ride that should have taken 15 minutes was back logged and was an hour ride. Therefore our ride could stretch into 2 hrs., etc.....with early appts. between 8 am. and 9 am. we are in the work traffic congestion.

2) We start off in the Lab. Once you check in and take a seat, you can rest assure you will wait well past your appt., however if you are late, it puts you behind the stack of patients. They draw several vials of blood each time to check all my cell counts, calcium, liver function so on and so forth to see if my body can take another chemo treatment. This time they also set up all the lines running out of my port to hook up for infusion later. The process of running all my blood counts take approx. an hour thus the reason the wait is a big deal because I have 2 appts. right behind this one and if it runs behind....my whole day runs behind...

3) We are sent up 2 floors to the Medicial Oncologist. They in turn send us back down 2 floors to a Resource Coordinator because they are having trouble with Aetna billing. We clear that and back up 2 floors to the Medical Oncologist. We then continue to wait well past our appt. time. The nurse walks out of the office sees us and comes over to speak. She wonders why we are still waiting. I'm sure we are all waiting on blood work that was delayed.

4) After finally meeting an hour later with the Medical Oncologist (I'll explain more about that conversation later), we are sent down another floor to the infusion center for chemo. We are over an hour late for this appt. Our appt. is 10:30 and we are getting in at 11:45 a.m. We again wait. Once they call us up, provide my medical bracelet, take us back to my "chair", we are told they are still waiting on all my medicine.

I'm somewhat amazed that we had to wait until after 1:00 p.m. to get all my medicine. After all, I was over an 1 hr. plus late for the appt. so I assume they are biting the bullet for me to get there to keep things on schedule. Steve thinks we got there on lunch hour so the availability of those in the Pharmacy has dwindled. They start off with saline solutions they start pushing through my lines. This gives an unbelievable unpleasant taste in my mouth. He has 5 vials he has to push before starting another flush bag. I hold my nose, we all get a good laugh but it helps with the ungodly taste in my mouth until I release my nose! They start a flush bag on me in case the chemo causes immediate side effects they can't control and have to flush out my lines.

The next small bag they give is a steriod meant for nausea. This bag runs about 15 minutes followed by another medicine, Aloxi that is for delayed nausea. I then take a pill that is going to "knock me out". Same pill as last time...no effect like last time....others around me sleep....me, I'm like a squirrel peeping out its home in the tree....wide awake....not sleepy. I don't get to sleep the time away.

They are then able to hook up the "real bad" chemo and run it concurrently with another bag of drugs meant to enhance the bad chemo. This all runs for another 2 hrs. Once those bags of chemo are finished they begin what they call a push of the chemo that I will be sent home with. They literally take vials of this chemo and push it very quickly through my lines. I always feel the cold medicine coursing through my veins as they shove it through.

They start tying off my lines and start hooking up the bag of chemo and monitor they will send home with me for the next 46 hrs. They suit up like I'm radioactive. The first time they tell me the reason they have to suit up the way they do is in case anything punctures and it is for their protection. I guess since it is flowing through my veins....I don't need protection! -( They give me radioactive hazard bags/gloves for leakage at home. They tell me how careful I must be if anything leaks...do not allow anyone to touch it....blah, blah, blah....you realize this is bad, toxic stuff....thus the reason I call it my poison. I say, "Pray, get Poisoned, Pray, get Poisoned"......after all it is killing in my body....I'm so thankful for that but it still is a stinky process.

Although our day starts on the road around 7:00 am. ish....our day finally ends around 4:30, to the car and to sit in all the traffic on the way home.

I walk out hooked up to a bag, they call a fanny pack, I call an elephant pack....this thing is too heavy to hang around my waist, especially having major surgery with the type of incision I have...so I carry it on my arm. This time I'm a little more used to it....however, you can imagine how it smarts when you forget you have it....especially in the middle of the night....you get up and this bag hooked onto your chest gives you a nice pull! Ouch.....oh yeah, I forgot my bag! ha.

As I stated earlier in my Medical Oncologist meeting, I discuss the lesions on my kidney and lungs. He said no body is medically perfect and they are not large enough to biopsy them right now so they will monitor them. However, I asked if they are cancer would the chemo kill them. He said, "they should". So, we will wait and see how that works out.

Secondly, we discussed the fact that the MRI meant to review my spine is a closed MRI. I'm very claustrophobic and anyone who is would understand being in a enclosed tunnel inches from your face for approximately an hour is more than mind over matter. They suggested sedating me with the same medicine they have been giving me that will knock me off my feet. Well....it hasn't phased me....but gives me wired energy. They don't have anything to offer. I'm going to have to try to find an open MRI. Steve is disappointed with me because the images aren't as good and he wants me to be sure we get the best care possible....I don't know what else to do???

The Medical Oncologist also explains that the neuropathy that typically comes with this chemo will kick in about 2 months into this process. It ranges from severe to mild. Each person is different. I'm praying that I'm the different and either have little/no side effects.

So far this treatment has only caused real bad back, leg and jaw pain. I didn't wake up nauseated like I did the last time. I took Vicodein for the pain and was able to sleep for once. Typically naroctics don't help me sleep but the days at Emory are very long and sad.

Most people are so sick. Many are wearing masks. Young and old alike. I always feel so strong, uplifted by all your prayers and then when I get there and look around, I start feeling teary-eyed. Not because of me....but because I hurt for all the sick ones around me. So many are there by themselves and here I have this awesome strong man sitting beside me, carrying my "diaper bag" with my blanket and junk and coaching me through....and there they sit without anyone....I can't help it...It makes me feel very sad.

Walking past all the aisles of people getting chemo (they say they see 100# people a day) makes me even more sad. Oh my....so many sick people. It makes me feel like I have a stubbed toe in comparison. I pray for these people.

On the upside, I so enjoyed having my Emory Clown, (aka Steve Boyd) with me. He had me laughing all day.

We were in the Medical Oncologist office and Steve decided that he needed to check my eardrums. He gets out the medical equipment and is in awe what you see, so he decides that I must also view his eardrums. Well....once you realize how awesome this equipment is....you must try the next piece....he gets the instrument they use to look into your eyes. He has it right up against my eye and his eye is right on the other side of the instument....as he is doctoring me....well, the Doctor slips right in the door and catches us in action. It was so funny, we started laughing and the doctor very seriously says, "enjoying the medical equipment" and gets straight to business. Well...it was still fun! :-) Steve didn't have time to diagnose anything but I'm sure next time he will.

As we were waiting to get into the Doctor, I looked over at Steve and noticed this stray eyebrow hair. I think I'm going to reach up and pull it quickly without anyone noticing. Steve decides to act like a clown and starts squinting and making faces and as I'm trying to very quickly make this go away. He gets me giggling as I'm trying to defeat this one little stray and Steve notices that this little "grandma" sitting a few rows over (no one else in the room) is not amused. For some unknown reason, it makes us start laughing even more. Poor "grandma" can't take it anymore and gets up and moves to the other side of the room. Steve has the bright idea that we should wait a few minutes and walk over to that side too! ha. Our buzzer goes off to see the doctor so everyone is saved! ha. By the way, this room is very large, "grandma" didn't look sick and we were really far enough away she didn't hear us giggling.....it was one of those moments that Steve told me NOT to blog about but I had to anyway. You have to find something funny to to talk about.

Onto the infusion room, Steve finds a non-Latex glove that is brown. This glove is huge. Steve decides to start blowing up the glove. My nurse comes over and I ask the nurse to remove Steve as he is being very disruptive. The nurse starts laughing and asks if he should send security. As we look over at Steve sitting innocently with the deflated glove in his hand, I can't help but remark, "see he even has stolen goods". The nurse thinks it is even funnier when Steve said he got the glove to work in his garden. Yeah right...we don't have a garden and can you see Steve, "oh honey come look at all our beautiful blossoms!".......somehow I can't wrap my brain around the picture.

Oh and speaking of stolen goods....Steve notices the neat container holding the barf bags on the wall and starts wondering how he could get it off the wall to take home and put in our bathroom. Wow, you can see how all the hours sitting in the hospital can turn a very sweet and innocent man into a thief. Just so you know, he would ask for one....he wouldn't steal but it sure was funny watching him eye it on the wall and remark the fact that we would even need one. ha. You can tell who has been taking care of me. Poor thing....thank you! I don't know what I would do without you here that is for sure!

So, in spite of all the things you go through....knowing I'll be back on Friday to go through all the waiting to yet again get my bag off....you can find fun. Steve made my day as delightful as possible and gave everyone something to laugh at too!

Your prayers are sustaining us through this process. Don't ever think we have it all together because believe me we do not. We need you! We thank you for all the prayers. Today is going to be another great day because of YOU!
Love you guys!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Did you make a withdraw or deposit today?

There are many types of financial accounts we each possess: checking, savings, charge, 401Ks, IRAs, and other investment funds. We also possess an emotional fund. The accounts all work the same way. You either make deposits or withdraws and the accounts earn interest depending on investment factors such as average balances, investment vehicle, etc. Essentially the two most important transactions you make with these accounts are withdraws and deposits.

You always want to be making deposits and make as few withdraws as possible. This is how many obtain wealth. You put in a whole lot more than you take out, earn interest over time, invest for the long haul and always maintain the account with good standing. You don't immediately become wealthy or rich, unless of course you were born wealthy but it takes time and years of investment before you actually see the deposits you make grow over time.

It is the same with our emotional bank. The only way to make deposits is to say something nice to someone, do something nice, maintain good relationships, serve God and fill up on his promises...so on and so forth. I've always maintained that you are either a giver or taker in this world. You cannot be both. At times, depending on the circumstance, you might switch but 90% of the time, you are one or the other.

Many years ago, I was having this conversation with some others that I work with. It was a thought that most people don't really think about because we always want to think we are a giver. We were in a meeting that was called at the last minute so no one grabbed pencil and paper. We were told we didn't need anything with us, just come to the meeting. Lo and behold, once we were in the meeting, we realized we needed something to write with. I jumped up to get pens/pencils. Once I returned I realized that not all the pencils and pens were equal in what they had to offer. Some were worn, chewed, no eraser, the ink in some pens were all the way to the bottom, others were newer with ink all the way to the top. It was very interesting to present what I had to each person. There were the takers that instantly noticed the pen with the most ink and looked the least worn who grabbed the pen never thinking of others and then there were those who would say, "give me the pencil without the eraser, I know such and such likes to have an eraser"......as each person surveyed what was being offered handled it in such different ways. I mentally made note of each person and their personality and realized that each person actually made a decision on whether they were a giver and taker in most situations in their lives. Not just because of this one small instance but from many years of working with that group, they chose their pen/pencil based on their giver/taker personality.

I would often find those who would call me and sit for hours sharing their problems, day after day, night after night, (always making withdrawals) only to find that when you might have had a situation you wanted to share......they all of a sudden had something else to do that was more pressing or just couldn't find the 15 min. to listen to anything you had to share.....so I would begin to realize that my account was the only account being accessed for withdrawals for deposits into their account but they were not an account that I could ever count on for making a withdrawal. Accounts like these can become very taxing and over time, they will withdraw everything out of your account and move onto the next person (account) with no real concern for you. How many accounts or people do we have like this in our lives? We should have more accounts we can withdraw from should we need the account but also as freely deposit.

If we paid our bills from an account where we only withdrew and never made a deposit, pretty soon our utilities would be shut off and our house would go into foreclosure. Our lines of credit would no longer be sufficient to cover our liabilities. We might write a check but it would all be in action, we wouldn't have an account that would back our word. In our lives, if we make commitments, we have to have our line of credit (our word) to be sufficient to back our commitment. This is the way we earn trust and respect from other people and over time earn interest into our account.

Have you ever heard the expression, "he said he was going to do it and I believe him because he is always a man of his word" or how often do we hear, "he said he was going to do it but we'll see, he often bites off more than he can chew and doesn't also finish what he says he is going to do".....which of those would I rather be? Which of those, AM I?

Every day I want to be a person that makes deposits in other's accounts. I want to encourage, listen and be a friend that someone can turn to where I give good Godly wisdom, or share some nugget of inspiration, or provide help with something someone else may be struggling with but at the same time, I want others in my life that from time to time....allow me to make a withdrawal....to lend a listening ear, to be there if I need someone. I still find it much easier to be the one to make the deposit vs. the withdraw.

There are so many who have been making these deposits into our accounts with cards, flowers, gifts, dinners, etc. that my bank account has just continued to fill over the brim. Our Heavenly Father must be so joyful at the sight of the hands and feet that are showing his Love and Compassion through so many deeds. I, as in real life, do not like to make withdraws....I really enjoy the deposits I can make to other's accounts. I don't want to be stretched out on credit but I want to be making deposits into accounts that over time draw an interest to God.

This is the way God made each one of us. We all go about it in different ways. Hopefully, we all do it at all. I have had those in my life that I eventually find to be toxic. They withdraw so much and leave you so empty and spent that you realize that you must close that account and actually find another account that works the way it was designed. It is a very hard thing to do. We have to perserve our own accounts. We need to make sure we do not allow others to overdraw our accounts where our account no longer has the ability to make deposits. We can become so stretched and overdrawn after years of abuse on our account that you are constantly trying to pay off the debt that was racked up for someone else. There may be short spurts of time where your account is being used alot but we must still monitor and make sure we don't become burned out and overdrawn.

Yesterday my Aunt and Uncle surprised me and came over and took me and Kimberly out for lunch. They ended up staying throughout the evening. They were making huge deposits into my account knowing tomorrow, I will be back for more chemo. They just wanted to visit before they had to go back to Indiana. It was such a joyful time. The day went so fast before we knew it, it was dark and almost bed time. These are the type of relationships we need in our lives. They make you forget everything else. Thank you for a great day, Uncle Steve and Aunt Jo!

While we were visiting, dinner was brought to us. I don't want to start naming names only because so many have done so many things for us, I'm afraid I might miss a name. I remember each and every person but typing this out might miss someone and would not want to hurt anyone. Dinner was so good. We have enjoyed every dinner shared with us!!!!

However, as I already stated, unfortunately many are making deposits into our account. Many are giving freely of their accounts. I do not do very well when others are dipping into their accounts and giving to mine. I've always wanted to be the giver (by the way, I took the most beaten up pencil in the meeting) because it is hard for me to take from others. God has really put me into a position of humility. I know I have to allow others to give. It is probably one of the hardest lessons of this journey, I've had to learn. However, if this was the lesson I was supposed to get from all this....okay, Lord, I get it.....now can we forget this and move on? ha.

Every day my blog is a brain dump for me. It is my time in the morning to meet with the Lord and a word he has given to me to get through my day. Thank you for the comments. I'm so glad that the Word that God gives me to get through my day, helps others too!

P.S. I will be at Emory all day tomorrow. By the time we start off with blood work, doctor's visit and then onto Chemo....we are gone all day so....if you should call, etc. we will not be home. I am going to Praise God right now for protecting me yet again as I go this round. I stay on an infusion pump until Friday so my chemo lasts 3 days. Please pray that there will be no side effects!!

Also, they have scheduled me for an MRI to view my spine and a breast ultrasound to check the 2 masses on 9/17 so please be praying for my Victory on those days!

As always, thank you for all the deposits you are making into our lives! I look forward to the day I can again make more deposits for those who care to listen or notice. It really is a joy to do for others! "-)

This posted as Monday night, it is actually 5:45 am. Tuesday so my comments are meant to be for Tuesday, Sept. 9 not Monday, Sept. 8th. (referring to my chemo treatment...tomorrow means Wednesday, Sept. 10th).

Well....I ain't got it yet....so I ain't gonna die!

I titled today with a merry heart. Yesterday's sermon, "What are you expecting?" confirmed so many things for me.

First of all, so far at my lowest, I'm very optimistic and have faith that everything is going to be okay. So much so, that often times someone will say, "you don't need anything, you already have it all together"....and I think, "now what did I do to communicate that?" I need everyone's prayers, concern and care.....this process stinks, quite frankly but I'm focused on the big picture! If I focused on the day to day symptons and process, I wouldn't feel so optimistic! It is your prayers holding me up. It is your care and concern through words and cards that keep my faith tank fueled.

In the message today, Bro. Johns said, "God will not let you die until he gives what he promised you.....he does not promise something and take it away"......well, there you have it. I have been living on God's promise when he directly spoke to me and told me that he was going to protect me. Well....if you are protected, typically all measures are meant to take you through a situation as unscathed as possible. While trying to protect, you may re-route the direction the person's path to give them more protection.

Ever saw a child lost in the store away from their parents and the panic on their face? Or maybe an amusement park? In a child's eye, the surroundings seem very large and quite frightening when they thought they had the protection of their parent, who was close by when they were playing with some very interesting toy, to look up and see their "protection" gone? Most times, the parent make have walked right around the corner and is very close and possibly in the sight of the child....but the child looks up and doesn't see things exactly as he/she remembered when they moved away to pick up that toy or to look at something interesting and the first reaction is to be scared....but a loving parent never really loses sight of the child because they are protecting them....they might have moved to a slightly different location and the child wasn't prepared for their movement just yet. As the child at first feels panic, the parent sees that the child is scared says to the child, "here I am, I didn't go anywhere"....as the child runs under the protection of the parent and is comforted.

One of the scriptures from the sermon yesterday.
Psalm 62:5 NKJV
My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from HIM

The quote (not sure this is verbatim but the jist of what I'm saying is the same).
He who does not expect is never disappointed.

So many times I have asked the kids, "what do you want?" As a parent we want to meet/make our child's expectations a reality. So, why when I ask the Lord God Almighty for anything I would think God would do any less? Why would I expect any less?

What are we expecting? What do we expect with our lives? Do we even have expectations? As I already stated, this sermon was a confirmation for so many things for me.

I even asked Bro. Johns after church if he preached this message for me. I loved his answer, "I didn't even know you would be here but I don't preach a sermon for someone, I pray about what I should preach and HE is the one who gives me the message.....so, the Lord must have known what you needed and HE is the one who gave you the message". Now folks, do you get any better than that? The Lord gave the message?

So, if God gave me a promise and HIS promise hasn't been totally fulfilled, I guess that means my days of walking this beautiful, green earth still has many more days. Not that I thought it would be any other way but God confirmed it....what better way of having the feeling in your spirit but God confirming it? Doesn't get any better than that.....!!!!!! :-)

As you can tell, I was able to go to church yesterday. I felt so normal....I know I'm normal but I'm living a "new" normal because you live day to day never knowing what your body is going to do....and it was so refreshing to see everyone, hear all the wonderful music and then have God's word speak right to my heart. Wow, what a great day! Thank you Jesus!

Love to all for your prayers, kind words and encouragement. My words of gratitude would never be enough for you to really know how much it means!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hey Watch Out....Don't Lean On that!

How many times have we heard those words right before something collasped under us or as we looked at what we were about to lean on and realized it was teetering and just about to spill?

The Lord has impressed upon me that when we are leaning we need to make sure we are leaning on someone/something that is sturdy and unmoveable when dead weight is placed upon it.

In our crisis' of life, we find that we try to lean on ourselves, family, friends and others and many times the weight seems to be steady but oftentimes, we find ourselves on the floor wondering what happened? Our weight on someone else, especially someone who may state they are strong but weren't really strong at all, when the pressure was put on them is not enough in a turmoil/crisis/or just everyday cares of life.

When the thoughts of what I'm going to do, how I'm going to handle that news have arrived, I just keep leaning on the Lord with blind faith because there are no answers. If I'm looking for answers, I'm sure there are many who can or will say why they think something is the way it is but really, do we know....do any of us know? Who do we put our faith in? There are those who will say, leaning on God is weak? It is positive thoughts that will get you through. What??? Have you ever had a life/death situation and even remotely think that your positive thinking would get you through? You immediately think, "Oh my Lord, what do I do?" It is because we are God's children and he wants us to look to him....the first thing a small child who falls down and gets hurt....he/she will usually look at their boo-boo and see even the smallest amount of skin tear or blood, immediately shed tears and run saying what??? "MOMMMMMMMY, I fell down!"

Why? We are God's children and we are instinctly made to serve and follow him. HE wants us to love him. Just as we want our children to love us. He wants our attention. Just as we want our children to notice us. He wants to be the protector and Lord of our lives. Just as we want to protect our children and help them make all their dreams come true.

If we are leaning on God's direction, he will put the strength in our families, our finances, our relationships, our jobs, etc. because He is giving the strength and his strength never falters or teeters or is only 3 legged. It is always steady and true. It is oftentimes the struggle of leaning and not knowing the direction because it is by faith. However the risk/rewards of having faith and just leaning on someone else (God) to guide can be very comforting, thus the reason I'm wrapping myself in the crook of the arm of Jesus, closing my eyes and saying, "Lord, just tell me when to open up my eyes because I know whereever you put me is going to be so much better than where I was"...........

God has been so good to me. He has given me several wonderful days. Although my body isn't normal yet, besides the fact that I just had major surgery, I am beginning to feel more normal. The days have been so beautiful. I know I'm counting down 2 days until chemo again but the Lord has given me so many great days that I'm looking forward to many more. Again....I'm leaning on HIM and HIS Promises to get me through. "-)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

This battle is the Lord's!

The cliche' or words we often hear are, "This battle is not mine, it is the Lord's" but yet we continue to fight. We continue to try to come up with the solution, find a new way of doing what we already did, say it a new way so in essence, we are still fighting the battle ourselves.

The Lord wants us to turn it over but I find it hard because I feel like I have to do my part first. However, God acts on our faith. He could have turned Moses' staff into a serpent in Moses' hand. God told Moses to cast down his staff and when Moses obeyed, God turned the staff into a serpent. He acted on Moses faith and then showed Moses what HE could do. He acts on our faith.

I'm trying really hard to cast all my cares on him, to live by faith and to be a willing vessel for him. At times the physical part of me sees the symptons and wants to act on my symptons to figure out what I can do. I think by virtue of the disease that there is no way I could ever do enough to make the situation okay. It is not a human possibility but rather a supernatural opportunity.

Today my faith wants to take a dip because I'm dealing with a sympton of the disease. However, my spirit is encouraging me to see this as a side product of the awesomeness of what God wants to do. My testimony is made richer by the actual walk rather than the outright healing. I pray that God would outright heal me so I wouldn't have to walk and grow weary on the journey.

God's way is not my way. I have prayed so many times, God your will; not mine and let me be a willing vessel. At times, you may see the light through my vessel where I became weak and I became chipped or cracked when held up to an intense situation but Lord let others see that light as a strength because in my weakness, you were made stronger, my vessel glistened and shone in YOUR light.

Don't let today be a focus on the sympton of this disease, let today's crack in the vessel become your light shining through the crack and filling me with your mercy and grace to make today another great day! Thank you Jesus for your wholesomeness, goodness and your kindness. Let only your thoughts of greatness and how this too shall pass today be the only thoughts in my mind.

On a very bright side, the past couple of days have been such wonderful days. I've been able to get around, clean up the house and go out of the house. I thank God for giving me the strength to get out and do things normally. This is what I pray for in the coming days and months, that things would be a normal as possible with very little downtime because of chemo. I believe God has put a hedge around me and it is through prayers of all those reading this, sharing the story and simply praying for me. Prayer is what is going to move my mountain and fight this battle! As always, love to all!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Now THAT is a WRAP!

You know how good it feels when someone puts their arms around you and squeezes that kind of squeeze only a parent could give? The unconditional love that everything is going to be okay?

My aunt mentioned something to me the other day during her surgery that has continued to simmer on my mind. She said that when she came out of surgery and was in so much pain, she prayed that God would wrap his arms around her physically so she would feel comforted like a child. She would often do this when she felt at her lowest.

On my worst day this week, I did that too! As I prayed, I felt God wrap his arms of comfort around me and I could actually feel my muscles calm down and begin to relax.

My mom has spent the last couple of her "vacation" days with me. Thanks to dad for allowing her to use her time with me rather than home getting things done or relaxing with him, as she really should have been. It is comfort like this when your day isn't at its best and you see mom in the kitchen tending to things that need done, or checking to make sure you've had your medicine, heating up some tea to relax you and just being there because she wants to be.

My aunt comes over and visits and she also puts a great smile into the day, relaxing and talking and just providing a comfort day. It is all these things that make you realize that if most days are days like the past couple of days, then it is really going to be okay (even on the days that aren't the most comforted) :-)

Out of the blue, someone decides to mail an aromatherapy kit with a comfort wrap of lavendar and camomile. Mom puts it in the microwave and around my neck. If you've never tried one, you must! I could immediately feel the tension in my neck and shoulders relax. My back which has been bothering me from the surgery....well....another go around in the microwave, pronto...onto the back.....another go around....on the legs, so on and so forth... this wrap has made it in the microwave no less than 10 times. Mom says that she and dad use these wraps all the time and was sorry she hadn't thought to mention it.

Steve wakes up with a headache....you guessed it...another round in the microwave, boom...Steve now has the comfort wrap around his neck. Of course, he doesn't appreciate it the same but he didn't say it didn't help or he didn't give it right back either. I put it back in the microwave and wrap it around my neck. I don't know if I will ever release this to the wild again. In fact, I may get another one so I can use two at the same time.

The comfort we get from people and things are further reminders of the comfort God gives us each and every days of our lives. It is in the smallest of things but because we are so busy, we often fail to notice or mention it until times like this when God slows us down....and makes us realize that he was that comfort all along....I was just to busy to notice or appreciate it.

You can't get a present any better than comfort in times of despair or trouble. I'll put that in a microwave and wrap up on that! "-)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Don't take it personal

For some odd reason, this thing that has tried to attach itself to me....tends to come with its own emotions.

Those that know me, know that I'm pretty constant when it comes to doing what needs to be done and not trying to worry about everything little thing, etc....however, this "thing" makes me nervous and think more than I should so.......if I should seem aloof, distant....don't take it personal...it comes with the territory. It makes you feel as if others are staring at you....wondering what you are thinking, trying to see your expressions, and it feels overwhelming at times. I asked my grandma who is going through the same thing and she said the same....you can't help it. You feel like you are living someone else's life, everyone is looking at you and you've become the goldfish in the bowl. It ends up making us nervous around people so often times it seems as if we are avoiding people. As I keep saying, it comes with the territory so please don't take it personal.

People interaction is what I need most so I certainly don't mean to push anyone away.

My mom has kept me on a strict regimen of what meds I should take around the clock and my days have become quite tolerable. Today, my aunt is going to stop by and visit. Mom said we would wrap some of the Christmas presents I've already bought. The more I get done when I'm feeling well, the better I will feel. I may even start my Christmas cards. I know it is how many months away but we all know how quickly it comes around. It may be slower for me this year but nonetheless, Christmas is always here before you know it.

I'm going to try to work around the house a little today to see how my body handles it. Just bending over from my surgery has been excruiating at times....especially when my incision came back open so I have to be careful. Nonetheless, I've got to try to see what I can do so I won't go stir crazy later.

Today is going to be a more physical day......Thank you Lord for the energy.

P.S. What do you think about Palin as VP?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

God, Family, Friends....What else do you need?

So, I'm not going to downsize and say the past few days have been more than a little trying physically....but I will say that I've never given up on God and never forgot his PROMISE that he was going to protect me!

I did wonder how those who go through chemo for years and years do it and why? A young 32 yr. old girl at Emory has been going through chemo for 10 yrs....I can't even imagine and believe me, if you've never been through chemo, you can't imagine it either. Even different types of chemo are different and everyone responds differently. Since I've never smoked or drank in my life, I'm much more sensitive to anything so my first infusion of 50+ hrs. of chemo is going to be difficult. I tried to downplay the effects of chemo with another medicine and had an unbelievable response for hours on end....it set my mind to a whirring confusion.......

However through my journey....there will be days like this....it is in NO way my loss of will to fight...maybe for that moment or day but not overall. I know that in the end, Victory will be mine!! Do not be dismayed for I AM LORD THY GOD.....In HIM do I TRUST!

Mom came over yesterday and helped me get my meds under control. I used to take maybe 1 pill a day and now I'm a medicine cabinet. I'd been having this excruciating back pain that they said was nerve damage from the surgery but now they want to do an MRI because they say I shouldn't be having that much pain. So far narcotics haven't helped the pain and I'm not one to keep taking medicine so something has to give. So, when I go back they will be doing an MRI and and an ultrasound (vs. a mammogram because of the port) to rule anything out from my most recent pathology report. I think this will help me get a grasp on the results.

I put in DVDs from the church to listen to some of the services I have been missing. Just seeing and hearing the singing and preaching encourages my spirit.

Friends and family bestow way more gifts and food than we ever could have imagined or deserve and I'm yet again....feeling helpless. It is not a feeling you can explain to others. My grandma who is going through the same thing is feeling the same. You have these very weird feelings about what you can/can't do and it makes you feel terrible. It may just be chemo.

We determine that the reason my dog was so sick is from the chemo. The doctor had told my grandma to watch out with her dogs because the chemo is so strong that it would make the dog sick. They didn't mention it to me and I was home with 50 hrs. of it with the dog laying right beside me. We have a call into the vet to see what we can do going forward. My chemo is for 6 months but it is equivalent to a year's worth so I would say that it pretty strong!

I have had so many of you still sending cards, e-mails, putting me on prayer list/chains of churches I do not even know....I can't begin to tell you how much this means....every single day!