Thursday, May 27, 2010

From Winter to Summer

As we are approaching Summer, I've been wanting to post an update on how God has triumphed and kept me during the breast cancer diagnosis, surgery and treatment of recent months. I do not consider myself a breast cancer survivor - that's giving too much power and putting too much emphasis on the cancer. I am a Survivor of breast cancer - I was attacked by something that God has helped me be delivered from and I have survived it because of Him. I don't call it "my" breast cancer, because that would indicate that it is in my possession - it is is gone...and I am ever so grateful to God and those He placed in my life to help me be rid of it. Praise you, My Lord, for I know my life and every facet of it is now, and will forever be, in your hands. And, yes, YOU are worthy of the praise. I can boast in nothing other than His goodness and grace. Because of His loving mercy, I am able to tell others about His goodness. I am also willing. That is why you will often hear me thanking my Jesus for my life and my health. I know where my help comes from and I will always be pointing in that direction.

My radiation lasted for six weeks, from March 1st through mid-April. There was a repeated prayer I offered up to God every day during the 10 minute session. I prayed that He would direct the beams "precisely" where they should go to treat the area in the "precise" manner that it should be treated, and I prayed that He would protect me from any harmful effects of the treatment. I suffered very few visible ill effects from the treatments. I was sunburned, but it never really hurt and it never peeled to cause me discomfort. I know God's hand kept me sheltered and buffered the ill effects I could have suffered. I'm starting to wonder, if the hot flashes I'm beginning to experience now may be worse than anything up to this point....I'll have to update you on that one later:-)

Yes, God has been so good to me throughout this whole ordeal. In late April I had a mammogram and ultrasounds on both sides and was given a good report that there was no indication of any cancer. I rejoiced, to say the least. I don't know if I ever shared that I knew what the doctor was going to say when he came into the room that previous fateful December day to say, "You have cancer". Before going to his office, I had prayed, "God, I don't want to have cancer", yet I knew that for whatever reason that day I would get the news that I did. I can't tell you how those words felt. Only people who have heard it know. It's like somebody punches you in the gut and it leaves a gaping hole that hurts all the way to your heart. A sense of grieving starts, even then. You think, "Lord, why if this happening"? You know that it's about to be a Winter season of life.

Yet, in my case, I was convinced that for whatever reason God had allowed me to go through this, I would forever give Him praise because of all He had ALREADY done for me. My heart was totally overwhelmed by what He continues to do. I was never mad at could I be? My heart and mind just don't react that way. Maybe it's because He's given me faith above all my spiritual gifts. With that measure of faith that He has given me, I have been able to face my giants with angels by my side. This is not of my own spirituality, but of God's amazing grace. He knew just what I needed to get me through my obsticles in life. Faith is His gift to me. It's like a lifeline He threw to me and said, "Hold on to this and I will hold on to you". I cling to it with all my strength.

At the onset of the diagnosis, I had a sense that what I was about to go through was not about me at all, but about how I could help others in the future who might have a similar experience to mine. I had worked for the American Cancer Society for over 5 years and I had experienced many occasions to meet and become friends with survivors. I thought I had an understanding of what they might be going through. I had no idea. How could I? How could anyone who hasn't walked in their shoes or sat in their doctor's office really know? I was about to get a crash course in cancer 101. I wish I could have skipped class or changed the focus of study, but I was locked into this course. Even when praying, I often was careful to allow God room to do whatever He wanted in my situation. I know God's power; I've experienced it with great magnitude in the past, yet I was not exercising the full arsenal of power in my prayers. I knew this, yet I knew that if I surrendered myself and my situation to God, that He would take care of the outcome. Getting to the point where I could say, "God, your will be done", had never seemed like such a distant prayer, but one I knew I had to pray. I was stricken with the conviction that whatever happened to me would be alright, either way. I knew that God would be glorified with whatever He chose to do with or for me. I was His...for now and for eternity.

My other saving grace in this battle has been my dear husband. I cannot fully express how loved he has made me feel; how well he has taken care of me. God has truly restored what the locusts had stolen. I am so blessed by the man he has become and how he loves me. Let's just call him a slow learner, but once he gets it, he does not waver! He also has proven himself faithful - to me and to our God. I am convinced that he loved me so much that it made him sick! He fully trusted in God for my health and well-being, but I think he cared so much that he felt it to the core of his being. In February, he started having heart palpitations and proceeded to have sleep deprivation for a couple of months. The doctors couldn't find anything and said it was stress. He didn't think he was stressed, but the depth of his love and caring for me was the culprit, nonetheless. Subsequently, loss of sleep and a weakened body brought on new symptoms in early April. Bill's back went out and he was diagnosed with a herniated disk. The pain was intense and there was no comfortable position for him to rest in. Sleep deprivation continued and there was no relief for about a month from his pain. After the second lumbar epidural and phsysical therapy, he finally was relieved of pain and has been pain-free now for several weeks. We are so thankful. Yet we are convinced that even this experience was for the purpose of helping someone else get to know God and his son Jesus. Bill's doctor had read his book twice by the time he had the second shot. He had lots of questions and was at a crossroads in life. We saw God in it all.

We have come so far in such a short period of time. To many onlookers it would seem that we have suffered pain, but, ultimately, I feel that we have been blessed and have gained far more in grace than could ever be lost in pain. Yes, my soul continues to magnify the Lord, for He has done great things for me.