Saturday, November 27, 2010

God is using a fanny pack to save my life

Alright. If I'm learning nothing else from my current journey in life -- the one thing I am learning is to never say never. For instance, "I'll never wear a fanny pack. That's just not going to happen." Hmmmm. I know that God must be laughing. He has a sense of humor, otherwise, this whole fanny pack thing would be downright cruel. I have not decided on my own that a fanny pack is my choice to make a fashion statement. The "pack" as I will now refer to it, mainly because I despise the sound of the other name I've been using for it, will carry a pump that distributes part of my chemo treatments. I mean, my goodness, was nothing better looking that the medical field could come up with??? There are a lot of smart people out there, don't tell me there is not a stitch of fashion sense among it. You just never know what life is going to throw at you next. I had written several days ago that I was facing several unknowns. The truth of it all is that we are all facing countless unknowns in our life. We think that we know. We think we have it planned. We think we have it all figured out. At least, I thought I did. God has a way of just showing up and placing a "road closed" sign in front of us. This forces us to take another path. It may not be the path we had planned for, maybe it was a consideration -- but not the one we wanted. Sometimes, that path was not even an option in our feeble human minds.
As I was driving to one of my appointments (6 days after my diagnosis, 2 days before tragedy struck my WHS kids) I was listening to a sermon on the Lord's prayer. My pastor has been preaching on this, so this was kind of an enrichment lesson I guess one could say. The topic was the line in the prayer, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done." Ever really thought about that? You've probably prayed it before. I know I have. I also know that I'm quite guilty of praying this without really meaning it. If I truly desire for God's will to come alive in my life, I must be willing to give him complete access and rule over every area of my heart. The following example was given. Imagine inviting a guest to your home. You sincerely tell them to make themselves at home. What is yours is theirs. You want your guest to feel total freedom in your home. The next morning, you leave for work. Before doing so, you lock the fridge, lock the bathroom, lock the family room (with access to the television) and so on. You get the picture. It was like God slapped me in the face. This pastor was talking to me. To allow God to be glorified, I had to hand over the control of this cancer battle to Him. Only He could work in a way that would bring honor and glorify His name. There is nothing I can do to accomplish that. I have a diagnosis. I have a treatment plan. Again, the doctors are keeping me on a need to know basis. Not too much information at any given point lest I try to take the reigns away from the One who really is in charge. The fact is, they are having to wait on the first round of treatment to really decide where to go next. The seem to know everything about my cancer. However, I do know that they don't know what tomorrow holds. But I know who does.
Just a week ago, 3 teenage boys were traveling on a familiar stretch of road. The vehicle struck a phone pole and one young man was killed instantly. Two others were sent to the hospital with numbers of injuries, some requiring extensive surgery. Did any of these boys plan on this? No. Did their families in any way forsee this? No. Was our Heavenly Father surprised by this? No. He knew this was going to happen. Nothing surprises him. Now to us, it was an unknown. We had no clue this was coming. The entire community is still wondering how to work through the sorrow and grief accompanied with this situation. One young man had plans for the very next day -- he actually didn't make it to that destination, instead he stood before the Creator of the universe. One young man will never have the same life. They all three had plans for the weekend, plans for a senior year, even college plans. Planning is not a bad thing. I guess I'm just learning that God may change our plans. I must be sensitive to His heart so that I am able to accept these changes. When these changes are hard and may bring hurt and sorrow to our hearts, I have to trust Him to walk through that valley with me.
In the 23rd Psalm, the writer tells us that even when we walk through the shadow of the valley of death, HE is with us. The prince of darkness is waiting in that shadow. Waiting for God's children to throw in the towel and declare that we quit. I've felt like doing that at times. However, I have to stand tall and remember who I serve. Cancer, death, financial hardships....none of these ever surprise Him.
Just some of the things He's told us:
I'll never leave you nor forsake you...
I've loved you with an everlasting love...
I know the plans I have for you....
Those that wait upon the Lord...Isaiah 40:31

To those of you at WHS, I love you dearly and pray for you daily. How about we face these unknowns together in prayer??
To my family (both blood and non-blood related) --couldn't make it without you. God has blessed me beyond what my mind can conceive.

Much love,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm a Survivor

Relay for Life has been a passion of mine for quite some time, now. Well, somebody needs to let the people in charge know that I will be in need of a Survivor shirt in May!! I know there is a long road ahead of me, but I have God on my side and He is bigger and better than anything else that may come my way. For some reason, He has seen fit to allow me to walk through this time. Maybe some day he will reveal this to me, but He may choose not to. Either way, I'm praying He is glorified and people are brought to His saving grace through this experience.
The next few days are busy, but again...I'll take busy. In case you don't know, I received the results from my pet scan today. They confirmed what April's dog had already told Ashley, April, Cindy, and myself on Saturday night -- no additional cancer. Now, I do have to apologize to Sam, because I didn't completely trust his judgement. Sorry, old boy. There's a box of doggie treats on its way!! Here is a rough outline of what we expect.
Wednesday: Dr at Trinity will perform an ultrasound that will provide even more details on the tumor. This will help the radiation oncologist be as precise as possible.
Thursday: I might get to eat.  Yippee!! I'm thinking lots of m&m's......Maybe even chocolate ice cream....
Friday: Visit with the radiation oncologist -- I haven't met him yet. However, I think there will be days that I won't like him a whole lot -- but at the end I'll pretty much love him to pieces.
Monday: Visit with surgeon who will schedule to put in a port for chemo; also another visit with oncologist
After that, we will begin treatments asap. The oncologists hopes to have things underway next week.
I don't know how I'll feel. I don't have the name of the exact drug and its intensity yet. I'll try to keep the blog updated. No matter what, I feel the prayers you are all sending to our Heavenly Father. He is faithful and His mercies are new every morning. I am so very grateful for that. You all will never know the impact you are having on my life. It is an honor to be surrounded with such a support system, I know I very much don't deserve it.
God provides grace for us to handle situations as He guides us through. However, he doesn't just give us a lump sum of what we'll need prior to the situation. I can't help but think about the Hebrew children as they waited each day to receive the manna God provided. If they stored too much, it spoiled. If they did not receive what God had sent, they went hungry that day. God will provide the grace and strength I need just when I need it. He also will provide enough to see me through. Recently, Holly sent me the song "Always Enough" by Casting Crowns. It is becoming my new "theme' song. I constantly have a song that I cling to that describes my life situation at the moment. This one just hit home -- it fits. He is always enough. No matter what you are going through now or what you will face in the future, my Savior is always enough. He was enough to cover my sin, what more could I want?? If He can do that, He can fight this cancer battle with me!

Humor in all this:
My best gal pal was riding in the car with her 8 year old daughter.
Daughter: Mom, you've been praying for Ms. Tracey like I have. I think we've been praying the same thing.
Mom: Well, what have you been praying for?
Daughter: I've been praying that the pet scan shows cancer has not spread to her liver. Because if it has, she might get the jaundice like Michael Jackson did. We don't want that, do we?!?!

My thoughts: Don't we wish the only problem Michael Jackson had was the jaundice???

My dear Kylee, you will never know the place you hold in my heart!! Much love!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Feeling loved

Although my diagnosis is not yet complete, I know that the almighty Creator is in charge. I may not like what the doctors tell me on Tuesday, but my Father has a master plan that only He is holy enough to carry out. I would like to begin what I am calling a "prayer adoption." I am listing specific people on this list that I would like for you to pray for. I am praying that God will lay each name on the heart of someone that will seriously take the responsibility of praying daily for that individual.
1. My precious husband, Stephen
2. Andrew
3. Aaron
4. John Curtis
5. My parents
6. My oncologist - Dr. Castillo
7. Radiologist
8. Surgeon
9. My cancer information specialists =) The Rameys
10. my sister
11. my grandparents

There are many more in my family that are standing behind me. Please include them also. I have such an amazing support system -- one that I very much don't deserve. May God bless you today.
2 Timothy 1:12   For I know whom I have believed....

Praise Be Unto HIS name,


Friday, November 12, 2010

What now

I don't know where to begin. The past 36 hours have been mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. I have seen how God can use people on an unbelievable level that you would not believe. Yesterday morning, Stephen and I learned that I have cancerous tumor. Where most of the time, one would have been immediately moved to a regular hospital room, I was kept in the outpatient day surgery area for most of the day. I did not arrive in my room until late afternoon. Before I was awake from the "fog" induced by medication administered prior to my colonoscopy, I was moved to a room that I don't believe is intended for patients to spend more than a few minutes. This was because most of my family had arrived once the learned of the news.
I don't remember exactly when it was, but one particular nurse commented that she could feel God's presence in my room. I think this was before I learned of my diagnosis, but I could be wrong. Each and every nurse that cared for me did so with a special love and grace that only God could provide. I know for a fact that they were each placed in my pathway that day by my loving Father. Jesus told his followers that they would be known by their works. These ladies are truly using their gifts to glorify God and further His kingdom. He knew what Stephen and I would need. He knew a long time ago that he would include these special people in my life. Each of these ladies constantly reminded me that they were praying and that we serve a mighty God. I know this, but this is one of those times that I didn't quite know what to say to God. I've always heard about those times that you don't know what to pray. I think I might have had some of those after mom died. However, there were MANY of those moments yesterday.
Oncologists, cancer center, chemo, radiation---all are now linked to my name. This wasn't in my plan. Not at all. As a matter of fact it is downright inconvenient. Those of you who know me are fully aware that I don't like to stray from the plan and I don't tolerate inconvenience. So, here we are. Stephen and I surrounded by family and friends (friends that really are family even without sharing the same DNA) -- staring down a pathway full of unknowns. There are going to be several unknowns for a few days. A pet scan is scheduled for Monday to see if the cancer has spread...pray Stephen and I will have peace and the Pet scan will show no other cancers.
Enough about the unknowns, I'm having to trust God to take care of that. I admit, I worry. Know I'm not supposed to...but we're working on that. Here are some of the things I do know:
1. Whatever is happening inside my body, God knew about it way before any doctor suspected a thing.
2. God is bigger than this and He will not leave me. After all, the Bible tells us that His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
3. God blessed with the most amazing husband any woman could ever ask for. I didn't deserve him 10 years ago, and I still don't deserve him. I'm absolutely blessed beyond measure here.
4. April Jordan rocks. A girl couldn't ask for a better gal pal and prayer warrior.
5. I have 3 boys that are absolutely worth fighting for.
6. I am surrounded by an amazing family.
There are lots of other things I know, but I'll share them as time goes on. I've done a lot of talking about God, but now let's see if I can live up to what I've claimed over the past years. Of course, I'd absolutely appreciate it if this was miraculously removed from my life today. However, I know that no matter how hard, long, and bumpy this road may be, I serve a mighty God -- in the Bible, He is called Jehovah Rophe -- my healer. I'm claiming that. To those who are praying, you will never know what impact you are having. I am asking you to pray for Stephen -- for his emotional and physical strength. He is a strong Godly man, and I want him to make sure he takes care of himself. He always handles our finances in a manner that would honor God. I can't help but wonder when the financial hardships will strike -- but I know they will. Pray God will meet these needs as they come. I will try my best to keep updates. Pray for the boys, I'm afraid this will be especially hard on Andrew. Aaron does not like being away from Stephen and me or his bed at home. John Curtis just has the setting "full speed ahead" so I'm praying that he will teach me some lessons. Pray most of all that God will be glorified.

With love,