Monday, November 19, 2018

Time for Thankfulness

It's been a good while since I've written. Honestly, I can't remember the date of my last post without looking it up and that's a good thing. That means I've been busy living my life and although this year has been full of challenges, it's been a good year.

In October, I crossed another item off my bucket list. For over 45 years, I've dreamed of going to Israel and finally, it happened. My husband and I joined a group of other Christians for a 10 day pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was exciting, exhausting, and very memorable. I could write a book about the things I saw and experienced but for the sake of keeping this post fairly short, I will only touch on a couple of things.

Israel is a crazy, busy place! I never dreamed it would be so full of people, buildings, and traffic. Along with all that, there are, of course, the historical, biblical sites and we visited most of them while there. Every single day of our trip was packed with places to go and things to do. We'd have our 5:00 a.m. wakeup call, get dressed, eat breakfast, and be on the tour bus ready to go by 7:00 a.m. We'd return each day around 6 or 7pm, grab a quick dinner, and fall into bed exhausted.



Speaking of falling, on the second day of our trip, I fell and hard. We were in the City of David and had just completed a tour through some archaeological ruins. I was taking photographs of the city and walking as I maneuvered around others in our group to the perfect shot without bodies in it. As I walked toward an overlook of the city, I completely missed a step and went flying through the air. I landed yards from my original location and managed to fall with all my weight on my right knee. Before being helped up, I noticed how close I was to the edge of the platform. A few more feet and I would have been over the cliff. I took time to offer a prayer of thanks and then felt two strong arms helping me up.

Immediately, upon rising, my knee began to swell and throb. I was almost sure I'd broken my kneecap. My husband helped me find a place to sit and I pulled up my pants to see the damage. Already my knee was turning purple and the swelling was growing. From that point on I knew this was not going to be a good day.

But while in Israel, I did get to ride a camel (another thing to scratch off my bucket list) and I did get to walk on the Gospel Trail, a trail used by Jesus and his disciples to travel from Nazareth to the Sea of Galilee.

The Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock

Getting kissed by my camel friend, Sam
 After several weeks, my knee has finally healed and I've been able to put the walker away. Now I'm focusing on preparations for Thanksgiving and finding myself entering a season of thanksgiving.

This year has been full of things for which to be thankful. My brother survived major heart surgery, our family was blessed with the addition of two little ones, I celebrated my 4th cancerversary, Phil and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, my youngest grandson, Garrett, celebrated his 1st birthday (which is a miracle since he was born prematurely and had major health challenges), we enjoyed a vacation to Mexico Beach before Hurricane Michael devastated that area, enjoyed our first international trip, and are now planning a mountain retreat.

The year has also been filled with sadness. We lost 2 uncles this year and a cousin had a major stroke. But through it all, God has been good. We are so very grateful for all of His wonderful blessings and especially thankful for sweet memories that will carry us through the end of the year.

Christmas will be hard with both of our sets of parents no longer with us, but we'll celebrate with those able to join us.

I've still been writing for the cancer magazine but will leave that behind at the end of the year and focus on completing my book. I've put it on hold for some time now and feel God prompting me to get busy writing it.

In February, I'll see the oncologist again and hopefully get good news. It's hard to believe 2019 will be the year I finally reach my 5 year mark. When that rolls around, on July 9th, I'm hoping to have a big celebration. That 5 year milestone is an important one. Doctors say that most breast cancer patients who'll have a recurrence usually have it within the first 5 years post diagnosis. I hope to prove them wrong.

And that's where things lie today. Early next week, I'll begin my holiday baking and I can't wait for that. Christmas decorations are already going up and yes, I've been enjoying many Hallmark holiday movies :)

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with God's best blessings. I'll try to post more often but in the event I don't, know that life is good and I'm busy living it. Spread love, Bonnie



Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Pain, pain, go away!




I haven't written in a while so I'm hesitant to start off this blog post talking about pain, but it's what's most prevalent in my life right now, so please forgive me.

For the past few months, every bone and joint in my body has hurt but lately, the increase in pain has become worrisome...especially now that the pain seems to be concentrated in my spine.

My next visit to the oncologist isn't until February 2019 (I'm on an every 6 months schedule right now) but if it keeps getting worse, I'm going to have to go in. In the meantime, I've been hearing many good things about cancer survivors and the use of medical marijuana.

Since Governor Nathan Deal passed the medical marijuana law for our state, I've been thinking about approaching my oncologist about possibly prescribing it to see if it would help alleviate my pain. From everything I've read about cannabidiol, it doesn't contain the levels of THC that cause the mood altering affects of normal marijuana. In fact, the Georgia law states that any medical marijuana product can't contain more than 5% THC and a person cannot have more than 20 fluid ounces on their possession without suffering the consequences of receiving a felony charge against them.

Most medical marijuana is given to end stage cancer patients but it's also used for those suffering chronic pain, like I do.

I have a very high pain tolerance so when I say I need something to help with the pain, my pain level is off the charts. For a normal person, the one to ten scale offers a place for them to rate their pain but I've been living with pain so long now, it's impossible for me to pick a number that matches my level of discomfort.

Every time I am in extreme pain, I can't help but wonder if the cancer has come back and if it might have settled in my spine. In 2015, doctors found a suspicious spot on my spine at L5 and thought the cancer had returned. It turned out, after more testing, that it was just a hemangioma but it scared the living daylights out of me.

I pray daily and ask God to keep me free from another round of cancer. I don't know if I could take it. This one has been hard enough.

To keep my mind off the constant pain, I've been using art therapy. It helps me shift my focus from the pain and allows me to be creative. It's a self imposed therapy that I've thoroughly enjoyed but I have to temper my time. Usually the best time for painting is early in the mornings when I have the most energy. As the day progresses, my back hurts more and more, and I have to quit working.

My complaints aren't always vocalized. I try to keep them to myself as much as possible for fear of burdening others with my problems, but sometimes, you just need to dump things out and let them go...so that's what I'm doing. Thanks for reading and for the love and support you offer. It means a lot!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Happy to still be cancer free!

Waiting
Yesterday, I had my six month check up at the cancer treatment center. It's always a harrowing day for me. Just knowing I have to go there makes me a nervous wreck. I guess because I have such a fear of recurrence, it debilitates me.

As I readied for my appointment, I began to get very nervous. I was so nervous, I was trembling. Normally, I'm not an anxious person but since I've had cancer, things have changed.

At my last visit, the doctor and I talked about this. He explained this is very normal and is a form of post cancer PTSD. The trauma of the cancer experience affects a person much in the same way a person who's been to war feels. Loud noises,crowds, and anything out of the normal routine cause feelings of anxiety. That's one reason he prescribed an anti-anxiety medication for me. I only take it when I absolutely need it and I felt I needed it before the visit to the cancer treatment center, so I took one.

After taking the medication, I drove myself to the treatment center. It's a huge center serving all of Southeast Georgia and people come from all over the world to receive care there. Just finding a parking space is a huge challenge because of the volume of patients they see each day, but after driving up and down the rows for several minutes, I managed to find one fairly close to the door.

My bracelet
Taking a deep breath, I said a quick prayer and headed inside. As I entered the facility, I passed a bald woman sitting in a wheelchair. I gave her a big smile and thanked God I wasn't in her shoes. Although I don't understand it, God, in His mercy and grace, has allowed me to do well to date.

Each time a person visits the cancer treatment center, they must stop at the registration desk and receive a badge. No one is admitted without one. After I checked in, I proceeded to the port lab. Although I don't have a port and hopefully never will need one, that's where they do all the blood work.



After the blood draw

I sat in their waiting room for about ten minutes and read before being called back. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the men and women waiting for their turns. One very frail black woman was sharing with another woman about her recent tests. I didn't want to eavesdrop but it was hard to avoid hearing their conversation since they were right in front of me. I noticed the woman wasn't doing well. She had a disposable bag in her hand just in case she felt ill. I was thankful I wasn't going through a period of nausea and vomiting.

Soon my name was called. I followed the lab tech into the drawing room and had a seat. She noticed my compression sleeves and asked where she could draw blood. I explained she could only use my left hand and must use a butterfly needle to draw. She asked me to wait and in a few minutes, she returned with another tech. She needed someone to change out the vials for her as she used the butterfly. I thought it funny that they needed to tag team merely to take a few vials of blood.

After the blood work had been done, I walked to a quiet area in the center to read. It was an hour before my next appointment and it wouldn't be worthwhile to go home and come back again.

The area I was in wasn't quiet for long. Every few minutes, someone was going down the hall. So many people were in wheelchairs and needed assistance getting to their next appointment. Once again, I gave thanks for my well being.

Time passed quickly as I read and soon the alarm on my phone was telling me I needed to head to the clinic to see the doctor.

Arriving at the clinic, I met with the nurse's assistant and had my vitals recorded - weight, blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. Next, I was taken to a room and went into waiting mode again. After about twenty minutes, the doctor came in. I was unfamiliar with the doctor but apparently she was one of my doctor's partners. She was polite and listened well. She went over my test results and said everything looked fine other than my Vitamin D level was a bit low. I was happy to hear I didn't need to return for another 6 months.

Before my next appointment, with the nutritionist, I took the elevator up to the second floor. I wanted to stop by and spend some time in the chapel.

The prayer wall
The chapel is a beautiful, peaceful place and I always enjoy going in there. It's so quiet and is a good place to spend time in prayer. I was surprised to find a new brick wall in the room and it was covered in slips of paper. Tiny prayer requests had been shoved into the cracks of the wall between the stones. I thought it ironic since I'll be going to Israel in 2 months and one of the highlights of my trip will be going to the Wailing Wall. The Wailing Wall is a sacred place and people from all around the world visit each year. One their visits, they leave special prayer or praises recorded on tiny slips of paper. When the wall gets too full of paper, the slips are removed and buried on the Mount of Olives.

After my time of prayer, my next stop was to visit the Cancer Thriver's corner. I always try to stop in and see what activities are scheduled for the month. Usually they offer classes such as drumming, cooking, or various art activities all free for cancer survivors. This time they didn't have anything scheduled that I was interested in so I went down the hall to the free library. I'm always looking for a good book to read and thought on my next visit I'd bring a big stack of donations from my personal library.
A reminder to keep fighting

The meeting with the nutritionist didn't take very long. She just asked how I was doing and wondered if I was having any issues with my diet. Since I wasn't, she just recommended some supplements she thought might benefit me and I was done.

It was such a joy to leave the cancer treatment center! I hate going there and feeling death. It hovers there, it seems, like a huge vulture waiting to swoop in and take its next victim.

On my way home, I couldn't help but think how very blessed I am. Stage 2B invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes was my initial diagnosis. Normally, that would have required chemotherapy and radiation along with surgery and hormone therapy. But my faith in God allowed me to choose not to take chemotherapy and not to use the follow up hormone therapy (although I did try it for a few months and got extremely sick from it.)

I continue to follow my natural health regimen which includes lots of green tea, ashwaghanda, turmeric, and a host of other supplements. So far, so good so I must be doing something right.

It amazes me how many people think they have to do exactly what the doctor recommends without doing any research on their own. Since it's my body, I always do a lot of research before I take any recommended medication or treatment. I feel that's my responsibility but I understand many others don't feel the same way. In any event, I'm just thankful. I'm thankful things have gone so well and continue to do so. I never want a recurrence of cancer and hopefully, I won't ever have one.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What I really want

The other day, I was reading in the Bible about the blind beggar. In the book of Mark, the author tells us that the beggar was on the side of the road as Jesus was passing by. Knowing that Jesus was the Healer, the beggar began to call our to Him. At that point, Jesus turns to him and asks, "What do you want me to do for you?"

I've always wondered why Jesus made the beggar verbalize his need. I'm sure it wasn't to give Jesus clarity, because He is all knowing. Perhaps it was to cause the beggar to really stop and think what he wanted. I'm sure as the beggar searched his heart, he probably had many requests he'd love Jesus to grant, but being forced to pinpoint his desire made him choose the most important thing. The beggar wanted his sight. That was the one thing he needed Jesus to do for him - heal his blindness. And Jesus did.

I just celebrated my fourth cancerversary. This year was very low key. My husband, two of my children, their significant others, and one of my grandchildren went out to a restaurant to eat then came home for cake. The day was pleasant and although we didn't have a big celebration, as we'd done in the past, it was significant to mark the passing of another year since diagnosis.

Celebrating my fourth year since being diagnosed with cancer made me stop and think back to the story of the beggar. What did I really want? What did I want Jesus to do for me?

In my heart, I knew what I really wanted. I wanted to live more than just one more year. Making it to the elusive five year post cancer mark wasn't going to be good enough. I needed more! I wanted more! I wanted to live a long and happy life. I wanted to grow old and watch my grandchildren grow up.

Of course, truth be told, I wish I'd never been diagnosed with breast cancer in the first place and if I'd ever had the opportunity, I would have asked Jesus to completely rewind my life and allow me not to have experienced cancer but He doesn't work that way. As each year since diagnosis has passed, I realize all of this was part of His divine plan for my life. You see, without my having to take the hard road through cancer, I would never have learned the valuable lessons I've learned along the way.

When the blind man was on the side of the road calling to Jesus, he was desperate. He wanted to be healed and he knew Jesus had the power to give him the gift of sight. His faith in Jesus was manifest when Jesus required the man to verbalize his need. If the beggar had chosen to ask Jesus for something other than his sight, I doubt Jesus would have answered the request. Jesus, able to see into our hearts and minds, weighs carefully our needs. He always knows what's best for us even when we don't have that knowledge ourselves.

I could have asked Jesus to remove the cancerous tumor from my body and He might have done it if it fit into His perfect will for my life but, I never asked. Throughout my life, I've learned to trust whatever He sends my way, be it good or bad because I know each comes directly from His hand into my life for a reason.

My prayers now revolve around my desire to live as long as God will allow. It is my heart's desire that my life will be a blessing to others and that God will the receive glory. Each moment, each hour, each day He gives has been a gift and one I don't take lightly. Before cancer, I took so much for granted.

Have you ever thought about what you really want? If Jesus were standing before you, what request would you present to Him? Would you be willing to verbalize your need boldly like the beggar did?

Jesus said, in John 11: 25-26, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" 

You can have eternal life by believing in Jesus. You can be assured that you will be with Him through all eternity. It's very simple. If you'd like more information, click here.

To read the story of the blind beggar, click here. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

It's getting closer

In just a few more days, I'll celebrate my fourth cancerversary! It's hard to believe 4 years have gone by so quickly since the day I found out I had cancer. Sometimes, it seems another lifetime ago and sometimes it seems like just yesterday. More than anything in the world, I'm just thankful to still be alive.

The day I received my diagnosis, it felt like I'd been given a death sentence. It was almost as if I was handed a piece of parchment paper with my expiration date printed across it boldly in bloody red letters. As the paper was thrust into my hand, I didn't want to receive it. Though that didn't actually happen, it sure felt like it did. As I listened carefully to the voice on the other end of the telephone, the words traveled across time and emblazoned themselves upon my heart. I had cancer and not only did I have cancer, I had breast cancer.

Since that life changing day, I've been on an emotional roller-coaster. Some days have been really good and others have been extremely challenging. Not only has my mind been battered by an arsenal of thoughts and feelings, my body has also been assaulted. Test after test for the past four years have been on the lookout for any rogue cancer cells that might be wandering through my body. Thankfully none have been found, although a couple of years ago there was a suspicious mass on my spine. It turned out to be a hemangioma,  a benign tumor formed by a collection of excess blood vessels. I was extremely grateful.

I've had to work hard at learning how to return to normal since then. You'd think it would have been easy but the trauma of cancer changes things in a big way. Now I suffer from self esteem issues, severe chronic fatigue, residual pain, and the side effects of lymphedema. Each day I have to choose to push through. Some days are easier than others, but I do it anyway.

On July 9, I'll celebrate. That was the day in 2014 the cancer was removed from my body. I was actually diagnosed on June 5, 2014. This year, on July 9, it will have been 1462 since I began my new life post cancer. That's pretty amazing, I must say.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Subterfuge

Yesterday I was ambushed. The day had gone extremely well as we celebrated the fourth of July with one of my daughters and her family, but late in the day, I received an unexpected surprise.

I was given a handwritten letter from my mother who'd passed away this past December. At first, when I began reading, I thought it would be a beautiful keepsake but instead, I found nothing but hurtful and bitter words. Needless to say, I was crushed. It was a sneak attack and it was so painful.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in tears. Trying to keep from ruining the party, I excused myself to the bathroom where I cried in private. Why had I been given this letter now and why had my mother written such terrible words? I was so confused and it seemed so unfair.

On my way home from the party, I threw the letter out the car window. Watching the 3 pieces of paper float away on the wind gave me peace. Although I knew I'd never be able to forget the words I'd read, at least I didn't have a tangible reminder of them any longer.

The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 "Life and death are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Words wound. Even if they're coming from the grave, they can still pierce the heart. So please, don't say damaging things to your loved ones...ever.


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Yet another rejection

I was raised to always do the right thing. Now, while I know that's always the best choice and the most positive thing I could ever do, I don't always do it. I'm human. I make mistakes. Some of them are humongous and I own them, even though I'm not proud of them but sometimes, making the right choice isn't as easy as you'd think. Sometimes, others make the choice for us.

The future has been on my mind a lot lately. There are so many things I want to accomplish before I leave this world. Being the responsible adult that I am, I've also been thinking about ways to leave my husband well taken care of in the event I am the first to depart, that's why I made the choice last week to apply for some life insurance.

Funerals are expensive and it seems no matter how much you prepare ahead of time, there are always unexpected expenses that arise after a person dies. Even when deciding on a low budget funeral or choosing cremation, there are expenses that will be incurred. And while most people think they have enough coverage, most of them do not.

My ceramic urn
Last week, we attended the death of an uncle and that's what started my thought process. I began to wonder, should I die in the very near future, if my husband would be able to give me a proper burial. I don't want anything fancy, in fact, I've already mentioned my desire to be cremated. I've even picked out my urn - it's a lovely turquoise ceramic container, complete with scuffs and scratches. I bought it at a props sale held by my former employer. Many of the items on sale that day were from past passion plays the drama department had put on for huge audiences in downtown Atlanta. I felt blessed to snag a piece of history and also felt inner glee knowing that piece of pottery would one day hold my cremains.

Anyway...talking about death and funerals can be quite depressing so I'd best get back to the subject matter for this post.

Two well-known insurance companies sent me mailers last week. Both of them offering insurance policies at reasonable rates. One of them claimed no person would be turned away regardless of their medical condition. The other had an application attached to it and said they'd base their decision on the answers provided by the consumer. I wanted to do the right thing, truly I did, so I filled them both out and sent them off. Crossing my fingers, I hoped one of them would approve me.

Yesterday, I received a letter from the company that had provided the questionnaire. I'd answered the questions truthfully and to the best of my ability, so I wasn't surprised as I began reading the first line after the letter's salutation - "We regret to inform you, based on the answers you provided to our questions, that we will be unable to offer you insurance coverage because of your history of cancer."
Handcrafted in Italy, look at the detail!
Well, how do you like them apples????

With that rejection in hand, I wondered if the other company would hold true to their word and offer to provide me with coverage no matter my health condition. Time will tell.

It would be nice if the insurance companies would do the right thing and provide coverage to anyone willing to pay their premiums. So what if I had cancer! Sure, I'm no dummy. I know it could come back at any time, but hey...I still need insurance coverage people.

So what's a girl to do? I have my urn and that's a plus. Hopefully, I can get coverage before I kick the bucket so hubs won't have to sell all his belongings to make sure I have a nice funeral. Oh well, if I don't get it, I'll just tell him to bury me in the backyard, there are lots of places back there that would be perfectly suitable. I especially like that big oak tree on the corner of our lot...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A reminder of the brevity of life

Early this morning, I received word that an uncle had passed away. The news was expected as his health had been rapidly declining for several days, but even so, it's never easy to hear the news.

Just a little over a week ago, I'd had the opportunity to stop by and visit while on a recent vacation. I was shocked at how much he'd changed since the last time I'd seen him. We enjoyed a nice visit and talked about a mutual love of ours, painting.

All over his living room walls, Uncle Joe had displayed his artwork. There were acrylic paintings on handsaws as well as framed works of art. As I glanced around the room, I could see he took pride in his work but he also made a point to paint what was familiar to him. There were several of the paintings that caught my eye but in particular, the paintings of covered bridges. I mentioned this to him and we talked about some of our favorite bridges in and around Georgia.

He told me he wanted me to have one of his painted saws and explained I'd have to find one that didn't already have a family member's name on the back of it. Apparently, they'd all placed their mark on his works anticipating that one day, after he'd left this earth, they'd have the chance to claim their favorites.

I was unable to find a piece of his art that didn't already have someone's name etched on back. He saw the disappointment in my face and said he'd find one. In the meantime, he said, he wanted my cousin to bring me several of his blank saws. He knew I'd find pleasure in painting them. As my cousin brought the handsaws into the room and lay them beside me, Uncle Joe said, "I want one of your paintings, too." It made me happy that he'd want one of my pieces of art and I made a mental note to complete a piece specifically designed with him in mind.

Just two days ago, I'd completed the painting I was going to give Uncle Joe. I'd worked quickly after we'd returned from vacation in hopes of getting it sent off to my aunt so she could show him before he passed away. Now the completed painting lies in the middle of my dining room table. He'll never get to see it and that makes me extremely sad.
My acrylic pour painting mountain scene





On my cell phone, I have a saved voicemail Uncle Joe had left me. It was from a few weeks ago. I'd sent him a card in the mail telling him I was thinking about him and that I loved him. He responded by calling me and telling me the same. I'm so thankful I kept the message.

I listened to it just a few minutes ago and it made me cry. My uncle had called to check on me and ask how I was feeling when he knew very well his days were numbered.

Oh, the brevity of life! I'm reminded of it every day. Since my parents' deaths, and the recent deaths of several other friends and relatives, I can't help but remember the verse in the Bible that says we're just a vapor...here for a little while and then gone.


A saw I painted for Uncle Joe
The older I get, the faster the years fly. I don't like to admit it, but pretty soon, I'll be part of the oldest generation left in my family. I wonder if my children and their children realize how fast the time is going. Time grows ever precious with each passing day.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Instant weight loss


It's been a while since I've written and while I never meant to go that long of a stretch without writing, that can only mean one thing - I've been doing well and I've been busy!

For the past few months, I've focused on a new hobby, acrylic pouring. It's a process where you create paintings without the use of a brush at all. By mixing the paint with a combination of pouring medium, water, silicone, and other ingredients, you pour the paint onto the canvas and manipulate it by moving it back and forth. As the paint settles, it often changes forming a new painting until it's finally though moving. It's a very unique and fulfilling process.

I made so many paintings that my office began to get full of them and so I started an Etsy shop at the insistence of one of my daughters. There I was able to sell many of my paintings and jewelry but after about a month, I got tired of the hassle of packaging and mailing off my art so I closed shop and decided to start giving my works away. To me, that was much more rewarding.

Yesterday, instead of painting, my husband and I left early in the morning to head to Atlanta for a doctor's appointment. We knew traffic would be heavy and it would take over an hour to get there, so we gave ourselves enough time to have an enjoyable, unrushed ride.

When we arrived, the waiting room was packed and we knew it would be a while before I was called back. About thirty minutes passed before my name was called.

The nurse took me back and as always, began with vital statistics. I hate that they always want to weigh you first, but I stepped on the scale as she instructed. I could tell by the look on her face that I'd gained weight since my last visit. She looked at me and before she was going to open her mouth I said, "You know, I can lose that weight in an instant." She quizzically looked at me and I continued, "I couldn't decide whether to wear the lightweight prostheses this morning, or the heavyweight ones. I chose the big girls which weigh about 4 pounds." She smiled and said, "Really? Well I can deduct that amount from your chart." I smiled the biggest smile and replied, "Would you really? That would be awesome!" And she did!

When I received the paperwork with my statistics on it, she had entered a 4 pound loss in weight. I was so happy she hadn't counted the weight of my false breasts.

The appointment went well and we returned to our side of town only to head for 2 more appointments. It was time for my to reorder my compression sleeves for Lymphedema and it was also time for new boobs! The insurance company allows me to get new sleeves every year but boobs and bras are every two years.

After completing those errands, we took time out for lunch and then headed back home. It was a good day and I was thankful my hubby could accompany me on this trip.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all lose 4 pounds as quickly and easily as I did today? I am thankful the nurse was sensitive to my plight. I wonder if other breast cancer survivors have been through the same scenario...

Monday, May 7, 2018

Oh energy, where are you?

I used to have a lot of energy back in my BBC days (before breast cancer) but now, not so much. I'm finding my energy wanes around 4 p.m. each day and some days, before that. It's been a challenge to learn to adjust my schedule so I can accomplish the things I need or want to do before the energy runs out. Sometimes, I wish I had a gauge on my forehead. That way, I could look in the mirror and see how much fuel I had left. But if I did, I'd probably spend a good deal of my time running back and forth to check the meter and that would take precious time away from my doing.

Speaking of doing, I've come to the realization that I might be doing too much. Since being diagnosed with breast cancer, I've felt an urgency to do all the things I ever wanted to do. I have accomplished many of those things but there are still many items on my list to check off.

I was looking over my bucket list the other day and this year, I'll have checked off some of my major events. That's exciting but as I reviewed the minor events, I felt God whispering to my spirit, "You need to slow down, it's okay to rest."

Why do I struggle so with resting? Most people probably never have that problem, but I do. For some reason, I've always felt it a sin not to be busy but is being too busy a sin? I'm beginning to think it is.

I'm so thankful for my sweet husband. He enjoys the art of resting and has mastered it quite well! He helps me see sometimes that I'm doing too much and he'll gently point it out to me, telling me to stop for a while and just take it easy.

For a long time, I let what he said go in one ear and out the other thinking I'd complete my project and rest when I was done but as my body has grown physically more tired, I've started to listen more carefully to what he's been saying and I've started heeding his warnings.

I don't feel quite as bad about resting when I'm tired now. Jesus rested. In fact, Jesus even slept when he was tired. Remember when the disciples were in the boat on the stormy sea and Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat? I figure if he felt it was okay to rest when he was tired, then I need to be able to follow his example. If I don't do it, then I'm pushing my body beyond its physical capacity and that's not a good thing because I'll suffer for it later.

Most days, my back dictates what I can or can't do. I have degenerative disk disease, several bulging disks and a hemangioma on L5. I also have osteoporosis (thanks, Mom) and a few other residual issues from breast cancer surgery that contribute to my daily struggles with pain. In spite of all the physical issues, I try to keep moving, keep doing, and just keep being alive. I'm so grateful to still be here but the older I get, the more I long for home. I can't wait to get to heaven! At least there I'll be pain-free and I'm sure Jesus will make sure I rest when I need to.

Although it's only a few minutes before 2, I have accomplished a lot today already. My back is really bothering me so I'm probably going to lie on the floor a little (it seems to help to be on a very hard surface).

Truth be told, the back pain has started to increase lately and I'm a little worried. Cancer seems to choose to metastasize in the brain, lungs, spine, or blood. I'm hoping that's not the case for me. I don't ever want to go another round with cancer because I'm not so sure I'd win, but I won't go there right now. I'm just thankful to be alive.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Tar Babies

It's been a while since I've written in my blog again...I apologize to my faithful readers. My intentions are good but my life is busy.

Four years ago, I wouldn't have thought I'd be as busy as I've become. Back then, I was at the beginning of my breast cancer battle. Today, I'm doing well and my busyness has increased exponentially. Of course, if I'm honest, I'll have to admit most of the busyness if of my own doing. I'm currently writing my book, writing for a cancer magazine, working on a zillion different art projects, and I've just started a Facebook group for women! I don't know why I always feel the need to stay busy but I do. Some days there just aren't enough hours in the day for all I want to do, and that, my dear friends, is why I haven't been on here.

On top of all my physical busyness, I'm been in the midst of emotional busyness. Most of that stems from burdens many of my family and friends are facing. I spend an awful lot of time on my face before the Lord. There's just so much to pray about...

Today, as I was praying, I was reminded of one of my favorite childhood stories, B'rer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. This is part of the Uncle Remus series written by Joel Chandler Harris. In today's world, even discussing the story of the Uncle Remus books would probably be unacceptable because of racism and hatred but I happen to love the stories! They were a vital part of my childhood back in the early 60's. Back then, things were easier, especially when you grew up in a home where people weren't focused on the color of someone else's skin.

If you've never read the story of B'rer Rabbit and the Tar Baby, let me give you a brief synopsis: B'rer Fox and B'rer Rabbit are arch enemies and are always looking for ways to get back at each other. Well, in this story, B'rer  Fox, still smarting over being fooled again by Brer Rabbit, mixes tar and turpentine to make a tar-baby. He sets his creation, which indeed looks like a little black figure wearing a hat, beside the road and hides himself in the bushes not far away. Soon Brer Rabbit comes walking down the road and stops in his tracks when he sees the tar-baby. He speaks to it, asks it questions, accuses it of being hard-of-hearing and impolite, and finally yells at it. The tar-baby, of course, says nothing, and Brer Fox stays hidden in the bushes, chuckling quietly to himself. Losing his temper, Brer Rabbit hits the tar-baby, first with one fist, then the other. With both hands stuck in the tar, he kicks it with both feet, getting them stuck as well. In desperation, he butts it with his head, which also sticks firmly in the soft tar. Now Brer Fox emerges from the bushes, laughing so hard at Brer Rabbit’s plight that he rolls on the ground.

Tar babies are sticky! Could you imagine that poor rabbit stuck slap dab in the middle of all that icky tar? I'm sure he learned a valuable lesson and that is, if you lose your temper and get angry, sometimes you get into a jam. But I think there's another story here, one even more important.

Do you know any tar babies? I mean those people around you who seem to be so weighed down with burdens and problems that you just seem to avoid them? Oh, sure! You might listen to them as they tell you what's going on in their lives and you might even offer to shoot up a quick prayer for them but other than that, you can walk away unscathed. No tar on YOUR hands! But have you ever thought that sometimes, God puts people with problems in your path because there's a lesson you need to learn? Just like B'rer Rabbit, there just might be something there you need to take away?

Right now, I have several friends who are dealing with an awful lot in their lives. They're struggling with sons or daughters who have big problems and they don't know quite how to help them handle those sticky issues. I also have some family members who are struggling. Their pride has put up some big walls and they don't want anyone to interfere, even those well-intentioned folks who just might want to do anything they could to help. So what do we do in situations like that?

The tar babies might not be visibly covered in thick, black material but if you look closely enough, you can see sticky problems all around them. If you get too close, you just might get a little dirt on you. Most of those people are broken. They want someone to come and help bear some of their burden and if we're doing the Christ-like thing, that's exactly what we'll do. We'll stick our hands right into their sticky mess and get dirty...we'll get really dirty! In Galatians 6, we're told that we are to not only get dirty, but we're to pick up that sticky mess and carry it! We're to bear each other's burdens and in doing so, we fulfill the law of Christ.

If we walk away from those tar babies in our lives, we're committing spiritual snobbery! We all have problems and "dirt." One day, that tar baby's shoe might just be on our foot.

If there's someone in your life that's weighed down with sticky problems and burdens, you may not be able to physically help them but you can certainly pray. In so doing, you're helping to carry the load just a little. And if you get a little dirty, won't it be worth it?

Thank you, Uncle Remus, for teaching us so many lessons through your stories. Thank you, Joel Chandler Harris, for having the imagination to write those stories! And thank you, Lord, that you've give  us all the ability to bear one another's burdens if we'll just be on the lookout for people who might be covered in a little tar.