Sunday, December 9, 2018

Cancer the gift that keeps on giving - the high cost of cancer

There's a basket of bills sitting in the corner of my bedroom. I try not to look at it as I enter the room but I know it's there. Its contents spill out onto the floor whenever my husband stuffs another bill into the basket. Usually, when the mail comes, he gets it first so he can filter what I see and what I don't see. Since he's the only one working, he takes care of our financial responsibilities and while I'm thankful for that, I'm not ignorant about our mounting bills.

Cancer is expensive. Even if you've reached maintenance phase, it's costly. There are always tests to be run, blood to be taken, doctors to see. It never ends. Just knowing this will be a continual process for the rest of my life frustrates me and the alternative, death, will be my only way out.

It would be nice to know that cancer could be a once and done kind of thing but that's only wishful thinking. Everyone knows cancer is a long and very involved illness.

I had no idea cancer would be as expensive as it has been. When I was first diagnosed, I was clueless. Maybe I thought naively that our insurance would take care of everything, but it hasn't and it won't. Maybe I thought when I reached a state of remission, the bills would end, but they haven't. And now, since most insurance companies have raised their deductibles, it only gets worse.

Just the other day, I called my oncologist's office to see if it was possible to reschedule an appointment for February 2019 to this month. I explained I'd finally met my deductible and was hoping to get in under this year's insurance. I knew if I could manage to reschedule the appointment I'd only have to pay my 20%. The scheduler shot down those hopes as she "regretted to inform me that the doctor's schedule was completely booked through the end of the year." GREAT...JUST GREAT. So in February, I'd be paying the full fee because my deductible wouldn't be met.

With only one income, it's hard to pay extra expenses. Many times, we do without necessities in order to pay medical bills. We've made arrangements to pay on every single one but sometimes, they get tired of waiting and turn us over to collections. You can't get blood from a turnip, as the old saying goes. We do what we can with what we have and that's all we can do. And don'tcha think that just maybe all the stress that comes from worrying about paying for treatment might eventually contribute to a recurrence of cancer?

Thankfully, we have good insurance but for those without insurance, I'm sure the high cost of cancer is overwhelming. It's not fair, that on top of getting a horrible disease, we also have to pay big bucks for the treatment of it. But, that's what you do if you want to live, right? We have no choice. And maybe, just maybe that's why there's no current cure for cancer. After all, treatment for cancer brings in the big bucks, ya know?!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

There is always something to be thankful for...

Whether it's Thanksgiving or just any other day of the week, there's always something to be thankful for. The older I get, the more I realize the importance of gratitude and that's why I've found it helpful to keep a gratitude journal.

At the end of every day, I take a few minutes to jot down things for which I'm grateful. As I begin writing, my list grows quickly. Seeing God's blessings causes me to be humbled at His love for me.

If you've got something to write with and something to write on, you have the items necessary to being keeping track of your gratitude. Begin by making a list of your basic needs that have been met if you don't know where to begin and allow your list to expand from that point forward.

For example, the first thing I'm thankful for each morning is the fact that I woke up. The alternative could be good too, because I know if I didn't wake, I'd be in heaven with Jesus, but for now, I'm thankful I'm still here.

As I begin to start my day, there are so many other things I'm thankful for but I'm not only thankful for things, I'm thankful for people and emotions, and so much more.

When you become intentional about listing your daily gifts and gratitude lists, you'll find your attitude shifting. Instead of focusing on the negative in your life, you'll begin to see things in a new light. It's all about perspective and being grateful helps you become more focused on positivity.

It isn't difficult to give thanks. Try it! At the end of the day, think of 3 things for which you're grateful. Write them down. You may have a small journal or notepad. Put the date on your list. Try to keep it going for 21 days. They say if you do that, it will become a habit. At the end of the month, flip back through your lists and re-read them. You'll realize God has been blessing you all along, even when you've failed to give thanks for those blessings.

Giving thanks makes your heart glad! Try it, you just might like it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Turkey day is almost here!

Mixing up my famous dressing

Thanksgiving preparations are in full swing here. This year, we won't be hosting the meal but will enjoy being the guests. Even though that's the case, there are still many dishes to prepare. The menu is made and it's time to celebrate!

Holidays are nice because they help us remember those things we forget in the middle of the year. It's nice to have a designated day for giving thanks, but the risk is that we isolate those aspects of the celebration to that one day a year instead of living it out all year round.
It's easy to gather round the dinner table and declare our gratitude, but what about those gray, wintry days in the bleak of February, or what about the sweltering days of July, or the mundane days of September?

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Always. Without ceasing. In all circumstances. So yes, give thanks tomorrow and through the weekend. Tell people how much they matter to you. Make those gratitude lists. But when this weekend ends, don't stop. Keep it going. All year round.

Also, before we go and stuff our faces with turkey, can I just say how grateful I am for you?

It means a lot to know you take time out of your precious day to pop in and visit for a few minutes. I love reading your messages and connecting with you over how God is moving in your life or how my simple words here have been a breath of hope. It makes what I do worth it. It makes what I do matter, and it reminds me that this whole writing thing and helping people love God's story was never my idea, but an act of obedience and love.

So, Happy Thanksgiving! 

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 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!

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


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 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.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

It's difficult to keep up

It's been a while since my last post. I don't mean to have such large gaps between writings but sometimes, life just happens. We all get busy. We all get distracted. And some of us, the ones of us who have a little touch of adult ADD or adult ADHD, can't seem to stay focused. Whatever the case may be, I've been sidetracked.

For the past month or so, I've shifted my focus from writing to painting. It's been wonderful therapy and the art has given me such a lovely distraction that I haven't been able to stop. Can you be addicted to painting? Perhaps. I like to imagine Van Gogh or Picasso were addicted to their craft. I am by no means in their league. I'm far from it, but I have found a medium that lends itself to rapid results and a confident satisfaction.

It's hard to have so many hobbies. I enjoy every single one. That's a good thing because when I tire of one, I can easily pick up another. I tired of things quickly. That's one of my flaws. Today I'm going to try to regain some semblance of normalcy and shift myself from the world of painting back into the world of writing.
One of my paintings

Sometimes it feels like I have a smoldering fire within me. It's a burning desire to write. Often, when I don't let the words spill out, they bottle up inside me and I feel like I'm about to explode. This is when I can understand the madness some famous authors experienced. And it seems rather odd that people with such creative minds could fall into the trap of madness, doesn't it? Unless you've felt the overwhelming power of need, there's no way to understand this concept. It is real. And sometimes, I feel quite mad.

My book has been calling. I've put it on the back burner for some time now. For some reason, I just couldn't get past chapter 4. Hopefully, I'll make some progress today as I pick it back up and re-read it.

On another note, I've been invited to attend a Relay for Life celebration for breast cancer survivors. Reluctantly, I accepted the invitation. I'm not too keen on big to-dos like that but felt it my obligation to participate. This year marks my fourth of being cancer free so there's definitely reason to celebrate.

Breast cancer has finally been relegated to the back seat of my life. It no longer dictates everything I do and I'm thankful. It seems I'm finally being able to just focus on living. And speaking of living, I'm so excited about an upcoming trip. It's been in the works for many, many years. Lord willing, this October I'll be out of the country. More details to come! 

Monday, March 12, 2018

A day in the life (Fair warning, you might get tired reading this!)

Waking up to complete darkness is unusual. The time change has certainly affected my sleep patterns. I'm used to waking up with filtered sunlight and singing birds, but this morning was different.

Wide awake, I remove my earplugs, grab my little bedside flashlight, and beam toward the clock. Surely it can't be time to get up. I'm surprised to see it's already 6:30 a.m. I guess that makes sense considering I usually wake about 5:30 each morning.

Lying in bed for a few more minutes, I offer up some quick prayers for my family. These arrow prayers, as I call, them, I shoot up to heaven during the wee hours of the morning. I know they leave my lips and go straight into the heart of God where they'll be answered in His timing and according to His will.

I jump out of bed and flip on the light. The comforter and sheets are askew. It looks like there was a lot of movement last night. My mountain of pillows has shifted and are scattered across my husband's side of the bed. Poor thing! Since the lymphedema has gotten worse, I sleep with my arms elevated at night. That means two pillows underneath each arm and then, there are the two under my head. Six, no! Seven pillows. I forgot the one I tuck between my legs. Staying comfortable after cancer is a challenge.

Flinging the pillows back over to my side of the bed, I work to remake the bed. I start on his side and work my way around to my side. Back and forth until the huge bed is neatly arranged and everything is in order. As I tidy up, I flip on the morning news. It's the only time of day I listen as I work. It's important for me to keep abreast of what's going on in the world.

After the bed is made, I slip into the kitchen to make myself some breakfast. I read somewhere that you should eat within an hour of waking to keep your metabolism in high gear. I scramble some egg whites with a little cheese and olives while the Keurig is heating up for my green tea. When the eggs are done, I sit at the bar and enjoy the silence.

Next, I don some leggings, wool socks, sneakers, and a long sleeve shirt. I grab my Bose speaker and cell phone and head toward the treadmill. It's cold this morning! As I reach the garage, I can't help but shiver.

I pull up a podcast of Adrian Rogers, one of my favorite preachers, and fire up the treadmill. After warming up a few minutes, I'm in my groove and am walking at a brisk pace while listening to a sermon on the importance of numbers in the Bible. I love learning, especially where the Bible is concerned and Adrian Rogers was a sound man of God. I'm sad he's no longer living but I'm thankful for his archive of podcasts and sermons.

In the middle of my workout, my youngest calls. She's at the breast specialist and about to have an ultrasound. She's been having some problems and we've been concerned. I pray as I listen to her talk. She tries not to worry me but I know she's nervous and rightly so. With my history of breast cancer, how could she not be? I ask God to give her a good report and keep walking as she talks. When it's her appointment time, she tells me she'll call back later. I tell her I love her and hang up not realizing I'm holding my breath.

The Bluetooth speaker begins again and I pick up the sermon where it left off before the interruption of the call. I become engrossed in the lesson and am amazed that 45 minutes have already passed along with 5822 steps. Time's up! I have things to do, so I jump off the treadmill and hop on the rebounder. I only spend about ten minutes there. Rebounding helps distribute the lymphatic fluid and lessen the swelling in my arms.

After the rebounding, I grab some chicken from the freezer and head into the kitchen. Popping it in the microwave, I'll prepare dinner shortly.

As the meat is defrosting, I walk across the house to my closet to change clothes, then head back into the kitchen. My hair is a wreck since I didn't get a shower this morning. I decide to do a quick wash in the sink. Thankfully, my hair is short enough I can do this.

Just as I finish washing my hair, the microwave timer dings. I wrap my head in a towel and begin making chicken parmesan packets. I layer a bed of zucchini on a sheet of foil, salt, and pepper it, pour on some marinara sauce, add the chicken breast, top with some mozzarella cheese and wrap it all up into a neat little foil packet. It reminds me of my Girl Scout days when we'd make foil packet dinners to cook over the campfire. I make two more packets so my husband can have one for lunch tomorrow and stick them in the refrigerator.

I'm getting a draft on the back of my neck as my cold hair drips. I head to the bathroom to dry my hair. After that's done, I remember I have a load of clothes in the dryer. I stop to take them out, fold and put them away.

Heading back toward the kitchen, I feed the fish. As I do so, I remember the title for a children's book I intend to write soon. Turning toward the dining room table, I see my wet canvas drying on the sheet of plastic I'd spread out a few days ago and it reminds me I have a cousin coming over this weekend. She wants to learn to paint and I've agreed to teach her a new technique I've been enjoying.

I pull out some canvases and begin to gesso them. That way, I'll be prepared when she comes and won't have to wait for them to dry while she's here.

On the bar, there's a shopping circular. I pick it up and browse through it quickly thinking I need to order a new comforter set for the guest bedroom. There's a really good sale, according to the ads, I may just have to do that today.

While the canvases are gessoed and drying, I load the dishwasher and turn it on. Now all that's left to do in that part of the house is to vacuum. I'll get to that shortly.

Grabbing my water bottle, I glance at the clock. It's 12:30. Almost time for lunch. I grab a handful of almonds and head to my office. I've got some writing to do today.

I turn on my computer and my cell phone dings. I've got an alert from Twitter. Someone tried to log into my account. I haven't used Twitter in a very long time. It's odd someone would be trying to use an unused account. I ignore the notification.

My computer is up and I can't help thinking about that new comforter. I pull up the company's website and log in. I find a beautiful 4 piece set but it seems kind of expensive. I don't need top of the line, just something decent for out of town guests when we have them come visit. I put the set in my shopping cart and then peruse the flyer for coupons. I find an online coupon and a store coupon that save me more than half the cost of the set! I'm happy and don't feel bad when I click to order.

Next, I pull up my blog and begin writing this post. I've fallen down on the job of keeping my readers up to date but really, there hasn't been much going on with my cancer journey since I'm in maintenance mode.

Tomorrow I'll go in for rehab. I'm receiving treatment for lymphedema. I'll also see the chiropractor. The cancer treatment houses all of these under one roof which makes it convenient for me. Later in the week, I'll see an acupuncturist for the spinal pain. I'm nervous about that. I've never seen an acupuncturist before and I'm not keen on having needles inserted into my body. The oncologist felt like it might help so I'm willing to try it.

As soon as I finish this post, I'll be working on some articles for the cancer magazine unless I decide to have lunch first. I love writing for them and never have a problem finding topics to share.

The clock on my computer says it's 1:19 p.m. now. I've accomplished a good deal and the days not over yet. I think I'll pause for a lunch break and see if I have anything DVR'd so I can watch while I eat. I love doing more than one thing at a time.

After lunch, I'll vacuum the carpets, unload the dishwasher, and then work on my articles. By the time I finish, hubby will be coming in the door and it will be time to slide supper into the oven.

We'll enjoy a nice dinner, I'll clean up, then we'll watch some of our favorite shows and talk. That will be the first time all day I'll really relax and do nothing productive. Hubby has had to teach me to rest. I try really hard to listen to him but it's so hard for me to sit idle and do nothing. He assures me it's good for me. I wonder.

When he's ready to retire for the evening, I'll go unmake the bed. I'll sit and read a while until I'm ready to join him. I love winding down the day by reading my Bible or a good book.

As I lay my head on the pillow, I'll smile knowing I did my best to stay active today. Since my diagnosis, I don't take a single minute for granted any longer. I try to pack as much as I can into every day.

I won't realize until I'm almost drifting off to sleep, that my body is tired. But being tired, is evidence I'm still here and that's a good thing.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The test results are in and I'm happy to report I'm currently cancer free! That's fantastic news! I am so grateful and so very blessed.

Doctors found a suspicious place on my fourth rib and another on L5 of my spine. After an ultrasound and an MRI, they determined the spot on my ribs is costochondritis and the place on my spine is due to degenerative disc disease. I also have several herniated discs and those little buggers, along with osteoarthritis, are the reason for my chronic back pain. So...I'm being sent for treatment which will include physical therapy, chiropractic care, and acupuncture.

I'm thankful for a cancer treatment center that believes in integrative health care. It's so nice to have everything under one roof. Instead of having to travel from one city to the next to receive treatment, I go to one place. It's kind of like one-stop shopping for healthcare, lol.

In July, I'll be celebrating my fourth cancerversary. Isn't that amazing??? 4 years of being cancer free! What a milestone! God is so good and I can't thank Him enough for allowing me to continue to live.

This year, I'll be focusing more on finding joy. God has impressed upon me that I need to see His goodness and the best way I can do that is to find joy in the midst of my gratitude.

There are so many things to look forward to this year! Hubby and I have already planned our calendar year and several mini-vacations are on the slate.

So life is good and we are blessed. I never want to meet up with cancer again. Hopefully, God will see fit to keep it far away from us. We trust He will!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Patting myself on the back

It feels so good to know you've made a good decision. When I fired my last oncologist, I wasn't sure I was making the right decision. It's scary to walk away from a doctor's care, but it was absolutely necessary in this case to do just that.

Today, I met my new oncologist. What a gem! He was so pleasant and nice. His eyes twinkled as he spoke to me. I knew it was a good fit when he sat down and asked me what he could do for me. He wanted to know how he could help make me more comfortable. What a first! I've never had a doctor ask me that before.

I was impressed that he took time to pull up my chart on his computer and as he did, he asked me to correct anything that was incorrect. He read through all of my records and after he'd done that, He came over to examine me. Before he began, he took time to warm his hands. What a gentleman!

His nurse sat in the corner jotting down notes as he went over my body. As he worked, he asked me if there were specific areas that were bothering me. I mentioned the tenderness underneath my scar, a spot to the right of one of my chest radiation tattoos, my spinal pain and of course, the lymphedema. After thinking for a few minutes, I also added the insomnia.

Dr. H addressed each area of concern. He ordered an ultrasound, an MRI with contrast, and he's sending me to a lymphedema specialist.

After 45 minutes, he was ready to move on to his next patient. Before he left, he turned to me, smiled a huge smile and thanked me for trusting him to be my doctor. He gave me his business card and told me to contact him if I needed anything.

His nurse stayed in the room for a few minutes and another nurse joined us. Both of the ladies wanted to talk to me for a few minutes. They asked me if I was pleased with the doctor. I assured them I was. They told me Dr. H is one of the best on staff at the cancer treatment center and explained he is always happy go lucky. Neither of them has ever seen him upset, angry, or sad. He was good to his employees and wanted the very best for his patients. The ladies were very sincere in their comments about him and that made me feel like I'd made a good decision to change doctors.

When I left the exam room, I smiled. Finally, I was going to get the care I deserved. I felt confident in Dr. H and his team. 

What a difference. Dr. N had been brusk and inattentive. Dr. H had been open, approachable, and friendly. Dr. N hadn't given me 3 minutes of her time. Dr. H gave me 45 minutes. Dr. N didn't go over one of my lab tests or records. Dr. H went over every single one of them.

It's important to find a doctor who fits your needs and if that means going "Doc Shopping," then so be it.

On my way out of the treatment facility, I found a handpainted stone with the word, "Hope," on it. How appropriate and what perfect timing! Yes, I do have hope in a brighter tomorrow with no cancer!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Purpose In Suffering

Yesterday, I was reminded of something important. Late in the day, as I was checking my emails, I received notification that someone had left a comment on one of my blog posts. I have my account set up so I can moderate comments as they come in because, in the past, I've received some pretty racy spam comments that shocked me to my core when they were posted without my knowledge.

As I read the comment the reader left, I went back to that post I'd made in October of 2014. Re-reading the post brought back a flood of memories, some good, and some not so good.

In the post, I was reminded of a lesson God had taught me. It's been almost 4 years since that original post and He's still teaching me reasons for my suffering.

You'd think, by now, my suffering would have ended. You'd think, I'd be much stronger and more healthy than I was back in 2014 after surgery and treatment, but I'm not. Daily, I'm in pain. Some days are worse than others, but there's never a day without some discomfort.

I try hard not to mention it. My husband is really the only one who sees my constant struggles. I try hard to keep my physical pain from my children and grandchildren. There's nothing they can do to help me other than pray, so why bother them with it?

When my spine screams in agony, or when my arms are swollen so tight they feel like they'll burst, I have to remember, God has allowed this into my life. I have to trust that He knows what He's doing. I have to trust He's using this for my benefit. It isn't always easy, in fact, most days it's really hard. And, I do spend a lot of time on the floor of my closet in tears crying out to Him, but I know I'm not forgotten. When I do give Him my agony and pain, He gives me His peace. And that's enough.

Tomorrow, I'll see the new oncologist. I'd be lying if I didn't say I was nervous. Although I'm coming up on my four-year cancerversary (July 9, 2018), every visit to the cancer treatment center is scary. It's always concerning when the lab results come in. I can't help wonder if my tumor marker will be up and more tests will need to be done.

I canceled the MRI I was supposed to have done last week. I'll be talking with the new oncologist about this and get his feelings before rescheduling. If he feels it will be beneficial, then I'll do it. If not, I'll wait.

This morning, as I read my Bible, I was reminded that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. I always wondered why He had to qualify Himself to those to whom He was speaking. In the Greek language, the word good is translated, "Kalos." This word describes someone who is noble, wholesome, good, and beautiful. It signifies not only that which is good inwardly—character—but also that which is attractive outwardly. It is an innate goodness. Therefore, in using the phrase “the good shepherd,” Jesus is referencing His inherent goodness, His righteousness, and His beauty. As shepherd of the sheep, He is the one who protects, guides, and nurtures His flock.

As I thought about my Shepherd, Jesus, I was reminded that I am a lowly sheep. Sheep need to be protected, guided, and cared for. That is exactly what Jesus is doing for me.

While I continue my journey through breast cancer, I can trust Him to lead me exactly where I need to go.

His purpose for my suffering is only completely known to Him but as I follow after Him, I know that every ache and pain will soon be erased one day, and that makes it bearable.

A robot is going to do my surgery?

My innards have decided they don't want to work anymore. For the past 3 years, I've been having issues. First, it started with diffi...