Monday, January 30, 2012

Fearing "Normal"

August 24th was a very sad day for me.  Not just because I knew that the next day I would undergo major surgery and my body would forever be different but because I had to say goodbye to my work as a physical therapist for a time.  For the last nine years, I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities I have had to meet and treat some really great patients.  I have also been extremely blessed to be surrounded by some pretty amazing co-workers who have provided me tremendous support throughout my journey. Today was a big day because it was my first day back at work.
This day did not come without some anxiety for me.  My concerns about returning to work were mostly about it being my first big step toward "normal" again.  As much as I have longed for life as normal to resume, I also fear "normal".  I worry that my times with the Lord reading scripture and praying will not have the same impact on me. I worry that I will fall into a pattern of discontent and forget to be grateful for every sweet moment I have been given. I worry that the perspective that cancer has given will fade and I will sweat the small stuff again. However, as I walked back into "normal" today, I realized something important. If I don't go there, then all that I have learned will be worth nothing.  This experience has without a doubt changed me and I believe I am better as a result of it.  Now is the time to step back into life as normal and make a difference with what I have learned.   

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rejoice in Today

Last Wednesday, I had my 6th and final chemotherapy treatment.  I woke that morning with the desire to dig my heels into the floor and refuse to go. It is hard to describe the feelings I get by simply walking into the Infusion Center. It really is a lovely place filled with lovely people but it has a smell and feeling that immediately bring on waves of nausea for me. Reluctantly, I went through with my chemo-morning rituals of showering, drinking plenty of water (and not coffe-blah!) and eating my baked potato. But another important thing happened that morning. Blake read the devotional from Jesus Calling outloud to me and prayed for my last treatment in the quiet of our kitchen (before the kids had started to stir). The devotional was about speaking your requests to the Lord with thankfulness at the way He was already putting into motion how He would answer them. I quickly realized that He had been so faithful to bring me through my chemotherapy journey thus far that why would He abandon me now on my last one? Confirmation of this came quickly. That morning I wondered who my nurse would be since I had a different nurse for each of my treatment sessions. One of the nurses who had been through breast cancer treatment about a year before popped into my head, and I thought it would be really neat if she were the one for the day. I arrived at the Infusion Center and was quickly taken back to get my weight and vitals taken. Of course, I looked down on my chart to see a little sticky note with the same nurse's name and my room number written on it.  Not only was I comforted and congratulated by the nurse that knew better than any other what it was like to go through it but I also had a corner room that was near to the bathroom and had plenty of light coming in the windows. I also had a few great friends visit me while I was there!

In the time since my last chemotherapy, my mind has started to wander to what's next.  I am eager to have the second phase of the reconstruction behind me and have started reading all the information in preparation for it. I am reading about shelf lives of implants and the differences between silicone and saline, not to mention all the potential complications that can come with having the implants. I have also been thinking a bit about the potential side effects of Tamoxifen, the drug that I will soon begin taking and need to take for the next five years to block estrogen and progesterone that has shown to drive my kind of cancer.  The potential side effects are hot flashes and mood swings but I am assuming in my case there is always the potential for nausea and vomiting. When I let my mind wander to these next steps, I start to get frightened that perhaps the chemotherapy that is now behind me was not the worst part of my journey.  But Jesus Calling continues to speak so clearly that I must rejoice in this day that the Lord has made (Psalm 118:24) and refuse to worry about tomorrow.  "Rehearsing your troubles results in experiencing them many times, whereas you are meant to go through them only when they actually occur. Do not multiply your suffering this way!"  So as I was shown at the very beginning of this journey, I will take each step as they come and choose to relax in His Presence as I reflect on all that He has brought me through so far. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Bend in the Road

"I bear willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in the Lord's workshop. I sometimes question whether I have learned anything except through the rod. When my schoolroom is darkened, I see most"  -Charles Spurgeon

I have added When Your World Falls Apart by David Jeremiah to my times with the Lord. This book was one that Blake bought after I was first diagnosed, and during those first few dark nights, he would read it to me in bed as I fell asleep. I have been wanting to get back to it and spend some time with it when my mind is fresh (this is the early morning for me). David Jeremiah uses his own personal cancer story and ten well-loved Psalms to provide perspective on our "bends in the road" or "disruptive moments" as he refers to them. I am so excited to study these Psalms and see what the Lord still has to show me as I finish up with Chemotherapy and go into the last phases of the reconstruction process. My last Chemotherapy treatment is one week from today, and my next surgery is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, February 22nd. 

I would love to just share David Jeremiah's 5 Principles to Remember when you come to a "bend in the road" because they so appropriately relate to all that I have experienced since my journey began:

1. Disruptive Moments Are Often Divine Appointments (I couldn't help but think of the title of my very first journal entry.)

2. Progress Without Pain Is Usually Not Possible

3. The Promise of God Is The Provision of Grace

4. Disruptive Moments Produce Dynamic Growth

5. What We Receive from Disruptive Moments Depends on How We Respond