that crazy cancer girl

My journey through cervical cancer

A Better Year

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Yesterday was a full year since I found out I had cancer. A full year since I sat on the edge of that gurney and heard those words, a full year that has changed me for the better. Yes I said for the better. In one year I have been through pure hell, I have cried myself to sleep at least half of this year, I have taken more drugs then someone on a street corner and I have been in more pain than anyone should have to bear.

However, I have gotten so much closer to God, I have gotten so much closer to my husband, my family and my friends. I have met amazing nurses that have changed my life for the better, I have met so many awesome people that have left a footprint in my life. Had it not been for cancer, I would not have met these people and I would have still been living day by day taking for granted every breath that I breathe.

We take so much for granted in our daily lives when so many others are struggling for theirs. My one prayer every day through this journey has been for people to see God through me. I’m not sure if I have conquered that in a year, but I’m going to keep on striving for that!

Last Tues I went in the hospital again in so much pain in my kidney with the tube in it. Come to find out that it is a non functioning kidney anymore and it will need to come out. I go Thursday for the whole pre surgery thing. I’m worried, I’m scared and I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t. It’s just one more thing that I look up to the sky and say, God you have to have this under control because I certainly do not. I have a feeling this journey is going to keep going for a bit longer.

I certainly wouldn’t want it too, but I don’t know what else God has in store for me. He hears my cries of God, please heal me, please have mercy on me. He hears it all, but if He isn’t done, then He isn’t done. Not that my words don’t mean anything to Him, because they do, but He just isn’t ready to make that move yet. If He decides to take me, then there is no doubt where I will be going, but if He decides to heal me, then He is strengthening me day by day to shout His praises to the nations.

I don’t know what this next year will hold for me, but I know whatever it is, I will continue to worship Him and thank Him for everything He has brought me through and everything that He is going to bring me through. My story isn’t done yet and I will continue to share it as long as He allows me too.

What are you facing tonight? Has it been a trying year for you? Has God been close to you and helped you along the way? If not, all you have to do is ask and He will guide you through whatever it is you are dealing with. Try to find the good through the bad.

Psalm 50:15 and call upon me in the day of trouble;    I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

 

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Trying to Run

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I was screaming at my brother to take him away! Get him away from me Matt! The tears were streaming down my face as my brother tried to get me close to the ugliest, scariest, red headed, wrinkle faced man. He sounded like a demon when he talked and I kept running as fast as I could to get away. Matt kept telling me that this guy was good and he had good stuff. I just kept crying and trembling trying to get away.

Finally I ran up to my parents old bedroom and locked all the windows and doors so this man couldn’t get through. I laid down to get to sleep and before I knew it, I felt his slithery hand wrapped around my wrist as he tried to get a handcuff on me to tether me to himself. I started screaming for my Mom as loud as I could because I knew I would find comfort with her.

While I was screaming, Darin started shaking me to wake me up and I started to cry realizing it was just a nasty nightmare. I laid there for hours afterwards wondering what provoked that kind of a nightmare. Suddenly God showed everything to me. I have been doing my best to try and proclaim God’s name through this journey. I have been fighting and fighting to still thank God through the pain and suffering.

I also have been allowing depression and anxiety to slowly seep through my life and as hard as I fight it, it’s still there. The nightmare showed me that no matter how good of a Christian we are, no matter how much we strive to stay close to God, Satan will always try to get a foot hold in and slither his way into our lives to try and bring us down. To try and let us know that he can still get to us. When I was yelling for my Mom, I called for her because subconsciously I knew she was with God and she would help me wake up from this awful nightmare.

I never want to give Satan a foothold in my life. I have fought to hard and to long to get my life back with God where it belongs, to allow him to try and pull me back down again. Regardless of what I face on a day to day basis, I have to keep God as close as possible, because I can go to the best Dr in the world, the best hospitals in the world and take the best medicine, but God, He has the final say so on my life. He already knows whether this cancer will kill me or if it become a strong tower to praise his name through healing.

Satan is going to try to continue to bring me down. He will still try to do whatever it takes to keep my mind on my pain and off of Jesus. He can try as much as he wants, but he will never win. If you have read your bible, we already knows who wins in the end. We already know that regardless of what Satan tries, he still loses in the end.

Will I be scared at times? Absolutely! Will I have anxiety at times? I sure will, but you know what? I can give it to God and He will help me. I can’t let it dig in deep, I can’t let it take over my thoughts and my mind. I will continue to praise Him through this storm and when Satan wants to try and slither his way in, he better be ready for a fight!

What are you allowing to get to you lately? Has Satan been trying to get a foothold in your life to try and get you away from God, or keep you away from God? Pray against him today and don’t allow him to get close to you at all! Jesus wants to be the only one close to you. He wants you to come to Him in time of need and call on Him when things get tough. Through any storm go To Jesus and know that He will surround you in His safety.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you

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How do you Support?

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Seven years ago, I had recently lost our Mama to breast cancer and I will admit, I was a little angry. At cancer, at God at everyone who told me that it would be ok, She’s in a better place… I heard it all, but didn’t want to hear any of it.

One day in September shortly after Mom passed I loaded the boys up in the truck and went to run some chores as Montana was in school. As I came around the corner of the Pembroke Mall, all I saw was a sea of pink. Fire trucks, tents, t-shirts, fire fighters, everything was pink. Of course the curiosity got the best of me and I quickly pulled over. I knew Darin was on his way home for lunch so I called him and told him to meet me at the mall.

We started walking towards all this pink and when I finally spoke to someone and got the story, I was so thankful for the sunglasses I was wearing so no one could see the fresh, hot, tears that were brimming at my eyes. This man, named Dave Graybill who was a retired fire fighter from AZ had wanted to start a movement across the country to help support millions of women who battle all  different cancers everyday. He told me more about The Pink Heals Tour and the “Cares Enough to Wear Pink” initiative whose purpose is to provide visionary leaders and the general public with a program that maintains fund raising dollars locally in support of women and their families. He stood there and talked with me for a while and then we went our separate ways.

I had the honor of signing the pink fire truck in memory of my sweet Mama. That was the first breaking point for me that I actually allowed myself to truly cry that our Mom was gone. Over the years, Dave and his crew of fire fighters from all over the country have visited Virginia Beach and hundreds of other states every year in hopes of raising awareness and supporting local women who need that extra support.

This morning my friend Kim text me and said I’m coming over around 10 to bring you something and I can’t wait to see your face… Seriously y’all, no one should have to see this face before 10 am on a Saturday! I reluctantly got up and took a shower because today was the day that Dave was brining the crew back to Virginia Beach for the annual tour.

When I got downstairs, I had just sat down when I heard sirens. Not just sirens out on the Blvd., but sirens like coming down my road!!! I knew right away what was going on and ask Darin if he has anything to do with them coming here. He said he did not, but he did know. I will have to say, I was honored that these people from all over the US came to see me, at my house! I was beyond humbled and believe it or not a wee bit speechless!

Later on we went to my buddy Stan’s restaurant where the trucks were setting up for the community and got to sign them and visit a little bit longer and then say our goodbyes.

When I think about things like this, I think what selfless things people do to help others. None of these people have to do this, none of these folks have to drive fire trucks all over the USA supporting and helping people they don’t even know. Yet day after day, month after month, they sign up and they say pick me, choose me! I want to help as many people as I can against this awful disease!

I can’t even begin to tell you how great it feels just to sign the truck. To see the thousands upon thousands of signatures and notes all over those trucks, knowing that each and every person is somehow affected by cancer… It truly is humbling. Today was a great day with the Pink Heals tour trucks and I am so thankful this year to even experience it on a more personal level. I am truly thankful to Dave for starting such a phenomenal project and also to the Virginia Chapter that has just as much passion as Dave and uses it locally to help those in our own communities.

How are you affected by cancer? Do you know someone, or do you suffer yourself? Are you a nurse or a Dr who works with cancer patients? How about a runner for cancer races? There are so many ways that we can get involved to help someone else go on when they don’t have the strength to do it themselves. We even have a group of ladies in our church that make prayer quilts for those who are sick. So many, many way to help others. What will you do with that challenge?

If you would like to read more, here is the website for the pink heals tour http://www.pinkfiretrucks.org/

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What do you Pray for?

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I know I have mentioned this before, but my sweet Mama was a prayer warrior. I don’t think she ever stopped praying! Every time she heard a siren she would stop what she was doing and pray for the first responders to be safe and for whoever they were going for to feel peace and for no one to leave this earth without knowing God. We would all say amen and continue on with whatever we were doing. Growing up at the time in a smaller town we didn’t hear many sirens.

I remember though the first time Mom and Dad came to visit us here at the beach and she heard a siren and stopped what she was doing and prayed. About 5 minutes later she heard another and prayed again. This happened time after time throughout the day and that evening we were sitting on the deck and she heard another one. Her face looked kind of tired and she said, Dear Lord, forgive me for this, but will you please help and bless everyone who is in need of first responders while we are here, for I surely can’t keep up with the excitement here in this city!

Oh we laughed and teased her for a bit and she felt so bad like she was disobeying God for not praying for each one of them. It’s funny how we pick up things from our parents. Even when I was an EMT I would pray in my head for the person that was in the back of the ambulance. I still pray every time I here a siren.

The bible says “To pray without ceasing”. I certainly feel that I am doing a lot of that lately. As soon as I wake up I am praying for the day and for my family, I am continuing to pray for my healing and for God to help so many others. Today was one of those days where I know I needed to pray, but I couldn’t find the words. Two days after chemo, severe anxiety kicks in and I am so out of sorts that I can barely function. The pain on top of that today left me with a whole lot to say, but no words would come.

There is a beautiful praise and worship song out that can put exactly what I felt today in a 3 minute song. The words say…

I bow my head to pray, I don’t know what to say
I’m not sure how to fix the things I’m dealing with
I’m in a desperate place, I need to share the weight
But I just don’t know how, to let it all pour out
Though I’m silent, my heart is crying
Cause I was made to come to You

So I pray
God I need You more than words can say
Right here in this moment
You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name
I’m gonna pray

I failed to find the time, but You’ve been calling out
I let the days go by as if I could live without
But it’s gotta be here now, I won’t be pulled away
Cause it’s just You and I, so let the world around us fade

As I pray
God I need You more than words can say
Right here in this moment
You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name
I’m gonna pray
I’m gonna pray

(Father)
Will You meet me here right now?
(Father)
I surrender, lay it down
(Father)
And every time I close my eyes
I know that I was made
To lift my hands and pray
I lift my hands and pray

You know my heart, You know my need
And every single part of me
So even if it’s just to speak Your name

I’m gonna pray
I’m gonna pray

You know my heart, You know my need
You know every part of me
I bring willing words and one heart [?]
Take it as an offering

God knows our thoughts before they even run through our lips. He is waiting for us to come to Him and speak to Him. Not just when we need something from Him either. He wants to hear about our day and what we are thankful for. He wants us to let Him know that we love Him and appreciate all that He does for us through the good AND the bad.

What does prayer mean to you? Do you only use it when you need something from God? Do you thank Him for your family or that unexpected bonus? How about for the person driving slow in front of you that you found out later prevented you from getting into an accident had you not been behind him? So many things that God wants us to talk to Him about. How about taking time tonight before you go to bed and listen to this song and take a moment to thank God for everything He has done in your life.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray continually

 

 

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Joy? Where did it Go?

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I have 2 words that are tattooed on the inside of my left wrist. They say, “Choose Joy”. It’s my life theme…. So I thought… In a way it still is, but the old saying isn’t ringing true about practicing what you preach? I look at that tattoo often and I kind of cringe because nothing has been joyous in my life lately. Yes, I can look on the positive side and say I have three amazing kids and a awesome husband and I could include many other things, but as far as cancer goes, it hasn’t been that joyous.

I have chemo again tomorrow and I’m looking forward to another quiet day of spending time with God. It shouldn’t happen just once every 3 weeks and it doesn’t, but true uninterrupted quietness with God only happens during chemo. When I wake up in the morning, I have 5 devotional books that I read. I could have less, but I like all of these and they are short, so I don’t mind reading them. I recently have started something new though to help me remember my joy. I took a composition book out of the school closet and started writing my book of prayers.

Everyday and sometimes twice a day I write a specific prayer of, God, I am feeling this way or I need help with this. I date it and close it up. On days when I don’t think God is listening, I go back and read other prayers I have written and I then can see that yes, God is working in my life because things were really bad on this day or that day and I no longer feel that way anymore. It’s also a great way of putting my thoughts and feelings out on paper and not held inside. Depression as mentioned before has really been rough for me lately and I am trying to deal with it as best as I can.

This book thing is another great way of handling depression. I am not a Dr. or therapist so if it does not work for you, don’t go suing me as I am just telling you what is working for me so far. 😉

Joy is not something that is difficult to achieve, anyone can have joy. Joy comes in many shapes, sizes, colors, ideas. I can look at our kids and immediately feel joy, I can look at the full gas tank in the truck and immediately feel joy (because that rarely happens), I can look at a clean sink and immediately feel joy. So many ways I can feel joy, but lately Satan has been trying his best to steal those moments from me. Our kids for the most part have been amazing, but then something broke on the truck that is yet another bill, the sink is a constant runway of dirty dishes and on top of the little things, the big things like the pain from the cancer can immediately steal joy from my heart.

For someone who never has cried much in life, I can’t stop crying lately. I cry just talking normally to someone. I don’t know how to stop… People are starting to think I am crazy! (Well, I have been crazy all my life, just people are starting to notice now. 😉 ) Seriously though, my joy is being stolen from right out underneath of me and I am on a constant run chasing after it!

One of my biggest things that brings me joy is the beach, but lately it hasn’t been that good for me with the tube. It has been a trying summer having to stay out of the water, when all I want to do is swim. Some people go to gyms, some people exercise, I swim. It’s what I love and that has been taken away. I don’t even have the energy to take a walk on the beach anymore, so that one is out for me.

Tonight though I need your help, what brings you joy? What get’s you out of a funk? What makes you have a good old belly laugh? What makes you forget about any pain? I could truly use suggestions and if you have none to give, then could you pray for me tonight? I could truly use prayer always, but especially lately. I’m sorry I haven’t written much lately as I didn’t want to be Debbi Downer all the time. I will try to pick things up more as soon as I shake this funk! 😉

Proverbs 15:13 – “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.”

 

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The Hidden Side

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A few years ago a friend of mine bought me a digital photo frame. I have it sitting right beside the couch on the end table and it runs through hundreds of pictures over and over. I sit here and I watch it and I see pictures of me smiling, laughing, cute, confident, holding our kids and kissing my husband. As I watch I wonder, who is that lady? When was life so easy that I just lived so carefree and smiled all the time?

Hot tears form in my eyes and a giant lump comes in my throat. I see my reflection in that photo frame. I see my bald head and I see the chemo swollen face and I know that I am certainly not the same person that is portrayed in those pictures. I miss that other woman so much and I wonder if I will ever be her again…

I know that Satan has been feeding me a strand of lies. Lies about my body, my face, my life, my future… You name it, the lies are there.

This is the part of cancer that I don’t let anyone see, I hide in my bedroom and I sob and let the tears just flow. Within the last few weeks, I have listened to these lies and I feel miserable, I feel like I can’t breathe. I sit up straight and try to fill my lungs with fresh air, but the tears just won’t stop long enough for me breathe deeply.

I usually wouldn’t let people see this side of me, I usually wouldn’t tell you about this side of cancer, but women all across this country are suffering from the same thing. They are strong and fighting, but they are also broken and fragile. I went in this morning to get my blood work done and as I sat in that chair watching other women coming in for chemo, I wanted to yell at them. Be strong!! Be courageous!!! All I can do though is silently pray for them in my head. Some of them were sitting in those chairs for the first time. I could see the fear on those faces, I could hear the questions they were asking.

I wanted to tell them about this side of cancer, the side that only happens when they are alone. I wanted to tell them not to listen to the lies of the enemy and to try and hold onto the confident side of themselves. I wanted to tell them to continue to fight the battle. It may be long, but they will get out of it… The problem is, I can’t even tell myself that. I have no confidence, I cry whenever I have to put that wig on and try to look normal. I put my makeup on and try to look like that lady whose pictures are flashing across that photo frame.

It’s not easy sharing all of this, it’s not easy living like this, but I’m talking to God and I am reading my bible and I am trying to listen to the truth. The truth that I am made in the image of God. Things are dark right now, but I am fighting to get out of here. I am very scared, but I will keep breathing and I won’t give up. Just because I am fighting, doesn’t mean I am losing.

What are you afraid of today? Are you listening to the lies from the enemy telling you that you aren’t pretty enough? You aren’t thin enough? You aren’t loved enough? Life isn’t easy, but God planned out your life before you were even born. He knows what you will be facing everyday before your feet even hit the floor. It’s ok to cry, it’s ok to let things out, but don’t forget to breathe, don’t forget to give it to God.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope

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Sisterly Love

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We shared a big white bed of our grandma’s every night till we were about 10. That’s when we came back from youth camp and our parents had gotten us new carpet, 2 separate twin beds, new comforters and pink frilly mauve colored curtains with tie backs. I thought we had hit the lottery!! I remember those first few nights I didn’t know what to think. We had shared a bed for so long that even though it was only a twin bed, it felt like I was a million miles from my sister Becky!

I could share a multitude of memories on here about her because we are only 2 years apart and spent most of our childhood a lot closer then the others. She was the one I looked up to, she was the one I wanted to be like. As we got older, I would be so nervous for her if she snuck out the window at night to go meet her friends. I would always worry that she would be in an accident or something. In high school she was the popular one while I hung more with the tree huggers who wore Doc Martins. She made fun of me relentlessly, but I was always proud to say that I had  sister in the popular group.

Life eventually drug us apart and she went one way and I went the other. However we were never without phones, emails, text and so much more. The other day she called me and said, “I’m calling to just check in on you and see how you are doing”. That my friends is something that is new to our family. Now don’t get me wrong, we love each other like crazy, but we don’t usually just check in with each other and tell each other we love each other. It wasn’t until I got sick that we realized how short life truly is and that we needed to tell each other now rather than wait until it’s too late.

Becky means the world to me and she is still in with the popular girls and I am proud of her for that, because they aren’t know as the mean girls anymore. Her group of girls love me and pray for me just as much as anyone else.

Tomorrow is Becky’s birthday and as much as I wish I could be there, I wanted her to know how much I love and appreciate her! Becky, I still look up to you and I am so proud  of the wife, mother and friend that you have become. Thank you for still loving your crazy, little sister and thank you for your prayers. Check your mail Monday and you will have something special waiting for you!! 😉 I love you!!!

Do you appreciate your siblings? If you do, do you tell them? Why wait until something happens and they are not around before you say, “Oh I wish I would have told them I loved them more, I wish I would have told them I appreciated them more”. Never wait on things that matter! Take that first step to tell them first. If it’s a strained relationship them it’s even better that you make that first step. I pray you all have a blessed day and if you would like to, then leave a little birthday message on here for my sweet sister Becky!

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OPEN YOUR MOUTH!!!

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I was riding in the back seat of a white Monte Carlo circa late 80’s, early 90’s driving down the belt through Washington DC. A friend of mine with his mouth full of chew was driving with his wife in the shotgun. A few of my girlfriends and I were in the back seat with the radio jacked and singing at the top of our lungs. We were teenagers living free and having fun with the windows down and when the end of the song came, we all opened our mouths as wide as they could go so we could hit that last note just right!

Just as I did that, something nasty came flying in my mouth at full speed straight to the back of my throat. It caught me off guard and I started sputtering trying to spit it out. Finally as I got it all out and realized everyone was almost peeing their pants laughing at me. I then realized that my friend who was driving had spit his chew out the window and it caught the wind just enough to blow right in the back directly in my mouth… I’ll give you a moment to gag as I still have that reaction every time I remember that story. I constantly think, if only I would have shut my mouth then I wouldn’t have had to deal with such nastiness!!

Over the years, I have not opened my mouth that much. I don’t like to be in the lime light and I don’t try to make myself known in crowds. I guess you could say I am sort of a wallflower. I don’t mind being in the shadows as it’s really comfortable there. Many times I felt God wanting me to talk to this stranger or that stranger about Him, but I didn’t have the courage. I kept saying, “God, that’s not me, I don’t talk to random people. I like to keep my mouth shut.”

When I found out I had cancer, once again I felt God telling me and pushing me to tell more people about Him. “But God, I’m sick, I’m weak… I’m broken” Every time I disobeyed Him, I was losing a piece of myself. No one wants to listen to some sick person. The truth is, I didn’t believe God could shine His light through me, someone with cancer, someone who was falling apart. I didn’t want people to see me sick and broken. I prayed to just let me be and not make me bring someone into my happy little shell.

God obviously had other plans for me, plans to open my mouth! He didn’t care that I was sick, He wanted people to hear my words while I was sick, broken and weak. He wanted people to see that even through life’s trials, we can still rejoice and praise God! Through every circumstance we can open our mouths and praise Him with singing and prayers!

As much as I would have enjoyed having my mouth closed that nasty day of the flying chew, I am so glad that God has opened my mouth now to tell others about Him! Through the good days and the bad days, I will open my mouth and proclaim the glory of the Lord!!

How about you?? Are you a quiet person? Do you only get loud when something you are passionate about such as sports, cars or things of that nature come along? Or are you a loud person who likes to be heard all. the. time? What about when it’s about Jesus? How loud do you get then? Do you open your mouth wide and sing His praises or are you more of a closed mouth person. God certainly opened His mouth for you when He sent His son to die on the cross for your sins. He didn’t have to, but He loves you so much that He had no other choice. Think about the next time something arises where you can maybe tell someone about God. Will your mouth be open or closed?

Matthew 10:33  But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

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