Sunday, December 27, 2009

What I learned through my Breast Cancer Year


As many of you will recall on my first visit to my breast surgeon, she said that 2009was going to be my "breast cancer year." She said it was going to be yucky and rough. I should just write that year off and look ahead to resuming a normal life once the cancer was gone. It is certainly true that 2009 was a stinky year for us. Not only did we deal with my cancer diagnosis, but we had other accidents and medical conditions arise in our family that almost seemed too much to bear in light of what we were already dealing with.

The good news is that all our loved ones are alive and well and that, despite it all, I don't want to just "write off" 2009. Why? Well because there were some good things that happened in 2009 and because I can certainly say I am leaving it a wiser and more spiritually mature person than I was a year ago. Here are several things I learned during my breast cancer year. Some of these I knew anyway but having had cancer (seeing what I saw and experiencing what I experienced) really drove them home. I have to admit that on others of these (sweating the small stuff for example) I am still very much a work in progress, but then if we are really growing spiritally aren't we all?

DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF Did the cake you baked collapse right before the Christmas party? Is the laundry pile taller than you and your to do list a mile long? Sweating the small stuff is not worth it. Do your best. Do what you can when you can and then let it go.

TAKE OFF THOSE BLINDERS! You think you got it bad? Just visit a cancer ward. Read the blog of a child with cancer. There is always someone out there in a worse situation than you are. If you take the time to care, you will see those people in need everywhere.

REMEMBER YOUR BLESSINGS My pastor said this once: Stand in the middle of your house. close your eyes and then reopen them and imagine that everyone and everything around you has a big red bow on it. Everyone and everything in your life is a blessing, a gift on loan from God.

HAPPINESS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU ACHIEVE. IT IS AN ATTITUDE. My Internist told me if I had a good attitude my chances of coming through the fight well were higher. I tell recently diagnosed women that I was able to live a full life on chemo. What I learned from it was that your good days will usually outnumber your bad ones, especially if your attitude is right.

WE ARE ALL DYING. Live a healthy lifestyle so you can feel good about how you have treated your body as a temple of the holy spirit. I have some guilt for being a little overweight, eating alot of processed foods and such. At the same time I know women who did everything right and still got cancer. No one deserves cancer. You cannot be so healthy as to forever avoid cancer. We are all just mortals and the reality is we are all dying. Life is short. Enjoy every moment. Every day you wake up feeling good and can do what you enjoy is a privilege.

BE A PIPE AND NOT A POT. Be a giver not a taker. We all have spiritual gifts. Discover what yours is and then act on it. It will bring joy to your heart. This often means stepping outside of your comfort zone. Solomon asked for wisdom. If I could ask for one gift from God it would be to always know what to say and what to do to encourage another person. I feel ill equipped in that department. Yet I have often found that when those moments arrive, if you are committed to doing something, the words and actions will come to you. Sometimes it is not so much that you say or do just the right thing but that you show you care by DOING SOMETHING.

GOD IS BIGGER. He hears our prayers. Open your eyes and listen. Look for the coincidences that aren't coincidences but spiritual interventions in your life. God is bigger than anything. You are not in this fallen world with its hardships and uncontrollable circumstances by yourself. He is with you. Accept him as your Savior now because you can't do life on your own.

For the first time I am truly thrilled that a year in my life is over. Randy and I have always been "watch the ball drop" sort of people on New Years. This year we really mean to celebrate the New Year. It is afterall such a gift. Blessings to you all for the New Year! Lots of love,


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to All!!

It's Christmas Eve! Last night our family drove around town in our p.j.'s and looked at Christmas lights. I have been wanting to do it for years and we finally got to do it. It was so much fun. We then stopped at Starbucks for some of their decadent hot chocolate. This morning we have been baking up a storm. Laura and Leslie are filled with anticipation about what Santa will bring. (I am hoping for some sleep tonight but am not counting on it) ;). Last year the girls started waking us up every hour at 1 a.m. and we gave up around 5 a.m. I have a feeling we won't make it that long this year. What a blessing it is to be here able to enjoy Christmas.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

And most of all, Happy Birthday Jesus!!

Lots of love,


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Why God Gave Me Great Sisters


Yesterday out of the blue I had a question pop into my head. "Why did God give me my sisters?"

God has given me two of the best women in the world as my sisters. God has also given me alot of wonderful spirit sisters, women who I have connected with who prayed for me and cheered me on in my fight. I believe God brought these women into my life for lots of reasons. One reason I believe was to show me how to be a "spirit sister" to others. One way I do this is to follow the stories of these remarkable women and pray for them daily. Many have links on the side of my page. Others I follow on caringbridge.

There are two whose links I want to share with you today. The first is Emily, a young mom earning her PhD with a fantastic fighting spirit. The second is Sarah, an amazing 24 year old with awesome faith.

Please pray for them and lift them up in the fight. Lots of love,


Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Best Christmas Ever


It feels good to post again. It has been way too long. Thanksgiving, Leslie's birthday as well as end of the semester school projects and activities have kept me busy.

I have actually been dreading the Christmas season a little bit this time around. I was diagnosed last year a few weeks after Christmas. The onset of the cold weather has reminded me of the last time I felt cold when I was in the midst of all my chemo trips. I know it is silly really but it makes it hard to get in the "Christmas spirit."

As we were putting up the tree last weekend it struck me how differently I view the world now than I did last Christmas. It seems like I was somewhat naive back then, plugging through the holidays with blinders on while the whole time I knew I had a big lump under my arm. Never once at that time did it ever even cross my mind that it was cancer. I knew cancer could happen to me. I knew bad things could happen, but I was just too busy to even stop and think about it. I am certainly not that way now. Every odd or unexpected pain now makes me wonder. It never did before. And so it has been hard lately to feel much Christmas cheer.

All of that changed today though when we experienced our first snowfall. It wasn't a particularly large snowfall, maybe and inch or two, but the snow was perfect for lots of family fun. We were all out this morning building a snowman. It was the coolest one ever I might add thanks to perfect conditions and a snowman kit (which was a Christmas present from my sister's family three years ago) that we were finally able to use to its fullest. The snowman had two faces, one in the front that we could see from our house window and one in the back close to the road for cars driving by to see. We had so much fun. When we finally came inside for some hot cholocate Leslie said, "This is going to be the best Christmas ever." And she is so right. As usual I was letting myself dwell on my cancer past and all the negative aspects of the season...all the hustle, bustle and work. But this morning I got a reminder of just how lucky I am. I get to experience it all...writing out all those Christmas cards, the packed shopping malls, the wrapping, the baking, the feasting and most especially celebrating the birth of our blessed Lord and Savior. I am constantly amazed at how my kids help me put things into perspective sometimes. So come Christmas! Come! Merry Christmas everyone! Lots of love,