We Have This Hope…

We Have This Hope...

(Originally published on CaringBridge on 7/20)

Life has returned to “normal” again.

In the middle of June I had blood work drawn (CA-125) for my regular 3-month checkup. You might recall that my CA-125 gave us a bit of a scare back in October when it took a jump up into the low 20’s from it’s previous “norm” in the low teens. Since then it has hovered in the low 20’s…stable, albeit a bit high. My oncologist called it my “new normal.” Evidently not, as the result of the test done in June was a 9…the lowest it has EVER been! We are so thankful that despite ongoing abdominal discomforts, this provides a clear sign that my cancer is still in remission. As of July 17, I have been cancer-free for 15 months! We are praising the Lord for this wonderful news!

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A Common Thread

Some things you choose. And things some you don’t.

You can’t choose the family you’re born into. And of course you can’t choose the physical traits that make people notice who you “take after.” The color of your eyes, the shape of your nose, and even the sound of your voice are traits that are passed down from one generation to the next.

Generations woven together by common threads.

A Common Thread - The Joyful Journey

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…And with His Wounds

I had good news this week. My CA-125 is “stable”. After months of uncertainty, we can say with a certain degree of confidence that my cancer–at least for now–is still in remission.

And With His Wounds - The Joyful Journey

Though I am incredibly grateful for this good news, I am also humbled by it. Sometimes it seems that cancer is all around me. I am continually aware of so many people–godly people–who are battling this horrible disease, and who receive very little good news over the course of their battles.

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“One Word” for the New Year

We have this hope...

Over the last week or so, I’ve heard quite a bit of talk about a simple alternative to the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. Instead of a resolution, you’re encouraged to choose one word for your new year. But I’ll get back to that in just a little bit, because thinking about choosing a word for 2014 got me thinking about 2013.

And frankly, 2013 wasn’t my best year.

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Real Life. Real Hope

To say that 2013 was a roller coaster ride for our family would be an understatement.

Last year, on December 10, I went to my doctor because of a symptom that I was concerned about. Three days later, I had surgery and was diagnosed with stage 3A ovarian cancer. Twenty days later, on January 2, I began an 18-week course of chemotherapy. During those 18 weeks I lost about 30 pounds, all my hair, and some of the feeling in my fingers and toes. Nausea and fatigue made doing even the simplest tasks seem difficult. Fear of infection kept me from venturing out of the house. I spent the better part of January-May on the couch. I lost almost 5 months of “normal” life.

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Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

It wasn’t the news I was expecting to hear.

After reviewing my family history, the genetic counselor seemed fairly certain that I probably carry some type of genetic cancer risk, but she was also pretty sure that it wasn’t a BRCA mutation. Sure, I had two grandmas that had ovarian cancer, and a great aunt as well. But there isn’t any breast cancer anywhere in my history–and BRCA mutations almost always result in incidences of breast cancer.

But there it was. BRCA-2. Positive. In this case, a positive is a negative. I failed the test.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made - The Joyful Journey

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…and therefore I have hope.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the Lord prepares us in advance for the testing that is yet to come?

And Therefore I Have Hope - The Joyful Journey

There is a truth that I have been pondering for years–decades even–that has recently become more meaningful to me than ever before. It’s not that this truth didn’t mean something to me before. It’s just that during the seasons of life when the Lord was writing the truth on my heart, I didn’t fully grasp my great need. And consequently I didn’t fully appreciate the magnitude of the truth.

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How Not to Say the Wrong Thing

It’s hard. Someone you love is hurting. They’ve lost a loved one. They just found out they have cancer. They’ve lost their job. The circumstances don’t really matter, but the advice is the same. Think before you talk.

It seems like common sense really. But unfortunately, we don’t always exercise common sense when we are talking with someone who’s hurting. The fact is, some of us talk too much and listen too little. We talk when we get nervous…and I think hurting people make us nervous. So we talk. And when we talk, sometimes we say dumb things.

I heard a classic example of this tonight while Jim and I were on a date, eating our picnic dinner and waiting for the band to play. An older gentleman sitting behind us was talking about the funeral of his 90-something year old mother. Yes, I was eavesdropping. Anyway, he shared that at his mother’s funeral, someone “comforted” him with these words.

“It’ll be okay. You probably won’t miss her that much since she was so old.”

That is NOT comfort. That IS just plain stupid. Kind of like Job’s friends, this particular friend would have been better off keeping silent.

Tonight before the concert, Jim and I attended the wake of a 25-year-old man who was killed in a motorcycle accident. I felt at a total loss as I hugged his mom, his aunt, and his grandmother.  I couldn’t imagine their grief. It would have been silly of me to offer some kind of wisdom at a time such as this. They need to know people love them. And are praying for them. Words of wisdom can wait.

During my own battle with cancer, I was most thankful for those who offered the wisdom of scripture and the comfort of music. Some folks said very little. They just assured me they were praying. That was perhaps the greatest encouragement of all. So few words. Yet, so much comfort.

I read an article today that offered some great advice on helping a hurting friend. And how NOT to. If you have ever wanted to offer comfort and wondered what to say–or what NOT to–you will appreciate the wisdom here.

If you want to learn the lesson of “Comfort In, Dump Out”…read on.

“When Susan had breast cancer, we heard a lot of lame remarks, but our favorite came from one of Susan’s colleagues. She wanted, she needed, to visit Susan after the surgery, but Susan didn’t feel like having visitors, and she said so. Her colleague’s response? “This isn’t just about you.”…(keep reading)

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God is Good…All the Time.

As soon as the shock of seeing a post from me wears off, all six of my regular readers will no doubt be asking why it’s been so long!  Actually, I have been blogging—just not here. But more about that in a minute.

On December 11, 2012, after experiencing some troubling symptoms for about 1 week, I went to see my doctor and she ordered an ultrasound. To make a long story short, two days later I had surgery and was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer.  In a matter of 3 days, my entire world turned upside down. I spent the next three weeks enjoying (as much as possible) the holidays with my family, then began an 18-week regimen of chemotherapy on January 2nd.  Chemo ended at the end of April, and now, six months after being diagnosed, I finally feel like life is getting more or less back to normal.  Right after my diagnosis, we decided it would be good for me to “blog” about my cancer journey.  CaringBridge provided a great way for us to stay connected with family and friends through regular updates concerning my health and treatment.

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Throughout my 4-month battle, writing about the ups and downs of facing a cancer diagnosis and the necessary treatment was exactly what I needed.  It gave me a place to share all that was going on in my heart, mind, and body, and to reflect on all the lessons the Lord was teaching me through it.  It also provided a means of sharing prayer requests and answers to prayer.  I was overwhelmed by the prayer and encouragement that I received from those who followed my story on CaringBridge.  But I am also so grateful that sharing my story allowed me the opportunity to be an encouragement to others.  Through it all, I was continually reminded of one single truth. 

God is good.  All the time. 

Below is an excerpt from my most recent post from CaringBridge, written on the 15th of June:

“The last six months have definitely been a trial.  But through it all, I have become more and more sure of this truth:

God is good…ALL the time.

He is good when things are easy.  But his goodness doesn’t cease when things get hard. In fact, if anything, it is when things get tough that his goodness becomes even more evident.

  • I have seen His goodness through His provision of outstanding medical care in an incredibly timely way.
  • I have seen His goodness through the amazing love, encouragement, patience, and humor of my husband, Jim. He has been with me EVERY step of the way…at times crying with me and keeping me laughing at others.  What a blessing!
  • I have seen His goodness in the way He comforted me through my most difficult days and nights.
  • I have seen and been encouraged by His goodness as revealed in His Word.
  • I have seen His goodness in the acts of love and kindness shown to us by His people.
  • I have seen His goodness in the words of encouragement shared with me by so many friends and family.

I am so thankful.”  (Read more…)

And I continue to be so incredibly grateful to the Lord for all he has accomplished in my life through this trial.

Life is returning to normal—albeit a “new” normal.  My embattled body is feeling better and stronger every day.  I am adjusting to a new (and wonderful!) job with All About Learning PressI am getting used to a new diet and exercise regimen prescribed as part of a 2-year long clinical study for ovarian cancer survivors that I was invited to participate in.  I am also learning to live with the reality of the unknowns that lie ahead.  And that is only possible as I cling to that simple truth:

God is good.  All the time.

And now, once again, I blog.  I realized when I was writing my CaringBridge posts how much I had missed blogging.  So here I am resurrecting my long-abandoned blog and hoping that the Lord will use it to encourage those who find their way here. 

Thanks for reading…I hope you’ll be back!