Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'm a vessel

Among my many daily prayers, I ask God to use me - to work through me to serve Him by helping others. I know He is answering my prayers because I'm seeing it every day and it is thrilling - truly thrilling. 

Just one recent example...I've been dealing with a flare up of lymphedema of my left arm and while that is not fun - it's uncomfortable and frustrating, actually - it has brought be back to my lymphedema therapist, Richelle. Richelle is brilliant. She understands the lymphatic system and can easily explain it to others, like me, who had no idea that such a system even existed in my body.  She is trained and certified by the best source of lymphedema thereapy education - Vodder - and she is highly sought by patients from all over California and some patients even come from out of state to get their therapy from her. She has an invention that has been tremendously helpful to me in a few ways - I can't describe or show it because it's not yet protected (patented/copyrighted) - and I know it would be of great value to others with lymphedema but Richelle hasn't yet pursued ways to bring it to market - at least not yet - but I would love to see it happen to help others improve their quality of life with lymphedema and for Richelle to be rewarded creating it.

During my previous flare-up (during radiation treatment in February), Richelle and I would talk during our sessions about how there is a shortage of skilled therapists and how she could have a positive impact on patients like me by helping educate us on proper prevention, treatment and maintenance. It's hard for one person to reach the masses of those that are affected by the condition - or could become affected by it when they have surgery and other cancer treatment that puts us at risk for lymphedema.  With my background in training, I made some suggestions on things she might consider doing and she seemed interested and excited about the ideas but she had to have surgery herself and focus on that and her current book of patients for the time being and my work with her was short (two weeks) and then I wouldn't return for more treatment until there'd be another flare up. Fast forward to now...

I'm seeing Richelle 4-5 times per week for a two-week treatment protocol to work on my arm to move the lymph fluid out of my arm. During my sessions we've begun talking again about how she can reach more patients who need her help and enable her to establish a practice that reaches distant patients without requiring them or her to travel.  I loved seeing her eyes light up as I described an idea that came to me as I was driving to my appointment. At my most recent appointment she mentioned her plans to talk to some others she knows that may be able to help her figure out how to act on one aspect of the idea and I got this awesome feeling that I had sparked something for her. I was grinning all the way home that day and it's a 35 minute drive.

Some people (non-believers, mostly) might think of these kinds of things as coincidences - even I used to view it that way - but I know there's no such thing. God puts is in places and circumstances that are essential elements of His plan for our lives. I love that God gave me lymphedema so that I could help stimulate the start of a practice that could help so many others with the condition by making Richelle's brilliance more accessible.

Today I attended the second meeting of a cancer support ministry I co-founded at my church. This ministry came about because God put me in a church membership meeting to meet another cancer survivor, Rob, who shared my desire for an opportunity for fellowship and outreach with other Christians facing the many challenges involved with cancer.  At the meeting, our Pastor said to the group that if you see a need then create a solution and the church would support and help nurture it.  Rob and I met just moments after that statement was made and learned that we were both going through this and agreed that it would be great if we started a group.  A month later Rob and his wife hosted a small group at their home as part of a Bible Study series that I attended and we got to know each other better and continued discussing how God had placed us together to start something and just 5 months later we started "Triumph" - a cancer support ministry for survivors, patients, caregivers and loved ones of those affected by cancer.

We all have our belief systems and certainly mine has evolved over the years from being a casual believer to being a major skeptic until I saw first-hand the works of God in my life as miracles were unfolding before my eyes every day once my cancer journey began.  Although only God knows His true purpose for my life, I feel Him revealing it to me little by little each day and I continue to pray and ask Him to show me how I can serve Him with my life and I love how He is responding. Even the "unfortunate" circumstances I find myself in (i.e.,lymphedema) are blessings to be celebrated as they are all part of His plan - opportunities to serve and make a difference, however big or small.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

False alarm! Yay!

I'm so happy and relieved that Dr.B has checked my neck and he firmly believes it is not a lymph node that's enlarged but an irritated area likely from my port. He does not feel it is abnormal or cause for concern.
Thank you, God, for your protection and peace. Thank you, friends and family, for your prayers.
I sometimes feel guilty when I've asked for prayers or shared my worries and it turned out OK. But I can't allow myself to worry in secret and not get the prayers because that has not worked in the past and I KNOW the power of prayer. I am deeply grateful for all the prayer on my behalf and always will be.


PS - I have many posts on my mind and I'm sorry I've been so silent on the blog - its been a busy summer getting back to work and focusing on having fun and living life to the fullest. I want to share it all with you though so I will be working on that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chemo-versary and prayer request

One year ago today, at about this time, I started chemotherapy. I was excited and terrified too. I was thrilled to be able to assault the cancer as it had felt like eternity since finding out I had cancer. The doc suggested I take an anti-anxiety med before arriving and when they got started I received benadryl too (in case of an allergic reaction to the chemo) along with the anti-nausea meds before the chemo drugs began to flow. I was really out of it yet totally aware of what was happening. Totally aware of how blessed I was to have found the cancer at stage 3 instead of 4...totally grateful that God made it possible to receive the life saving drugs that flowed through my veins that day and for six months following. Incredibly grateful for the support and love I received to help me through it.  On this chemo-versary I just had a follow up visit at UCLA. I pointed out an area of my neck that doesn't feel right. The nurse confirmed it is a swollen lymph node. She asked who my oncologist is and when I'd be seen by him again. I see Dr.B tomorrow for my Zometa infusion. She asked when my last and next scan was/is. Next PET next month. She said it's probably my body fighting off an infection but he may send me for an ultrasound. Fuck is the word that comes to mind.

These uncertain times are difficult. I'm calling on God to bring me calm and peace to help me get through and fight off the fears that the enemy whispers in my ear. I'm fighting back. It could be unnoticed congestion from flying recently. It could be I'm on the verge of an ear infection or a cold.

Please pray with/for me. Thank you.

Isaiah 41:13
For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.