Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Oh To Hear Those Words...

You may have been thinking I was going to say, "I love you," as those words we long to hear. But, those were not the three words I longed to hear. No.

Back in 2004 following my breast cancer surgery, the best words I heard from the doctors and the oncologists were, "You're cancer free!" My family and I were so happy to hear this. You don't want to have cancer at any age, but 34 was not the time to get it either. I had just found my career, and then this happened.

Now, I lived four years knowing I was cancer free, and being so happy how God had orchestrated my "healing." I knew that surgery had been His answer and I was content with that treatment. Paul writes in Philippians 4, "...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." And how true that was for me those four years. It was then in 2008 when I found out the cancer had returned, and returned with a vengeance. I spent time talking with people about my short journey and telling of the contentment I felt knowing that God was in control of the situation, even with the news that I was soon going to have surgery to remove part of my pelvis. Some found it hard to believe I was so content and thought I was hiding my true feelings. But I wasn't.

I spent my waking hours proclaiming the glory of the Lord to those who inquired about my surgery. It was God using surgery to heal me back then, and I knew it was true again this time. Many told me they never would have known I was sick in the first place. Others couldn't believe how "matter-of-fact" I was about having come through surgery for breast cancer with no other treatments at the time, and was now facing yet another scarier surgery. I took no credit for being "calm, cool and collected" about it, as people sometimes noted. I shouted from the mountain top that "My God Reigns."

Today after yet several more surgeries (3 in 2010 and 1 in 2012), I still shout, but only from the rooftops. It's harder these days. Not harder to give God the glory, because I still do that daily, but it's harder to find the strength to shout it. I am still content—on most days. I do have my moments where not being able to do a particular task overwhelms my emotions and I have a short breakdown—sometimes with tears (also referred to in our house as a meltdown). I never stay in that moment, though. Why?

Isaiah 53:1-4 tells us how Jesus was going to be treated by human kind here on earth. And in verse 5 it says, "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." As found in 1 Peter 2:24, “'He himself bore our sins' in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; 'by his wounds you have been healed.'” (Emphasis added.) Jesus was treated much worse than anything you or I will ever experience. Yet, He took all my sins and sicknesses on Himself that day on the cross so that I (and you) may live in righteousness and be healed of all sicknesses and diseases. Now, I know it may or may not be here on this side of eternity, yet I can (and will) shout, "I AM HEALED!"

Where I used to desire to hear the words, "You're cancer free," I now long for the day when I hear my Lord say to me, "Well Done, good and faithful servant!" (Original text is found in Matthew 25:23).

I pray I live up to serving the Lord well.

Next..."Another Surgery and More Wound Vacs."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Surgery, Recovery and The Finale

On April 28, 2010 I walked into the pre-op area of City of Hope following the phone call that would change my life's direction (in more ways than one). After the January surgery that removed more of my pelvis and a good portion of tissue as well, I was not able to bend more than a couple of inches any longer on my right side to dress/undress myself properly. Therefore, I needed something/someone to help me change into the hospital attire they required. My mom was the obvious choice for this task, so I had someone go call her back to help me.

Once mom and I got my clothing changed, the fury began in my pre-op section.

Once a patient is ready from changing, nurses and doctors fly in and out of a patients curtained area writing notes, signing and dating papers, asking the patient questions, taking vital signs, starting IV's, etc. It really is a fury of movements in there between all of the people hustling in and out of each area, including mine. And once all of the activity dies down, they let you rest until it is your time to be wheeled into the operating room. At least I was not shaking so uncontrollably before this surgery as I was for the last.

As I lay resting, mom went to go get my dad so he could tell me he loved me and that he would see me following surgery. It was important for my family to be there. After he left, mom came back in until they wheeled me back. She always stayed with me until they did so to keep me calm and help me relax. She also was there to fill in any blanks when they asked me questions that I may not remember very well, or to corroborate what I was telling them.

By the time they wheeled me into the operating room, I was fast asleep from the anesthesia. I prefer to be asleep when they wheel me in. Seeing the operating room and having the fast movements and orders being flung around the room was a little stressful for me. I prefer calm and quiet work.

Physical therapy following surgery.
When I came out of surgery and was waking, mom was there with me. Dad was waiting to know when I woke so he could come in to see me. The remainder of the hospital stay was very routine. Getting up and walking was very difficult this time around. My new "hardware" was stiff and I was pretty sore. But, I made it through my stay and went home to my parents on May 4th.

That night, I was trying to get comfortable in my home bed when I felt something on my back 'pop' and then become wet. I called my parents into my room to check it out because it was pretty wet. I felt as though I have busted open a couple of stitches or something. When my parents looked at it, they said it looked as though some fluid build-up had popped and that was it. I was pretty worried though, so we made an appointment with the doctor to have it checked out right away.

Sure enough, all was okay with my stitches. Good news and relief for me.

After two more days, it was official. My employment was over. Since I was not able to make it back to Colorado Springs, May 7th was the day we terminated my employment. My medical condition had caused me to HAVE to give up my job. It was a very bitter-sweet day for me. My health was doing fine, but my emotional state was not where it should have been. My job meant everything to me. It was who I was (or so I thought at the time). What I did with email marketing was how people viewed me. And now, I didn't know who I was or what I was going to do. All I knew at the time was that I had just had back surgery and was being as careful as I could not to cause an issue with my back again.

I felt great in my lower back. Even though the pain from the incision was there, I no longer had the low back pain I had been accustomed to for numerous years. For that I was grateful. On May 21st, I saw the doctor again and he had my staples removed.

Life had been fairly uneventful for several weeks. But after having the staples removed, the doctor felt it was necessary to have an MRI to check the surgical "hardware" to make sure all was good. After receiving the results, the doctor noticed that the hardware was fairly tight and needed to be adjusted. So, we scheduled another surgery for the beginning of June.

Oh boy, here we go again!

Next..."Oh To Hear Those Words"