Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Being "Normal"

When life is going as planned and we are healthy and "living our life", we can take normal everyday tasks for granted, and even resent having to do them. I was so weak and unable to perform even the simplest task. I needed assistance even to get dressed when I was experiencing the side-effects of Stemetil, the anti-nausea drug. Once it was discovered that I was extremely allergic to that particular drug and no longer taking it, I suddenly had the ability to dress myself. I began to start doing some everyday tasks such as setting the table and loading the dishwasher. Later, in the evening my arms and hands would ache because I hadn't used those muscles in over two months!

My husband and I went for a walk in the countryside one Saturday afternoon. It was so enjoyable to walk in the woods and to smell the autumn scents of decaying leaves. I had missed being outside and enjoying nature. It was so good to see where my husband and sons had gone for walks and taken pictures. It was a cool day, but I was bundled up. I hadn't pushed myself; we were taking it slowly and I was able to sit and rest before we headed back to our van. Later that evening my legs were sore. I hadn't used those muscles for over two months either. When I was taking Stemetil I could only shuffle or walk with assistance.

This last Thursday my good friend Anita took me to Soeby's, a local grocery store, and to Healthy By Choice, a new health food store and bakery where my daughter was now working. I hadn't been in Soeby's since it had changed over from being an IGA. Also I had been unable to attend the grand opening of Healthy By Choice since it occurred during the time I was in my "danger zone" when I am more susceptible to colds etc. It was so good to do something "normal" such as buying bananas in the grocery store and a specialty tea in the health food store.

Yesterday I had my second lunch with a couple of close friends from my past. It was so good to enjoy one another's company; talk about our lives and our shared faith. We did talk about me having cancer, but it was not the main focus of our time together. It was good to explore possible solutions to different situations; to laugh at ourselves; and just be "normal".

Friday, 23 November 2007


I have been blessed with many friends. Friends are the "hands of Jesus" in my life. I sense God's love for me through the various acts of kindness that my friends do for me and my family. I want to share some examples of the ways that people have reached out to me and blessed me.

We have in our church a missionary couple from Brazil, whose first language is Portuguese. One day recently the wife appeared on my doorstep. She wanted to share a scripture and pray for me. As she sought to find the "right" English word to express her heart for me I was blessed by her loving care for me. That same day a friend from my past, who I have recently been more in contact with, blessed our family with dinner. What makes that a special action is that she lives over 45 minutes away from me.

A lady in my church blessed our family with a full course meal that was "fit for company". I was overwhelmed by the thought and work involved. Later, when my husband returned all her dishes, she and her husband prayed for each member of my family. My husband and I felt loved and cared for.

My pastor and his wife visited me when I was in Emergency. They had come because of an urgent prayer request that was called in to the church. I asked if they were in the neighbourhood or visiting others in the hospital and they said no they came just to see me. They prayed for me and I again felt loved and cared for.

There have been many others too numerous to mention who have called; sent cards;made soup; brought meals; and prayed. This season of my life has been marked by God loving me through His people.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Hair Loss

The most obvious place that I have lost hair is my head. My head is basically bald but I have "fuzz" that is sprinkled all over my head that is about 1/2 inch in length. My eyelashes have become sparse. I used to have full dark eyelashes. My eyebrows keep thinning, but I still have some. I no longer have nose hairs, which means that I need to keep a tissue on hand to catch any drips!

I usually wear a pink sleep hat during the day if I am at home. I sometimes go bareheaded. I am told that I have "a nice shaped head". I think that I look almost avante-guarde when I go bareheaded and wear elaborate earings! I have a pretty purple hat with sequins that I sometimes wear. I bought a scarf that matches.

I have worn my wig out in public and I am getting more used to it. I recently wore it to a friend's home, where I had been invited to lunch. I was sitting in her living room and another friend walked in and exclaimed "I like your hair!". I then told her that it was a wig and she said that it looks so much like my natural hair that she wouldn't have known. That made my day!

I am glad that hair loss is only temporary. As my hair was thinning I had my daughter buzz it to 1/2 inch length all over. Before she did she cut a lock of my hair to save. It will be interesting to see if the colour or texture changes. I didn't have many grey hairs so I am curious to see if I develop more on account of all that I am going through.

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12: 6,7 (NIV)

Saturday, 17 November 2007

God's Faithfulness To Me

I want to share the good things that God has done for me.

When I went for my pre-chemo checkup, I mentioned to the doctor all the strange symptoms I had been experiencing. She said that it is the Stemetil, the anti-nausea drug they routinely prescribe. I happen to be one of the few people that violently react to it. There are other drugs that I can take in its place. This time round the side-effects are rather minimal in comparison.

Also, I had another CA125 blood test that showed a significant decrease in the levels after two rounds of chemo. The numbers went from 4095 down to 278; the normal range is 0-35. I know that the cancer is not spreading, but is being destroyed!

"I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself." Psalm 89: 1,2 (NIV)

"The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever" Psalm 138:8a (NIV)

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Coping In Hard Times

I am going for my third round of chemotherapy on Thursday. I want to get the most out of the time before I do. It is as if I enter a place of not being myself. It is as if the chemo takes over my body and directs or inhibits its movements. I am stiff and restless at the same time. It is hard for those who live with me. They long for the days when I "am back"; when I have freedom of movement, stability and ease. I too covet those days and I don't look forward to experiencing the side-effects of chemo that threaten to wreck havoc in my life. I know that the chemo is working to shrink the tumour and rid my body of cancerous cells. I have to keep that in mind when I start to feel pressed down by the weight of the effects.

I have had a good week. The Lord has brought encouragement to me through various people. I know that I will again have good weeks after my hard weeks. That is what also gives me hope and helps me cope with the tough times. Even in the hard times I know that God is with me, helping me through them.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1 (NIV)
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