Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow?

Since having a two month break from chemo my hair had started to grow. My eyelashes are now visible. I now have eyebrows! They are starting to get full, but I am waiting to shape them until they are fully grown in. My son had given me a gift certificate to a spa for my birthday, so I am planning on having my eyebrows waxed.

The hair on my head is quite dark, almost black since it hasn't been lightened by the sun. It is downy soft just after I wash it. My hair is not quite a centimetre long, but there is a small tuft of hair that sticks up. My youngest son, ever the jokester, called me Alfalfa! The tuft is only a centimetre long as opposed to several inches! I like how my hair looks now; my whole head is covered with hair. I go without a hat most days at home since my head is warm enough. A number of people have commented that I should have my hair in the style of my wig, which is a chin-length bob with bangs. I don't know what style or length I will have my hair once it is long enough to even make that decision. I might try having it quite short.

Since having my first chemo after surgery, my scalp feels as if it is burning. That was what it felt like before my hair fell out. I have one more chemo treatment this Wednesday and that is the last one. Even though my hair could again fall out I know that it is only temporary; I will have a full head of hair again.

"We know that the same God who raised our Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself along with you. All of these things are for your benefit. And as God's grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present toubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever." 2 Corinthians 4: 14-18(NLT)

Friday, 22 February 2008

The Promise of Spring

"In that day", says the Lord, "I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people. I will care for the survivors as they travel through the wilderness. I will again come to give rest to the people of Israel". Long ago the Lord said to Israel: "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. I will rebuild you, my virgin Israel. You will again be happy and dance merrily with tambourines. Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria and eat from your own gardens there." Jeremiah 31: 1-5 (NLT)

There were several phrases that stood out to me as I read that passage that I could apply to myself.

"I will care for the survivors as they travel through the wilderness." I am a cancer survivor. At times it feels as if I am in a "wilderness"; a place that is barren; solitary; far from the rest of human activity. I take great comfort in the fact that God doesn't leave me in that place, but He is with me as I "travel through the wilderness".

"I will rebuild you ... You will again be happy and dance merrily with tambourines". God is the One who will "rebuild" my strength. I see this verse as further confirmation that I will dance again. I want to dance a celebratory dance, just like Miriam did on the shores of the Red Sea after God had delivered Israel from the Egyptians. God has done a mighty deliverance for me too. I was "delivered" from the "jaws of death". Cancer could not hold me. God has healed me from a deadly cancer!

"Again you will plant your vineyards on the mountains of Samaria and eat from your own gardens there".While I may be in a winter season right now, spring is coming; the time for "planting" is near. It will not be in this "valley of the shadow of death", but on the mountains.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Right Where I Am

I see the hand of God directing me; confirming the way that I have chosen; confirming that He is leading me. It was not a coincidence that my sister-in-law gave me the same little book I had been reading. It was confirmation that God is speaking to me through the prophetic words. God sees me right where I am and He says "Yes I am speaking to you".

I wrote the blog "Chemo Brain Frog" on the effects of chemo brain fog. I received an email from a published author who said my writing was inspirational. She too had felt the effects of chemo brain fog. That is further confirmation to me that God sees me right where I am and He says "Yes I am using you".

I had decided to join Facebook, knowing that this was another "piece of the puzzle" that God would use in my life. I had joined True Vibe, the non-denominational women's group in my hometown. I had attended a Bible Study that they had sponsored, but I was not currently involved in one since being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. They had recently begun the Beth Moore study "A Woman's Heart: God's Dwelling Place". I had wanted to attend that study, but I wasn't sure if I would be physically up to it. I was still recovering from surgery and I needed two more chemo treatments. I noticed that the co-ordinator had posted the videos on the group's Facebook site. As I watched the introductary video, I heard God say "Yes I know where you are. I am making a way for Me to meet with you". I messaged the co-ordinator and was able to obtain a study guide. I will be able to work at my own pace, as I am clear-headed; I can watch the videos on-line. When I have recovered from the final chemo treatment I can join the ladies in person.

It would be easy to succumb to self-pity when I am in the midst of chemo brain fog or in my times of isolation, but God keeps pouring on the encouragement. I am in awe of God's relentless pursuit of me. He longs to speak to me; He longs to lead me; He longs to use me right where I am.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Chemo Brain Frog

You might have wondered about the title "Chemo Brain Frog", but that is what came into my mind when I wanted to write on the topic of chemo brain fog. My head is all muddled and I find that I can lose my train of thought mid-sentence. It is almost as if my words fall off a cliff, never to be recovered. I get my words mixed up without even trying; they just pop into my mind and are spoken as if they are the correct words. Often as I am saying the wrong word I recognize that that is not really what I wanted to say.

There have been some comical moments such as when I told my home nurse that I was going to have a vascetomy instead of hysterectomy. As soon as I said it I said "no that's not what I meant" and then found the correct word. Sometimes it is rhyming words such as the title of this blog. One morning I saw a box of Shreddies on the table and as I was reaching for a bowl in the cupboard, I thought "I'll have a bowl of Freddies". Now I was not thinking of anyone named Freddie so I have no idea how that came to mind.

I also get phrases mixed up. Sometimes I watch "Little People Big World", but I once said to my daughter "let's watch Big People Little World". Today I found an envelope addressed to me in my Bible. I recognized my husband's handwriting. I thought it was odd that he was giving me an encouragement card today when Valentine's Day is tomorrow. When I opened it it was a Valentines card, he had given it to me a day early. When he called at lunch, I thanked him for the card and said that tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I said "better late than... no I mean better early than not at all". I am glad that I can find humour, and be able to laugh at my blunders, in what could be a source of frustration.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Hope Restored

I had my hopes set on this past chemo being my last one. I have regained much of my strength and health in the time between chemo treatments and surgery. It was good to have that break of two months. My body was definitely the healthiest it has been in a long time. This round of chemo hasn't been too bad. I have not been sick and the feelings of nausea have mostly been manageable.

I had allowed myself to spiral downward almost into despair when I found out that I needed to have another chemo treatment. Chemo does take its toll on me. While I am grateful for the good it does in destroying cancer cells, I hate the way it messes with my body. I would not want to discourage anyone from taking chemo, but I can't pretend that it's "a walk in the park".

I had emailed family, friends and our church with the news that I needed to have a total of 6 chemo treatments; the final 2 would be "precautionary" to ensure that any microscopic cancer cells would be destroyed. I received some encouraging emails in reply. I was assured of love and prayer support. I was reminded of God's love and faithfulness to me. I needed my sisters in Christ to help lift me from the edge of despair.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy." Proverbs 13:12 (NLT)

"A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." Proverbs 14:30 (NIV)

"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheer him up." Proverbs 12:25 (NIV)

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

A Virtuous And Capable Woman

From the time I was first admitted to the hospital, right through to the present my mother has been a big help. My parents live in a basement apartment in our home. They lead very active lives even though they are in their 70's. I am blessed to have my mother living so close to me. When I needed my mom, she was there to care for me. There were times when I felt that it should be me caring for my parents, yet here they were caring for me. I am thankful that they are in relatively good health, but it has been hard for me to be "the weak one".

My mom has contended with "mountains" of laundry and she has helped "rally the troups" to help clean up. Mom has made dinner on several occasions as well. My mother has also taken time out from her busy schedule to take me to appointments and she has been with me when I have had my chemo. The most important thing my mother has done for me, I feel, is pray. When I have felt discouraged she has been an encourager. My mother is a virtuous and capable woman and I am blessed to have such an example.

"Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is worth more than precious rubies. ... She is energetic and strong, a hard worker... She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs with no fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule when she gives instructions. She carefully watches all that goes on in her household and does not have to bear the consequences of laziness. Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: 'There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!' Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised." Proverbs 31: 10,17,25-30 (NLT)

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Strengthened by God

Throughout my treatment I longed to be normal; to hold onto the real life of family commitments and sharing with friends. My activities were limited and scaled back. There were many days that I spent alone, longing for human connection. I think that the days of isolation were my loneliest days; I thrive on meaningful heart-to-heart connections. I did have visits from family and friends interspersed throughout my treatment. It seemed as if everyone's life was more interesting than mine. My world now included doctors, tests and drugs. I could talk about my family's activities, but I had no new or current interest that I was pursuing. It was hard for me to be sick and weak when I was used to being healthy and strong. There were days when I wondered if I would ever regain my strength.

I have been marked by cancer, but I am continuing on. I am pressing on to live a life of meaning, purpose and fulfillment. I recently noticed that the word cancer has the word can hidden in it. I can have a fulfilling life in my new state. I can move on from this place stronger than when I first faced it because God has strengthened me.

"I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need." Philippians 4:12,13 (NLT)
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