Tuesday, 29 July 2008

An Encourager On The Sidelines

I would like to honour a man, my dad, who has been a great encourager to me, on this journey of overcoming ovarian cancer.

My father has not idly watched me, but rather he has spoken many words of encouragement. He has also lifted me up in prayer to my Heavenly Father; Dad knew that only God could intervene and bring me through victoriously.

My dad has also willingly "stepped in" when needed. During the early days right after receiving chemo, I always had someone at home with me. Dad took several turns to "be on call" should I need anything. One time he drove me to Emergency when I had troubling side-effects, and my husband met me there. My father has also driven my mother and me to the hospital for my chemotherapy treatments.

The encouragement has continued, but now the focus has been on my hair's growth. Dad made positive comments as my hair poked through; slowly filled in; and grew. I know that my father will continue to be an encourager to me, as he often has an encouraging word in response to what I have just written on my blog.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Cottage Memories

A week ago at this time, my husband Dan and I were just ending a mini vacation at a cottage in Muskoka. We first went to this cottage nineteen years ago when Chris was 4 and Joy was 2. We had just finished unloading the car when we heard Chris crying loudly; he had tripped on his way into the cottage and had cut open his forehead. We all headed off to the hospital, which was 30 minutes away, for him to get stitches. We did not get back to the cottage until closer to midnight. One day during that week the four of us were in the lake; Joy and Chris had life jackets on and were sitting in inflatable toys. All of a sudden Joy was upside down with her feet in the air! I quickly turned her over. She was okay, it did not seem to faze her! Over the years we continued going to this cottage and we did not have any more personal mishaps.

Dan is an avid fisherman so it is quite natural that our children are also "fisherpeople". We have many pictures of these proud "fisherboys" and "fishergirl" with their catch of little fish. In proportion to their own size, these fish are quite big! Over the years the fish they have caught have increased in size and quantity. We have had many fish dinners over the years. Later, as the children grew, it was often the boys who would wake up early to go fishing with Dan. A small boat came with the cottage rental, but we had to borrow a boat motor. Now we bring our own boat and motor.

We have many happy memories of our times spent at this cottage. There were many evenings we had campfires or played different games. Now that the children are grown up and have jobs, they are not always able to go with us. Last year only Joy and Chris came as they were able to get time off; Tim was working at a job site in Ottawa so he was unable to come. This was the first year that only Dan and I were able to go, so we had split the week with my parents. We went up to the cottage on the Tuesday night right after an early supper. While we did have a nice time, I missed having the children there to enjoy it with us.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

God's Love Endures Forever

A wise man once told me "Don't look at what you cannot do. Look instead at what God wants to teach you through this."
"His love endures forever."

It does not help me or quicken the healing process for me to bemoan that I am not where I want to be right now.
"His love endures forever."

Having cancer and undergoing treatment and surgery is not the same as having the flu. It takes longer to recover and to build up one's strength.
"His love endures forever."

I think I had a "matter of fact" attitude to me having ovarian cancer. While I was praying for healing, I accepted the fact that I had cancer and I needed to undergo chemotherapy and surgery. What I was not prepared for was my resulting emotions and responses after it was all over.
"His love endures forever."

Having cancer, I feel, was like being pushed off a cliff. Now I am in the process of "climbing back up". There are no "elevators" or "T-bars" to assist me. It is a slow, sometimes laborious, process. I cannot will my body to be stronger or to not get tired.
His love endures forever."

I think I resented the fact that I became ill with ovarian cancer rather quickly, but my recovery is not as quick as the onset was.
"His love endures forever."

When I pause and "look at what God wants to teach" me, I hear in my spirit "His love endures forever." In the midst of my trials, God is there upholding me.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His love endures forever."
Psalm 136:1-3 (NIV)

Psalm 136 tells the story of Israel's history with "His love endures forever" inserted after each phrase. As I was going to write this blog that psalm came to mind - hence the insertions.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Hair-y Thoughts

I find that I look at other women's short hairstyles intently; I am wanting to see if my hair looks "normal" yet. I think that parts of my hair, at the back and sides, are close in length to some short hair styles. Most women though have longer hair on top of their head; mine is still quite short.

Another advantage of very short hair is that I can try out various short hairstyles as my hair grows. It is not as drastic as if I had cut my hair this short from the original length. My hair had been shoulder-length or even a bit longer. I had been meaning to get it cut before I became sick. As my hair was thinning I had my daughter cut my hair to chin length; that helped make it look healthier. I am glad that I still had hair and felt well enough to get my drivers' licence photo taken; I was going to have that picture for five years!

I think that I am expecting miraculous hair growth because I often look in the mirror first thing in the morning expecting it to look longer. Maybe "watched" hair doesn't grow, much like "a watched pot never boils"! I know that my hair is growing; it is now starting to grow over my ears. That may sound pretty long, but it is only about an inch long everywhere. There is a slight wave on the top of my head and I do see some grey hairs.

Yesterday I was in Costco and I wanted to get some information from the pharmacy department. After I asked the woman there what I had wanted to know, she said "I like your hair! It opens your face". I received her compliment and thanked her without adding my usual explanation that I didn't cut my hair in this style, but rather it is just starting to grow in after chemo.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

A Visit With My Friend

Yesterday I drove with my daughter Joy to Barrie; she had to meet someone at noon as she was going away for a weekend retreat. I had the idea of calling my good friend Dianne to see if she could meet me in Barrie for lunch. She had the day off and, since her husband also needed to go to Barrie, we met at Tim Horton's and not where we usually meet. This was a small window of opportunity that we were able to snatch.

We greeted each other with a hug. "You look good!", Dianne exclaimed and then commented on my hair. We had easy conversation, updating each other on our lives and our families. As we were sitting in Tim Horton's, I said to Dianne that it is a "big thing" when I first do something I haven't done since before I was sick. She responded that me driving to Barrie and meeting her for lunch was a "big thing"! When I look back on where I have been and see where I am now I can agree.

Dianne had visited me in the hospital when I first was in Southlake. There is a rooftop terrace just off the Cancer Ward that she wheeled me out to as I was too weak to walk. When I was first home from the hospital and experiencing all the side effects from chemo, Dianne visited me. We were going to have tea together. I was very weak and I tired easily, so after a short time I laid down in my bed and Dianne sat on the edge of the bed. Dianne was here another time when our new queen-sized bed was delivered. She helped Joy make the bed; put the duvet into its cover; tuck in the pillowcase ends just like hotels do; and then I was allowed to see the result!

Dianne has seen me at my lowest points. She has seen my head at various stages of hair loss. I have felt comfortable and confident in allowing Dianne to see me so vulnerable because I trust her. We have been friends for thirteen years. We have shared many experiences, good and bad. Even though our visit was short, it was good to see each other again. We're going to go for a BBQ at her place soon; then we'll have more opportunity to talk.

"A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need." Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)
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