All posts by racheltokogirl

6 Year Miracle

I’ve tried writing a few posts. Thinking I might have something to say but couldn’t find the words. I’ve been trying to paint but just not able to be happy with the stroke of a brush on canvas. I have picked up a book or two. Or four. Inserting myself into a different place as a different person. Playing make believe. Pretending I am someone else from long ago or from the future. Full of strength and beauty. The heroine of the novel. The woman other characters look to as a role model. That is not the woman I feel myself to be. I’m tired. I’m sick of being sick not looking sick. That must sound strange to the ears. Why would I want to look sick? I don’t fit the normal cancer patient file. I know that. There has been so many miracles on this long journey. And I thank God for them every day.

As people were celebrating the exit of 2019 and entrance of the year 2020, we were with friends celebrating as well. In the back of my mind I was thinking of 6 years prior. Not only was I saying goodbye to 2013, I was cautiously wondering and worrying what my orthopaedic surgeon said just that morning.

Going back a few months, to February 8th, 2013, I had hip surgery to fix a labrum tear (the cartilage along the edge of bone) in my right hip joint. After a lot of physio, I still had pain. Only half the pain as before the surgery. The surgeon was extremely satisfied with the surgery and recovery, but we couldn’t figure out this other source of pain on the right side sacrum (lowback). Fast forward to December 2013 I was scheduled for an MRI with dye. Results would be ready December 31st. New Years Eve. He told us he wasn’t sure what it was. It could be anything. Go home, celebrate the New Year and call your family doctor in the new year. He knew. He knew it was secondary cancer as he had follow up care for me with a hematology oncologist at Juravinski Cancer Centre. (Which is why all my care has been there.) He was thinking it started in the blood. Deep down, I knew different.

January 2nd 2014, we went to my family doctor. She tried to aspirate the mass I’ve asked about in the past. It didn’t. Not good news. The next couple days was bone scan, CT scan, mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy. A few days after that, ‘sorry, it’s cancer’. After meeting with my oncologist ( the same wonderful dr. I’ve been seeing for 6 years!) nothing about my cancer was normal. There was no sign of cancer, to the eye, showing in my left breast. It felt ‘different’ to me. That’s it. No pain, no skin changes, no discharge. Nothing. Even my oncologist had a hard time finding the 5.8 cm mass. The month of January, 6 years ago, was full of the unknown, doctor appointments, radiology appointments, scans and tests. Followed by medications and surgery. And more recovery. Followed by more medications and a stable few years until the disease starting progressing into my liver and lung. I went from having a back issue to having stage 4 breast cancer within a month. So we leaned on the only one that could hold us up. Our Father in heaven. 2 Timothy 12:1-2 (ESV)

We laid our weight on Jesus. However close this burden clung to us, we clung to God even more. It’s a miracle that I am still here running the race 6 years after diagnosis. It’s a miracle that when my white blood cell counts down, my Dr. finds a way for me to receive injections to boost those numbers. It’s a miracle when my hemoglobin is too low, I go for a blood transfusion to boost those numbers. It’s a miracle when my Dr. tells me not to expect high enough platelets, that the numbers are higher than usual. It’s a miracle, I don’t look sick. Or feel too sick. (Some of the time!) There have been many times in the past 6 years where I question the direction of these miracles. Where I question why I’m still here running this race and others have crossed the finish line into Jesus’ arms. Why couldn’t we all see miracles? I know there are answers for that. And I plan on asking. In the meantime I will continue to say, “Thank you, God, for all the miracles. “

Wrapped in Love

I love Christmas. Nov 1st comes and I am ready to cozy up watching Christmas Hallmark movies while cuddled up in a blanket and holding a warm cup of winter blend green tea. Maybe with a piece of chocolate if my appetite desires. I slowly bring out Christmas items. A painting for the wall, a beautiful centrepiece on my sitting room table or the Nativity scene, my aunt Coby made for my grandparents years ago, gracing the fireplace mantle. After this week I will, with help from Phoenix and my mom, have my two trees adorned with all the beautiful, sparkly Christmas ornaments I’ve collected over the years. This is a time of comfort and joy. A time of hope. A time awaiting the celebration of Christ’s birth.

Things have not been going the way I have hoped for. When one prayer is answered another must be asked. The collection of tumours in my liver have grown to 5.8 cm. according to my last scan. The new treatment plan, and probably the last, has been a series of unexpected bumps in the road. After a treatment at the beginning of October, my white blood cell count was way too low and I couldn’t have chemo because of it. My doctor figured out a way for me to get the injections covered for me to help boost those cells. Answer to prayer, it worked. I received chemo. I continued with injections. Last weekend I spike a fever and end up in the ER. Praise God it was nothing bacterial and I was sent home to recover. Friday when I went to have my cancer fighting treatment, they say sorry. Not today. White blood cell count is good. It’s now the platelets are too low. The good news is I get to feel good for a while longer. I just can’t help picturing the cancer in my liver growing. I was reassured by my doctor that the liver enzymes are dropping a bit from the chemo treatments I have managed to have. Another answer to prayer. It’s just very frustrating. Not knowing what my body is doing inside. Not knowing if there has to be a different plan with this chemo. Will I receive it days 1 and 8 on a 21 day cycle or just day 1 on a 21 day cycle? Will it make a difference in how the cancer will behave? Will I still need to take the Gastrafil injections to boost my white blood cell count? Is there something else we can do to boost my platelets? So many questions and so many prayers. I’m overwhelmed.

I received a gift from some women from church. I am loved and I have many prayers reaching Gods listening ears.

God’s grace be upon this gift- warming, comforting, enfolding and embracing. May you be cradled in hope, kept in joy, graced with peace and wrapped in love.

The label carefully and lovingly stitched on the lap blanket knit for me reminds me of all things Christmas. The comforting warmth of a cozy day with tea in my hands and the smell of Christmas scented candle glowing. Feeling the embrace of all those who pray for me and my family, knowing we are enfolded into the community of saints. The deep rooted emotion of joy and peace because I know God’s plan is to prosper me and not harm me. To give me hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11b) just like the gifts I lovingly wrap to place beneath the Christmas tree, I too am wrapped with love. To all of you who are wrapping me up in love, enfolding me in your prayers and embracing me in your arms, thank you.

Through the Clouds

The clouds have rolled in again. I can’t outrun it. My race has turned into a hike. I’m no longer running. I stroll through the rain clouds that hover and I try to see the sun beyond the clouds. I’m dealing with more pain so I take the pain meds and I stand in the clouds once again. Just when things are going amazing. When the tumour markers keep dropping like crazy and the Doctor is shocked at how well I’m doing. How well my body is reacting to the chemo. I was starting to get a tiny taste of normal back. Helping out at the store when my body is ok with it. Doing normal things. Like grocery shopping. Then the pain started.

As a cancer patient, as soon as something feels different the first thought is “cancer”. I was giving myself pep talks. I could have slept funny. Or banged into something. Twisted a muscle or who knows what else. The pain persisted. At the appointment with my oncologist, I told him of the new pain. He told me my tumour markers are going up. Not good news. My bloodwork also showed an elevation of liver enzymes. More bad news. The bloodwork plus the location of my pain is letting my doctor know that the cancer is spreading in my liver. Not liking this news one bit. So it’s time to try another chemo. I’m running out of ammunition. My doctor is concerned. I’m scared.

I finished my first full dose chemo. It went ok. Felt a bit beat up for a couple days but definitely feeling better. Dr. Mukherjee said I’ve already beaten the odds. I plan on beating more. If that’s what Gods got plans for. I’ve only been in this race so long because of prayer and a lot of hope.

God is so good. He is not evil. He is not sin. God does not harm us. He gives us hope and a future. I don’t know what my future holds on this earth. Who does? But I do know where I am going to be in my future. In the arms of Jesus.

I’m not giving up. Far from it! I may not be running in a race but I’m still moving forward. It sometimes becomes exhausting to be positive all the time. But I’ve got God beside me. That’s all the hope I need.

Life Goes On

Days pass. Weeks pass and months. Life goes on. It’s a difficult kind of life, but on it goes. For myself and my family, we have fallen into a new normal. Like those who have lost their loved ones to cancer will need to settle into their new normal. After going through the stages of grief from loss. Or those who have lost their health. Grieving for who they once were before cancer entered their life. I went through those stages of grief five and a half years ago. And I am now settled into this new normal of chemo; 2 Friday’s on and one off.

I’ve been on the same chemo treatment now since sometime in February. I think. I’ve grown so accustomed to going through treatments I have lost track. The good news is my tumour markers keep going down. Dramatically. My oncologist is amazed at how well this treatment is going. He’s never seen drops like this in his 15 years of practice. My nurse tells me to make sure people continue to pray because it’s working. The bad news is, not everyone gets this good news. Two friends passing into glory within a week proves that. That is what makes it hard for me to rejoice.

I will continue on this journey of mine. I will forever be running on this race. My life goes on. Even though I may be living with stage 4 cancer, I need to remember I am still living. I will do what I can. I will rest when I need to. I will live for as long as God breathes life into my lungs. My life goes on. I will try hard to cherish the moments with loved ones. Sit back with a good book. Feel the sun on my face as I close my eyes to the sky. Spend time at the cottage enjoying the quiet peace I get relaxing at the lake. I will allow creativity flow through paints or words. I will strive to love more and hate less. I will continue to remind myself that I am here and life goes on.

Just Breathe

I haven’t written in a while. It’s not that I’m too busy. I just haven’t been able to sit down and be vulnerable with my feelings. It has been difficult to think of the words to express whatever emotion is racing through my chemo filled veins (thanks to the post-menopausal, chemo fogged brain of mine. ) We had wonderful news back in December followed by not so good news end of January and I had to switch Chemo again. I’m now on Eribulin for 2 weeks on and 1 week off. The bonus with this one is it only takes 15 minutes for it to drip into my port rather than an hour. I’ve been on this one for a few rounds already. What initially scared me is, my Doctor says this is the last standard treatment. I know, sounds scary. However that doesn’t mean end off treatment. It just means my oncologist will need to put on his thinking cap, talk to his colleagues who have similarities with their MBC (metastatic breast cancer) patients and find something else by mixing chemos (hence the term chemo cocktail. But definitely not my first choice of cocktail!) I am doing ok on this latest drug. Just tired, tummy issues and I have started losing the hair that has grown back. So back to hats in public again.

The past couple weeks, I have had a CT scan and a bone scan. We also got the results. It’s good news again. Prayers were answered and this chemo seems to be working. My tumour markers in my bloodwork have dropped dramatically. From way over 700 down to just over 400. (about a year ago they were just over 100. ) the bone scan shows stability in all the lesions in my bone. The CT showed stability, no new growth and even some, my doctor explained, was like dead cancer cells. This is great news! News that was celebrated with family and friends. With hugs and love. Praises to God and maybe even a happy dance or two. But it’s the joy inside me that is a bit layered. I put the face on and say the words, but that is just one layer. I’m still in treatment. The cancer is still there. This is just temporary until it stops working and that amazing doc of mine has to wear that thinking cap. Don’t think I’m losing hope. Because I’m not. There are miracles. I know that. I just still feel what I feel. I just think of each day as it comes. I don’t want to think of the future because it makes me sad. Every time someone else I know gets a cancer diagnosis, I get angry. We are human and emotions are part of our experience on this earth. When I feel that spring sun trying so hard to peek through the clouds. Feeling that warmth feels so good. Spending time with my girls bring me such joy. Looking at the supportive man by my side fills my heart full of love. Having God to talk to or read about brings me hope. So every once in a while I need to rest and pause before I continue, taking those day by day steps, and just breathe. Go through my emotions layer by layer, lay them at the cross. Focus on the good and release the bad. And just breathe.

Hope, Love, Joy and Peace

It’s the time of advent. The hope, love and joy candles have been lit. Soon the peace and Christ candle. There have been songs, thoughts, bible passages and messages that have been coming to me the past few weeks about light in the darkness. That’s what I need to strive for. Not only looking for the light, but seeing and feeling the light in the darkness and that is so hard to do sometimes, especially the past few months. Since I have chemo on Fridays it’s usually too dangerous for me to go to any public places. That includes going to church on Sundays. I’ve started listening and watching Lakeside live on Sunday mornings at 10 o’clock. The theme of advent these past few Sundays is Let There Be Light. After the messages from the pastor were spoken I continued to hear the same words. Words that profoundly stuck in my head. You can’t turn off the dark. You can add light to the room but you just can’t turn off the dark. The dark will always be there. But it is the light added to the room that gives us hope and that light is Jesus Christ.

“May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

Hope, love, joy and peace. As humans, we crave these emotions and feelings. That was what God intended. At this time of year we need to focus on these in anticipation of remembering Christ’s birth. We need to take the time in these crazy, busy days of Christmastime to really remember and feel why we are preparing. It’s not easy for everyone at this time of year. Some may be celebrating their first Christmas without a loved one. Depression may be weighing deep on the mind. Anxiety of perfection may overtake your day. Your world may seem dark.

Some people may say that I’m going through a dark spot of my life right now. Honestly, I’m not. I’ve had moments of my life that were dark or depression sunk in. My self-worth was worthless. To me that was a dark time. I’m not saying that right now things are easy. But the light has been turned on. I have allowed the light of Jesus shine with in and the room is not as dark.

Seeing things in a different light brings hope. That light is Jesus. I honestly don’t know where I’d be right now without Him. Hope for healing and strength would fall on deaf ears. I know that God is light and there is no darkness in Him. He is a good, good Father. It’s who He is and I am loved by Him. (If you want to listen to a song that brings me such hope, love, joy and peace. Good Good Father. )

This year there has been a lot of medication changes. There has been progression in the disease of cancer within my bones, liver, lungs and lymph nodes. I have tried a drug and then another only to be told it is not working. Enough for anyone to lose hope. To feel unloved. To trample any joy. To not have any peace within. September I moved onto Paclitaxel. A chemo therapy drug. The third one my doctor is trying to treat my disease. Every Friday (with the exception of every fourth week, when I get a week off) I go to Juravinski Cancer Centre and I get an IV bag hooked up to the portacath which lies under the skin in my chest. Although I am only in the chemo suite for an hour and a half, the days can be very long. First I have blood work and then I wait for the pharmacist to let me know my white blood counts are up enough to have chemo. Then I need to wait for them to make the drug ready. Hurry up and wait. Patience. Another thing I had to learn on this journey.

Miracles happen. We know that. We read about the miracles throughout the bible. I do see these miracles happening. Small mercies and miracles such as minimal side effects. The hair I lost with the last chemo treatment that did not work has started growing back. My oncologist was surprised it hasn’t fallen out with these new treatments. The neuropathy (tingling and pain in the hands and feet) should have been felt by now. Yet nothing. My hands and feet feel fine. I am not nauseous at all. My appetite is good. (Still deciding if this is a good thing or not, with all the Christmas treats!) The worst I suffer from is pain and aches in my body; mostly my legs. The kind you might get when you have the flu. If chemo is Friday, by Sunday afternoon it starts and by Wednesday afternoon it goes away. I get tired. I don’t have to do much to feel exhausted. The side effect that has been the issue for me with all these different treatments, is my white blood counts. I don’t feel sick if they are low, but I could get sick really fast if I catch anything.

So now the latest news. The news that I have hoped for and brings joy. Another miracle. I had a bone scan and we got results this past week. The small lesions in different areas of my bone, mostly the spine, have disappeared. The larger lesions are all stable. My oncologist said he hasn’t seen that in any of his patients with cancer like mine. He may see stability like we have seen in these past 5 years, but not the disappearance of spots. Praise God! What joy, oh Lord! Thank you, Father, for answering prayers that have been reaching to the heavens!

I know I am not healed. I know the cancer is still in me. I will still continue the chemo treatment plan. Which is pretty much staying on this treatment that is working. We will stop when treatments stop working or until my body can’t handle them anymore. In the meantime, I will rest in the hope that new drugs will come on the market to try. I will be comforted by the love that surrounds me as I deal with the treatments I’m undergoing. I will feel the joy of the season as we prepare the most important birthday of the year. I will be at peace with whatever God has planned for me and my family. And the reason I will be able to do this? I am led through the darkness by the light of Jesus Christ. You too can feel the hope, love, joy and peace by looking for the light in the dark. All you have to do is ask. He’s a good, good Father.

Resting and Resting

There are many pictures of rest. Different thoughts on how to rest. Where and why. It may be different for every person. Some find it easy or difficult. There are times the mind needs to rest and days the body must. We take vacations because our bodies need rest. We kiss our loved ones goodnight before we place our heads on our own pillows to receive the much needed rest after a full day of work. The dictionary tells us that rest means to “Cease work or movement in order to relax, sleep, or recover strength.” The Bible says even more! Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14, “And He said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ ” Psalm 62:1, “Truly my soul finds rest in God, my salvation comes from Him.” These are just a couple of many. In Psalm 23 we are refreshed from the quiet we spend in Him. In Psalm 4:8 we dwell in His safety as we sleep. Philippians 4:6-7 The Lord’s peace guards our hearts and minds when we pray. And so on and so on. Jesus asks his disciples, and us, to come away with him to rest a while in a quiet place. (Mark 6:31) God gives rest to those who believe. (Hebrews 4:6) It’s all there. Since the very beginning in Genesis 2 when God even took a rest after all His work of creating a beautiful world and gave a day to us to do the same. I read the words which brighten me from within. Yet it is still so hard to rest. It shouldn’t be so difficult to rest in Him. But there are days it is really hard. Resting has become my full time job. It shouldn’t feel like work. It should feel as a comfort.

I’ve been through 4 treatments now of another chemo because the last one wasn’t working. Once again the white blood cell counts were low. They were high enough to have gotten my chemo every week. This has led to much frustration. The not knowing if chemo will be canceled because my bone marrow won’t produce enough. I can’t change what to eat to boost it. The most important thing to do is rest. The government won’t cover shots to boost those cells because I’m stage 4. And this isn’t my first round of treatments. I could go on so many rants at this point, but I have learned that, with government funded drugs, it is what is. I have accepted that.

I just had chemo number 5 today and I was worried. Did I rest enough? Will my numbers be up? Will I be sent home without my cancer fighting drug to rest some more? Well, Praise God! Prayers were answered! My counts went unusually high this week. From 1.7 to 6.1. We will see how next week is, if I can maintain these numbers. I stayed away from germ infested grocery stores and crowds of coughing, sniffling people. (Here I will insert a plea to EVERYONE to get their flu shot. People with weak immune systems live in your world and we can end up in the Hospital just from touching something you touched. So remember, flu shots and hand washing and sanitizer are IMPORTANT !) Plea over. I will continue. As I was saying I rested. I read. Then rested some more. And I will do it all over these next few days as the chemo fights the cancer cells. My immune system is being depleted again and I have one job. To rest. And then rest some more. While I rest I read. I will watch some corny fall movies. (at least till the Christmas ones come out!) I will nap. I will rest and rest. Most important I will work though any struggles I have to rest in Him. For that is where the most fulfilling rest is. That is where the strength is built and the comfort lies. He is the rest that boosts my white blood counts and gives me the stamina and hope to continue on this race of mine.

This Is Me

This is me. It has been a long time since I have written and there may be some wondering what is going on in the cancer race of Rachel. This is where I am at this moment. At a place where I don’t want to be. I’m at a place where every day others join me. Sometimes I know them, sometimes I don’t. But I know I’m part of a club no one wants to join. So I’m pretty confident that I’m also not the only one who is dealing with treatment plans. I’m pretty sure there are many people who are also waiting for appointments, scan results and answers to what next steps are. That is where I am right now. It’s been 5 weeks since my last chemo treatment. It’s been 2 weeks since I saw my oncologist. There has been change. Again. My bones now have more lesions. My ribs, my breastplate and low back/sacrum. My body is also turning its back on the chemo treatments. I have, surprisingly, felt relatively good on the treatments. Tired but not sick. Lack of appetite but no mouth sores. However, my blood work is showing my oncologist the opposite. My bone marrow isn’t liking it. It can also cause damage to my heart. So decisions need to be made on what to do next. On top of it all, I had issues with a tooth that needed a root canal and since I could not be on chemo when I had that fixed, I had to take a break. That also would give me a break before starting a different treatment, if that is what will happen.

At this moment, my tooth has been fixed so there is no longer a worry of an abscess sending me to the hospital. I have also had a CT scan and I am waiting for those results. If the tumours in the liver and lung have shrunk, we may do one more treatment of the chemo drug that my body doesn’t like. Otherwise, we will be moving onto the next one. Which means another drug pulled out of the arsenal. Just when I think I will be able to get back to the me I know, the new drug will send me to Hamilton every week with a break once a month. This will be my life for 6 months. Protecting myself from illnesses that my body won’t be able to fight. Continuing to cover my bald head with scarves and hats. I think the hardest part of this all isn’t the chemo but what the chemo takes away from me. What the cancer has done. What it has stolen from me. It feels, sometimes, like it’s locking me up in my own home. Like it’s aging my body so fast, it’s sometimes hard to move. Like it’s making me miss moments of life and laughter.

It also makes me cherish those moments even more. My life isn’t all being sad and sorry for myself. It’s still me. I still laugh at silly things. I still get ticked off at the same things I always have. I am still a mother, a wife, a daughter and sister. I am still a friend who loves coffee dates. I am still a girl who loves to cuddle up under a blanket watching stupid things on t.v. like ‘The Bachelor’ or ‘Bachelorette’. I am still me. Just a me with cancer who deals with side effects of different treatments. The same me who has been doing this for over 4 1/2 years. The me who will keep doing this till God calls me home yet calls to God, “Not yet, Lord!” The me who thanks Him for answering the prayers on my heart. This is me.

Life’s a Beach 

Everyone who knows me, knows I love the sound of waves hitting the sandy shore. I relish in the silky feel of the warm breeze teasing my skin.  I breathe in deep when I plant my feet in hot sand taking in the smells of the beach. I love the heat of the sun upon my face even though I don’t tan deep brown like the rest of my family. I just freckle. With enough freckles that they connect and give the illusion of a sun kissed face. I have no problems at all when I’m on a beach with a good book. I don’t need the sounds of people. I don’t need to play in the water. A beach and a book.  That’s not a tall order and I am happy. That is my happy place. That is my peaceful spot.  This summer is different for me. No sun kissed freckles for this girl. I’ve finished my second round of chemo and I need to stay out of the sun.  Isn’t that great. Not only am I bald but pale on top of it. One more thing cancer has taken from me. 

Rather than sitting and feeling sorry for myself I have to choose to put a positive spin on it all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not Mrs. Positivity.  I have my moments. Many of them. I choose not to show it all. I choose to put on the makeup, the smile and the jokes to make it better. Not necessarily  for me but for the people surrounding me. It is very hard to see my body in the mirror. It always has been. I was never pretty enough, thin enough, fit enough. And now I have to look at a body that looks so foreign to me. With scars splayed across my chest where breasts used to be. And now with another addition of a newer scar where a port a cath lays beneath the skin of my chest wall, so harsh treatments can enter my body easily to kill the cancer. I chose to shave my head when I started watching the clumps of hair fall to the floor. I chose to have fun with it, with the help of my hairdresser, by doing a Mohawk because I wanted to be in control. Not my illness or the treatment for my illness. Only now all the hair that adorned my head is gone. Except for a few stubble, that haven’t fallen out yet, on a landscape of untanned, unfreckled skin. My summer is now controlled  by chemo treatments, blood work and recuperation. It’s pretty easy to get down when I can’t enjoy my favourite season. When I feel holed up inside because what use is there to be outside when I can’t even enjoy it? Why bother? I don’t want to do anything but read books and watch movies. Just so I can jump into someone’s else life even for a moment. Even though the characters are fictional, they distract me from the reality my summer has become. Sometimes choosing to be miserable is just so much easier. 

Under every fluffy cloud in the summer sky comes a beam of light. This  is where the real poitivity comes in. Not the fake smiles and trivial laughter. My blood counts were too low and my second chemo was postponed by a week, but  it worked out for the better. My schedule of chemo was messed up and I can make no plans, I’m ok with that. Because of the delay, I was able to enjoy a week at the cottage with out feeling sick. And after my counts went back up and second round happened, I have to say I feel really good. I felt tired. That was it. I was expecting the worst and got the least. That is the power of prayer.  How can that not bring me genuine smiles of joy? Knowing God is listening all the time.  So when I am in a low moment, I know I can reach out to Him and He is there. And when I don’t have the energy or the mindset to reach out to Him, He is still there. And those dark moments where I don’t feel Him at all?  He is still there. All the prayers so many people are bringing to the foot of the cross are being heard and I can feel it. I can feel the warmth and hear the peace. That is the beach I need to choose to be on this summer. So the next time I get depressed about how my summer is going, I will sit back and say life’s a beach no matter what time of year it is. I just need to choose to place my feet is the sand of my imagination and take myself to my happy place. 

He Is Still With Me

“I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age .” Matthew 28:20b (The Message)

Lately I have needed to use tools to help me remember things. Whether it is writing an appointment time on the calendar or using a post it note to remind me I need to buy milk. Again. Setting an alarm on my phone to tell me I have to be somewhere or call someone. We all use reminders. Lately I had to rely on tools other than my brain. The chemo fog or cancer fog. Whatever you want to call it, my thinky-thing don’t work like it used to! 

I have received cards as reminder of something very important. Or devotionals sent to my inbox. Or quotes seen at random. Time and time again, God is whispering to me. “I am with you always.” Jesus said these words to his disciples to remind them as well. We need the those reminders. And we need them often. I need those words now. 

This past Wednesday, Alan and I went to Juravinski for results of the latest scans. We knew it was an important meeting with my oncologist. There would be important discussion about my treatment plan. I hoped and prayed that things would be stable for just a bit longer. To stay on the oral chemo pills for just a bit more time. The side effects were not horrific. I could lead a somewhat normal life.  God, please hear these words! Make it happen as only you can! You’ve already answered the prayers of minimal side effects. Considering my doctor has never prescribed a dose that high with so little side effects is a miracle. An answer to prayer.

The words “growth” and “spots” fell on our ears. Progression of disease. The tumours that have been on my liver and lungs grew. There are also new spots. They are small, but they are there.  The pain in my left side chest, back and shoulder is caused by the growth of cancer in my lymph nodes. Causing my hand to go numb and range of motion to dwindle. There are lesions  on my sternum that weren’t there before. The chemo pills have run their course and my life with cancer is about to change again. Next week, I will be having a port-a-cath inserted under the skin in my chest. A small tube with direct access to a vein so it will be easier for blood draws, scan injections and all other IV fluids. Including chemo that will be starting June 8th and will be happening every three weeks for 4-5 months.  The strong stuff. The red devil that will turn my stomach over and make me lose my hair within a couple weeks after my first treatment. The part of treatment where I have to take steroids to combat nausea but at the same time get puffy, chipmunk cheeks. Adding to the disfigurement cancer has already caused. Where are you, God? 

“I will be with you always.” Even though Jesus spoke these words to the disciples as they went out into the world to teach others of the gospel, it can still remind us that He is there. He hasn’t left my side or the side of my family.  Through all the storms and paths we have walked. For all the hurdles we jumped over. He was with us through it all. Maybe my commission is to be able to still say that. To believe that our triune God will be with me through it all, even till the end of the age. He never says it will be easy, but He does promise to always be there.  He is still with me, right by my side.