About Death.

I really love when you guys come up to me and tell me that you read the blog, it helps to see you face to face, it makes it even more real that God is using my story to reach WAY beyond me. Lately the Lord has used so many of you to bless me beyond belief! Everclean car wash did a fundraiser for me, Henley football did a fundraiser, Tashi Soaps did a fundraiser, and even Umpqua bank! I am incredibly humbled by your kindness and generosity so thank you all.

So, I have been giving this blog a lot of time and prayer. I know a lot of you have questions and I have some answers. This week my Mom and I head back to Seattle for another round of TCells and a new trial drug. Yes a new one because the most recent trial hasn’t been working. I am up to 10 tumors, 3 in my face, 3 on my head, 1 on my throat, and 2 under my ear. The TCells also haven’t been working. The tumors are very strong and defeated any TCells that infiltrated them. This is NOT because my body is in bad condition and this isn’t because my immune system is bad, there is no explanation except that it didn’t work.

Initially the news was extremely discouraging and devastating. I was really counting on this to work. It’s been our backup plan for so long that I almost felt invincible heading into surgery and radiation. In the back of my mind there was always, “Well at least we have TCells”. And now TCells are used up. The backup plan is done. So this leaves us in a very unknown spot. This is the scariest it’s been for me. Plan A, B, and C are done. So we move forward to plan D. A new trial drug.

I’m not invincible. In fact, none of us are. But I have to admit, it can be very hard to realize our own mortality when modern medicine offers you so many resources to stay alive. For the last 2 years I have had cancer, but I never really though about death. It seemed so far off, it seemed so avoidable, and so in our control. I’ve never really experienced a lot of death in my own life either, until my cousin passed away a few weeks ago. He was 21 years old, and it really brought about the reality of our mortality. The reality that life is short. The reality that we aren’t in control, as much as we try. Then they told me that Plan C isn’t working, and slowly but surely I realized that my options are running out. So I thought about death.

It’s been amazing really, because as a Christian person death is not the end. I’ve been thinking a lot about Paul when he talks about longing for heaven and grieving for Earth. As the reality of mortality sets in I have actually felt a longing for heaven for the first time in my life. Like you see all over in the Psalms, I have experienced the guttural cry of lament as I tell the Lord that I’m afraid to die. I have also experienced immense peace and joy in knowing that I get to live forever in heaven, in paradise. I get to live in a place and I will not be suffering and I will never cry and I will not have cancer. My heart breaks knowing that there are people who will never experience that peace. They will live their whole life terrified of death. I am learning that you can’t grieve for the Earth without longing for heaven. You have to strike the balance. If you just grieve for Earth then you can become bitter and angry, jealous, you can start to justify why you shouldn’t die and others should, you can become miserable and panicked. When the longing for heaven comes in then it forces you to meet death with a certain gratitude. Longing for heaven takes you back to the cross, because without Jesus you wouldn’t have the option of heaven. So your heart is looking to the cross and you meet grieving for Earth with gratitude for what God has given you, not what death is taking away. This has allowed me to truly say, “Oh death where is your victory, Oh death where is your sting?”

I’m dying, but really we are all dying. I am so grateful to God for saving me, I will not die and just become a pile of ashes in the dirt, THIS IS NOT IT. This life isn’t as good as it gets for me, and death is not the end. As I cry and mourn over the thought of life ending here on Earth, I also cry tears of joy as I thank God for being so loving, that He sent His son to die so that I may find joy in my suffering knowing that this is not the end.

 

Tumor Flashbacks.

It’s been a very difficult past two days. As you all know, or most of you, I received my first dose of TCells last week. This is great news because they are actually floating around inside of me now! The infusion made me pretty sick and put me out for a good 3 days, hopefully that’s a good sign.

But anyway back to the present. The night before last I was washing my face, when my hand ran over a familiar lump. Yes, another tumor. This one is on my face, again, right under the scar where I got a hole cut out. It’s the worst feeling when you discover a new tumor. Defeat, anger, confusion, heart ache, disgust, despair. I think this one hit home especially because it’s nearly in the same place my original tumor was, which brings back haunting memories and feelings. I just stared at myself in the mirror, and then I broke. My poor husband. I wonder what went through his head as he is about to fall asleep and hears me in the other room, all of a sudden, bursting into a guttural cry. I’ve never seen him run to me so fast. Then we both just sat on the floor, sobbing.

I don’t know what this means, and the doctors don’t know what it means either. Was it growing before TCells? Did it show up after? Do TCells work? Will they work? So many questions and no answers.

I have 7 tumors now. 7 tumors that can kill me. And I have spent the last two days really wondering if I am going to die from this. I told Adam that if I do, I don’t want anyone saying I “lost my fight with cancer.” I hate that. Because of Jesus I have won my fight with life! I will go to a place where I will suffer no longer and I will live in a perfect, glorious place forever! Talk about HOPE, which is why I will continue forward.

On a side note, I want to remind you all that your actions MATTER. I was having a hard day yesterday, just thinking about the new tumor and dying and all that. I had to go get some blood drawn for the clinical trial protocol. Instead of flying all the way to Seattle for a blood draw, I decided to get it done here. I don’t want to bore you with the details but it ended up being this big ordeal. I was sent from place to place, told different things, the order was wrong, then they couldn’t even draw from my port etc. etc. I was so stressed out that I started crying in front of the phlebotomist. Then one of the nurses there took me aside, (I know her name but I won’t mention it, she’ll know who she is) and she just hugged me and told me that she has been praying for me. She told me that I’m her little sister in Christ and that I’m not alone. In the midst of all the stress, in the midst of feeling isolated and frustrated, she reached out and comforted me. It was a seemingly simple thing, but it made a world of difference for me in that moment. It took 2 minutes of kindness you guys, you never know what’s happening in someones life. Just be kind. Just do it. So thank you for doing that for me yesterday Nurse S 😉

I head back to Seattle on the 1st, please don’t ask for further details on the trial because I have no answers at this point, so just please just pray for me and do something kind for someone okay? Thank you all and love ya!

 

Praising Him through Frustration?

God is amazing. Seriously though, He constantly baffles me in His goodness and I am always reminded that when He says, “Ask and you shall receive” He means it! Not in a genie way, don’t read this and then pray for a Mustang expecting that it will POOF! into your garage.

Two examples stick out to me of God providing for me this week. The first one, and one that I never want to take for granted, is the kindness of God to motivate peoples hearts to care for me. I have received an abundance of cards, words of encouragement, meals, airfare donations, and prayer. These things are not a given when you get saddled with the big ‘ol cancer. These things are a blessing and I’m humbled and so grateful for every person who has cared for me in some way.

Another example from this week happened a couple nights ago. I was having a hard day, just struggling with those pesky questions of, “Why God?” “Where are you?” “How is this what’s best for me?”. I normally try to avoid questioning God. I find it easier for me at times to just accept that this is my life. I try and find harmony amidst this calamity. To just “deal” with it. But eventually the tension and the outburst of, “this isn’t how it’s supposed to be!” resurfaces. So once again I was laying in my husbands arms just sobbing. Nearly guttural. Side note you guys, as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, my husband is amazing. Take notes here on how to handle someone who is suffering. LISTEN. He does that the best. He listens, he is patient, he is grace filled, and he is selfless. If he hadn’t taken the time to ask me what’s wrong and truly mean it, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. I would be stuck in the same rut of apathy. So he chose to listen rather than sleep, rather than judge, rather than lecture, and after I poured out my heart, he encouraged me to read. See I have tons of books that people have sent me, but I tend to avoid them. Mostly because I felt like I’d just feel bad about reading about others who are going through way more than me and handling it way better. But then he challenged me, “Why don’t you read about someone else to be inspired by them, not to be condemned by them.”

So, I listened.

The next morning I picked up a book sent to me by friends in Spokane called, “Rejoicing in Lament.” It was one on the top of the pile of books about cancer, ones that I was definitely avoiding. I already live out cancer, why do I need to read about it? That was honestly my initial thought. So I flipped open to an old bookmarked page of mine, and the pages to follow were a direct answer to my cry. Did I mention that God was amazing!? And alive!? It’s a sad world to live in if you dismiss everything as a “coincidence” or “lucky”. No. This was planned and ordained by the Lord. The fact that I picked THAT book, the fact that I turned to THAT page, it was no coincidence my friends, it was an answer to my prayers, it was a comfort to my soul because God CARES about me. Whoa.

So I won’t word vomit the last 3 chapters I’ve read but I will talk about one sentence that gripped at my heart, “Even the most shocking psalms expressing outrage, fear, and despair are doing so before God, and that is praise.” How radical is that sentence!? When I bring all my questions, all my cries, all my hurt, and all my frustrations before God, it’s PRAISE! What the what!? How many times have I tried to manicure my prayers? How many times have I felt ashamed for feeling frustrated? How many times have I just decided not to pray at all if all I am going to do is cry? And all along, as it shows in the Psalms, I would have been praising the Lord, because I am coming to Him. RADICAL you guys, and man that once sentence was so freeing to me. I have been holding back in my relationship with God lately if I’m honest. I’ve been hurt, confused, frustrated, and unsure of how to even approach Him. I still feel all those feelings, and I still don’t know what to do with it all, but one thing I do know, I can take them freely to the Lord. I can give it all to Him in it’s raw and flawed state, and it’s praise. That’s the God we believe in, that’s a loving God, that’s a God that, like my husband, will hold you and LISTEN.

I head back to Seattle tomorrow, I get a port put in on Friday so if you could pray for that procedure to go smoothly I would appreciate it! Praise God that because of your generosity Adam gets to go with me for part of the time. I will be there until the 19th. TCells with be on the 16th which is a BIG DEAL, so prayers for that as well please!

I Should Be Sleeping.

I should be sleeping. I should be curled up next to my husband in my own bed, my freezing toes toes tucked underneath his warm legs. I should be home, I should be doing wife things and thinking about what I’ll make for breakfast or who I’ll have coffee with.

I should be sleeping, but I’m wide awake. Partially from the nap I took after my 10th biopsy, and partially from the fact that I’m experiencing another guttural cry. It comes and goes, the emotion of it all. Tonight it came after seeing a video I took of myself after my recent surgery, too recent if you ask me. It’s odd, sometimes I think I almost forget or block out what I’ve gone through. The videos and the pictures allow me to see everything from the outsiders perspective. Your perspective, and I cry. I can’t help but cry for the girl in the pictures. The stitches everywhere, the bloody red mess, the swelling and the tubes. I feel so sorry for the girl in the picture. There in the hospital gown, bearing various scars and deformations, showing all that she’s endured, and then it hits me, that harsh reality hits me in the midst of my brokenness for the girl in that picture. That girl is me. So I’m crying. I’m crying as I sit in a bed that’s not my own, alone, with freezing cold toes, a throbbing in the back of my head where they poked a prodded today, and the images of the past two years swirling through my mind. I’m thinking about the upcoming medical appointments I have instead of what I’m going to cook my husband for dinner.

I should be sleeping, but I’m crying.

And that’s okay.

You’re Going to Be Sad.

“Why?”

“But why? I don’t get it?”

“It doesn’t make sense.”

“I just don’t understand? What the heck!?”

“That wasn’t enough time!”

Many of you will say something along these lines when you see this post, and I want you to know that I said the some thing.

Before I explain to you why you are about to say these things, you need to know that it’s okay to say them. To feel the hurt, the confusion, the frustration, and even the heartbreak. God feels that way too. And that’s something that is so hard for me to remember, or even grasp. I often kick myself for asking those questions, knowing that I will not have the answers that I seek until I get to heaven. So I encourage you to feel all the feels, but don’t get hung up on questioning God. Don’t go looking for answers here on Earth because truthfully, nothing will satisfy except this:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

God is not unaware of my situation, He is not calloused and uncaring, His plan is not to harm me, or inflict pain on me, or punish me. He is in control yes, He allowed this yes, but He has a plan to give me hope and a future. Some of you doubt that I have a hopeful future, and sure, on Earth my future looks more and more impossible. I often don’t have a lot of hope that I’ll have much of a future, here on Earth. A lot of times I do feel like cancer is going to kill me. BUT because He has saved me, I have a HOPE for an eternal future in HEAVEN. So think on these things as I tell you what’s next.

I have 3 new tumors. Yes, already. (Now you enter the exclamations from earlier). These tumors are completely out of character. The first one I felt is on the left of what would be my Adams apple, if I were a dude. It’s large already and I had a tiny bit of hope that maybe it was scar tissue since it appeared in a previously treated area. You see, we thought we had an advantage, we thought that the cancer wouldn’t come back in an area that’s been treated with surgery and radiation. Knowing we were wrong makes my heart break. It makes me fearful and discouraged. Will anything keep this cancer away?

The other two are on the left side of the back of my head, right where a headband would sit. They are two peas in a pod, snuggled right next to each other, again, a tumor placement that we haven’t seen before.

So what now you ask? Well I head back to Seattle to start the clinical trial again, this time we have TCells frozen and ready to inject. The prayer is that the TCells will be the game changer, or a miracle really. Only time will tell, but please, PLEASE, pray, pray, pray. I need it desperately. I also have to fly to Seattle quite often for the next couple of months so if you can help in any way there, I would be extremely grateful! Thank you again to all who read this blog, I am humbled by the way God has used this in your lives and in my own life, love ya!

Skater Girl Problems.

I listened to a really good talk by this woman, I wish I could remember her name to give her credit but…oops. Anyway she talked about this concept that purpose drives contentment. She starts out by talking about Pinterest, which automatically grabs my attention because I LOVE Pinterest. She talks about the joy in creating different boards and planning out your dream life. I could totally relate! I planned my entire wedding on Pinterest. I scrolled through photos of the perfect brides in the perfect dress at that perfect angle. I pinned snapshots of those little details, like delicate lettering, or cute little succulents. I pinned photos of the groomsmen with their beaming white smiles and chiseled jaws. After hours of dreaming and scheming I left with a whole new set of expectations for my wedding. After the speaker leads you through her Pinterest boards and dreams she then mentions that she becomes very discontent with her life after spending hours on Pinterest. As much as I wanted to say, “Well that’s her problem.” I found myself relating to that as well.

Discontentment. I feel like that is too familiar to me. I spend a lot of my time being discontent. I can trace this back to being a little 5th grader. I was constantly discontent. My best friend Kayla had everything I wanted at the time. She got the name brand pink VANS while I got the off brand brown suede ones, she got Toaster Strudels for breakfast while I got Honey O’s (not even Cheerios), I was constantly comparing my life to hers. Fast forward to last week. I was discontent with not having a job while everyone around me went to work, I was discontent with how surgery has left me scarred while I see so many beautiful people in the media, I was discontent with our little rental when I see the stunning houses that my friends and family own, and on and on and on it goes. It’s a sneaky one, I often don’t catch my discontentment in the moment, it’s usually in hindsight. But after that woman mentioned that PURPOSE drives CONTENTMENT, I started to wonder, what’s my issue?

My issue, I’ve found, is that I don’t have a firm, unchanging purpose. Does that make sense? Let me show you. Taking it back to my 5th grade years of jealousy, my purpose was found in being a “skater girl”. I mean really, I wanted to have the skater girl image, I wanted that identity, so my number one purpose and priority was my style. And because of that I was constantly discontent. As long as someone else was being a better skater girl than I was, my purpose was unfulfilled. Now take it back to last week. I was seriously struggling with finding my purpose because I don’t have a job. So, in that moment I was discontent because everyone around me was working and therefore I wasn’t finding my purpose because I didn’t have a job. I find that it’s the hardest for me right after I fight another round of Merkel. I mean for months at a time my purpose is clear: FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE. And I do, and I pour everything into radiation and surgery and healing, etc. But then it all ends and they just drop me off at home and I find myself feeling incredibly lost. I start searching for some kind of purpose and I am often left feeling very empty. Are you tracking with me now?

So there is a simple solution here, I’ve know it all my life yet it is a CONSTANT struggle for me! The ONLY unchanging, constant, firm purpose is to live for Christ. I mean really, that’s the only thing in this world that won’t change. No matter what happens to you, no matter what you look like, no matter what brand of shoes you wear or what you eat for breakfast or what job you work, if you find your purpose in living for God you will always be content. Man! As a person who finds herself longing for the Pinterest dream, or crying over not having the life I want, I find this solution to be radical. I want to be content, I want to have peace with my life and with who I am and what God has for me. It’s not easy! But I have to dwell on this, “That we are not our own, but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.” Our purpose must be to live for Him, because we belong to Him!

Anyway just a thought for today. I head to Seattle on Easter (sad about that) and I have my CT scan to see how I’m doing. Thank you for your continual prayer and encouragement!

 

Crying Over Burnt Chicken.

I bawled my eyes out yesterday, I’m talking guttural cry, swollen eyes, deep gasps type of cry. What was I crying about? Burnt Chicken.

I read this cooking blog that said you aren’t a real housewife until you know how to cook a whole chicken. So I went out and bought my first whole chicken, I found the perfect Pinterest recipe, I spent a half hour cleaning it, making the perfect potion of seasonings, and covering every inch with oil and spices to create the perfect baked chicken. I set the oven to 425 like the recipe said, and I waited patiently for an hour as the bird baked. Every 20 minutes I even burned the hairs off my arm trying to cover my masterpiece in the boiling juices. At the chime of the timer I excitedly pulled the chicken out and compared it to the golden bird in the Pinterest photo. Only, mine was 2 or 3 shades darker than the golden perfection photographed. I stared at (what I thought was) the burnt chicken. In my mind the blog statement, “You aren’t a real housewife until you can cook a whole chicken” haunted me. So I set the bird on the table and collapsed on the couch crying.

Now we all know that the burnt chicken wasn’t the real issue, it was simply the “straw that broke the camels back.” What’s really been going on then?

Let’s backtrack a couple of weeks. As you know I’m recovering from surgery, that’s a battle in itself. But I also have been having issues with my shoulder and back. At first I was told that 5 of my ribs were out and I have bursitis in my shoulder, then it changed to my dorsal scapulas nerve was damaged, and now they are unsure whether a nerve is damaged, or severed beyond repair. The result of all this being that my scapula has slid out of place and my muscles won’t hold it up. I have a lot of pain in that area, I can’t move my arm in certain ways, I get tired early and can’t do things at the pace I’m used to, and we are again venturing into the unknown so I don’t even know if there is anything I can do about it.

I’ve done my best to stay positive about the whole situation. I have spent a lot of time praying and asking God for strength, and I really thought I was doing well. Until the chicken.

Adam came home to a bawling mess of a wife, a dark chicken in the kitchen and a bag of brussel sprouts cut in half and then given up on. As he held me while I cried he asked me what was wrong. Initially I said through tearful sighs, “I spent so much time on that dumb chicken and now it’s burnt! And the blog said that a true housewife can cook a chicken!” As the words escaped my mouth I realized that it was much more than the chicken. Earlier in the day there was a woman who told me that MLM companies don’t make you money and are pretty much useless. Earlier than that I was told that there may not be anything I can do about my scapula and all I can do at this point to save my posture is wear a brace. Earlier than that I did 6 weeks of radiation and it didn’t work. Earlier than that I did 2 months of a Clinical Trial and it didn’t work. Earlier than that I had a surgery and it didn’t work. Earlier than that I did 6 weeks of Proton Therapy and it didn’t work, and the list goes on. My tears were a result of a whole 2 years of, “It didn’t work.”

Now this is the part where my husband is a God given miracle to me.

“Why did you start LipSense?” “For fun.” “Oh not to make tons of money?” “No.”

“Do they know for sure that your scapula can’t be fixed?” “No.” “Are you doing everything possible?” “Yes.”

“If surgery and radiation and all those things didn’t work, would you still be alive?” “No”

Then he walks into the kitchen and cuts off a piece of chicken. The inside was juicy and tender and perfectly cooked. As it entered his mouth he told me that it was the best chicken he has ever tasted, and it was.

The moral of the story? I’m still trying to learn. I guess one take away would be that things aren’t always as they seem. The burnt chicken was a reminder to me that I see only a very small perspective in my fragile human mind.  What I see as a disaster may very well be the most beautiful thing ever created. The last two years look like a burnt chicken to me, but God knows that on the inside is a beautiful, juicy, perfectly cooked plan.

The Lie of UGLY.

I’ve only had a guttural cry 3 times since surgery. Let me rewind though.

Surgery went well, the surgeon told me that they cut out all the cancer they could see, and, “There was a lot of it all clumped up in there.” It took closer to 7 hours, so my prediction was close! I got a private room which was one of the biggest blessings ever, and I spent 3 nights in the hospital. Monday morning they yanked the tube out of the front of my neck, which was such a disturbing feeling, and then sent me home. Adam wheeled me out to the soccer Mom van and I honked out on the bed they made for me in the back. The drive home was terrible, it took a long time and there was bad weather. My poor family, they had to endure it while I dozed off in a drugged up stupor! I’ve been staying at my parents house for the last two weeks since Adam has work all day and we have no wifi at home! It’s been good for me, my Mom has taken good care of me and she makes sure that I’m staying healthy like usual!

The wounds. Let’s address the gnarly. I have a nice cut from the bottom of my ear going down my neck to meet the old scar from the last dissection in the middle, like a scar necklace. I have a medium incision under my chin, a hole above my collar bone from the drain, 4 incisions on the inside of my thighs,  3 incisions in my stomach, and 5 stitches on my right cheek. So, needless to say it’s been a slow recovery! I got my stitches out a week after surgery, I lost count but every single mark had stitches so it was a process. It always feels better though, like a freedom of sorts. It’s been painful, I’ve had swelling everywhere and bruising and it hurts to move my neck, it especially hurts to sleep so I haven’t got much. Today it feels a little better, the swelling has gone down a bit, but I’m still in pain, which annoys me! Two weeks later I want to be back to real life. It’s effected my back a lot, I can feel the tension, and my shoulder is very weak. So weak that I can’t lift or move it as much, so that’s hard to overcome! But the pain will lessen, healing will come, and I will be able to function and persevere.

My soul. I did really well in the hospital and the first week home. The drugs can take some credit but not much for my soul. It seems to always be somewhat easy the first week, I can’t pinpoint why, maybe it’s just that you don’t have the energy to think, let alone cry!

Cry #1 So this week was my week. Adam was over at the house and I was brushing my teeth. I had just washed my face and he was looking at me in the mirror, I looked in the mirror too and hated what I saw. I hated even more that my husband was gazing at the same image. Ugh i’m crying right now as I type. I looked in the mirror and saw a swollen, chubby chin and cheek which made the other side of my face look even smaller and unproportional, I saw scars and red and yellow and blue discoloration on my neck, I saw my lip as it droops on one side, making brushing difficult, I didn’t see myself. And I for sure didn’t want anyone else to see. So I cried. I cried and Adam held me and told me that I was beautiful and that he loved me, how is he real life?

Cry #2. I got some kind of sickness mid-week. I felt achey, I had the chills, I had no appetite, ya know that bug. On TOP of everything else. So it was night time and Adam was about to go home, as I was saying goodbye I just burst into tears, again he held me. In between the guttural gasps and cries,  catching my breath and trying to calm down, I told him that I was tired of being sick. I was tired of not feeling normal. I was tired of hurting and dealing with the side effects. I told him that I was discouraged, that I felt like I was back at square one. I told him I felt defeated knowing I can never take these things back. That I will deal with this for the rest of my life. I felt weary, alone, frustrated, sick, hurting, and ugly.

Cry #3. I started a new “business”. I won’t say the name on here because I don’t want to use my cancer for advertisement. If you’re curious you can ask me. Anyway so I went to film a video of myself and as I watched I started bawling. Seeing myself on video, seeing myself the way others see me, it made me feel ugly, and it made me feel discouraged. I don’t know why you look so good in the mirror, but the moment you change to the camera, you see yourself through different eyes. I almost didn’t post the video, how could I when I look so bad? I told myself that no one would support me when I look like this. But I did. I posted it. I posted it because I will not let the devil rule me with lies, I posted it because I want to challenge the worlds standard of beauty, I posted it because the way I look now is the look of a warrior fighting for her life, and I posted it because God loves me and although I don’t always believe it, that’s the most important love there is.

With God’s help, I WILL get through this one.

Deliverance.

3 days. 3 days until life as I know it changes again. A neck dissection is my next venture. My first surgery was a radical neck dissection and this one will be similar. The goal is to leave everything be except the tumors, but since I had radiation first it’s hard to know how ugly things will be on the inside. Last time they removed everything, muscle and glands, everything…I mean everything but the very vital things to make my neck function. So a neck dissection is no walk in the park.

I wrote in my last blog about how this was all kind of sudden, like I didn’t have a lot of time to wrap my mind around it all. Then the Lord did something truly amazing.

On Sunday my church had a prayer night where they dedicated a portion of the hour to pray for me. I must admit, initially I was uncomfortable at the thought of all that attention, which sounds kind of dumb as a write it considering it’s prayer! Anyway I need to start from the beginning of my Sunday. The day started out with my Dad preaching as a guest at the First Church of God. He preached on suffering, a subject we are all quite familiar with by now. So I won’t explain the whole sermon, but if you are able to you should hear it! One thing really stuck out to me, “God will deliver you from your suffering.” If you are a believer in Christ then you WILL be delivered. Now for me that can mean deliverance here on Earth through the miracle of being healed, or that can mean deliverance through death and my suffering ending because I’m in heaven. Either wayI will be delivered from my suffering. This brought a lot of comfort to me, there is already victory, what feels like a lose lose situation has in fact already been defeated by Jesus. I WILL BE DELIVERED. There will be an end to this suffering, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. What peace and hope this idea can bring! The church service ended with the congregation praying for me.

Then came the prayer hour. Side note on prayer. I know there are thousands of people praying for me. I read the comments, get the messages, see the texts, you guys are everywhere, praying! It’s just so different for me to have a visual, to be there while people pray, it’s surreal almost. Anyway, it was an amazing night, it was emotional for sure, but watching everyone around me, though they were crying and begging God to heal me, it wasn’t a depressing sight, it was a sight of worship. Of glorifying God, we were all speaking to Him together. I heard this song lyric,

“Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good
You turn it for our good and for Your glory
Even in the valley, You are faithful
You’re working for our good
You’re working for our good and for Your glory”

and I couldn’t help but feel in that moment, that those words were true. Cancer, sickness, and suffering, God has turned it for my good and His glory. It’s undeniable. It was undeniable as I looked at my brothers and sisters praying, crying out to Him in faith. Proclaiming His name. I even found out later that there was a church in China with 13,000, yes that is the correct number, 13,000 people, who were praying for me at the same time.

So, this surgery may work, it may not. I may be healed from cancer on this Earth, I may not. And if not, He is still good, because I WILL be delivered either way.

 

 

 

Surgery… I Hate that Word.

I haven’t cried that much in the last week, I’ve wanted too. Oh yeah I’ve wanted to just let all the emotion out, but it hurts right now. Like physically. Why you ask? Because two days after my CT scan last week I woke up to this throbbing pain in my neck. The tumor under my jaw, not the golf ball to grape tumor, but the other one, was about twice as big as it had been the previous day. It blew up like a balloon. Swollen and firm, painful, and large this tumor decided to make it’s appearance. I mean this sucker even robbed me of my sleep! Every time I’d roll over on my right side I’d wake up.

Fast forward to this Tuesday in Seattle. I had a follow-up with Dr. Nghiem and I showed him my new balloon tumor. He always almost laughs when I come in because there’s always something new, something he’s never seen, something he doesn’t understand, he’s always baffled. I’ll spare you the medical details and the ins and outs of that appointment and skip to the important part, I have to get surgery.

Surgery, again. As I write this I get this chest flutter, like that feeling you get right before you cry. Kind of a flutter in your stomach and chest and then that tingling in your eyes and nose. But then you try to keep the floodgates shut so you almost get a stomach ache, you know that feeling? If it didn’t hurt I’d be bawling all over my keyboard as I tell you that I have to have surgery. When they told me that it didn’t really hit home. I mean I figured it would be in a few weeks, until yesterday I got a call which confirmed my surgery for next friday.

Next friday, a week, I have a week to prepare to get cut open again. Awe man, here they come, the tears, I can’t help it. Ow.

I’m not afraid of the pain to come, I’m afraid of what I’m going to lose this time. The other half of my smile? My spit? My neck mobility? My taste? What scars will there be? How will I look different? There are so many what ifs in surgery. And it never goes exactly as planned. Like the first surgery being 11 hours not 4, or the second surgery resulting in dead tissue and a gaping hole in my face, what will it be this time?

I’m afraid, I’m frustrated, I’m tired, I need your prayers.

February 24th I will have surgery in Seattle. February 24th I will wake up in a hazy anesthesia fog again and gaze into the mirror seeing someone I don’t recognize.