Wednesday, August 01, 2012

one Year Out.

Looking in the mirror I almost look like nothing every happened. I revisited my friend, Kathy's, account of that Thursday morning seems almost ancient to me.

We've all heard the pep-tales of mighty over comers....called 'survivors' in the cancer tribe. I'm all for surviving, but it is clear to me I am here one year out from a catastrophic diagnosis not because of positive thought practice as my thoughts rarely run that stream. I am a few days out from another seizure and as I sit here in the pit of my stomach I am anxious at the prospect of another. I am tuned into every weird sensation in my head and limbs, each little vision tick and I will be for several days until each stacks up some normalcy.

I've been given many books and advice from those survivors and those who walked in the mud along side them, but often I wonder when I see no glimmer of bone and marrow, of "humanness" regarding such a horror as cancer. Often there is a shallowness in their words I cannot get a grip on. I just wonder how honest some of my surviving friends are being.

One book given to me written by an artist with cancer held up her own greatness (disguised as a sacrificial work ethic and super humanity) by writing pages of details of her chemo misery only to showcase her marathon of painting commissions despite the sickness. Or covering up disappointment and anger with humor. Nothing wrong with humor, but twenty pages in, I threw the book in the toilet. Honesty IS such a lonely word..... We are all broken, we all struggle. This is the world we live in. 

I live because the Lord gives me life and when I am afraid I remember one sleepless night last summer.

"Lord, this cancer could kill me. I could die from this and soon."

Jesus said clearly, "No one, nothing takes your life. You belong to me. Nothing touches a hair on your head unless I give permission. and in it, you will find Me your ever present Help and  I will teach you to surrender."

This is why I am alive. Because the Lord said 'live." It's the only reason you are, too.

I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages. :Spurgeon

                                                   With Dad and Mom the day before surgery.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Free Lance Star story.

The newspaper did a story on on our journey last week.When you go to the story at the website link, under the photograph of Tracey's incision click on "View More Images from this story" for all 5 images.

 Artist's cancer journey is spiritual journey, too.


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dégradés de gris

(I wrote this post about a week ago and then sat on it for quite awhile. I was uncertain about being so open, BUT I decided from the beginning of this journey to be as transparent as and honest as I can.)

I almost don't have to write anything. The photo above that Craig took of me on the train speaks a million words about the road I am on. Imagery is so very powerful to me and I am shocked by the volume of the image.

These days seem to go by quickly, and we are very thankful for an MRI showing no tumor activity after two seizures. But I am beginning to search for  a  "normal." Every  weighty thought rises to the surface each fighting to be first in line as my eyes open. And then inevitably close. I can go back to sleep and they disappear for awhile with no power to get me under the covers. With no power to tempt me to pull at the thread they dangle before me.

I am now more easily overwhelmed, and struggle in a different way than in the crisis season of my diagnosis. It is difficult to tell which meds are causing which side effects. The most looming by far is depression. I feel like I should be better. Back in Black, so to speak. But in honesty I have little motivation for much of anything. Least of all painting. I am not sure why. I really am living one day at a time. This is my daily cry as the marathon continues.

 "As the deer pants for the water brooks,
         So my soul pants for You, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
         When shall I come and appear before God?

My tears have been my food day and night,
they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me.
         For I used to go along with the throng
and lead them in procession to the house of God,
         With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
why have you become disturbed within me?
         Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him       

 For the help of His presence.

O my God, my soul is in despair within me;
         Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan
         And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls;
         All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.

The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
         And His song will be with me in the night,
         A prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me?
         Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me,
         While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

 Why are you in despair, O my soul?
         And why have you become disturbed within me?
         Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
         The help of my countenance and my God."

Psalm 42

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Normal.

There are actually some hours these days when I forget that I have stage 4 brain cancer. I am beginning to look like myself again. There was a time I didn't recognize me. My hair is all back and I have lost the "steroid ten." Very shortly it will be the one year out from a hot July day that changed our lives. I will say "had" cancer though there is no cure. But I have a Healer in Jesus and one way or the other I will be healed. I am finding the fear less present as I release my grip on what I falsely think is mine.

I am seeking to conquer my anxiety around IV Avastin with gratitude, and a sense of humor. I have a strict rule forbidding my mind to swim around in it's murky and treacherous side effect waters. Though each time I wonder if we'll get a good vein, I accept it. My veins are deteriorating but I still am not ready for a port. We have twenty four treatments total at least. I am on nine this Friday, so the port option is in arms reach if so needed.

Depression , my old friend, has crept up slowly over the last few months. I find it hard to get out of bed in the mornings. I do have to feed and take out Big Puppy (Reuben's rap name) and often find myself crawling back to bed after making myself eat a bowl of cereal. I come from a family of doers, so at times I can feel rather useless and full of regret when the Lord finally gets me up at 10 or 11 in the morning. This is a matter of changing how I think and remembering I am not what I do or what I do not do. This is also a releasing and confessing that I often get my contentment out of how much I accomplished rather than from my relationship with God. You can imagine after eight months of battling brain cancer the accomplishment idol has created a lot of guilt and restlessness in me. I have to work hard at letting my eyes linger on the cross of Christ and allow Him to tell me who I am.

I started painting again, having sold everything. I am thankful, yet struggling in some ways that all the work that comprised the first of the New Mythology series are gone. Each of them is deeply embedded in my psyche....... those characters are still alive and eager to be made anew....
I began a series of portraits from the New Mythology War of Birds. Now if I can just wrestle through and get to the easel.

Please ray with me and Craig for the work He has placed before us. For my struggle with depression and Avastin and for complete healing. But above all pray that Christ would be glorified through all these and through us.

The May Schedule:

Official post-Gamma Knife MRI is May 3rd

Avastin May 4th

D.C. Race for Hope May 6th (you can still join our team...:)

Back to Duke on May 8th

We meet with my surgeon,
Dr Poffenbarger May 11th.

Avastin May 18

"He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven."

Colossians 1

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Sunny Clearing

We are eight months into this journey of bitter sweetness. At times, it seems like we have been moving down this varied terrain for much longer. From the mysterious deep and treacherous wilderness, into the valley of the shadow of death and on through the exhausting dry and windswept desert.

Our MRI results from last week shows a beautiful picture of “nothing new” and a slow choking out of the small recurrence after Gamma Knife. A great sigh of relief sent us rolling up I-85 towards home on a sunny “Tuesday Afternoon.” Looking out the window I thought of the song. Somehow the words and multi-colored melody exemplified how I was feeling……

“Tuesday afternoon,
I'm just beginning to see, now I'm on my way
It doesn't matter to me, chasing the clouds away.
Something, calls to me,
The trees are drawing me near, I've got to find out why?
Those gentle voices I hear, explain it all with a sigh.
I'm looking at myself reflections of my mind,
It's just the kind of day to leave myself behind…

Passing by at 60 mph I I see the sun reflecting in an explosion of a million shades and hues of wood and leaves….of shade and light. Like sentinels they pass by in a steady stream creating in me a sense of expectation and mysterious longing I cannot quite scratch the surface of. Then…..every random once in a while the woods thins out revealing an open field drenched in sunshine. At this time, we have now come out into the bright clearing. For a time. No one stays in the open bright clearing on this terra firma. But for now, the Lord has brought us here, where He sees fit by His wisdom. We are grateful to rest for the time allotted here. Though we have fought at times to be grateful and fearless in the wilderness and in the lonely desert I am confident that He is at work His incomparable glory and for our the good and the good of those who walk with us.

“The LORD is righteous in all His ways
And kind in all His deeds.
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.
The LORD keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever…”

Psalm 145

Monday, March 05, 2012

God's Country

We are at six weeks out from Gamma Knife (or "Cyber Knife".....that sounds cooler.) and I have an MRI this Thursday the 8th at Mary Washington. I have had a few friends also battling GBM who haven't had great news recently, so I am eager to take a look inside. I continue every other Friday IV Avastin and daily Temodar until it no longer works or we reach the 18 month mark in the clear. We then enter into "no man's land" or a sort of uncharted territory for GBM. Either way, it's God's country.

So a little blue today and a bit nervous about the next week. I find myself wanting to hide beneath the covers and take my mind off of it all by sleeping. I tend to be a deep thinker and an over thinker. And, well, there are some serious possibilities. Yet the bottom line is it is out of my control and completely in the Lord's hands. May He do what is best according to His perfect will and for His own glory. I am battling to live there today or at least visit and am relieved to know that when I become overwhelmed and crawl into bed, He is there.

So pray with us for a clean scan and for God's leading as we walk this thing out with Him and all of you.

Also pray for my fellow comrade in the fight, Rachel. She has had a rough few weeks. First a grand mal seizure and a discouraging MRI. She is currently undergoing a brutal confrontation with chemo.

"Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications...."

Psalm 140

"Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

“Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; Those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish.

“You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, Those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent.

“For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’

Isaiah 41

Friday, March 02, 2012

Race for Hope 5K

Craig and I along with friends are running the Race for Hope 5K in May here in D.C. If you'd like to donate or run/walk with our team, go to my page here.