Thursday, September 29, 2011

Days Twenty Five and Twenty Six.

I feel like we are rolling along now in a daily routine. Mostly I am in and out of the treatment area within fifteen minutes. We are slowly narrowing in on the middle of the tumor cavity. Four more to go.

I focus on praising the Lord while I am on the machine, now.

"Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

The LORD performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness.

He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who [f]fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.

The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.
Bless the LORD, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
Bless the LORD, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the LORD, O my soul!"

Psalm 103

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day 24

Counting down the days. I finish radiation on October 5th. Even the technicians are excited for me and they are so great to work with. I am now eight weeks post craniotomy.

I have been able to begin slowly to work out again. I have always recorded my workouts in a log book so I can see my progress. Today, I pulled out my log and saw that the last workouts I did were July 18th and 19th, just two days before I went to the ER with focal seizures. On the 18th I did an entire upper body weight training circuit, on the 19th the work out was a high intensity plyometic sequence with a step aerobic routine on a 10 inch step. Today, I logged "Basic Step - 25 minutes - 4 inch step." Seeing those two entries was powerful for me. I feel really overwhelmed with gratitude to the Lord to have the strength to finish that 25 minutes.

Reuben had what looked like a seizure out in the yard yesterday. He will be making a visit to the vet this week. Pray for my sweet boy. He has been very out of sorts all along this last nine weeks and anxious about me.

"To those who reside as aliens....and who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls." 1Peter 1:1 - 9

Monday, September 26, 2011

Days Twenty Two and Twenty Three.

Now that I am getting so close to the end of radiation, my focus is knocking them out. I had two very quick, uneventful treatments. I am so thankful that I have had comparatively few side effects toward the end of this stretch. These two treatments I was in and out in fifteen minutes. I like that.

"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. " Philippians 3:7 - 11

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Day Twenty One

I have now an armful of beautiful hats and scarves from all over. My hair loss increases and who knows if and how it will grow back. As I have said, it is a minor in the grand scheme of contending with my foe.

The best news I received today is that we begin tapering Decadron today. I have talked repeatedly about how this medication has by far been the most difficult to cope with. Grateful. So grateful.

I received an email from a twenty four year old woman who was just diagnosed with GBM, Twenty Four. She is about to make the journey.Please pray for Breland. She begins her radiation and chemo in a week or so.

Cheryl Broyles, a remarkable woman and GBM survivor whose tumor has returned four times has been a great encouragement to me.

There are those who are just receiving the news and those seasoned who have walked before. There are many others. The Lord has put us together.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? "
Matthew 16:24-26

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day Twenty

That's all I have to say about that. Grateful to the Lord.....having a good day.

Isaiah 41: 10 - 13

"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."
(The Lord told me to think about the brain cancer cells when I read this part.)

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

My Story

Monday, September 19, 2011

Day Eighteen

How can one tiny green pill cause so much aggravation? Leg weakness, swollen joints and cramps, insomnia, extreme hunger and thirst. Then there are Digestive problems along with mental and emotional instability. Let's just say the one 4mg decadron tablet I ingest twice a day has by far been the most challenging of any treatment I have had thus far. I have been on some form of it since July 21st whether by I.V. or pill.

When I allow myself to focus on the side effects of the steroid and radiation and dwell on my physical pain, I find my life narrows even more and my thoughts become out of control. I cocoon into a self gaze. I did that yesterday. And the Lord in His mercy spoke to me.

In the wilderness he was starving, thirsty and mentally exhausted. In the garden he was emotionally spent and left alone by his closest companions who were too weak to watch and pray with him. He was arrested, beaten, had his hair and beard pulled out. Then there is the cross.

Who else would know more about physical pain than Jesus himself? I began meditating on the well documented account of the crucifixion from a medical perspective. Here a trauma surgeon talks about what Jesus endured.

I know that He knows. He is intimately, mercifully aware of what is going on in my body. There is no thing that He has not endured before me or that He is not willing to walk through with me.

"Nothing happens to us but what the Son of God has Himself experienced in order that He might sympathize with us."- John Calvin

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day Seventeen

I was so grateful my mom was able to come spend a few days with me. I mom raised me and my sister alone, and though at times our lives were difficult, she did everything is her power to provide for us and make certain her daughters were safe and loved.

God gives me a passage of scripture for either the night before or morning of radiation days. I take the index card with me to meditate on while I am in the waiting room or on the machine. Psalm 34 came to me in the night.

Honestly, I felt fearful yesterday. I saw more hair falling into the sink and heard a story of a boy who has battled brain cancer since four and now at nine has a fourth inoperable return with increasing deficits. He will not live. My practice of surrendering daily to Christ seemed to elude me until I truly savored the words. His instructions and promises moved me to that place again of unclenching little trinkets of doubt that though may be in the future, I am powerless to control. Because I KNOW Him, and I believe He is who He says He is, He can do what He says He can do I can let Him take it. I have seen Him move in my life far too many times now to go try to BE Him.

Psalm 34

''I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.

O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.

They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.

This poor woman cried, and the LORD heard him
And saved her out of all her troubles.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

O taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!

O fear the LORD, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.

The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.

Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

Who is the woman who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?

Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.

Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.

The face of the LORD is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.

The righteous cry, and the LORD hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.

He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.

Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.

The LORD redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day Fifteen

Breakfast with Nina before radiation this morning.

Today, I have reached the halfway mark in my treatment. So tired, losing more I can see the finish line.

Romans 8:31-39
"What then shall we say to these things? If God is
for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,


But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day Fourteen

I slept a lot today. Felt a bit alone and tired. I just noticed today my hair is now coming out at the radiation site.

our friends, Phil and Elisa

Despite being surrounded by many people that love and support me, visit me daily....weekly, and have made sacrifice of their own lives to focus on me, I have felt a sense of walking it out on my own. I think it's a normal feeling to have during this sort of thing. Many of you know it. No one else can do the thing but me. I have to do the treatment, take the all the medication and deal with the unknown.

our friends Mike and Kathy

But I am hopeful because tomorrow is the half way mark. Each day is one day closer to the end of radiation. And I am not alone.

Psalm 23

"The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day Thirteen

On the canal path with Reuben this morning.

Mornings are usually the best for me. My goal is to get a good walk in before I have to take medication and head off to radiation.

Today was the first day I noticed a significant rise in fatigue after treatment. Typically, after the first few weeks fatigue increases and as I am moving into two weeks, this isn't a surprise. Monica, the radiation tech has been asking me about it for the last four treatments in a sort of knowing way perhaps trying to prepare me. I am praying that it won't be too debilitating. Dr. Poffenbarger referred to the middle weeks as "Gut check time." Gut check showed up in the form of frustration trying to get up the stairs to shower about ten p.m. as I felt a meltdown descend. I have learned to trun right to the Lord.

This I know that the loving kindness of the Lord is everlasting. Every moment of every day this is reality. It is my experience. The weaker I am, the more He shows up. And in that dissolving I cry out, and there He is.

Psalm 118

"Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His loving kindness is everlasting.
Oh let Israel say, “His loving kindness is everlasting.”
Oh let the house of Aaron say, “His loving kindness is everlasting.”
Oh let those who fear the LORD say, “His loving kindness is everlasting.”

From my distress I called upon the LORD; The LORD answered me and set me in a large place.
The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?
The LORD is for me among those who help me; Therefore I will look with satisfaction on those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in princes. The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.

The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous;
The right hand of the LORD does valiantly. The right hand of the LORD is exalted;
The right hand of the LORD does valiantly. I will not die, but live,
And tell of the works of the LORD. The LORD has disciplined me severely,
But He has not given me over to death.

Open to me the gates of righteousness; I shall enter through them, I shall give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; The righteous will enter through it.
I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me, And You have become my salvation.

The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.
This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD, do save, we beseech You;
O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD;

We have blessed you from the house of the LORD. The LORD is God, and He has given us light;
Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I give thanks to You; You are my God, I extol You.
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His loving kindness is everlasting."

flowers along the canal path

Letters From 9-11

Here is a series of four letters about 9-11 thoughtfully written by Glenn Lucke on the Resurgence site. They are written by date.
"In the days immediately after 9/11, a friend in her mid-thirties wrote me an email wrestling with the question of how could God allow such evil. Elizabeth had worked for many years in the financial district of New York City...thus, the senseless loss of life of friends and acquaintances was fresh, raw and scarcely comprehensible to her."

Friday, September 09, 2011

Day Twelve

It was a pretty quick radiation day and then on to have blood work and see Dr, Menachery. He takes care of looking after my blood and medications. He is awesome.

I have to admit I walked out of the meeting a bit blue. After hashing through what the next year or years could look like, I felt a bit overwhelmed. At some point, we move into the unknown with glioblastoma multiforme. There is no cure. It hit me hard and clear that this is a something I will have to contend with for the rest of my life, whatever days the Lord gives and according to what He ordains.

So after a frank talk with Dr. Menachery, here is our road. I continue through early October with radiation and chemotherapy and then will visit Duke Brain tumor Center for assessment and eligibility for clinical trials and other treatments. Craig has been orchestrating this meeting for weeks now. In November I begin high dose chemo five days out of each month indefinitely. Then in early December I have a follow up MRI with profusion and see Dr. Poffenbarger, our surgeon, for results. We believe in Christ that MRI will be clean and that I am healed. If Dr P. sees something, I may have another surgery card in my back pocket. I will then go on to regular scheduled MRIs and on into the "unknown" as they call it, for the rest of my life.

Here is Dr Henry Friedman at the Duke Brain Tumor Center talking about GBM MF.
We are greatly encouraged by him and his mission.

God sits in the heavens and does as He please according to His perfect will, not ours. We fully trust Him and understand that this entire event is about more than brain cancer. It is about Him making Himself known and that many would know Him. The supernatural power and presence I feel in my own body daily and His constant whisper to me despite my weakness can never convince me of any other truth. You my dear, friends, come from many perspectives and spiritual points of view. My deeply humble prayer for you all would be for you to seek Him out, to ask and knock. To seriously and humbly look hard at the person of Jesus without bias. To be honest, to seek the truth. God has provided all you need, every resource to know that truth if you will but ask. I know a lot of you have church baggage, a lot of religious baggage. Knowing Christ through the gospel has nothing, nothing to do with that. And to withhold yourself because of the ignorance and sin of other people whatever your experience may have been, is to do a foolish thing. Reacting to your experiences rather than engaging from a place of wisdom will hurt you over the course of your life. We have all seen it in ourselves.

You can go back to this post to read the story of my own conversion. And as always I am willing to talk and listen to anyone who has questions or thoughts. I have had great dialogue with some of you and love your honesty and transparency.

Psalm 16
Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in You.
I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord I have no good besides You.”
As for the saints who are in the earth, They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.
he sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;
I shall not pour out their drink offerings of blood, Nor will I take their names upon my lips.
The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
I will bless the LORD who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
I have set the LORD continually before me Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely.
For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Day Eleven

Radiation. 11 behind me, 19 ahead of me.

Despite the rain, I was so happy to take a thirty minute walk today with Reuben.

"Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."

2 Corinthians 3:12-18

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Day Ten

Radiation. I am a third of the way there.

I had a dark moment this afternoon. One of the biggest challenges I have had is insomnia brought on by taking decradron, the steroid medication I take to decrease swelling. At this point I am able to get multiple short 20 to 40 minute naps from ten p.m. or so until about three or four a.m. and then I am wide awake. I try to to take these short naps during the day, but often they fail and what feels like an hour or two nap was really about fifteen or twenty minutes. Time seems to freeze. Although I know this is temporary, it can become overwhelming. It is such a weird experience. We all know what sort of crazy lack of sleep can bring on. I have been sleeping on the couch for weeks because I am up so much and do not want to disturb Craig. At the end of the day, it IS temporary. I know it is coming to an end, so my mission is to manage it one hour at a time and ride the wave. I have to remind myself again that there is a benefit to this drug as well as to the Keppra and Temodar. As my doctor said there is a well laid and known path in treating this cancer and it includes these three.

Today, I have been meditating on people who might have the same brain cancer living in parts of the world with have no access to these drugs, no way of getting medical care and maybe living without even knowing what is causing their pain. They will die. They have to live with the effects of their disease daily without relief. It pains my deeply to think on it, but it is a good thing to do when I get squirrely about being unable to sleep or think about the next step of chemo treatment in the months to come. It creates gratitude to the Lord and challenges me in the future mission He may be calling me to out of this whole amazing journey.

I have experienced this power perfected in weakness in the most profound way over the last weeks.
It is runs completely against the grain of our human nature. We don't like it. But for me, that Jesus may be ultimate and all in all, I am glad for where I live today wide awake on the couch at four a.m.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Day Nine

Radiation was pretty uneventful today. I am happy to have had a few days break and no post headache today.

Craig took this photo this morning. I won't go into the multiple side effects of Decadron, but those of us who have to take it for an extended period get what is called"moon face" (I prefer "moonpie face" 'cos it's funny...) When I look in the mirror, I look like a stranger. It's a funny thing to have been so active, fit and capable and be brought to a place that I barely climb the stairs or lift anything. As a weight trainer and runner, watching this dramatic change, a narrowing some of the passions of my life, has been both a sorrow and a grace.

Through brain cancer, I see is how the Lord has taken away so that I can truly see what is eternal and what truly has value. I have opportunity to examine myself. There are many things that are good, like exercise and taking care of the body, but they are not always the BEST thing. The good things we do often keep us from focusing on the best or wisest thing for us. Often times they even become obsessions that take over our lives, exhibit a narcissistic preoccupation with ourselves and need to control. Of course, this sort of thing can manifest in all kinds of behaviors. Name it. We all do it.

The physical body is perishing. Make no mistake. Take care of it, exercise, eat well and do all you can. But we are all terminal. This is a reality to me now that has come into my life in just the last six weeks. I am grateful for the gift of this narrowing life this whittling down so that I can see.

"Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen ; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." 2 Cor 4:16-18

My Amazing Community of Sacrifice and Service

Recently, I was approached local artist friends offered to put together a benefit to help Craig and I with medical expenses accruing from my recent diagnosis. I am overwhelmed, humbled by and grateful for the generosity of artists and volunteers who have committed to be a part of this act of service and sacrifice. The event will be on November 5th from 4 to 6 p.m. here in my town of Fredericksburg at my church, New City Fellowship. I am speechless, to be honest.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Day Eight

So many of you have asked about radiation so I taped treatment on day eight so you can see what happens. Two blasts to the tumor cavity and I am done for the day. You can see the video here.

The long weekend has been good. Trying to catch up on sleep, get some exercise and connect with my husband.

On the Canal Path with Reuben.
Psalm 73:26 "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever"

Friday, September 02, 2011

Day Seven

The Machine.

Today was a hard day of battling headache and fatigue. I never could quite get any naps in.

Lamentations 3:22-25

"The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him."