Thursday, December 30, 2010


Whew! Another year in the history books. There have been political scandals, natural disasters, elections, etc. My year in review looks like this...

I was awarded the Spirit of First Protective award
One week later I found out I had terminal cancer
Andrew made Lance Corporal in USMC
Allie graduated with honors from UWA and after much pleading she agreed to move home for awhile.
Andrew left for a two year stint in Okinawa Japan, the same day Allie turned 22.
Went on a "girls weekend" with my daughter, sisters and nieces and laughed until I couldn't breathe.
Spent "football saturdays" with wonderful friends!
Closed down the "chick" every Wednesday night after church.
Held my breath as Andrew's squadron went to the a typhoon!
Cooked our Thanksgiving meal with Allie
Spent a fabulous few days with Steve in Nashville.
Enjoyed Christmas with Steve, Allie and Ryan but missed Andrew like crazy!
Turned in my disability notice...
and tomorrow will become an empty nester again.

oh yeah, and in the midst of all that I had about 16 chemo treatments. I have also laughed, cried, worshiped, prayed, sang, loved, rejoiced and lived. Indeed it has been a very good year!

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go" Joshua 1:9

Happy New Year!
Amy Lou

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chemo Day

It's chemo day again. This morning I tried to remember how many chemo treatments I have had in the past two years. I gave up counting and just started thinking about something else.

The day started early. Steve goes to a men's bible study at 6 AM on Thursdays. So when he leaves about 5:30 I turn on the news and wait for it to get little lighter outside before I get up. When I get up, Gracie gets up so I try to wait as long as I can.

I found a recipe for a hot tea that incorporates some of the cancer fighting spices that I am trying to include in my daily diet. It's made with turmeric, ginger root, pepper, fresh OJ and agave necter. Hey, I'm a brave soul - If I could drink Boones Farm or Mad Dog 20/20 as a youngster then I could give this a whirl! It smelled AWFUL when it was boiling on the stove, but it actually didn't taste too bad. I felt like a wicked witch stirring my magic potion!

So....I drank my potion on the way to the cancer center. The wait was longer than usual this morning. When there is a holiday it takes awhile to get everybody back on schedule. They are still making up appointments that were missed at Thanksgiving.

The nurse took my vitals, my blood and weighed me. Everything checked out fine - I even lost a few pounds! Then it was back to the waiting room to wait for a space. I played my usual game of checking out everybody in the waiting room. A couple working a jigsaw puzzle, two couples talking about health care reform, three guys watching the View (I guess they couldn't find the remote), three couples completing new patient questionaires, lots of folks reading and one guy talking too loud on his cell phone.

My turn came and I found my open chair and settled in with my laptop. I checked my work email and did what I could without spreading out a bunch of paperwork. My drug regimen changed just a wee bit. I'm still getting the larger dose of Avastin. They increased my Leucovorin back to the original dosage, my 5FU remained the same.

I got all my drugs and a few hugs then I was on my way home. Let me just stop right here and say that the valets at the cancer center amaze me! I had to wait a little bit for my car and was able to watch them perform their magic of parking way more cars than they have space for in the lots. This may be one of those everyday miracles. I like to think so anyway.

I walked in the front door and Allie was dipping soup into a bowl for me. Ah, yes...a little slice of heaven. Gracie and I spent the rest of the afternoon in the recliner sipping gingerroot green tea...well, I was sipping, Gracie was sleeping. If history repeats itself I will start feeling a little blah at bedtime....if the history of the last treatment repeats itself I should feel better by tomorrow afternoon - that would be awesome! It's a busy time of year and there are lots of things I want to do - so I'm counting on feeling good this weekend!

The doctor thinks the drugs are holding back the progression of my cancer. But I know that God is ordaining these days.

Blessings to you this Christmas season! Glory to God! He is worthy of our praise!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I know I've mentioned in a previous post that I have been reading up on how to eat healthier, not to lose weight - goodness knows I haven't done that! But I read a very interesting book, "Anti-Cancer: The New Way of Life" that goes into great detail about the food we put in our body, the atmosphere we live in and the consequences to our bodies. I have cut out most white sugar, bread and pastas. Many people believe that sugar is a big culprit when battling cancer. I've also added more veggies and fruits into my daily routine along with some strange spices and green tea.

I have enjoyed cooking using these new parameters. To me it is much more fun to shop in the produce section where you see the vibrant colors - you can compare, smell, touch what you are about to buy. Picking up a box of mac and cheese just doesn't have the same effect on me.

Tonight I made chicken fajitas. Ingredients: chicken (no hormones, cage free), red and yellow peppers, onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms. I thought it was so pretty that I had to take a picture of it.

When I was young I thought it was so crazy for the adults to take a picture of the dinner table before a holiday meal. Why in the world would someone want a picture of food? I finally understand. When my grandmother cooked a holiday meal it was a masterpiece. It was art. She didn't open a can of this and a box of that. The food on the table represented hours, even days, of preparation. It was a moment to cherish - to see all that labor end up one table to be enjoyed by the people she loved. What a great gift.

For the past three years I (with help) have prepared our Thanksgiving dinner. I look forward to it. Of course, the bounty I lay before my family will never compare to the meals my grandmother prepared, but the sentiment is the same. I love these people and want to offer to them a part of myself.

We will be missing one from our table this year. Andrew is in Japan. I saw a post on facebook that they will have their Thanksgiving meal on Wednesday night. I try not to think about it too much - this mamma hen doesn't like her chicks so far from home.

Well, I'm turning in for the night. I will start my Thanksgiving cooking in the morning. I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving with the people you love.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I began reading a book this week that breaks down Psalm 23 verse by verse. Of course, I have been familiar with this scripture for many years, but as I feel I have been walking "through the valley of the shadow of death" for almost 2 years now, it has become a real comfort to me.

As you know this Psalm depicts Jesus as our shepherd and we are his sheep. Sheep are really pretty dumb. They have to follow the shepherd or they will walk right off a cliff. We, as the sheep of God's kingdom need to follow the Good Shepherd (Jesus). Not only in where we walk but also how we talk, think and love.

In this book it talks of how Jesus loves - and if you've ever been to church more than a few times you know we are suppose to love as Jesus loves. Not just the folks we like or admire, but everyone. That is so difficult to do isn't it? In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Jesus gives us the instruction booklet for love. I read through the reference quickly because I'm familiar with it. I felt an urging to read through it again, slowly this time and read between the lines. This is how it read (emphasis is mine, of course):

Love is patient with your enemies, love is kind to your enemies. It does not envy anyone of anything, it does not boast even about your children, it is not proud of it's accomplishments. It is not rude to your enemies, it is not self-seeking at your job site, it is not easily angered at your neighbors, it keeps no record of actions against you. Love does not delight in evil even when it happens to your enemy, but it rejoices in the truth no matter who comes out on top. It always protects even your enemies, always trusts your enemies, always hopes for good for everyone and always perseveres and doesn't give up on those that disappoint you.

When I finished reading it this way I couldn't go on any further. This cut me to the bone. This is not one of those times where I can say, "well, I'm only human!" Yes, I am human, but the goal of a Christian is to become more Christ-like every day. I prayed and I ask God to reveal to me my shortcomings...sometimes it is hard to hear the answer to a prayer.

This scripture is not saying "play nice" it is saying "love". It doesn't mean smile and wave at your neighbor even though you don't like them. It means truly love them, pray for them. Our pastor has a saying, "you are suppose to love on people, even if they don't look like you, talk like you, dress like you or smell like you. Jesus died on the cross for them just as He did for you!"

I pray that we all can follow our Good Shepherd in his example of love - and I pray it begins with me.

Good night and may God bless!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dreamy Day

I woke up this morning shaking the cobwebs from my head. I had a really rough night last night so I resorted to a pretty strong sleeping pill around 1 a.m. It's one of those drugs they advertise on TV and warn that you can do things such as drive a car and not realize you are doing it! So on mornings like this I joke with myself. If you were a fly on the wall you might hear me say something like, "Hey, Huguley, did you know you are walking down the hall?" or "Huguley, do you know you just put on a purple shirt with green pants?"

Hey, it's usually pretty quiet here in the mornings, so I have to do something to get things going...and I like to freak Grace out too.

I can't really go into detail about what I did today before the cobwebs scattered, but I do know the day has been a good one. I had my TAWG (time alone with God) and was given my strength for the day. Gracie and I took a walk down the street - killing two birds with one stone - I'm suppose to walk and get vitamin D (sunshine) everyday. I fixed myself some lunch. A dish that was so pleasing to the taste and to the sight, that I made a picture of it. If I figure out how to post pictures I will share it with you.

The aroma of the fresh fruit and veggies in my kitchen empowered me to make a cake! from scratch! I will pause here for you to gather yourself...... Not only did I bake a cake but I had to shell real pecans and slice real apples! It's always been a secret dream of mine to be a domestic goddess. Today I got to pretend I am! While my cake baked, I sat on the deck and cross-stitched until time to cook supper.

This day may seem mundane or just down right awful to some folks, but it was just one step lower than heaven for me. These are things I've always loved to do, but because of a heavy work schedule and busy children I never had the time or the energy.

The chance to spend as much time as I want with my Lord and Savior, enjoying the gifts of His sunshine and food and having a chance to bake a cake or cook supper for my wonderful family. Those are the things MY dreams are made of.

The only thing that could have made my day better was to have Andrew home. It's been 5 months since he left for Japan. I keep reminding myself that I gave birth to my children so they would have life, their own life...even if it is so, so far away.

I'm turning the page on this day. I hope I have lived it according to God's plan.

May you know the love, the peace and saving grace of our Father!


Friday, November 5, 2010

Not Giving Up!

This is one of those days that I hesitate to blog. The treatment didn't make me terribly sick this time. Just tired and when I start getting hungry I have to eat immediately! Besides that everything has been pretty good. I got my tumor marker number today (the number that indicates if the cancer is growing). It jumped up a whopping 4.3, the largest jump I've had. Needless to say, this is not great news. I was still in the bed when I got the news. I knew I had two choices. I could either pull up the cover and stay in bed or get up and do something. I could stay in bed awhile and probably no one would blame me or think less of me for it. I could just lay there and quit. Today I decided to not quit. I can't make any promises for tomorrow, but for today I'm not quitting.

I got up, got dressed and started cooking soup. The pungent smells of the different vegetables and spices were almost intoxicating. I enjoyed the different colors, different smells and the anticipation of how it would all join together and make a yummy meal. All this is such a glorious gift from God. These vegetables and spices that God made come to be. The enjoyment I received from them was a gift just as well. To enjoy the gifts He provides is such a glorious thing.

I have my good days and my bad days...actually I think most days are filled with good times and bad times. The bad moments I try to humble myself and ask "God, what are you trying to show me here". In the good moments, I say "Thank you God, for showing me this!"

So today with this disappointing news, what is it God, that you are wanting me to learn? Maybe to remember that you are in control? Perhaps to remember time is a vapor to us all? Am I to remember that you promised to never leave me?

And to remember that the gift I have been given is today. I have this day to trade some laughs with friends and family, to smell the soup as it cooks, to feel the fresh cool air on my face as Gracie and I take a walk. Yes, indeed, I believe this is a good day.

Enjoy your weekend and the blessings that God has in store for you!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Good morning from my kitchen table! I think the dreariness of winter has come to stay for awhile. As I look out my window I see my own piece of Americana - a row of discarded halloween pumpkins at a neighbors house and in the distance the American flag in the yard of another neighbor. The scene may not make it to the front of a Southern Living magazine, but it is a pleasing sight to me, just the same.

Today is a treatment day for me. It's a mixed bag of nuts. I enjoy seeing my friends at the cancer center and look forward to catching up on what's been going on with them. I'm sure I will get to talk about how awesome God is with LeeAnn - always the highlight of my visit. I've started a new healthy eating plan - more on that later - and it is changing the way I feel - physically and mentally. I'm looking forward to discussing those changes with some of the nurses.

Then there is always the down side - the drugs they will pump in me will make me feel yucky and sad for several days. I am hoping the new eating plan will help me better manage the next few days.

Well, time to get started with the day. I hope you enjoy your own piece of Americana today!

"But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children." Psalm 103:17

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I have always been an avid reader. When the kids were younger and there was never enough time in the day to get everything done, I wouldn't allow myself to pick up a book. I knew that once I started reading all else would fall to the side. Just "one more chapter" would turn into another chapter and another chapter. I loved reading to Allie and Andrew when they were little. They both had favorite books that Steve and I read thousands of times. "Mickey and the Beanstalk" was Allie's first favorite and Little Hiawatha was Andrew's. Allie's love of books has continued to grow and her book collection is astonishing. Andrew didn't keep the love of books, but Little Hiawatha birthed a love of Indians in that little boy. As a 3 and 4 year old, this fair-skinned boy, with red hair, freckles and glasses refused to answer when called by any name other than "Silent Thunder" or "Dark Eagle". A friend made him an authentic looking Native American vest that he wore everywhere.

When I started my chemo treatments in 2009 I thought I would get a lot of reading done. Spending hours upon hours sitting in a chemo chair seemed like the perfect time to read. I had not bargained for the "chemo brain" that kept me from concentrating. By the time I finished a sentence, I couldn't remember what the book was about. I was given a book about fighting cancer. I could read that because it was one or two line quips about fighting cancer. Some of them were even funny - yes, there actually are funny moments when fighting cancer. I would read a page or two at a time until I happened to flip to the back of the book and realized the last chapter was on dying. I put the book down and didn't pick it up again for many months. I could not let that thought enter my mind. I was appalled! How could a book meant to help you even mention dying? I eventually got brave enough to read the last chapter and I did so even before we knew I was terminal. I had to face the scary monster in the closet.

Well, the chemo brain has subsided (for the most part) and I can read some again. It takes a little longer, I re-read sentences several times, but it helps me absorb. I wanted to mention a few books I've read and a little about how they touched me. I'm not going to issue a spoiler alert, because honestly I'm not sure I remember exactly how they end (yay chemo brain).

The Shack - I read this book after my first diagnosis but before I started treatment. The thing I enjoyed about the book was the very personal relationship between the main character and the Trinity - God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost. This book brought me to a different place in my prayer time.

Hinds Feet on High Places - I had never heard of this book until a friend gave it to me. WOW! I cannot convey how deeply this book touched me. The story is based on the verse, "The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me walk upon mine high places." Habakkuk 3:19 This is a beautifully written book. At a major turning point in the book I gasped, put the book down and praised God right then and there for the work He performs in and through us.

and the book I am currently reading, A Million Ways to Die, The Only Way to Live -
That's a pretty far cry from my fear of the death chapter in the cancer book, huh? I'm only about six chapters into this book, so I can't talk of how it has affected me, but I can tell you it is making me think. This is not a book about the big D that we all fear, but the daily deaths to self so that we can have abundant life through Christ. Beware - it's a thinker!

I never want to miss an opportunity to thank you all for your prayers and your love as we travel this path. Steve and I pray for God's strength and grace for today. Not for next week or next month, but for today. We know that all things work for God's glory, and while we would love for God to take this cup from us, we are committed to Him and committed to His will.

Christ's love to you all,
through Him I am Free Indeed!

"At the moment of our birth God gave us a song to sing. It is we that must remember that it is not how long the song, but that we sing at all."

Friday, October 8, 2010

We Will Rejoice

I woke up today in a fog. I had to take nasuea medicine last night and it seems to linger into the next day. My wonderful husband brought me breakfast and coffee and set me up with all the necessities before he left for work: phone, laptop, cross-stitch and remote control. I was set for my usual Friday after treatment.

As I was coming out of my fog I remembered that I needed to call for tumor marker results from yesterday. The nurse returned my call with, "Amy, I wish I had good news." I felt my day spiraling downward. My doc told me yesterday that he didn't want to see me rise to a 7 too soon, my number this week is 6.5. As my dad use to say, I got in by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. The numbers are rising which means the cancer is growing and the meds aren't working as well as they were in the beginning. This journey is moving at a faster pace than I had hoped.

I hung up the phone and just sat dumbfounded for a few minutes. The same old news reel ran through my head. Why do I have cancer, what family moments will I miss, what will my family do when I am gone.? I have cancer, but why does my family have to suffer.? My world was about to cave in around me.

I picked up my devotion books and headed to my deck, where the world seems to always open up again. I turned to the page for the next memory verse I am to work on. "This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it."

But God, this is not a fun day. "But it is a day I have made"
But God, I am sad. "This is the day I have made"
But God, I am scared. "Rejoice in the day I have made"
God, help me rejoice. "I am here"
God, help me. "I will never leave you"

This is the day the Lord has made, WE WILL rejoice and be glad in it.

The scripture doesn't say, MAYBE I will rejoice, or I SHOULD rejoice, or if I FEEL GOOD I will rejoice.

This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it! Thank you God for this day that you have made. It IS a beautiful day, the air is cooler, the sun is bright and the birds are singing. Thank you God for reminding me that this is a day that YOU have made and I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chemo Day

Today was treatment day for me at the cancer center. I enjoyed seeing my friends and talking to other patients I see there on a regular basis. We talk about how much nicer the weather is now, books we've read and things we do for fun.

There were a couple of new folks today. I usually try to say something to new folks - nothing profound, just a quick hello or an encouraging word about how wonderful the nurses are there. A lady came with her sister and daughter - she hit a soft spot in my heart. I overheard them talking about her drug regimen. Oxaliplatin, 5FU, Lucavorin for three days every other week....she has colon cancer. My cancer. She cried some when they were talking about the drugs, the side effects, her battle.

I remember my first visit. Steve and I were still reeling from the whirlwind of bad news, surgeries and our new focus on saving my life. I had been mentally preparing myself for the side effects of the poison they were about to pump into my body. The doc came in and said he had bad news. What? How could there be more bad news? My scan showed spots in my lungs. We weren't going to change my treatment, it just put another question mark in my life. I remember that day like a vivid bad dream!

Anyway, I naturally wanted to reach out to her, but I couldn't. I try to be an encourager, to lift folks up. But when you talk to a cancer patient their natural response is to ask what type of cancer you have. In this case, I am not the person she needs to talk to right now....hopefully never. I could not tell this frightened lady that I had been through the fight she is in now, I didn't want her to ask why I was back.

It is hard to want to help someone when you can't. I know that my family goes through that struggle all the time with me.

I'm sorry this post is not uplifting. It's the natural events of the weekend following chemo. I will rest and pray through the weekend and come through the weekend closer to the heart of mine risen Savior!

Cast your anxieties on Him! He is all sufficient, all knowing, all loving! Praise the Lord our Jesus who is victorious over death and because He is, so are we!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fresh Bread

(thoughts from this week's bible class lesson) 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 Are you stinky?

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

As I was reading through the notes I took through this week's class, this quote jumped out at me. "Bread has to remain fresh to be appetizing"

I'm sure I can't develop this thought as well as our teacher did, but that's never stopped me before :-)

Jesus is the Bread of Life. When we invite him into our lives to be the Lord over our lives and the Saviour of our souls, we have him in us. So the Bread of Life is in us.

As a Christian we have a job to do. Contrary to popular belief, our job is not to just go to church on special occasions, our job is not to "be good", our job is not to be complacent, our job is not to stand on the sidelines so we won't offend anyone. As a Christian our life goal should be to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for us, opening the one and only way to spend eternity with God the Father. Our job is to be an effective Christian.

So now, let me expand on the quote: The Bread of Life (Jesus in us) must remain fresh to be appetizing (effective).

Just as a wedding should not be the goal of a relationship, but the beginning of a marriage, baptism is not the end, but the beginning of a relationship with Jesus. To remain an effective Christian, Jesus (Bread of Life) must remain fresh. How do you maintain your freshness? By attending worship with other passionate believers. By attending classes where you can learn more about God and his word. By having friendships with other sold-out Christians that can support you, challenge you and hold you accountable. By spending time alone in God's word which facilitates a conversation with God. All of these things keep your relationship fresh, it keeps you effective. How can we share the good news of God and his grace and mercy if we are not keenly aware of it ourselves?

Being an effective Christian is a pleasing aroma to God (verse 15). I want to be a pleasing aroma to God. I don't want to be stale, stinky and ineffective. My Jesus had me on his mind when he sacrificed himself as on offering to cover my sins. I want to God to enjoy the scent of me! I want him to breathe in deep just like I do when I pass the bread factory on the interstate!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Another treatment behind me, I don't count them down because I don't want them to be over. I hate, hate, hate the sickness, the fatigue and the sadness that comes with each treatment, but with each treatment comes an appointment for the next one. Oddly enough, that is a comforting thought. It's a little paper reminder that seems to say "see you in two weeks".

I think the sadness is the scariest part of the treatment phase. The sickness only makes me sick, it's not contagious, the fatigue will pass with a lot of sleep, but the sadness has the potential to infect everyone around me. I can't stand to inflict that on anyone else so I try really hard to keep it to myself. Unfortunately, Steve catches the bulk of it. He hears my fears, my thoughts for the future....

I spend a lot of time in prayer. I've moved beyond asking God for "stuff" or favors...I've begun communicating with God. I no longer cry out for Him to fix me, I cry out for His presence. I want to praise Him at all times (Psalm 34:1). Sometimes through the sadness it is hard to sing praises. This weekend my plea was for God to allow the praise to flow through and wash away the sadness. While my sadness doesn't completely disappear, I am able to praise Him. The song "Praise Him in the Storm" comes to mind. Although I have sadness, I also have abundant joy! I am more joy-filled that I have ever been! I know my God and my God knows me - I truly cannot think of anything better than that!

A few verses I would like to share...

WHATEVER HAPPENS, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Philippians 1:27)

REJOICE in the Lord ALWAYS. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the PEACE OF GOD, which transcends ALL UNDERSTANDING, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phillipians 4:4-7)

Glorify the Lord with me, let us exalt his name together (Psalm 34:3)

Through the love of Jesus Christ, I am FREE INDEED!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Today is THE day!

The power of God is not necessarily found in heavenly revelations or visions. (my thoughts on a seed Pastor Kevin planted 9/12/10)

The power of God can be seen in these things, but is not limited. Somedays the power of God may be displayed in giving you the strength and willingness to get out of bed. Those that have chosen to depend on God (and by that I mean those who have realized that their every need relies on God) rely on his srength and His grace to open their eyes, rise out of the bed and put one foot in front of the other. I do not expect to get up in the morning and see this huge finger of God pointing me in the direction I should go, but I do expect to feel His presence as I go through my day. When I don't sense His presence I need to step back, humble myself and admit I have made a wrong turn. How do you want to use me today, Lord?

Having a terminal illness brings the question of "how long do I have" into vivid focus everyday. But really I'm not different than anyone else. None of us know our day or hour to begin eternity with our Saviour. Maybe if we all thought of ourselves as terminal we would get busy doing what God has willed for our lives.

How many opportunities to serve God have I missed? Countless I am sure. How many times have I been focused on my career, getting my bills paid, diong what I wanted to do? How many times have I put the will of God behind the will of me? I shutter and I am ashamed that I could ever think my will should come first.

Loving Father of heaven and earth, forgive me for ever putting me before you. I never want to do that again. I ask you to remind me when I start putting myself first. Thank you for your forgiveness, for your never ending love. I want to be an instrument for you. I want to wake up each morning anticipating how you will use me and I want to lay my head down at night thinking of the glorious things you have done each day. Thank you God for this day, for this hour. Amen

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blessing upon blessing.

Today was another chemo day. They are so routine now and I really don't mind going. Connect my port, take my blood, temperature, bp, listen to my lungs and then pump me full of toxic waste! :) I like to visit with the nurses. Different nurses touch my heart in different ways. Those that I've seen the most are always an encouragement to me. One in particular I feel a special connection to because her family has experienced colorectal cancer, and another nurse - well sometimes we just about have church right there in the hallway! We attend the same church so on Thursday mornings we rejoice about the awesome way God moved in the service the night before. I wonder...does everybody in the sanctuary know that God is moving there or do you have to be looking for it. Personally, I don't see how people don't sense his presence...but that's not my judgement to make (thank goodness)!

I don't know what my tumor markers are this time. I will probably find out tomorrow. They went up a smidge last time so I can't help but wonder if they have gone as low as they will go.

I think about this journey alot. The struggles, the decisions, the very long dark nights. But my thoughts always turn to the blessings we have received during this time. For many years I thought I had a relationship with God, but it wasn't until "cancer patient" was listed by my name that I begged God to come into my life and never leave me for one second! Our relationship became stronger...then I became a "terminal cancer patient"...when my emotions started spiraling downward He was there to catch me.

I feel myself making a turn on this journey. God has a purpose for me - and my purpose is not to sit around and wait for people to feel sorry for me. God is challenging me to step out of my comfort zone. He is showing me that people are lost and people are hurting. Cancer has given me a new outlook. I've always been bold to talk about my faith in front of a safe crowd, but cancer has given me an urgency to step out further. Once you go through the surgery, recovery, chemo and radiation people's opinions don't scare you anymore.

I think of the friends I have met the past several years. People that I would have not known had it not been for the big C. Nurses, people I've met in the waiting room, support groups, loving folks at church and the list goes on and on.

Of course, I think about Ama. I call her my Nigerian friend. She has not lived in this country very long. I'm not sure who had a harder time understanding the different southern drawl stumped her as much as her beautiful Nigerian accent confused me. Were it not for cancer I would not have had the privilege to meet this wonderful woman. Ama was diagnosed with cancer one year after her husband had died of cancer. She has two small children. She had a friend that went to church with someone that I work see God had to make all those connects! We started visiting with Ama weekly. We went with the purpose of housework, laundry, etc. Ama wanted to visit with me, so Steve did the chores (surprised?). I could go on forever about the visits with Ama, but I will say this - I have never, ever in my entire life heard someone pray a more beautiful prayer than Ama. I hope that my reward in heaven is to stand near Ama as we worship our Savior.

I've typed alot tonight. It is hard to sleep the night after chemo because of the drugs...of course I have medicine to counteract that - but I might not wake up until sometime Saturday! But before I sign off, I want to share the verses that God has put on my heart this week. I repeat them as I go to sleep and they are my first thought when I wake up...

I will extol the Lord at all times, His praises will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord, let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me, let us exalt His name together.
Psalm 34:1-3

I invite you, please let us exalt his name together! The glorious and mighty King!

Freed Indeed!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

This is good.

Today has been a fantastic day! I'm spending the weekend with some of my favorite people - my sisters and all of our daughters are spending a long weekend in Fairhope. We have a lot of shopping and eating planned. But the thing we have done most is laugh. We have that special bond between us that is I think is so rare. We all have the same off-kilter sense of humor and we can each make fun of each others idiosyncrasies and not get our feelings hurt.

Sue is usually the butt of most of our jokes. She just makes it so easy for us. :) The most amazing part is that the sisters three have passed this along to our daughters. I am so thankful for this bond.

Several times today I have stopped and thought, "this is good".

I am looking forward to more laughing and more memories tomorrow.

Friday, September 3, 2010

"Be Holy"

What a glorious day! My first thought when I woke up this morning was, Yay! I'm off today! Most days that I'm off work is for a chemo treatment or the days following a treatment. It is rare for me to take a day just for the heck of it. So on this momentous occasion of an off day, I was up at 6:00 and getting a start to my day. The weather is a little cooler this morning and my back deck was calling my name. I made my favorite breakfast (waffles, peanut butter and blueberries) and my wonderful hubster made my coffee.

I love my back deck - overlooking the pool that Steve keeps so sparkling clean and the beautiful flowers that Steve nurtures and the birds that Steve feeds twice a day. Yep, Steve does all the work and I just sit and enjoy. I am spoiled rotten.

I have had alot of conversations with God on this deck. I have talked with Him through my tears and fears. I have been angry, not a God but my situation. I have felt helpless and hopeless. He has talked to me through His Word and the calming Holy Spirit. No matter how much I am sinking in despair when I meet with him, he always sets me back on solid ground.

This morning on my deck is pure joy. The extreme heat has kept me inside most of the summer, so the opportunity to pray out here is all the sweeter.

I am a list maker - I always have a running list of things I need or want to do. It's a good tool to use to compensate for "chemo brain". I started my list for the day - pay bills, do laundry,.....
I set my list aside and started my quiet time with God. As I flipped through the pages of my Bible the words "be holy" jumped out at me. God had an addition to my "to do" list!

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled, set your hope full on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." 1 Peter 1: 13-16

In this scripture God said to me, "today, be holy. Don't be all herky-jerky and react to things of this world. Don't let the situation of the day dictate how you live. Stay focused on Me, be intent on My will."

It is so easy to get caught up on the roller coaster of my emotions. My physical ailments are hard to ignore and the thought of the future is scary - but God knows if I "prepare my mind", "be self-controlled" and "set my hope" on Him, I will have the life that He has intended for me to have.

Thank you Lord of my life for meeting me where I am. For caring for my every need - whether large or small.. For your word that speaks to me so cleary. Thank you for this day and for this moment. "It makes me want to shout, hallelujah, thank you Jesus!"

Monday, August 23, 2010

In My Weakness He is Strong

OK, so maybe I'm not a very good blogger. All day long I think of things I want to post, then time slips by and it's another day. I will try to do better, but I'm not making any promises!

I'm in New Orleans on a business trip. Business trips with this company are not your average business trips...they are more like reunions with old friends. I think there are over 150 folks at this meeting. Most of us greet each other with a hug and a "how are the kids?" I enjoy seeing these people. Some of them I have known for over 11 years.

Most know about my cancer diagnosis so there are questions about how things are going. I have always been open about my illness. I never thought about keeping it a secret. I know some people do keep their illness private and that is their decision. But I have never been good at hiding my feelings. I knew I would not be able to go about my daily life acting like nothing was out of the norm. I also decided early on that no matter what happens to me I want my life to be a testimony of God's love, strength and grace. How could those things be revealed if no one knew what I was going through? I wanted my family to be wrapped in prayers - how would people know to pray for them?

As humans we need each other. As Christians we need other Christians. To say we "need" someone shows a sign of weakness. That is not a bad thing! Only in our weakness is God's strength revealed. People tell me I'm handling this well, that I am so strong, etc. It is not my strength they see. It is God's strength in me. It is only through His love, His strength and His grace that I can wake up each morning and face the day. I am only able to do this because I have said, "GOD, I cannot do this without you!"

In my first battle the treatments were so rough that some nights I would say, "OK God, if you want me to make it through tonight I will know it if I wake up in the morning." That is not a testament to my faith or my "religiosity", it is knowing that each breath I take is ordained by God. I do not want to die and leave my family here, but even more strongly than that I do not want to take one breath on this earth that is outside the will of God.

When I was much younger I thought being a Christian would be boring. I wasn't really wild about the idea of having to give up all the "fun" things I was doing to be a Christian. Now that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, I realize how very wrong I was! If you want to feel the excitement of really living, just hand the reigns of your life over to God! Walk each day with Him completely opened to His will for your life! No rollercoaster or bungee jump could be more exciting than letting Him direct your step.

I'm turning in for the night. May the peace of God be with you through the night and may the excitement of His will be your driving force tomorrow.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

"After all, tomorrow is another day"

I went for my umpteenth viewing of Gone with the Wind this weekend. I am a GWTW fanatic! I've read the very large book numerous times, I've read almost everything ever written about the author, Margaret Mitchell and multiple books about the making of the movie. I even won a contest on the radio once by answering GWTW trivia..I can't remember the prize, but I still remember the answer. I can say most of the lines right along with the movie - my favorite lines are the ones spoken by Mammy. What a wise woman she was and the thread that held that family together.

As it is with great characters in great movies, I can identify with a least a part of each of them (except Ashley Wilkes, he gives me heebeegeebees). When I was a young girl I didn't pretend to be Cinderella or a fairy princess, I was Scarlett O'Hara. As I became a teenager I liked that she always had beautiful clothes, an 18 1/2" waist, and all the boys in Georgia falling at her feet. She was flirtatious and when she didn't get her way she either pouted, cried or slapped the crap out of somebody!

In my twenties, I saw Scarlett as a strong woman. Strong-willed, refused to take no for an answer. She was a successful business woman. She was brave in the face of danger and just turned her perfect nose up at people that didn't like her too much. And when push came to shove, she took care of the folks around her.

Several years back I started detecting a transformation in myself. I no longer wanted to identify myself with Scarlett. Melanie Wilkes is the true hero of this film. She is the complete opposite of Scarlett. At first glance she seems weak and timid, but looking closer at her character you see the quiet strength of a woman that loves with her entire being. She could only see the good in those around her. She was "honored to be obliged" to the town harlot, Belle. She respected and got respect in return from the busy-body society ladies. She admired Rhett for his heart, but most of all, she loved Scarlett. I think she always knew that Scarlett was in love with her husband, but she loved both of them so completely that she could not have a bad thought against either one of them.

To love so completely, to open yourself to the harshness of the world around you, yet not be jaded by it, that is a beautiful picture of a wife, a sister, a friend. She gave every fiber of herself to others. Never expecting anything in return. The character of Melanie reminds me of the description in Proverbs of a Godly woman.

"Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also he praises her." Proverbs 31:28

I can think of no better endorsement than to have my children call me blessed and to have my husband praise me. In no way am I even close to being the Godly woman described in Proverbs, but I do know that the sweetest words I have ever heard my husband say were words he said about me and not to me.

I have fallen short of being praiseworthy and there are many things I wish I could do over. I am thankful that God can take my screw-ups, my mistakes and use them for His glory. I am thankful that He doesn't require me to be perfect. I am glad that His strength can show through my weakness.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another Treatment Behind Me

Monday - hmm. I'm coming out of my chemo fog. This is a day when I get impatient with myself. I don't feel sick so I think I should get up and go to work, but I've learned from experience that I can't do that. I sleep as long as I can, then set up my at-home office - which is actually me laying in bed with my laptop. That probably sounds like heaven to folks, I know it would have sounded great to me a few years ago. Gracie cuddles with me for awhile but even she gets tired of laying around all day.

I will be ready to get back to a normal life tomorrow. Yeah! If everything goes well I will be able to get 7 good work days in before my next treatment.

This treatment weekend has not been as bad as the last one. I think there are a several reasons for the improvement. First of all, my markers went down! Good news always helps our attitude doesn't it? Also, I think the nurses may have mentioned to Doc how depressed I was after my last visit. He was a little more upbeat with me.

Secondly, I had planned a little better for this weekend. I asked my aunt to come stay with me for part of the weekend. Her visits always lift my spirits. Also, my goal was to get to church on Sunday. I was determined to get there and I knew my aunt wanted to go too, so I mentally prepared myself all weekend to get there. I am so glad I did! I love worshipping with fellow believers and I loved sharing that experience with my aunt. After church she said she could tell our church is a Spirit-filled church. I agree with her 100%.

Lastly, I know that I had many prayer warriors lifting me up this weekend. Everyone that asked me how they can help us were told PRAY, especially this weekend. I feel those prayers and they strengthen me.

In early 2009 Doc told me I had to go through the bad days to get to the good days. At that time we were thinking I would have 10 months of bad days to get to years of good days. With my new diagnosis my focus has changed. I go through about 5 bad days to get to 9 good days before I do it again. I still like the ratio. The good days are awesome and are worth the battle. I really enjoy the good days. I enjoy the sight of blue sky more than I thought I ever could. I enjoy laughing. I enjoy the love of friends and family. Yes, this is a good life.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

"I wanna praise the Lord"

Sometimes we learn the best lessons by watching children. We worship at a church with three services on Sunday mornings. There are times when we have to wait a few minutes for one service to end so we can get into the sanctuary. It is a time when you can visit with others or get into a worshipful state of mind.

Today was the last worship service at this campus so it was really crowded. There were lots of folks standing in the hallway waiting to get in. A mom and her young son (maybe 3 years old) walked in the door. I've watched this family over the past year or so and delight in how they worship. The little boy came in - decked out in his three piece suit and tie - and was ready to walk right into the sanctuary. His mom told him he had to wait until the others came out and he said "I wanna praise the Lord!"

His words made me think of how we enter into worship. Sometimes we are hurried or worried. Maybe thinking of what needs to happen that afternoon or what has had happened that morning, when what we should be thinking is "I wanna praise the Lord!"

It was an awesome time of worship! I bet that little boy had a great time in worship this morning and so did I!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Am I a blogger?

I have had many people tell me I should write a book. The suggestion is interesting to me, but I don't have the discipline to sit down and string coherent thoughts together. Most of the time I don't understand what I'm thinking so how can I expect others to understand?

Recently someone suggested that I at least write a blog. I do post on Caringbridge, but I always feel like those posts should be related to my fight with cancer. Although cancer is interwined in every aspect of my life - it is not my whole life. I have a family to love on, a church family and friends to care for, a job that didn't really slack off when I got sick. I probably want the same things for my life and the lives of my friends and family as most other people do.

I am going to try using this blog to record my thoughts. There is really no telling where this will go...enter at your own risk :-) This is an experiment for me. I may have a few followers or it may just be me on here. It doesn't really matter to me. But if you find something on here that you feel would encourage someone please share it. As Pastor Kevin says, "the gospel came to me on the way to somebody else".

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Slice of Heaven

I think we all have our own holy place. Our favorite place to go when we want to think, pray, remember, plan. My place is the back deck. I love to visit with friends here or sit alone. We eat meals out here, had lots of summer birthday parties. I spent countless hours on this deck last year while battling cancer. This is my little spot on earth. It overlooks our backyard with two huge trees that provide shelter for the birds and a playground for the squirrels, there is a tiered water fountain that provides the soothing sound of water, birdfeeds that attract fire engine red birds, shocking bluejays, graceful mourning doves. It's my special spot on this earth.

Steve and I had planned to go to the Botanical Gardens after my doctor's appointment last week. I was looking forward to seeing the beautiful pictures Steve would make of the buds and blooms. The gardens are spectacular there and I like to visit at least a couple of times a year. But the doctor confirmed our fears that the cancer had spread to my lungs and the prognosis was to stretch my life for as long as they could. After that, all I wanted to do was get to my backyard. My safe place. We drove straight home and I went straight to my deck to let the news sink in. God prepares a place for us in heaven. I bet mine has a deck.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It's been such a busy week - and it's only Tuesday! There is so much busyness going on and I just want it to stop. I want time to slow down so that I can savor every precious moment. The past week has been a whirlwind of doctor appointments, tests and then more doctor's appointments. I've spent my share of time in doctor's waiting rooms. Having two children and living 44 years, you seem to accumulate a lot of frequent flyer miles just sitting and waiting. I've never really minded the wait, but now it seems as if every moment is so important. It's not that I'm impatient. Actually, I am more patient now than ever in my life. I just don't want to feel rushed or in a hurry. I don't want to miss one single thing. How very sad it would be to miss a blue jay sitting on a fence post because you have to hurry off for an appointment.

It is also an exciting week. I have delighted in listening to my children the past few days. Allie has been writing her last papers, studying for her last finals, searching for a job. It is such an exciting time in her life. She has had a very good four years of college. I don't know of anyone that has ever had as good a time as she has had. I believe she has done everything that she has wanted to do. She has been very involved, made excellent grades and has made life long friends with students and teachers. Andrew has been counting down the time until he is on leave and can come home. He started counting a little over a week ago. When he got down to three days left he converted to hours. It's comical to listen to him...this child who never stayed home is counting the hours until he gets home. I'm not kidding myself. I know he won't be home the whole time he is "home", but I will get to see him. He is doing so well in the path that he has chosen. I believe he has really found what makes him happy...and that makes me happy. 25 hours and my baby will be home.

The news of my cancer has come at a horrible time. But I guess there really isn't a good time for that kind of news. It was hard to decide when to break the news to the kids. I hated to ruin Allie's last week of school, but I think she felt like we weren't very open with her with my first diagnosis, so I wanted to make sure we told her before she found out from someone else. We still haven't told Andrew. I just didn't want to tell him over the phone. I wanted to be able to hold him or let him hold me. He is so excited to see friends and family that I don't want this to ruin his time here.

I want to make good memories for my family. I catch myself thinking something is great and that I want to remember it, then it hits me...this is great and I want them to remember it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My world has been turned upside down, but curiously I am calm. Steve and I received the news this week that we both knew we would eventually hear, but never thought it would be so soon. The cancer I fought so hard against just last year has spread to my lungs. Our minds were reeling as we talked with the doctor about treatments and quality of life. My first battle with cancer was about survival. I wanted to beat cancer and keep it in my past. This time the battle is about time. I want to squeeze as much time out as I possibly can.

My calmness may be due to denial. We have not had a good opportunity to tell our children. Allie has finals and is graduating from college next week. Andrew has a month of leave before he goes to Japan and will be home in a few days. This is just not news to share over the telephone, so I know we will tell Andrew next week when he gets home, but I'm not sure when we should tell Allie. In the time that I have before telling them, I pretend that I'm fine and that we are awaiting more test results. Is this lying? I know they want to know the truth, but I really want to be able to sit down with them, talk with them and start loving them through the process.

I hope I can remain strong for my family. I want to make memories for them. I want them to see Christ through me so they can have a closer relationship with Him.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter 2010

Easter 2010. So much different this year from last year. The first difference - Andrew is living on a base in North Carolina. The first major holiday that I have not had both of my children. I was able to talk to him thanks to a webcam. He had dinner with Michelle, a girl he is dating, and her family. The 2nd most apparent difference....I have hair! Last year I was in the middle of my first round of chemo. yuck.

Allie was home and went to worship with Steve and me. After a wonderful worship service at GFBC we went to lunch at the Jennings. Sunny was a new addition this year. Last Easter we were still waiting on her arrival.

My frame of mind seems to be better this week than last. I had a what I describe as a God moment this week. I had been living defeated. I had convinced myself that cancer was back, although it is still another month until I have my petscan. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly was wrong...I was sad, scared and I knew none of this was how God wants me to live. As church started Wednesday night, I confessed to God that I had already given in to cancer and I knew it was back. was feeling a little "why not me" when an announcement was made that a young cancer patient had been declared cancer-free. As soon as I formed the thought I was struck with horrible guilt! I was jealous of a miracle in a teenage girl's life! How terrible of me! I ask God to please remove that selfishness in me. I want to live a life of victory. Even if a victory of cancer is not the path that God has for me I can still live in victory because I have victory over Death. Jesus Christ died for me so that I would not have to - that is truly the only victory worth having.

I still feel like my way of life in hanging on the test results I will get in 24 days. In most ways it is. My career path could change if my cancer is back. The job I have worked so hard for will have to be adjusted if treatment is involved. If I have cancer again the thoughts of any improvements we want to do to the house will have to wait. If cancer is back I will speed up my plans to pay off debts so Steve will not have as much debt on him when I am gone.

Sometimes I forget that these test results may be inconclusive. I may not know anymore next month than I do this month. That may be the worst part - the not knowing.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I find myself with 10 minutes to spend before going to the wedding of a daughter of friends. Do I spend this time doing something productive like load the dishwasher, sort the junk mail or put away laundry. Not a chance. Again I find myself wasting time, letting my mind wander. I find myself doing a lot of that lately. It's a little over a month until my next petscan. This time the wait has been very unnerving. The last scans showed two spots on my lungs. The chance of my cancer moving to my lungs is high and we know that. I've asked to know every detail. I've asked that the truth not be sugar coated. So I've known the good news and bad news through this whole ordeal. I've had more bad news delivered than good. I'm hoping it is time for the tide to turn and I start getting a flood of good news. But, still I cannot complain. My fight with my cancer foe has revealed many things to me. Things that I may not have learned had I not gone through this fight. I took relationships for granted that have become invaluable to me. I finally saw some relationships for just what they are - a waste of time, energy and love - and set myself free from them. My walk with God is so much closer than it was. It really makes a difference when you go from going through the motions - knowing the right words to say and then suddenly clinging to your Lord and Savior for every breath and every thought.

Again, I have spent 10 minutes - but I don't believe they are wasted. Each time my thoughts turn to my Lord, it is time well spent.

I did it!

I walked the Rumpshaker 5K today! A walk for colon cancer awareness. It was a really big deal to finish it. I feel like the accomplishment may have been lost on some folks. As I walked side by side with Allie I had a few thoughts of last year's 5k. Last year I was two months into chemo and very weak. Just walking from the car to the gathering area made my legs shake. I sat for most of the event and when we got home I hit the couch and was sick for 2 days. This year I completed the walk with Allie by my side. We walked it in just under one hour. I'm tired and on the couch again, but relaxed not sick.