Honor your Mother and Father

Ephesians 6-2-3This past week, two dear friends each lost a parent. One lost a father and the other a mother. God is rejoicing in heaven with their presence, but we are mourning the loss of their presence. All the memories shared with friends and family brings me back to the loss of my own father. The heartbreak of that loss has never soften or been filled with something else, even when it has been 11 years he has been gone. Nothing can ever replace the emptiness our family feels. I know too well what my dear friends are going through – the pain that resides amid the joy of celebrating their life and legacy.

Everyday you miss their smile, their laugh or their voice. You want to grab the phone when good news comes your way so that you can call them. With each new spring bulb you remember the garden you planted with them. On your daily walk, you talk with them. There is only one thing that can comforted me. It is the only true thing that can comfort anyone.

Resting in the Lord’s promise in a life everlasting.
Knowing we will see each other again in the presence of Jesus.

Our Lord Jesus honored His parents. He listened to his mother, Mary, when He was not ready to perform a miracle. Mary must have known, small miracles had to have occurred when Jesus was a child because she speaks confidently when she tells him they are out of wine at the wedding.  Jesus says “what do you want me to do” but the word doesn’t show a response to his question. Mary turns to the steward and says “do what he says”. Parents know their children. They know what we are capable of, they encourage, support and believe in us through anything. Mary knew Jesus’ gifts better than anyone else. If I use Mary as my model of parenting, which I have always tried to do, I know I will remain in His Love.

As Catholics, we honor Mary during the month of May. Society honors Mothers during the month of May also. And in June we honor Fathers. Honoring our parents, as Jesus modeled for us, is important to do while they are alive and after they are gone too.

Friends, who lost a parent when they were very young, talk about all they missed. The long talks, the advice, the prideful look on their wedding day or graduation. Moments when we want to be surrounded by those we love. Moments that were stolen from them, but I trust in the Lord to provide them with opportunities to receive the love of a parent in many different forms too.

Jesus learned love, compassion and generosity from his parents and the home they created for him. We too are also products of our parents. I see my father in my siblings, nieces and nephews. I even see my father in my husband. He met my Dad when we were in high school and even though he had a wonderful father already, he would say he learned from my Dad too. The hard work of his hands while he builds out of lower level, creating more family space, or the generous nature when he does anything for our children. He often says, “your father helps us when we were young, I want to help them”. And my dad did – he lifted a sagging ceiling with my husband on our first house and was always there to fish with, talk with and to bounce things off of. Parents forever hold our hearts.

As we gather to honor these two beautiful, amazing parents, whom I was blessed to know, I pray the stories shared show their families the love of their parents and honor their memories. Memories that honor them will also embrace you on the days that are hard to bear without your parents.

“Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3 

Embrace God’s grace through the memories of your parents who have entered eternal life and those parents who you are able to embrace with love.

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21 days of Freedom

I have gotten a taste of freedom!

Freedom from doctor’s appointment…
Freedom from physical therapy…
Freedom from blood pressure checks…
Freedom from the dreaded weight ins…
And even Freedom from wigs….I am going la natural!

The last 21 days, I have not had a medical appointment of any kind! Some people say survivors go through a depression when treatments end, they miss the attention, the check ups, the care…

But I enjoyed the freedom! The Lord has blessed me abundantly with so many people surrounding me that the care and prayers continue, so no depression here! Only JOY in the graces of Gods mercy and healing hands!

The first six months of 2013 has brought appointments with oncologists, breast surgeon, plastic surgeon, internal medicine, optometrist, gynecologist, physical therapists, radiologists, urologist, echocardiogram techs and infusion nurses. Surgeries for bladder and colonoscopy, and blood work galore! Every turn has been ALL CLEAR! Music to my ears and gratitude in my heart!

Today counts as my fourth to last chemo treatment, and as you can see I am gladly counting down. My daughter used post it notes to count down the last days of school for her students and so I adopted the ideas…my nurses are laughing at me, but think its great!

I look forward to more 21 days of freedom…then 6 months of freedom…the years of freedom! I love all the medical providers, but I love the freedom they give me when I hear them say “you’re doing great!” I give all the glory to my Lord, for he is the Comforter and Healer!

Grace embraced with the freedom God has bestowed in my life the past three weeks.
“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.” Phil 1:7

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Hail the Nails!

Hail the nails! Sing praise that they are saved!

The evil of cancer took my left breast and the toxins of chemo took my long brunette mane, but I was able to fight to save my nails.Polished

As a woman, we are so critical of ourselves and our bodies. We usually wave off compliments and often complain about our bodies. And I am no exception. I try not to compare or complain and I find it easy to compliment others. But there are things about my look I might consider changing it given then chance…just being honest, you know you have felt that way too.

However, my nails never fell in that category. Now I never went around bragging about them. But my nails have always been strong and healthy, as well as a good shape and length. I once read that peanut butter helped strengthen them, which would make sense, since I loved PB&J as a child!

Chemo attacks fast growing cells…your hair…your nails.  NO! Not my nails.

The thought of my nails becoming detached and falling off was frightening. Having a finger or two without a nail just sounded painful. So I researched ways to prevent this from happening. The only suggestion was to ice your nails during chemo.

I was keeping my cuticles moist and as healthy as possible, but after two chemo treatments, I could see them the new growth of the nail darkening. So in came the ice. My treatment angels would fill up zip lock bags of ice and I would place them on my toenails and fingernails.No polish

And it worked! Well the doctors and nurses said there is no scientific proof that it worked, but my nails are almost grown out from the chemo sessions and they are still intact! The dark spots, did turn to white, I think unattached from the nail bed. My two index fingers are pretty sensitive, but the growth behind the white spot is healthy, so they did not lift off the beds.

You can see from the pictures how they look under my polish. So I will keep polish on until the white area is gone.

Week One…pain

Saturday, May 12, 2012

This week has been filled with new challenges and new sensations.

My arm hurts. The numbness continues throughout my left side and underside of my upper arm. I can’t lift it higher than about 30% off my body. I try to stretch and work it, but it is painful.

My drains are uncomfortable. I have two tubes coming out of my body. It seems like something from the movies. It’s not a pretty sight to see when visitors stop by. It’s a little gross to empty, measure and chart, then clean and set for the next drain collection.

My sleep is restless. I sleep, but never move, so I awake stiff and sore. I need to roll to my side, but am prevented by the drain and the pain.

My body screams for showers, but showers are so exhausting. My sister helped me shower. As tears ran down my face, ashamed of needing help while so grateful for her love, I cleaned myself. It felt so good to have water running down at least 80% of my body. My left side can’t get wet, so sponge bath for that side. My hair needs to be washed in a sink. I never thought of my long brunette hair, that my husband loves, as beautiful, but when you are facing losing it all, you seem to really appreciate it. I realized that my hair has not been above my shoulders since I was in 8th grade and the thought of what I will look like is very humbling. My husband watches as my niece washes my hair, for he is so nervous about hurting me and doing everything right. My second shower I am helped by my husband, it is even better than my first shower. Kevin puts in the stool/chair that was sold with the shower last year (that we have never used). God’s plan preparing for this moment. It makes everything easier. There is a place to set my drains, I can sit and shave my legs, I can relax and feel the water release the tension from my body. This shower takes an hour from the start of removing my bandages to putting on clean bandages and my pajamas. But it is wonderful.

My chest itches. The surgical tape will fall off on its own, but not until it drives me crazy. My daughter lovingly tells me I officially have the largest scar in our whole family.
Should I cry over that or embrace it and be proud of what I have overcome. But I have not overcome anything yet. I am still traveling through the darkness. But look ahead, can you see the light that I see? I keep myself focused on the light!

I am humbled.
By the outreach of family and friends – through calls, text, emails and cards.
By the meals that are brought to us out of love.
By the visit and hugs that I am receiving daily.
By the laughter of great stories that keep my uplifted.
By my sister and niece flying to my side to help, when help was needed and the precious gift of beautiful Gianna, my 7 week old grand-niece who brought pure joy into my week of suffering by her smile, first giggle and first roll over.
By the friends and family that are walking tomorrow in the YME walks in Chicago and Denver.
By the friends and family in Arizona that don’t have a YME walk in the area, so they are getting up in the morning and walking 3 miles in my honor.
I am humbled by YOU.

Grace Embraced: The Lord showers me with love through all the suffering, just as he does you in your life. Remember to see the light in the darkness and always stay focused with me.

Moving Forward

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dr. Jaskowiak called. She caught me at work, so I closed my office door and waited for the news. She began with, “so we got most of the results back and your case is so interesting.” Is that good or bad? I am cautious, since I don’t know how to read her yet. But she is always honest.

I have embraced the graces that I have experienced each day so far, so I not going to stop now, and there are more graces than worries.

So the news is:  The biopsy shows that I have a 8.2 x 5.7 x 4.7 cm (the largest measurement is in it’s depth)

Classified as a “infiltrating ductal carcinoma with lobular features” Grade two – Don’t know about you, but I thought that sounded impressive…or frightening…but I was going with impressive.

When I asked what stage it was in, Dr. Jaskowiak said it is T3, N0 – clinical stage 2B. If during the surgery they discover cancer in the lymph nodes they will categorize the tumor as a T3 N1, Stage 3A.

But remember, there have been many blessings also. A CT of abdomen and stomach were clear. The bone scan was clear and the right breast is clear. Two lymph nodes at left underarm are asymmetrical, which they will look at during the surgery.

So the next step is for left mastectomy surgery on Friday, May 4th they will remove the lymph nodes if they are discovered to be cancerous.

After approximately a 4 weeks recovery they will begin chemo, followed by radiation and possibly hormonal therapy. Six weeks after completion of radiation they will do reconstruction. So who wants to spend the summer with me now! Doesn’t that sound like the best summer ever? Well, really when you look at the positive, and that’s what I chose to do, summer is a wonderful time for all this. I will be able to sit on my back porch, go for beautiful walk, feel the wind on my face. I could go stir crazy in the winter holed up inside, so you see blessings!

I pray for the Doctor’s steady hands and all the health care professionals that I will encounter this week at the University of Chicago Breast Care Center. I know that the Lord is with me every step of the way and I feel my father’s presence as well as all so many people thoughts and prayers. I look forward with a positive outlook and the strength of so many loved ones.

Grace embraced: The laughter of my daughter as we talked about all the wonderful times we are going to spend together this summer, snuggling and watching family movies! The smile that I can’t help getting when I get a new pic on my phone of beautiful Gianna or the little man, Nic. The love and innocent of Daniel’s prayer for me and my decision. I love you all!

Fine Needle Aspiration

April 10, 2012

I met with Dr. Nora Jaskowiak, the breast surgeon, she and her 3rd year medical assistance examined me and measured the lump to be externally 5.5 cm x 3.5 cm. So Dr. Jaskowiak ordered a  fine needle aspiration.

Dr. Mueller and an assistant came in to perform the fine needle aspiration. They were able to take three needles of cells to be tested. The first needle was painless and then I think the hit their mark! The second and third needles were very painful.

Let’s see…that’s now 8 people who have become familiar with my left breast!

Grace Embraced: The grace was embraced as I sat in the waiting room saw the hope in the survivors that were sitting around me.