The Almighty Physician

If you have ever faced an illness you understand when I talk about all the physicians necessary to care for you.almightydoctor

Over the past two years I have met with a gynecologist, breast surgeon, radiologists, cardiologist, oncologist, internal medicine, nuclear medicine, dermatologist, otolaryngologist, gastroenterologist, dentist, ophthalmologist, oncology radiologists, generalist, podiatrist, nephrologist and I’m sure I am forgetting someone (sorry). Each of these doctors were wonderful and a specialist in their field. I am so blessed to have the top-notch professional available at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Although they may have helped me along the way, the only true physician I needed was the Almighty Physician.

When I sat back and allowed The Physician to treat me, not only was I treated physically, but also emotionally and spiritually.

Now I see the scar that a surgeon left, but The Physician healed.
I have neuropathy in my feet left from treatment, but The Physician knows my pain.
He was there in the surgery, He was there for each appointment, walking right next to me.
He knows what I feel, what I need and what I can carry…and I will continue to trust Him with my life.
He is my constant, always faithful and always present.

Grace embraced through the moments I remember to pause and acknowledge the healing touch of our Lord Jesus.

“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do” Luke 5:32

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Anniversary thoughts

Today begins the Anniversary march. You know when you experience the “firsts” of everything.1anni

One year ago today I found my lump. Although I say “my”, I never took ownership of it. It was a foreigner in my body and as soon as I felt it I wanted it out. I remember telling my husband and he said lovely “it’s probably nothing”. I know he was trying to calm my fears and comfort me. But the one thing I was not was fearful.

I was with my father on November 24, 2006 when the doctor drained the fluid from his lungs and told him the tests were stage 4 lymphoma. He looked at my mother and lovely said “we’ve had a great life”. He would fight with everything he had, but he was not fearful but calm in those first few moments.

I remember thinking immediately of my dad and how strong he was and how faith-filled he was. And I felt the same way. I was not fearful, but I was concerned. Yet, I felt a peace over me. As if the Lord was saying to me “I’ve got this”. And I believed…

“It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority” Acts 1:7

And I have always trusted in my Lord…and He has never failed me.

I trusted His plan is so much better than any plan I could imagine.
I trusted His timing is perfect and that I will not be disappointed.
I trusted His healing power to guide those ministering to me.
I trusted His joy in seeing His glory in all that I would undergo.

And He exceed any expectations I could have imagined.

I would not wish this journey on anyone and I would not choose to go through it again. But I was so blessed with each step of this journey. You have read before all those that have helped me. But spiritually nothing compares to the depth of the relationship between Jesus and me.

He hears from me daily and many times throughout the day.

And I hear from Him more than ever…
I hear his voice in the friends that have reached out to me.
I hear his voice in the family that have cared for me.
I hear his voice in the doctors as they treat me.
I hear his voice in all the support techs and nurses that have shown amazing kindness.

His grace surrounds me.

When I began this blog I named it Grace Embraced, because I knew I felt grace filled moments as I walked those first few weeks alone with my husband and children. Now I know God named this Grace Embraced because He planned on filling every moment of my life with grace, as He has always done…but my eyes are now wide open and I can clearly see the grace as it flows around me.

Grace is Love.
And
Love is God.

To all the wonderful women in my life…for me, do a self-exam this evening…be aware of your own body…don’t put off until tomorrow…I love you all too much to not remind you…

So even on this anniversary that no one wants to remember, and as I approach the first anniversary of surgery and first anniversary of chemo, etc. I remember my dad’s words “we’ve had a good life” and I’m still enjoying it! Thanks Dad for looking down on me and Praise to the Lord for his goodness endures forever and flows over me we grace! According to my medical oncologist, my chances are statistically 50/50 that I will be here for more than 5 years. But my God knows statistics don’t hold any value with Him and I will continue to embrace and follow Him!

Grace embraced through you all; and you all are embraced with all the graces I have received, because I cannot receive them without sharing them with you.

“the day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36

And the answer is…

No tumor!

My bone scan was normal! No signs of arthritis either! No abnormalities! Great news!

My mind is at ease, but my aches are still there. As a cancer patient, every twinge and every ache become a question of where did that come from? Could it be a symptom of something worse?

I learned a valuable lesson this past month. I need to continue to listen to my body. When I have symptoms and aches, I need to address them.  This terrible disease can come back and I never want to let it grow in my because I choose to close my eyes to symptoms.

I have to be my own advocate when dealing with health care professions.
I had mentioned my back and rib pain to the chemo techs after Thanksgiving. They did not ask more questions. I’m sure they see every kind of symptom as patients go through treatment. So their non-concern gave me permission to not be concerned also. I also mentioned it to the dermatologist I saw earlier this month to remove a suspicious mole. Still no concern. Every health care professional that I have dealt with over the past ten months has been wonderful and caring. But they don’t know what is going on in my body. They can’t feel what I feel. I can try to describe it, but it’s not the same. They are focused on the reason I am seeing them. I need to be my own advocate with new symptoms.

Well I now have a rolodex of physicians. Breast surgeon, Medical Oncologist (two), Radiation Oncologist, Dermatologist, Hypertension Physician, Otolaryngologist, Urologoist, Gynecologist and Primary Care Physician, along with all their fellows, associates, nurses, techs, nutritionist, and medical assistants. I’ve got people to talk to! A few months ago, I was asked if I was going to a health screening my office was hosting. I thought maybe I should go, then paused and realized I have been scanned, x-rays, imaged and blood worked so much this year, there is nothing a health screening can discover! I hope!

I am so thankful for all the prayers, texts, emails, cards for my concerns. I am grateful to the Lord for sheltering me from the worse case scenario of this symptom. Finally, I have opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of what await me as I move forward as a breast cancer survivor.

I embrace grace through prayers. I pray for all the women fighting this disease, that you find strength in those around you that care for you. I pray for those that have fought this disease and are surviving and thriving each day, you are an inspiration to me. I pray for those who fought and lost their battle with cancer, look down on those here fighting and intercede for us.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Philippians 4:4

Aches and pains

HEnglish: Aches and Painsalf way through Radiation! Looking forward to the new year…without the daily routine of radiation every morning!

I had a wonderful visit with my sister, Diane, who was able to come in for five days to help…and it was much appreciated! She also insisted, with my husband, that I talk to my Radiation Oncologist about the back and rib pain I have been experiencing for the past four weeks. The pain has been excruciating in my lower back, especially so when I try to stand up from sitting too long. There have been many times that I have not been able to stand straight up without help or grabbing on to something for support. It has been progressively getting more painful and debilitating.

I wrote it off to side effects of treatments, early onset menopause side effects, reactions from using my right side while no lifting from my left arm, or caused by the 20 pounds steroids have added to my hips and waist. And I was content thinking of the best case scenerio. Or was I blind?

I meet with Dr. Anne McCall every Monday during my radiation treatments. I agreed to talk to her about it. Then a few days before the appointment, a fellow breast cancer survivor reminded me that breast cancer most commonly metastasize first in the brain or bone. The light went off, the blind was removed and I began to breathe faster. My mind started to spin. I left our meeting with nothing on my mind but…”Is this a tumor? Will the new year bring more chemo? Is it back? Will it be treatable?” I remembered that Dr. Hoffman, my oncologist said if my type of aggressive breast cancer returns, it is not curable only treatable.

My drive home consisted of tears streaming down my face. I was so sure I have been moving forward. I trusted that the Lord heard my prayers. How could I bring this up to Kevin without worrying him? Was the light at the end of the tunnel dimming? What is the next step for my life?

I kept going back to my strength, my faith. I am surrounded by angels guarding my path. I had to trust that His plan was perfect. I had to.

I trust in His plan in my heart, but my head aches of the horrible possibility that these pains are more than nothing.

So on Monday, the 3rd, with my sister in tow, I spoke with Dr. McCall. I could see the concern in her eyes and knew her first thought was the last thing I thought of…bone cancer. Her kindness and compassion filled the exam room. “It could be lots of other reasons, but let’s be prudent and get it checked out.” So a bone scan was ordered for Friday.

Thank goodness my sister-in-law was able to go with me, she helped calm my worst fears. Friday morning began with an injection of tracers that will find their way to my bones over the course of three hours so that the imagining will show the bones more clearly. Then off to radiation for my daily dose of hazardous rays.

Mindy and I sat and talked about her upcoming trip to Italy, stopped in the chapel at the hospital and ran into a friend of my parents that volunteers at the hospital. She had a beautiful great dane with her that was a therapy dog. The distractions were so very helpful to keep my mind busy. Then three hours past and suddenly it was time for the scan. The bone scan was painless – they always are – you don’t even have to put a gown on, you just have to lay still while the machine does the imagining.

“Results will be at your doctors in 2-3 days” just sounded like, “continue waiting”… and so I continue to wait…

But I trust in the Lord, which has been my mantra since I began this breast cancer journey. I find peace in music and I know prayers of so many are with me and the Lord is carrying me, so I will climb this mountain too and discover myself in the place prepared for me.

Enjoy one of the songs my daughter gave to me in April, that gives me strength: I’m Gonna Love you through it

See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. Exodus 23:20

Grace embraced in the comfort of prayer during times of distress and worry. I find comfort in the memorized prayers of my childhood and the honest prayer conversations I have with the Lord daily. I find comfort in the prayers of so many that lift me up every time they remember me. May God’s grace embrace each and every one of you.