Friday, March 22, 2019

I Am Not Strong!

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series. Please join us on her journey!

There are a few things I keep hearing over and over:
  • You are so strong!
  • You are so brave! 
  • You are so positive! 
Let me tell you a secret - I am none of those things. Perhaps in moments, I am those things. When I am, it is not me that is strong, brave or positive - it is Christ in me!

This verse expresses it best. 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me

Here is the amplified version, which explains the meaning all the more:
He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.”Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me.

Furthermore, it occurred to me recently that resignation can look like strength and apathy can look like optimism, on the surface. I hate to say it, but many days I feel resigned that bad things will, in fact, happen - not maybe, absolutely. This resignation is a sort of acceptance and may look like strength because I am not "falling apart".

Similarly, many days I really do not care - I am apathetic. I am not complaining or having a pity party, though. So some may assume I am being positive. The truth is I am just putting one foot in front of the other.

I am not sure what brave looks like. Maybe brave looks like willingly doing what needs to be done to get to the other side. To me, this is just survival!

Do I want to be strong, brave, and positive? Yes, I do. And maybe one day I will see, in hindsight that I was those things during this time. I certainly have moments. But I also have moments of fear, resignation, and apathy. In these moments I hold on to these verses about perseverance: 

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 

We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.James 1:2-4

I am not even sure some days whether I will get to a better place or not. However, I am hopeful and one thing I do know for sure is that I am a survivor and God has protected me in many ways during this process. We shall see what I learn from this in hindsight someday down the road!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Timing is Everything!!

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series. 
Please join us on her journey!

February 11-25 turned my life upside down! However, God's providence was evident!

The evening of Monday, February 11, I was having chest and arm pain while making dinner rushing around getting ready to bring my daughter to gymnastics. The pain was acute for a few minutes and I got very hot. By the time I arrived at gymnastics less than half an hour later, it was a minor dull pain and my arms felt like I was carrying something heavy. This pain continued on and off all week. Friday morning I decided to call my family doctor to get checked just in case. I knew they administered EKGs so I knew they could determine if I should go to the ER. I was able to get an appointment that afternoon. The EKG showed abnormal and provided several possible reasons - one being possible ischemia (reduced blood flow), which can indicate a blockage, so I was sent to the ER.

The ER doctor assured me that most chest pain is caused by something minor and not to worry. A blood draw was taken and I was given a chest XRay, Heart CT and another EKG. I was told less than an hour after I came in that I was being admitted. The blood draw showed troponin, which is only present after a cardiac event. 

I was admitted and given an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound). All tests take came back within normal ranges. By the time I was admitted it was Friday night around 6:30. I was told it is likely a problem that needs more in-depth testing to diagnose and Monday morning I will be given a heart MRI and angiogram. The most likely causes given my symptoms were thought to be a minor heart attack of unknown cause or inflammation of the heart, often caused by a virus.  I would not have been surprised by a virus-caused problem given how many times I have been hospitalized this past year for breast cancer surgeries. 

Monday the tests showed the cause to be Spontaneous Coronary Arterial Dissection (SCAD). In lay terms this is a tear in the coronary artery. In my case, two tears. I was transferred by ambulance to another hospital with a heart unit and saw the cardiac team Tuesday morning. At this point I was told they wanted to monitor me and medically manage the tears, as one was irreparable and the other was showing good blood flow and healing. 

Tuesday night, I had a major pain episode and was rushed to heart cath for another angiogram. This showed that the irreparable tear had torn further. I was transferred to the Critical Care Unit, put on IV nitrogycerin and sedated to aid in healing/prevent adrenaline etc. After this treatment I was put on an IV betablocker for a half a day to see how I would tolerate a very low dose. Saturday at my previous hospital I had a vey bad reaction to a betablocker, where my heart rate would not come back up from high 40's/low 50s. The IV betablocker was to determine the best dose for me that my body could tolerate. 

Based on when troponin levels peaked, the initial event happened between Thurs night at 5pm and Fri morning at 5 am. The doctor said he believed that was accurate based on the amount of healing that had occured by the time I had the angiogram on Monday February 18.

Here is where the timing blows me away!  If I had went in earlier than Friday, troponin levels would not have been elevated. Since other tests came back normal, I would have been sent home and could have died. I would have told myself "they said I was fine" and not went back in. I believe God allowed me to wait. I beleive the Holy Spirit was guiding me when to go in! All the drugs I was given initially (at my stay at the first hospital) may have saved my life. If I did not go in at all, I could have died.

I had a heart view screening scheduled Friday February 23. It would have showed nothing and I would have assumed I was fine. (since my heart CT scan showed normal and it is similar). I am so grateful that I went in when I did. This whole experience was another reminder how I have always been led by the Holy Spirit. God has always been faithful to me - guiding me, protecting me, comforting me. This time was no exception!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Beyond Circumstances

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series. 
Please join us on her journey!

Grace. Comfort. Hope. Joy. Peace. They are all waiting for us to claim them despite our circumstances. I have recently been having a hard time adjusting to life as a cancer survivor as well as circumstances in my life that I would rather not be dealing with, namely several recent losses of relationship I was not expecting. It has thrown me into stage of believing lies about myself and has severely shaken my confidence. I KNOW the truth about myself in my head, but that is hard to translate to my heart - to really believe and feel the truth, DESPITE my circumstances and it has gotten me to think about how difficult circumstances are not the definer of our lives. We can move beyond our circumstances and experience peace and joy even in the midst of them. 

We are not stuck because of our circumstances. 
"We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps". Proverbs 16:9

We spend our whole lives thinking we are in control. So when things happen that we think we should have control over, it throws us off balance. The good news is that our plans are not God's plans. If he has better for us, our plans mean nothing. In fact, our plans often fall through for a purpose. We will not always know the purpose, but there is a purpose!

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" (The Holy Spirit) Ephesians 3:20

If we remember that we are not God and he can do MUCH more than we could ever ask or imagine with our circumstances, that can give us hope. We can get unstuck and not focus on our circumstances, but on the potential for great things, possibly BECAUSE of our circumstances. Maybe we are supposed to learn something. Or maybe we are supposed to grow in humility. Whatever the case, God is doing something.

"We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you" 2 Chronicles 2:20

When we are lost and do not know what to do, God still knows. God can do anything, especially if we keep our eyes on him, look to him for help and rely on him.

God is not limited by our choices.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" Romans 8:28

God is not surprised by our circumstances. God knows every minute detail of our lives before it occurs. He also knows how he is going to use it for good - maybe for us or for someone else. However, regardless in what way he uses it, there is no wasted experience we face. As long as we love him, he will use it for good, to grow us (or someone else) closer to him. Our choices do not limit God. He gives us incomprehensible grace in our lives.

"We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" Romans 5:3-5

God knows better than we do. 
"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways', declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts'" Isaiah 55:8-9

This verse has always given me comfort. It reminds me that God is sovereign. He knows much better than I do about me, my life and my circumstances. He is God and I am not.

We can have joy, peace and hope despite our circumstances.
Now Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 
Hebrews 11:1

May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" Romans 15:13

The Holy Spirit is at work ALL THE TIME in those who believe. Even when I am at my worst he shows me grace and gives me moments of joy, fills me with peace when I should be in despair, if only for moments, and  shows me the way. I am made to show his love to others. That can be done regardless of my circumstances.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Importance of a Good Medical Team

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series. 
Please join us on her journey!

As I am now in the "monitoring" stage of my recovery, I have been reflecting more on the medical aspect of my journey, especially because I see the medical professionals so seldom now and am missing them. They became such a part of my life during the treatment portion that it can feel like another loss at times. I have come to appreciate even more the importance of a good medical team. It is rare to find one great doctor, but even more rare to be blessed with an entire team of great practitioners!

If you have to face a medical issue, it is very important to choose a team that you trust and feel supported by. If that is your case, choose carefully and do your research to get a team you deserve and that you are confident in. In my case, all of my doctors were referrals. My OB, who was notified of my cancer after the first abnormal biopsy referred me to my oncologist and the team was referred to me by my oncologist.

I have been richly blessed in this aspect of my journey, having been given an amazing medical team. Given the nature of the medical profession, with doctors not being paid well by insurance, necessity to see many patients and therefore have little time with them, it is understandable when doctors do not seem supportive or invested in each patient. This has not been the case for me. All have been outstanding. Seven specific individuals (and numerous others for mammograms, tests and many medical staff) stand out as those people who have made this journey as smooth and easy as could be expected: Dr. Brandon Riggan, my OB; Kelly Lawson, Breast Health Nurse Navigator; Dr. Pat Whitworth, my Surgical Oncologist; Norma Krantz, my Nurse Practitioner who I see for most appointments; Andrea Cooper, Occupational Therapist who specializes in lymphedema; Dr. Steve Dunesing, my Chiropractor and Dr. Daniel Hatef, my Plastic Surgeon.

Dr. Brandon Riggan, my OB referred me for my first mammogram at age 40. My second mammogram, eight months later, a follow up from the first, was the time that the calcifications that were detected on my first mammogram were possibly suspicious and I was sent for a biopsy. Those results were sent to my OB and he called me personally with the results. He told me the news gently and with compassion. I have seen him several times since, and he is always concerned with my health and pays attention to where I am on my cancer journey.

Following the call from my OB, I received a call from Kelly Lawson, Breast Health Nurse Navigator. She answered my questions and referred me to my Surgical Oncologist. I was seen by him promptly after initial diagnosis (DCIS). Since then, I have called her many times and she has always been helpful and supportive. Recently she called me to check on me and see how I am doing and where I am on my journey.

Dr. Pat Whitworth has been named a Top Doctor in his field and it is obvious why. He is very knowledgeable and took a conservative approach, which I appreciated. From my first appointment, he was thorough, compassionate and made sure I understood everything about my condition. He made sure to run many tests after my initial diagnosis to get a clear picture of my specific cancer, including hormone and genetic testing and biopsies. He was honest with me about my options and welcomed me getting a second opinion. He performed my surgery with precision and excellence and as a result I had minimal pain, fast healing and quick muscular recovery.

Norma Krantz, who I see for most follow up appointments, and who worked with Dr. Whitworth during diagnosis and prognosis is also knowledgeable, compassionate and thorough. I am completely confident that in the case of a recurrence, she would catch it early. She listens, takes time to answer questions and has a great bedside manner.

Andrea Cooper, who I saw directly before surgery and continue to see for follow up, is also an excellent practitioner. She has a great sense of humor, so appointments are enjoyable as well as thorough. She made sure I understood exercises post-mastectomy and signs of lymphedema. 

My chiropractor, Dr. Steve Duensing has also been integral in this journey. I saw him directly before and after each surgery. I also see him for supplements that help with healing and inflammation. He is personable, kind, compassionate and even invited my family to his lake house to use his canoes when spring comes.

The doctor who I have had the most contact with is Dr. Daniel Hatef, my plastic surgeon. Like Dr. Whitworth, he has also received awards for his excellence. I have always felt like I was in good hands with him for my reconstruction. At my first appointment with him, he explained my options thoroughly, answered my questions and did not pressure me to make one specific decision, as I had a few options. He has also been honest about the limitations he had for reconstruction (namely the lack of fat for fat grafting). He has always struck me as a perfectionist, which gave me comfort that I would get the best result possible. He fully supported my decision to do bi-lateral mastectomy and worked with the insurance to make sure that it would be covered. He called me following my initial surgery to see how I was recovering and saw me every 1-4 weeks since February.

After my initial reconstruction (tissue expanders) I had a complication, which he took very seriously and did everything he could to help it clear up (and it did). Likewise, after another complication as a result of my second reconstruction surgery, he went above and beyond to address it, personally, even when he had no staff to help him. This is when I began to see how very much he cared and sees his patients as people. He saw me immediately and when it was obvious we would have to start over reconstruction on one side, scheduled it two days later. The day of surgery, insurance had not approved the repair. Rather than send me home and wait for it to be approved, he and his wife, along with other hospital staff, spent hours on the phone to get the insurance approved for surgery that day. He had to push back other surgeries and put me as a priority, given the situation. 

In October when I asked about twin to twin fat transfer (a possibility to use my twin sister's fat for the fat grafting step of reconstruction), he was immediately on board. He has been working with me on this since then and has taken a personal interest in making it a reality. It may or may not happen, but having his support has meant a lot to me, as I was afraid to even ask him about it.

Since July and through this last surgery, December 6, he has encouraged me on many occasions. He is always responsive when I have questions, returns messages promptly and is personally available for pressing issues. I have been able to be honest about my feelings about things (reconstruction, setbacks, etc) and he has taken them seriously (both practical and emotional concerns). He has been understanding about my frustrations and done what he could to ease my mind and normalize what I was going through. If he thought anything negative about my reactions to things, he definitely never expressed that or treated me with anything but kindness.

A few months ago when I was doubting whether I should have even had reconstruction, he listened and was very encouraging. He told me to please not doubt having gone through with reconstruction and not to feel it was superfluous. He has also told me he was proud of me on a few occasions. This is rare to find in a doctor.

Another rarity with a doctor is spiritual encouragement. On several occasions he has mentioned my faith, God's plan and prayer. This is a risky thing for a doctor to do and I was comforted by these things immensely. He has read my blog posts on occasion and has expressed finding them encouraging as well. I have so appreciated the vulnerability in this.

I will forever be grateful for the blessing of Dr. Hatef. He could easily give up reconstruction and other insurance cases altogether, given his skill level, and make a lot more money as a purely cosmetic surgeon. However, he chooses to get paid very little for these cases, and for that I am extremely grateful! 

I sincerely appreciate my whole medical team. This could be a lot more difficult to journey through with a less supportive team. I can really see God working and I will never forget what God has done in my life through them. I sincerely hope I will be able to keep in touch with them all. 

I am counting every blessing given to me on this journey. A great medical team is not the least of these!

Monday, December 31, 2018

How New Trauma Can Heal Past Trauma: Staying Present and Letting Go

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series. 
Please join us on her journey!

Can experiencing a new trauma heal an old trauma? I was wondering this yesterday as I realized past traumas now hold very little space in my life (hallelujah!). I even texted my therapist to ask her if this was possible. It seems strange to me that trauma can be healed simply by experiencing a new trauma. I am facing enough current trauma to work through to have to worry about old traumas, so this is such a blessing. 

I have had many traumatic experiences in my lifetime, the most recent being two unwanted cesareans and then pelvic organ prolapse after my traumatic VBA2C with my last child. These life events that once held a lot of negative connotations at the least and caused a lot of suffering at most seem so insignificant to me now. A lot of my suffering was caused by the stories I had around these events - who I was, how I failed, etc. My identity was tied so much in my mind to these things that I found it impossible to let go of them.  

As I thought about the REAL reason my current circumstances have led to healed past trauma, three things came to me - perspective, staying present and letting go. These are things I always had some control over, though this new trauma is what caused my mindset shift (prompted by the Holy Spirit). One does not have to experience a new trauma in order to heal from past ones. In my case, it was just the push I needed to change.
  • Perspective - going through any kind of cancer diagnosis and treatment can drastically change your perspective on past and current events. For me, all of my past traumas shifted in my mind from devastating to events in my life that I experienced. They did not have to hold so much weight. They changed me and are a part of who I am, but they do not define me. Cancer has minimized my past traumas in my mind and the effect they have on me and my everyday life from debilitating at times to very insignificant in the scheme of life. 
  • Staying Present - it is very difficult for past trauma to have a hold while staying present. I truly believe that much of my healing came because of the necessity to stay present while dealing with cancer. Honestly, I didn't have time to focus on much else besides taking care of my family. In this case, I was forced to stay present. However, I can always make the choice to be present, even when not in a situation that forces me to be present. Bing present has always been a struggle for me. I did not fully recognize the need to stay present nor did I feel like I had the luxury to do so. Now, though, I see the value in it more than I ever did.
  • Letting Go - Letting go of the past is much easier said than done. I have not made a habit of dwelling on the past, but I have allowed it to haunt me and hurt me. I do not know what the method for letting go is right now, just that it is a very important step for healing. I am definitely going to do the work of letting go, especially in processing the trauma that has resulted from cancer. I have managed to let go of most past traumas, so I am confident I can learn to let go of these most recent traumas and any that are a part of my future.
I hope I can use what I have learned about trauma through my experience with cancer and apply it to my life so I do not have to needlessly suffer. I do not have to experience a more significant trauma for this to happen. I can shift my perspective, learn to stay present and learn to let go to heal any trauma. The Holy Spirit has helped me along this path and to come to these conclusions. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will continue to heal if I continue to rely on Him.

Mercy Me - The Hurt and the Healer

Thursday, December 27, 2018

"The End" is Not The End

A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series. 
Please join us on her journey!

I'm in this odd place at the moment. I am a cancer survivor in a very real way - I'm cancer free and really have been since my mastectomy in February! How profound. Even more profound is the sense that this is not the end of my journey. No one tells those going through cancer treatment that part. It's never really "over". A cancer survivor doesn't just go back to life as it was before cancer. That was always my plan. I thought I could just forget I even had to go through it, especially since because it was caught early, I was able to escape things like chemotherapy and radiation and felt like I was never really facing much danger. Everything I went through was to ensure I would not have to go through even more later. I do not regret my decisions, especially given the emotional toll having faced cancer has taken on me, my family and my relationships. Up until mid-December, I was just looking forward to being "done". In my mind, once I had my last necessary surgery, I would be "done". I was sorely mistaken. This journey is far from over.

On December 6, as I was driving home from my first post-surgery follow up, I had this deep sense of loss, sadness, grief, depression. I could not figure out why. I thought "What in the world! I should be overjoyed! I thought I just had to make it to my last surgery". Two days later I met with the coordinator for the YMCA ABC (After Breast Cancer) program and was enlightened as to some of the reasons I am feeling this way.  Since then I have come to realize more and more why the last surgery or treatment is not the end. Apparently, according to my doctor, my therapist and the ABC Coordinator, these are typical and not an exception. 
  1. Adrenaline - During treatment / ongoing care, a person is mostly just trying to put one foot in front of the other. A lot of focus is on the "next" - the next appointment, treatment, surgery. This causes a lot of adrenaline rushes. The body essentially becomes dependent on this adrenaline, like a drug. Once these things are coming to an end - sometimes abruptly - the body craves that adrenaline and the drop can create a crash/depression. Many cancer survivors start taking anti-depressants sometime after treatment ends. 
  2. Body Image Issues - with cancer comes body changes. Body changes and body image issues can also affect marriage and intimacy. For me, I have many scars and ripples that may be permanent. We are still working to raise funds for a fat transfer from my twin sister to do fat grafting, which covers the ripples and gives a better chance to regain sensation (GoFundMe). I think this would also help me feel more whole. Whether or not I have that surgery, I have a lot of emotional healing to do regarding the changes in my body due to all of the surgeries. 
  3. Grief - again - during treatment, there is not the luxury to deal with every loss that is experienced. Many times, the losses experienced have to be dealt with after treatment is completed. This means going through all the stages of grief for every loss. A grief related emotion can be experienced when least expected.
  4. Fear-based response - One thing typical with cancer is fear. Fear, if not handled, can turn into anxiety or rage. This response can be incorrectly directed toward others, especially those closest to the survivor, or can be directed inward. Both can be very damaging.
  5. Cancer concerns - for me, about six months ago I became very concerned about having another type of cancer I am not aware of. Every ache.  or pain I have, I wonder if it is cancer. Sometimes, out of the blue I wonder. This is an ongoing, many times daily thing in the front of my mind always. I would describe it as being like a fly buzzing around my head - not debilitating but impossible to ignore.
  6. Relationships - all of the things above can profoundly affect relationships. Especially if loved ones do not understand or try to figure out the root of the behavior, a lot of damage can be done (sometimes irreparably) to relationships. I have seen the result of this in my own journey, unfortunately. It hurts my heart the damage that my behavior  has caused in my relationships. I have learned from every hurt I have felt or caused. 
I am currently facing all of the above things, on top of being utterly exhausted from so many surgeries. It takes up to a year for anesthesia to be out of the body. I am doing what I can to take good care of myself to navigate these difficult things. I am finding a lot of hope in God! I have to remember to surrender my fears and anxieties daily, sometimes many times! These two songs have helped me tremendously!

Maybe It's Ok - We Are Messengers

Known - Tauren Wells

Saturday, December 8, 2018


A guest post by an anonymous writer, which will be an ongoing series.
Please join us on her journey!

I just completed my next (and maybe last) surgery for reconstruction on Dec.6. This surgery included taking out the tissue expander and putting an implant in on my left side, nipple repair and I had my fallopian tubes taken out. I did this for birth control, but also to check for cancerous cells. Many cases of uterine or ovarian cancer start in the tubes. So we can get the tubes biopsied and see if there are any signs of cancer, which will give me some peace of mind. I am so glad to be done with this step. Last night a friend called me "so strong and brave" after my surgery. I thought "having surgery isn't brave, It's annoying and necessary, but a lot of other things on this journey require much more bravery than surgery". 

ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.

Throughout this journey, I have been called brave more times than I can remember. Brave to face my diagnosis, brave to make decisions, brave to handle complications, brave to have so many surgeries, brave to endure. Oddly, these are not the areas that I have felt I needed to be brave. These were just the practical things that needed to be done, like a chore. It has not been the obvious things, the noticeable things. It has been the less obvious, underlying things instead.

Here are some areas I have had to be brave:
  1. Asking difficult questions: I have had to ask questions of my doctors, other survivors, myself, God. It would be much easier to not ask anythingHowever, it is necessary for so many instances - to be informed of options and to get complete information.
  2. Sharing about my journey / being vulnerable: For a long time, I did not share about my experience, especially in the beginning. I have only shared face to face a few times. Only this past month have I shared with most people. Until November only a select few people knew about my diagnosis and journey.
  3. Writing this blog series: It is not easy to pour my guts out onto paper. I really do not like it. At some point, I had to get over it, be brave, and get my truth and experience out there!  This, I knew, was a call from God. So I listened and followed through, but it was not easy.
  4. Admitting I needed some help navigating this journey: Several months after my diagnosis I joined a cancer support group. Just recently, I started going to a group to address my anxiety, and see a counselor individually. Taking the steps to get there was definitely brave. Spilling my guts and sharing what I think, especially at times I am being unreasonable, is not easy.
  5. Starting a fundraiser for my last step of reconstruction: This has been one of the most difficult things thus far. I have never asked for money in my life and it has felt very selfish at times. I had to be brave, knowing many people will judge me for it considering the money is used to have a better aesthetic result. This surgery is not life-saving. It is cosmetic at face value. However, I came to realize it is not "just aesthetic" considering right now, as is, I feel disfigured from all of the scars and the ripples that could be covered with another surgery. I think I made the right choice so I can feel whole again. Of course, if we don't raise the money, that will not be possible. If that is the case, I will have to learn to accept my reconstruction as it is (fundraiser link: Go Fund Me).
  6. Going it alone: Much of this journey has been me and God. I have had long periods without help and have been isolated with very little emotional support at many times. I do not have to be brave when I have help. When I don't have help, that is brave.
  7. Facing Fears (daily): One thing I did not expect to have to address is fear of recurrence or another type of cancer. Early on, I found out that this is a very common reaction to cancer. For me it is a constant nagging feeling, like a fly buzzing in my ear...more annoying than debilitating, but disruptive nonetheless. It is impossible to feel at peace with this daily, sometimes hourly, sense of dread. I thought I had escaped this "normal" reaction, as I just recently started to experience it. However, now, it is so prevalent that it is interfering with my emotional well being. Facing this daily has forced me to be brave. Life continues so I must face these fears whenever they arise, 
  8. Asking for help: This has been difficult and definitely took bravery. I do not like to ask for, nor accept, help. I want to think I can handle anything. However, to be honest, I have never handled anything by myself, because I have always had God helping me. I have had to swallow my pride and ask for help MANY times. I so appreciate the meals, help with child care, school pick-ups, visits and help from my family (many flying to my state to help). 

I raise my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? 

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 

He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber. 

 Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep. 
The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter right by your side. 
The sun will not strike you by day, or the moon by night.  
The Lord will protect you from all harm; He will protect your life. 
The Lord will protect your coming and going both now and forever.

Psalm 121

Read other posts in this series:
To start at part one go here: