Nichole’s Surgery, thumbs up!

28 12 2007

This is Vera writing for Nichole.  Mom had a very succesful surgery today. Praise the Lord! Her lymph nodes were found to be without cancer.  However, we won’t know until her appointment with the oncologist in two weeks what kind of follow up treatment she will have.

 Mom was bathed in prayers and she felt them all.  Father Peter, the Orthodox Priest from Ft. Campbell, came and prayed with her before the surgery and spent time with our family before the operation.  He was a real blessing and a servant of God.  We felt a real peace about everything.

Mom’s friends Mary and Hope went to the chapel and read several prayers. They even read a special Akathist (a special type of prayer) to the Mother of God for cancer patients during the surgery.  Mom’s friends from all of the country have repeatedly told her that they were praying for her.

Thank you so much for praying.  When Mom came out of the recovery room, her cheeks were rosey.  She had so much color and she was coherent and in good spirits. This evening she ate a big meal and kept it all down.  She knows that she won’t always feel this good. The adrenaline and morphine are really kicking in.  She will go home tomorrow and I am sure that she will have many difficult days ahead.

It’s interesting to see how our animals have reacted to everything.  Yesterday, all of the animals were so nervous. They paced around the house, and Rudy kept wanting to be held all day.  This morning, their nerves were shot. They knew something was going on.  Our special needs cat Katie didn’t eat this morning and when I came home this afternoon she had not eaten anything at all.  However, after I came home to check on the animals, they somehow seemed to understand that everything was okay. Katie started chomping down and the dogs weren’t as restless.

I just talked to Mom by phone and she wants to thank everyone for their prayers. She gives everything a thumbs up. Please contintue to keep her in your prayers


The Last Frontier, Christmas and Tying Up Loose Ends

26 12 2007

The last frontier concerning who I am physically is about to come to an end on Friday, December the 28th.  I’ve known I’ve had breast cancer since November the 20th.  I’ve had roughly six weeks to contemplate it.  I am glad now that I’ve had those weeks to visit with friends, contemplate by blogging, and talking things over with my family.  When I started this blog on October the 29th, I had no idea that I had cancer.  I had just had my yearly mammogram on the 27th and never gave it another thought.  Mammograms have been something I’ve had done since l988.  It was a great shock to me–when I got called back for more pictures.  This blog has been a tremendous help to me in getting my thoughts out and not suppressing them.  I’m especially touched by the sentiment shown to me by one of my younger brothers who lives in Denver, Co.  He has never impressed me as being tender hearted.  Yet over and over again, he has made loving comments to me on my blog. “Little brother, I’m so grateful for your love and tenderness.”

For the past week, the reality of what I’m facing has hit hard.  Yet, I’m not bitter.  I still know that I have no desire to blame God for this.  We live in a fallen world, and sad things happen.  I’m also learning more about cancer and how to take preventive measures.  I had my pre-op blood work done this morning.  I thought it was very interesting that the nurse told me that there is a huge increase of breast cancer patients.  I told her that had to be proof that there has to be an environmental link.  She said:”Who knows it might be something like using deodorant.”  She was just throwing her first thought into the air.  Yet, a doctor in my parish told me just this past Sunday, that anti-perspirants are actually very harmful.  They keep toxins from leaving our bodies.  My primary care physician from the MaxWell clinic told  me the same information just a few weeks ago.  Whether some people have the good fortune to eat horribly and use all kinds of toxic things–and still live to be healthy is not the point.  The point is –that there are just a few such individuals.  Most people do get bad health from eating wrong and being exposed to harmful chemicals.  I certainly intend to do everything I can to eat healthy and stay away from toxic material the rest of my life.  My blog from time to time will be the heartbeat of my passion for healthy living.

Now on to Christmas–we had a wonderful time at Sandy and Rob’s home on Saturday night.  The evening was special because Jim and I were surrounded by our four children and their spouses.  John and Alex, our grandsons, kept everyone full of merriment.  They are very special little boys.  Jim and I went to their Christmas play at their church on Sunday evening.  They were dressed up as little sheperds.  One of the gifts that Sandy gave me was a pink coffee cup with breast cancer pink ribbon.  She had bought it in October–planning on giving it to someone as a gift. In her wildest thoughts, she never could have imagined that her own mother ,would be the recipient.

We visited the little Orthodox community at Ft. Campbell, Ky. on Christmas.  Mary , our friend , went with us.  It was a wonderful service. Orthodox Christians always enjoy a meal together after the Divine Liturgy.  It is a special opportunity to get to know each other.  There were not many people at this service.  So Fr. Peter sat down and answered our questions about the Orthodox faith.  We spent at least an hour and a half just talking with Fr. Peter.  It was a memorable time.  Later that afternoon, we drove out to the country to have a special time at Maria and Kirk’s home.  Kirk, Vera, and Jim and I played several rounds of the game: Apples To Apples.  Ben and Linda came out later.  We enjoyed a pizza dinner.  Our son-in -law Kirk is an owner/operator truck driver.  He  is gone sometimes for two weeks at a time.  It was really special getting to spend some time with him.

Vera came home last Friday.  She had made it through two stressful weeks of finishing up her responsibilities at her school and packing her things.  Her room upstairs is already full of warmth and beauty.  The two upstairs rooms have been empty for some time now.  Jim and I never bothered to even go upstairs.  Now the traffic is flowing.  We watched a movie up in her room on Christmas eve.  The animals love going up to see her.  They just march up and down the stairs.  Katie, our cat, who is so scared of everything is so glad Vera is home.  Vera and I are working on a plan to help Katie overcome her fears.  So there is merriment that our daughter is home. 

I’ve been working feverishly to make sure my household is in order.  Vera is still learning the ropes.  She has still been working on writing reports on her teaching to submit to the school.  So I’ve been working on making everyone’s medicine packets for at least ten days.  We all take a great deal of vitamins.  Jim has his major heart medications.  So I’ve been making sure that everyone has enough packets of medicines and vitamins to tide us over for awhile.  I don’t want to go to the hospital on Friday morning with any doubts that my household is firm. 

The most important loose end that I’m tying up,  is to keep current with my prayers and Bible reading.  Without a faith that is anchored deep–all other areas of my life would become just surface stuff.  I have so many Christian friends that are praying for me.  I feel those prayers and I’m warmed. 

This will be my last blog for awhile.  Vera will give some kind of update about how my surgery went.  The most important thought I can leave each of you now is this: seek first the kingdom of God, take care of your bodies and show tenderness and love to all who are a part of your lives.

May God bless each of you!

And Joy Shall Reign

20 12 2007

Again, Jim is in bed early.  After he went to bed–I washed my dishes and made some pumpkin bread.  It is cooking in the oven now.  The smells of the spices remind me of the spice cake my grandmother used to make every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It was actually a jam cake enhanced by the same spices I use for my pumpkin bread.  She always used to make a lemon icing for it.  I love the smells of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  I always remember my grandmother when I smell this combination of spices.

I ate lunch today with my childhood friend.  Sadly, she had to fly into town for the funeral of her grandmother.  Each summer she visits and we have a favorite deli we like to eat at.  We generally spend about four hours catching up at this little deli.  We like it because there are not waitresses or waiters who need to keep their tables rotating.  There is no pressure–we can just sit and talk.  So we met today and she gave me a lovely praying angel to encourage me in the days ahead.  We talked about her family and my breast cancer.  Then she came by our home to see how I had painted it.  She also needed to use our computer.  It was a lovely visit.  We’ve known each other since the fourth grade.  She befriended me–as I had moved from Michigan.  I had a strange accent and the children were rather distant with me.  I’ve always loved my friend for taking me under her wings in  my very difficult days of adjusting to a new home and school.

This has been an interesting week.  My brother whom I see so rarely, as he is a busy college professor, took me out to eat lunch.  That evening our former mayor dropped by while we were eating dinner.  He sat down and ate with us.  We had been trying to get our schedules together for a couple of months now.  He lives in a home in the inner city which has been made into a type of community center.  It is loosely based on Jane Addam’s Hull House. He invited us to visit and see how it has changed.  We hadn’t been to see it since it has been completed.  What a lovely home–made possible by the donations of so many in the community.  Again, he encouraged us to stay put in this older section of town and be a real shining light for Christ. 

I don’t have the grandchildren as often since Jim has a different work schedule.  However, I did have them yesterday.  I went to pick up John at noon from Kindergarten.  School was dismissed early.  John had a whole bunch of bags he was carrying.  Many of the children had brought gifts for each child in the class.  He also had a back pack full of candy.  I didn’t know he hadn’t eaten  lunch.  We did a little shopping.  He kept asking to go get some chocolate ice cream.  I kept reminding him of how he was stuffed full of goodies.  He didn’t bother to tell me that he didn’t have lunch at school like he usually does.  Later, we picked up Alex from his sitter and went to the library.  They are strangers to no one.  John especially will talk to anyone.  One of the librarians was sitting at a little table near the puzzle table–John just talked her ear off.  In the car, the subject of his not eating turkey came up again.  John asked me if chickens had to be killed in order for him to have chicken nuggets.  I didn’t want to tell him  the truth ,but I couldn’t lie.  He declared that his days of eating chicken nuggets are over.  Poor John! 

Today, Jim spent a great deal of time fixing up Vera’s room.  He is so excited that she is coming home.  Vera called when  I was on my way to the grocery store.  I won’t talk on the phone and drive.  So I called her when I got to the store.  She was tired from working on the final things she needed to do.  She has had quite a challenge of clearing out her room at the school she teaches at and getting her studio apartment cleared out.  We are looking forward to her coming home tomorrow.

The days are flying by fast.  My cancer surgery is next Friday.  Although I have had some down moments–I keep pressing on with daily living.  I’m so thankful that my life is full and busy.  It is time to take the pumpkin bread out of the oven.  Again I think of my grandmother.  I thank the Lord for all of His blessing.  And joy shall reign.

May God bless each of you!

The Story of Vera and Her Family, Chapter 4

20 12 2007

Chicken Pox, Car Troubles and a New Ministry

You grew to be the most teasing toddler. You know all to well the story of putting a tiny lightbulb in your nose. You used to pull antics like finding little objects on the floor–then you would look up at me and smile–then promptly put them into your mouth. You were the toddler that the health professionals had in mind when they warned parents to put everything under lock and key.

You also remember well the story of how you placed a shining blue key in an electric outlet. I think both of these incidents happened your second summer. I had to watch you more than any of my other children as you were always hurting yourself.

The fall of l981 brought chicken pox our way. Ben must have already had the virus but had not broken out yet.. I made brownies. All four of you licked the spoon and pan. A couple of days later Peter had a case of full fledged chicken pox. Within a couple of weeks each of you children succumbed.

That was my first adventure of having all of you sick at one time.. The news had just broken that children and teenagers were not to take aspirin for viruses because it caused “Reyes Syndromn.” For a few days each of you had a little mat in my room, so I could give you Tylenol and something to drink during the night. That was an extremely hard ordeal. As you started getting well, you picked at your sores. Even to this day, you pick at your healing sores.

You and Maria became such good playmates. You did everything together. I know you are familiar with the picture of you and Maria sitting in the toy chest.

The fall of l981 to May of l982 was also the year of our driving the now famous “Beulah” car. Our car had been parked because the transmission was dead. Our angels were watching over us– as we had taken our station wagon to Kentucky. After we arrived home the transmission went dead. In those days we had no credit cards but neither did we have any savings. So our friend, Don lent us his old black rusty chevy which my brother Phillip nicknamed, “Beulah.” It was held together with a chain. I was fairly naive about safety issues. I had to have been! Likewise, Dad was just as ignorant. But we felt like we had to have some kind of car to survive as a family. Under no circumstance today, would I ever knowingly ride around in such a car. (Poverty can have a devastating affect on our choices).

Now there is a story concerning the parked station wagon. We lived from paycheck to paycheck, simply surviving. As I mentioned earlier, we had no debt. However, we had no extra money either. Cars were always a terrible trial when they no longer worked. We had bought several “near goners” in our married years and drove them until they died.. We had just come to that point again in our lives. With no money available, we brain stormed for cash ideas. The only source of money that we could think of was to sell the sterling silver my mother had given me. We sold our six place setting for $600.00. Then we bought a l972 Plymouth station wagon. It didn’t last even a year. Those were painfully difficult days.

Dad had been on the second shift since November of l979. He felt like he wanted to have a day time job as Ben and Sandy would soon be in the first grade. He would be gone to work by the time they arrived home from school. We also had a dream of having a full time ministry. After all we were full time Bible college graduates. It seemed the proper direction to gravitate to. Our spiritual interests were in Norman Grubb’s writing. There was a ministry ,Union Life that published many of his articles. In fact, my brother Phillip, traveled the country with Norman as a faith missionary. The Lord abundantly provided for his family, so we thought we also could have a full time writing ministry. We had already started a monthly newsletter sharing our life in Christ. Again, we were naive and unprepared for such a step. In fact, the editor and owner of Union Life magazine was alarmed at our decision for dad to quit his secular job. He called us to encourage us to stay with secular work and do our writing as a sideline. Our families were alarmed but no one could change our minds.. Dad and I had made up our minds. Phillip told us later that he read the book ,The Power Of Positive Thinking because he was so shaken by our decision.

Dad quit his job in April of l982. By May, absolutely no money had come in for our ministry. Thus, we each took on part time jobs. We were hoping that this part time work would only be for a short time. A friend offered Art some work . Your dad helped this self employed handy man on various jobs. The first couple of weeks , dad earned a couple of hundred dollars. That along with the last of his paychecks from Atlantic Envelope paid our May house payment. It was a big payment for the early l980’s–almost $400.00 dollars. Not being able to pay the house payment, should have been a sign to us not to make such an unwise move in life. However, we lived with a type of false optimism. No one could tell us anything that would change our minds.

Don, our friend, offered Dad an equal split of pay on a big job. He estimated that Dad would earn about $400.00 dollars. Somehow Don never got paid for that job. So we got no money either. This family was so embarrassed by this , that they soon dropped out of our lives. We had been used to their company, especially on Sunday evenings. Nearly every Sunday night they came over for coffee. The had three children . Each of you had such a great time playing. Now we had no money. Moreover, we had no friends to visit with.

Life goes on. The little church we were attending merged with another church. We met a gracious older lady by the name of Alice. Alice insisted on driving by to take our family to church. She adored each of you children. Every time we published a newsletter she gave us $25.00.

Finances was always the foremost thought on our minds. I’ve already written how we managed to pay May’s house payment. However, now it was June and we had absolutely no money. Again, we brain stormed and decided to sell the fine china Mother had given to us. We received $270.00 for the china. A wonderful surprise came in the mail. Two dear ladies from Kentucky , each sent us gifts of $l00.00. That made our house payment with a little leftover for food. We scraped by with the simplest of foods. Another wonderful thing happened.. A mother of two young children, who had gotten a part time job two nights a week , offered me a babysitting job. I took care of her children all that summer. Dad began to mow lawns in the neighborhood. These small jobs paid for ultilities and modest food for the month of June.

It was a hot wretched summer. Our air conditioning unit went bad. Different people took some pity on us. One couple bought us a ceiling fan for our living room in exchange for Dad installing several ceiling fans in their home. Sherry also made each of you girls a beautiful dress that summer. Another couple invited us to a July 4th weekend at a campground area. They had a pretty cake baked for you, Vera.. You were so terrified of the fire works. Later that month , they gave each of you girls pretty bedspreads. You especially loved your little ballerina bedspread.

Different folks gave us vegetables from their gardens. I tried to keep flour, oil, eggs, split peas, macaroni and cheese mixes, peanut butter, powdered milk, sugar, Kool-aid, coffee and tea in the house. I started baking four loaves of bread at one time. Even though not one of you complained about the food, I could see the longing in your eyes for a little more variety. Once during that summer, we splurged and bought some store bought cakes. We were so excited to have such a treat. Another friend who was an insurance underwriter shared a leftover platter of meat and cheese from a work related buffet. We were delighted to have some different type of food.

The summer of l982 was also when we met little Matthew’s family. As a back up thought, Dad had brought home a large bookcase that had been torn out of a home that Dad had worked on with Don. We placed it on the street with a sale sign. We wanted to get $20.00 for it. Matthew’s family drove by and decided to buy the bookcase. Matthew’s mom, Patty needed a baby sitter. Matthew and Sandy were the same age. So Matthew became a regular at our home. Sometimes he was with us during the day. Other times, he was with us in the evenings along with the other children I cared for. Matthew also started first grade along with Ben and Sandy. Sandy and Matthew were great friends. Ben didn’t pay much attention to Matthew. He just kept on building his tree house–ignoring Matthew.

In July of l982, Dad’s sister and her children came to visit us. Daniel, her husband, was a Greyhound bus driver, so Elizabeth got to travel free. She gave us $25.00 dollars for groceries which we needed. That week your cousin , Beth, enjoyed playing with all the children that came to our home. Paul, Elizabeth’s son was just a baby. Charles, a friend, had dropped by some old blankets. Elizabeth spent the week taking the electric wires out of them.

Dad continued his yard jobs . I still had my babysitting jobs. Patty became a good friend to me, as Matthew spent more time with us. Another couple who we met through Union Life Ministries started sharing their groceries with us. She was a great cook and would bring over half of what she cooked. So that long summer which had some very discouraging times also had times of real miracles. Looking back on that summer, I would have to say that many angels stood by our family.

The Joy Of The Children and Getting Ready for Vera To Return Home

17 12 2007

I just went through our church directory and counted that we have about 33 children at St. Elizabeth the New Martyr Orthodox Christian Church.  The Orthodox faith believes in keeping the children in the service.  What a joy to see children as young as 3 making the sign of the Cross and singing: “Lord have mercy”.   Yesterday, my friend Mary sat on the front row.  She attracted several children.  What a delight to see them worshiping with Mary.  One of these children was about 7 and he was able to repeat the Nicene Creed, almost from memory.  These children are so attuned to participating in the Divine Liturgy.  If a younger child gets restless–parents are welcome to take them out of the service for a bit. One of my greatest joys is seeing whole families partake of the Holy Eucharist together. 

In our parish, we have a tradition where the children take the offering.  It is so sweet to see them gather up front. One by one they kiss the cross . Then they begin to take the offering up.  I always look forward to this.  I taught Sunday School for several months last spring and was amazed at the knowledge these young children have about their faith. 

One of the key reasons why Jim and I converted to the Orthodox faith was because we had participated for over 30 years in churches that were constantly changing.  The Orthodox Church never changes.  They have been using the same service written by St. John Chrysostom for hundreds of years.  In the course of our service ,our priest prays for so many needs of the world. We then as a parish sing out: “Lord have mercy”.  There are other little songs we sing in reference to his ,but the mercy theme is the most predominant.  We pray for our president, for people who are sick , for all who are traveling , for the earth to be full of plenteous food. We also pray for those who are held captive and persecuted for their faith.

I especially love the Grand Entrance where our priest and all of the alter men and boys walk down the aisles of the church with the Holy Eucharist.  We can reach out an touch our priest’s robe.  Then when he reaches the front of the church–he has a list of very special needs that he prays for. 

Near the end of our service–we walk up front to receive the Holy Eucharist.  We cross our arms–placing our hands on our shoulders.  We step one by one up to our priest where he gives us this sacrament personally.  After I return to my sit–I  enjoy seeing others partake of the Holy Eucharist.  We sing the beatitudes.  We also sing Christ’s words from the Gospel of John , Chapter 13:35: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” I love this quote from St. Elizabeth the New Martyr: “If you do not love the brother whom you see, how will you be able to love God whom you do not see?”  I have written a little post about St. Elizabeth that is listed under “Orthodox Saints”.  She went from a life of royalty –to a life of complete self sacrifice for others. 

We are all excited that Vera will be moving back home this Friday.  On recent Sundays,  we have been carting a car load of her possessions home. Hopefully, she will be able to get the last of her stuff in her car.  One of her adult students is bringing a car load of things also.  Maria  went through her home looking for extra furniture for Vera.  In our enthusiasm to clean our house out last spring and summer –we let go of almost everything upstairs.  So Maria loaded her pickup truck with a desk, a bookcase, a table, a clothes rack and a beautiful mirror.  Her neighbors helped her load the truck.  I helped her cart all of this furniture upstairs this morning.  It really exhausted me.  However, I’m glad that we have at least this good start for Vera.

The sun was shining today.  How wonderful after days of drenching rain.  I was able to get our dogs on a good walk.  Our walks have become fewer since Jim started his new work schedule around Thanksgiving time.  They were so excited to get out in the rich sun light this afternoon.  Then we curled up for a nice nap.  There is something very comforting to me about having my little dogs curl up with me.  To some folks that would be gross.  However, to me it is one of life’s little delights.  At night–Rudy, our twelve pounds of trouble, always sleeps under the covers.  I don’t know how she breathes ,but she always manages to wake up –full of vitality and ready to start her little trouble making antics.  Ticky likes to sleep close to my pillow.  Sometimes,  Sam, the cat, joins us.  What a comical team we all are.

So thank the Lord for the joy of the children and the joy of His wondrous creation.  Most especially–we are thankful that Vera is coming home!

God bless each of you!

Life’s Loveliness In The Face Of Suffering

13 12 2007

My friend Mary just left.  We had a nice lunch together.  She is my Orthodox sister who lives just down the street from us.  Her story can be read in part 6 of my orthodox journey.  She has suffered much in her life with bad marriages.  Her physical health is not good.  She has a touch of cerebral palsy and a huge dose of epilepsy.  However, she has a sense of humor that is beyond any person –that I’ve yet to meet. 

Mary has been crying a great deal about my cancer.  She tells me that she wishes that she could have cancer instead of me.  Yesterday, she cried so much that she ended up calling our priest for comfort.  I appreciate her tears and concern.  Mary has actually cried more than I have.  Perhaps I’m not really fully grasping my future.  Or maybe I’m just insulated with prayer.  I like to think that past sufferings have helped  me to asjust to my news of having cancer.

I’ve never had an easy life.  My parents divorced when I was young.  In many ways I raised myself.  In marriage, I gave birth to our four children within the first five years of our marriage.  I was beset with irrational fears in those days.  My husband made me get my driver’s license but I never really used it much–until I was 37 years old. 

It took me years to get past my irrational fears about so many things.  That was a type of emotional cancer that I don’t ever care to return to.  Our family always had so many finanical pressures.  Cars and appliances were always breaking down.  The children had spells of sickness that spread from one child to the next.

My son who is now 32 ,went through a horrible teenage rebellion.  That rebellion rocked our household . Jim and I could never agree on how to deal with Ben’s rebellion.  Then a serendipity came into Ben’s life.  During his senior year –his English teacher was able to reach  him in ways that no one else could.  Ben got his life together and eventually returned to his childhood faith.  Today he is a very sensitive , caring son and a wonderful husband to Linda. 

When Ben was 16 and in the midst of his rebellion–another tragedy took place.  Vera fell forty feet off of a mountain.  She has always told us that although she was headed face down–that a force turned her around.  She then landed on her feet and fell backwards–breaking her back.  She had to learn to walk again.

My children have always called me a basement prayer.  They can remember hearing my prayers in the basement.  It was my only private place of solace.  I wasn’t particularly devout about going to church.  However, I never gave up on praying and my favorite place was the basement.

Years went by….Jim and I became interested in the Orthodox faith.  Then one evening–he fell from his chair  at the computer and was rushed to our hospital.  Later he was air lifted to Vanderbilt.  His aorta had dissected up near his jugular vein.  He was in surgery for 11 hours and had to receive 14 pints of blood.  The Orthodox faith had given me a richness in faith that I had never known.  I walked with Jim through those months of recovery and relished a  lovliness within  suffering–that I had never known.  We both felt a special closeness with our Lord and with each other– that we had never known before. 

I’ve learned that taking up our cross is not the unusual.  It is the normal way to live.  Everyone has a cross to bear.  Mine just happens to be the cross of cancer right now.  I have no doubt that I will walk through this journey on a steady path.  There will be days that are darker than others.  I’m not naive to think that won’t happen.  However, I’m not afraid of losing my faith.  I don’t ask questions like: “Why is this happening to me?”  Those kinds of questions have no place in my heart. 

Instead, I’m asking God to have the glory from this.  I’m trusting that Christ’s love will reach out and touch others through something that satan would love to use to destroy my faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ felt the trememdous impact of suffering when he sweat drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane.  He prayed:“O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.”  (Matthew 26: 42)

I’ve learned so much through a life time of suffering .  I’m thankful for friends like Mary who deeply care about me.  I’m thankful for my family.  I’m blessed to be part of the St. Elizabeth the New Martyt Orthodox Christian Church.  Equally, I have many friends at the St. John, The Evangelist community from Ft. Campbell, Ky. 

There is loveliness  in suffering–if one has the eyes to see it.  My days as a cancer patient are spent just living life to the fullest.  I have work to do.  I have people who need me.  I am pressing on to just live a regular life–with faith in our Lord.  May each of you press on in faith , also.  I pray for my cyberspace friends.  I don’t know your names or anything about you.  Rest assured!  Each of you are in my prayers.  May each of you come to know the beauty of loveliness in the face of suffering.

May God bless each of you!

A Cancer Update, The Routines of Life and Music For The Soul

11 12 2007

Our home is quiet now.  Rudy, my dog is sitting in my lap.  The only light in this room is coming from the computer screen and the Christmas tree.  I enjoy this special time in the evening.  After being home for two days, Jim had to be in bed by 7:00p.m. for tomorrow’s work schedule.  I just love having the quiet house to myself tonight. 

Today was the long awaited day to see my surgeon.  He explained to me how deadly my cancer was.  All along, I’ve just not soaked that in.  I knew I had cancer.  I was somewhat disturbed.  However, the word “deadly” had never been verbally spoken until today.  The good thing is that it is not a fast growing cancer.  Amazement was written all over his face–that it was caught so early.  For you see, my growth isn’t even quite a 1/2 of a centimeter.  We decided that a total  mastectomy of my right side was in order.  I’m a third generation breast cancer patient.  During my surgery, he will take out 3-5 lymph nodes and a pathologist will test them right in the operating room.  If there is cancer, then he will remove all 50 plus nodes.  If not,  no more will be removed.  My surgery will be December the 28th.

We also talked about getting the genetic blood test.  My primary care physcian in Clarksville, Tn., wanted me to get that done after surgery– at the end of January.  Now, we’ve decided that it should be done before surgery.  If I test positive–we will probably remove my other breast.  We also talked about reconstructive surgery.  That will come at another time–when I’ve had time to recover.  I had hoped against hope–that I would not need chemotherapy.  However, if the growth proves to have been either estrogen or progesterine positive–I will have to have at least 6 months of chemotherapy.

I told Jim this afternoon that losing my hair bothers me more than losing my breast.  That is absolutely silly!  I know I will accept it –if and when that time comes.  I will wear a hat though.  There is something about a bald head on a female that is rather uncomfortable to me. 

After the doctor’s visit, we enjoyed eating lunch out.  My son and his wife had given us a gift certificate to eat out several weeks ago.  We had decided to wait until this day to enjoy that gift.  Upon arriving home–there were phone calls to make and emails to write.  I also had to get ready for my 50 year old piano student.  Jim had to pick up John from Kindergarten and Alex from his sitter.  I was thankful for routines that kept me from thinking about myself.

I hadn’t seen my student for three weeks, as she has had sickness in her family.  It was so good to see her.  I love teaching adults piano.  They often have had lessons in their childhood and want to pick up where they left off.  I laugh with her a great deal.  We have so much fun together.  I told her not to give up on me–that no matter what happens–I will still teach her. 

As I was finishing up her lesson, Jim and little Alex walked in.  They went straight to the computer to play games.  When Glenda left, I was searching for John.  “Where is John”?  Alex couldn’t stop giggling.  I looked in my closet and under the desk.  He was nowhere to be found.  Finally, my guys told me that they had stopped at Mary’s home first.  John had wanted to visit with Mary a bit.  Soon, Mary and John made their entrance.  John had a little secret that only Mary knew.  He loved letting me know that I would never know his little secret. 

We sat around the table with Mary.  Alex grabbed the library books and wanted me to read each one.  His attention span is not quite ready to listen to every word .  We read mostly by going through the pictures ,to get to the heart of the story.  Soon, their daddy arrived.  Mary went home.  We had a quiet, simple meal.  We had more emails to get out and prayers to pray. 

I then had kitchen chores to complete.  I make Jim’s lunch each night.  I also fix his medicine and make his breakfast.  He has to be at work by 4:00 a.m.–so I try to make his life a little easier by having everything ready for him.  The dogs and cats always need their food refreshed.  Litter boxes are checked and cleaned.  I just can’t blog or have any kind of fun until chores are done.

I looked through my musical library and found a whole book of Chopin.  I’ve played so much Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Debussy.  I’ve decided that I’m going to spend my months of recovering studying Chopin.  I’m looking forward to a new challenge.  Music has always been a part of my life.  Always, music has comforted my soul.  I spent long hours at the piano when I was growing up.  It helped sooth my pain of growing up in a single parent home. 

However, the real balm of my soul is Christ.  He is first and foremost my healer and comforter.  I read the scriptures and the stories of the saints who have gone on before me.  I pray the Lord’s prayer often.  I try to think of others and pray for many who are struggling in their own lives. 

So thank the Lord for wonderful doctors, everyday routines and the beauty of music!

God bless each of you!

p.s.  I want to put a plug in for my daughter Vera’s new blog.  She writes much deeper and more intense than I do.  She has some great things to share.  You can click on her blog “Operation Meaning” at the bottom of my webpage.