Tag Archive | breast cancer

Remission—a Time to Rest

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken (Psalms 62:5-6)

 

Rest, Dream, Refresh

I’ve been in remission for nine months. Seems odd to say. I’m still having trouble wrapping my mind around having been diagnosed with cancer. It’s weird really. I have no pain, other than the neuropathy I acquired from treatment. I don’t feel sick. I have no restrictions.

I do tire easily. I’m told my body is still recovering from the chemo. I am also getting older. So who’s knows if my mild fatigue is from chemo or aging?

All I know is being in remission doesn’t feel much different than not having cancer.

There’s one small difference. I have a lot more appointments to contend with now. Every six weeks, my medi-port needs flushed. Every three months, blood work, a CT or PET scan, and a nice chat with my oncologist fills my calendar.

Wow! I never thought any of those terms would be part of my norm, especially an oncologist. But here it is. And I’m adjusting. I’m in remissions. I’m at rest.

On Wednesday, I go for another CT scan. The following week, I visit the oncologist for the results. Am I a little nervous? Yes.

Every time I go through the process, my nerves rattle a little bit. Will something show up this time? What treatments will they recommend? How long will the treatments last? How will my system react this time? Will the neuropathy worsen? And on and on my mind whirls with concerns. There’s always the possibility cancer will show up somewhere else, sending me back to the clinic as a regular.

Those thoughts might disrupt my rest, but they never jerk me out of God’s arms and the true rest He gives.
I hope the cancer never rears its ugly face in my body or in anyone else’s body for the remainder of my life. But the doctors can’t guarantee it won’t. That’s okay. My hope doesn’t rest on the doctors’ word. My hope rests in God. Even if the disease returns, my hope rests in God. He never fails, nor does He sleep. He took me by the hand and led me this far. He promised to stay with me, protect me, provide for me, and comfort me. He was proven faithful.

How about you? How has God proven faithful to you?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

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We Shall Wear Crowns

I recently discovered I missed posting this when I wrote it almost nine months ago. God brought it to my attention today. Someone must need to read it. His timing is always perfect.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

As I write this, I celebrate the first-week anniversary of my last chemo treatment. Hooray!

You might assume that my last treatment brought cheer, hope, and excitement to be finished with the ordeal. And you’d be right to some degree. But a bag full of emotions accompanied me to that appointment.

You see, while happiness and congratulations abounded, so did tears of closure. The oncology staff had been my social life, my friends, and my support system for the past six months. We exchanged personal struggles, funny stories, and future dreams. We had built relationships that transcended the normal patient-clinical staff affiliation. The receptionists gave me a paper-star necklace, and the phlebotomist made me a crown…both to commemorate my perseverance. Although I’m sure they do these types of things for others and I looked rather silly, I felt like queen for the day. So, my last treatment became a time of celebration and a time for sorrow.

Such is the way of life. We build relationships only to have them fade into the past like the morning fog gives way to the burning sun. Some human connections, like that of the oncology staff, are meant to last short-term, while others last a lifetime.

These lifetime-ships end in death, causing great grief to those who loved them. Mixed with the sorrow is great joy in knowing our loved ones, if they are believers, are with our Lord. Again, our last experience becomes one of sorrow and one of celebration. As we say our goodbyes here, we receive a crown there for perseverance—a crown far grander than any we can imagine—a crown of righteousness to present to the King of kings.

How about you? What has brought you joy and sorrow recently?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Setting and Meeting Goals

I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)

July 14, 2018 marked a major milestone for me. I completed the Ta-Ta Trot, a 5K walk for breast cancer awareness. Three and a half miles may not seem like much to many of you. But considering I had to use a shower chair to take a shower and a motorized cart to do my shopping for the first 4 months of the year, a three and half mile walk was huge.

Last year, I had to forgo the event because I had a chemo treatment a few days prior. At that moment I determined my family would not participate again without me. So in April, I began training. My first attempt got me to the top of the hill one block away from my house. Everyday, Gene and I walked a little farther. When I was too stubborn to admitted my own limitations, he gently urged me to turn back. He was always right about how much strength I had. I was always glad he insisted we headed for home.

Every week, I set a longer goal. Eventually, we were walking a mile, then a mile and a half. One day when Gene was at a men’s breakfast, I took our dog, Hunter, for a two-and-a-half-mile walk. I felt accomplished. My confidence soared. I could do it. I could.

With only a month to go, I still hadn’t passed the two-and-a-half-mile marker. No matter how hard I pushed myself, that was the extent of my strength. Doubts began to seep into my fortitude. But we kept trying.

The week before the 5-K, Gene and I went to a nearby park with a path and mile markers. We walked three miles that day. What a boost. At that point, I knew I could do it.

I can’t begin to tell you the overwhelming sense of accomplishment I felt when I walked the last leg of the Ta-Ta Trot. It was one of the biggest events in my life. Yet, there was no fanfare, no cheers, no awards. No one noticed, except my family who walked with me. In fact, we were almost the last ones to cross the finish line.

I know I’ll never be the first one to cross the finish line of any sort of a race. That has never been one of my goals.

But there is a race in which I will receive a crown. That has been and always will be my greatest goal—to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

How about you? What have you completed that has given you a sense of accomplishment?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

A Witness in the Devil’s Den

Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:9)

Although most bars stir my spirit in a negative way, I occasionally enter one for the food. I don’t know why they have such good cooks. Such was the case at a bar near our cabin, that and the fact that there are few places to eat out in the northern tier. I must admit I felt very uncomfortable the first time we went there to eat. I didn’t even enjoy my meal. Regardless, I agreed to go there several more times and found certain foods to my liking.

This spring Gene offered to take me there again. It was a slow night. The owner/waitress paused at our table for conversation. It led to Gene telling her about my cancer experience. She was most sympathetic as I added the events of the previous year. In 2016, I was treated for melanoma. Gene’s psa began to climb again, eight years after having his prostate removed. He had to have 38 radiation treatments, Our younger daughter had thyroid cancer and had to have the gland and all the lymph nodes on the right side of her neck removed and radiation three months later. My one sister had a benign tumor on her adrenal gland and had to have surgery. My other sister was also diagnosed with breast cancer, had a lumpectomy, and radiation. My mother fell, was placed in a nursing home in November and met Jesus January 5, 2017.

The waitress shook her head in dismay and said, “Some say God won’t give you more than you can bear. I never understood that. It seems to me He gave you and many other people I know more than you can handle.”

I may have read too much between the lines, but I heard a cry of despair and a desire to believe. She looked so puzzled and forlorn. Her heart obviously ached and struggled with why God expected people she cared about to bear up under great hardships.

I agreed with her and told her so. “God does give us more than we can handle. It’s His intent to bring us to a place where we have to give up on our own resources and strengths and fully rely on Him. That was what this journey through cancer wastelands taught Gene and me.”

The waitress smiled and nodded. Her eyes glistened. “That makes a lot of sense to me. I can believe that.”
She seemed to have had a great burden lifted from her shoulders at that moment. And so did I.

Jesus would eat there. He would share His message of repentance, love and grace with her. He wouldn’t judge me for going there either. In fact, I believe He sent Gene and me there that evening to have that conversation with His bewildered child. Too often we limit our area of witness because of self-righteous thinking.

I look forward to going to that establishment now, not because of the food, but because of the waitress and other people I may meet. Who knows. God may have another opportunity waiting for Gene and me to share His wonderful news of salvation.

How about you? What unlikely place have you found opportunity to witness?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Expectations Debilitate

Gray hair is a crown of glory. It is gained in a righteous life. (Proverb 16:31)

Excitement stirred within me when I first felt “stubbies” on my head. The thrill faded quickly when the color of those “stubbies” appeared. White!

No, that’s not right.

“Your hair will most likely come in thicker, curly, and a different color,” they said. I expected dark, auburn maybe, or red even. Golden blonde, as in my youth, appeared in my dreams. But white? Seriously? Silver threads had overtaken my golden strands years ago. I had chosen to enable the gold to maintain its rightful position as the sole heir to the crown on my head, with a little help from Lady Clairol. So, to say my expectations were devastated is an understatement.

Granted curls now enhance my locks. And it is thicker. Two out of three aint bad as they say. But I struggled with white hair. It ages a person. Why the trend for shades of silver caught the attention of young women, I’ll never understand. I want to say to them, “You’ll get there soon enough, honey. And you’ll hate it when you do.” I had heard 60 is the new 40, and I was livin’ it. But thanks to cancer, my age caught up to me and slapped me across the face.

Gray hair maybe my crown of glory, but I sure am not living righteously when I complain.

I need reprimanded for an ungrateful heart. Instead of being thankful for all the blessings the Lord has granted me through this cancer run, I grumble over white hair. The time and energy I waste on fretting about my appearance could, should be spent on rejoicing. I should share all the good things occurring in my life. Let’s face it, if white hair is the only thing I have to concern myself with, live is beyond good.

But expectations dilute praise. Expectations wrestle with joy. Expectations blind us to the value of our true appearance. Expectations debilitate us more than neuropathy.

Just like cancer can destroy our bodies, expectations can destroy our souls. We can fight back.

Here’s how I plan to level my expectations:

  1. Listen to others. Many people have complimented me on my new hair. They can’t all be just trying to be nice.
  2. Focus on the positive. God has enabled me to do everything I could do before. I’m getting stronger every day. I am victorious.
  3.  Accept myself as I am now. Love and acceptance abound toward me from those closest to me, as well as from God. I need to do the same.
  4. Praise instead of whine. Yes, develop an attitude of gratitude. I have much more to be thankful for than to complain about.
  5. Embrace my new normal. Stop comparing myself to others or to the way things were before cancer.
  6. Continue doing what God called me to do—encourage others.
  7. Lift up my eyes to Heaven and remember my destination.
  8. Prepare for that destination and help others prepare for Jesus’ return.

How about you? How do you level your expectations?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Cancer Reveals God

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3)

A friend of mine commented my last blog post: Dandelions, I learned when I began teaching outdoor ed, are not native to North America. The settlers brought them here, because they didn’t know what kinds of greens would be safe to eat here in the New World, but they knew they could eat the greens of dandelions in the spring, and they were prolific. They’re prolific alright. Thank goodness the bees like them, otherwise they’d have one less redeeming quality.

Although I confessed my love for dandelions last week, I understand why others dislike them. Dandelions show up in one spot and, if not dealt with properly, they show up in other areas. They invade and take over until everything is infested. They’re hard to get rid of and seem to always return no matter what you try or how successful you think you are at getting rid of them.

Cancer’s a lot like dandelions. If not treated, the malignant cells multiply and show up in unexpected areas. No matter how successful your treatments are at getting rid of them, the abnormal cells often return with a vengeance.
This dreaded disease has far less good characteristics than do dandelions. In fact, I can only think of one…

Cancer happens so the works of God might be displayed in us. I’ve said it before and if time continues, I’ll say it again and again. God reveals many of His magnificent attributes to us during times of crisis.

Jesus Will Carry You

One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had to date while going through this cancer journey is God’s peace. It enveloped me during my chemo treatments, like the calmness in the eye of the storm. It sustains me now. When I feel overwhelmed about “what ifs,” the Lord reminds me of His peace. He didn’t calm the storm. He carried me through it. He’s not going to leave me now or ever.

How about you? What has God taught you during your storm?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks

Why I Love Dandelions

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3)

Some people consider dandelions an annoying weed that they most destroy at all costs. Our neighbor had been one of those, out every day with herbicides and garden tools killing the plant the moment it popped its tiny head above the ground’s surface.

I, on the other hand, love dandelions.

They mark spring with their bright yellow faces. But that’s not why I love them. They make good wine. But that’s not why I love them. Served with a hot bacon dressing, they make a fine side dish for ham. But that’s not why I love them. They also make mighty tasty jelly. But that’s not why I love them.

                          Dandelion Smiles

I love dandelions because nothing puts a smile on a child’s face more than giving her mother a bouquet of freshly picked flowers. And what kind of flowers are readily available to children? Dandelions.

This week, my daughter and her two-year-old daughter ushered me down memory lane about thirty-five years, as I watched them pick dandelions. Little Lilly’s eyes sparkled with delight with each pluck of a stem just like her mother’s eyes sparkled when she and I picked dandelions so many years ago. She was so proud of her accomplishment. What a cherished memory.

In many ways, dandelions remind me of me.

Cancer has left me with the mark of suffering. I’m not as strong and vibrant as I had been. I don’t have the motivation to do the things I once did. I can’t even walk like I did. I lack stamina. To make matters worse, like a dandelion, my yellow hair has turned white and flighty.

It may be difficult to find beauty and value in my current condition, but my Father loves me with an everlasting love. When He looks at me, His eyes sparkle with delight. He draws me near and holds me when I’m feeling down. Even when I’m feeling good, He’s there admiring me. Oh not because of anything I’ve done or how I look but because of who He is and what Jesus has done for and in me. When He looks on me, His glory shines over me. I’m precious in His sight.

That’s why I love dandelions.

How about you? What flower that speaks to your heart?

See you in a twinkling,
Brenda K. Hendricks