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Maybe a bit of comfort

CheeseQueen57's picture
CheeseQueen57
Posts: 779
Joined: Feb 2016

My pastor asked me to share last week at our service what has helped me through the past couple years. Here‘s What I shared:

 

 

Becoming a Cancer Survivor

“It is the name of Jesus which, through faith in him, has brought back the strength of this one whom you see here…that has restored this one to health” Acts 3:16

 

 Two years ago my family and I were faced with my diagnosis of Stage 3 uterine cancer. I include my family because cancer not only affects the person who has it, it also affects her family forever too.  I want to share with you today what got me through the months of chemo and radiation, the fears of losing my life, and the continuing fears, dealing with the side effects of treatment, and trying to not let cancer steal my joy for living. 

 

 I was totally unfamiliar with the underworld of cancer treatment.A friend of mine sent me this lifesaving book “Praying Through Cancer-A 90 Day Devotional for Women.”  And similar to chapter 4 in the book, the first thing I did when I was first diagnosed is to throw myself a party- a pity party.  

 

• The first guest to arrive was fear-in his gift I found fear that I would die

 

• The next guest was Doubt-In his gifts I found doubt that I would ever see future grandchildren, I was devastated, heartbroken, and sad for all the future family events for which I would not be present

 

• Not far behind was Anger: His gift contained anger at how cancer would turn my life upside down. Anger to think that Angelo would be enjoying our hard-earned retirement savings living on a golf course in Florida with his new, younger, thinner wife. And I suppose a little anger at God

 

• Dread seemed to take his time getting to the party-His gift was the dread of the treatments and side effects, dread of losing my hair, dread of losing my identity, losing my practice

 

• The last guest to arrive was Jesus.  I raced toward Him and quickly opened His gift to discover 

 

o Hope...promise for the future

 

o Strength...the ability to endure

 

o Grace...God's help

 

o Comfort...in pain,trouble,and anxiety

 

o Peace...calmness

 

o Healing...restoration of mind,spirit,and body

 

o Joy...a sense of well-being

 

o Love...compassion and devotion shown by God

 

So it was okay to throw myself a pity party once in a while.  But I remembered to always invite Jesus and his gifts.  I don't have many pity parties. I usually stop them before the party gets in full swing. I'm too busy working on making sure none of these fears come true and I haven't got time for the pain. 

 

 I’d like to share a story that was written by Kelsey Finnie in a publication in 1987. I’m not sure what the publication was, perhaps something like the Upper Room.  The story is called Flying With the Flock. Kelsey writes: 

 

 “Housebound by illness, I am limited to viewing the world outside from my window. I was interested to see one day a flock of geese fly past in a “ V” formation. I knew this was no accidental grouping but planned pattern that is vitally important to their migratory flight. 

 

 As each bird flaps its wings it creates an upward lift to the one following. If a bird begins to lag, the others”honk” it back into position. As the bird in the lead position tires, it moves back in the formation and another bird takes the lead. I heard somewhere that when each bird is doing its part, the range for the flying flock is nearly twice what it would be if each bird flew alone. 

 

 The birds offer us a lesson about living our faith. The Christian life is not always easy and smooth; we often experience depression, ill health, bereavement.  Sometimes we have to fly alone. But we can fly with the flock by participating in the life of a caring church. Within its fellowship we bear one another’s burdens, give an upward lift to others, and are called lovingly back into position when our faith waivers.”

 

 I want to tell you all how I was given and still am experiencing my “upward lift” and am “called lovingly into position when my faith waivers.”  I am fortunate to be supported by two caring churches: Harriman, my home church, and St Matthews by the Sea, my church at the shore as well as a supportive network of extended family and friends. This basket contains all the cards and letters I’ve received from my prayer warriors over the last two years.  

 

 This precious and sustained support from my churches prayer warriors along with my friends and family warriors is what has sustained me.  One of the first things I did is to try to rally my friends and family around me. Some cancer survivors choose to surround themselves with a small group of people but I figured I needed all the prayers I could get to fight this beast. Although I didn’t want my condition plastered on Facebook, I did set up a Caringbridge website to keep family and friends informed. I also discovered The Cancer Survivors Network which to this day provides a network of love and supportive women who are in various stages of treatment for uterine cancer.  As we all question whether the side effects of the treatment were worth the time it might buy us, one awesome participant put it this way:  "We can't change yesterday into tomorrow so we must step out of it courageously and embrace the newness of tomorrow with an awesome new point of view and an unshakable resolve to absolutely not lose the rest of your life to cancer."   

 

 And I began making careful memories to sustain me in the challenging times ahead. 

 

 I won’t go in to detail about all I’ve been through but it's included surgery, 14 weeks of chemo with some devastating side effects including a stroke and a prescribed medication that caused a swelling of my optic nerves in both eyes that took a year to heal and caused permanent damage.  I also was treated with 28 days of external pelvic radiation and 3 sessions of internal radiation which caused my bones to be very brittle causing sacral and lumbar fractures. I have various bowel and bladder issues and now have a kidney stent due to radiation damage. My online forum sisters refer to this as “chemo and radiation…the gifts that keep on giving”. Eight months after I finished my frontline treatment, my cancer returned. So I will never be cured. It’s currently in remission but could rear its ugly head again anytime. You see, anyone with cancer is never truly cured. They can go through long periods of remission, but it can always come back. 

 

 But you really don’t know this at first, and so you prep for the fight to save your life and return to your normal life. What you don’t know is your life will never return to normal. You know those commercials you see on TV with those people with breast cancer or lung cancer running around, happy, not a care in the world?  I guarantee real people on those drugs are not living like that. People try to adjust to what they call their “new normal”.  Most cancer survivors hate that term. 

 

 My cancer journey lead me to many new relationships as well as different aspects of current relationships. It began with a letter I received from a woman from my shore church. I’m not sure I even know this woman but she was kind enough to take the time to write me a nice letter. She also is a cancer survivor, experiencing multiple reoccurrences.  Her recommendation was to take one day at a time.  She encouraged me by saying that her positive attitude, laughter, love and most of all faith got her through some of the toughest times of her life and had her sending that note to me.  She assured me that she would lift me up in her daily prayers.   What a blessing she was to me!  

 

 In the beginning of my cancer journey, my first thought when I woke up was “I can’t believe I have cancer!”  But gradually through prayer and meditation I changed that thought to, “Yes! Praise God!  I’m alive another day!”

 

 Just before I was wheeled in to surgery, my dear friend Debbie shared this mantra with me

 

I am safe

 

I am protected

 

I am strong

 

I am surrounded by love

 

Suddenly I felt a calmness (I don’t think it was the drugs) that everything was going to be alright. 

 

 Now this is definitely a case where God’s plan for my life doesn’t seem wonderful. But I’ve tried to trust God's plan, even if it means the loss of things and abilities I hold dear. I need to let go of my pre-conceived notions of what my life should be like. I'm working on that. And it’s my faith in that plan that has got me through this journey with a calmness and mostly lack of fear. As Psalm 91:1-16 tells us: 

 

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day….”

 

 I’m living with cancer and the effects from my treatment every day.  But I feel the Lord walking along with me in this journey along with hundreds of prayer warriors, some I don’t even know. My prayer warriors are like a warm blanket wrapped around me.  These gifts haves given me calmness and peace to face tomorrow, as the words to the hymn Great is Thy Faithfullness:  “Stength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me” tells us. 

 

 If you’re going through your own journey, I encourage you to look to the Lord for comfort and direction.  And don’t forget your church family and your family and friends because it’s always easier to navigate life’s challenges when you fly with the flock.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NoTimeForCancer's picture
NoTimeForCancer
Posts: 2541
Joined: Mar 2013

CQ, well said.  Thank you for sharing, not just what you said with us, but with everyone else.  Hugs

barnyardgal
Posts: 197
Joined: Oct 2017

This is wonderful. And very needed this morning. Thank you for sharing!

MrsBerry
Posts: 102
Joined: Dec 2017

Oh Cheese, what a beautiful, uplifting message! I am in tears. Thank you so much for sharing. 

TeddyandBears_Mom's picture
TeddyandBears_Mom
Posts: 1501
Joined: Jun 2015

Cheese, Thanks for sharing. I think we can all relate to some or all of your beautiful message.

Love and Hugs,

Cindi

ezbitz
Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2018

Thank you for this post CheeseQueen57.   I can' tell you how much comfort this has given me today.  

I have a niece who is a 4B.  She has undergone surgery, chemo, ext rad and int rads.  She recently completed another round of rads for a recurrence on her supraclavicular area.  She is just 34 years old with a 12 year old kid.   She has been having this back discomfort and bowel issues that is making her uncomfortable.    My heart breaks each time she feels the pain, wishing that I could just take her place.  I logged in to CSN hoping for comfort and I saw this.  Thank you for being God's lift to me.  

My prayers are with you and your family. 

Harmony09's picture
Harmony09
Posts: 75
Joined: Aug 2017

Thank you so much for sharing this with us Cheese. It is utterly beautiful! I've bookmarked it, knowing I will need to return to it during the upcoming lows. You really have a FANTABULOUS way with words! I can't wait to share this with my mom and dad too. I know it will bring them comfort and understanding as well. May God help us all stay near to Him and His gifts.

With gratitude,

Stacey

ConnieSW's picture
ConnieSW
Posts: 1415
Joined: Jun 2012

i, too, thank you for sharing. I wish all humans were as smart as geese. 

Armywife's picture
Armywife
Posts: 261
Joined: Feb 2018

This is beautiful!

Northwoodsgirl
Posts: 505
Joined: Oct 2009

CheeseQueen, Thank you for sharing your testimony about cancer and your faith. Well said....

Lori

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