Saturday, November 5, 2016

I Believe

Today is a difficult day for me. I just found out a fellow cancer traveler died. I'm glad that she was went to the Lord on Our Lady's Saturday but it's a shame. She had been in remission for a number of years but it came back. She was a wonderful person. It's a reminder to me not to take anything for granted. Every new day is a precious gift. I know that sounds corny but it's true.
I'm also dealing with a new medication change. I won't get into the boring details of how or why but right now my joints are aching (a side effect) and I can't wait to get to the five year mark and be done with all of this.
I realize it's time to surrender AGAIN. It's an ongoing process that I'll be doing for the rest of my life. I also realize that if my head believes it my heart will follow. Surrender isn't an emotional thing, it's an intellectual assent and a conscious decision to buy into God's plan. This may seem really obvious to everybody but I need to remind myself.
So.....I surrender God!! I Believe there's a purpose to my life!!
Here's a music video that I think sums it all up nicely:

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A New Resource

I found a great new book for use in prayer and meditation. It's called Manual for Spriritual Warfare by Paul Thigpen. It's available at Amazon and Tan Books.
Despite the rather scary title it's really very helpful. Approaching the spiritual life as a battle and providing the tools for combat, the book can help when struggling in prayer or with life's stresses. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Scriptures for the Battle
  • Help from the saints
  • Prayers, Devotions, and Hymns for the Battle
Here's a quote from the book  on suffering from St. Louis de Montfort:

God Watches His Soldiers With Satisfaction
If you're to have the right approach to suffering, you must form the devout habit of thinking about the eye of God. What I mean is this: God is like a great King, who from the height of a tower observes with satisfaction his soldier in the midst of the battle, praising his courage.
What is it on earth that attracts God's attention? Is it kings and emperors on their thrones? No; he often looks at them with nothing but contempt. Is his attention focused on the brilliant victories of a nation's armies? On precious stones? On any such things that are great in the sight of men? No: "What is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of the Lord"(see Luke 15:16)

What then does God look upon with pleasure and delight? .....It's about the one who's fighting for him against riches, against the world, against hell, even against himself; the one who's cheerfully carrying his cross.  

Monday, October 17, 2016

I'm Not Alone

I just read a post over at the blog, Science Based Medicine. It's a site run by medical professionals whose goal is to "explore issues and controversies in the relationship between science and medicine."  They are one of the few places where there is a rational and objective discussion about the use of alternative therapies. Here's a qoute from the About page explaining their approach:
Online information about alternative medicine is overwhelmingly creduolous and uncritical, and even mainstream media and some medical schools have bought into the hype and failed to ask the hard questions. 
We provide a much needed "alternative" perspective---the scientific perspective.

Science Based Medicine takes aim at a lot of the so-called treatments like Reiki, Yoga, and accupuncture.
 The post, written by a Cancer patient entitled The Harm of Integrative Medicine: A Patient's Perspective, provides a look at the impact of all this experimentation. It's wonderful to hear somebody else voice my concerns. He discusses the feelings of being scamed and conned by his healthcare providers:
....all CAM therapies seemed disconcertingly like medical advice given by Dr Oz to me and as a result felt the need to do a little digging. Though fortunately I was able to recognize the faulty science by consulting medical textbooks and journals, I understand that most people are unabe to do that, which is how they are lured in. Despite discovering the truth, I am still left with the nagging feeling that I was misled and/or lied to by a hospital and medical professionals, which is something that no one should ever have to feel or be concerned about when ill. 
 AMEN!!!! THANK YOU!! It's great to finally hear a voice for the patient. The post is outstanding and covers a lot of important facts which include:

  • Many people will forgo traditional treatment and use CAM instead which will lead to their death (he cites actual examples)
  • Alternative medicine is costly and can create an unnecessary burden on struggling Cancer patients
  • Some of these modalties can actually harm patients (acupuncture increases the risk of infection)
He also discusses the almost coercive and sacrosanct atmosphere surrounding the CAM field.  People tend to think because it's Eastern and "ancient" that it's somehow better.     You know it!!!
I strongly recommend any concerned Cancer patient and/or their loved ones to read this post before considering alternative modalties. It's written by somebody who has been there and has also done his homework. It's well worth reading.
Thank you Jesse Luke!!!

Monday, October 10, 2016

I'm Back Again

I'm back after a very long hiatus. This last year was a very difficult one for me. My son was in an accident and nothing can change your perspective on things than a crisis with a child. He's okay now. But your perspective can change very quickly when you are visiting your son in the ICU. He's made a full recovery and is successfully started a new job but I definitely don't want to go through that again. 

However, I did gain something from the experience. I suddenly realized that I'm not as helpless as I thought and I even conquered my fear of flying. 
No..I'm not afraid of going in airplanes but I was fearful about getting lymphedema in my affected arm. This is a big issue for breast cancer survivors but luckily it didn't happen to me. Most importantly, I was challenged in ways I never could have dreamed of.  Here's some examples:
  • flew across country to the West Coast on a minutes notice at 3AM
  • slept on the floor of my son's apt for 6 weeks (an efficiency)
  • drove through rush hour traffic in downtown Portland Oregon (google maps can't even handle it)
  • thwarted an attempted break-in to my son's apt by a crazed druggie
  • navigated the Dallas-Fort Worth airport alone (it's got multiple terminals!)
I went through my own personal version of the TV series Survivor and I made it. As unpleasant as this episode was, I realized that I'm not as fragile as I thought. My cancer diagnosis may have slowed me down but I'm still me. 

I'm going to start posting again on some new resources I've found. I'll also provide an update on the issue of Yoga in the medical world. Sadly, it continues to become more prevalent. So.. stay tuned

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Vocation of Love

There are days when I struggle with feeling useless. My kids are grown and since my diagnosis I've had to face the fact that I'm not launching any grand careers. Although I do volunteer work and try to be a support for others, part of me feels like I missed the boat. I battled this issue when I was a stay-at-home mom with small children and it was easily conquered whenever a flu bug hit home or my kids needed help with an art project.

But now as an empty-nester it's harder to get my usefulness fix. Add to that the frequent image of the cancer survivor as some sort of superhero who's better than ever!! They run marathons, start businesses, and create non-profits. I started getting sucked into that mentality when I hit the first year mark. As part of my celebration my husband and I hiked 5 miles on a local state park trail. After that I decided to join a local hiking group and train to participate in 10-14 mile hikes and maybe even join their group that was preparing to hike the 2,000 mile Appalachian Trail!!

I don't think so...

I ended up seriously injuring my knee and quitting the group. I came to realize that more is not always better. But I felt like I had to keep up. I ended up revamping my workout program and I'm working out less but more often. My body is grateful.

Well, I recently found an antidote to my need to be important. It's a book entitled, The Way of Trust and Love  by Jacques Philippe. It provides a wonderful explanation of St. Therese of Lisieux's little way. As it turns out she also was afflicted with a dissatisfaction in her state in life:
Therese explains that although she knew her vocation....and was very happy in it,nevertheless she had a certain sense of dissatisfaction. So ardent were her desires to love our Lord and serve the Church that she would have liked to have all the vocations there are---just one wasn't enough for her!! She would like to be a priest to celebrate Mass,...a preacher...a missionary..and even a Papal Zouave to defend the Pope! (p.57)

So what was her answer?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

My Annual Ritual

Every year around this time I re-read one of my favorite books: He Leadeth Me by Walter Ciszek.  It's the story of a priest who spent twenty three years as a  prisoner in Soviet prisons and labor camps during the cold war. He was actually trained by the Vatican to serve in "Russian missions" but wound up in Poland during World War II. When the Red Army took over Poland Fr. Ciszek  wound up entering the Soviet Union. Disguised as a worker he accompanied Polish refugees with plans to serve as their pastor. Unfortunately, his true identity was discovered and he was arrested for being a "Vatican Spy."  First subjected to five years of Solitary confinement, he was then sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor in Siberia. Once released he lived as a Soviet citizen under constant surveillance until he was freed during a US/Soviet prisoner exchange. During this entire ordeal of starvation, brutal work conditions, and endless harassment (for being a priest) he still managed to maintain his faith in God and secretly provide many people the sacraments. He would often have to say mass in secret in the woods with a guard on watch. Prison officials would place him on the toughest details with the smallest rations simply because he was a priest. But through it all he never lost hope and was a beacon of light to all around him  This guy was a Saint.

So what does this have to do with surviving a cancer diagnosis?

Actually a lot. One of the most powerful messages of this book involves a simple truth: sanctity can be found by simply accepting everything that happens as the will of God. All that happens is ordained for our redemption and we need to accept it.
His will for us was the twenty-four hours of each day: the people, the places, the circumstances he set before us in that time. Those were the things God knew were important to him and to us at that moment, and those were the things upon which he wanted us to act, not out of any abstract principle or out of any subjective desire to "to do the will of God." No, these things, the twenty-four hours of this day, were his will; we had to learn to recognize his will in the reality of the situation and and to act accordingly. We had to learn to look at our lives, at everything that crossed our path each day, with the eyes of God; learning to see his estimate of things, places, and above all people, recognizing that he had a goal and a purpose in bringing us into contact with these things and these people, and striving always to do that will--his will--every hour of every day in the situations he had placed us. (Pg. 38)
There are days that I can't see the point of my life. I'll be dealing with some new medical issue or some really obnoxious person and all I can think is : are you kidding me?  But that's when I need to follow Father Ciszek's advice. It's the Little Flower's 'little way'" on steroids. All suffering has meaning and can lead us closer to God.

What I like about Father's book is the brutal, gritty environment in which he applied this philosophy. He found God in the interrogation room, work brigade, and miserable living conditions. Here's a short video about him:

Monday, April 13, 2015

Giving God the Steering Wheel

I've recently experienced another setback. It seems the medication I've been taking has created a state of early osteoporosis (osteopenia). I'm taking Femara which is known for this side effect but I didn't expect it this early.

I spent a good part of this week in a state of anger and frustration since I shouldn't be having this problem. I work out religiously at least four times a week and I'm a major source of income for the diary industry with all the milk, cheese, and yogurt I consume. And lets not the forgot all the calcium supplements I've been taking.

I'm starting to realize that when it comes to cancer there's always something new happening and I'm fooling myself if I think I'm getting back to "normal."              I don't think so. I need to realize that my life will never be same.

I also need to realize that I'm not in charge. God sends me these little trials for a reason  whether I understand it or like it. Pitching a fit and  flailing around like a bucking bronco are not useful strategies. I'd like to share a quote from Divine Intimacy, a Carmelite meditation book which provides a helpful approach to difficult times like this:
If we are disturbed and upset by trials, it means that we lack faith. Even when God conceals Himself, when everything seems to fail us and we feel terribly alone, we can be absolutely certain that God will never abandon us if we do not first abandon Him. Instead of becoming bitter or falling into despair, it is the moment to intensify our faith, to make strong acts of faith. St Therese of the Child Jesus used to say,"I count on Him. Suffering may go to its limit, but I am sure he will never abandon me." (p.177)
So I may not like my present situation but I'm trying to accept the fact that this is God's will for me.