Saturday, November 14, 2009

Psalm for My Heart

I know I have not written on this blog for weeks now. I have been struggling with many aspects of the diagnosis and walking out the reality of some of my limitations.
I know God is holding me, and appreciate all the prayers of all the people connected to my life praying for me.
Please continue your prayers!
I have drawn closer to Him, and life goes much better when I am clinging to Him.
This morning in my quiet time I was reminded of:
Psalm 71

1 In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.

2 Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness;
turn your ear to me and save me.

3 Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.

4 Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of evil and cruel men.

5 For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD,
my confidence since my youth.

6 From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother's womb.
I will ever praise you.

7 I have become like a portent to many,
but you are my strong refuge.

8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long.

9 Do not cast me away when I am old;
do not forsake me when my strength is gone.

10 For my enemies speak against me;
those who wait to kill me conspire together.

11 They say, "God has forsaken him;
pursue him and seize him,
for no one will rescue him."

12 Be not far from me, O God;
come quickly, O my God, to help me.

13 May my accusers perish in shame;
may those who want to harm me
be covered with scorn and disgrace.

14 But as for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.

15 My mouth will tell of your righteousness,
of your salvation all day long,
though I know not its measure.

16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD;
I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone.

17 Since my youth, O God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.

18 Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, O God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come.

19 Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God,
you who have done great things.
Who, O God, is like you?

20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.

21 You will increase my honor
and comfort me once again.

22 I will praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.

23 My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you—
I, whom you have redeemed.

24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
have been put to shame and confusion.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Life is Good, but side effects still exist.

I have officially completed the chemo regime. My chemo doc words were to the effect of: If I thought two more treatments of chemo could extend your life 50 more years from 100 to 150 years-then I'd order 2 more treatments. I'll take the 100 years...
So, now I am on the "study" drug only...which has its side effects, but NOT as drastic as chemo. (This will be completed in June.)
My recent CT-scan is clean and clear.
I am grateful everyday, and am now processing what has happened in the last six months of my life.
My emotions feel tender, but I can manage life well if I keep it "in the day."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

#6 Chemo Treatment may have an extension...

I went to my 6th chemo treatment a bit worn down-maybe I am fighting the fall colds that are in the air...
My appointment with my beloved (and I do mean that) chemo doctor-Carolyn Kranser went well-with the hitch-she may have to make the hard decision to give me two more treatments-this all is based on my September 30th c-scan. I cried the last of my eyelashes down my cheeks as she shared that possibility with me.
Who wants more chemo? "I do! I do!"-not...However, I do want longevity-so it is a no brainer if my chemo doc is suggesting two more.
God will help me work through all of it. I trust Him completely. I trust Dr. C.
Please pray for Elisha and I (Jamie, too).

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Psalm for Today Instead of Worry:

I am a bit plagued with waiting for the blood test results from Monday's treatment.
However, the still quiet voice prompted me to read and take to heart this psalm.
Psalm 65

For the director of music. A psalm of David. A song.

1 Praise awaits [a] you, O God, in Zion;
to you our vows will be fulfilled.
2 O you who hear prayer,
to you all men will come.

3 When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave [b] our transgressions.

4 Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.

5 You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness,
O God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,

6 who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,

7 who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.

8 Those living far away fear your wonders;
where morning dawns and evening fades
you call forth songs of joy.

9 You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it. [c]

10 You drench its furrows
and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers
and bless its crops.

11 You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.

12 The grasslands of the desert overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.

13 The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Song in My Heart (one of many)

Sing of Your Goodness Lyrics by Joann Rosario
I am so overwhelmed by who You are
And Your goodness in my life so forever I will sing
I should not be here but You chose to let me live
I am so grateful to You

The melody in my heart brings Your presence close to me
And everyday that I wake reminds me constantly
That in all my days good or bad, throughout life's bitter sweet
The melody in my heart keeps repeating
And I'll sing of Your goodness forever

Each and everyday I am tempted not to trust
The song You place in me and the voice that guides my feet
Oh, but I choose to believe Your every word
I'll stay close and love You through my praise

The melody in my heart brings Your presence close to me
And everyday that I wake reminds me constantly
That in all my days good or bad, throughout life's bitter sweet
The melody in my heart keeps repeating
And I'll sing of Your goodness forever, forever, forever, yeah

The melody in my heart brings Your presence close to me
And everyday that I wake reminds me constantly
That in all my days good or bad, throughout life's bitter sweet
The melody in my heart keeps repeating
And I'll sing of Your goodness forever
And I'll sing of Your goodness forever
And I'll sing of Your goodness forever

Donald, Pamkenyon [Songwriter]
Hammond, Fred [Songwriter]
Rosario, Joann Judith [Songwriter]
Walker, Tommie [Songwriter]
F. HAMMOND MUSIC [Publisher]

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chemo # 5 of 6 Last chemo treatment on Spet.16th

I had a difficult week last week. Gearing up for this treatment, getting Elisha ready for kindergarten & dealing with menopause symptoms-big time has added challenges sometimes indescribable.
Solutions came in many forms this weekend and today. I am grateful for this.
Elisha started school today. His first day of kindergarten. I was so impressed with his independence. He wanted me to drop him off in front of the school. So off he went with his backpack, lunch box and enthusiasm bounding up the stairs to his new classroom. I parked and followed him to meet his new teacher with his nap blanket and pillow in my hand. By the time I arrived, he was waiting patiently in line to receive his name tag and meet his teacher. Amazing. Elisha's teacher is a well seasoned educator and reminds me of one of my early education teachers, but don't know'll come to me.
I am so grateful for his good start.
I have a deep sense that this is going to be a good academic year this year-despite my ovarian cancer diagnosis.
I am feeling well and know that I am healing.
I am very aware of the preciousness of each day lately, and this makes my life much more managable.
Turning over all of my fears, doubts and anxieties is crucial to maintain sanity.
I turn them over to Jesus daily-sometimes minute to minute.
I will post pictures soon. (Elisha's 1st day photo!)
Two scriptures were impressed on my heart today, and they are connected to cancer, me and wanting to reach out (for the rest of my life) to others in the same or similar situation:

Isaiah 42:3 (New International Version)
3 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
James 5:7 (New International Version)
Patience in Suffering
7 Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Quote:Wow! Mary-Margaret- "Your eyes are glowing!

Chemo Treatment # 4 of 6!
This was said to me yesterday as I was exiting from church service from an exhuberant and kind lady at church. "Your eyes are glowing!"
My response felt like the punch line on a bumper sticker that could only make sense to chemo patients. I said, ever so quickly and intinctively, "My eyes are glowing as my eyebrows and eyelashes are going!" Ha! This next treatment will most likely cause the brows to go. However, as small as this issue is in comparison to the BIG picture...Read how faithful God is to my slightest need. I met a woman today at the Yawkey Infusion Center. She has ovarian cancer, too. She finished chemo treatment # 6 in June. She wasn't wearing a hat or wig, and had a cute short hair do on her covered scalp-just one month after her last treatment-HOPE infused in me.
Then, we began connecting through conversation. She ended up giving me a great tip about eyebrow loss. (Yes, they will go-unless God supernaturally intervines and keeps them connected-This is possible.) However, Cinique has a product: Eyebrow liner that has a looks very natural. I can invest in during my eyebrow loss phase. It'll keep the "alien from another planet look" at a minimum. I was so grateful for this tip.
Then as I went through all my process to get to the Lazyboy hook up seat, I was given some information today that seems like a huge wave from that storm that surrounds me as I stand on the rock with my Jesus holding me and shining His light through me. Protecting, Healing, Keeping me safe from the storm. My CT scan of July 27th showed shrinkage in my lymph nodes. I questioned this immediately.
Lymph nodes? I thought they were all clear?
The ones they biopsied from my surgery were. Clear 100%. However, today I discovered that our bodies have many lymph nodes...the ones that showed up on the CT-scan could not be biopsied at surgery time...breathe out. sigh.
Does this mean they are cancerous? No, not necessarily. However, to me, if something in my body is shrinking because of the chemo treatment-perhaps a gang of those gargoyles found their way to some lymph node...
PLEASE PRAY FOR ME. Please pray that fear won't grip me. Please continue to pray that this treatment will target those lymph nodes with a blast that will eradicate the "gargoyle gang related activity" there. No gang activity in my body allowed!
I am so grateful to God for sustaining me during this process. I am learning a lot.
My faith in Him is deepening. I am being transformed by His Light, Love, and Word.
I was able to teach part-time this summer, and completed that commitment on the 31st.
I made some great connections with teachers and students this summer.
August will bring help with Elisha as I go through treatments. Some summer fun! Kindergarten for my little guy: Aug. 24!
Maybe a couple days up to Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire for some fresh air and clean swimming.
I feel well for the most part, and just keep walking forward.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Turning A Corner

I haven't written on this blog since my last chemo infusion. Next ones are: Aug. 3/August 20 & the 6th one is: September 10th!
My roaring and quick witted brother, Matthew, and sister, Suzanne came out to New England to see me last weekend. I laughed a lot, and experienced great joy in having them both come see me.
Little (almost 4) Alessandro, my nephew, arrived, too. Elisha had fun with him, and he blended right into all the happy chaos at Abba's House on friday night when we gathered to hang out in the big back yard. My brother Matthew ate lobster roll sandwiches every chance he could get. It was fun to watch him taste test the different ones. I believe mine got a "very good." However, Ellen's Harborside in Rockport, MA got a "fabulous".
My summer work is coming to a close on July 31st, and I will have a whole month off before returning to the 2009/10 academic year. August is going to be a challenge-chemo-wise.
I have loved working with the ELL high school population. Everyday, on my way to work, I listen to a CD called "Bless The Broken Road". Lately, I have been dealing with some fear connected to having a cancer diagnosis, but this song reminds me who is holding my life in His hands. His perfect love casts out all of my fear (s).
"Sweet Jesus"
Sweet Jesus, my Savior
You are my faithful friend
You made me. You know me
You've seen my every sin
And my soul is amazed
By this gift of Your grace
And these arms that take me in
Sweet Jesus, my Savior
You are my faithful Friend

Sweet Jesus, my Shelter
You are my faithful Friend
The Refuge I run to
When my world comes closing in
Why should I be afraid
When I know I am saved
By the arms that take me in
Sweet Jesus, my Shelter
You are my faithful Friend

Sweet Jesus, my Shepherd
You are my faithful Friend
You hold me, You lead me
I'll follow 'til the end
And once more I will say
On that beautiful day
When Your arms take me in
Sweet Jesus, my Shepherd
You are my faithful Friend
Sweet Jesus, My Savior
You are my faithful Friend

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Chemo # 3 of 6-The long FAX continues!

I have spent the morning into afternoon getting chemo, and only about 3 more hours to go!
I am grateful to God that I am turning the corner of this step 2 process of my 5-step health plan. Once I finish chemo, I will be on a 4-step health plan for the rest of my life on earth: 1. prayer 2. exercise (I may start running!)
3. nutrition (continued heart healthy diet) 4. rest (no over extending to the brink of exhaustion).
Jamie and Elisha, my "rubies", will be picking me up at the end of this long chemo day. Jamie has been helpful to me during my time of need in very tangible ways. Elisha has been a trooper with all my side effects that affect him directly. Sometimes Mommy is just too tired to do what did formerly before my surgery and chemo. My hair loss is still an issue for him, but he is accepting, and being reminded by me that it WILL grow back. That brings him comfort.
I had a very funny moment as I was leaving for MGH this morning at 6:30. The three children were saying their goodbyes to me at the door. Joshua, age 4, Elisha, now 6,and Bertude, age 8, were giving me hugs goodbye, and Joshua, in his very loud exuberant voice, asked me if I was going to MGH hospital to "have my hair done." He said, Mary-Margaret, are you going to get your hair done today? Elisha piped in something to him about chemo, and I chuckled and said,"Josh?, what hair? I have no hair on my head to get done? He belly laughed at my comment and thought that was pretty funny. The household humor keeps me laughing, and laughing is a type of medicine for my body, soul and heart. My younger sister and brother's arrival next week for a long weekend visit should prove to be filled with laughter. Both of their sharp wits and tongues never cease to amaze me and tickle my funny bone.
So, the beat goes on....signing off, but connected through thoughts and prayers.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Elisha, Megan & Jamie

Elisha came back to New England with his older cousin Megan. (She is a nursing student in Ohio!) I am so grateful to all of the help in getting Elisha to and from places. Jamie (big brother) helped us show Megan slices of New England: Massachusetts General Hospital: The Healing Garden, Museum of Science, Charles River, MBTA, Kelly's Roast Beef, a lobster roll sandwich, Pigeon Cove Harbor & the trek around Cape Ann. Megan took a picture of the banner that Jamie and Elisha made me on the first chemo infusion I experienced back on May 28th. It is located near the entrance of The Healing Garden. (an amazing place overlooking the Charles River with orchids, trees, benches & fountains in such a peaceful atmosphere) For me, I reflect upon my hand made banner with this thought: Jesus Christ is the boss over my cancer. Ultimately it is He that has authority and power to eradicate my cancer cells through His presence in my life, the doctors, & the 5-step health plan I am on.
I am fast approaching my third infusion of the chemo drugs and that means I am half-way there to a completed regime!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sunny Day in Massachusetts

Today marks the day before Elisha returns home to New England from his time out in Ohio with his many relatives that include Grammy Lou and Grandpa "B". I am excited to see my boy, hug him, talk with him, hug him some more, hear of his great adventures of swimming, swimming & more swimming! I feel energetic today, and ready to face the time I have to lesson plan and run solo errands before my almost 6 year old returns! These past three weeks have been a gift to me.
I am grateful to my family for all of the many facets of help they have given me, and are giving me.
The outpouring of love and tangible help during this season in my life awes me.
This experience is curing me of my propensities to be cynical, for sure.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Hair: It's called Light Chocolate

Wig Day

Okay, first good news! My CA125 (which is a type of blood test for ovarian cancer) has gone down. Since surgery it went from a whopping 306 to an 18. After chemo infusion # 1 it has traveled down to an 11. I am going for 0. The reality is: This number has to stay in the normal range for a few years...(5 or 6) to be deemed a cancer survivor-that is my understanding of the information my surgeon gave me. Wow, dastardly little cancer gargoyles hide and do strange things within a body. 0-35 is a normal range for a woman. I am so grateful today for the surgical team that took care of me on the 17th of April, and the chemo team henceforth.
So, today marks the day I become a "red head" for a season. I think I'll go short-spiky red head verses a long flowing hair-do, but I will rely on divine inspiration when I see the "floor models".
My scripture for the day today was: "But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: you are of more value that many sparrows." Luke 12:7
I laughed to myself about the hair metaphor in the scripture. I have a few left, and actually feel like I look like a gosling. God knows the number of hairs on my head, but it's not a big count lately. Tufts of soft downy like hair on my very bald head are just hanging on, but I am guessing two weeks two days from this past infusion will be another session of "chao pelo".
I thank God I still have my eyebrows and eyelashes, but it is my understanding that those will go, too. It will be an opportunity to get very creative with eyeliner. I have been wearing mascara since I was too young to wear it. A reprieve from it will be humbling. Okay, so I am off to the salon at MGH where they will help me with this wig thing. I am reminded of Uncle Harley Davison's comments: "Hair is over-rated".

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Little Swimmer Returns!

I am counting the days until Elisha returns home.
This time of him spending with family has been a tremendous help to me, but three weeks is too long to be away. (Maybe not according to him...) He has been swimming non-stop!
Next summer, two weeks maximum, and then mama will join him in the midwest fun.
I have a great family.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Made it Through the bone-breaking flu-like symptoms of that Taxol chemo drug

I fared pretty well this time considering constipation was NOT an issue. Let me tell you the gift in that reality. Huge blessing. I chose to keep away from the stronger (and the medium) anti-nausea drugs, but ended up throwing up on Sunday night (or was that Monday morning...). It's all kind of a hazy blurrr. The effect on day 3 is like having a flu, but not exactly. I cannot explain it. But for those of you that are praying for me, please intercede on day 3 of my chemo infusions... (The next day three will be July 12)
The nursing staff at MGH helped me via the phone line, and I ended up taking the "medium" anti-nausea pills just to get the nausea under control. It is a balance of letting my body accept the drugs to do their important work of killing the cancer, and enduring the side-effects. God is helping me every step of this way. (Psalm 93) He reigns over my life. I feel His presence even in the small moments of my daily life when I am trying to decide what is important to spend my low energy on. I know that I am now on the uphill climb back to an energy level that will allow me to function daily, and to gear up for the month's work of literacy teaching to a group of emerging ninth graders. I am excited about teaching this summer. It's part-time. It's a provision. I love teaching, and facilitating better writing skills. The work takes place between July 1-31 from 8:00-12:00. I can do this with the grace of God, and some extremely detailed lesson planning. I believe it is a stepping stone to my employment for next year's 2009/2010 academic year. No word yet on a new contract. I wait. Surrender. Wait more. I surrender more. So, this post is just to let all of you know that I am upward bound, and walking forward daily relying on His strength for today and hope for tomorrow.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day After Chemo Infusion # 2

Good News! I slept well last night. I woke up semi-refreshed at 5:30. I dealt with the nausea with food, and did have to take a single pill this morning to counter the chemo affects! This is important to me! Constipation is officially a non-issue! I "went" first thing this morning. Ahhhhhhh...the "gift" of regularity. I could do a commercial as it related to this one- anti-nausea drug side affect to chemo treatments.
No more Zofran (the big anti-nausea drug)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Don't do: Decadron (steroid that counters an allergic reaction and helps Zofran work better)
Say no to Ativan (anti-nausea-chill pill used at night!)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Stomp-a-zine Compazine (the medium anti-nausea drug)!!!!!!!!
No drugs for me, but the ones that thin my blood, and kill my cancer (and hair cells, and...yadadadadada-I will spare you those details) Yes, I officially look like a gosling (a baby goose) with a bit of hairs left on the top of my head. Jamie has agreed to do a "Mother & Son-Are-Bald portrait" at a professional studio with me-just to mark this milestone in my life photographically. As soon as the last strand leaves my head, I am booking a studio appointment.
I am serious about this project. Does everyone know Jamie makes a conscience choice to shave his head? He is a rare blue-eyed young man that can pull this look off well. He's a beauty. I love my two boys soooooooooooooooooooooooo much. Well, one is a boy, Elisha, but the other has turned into a fine young man. Jamie will be 23 this July, and Elisha will be 6 this July. God has blessed me with two very unique first-borns. My rubies. I am grateful to have been given the calling to raise sons. Be well everyone. I am feeling well for today.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chemo Infusion # 2 of 6 (like a long FAX)

I am here in the infusion room hooked up to the chemo IV cart." I woke somehat refreshed despite the interupted sleep patterns of the "night before" chemo. I am feeling a slight buzz from the IV of Benadryl. Wooweeeeeeeee!
My nurse is so kind, efficient and a GREAT communicator of the processes I am now engaged in. I am sitting in what seems like a reclining lazyboy chair. The window overlooks the Charles River, and it is beautiful. It is a foggy and rainy day in Boston. My sweet neighbor Carol drove me into the Yawkey Building this morning. Well, I don't mean she literally drove me into the building! She and her young son dropped me off there in front of the building. It was so nice having conversation with her during our 40 minute ride in-traffic was bumper to bumper, but the drive into town went by so nicely. People's generous hearts are blessing me. I am full of gratitude for my family of origin that is stepping in to help me out of multi-faceted ways. The people of Abba's House that I live with, Marlane, Jennie, Bertude, Josuha and even Jael (the black lab) are amazing me everyday with the love, prayers, humor, help and hugs!
I am enduring this regime well because of the grace of God. I am perservering through the unknown factors in my life about my next year's employment because of the grace of God. I am letting go of the past because of the mercy and grace of God. I am looking forward to the hope of my future because of the peace and provision of God. My point is this: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." That's my story.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Life is good with a good night's sleep.

I slept soundly last night, and awoke early, but refreshed.
I am trying to lay my anxiety about the second chemo infusion at the cross of Jesus. Sometimes I must do this hourly. God has delivered me from my fears, but they rear their ugly head to entice me to focus on the the fear rather than God through my faith in Him. Yikes!
I am finishing my 2008/09 year well, as I prayed I would be able.
I am optimistic that I will have a position in the upcoming academic year in the same school system, but no word yet.
I surrender all outcomes to the Lord, and wait.
Waiting has never come too easy for me, but I am in a process in life now where I very well may become an expert at "waiting." Sigh.
I am grateful for another day, and feel pretty good. Fatigue is a factor in my life now, but it is not the G-force fatigue that I have heard about, and have experienced once or twice since the first infusion.

Monday, June 15, 2009


I really really really miss my little boy. It has been exactly one week now, and that seems enough, but I must accept this help from my wonderful family at this time. They are taking such good care of him. His days are filled with Grammy Lou & Grandpa B. Grammy's 4 cats. A weekend away at a wonderful lodge in southern Ohio. Aunties and Uncles. (Aunt Laurie is taking such good care of him out at the "farm".) Aunt Cathy and Uncle Dan and the shop, and their new puppy! Uncle Jonathan (Elisha doesn't call him Jon, I hope.) and Aunt Laura. Cousin Jarrett and baseball! Erika and Levi-Megan, Nick, Jessie & Morgan-Brian and Gretchen and the twins in utero, Ricky and Lauren, Sweet Jenny. There are lots of cousins big and kind. More to come on Father's Day-little Alessandro from Sicily is coming! Volleyball games. Good food & rests. Movies, I'm sure. Joshing with Uncle Jeff. etc.etc.etc. Knowing he is in such good hands and hearts makes the separation easier, but I really do miss him.-a lot.
However, this is not to say, I am enjoying the space and time I need to prayerfully gear up for chemo infusion # 2, and wind down my 2008/09 school year. I take long walks in the evening lately, and think that Elisha could be scooting along with me on his scooter as I walk. Big sigh.
Elisha will be six years old, but this short video clip was taken when he was not even 2 yet.
I miss my baby! I love the six year old emerging.
I am soooooooooooo grateful to God that my ovaries served a great purpose in this life:
Bringing the egg down those tubes that soon became Elisha.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Psalm 27: 4-8

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

I was able to attend worship services today, and felt glad that I feel energetic enough to do many of these important parts of my daily living. Attending church services is an important part of my spiritual growth, and it keeps my freak-out at bay because every Sunday my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ lay hands on me and pray. This is # 1 on my 5-step health plan. I sense that Jesus himself is ever interceding for me and my complete restoration. God is getting me through this. He is using the many people near and far in my life to give me support. His spirit lifts and strengthens me in my quiet times alone with Him in prayer.
I am over the hair drama and have moved on to gearing up for chemo infusion # 2 on June 19th. I will get both the Taxol and Carbo (something) and the newer chemo drug called Avastin. I will be on the 8th floor of the infusion center overlooking the Charles River. The view is amazing, and I am grateful to be in a place that feels very un-hospital-like. (if that's a word) MGH is a place of healing and innovation. I am grateful that I was led to this place to eradicate this cancer. God went way ahead of me on this one.

Chao Pelo!

Okay, so this is how I dealt with the clumps of hair (mine) falling out as I ran my hand through it, in the shower, and as I pulled on it in disbelief. My state of hair affairs was extremely fragile Saturday morning. I decided to call "Faith" the hairdresser that gave me my transitional groovy short hair do (for Elisha's sake) a few weeks ago. This kind-hearted stylist had offered to shave my head for free when the time came for the "fall-out". She fit me in Saturday morning, and buzzed away. By the time I got into her salon, I had already grieved my loss, ( I sobbed on Saturday morning.) and reframed the whole situation like this: If the chemo is making my hair fall out. then it truly is doing it primary job of KILLING my cancer cells. Kudos to Kemo Shark! So, I am bravely posting my new look. I think I look like my brother Jeff-beloved Uncle "Harley Davison". As long as I keep my head donned with the beautiful head wear-then my femininity is intact. That is a whole other issue as it relates to everything I have been through since April Showers of my major life events.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Hair! My Hair! My Hair!

Well, a week prior to my first chemo treatment (May 28th) I had asked Dr. "C", my chemo doc, "okay, so how long will the side effect of hair loss take"?  To my surprise she stated 2 weeks 2 days without hesitation.  Well, today is that day.  My hair wasn't on my pillow as I imagined.  It is on top of my head, but if I run my hand through it, it'll comes out in my fingers.  Weird.  Weird.  Weird.
I am thinking about going to a follow-up hair appointment with Faith the hairdresser that offered to shave my head if I start freaking out about the "clumps" of hair coming out.   Taking a shower this morning and having it be washed off my head is still a mystery. (I am in hesitation of doing so.)  Weird.  Weird.  Weird.
I have received my two very colorful head gear from a Michigan company called "Siempre Bella"  (Always Beautiful) in preparation to say "Chao Pelo"-Goodbye Hair.  I have some Israeli head dresses on order, too.  I am looking forward to donning a lime green scarf called the "Queen Esther" in particular.  So, my bald head should be having some fun with its fun and exotic coverings this summer.  I have secretly always wanted to be a red head, and I will be using a prescription for a wig to make that dream come true for the fall months!  Weird. Weird. Weird.  This part of chemotherapy just feels weird.  I am feeling good these days as long as I keep up with the 5-step health plan given to me prior to my surgery:
1. prayer  (I cling to and praise God everyday for another day) 2. chemo (it's doing its thing in my body) 3. nutrition (if I eat right, I feel better, and the nausea stays at bay-H2o keeps this part well managed) 4. exercise (I am trying to walk everyday!)  5. rest (I take power naps like a toddler)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Well, I drove my little guy and my brother- his beloved Uncle Harley Davison- to the airport this morning.  My day was busy at work, and I came home and crashed into a deep sleep-only to awake to a phone call from his sweet voice via my mom's cell telling me his ears popped on the plane.  He sounded good, and I know he was in a car full of people who love and will care for him over these next 20 days as I finish my school year and gear up for Chemo Infusion #2. 
I miss him already, and am finding myself feeling a bit like a fish out of water knowing that tonight's bedtime routine will be quite different.
Elisha will be getting his bath, bedtime story, and nightly prayers in Ohio.
Acceptance.  We had planned a week at his Grammy Lou's pre-diagnosis-just not a 20 day visit.
So.  I will use this time gift wisely.
I have determined to get step 4 on my 5-step health plan a bit more in force while I have these huge windows of time now that my  day-to-day hands-on parenting responsibilities have been lifted.
1. prayer 2.  chemo  3.nutrition  4. exercise 5. rest
I pray a lot these days, and feel as if I just walk and talk with God throughout my day about everything that concerns me or makes my heart sing.
The chemo is doing what it is suppose to do:  Kill my cancer cells.  I know that it affects the other cells in my body, but the side effects seem to have subsided-for now.  I did a weird thing today, and went out and bought my favorite shampoo, and had this thought about how indulgent that was since, in reality, I would only get about 5 or 6 shampoos out of it.  I bought it anyway and decided it was worth it for a week or so.  There are plenty of heads full of hair in this household that could use it later.
I am eating more right, and trying to be very aware of what kinds of food I am putting into my body.  I am trying to listen to my body tell me what I need to get well.  I am also reading a great cookbook for cancer patients.  It is helpful. "Eating Well Through Cancer" by Holly Clegg is a good resource.  I am not eating to feed my emotions lately.  I journal instead.
So the challenge is: Step 4-the exercise...I am more than 8 weeks from the April 17th surgery, so I know I have the green light to do more aerobic exercise.  "No time" cannot be my excuse any longer, so I am counting on these next days to launch a new and improved habit of moving my body forward into a sweat.  It will help release the toxins, and do all that good stuff an exercised body is able to do!
Rest has never been a problem for me.  I love naps!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"Hair is Over-Rated" June 7th

My older brother Jeff flew out from Ohio this past weekend to escort Elisha back to that region for some summer fun and family time.
I have been blown away by the beauty of this re-connection with him. I had forgotten how funny he can be, and we have enjoyed and had some really belly moving laughs. But, something that I will reflect upon throughout the summer months is this idea that my brother thinks hair is really over-rated. He commented on this a few times this weekend. I am convinced he really believes this. He himself showed up at Logan airport sporting a mighty short buzz cut. It has spoken to that part of me that is really freaked about losing my hair to these two chemo drugs that have been doing their cancer-killing duties since their arrival into my system on May 28th. "2 weeks and 2 days" are what the very smart and forthright Dr. "C" told me when I asked about the timeline for the particular side-effect of hair loss from the chemo drug blend I received.
So, I write with gratitude in my heart tonight for a brother that sacrificed a weekend to come retrieve his little nephew, humored his sister, and really just blessed all that he met here in New England by his kind-hearted presence.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June 4th (sleep deprived)

Well, I am finding that the side effects to taking chemo therapy are multifaceted. Fatigue set in this week in bouts. Not to mention other things too embarrassing to blog. (However, some of you are privy to my Wednesday project-thanks to: MOM, and mom, Laurie, Cathy & Marlane-I got through it-so-to-speak (it got through me is more like it, huh?)
However, I worked today, and was productive in the end-of-the-school-year push. Actually, it seems everyone around me is pushing, but I am gliding. I cannot explain that other than I have this acute awareness that
I am going at a pace that is much s l o w e r than everyone else. Although, I am up and participating in my daily routines, every thing I do has a way different feel to it now that chemo is in my body fighting the cancer. When fear, doubt or anxiety invite me in or grip me, I lean in more heavily to my Heavenly Father. I keep the vision a friend shared with me that her husband had as they prayed for me one day not too long ago. The day she voice mailed the description of the visual her husband got while praying-little did she know-I was going to see Dr. Boruta at MGH, and get the pathology and prognosis of the ovarian cancer I had just been diagnosed with.
This visual image is something God uses to help me when challenges rise above my tolerance level. While they were praying for me, her husband saw Jesus and I on this huge rock out in a bay in the Santa Maria area in California. Jesus had His arms wrapped around me tightly as stormy & dark waves crashed upon the rock. The storm was from all sides and above, but Jesus' light was shining through all the darkness and onto me.
I keep the voice mail saved, and listen to my friend's sweet voice describe this above, and now I have shared it with my family and friends. Be encouraged. I am going to be okay through this STORM in my life.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June 2: Sometimes lyrics to a song tells it best (Trying to live a surrendered life)

Safe by Nicol Sponberg
These lyrics sum up most of my thoughts for today:
"I don't know where I will be tomorrow
Take my hand and lead me through the night
I can see the sadness and the sorrow
I can feel the danger of the fight

Guarding my heart,
Your angels surround my soul
So how can I fail?

I will be safe wherever I go
I can be sure I'm never alone
And when I face whatever I find
I'll always have You
So I can live like never before
You will be mine and I will be Yours
You'll be forever walking with me
I know I'll be safe
Safe with You here

Even though my eyes don't get to see You
I will still believe that you are near
In my heart I know I'll never leave You
You're the One to take away my fear

Guarding my heart,
Your angels surround my soul
So how can I fail?

I will be safe wherever I go
I can be sure I'm never done
And when I face whatever I find
I'll always have You
So help me live like never before
You will be mine and I will be Yours
You'll be forever walking with me
I know I'll be safe with You here

From the darkness and on to the glory
By Your hand we will conquer the night
Take my every breath, take my every move
I give You my life"

Monday, June 1, 2009

June 1st (A Monday, a sunny day, a work day, a good day & my brother's birthday!)

Well, I actually went back to work today after 24 hours of what seemed like a bone breaking flu.
I awoke at some point last night with what seemed like a flu-breaker sweat with this thought:
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. That is from the bible in Jeremiah 29:11
I was grateful just to get out of bed, and have some normalcy of my daily routine.
******************************************Enough about me:
It is my brother Jeffrey's birthday today. (He is older, but I bet he feels younger than I do at this moment!)
Elisha and I have affectionately re-named him Uncle "Harley Davison".

Saturday, May 30, 2009

End of a long day-Saturday, May 30th

I just want to say a quick hello to all. I am tired, and understanding chemo fatigue in a new way-now that chemotherapy is a reality. I feel sooooooo tired. However, I forced myself to walk outside this evening with Elisha. I ate small meals all day to stay off the nausea verses taking more anti-nausea drugs. I am trying to limit my pill (never knew there could be so many variations of a drug against nausea) intake to a minimum, and just listen to my body tell me what it needs. It is saying "sleep" at the moment.
It was good to breathe in the fresh air tonight, and just move my body forward. It was beautiful to watch my very active 5 year old just "run"! Experiencing these chemo drugs feels somewhat surreal. I am reflecting on Cathy's (my oldest sister's comment last week about "mind over matter") I had to overcome the EXTREME fear of having to give myself lovenox shots daily to thin my blood. Pronto! Cathy used that statement via a phone call to help ease my freak out of having to do something I really did not want to do. (My lovenox story will come soon in a short video)
So, I am asking God tonight to help me keep my mind (positive) over my matter (my tired body), and help me get my aching body out of bed in the morning to worship Him and fellowship at church. That's the plan. I will keep you posted. Be well everyone!

Nurse Jane Miller

Jane Miller is my primary nurse in the infusion room. She is so kind, efficient, positive, encouraging & very smart. Her expertise as it pertains to chemotherapy is amazing. She is taking good care of me.

More photos from Chemo # 1

Some of The Healing Team taken on Chemo Infusion # 1-May 28th)

Marlane and Mary-Margaret (above) Kathleen and MM (below)
Nurse Laurie Sullivan (aka: Sigourney Weaver) Dr. Carolyn Krasner (to me: Dr. "C"-chemo doc)

Friday, May 29, 2009

The day after the Taxol/Carboplatin Blast (well MGH calls it an IV drip)

I woke up with the predicted symptoms from my very smart, articulate and deeply appreciate primary care "Nurse Jane". She is a God-send, and I am grateful she was assigned to me! I felt nausea (but, kind of like being first pregnant-sorry guys, I know you can't relate) Anyway, when I awoke this morning bright and early, I had rosy cheeks, tingling in my fingers, ringing in my ears, and slight irritation in my eyes. One of the last things that Elisha said to me last night before saying prayers and going to sleep was this: Mom, I know that you just have one cancer cell, and chemo shark is going to put on his night vision and kill it tonight!
A prophet-my son! I receive that word of great encouragement, and we sealed it with a prayer.
Elisha is a very precious part of this journey. Jamie is, too, but his maturity in all this makes my heart well with such love. Jamie and Elisha made me a banner yesterday to be place on a wall called the "Wall of Hope". Family & friends of cancer patients can make these. Elisha did a very amazing portrait of me with the wildest hair imaginable. (he must of used 5 squirt bottles of the fabric paint) He was delighted. Jamie scripted a statement that went like this: "Mom, show cancer who is the boss." I immediately thought of the name of my blog, and CHRIST indeed is triumphant over cancer. He is the boss!
Anyway, for being in a place yesterday that is hospital-like-well, what am I saying it is a hospital, although the Yawkey Center is specific to outpatient care.
I put in a productive day of work. I facilitated literacy groups with my ELL writers most of the morning! It was so good to not be doing the end-of-year administrative work, and just see students and get them to write! That is my passion!
Anyway, I want to assure all my friends and family that I really did okay today. Your prayers are upholding me. God is near.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hello Everyone: (otherwise known as "The beloved community of support")
I am hooked up to the Taxol chemo IV cart (see photo) as I write, and I am "thanking my God upon every remembrance of each one of you." I am also thanking Him for the professional, compassionate, brilliant, humor-filled, kind, and wonderful chemo team. I also thank God that I am in a state of the art facility that offers patients laptops? Unbelievable.
Kathleen Kearns kindly came with me, and is facilitating a "blog" for me to journey with many (including all of you) on this journey of hope to a cancer free life!
God is near. I read Elisha's "Chemo Shark" last night. It's a children's book to help a child cope with a mom that has been diagnosed with cancer. It helped me, too. Elisha and Jamie will be here later to see mom, and find reassurance. They will also be making a banner to go on the Cancer ward's "Wall of Hope". This place feels like a deep place of healing. God knew. Now, I do.

So, I formally (and publically to the world!) thank all of you for everything you have done on my behalf. Your prayers sustain me. Your care fills me. Your love warms me.
"Whenever I am afraid I will trust in Thee". I told Elisha to think on that and squeeze his new Penguin stuffed animal named Douglas and say that out loud every time he is missing Mommy or feeling afraid. So, welcome to my Journey of Hope.
with much love,