Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Good Morning, It's God

This afternoon, as I pushed away the anxiety that my current health insurance dilemmas were causing, and the fears about seeing my oncologist tomorrow for what in my mind seems like a-well, the "it is time for chemo treatment" talk- a beloved colleague of mine walked into my classroom, and handed me a sheet of paper. She breezed in and out, as if on a compelling mission to make sure I had this unusual word of encouragement in my hand. It read in her daughters fun middle school aged script:
"Good Morning!
I am God. Today I will be handling all of your problems. Please remember that I don't need your help. If the devil happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle do not attempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the things for Jesus to do box. It will be addressed in my time, not yours.
Once the matter is placed into the box do not attempt to hold on to it, or attempt to remove it. Holding on or removing it will delay the resolution of your problem. If it is a situation that you are capable of handling, please consult me in prayer to be sure that it is a proper resolution. Because I do not sleep nor do I slumber, there is no need for you to lose any sleep. Rest my child. If you need to contact me, I am only a prayer away. I love you."
I was floored as I read this-quickly, and then again more carefully later, and now really deeply as I include it in my blog entry.
God never misses a beat of my panicked heart when it comes to this journey of cancer, and its treatments.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December is a time of joy.

My 50 something year old cousin died suddenly last week. Suddenly.
Life and death can be so abrupt. Well, perhaps that is not true. Life, we get 9 months or sometimes more to prepare for, and we live life daily...sometimes very purposefully or busily.
I have been attempting to live life more on purpose since overcoming the unspoken and jagged fear of cancer recurrence.
Since cancer reared its head again (last April) I am here to testify that fear doesn't really grip me any longer. Not knowing doesn't make me uneasy. Trusting in God places me in the comfort of His purpose and plan. Not a scary valley that I envisioned. In fact, I have these mini-mountaintop experiences spiritually since the confirmed recurrence.

I am living in it daily. Grateful. Joyful even.
Laughter, and time living helps feed the joy.
I wait, watch & live for God doing His great and mighty work in my life-even in my death-even if it comes suddenly.
In April 2009, I began to understand this saying I heard at a New Life weekend:
"If it is not one thing-it is another, and you just never know."
I find myself saying this to people in my life...it's become almost a commentary of my life since then...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Psalm 138: Verse 3 & 7 says:
When I called you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.3
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. 7
I have been reflecting on this scripture since coming home from the recent CT scan.
Today marks a significant day in my life.
God has made me stouthearted-BRAVE.
I wrote this letter below to many people today to tell of the wondrous thing God has done on my behalf.

My beloved family, dear friends near and far (geographically), my pastors, & my _______ Public School colleagues:
I am sorry for this mass email, but I know that you understand the communication is for all to read & comprehend, and I cannot possible send individual emails or call you all.:)
I am glad though that...

Some of you I was able to call (Mom, dad, Marlane, Cathy, Laurie, & Matt) to let you know the outcome of my meeting with the oncologist today at MGH.
Some I left voice mails (Teri and Ironce)
Some you I was able to see (Pastor Steve & Patti & Christina) and raise my hands to God in thankfulness, and then hug you to share in my news that:

I will NOT be going through chemotherapy treatments this summer!
This is why:
My recent CT scan (6.14) "looks good". I quote her. My oncologist and the team is finding that they would just like to monitor me.
I don't have to return to MGH until August 22nd for the "routine" CT scan and follow up!

As many of you know, I attended a healing service this past Monday.(6.13) (that's a long story-testimony- in itself) Many of you have been praying with me for a complete healing and restoration from ovarian cancer and any recurrence of the disease since hearing of the impending June/July chemo treatments because of the suspected recurrence. aka "crumbs in my pelvic area & a swollen lymph node"

I am here to say: I am in a process of that complete healing & restoration-I know that God is able. He is my Healer.
I am here to say: I know that I trust Jesus for all the details. He's my protocol.
I am here to say: I trust my chemo doctor and she is now saying: NO CHEMO.

I am here to say: I am going to live a life that has a hope and a future. Day by day.
I am here to say: Glory to God Almighty. He gets the credit always.

On the ride down to MGH today I listened to the Selah song "You are My Hiding Place" over and over again.

The lyrics describes best exactly where I am in regards to a cancer diagnosis and healing.

You are my hiding place
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You

I will trust in You
Let the weak say
I am strong
In the strength of the Lord
You are my hiding place
You always fill my heart
With songs of deliverance
Whenever I am afraid
I will trust in You

I will trust in You
Let the weak say I am strong
In the strength of the Lord
All lyrics www.allthelyrics.com
I will trust in You
Below is a you tube version of the song as it is sung by the group Selah...
cut and paste in your address bar:

Please continue to pray for and rejoice with me in this good news!


Monday, May 16, 2011

A dogwood named "Connie"

May 14, 2011
by Kathleen

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I have now subscribed to MGH's carepageshttp://www.carepages.com/mgh
I may be blogging there only for a season.
Some circumstances in my own journey with ovarian cancer have changed as of the end of April.
"Crumbs" in my pelvic area have been found.
An enlarged lymph node is being watched...
and I am faced with a second round of chemotherapy
beginning at the end of June after another CT scan.
My hope:
God will supernaturally remove the recurrence from my body by June.
There will be no need to fight the cancer with chemo!
I will keep the details posted.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Another Cancer Patient

I have been to see Sarah B., a friend struggling with lung cancer, no treatment left, it has ravaged her system. She said to me so resolvedly the other day, "Cancer is some disease, isn't it? I answered a knowing yes, torn, that her body is feeling the full effects of it, and mine had a short time with it, and recovering...is recovering...and I am now processing it in a layer of my being that I did not know existed.
The other day I wrote a free verse poem in response to my visit with her. I had gone to see her to get the chance to connect with her again, and pray over her.
It was an amazing blessed visit. I felt God's presence in it, and was so glad to have been able to schlep down to MGH.

A Free Verse for a Friend
written after visiting Sarah Bollinger in Room 1610 at MGH
Mary-Margaret Almonte

Oh Sarah, sweet Sarah
You are a radiant woman, but oh, sooooo out of your kitchen element, and flour powdered clothing.
You are a mother to one, but beautifully a mom to many.
To know you is to love you.
Exuberant about life, food, oh food-seems to small a word for what you do with it.
Magnificent creations crafted with time, effort, (seemingly effortless) love and expertise.
Sarah is about living. Living it up. Living Large. Living well.
Whipping up amazing ingredients that turn into extraordinary recipes.
Mirepoix and gusto.
Not to mention this gigantic cappuccino machine that sits in a corner of her beloved kitchen.
Upon entrance to her domain whether through her archway in front or the sliding glass back door, a person on any given day could be greeted with “Do you want me to make you a cappuccino- decaf?”
Sarah’s place was a space I sought refuge in during a season my home life was chaotic. It was like visiting a bed and breakfast without the overnight stay.
Decaf Cappuccino and mirepoix turned to a hearty squash soup, and a great story about Juliet Child calmed every frazzled nerve in me one day as I sat with Sarah in her kitchen..
Being served by Sarah was like taking a day at the spa, but she was massaging the inside of your stomach and your heart with good food and cheer that came in the form of food and conversation.
Oh Sarah, sweet Sarah.
Magnificent woman of great stature.
She is the “Joy of Cooking.”
Rapid-fire discussions of ingredients and processes weave anticipation of the first bite of sheer deliciousness.
Entrees, side dishes, side side dishes, and desserts.
Oh Sarah, sweet Sarah.
Her desserts!
What can I say?
No words really adequately describe the dessert experience of Sarah Bollinger.
Generous talent. Creative genius.
Her desserts “Take the Cake.”
Marzipan masterpieces found artistically placed on a cake that speaks the theme sometimes loud or with a whisper.
A glance told her themes.
A stare made you drool.
A bite screamed her talent.
Sarah’s food tells stories.
She is a woman full of stories.
Stories of lives, death, joy, sorrow, success, disappointment, humor and delight.
These weave her tapestry that is uniquely hers.
Now, skating on a frozen river.
Possible-probable death.

Oh Jesus, sweet Jesus please extend her life, Heal her lungs, and touch her whole being, so she can stay with us longer.

Sarah may depart from us one day, maybe too soon, but there is a certainty that she will stay forever, and be
Sarah, sweet Sarah, in all of our hearts.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March 23rd "This month has roared in..."

I am so weary of the cold New England weather. It's been weeks now since Jenna's funeral.
I am thinking mostly about her mom, and the cold harsh grief that I am certain has stricken her.
I pray for her.
I regret not reaching out to Jenna in more than just knowing smiles.
I regret not talking with the girl. Thinking that's there'd be time.
I should know better than this...
Time is now to do what moves you-especially when there is a cancer diagnosis involved.
I need to take this all to heart....
I am somehow hopeful though.
I remember asking-sometimes begging-God to give me strength for today and HOPE for tomorrow.
I am now walking in the hope of His miraculous recovery over me.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March 10, 2011

Today is the celebration of life service for Jenna Jacob.
This is the 6th grader that died last week after her body gave in to the effects of cancer and its treatments.
I feel a sad peace- a solomness, and want to inquire to God Almighty about all of this.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

March is coming in like a lion.

This past week has been filled with news of death & sickness. A 6th grader at our school died last week after years of battling cancer. I cannot state she lost her battle. I see that she is free from the pain of it, and that is not a loss by any means. We have lost her, and although I am not her teacher, and really never even had a conversation with her. I will miss her. Her gentle and quiet smile-sometimes half smile that caught my eye in the halls of our shared school. The knowing look when I had lost my hair to the chemo treatment I underwent the spring of 09', and by then she had regained hers with thick beauty. I have grief in my heart that gets stuck in my throat about this girl. This little girl that spend half her lifetime suffering from the effects of cancer and its treatment. Processing this challenges me to my core.
We will all gather this week during the evening to celebrate her life as her mother wishes. I am certain this is what Jenna wanted, too. I don't really know what to expect, but plan to come open and listening.
I will know her more through this timed of shared grief and joy for the time her mom did have her. I cannot fathom losing my child to death. I want to be a kinder and more tender mother at the very thought of this.
I have also learned of a friend's husband battling another form of cancer, and he is at the initial steps of treatment. His case sounds very complex and hopeful, but the complexity of it seems to be wanting to dash this couple's hope. I pray God leads them to the east coast and MGH.
Yesterday, I have learned of a precious woman's impending battle against bladder cancer. It all seems too much. This weekend, for the first time (it seems), I am angry. I AM ANGRY AT CANCER, AND WHAT IT PUTS PEOPLE THROUGH.
The diagnosis, the treatment, the healing, and even the dying from it seems to be unbearable.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's my birthday!

Well, I have made it to forty nine.
I laughed when someone congratulated me on my birthday last evening.
As I reflected on the gutteral laughter her comment caused to me. I realized how so very appropriate the response was for me.
I feel a sense of a need to be congratulated-as if it is a milestone-on my birthday.
In a way, being a cancer patient frames birthdays in this manner.
It is also a time to reflect on being given a year.
So, this is the beginning of my 49th year on earth, and I would like it to count in deep and abiding ways as I approach 50 a day at a time.
Big sigh.
I wrote my mother this morning, and remember a poem she had once inserted into a card to me during "my frowning" years.
"What sunshine is to the flowers
Smiles are to humanity
They are but trifle to be sure
But scattered along life's pathways
The good they do is inconceivable"
I have never forgotten that poem, and it seems appropriate to remember it today on my first birthday celebrated post chemo treatment!
I plan to smile more this year.
Worry less.
Live better.
Love more.
Stay kind-hearted.
Believe deeper.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Eve of My Parent's Wedding Anniversary

I just had a wonderful weekend celebrating my dear friend's fiftieth birthday. Sharing, eating, drinking champagne, and remembering times when we all were 20 something. Laughing and enjoying were the main themes of the evening.
Being able to stay up really late and talking with two longtime friends was a gift.

Nearing fifty myself, I am grateful, so grateful, for this freedom I feel to live forward. I worry less. Ironic, in a way, now, I have more to worry about, but somehow this experience with cancer has brought me to a place of "less worry". I feel so utterly in the hands of God, that I cannot really stay worried for too long. His presence fills the gaping holes that widen when I worry. So, thankfully, worry never seems to last too long. Beside, what does "worry" really ever change? I have learned this the hard way. Seems like most of my life's lessons have come along like this. However, post cancer lessons are coming at a much quieter and softer pace. I believe I have slowed down enough to hear those lessons be whispered to me as I see them unfold.

My parents will have been married 50 something years tomorrow. They wed in 1958. The loyalty for each other and the family they birthed holds them together securely. I am grateful for these two people-my parents.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 2 towards turning 49

February marks my birthday month. A birthday this year seems quite significant to me. There were several moments over these past two years that I didn't think I'd make it to 49.
Now, I am reframing my diagnosis, and learning how to live forward.
It is challenging not to be in the fear or mistrust, but for today I choose to trust God, and not lean on my own understanding of all this.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

February 1, 2011 Blogging Again

Well, intentions are good, but....I have not been able to keep up with the blogging.
I am at my post three month after 18 months of chemo treatment point.
I went to see Dr. "C" yesterday to get the results from my CT scan.
C-L-E-A-R! I appreciate knowing that information.
I waited with 40% anxiety from Sunday to Monday when my appointment was scheduled.
It manifested with a restless sleep, and a state of discombobulation internally. It was weird, but I got through it, and come April for the next three month check up-I know what to expect, but then again, with a cancer diagnosis-do I really know what to "expect"?
As I was finishing the Avastin treatment in October 2010, after being encouraged to "hold off" on removing the power port in my right side of my chest, I humorously (but seriously) scolded my oncologist about feeling like the whole team of doctors are just waiting for this ovarian cancer that had previously invaded my ovaries and fallopian tubes and my stomach lining called something that begins with the letter "O" to creepily come back...
I insisted that my power port be removed in November, and that was granted to respect my psychological need to say "enough".
I rely on Proverbs 3:5-6
The Lord spoke to me through this scripture many many months ago. In my darkest moments with dealing with this diagnosis I meditate on His word. He reminds me...
"Mary-Margaret, trust Me with all your heart. Do not lean on the knowledge of doctors. Do not lean on your fears, Acknowledge Me, Mary-Margaret. My Name. My Power. My Strength. My Love. I promised to direct your path and I have. This is the path I have led you to follow. Trust Me."