The Color of My Cancer Journey

I sit down at my desk with a paintbrush in hand. I’ve already gotten a cup of water, and have a roll of paper towels nearby. I stare at a blank canvas for now.

I don’t paint bowls of fruit. I don’t paint grand landscapes or pretty butterflies. I paint my feelings… which means I don’t have a thought process in mind as far as what I’m going to paint. I’ve always been like this… painting with the freedom of expression rather than the confines of a planned portrait.

I look over at the color choices available to me in my set of gouache paints. The color I choose says a lot about how I’m feeling. So many to choose from… I feel many things about what I have been through, what I am currently going through, and what’s to come. Lately, I always seem to start with the same color. I can’t explain it… it pulls at my senses and tugs on my heart.

Blue.

Blue is the color of my cancer journey. It is the color of sadness for my condition, and the color of the isolation I sometimes feel. But it is also the color of God’s love being poured over me, and the color of peace He has placed in my heart. It is the color of trust… knowing that He will one day heal me.

” ‘But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 30:17

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The Storm

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It’s all around me…

Huddled under the umbrella you have given me,

And I’m hoping for a break in the downpour

But it keeps coming…

The clouds are dark and threatening,

Calling my name, laughing at my expense.

I scream STOP but nothing happens;

My eyes are closed, praying for refuge

As the ground I stand on gives in to defeat.

It’s gone, everything I have known gone…

And I’m helpless again,

Held by the One that gave me life.

 

 

 

 

Living on Borrowed Time

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Dancers. Police officers. Bus drivers. Students.

Teachers. Doctors. Accountants, and small children.

 

They all have one thing in common. 
They are all “living on borrowed time.” We all are. 

 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian or not. It doesn’t matter if you know who God is and the beautiful gift that He gave us with Jesus. We are all “living on borrowed time.”

I didn’t really understand the weight of the phrase until last night. I was sitting in the shower, contemplating my fate after being told the cancer could be back in my brain. I knew that I probably wouldn’t know until today for sure.

I sat there, praying, but knowing… 

It doesn’t really matter if it is cancer or not. 

 

It doesn’t really matter if I get treatment or not.

It doesn’t really matter what I do

Because I’m “living on borrowed time.”

 

I am here because God gave me life

And only He decides when my time is done. 

 


“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53:4 

“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” Romans 5:10

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” 1 Peter 3:18

 

Like The Exiles From Judah…

Like the exiles from Judah, I have been exiled from good health. But God is watching over me & will bring me back from the land of cancer. He is building me up and not tearing me down. He has given me a heart to know Him, to understand His ways, even in these days.

“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.”

Jeremiah 24:5-7

I Can Do All Things

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“There is nothing wrong with my legs.”

“There is nothing wrong with my legs.”

I was sitting in my shower chair, praying… praying for all that I’ve been through. For the second time today I thought to myself, “this is the price I have to pay. This is the price I have to pay for living.” Then I looked down at the bracelet that my Aunt Jackie gave me when I first got diagnosed. She bought one for herself as well, and she was still wearing it when I saw her for Thanksgiving. It reads, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

I suddenly felt the need to stand up, to get out of my chair and just stand up on my own two legs. With His strength. With Him standing with me, I could finally get out of the chair that I’ve been relying on for so long because of weakness… and sickness… and so much more.

I did it. I stood up. And as the minutes passed, I was still standing. I felt the tightness in my legs but still I stood. Then, out of nowhere the thought came to me…

“There is nothing wrong with my legs.”

“There is nothing wrong with my legs.”

And I said it out loud. I said it out loud. There is nothing wrong with my legs. There is nothing wrong with my back, or my hips. There is nothing wrong with my heart. There is nothing wrong with my head. It’s just my lungs and the side effects from the chemotherapy.

Right there, I claimed that I was finally standing up. Standing up to cancer. Standing up to everything I’ve been through. Because if I’m still here fighting after almost 18 months, why not start believing that I can get through this. That I can beat this.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t been much of a fighter through this like some of you might think. I’ve just been taking it, slug after slug, beating after beating. I’ve still been that kid that got beat up over and over again by the neighborhood girls. Just standing there and letting it happen. I started speaking the words, “I’m standing up to cancer. I’m standing up to all of it.”

I stood there for so long that Nick came to check on me to make sure I was okay. Opening the curtain, he asked “why are you standing?” and I proudly responded…

“There is nothing wrong with my legs.”

“There is nothing wrong with my legs.”

My fight isn’t over. If anything, it’s actually just beginning because I’m not taking it face down anymore. I’m going to get stronger. I’m going to get my life back. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

 

 


Photo by Alex Green on Unsplash

My Very Heartbeat

I am a sinner.

I don’t deserve this life.

I could be dead, but I am breathing.

I am alive because someone else took my place. Jesus is my Savior, and I love Him with all my heart.

I have been humbled by my cancer.

I have been reminded that life is precious, that life is given and taken away by God Himself. There is a great respect that comes with finally accepting the reality of that fact.

Use me, Lord. Allow me to be productive with this day that you have given me, this opportunity to give you the glory for all that You are and all that You have done.

Oh Lord, I love you like no other.

I love you more than my very heartbeat.

“I found the one my heart loves.” Song of Solomon 3:4

What Shingles Looks Like

My husband, Nick, mentioned that I forgot to add something to my last post. Pictures. You know, of what shingles looks like. Oops.

For those interested, here you go. This is how it looks when the rash first starts…

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It wrapped around my right side between my breasts to the middle of my back. It’s right under my bra line so wearing bras is completely out of the question until I’m healed.

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Of course, it’s gotten much worse. This is what it looks like when the blisters start bursting.

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I pray none of you have to deal with this, but even more, I pray that you know Jesus like I do. That you put your whole heart and your whole body at His feet. He truly can bring a peace that you will never quite understand.

May peace be with you.

Peace Can Only Come From Jesus

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I’ve been quiet lately. There’s always a reason.

I spend so much time just trying to be okay. Just trying to feel okay. You can’t really make your body feel better though even with the pain medicine and other things meant to help you feel better, to help you get through the day. Medicine is just not enough.

My battle lately? Shingles. Starts as a rash and then turns into a ton of blisters that burst and then crust over. It is extremely painful, stressful, and takes weeks to recover. You can learn more about it here. I had it for a good week before we knew what it was.

To make matters worse, I can’t have chemo while recovering from shingles. And with a fast moving cancer, I can feel the difference when I don’t have treatment for a week or two. I’m coughing a lot more which makes mobility difficult. Coughing more means throwing up more. I sat in the car yesterday puking after being stationary for a good thirty minutes. It’s not just moving that causes me to puke more. Needless to say, I am really hoping I am cleared to have chemo next Thursday when I see my doctor again.

But here’s the thing… in the midst of all this suffering, I have peace and am virtually pain free. I can’t explain it. I walked in the doctor’s office last Monday with level 8 pain, barely being able to move without screaming on the inside. I left with pain killers that only toned it down to a level 6-7. So how did I go from that level of pain, to virtually no pain the next day? To the point that I stopped taking pain medicine way too early. The blisters started bursting days later, and yet still no pain.

You have to understand the amount of stress, sorrow, and shock I was under when I found out I had shingles. That I couldn’t get the chemo I desperately need. I went to bed early. My husband went to bed early. It was just all too much for all of us. So what was the turning point?

I prayed that night, and something changed. I wrote that poem and just felt a great release. I felt at peace. That was at 2 o’clock in the morning, and I woke up pain-free. During this whole trial from the beginning of 2017 to now, I haven’t quite felt this level of peace since first getting diagnosed with cancer. It’s also the first time that I have been virtually pain free in an area that doesn’t make sense.

On my own, I can’t do anything. I can’t take away my own pain and I can’t take away my own stress. I just don’t have the power BUT I know the one that does. Peace can only come from Jesus.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

“The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:16. 

Fallen State

I stand and then fall;

On my own, I have nothing.

I am nothing.

I fall and then stand;

With you, I have everything.

You are my everything.

I’m not afraid to fall.

I’m not afraid to suffer.

Surrendered at Your feet is

The only way to truly live.