I know that You can cure me but I don’t know if you will, and that scares me to death. Lord, help me.
I’ve suffered the last three months with what every doctor and radiologist thought was pneumonia. I thought the constant pain in my back and hips were from coughing so much. I thought my difficulty breathing, talking, and singing were from the pneumonia. Sadly, we have learned that is not the case. I have lung cancer.
I won’t lie. It’s hard be positive, to be faithful when your mom died of the same disease just three and a half years ago. Just as in her case, mine has metastized to other areas so that makes it stage 4. I used to work with cancer patients at The American Cancer Society. I know the statistics. I also know we have a God that plays by His own rules.
I have people around the world praying for a complete healing. For me, that is a hard prayer. Not because I don’t believe it can be done but because so often I have seen Him decide on a different plan. I hope He wants to keep me here so I can be a light onto His people. Only He can make that decision but I have loudly made it known to Him that I want to be healed.
My life changed instantly the moment I found out, and so did the lives of my family. I’ll likely be discharged from the hospital tomorrow with oxygen and a walker to embark on an unknown and scary path. I will no longer be able to work, and will be filing for disability. I know that God is with me, and I know that He won’t leave me alone to deal as my family and I sort out what this means for our lives now. It’s just going to take some time.
Your prayers give me strength and hope after I get up from my meltdowns. I need my Christian brothers and sisters to keep lifting us up. Please understand that I’m not able to respond to everyone’s messages but I will read them when I can, when I have the strength, and when I need it the most.
I love the ministry we have created. I don’t know the end game, what God’s plan is but I will continue to share how God is working in my life, the lessons He is teaching me, and so forth as I am able to. I appreciate every one of you for joining me on this path. I may or may not ever sing again, but remember that salvation is not found in a song. It’s found in Jesus. Don’t waste time on the world when you can run to Him and bow at His feet, relinquishing everything you’ve got. That’s what I’m doing. Crying at His feet.
As I sit here, I lay in a hospital bed. Alone. It’s 9pm on a Tuesday night, and my husband has to wake up early to get the kids to school.
There are a myriad of emotions I’m experiencing right now. Lonely. Helpless. Emotionally drained and overwhelmed at the same time. I’m still in shock about how I have gotten to this point. If you read my last post, you will remember I was fearless then. That was before I met with the pulmonologist.
I haven’t gotten any better. This is the stress I have been dealing with, the pain that has caused me to cry so much in the last week. But in the end, the consistent inability to breathe is what landed me in the emergency room. For months I’ve been wondering at what point someone would hospitalize me. After not being able to catch my breath for an hour and a half on Sunday, I made the decision myself. I asked my mother in law to drop me off at the hospital instead of church. I was admitted almost immediately.
They have done extensive blood work and a bronchoscopy. I’m hoping to have the results tomorrow but so far I know there are no tumors and no blockages. That’s a good sign. I’ve been on fluids and two IV antibiotics since I got here, and everyone is taking my case very seriously. There is comfort in that.
I’m a little less fearful and a lot more hopeful now thankfully. My husband came back from Miami yesterday where he had been helping with the hurricane relief. He surprised me outside my room when I got out of recovery from the bronchoscopy. I was so happy to see him, I cried out. Well, my hip was still hurting because the morphine hadn’t kicked in yet so that could have been part of it.
He stayed with me quite awhile last night which I was thankful for, and then he switched off with my mother in law who stayed with me all night. I cannot explain the gratitude and comfort that comes from knowing someone is right next to you during an unexpected hospital stay, when you feel at your absolute worst. She had to go drive back home to SC today but my last words to her as she left this morning were “I’ll never forget.”
So where does this leave me now? Back to where I was when all of this started. When I first got sick, during every coughing spell, at each moment I threw up, at every moment I cried out in pain… there was only one left standing. Jesus.
This is not to say that He is my last resort. When my family is here, of course I will make time to spend with my family. But I need my time with Him too. I was reading the Bible earlier and a food attendant came in whose name actually comes from the Bible. Elon. It means strong, like an oak tree.
I had a great conversation with the the attendant, and I have a gift for her when I see her again tomorrow. I’m having encounters here at the hospital I would otherwise never have. Maybe this is about more than just me being sick. I believe God can use me anywhere, and I believe that He will.
But right now… I’m going to turn my attention back to Him. I’m going to thank Him for the umpteenth time since I’ve been here, and delight in the grace He has bestowed upon me.
I have learned to live with the thorn, and although it hurts, it has brought me closer to God than any flower ever could. Think about that for a minute. Would you trade in your flower for a thorn to get closer to God?
Most will never do so willingly but He gives us all opportunities to know Him more intimately. I never asked to be so sick but I am grateful for the truths I could only know by allowing Him to walk with me on this journey. Only by succumbing to weakness could God’s strength and glory rise up in me when I had absolutely nothing left.
I know I’m not really alone. I know He’s with me. He’s been with me all along.
“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 7-9
It seems like this year has been storm after another for me, and the one thing that always remains is pain. And sickness. And more pain. And more sickness. It’s enough to tire a person out.
I have talked about my struggles with chronic pain this year but then I fell silent. I’ve been quiet for quite some time for a very good reason. I was diagnosed with pneumonia in June, and still getting over it.
Coughing for three straight months will challenge anyone. Coughing to the point of vomiting and breathlessness is another thing entirely. I really thought I had whooping cough. I just couldn’t see how I could still have pneumonia after antibiotics and 2 rounds of prednisone.
I should say that I was quite surprised to learn I was so sick in the first place. I was weaning off all of my medications, something I knew God would call me to do at some point but six months into my chronic headache seemed to soon. Still, I went with it and put all of my trust in Him to get me through the pain. As my headache got worse and I started coughing non-stop, I knew something was terribly wrong. This couldn’t possibly be from weaning off of Lyrica and everything else that never helped anyway.
A month later when I was still very sick, I was told that I had bronchitis as well. Two weeks later as I struggled to take a painful deep breath, I was told I also had pleurisy. My painful ribs that had me struggling to walk were nothing more than the result of that and coughing so much. And as my breathing went from bad to worse, I had another chest x-ray done stat, only to find out the pneumonia was persistent after two months. Time for another round of antibiotics and a nebulizer for breathing treatments at home.
I finally have my appointment with a pulmonologist tomorrow, and I cannot wait. I doubt he will have special powers to make me better, but I do hope to find a regimen that will finally help me breathe easier because I’m not convinced the breathing treatments have helped me. Sometimes I think they actually make things worse.
I do the best I can dealing with all of this. I have a family to take care of, a job to hold down, and I have no more sick time left. All of my vacation time has been used up because of all of these things going on. Still, in the midst of everything that I have been through in the last 3 months, I have never felt closer to God. Never felt like He was there for me more than He is right now. It’s hard to explain but I’ve had to learn how to come to Him differently. I haven’t been able to sing in three months. I haven’t been able to work on music. There are days when I am so sick that all I can manage to do is cry out His name. He answers me every time.
Lately, in addition to helping me through this sickness, He is also giving me strength as I learn new ways to do simple things like breathing, talking, dressing myself, getting the dogs in and out of their cages, and doing a load of laundry. Did I mention that I can’t bend over? Yeah, haven’t been able to for at least a month and a half… basically after the pleurisy stopped being so bad, everything else started hurting. Coughing for so long is really bad for your back and hips so these days I use a crutch for walking and for bracing myself when trying to stand up. It has not been a fun ride but at the same time, my faith has grown stronger. I’ve surprised myself with a resilience that could only come from God as I continue to endure more and more pain. I was ready to call 911 the other night because I couldn’t get out of my bed after several hours, but instead I wound up talking to a friend of mine about God’s goodness. I went from crisis mode to a great level of peace so fast I didn’t even see it coming. Just talking about Jesus and sharing my experiences about how He has gotten me through tough times literally got me through the most excruciating pain I have endured in a very long time. Only Jesus can bring that kind of peace in the midst of pain that wasn’t going away any time soon.
Thankfully, I made it through the night and got a shot of toradol that helped some the next day. It’s amazing how thankful you are for level 8 pain after being at a 10 for so long. I’m sure I will be just as thankful when I’m able to breathe normally again too. But regardless of how long that takes to improve, I know that God’s got His hand on my life, on my struggles, and on my perseverance to withstand these challenges. He is the difference between enduring pain and having peace in the midst of pain.
On another note, my family and I stayed home for Hurricane Irma, unlike Matthew when we evacuated to Alabama. Though we had damage like many families, what astounded me the most was my attitude change between the two storms. With Hurricane Matthew, I brought the storm with me in the form of anxiety, frustration, and emotional outbursts that wreaked havoc on my family. With Irma, I had a peace going into the storm that I’ve never had before. It didn’t make any sense, even while huddled in the bathroom with my family at 4 in the morning for a tornado in the area all the while knowing that a tornado warning is what sparked me to start having panic attacks years ago just from sheer fear. Instead of being swept up in the chaos of the storm this time, I remained rooted in the knowledge that it didn’t matter what happened; we were going to be okay. I have never felt such freedom and peace in my life, and I know it has to do with how much He has challenged me this year… to be fearless in the midst of the storm.
He’s challenging me and my family with new circumstances now. Nothing that I can discuss right now but an opportunity for the devil to try and stretch our faith even further. I hope he’s starting to figure out that we don’t give up that easily, that God is on our side, and that He WILL continue to fight for us. How sweet it is!
Lord Jesus, you are my rock and my salvation. You are the very breath that runs through my body and a beacon of hope on a cloudy day. I love you with all of my heart, and thank you for all that you continue to do for me, for all the ways you have shown up in my life, and for all that is yet to come. I pray that my story and my struggles can be used to show your love for your people, and to bring hope to the hopeless. May you be glorified every step of the way. In Jesus name, Amen.
I’ve always had a heart for those that are suffering, those that are willing to be vulnerable and share their pain. I’ve been with you on this path, sharing what I can. We cannot carry it ourselves, our shoulders are not strong enough. We need Jesus. We need fellowship with others that are carrying their own cross.
We are all on a journey with Him, bearing our wounds to the best of our ability without complaining too much. Forgiving those that persecute us, and carrying on like we aren’t broken. But it takes its toll. Even Jesus screamed out about being forsaken.
There will come a day when we are no longer in pain, and it will be a joyous day. Until then, I just want to get as close as possible to His robes and hold on tightly with all the faith and love in my heart, waiting for my healing to come.
“Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.” Matthew 9:20-22
I came across one of your songs today, and a flood of emotions came to the surface. The love for a young girl that died way too young. I wanted to save you, I wanted to love you and give you a home but God had other plans.
I know the song* was how you got through your last days. And as it made its way to my playlist, I wrote this for you… I miss you sweet Faith.
I never could have known
What you went through,
The constant doubt, the many questions
Would now be filling my days.
I did the best I could,
Trying to be there for you
But I never could have known
Just what you really went through.
I feel like a failure
I get it now, I really do;
I was nowhere near
What you needed me to be;
You needed a miracle,
And I was never going to
Be able to give that to you
And now that I’m in the fire,
I feel the doubt, I have the questions
But you’re already gone.
*Fight Song by Rachel Platten
I’m tired. Like really tired, and not just because I don’t sleep well.
I’m tired of being poked and prodded. I’m tired of seeing doctors that can’t help me. Doctors that tell me they don’t know what’s wrong with me, or that there is nothing wrong with me at all.
I’m tired of pills, medicine, and treatments. Nothing works. I’ve tried so many different things… even physical therapy but it hasn’t changed a thing.
I’m tired of not feeling well, with this symptom or that. Every day it’s something else. My head still hurts every day, and sometimes incredibly bad. I sat on my bedside a few days ago at 3 o’clock in the morning contemplating going to the emergency room; they weren’t much help the last time I was there so I suffered through it like I always do.
I’m tired of suffering. Not knowing when it’s going to end. Will I ever be okay again? Will there ever be another season in my life when I am not feeling pain compounded over pain, let alone just one single breath with no pain at all?
I’m tired of doctors that keep throwing around words like anxiety and depression. How would they feel if they woke up sick one day, believing it would pass, but it doesn’t. And every day they keep waiting and hoping that the next doctor will have the answer or a solution to help them feel even an ounce like their old self? Grieving is not the same as depression, and being anxious just seems to be part of this whole ordeal with chronic pain.
This is a side of me that few people get to see. I’m hurting just like everyone else in this world. I don’t know what my future looks like. I have all of these dreams, but I don’t know which ones are God’s will. And I don’t know if I will ever be well again. That’s the most daunting question of all, and all the faith in my heart doesn’t seem to be enough to keep that question far from my mind. It’s always there, like a child repeating themselves over and over again until they get what they want.
Still, I wait and trust, giving everything I have to God because I have nothing left. I find myself draped over His promises, spent from exhaustion. Only He has the strength. Only He can carry me through the most trying times of my life. There is no use trying to do this on my own, no use trying to carry my own battered body down unfamiliar streets to search for a cure on my own. Where has that gotten me? What have I gained from all of this? Nothing I tell you, nothing.
I don’t know where God will take me from here but I do know one thing. I will not be alone. Through all of the pain, uncertainty, and upset, He has been there with me. He has carried me at every moment I couldn’t do this anymore. He has lifted me at every moment my body and faith have given out on me, despite my best attempts to keep everything together. And He will continue to be with me, only this time I will let Him do most of the walking and let His strength carry me.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Lord, I need you every day as I fight each and every aspect that comes with being in pain all the time. I need you, and many more need you, many more that are enduring the same tortures that I am. Lord, be with us in the worst moments, and when we are in such pain that we cannot speak, please let our tears be our cry to you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
While sitting here a few minutes ago reading Psalm 143, I endured the most excruciating pain in my side. It caused me to have trouble breathing, and I fought the devil literally to read aloud each word in that Psalm from start to finish until I found peace at the end.
Some aspects of my pain comes and goes in waves, but while the tides I endure are sometimes scary and seemingly unrelenting, in my heart I know that Jesus is with me every step of the way. He will never fail me. And I will never give up on Him, never give up trusting up with the plan He has for my life. I pray that your faith is able to endure the hardships as well to the point of understanding how you are being used for His kingdom.
Psalm 143:8 KJV
“Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”