A time of evaluation and reflection . . .

I started writing this blog in January of this year.  As of this post, I am nearing 4,000 visitors to “The Voice: a Christian cancer blog.”  The sole objective and goal for my blogging and information links is to bring hope to a fellow cancer survivor.  It has always been my prayer that my cancer story may encourage, bring a peace and perspective and relief to a fellow patient/survivor.  As patients/survivors, sometimes we may feel quite alone and as if no one  understands.  May “The Voice” be your link to your relief that someone has experienced what you are going through and in your loneliness you learn you really are “normal” and not crazy.  How do I know this?  Because I felt alone, not normal and I felt “crazy” for feeling the way I did, especially after being told I am cancer free.

It is my pleasure to link other Christian cancer blogs from “The Voice.”  All of our stories are important; all of our cancers are different and through our stories and our cancers something can be gleaned.  In reading all of the blogs, I am amazed and awestruck by each and every one.  I think overall their stories are greater and more challenging than my story; some of these folks have been through so much and their cancer story isn’t over yet – and it may never be.

Recently, I wondered if I should I keep all the blog links.  Out of the links listed, five blogs are stories of relapse and treatment and for many, the treatment isn’t working and the cancer is spreading to other areas of their bodies.  And, sadly, a sixth blog, the author recently passed away.   You see, I want “The Voice” to be a blog of hope and encouragement, is sharing this kind of information encouraging to the newly diagnosed patient?

All of my blog links are written by Christians.  Their perspective and tenacity to endure and yet remain the utmost positive is anchored in the hope and promise of their faith in Jesus Christ; their faith helps them to not waver in the most despairing of news.  I read their blogs and I think can it get any worse and it does get worse; I don’t know how they continue to “do it.”  But I don’t read despondency and hopelessness in their posts, they continue to optimistically live the next day, month, year desiring that their suffering will honor God and help another in similar circumstances.  This only stimulates my thinking and challenges me to hope that I could do no less if my news should not be “good news”.

In briefly updating you, my readers, about my fellow bloggers I am delighted to share with you my wee friend, emilyannlove, completed her high dose methotrexate.  Little Emily did not have the response the doctors were wanting her to achieve on her first round of chemotherapy to combat childhood leukemia so they treated her with a chemo that is prescribed for adults.  She soared through with little to no complications.  Auntie Plum wrote, “Once again, she cleared the drug from her system in record time! The round of chemotherapy we were all the most worried about has turned out to be a bit of a breather.”  I join the Love family in thanking God for His goodness all through Emily’s treatment.

color with me!

color with me!

I am happy to bring the good news of  two other fellow bloggers, Tamara,  “Our Journey”, and Paul, “Thrilled to Death”, are doing very well.  Tamara is post 100 days from her allogeneic stem cell transplant.  In her recovery she writes, “My first days at home alone scream the reality of my new normal.  Quiet.  Restful.  This is what is necessary and prescribed as I continue the healing process.  It’s just so different from my old normal.”  Finding our new normal is one of the many “adjustments” we make after having cancer.  I hope her transition is peaceful.

Paul has had some rather interesting experiences in his post treatment recovery.  Chemotherapy affects all of our body and it effects our approach to life in a new and appreciative way, and sometimes, in unexpected ways.  Paul says, “I suppose that while I’m experiencing things I’ve barely heard of (like leukemia) or never heard of (like Graft-vs-Host Disease), I might as well just run the gamut of life adventures.”  I do not know Paul personally but from my personal post treatment recovery I experienced two completely out of the blue fits of rage.  Never in my life have I expressed rage but I found myself physically acting out this anger that I believe resulted from being blind-sided by cancer.  I wrote about my account of my first rage on my CaringBridge site, May 5, 2009.  Thank God I haven’t had that kind of anger since those two episodes!

Then there are the stories from my fellow bloggers that might seem discouraging but when read, are really very awe-inspiring and hopeful as they share their continuing saga with advancing cancer.  Please, if you are looking for a perspective in how to live with a life challenge, whether it be a trying circumstance, chronic illness, cancer or anything of that sort, then prayerfully read the following blogs.  They make me shake my head in admiration for their approach and acceptance to their advancing disease and prognosis.  I thought that in keeping these links new patients might become discouraged but now I don’t believe that is true.  The following blogs should uplift us and give us the hope that, we, too, as Christian sojourners, can claim hold of the promises of Scripture.

Kelly, “Praise You In This Storm”, who has battled breast cancer for nearly three years, and a mother of young children, continues to write about her fight (and believe me, it is a fight) against her cancer.  She writes candidly and transparently on the difficulties of “doing this” for three years.

Pastor Bob Jennings, “Bob Jennings Journal”, writes, “I am not yet healed of the radiation burn on the duodenum.  But I have no doubt that I’d be dead if it were not for the cyber-knife which terminated the mother tumor on the pancreas.”  And he always ends his post with a meditation from scripture.  Pastor Jennings so inspired me that I wrote the following post about him, “I lived my life for you, Lord . .”

(Note: This morning, 08/26/12, Pastor Jennings posted.  “Eternity:  It is strange to look into a man’s eyes, knowing I’ll likely not see him again until the Judgment Day.  It is strange, so terribly ironic and real that because of Christ I was ultimately in an infinitely better way than he was.  If it is well with the soul, it will be well with the body in the end.  And there is an end here.  The world will end.  Christ will judge.  Christ will reward.  Christ will get the long-awaited glory.  The resurrection, immortality, heaven, home, being with the Lord Jesus – this is it, this is all, this is crucial.  I’m very thankful to be redeemed by faith in His precious blood, His death for me.  My sincere love to you all!  It is time to go to sleep.  Bob”  The doctor shared with Pastor Jennings it is a matter of weeks now.  Please, let us pray for Bob and his family as he waits for eternity.)

I continue to greatly admire and look forward to every post from Mike Fechner, the “Chemo Church” pastor.  In his blog, “Restoring Hope for a Better Tomorrow”, Mike writes about his progressing lung cancer but more than his cancer, his heart and prayerful plea is the message of Christ’s gospel, the good news of salvation for everyone everywhere, in the hospital or on the street.  If I lived by Mike I would ask him to “teach” me how to do Chemo Church, but I believe, in reading his blog, he would tell me I have all I need to know right now, just go do it!  “I can tell you from personal experience that “impossible odds” are nothing more than God’s opportunities to demonstrate His power through the most unlikely people in the most unusual circumstances. The problem is, we’ll miss out if we remain in a spiritual slumber.”  That is Mike’s attitude; God’s opportunities first, cancer second.  Amazing.

When some time  has passed since Joe and Heidi’s last blog entry, I wonder if they are doing okay.  In “When You Both Have Cancer”, the story of this couple humbles me.  I can’t even begin to fathom their shared life of cancer.  “August/September will be stressful.  This week we find out if Heidi’s gamma knife procedure was successful on her brain tumors.  Next week I get checked for colon cancer and prostate cancer recurrence.  Next week Heidi starts a new chemotherapy.  A few weeks later I get checked for bladder cancer recurrence.”  There is nothing more I can add to this paragraph other than please lift these dear people in prayer. . .

My last blog, “My Unexpected Walk With Cancer”,  is the blog that the author has since passed away.  Jeff was diagnosed with a rare type of sarcoma cancer.  In reading his story, I was impressed by the aggressiveness of this cancer.  As each entry was written I read how more and more of the cancer took his body from him but through it all I read a steadfast faithfulness in his approach to his cancer and his walk  with Christ.  In April, Jeff wrote, “You see, it is one thing to understand that to die is gain, but another to embrace it and welcome it. I think most of us are much more interested in living in this body and performing fruitful labor. I don’t yet want to “go” more than “stay,” but it’s getting closer. I expect that God will help with that transition at the right time.”  And then there were no more updates until July 3rd when Jeff’s son, Matt, notified us that his dad had passed on May 7, 2012.

So I wondered, do I keep Jeff’s blog link on my blog?  Will this be discouraging or encouraging?  But in reading Jeff’s last entry, which his son posted, I thought we must all read this!  This is Jeff’s account on the HOPE of HEAVEN.  And, indeed, one day I will meet Jeff in eternal glory!  I know Jeff and his son, Matt, would be honored if you took the time to read Jeff’s words on the Hope of Heaven.

Lastly, I have a blogging friend, Elaine, “Peace for the Journey”.  I have not had the privilege of meeting  her face to face but I know her because her expression through writing makes me feel like I am sitting right across the table from her as we sip hot tea or coffee and share our cancer stories.  Elaine is an author – and she is a survivor.  Elaine recently released a book, “Beyond Cancer’s Scars: Laying Claim to a Stronger Spirit”(click here for more information)

I intend to buy this book and use it as a tool for our Christian cancer support group.  Elaine writes purposefully and thoughtfully; I know our minds will be stimulated as we read her book and use the facilitator’s guide as a springboard for discussion.

This is a long post; I have written it and rewritten it in my head numerous times.  I questioned the “positivity” factor of each blog.  We, as an American society, want to hear only positive, uplifting good news.  This is not realistic and I believe we will learn more, become stronger people and a more grateful people by reading others’ stories, whether good or bad.  And what or who defines good or bad?  In God’s kingdom everything is for His glory and used to His glory, both good and bad.  So that leaves me with the question, is there truly “bad news” in God’s kingdom purpose and reign?

To the preserving of His glorious Name,

summer hike, East Glacier, Montana

Cyndi

end note:  I just added two new blogs to my list.  “My Lymphoma Journey” by Jim Davis diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins T-cell lymphoma and “My Adventures with Mantle Cell Lymphoma” by Rich Franco.

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2 comments on “A time of evaluation and reflection . . .

  1. auntieplum says:

    I think it’s incredibly important to share the ups and downs and I am thankful you continue to link to so many different christian stories. Our lives as Christians are never guaranteed to be easy and how we handle the challenges is as important a witness as how we handle joy.

    Our trust is in the Lord, absolutely, but our emotions and fears are still human. We have darkness and doubt and sadness. Our witness for the Lord comes when we are able to surround one another with Christ’s love and move beyond those fears and into the grace that God offers.

  2. I plan on visiting some of these blogs this week; there is strength and courage in our stories. You are invested in our stories, Cyndi. Thank you for your time, your energy, your concern, and your prayers. It isn’t easy keeping up with each other; it’s a heavy subject, not one many are willing to take on. I pray God offers encouragement to you as you invest in the lives of others.

    I appreciate your coming alongside me in this time.

    peace~elaine

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