January 2012, Max Lucado started a sermon series called, "You'll Get Through This".
When I heard this announced, I thought, "I don't want to hear this." I wanted to go to a new church!
If I heard it, then it would mean something was going to happen that I didn't want to happen. Several times in my life, when tragedy's were happening, my safety mechanism was, "If I don't know it's happening then it's not happening."
Because I had this attitude as I sat through the first couple of sermons with my defenses up.
Then I missed church because I was taking my first trip in an ambulance.
I stepped over the chasm from the life "before" to the life "after".
I put the bumper sticker, "You'll Get Through This" in my car window.
And Max Lucado spoke what I needed every week after that.
God used him to hold me up when the rug was being pulled out from under me.
Max is a humble man. Great Spirit-filled man of God. He prayed with me. He prayed with Logan. He is calm. And he believes God still heals today. He spoke God's words into our lives on many occasions not even knowing he was doing it. I am so thankful he is my pastor and so thankful I was in his church at the time I was.
All divinely directed.
I always tried to stay positive. I didn't want to break down because I knew who was still in control and still holding me. I also knew the power of believing positively. :) I asked for lots of prayer.
But there were times, when Logan had to make me look him in the eye and help me get my focus back. I thank God for him.
There were moments when I wondered if I would still be here in March.
But then in March, we took lots of family pictures in a field of Texas blue bonnets. Those were taken moments after a cat scan.
In our minds we often recited the mantra Max had us repeat every Sunday for three months:
"You'll get through this. It won't be easy. It won't be quick. But God will use this mess for good. I won't be foolish or naive, but nor will I despair. With God's help, I know I will get through this."
By late April, mid May, Dr. Garner was concerned because nothing she was trying was having any effect on the family of tumors in my abdomen. I still did not feel sick at all and to the amazement of my treatment room nurses, my hair had not even begun to fall out.
Then Dr. Garner decided try a "chemo cocktail" of five different chemo's. This was used quite often she said. However, my system did not take well to it. I became....? I am trying to think of a word that means sicker than sick.
Days ran into weeks and all I can remember is the edge of the bed, a little of our bathroom and a lot of the treatment room bathroom. I would stay in there for hours on end. They would have to route the other patients down the hall.
On top of the chemo making me ill, every kind of "nausea" medicine they gave me, reversed on me and made me sicker than ever. I finally tried Dramamine and it gave me some relief. But I had to take mega doses of it so I was always walking around like a zombie. This became ever apparent the second day I was taking it, when I informed Logan and Ashley that I felt well enough to drive myself and Candace to the medical center, they could go on to work.
I don't remember driving 35 miles there or back. My family told me later I was within an inch of pulling the car through the garage door. I talked to my son, Brandon, and didn't remember. So I yelled at him three days later for not calling and checking on me. :)
Needless to say, from then on, someone else always drove me to the medical center.
But none of it lasted long.
This chemo treatment became toxic to my system. Not only was I sicker than my doctor had ever seen anyone, but then I couldn't form words. I knew I wanted to say something but only jibberish would come out. That is when my doctor stopped everything. It had became toxic to me. She said she didn't want to kill me in the process of trying to save my life.
Dr. Garner, is the best. She has such a heart. She and her nurse, Becky, are believers and they would be praying for me. It was comforting to have my caregivers believe with me in the One who has all power to heal.
It was during this time that I was thrust into the full effects and understanding of what so many people go through with a chemotherapy treatment. And I told Logan, "I'm sorry, about whatever happens. But I can't do this anymore."
I completely understood why there are times when people going through similiar situations, throw in the towel. It becomes....just not worth it anymore. It becomes more than you can bear.
As I slowly recovered, I began looking in the direction of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. It is not easy to get in there. A lot of red tape. It took me about six weeks to finally get in for an appointment.
During that time, my hair was finally thinning, so the girls and I went to try on wigs. We had a fun day and Ashley bought me a RED wig! :) It was beautiful. As time, and then the hair went, wigs would become more important and I would get one a little more my color.
Also, during this time, Dr. Garner sent me to her colleague so I could go on a clinical study.I wasn't sure I wanted to go to another doctor.
She sent me to Dr. Papadopoulus. She said everyone calls him, "Papa". I closed my eyes, smiled and thought, "Ok, God." You see, one of my favorite books is, "The Shack". In that book, God's name was "Papa". I knew He was still with me.
Through the whole year, to this point, God had sent me so many constant, "God winks", to let me know He was right with me, in control, holding me.
He was still sending me these messages when I went to MD Anderson.
As I always do in an oncology waiting room, I spend my time there praying for all the sick people that surround me. But this hot July day, I felt a little distance from God. I asked God where He was? A few minutes later, Logan and I were ushered into an exam room to wait. There on the wall was a white board with an arrow pointing upward and the written words, "Trust Him". :)
We will find him if we seek him with all our hearts.
He will make sure you find him and that you know he is there.
The rest of the year found me in a clinical study marking off the days and weeks according to doctor's appointments, treatments and cat scans. I lost all my hair, had constant watery eyes, complete numbness in my fingers and toes, hardly a taste for any food and terrible bone pain, making it very painful to move at all.
Early September a series of God guided events led me to the Nature's Presence store here in Boerne. That is when D'Ann came into my life. Immediately she loaded me down with all kinds of natural supplements and set up a charge account for me. She kindly and sternly told me I was never to run out of anything or I would answer to her!
I started taking:
Vitamin C powder form (mega dose)
What a God send she was. If He had not brought her into my life, I would never have been able to afford all the supplements.
Within two weeks of taking the natural supplements, my hair started to grow back at an alarming rate.... in the middle of taking chemo. This led Dr.Papa to request my wig removal every visit, so he could watch the hair growth process. :)
He is bald on top... he asked me if I thought it would help him. (Oh, and he okayed the natural supplements).
Except for the bone pain from the destruction of my bone marrow, I was feeling terrific.
It had been a long year. Max was right, it wasn't quick and it surely wasn't easy. But God was always right in the middle of the mess and He was showing himself, teaching me and others and being glorified through it.
I felt more than ever that I was going to get through this.