Sunday, January 20, 2019

Post-Surgery Gratitude


I had my 2nd mastectomy this past Tuesday, and I have many things to be grateful for. Here are just a few that I want to mention:
  1. I did not get sick before surgery, so it did not need to be postponed. 
  2. The nurse who took care of me before and after surgery was wonderful. I was not able to have an IV placed in either of my arms/hands, so it had to be inserted in a foot. She was having trouble with my tiny veins, and ended up sticking me 3 times, but the 3rd time worked. She was very patient and calm through it all, and I even heard her whisper a prayer, "Please, Lord" before sticking me for the 3rd time. God answered her prayer.
  3. Surgery went well, without any complications. It took around 3 hours.
  4. I did not get nauseous after surgery like I have in the past, because they gave me a Scopalamine patch behind my ear to keep the nausea away.
  5. I was doing well after surgery, so I was able to go home that same afternoon.
  6. I am thankful for our new recliner. It has been helpful for me, because laying down on a bed was difficult and painful for the first few nights.
  7. My mother was not able to come for the surgery, due to sickness, but David's parents were able to be here. David's dad went with us to the hospital, and his mom, Sharon, stayed at the house with the kids. Sharon is still here helping out where needed, and I am very grateful for her help. 
  8. Several ladies from our church have brought over meals, which has been a true blessing! Other friends and family have sent private messages, cards, flowers, and/or made phone calls to encourage and pray with me. True Christian hospitality in the works.
  9. It is a blessing to have my husband, David, with me through doctor appointments, surgery, post-surgery care, etc. I trust him and am grateful for his wisdom and medical knowledge.
  10. The surgeon I had was the same one I had 6 years ago. So, I was comfortable with him. Before surgery, he always initials the area that is going to be operated on. This is how he did mine: 
 
11.  I know my surgeon's hands were guided by "The Great Physician," just like it shows in the picture below. This picture was hanging in my surgeon's office when I went in for a pre-surgery consultation. David pointed it out to me, and I had to take a picture of it.

 
Here's a close up look at the verse on the bottom of the picture.
 
12.  The nurses and doctors took good care of me at the hospital, including the way they wrapped me in warm blankets after surgery. It made me feel warm and cozy as I was waking up.
13.  Pain medications worked well, so my pain has not been unbearable. I'm mostly just really sore, and also uncomfortable from the drainage tube and side effects of surgery. I am taking things one day at a time, and look forward to Wednesday, when the drainage tube will be removed.

14.  We are still waiting for the pathology report to come back but, from what we know so far, we are anticipating all the margins to be clear and all of the cancer to be gone. Time will tell.

15.  I have had good days and hard days but, through it all, I am counting my blessings. God is  good all the time.
 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Start of My Gratitude Journal



At the end of 2018, I saw and shared a photo on Facebook that showed a glass jar with folded up pieces of paper in it. The words on the photo gave the suggestion to write down one blessing each week and put it in the jar. Then, at the end of the year, go back and read them all. I thought that was such a great idea and decided I wanted to give it a try. But, then the thought came to me that a "gratitude journal" would work just as well, and I would be more apt to actually follow through with doing it if I did it that way. So, I found an empty, spiral notebook and began my entries on January 1st.

Its a pretty simple thing to do. Each day, I write out one or two (sometimes more) things I am thankful for. I have my notebook and pen on a table next to my bed and usually write in it before turning out the lights. It is a good way to help me fall asleep while thinking about the blessings in my life. I write down things from my day that made me smile, kind acts from someone, a kind act I did for someone else, or just something or someone I have thought about that day. 


Here's a look at my entries from this past week:

JANUARY 6 (Sunday): I am grateful for my teen son's hugs. Tonight, as we were getting ready to eat supper, I spilled an entire pan of pizza onto the bottom of our hot oven. I was upset and stressed, but JJ helped me clean up the mess, and then spontaneously gave me a hug. It really helped calm me and made things so much better. Just a simple hug can make a world of difference.

JANUARY 7 (Mon): Today is JJ's birthday. I am grateful to have shared 16 years with him so far. He is growing into a fine young man with a kind heart. I love him so much. I am also grateful his cousin/best friend was able to be here to help us celebrate.

JANUARY 8 (Tues):  I am grateful for the new recliner couch that arrived yesterday. It is very comfortable and was MUCH needed to replace our old 22-year-old hide-a-bed couch. This recliner will be VERY helpful as I am recovering from surgery next Tuesday, the 15th.

JANUARY 9 (Wed):  I am grateful for the way God brings strength and encouragement at just the right time. I have been really stressed this week, trying to get things accomplished before surgery, and frantically trying to  keep things disinfected so I don't get sick. Then, today I read a devotional in "Our Daily Bread" (it was actually the one from yesterday). It reminded me that worrying does not help the situation I am worried about. God is in control and I need to place my trust in HIM.

JANUARY 10 (Thurs): I am grateful for the relaxing, inspirational piano music that I can listen to on my tablet as I fall asleep tonight. It soothes my soul.
 
JANUARY 11 (Fri):  I am grateful for the safe travels of friends and family who needed to travel this afternoon in bad weather.

JANUARY 12 (Sat):  I am grateful David and I were able to sleep in this morning. I love our Saturday morning snuggles. I am also thankful for snow plows, the people who drive them, and my warm home. 

If you haven't already started your own GRATITUDE JOURNAL, its not too late to start. Just grab a notebook, or notebook paper, and start writing. It will become a blessing to you - I am sure of it - as well as a treasured keepsake to look back on at the end of the year.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Focus for 2019: GRATITUDE


For the past few months, I have been praying about which topic I should focus on in 2019 - for myself, as well as for sharing on my blog. One idea that came to me after reading a devotional in Our Daily Bread was that "every moment matters." So, I started making some notes, but wasn't yet convinced about that topic being the one. 

Recently, some friends told me that last year's posts about TRUST had been great; however, with my newly diagnosed cancer and other difficult things that have happened this past year, they thought maybe I was being “tested” on my trust - you know, sort of like "practicing what I preach." So, instead of writing more about trust this year, it was recommended that maybe I should write about blessings. I laughed at the suggestion and told them I would think about it; but that did get me to start thinking, "Hmmm, that might actually be a good topic to write about, and it could be right in line with moments that matter." So, I continued praying about it.

A few weeks later, I was chatting with my mom. She also said the TRUST posts have been good, and she has enjoyed reading them. Then, she reminded me about how my dad was often “tested” on the things he preached and taught when he was alive. So, she was sort of joking, and sort of being serious when she laughed and said, “Maybe your next topic should be about praises!” I laughed also, and told her I might have to do that.

  • MOMENTS THAT MATTER
  • BLESSINGS
  • PRAISES

They are all similar.

It was already pretty clear at that point about what God was trying to tell me; but, silly me, I still wanted to be sure.  So, I asked for one more sign.

Shortly after that, I found a short, online questionnaire from DaySpring that helps users find their "one word" for the new year. I took the quiz, and the word they gave me was . . . GRATITUDE.


The comments given to me after taking the quiz said:
2019 is your year to be thankful and practice gratitude in all things. It can be easy to take for granted the tremendous blessings you’ve been given, but this year is about mindfully thanking God for what you’ve been given, and sharing that gratitude with others!
Did you read that?

Bingo! It all made sense! GRATITUDE is needed in order to count your blessings. GRATITUDE is needed in order to praise the Lord for what He has done. GRATITUDE is the word I had been looking for. It's the one word God made clear that I am meant to focus on in 2019.

I really have no idea where this is going to lead, but at least I have goal - a direction to go in. So, my Sunday posts are going to be about GRATITUDE. That includes sharing about the ways the Lord has blessed me and my family, giving Him praises in all circumstances, and focusing on all the precious moments that really matter in this life.

I hope you will follow along; and please feel free to join me in this new year prayer:
Dear Lord, in 2019, use my words and actions to spur others on towards gratitude. Help me to be an encouragement as I praise you for all the blessings you have given. Amen.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Final List of TRUST Posts

Well, it's been a good year of writing about TRUST; but I'm ready for something new. I am praying about a new topic to write about in 2019. But, for now, here is the final list of TRUST posts from 2018. Take some time to read the ones you missed, or maybe just read through your favorites again.

Thanks for following along with this series.

TRUST #1:  Focus for 2018:  TRUST
TRUST #2:  My Unexplained Pain
TRUST #3:  God Works All Things for Our Good
TRUST #4:  Remember How God Has Helped You in the Past
TRUST #5:  Trust in God's Love for You
TRUST #6:  Trust God's Decision on Leaders
TRUST #7:  A Simple Plan to Help Us TRUST More and Worry Less
TRUST #8:  Trust God to Meet Your Needs (Carolyn McIntosh's Story)
TRUST #9:  He Never Leaves Us Nor Forsakes Us (Daneille Snowden's Story)
TRUST #10:  Following God's Lead (Charity Vanderhoof's Story)
TRUST #11:  Trusting Christ with a "Death Sentence" (Mike Phillip's Story)
TRUST #12:  The First Moment of Real Trust in God
TRUST #13:  Trusting God to Help Us Find Our Way (Daniel McIntosh's Story)
TRUST #14:  Trust God to Listen to Your Heart
TRUST #15:  How to Trust in God When You Don't Know How
TRUST #16:  Trusting God When Your Family Turns Against You (Rein Schmidt's Story)
TRUST #17:  Prayers Can Show Our Trust
TRUST #18:  What Faith Means to Me (Guest: Carolyn McIntosh)
TRUST #19:  "Trust" Quote from Chip Ingram
TRUST #20:  Romans 15:13
TRUST #21:  Twila Paris "Do I Trust You?"
TRUST #22:  "Trust the Engineer" (A Quote by Corrie TenBoom)
TRUST #23:  A Father Who Can Be Trusted
TRUST #24:  Allowing Our Son to Go and Do
TRUST #25:  Trusting the Reliability of God's Word
TRUST #26:  Lauren Daigle "Trust in You"
TRUST #27:  EL is 2 Year Seizure-Free
TRUST #28:  Tis So Sweet to TRUST in Jesus
TRUST #29:  A Review of TRUST Posts
TRUST #30:  He Will Carry Us Safe to Shore
TRUST #31:  Ideas to Help Grandparents Share Their Faith with Their Grandchildren
TRUST #32:  Remember His Wondrous Works (Guest: Carolyn McIntosh)
TRUST #33:  HYMN:  Trusting Jesus
TRUST #34:  Do Not Worry About Tomorrow
TRUST #35:  Choose to Cease Striving
TRUST #36:  David Nevue and Psalm 5
TRUST #37:  Selah "Lord I Trust You"
TRUST #38:  Nahum 1:7 
TRUST #39:  A Good Report on EL's 6th MRI
TRUST #40:  Trusting There is a Reason for Delays 
TRUST #41:  Has My Cancer Returned???
TRUST #42:  The Biopsy
TRUST #43:  The Biopsy Results 
TRUST #44:  Trusting God to Supply All Our Needs  
TRUST #45:  Cancer "Processing Mode"


If anyone was working on a trust story that you didn't finish, feel free to send it my way when you get it done. We can always benefit from more trust stories.



Wednesday, December 12, 2018

TRUST #45: Cancer "Processing Mode"


I'm posting another TRUST post today instead of on Sunday, because I have information to share that I know many of you have been waiting to hear.

I finally had a consultation yesterday with my Oncologist.
 
Here are the facts:
  1. This is a NEW cancer, totally unrelated to my first cancer from 6 years ago.
  2. The cancer is Stage 0 - which means it is currently non-invasive. (This is good news because my first cancer was stage 2.)
  3. The cancer is High Grade - which means it started growing quickly, and will continue growing quickly. So, even though it is currently Stage 0 (non-invasive), it could quickly change into invasive if it is not removed. 
  4. The cancer is 97% Estrogen Positive, which means Estrogen is what is making it grow.
  5. The cancer is also 1% Progesterone Positive.
  6. The best course of action is a mastectomy. I will be seeing my surgeon for a consultation on December 20th. 
  7. I will not be needing any kind of bone scans or PET scans before surgery. I will not need to have them done at all, unless the pathology report after surgery contains new information that would require more testing. 
  8. I have been taking Tamoxifen for the past 5 1/2 years in order to block the estrogen my body makes. If I had not been taking it, this new cancer might have happened a lot sooner than it did. However, it is apparently not working on me as effectively as it should. So, my doctor told me to stop taking it.
  9. After my surgery, I will begin taking a different medication (I don't know the name of it yet) that should hopefully be more effective.
  10. If all goes as planned, and they don't find any "surprises" in my pathology report, I will not need chemo or radiation treatments.

How is this affecting me?
  • I'm experiencing what you might call "processing mode." I have received all the information, and now I am working through different thoughts and emotions. Even though I have had cancer before, its not any easier this time around.
  • I am so thankful this cancer was caught early. Things could be much worse!
  • At the same time, I'm feeling a bit "down"about needing to go through another mastectomy. 
  • I am also wondering what is making ME so prone to this type of cancer, especially since I have no family history of it. (My dad had prostate cancer, but that's not quite the same). I want answers, but the answers may not be revealed in my lifetime. 
  • Through it all, I'm still TRUSTING in God's plans for my life, and I know He will be there to help me and my family through this.


Sunday, December 9, 2018

TRUST #44: Trusting God to Supply All Our Needs


I have told this story before, but felt it was worth repeating . . .

When I was a young girl around the age of 5, my family lived in Minnesota while my parents were serving with CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship). They were doing deputation work (appointed to represent the ministries of CEF to others) and did not receive a regular paycheck. Their income was provided by the support of other Christians, and some weeks were financially leaner than others.

During one of our leanest weeks, there was a period of about 4 days when our cupboards were almost bare; but, through faith, God supplied for my family’s needs in miraculous ways.

On day one, we all sat down for supper and were getting ready to eat what was left in our cupboards - some crackers with butter on them (and my sister thinks there might have been a little bit of popcorn as well). We all held hands and Dad prayed, just like we always did before a meal, thanking God for what we had, and also asking Him to provide for our needs. Then, my brother remembers Dad telling us to enjoy our meal, because we didn’t know when or where we would be eating the next one. Soon after that, there was a knock on the door. No one was there. However, a sack of groceries was left anonymously. We were all so excited to see how God had provided for our needs. We had enough food for a good meal that night, as well as some leftovers for breakfast the next morning.

Day 2 - At breakfast, we all prayed again before us three kids left for school, asking God, in faith, to provide for our needs. Later that afternoon, some friends of ours called and said they had made too much supper, so they asked us to come over and join them. Of course, we said yes, and had a nice meal with our friends that night.

Day 3 - We all prayed again before leaving for school. That afternoon, my brother and sister received a small check for a paper route job they had. It was maybe around $6.00, which was worth a lot more 40 years ago than it is now. My dad gave the check to them and asked what they wanted to do with it. They said, “Let’s go to McDonald’s!” So, that was our meal for that night.

Day 4 - I don't remember it, but I’m sure we all prayed again that morning. Later that day, an income check finally arrived. It was enough to provide for our family’s needs for the rest of the month.

God is good, and we can always TRUST in the fact that He has promised to supply all the needs of His children. Not always what we WANT, but exactly what we NEED (both physically and spiritually).

Sunday, December 2, 2018

TRUST #43: The Biopsy Results


One week after my biopsy, a call finally came in from Dr. B. It was a Tuesday evening, around 7:15 p.m. The caller ID showed who it was, so we knew it my doctor. [Yes! Finally!] David and I quickly left the room and put the phone on speaker so we could both hear. The conversation went something like this:
ME: Hello?
Dr. B: Is this Victoria?
ME: Yes it is.
Dr. B: Have I caught you at a bad time?
ME: Ummm, no, now is fine. [I had been watching a new episode of "The Flash" with my family, and we were getting ready to eat ice cream like we always do on Tuesday nights, but this phone call was definitely more important than that.]
Dr. B: Ok. Well, I told you I would call you with your biopsy results.
ME: Yes.
Dr. B: It is not invasive cancer, which is good. However, you do have sort of like "pre-cancer" cells.
ME: Is this what you would call DCIS? [DCIS = Ductal Carcinoma in Situ - a non-invasive form of cancer contained in the milk ducts].
Dr. B: Yes. That is what it is.
ME: Ok. I had that extensively on my other side, along with an invasive tumor. So, I know what that is.
Dr. B: I am at home right now and don't have your file. How long ago was that?
ME: Six years ago.
Dr. B: Ok. I will give your Oncologist a call tomorrow, and will look at your history a little more closely. Then, we will determine what to do next.
ME: Ok. That sounds fine.
Dr. B: You might be okay with just a lumpectomy, but I will know more after discussing with your Oncologist. But, we don't want to wait around too long on this, as it has a potential to change quickly.
ME: I understand.
Dr. B: Ok, then. I will talk to you soon.
ME: Thank you for your call.
We hung up the phone and David gave me a hug. We were not surprised by the news, but it was not what we were hoping for either. At least, there isn't any invasive cancer, so we are very grateful for that.

Unfortunately, I will be facing another surgery, and I am not worried or scared about it; but, to be honest, I just don't want to go through this again! Surgery is painful, and inconveniencing, especially during this time of year.

But . . . if that is the best option, then I will accept it. And, I will continue to TRUST in a loving God who will be with me through it all. He is my refuge and my strength.

I now have a consultation scheduled with my Oncologist for December 11th. We will know more about my case at that appointment.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

TRUST #42: The Biopsy

It was a Stereotactic Core Needle Biopsy - my first one, and hopefully my last. Stereotactic, meaning the accurate positioning of a probe inside a specific part of the body by using three-dimensional images or diagrams. It is less invasive than scalpel surgery, and reportedly more accurate at finding the precise location for biopsies.

My husband (David) and our daughter (EL) went with me to my appointment. Dr. B recognized us from my previous surgeries with him. He is such a kind, caring man. He sat down in the room with us and asked, "Are you scared?"

I shook my head no.

He asked me why, and I said, "You did a good job on my other side, so I trust you." It was 6 years ago when Dr. B performed a lumpectomy on my right side, followed by a mastectomy, and 3 different port-related surgeries. I trusted him then, and I had no reason not to trust him this time around. Although, I was still praying for God to guide his hands, and that the results would be accurate.

I was taken to the procedure room and saw a table with a hole in it. I was instructed to lie down on my stomach and, after I was positioned correctly, they raised the table and worked underneath of me. I found this photo example on RadiologyInfo.org:
First, a few pictures were taken, similar to a mammogram but not as tight. Then, once they had their mark in sight, I was numbed up with Lidocaine. It apparently numbed me up on the outer part. However, when it came time for them to insert the biopsy device, I definitely felt that. They said I would hear a pop, and I sure did! It reminded me of a harpoon, and left me with a sizable ache. Shortly after that, they asked if I needed more Lidocaine, and I said yes.

As they began taking samples, I still felt some mild pain, but it was at least tolerable. I'm guessing they took around 5 or 6 samples. Then, they inserted a small titanium marker that will remain in place to keep track of where the biopsy had been taken.

I bled a lot when they were finished. It's possible the needle hit a vein when it went in. But the bleeding eventually slowed down enough to put Steri-strips and a band-aid on the puncture wound. After that, a couple more mammogram pictures were taken, and I was sent on my way. The whole thing was done in less than an hour.

I hugged David as he left for work, and gave him an extra squeeze to say, "Thankyou for coming."  I love that man. He took time out of his busy schedule to be with me for this. A friend of ours had agreed to come with me and to sit with EL while I was having the procedure; but David said he wanted to be there, so he came instead.

After the appointment I was okay to drive, so EL and I went shopping at Walmart. It helped keep my mind off of "things." Waiting for biopsy results is never easy.

I'm hoping and praying for good results, of course. But, no matter what they are, I will choose to keep TRUSTING in my Lord. I have been through too much already NOT to place my trust in Him. He is my God, and my rock.

If all goes as planned, I should have the results in the next day or two.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

TRUST #41: Has My Cancer Returned???


My annual mammogram was on Wednesday, November 7th. It was done quickly and I left there without a concern. It has been 6 years since I was diagnosed with cancer on my right side and, so far, the left side had always been fine.

The next day, I got a phone call:
"The doctor saw a change in your pictures this year as compared to last year, so we need you to come back in for a few more pictures, so we can get a closer look."
I got off the phone and could tell my heart rate was up, but I had too many other things going on to dwell on it. So, my prayer was short and simple:
 "Not again, Lord. Please. I don't want to go through this again."
Tuesday afternoon (the 13th) was my next appointment. I expected to just have the pictures taken and then be sent home like always. But this time was different. They escorted me into a private room, said the pictures would be sent over to the doctor right away, and then someone would come in to talk to me about them.

My daughter, EL, and I sat in the room together. The room was quiet and comfortable. The only sounds I heard were of EL flipping through a magazine . . . as well as my thoughts going through my mind. I wasn't nervous, really. In fact, I was pretty calm, considering. I guess, more than anything, I just felt a little discouraged. I didn't want to be going through this, and I didn't want this "inconvenience" in my life.

When the nurse came in, she didn't beat around the bush. She said they saw small undetermined calcifications. They could be nothing, but they need to be checked out, especially considering my history and the fact that this is the first time they have shown up on that side.

So, I have been scheduled for a biopsy for this coming Tuesday. 
  • Am I scared? Not really.
  • Am I worried? Not exactly.
  • Am I nervous? Maybe a little.
  • Do I TRUST the Lord to be with me and help me and my family through this? Absolutely!