Sunday, December 11, 2011
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Hello friends! It has been awhile since I have written, and it wasn't until I spoke with a friend this week who said they had read the most recent post that I realized I needed to write.
This week (actually Friday) marks a milestone in my life, but before I get there, I will tell a story to get us there. Most folks that know me (family, friends and coworkers) know that I am quite messy. Yes, I know it is hard to believe, but it runs in my family, and I received the pac-rat gene. For some odd reason, I think I need to keep everything because one day it will come in handy and I won't have to buy it, or need to shop for whatever it is. About 2-3 times a year, the cleaning bug will hit me and I just dump, trash and get rid of anything and the house or office looks good. Well, last week that started for me. Most of my summer trips were wrapping up, so I had time to clean the 4 foot pile of paper off my desk. You should also know that when I clean, it is in stages. Not everything at once, but portions each day, etc. So last week, I decided to clean my conference table and 1/4 of my desk. Strange yes, but it works for me. Monday started the 3/4 cleaning of the remainder of my desk. I think I filled the recycle bin twice with paper, post-it notes, etc. Each piece of paper I looked at to see if it was important to keep, or useless and recycle it. It took most of the day (if you know me, I take my time when I clean) and I was getting to the last 2-3 pieces of paper. To my surprise, the last piece I looked at had some interesting information on it. This piece of paper had the entire timeline of my journey with cancer. If you recall from a post almost a year ago, I had to recall the timeline for the paperwork for my doctor to fill out so I could return to work. This was that piece of paper. As I looked over the dates on the paper, I realized that Friday (tomorrow) is the one year anniversary of the diagnosis of thyroid cancer. It was a sobering moment to say the least.
In the Old Testament, God interacted with his people, such as Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and many others and had them place rocks or other items to serve as a reminder of what happened at that location and what God had done for his people. Those monuments or altars served as a reminder for God's people every time they passed those markers. Tomorrow will be a reminder for me of what God has done in my life until I am with him in heaven. It still amazes me that a year ago tomorrow, I was diagnosed with a life threatening disease. I never would have thought that would happen. I am also amazed at the incredible miracle of healing God has provided in my life to now be cancer free. My life has changed in so many ways. As I look back over the past year, I see the amazing impact the lives of my family and friends have had on my life, my work, my ministry, and especially my faith in God. God has given me so many blessings, and not until this trial in my life have I really appreciated what he has blessed me with. I am blessed with a wonderful family who loves me and want to walk through life with me, both good times and bad times. I am blessed with friends who keep me accountable, challenge me, encourage me, and keep me real. I am blessed with a wonderful job that allows me to be a vessel of clay in the potter's hands. I am blessed with some of the most passionate and loving co-workers I have ever known. I could go on and on.
Since this journey through cancer, I have many new blessings to be thankful for. I am thankful for a new respect and view of my health. I am thankful for health insurance. I am thankful for the friends i have around the world that pray for me and encourage me. I am also thankful for someone new in my life. Through this experience, I was reintroduced to an acquaintance from several years ago. Her name is Marti Colvin. She is a wonderful Christian lady that has become a very important person in my life. I have spent a majority of the summer away from her, and it just so happens that on the day of my one year anniversary of thyroid cancer diagnosis, I am joining up with Marti to enjoy a road trip through the Southwestern US. We will travel to several national parks and national monuments (including the Grand Canyon). I hope to share more about Marti and about the blessing she has been in my life during this journey.
This journey has been an interesting one, and I think I can even say now that I would not change this event in my life. It has opened my eyes to new experiences, perspectives and issues that I can now face and encourage others in light of God's grace. That's all for now, so I hope I haven't bored you, but have made you smile.
In His Grace,
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
It is with much joy and celebration that I am able to share that I received a clean bill of health. The doctor says I can say I am cancer free. It was quite the wait from the week of treatment. After an additional blood test and a visit to the doctor, I won't have to see the endocrinologist for a good six months!
This whole experience has been an adventure. It is close to being a year since diagnosis, surgery, and recovery. It been six months since the big radiation, diet journey. Now knowing the cancer part is over, I really don't know what to say. My cousin called me shortly after I posted on facebook about the good news. He was excited to hear the news, and he asked me a very interesting question that caught my attention and made me think. He asked, 'What have you learned from this experience?' I didn't quite know how to answer that at first, but of course the cursory answers came out, like an appreciation for life, family, etc. But I have had time to think about that since he asked. I have realized how many people (friends, family and even strangers) have been and are praying for me. It is humbling to grasp the number of prayers that have been and are being said on my behalf. I have realized just how important my family is to me. I love each member of my nuclear and extended family as they have each played an important part in shaping the person that I am and the person I am becoming. I have realized how important my friends are in my life. The encouragement they are to me as they walked with me, cried with me, laughed with me, and even held me...I don't know words that can explain this. I have realized more than ever before how much my Savior, Jesus Christ, has done for me. My understanding of his presence and purpose in my life is genuinely indescribable. I have realized how precious life is, and that I need to live each moment with purpose, with joy, and as selfless as possible. There is so much more to say, but now is not the time.
I want to share a very special moment with you, so please forgive my ramblings. This past Sunday, I had the joy of being able to return to the camp that I worked with for twelve years. I don't know if I had written about camp before in this blog, but this is a good time to share it. Camp John Marc is the name of the camp, www.campjohnmarc.org. For those that knew my time at camp, it was my perfect job. I spent twelve years building relationships with children with varying illnesses and disabilities. I could wear shorts and t-shirts everyday to work!!! I don't know if it gets better than that. The week I was diagnosed was the usual week that I return to camp and visit. But of course, last year I didn't get to do that. One of my friends and former co-workers emailed me on Friday about helping with getting the kids on the bus to camp and to ride to camp as a bus buddy. For all the years I worked at camp, I had never done this, nor understood the 'mayhem' involved on that side of camp. We always greeted the buses and campers as they exited the buses, unloaded luggage and then vice -versa as the camper left. With it having almost been two years since I was at camp, I quickly replied 'YES' to the request. Sunday morning, I raced to late service at church, and left a little early so I could change clothes (shorts and t-shirt!) and headed to the hospital. I wasn't quite sure what my role was to be at the time, but once the campers were loaded, I was pleased to find out that I was getting to ride on the bus with the kids. It was an absolute joyful time!!! I was able to sing a few camp songs, talk to campers about activities, watch a movie with them, laugh, tell jokes, give kids a hard time, and kids give me a hard time, etc. It was so much fun to see the excitement and joy in their eyes and hear the plans they had for fun! Once we arrived at camp, the CJM staff came on board and started to assist the campers getting off the bus. This particular week was for children with spina bifida. At first, it was exciting to see the staff and volunteer cabin counselors yelling and cheering as the campers got off the bus. As the unloading progressed, I started to look outside and see the campers with their cabin mates high five-ing and laughing. It was then that I began to feel some emotions begin to rise. For twelve years, my perspective was from the counselor side. I was serving these children to encourage them and let them know they can do anything. they can be just like anybody else. On that bus, I sat on the other side of this perspective. I was finally seeing and feeling how these campers experienced life, even if only for a moment. It wasn't until going through this cancer experience that I saw the full circle of what the Camp John Marc experience was all about. I realized how much I missed this special place, these special people, these special kids. I understand with a new perspective the power that a committed community has in life. If you look back at the Israelite journey in the old testament, you see the focus of God's presence was in the community of the people. Festivals, celebrations, harvests, worship, all of these and more were experienced and called for by God to happen in community. That is what I felt in the twelve years at camp, and I really saw it Sunday at camp. What an awesome God we worship!!! I hope you will take the time to click on the link to camp and find out more about it. I am planning on volunteering next summer for a week to be a part of this special community. Won't you?
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
This will be a short one as today was much better than yesterday. Got the 2nd shot, this time in the left cheek. Thankfully, nausea was at a minimum. It came and went throughout the day, so it was not a major concern. Thank you for your prayers. I followed up with the hospital, and tomorrow I head to the Nuclear medicine wing at Presby and get to glow again, although this dose will only run a refrigerator or two as the dose is very low. Sorry, you won't see me glowing like last time. Thursday will hold no visit to any doctor or hospital, yahoo! Friday will be the scan and blood tests, so maybe next week I'll will get the results from the doctor. Thank you again for your prayers and encouraging emails, notes, etc. You have all been a great blessing. I will write more after the treatment on Friday.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Day one down and four more to go...I didn't quite know what to expect other than an appointment at the doctor or hospital everyday this week. So today began at my doctors office to get an injection of a drug called thyrogen. I didn't do my homework like a usually do and read up on the drug I would be on, so this morning about an hour after the injection, I started getting nauseous. I then decided it would be a good idea to read the information the nurse gave me on the medicine, and yes...one of the side effects of the medicine is nausea. It stayed with me all day. But what was odd was if I was active, I didn't have nausea. We had a meeting this morning and it started late, so, as any good recreation major should have on hand, I got a frisbee out and started playing frisbee with my co-workers while we waited outside, and no nausea until about 10 minutes after playing. Again, the rest of the day nausea would come and go. This evening I joined my volleyball team and played, and just like the morning, the nausea was gone. Now I tell my story like this, please note the sarcastic humor...I just spent $900 on medicine to make me nauseous. And tomorrow I guess I get to do it again! Oh what fun! In all seriousness, I am sure this will help with the treatment. I must say that I have been very blessed for this to be the worst I have felt during this whole journey! God has been faithful to walk through this with me and to keep the pain at a very low level. So, we'll see what tomorrow will be like! Keep praying for a easy treatment!
Friday, May 14, 2010
I never realized how much time it takes to maintain a blog until I got busy with life and as I ran into people who asked me how I am doing and that they were following the blog, I then realized I was not writing like I should have nor keeping folks up to date on the latest.
It seemed like the next phase in this 'journey' was to end this past week. I saw my endocrinologist in March, and we had scheduled my treatment for Monday, May 10. Last week as we approached the end of the week, I started to wonder why I had not heard from the hospital about the treatment, so I called them. I spoke to the person who had originally scheduled my treatment. My treatment was to consist
of two injections, one each day starting on Monday. Wednesday would be a small dosage of radiation followed by a scan on Friday. When I asked about the injections, the lady on the phone said that my doctor would know about the injections. I called the nurse at my doctors office and asked her about the treatment. She stated, "I'm sorry but your insurance has denied your treatment." I was like 'WHAT"! I asked her to explain. She said that she had contacted CVS Caremark and they denied my treatment.
They had appealed the the denial and had written a letter of medical necessity for the treatment and were waiting for a decision. I immediately said, "CVS Caremark is not my insurance. That
is my prescription plan." I told her I would get back with her. I immediately called the insurance people at work, and they had no idea that I was scheduled for a treatment. I told them about the doctors office calling CVS, and their comment was the same as my thought. I immediately connected the doctors office with my insurance. This whole story happened within an hours time. I was praying this whole time for peace and that this situation would be resolved. I was at a loss of words and was in a bit of shock. About an hour after this story, I received an email from the wonderful case workers at my
insurance that they had talked with my doctors office and would process the procedure through my insurance. I was overjoyed! I then figured the treatment would then have to be rescheduled.
It has been rescheduled to the week of May 24-28. It will take a little time after the scan on the 28th to know the results, but the doctor feels pretty sure that all will be well.
Since the last treatment, I have been adjusting to the medicine and seem to be at the correct dosage. I have exercised some and traveled on two trip, one to Guatemala and just recently to Kenya, and I seem to be doing great! I will post a couple of photos from the trip to Kenya. It was a great trip full of great ministry to kids!
I'll try to write more when I get a chance!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
This will be a quick update as I am headed out for some travels. I saw the doctor a couple of weeks ago, and everything looked good as far as my tests and thyroid medicine levels. We determined my final date for the last radiation treatment to be the 2nd week of May. This round will be different with me visiting the hospital everyday during the week for injections, tests, radiation, and scans. I hope to write a good update when I get back. Thanks again for your prayers, emails and encouragement!