Monday, July 25, 2016

The Yahweh in Him Met the God in Me

Newly referred oncologist Mark Levandovsky, MD, is a smart cookie in more dimensions that I will ever know.  He certainly read me well on our initial visit, handed me tissues without fanfare, kept direct eye contact, was kind in his manner while being straightforward, and did not overload me with information. 

When I told him I would not fight the metastasis to the bone via tooth and nail, just wanted to be kept comfortable and keep the cancer at arm's length as long as possible, his response was exactly what I wanted and needed to hear. His yarmulka stayed pinned on his head while my silver cross was caught in my reconstructed cleavage. He listened, he heard.

His reply to my questions as to how we would treat this without going overboard in loading up the system with toxic drugs (this cancer will never be eradicated, hence cured), Dr. Levandovsky said he would treat it with "this and that" and if this and that did not provide relief or slow down of growth of tumors, he said he would treat it "with the other."  He sensed I did not  need to know specific effects of seven syllable oncologic drugs, nor would I remember their specific names even five minutes later.  He just knew that I was leaving the specifics in his hands. The analogy is that he and God are taking care of all the details.

This morning I go in for patient education on oral daily drugs.

My anxiety is under control with drugs and I have slept much better the last couple of nights.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  As for me, it is good to be near God.  Psalms 73:26
All those chemo hats I have been crocheting will go to the oncology unit.  Here are two finished last week.

and another Bellatina...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Be Still

Not sleeping well these past weeks, getting up from bed several times during the night, a few hours ago I had a God Experience as I was repeating this scenario. (Tossing and turning in bed might be an analogy, although not quite hitting the mark. Movement and flitting of the mind seems more accurate. The kind of subconscious upheaval and mental jousting that keeps one from returning to sleep.)

Being as quiet as possible, hoping Gene would not detect that I had left the bed, I felt my way into the bathroom and closed the door, then turned on the bath light.  I was wondering what medicine I should take: Meloxicam?  No, took one of those at 7:30 PM, so could not take another dose yet. Certainly, an oxicodone pill was not the answer as there was definitely no pain approximating that medicine intake. Aspirin?: another no. By this time, I was nearing my side of the sinks where some medicines were placed the night before. My mind began praying for guidance as to what I should do to aid in this restlessness.

Instantaneously and without question, the Holy Spirit said to me "BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD."

That was the answer to the question of which medicine to take.  I needed only a reminder that God is in control, that I just needed to return to bed for sleep, I was being watched over.  

Within minutes after returning to bed, I slept again for at least two hours.  All that was needed was His presence.  He had, after all, been there all the time. Only I required that reminder, dumb, slow human that I am.  God is good to his simple sheep.
Psalm 23:1-4 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Yesterday, a St. Mary's Hospital scheduler made appointments for me with both medical oncology and radiology, although the biopsy report has not been yet been relayed to me.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Cancer Update

Events this week have shown an about-face, proving challenges are ever changing. Example: from being given information that cancer cells were not running amok, to being informed that those errant cells are indeed attaching and growing inside my bones. Two weeks ago, a CT scan showed no problem, but a previous MRI  indicated some suspicious areas of clustering cells congregating under my left arm and under the implant where I once had a breast. 

Then a new day dawned and a PET scan performed Tuesday showed lesions on the lower spine, the upper pelvis and also deep under the left rib, thinning the bone and causing havoc with nighttime sleep and daytime movement.  Liken the discomfort unto a bruised rib. Kind of.

Yesterday, prayers from family and friends and a helpful technician giving me extra doses of fentanyl helped me breeze through two bone core biopsies in my upper pelvis.  Now we wait for the definitive news from pathology to tell that sorry old story that breast cancer has spread to the bones.

Several days ago I read this poem by Jo McDougalk, published by The Writer's Almanac on July 12.  It reverberated in my chest wall.


You’ve come to the oncologist’s office
to talk about your options.
You view the scans,
forgetting to breathe.
“It’s metastasized.” He frowns,
pointing to where and where.
He ticks off the preferred treatment,
the side effects,
low rates of success.
“It’s your choice,” he says,
closing your folder,
“but we need to start tomorrow.”
You think of yesterday
when you lived in a different universe,
of a waitress,
hand on her hip, asking,
“Hon, you want mustard or mayo
on that sandwich?”

Chew on that one.  Some choices are mundane, a few are critical. Time will tell, and decisions will be made with prayer and the Holy Spirit backing us up.

While meditating this morning, Psalms 91 came to mind.  (Joyce Meyer has a great sermon about Psalms 91 on YouTube here). These are the first two verses in the scripture, but read the entire psalm for comfort.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. (Psalms 91:1-2)

photo by Carol Lewis

I am trusting and desiring to be a good example of dealing with cancer in a realistic and God centered manner so that I can give Julie that as a legacy.  My mother did the same for me in 2000 when she dealt with the cancer issue, and was never fearful of one day following the next.  Nor am I, and I trust that Julie will also face her own mortality with faith and dignity.

Next posting with be all about knitting, I promise.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Llamas at the Manor

Llamas from Whitewater, 17 of them, are owned by Kathy and Glen Stanko.  Kathy and Glen were kind to bring two of them to visit the manor yesterday.  They were certainly a hit with residents.  Julie loved seeing them, and even made me drive her chair out to the parking lot to wave them off back to their home forty-five minutes away by trailer.

They ate iris and parsley planted in the herb garden, but that was ok.  There are plenty more iris I planted there last fall, while the parsley is taking more than its fair share of garden space.

White llama above: Phoebe Snow.  Her fur is a natural white and is spun at Fire Mountain Fiber near Hotchkiss, Colorado at Bad Rabbit Farm.  Her fiber is lace weight.  Kathy wants me to drive out to the ranch and see all her fiber for sale; I might take her up on it as I would really like to dye up some more fibers in acid dye baths.  Like last year!

Julie is trying to touch Phoebe's neck as Phoebe patiently waits for it.
Here is the location of the Stanko llama ranch on Kannah Creek Road near Whitewater.  I might just take a drive out there soon to purchase some fiber.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sunday Tidings

Results of medical tests showed that cancer is not in the cards for me in the near future. Thank you all for your concern.  Gene was relieved, of course, but his wry comment during our discussion after results came in was "God is not letting you get out of here that easy."  Meaning we still have Julie to guard, and his mother to bury, although she is closing on to 90 and has been dying for more than a decade, in her estimation.

So that is all I can report on the tests, other than that odd lump is undefined, and that rib pain continues.  Costochondritis?  Who knows...

The sun shines through!