Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Each One Reach One

I am so excited that I just had to share! Most of you know that thymoma is a rare cancer. As far as we know I am the only case in the Lubbock area. MD Anderson only sees about 25 cases per year. There is very little research available and no support to speak of. Last week I received a newsletter from MD Anderson. On the back there was an advertisement about Anderson Network's One-on-One Support. It matches patients with similiar cancers to one another to provide support. I have chosen to live as loudly as I can with this cancer so that people see there is always hope. When I saw that advertisement I thought to myself, "I should do that." I set is aside and intended to get back to it.

Today I was up to my neck in projects and emails when suddenly I had an urgency to stop what I was doing and call. I picked up the phone and dialed the number.  I reached an operator by the name of Vetra. I told her I was interested in the program because I recognized how beneficial it would be to have someone to talk to with your disease. As I explained that I have a rare cancer called thymoma, she cut me off mid-sentence and asked me to repeat that. I said, "I have thymoma." She replied, "I can't believe you just said that. I said that word just 10 minutes ago! I was telling my co-worker that we need to do more reach out for people with thoracic disease like lung cancer, but that we can't forget the lesser known cancers like thymoma." She went on to say, "My co-worker didn't know what thymoma even was. I can't believe you just called."

By this point I was covered with goosebumps and choking on happy tears. I replied, "That just amazes me! I have tried to find others with thymoma and search for information, but there is just nothing there. I have blogged during my experience so that if there was anyone out there searching, they could find someone to connect to." Again she interrupted. "You blog? On your own? Oh my goodness, we are always looking for bloggers to share their stories! Do you mind if I get your contact information so that our communications department can reach you?" With a giggle in my throat I shared my phone number. 

As we talked about how our phone call had made each our days she said, "It is so funny that you called right when you did. I was supposed to be in another meeting, but just a few minutes ago they asked if they could bump it back 30 minutes. This was just meant to be!"  How amazing is it that I called and spoke to her. The other agent had no awareness of thymoma. If Vetra's
schedule hadn't been cleared and my prompting hadn't been so urgent, this blessed moment of connection would have been missed. You can't tell me that God isn't in the details!

There was another part of the phone call that thrilled my soul that you should know about as well. Vetra told me that I would be the 3rd volunteer they have with Thymoma. The other two are women as well and they each have Stave IV thymoma just like me. The best part though? They are longtime survivors. One was diagnosed in 1996 and the other in 2005. So in my effort to share a little hope, I received a little hope. The phone call came full circle.

I stand amazed!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

As If...

Each morning we awaken with choices.  I think of them as the great "AS IFs". We can live as if we have to go to work, or we can live as if we get to go to work. We live as if we have to cook dinner, or as if we get to cook dinner. We choose to live as if we have to exercise, or live as if we get to exercise. We choose to live as if we have to serve our spouse, or if we get to; if we have to do things for our children, or we get to. You get the picture? Each day is a series of choices about how we choose to live our lives. The choices we make determine the quality of our life experiences. We are not at the mercy of fate, predestination, or our circumstances. In all things we have choice in how we will ultimately react.

This week I received news that I hoped to never hear again. It seems that The Nuisance is back on the prowl. There are two spots that appear to be growing; one on my diaghram and another on my chest wall. We are uncertain what that means right now. There are questions about the rate of growth, if there are other spots that may be hiding, and even the slimmest possibility that it is just the way they appear on the CT scan. At this point there is little to do, but wait and see. I am to return to MD Anderson in March for another round of tests to see what the little boogers are up to and then we will begin to formulate a game plan. For now we wait and see...and pray. So now I am faced with one of life's biggest AS IFs. How will I live for the next two months? Shall I be afraid? Hold my breath? Worry about the possibilities? Dread the future? HECK NO!!!! I WILL LIVE MY LIFE AS IF I AM HEALED!!!! I WILL LIVE MY LIFE AS IF I AM FREE FROM FEAR!!!! I refuse to bow before the altar of despair and defeat. I will bow before my God in thanks for each day and live my life AS IF there is nothing to fear!!!

I can choose to live AS IF because I have been promised these (and many other) things:

Psalm 27:1-3
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me
    to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
    who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
    my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
    even then I will be confident.

Exodus 14:14
The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Joshua 1:9 NIV
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

John 8:36
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

You see, I am free! My price has been paid. My strength is not my own, but comes from my Lord, Jesus Christ. He willingly fights on my behalf and tells me to be strong and courageous. He is with me. I will live my life AS IF I have nothing to fear and when I stumble I will get back up and do it again. I am not victim of circumstance or disease. I am a child of God! So take THAT Nuisance and prepare to be destroyed!!!

So how about you? How would you complete this sentence: "I am living my life AS IF..."? Are you going through the motions? Tortured by dread and fear? Living AS IF you are beaten, bored, burdened, broken? You have a choice, my sweet friend! You do not control your circumstance, but they don't control you either!  Choose to live AS IF you are blessed, because we are.  You have one who is willing to fight for you, you need only be still!!

Pray me on. God has shown us remarkable things. He is not done!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Note

I boarded the airplane this morning hopeful the flight would not be full so I would be spared having to share my seat. Have you ever whispered that traveler's prayer? It was a good day in the airline world, the middle seat was left empty. My only seat partner was an older gentlemen. We politely nodded to one another and then each dove into our devices of distraction. Never a word was spoken as we traveled across the country. A couple of hours into our journey my fellow traveler reached down to get his bag from beneath the seat. He carefully unzipped it and reached inside, pulling our a slightly crumpled brown paper bag. He lowered the tray on the back of the seat and carefully began emptying the bag of its contents. There was a pickle, some carrots ...(Pause for confession--okay, I have to confess here that crunching drives me nuts, so I was really dreading what would inevitably follow, but I digress. Return to story.)...there was a sandwich and a pre-packaged dessert. I was just about to prepare myself for the crunchfest when he pulled one more thing from the bag. He began to carefully unfold a handwritten note. The paper was bright yellow with a sunshiny face in the corner. He slowly read it and then laid it on the tray. From my vantage point I could see only enough to read the words, "My dear sweet husband...". Suddenly my dread was gone and I was struck by the care with which his wife had packed his lunch. I began to ponder the kindness of that gesture. My thoughts roamed to the methodical crunching of carrots. I wondered how long they had been married. How long has she packed his lunches and lovingly tucked a note inside? Does he leave notes for her when he leaves town? As he finished his meal he placed the empty baggies in the paper sack to throw away, but the note he smoothed out and placed in his book to mark his page. A reminder of the love of his wife.
Such a simple gesture, that note; one that made a difference in his day and in the day of a nosy traveler. There is power in the little things! Unfortunately, the little things often get lost in the rush of accomplishing the big things! How sad is that? I read a quote not too long ago that said something along the lines of, "Pay attention to the little things for one day you will wake up and discover that they were the big things." A love note in a plain brown paper bag was a gentle reminder of that today.
What do you do to show love to those who mean the most to you? I find myself challenged to do a lot more of the little things! Turns out loving gestures can even drown out the noise of crunching of carrots.