Maggie’s Blog

It’s been almost two years since I posted, since Jason, our son-in-law got sick. Going through cancer with him took me off-line with my blogging, and in some ways, with my heart. There was so much to do, so many feelings, I didn’t blog.

I still don’t have answers, but decided to start posting again. I’ve been going through Psalms, rich in emotion and meaning, writing observations. Enjoy!

Maggie



PET Scan Update

noname copyWe found out last week that the PET scan showed “activity” in my spine of my neck. Since insurance could not approve it before we left for our family vacation, I’ll have a CT scan as soon as I get back. In the meantime, we’re having lots of fun, enjoying what God has given!

After the tests, Roger will leave for Staff Conference July 11-22. We had hoped I could join him for it, so pray that God will give us wisdom.

A Longer Leash – Good News!

2011-5-22 Great WallI just got back from the cancer doctor with some good news! The bone marrow biopsy came back negative, not showing any cancer. The doctor made sure I didn’t get too excited – it doesn’t mean I don’t have cancer, it just means that it did not show up in that test. However, I can’t help but get a little excited.

Basically, he said I am “complicated” (no surprise to all of you in my process group!). I still several indicators for cancer including elevated/spiked M Protein in the blood, a genetic chromosome #17 which is a “high risk feature” for MM, have had multiple bone lesions, a recent IGG spike and my Lambda Free Light Chain is abnormally high and increasing.

He rattled off 2 possibilities with big names which we could not capture but basically meant:

  • It is in the bone marrow, just not where it was tested.
  • Or that it is cancer that is a complication of Multiple Myeloma

He game me my choice to

  • Continue to monitor until it becomes more definite (do nothing)
  • Repeat a PET scan taken a year ago to see if there are any active bone lesions the Xrays are not picking up (like the first one I had 7 years ago)

I choose to take the PET scan. He wants me to do it next week. He is also going to do more tests on the bone marrow biopsy sample already taken. If all is normal, I won’t go in for 2 moths! (YEA!) If not, he will call me back and we will start chemo after family vacation/early July (which is still good news to my ears!).

So, you can imagine that I am smiling. Thank you for your prayers. The doctor wants to make sure I know what is coming, and I assured him I am realistic. However, I told him that I felt as if my leash had gotten longer, at least for a little while. And I will, like most dogs, walk as far as I can to take full advantage of it!

I’m sure you are smiling too — Maggie

Bump in the Road

climbI hit a little bump today. I felt like while I had the 3 weeks reprieve in my hand looking at all the “candy” (things I could do) someone said, “Is that real money?”

A little after 8am this morning, sweet nurse Mary called to tell me the Bone Marrow Biopsy came back “inconclusive” (in other words, something happened to the sample so that they could not get valid results) and I would need to do the test over again. Let me remind you, this is the one that hurts, where they bore into your hip and pull bone marrow out with a needle…

I took a deep breath and said a tentative, “O…K…?” She told me they would put me asleep this time (thank you!) but that my appointment with my doctor might need to be rescheduled if results are not back in time (so what do we do with the plane tickets we just bought?!?).

Soon afterwards I got the call to schedule the procedure and (Praise God!) they can do it tomorrow (a new Friday tradition – that’s when I had it done last week!). But hopefully this means we can move ahead with the plans we have made and results will be in by 6/12. At least pray for us for that end.

Life is full of bumps, isn’t it? Just when we think we have some amount of control, God reminds us it’s an illusion. But his control is never an illusion and he’ll help us walk around, through or over whatever he allows in front of us. I’m so glad I have friends I can share this with!

What bumps are in your life? Let me know so that I can be praying…

A “Gift” of Three Weeks

photo copyThis is more of a medical update than a blog today. We’ve had a great weekend with friends and family, remembering those who have gone before us.

On Friday I had a bone marrow biopsy and skeletal survey – the final tests before chemo. A funny thing happened with the timing. Because of the short holiday week and my doctor going out of town, I have 3 weeks until I get results.

In the past, news like this would have caused anxiety, but this time it felt like a gift! It’s was as if someone had given me $100 and told me to spend it wherever I want. They say “time is money” and it certainly is valuable. I’ve been given 3 weeks of freedom before the chemo schedule kicks in.  I’m like a kid in a candy shop trying to decide how to spend my quarter.

And in looking at my latest blood tests, there is more good news. The key tests did not jump as much as they did before. In fact, some are down. Realistically, I know it won’t continue, but it does take a bit of the panic out of the situation.

And my orthopedic doctor will be pleased that we aren’t starting chemo. The leg will have more time to heal. I pray that God will use this time and I can walk again soon. The evenings are so pleasant and I just yearn to walk down the street holding hands with Roger. Pray with me towards that end…

Sojourner (Exodus 22:21)

“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him,

for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

Sojourner.

This clearly means those who journeyed out of the land of Egypt with them, those who believed the Lord that there would be a promised land. I think of immigrants in our nation and how we need to treat them with respect politically as well as personally. We should never forget that our ancestors at one time entered this land.

Sojourner.

But there is more, even deeper. It refers to a people in the midst of us who are on a journey, not just physically but emotionally. They have experienced loss of what was familiar and are traveling a new road. I think of those who are just beginning their walk with God, leaving old habits and friends, looking for new faith and community. They look different than us, a little “rough around the edges,” but are sojourners. We need to remember back to when we started walking with Jesus, just coming out of our Egypt. What was it that we needed?

And I think of those who are experiencing loss. A friend from 10 years ago was hit with a stroke the day after Mother’s Day. His family is journeying in a strange land. I think of my widow friends and their journeys. I think of my own strange journey and some of the insensitive things that have been said to me, simply because those next to me have not put themselves in my shoes. How many times have I “oppressed” sojourners by ignoring their struggle or demanding more of them than they can give?

Sojourner.

How do we journey with others? Verse 27 says “for I am compassionate.” We have a compassionate God who models the journey for us. He is personal. He loves. He uses his strength to help. He doesn’t force us in directions, but walks alongside. He listens. He reminds us of truth. Most of all, he is present.

That’s the kind of sojourner I want to walk alongside me. People who are real about their own journeys. People who are relational and compassionate. That’s the kind of sojourner I want to be.

God has harsh words for those who wrong sojourners. The key seems to be in remembering — remembering who we are in the midst of hardship and who He is.

Are you a “sojourner?” What are you walking through? Can I walk with you? (If you want your comment to be private, just note it)

Black & White (Exodus 22:20)

“Whoever sacrifices to any god, 

other than the Lord alone,

shall be devoted to destruction.”

God doesn’t mince words, does he?

One of Roger and my delights when we are in Blue Ridge is having time in the word together. In Orlando, the collision of schedules keeps us from it, but when we are “office-ing” here, we have more control over time and priorities.

We’re reading in Exodus, about the law, and it has invoked some spirited discussions. This verse impressed me.

A few weeks ago a speaker talked about the rich young ruler and how Jesus asked him to sell everything in order to be saved. He made the point that Jesus doesn’t ask everyone to sell everything — it was just this one person because it was what he relied on for his identity. It was his god.

What do I worship? What do I need to “sell” in order to seek Jesus?

I realized my identity is wrapped up with my independence. My basic goals in life, my greatest life lessons, are wrapped in developing who I am and providing for my own needs. Being independent, not needing others, even giving to others from my independence became a god I was sacrificing my time and energy to.

I smile because God certainly has chipped away at that one! Between a broken leg and cancer, I sure have become dependent. Walking with a walker, having others open doors and get me a glass of water, not being able to fulfill responsibilities in my volunteer work, has certainly made me dependent. I think about the idol-goddess Athena that they found face down in her temple — through all of this, God has caused me to fall face down and worship him.

“Shall be devoted to destruction.” 

Harsh words. In those days, it may have meant stoned. It meant life or death.

For us, we don’t stone these days, but as we devote ourselves to other gods, it does lead to destruction. Independence so easily leads to isolation and pride. The “black and whiteness” of this scripture underlines the importance of worshipping God alone.

What might God might ask you to “sell” so that you could worship him?

Feel free to leave comments. If you want it private, say so in the comment and I won’t post it. Let’s pray together that we can worship the Lord with a pure heart.

Short and Sweet

480207_994948528191_541236135_n copyWe just got back from spending Mother’s Day with Amanda in Grand Rapids (picture: freezing at the Holland Tulip Parade). She’s our only “escapee” with the others in Florida, so it was a very special time with her. Sweet.

Right before we left we had appointments with the oncologist and orthopedic doctors. I signed the papers to begin chemo. A few tests need to be done 5/24 in preparation. Chemo will be 2 weeks on/1 week off for 3-4 months. I’ll let you know the dates when they are finalized. The orthopedic saw some healing near the plate, but not on the other side. Bottom line: still cannot walk on it — which was “fun” during the flights! Short version.

Sweet is the grace of the Lord during this time. Hugs. Memories. Time together. Gifts from all my children. Time to reflect on my own mother and her gifts to me. His goodness supersedes all the challenges. His presence provides all our needs.

Checking In

nonameIt’s been a peaceful couple of weeks, and I’ve really enjoyed it. With surgeries and struggles, it’s been nice to lay everything down.

And I realize that this is probably the quiet before the storm. Next week Wednesday is my oncologist appointment with tests and probably the schedule for treatment. Next week Friday is my orthopedic appointment to find out if the surgery worked. Needless to say, I’m somewhere between excited and anxious.

I’ll let you know via this blog the outcome. But in the meantime, I’ll enjoy the flowers and the cool breeze. I remember that Jesus talked about the Holy Spirit as wind that “blows where it wishes, and you hear it’s sound, but you do not know where it comes or where it goes.” (John 3:8) I pray that his Spirit will fill me right now and in the days to come.

I’d love to have you “check-in” with me so that I can be praying for you — leave a comment!

 

Authority and Perspective

nonameIt’s been over a week since I posted. I haven’t been in a very reflective mood — more in a “figure out how to do life with a broken leg” mood. Therefore, action has trumped reflection.

But I did go to the doctor and was able to ask him more directly what happened after he put me asleep to make him change the course of the surgery.

Simply, he talked to Dr. Cole. Dr. Cole is a world renown orthopedic doctor and the head of the practice. They had consulted earlier and affirmed the use of protein, but I guess the question stirred more within Dr. Cole. He did more research and told my doctor right before surgery that research did not support the use of protein with Multiple Myeloma patients.

I understand authority. If my boss asked me to not send an email, I would not send it, so I finally understood the “who” of the change, and could understand it.

But I still struggled with the research. My personal experience tells me that protein works with my stubborn bones. Research studies of thousands says it may not be good for those multiple myeloma. What do you go with — the individual or the average of thousands? Obviously, they made the call from their perspective.

I can’t help think of my relationship with God. There are times when it feels as if he changes his mind. I’m headed one direction in faith obedience and (whoops!) get turned around. It’s usually confusing. Until I spend time with him and understand the “who” (God), it’s hard to reconcile it in my heart.

Even then, I may struggle with the “but” questions. I think I know best. I think I should be an exception. But his ways are not my ways. It’s because he has another perspective.

I read this a few days ago from a blog of a writer (http://skimhenson.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/making-a-choice-when-plans-change/)

My first reaction when life spins out of my control is to figure out a way – my way – to make things right again. But I’m learning to keep my hands off of circumstances beyond my control. To pray. To act – or wait. And if waiting is what is needed, to believe that God is working to change me and to change anyone else involved.

Life will sometimes go according to my plans – and sometimes it won’t. And I choose to believe that God’s involved with both – rather than assuming I’m on my own when my plans are derailed. Just because I’m surprised by what happened doesn’t mean God is.”

I’ve been at peace, waiting on my leg to heal. We should know more May 10th. May 8th is my oncologist appointment. In the meantime, I rest in the arms of God. No doctor can mess up his will. He’s not surprised.

I’d love to hear your perspective —

Unexpected

noname-1Unexpected…that was the word that I used in my last post about the surgery, and has been the word I’ve been mulling over the last week. So many things in life are unexpected, and when they are good, we embrace them with giggles of joy.

But when they aren’t good? That’s a different story…

Being faithful in your marriage to unexpectedly find out that your spouse was not.

Loving and raising a child who announces they don’t want to have anything to do with you.

Going into surgery for a procedure you did not get…

Yes, it happened. The doctor for months assured me that if they did surgery, it would include a bone graft with protein. The papers I signed Tuesday said bone graft with protein. The procedure explained to me by the nurse was a bone graft with protein. The doctor immediately before surgery said the word protein. Then Roger and I prayed that God would give the doctor wisdom and I peacefully went to sleep.

When I awoke, I found out they did not use protein. This is no small deal – you may remember that I had 5 surgeries on my wrist and it did not heal until they used protein. I hand carried the surgical records to the new doctor so that he would know exactly what kind of protein they used. I told him he had only one shot at this, that I was not going through 5 surgeries again. In fact, if he had said he was not going to use protein, we would not have approved the surgery.

What happened? What happened between my going to sleep and waking up to change his mind? He said he was concerned that the protein might excite my cancer. Didn’t he know that before I went under? What changed?

I wanted to be furious, but realized that it would not do any good. The surgery was over. It was too late. What’s done is done. I did my part the best I could. I had no control.

I want to have faith that my leg will heal, protein or no protein. I want to believe that while I was unconscious with no control, God was in control. He is able to have his will, even if I don’t understand it.

So I’ve been thinking about others who have gone through the “unexpected.” They did their part the best they could. They were faithful. They loved their spouse, their child.  They loved God. Something happened of which they had no control. It was far from what they expected.

And, like me, they had to resolve what was unexpected. There was nothing they could do. The spouse left and their heart shattered. The child rebuffed attempts to communicate. They have no control.

So, like me, they are trying to have faith, not in what they can control, but in a God who controls all. They know the story is not ended, just twisted. Amid tears, they cling to a loving God.

Right now, my heart cries with the hearts of those who are dealing with the unexpected. I’m praying that through this, we will all see Jesus in a different light, and that our faith will grow deeper. I pray for healing, in our lives and in the lives for others. And I resolve, as I hope other resolve, to continue to be faithful in responding to God’s leading, and leave the results – expected and unexpected – up to Him.

What has been unexpected in your life? What can I pray for you?