General Thoughts

Three Life Changing Words from the Most Effective Class I Ever Took

“You mentioned finding strength from spirituality or faith during your cancer journey. Can you explain that more?”

The young lady asked the question at the end of my December lecture in a local university. She had been very attentive while I shared my personal journey with stage 3 and stage 4 colon cancer. The professor had invited me to present my story during the complementary and alternative wellness series. I hoped just one person would be encouraged by my journey and the choices I made including standard medical treatment, juicing, raw foods, bentonite clay and other supplements and strategies.

“Sure! I’m a Christian and I have found great comfort and strength in my relationship with God.”

I continued by sharing that I told one of my oncologists I was not afraid of dying. I know where I’m going when this life ends because of my faith in God. I was much more fearful (maybe even angry?) about the suffering caused by cancer treatment. That is clearly a choice each person has to make regarding treatment. I did go through grueling medical treatment, too – surgeries, chemo and radiation. I suggested to the class that the best thing one can do for people on a journey with cancer is to love them and support them in the choices they make about treatment.

storm cancer journey field fire clouds sunshine hidden walk

One of the students raised his hand and asked a question. He said he was planning to into the field of medicine.

“Good for you, and I wish you well in your studies!” I stated. “I’m not here to tell you that medicine is evil or using nutrition is foolish. I do want you to know that there is always, ALWAYS, hope. I would love to see medicine and nutrition paired more often for the benefit of the patient. Natural ways of healing can’t be patented like medicine can be and doctors simply aren’t trained in the true power of ‘healing’ using nutrition in our western culture. And quite honestly most of us want a quick fix. A pill.”

A friend told me that in Germany cancer patients are automatically paired with a medical doctor and a homeopathic doctor. The practitioners work together to find the best ways to meet the needs of each patient using medicine AND homeopathy. I like that concept.

Cancer patients who ask doctors about alternative options, like me, don’t typically encounter openness or understanding of valid options or complements to chemo and radiation from the medical community. When my husband and I asked a gifted surgeon in New York City what her thoughts were about the benefits of juicing carrots and using the power of nutrition, the response was literally,  “Oh, sure, carrots are fine for you – I mean, my sister feeds carrots to her horses so….” (insert smug chuckle). Completely discouraging. There can be ignorance on both sides of the cancer treatment discussion. I kept right on sipping my carrot and apple juice while she continued with our very brief consultation. I was dealing at that time with a return of cancer (stage 4) and had been juicing and eating raw foods for two months while considering whether I would accept further medical treatment. Eventually with much reluctance we agreed to a modified, more targeted radiation and chemo pill. I stopped asking doctors what they thought about what I was doing with my diet and decided what was best for me. It was a time of clinging to God for strength and wisdom and living out that little anthem of “my body, my choice.”

Later, after treatment in New York City was completed and a follow up scan five months later showed that the mass had responded far better than anticipated (it had shrunk by 90% and the doctors were very surprised), that same surgeon was insistent that I still should see her to consider surgery to remove the remaining small portion of tumor. The price I would pay for that medical kindness would be a permanent colostomy due to nerve damage and recovery from a very difficult surgery. No, thanks. I hung up the phone and juiced another five pounds of carrots.

Let me share with you the most important thing I know about cancer.

Whatever treatment I choose, no matter how hard I fight disease using any available medical method, drug, or herb, I will still die one day. I want to be certain I know where I will spend eternity when my body fails and the Creator takes me home to heaven.

How do we find confidence about an eternal plan we can’t humanly see? We have so much knowledge about the human body and spirituality and life and still we don’t have all the answers. I’ve found answers to help me cope with challenges and map out my journey in God’s Word. The Bible.

Here are three life-changing words from the most effective class I ever took in high school. It was called Youth Group. My youth pastor scrawled the following words on a whiteboard. The lesson and many others that followed ignited a desire to keep learning about what God’s Word had to say for my life.

OMNISCIENCE: God is all-knowing.

OMNIPOTENCE: God is all-powerful.

OMNIPRESENCE: God is present everywhere.

The fears and anxieties created by a cancer diagnosis are very real. Let me encourage you that God sees you. He cares! Consider these words from Charles Spurgeon, a great preacher from England:

So if you are lying on the battle-field of life, God sees you; let that cheer you: he will relieve you; for he only needs to look at the woes of his children at once to relieve them. Go on then; hope yet; in night’s darkest hour, hope for a brighter morrow. God sees these, whatever thou art doing; “He knows they cares, they tears, they sighs; He shall lift up they head.”

Read the full text of this sermon about “the God who sees us” from www.spurgeon.org – Click Here

Do you know God? How, then, do those three words above (omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence) shape your view of life and death and even perhaps your choices about medical treatment and alternative wellness strategies?

Do you wonder what I mean by “knowing God”? You may be in need of the more important “cure”. The cure from sin that only can come through faith in Jesus Christ, God’s Son. If you get healed from cancer after whatever course of treatment you choose, you still will one day face eternity with God, or without God. You want to be with our all-knowing, ever present, all powerful God in eternity. His power and peace is available to us now, every day, when we ask him to forgive our sins and trust Jesus. He paid the price of my sin to give me eternal life no matter what I go through here on this earth. I have some personal thoughts about the only cure that matters. You can find that information by Clicking Here.

So, friend, how does your spirituality or faith give YOU strength in the cancer battle? I’d love to know!

cancer smarts, cancer, cancer encouragement, faith, hope, cancer, stage 4 cancer, cancer survivor

Thank you for stopping by! I’m a stage four colon cancer and cancer treatment survivor. I like to share encouragement and things that have helped me and given me hope on my personal journey. Speaking of things that have helped, you can find a information about “What I Did that Helped” by Clicking Here, and a summary of my personal Cancer Journey Timeline by Clicking Here. Most importantly, you can read about the Only Cure that Matters – just Click Here.

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Weighty Decision

Do you ever get weary of decisions?

Do you ever follow God through some wild battle and then almost give up the loving victory He has provided, or promised, in a short tangle of exhausting weariness?

Do you ever wonder, like I do, why we have to choose, some days, to embrace life on this earth and truly live? I mean, isn’t the fact that we’re “here” evidence that we’ve conquered the need to prove anything about forging ahead with life? Can’t we just exist in a calming place of easy duress-free comfort?

What if Heaven is not a place of lulling peace but joyful discovery and forging ahead using the trust and expectant victory we have learned to wield during our time on earth, through salvation in Jesus, to accomplish God’s plans for our eternity?

What if living on earth is preparing us to fully embrace and thrive on Heaven’s incredible shores?

Shouldn’t there be an Easy Button for simply being here?

What if we fail the day’s test and come close to falling apart under some dull persistent pressure?

Tom and I were watching an old Christmas movie and Robert Mitchum’s character said to the female lead, “What are you trying to do, crawl into a cave, and hide from everything that may stir you up?” Yes. Sometimes, I just may be trying to do that very thing. Show me the nearest cave, please!

I’ve been thinking a lot this week on something Jesus said about burdens and rest and learning.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Maybe we’re to walk among the weights of this world but let Jesus do the lifting of them. Connected to him constantly. Not removed. Not scrambling to fix and figure it all out (guilty). Choosing to rely on his strength and wisdom. Not flinching from the next burden because he stands ready to help us carry and move and set it safely down.

Maybe our burden is to lift the powerful Gospel Light. High. To push back the weight of darkness and despair creeping all around.

More friends this week are making decisions about their or their loved one’s cancer journey. The world’s in chaos more conspicuously than usual. The weight of earth’s difficulties seems almost unbearable if I strain against it on my own.

And the potential to help people in greater need, because of the ungodly troubles? Incredible.

What if these troubles, that Jesus told us would come, are simply a greater chance to draw closer to him under the yoke and work together to bear these earth-bound burdens and invite more people to join us on the journey towards our eternal Home?

What if he is waiting with urgent patience for all of us who love him to make a decision?

Did you see The Help? Skeeter’s mother had been fighting cancer of the stomach and the cancer of the culture throughout the movie. Ultimately Skeeter is freed to leave and chase her dream by the words uttered in her mother’s long southern drawl.

“Skeeter? I, have made the decision, to live.”

So what’s the solution on days we want to crawl into a safe cave and escape the bone-weary worries? In the moments when we’ve been stirred up enough for a lifetime and feel crushed by the weight?

Every day we are given breath we must make a decision. To step into the burden-bearing Light-lifting yoke with Jesus. And decide to live.

Romans, Romans 5, hope, endurance, perseverance, encouragement, attitude, Christ Jesus, God and Father,

 

 

 

 

Hanging in.

deer, deer in woods, three deer, doe and fawns, deer photos

A few days ago I walked in our woods looking for my deer friends. They don’t think of me as their friend so it’s clearly a one-sided struggle to find them. Leaves crunched loudly under my bare feet. A squirrel hurled acorn bombs and screeched from the branches above. I didn’t see the deer (the picture above is from another morning when for some reason they humored my attempts to capture their photo) but the walk was perfect.

A leaf twirled in front of me suspended by a cobweb. On its way to the ground it had been caught by one single string and twirled there between heaven and earth.

How long is God’s arm? Can he catch a leaf as it plummets towards earth? Can he save me, and you, from the awful challenges we sometimes face? Of course he can. But what if he doesn’t spare us from pain on this earth?

My mom gave me a book by Elisabeth Elliott titled, “Keep a Quiet Heart” (Revell, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1995). Today’s reading was titled “How Long is God’s Arm?” She writes on page 55, “How do we reconcile God’s promises for protection with the fact that so many evil things happen in our lives? Can we believe God for protection?”

Can we believe Him when we’re holding on by a string?

Here is more from Elliott’s writing: “We must be careful to interpret Scripture with Scripture, and if we examine the record we find that God did not by any means always protect His people from harm. He has absolute power to keep us safe, both physically and spiritually, but His engineering of the universe made room for man’s freedom to choose – that is, freedom to will to obey or to disobey Him. This is a deep mystery. Man’s disobedience brought evil into the world, and all of us are subject to it. God does not cancel out its effects, even for His choicest servants (John the Baptist, Stephen, those nameless victims of Hebrews 11:35-57, for example). Nevertheless, we have the promises. Romans 8:35-39 is one of my most reread passages. I believe we can rest assured that we are invulnerable so long as God does not give permission for us to be hurt. If He gives that permission, He will not leave us alone. He goes with us through the valley, the deep water, the furnace. He will never, absolutely never, leave us or forsake us.”

The leaf was in a desperate and lonely spot for certain. But there was beauty in its predicament. A story to tell. There is beauty in your challenges, and mine, too. Jesus’ great love and strong arms keep us safely and securely in place.

Hang in there, friend. God is going to do something beautiful.

hanging in there by a string? sing Ephesians 5:19a-20 sing and make music, encouragement for cancer patients,

 

 

Swimming for Hope in the Fight Against Cancer

Have you ever stood watching waves on a quiet beach? A year ago in March my toes were buried in wet sand on the ocean’s edge in Florida. Kind friends made it possible for Tom and me to stay near the water while he ministered with Baseball Chapel during Spring Training. It was my first visit to the ocean since cancer had arrived two and a half years before; faded; raged back; and had now receded from my body. I had washed up on shore in free-from-cancer paradise. A survivor astonished to be safe on dry land.

I think everyone needs to know there is hope. Especially people passing through the waves of cancer.

when you pass through the waters i will be with you isaiah 43 waves ocean sand toes foam

You’ve probably had some hard waves come your way too, right?

Sometimes you survive the waves by learning to swim. Sometimes people step in and lift you up and help pull you through so you don’t sink. They do the hard swimming for you.

It’s like they’re being hope just being with you.

One of my friends is a hope-bringer. She’s going through waves to help in the fight against cancer and raise money for cancer research. Karen McDowell is training right now to participate in the Baltimore Swim Across America (SAA) One Mile Open Water Swim on September 20, 2015. Check out this video of Karen training for her first One Mile Open Water swim!

I’m very honored that Karen has included me as a reason she is swimming. If you would like to donate and support her swim please visit her page by clicking the image below. The proceeds donated to SAA will be gifted to the Sydney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The money you give will go towards cancer research, prevention and treatment and will make an impact in the fight to find a cure:

Swim Across America Karen McDowell Sydney Kimmel Cancer Research Center Johns Hopkins Hospital

Karen shared with me recently, “When I decided I would join with Swim Across America a month ago to raise money for Cancer Research, I told my husband I would swim for Sharon! We are keeping you in our prayers!”

Thank you, God, for friends who swim through waves and keep us in their prayers.

karen bob mcdowellKaren pictured with her husband, Bob.

cancer smarts good encouragement helps sharon oconnor

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