So When You Think You’re Lost

Encouragement

This past weekend I did two things for the first time, ever.

I was invited to share my testimony along with my mom and sister at a lovely women’s retreat. The theme was “Meet Me in the Meadow” and Psalm 23. My mom has shared many times at retreats and this was the first time my sister and I had the privilege of sharing with mom in the same ministry weekend. God kindly wove our thoughts together as we prayed about what He wanted each of us to share with the women.

 

I also watched my sister get knocked over by a flock of sheep. Verna showed an awesome home video from over 35 years ago showing her in the middle of a flock and they were all eager for their share of food. She kinda got carried away by a tide of sheep fighting for the food bucket and it was hilarious. Her topic was on the importance of memorizing scripture and the armor that God has provided for us sheep to wear in battle so we don’t lose our footing on the daily path of life.

Do you ever think you’re lost?

November 14, 2010 was the day I tumbled down into a long deep dark valley. It was also the day I began to relearn how to live.

Which is not what I expected since that day almost ended me. I walked in the hospital at 6 AM for surgery to remove a “benign appearing cyst or mass” and woke up with tubes and a colostomy bag and a stage 3 colon cancer diagnosis confirmed in the days following.

It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You

In the weeks before that surgery a woman in our circle of acquaintances came up to me, put her hand on my shoulder, looked in my eyes compassionately and said, “You are about to embark on an incredible journey with God.”

Lady, you and I had no idea. Who ever has any idea?

Today a squirrel frantically runs underneath branches on the hill outside our home gathering food. The wind calms and snowflakes are settling and falling gently. I sit peacefully and my body is, for the most part, whole. The heavy suffering of cancer is past at present.

Cancer dis-ease and the pursuit of healing started out, for me, as a frantic search for help. Today the healing journey continues clear and quiet and soft. Sometimes my eyes leak now and then remembering. They leaked a lot this past weekend sharing about how I felt lost for the life of me and how God shepherded me and our family through hard days and months and a few years. Those thoughts boil hard and then simmer down into gratitude and relief and whispered words of thanks to God.

Certain songs grab my heart for periods of time. Lately the song is “Fight My Battles” by Michael W. Smith. The words of the song resonate in my heart and mind.

The Word says “For the spirit of heaviness put on the garment of praise”; that’s how we fight our battles.

Cancer or dis-ease in the body forces us to stop everything frantic and become purposeful. We are dared to discover who God really is in our suffering. I must rely on him to show me who he is Every. Single. Day.

Cancer (or any dis-ease) in the body forces us to rebuild our way of living and navigate the “new normal” going forward. We get an invitation to build life on the firm foundation of God’s love for us at a time we may question everything we know about God’s wisdom and love and care.

Have you ever been literally “cast down” like a sheep? It’s a deadly place to stay. The healing-from-cancer journey teaches me over and over every day that I must put my trust in God alone.

This is how I fight my battles…

Cancer is usually viewed as a challenge to be battled. Something that was on my heart to share this past weekend is that when we’re fighting battles we need to learn to do the opposite. I shared some “Lamb’s Lessons from the Battle”. Trust. Rest. Listen. Learn. Cling to God. Praise God. Stay in scripture. Deal with negative emotions. Pursue personal well-being according to God’s will for my life.

So when you’re lost….

It may look like you’re surrounded. If you know Christ, you are in fact surrounded by Him. He’s teaching you how to fight your battles for his glory and your good. I promise.

If you don’t know Christ, he is everything. EVERYTHING. You simply can NOT fight your battles without him as your savior. In the end, the only battle you must win is the one against sin. You will lose that battle on your own, or, you can choose to surround yourself with the One who defeated sin and won that battle for you. Jesus.

Isaiah 61:2-4 New International Version (NIV)

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.

Do you know the Good Shepherd? Think about the “garment of praise” while you watch this video and listen to the lyrics. What’s one thing you can praise God for no matter what battle you’re facing?

“Fight My Battles” by Michael W. Smith:


battlesheep

My sister, Verna, used this photo in her presentation this weekend. Isn’t it great??

Sharon O’Connor is a wife, mom, and stage 4 colon cancer survivor who has been NED (“no evidence of disease”) since 2013. She loves coffee, writing, and taking walks with her husband, Tom, and their adopted Pug-Maltese mix, Ace. Sharon is grateful for wellness support strategies that work and also for the Savior who rescues sheep and teaches them how to “battle”.

lilacs in bloom may blooms lavendar natural plants essential oils

May’s Little Black Bag

Cancer, Encouragement

“You know those are kinda strong, right?” said Tom. He looked straight ahead at the road. I grinned and watched him drive. I continued layering on essential oils from a little black bag I carry in my purse.

“Yep. I know. They’ll wear off a bit before we walk into the building.” Maybe.

I do a 30-second nutritional scan every 4-5 days. It’s sort of like a fitness tracker – it uses scientific technology to match up frequencies in my body with frequencies in essential oils. Once the personalized scan report shows me the top essential oils and supplements my body is responding to at that moment, I load up my little black bag for the week and then I layer those liquid gems on my skin each day for wellness support. It takes just three seconds for essential oils to get into my body and they reach every cell in the body within 20 minutes. They release emotional trauma. They are capable of passing the blood-brain barrier. They are a key part of my journey at this time to remain above the wellness line. Most empowering scan for this cancer survivor, ever.

We parked and walked a short distance into the building where my annual CT scan results lay waiting. Ready to pounce? Or ready to send us happily on our way?

“You smell really good, what is that??” asked the receptionist when I checked in at her desk.

Today, friend, my little black bag holds Coriander, Dill, Cardamom, Copaiba, Black Pepper, Frankincense, and Tangerine essential oils that are all rubbed on my wrists. Joy and Aroma Life go over my heart. That doesn’t include what I researched and chose to use at home most of this month such as Sacred Frankincense morning and night on the soles of my feet, over my lungs, cupped in my hands and breathed gratefully into my lungs; alternated nightly with Exodus II on my feet; Thyme and Oregano alternated daily in the morning on my feet; JuvaCleanse in my water and over my liver; Forgiveness over my abdomen; Hope on my ears; Release in the diffuser at night with Lavender; immune support blend rolled on my spine before morning mineral makeup… and Progessence Plus, Lady Sclareol and Sclaressence for support for menopause courtesy of chemo and radiation seven years ago…

“Oh, thanks!” Those were the words I said out loud. Tom had mysteriously moved to the far side of the waiting room. “The scent is from a few (cough) essential oils I wear for wellness support.”

The lab tech took my blood pressure. The reading was higher than usual. That’s how I roll in the oncologist office.

We were led into an exam room. Silence sat with us for a few moments. 50/50 chance of sun or shade. 100 percent chance of God’s love and care.

The oncologist entered with a slight smile on her face.

“I’m happy to tell you that your scans remain stable.” We exhaled. She went over a few more details.

“You mentioned the benign lung nodule when I saw you before the scan a couple weeks ago; has that changed at all from last year?” I asked.

Over the past two weeks, between the pre-scan consultation and the actual CT scan, I did all I knew how to do for a “spring detox”. I went back to the basics of moderate juicing and mostly plant based foods. This is good to do periodically throughout the year anyway, and to be truthful, I feel best when eating this way. I had also been consumed with researching ways to support healthy respiratory and lung function using specific essential oils. A fearsome thought had taken up residence in my head after the consultation. What if, after being clear five years from cancer affecting my colon, the little sleeping lung nodule she keeps talking about could become a new problem?

“Oh, yes, the lung nodule. Let’s see.” The oncologist studied the report on the screen. “No, there is no change. Wait. Actually… it did change.” (Angst.)

“It went from 2 cm down to 1 cm.” (Joy. Whoa.)

We discussed a couple more regular tests she wants me to have. I won’t need annual scans going forward. We’ll just do annual monitoring.

At the checkout desk the staff members were still commenting on how nice whatever I was wearing smelled. I know, right? It’s the best. Simply, the best.

“Thank you! I’m glad you like the scent.”

Tom and I walked out of the building. We looked at each other.

“It could have gone either way. 50/50. People hear a different outcome than we just did, every single day.” He said exactly what I was thinking.

We know and love some of those people.

We’ve been those people.

We could be those people again someday.

Green trees, bright May sunshine, and fresh air.

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
    for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
    until the disaster has passed.Psalm 57:1


A week after my fifth annual “all clear” visit with the oncologist in May 2018, I was using my oils and thinking about something my dad used to mention. He said there was a lady in his family that used to carry around a little black bag. He thought perhaps she used herbs. This intrigued me because I was trying to support my body in a similar natural fashion through the good gift of essential oils. I asked different family members if they knew whom my father had meant and each person said I needed to call my Aunt Maybelle. She is my dad’s older sister, and she patiently listened to my questions on the phone.

“Of course! That would have been your great grandmother, May Emily Morgan Burd. We called her ‘Ma Burd’. She was a midwife, and she carried a little black bag with herbs in it to help people.” I was grateful to my aunt for sharing her knowledge about my great grandmother.

I have a whole new fondness for my little black bag. I don’t have Ma Burd’s knowledge of nursing people and helping them with herbs; but you’d better believe I will keep right on filling my own little black bag with the herbal goodness from essential oils. They are one key blessing among many things I do to try and stay above the wellness line.

may emily morgan burd daniel ferris burd

May Emily Morgan Burd, seated with my grandmother, baby Verna Burd, on her lap; daughter Vera, Daniel Ferris Burd, and their son, Robert. Thanks to Aunt Maybelle for her help with my questions. Thanks to my mom for forwarding me this photo.

 


stage four colon cancer survivor

Sharon O’Connor is a wife, mom, and stage 4 colon cancer survivor who has been NED (“no evidence of disease”) since 2013. She loves coffee, writing, and taking walks with her husband, Tom, and their adopted Pug-Maltese mix, Ace. Sharon is grateful for wellness support strategies that work and that have helped support her personal journey with cancer.

[ More about Sharon ]

Sharon’s Note: As always, information I share about my personal journey with cancer is never intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Only your awesome doctor can do that kind of stuff. I DO intend to share strategies that have given me hope in a hugely hopeless situation. I started using essential oils in Spring 2017. God puts the things we need in our paths at the time we need them and oils have been a game changer for my life as a cancer survivor. You can see different resources I’ve used along the way since 2010 on the What I Did That Helped page.

 

 

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

Cancer, Chemo, Encouragement, General Thoughts, Help Cancer Patients, Juicing

“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.

Follow CancerSmarts on Facebook! Click Here

Diagnosed with Cancer? Three Things You Can Do Immediately.

Cancer, Chemo, Encouragement

“You are the QUEEN of gentle.”

A staff member said this to me recently. My co-worker meant it as a compliment about how I work with people in challenging situations and I thanked her. We sometimes equate “gentle” with “weak”. There have been a few times in my life when my gentle nature has given way to steely resolve laced with some anger and an unshakeable belief that there must be another, better, different way in a particular situation. One of those times was October 1, 2012, when my husband and I were told that the cancer in my body had returned after a one-year reprieve.

hiker cancer walking journey diagnosis cure

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Are you like me? Do you want answers NOW? Do you want the expert to override your fears with proven knowledge and a clear path to victory?

“Tell me what to do!”

What if no one has the answer? Or at least maybe not the answer you want to hear?

What if ‘they’ don’t really have an answer? I was told this by another friend whose experience in medicine and wisdom I trust.

“Sharon. They just don’t know.” Terrifying and freeing.

You, friend, have options even when no one knows what you should do. You don’t have an expiration date. God knows the numbers of the hairs on our heads. He knows the outcome of every day we live, and, yes, the day we will die. Include him in the equation, please. He cares. He has a plan for you working with Him, trusting Him, relying on Him as you go forward.

Here are three things you can do immediately if you are diagnosed with cancer:

  1. Start juicing organic vegetables and change how you eat while you wait for tests and as you make decisions about treatment.
  2. Do something you love.
  3. Get a second opinion.

Choosing to take action while coping with the cancer diagnosis gave me more control in a bleak situation. Here is how those steps looked in my own life when cancer came back.

  1. Eating differently. I began following a juicing and raw foods eating plan within five days of the diagnosis. Why? Because even if I decided to accept more chemo and radiation I no longer trusted that medicine alone would heal the cancer in my body.  Perhaps medicine would knock down the immediate threat and the juicing and raw foods would help heal what was not working properly in my immune system.
  2. Shifting priorities. I dropped every commitment from my schedule except for three things.
    1. Work. (Because I had to – I had just started a new job, and my blogging career had yet to launch me into financial freedom… still hasn’t… but I love writing, so…) I did eventually take off four months for treatment and rest and recovery once we made a decision about what plan of action to take.
    2. Juice/follow a raw foods eating plan. That meant every morning I juiced five pounds of carrots and six green apples to take to work in thermoses; mixed powdered greens to carry in another thermos; ate oatmeal or Ezekiel bread and fruit for breakfast; took supplements; and made a raw salad for lunch. Another thermos contained hot green or yerba matte tea. I discuss some of these strategies and the exact eating plan I followed in more detail on the What I Did That Helped page. I did this three months while going through tests and making decisions about what I would do for treatment, or not, to strengthen my immune system. (I ended up going for a second round of modified radiation and chemo. See My Timeline for a summary of steps I took.)
    3. Serve others. Music is the gift God has given me to share as a form of encouragement in the local church. I had just returned to serving on the worship team before this new catastrophe. I was determined that THAT would be my service to the Lord as long as He allowed and provided strength. It is a source of great joy to me personally. What gives YOU joy?
  3. Consider all options! I got a second opinion. I researched and read. I prayed. I talked with my husband and family. I decided what I would and would not accept in and for my body. If you think you want a third opinion, get one. That is your right!!

Remember. God gives us a spirit not of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

The promise for God’s help is true in our darkest days. Yes, even when we’re facing death. He does not scorn us when we ask for help. He is not arrogant when we seek His wisdom. The answer may not be what we want to hear but his plans will always work for our good and His glory!

Have you dealt with a first-time cancer diagnosis, the return of cancer, or some other physical battle? What has helped you move forward in your journey?

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I Timothy 1:7 (KJV)

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.

Follow CancerSmarts on Facebook! Click Here