Encouraging Words about Navigating the New Normal and Embracing Hope

Insider Connection – March 2019

Good Encouragement Helps

Spring appeared yesterday (hooray!). Today it is winning a well-played game of hide-and-seek behind jarring cold winds and snow flurries. The hope of warmer days ahead is real, though, and there are cheery chickadees at the bird feeder!

Encouragement through Song:

We are given our lives to offer them back to God and to worship Him. No one else deserves our praise! Listen to “Offering” by Paul Baloche.

Offering (by Paul Baloche)

Navigating the New Normal:

2019 will be the first year that I will not have a CT scan. I hit the five year colon cancer survivor mark in May 2018. I’ll have a follow up appointment with the oncologist this June for lab work. I’ve been thinking a lot about how God wants me to live the life He has given in my “new normal”. This year has been about being content. Grateful. Purposeful. Not perfect; content.

Here are a few of the things I’m currently enjoying in my daily routine to cultivate a healthy and contented new normal:

Amazing Grass Powdered Greens: I pick these greens up at my local Wegmans grocery store. You can also order them online. These greens taste good alone mixed in water but most mornings I will add a drop of lemon essential oil for extra support. At one time I juiced five pounds of carrots + six green apples + greens daily while supporting my body’s efforts to heal from cancer and treatment (twice). I don’t do carrot juice as often now, but powdered greens I use just about every day. Easy!

amazing greens after cancer nutrition during cancer

 

Turmeric Supplement: Tom and I both take Turmeric and use essential oils daily. Here is a turmeric supplement you can find in your local health food store or online:

turmeric supplement after cancer nutrition for cancer survivors

Got Oils?

If you don’t have oils yet, NOW is the time to get a starter set. Essential oils have given me hope as a woman put into menopause by chemo and radiation. I did not want medication to replace natural hormones. I had NO idea that Young Living products would support so many legitimate wellness goals in my life, until about two years ago!

I’ll show you how to use them but there are literally 100+ uses from cleaning to beauty to wellness and more. I’ll also gift you $20 cash back, a free PDF informational guide about my favorite oil blend for Happy Hormones, a link to a scrollable class all about hormones for her, and my favorite reference material or phone app about everything related to essential oils (wayyy beyond just hormones!).

You’ll also get access to our members-only online community to learn how to use your oils and get lots of education and support. It’s been life changing for this cancer survivor!

It’s only $165, less the $20 cash back I give you, making it only $145 before tax and shipping.

Get Started Here Now!!

Devotional Resources to Embrace Hope:

I’m reading through a daily devotional that my sister gave me for Christmas. It is called “The Quiet Place” by Nancy Lehigh Demoss. The book is concise and I appreciate the author’s style and commitment and emphasis upon scripture. If you’re looking for a nice supplement to your personal Bible study time, this is one you may enjoy!

the quiet place nancy lehigh demoss devotional

Healing Strong:

healing strong

March is Colon Cancer Awareness month! My colon cancer crisis and healing journey included medical treatment (twice) and nutrition (the second time). Healing Strong is a registered 503(c)3 non-profit corporation whose mission is to connect, support, and educate individuals facing cancer and other diseases with holistic, evidence-based non-toxic therapies by equipping local community groups. This month you can get their free guide on “How Stage 3 And 4 Cancer Patients Are Healing From Cancer” by clicking here.

Blessings to you,

cancer survivor essential oils cbd oil happy hormones after chemo and radiationSharon 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 to support living in the “new normal”. Her life verse is Proverbs 3:5-6. Do you have a life verse? Share it in a comment below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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”.

stress and cancer

Cancer Smarts: Twelve Things about Carrying Stress (and how to not let it break you down)

Cancer, Cancer Resources, Encouragement

“It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” – Lou Holtz

The truth in this statement is a little painful to acknowledge. I’ve been good at some things in life. Carrying heavy loads has not been one of them. The context for every person is different but the problems from stress are very real! Since I can’t quite tell you how to keep from getting cancer allow me to share some things I’ve learned about dealing with the stress-load of life as a cancer survivor.

1. You can’t do it all.

2. Let people help.

3. Do work that you love.

4. If you don’t love your work and a change is not feasible, do things you love outside of work to recharge and refresh and protect your sanity and joy.

5. It’s OK to be angry. It’s not OK to not deal with anger properly.

6. Know your personality. Are you energized by being with people, or away from people? I unashamedly make it a point to do things that nourish my body, mind, soul and spirit. Therefore I purposefully avoid things, people and places that sap my body, mind, soul and spirit. I recharge in quietness. You can actually take a free personality test right here to gain insight into your personality: https://jacobadamo.com/personality-colors-quiz/

7. Take care of yourself. Eat right. Exercise gently in a way the helps your body and doesn’t hurt physically. Sleep plenty. Get fresh air. Soak in natural sunshine for 15-20 minutes without sunscreen. Walk barefoot. Be grateful.

8. Take care of your soul. When I don’t spend time with God through scripture reading and prayer I notice a difference in my outlook and the way I handle stress throughout the day. When I stop and start the day with time talking to the God who created me and knows every detail of my past, present, and future, I’m grounded. Settled. De-stressed. Focused. Loved.

9. Simplify your life.

10. Get things right with God.

11. Get things right with the people you love.

12. Show kindness and respect to the people you don’t love.

12a. Cheery fresh flowers make burdens lighter.

It’s all connected.

Cutting out a tumor can remove the cancer. What about the environment in the body that allowed the cancer to grow? Perhaps we need to find ways to nourish and heal the body beyond the standard cutting, poisoning and burning approaches of cancer treatment. I speak respectfully from personal experience. I went through treatment twice. The first time we were flat out running through a gauntlet of fear. The second time I was angry and I tried to use that anger to arm myself with knowledge. I felt less stress about the situation; I felt like I had some control in the chaos after I prayed with my husband. We did our best to make decisions armed with faith and good information. We were confident that, no matter the outcome, God was (and is) in control.

I am not telling you to not go to your oncologist (I did). I’m telling you that you’ll need to accept responsibility to really understand the impact of treatment upon your body. What are the pro’s and con’s? Are there ways to protect the body during chemo and radiation while helping standard medical treatment approaches to work better? What are you, the person who will go through this treatment, comfortable with, in conjunction with your doctor?

Once you pray and consider all options, you go forward one day at a time.

“Stress has a profound impact on how your body’s systems function,” says Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor of General Oncology and Behavioral Science, and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson. Health experts are still sorting out whether stress actually causes cancer. Yet there’s little doubt that it promotes the growth and spread of some forms of the disease. Put simply, “stress makes your body more hospitable to cancer,” Cohen says.” The article goes on to share information about two kinds of stress – short term stress, and chronic stress, which is long-term and more damaging. Read the article here: https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/december-2014/how-stress-affects-cancer-risk.html.html

I believe there was not just one single thing that allowed cancer to thrive in my body. There were many little and big things combined that tipped the balance towards disease over a long period of time. It has taken time to tip the balance back to current wellness (by the grace of God). Stress is real and so are strategies to help cancer patients and cancer survivors manage the business of living well during our remaining time on earth.

Verses that help me cope with stress:

2 Timothy 1:7 NIV, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Psalm 20:1 NIV, “[ Psalm 20 ] [ For the director of music. A psalm of David. ] May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.”

Proverbs 18:10 NIV, “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”

Psalm 90:14 NIV, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

How do you find help to deal with stress as a cancer patient or cancer survivor, or supporter?

PS: Something I love to do is take photos of nature. Here’s a fun picture from the countryside near where I grew up. Enjoy!

Racoon

[ See more photos ]


stage four colon cancer survivorSharon O’Connor is a wife, mom, and stage 4 colon cancer survivor. She loves coffee, writing, playing piano, 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 ]