Crushed? Run.


sustain me notes on cancer faith infused encouragement for stage four cancer patients

I was working in the office yesterday sipping on carrot juice and waiting for The Phone Call. You know, the one every cancer patient ponders after scans. Pinned mentally between thinking you feel really good but knowing one sentence could change everything. Again.

I dialed the office number at 11:01 AM to ask if they had results per my doctor’s instructions. I was hoping, as I had bartered so with my younger daughter that morning, that since they had not called the day before, it meant there was nothing to be concerned about and everything to feel hopeful about.

“Let me get your message over to the team,” said the receptionist. “Someone will call you back shortly.”

PET scan for stage four colon cancer after treatmentTwo days earlier I had chatted with the doctor before going in for the PET scan. The scan was the one year mark from my second round of radiation (more targeted this time, just on the mass in my iliac artery) and chemo (no port in my chest this last time, just a daily pill) to lasso stage four colon cancer.

“If this test comes back clear, we won’t need to have you come back for another year,” the doctor had said. “The window of concern is from one to two years after treatment.”

I was one year out from treatment. Would the day’s test set me free for another twelve months or reel me in backwards? God, will you please keep me moving forward? I’ve been wounded enough, right, please? But what if going backwards physically is Your choice of “forward” for my life? How much of this is on me to juice and follow the wellness plan, and how much is about me claiming – no, crying out to You – Your promises, and how much is about Your complete control of my life and my submission to Your plan? And what about the hundreds of thousands of other people suffering and dying from cancer? What is this all about? Deep down I know the answer for me. Maybe it’s the answer for you, too. It is all about God’s loving plan for my life. However He chooses for that to play out in life or in death. Wounded thoughts. Crushed hopes? Grace-filled, personally invested, merciful God. No matter what.

The cell phone buzzed and pulled me back to the present. It was the doctor’s office.

“Mrs. O’Connor? Your scans were clear. Everything looks normal.”

And my day went back to … normal. Just like that. Work issues… personal concerns… family needs… but no cancer. Normal.

psalm3418 verses about crushed in spiritAre you crushed maybe between physical illness, or spiritual wounds, or brokenhearted over personal battles that you never signed up for? The Lord is close. Don’t run away. Turn around and run. As fast and hard as you can to Him. He is near you today. His Word, as the songwriter says, will not fail you. Not in life. Not in death.

Speaking about turning and running to the Lord, here is one of my favorite songs about turning to Jesus in times of trouble. Sometimes we have to choose to focus our eyes on Him to hold off the crush of life. The words encouraged my heart all this week, along with reading from Psalm 34. Hope the words and music from this song lift you up a little today too.

piano note turn






Verse 1: O soul, are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see? There’s light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free!

Refrain: Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.

Verse 2: Through death into life everlasting, He passed, and we follow Him there; O’er us sin no more hath dominion—, For more than conqu’rors we are!

Verse 3: His Word shall not fail you—He promised; Believe Him, and all will be well:, Then go to a world that is dying, His perfect salvation to tell!

Written by Helen Lemmel, 1922. Arranged by Sharon O’Connor.

Before we go our separate ways, a question. Have you been rescued by God from troubles? Upheld by His love in great difficulty? Would love to have you share briefly here in the Comments a verse of scripture or a meaningful quote for others in need of  encouragement. Let’s help each other thrive through the “crush”.

Holding Pattern

Cancer, General Thoughts

I spent time this morning on hold with a government entity. I needed to ask some questions about health care options for a family member. When I called in I was kindly told I had a 10 minute wait. 65 minutes and 35 seconds later, I had loaded the dishwasher, ordered contacts, added a news article link to the “Cancer News” page, started preparing thoughts to share at an upcoming conference, and still waited. Every few minutes a voice assured me, “You may encounter moments of silence while you wait,” and, “Your call is very important to us; someone will be with you shortly.”

Eventually I spoke with a helpful person. Who put me on hold again so he could research my problem further. I was so glad for his help that I said goodbye, only to find myself calling back 10 minutes later with another problem. I hung up after 20 more minutes on hold and will try another day.

Ever feel like you’re in a holding pattern? Raging waters ahead and an army of trouble tearing up ground fast behind? Patiently enduring the pause before you have to make a difficult decision? Or maybe you chafe against the silence. You need an answer and debate waiting or wading into the unknown. Maybe you are weighing strategies to cope with cancer. Silence and noise. Noisy silence.

And here is what Jesus said when worries rage and troubles abound and we’re tempted to get worked up about tomorrow:

“Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds. Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:26-34, The Message


This Week’s Notes:
free e-book on stage four colon cancer and juicing
the survivor's guide to the best local businesses in greater binghamton new yorkfree course at davis college spring 2014



cancer patient happiness 2014 stage four colon cancer survivor“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”

Alfred Tennyson

My mother, she of the infinite energy and positive everything, gave my sister and me two beautiful Willow figurines this past weekend. Mine, pictured to the left, is called “Happiness”. A carefree girl smiles towards the sky and birds hang out on her sleeves. My mom’s kind wish and loving concern for me, her cancer-survivor-kid-in-hoping, came through loud and clear. I’m to embrace life and live it with abandon. Get reacquainted with the carefree girl. Arms open. Happy.

Life, even when you have much to be grateful for, can be just too messy and heavy and hard and exhausting and… there is a bird on my sleeve. Singing loudly. And she’s asking me to add words to her warbly sweet insistent melody.

Ok. Here is my list of words about carefree happy things heading into 2014. What are yours?

1. Lights on the Christmas tree.

2. Poinsettias that survive the Christmas purge. Sometime I’ll tell you about our first Christmas clean up.

3. A song played and sung with joy that makes you think maybe, just maybe, the courts of heaven open up and we’re all worshiping together with loved ones near and far, seen and unseen, when music is sung from the heart to the Creator. Can you imagine?

4. Snow shoes. I strapped on a pair that my family got me for Christmas and schlepped around the yard grinning like a fool. Happy fool.

5. Laughing or coughing so hard that you almost bust a gut. This is when your intestines twist painfully (the bad part) and then untwist (the happy part) because of radiation treatment. No, you shouldn’t try this. But you should laugh. Very hard.

6. Gift cards to Wegmans for produce. Love. Dear Wegmans marketing department. If you read this, I have room on my local Survivor’s Guide business directory for you. Will trade space for organic carrots and apples.

7. Tom making coffee in the morning. And getting the paper. And starting my car on cold days. And surprising me with a (gently used and in beautiful condition) elliptical.

7. A boss and co-workers that rock.

8. Christmas greetings from friends. I (hangs head in shame) sent not more than one. And my friends still love me. Thank you.

9. A daughter that does the dishes without being asked and uses her gift card to share Christmas with friends.

10. A hot-dog that barks and attacks the dust mop.

11. Family that prays. And calls and texts to say so.

12. A neighbor who shares apple and nut bread.

13. A quiet fire in the fireplace.

14. A God who promises to be here. Yesterday, today and tomorrow. And keeps giving a song.

Your turn. Arms wide. Eyes closed. Heart open. Deep breath. Face to the sky.

May you find happiness – or get closely reacquainted – in 2014.


Here is a link to an interview with Don Giovanni for Clear Channel’s Community Focus program in December. I appreciate Don inviting me to share about the cancer journey with his listeners: