Getting my life back

I am blessed! Yesterday was the first day of classes at William Jessup University (www.jessup.edu) where I teach psychology. It was so wonderful to be on campus surrounded by an excited group of college students, to reconnect with faculty and staff, chat with students I have had in classes in the past, and meet my new students for this term. I love teaching and always look forward to the start of classes in the fall, but this year after a summer battling breast cancer, yesterday was especially sweet. I felt like me!

All summer I have been masquerading as a cancer patient, dutifully enduring tests, chemotherapy, doctor appointments that never end, and basically living someone else’s life. But I have so missed living my own. While I realize I am not quite finished with the cancer patient life, I am getting my life back in stages and it feels great!

While there is no good time to be diagnosed with cancer, I am thankful that my diagnosis occurred at the end of the spring semester. I have been able to devote my summer to fighting this disease and now when I am almost finished with chemo, it’s time to return to classes. How great is that?!?! I did continue to see clients this summer but I did not allow my caseload to increase as I normally do during my break from teaching. I know I needed the down time but now I embrace having fuller days doing what enjoy. My new students were incredibly gracious when their instructor walked in sporting a cap sans hair and I look forward to getting to know them over the next few months. Returning students have been so generous in thier offers to help me, in thier faithful prayers, and encouraging words. The faculty and staff all have surrounded me with love and support.

I still face surgery in October and the possibility of radiation after that but for now I will rejoice in being able to do what I love to do, surrounded by a wonderful college community. I am blessed!

“How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.” Psalm 31:19

“I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High” Psalm 7:17

He’s big—I’m small

I had the wonderful blessing of spending a couple of days with a dear friend and her daughter in Monterey last weekend. Having grown up in Southern California, I have always loved the beach. It is a special place of peace for me. Now that I live a couple of hours from the coast, I don’t get as many opportunities to dig my toes in the sand, but when I do they are always glorious.

The ocean reminds me of just how big our God is and just how small I am in comparison. The strength of my problems pale in light of the power and might of the waves. The thing that always gets me is the God of the universe, the creator of the seas, with all His glory and majesty, loves me!

“You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” Nehemiah 9:6

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” Psalm 24:1-2

“You answer us with awesome and righteous deeds, God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations. The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.” Psalm 65:5-8

I will remember the morning mist and the cool salt air, the laughter of good friends, and meditate on these verses today as I sit once again today in the chemo chair—and the God who created the oceans will bring me comfort.

“A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:32

Who hid the remote? I want to change the channel…

O.K., so I’ve got to be honest I am tired of dealing with cancer. I have spent the entire summer in doctor’s offices, getting pricked and poked, enduring round after round of chemotherapy, feeling sick and exhausted, bones aching, and I am just really getting weary of living in this documentary about breast cancer!! I am ready for an action adventure, a comedy, or even a sappy chick flick. Just please, somebody change the channel!!

I was crying out to God today and found this verse in the Amplified Bible that seemed to fit my mood. “Evening and morning and at noon will I utter my complaint and moan and sigh, and He will hear my voice.” Psalm 55:17

I am so thankful that God will hear my complaints and not judge me for it. There is just something about telling my Savior about my struggles that makes things easier to bear. The amazing thing is—He WANTS to hear my grievances. He wants to hear me. He wants to hear you.

“Trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us, a fortress and a high tower.” Psalm 62:8

When I look back on the last four months as I have battled this disease, God has never let me down. He continues to lift me up even when I complain and grumble. He has shown me His goodness in the people who have cared for me, loved me, and been so faithful to pray for me. He has opened my eyes to so many blessings in the middle of the mess; things I would have surely missed if I wasn’t fighting cancer this summer.

“He has redeemed my life in peace from the battle that was against me.” Psalm 55:18

Perhaps I would have enjoyed a Western or a travel documentary, but now that I think about it, I have learned a lot on this channel.

New Challenges = New Blessings

When I wrote my last post I was about to start a new chemotherapy regimen and didn’t know what to expect. I had heard from other women who have braved this road before me that it should be easier. I can now say with much gratitude that they were correct. With this new “chemo cocktail” come new and different challenges. But more importantly I am learning that with each new challenge, God is faithful to show me new blessings.

Taxol, my new chemo drug, has the unfortunate side effect of bone pain. I have felt it most in my legs. A few days I was unable to move much from my couch and needed support just to cross the room. I say all this to highlight the difference between the first few days after chemo and the glorious blessing of God’s strength in the days that followed. While on the couch, I had the opportunity to pray more, to praise more, to dig deeply into God’s word, and seek His face. This is blessing in and of itself. Had I my normal strong legs, I may have missed this precious time. As the pain lessened and my strength grew I was happy to walk my dog and once again enjoy time outside in the warm Sacramento sunshine. 🙂

What came next was an unexpected blessing for which I will forever be thankful. My daughter and her boyfriend had signed up for a trail race in Lake Tahoe to benefit the Tahoe Cancer Center. (We all love Lake Tahoe and are avid skiers in the wintertime!) When my daughter’s boyfriend was unable to attend due to work constraints, Kate asked me to go with her to and spend the day at Squaw Valley, I could ride the tram to the top and wait for her to finish the 3 ½ mike trek from the base to high camp. It seemed like a lovely way to spend the day and I gratefully accepted the invitation. But by the morning of the race, my leg pain was gone and God had renewed my strength. So instead of sitting on the sidelines waiting for Kate, we walked the race together! 3 ½ miles straight up!! It was the most beautiful and challenging hike I have ever experienced! So thankful for time with my daughter, so thankful for God’s strength in getting me through this difficult time in my life and showing me every day that HE has I all I need, so thankful for the beauty of His creation. So thankful, just so very thankful.

The beauty of God's creation

I have chemo again today. I know what is ahead: more challenges, more blessings.

“I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.”  Psalm 18:1-2

We made it to the top!

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