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!


Good news, great news, and greater news

So the good news is I was able to have chemo last Thursday. Funny how being denied chemo for a day while the dermatologist checked on my skin issues was so infuriating and then being allowed to have the infusion with all the nausea, headache, and exhaustion is now good news!! But in this fight I don’t want to back down! So with that last infusion, I am now finished  with half of my chemotherapy. It’s always nice in a race when you pass the half-way point.

The great news is the biopsy from my blistered hand revealed it was just a reaction to the drugs and not one of the very scary diagnoses the doctors were worried about. My hands are much better, the stitches from the biopsy will be come out next week, and I am thanking God for his protection of my body as I submit it to the rigors of chemotherapy.

“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, Be strong, do not fear, your God will come, He will come with a vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4

Now for the even greater news—I had an ultrasound today to check on the effects of chemo killing the cancer and the tumor has shrunk by almost half!! Praise God for his faithfulness!!

Since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in late April I have held on to God’s promises in His Word. Specifically Isaiah 53:5, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” One of the things I love about this verse, especially as someone battling cancer, is the verb choice and tense—are healed. Not may be, now could be, not someday possibly, but we ARE healed.

For the past eight weeks during chemo I was thanking God for healing me without seeing any healing. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

The ultrasound today was a nice visual of what God is up to.   🙂

The Ups and Downs of the Chemo Rollercoaster

Okay, so there are more downs on this ride than I would prefer but there are some ups too. Losing my hair has been an adjustment but I also no longer need to shave my legs! Showers are incredibly quick! In the heat of the Sacramento summer I stay incredibly cool: no pesky hair to trap in the heat!

Each chemotherapy infusion has its own challenges but each week off has its own blessings. My third chemo brought with it the unfortunate side effect of an ugly rash and blisters on my hands. It itches and burns. My fingers are swollen and my knuckles look deformed. I was showing a good friend and colleague my hands today at work and telling her that although it is painful I am thankful that I have a job that allows me to sit with my hands discreetly in my lap while I see clients. I actually don’t need my hands much for my daily duties at work. What a blessing I’m not a seamstress!

This past week I was able to run a 5k race with my kids on the Fourth of July! What a joy and surprise blessing in the middle of this trial. I love to run and when I found out I would be having chemo one of the things I grieved was my daily run. Running is my all-time favorite hobby. I turn on some worship music, head out on the bike trail along the river, rejoice in God’s creation all around me, and feel most connected to my Lord and myself. Knowing I would be giving this up for 4 months was depressing. I am so glad that I have been able to run a little during my week off from chemo. I haven’t ventured out to my favorite spots and usually just hit the treadmill where I know I can step off it if I get too tired or weak, but when I saw the local Fourth of July race would be in the middle of my good week, I was overjoyed! God continues to amaze me with His faithfulness and mercy as I move through this. He gives me strength and courage for each challenge and has tucked in some wonderful blessings at just the right time!

July 4th 5k

“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom.”     2 Tim. 4:18

Tomorrow will be my fourth chemotherapy session and I will be officially half-way finished with chemo! Praise God for His goodness and mercy.

Blessings, blessings, blessings

Lately I have been thinking—I am incredibly blessed. While from the outset a cancer diagnosis is not welcome news, it has been an eye opener for me. I am seeing with much more clarity the many blessings that have been there all along in my life but have been unnoticed or at very least not fully appreciated by me.

I have good health insurance. I am able to receive treatment with very few hassles. My doctor is local so my travel time to receive treatment is minimal. The facility where I receive treatment is clean and professionally staffed. Having visited other parts of the world, I know that in some areas people must travel several days by train to the nearest medical facility and even then it may not be adequately staffed or clean. It takes me less than an hour by air conditioned car to get to my appointments—such a blessing!

I am able to read my bible openly while having chemotherapy. God’s Word is a great comfort to me but in some parts of the world owning a bible is illegal. I am so blessed to have freedom of religion and to own not just one but several bibles!

I have choices for my meals. While chemo leaves the unfortunate side effect of nausea, my pantry is stocked with things I can tolerate, I have a dear friend who has filled my freezer with home cooked comfort food, and the grocery store, which is less than 5 minutes away, never runs out of food. The food supply in many parts of the world is not only inadequate but certainly does not allow options. I am so blessed.

My office has a couch. As a therapist my work space is quite comfy and created especially to be a place of peace and tranquility. I am able to take a short nap between seeing clients on the days I need a little more rest. Another blessing!

Of course the biggest blessing for me at this point in my life is God and his faithfulness which is ever present and giving me strength for each day. I went on a hike with my daughter on Sunday. We laughed and enjoyed the beauty of foothills. I breathed in the fresh air, soaked up the sunshine, and tried to capture the feeling of strength and vitality so I can carry it with me to chemotherapy tomorrow. But even if it begins to wane in the days to come, I know God is lifting me up and is strong enough for the task.

Kate in the blackberry bushes

I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.  Psalm 34:1-3

View from the trail in Auburn

Here we go again…

I have had some mixed emotions heading to my next chemo infusion. While the first time I was somewhat in the dark about what to expect, I now know what tomorrow holds for me. Two weeks ago I had been warned what I might feel like after chemo and I had been given a list of possible side effects, but was also informed that everyone is different and each body responds in its own way. I would have to wait and see how it effected me. So now I know about me and my body’s response. YUCK!! There is no more mystery; it has been replaced by dread. A few days ago I started feeling anxious about returning to chemo and fear was beginning to creep in where there had been peace. I had been enjoying many good days of renewed strength and energy, seeing God’s provision for me and rejoicing in His protection over me. Then as I the time ticked away and chemo was once again looming in front of me, I began to remember the headache, nausea and exhaustion. I don’t want it!!! Yet, God in his mercy has reminded me I do not go alone into that chemotherapy room.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

As I sit in the chair tomorrow I will remember God’s faithfulness and the way He has gently (but boldly) carried me through this battleground. “But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.” Psalm 3:3,4

Today I will again rejoice in feeling good, feeling strong, and feeling loved by my daddy-God. Tomorrow I will let him carry me.

How much proof do you need?

One of the most profound verses in scripture for me is one of the shortest. It’s found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 “Be joyful always;” Such a simple verse, three little words, yet so powerful and also a bit perplexing. Always? Does God really mean always, always? How can this be? How is this even possible? The next verse (which is even shorter) gives us the answer. “pray continually;” When I am in conversation with my creator, I am joyful. Spending time chatting with my Savior is time well spent and gives rest to my soul. This I know to be true. But what about life’s big struggles? How are we to be joyful when life is dark and difficult? 1 Thessalonians 5:18 clears that up, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Now I know that seems like more of a puzzle and less of an answer, but in reality it is the key to unlocking joy. Thanksgiving, having a grateful heart, appreciating others…all are scientifically proven to increase happiness!! Don’t you just love it when empirical studies confirm God’s Word?!?! O.K. maybe that is just the psychology geek in me, but I think it’s pretty cool when some research psychologist figures out what God has been saying all along. I am, even as I write this blog, surfing my university library’s database and seeing study after psychological study confirm that expressing thanks and showing gratitude is correlated with higher life satisfaction and happiness. How much proof do you need?

In order to be joyful always, we must also give thanks. We may have to look a little more closely during the dark times but there are always things to be thankful for. Today I am thankful for worship, the Word, and my incredible church family; Mexican food after Sunday service and air conditioning!! What are you thankful for?

I’m Human Again!!!

Last Wednesday I had my first chemo infusion and I must say I would rather not go back. I know that I will, but really I would rather not. Four days of nausea and complete exhaustion….no thanks.  Today, I have renewed strength and determination. I feel good, healthy, and back to normal. For the last several days I continued to repeat Philippians 4:13 over and over, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” All things, all things…that means chemo! I can do chemo because my God will give me strength to do chemo. I will get through this.

Phil. 4:13 in The Message translation says, “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” I love that! He makes me who I am and He will see me through.

I am so very thankful for my family and friends who cared for me when I was too weak to take care of myself. I am thankful for the many people who are praying for me and encouraging me. God must really love me to place such wonderful people in my life.

This morning I am thankful for feeling well and being able to live my normal life for the next few days. I will appreciate every moment and give God the glory.

O my Strength, I sing praise to you; You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. Psalm 59:17


I had a port placement procedure yesterday and first I must say, “OUCH!!” But more importantly I must also say “thank you!” I have so much to be thankful for: My son who took the time to drive me to the appointment and help me get settled in at home afterwards, the doctors and nurses who carefully performed the procedure, anesthesia which enabled me to rest comfortably while the medical team did their job, the researchers who designed the port which will allow for easier chemo transfusions, the many cancer patients who came before me and took part in clinical trials, and just so much more.

All throughout the last month since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, I have thought about the people who share my diagnosis but not my many blessings. What do homeless people do when they get cancer? I am so incredibly blessed and thankful to have health insurance, to have a bathtub and clean water, a warm bed and pillow, food in my kitchen, family and friends praying for me, and above all else the hope of Christ in my soul.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”1 Peter 1:3-4

Cancer is just one thing in my life, but I have so many other things to be thankful for.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs of the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

Colossians 3:15-16

Glory days

Just yesterday I wrote about the frustration and pain of having to endure test after test that hurt my body and leave me bruised while I wait for the doctors to come up with a plan of attack. Yet, I am comforted by the knowledge of God’s presence with me and for me. I can rest assured that God knows what is happening with me. This morning brought new hope when I received word that all three of the additional biopsies I had on Wednesday came back clear!

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23



I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our GOD! Deuteronomy 32:3

The beginning…

10 days ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. While the news is still swirling in my head and so much is uncertain about my treatment, I choose to focus on the positive things in my life. I am a daughter of the Most High God and I know I am in the palm of His hand. I am surrounded by His love and beauty every day. I do not know what the days ahead will hold for me but I do know my future…I will see God’s goodness displayed through this trial. Romans 8:28 is just as true today as it was 11 days ago. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and called according to his purpose.”

My hope and prayer with this blog is to encourage others with God’s grace and mercy as we all face the trials and struggles that compete for our attention. I choose instead to dwell on the good. Philippians 4:8 has been my battle cry, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent and praiseworthy—think about such things.”

It is not my choice to have breast cancer, but I can choose to walk each day by the love and light of God’s grace and mercy. I can choose to focus on all that is good in my life, to look up instead of down, to smile instead of frown, to sing even through my tears, and to have hope, always have hope.

In His hand,


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