Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thank God for small favors

What can I say except that God is faithful! The Mask, as I've said, is so tight. The technician was nice enough to go ahead and cut the nose part out when it dried. I didn't have the mouth part cut out because I don't need a " bite block" since I'm not having radiation to my mouth. It was so tight over my mouth that my teeth were so pressed into the inside of my bottom lip. I even started having a toothache and couldn't help but wonder if it was because of the pressure pushing on my bite. The tech told me on Thursday that the markings to line up the machine were just below that part and would compromise it if it were cut. When my treatment finished she told me she might be able to move the marking a little lower. Hallelujah, it was cut out for me today! Not so unbearable now! I am so thankful. I got Friday and Monday off, too, because they had to do computer software updates. That was a good thing as my skin was already showing signs of redness after only 4 days. I did get my Erbitux on Thursday. I'm not sure if that might have enhanced the redness. It was good to have 4 days off, though. I had a typical Erbitux weekend, though. I felt pretty bad by Sunday. I'm really glad I don't have to have the Erbitux again so soon as when I had radiation last time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Faith For Battle

I love sharing my devotionals that are so relevent to my situations in life. This one from Henry Blackaby's Discovering God's Daily Agenda:

The LORD our God spoke to us in Horeb, saying: "You have dwelt long enough at this mountain." Deuteronomy 1:6

We will never be the people God wants us to be if we don't spend time with Him.
Everyone of us needs some time on a spiritual mountain with God, but He does not set people free to remain on the mountain. After all, any mountaintop encounter we have with God is not merely for our encouragement; it is also intended to strengthen us for battle. Victories are ultimately not won by extended worship times on the mountaintop, but by going into battle and fulfilling God's purpose for our lives.
Some people are tempted to take up permanent residence on their spiritual mountaintop, but that makes them unavailable for God's service--and they don't experience fresh spiritual victories. Other believers neglect their time with God in order to rush into the next battle for Him. These people inevitably experience humiliating defeat.
During certain seasons throughout our lives and even at occasional points in our week, we need to withdraw from life's battles. At other times we need to leave the mountain and advance on the enemy. God knows which you ought to be doing. Be sure you are seeking His will and obeying His call.

For me, I want to walk in obedience to fulfill His purpose for my life. I want to hear His voice and know when to advance on the enemy and experience fresh spiritual victories; but also when to withdraw from my battles and spend time with Him.

Monday, September 22, 2008

First day, again

Well, I started my radiation treatments today...with The Mask. Three years ago when I had radiation that involved the mask, I listened to Lifesong and Praise You In This Storm everyday on my way to my treatments. I truly wanted my lifesong to sing to Him, to be a good witness. I have to say this mask thing really tries me on that. I want to have a good attitude about it, but I truly hate that thing. I don't want this to be what I take in with me everyday in front of these technicians. They are nice enough, but it's a job and they have the next patient waiting. As hard as it might be for me to deal with this, I don't want that to be the attitude they see from me every day. I posted a blog earlier today with a song that was on the radio when I was going back to work after the treatment. Two lines in the song jumped out at me: "You comfort those in need, You lift us up on wings like eagles." The whole song is timely telling me "Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord." At this point I don't know just how that strength will be there for me tomorrow, but I know I have a lot of people praying for me in my need, and God knows that need and He will surely meet it for His glory.

Building Faith

The following excerpt is from my Henry Blackaby devotional for September 20:
"Times that deeply challenge your faith will inevitably occur in your life. Eventually a situation will require you to trust God to a greater degree than you have ever had to trust Him before. Don't be shaken. Keep your eyes steadfastly on Jesus. He can see you through the storm. And, when He does, you will have grown to trust Him at a deeper level of faith than you ever have before."

I've really had a struggle with the issue of faith, thinking I haven't had enough or it's not strong enough. I guess I was thinking it was up to me to make it what God wants it to be. But with every challenging situation he has allowed in my life (and I'm not just talking my health here), He has been building my faith. As I look back I can see He has done this. If it were not so, I wouldn't be sitting here adding another post to this blog. I won't lie. I don't want these challenging situations in my life, for me or anybody else in my family. But God is God! What greater way to show His realness than to cause me (or somebody else) to trust Him yet another time...and, yet another time, to reveal His faithfulness to my trust in Him. No, it doesn't instantaneously make the situation better, but He lets me know in His special way that He's at work in the midst of whatever it is...when I'm faithful to Him. See it...faith. Like I started this blog in my very first post, it starts and ends with His faithfulness.

Everlasting God

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New every morning

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

God uses people in my life everyday to let me know they are praying for me and care about me. It is quite overwhelming to know the extent that God uses people, literally, all over the world to give me a word of encouragement.

Yesterday was really special. When I got back to work after lunch there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers waiting for me on my desk. A very dear couple from church had sent the flowers to brighten my day...and did they ever! I got so many comments about the beautiful flowers.

I, also, received a note in the mail. It was from one of the staff at Answers in Genesis. AiG held an event in a nearby town on the Sunday and Monday after my surgery. I had gotten a personal invitation to a reception being held on Saturday night before the event. I failed to RSVP that I wouldn't be able to attend. On that Saturday afternoon I received a call that happened to be from the main speaker for the event. He was making calls to let those invited know that the reception was being cancelled because of the stormy weather we were having in the area. I told him how kind it was for him to call but that I wouldn't have been able to attend anyway as I just had surgery for cancer again. He asked questions about my situation, and I explained it to him. He told me that he would take my name back to their headquarters to be put on their prayer list that goes beyond their U.S. headquarters. He told me that I could be assured I would be prayed for by their staff. His exact words, "You can take it to the bank." I thanked him, and he even prayed for me over the phone. I received a handwritten note from "Bill" today to let me know that the staff at AiG had "prayed the Lord place His healing hand upon you and completely heal you". Under his name he wrote Matthew 8:17. That verse refers to a verse in Isaiah 53:4--
This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES." (NASB)
I don't know who "Bill" is. He didn't sign his last name. I don't even know how to acknowledge to him that I received his note and how much I appreciate it.

As much as I dread the radiation treatments I will start soon, God gives me snippets of Himself through other people to let me know He is caring for me through them...like a dear friend that sent me an email of prayer tonight to encourage me of His unending mercies.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Oh, Mercy!

Well, I saw my radiation oncologist yesterday. The technician took me to the room where they get you set up for the type of radiation you'll be having. When I saw the other technician walk in that was my radiation tech from 3 years ago, I knew the obvious. I asked if I was going to have to wear a mask again, they both said yes. I wore a radiation mask 3 years ago exactly, during the time of Hurricane Katrina. It was when I had radiation to my mouth and neck.

Yesterday they fitted me with a mask as they did the first time. They take a sheet of mesh, put it in very warm water so it can become pliable. Then they place it over your head and shoulders and mold the mesh to fit as closely as possible to your head, face, and neck. It was not a pleasant experience for the first couple of weeks the first time. My radiation onc told me the radiation might make my mouth too sore to tolerate eating well. If I lost 10 lbs, he would insert a feeding tube. So I started adding calories and gained 8 lbs by the time I started the treatments. Well, the mask was fitted prior to the 8 lbs. It was horribly tight, especially across my nose. I ended up getting a sinus infection. I finally told my dr. how terribly uncomfortable the mask was over my nose. He went right then and cut the nose part out of it! After that, it was better. I just had to endure the indentations from the mask for about 3 hours afterwards till they finally faded so I looked normal.

It looks like it will be like that this time, too. The tech did go ahead and cut the nose out of this new one and he said he'd cut the chin out some, too. I had to wear it for at least 5 minutes yesterday while they got everything aligned through x-rays and such. It was especially tight over my left cheek and chin, and I wore the indentations for the next 3 hours.

I also got quite burned on my neck the first time and had to take a week off. I would appreciate extra prayers during this time. I'm due to start Monday, Sept. 22, unless they call me to come on in next week. I will only be getting the radiation this time to the area where the tumor was removed on my neck by my left clavicle.

(I've enclosed a couple of pictures below of my first mask to give you an idea of what I'm in for this time, too. After I lie down on the table, they fit the mask exactly over me as it was molded and then clamp it to the table with the white peg clamps you see on the side.)

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Lord is good

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him." Nahum 1:7 (NIV)
I saw my surgeon on Tuesday, and all is well. I will see my radiologist next Friday to set up my radiation schedule. I had my Erbitux treatment yesterday. My oncologist at first leaned toward 8 weeks of Erbitux again to enhance the radiation. He asked me what I thought. I told him I'd do what I had to do but that wasn't my choice. He said there was nothing scientific to go by...that we had been working out of the box anyway. He suggested we could do a treatment again in 3 weeks and 3 weeks after that, then returning to the monthly treatments...or keep on doing it monthly. I told him I was okay with 3 weeks. That, at least, gave me a break. He said that sounded like a good plan to him. With my treatment yesterday and the two in the next 6 weeks that would give my radiation treatments a boost. I'm very pleased with that decision. I was so not looking forward to 8 more straight weeks of the Erbitux. I expect the radiation treatments will be 5 days a week for 5 weeks. I'll know more about that next Friday.

As I started up the car this morning to go to work, what should be playing on the radio...
Voice of Truth...God is so timely.