I tell this story because it is the most bizarre tale of God’s divine grace! It is with enormous thankfulness that I share how I became a cancer survivor before even my doctors knew I even HAD cancer!
So a few years ago, I was told that I had a HUGE fibroid tumor that took up my entire uterus. My doctor said it wasn’t anything to be concerned about because they are never cancerous and would go away as soon as my hormone levels dropped enough to put me close to full menopause. I was so close to menopause and I didn’t have any issues with it so I went along my merry way.
When I moved down to the Indy area, I got new doctors and my OBGYN insisted I go in for an ultrasound to confirm that the fibroid was no longer there. We were all fairly certain it was gone or very nearly so I was a bit unclear why she wanted to search for it with all the modern technology at her disposal, but as luck would have it, the procedure was covered at my age so I went in and let them have a look around at my interior. They seemed to be focusing in on my left side for an inordinate amount of time, but I just thought they were admiring my vintage upholstery.
The doctor called me in to go over my results. I was fully expecting her to say that it was gone and we could then move on to finding solutions to my several chronic issues where fatigue and pain had become a full time job. However, what she said was that the results revealed a rather sizable solid cyst on my left ovary. She said it was the kind of cyst that could become cancerous so it needed to be removed as soon as possible. Since I was 53 years young, I was no longer really using my ovaries so she said it was easier to remove the entire ovary and that she might want to take the Fallopian Tube as well just in case because “cancer likes to hide.”
Turns out she called an audible during the surgery and did remove the tube and sent everything to biopsy. The surgery was much easier than I thought it would be and I was in very little pain that it didn’t necessitate ANY pain pills including Tylenol or Ibuprofen. I was ecstatic thinking it was over and I got away just about scott free.
The doctor herself called me with the biopsy results. That’s never a good sign. It’s usually some nurse or office gal who tells you everything is normal. So when she used the word cancer, my brain kind of went tilt. I had a hard time wrapping my head around that. After all, there was no reason to believe I had cancer. My blood work indicated levels of cancer antibodies below the limit indicating cancer was present. Nothing they saw indicated any signs of a tumor or cyst or lump or anything they felt was something to worry about. But the fact remained that I did have cancer cells in my tube and, since this type of cancer is aggressive, I was referred to a Gynecological Oncologist.
After the initial shock wore off (about two hours), I wasn’t really concerned. I was told that he would probably want to remove my other ovary, tube and lymph nodes just to make sure there was no more cancer in my reproductive system which was now laying dormant having retired some time ago. I went in to the appointment feeling pretty confident and actually kind of looking forward to having an end to my 17+ years of Peri!
When he first walked in to the room, he asked me why I thought I was there. He wanted to know just how much I understood. I told him it really was a miracle. They went in looking for a huge fibroid tumor that wasn’t there, found a solid ovarian cyst, and only found the microscopic cancer cells in my Fallopian Tube under the microscope after the biopsy. My OBGYN said that it saved my life and he agreed with her. They both said that the cancer would never have been found that early. This type of cancer has no symptoms until it is too late and, since it’s an aggressive cancer, doctors wouldn’t have known it was there until it was too late and I would most likely have died. So I’m a cancer survivor and I was a cancer survivor long before anyone (including the doctors) knew I even had cancer!
So what’s next? Well, the Gynecological Oncologist has me scheduled for a total hysterectomy in October. He wants to remove EVERYTHING reproductive, not just my other ovary and tube and lymph nodes…because they already found cancer and “cancer likes to hide.” This is a much more involved surgery requiring a 2-3 day hospital stay. If the biopsy finds no further cancer cells, I’m done! Both with peri and with cancer. If they do find more cancer, they’ll probably want to do chemo therapy. But he doesn’t think there is any reason to believe that they will find more cancer. So I’m hanging my hat on that for now.
Do you have a miraculous health story? Please share it here!
There’s a line from Fiddler on the Roof that keeps running through my head these days. It’s something I think we all feel from time to time when things go wrong. It’s how we feel when too many things go wrong for too long a time. That kind of struggle, that kind of suffering can wear away at your strength not to mention your faith. And it’s that kind of struggle my family has been going through for the last few years.
The line is: “I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?” As I remember, it’s somewhere near this scene called Dear God featured here on this YouTube video. Ever felt this way?
After struggling with several chronic illnesses for decades, recovering (somewhat) from a car accident while looking for a place to live two years ago, moving across the country for a job my husband ultimately lost not even a year later, getting through gallbladder surgery and the bills that came with it, being told my husband was over qualified and going without a steady income for over 18 months, struggling financially and with three businesses that were each meeting various obsticals, suffering near insanity from 17 years of peri menopause, and living through another surgery to remove my ovary and the cyst that moved in without an invitation, I was beginning to feel a lot like Tevye. Then, just the other day, I was told I may need a third surgery to remove a probable growth on my parathyroid. That would be three surgeries in two years! At this point, I am wondering if I qualify for Frequent Flyer Miles on the Friends and Family Surgical Program.
When we go through so much for so long, we pray to God to help us understand, to help us cope, to give us strength, and, let’s face it, to complain. It’s not like He doesn’t already know we don’t appreciate our circumstances. He wants us to come talk to Him. He wants us to trust Him, often even if we can’t possibly understand why we need to go through what seems completely unnecessary and unfair. It’s at these times when we feel like Tevye, that we are being chosen for struggle. We feel like the walls are closing in around us, that our head is almost under water, and there’s a big Ogre sitting on our escape route.
We understand that sometimes God says yes and sometimes God says no, but we don’t often truly understand that sometimes God says the dreaded word, “WAIT.” I don’t like waiting. I’m not good at it. I have no patience and I don’t want to pray for any. I want things to change NOW. I want God to take away my struggle and I want Him to do it NOW. I don’t want to pray for God to get me through. That takes too long! But lately, God has made me wait. Things are not resolved. The walls are still closing in and the Ogre is laughing…at least that’s how I feel.
How, then, can we find comfort in the chaos? I found the answer, but I didn’t like it and you won’t either because it isn’t easy. Psalm 119:50 says, “This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.” The Bible tells us that Jesus died for our salvation. It’s not this life here on earth that Jesus died for. It’s our eternal life. The life here on earth is full of sin and hardship and struggle. We often expect that life should be easy down here, but nobody has an easy life this side of heaven. And some of us struggle greatly for an extended period of time and we grow weary of praying and not hearing the answers from the Lord. We may even feel like we’re nagging God. “Hey, Lord! Remember, me? I’m still in a mess down here. Now would be a good time!”
I’ve been in tough situations before. Some were short and sweet and some struggles were longer, but God had always gotten me through and actually, like Job, I came out better on the other side. After it was over, I could see God’s hand in all of it. I could justify my struggle by understanding what I had been waiting for. Not this time. Decades of health and financial issues, 18 months of joblessness, and surgeries I could definitely have done without just added insult to even more injury and I was complaining to God on a regular basis.
Though, none of my struggles are over (my husband is still out of work, I still struggle with chronic issues and that third surgery is looming), I have learned a few things about struggle along the way. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m closer than I ever was. I have been reading several devotionals each day and I’m feeling a bit of joy again even though I didn’t wake up cured and I never found a million dollars in my mailbox.
1. God wants us to talk to Him daily, even if it’s to complain. At first I didn’t want to pray or talk to God because I didn’t want to complain. But someone told me it’s not like God didn’t know what was in my heart at the time. Initially, complain is all I could do, but later on I was able to be thankful for what He had provided, for the little things along the way, for people who took the time to call or bless us in various ways, and for various ways in which we were able earn some money here and there. It didn’t solve our problem, but it did help me to not feel so alone and it did help us pay some bills and expenses when we had trouble meeting them. Tevye complained to God and Job complained as well. But they were also grateful for what God had done in their lives.
Psalm 42:5 says, “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.” The more we talk to the Lord, the more we will be able to find peace enough to ask ourselves why we are not at peace when God is a loving God. Because we can be giving thanks to Him and others for the blessings we DO have-even if we struggle with a lot.
2. Being thankful for the little things helped me feel less stressed about the bigger things. It’s hard to see the blessings at first, but as soon as I began to notice them, I saw them everywhere. I saw blessings in my children who were quick to help in any way they could. I saw blessings from the Lord for my surgeries which were both amazing successes. My recent surgery to remove my ovary was so amazing I NEVER took a single pain pill. Not one that was prescribed nor anything over the counter. There was NO pain for almost an entire day following my surgery! And what followed was something I could deal with. I bounced back fairly quickly with just some residual fatigue which plagues me to this day, several days post surgery. But I’m getting better every day and it could have been so much worse.
Romans 15:13 says, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I’ve noticed that as I’m more thankful, I’m also less worried about what could happen. At the moment, my husband (who was a higher paid Corporate Controller for a multinational corporation), is now working as a laborer at our church. I have no idea when my husband will get a job that will pay our bills, but I am less stressed about it than I used to be. Our old pastor came to visit us when he was here for a pastor’s conference. He told us to do what we can and that’s all we can do. The rest is God’s problem. LOL Because only He can handle the rest.
3. Doing God’s work helps me focus on the positive. One of the devotionals I read said to do for others even while in the chaos of struggle and that will help take the focus off the pain. I have no idea when things will change for us, but I don’t have much time to focus on that because I’m busy doing what I believe God wants of me. I’m writing this blog to help uplift and support those who also struggle with chronic illness and issues who may be losing hope and faith. I’m working on a new product for one of our businesses and I’m also working to create a workshop that is a new ministry. I’ll share more about that later.
1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith,being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” The more I concentrate on others: my customers and those who need to be uplifted, the more I find I don’t have time to think about what could happen. I’m just moving all day to do the most I can myself as I learn to trust that God is working the rest out all on His own. And in that I can praise and honor God, the Father.
James 1:2-4 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” I used to ask God why He couldn’t just choose someone else to go through these struggles. After all, I’m full up right now. I used to wonder how I could count all this as joy when things all around me feel like they are falling apart. I’m finding that, the more I share with others (not about how God worked a miracle in my life, but about how to handle the chaos that is struggle), the more others are uplifted by what I share.
Maybe it’s just me, but when I read about Job being blessed more by God after his struggles than he was before, I don’t feel as uplifted as I do when I read that Mary Marshmellow is still in her mess, but is able to see the joy. Reading Job does give me hope, but just because God healed Job and gave him blessings only means He CAN work a miracle in MY life. It doesn’t mean He will. There are plenty of people who were never healed. Paul was never healed. Many people go through life with worse chronic issues and illnesses than I have and are never healed. But if I can see how to be uplifted and can uplift others WHILE I’m in the mess, then the chaos at least serves some purpose. And if it does serve some purpose, then maybe that’s why God didn’t choose someone else. God may heal you. He may yet heal me. He may turn our financial mess around…or not. Either way, I need to find find the joy in it to see the best in a bad situation. Just maybe, with me listening for the best, He’ll show me a way out.
I’d love to hear your experience with long term struggle and faith. Are you struggling now? And how can I pray for you?
Last month,I shared how GPs can delay your treatment. This month, I’d like to share how red tape and mix ups can frustrate the begeebers outta you when on a mission to experience less pain.
I began seeing a chiropractor a few months ago in a quest to rid myself of some of the pain. I can’t always tell what the source of the pain is as almost all of my diagnoses (and the list is long and distinguished) all have the same symptoms. Is it Fibro pain? Arthritis pain? TMJ pain? Headache pain? Aches due to thyroid disease? Peri menopause? Or did I stub my toe on the wall unit in my brain fogged state walking from the uncomfortable bed to the overstuffed couch?
So I tried the chiropractor who said he could help me get rid of at least the pain in my neck. While there I met the physician’s assistant who asked me a bunch of questions and suggested things I might do. After a few months, it was apparent that the pain in my neck wasn’t due to bones out of alignment so I stopped going.
A month after seeing her, I received a phone call from a compounding pharmacy in Florida one day asking me for my insurance info to send me some pain cream I never knew I was prescribed. I thought it was a joke or a scam at first because I live in Indiana. Surely there were compounding pharmacies in my own state. In fact, there are at least two of them in NW Indiana where I used to go to get my hormone cream made up.
After several phone calls back and forth to the pharmacy, the physician’s assistant, the insurance company and a psychiatrist (okay that one was poetic license), I discovered that the PA wasn’t in network and, therefore, couldn’t prescribe for me. The compounding pharmacy didn’t take my insurance at all and the insurance company doesn’t cover those things. I politely declined to have them send it and went on my unmerry way.
The PA told me she felt for me and would give me samples I could try for free for a while. At least I could lessen the pain temporarily. It was incredibly sticky stuff. I mean, it rivaled super glue! You know those old commercials where the guy in a hard hat glues himself to the beam? But, hey. If it works… Unfortunately, it didn’t. 🙁 So I just forgot about it and looked forward to my internist appointment where I felt I might find the answers I need.
A month or so later, I received another phone call from the pharmacy that they were sending it out. HUH?! I tried to tell them that they wouldn’t get paid, but they insisted it was somehow cleared with the insurance company and I wouldn’t be charged a thing. I talked at great length to their pharmacist who felt so badly for me he asked me to call in a week or two to tell him how it worked.
When it got here, I was again confused. It came in a jar…like face cream. But it said to only apply so many mg each day. How on earth was I to measure this? Do you know how many mg your fingertip holds? Me either. So back I go on the phone to the pharmacist in Florida. How’s the weather out there, Mike? And the family? Suzie still in dance class?
After determining that there really is no way to OD on this stuff, I was told to dab my finger tip in it and rub it in to any place that hurts (except the face). I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t sticky at all! Didn’t smell funny either. Unfortunately, it didn’t take away the pain either. 🙁
Are you sensing a trend here? I’m a lottle frustrated now. Aspirin, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Alleve, Lydocane, etc… Nothing helps the pain. I see the Internist on June 10th. I sure hope she’s got a better idea. I’m thinking Novocaine or possibly Morphine!
While you’re waiting for my chronic illness post coming up on the 30th, here is what’s on tap over at my Grape Stuff website:
Summer is a grape time for family fun!
On the menu this month: I have a grape recipe on tap for you via a YouTube video I found, Tips for summer fun from our brand new Family Fun on a Budget, and some links with further information and fun.
Recipe of the Month
An easy recipe for one of most family’s favorites, the fruit roll up. This video is for applesauce, but you could substitute other pureed fruit.
If you don’t have a silpat mat, you can use the Grape Grill Buddy which is also a wonderful baking mat.
Click hereto see the video and read more of the Grape Stuff monthly post.
Posted in Inspiration|Comments Off on Some Grape Stuff on the Menu for this summer!
Those of us with chronic illness understand how people understand words differently than we do. Tired isn’t the same thing as fatigued. A little pain from a cut isn’t the same as living with chronic pain. And tolerance has been hard for us to get from others who don’t understand why we are always tired and in pain. The word tolerance is being redefined as are other words. The social ramifications of that are huge. I wrote about it on my Art of Eloquence communication blog this month. Here’s a bit with a link to read further.
If you’re too tired to whine and don’t want to take the time, redefine!
Too often someone doesn’t have the facts on their side so they are reduced to whining in order to support their argument. “It’s unfair!” Unable to tell us why it’s unfair and unwilling to take the time to explain themselves, the political answer is often to redefine the words and terms in order to suit their slant on the topic.
This is a three part series on a topic that I’ve actually discussed in years past, but with the political climate climbing toward the November elections this year, the ideological machines are in full swing redefining words, terms and phrases in order to substantiate their political agenda.
Frustration is one of the key components of chronic illness. We are frustrated because we are tired and in pain. We are frustrated with doctors who don’t help. We are frustrated that our friends and family don’t understand. And we are frustrated with the red tape of our health insurance.
The past few months, I haven’t been posting here due to many frustrating factors. I’ve already explained in my last post about the business and financial issues that took precedence and I touched on the fact that my many (and increasing) owies had made posting weekly on each of my blogs a hardship. However, this post is about how frustrating chronic illness can be from the stand point of getting anything DONE about it.
So it’s bad enough to have to feel varying degrees of pain all over your body that NEVER goes away, but to have that pain and fatigue get tangled up in the red tape of health insurance is maddening and has used up the remaining few brain cells that hadn’t already run away from home.
It’s taken me months (and three changes to my primary care physician) to be assigned someone who I believe might help. GPs are just about useless. I’ve seen many of them in the 35+ yrs I’ve had these symptoms and NOT ONE of them has come close to making a dent in the symptom list. In fact, it grows daily. Last week, I woke up to pain in my biceps. Have I been lifting tall buildings in a single dream? A few weeks before that it was my elbows. You know, the part in between the pointy sticky out bone part and the inside less pointy and sticky out part. Just to gently touch it sends my pain level to defcon 1.
What was my point? Until I remember what it was, let me also point out how bad the brain fog is getting lately. I spent literally 3-5 minutes trying to remember my last name one day. In my defense, I’ve only been married 29 yrs! The other day I was telling my son (you know, old what’s his name) about my niece. Her name escaped me at the time and it left no forwarding address. I said Heather, but I knew that was wrong. To my credit, her name does begin with the letter H. Or is it Q?
Oh yes, my point was that all of my GPs had either determined that I was making a mountain out of a pain hill or they had no idea know idea how to help me. However, they didn’t seem to have any idea who might have any idea so…blah blah blah, rinse and repeat.
So not too long ago (that’s code for I can’t remember if it was a month ago or an hour ago), I was told by my OBGYN that she knew of an Internal Medicine doctor who specializes in chronic illness and female issues (that’s a euphemism for Peri Menopause) who just might be in network if the planets aligned. Turns out she IS! But before you get too comfortable clapping (should you remember where you keep your hands to do so), let me explain that her first appointment was two months out.
Well, she was willing to make an exception because she had a cancellation and could get me in (not for the new patient appointment, but for pain relief consultation) to see her two weeks out. I took it. And I had to postpone it because, as the date approached, my dh informed me that it was the same date as the three day workshop I was to attend for one of our businesses. Now the frustration shifted from health to finances. Finances won out. So the date got pushed out even farther, but by that time it was three weeks closer anyway so…Po-tay-toe/Po-tah-toe.
Meanwhile, back at the hormonal ranch, I’m currently waiting for my pre op appointment to determine if I’m comfortable with the idea of having my left ovary removed. You see, there is a small solid cyst that has taken up residence on it with delusions of grandeur. I’ve been told that it is the kind of cyst that has the ability to transform itself into cancer. Since my ovary is currently (yet figuratively) twiddling it’s thumbs, it’s expendable.
I have more to share about the frustration factor of chronic illness that has plagued me the past few months, but brain fog prevents me from remembering what it is. Let’s stick a pin in that one for next time, shall we?
We’ve had a tough couple of years while here in Indiana and my time here has suffered in the transition. This included the year we inadvertently subscribed to the Catastrophe of the Month Club and this past year and a half where my husband was a casualty of the “Over Qualified” job hunting variety. Due to the fact that I only have two hands and fading brain foggery has set in, I took a month or two (I can’t remember…or count) hiatus from my blogs.
I’m reinstating them post haste, but at a slower interval. Having to keep up with three blogs, three Facebook fan pages, a teenager who is in his final years of homeschooling, and my ever increasing owies, has given me pause to consider a more realistic approach. Instead of writing three blogs every week, I’m going to write each blog once a month (on the 10th, 20th, and 30th of each month) and share a link back to that month’s article on each of the other blogs. Each one of my blogs are related (communication, family issues, and chronic issues) so my readers will get better content that offers more for the families I serve.
This month, Art of Eloquence shared an in-depth article on the value of effective communication that hits home for all of my readers. While some of you may not give speeches, suffer from shyness, need conflict resolution or debate on a regular basis, you DO communicate with people via email and text. This article will help you do that with much better precision of language that yields a more positive result.
This month, I’m taking my purple feather quill and doing a critique of an email I just received. Now, this is not a typical SPAM email from BuyMyStuff @ gmail .com that tells me they know why I’m fat. This is a serious email from a real person (whose name has been changed for this critique) that made some mistakes I felt you all could learn from.
After moving down to the Indy area, it has become far too long a trip to see my old dr up in NW Indiana. I don’t miss the 3-4hr wait time, but I do miss having a dr who listens and actually tries to help me using natural remedies.
My new dr apparently only has 10 min on her appointment calendar to deal with patients. If you happen to have as many symptoms as chronic illness patients have, you will find that 10 minutes isn’t even enough time to tell your dr what those symptoms ARE! After three appointments, a bit of her attitude, the feeling she thinks I’m making this stuff up and an aversion to anti depressants, I found that we had only covered 1/40th of my issues and I decided to continue to deal with things on my own.
After taking a few weeks to find and compare similar supplements to what I’d been taking before (you know, the stuff that I felt actually worked), I decided to try GNC’s version of the following:
Black Cohosh for my hot flashes
Calcium formula (Calcimate Complete) for my osteoperosis
Ashwaganda and Rhodiola for my adrenal issues and tendency to need mid afternoon naps
Termeric Tea I had to prepare myself for the pain of Fibro, Arthritis and some other nondescript owies
And Luminite, a natual formula of melatonin, magnesium, and other STUFF to help me sleep
It’s been a few weeks and so far, the only stuff that worked tremendously well was the last one for sleep. I slept only 4-5hrs a night before and after taking it, I was able to sleep 7hrs. Not UNINTERRUPTED, but when you do the addition. Since I don’t have xray vision, I have no idea if the calcium formula is rebuilding my bones, but the other stuff is iffy at best. I think I feel less pain sometimes, but other times, not so much. I do feel a bit less sleepy during the day most of the time, but I still need the occasional 10 min power nap.
I’ll give it til the stuff all runs out and see what I want to continue and what I’ll try next. Til then, I remain your friendly neighborhood peri menopausal, brain-fogged, correspondent with owies and a penchant for more Z’s.
Uplifting those Struggling with Chronic Illness/Issues
If you are suffering with chronic illness or struggling with chronic issues and you feel overwhelmed, what you need is a little uplifting, a little giggle, a small break from your weary travels. Let me help you regroup and give you the strength to journey on the path God has for your life.
Each month, I share the sunny, funny side of my own personal experiences with chronic illness and my past experiences with years of financial issues. I'm going to tell it like it is...or was. No rah rah here, but I WILL share how it always leads me back to the Lord.
“To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety.” Job 5:11
"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." Proverbs 17:22
"I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." John 14:18
For more comforting messages from God, click here!
JoJoisms are my way of dealing with life's difficulties. They are my quirky, humorous and sometimes profound commentary about life.
JoJoisms have no calories, no artificial preservatives and they are hypoallergenic! No JoJos were harmed in the making of JoJoisms. Void where prohibited by law.