Quote for October

A Prayer for the Ephesians Eph. 3:14-21

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Interesting Vision

Originally written 3/31/09. I have revised this.
Last week I was reading in the book of Job. I went there because I was finishing up writing And Then God 2008. I needed to quote a passage from Job 33:19 and following. The passage starts out being about pain, then moves into healing.

"Yet if there is an angel on her side
one out of a thousand
to tell a woman what is right for her,
to be gracious to her and say,
'Spare her from going down to the pit;
I have found a ransom for her'--
then her flesh is renewed like a child's;
it is restored as in the days of her youth.
She prays to God and finds favor with Him,
she sees God's face and shouts for joy;
she is restored by God to her righteous state."

It says "one in a thousand" may have an angel that mediates for her before God, and God brings her back from being skin and bones and restores her to the strength of her youth.

So I started looking up all the references to angels in God's Heavenly Council. Of course, in Job chapters 1 and 2, the angels are presenting themselves before the Lord, when Satan comes in from walking back and forth across the Earth. There were references about beings coming before God in 1Kings 22:19, Psalms 89:5-7, Isaiah 6*, and others. (This is often how I study new things in the Bible. I find a reference that intrigues me, and start following the footnotes.)

*(Todd Agnew has a great song titled "Isaiah 6" that quotes that chapter.)

Anywho, it was in 1 Kings 22:19-29 that the footnote commented that back in those days a prophet was considered to be the real deal, if he had seen the Lord seated on His throne in a vision. I thought I'd be scared out of my wits if I had a vision of God on His throne; I prefer it when I see Jesus in my room. I had a vision like that last December.

It was December 26, 2008. I was writing on my computer and reflecting on what my cancer doctors had said that month. Suddenly, I realized the oncologist had sent me home with medication and hadn't said anything about future treatment. It dawned on me that he thought all we could do was treat my symptoms. He thought I was not curable. Probably because when carcinoid cancer goes to the liver, people don't survive. The cancer causes liver dysfunction, then cardiac insufficiency, and then death. (Maybe one out of a thousand survives?)

I went into my bedroom to read in Hebrews 10-12 where I had been reading that week. Reading didn't help, and I could barely see for all my tears. When I tried to pray, I couldn't put three sentences together. I cried out, "How can I comfort myself? Comfort me, Jesus!" All the bravery I had at other times was gone.

He told me, "Listen to music."

That was perfect!

I looked at the new CDs on my nightstand by Jeremy Camp and Kutlass. No, nothing seemed appropriate on Jeremy's CD. I played snatches of three songs on the Kutlass CD. No, nothing fit. Then I dug farther down in the stack. Aha! DAVID CROWDER*BAND--Remedy; last year's Christmas present. The first song states,
At the start He was there.
He was there.
At the end He'll be there.

He'll be there.
Also, a song that says God never lets go. Perfect. Calming. Reassuring.

I tried to sing along in my head, but I was too distraught. So I just laid there wanting Jesus. After about 4 songs played, I realized I was totally at peace. I asked, "How did you do that, Jesus?" Just like a child, "How did you do that, Jesus?" Then he showed me in a picture I could understand. It was just like the Sunday School pictures that I used to see when I was a little girl in Baptist Sunday School classes.

I was lying face down, with my head near the foot of the bed on the right edge. Jesus was leaning over me, with his hand stroking my hair. Just like a mother would stroke her child's hair. Jesus was wearing a light-colored robe, with a rose-colored cloak over his shoulder.

When I cry out to God in my greatest distress, He answers with the greatest response. It happened in church 2 years ago during a church service, when Gerry saw Jesus come down from the platform to comfort me. It happened in the hospital after surgery and it happened when my doctor lost all hope that I could be cured. (Incidentally, every time He appears, Jesus is on my right, like the reference in Revelation about the His sheep being on the right.)

I began seeing visions several years ago, when I asked God what it was like for my babies in heaven. He showed me how my babies were received into God's nursery, and my grandparents and other relatives came to meet them. It was wonderful. It is as if a call goes out to all the relatives to come receive the baby. A nursery worker handed my baby to my Grandma Laizure--who was in the lead. Then Grandma sat down in a rocking chair holding the baby while the others crowded around to see Sharon's baby. I could see Grandpa Laizure, my cousin Jimmy, my great-grandma Emma, and another 20 people following them down the wide steps behind them.

My grandpa Laizure went to heaven for a short time when he was in the hospital after having colon surgery. I believe that visions do come from God, and I'm always interested in their interpretation. A vision is different from something in your imagination. You don't put any affort into thinking about it. Also, for me they usually show up when I ask God a question or cry out to Him for help. He helps me see (with other eyes) what is going on.

P.S. After I first published this my younger sister told me about the visions she has had. She said our mother also had visions and was told things by the Lord about her life. Now I understand why Mom spent such a long time sitting in an easy chair after reading her Bible. She was spending time with God, and He was speaking to her.

I wonder what causes people to see pictures that God sends them? Is it just an open heart? I take the vision of my baby in heaven as a picture God sent to comfort me. 12/29/09

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What Really Happened at Christ's Birth according to Sharon

I had this all written in my head on Sunday when I was thrown off course by a nasty virus, but I am better now. Instead of gardening and grading, as I planned to be doing now, I'm reading and writing. I'm getting blessings from becoming a fan of John Piper on Facebook. I hope there is gardening and grading by Thursday.

For Christmas I received a CD of Christmas music by Casting Crowns. I love the CD because of some new songs and new versions of older songs . I don't often hear "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" or "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" (an instrumental version.) The female members of Casting Crowns sing more songs on this CD than on others. Lovely harmonies.

However, I'm disturbed by a line in one song that says baby Jesus was wrapped in dirty rags because there was no room for them in the inn. I'm sending this blog to some men who have studied Greek and Hebrew to see if that is literally true. I have always seen swaddling clothes as being narrow strips of fabric that were wrapped around the baby. I imagine they might be old, soft pieces of fabric from old clothes. You wouldn't put new fabric on a baby since the baby has no bowel control.

Therefore, I have written this account of what happened at Christ's birth. It is divided into three sections.
1. Mary was Not an Idiot.
2. What Happened in the Inn the Next Morning
3. Shepherds have Big Mouths

1. Mary was Not an Idiot. Mary and all her relatives knew she was pregnant when she and Joseph left for Bethlehem. The Bible says she was great with child, therefore I think all her female relatives tried to help prepare her. Riding for days on the back of a donkey sounds like it surely might induce labor. At the least, Mary would have carried the swaddling clothes to wrap her new baby in, probably amplified by one or two blankets.

2. What Happened in the Inn the Next Morning.

The innkeeper's wife is speaking, " She had a baby last night!? Abram, you told me the girl in the stable was pregnant! You did not say she was about to give birth! There's a big difference! Lord have mercy!"

"Josiah, come here and fill this mattress with fresh hay! Take it out to the stable. "

"I'll find some blankets."

"Abram, is the family from Capernaum leaving today? They can have that room." Hurrying down the hallway. "She's going to need to drink plenty of liquids..."

3. Shepherds have Big Mouths

Luke 2:15-20. And it came about when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing which has happened which the Lord has made known to us." And they came in haste and found their way to Mary and Joseph and the baby as He lay in the manger. And when they had seen this, they made known the statement which they had been told about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Clearly, the shepherds went back and told others what they had seen. I'm sure the marvel and wonder of it all brought people to their knees. I don't know how they could have kept people from going to the stable to see the baby.

And people would have brought gifts to the baby, in awe that he was or might be the Messiah. They might not have been sure of the significance of the Christ, but I think all the mothers realized that Joseph and Mary needed food to eat. Someone might have brought two barley loaves; another half of the fish he caught for dinner. Another woman would have brought clothes her babies didn't need any more.

Additionally, when Jesus was presented in the Temple, Simeon and Anna recognized the Messiah. I don't know how many days had to pass before their purification were complete, but Jesus was still a small baby. The Bible says Anna didn't leave the Temple, but she told everyone about Him who were looking for the redemption of Israel. Simeon most likely had a family and friends nearby. It's hard for me to believe that people didn't reach out to Mary, Joseph, and Jesus with whatever friendship or goods they could supply.

I am probably just trying to comfort myself that Mary and Jesus didn't suffer so badly when He was born; I'm trying to make it better. However, as a mom, I can't believe other mothers didn't reach out to Mary as soon as they saw her predicament. I realize Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger; I just don't want Him to stay there for weeks.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm Fine


A week ago I got the report back from the pelvic ultrasound. It shows a cyst 1.6cm long that is fluid-filled. It probably was a follicle that ruptured, but the fluid didn't leave as it should have. The pain decreased after 10 days, so I am doing much better.

My biggest concern was that I might have to have a laparoscopy to remove the cyst. I emailed a bunch of friends asking for prayer. Within 1.5 hours, I could feel the weight of anxiety lifted off my shoulders. We were at "Christmas on Euclid" where our daughter's choir from Colony H.S. was going to perform when I could feel peace surrounding me. Thank you for praying!

I saw my oncologist on December 15. More good news! My cancer marker, Chromogranin A is down to 25 again; so it's staying between 20 and 50. That has never happened before. My gastrin level was almost normal-- it was only 139. Normal fasting gastrin is under 100, but my previous numbers have been more like 200, so this is good. So we have two indicators that my tumors are staying small.

It's a school night, so I can't say much. Vacation starts on Saturday for two weeks. Yay!


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Something Got Healed!


Update on Jan. 27, 2010: I continue to feel better with regard to muscle aches. It seems as if I am not having fibromyalgia pain! When I was prayed for, I was at a weak point where I doubted that I could continue teaching all day. I felt like I needed to get someone to help me with my last two classes each day: my legs were not strong enough to do it. Praise God! I have been teaching all day for November, December, and January without needing to add an assistant.

Since this is arthritis season, I have specifically been checking the pain I have. It all seems to be arthritis pain, not muscle pain. Thank you, Father.

On November 7th I wrote that I had been feeling better for a few weeks after people prayed over me at church. I am still feeling much less aching in my arms and legs, and I am stronger in my limbs, also. Let me explain how this happened.

After the sermon during a worship service in October, the pastor asked people who wanted prayer to come to a room near the sanctuary. I went in because I'm always willing to be prayed for, and I was very tired and aching. I wondered if I would be able to continue teaching all year.

I had sat in my "prayer chair" that morning and explained to God that I was weak, and I hurt in so many places that I didn't know which ailment was causing which symptoms. There was pain from my back, I ached from my head to my knees, and I was weak. Some of the symptoms were from cancer, some from arthritis, some from fibromyalgia, and some were from the degenerating disks in my neck and lower back. Mostly I just told God about it, and I asked for some relief.

Therefore, after the service, I was very happy to have prayer for healing. I talked with the ladies about what I needed, and three people prayed for me. Then a group of us drove over to Everest, a local eatery. Something happened just before R. pulled into the driveway at Everest.

Suddenly, all I could feel was the pain from my back--all the other pain was gone! However, the back pain was magnified and I could picture it.
I saw the pain in my back as light radiating out like light from a star. There were 8 rays of light going in different directions from my neck. Four rays went to my head and neck and four rays went to my shoulders and back. The rays going to my head and mid-back were longer than the rays to my neck and shoulders.
From the degenerating disks at the bottom of my spine the "star" was smaller with four rays that were fainter and only about four or five inches long. The size and brightness of each ray matched how strong the pain was.

That "picture" and intense pain lasted 5-10 seconds. It was just long enough for me to feel the pain and understand what was going on. When I went on into Everest I felt much better, and just noticed pain from my back and arthritis. Since that night I have had a few deep pains from fibromyalgia--the ones that feel like the painful muscles are next to my femur and humerus. I have not had aching in my arms and legs and my muscles are stronger. I am stronger.

So, what was healed? I'm not clear what it was, yet. It could be that God took away the fatigue and pain from the carcinoid cancer. He may have taken away the little aches from fibromyalgia. Right now as I wrote the last two sentences, I've been having sharp pains in both thighs. Small, but sharp pains. Is He telling me the fibromyalgia is still here?

I'm just grateful for His Love and relief from feeling so badly.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's November

Time really does fly by in the middle of the school year. I haven't stopped to write here for a few weeks.

I have a couple of different answers about the nausea and vomiting. My internist said the sudden vomiting could be from twisting in the small intestine where I had cancer surgery. A small piece of the intestine was removed, and when that happens there's a chance the bowel can kink there. That would explain the suddenness of the vomiting. The pain to the right of the mid -line was right on top of the duodenum--that's were my tumors were.

My oncologist said that vomiting is a part of carcinoid syndrome. My nausea is usually about 30-45 minutes after I eat breakfast when the food would have reached my duodenum. I have not been eating as much for breakfast lately because I am feeling full and I don't want to vomit. Breakfast is when I eat the largest amount of food. I am really hungry then and after school.

My Chromogranin A is still staying down below 50. It is at 46 this month, and I have been feeling better. When school started I felt tlike I might have to quit teaching after this year, but now I have more endurance. I've felt stronger for about three weeks, when I had a few people pray over me at church.

God is good all the time.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cancer is Tough

I have new symptoms. I think they are from the carcinoid cancer or maybe my stomach is doing something new. I want this to be a true account, so here goes.

Now I am vomiting. A few times this year I have gone through a season of feeling queasy in the morning. I only notice it between 7 and 8 am. Then by 8 o'clock I'm at work and too busy to notice. On Thursday I suddenly vomited at 7:15 as I was about to leave for work. I felt very sick as I called for a substitute. A teacher has to punch in a bunch of numbers and answer at least 10 questions, just to get a sub to show up. I was shaking and had sweat dripping off my chin as I pushed buttons on my phone. I just wanted to get the call completed before I was sick again. Then I went back to bed until 1:30.

Today (the following Monday) I had a strong pain in my upper right quadrant of my abdomen at 7:20. It is a few centimeters distal of where my gallbladder was. I got in my car and felt the pain again before I backed out of the driveway. I pressed on the painful spot, and spit up into the trash bag about 20 seconds later. I went to school and was not sick again.

The pain does not seem to be where my stomach is. When I had an ulcer the pain was left of the mid line; this is to the right. I do have acid reflux, so I hope this is just some variation of that. I have never vomited from reflux, and I usually feel the burning in my stomach or throat.

I will see my internist on Wednesday.

Also, I have developed a feeling that is like a shudder of pain and weakness. I have felt it several times this month. Once when I had an episode of carcinoid syndrome, I stood up and had the strongest occurrence. Pain and weakness ran down through my thighs. I almost felt as if my legs would give out, but the weakness lessened as it reached my knees, and then it disappeared. That has happened before. This weekend, I had that sensation develop in my shoulders and run into my back. Again, I recovered because the pain weakened as it ran on down my body. What happens when it doesn't fade away?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Our God is an Awesome God!

Our God is an Awesome God
He Reigns from Heaven Above
With Mercy, Pow'r, and Love
Our God is an Awesome God!

Our God is an Awesome God
He Reigns from Heaven Above
With Mercy, Pow'r and Love
Our God is an Awesome God!

Friday afternoon I was working in my classroom at 3:50. I had expected to go home at 3:30, as soon as an IEP was over. That's a special meeting for a Special Education student.

I was looking at the clock, making sure it was right. I was feeling OK (to my amazement), so I went ahead and wrote on the board preparing my requirements for Monday. I had my Homework, Agenda, Warm-up, Objective and the Standard on the board. That should make it easier to get started on Monday morning. I left school at 4:10.

I got home 25 minutes later. I came in the door and stumbled into the living room where I sat on the loveseat and petted the dog for a few minutes. Then Spunky stretched out beside me to take a nap, and I fell asleep, also. My condition had changed on the drive home. I couldn't even walk straight or stay awake. Somehow God preserves me while I am in my classroom.

When R came by about 5:00, Spunky got super-excited to see him. I staggered into the bedroom, pulled a nightgown over my underwear and slept until 7:40 pm. I got up at 8:40pm and felt pretty good. K and I watched some TV and talked. I went to bed about midnight.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

October Begins

I've been teaching for 5 weeks so far and progress reports are due. School is in full swing. We have done 3 labs in seventh grade, and our famous cell models will be done on Tuesday.

This is where I begin to wear out. Always have, but this year is different. I have had to spend Saturday resting all day--except for doing laundry. Last week I stayed in my nightgown until 5 pm. This week I slept until 12:49, but I was bathed and dressed by 2:00. A small victory.

I don't know which of my ailments is getting me down. My cancer marker is low, but my body is still battling the disease. The battle makes me fatigued. The degenerating disks in my neck and lower back cause strong pains that radiate out from the spine. I can recognize those pains. The nerve pain in my neck is the strongest pain I have. My arthritic right arm and hand ache all the time now, and I never had arthritis pain until February 2009. I know people with arthritis are supposed to exercise their joints, but at the same time are to rest and not do too much.

I have two autoimmune diseases called Sjogren's Syndrome and fibromyalgia. Sjogren's has been attacking my salivary glands and lachrymal glands for 23 years. It's primary symptoms are dry eyes, dry mouth, and musculoskeletal pain. My fibromyalgia pains come and go. Before I had a diagnosis, I would have strong pains in my arms and legs that I can now recognize as fibromyalgia, but what I feel today is aching all over. I don't know which condition is making me ache--not everyone has five choices to pick from to figure out why they are hurting.

So there you are, all my symptoms. I feel like "These are the times that try men's souls." I wonder if I should take the whole weekend off from working in order to go back to school on Monday feeling refreshed. I usually work from 2-6 hours over the weekend to get grading done. And I am way behind right now. It's almost impossible for a teacher to feel like she is on top of everything. There is always more we could do to help more students achieve. I hear great teachers at work saying they love teaching, but the grading takes them until 1 am some nights. What about our health?

I appreciate your prayers. This is the time that takes great faith; when you have to press on with no big chance for improvement. Like my rheumatologist said, "It's not going to get any better" when speaking about my degenerating disks. I think that sums up the whole situation. Sometimes I envy the patients at the Chou Family Cancer Center who look so very sick that you know no one expects them to work for a living. Sometimes I just want to sit back in a recliner and be pampered, instead of jumping back on the freeway to hurry home again. Somebody drive me home and feed me dinner. But I stop by Carl's Jr. for food and fall asleep at 7:00pm. At least I don't grade papers on those nights.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Update 9/26/09

I have good news!

I saw my oncologist on Tuesday. My Chromogranin A is down to 27 again! I guess it just went up because of the testing I went through. So it's gone back down to normal for the third time in 5 months.

On the way to Orange County I was singing along with one of my favorite CDs for comfort. I was imagining myself going through another procedure with the music to calm me. On the way home I was singing on my way rejoicing!

Jesus my all to Heaven has gone! Glory Hallelujah!
He whom I fix my hopes upon, Glory Hallelujah!

I want a seat in Paradise! Glory Hallelujah!
I love that union never dies, Glory Halleljah!...

I know that my Redeemer lives! Glory Hallelujah!
What comfort that sweet sentence gives, Glory Hallelujah!

Shout on, pray on, we're gaining ground, Glory Hallelujah!
The dead's alive and lost is found, Glory Hallelujah!

I love that song! It's from Celtic Joy, A Celebration of Christmas by A.M.E.N.
They sing in English, Irish, Latin, and Greek.
I like this CD so much, I imagine it being played at my funeral as people come in to be seated. There are three songs about heaven. It isn't Christmas music, but hymns from 100 to 800 years ago. It would be nice to listen to at Christmas time. Some songs are plainsong. There are three people singing three parts; I sing along with the middle part.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Update 9-6-9


When I was at the Medical Center getting my Octreotide injection this week, I got my lab results. The nurse has my whole chart there at that time, so I can see what both doctors have written, see my labs, read my surgical reports... I can do all kinds of cool stuff while we wait 45 minutes for the medication to arrive from the pharmacy. I have the delight of using a frozen drug; so we wait until the stuff thaws out and gets mixed up. Then the pharmacy technician shows up gently shaking the tube from side-to-side until the nurse takes it from her. It's a 5cc injection given in the hip and it's good for 28 days.

Anyway, my numbers are Chromogranin A 109; Gastrin 210. Gastrin is normal 0-100 and CgA is normal 0-50; so my numbers are a little over double the normal amount.

I will see my oncologist on the 22nd of September. If I don't hear from the surgeon's office by then, I will tell him about the EUS. Before then, I will email the PAC and ask about the procedure. I don't want to tell the oncologist that the surgeon's office slipping up. I would like to call before then, but I don't remember to call from work. I'm too busy with school stuff, and by time I get home everyone at the hospital is ending their shift.

I've noticed my attitude toward having another exam done has become that it's a nuisance to go through it again. Actually, the doctors might be finding my third tumor and getting it out of there. We know there is a tumor(s). It's just that i went through this twice during the last school year, and the doctors didn't find anything. I missed two days of work which uses up my sick leave.

This is different than the first tumor in spring 2008. Now I'm not in such a big hurry to find the tumor; I've been convinced that it won't make much difference if they do. If it's in the intestine, the doctors can remove it. It it's not there, I just keep taking medication. If the tumor is in the liver, the surgeon can't do anything unless the tumor is big enough to stick a needle into it. He says it needs to be about a centimeter before he can see it. Nothing the doctors can do will save my life, so it doesn't seem such an imperative to get tests done.

I have gotten my oncologist's attitude. There's not much we can do but manage my condition for as many years as possible. Carcinoid is a weird cancer. You may be OK until the time when your particular case flairs up, and then you go right down the tubes. But then, the docs can take out a foot or two of your intestine and you're good for another year. At least you're still alive--you might not be too good, but you're still here. Some patients take 10 or 15 years to die.

A Story About My Mom or Maybe it's About God

This memory came to mind this morning after a season of prayer. I took that as an OK to write about it.

In July I was giving myself 3 injections of Octreotide per day. (I have to do that before I have scans done.) I went into the bathroom one afternoon for my shot. As I uncovered my belly, I could see the ring of bruises around my navel. Since the shots come every 8 hours I get quite an assortment of different colors of bruises. They are usually little green and brown bruises within a day. Sometimes I don't bruise.

As I was looking at my belly, I felt my mother's cools hands covering the bruises in the right upper quadrant around my navel. A memory came rushing back.

There was a time in my childhood when I had to have shots given because of a lung infection. I had gotten the first shot previously, and Mom went with me into the room when we came back for the second shot. I remember lying on the examining table, so the nurse could inject me in the hip.

My mother saw that I had a bruise on my hip from the previous injection, and she placed her hands across the bruise. It was cool and comforting.

That was the exact same sensation I had when I went to give myself my shot that afternoon. I could feel her cool hands. It was just as she had done; she had placed the fingers of her right hand on the bruise, and laid the fingers of her left hand on top of the right hand at the opposite angle. It occupied a small space, not the area of a complete hand.

So, when I felt that coolness on my belly, I had a comforting thought that my mother had seen what was happening to me, and she cared. That, maybe in heaven, she had prayed I would have comfort in the midst of getting so many injections.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009



I've been delaying writing this for a week, waiting to get the results of my blood work from my surgeon. I haven't heard anything, yet. This is Wednesday; I was supposed to get a call on Friday.

I saw my surgeon last week on Aug. 17. I hadn't seen him for 5 months, since my last scans. He was looking at my chart and said, " When was your surgery?"

Answer, "June last year."

Doctor, "And you're on the shots?"

Me, "I'm on the LAR." ( The shot that lasts a month.)

Doctor, "These just look like random numbers."

Turns out the surgeon was looking at a list of my Chromagranin A values from the last 15 months. He was looking at the big picture. My numbers have gone up and back down three times in 15 months. Evidently, they are supposed to settle down somewhere.

The oncologist and I were fat, dumb, and happy because my CgA values had come tumbling down from 93 to 48 to 22 in the last three months. I was actually in the normal range and thought God had granted me a reprieve for at least a few months. Evidently, the surgeon isn't fooled by a couple of good numbers. He expected the numbers to stay in a narrow range.

I pointed out that the last number was 22--a totally normal number. He wasn't impressed. He told the PAC to have my blood tested that day. If the CgA wasn't low, I had to have an EUS done.

EUS means the gastro guys will look in my small intestine again to see if there's a new tumor there. I last had that done in October 2008 and March 2009. I get tired of going in and having the doctors find nothing. I feel they are looking at me like, "Why are you here again?"

My surgeon wants to find the tumor(s). My oncologist says it doesn't matter where they are, the medication still treats them. My tumors are about 1 mm, and they didn't show up in the scans again August 5th and 6th. There is nothing visible in my liver, so the doctor wants to go back to the intestine where the previous tumors were and see if there is a new tumor. If I didn't have a tumor, my Chromogranin A would stay low all the time.

So I wait. I'll call tomorrow to see if I can at least get a nurse to read me the numbers.

School started this week. After school I feel like I hurt from my head to my calves. Lots of muscles ache. It took me until Wednesday to even stop at the dry cleaners for 5 minutes and leave some ironing. The other days I just went straight home. Tonight I'm feeling pretty good. K and I took Spunky for a walk.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Update 8/7/09

I had all my medical work done this week. I had scans done from head to knee in nuclear medicine.

Then the radiologist did a neck thru butt spect of my body. That is the area where carcinoid tumors are more likely to show. A spect goes around you and creates a 3-D picture. The radiologists are doing fewer spects of my body--I guess they see how much my insurance is willing to pay and have toned things down. This time there was 1 spect done 24 hours after i was injected with radioactive Octreotide; usually one is done at 4 hours, also. Plus, the technician did a 300 degree view, instead of 360 degrees. I suppose that is enough to show the doctor what he needs to know. Usually nothing shows up in the spects to show them where my cancer is: the tumors are too small.

I also had my monthly blood drawn: cbc with differential, complete metabolic panel, gastrin, and Chromogranin A. The last two are markers for my cancer. The CgA has been going down, but the gastrin is going up.

Lastly, I got my month-long shot of Octreotide or Sandostatin. So I don't have to give myself shots every 8 hours.

Pray for me because i require so much sleep now. I thought it was just my late-night hours, but last night i slept from midnight to 7 am and was sleepy again at 10:30am. I stayed awake until 1:30pm and slept until 5 pm. I can't do that and work.

When my blood is checked, my random sugar is at 96 or 97. The blood test is usually a few hours after a meal and the number is normal. I don't think the sleepiness is diabetes or hypoglycemia. Two months ago my Doctor checked my insulin level and it was normal. Carcinoid tumors can give off insulin, glucagon, gastrin and other chemicals. The tumors are endocrine tissue.

In a week I will let you know what the doctors say.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why "Live Like You were Dying" Doesn't Work

When I first heard the song by Tim McGraw about a man who found out he was dying and decided to do everything he wanted in his remaining months on Earth, I thought it was a nice song.

However, I could see one real problem: (1.) Living like you were dying would be really expensive. The man went sky diving, etc., etc. Doing all the fun things you ever wanted to do and visiting all the places you wanted to see could cost thousands of dollars. What if you didn't die soon? You would have to pay all the bills! It works out OK if you have a large life insurance policy, but you have to croak within a couple months. What if the doctors are able to extend your life?

Upon further reflection, I found another flaw in the theory. (2.) It's based on the belief that you have to see all this good stuff on Earth because it's the best stuff you're ever going to see. Wrong! Heaven has much better stuff. So there's no pressure to run around and see everything. I used to feel regret when I would see the title "Five Places to See Before You Die" on AOL, knowing I would never get to those exotic locales. Now it doesn't bother me. I know I will see much more splendid things. The only thing that bothers me is that evidently there will be no ocean in heaven. Will there be a large lake?

After running around doing things this summer because I might be ill next year, I can also tell you that living like you were dying is (3.) exhausting. If I go to the beach one day, I sleep 4 hours the next afternoon. Last night I slept from 1:00 or 2:00 am until 6:00 am; this afternoon I slept from 12 noon until 5 pm. I have to stop staying up late! My body thinks I'm supposed to have 2 sleeps: one at night and one during the day. Of course, in the song the "dying" man doesn't have those problems. He just goes everywhere he wants.

But then again, I did get to see David Crowder*Band in Monterey last Thursday. They were at the northern Spirit West Coast, not the one in Del Mar. So we went to Monterey for the first time in years and had a great time. The maid at the hotel probably wondered about us. We never left the room until after 1:00 pm. I didn't even get out of bed until 11:00, but we saw some good shows.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Update; things are great!


Thanks for praying. I got my scan scheduled for August 4 and 5. We come back from a trip to Monterey, California the night before. I just have to be in Orange at 9:00 the next morning. Maybe I can sleep through the scan. That would be nice. I'm just afraid of waking up with my head in the tube and not knowing where I am. That would scare me and the technician. ;/

We are going to Spirit West Coast in Monterey. David Crowder*Band will be there Thursday night. They were not at the SWC in Del Mar, so we skipped Del Mar this year and will spend 5 nights in Monterey. I have a picture of Katie in Monterey when she was about 6. We will have to go to the same place and take a new picture.

I feel well, but I have to watch my limits. I went to the beach on Wednesday, but slept through Thursday afternoon. I went to Curves on Friday at 4:30 and on Sat. at 10:30. That's too close together--my legs are too tired to work out hard. Today and Sunday morning I have to rest because Sunday afternoon we are going down to the fire pits at Huntington Beach. We'll leave pretty early so I'm not exhausted.

Things are going OK.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Update 7-14-09


In one week I should be having a scan done to see whats my tumor is up to now.

Please pray that I get the phone call ASAP from Nuclear Medicine to schedule the scan. The appt. should have already been made. The first day it could be done is June 21. We leave on vacation June 29- August 3. If we can't get the scan done before vacation, I have to stop every 8 hours to give myself an injection while we are out of town. I did it in Montreal, but I would like to be back on the long-lasting medication soon. I do better on then.

I am having symptoms for 3 weeks of heavy sweats that start suddenly and drench the hair on the back of my head. Last Wed. morning it was 79 degrees and my hair and the back of my hands were covered with drops of sweat. I was in the car with the A/C on. My face is often flushed. That's a classic sign of carcinoid.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Update 7-7-09

My Chromogranin A is only 48! My Chromogranin A is only 48! I don't know why, but my Chromogranin A is only 48!

7/8/09 Actually, I do have an idea why. As I wrote on May 30th, I had turned my CgA levels over to God. I laid them down in front of the altar and made myself very small. I told God I was tired of wondering where my cancer markers were going to be, and I gave them over to Him. I said, "These are Your markers. Do what You want with them." Wherever they go now is totally His will. Thank You, Father. Praise You, Father!

Monday, July 6, 2009

My Testimony

I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was nine years old. I gradually let Him work in my life as a teenager and a young adult. However, I didn't surrender my life to God because I was afraid to; my faith wasn't strong enough to let go and let God take over. Also, I didn't know anyone who had done that. I just went along with what I thought would be acceptable to God and was something I could do.

For example, I went to Cal Baptist College in Riverside, California and studied biology. I knew that would be OK with my parents, it would be in keeping with my talents, and it was something I could afford to pay for. My parents would not have been so OK with me living in a coed dorm at UCLA and majoring in fine art where I would have been looking at nude models. I did what I thought was reasonable and not contrary to any Biblical teachings.

There was a popular saying at the time, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." I learned how to witness to people using the tract that made that statement, but I didn't think it applied to me. I didn't really think it applied to most people. I was an ordinary person. I had no great talent; I couldn't sing or preach or lead hundreds of people to Christ. I thought God just had a wonderful plan for special people.

So I worked as a science teacher, I married, and I had a daughter. I did not realize that God was working in my life, quietly and behind the scenes. After I had been married several years, I was very disillusioned with my life. The poor quality of my marriage had much to do with it.

In 2005 I came out of my disillusionment and realized God's plan for me was wonderful. It was during the hardest time in my life; when I realized my marriage was dead and nothing was going to save it. That was more devastating than when I found out that I had cancer. I remember clutching the steering wheel of the car each day driving back and forth to school as I listened to music by delirious?, Casting Crowns, Jonah 33 or Jeremy Camp. I would pray the lyrics of their songs as I drove down the street. It was especially intense between February and May of 2005.

I remember the day that I sat in the left turn lane at Hamner and Bellegrave in Ontario, California, praying as I waited for the light to turn green.

Jesus spoke to me and he said, "I'm waiting for you."

Jesus spoke right out of the middle of the back seat. He had the sweetest, kindest voice. He was waiting for me, and when I was ready, He would be there. There was no impatience, no toe-tapping. He was just waiting for me. I was that important to Him--He would wait for me!!

That was when Jesus became the one I love best; during those very hard days when I was in a situation I never thought I was going to find myself in. I remember going to a counselor who warned me that if I continued with my counselling, I was going to get to a place where I was well and I would be dissatisfied with my marriage. It might mean the end of my marriage.

When I heard that warning in 2005, I didn't care if my marriage ended; I wanted to be well. I knew I was close to being over my emotional problems. I was getting stronger. The end was in sight and I was going to reach it. If my husband insisted on staying where he was in his misery, that was his decision.

So I decided to go ahead and participate more in church life, even if it meant going to Bible study without my husband. In June 2006 I began working with Carmen greeting people before church and becoming acquainted with women who came to church alone. Sometimes I sat next to a woman who was by herself. In 2006 I began blooming.

A person cannot be spiritually mature until they are emotionally mature. All levels of maturity go hand-in-hand: social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, etc. You cannot excel at one maturity and be immature in other areas.

Now I know that God was guiding me in my choices as I went through my early years. He guided me as much as I would let him. I know I prayed about which college to attend and which major to choose. I wasn't very adept at discerning God's voice when I was young, but I think he He put me in the place I belonged. I know I am teaching in the place He wants me to be now.

Mostly, what has happened is that I have an attitude change. I see my life as part of God's plan.
He sees this entire picture from the creation of the world until its end. We see a small part of human history. It amazes me is that God's intellect and love is so vast that he remembers to have me read a book on July 6, 2009 that may help with a situation next year and that may help my daughter lead someone to Christ when she is on the mission field.

Each one of us has a place in God's plan. We might be the boy with 2 fish and 5 loaves or we might be his mom who packed the lunch. We might be the person who caught the fish or the one who mended the net. Each one of us has a place in God's plan.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Update 7/1/09

Happy Canada Day! K and I got back from Montreal yesterday after having a great time!

The hotel was in the perfect location for us because we were on the edge of Old Montreal to the south and Chinatown to the north. The metro was across the street. Chinatown was having a open air market for several days--when it didn't rain. We picked up a $4 umbrella there and a $2 sun hat. (The weather varied.) Best of all, I got a Chinese stamp made with my name in Chinese characters. I got the red ink, so now I can stamp my great works with my name. I don't think I ever would have come across that item for sale anywhere else.

The gentleman who made the stamp had a Chinese shop on the corner of the pedestrian street. He has books, calligraphy materials, art supplies, and various thing re: Chinese culture. The top of my stamp had to have a raccoon on it because of the month and year I was born. The shop owner carved my name in 30 minutes while K and I went to eat dinner. It was an interesting conversation because he spoke Cantonese and French. He understood some English. I spoke English and K spoke some French, so together we figured it all out.

We took pictures and walked all over Old Montreal. We went to two museums. Of course, we tried various restaurants. One we really liked was Chez Suzette. They had crepes, fondue, and spaghetti like the spaghetti in Romania. K especially liked the spaghetti.

We had a very nice time. I had my wallet stolen on the first day we were there. Luckily, I had just taken my debit card out of the wallet for safe-keeping that morning. I wish I had also removed my checks and military ID. The ID had Social Security numbers on it for R and I, plus his birth date. We are both at risk for identity theft now. However, the thief never had used the credit card or any checks by time I changed the accounts. Maybe he/she just wanted the cash. Pray that we stay safe from any fraud.

It was interesting how I reacted to the theft. I discovered it at a restaurant where we ate lunch. I stayed calm and walked back to the hotel to get cash--there was only $35 in my wallet. I keep my money in a few different places when I travel. When I returned to the restaurant, the server expressed concern over the loss of my wallet. I thanked him and said so many different things had happened to me in the last couple years, that this wasn't such a big deal. Five years ago I would have been much more upset.

I need to replace my health insurance cards, driver's license and military ID. I have signed up for any identity theft program. Richard already had one.

We still had a wonderful time. I acquired a small French vocabulary. It's easy to read French signs because the vocabulary is similar to Spanish, and, as K pointed out, everything is in the present tense. We picked up a few Christmas ornaments a the Christmas shop, and we had a very flattering cariacature done by an artist in one of the city squares. I brought home a T-shirt for each of us and many pleasant memories. I would go back again.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Catching up


A.) R, K and I went to the Mission Inn last night (6-19-09) to collect on the dinner for two that I had won. (From Singh Chevrolet in Riverside. If you ever need a Chevy, buy one from them. They are the Perfect Attendance program in our school district. Without their generosity, there are no prizes for the students.) We had a great time. The limo came to our house at 5:30, so we were early for our 6:20 reservation. The table was all ready for us, so we went right in. We like to eat a little early to avoid the big crowds. It was delicious food with excellent service.

R and I shared the Chateaubriand and K had fillet minion. The adults got to enjoy some wine with dinner and relax. It's good that K gets some experience like this so she is prepared for dining in a fine establishment when she is older. We have taken her to the Sycamore Inn in Rancho Cucamonga, and just about every else we have ever dined. She started going into fine restaurants when she was about six years old. I still have the dress she wore.

B. I was in Houston, Texas last weekend for the Love Family Genealogy Conference. I was still working on Thursday, but arrived on Friday and met some lovely, friendly people. We had a great dinner at Pappadeaux. I had a crab cake with shrimp (rather than the crawfish).

What did I learn about our branch of the Love family. (a) we are either descended from some branch of the Love family which descended from 5 Love brothers who lived in Chester County, PA in the early 1700s. Then they spread in 3 directions. They are all over the place.
or (b) We descend from an independent line of Loves who came from Ireland soon before the Revolution and were clearing their land when the Rev. War broke out. There is a Henry Love who received a pension for being crippled in the war. His story sounds much like the family story we have. However, Henry's son remembers his father's brother as being named John. We are supposedly looking for a Robert, but we are not sure about that.

So the Chester County Loves have proximity on their side, but the Henry Love family has a similar story. I have to keep looking under rocks to find the missing link.

C. I have discovered that much of my muscle weakness when I'm working out at Curves is not from cancer! It may be from taking Zocor for the last several months. Statin drugs cause muscle weakness. Paula (at Curves) and I would grieve at my loss of strength, thinking it was cancer taking its toll. Instead it could be medication.
Pray for me as I need to start eating right and exercising again. My cholesterol was up to 200 even on Zocor because I couldn't exercise and I'm eating badly again. Thanks!

D. Tuesday I go to Montreal with Katie. It's her reward for getting A's in French for 3 years. We leave Tuesday at 7:50 am. Return next Tuesday morning at the same time from Montreal. I'm learning to use my digital camera. I will see if I can upload some pictures to this blog. I am on Facebook now and I have gotten a few pictures on there.

Have a Great Week!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

God Gives me Presents

It started last February. God began giving me presents to encourage me and let me know that He has not forgotten me.

On February 14th I took Kay and R to the fundraiser for Garden of Angels/Safe Surrender. (There is a link to their website on my first page.) Garden of Angels is a cemetery in Southern California for babies that have been abandoned by their mothers and are found dead. The Safe Surrender law in California is supposed to keep this from happening, but evidently, the people in need of safe surrender do not all know about the law. So I took my family to the fundraiser on Valentine's Day. It's about love and totally fitting that it is near Valentine's Day every year. This is the first year I have gone to the fundraiser.

At the dinner there was a silent auction and a raffle for various items that have been donated. I bought 5 raffle tickets and put 4 of them in a drawing for a beautiful pearl necklace. I prayed, "Lord, I'm 56 years old and I've never had a pearl necklace. I've only got about 5 years left on this earth, and I think it would be totally appropriate if I won this necklace." I left it at that. I enjoyed my dinner and bid in the silent auction. There were many nice things to bid on. In fact, I had such a nice time, I want to reserve a table next year, and take friends who would be interested in supporting Garden of Angels/Safe Surrender.

When the winner of the pearl necklace was announced, I had my 4 tickets spread out in front of me. Kay was watching and when the winning number was announced, she said,"Mom, you won!"
I wasn't really surprised. When the MC asked me what I thought of winning, I said, "Amazing!" I really meant, "God is amazing!"

One day this spring I had a difficult time when I realized I'm not going to be around to see my grandchildren do things. I don't know if I will even get to see them. Kim, a secretary at work who also has cancer, was comforting me. She reminded me of simple things like birds singing are God's gift to us. So I've been extra aware of birds singing lately.

Sometimes, when I feed Spunky in the morning, I sit out on the patio for a few minutes with a cup of tea. The birds in my neighborhood sing and sing. The other day I realized I was hearing three different bird songs at once. Then another bird began chattering to the west, and the turtledoves returned on the house to my south, so I could hear their cooing. It's as if I live in an aviary. God is good.

Another gift from God is the healing of my marriage. I'm sure not doing it. R and I have not lived together for almost three years. He has been coming over on weekends and doing yardwork. We have found a place where we can go to church together where people don't know our history. We can worship and socialize like a couple that has been married nearly 24 years. One evening while we were eating hamburgers, Richard asked a couple men about the rings their wives were wearing. Both men had bought their wives new rings after they had been married some years. One man referred to his wife's "starter set" and said he had replaced it long ago.

Soooo, I now have a new ring! It has a large center stone with two smaller diamonds on the side. I just got it Friday night, and only a few people have seen it. So you are among the first to know!

But that's not all! God gave me presents on Thursday, Friday and Saturday! Thursday there was an assembly sponsored by Singh Chevrolet for our students with perfect attendance. Singh also gave a prize to a teacher of dinner at the Mission Inn and a ride there in a limousine. And I won! I was really surprised by that one. I was thinking about some teachers with good attendance, when Dave announced that I had won.

Saturday Kay and R and I went to a fundraiser for Foothill Family Shelter. This is a wonderful group in Upland that helps families have a place to live, gives them job skills, and teaches them how to save money while they are in the two year program. The Shelter has a 120 day program and a longer program. It was so inspiring listening to the families talk about all the help they had been given! The Shelter also helps them with therapy, job skills, parenting skills, and dental care. One of the dads said he had a new smile, and thanked the Shelter for giving an ex-convict the tools to go out and get a job. One son wanted to especially thank his therapist. The younger son said he was learning how to express his emotions in group therapy. A mother learned how to take care of her children and plan for a future together. Another dad had saved $10,000--the most money anyone who passed through the Shelter had ever saved!

I was so excited by the work at the shelter that I wanted to make a donation. One of the volunteers suggested that I buy raffle tickets for the jewelry that was being raffled off. I donated enough money for 8 raffle tickets. When the MC began reading the numbers of the winning tickets, I handed some to a lady at our table so she could play along. I didn't think I needed to win anything else this week. Kay asked if she could have some and just took one.

When the MC read the number for an amethyst cluster ring, Kay won! She was very excited. I told her God wanted her to have a present.

Isn't God amazing?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Update 5/30/09


I have not written for a week. Last Saturday and Sunday I was going through such a difficult time that I couldn't write about it. A few days later, I could look back and see what had happened, but I didn't have time to write about it. So, one week later, I will try to reconstruct what was happening.

I had previously written that my Chromogranin A had only gone up to 93 in May. The April reading was 87, March was 76, February was 57 and January was 63. December had been 254 before I started taking medication. Those are small increases, but there is just one problem--my numbers aren't supposed to be going up at all.

My oncologist, Dr. Z, is following the protocol of a study being done at Philipps University in Marburg, Germany. The title is PROMID: Octreotide LAR delayed progression in neuroendocrine midgut tumors. This study found that the median time before the tumor progressed after starting Octreotide LAR @ 30 mg per month was 14.3 months. The patients on the placebo had their tumors delay progression for a median of 6 months. My doctor said the reason the disease went 6 months without progressing is because the tumors grow so slowly.
The problem? My tumor delayed progressing for only two months: January and February.

When I saw Dr. Z on May 12th, he said that unfortunately, it looked from my symptoms like my numbers were continuing to go up. He told me that if Octreotide stopped working for me, there was a study being carried on at City of Hope that I could qualify for.

So last weekend I was facing the following fears:

1. If my tumors keep growing like this, I'll be ill soon after school starts in August. I will miss work if the surgeon does a chemoembolization of my liver.

2. That's if they can find my tumor. It showed up in November, but wasn't visible in March. It has to be about 1 cm, so Dr. DI can see it well enough to stick a needle in it.

3. While I was on the LAR (long-acting injection) my numbers went up much more slowly than when I gave the injections to myself. I had to start giving myself shots again on May 26th to get ready for a scan to be done in July. (I can't have the long-acting drug in my body when the scan is done.) When I give myself the shots, the timing of the injections isn't exactly 8 hours apart, so the medication doesn't stay level in my bloodstream.

4. So every time I stop the LAR because of a scan, my cancer will grow more quickly.

5. How long until I am so sick I can't work?

6. If I get into a clinical study, what if I get put on the placebo? Would the researchers really just let someone die on the placebo, rather than switch her to the drug being tested?

These are the crazy kinds of thoughts that I have. I wanted you to know what it is really like to be me and have cancer. Everything is not OK all the time. God just helps me get through it.

Sunday morning I got down on my knees and prayed. I know that God always hears me. I know that because of His greatness--He says that He hears us and He does. I just don't always feel like I'm getting any response. So I got up and went on getting ready for church.

As I was getting ready, God told me to praise Him. I acknowledged that when I first became ill, all I could do was praise Him. I had no idea what the doctors could do. So I praised Him in song that morning.

Then He sent me a picture of myself kneeling at the altar in church and making myself very small. I had brought the graph of my Chromogranin A values. I laid it down at the altar and knelt. I had pictured this image of myself kneeling once before, but i thought i was just being overly dramatic about bringing in the graph. I guess God really wanted me to bring it in. So I did what He told me to do.

That lifted my spirits so I wasn't as frightened. That's how God helps me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Update 5/15/09


Tomorrow is the Relay for Life at Rancho Cucamonga High School. Kay and I will be there. I'll do the first 1-2 laps and go home. Kay does charity events because she is in Key Club at Colony High School. She is their historian, so she goes to take pictures. Tomorrow she will be there for 12 hours to take turns in the relay. She raised $100 for the American Cancer Society.

I had the best Mother's Day ever. We went to church and then to brunch, and we even had a reservation for brunch! Then I sat out in the garden and deadheaded flowers while Kay and R trimmed and planted a few things. They went over to see Grandma H afterwards, but I was too tired to go. I had to be able to go to work in the morning.

I am not doing very well. For the last three weeks I have added problems with fatigue on the weekends and have gone to sleep for three hours on a Saturday afternoon, or just sat out in the garden, instead of planting anything new out there. Of course, I'm tired during the week, so I don't cook for Katie and myself. Tonight I slept from 5:00 until 8:24. It's a good thing Spunky barked, or he would have been outside alone even longer.

This is where you can help. I have plenty of money for food, but I just can't cook it. This week I heated up some spaghetti sauce for Kay on one night, and she was able to eat that for two days. Otherwise, I buy Chinese, or she eats frozen food. Her Dad buys her fast food after school many days of the week. I'm not getting enough protein, and that may make me feel weaker. Sometimes I eat plain sliced ham or turkey, so I get protein. It's easier for me to come home and just eat fruit, cookies, or a peanut butter sandwich. I can't put a meal together.

I do my grocery shopping on Sunday or Monday. I try not to buy many things that will spoil, but I throw away too much food. I'll buy a package of Express Salad and sometimes use half before it goes bad. Tonight I cooked some strips of steak that I was going to use to make stir fry, but I never got that done. I hope the meat hasn't gone bad. I just pan fried it with some olive oil and soy sauce, so maybe I can use it tomorrow. I only thaw out one frozen meat per week because I only cook one or two times weekly.

I have plenty of money for food, and I can even buy the groceries, but I need someone who can cook for Kay and I. I would be happy to pay $20 for a prepared meal. It doesn't matter which day of the week it is, we can use it. R would help us, but he doesn't live with us, and he teaches and has office hours from 5-9 Monday through Thursday. Please let me know if you can help me. I've appreciated it when people cooked before, and the food was delicious!

I saw my oncologist on Tuesday for our monthly appointment. The chromogranin A test did not get done, so I had blood drawn for that test again. There are some fasting tests the doctor would like to have done to see what else my tumor might be producing. He said neuroendocrine tumors (carcinoids) can also give off insulin, gastrin, glucagon, and VIP, so he is checking to see if my tumor is producing those compounds.

For the record, my symptoms include my usual carcinoid digestion, feeling heated, high blood pressure, nausea, poor balance, and mounting fatigue. My chromogranin A level was at 87 last month. It feel like I have passed 100 now. My last tumor (June 2008) was removed when the numbers were at 170. I felt really well in the middle of the day today. I just get very tired.

God bless you all and Good Night!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Update 4/4/09

I am feeling well these days. I got the Octreotide LAR (30mg) on Tuesday, March 31. The next morning I was able to get up a few minutes after my alarm went off at 5:55, instead of lying in bed until 6:10 or 6:24. So the medication helps me to not feel so exhausted. I should be able to stay on the LAR for a few months before I need to go off of it again for more testing.

Today I visited with Em, my younger sister. We talked about how God reveals himself to us. She, also, picks up a book and finds God has lead her to exactly what she needed to read that day. She told me our mother heard from God, and He would reveal things to her about her life or about our children. Em also has seen visions, so that is three generations in my family that God speaks to in a special way. I'm glad I brought up the subject of visions or I never would have had that conversation. Maybe I'll hear from some other relatives now, because bringing up what God told you last week doesn't come up in every conversation.

Em could talk with our Mom in a way that I couldn't. My older sister and I left at the same time to go live in the dorms at California Baptist College in the 1970s. Em was still at home for several years and she and Mom would talk. Over the years, Mom confided some of the things that God showed her.

Em and I talked about our children in heaven that are up there with Mom and our grandparents.
One day I'll write out the vision I had of my baby being received into Heaven in God's nursery. I saw a nursery lady with my baby in her arms, and when she turned around, there was my grandmother, grandfather, cousin Jimmy, and my great grandmother followed by others, coming down a few steps into the nursery. They were all there to see Sharon's baby. My grandmother sat down in a rocking chair and held the baby in her arms. My family gathered around to see my baby and they were taking her home to live with them. Em and I think there may be more grandchildren in Heaven than there are here on earth. My mother should be busy.

One thing I have more sympathy for is arthritis pain. My mother suffered pain for years. Now I've started to be in pain in my right hand and wrist and in my shoulder. Today I moved a leaf rake 3 strokes and my wrist began to hurt. It still hurts, so that is all for today!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Update 3/21/09 The Big One


Thank you for your prayers. I know they got me through Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week. I might not have gone to work without them. On Friday, some friends told me I looked much better than on Wednesday. So, thank you.

I saw my oncologist on Tuesday. The medical treatment with Octreotide is working well. The tumor in the liver shrank, and my tumor marker (Chromogranin A) is down to 57. A count of
0-50 is normal. So my numbers are almost normal.

The bad news is that the doctor was very blunt about making sure I understood that I will not recover from carcinoid cancer. He said even if the tumor in the liver was able to be removed, the tumors are being spread through my bloodstream, implying that the tumors can't be stopped. In the meantime, I should continue to be in good health for the next two years. The progress of the disease should slow down for a couple years, so that I can continue working.

Outside of asking God for healing, I always ask God for the least invasive procedure, with the best possible results. I have continued to ask God that I will be able to work, so I can have my income and my health insurance, and so that I'm not stuck at home. I like using my talents and training, plus 7th graders can be very funny. So, in one way, this is an answer to prayer.

I was devastated on Tuesday and Wednesday. Pat and Sandy at work wanted to talk with me, but I told them, "If I start to talk about it, I'm going to cry."

I got help on Wednesday evening when I talked to my friend Gerry. Gerry had thyroid cancer and had her thyroid removed in April 2008; so we went through cancer surgery together. We are in a prayer group on Wednesday nights. She is going through higher counts of her cancer marker, so we are both in need right now. What a cancer patient most needs is another cancer patient to talk to; so I felt much better after talking to her. We comfort each other.

The irony is that Gerry and I both have the gift of healing, and we have been healed from other diseases. So now the healers need healing. Its good to talk because we are both mature Christian women, and she understands where I am in my walk with Christ. So it's not like Job talking to his friends. Gerry understands where I am.

I saw the surgeon on Thursday. He doesn't put thing quite so badly. He has a PAC (physician's assistant cancer) who remembers me and the symptoms I've had in the past, so it's nice to talk to her. On the record for other patients; I have poor balance, fatigue and hot flashes even on the Octreotide. I always have this odd change in my digestion that is the first symptom I get from carcinoid tumors. However, I'm still working, and in January I was passing several days per week where I felt like I didn't even have cancer. That was after a two week vacation and Octreotide shots.

The surgeon (Dr. DI) told me that when we can see the tumor, he will take it out. He also said that in the next two years the technology may improve, so that doctors can discern the microcarcinoids that I get and remove them sooner. He said, "You get those tumors that only need to be a few cells, and they make you sick! That last one we removed was the size of a pinhead." So Dr. DI didn't make any false promises, but he left me some hope.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

And Then God 2008

This is finished! 10:10 pm, March 23, 2009

Removal of the First Tumor

After the tumor could not be removed in February 2008, the surgery was postponed until March 27, 2008. I was badly disappointed. The Monday morning that my internist, Dr. B, called me to say my pre-op chest x-ray showed pneumonitis, was the same morning that I got the call from UCI to schedule my surgery. I had to tell the UCI nurse that I had pneumonitis. That pushed out the removal of the tumor two weeks farther into the future. I just wanted to get that tumor out of there before it could do any more harm.

Unfortunately, the tumor spent March metastasizing. I was amazed. The doctor was amazed. Dr. L removed the tumor endoscopically with me under general anesthesia. He is a surgeon in the Chronic Digestive Disease Center at UCI Medical Center; he’s not an oncologist or a cancer surgeon. I remember the phone call Dr. L made to tell me the results of the operation.

Dr. L said the tissue he had removed was 0.7 cm and the tumor inside of it was only 0.7 mm. That makes the whole tumor about as big a crystal of salt or sugar. I remember the doctor sounding amazed as he told me the tiny tumor was metastasizing. I think it’s one of the smallest tumors to ever be caught in the act of sending cells down a lymph vessel. I think his expression was, “I don’t know what to make of this!” He wanted me to get a second opinion from another surgeon, and, as we were speaking on the phone, decided I should see an oncologist, also.

Becoming a Cancer Patient

So I became a patient at the Chao Family Cancer Center at UCI Medical Center. I didn’t know that was where I was going as I parked my car in April 2008; I thought I was just looking for a surgeon’s office in building 22. When I saw the name on the building, it became official; I was a cancer patient. Oddly enough, no one had used that word to speak to me. They all said “tumor” or “carcinoid”, but I had to admit that if a tumor is metastasizing, it must be cancerous.

I had my Bible with me that day I went to see the surgeon. As I was waiting, I read from Philippians chapter one. When I got to verse 19, I knew that God had sent me to a special passage.

“For I know that this shall turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provisions of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything, that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I am to live on in the flesh this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having both the desire to depart, and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is very much better for your sake. And convinced of this, I know that I shall remain, and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me will abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.” Philippians 1:19-26

I finally had found someone who understood how I felt! It was the apostle Paul so many years ago. Especially verse 23 when he says he is hard-pressed from both directions. No one I speak to ever understands that. If I spoke with more people over 80 years old, I think they would understand. As we age, we get to the point that so many of the people we have loved have gone to heaven, that heaven becomes a welcoming place. By that age, maybe we are less obsessed by this world, and ready to rest in our Savior’s arms. Plus, I was very excited that day because Jesus had planned for me to read a special passage when I was scared.

In theology when someone reads a passage that applies directly to them, even though the circumstances may not be exactly the same as in the Bible, it is called a rhema. A rhema is an insight into a passage or application of a passage to someone’s life. When you think, “That sounds just like what I’m going through”, that’s a rhema.

So I met my surgeon, Dr. DI, in April 2008. He was very direct when he spoke with me, but clear and friendly. As he told me my situation, he echoed some of the things I had read about carcinoid tumors. Dr. DI explained the typical situation:
 If a patient comes in with a 1 centimeter tumor, the tumor is not functioning or metastasizing. (It has usually been found incidentally to some other problem.)
 If a patient comes in with a 2 centimeter tumor, the tumor may be functioning and metastasizing.
 When a patient has a 3 centimeter or larger tumor, then it’s more likely that the tumor is functioning and metastasizing.

[Functioning: in carcinoid tumors, it means the tumor is giving off the hormones and neurotransmitters that make the patient sick. The chemicals given off are things like vasodilators or vasoconstrictors, serotonin, prostaglandins, histamines, chromogranin A and more!]

The doctor said, “Your tumor is only 0.7 millimeters and it is acting like a 2 or 3 centimeter—no, a 3 centimeter tumor. This is going to be a case report.”

What Dr. DI said matched what I had read. I had searched literature on the Internet. Recently, there had been an increase in information on microcarcinoids. However, there have not been many studies done on those tumors to indicate what the prognosis was.

[Case report: Researchers report on an individual rather than a large study of 200 patients, for example. The information about the individual is considered significant to advancing the knowledge about her condition.]

In April 2008 my doctors began tracking the amount of Chromogranin A (CgA) in my bloodstream. That is the definitive marker for carcinoid cancer. Other chemicals are given off by the tumors, but this one gives the best info to help you see if the tumor is growing. The normal range for CgA is 0-50. Mine was 132: more evidence that a tumor was growing. It backed up my symptoms.

My oncologist and my surgeon do not necessarily see my cancer from the same perspective. The oncologist had never dealt with a case that was just beginning. He usually sees patients that have progressed in the course of the disease to a point where the tumors are too numerous to remove or they cannot be removed. Frankly, carcinoid patients are curable only when they have just one or two tumors. The average time it takes to get a correct diagnosis of carcinoid cancer is five years; the patients usually get to a cancer center when they have many tumors across the abdomen or in the lungs. So doctors rarely see a patient at the curable stage.

Dr. Z, my oncologist, had the attitude that we were going to manage my cancer with medication. (That is a new concept in cancer treatment: you manage the cancer. I have seen it demonstrated by breast cancer patients who realize that their disease is terminal, but in their remaining years they will go through the necessary treatments and surgeries to help them live as long as possible. One mother with a fourteen-year-old daughter said she planned to live long enough to see her daughter graduate from high school and college and get married. I hope she does that.) I was coming in for regular check-ups, blood-work, and scans. Since we couldn't see the tumor, there wasn't much else to do. That is when I sent out the email saying that I was going to Romania; my doctor said I was good to go.

I went in to see my surgeon in May 2008, thinking that I could go on the Romania missions trip in July. My daughter, Katie, had gone two years earlier, and she loved it there. She wants to be a missionary. I was finally willing to get out of my comfort zone to go serve God in Romania. He was calling me there, and I was willing to go through the discomfort to be there. I was also excited that we were to give our testimonies, so I could tell how much God loves us and how God had been with me through my latest adventures. I had no idea that 20 minutes after I entered the examining room, I would be consenting to major surgery.

Dr. DI wanted to surgically resection my small bowel. He wanted to remove the portion of the small intestine where the first tumor had been, based on his experience that other tumors show up nearby the site of the primary tumor. While my surgeon was on the phone with my oncologist, the resident explained to me that Dr. DI hoped to effect a cure by removing this two-inch section of the bowel (the proximal duodenum). The doctors never said two-inch, they just held up their fingers that far apart. So I was set to have surgery as soon as I finished teaching in June.

I continued to teach until the end of the school year. It was difficult. I was weak and dizzy. My brain didn't function very well and I had to find easier ways to say things and do things. I would wheeze when I coughed, another carcinoid symptom. All the symptoms I have mentioned earlier in this blog continued. And I was very, very tired.

I told a friend that I didn't want to go straight into surgery on June 12th. I was exhausted and needed to rest. And, as she pointed out, I needed to be stronger to recover from the surgery. Her doctor had told her not to have her cancer surgery until she was ready. So I called the surgeon's nurse two weeks before I was scheduled to have surgery and asked for a one week delay. She could only arrange it two weeks later on June 27th. That was fine. My resection of the proximal duodenum was scheduled for June 27, 2008.

I remember driving home from the Cancer Center before my surgery thinking that it really was going to go through, and I was going to have part of my intestine removed. There was nothing I could do to stop it. I felt alone. So as I drove up the 57 freeway to get on the 91, I suddenly noticed what was playing on the CD I was listening to. It was a new CD by delirious? called Kingdom of Comfort. The song is "Stare the Monster Down." I had listened to it a few times before; suddenly I noticed that Martin Smith was singing about his father's cancer.

"Eighteen weeks of chemo; six doses of hell.
A family bucket of pills a day to keep my father well.
Stare the monster down! Stare the monster down!
Is there, is there any room in Your
arms of love to carry us, carry us away?"

One more time God sent me a song that was exactly what I needed when I needed it. I wasn't alone. God was with me right then and He would carry me through my cancer.

The Second Surgery, June 27, 2008

My surgery was on a Friday afternoon. I went through the preparation the day before and stopped eating. I didn't realize that the swallow of water I had on Friday morning would be the last one until Monday.

My friend, Paula, drove Katie and me down to the hospital in Orange, California. My father and Richard came soon after. The surgery was at UCI Medical Center. They are building a beautiful new hospital connected to the old hospital. What was funny is that there was no restroom in the pre-op area. An employee explained that there would be one in the new hospital, but until then, I needed to use the visitors' restroom. It was just kinda funny to wait in line with the moms and children to use the facilities.

There is a point before a procedure, when I have to go into my shell like a turtle. I usually listen to music: Messiah by Handel, or anything by David Crowder*Band or Jeremy Camp.

The nice thing about surgery is that you get to sleep right through it; you don't realize 4 hours have gone by. When the anesthesiologist gives me the "happy juice" in pre-op, I may not even remember going down the hallway. After this surgery I did remember something about being the the operating room. It was probably after getting to the operating room and being moved around. I remember movement or someone being near my head and right arm. I didn't see anything.

The time from 1:00 to 5:00 was not all spent on surgery. I realize the staff must have spent some time positioning and draping my body. I had a special IV put in next to my left collarbone and stitched in place. Then the doctors did an endoscopy with an ultrasound to locate the new tumor and find the location of the primary tumor. They were going to remove that section of my small intestine. Before removing that tissue, they did a laparascopic exam of my liver. I had four lesions there that showed up in a CT scan, and one of the lesions was removed. A six-inch incision was made to remove a section of the small intestine next to the stomach.

When I woke up, one of the female residents was walking past me saying, "We didn't need the Octreotide. What do I do with it?" I was glad to hear that. Octreotide is administered during surgery if the patient has a carcinoid crisis (heart stops). So I didn't have a carcinoid crisis, but I did have a doctor who was aware of them. It's nice to know Dr. DI is up-to-date. Some carcinoid patients don't get adequate care for years because the disease is very rare.

After the surgery, I went into a unit that was in between intensive care and regular care. It was the unit where the patient has be be able to administer her own drugs by pushing a button on the IV. I was on morphine.

I was in the hospital for 5 nights and 6 days. Five nights of sleeping for one hour before midnight, then sleeping from 1:30-3:00 am, and sleeping another hour (maybe) before 8:00 am. The intern assigned to my case, Dr. Washington, stopped by to see me about 5:50 each morning. He was a tall, strapping fellow with a broad smile. Dr. DI and his medical students would come by later in the morning.

I remember my first morning in the hospital. Dr. DI and troops arrived at my door. He let the two ladies come in first, then followed them. Dr. DI was shorter than the women, so he leaned to the right to see me. "Your liver looks great!", he said. Good news because carcinoids can go to the liver, and he's a liver expert, so he would know what a healthy liver looks like. He's a hepatobiliary surgeon.

God is With Me in the Hospital

I passed some very painful nights in the hospital, but it gave God an opportunity to minister to me in a very special way. During the first night, I woke up almost unable to move because of the fresh incision and surprising weakness in my arms. I had slid down in the bed and couldn't move. I had an IV in each arm and nasal-gastric tubes coming out of my nose. I took a look at all the tubes intertwined and gave up trying to move. All I could pray was, "Help me! Help me!"

Instantly, God gave me a picture of what was happening. It was as if I was in the room one floor above me and looking down. I could see myself in the hospital bed. Three inches away from the right side of my head was a shining, golden orb. It looked like a small oval platter, but it was a few inches thick. As I looked, I jerked my head to the left, and the "platter" moved to the left. When I turned back to the right, it followed me to the right, always staying only three inches away from my head. I remembered a verse I had not thought of since childhood, "There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother ." KJV

So God showed me that he was right beside me; I was not alone. I marveled that He helped me to remember a verse from so long ago. I had hope that when I needed it, other verses I had learned would come to mind. I think of these visions as pictures that God sends to comfort me.

Since then I have done some reading, but not a whole lot, to ascertain what I saw. Was it God? Was it my guardian angel? I learned that people don't actually see God, in most cases. Moses saw the backside of God as He passed by. Then Moses' face glowed so much when he came down the mountain that he had to veil his face. (Please leave a comment if you know another instance.)
The others in the Bible are agents of God. The men who came to talk with Abraham were agents of God, not God Himself. Humans cannot look on the glory of God.

Therefore, I decided that the glow represented my guardian angel. Others have seen their angels as a light or a glowing figure, so I'm going with that. Many years ago, I think it was on the Phil Donahue Show, there was a woman guest who could see a person's guardian angel. Woman after woman in the audience asked if she could see her angel. The guest would tell the woman what color her angel was. One woman had two angels. I wish I could come across that information again because the color of the angel had significance.

After a few nights in the hospital, the pain from the incision was eclipsed by the pain in my neck. One morning Dr. Washington, my intern, came to check on my pain level. I told him about the pain in my neck and ranked it a 7. It really felt like an 8, but I didn't want to sound like a baby. Then he asked me how the incision felt. "Oh, it's not that bad, more like a 5." He wondered if I had been positioned in the wrong way during the surgery.

The next night, I remember Elena was my attendant, I woke up after the nap I took around midnight. (Elena was a wizard at arranging pillows to make me comfortable.) The pain in my head and neck was excruciating. I called Elena and had her help me get out of bed. It felt like my neck was collapsing down on itself, as I slid down in the bed. My neck felt compressed, so I wanted to stretch it out. God must have given me the idea, because I didn't even think about it. I said I need to sit up in the chair with a pillow between the top of my head and the wall, and pillows to bolster me on the sides. Then I wanted to have my feet pushing against something strong for support. Elena didn't protest. She set me up with pillows, and moved the bed over so that I could brace my feet against the rod that stretches down the side of the bed about 1 foot off the floor. I leaned the top of my head against the wall so it would stretch my neck, and started to pray.

I stayed awake for half an hour. I didn't realize I had fallen asleep until I woke up 1 hour and 15 minutes after I got out of bed. When I woke up the pain was completely gone. The cool peacefulness of the Holy Spirit was in the room. I called Elena. She helped me get back in bed, and I fell asleep. I never had any more neck pain while I was in the hospital. It was the first time God had ever answered my prayer to take away my pain. Twice in my life others had prayed for me and pain went away, but I couldn't do it for myself.

People Who Helped Me in the Hospital

I'm writing about the different people I met in the hospital partly so I remember them and partly so I remember things that give God glory. I remember the Monday morning I first sat up in a chair. The nurse and attendant got me out of bed, bathed me and washed my hair. I sat up in this plastic chair feeling totally forlorn, old and alone. I could hear other people with visitors, but I was alone. Then Dr. Washington, my intern, came striding down the hallway. When he saw me, he stopped from his appointed rounds, and came into my room with a big grin on his face.

He said, "You look great! How are you feeling?"

After we exchanged comments, he went on his way. I tried to figure out how the heck he thought I looked great. Then I remembered he had never seen me before Saturday morning. He had just seen me with grey hair sticking out in all directions, no make-up, and in great discomfort. So I guess to see me sitting up with a clean face and wet hair going in only one direction was a great improvement. Plus the nasal-gastric tubes were gone.

That was an adventure. The two guys that did my x-rays to see if the *nasal-gastric tubes could be removed were a hoot! Imagine my delight when I hadn't been allowed to eat or drink anything for days and was told I needed to have an upper GI x-ray done on Monday morning. How the heck was I going to swallow that stuff?

So that was the first thing I asked the technician when I was taken downstairs to have the x-rays done. He said I didn't have to swallow barium; it was more like a nectar, but it didn't taste like nectar. He saw that I had about the same amount of grey hair as he did and decided I was a kindred spirit. He told me about his previous line of work managing inventory in a warehouse. Several years earlier he decided to make a change and became an x-ray technician.

He was still telling me stories when the doctor came in. The doctor hardly had any hair, so he fit right in. So the two of them helped me to lie down on the table that raised me up so I could be x-rayed. They needed to see if the stitches were holding all around my small intestine before I got to eat or drink anything. The tech would ask me if I was in too much pain to lean to the left, then farther left, etc. Then he would move my body and hold on to me during the x-ray. The two men even did the old joke about, "We haven't dropped anyone this week!" They were great fun, and I got to go upstairs and start on a liquid diet afterwards. (I saw the technician at the hospital on 3/09/09 in the cafeteria. I thanked him for giving me the laughs I needed.)

*Nasal-gastric tubes remove liquid from the small intestine and send it out through nasal tubes that emptied somewhere behind my hospital bed. Without having them in place my abdomen would have been very distended from the bile that was coming out from my liver, but didn't have any food to work on. The nurse told me that Dr. DI is unusual in leaving those tubes in place for a few days after surgery. Other doctors remove them more quickly, and their patients get all swollen up. Dr. DI liked to use the nursing unit I was on because they understood his practice.

I also want to remember Alice. She was my primary nurse. She worked the night shift, and I saw her on two nights. She told me usually she sees her patients more often than that.

I wish she had been my nurse for one more night. That was the night I had to get out of bed and go to the nurses' station and insist that I get to see my nurse or attendant. Twice another attendant from across the hall had run in for a few seconds to help me, but then he would run back out. The last time he had placed a pillow firmly against my back, but got out of there so fast he left the door open. So I went to the nurses' station and insisted someone stay with me until I was 100% situated to go to sleep. My nurse appeared and stayed until I was comfortable. She had been with a patient that was isolated because of a contagious disease, so she had to put on protective clothing and stay with him for awhile.

Alice was there the first night I was in the hospital. She explained to me about pushing the button on the IV to release a dose of morphine. I don't remember anthing else about that night except God showing me my guardian angel. In the morning Alice was laughing when she checked the counter on the IV. I had pressed it 100 times during the night. I don't know how I pressed it that often, unless I pressed it while I was asleep. Alice explained the IV would only give one dose per 10 minutes. After that I tried to wait 15 minutes before I asked for more morphine.

The second night Alice was my nurse it was very quiet in the ward. My left wrist had gotten swollen and red at the IV. She moved the IV to a different spot. She also removed another IV that was near my left collarbone. It was held in place by a stitch. This was a special IV that was put in just in case I went into a carcinoid crisis during the surgery. The stress of surgery can cause a carcinoid tumor to release lots of chemicals, so this IV was installed so the doctor could send a bolus of Octreotide toward my heart if necessary. A carcinoid crisis can kill a person.

(A bolus is a big chunk of something. You can have a bolus of food moving through your small intestine, or it can be a big dose of a drug.)

So "Dr. Alice" operated on me in the middle of the night. This collarbone IV seemed like it had a tube in it to direct the drugs toward the heart; it wasn't something that could be taken out easily, or my day nurse would have taken it out. I laid there quiet and still so Alice could remove it. I marvelled at how quiet the ward had been for at least 30 minutes. Alice pulled the tube out and told me I was very brave. I said I figured it would be easier for her if I was as still as possible.

Back at Home

When I got home on July 2, 2008, Richard and Katie took care of me. I remember wondering if I would have trouble sleeping with the discomfort from the incision. Instead, I fell asleep two seconds after my head hit the pillow. I remember Spunky coming into the room to sleep by me.

A day after returning home, I was awake with very strong abdominal pain at 2:00 am. I turned to my Bible and looked up references to pain. They pretty much were all about pain being the result of doing something wrong. That wasn't what I was looking for; I needed some comfort from pain.

One passage sounded better than the rest, so I turned to Job 33:19 and kept reading.

Or a man may be chastened on a bed of pain
With constant distress in his bones,
So that his very being finds food repulsive
and his soul loathes the choicest meal.
His flesh wastes away to nothing,
And his bones, once hidden, now stick out.
His souls draws near to the pit
and his life to the messengers of death.

Yet, if there is an angel on his side
As a mediator, one out of a thousand,
to tell a man what is right for him
to be gracious to him and say
"Spare him from going down into the pit;
I have found a ransom for him."
Then his flesh is renewed like a child's;
it is restored as in the days of his youth.

He prays to God and finds favor with Him,
he sees God's face and shouts for joy;
he is restored by God to his righteous state.
Job 33: 19-26 NIV

I read the passage three times. By the time I was finishing the third reading, the pain was gone. That was the second time God answered my prayer for relief of pain!

At first, I recovered quickly. One week after my return home, Katie was leaving to go on the mission trip to Romania, so we went out to dinner to celebrate. I remember sitting up in a wing backed chair eating filet mignon and talking. In the next few weeks, I didn't have as much strength as I did in early July and I was baffled. Later, I found the weakness was because I was suffering from infections.

One month after my surgery, I was in the emergency room at UCI. I'd had a region alongside of the incision where it felt firmer than most of the incision. I thought it was scar tissue. After some days passed, that area felt tender to the touch. Then there was the day the area was red, hot, and swollen. That's when I went to the ER. The resident who had been with Dr. DI in the hospital drained the wound for me and prescribed the antibiotics. A few weeks later, in August, I realized I must have a UTI from using a catheter in the hospital, and I got that treated before school started. So I went back to work eight weeks after the operation in reasonably good health. Note well, I did not feel well at 6 weeks yet, so don't be discouraged if your recuperation takes up to the last minute to be complete.

God Reminds Me that He is There

During 2008, I realized that I had developed a greater trust in God. I knew it was different than having faith in God, so I looked in my Bible dictionary to see the definition of trust. My Bible dictionary said that trust is the same as faith; the two words have the same root word. But what is happening to me wasn't saving faith or healing faith. I already had those. I was learning that faith grows through experience. Now I was totally (at times) relying on God to figure out what was happening to me and to take me through it.

As I continued reading books that I was drawn to, I found an excellent explanation of trust in Joyce Meyer's book, How to Hear from God. In the book I noted that I read it on Oct. 3, 2008.

Quoting Joyce Meyer: "Many Christians memorize Proverbs 3:5-6 which says
'Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.' But they tend to forget that trust is for the times they can't get answers as quickly as they want them.

It isn't necessary to trust God when we have full understanding and knowledge of what He is doing on our behalf. The Hebrew word translated "trust" in verse 5 means to be bold, confident, secure, and sure.* Trust is needed in those times when, for whatever reason, we are not hearing from God as clearly as we would like.

Before we hear from Him, we need to learn to rely on His character, ability, and strength during the times we are not hearing from Him. If we trust Him during those times, He promises to make clear the way we should go."

* Joyce's footnote: James Strong, "Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary," Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville: Abingdon, 1890), p.20, entry #982, s.v. "trust," Proverbs 3:5, batach, "be bold (confident, secure, sure)."

God had sent me the answer to my question, "What is trust?" I just had to wait a few weeks to find it.

One morning during the summer I was driving back to Orange to the medical center for a wound check. I was reviewing what had happened during the summer, and I suddenly began to panic about what would happen if there was a third tumor. After each surgery I hoped that it was the last one, but I was frightened because my tumors are less than 1 cenimeter across. How could the doctors find it? Where would it be? The doctors had removed the area in my small intestine where the first two tumors developed. A third tumor could be anywhere in my body and too small to show up on a CT scan!

Suddenly, I was aware of what was playing on my CD. delirious? was singing the song "Miracle Maker" The song is about the paralyzed man at the pool in Bethsaida. He thinks of Jesus as the miracle man and hopes Jesus will heal him. He watches Christ come closer and closer, and at the point where I tuned in he was singing, "I'm looking in the face of the Miracle Maker!"

I heard that and I totally relaxed. Yes, that was how the doctors would find the third tumor. The Miracle Maker would lead them to the tumor. I still believe this today March 23, 2009.

Symptoms Begin Again

School was to start on August 25, 2008 and my surgery had been on June 27, 2008. So I went into my classroom on August 20th to clean up and set up bulletin boards. I felt well enough to begin the school year, and things went well. By the end of the first week, I noticed that one of my cancer symptoms was back, but I thought it might have been from stress. Another week later, I still had that one definitive symptom that is always the first one I get, and the next week I started feeling the hot flashes. So I began the round of doctor appointments again.