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!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Carcinoid Update

On Tuesday, April 13, I went to see my oncologist for my regular check-up and I got my treatment. My cancer symptoms have been mild for several weeks, and my numbers from cancer markers have been low. I don't even seem to be red-faced very often--which used to happen several times per day. So everything looks good on the western front. I know my Dad will be glad to hear that.

Dr. Z, the oncologist, showed me the MRI results in the database. He wanted me to see how good the pictures were. They are very clear and show organ by organ what is going on in my body. They give a more accurate look at what is happening than using a CT scan. He said those scans are not as clear. Seeing the quality of the pictures reassured me that things are probably OK. In a recent blog I expressed my frustration with not being able to see my micro tumors, but maybe God is healing them, so I should just shut up.

On the fasting blood sugar for Dr. Z (drawn April 5), I was at 107. That's much better than being at 121 on January 27. I have been avoiding sugary food as much as I can.

In the morning of April 13 I had the blood test run for diabetes. The sugar levels came back as OK. However, my internist also checked for Hemoglobin A (I think that's the right letter.) It was high enough to indicate that I am at high risk for diabetes, so I'll have to do an even better job at avoiding sugar. I will have to go to Curves again. That means I will have to leave school at 3:30
like i used to, in order to have some time and energy to exercise. I don't know where the energy will come from, but I will start out slowly.

Dr. Z looked up Octreotide, which is used to treat carcinoid, and found out that it raises blood sugar. So the drug that keeps me alive, may make me sick. I will still work on preventing diabetes. Like I said last week, I don't need another condition to juggle.

My neck pain is much relieved--Thank you for praying. All thanks to our God and Father for His healing hands. Right now my lower back is doing weird things that make it hard for me to straighten up after sitting, but I know we can fix that in physical therapy.

Gardener Sharon It is a beautiful day today!

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Don't See Him Shining on My Face

On Friday evening my family went to the "Rock and Worship Road Show". The featured acts this time were Fee, Family Force Five, Francesca Battistelli, David Crowder*Band, and Mercy Me. It was a really great show. I enjoyed Fee even though I had never heard them before. All their lyrics had a great message. There were a couple opening acts - Sidewalk Prophets being one- with inspiring songs, too.

I really went to see Francesca Battistelli and David Crowder*Band. I bought a book by David about living in the mode of seeing God everywhere, and Francesca's revamped CD. She has an acoustic version of "Beautiful, Beautiful" accompanied by conga. I'll have to learn to play along.

A few months ago I wrote a blog "Although It's Pouring Down I can See You Through the Clouds (Shining on My Face)." That is a line from Francesca's song, "Beautiful, Beautiful." It's a beautiful song. The problem is that I'm not in that mode any more.

My cancer is OK, but my other ailments are thriving, and I don't see God shining down on me through the clouds right now. Not for a few weeks. The pain from the degenerative disk disease in my neck is as bad as it was before I was ever treated for it. I have been waiting a month to see the rheumatologist just so he can prescribe physical therapy again. I'll probably won't get to start therapy until June. The damp weather is helping to keep my arthritis painful. It is spreading through my right hand a little more every week making it harder to hold on to things. My right arm and my hips have arthritis pain.

I went to bed Saturday night with joint pain and woke up with the most incredible headache. It turned out to be a virus that made me very sick on Sunday. It's Tuesday now, and I'm better.

When I saw my dear internist on Thursday he was concerned about the episodes I've had with high fasting blood sugar and high blood pressure. I'm doing the two-hour blood test for diabetes right now. I had fasting blood drawn, then I came home and ate pancakes with syrup. I go back soon and have more blood drawn. My internist and I are both concerned with how I can possibly juggle two more medications, if I have diabetes and High blood pressure. He was asking me if I could stop taking one of the meds for Sjogren's Syndrome.

Lately I've been wondering if I can renege on my promise that God could take my health in order to keep me in His perfect will. I can still stay in Your will, Father, without so many illnesses. When I made that promise I saw myself fully cognitive, lying in bed praying, but not able to get up. Sunday I hurt so badly I was lying there just praying, "Father help me. Father, help me." Not a deep conversation.

However, on the way back from my first blood letting today, I listened to more of Francesca's CD. My attention was caught by lines from the second verse of her song "Time in Between"
(c. Francesca Battistelli and Clint Lagerberg )

"Don't take much for this crazy world
To rob me of my peace
And the enemy of my soul
Says You're holding out on me.

So I stand here lifting empty hands
For You to fill me up again.

But it's the time in between
That I fall down to my knees
Waiting on what You'll bring
And the things that I can't see."

So that's where I am now. My illnesses have robbed me of my peace, and the enemy says God is holding out on me. I am standing here holding up empty hands to be filled again. Well said. How can someone in her twenties be so wise?

I also listened to "Lead Me to the Cross" by Brooke Fraser-Ligerwood. On the line that says "Lead me to Your hea-ah-ah-ah -ah-ah-ah-ah-art", I pictured myself going up to Jesus and resting my head on his chest over His heart, and He put His arms around me. That helped. It is amazing how a visualization like that comforts me.

I added the video from YouTube on October 19, 2013. It amazes me that 3.5 years have gone by since I wrote this post. Things are still not so good, but I'm not so sick to my stomach this year. Now my tumor has found other bodily functions to affect, but I still love these songs. Oddly, when I watched this video today the woman sitting here on the dock looks like me.


I am the Scourge of Crabgrass, The Defender of the Iris

By the time you get to the end of this diatribe you will find the moral is: 1. I can't fix everything, but I can fix some things. 2. We can work to make some dreams come true.

Crabgrass. Really. This began several years ago when the crabgrass crept through the fence from the yard to the east. At first it was content to stay in the planter, but it has slowly moved into the fescue on the east. A wall went up between the two yards, but the crabgrass remained.

Every year K or I would pull out crabgrass, spray it, or rake it unto some form of submission. The planter with crabgrass is also home to daffodils and jonquils in their season. At one time I had 12 irises there, but the irises lost the battle to the weeds. One huge clump of yellow iris remains, and a tiny rhizome* is making a comeback. I'll have to wait and see what color it is.

Last November I launched an all-out attack on the dreaded weed. Since the narcissus were beginning to come up, I couldn't start with Round-up and kill everything, so I used a weed spray that said it was particularly effective on crabgrass. I used it again the next month. The weeds began to die out from the weedkiller and because it was winter. So I did my first round off pulling weeds out. The planter looked better. I sprayed some isolated areas with Round-up in January and pulled out more dead weeds.

I'm writing of a planter that is 5 feet deep going back to the wall and about 10 feet long. After three months of work, the back 18 inches didn't have anything growing in the dirt, just dried remnants of old crabgrass. Areas of green weeds just remained next to clumps of daffodils and iris because they had been getting food and water there. On February 2nd, I began the first round of pre-emergent crabgrass killer on the planter and the grass. The second round was 6 weeks later, just like the directions say.

So far this has been successful! Last week on my spring break I pulled out the traces of antique weeds from the planter and replaced them with 35 gladiolus corms (bulbs to you). I also added two clumps of pale blue iris. I know iris are blooming now, and are not being planted in California at this time. However, Home Depot was still selling them, and I felt like giving it a try. (We have had lots of rain this year. It rained last night and it should rain one week later.) One of the rhizomes* was large, and I think it will live until next spring and bloom then.

The moral of this is: When I can't fix everything, I can fix some things. The day I put the winter fertilizer with the pre-emergent crabgrass killer on my lawn, I was extremely discouraged about my job. Our school has been in Program Improvement for four years, and the pressure to raise test scores is very strong. Every emphasis is to help students do better on the state tests. And the students don't care nearly as much as the teachers. That really bites. I'll have 8 students in one class who don't want to strain their brains. They want to make the teacher tell them all the answers.

Therefore, it helps to come home and takes steps that I know will work to improve my yard. That's one reason I love to garden; I always see results. I can make some things happen.

Also, one year ago I wrote in this blog about dreaming that my backyard was a bower of flowers. It was a night when I thought God was mocking me by showing me all the things I had not accomplished. When I told Richard about the dream he said we could make my dreams come true. So we have spent a year planting and refining the backyard. It should be very nice for our anniversary party to which you are invited next June 19th.
* rhizome: the root that irises grow from. I think it's technically an underground stem.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

MRI Adventures


I had an abdominal MRI done on Monday evening earlier this week. The oncologist and I decided to do an MRI because a CT scan exposes me to more radiation. An Octreoscan (the specialized test for carcinoid) requires that I stay off my medication for 3.5 days until all the scans are done. That makes my tumors grow, and I develop more symptoms. Also, these tests usually show NOTHING of my cancer. We thought an MRI would show slightly smaller growths than the CT does.

It was all to no avail. The MRI came back negative--no mass was found. I have microcarcinoids--they are about 0.7millimeters wide. The MRI might have shown a growth 0.5 cm wide. My doctor said a CT scan can detect growths about 0.7 cm wide--ten times wider than my tumors. So I'm still the woman with the invisible cancer.

I hate this. Why couldn't I have regular carcinoid cancer? At least the growths would be between 1 and 10 cm, and a doctor could see them. A surgeon could take aim at them with an embolization needle and kill them. Or at least cut off their blood supply. So my tumors remain untreatable except with drugs.

The good part is there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with my pancreas--no visible growths. So the elevated blood sugar that I had in January is probably because of my diet and heredity. Plus not being strong enough to exercise. So I'm not being invaded by a rapidly growing pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor.

I'd just like to be like other cancer patients who can look at a scan and see their cancer. I would like to know if I have two tumors in one small space, or forty tiny tumors sprinkled across my whole liver. It seems easier to understand an enemy you can see.

I do have cancer.
I know because of the symptoms that went away after surgery, and came back two months later.
I can tell every day when I look in the toilet.
I can tell by the symptoms I develop when I don't get my medication.
I can tell by the cancer markers that go up and down.
I can tell by this pain in my chest behind the right ribcage.
I can tell by my fatigue.
I do have cancer, but no one can see it.
I hate this.

It seems as if having the MRI done this week was just to show me that I can do one more thing through Him that strengthens me: I can drive myself to and from a procedure where I was enclosed inside a tube that was only five inches wider than I was for 45 minutes and remain relatively calm. (Is that a run-on sentence?) It is all done through God who strengthens me.

Thank you to everyone who prayed for me or sent emails to me. Thank you to Paul , the technician, who was so calming and played my Cd for me.

While I was in the MRI tube I thought of the verses from 2 Corinthians 12 because I was certainly weak and not knowing if I would be able to stay in the MRI for more than a few minutes. I have gradually gotten over some of my claustrophobia after undergoing 4 or 5 Octreoscans where the plates are only about 4 inches from my face. I hoped that calmness would transfer over to the MRI. It seemed like a perfect opportunity for God's power to be perfected in weakness since I was pretty weak. And God did see me through.

And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly therefore I would rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me.Therefore I am well content with weaknesses and difficulties for Christ's sake; for when I am weak then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 The Open Bible, NAS

Sharon Joy