Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger.

Hello 4 am sleepless nights in the hospital. The lovely beeping of my chemo pump is keeping me awake, so why not blog. Now my intent of the post is NOT to complain about my condition, (which is surprisingly very easy to do lol) but to show what God is teaching me thru all this and the lessons He is showing me, and how He is sovereign through it all. So lets start with what was spoken over my when I first started this lovely posion called EPOCH chemotherapy.
"You'll be nauseous," "you'll be tired," "it will get worse before it gets better," "you're gonna lose all that hair of yours." These were some of the words spoken to me right as I started chemotherapy, and as I started my new "chapter in life." I thought I was prepared. I was very much mistaken, I want to share the part of chemo I don't really talk about, but thought I'd share the lessons I'm learning through all this.
Lets start with the nausea. My first round of chemotherapy, they had my nausea pretty much under control, and I was out of it and drugged up for most of it anyways. My second round, barely any nausea. I thought "man this is pretty simple." Then my 3rd hospital visit following my passing out incident, I ended up camping out in the bathroom one morning with an awesome nurse due to the vomiting. I went home later that week and had a few incidents of nausea, but nothing my medications couldn't handle.Then my third round of chemo came and went, and that is when the nausea hit me, and the medications weren't taking even the edge off of the nausea. Falling asleep with barf buckets,  falling asleep on the bathroom floor, and sitting in the bathroom holding the toilet bowling crying to my mom telling her no one should ever have to go through this. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. This stupid nausea has ruined meal outings, and nights where I'm out enjoying life. Now I'm in the middle of round four, and the nausea has so far been the worst. I've fallen asleep holding onto that barf bucket, and taking medications every few hours. BUT, I am choosing joy, because it could be worse. I'm only dealing with extreme nausea. I've only vomited once through out this whole process, and lets be real, I'll choose nausea over vomiting any day. So the Lord has been good, and the prayers of the mighty have not gone unanswered. (My mom sends out text messages to her prayer warriors when I have bad nights of extreme nausea.)
Another lovely symptom I thought I could handle is the tiredness. Holy crap, EVERYTHING makes me tired. I can't walk around Walmart with my mom without looking for a glorious bench to sit down on. Going to the mall, the one thing that makes me feel normal, tires me out. So glad they have couches right in the middle of the mall. I've had to learn  to go shopping WITH people so they can drive my car if need be. Its so humbling to look at someone and ask them to drive you somewhere because you are unable to. Last week I went shopping to "feel normal" (we only went shopping for maybe 4 hours) and the second I got home I crashed on the couch and didn't wake up til my mom woke me up for my evening medications, This has been a huge hurdle for me to get through since I was always the one with the energy, working nights and pulling crazy hours. Now...I'm falling asleep whenever I lie down.. The Lord has taught me the term "resting in His arms" so much and I'm embrace that and allowing myself to rest in His arms when I can not carry on.
This kinda ties into the weakness. How humbling is it to need help to walk up steps, to have to ask someone to carry your laundry basket, groceries or your purse. I use to hate asking people for help, (I still do) but I'm learning I can't do everything on my own, and God has placed my family and friends to help carry that burden whether physically or emotionally. Wheelchairs have been a Godsend in the hospital, which is another humbling and scary thing to have my mom push me around the hospital because sometimes my legs just cant do what I want them to do. But I'm holding onto the promise in 1 Corinthians that says "When I am weak, then You are strong."
Now I know I've talked a bit on losing my hair, and its been an emotional roller coaster. I haven't cried over the bald head, but I miss my hair every day. I've learned on the hair days when I don't want to be "cancer bald" that scarves work amazingly. Makes me feel like I somewhat have hair, and they don't look too shabby. I refuse to wear my wig since I look like the 14 year old version of Jacqueline Kennedy. So I'll pass on that and wear my scarves that so many people have blessed me with.
"It gets worse before it gets better."Some of my hurdles and symptoms I've talked about, yes they suck. But I wont let them steal my joy, My mom has been a huge prayer warrior along with so many people when I feel crappy (like I mentioned before) I feel so much at peace during my "hugging the toilet bowl" nights
SO the title of my blog says "on my weakest days I get stronger." and that's only through the strength the Lord gives me, not my own.  I'd give up so quickly but there are so many promises I can hold onto. I KNOW that by His stripes I am the healed of the Lord. I know I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who gives me strength. I know weeping may come for the night but His everlasting joy comes in the morning. I know He is in the midst of me and I WON"T BE MOVED. He is still fighting for me and fighting off the nausea and weakness for me. And He does all this because He LOVES me with His everlasting and precious love. I can't be more thankful and blessed that I have a God who is over an entire universe and still chooses to love me and HEAL my body.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I've got peace like a river

This past week has had its ups and downs. The up, my twin flew in from California and I got to have much needed twin time with her. The down, I got admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. Sometimes I swear I can not catch a break, and sometimes I think, "really God, is this necessary?" I don't know the answer, but I do know God allowed me to be sick, even tho it sucks, a lot. But I know He is good and He is sovereign over all. But, you know what, I can't even complain. The Lord has been sustaining me and HEALING me, not only from this pneumonia but from cancer! Yesterday I had a doctors appointment, and I usually dread these appointments because they are literally 8 hours long. But yesterday was different. Yesterday the doctor  came in the room and told me that the mass that was the size of a small cantaloupe is no longer detectable on a CT scan!!!! Like happy dance initiated now. How can I complain about pneumonia when the Lord has been so faithful and good.
So with all this going on I have this peace, knowing God is in control. Amidst the chaos, and thru the storm, there is this peace that resonates inside of me. I know everything will be alright. At first, the diagnosis was scary, and sometimes now when I lay in bed fearing the unknown, I remind myself who is in charge, who the Prince of Peace is, and I rest in it. I've been holding tight to the verse in Isaiah which says, "Behold I will extend peace to her like a river."
I can't believe how much God is teaching me thru this situation. I look back to last year, I JUST became a medic, I was so excited, I had worked so hard at getting that card stating I was a paramedic. Fast forward 6 months, I told someone I wouldn't give up being a paramedic for anything. Then, the beginning of May, I told the Lord I was willing to sacrifice everything for Him, and He took away my job, even if its for a short while, and I've had to learn to rely on Him. I no longer have an income, and I'm relying on my parents for my means of income. But there is a verse that comes to mind when I get upset about not having money, or not being able to support myself.
Philippians 4:19 "And my God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
Isn't that awesome to know. So many people have blessed me with donations and gift cards, it's amazing how the Lord provides, even in the smallest ways. (5 dollar gift cards to Starbucks have made my day so many times)
Please keep me in prayer the rest of the week. The doctor wants my symptoms of pneumonia to go away before I start my 4th round of chemo. (Scheduled for this upcoming Friday) But if I still have the pesky annoying cough my chemo gets pushed back to next week, and I really don't want that to happen.
Much love to all of you. Thank you so much for the love and support.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Finding Joy Amidst Chemo

Round 3 of chemotherapy started, 3 more left to go. Who would've thought 3 months ago that I'd be laying in a hospital bed bald, nauseous and smiling. Its so encouraging to walk onto the hospital floor and everyone giving me high-5's and telling me they love having me as their patient. It makes the hospital stay so much better. Even though I for sure didn't plan for my life to look like this, I still want people to see the joy and peace that I have. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared. In all honesty there are some nights I lay awake and cry, but I have to remember the promises that God gives me. He tells me He is fighting for me and with me (Exodus 14:14) He tells me that He is for me, not against me (Romans 8:31) I also know that it says, "weeping may endure the night but His joy comes in the morning." (Psalms 30:5) I keep these verses, and many others close to me during this time. I say them aloud at night when all I can think about is death, because death is not an option for me. I was talking to a friend earlier today and telling them I can't wait to see how God uses this for his glory. Its sometimes hard to see how God will use this 21 year old with stage 4 cancer for His glory, but I'm holding onto that.
So a little update, I went to my oncologist on Wednesday, I got some answers to why I am not getting radiation, what my life expectancy is, and I got a CT scan to see if the tumor is shrinking. Hopefully the results will be in on Monday. We are praying that God is shrinking this tumor and I am believing in complete healing!! I'm a fighter and I know God is fighting with me, who can be against that?!
The chemo is hitting me pretty hard this round. I'm having a lot of nausea, but the nurses have been great, feeding me anti-nausea like candy. Tonight the nurses and I are watching fireworks together, gives me a little something to look forward to, and make this hospital stay not so crummy. Hopefully only a few more days here and I'll be home free!
The Lord has just been blessing me this week. He has brought some amazing people into my life, and He has shown me who my true friends are. I've also been showered with gifts and cards filled with words of encouragement, which has been so amazing. The love is so overwhelming, I can't even explain it. The continuous support from my co-workers, church family, and my family has been enough to keep me fighting. I refuse to let cancer win.
So this past week has been pretty rough, been fighting depression, and not wanting to do much with my life. But, the Lord has showed me that I have to have joy amidst this suffering. Because, lets be real, this has been a journey of suffering, I wont lie there. This week I was at a doctors appointment every day, getting blood drawn, scans, echos, more blood draws, and I don't want to sit her and complain, but in all honesty, cancer has sucked this week. Luckily, The Lord, as I said earlier, has brought people into my life this week to encourage me, and come along side of me. I had complete strangers come up to me this week and tell me I was beautiful, give me hugs, and just encourage me. The Lord has a strange way of brightening my day like that.
This won't be a very long post, I haven't had my normal energy, but I wanted to take this time to update and encourage anyone who is struggling to find joy during their suffering. Everyone has their own suffering, it looks differently in everyone's life, but remember, the Lord gives us joy, and peace, and healing in all sorts of ways. He is continually healing me physically, emotionally, and mentally, and I know He will and can do the same for you. It is his promise, and His promises are yes and amen. We must hold onto that. So I want to leave you with these lyrics that have encouraged me so many times this week. When sometimes I don't see past the "stage 4" part of my cancer. I hold onto the promise that He IS faithful, He is able, and he will heal me in his perfect time, whether here on earth or His perfect healing in heaven. I know everything will work out to His glory.

"I will look back and see that you are faithful, I look ahead, believing you are able...Prince of Peace, Perfect Healer." -I will look up, by Elevation Worship.