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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Advent 2010... Still Waiting #39

It's November 30th 2010.....
Karen is busy with our Advent and Christmas preparations,making sure that all is done for the children and grand children - and also planning our Open House.
I am doing my best to get reconnected with the parish,and doing the best I can to help out.

To be honest, it's not easy. I am still struggling to eat,still living with pain when I do,and every now and then I go somewhere to be alone and ask God to help me get better...quicker..... before people lose patience with me. (being honest about human nature,we all know that's a fact of life!) These are difficult moments.
As well,lately some friends of mine have been diagnosed with cancer. Their prognosis as I understand it at the present, means they have a huge battle looming.I ask God to strengthen and prepare them for the days ahead.
You know, we often hear people say something like "When I see how bad others have it,I don't think about myself as much."
My response to that is "it's a poor comfort taken by other people's misery."
It is a good thing to acknowledge your own pain,and to honestly care for those who suffer.

So here I am....not wanting to repeat my self..... but the story remains the same!
I am still recovering...still waiting. It's exhausting, debilitating, depressing. After a while you forget what it feels like to not feel sick.... After a while you get sick and tired,of being sick and tired!

The Blessings that come from a CurseI am , and will always be thankful for the love and support I have received.
I am thankful for the gifts of new perspectives,new understandings, and new friendships that have emerged as a tremendous blessing because of my cancer.

Many friends have reaffirmed their love for me in wonderful ways,and others have stayed away. All around me my friends and loved ones are all going on with their lives: new jobs, new relationships, new plans. I think it is wonderful!...But in the dark hours of the night, God help me,sometimes it can all feel so lonely.

I am trying to re-engage the challenge of recovery. My care-givers were right when they told me that I would take a long time to get better. Accepting that has been difficult. My feelings of thankfulness of the patience and support of my parish ,Reverend Brian, and my immediate family are often mingled with guilt,because of the time it is taking to get better. However,when I remember how my body was placed in an electronic and chemical abyss and forced to the point where it couldn't take anymore,it helps put things in perspective once again.

During my reading and study this month I re- read the story of the "Stockdale Paradox".
It comes from the story of Admiral James Stockdale, (1923 - 2005) who became a winner of the American Medal of Honour. James Stockdale survived for 7 years in a Viet Cong prisoner of war camp. It was beyond rough. Because of Stockdale's rank,his captors wanted to make an example of him. He was in solitary confinement for four years, had to wear leg irons for two years straight. He was systematically tortured 15 times, starved, and denied health and dental care.
By hanging on to two contradictory beliefs he made it through. Here they are:
1. His life couldn't’t be worse at the moment,
2. and.. His life would someday be better than ever

I believe that receiving the fullness of God's blessings means we must be able to confront the hard and cold facts of our current situations, and at the same time maintain absolute faith that in partnership with our Lord,whatever the outcome...we will prevail in the end.

I often pray for Grace and strength to embrace both faith and facts "at the same time, all the time". I pray this not only for myself, and for all whom the Lord allows me to meet and share. That means you who are reading this.

Ephesians 1:17-19
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you....

Cancer has helped me focus on something else about life.

Life,as sweet as it is, is hard and daunting work. It takes courage order to live life fully and we need it. We need the courage of people who push themselves to become doctors and nurses for the care and benefit of others. We need the courage of Clergy and committed pastoral workers who walk in love and truth for the sake of others, and ,we bless the courage of those keeping lonely vigils at the bedsides of loved ones.

May God grant the full power of Grace and faith to those who suffer,so that the courage of the ill fighting with everything they have,will not just cheat death,but allow them to live life to the fullest.

Cancer comes upon us as a thief in the night...but remember
John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Latest News - The appointments have been made!
I am still waiting for the results of my treatments.
On December 6 I will be having an MRI , and on December 7,an appointment with my Radiation Oncologist. Talk to you then!
Peace and Love Always

Monday, November 8, 2010

Those Who Wait Upon The Lord Shall Renew Their Strength #38

I started this blog a few nights ago in the Wee hours of the morning. (3:15 a.m. or thereabouts.)
I have been feeling restlessness since my treatments finished. A little over a month has passed since finishing my treatments, and this restive feeling seems to be evolving. The whole journey of cancer including treatments side effects, and the people I have met has touched me, not just body and mind, but in my soul and heart as well. For that reason, I can say that my restlessness is not all negative, but made up of varieties of fear/hope, - peace/agitation,- tranquility/impatience...get the picture?
I really wonder what it is that God is preparing me for in the future!

My blog has been silent
since 28 October, and some are asking when they can expect the next one. Many are also asking about the prognosis....
Let’s get caught up.

First of all, let me share some of what has been in my heart.
Over the years of ministry I have spent a lot of time with people who have received the diagnosis of cancer. When the diagnosis comes, ministers may become involved with the ill person, and their families and friends. I have had much experience with cancer and can say that no two cases or stories are the same.
Similarities? ......Yes absolutely – but every story is unique and belongs “to the one”.

Believe me I have learned so much more these past months about the physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, and logistical effects that cancer has on life. I pray that my experience will make me a better pastor in the future.

Is all cancer as bad as yours?
Recently I have had discussions with people who have heard my story, or who have had cancer themselves. Often this question (or something similar) has arisen. Is all cancer and the treatments as bad as what you are going through?
I can answer: “Thank God, no! Not everyone goes through what I have experienced.” That’s true. Yet, some have it much worse. Some of the people I have met and befriended since I began my treatments in June have died. Thank God, some are doing quite well.
Off the top of my head, I recall some of the stories I have shared with people in the waiting rooms.
(You feel safe there to ask the question: “What type of cancer do you have?” )
I Have Cancer by the ankle. I Have brain cancer. I have ovarian cancer, it has spread. I have prostate cancer. I have cancer in the leg. I have lung Cancer. I have a secondary Cancer that has come back after twelve years. I have leukemia. My treatments are not working......

Some people are very calm. Some are angry. Some are incredibly sad. Some are in denial. Some don’t have any idea how bad things are, but their children or spouse does.
As I have said: “Every story is unique and belongs “to the one”.

The Holy Spirit speaks that way about every person’s journey of life: Again; “Every story is unique and belongs “to the one”. We are invited to share our lives in partnership with God.
Through the eyes of faith we can hear Jesus: “Take my hand, and you will be upheld in all things.”

How I am doing?
Thanks for asking!
I am living very much with the effects of my loss of appetite and reduced diet.
When you under eat your body will use up any excess fat. If the nourishment is not available after that, your body will begin to protect the vital organs by drawing on muscle tissue. In essence, body repair is compromised and muscle begins to disappear. That is what happened to me. As a result, I am still under 140 pounds, and find my legs and arms to be very weak. Dizziness is my constant companion, as is tiredness. I am also prone to being a bit emotional at times. Now that’s not strange for me. I once said to someone: “If I go to the post office with you, and you don’t get any mail, I’ll cry for you!”

I receive my emotions as a gift from God. I don’t consider empathy or sympathy to be signs of weakness. God has through his healing, shown me (and all of us) how to truly love one another. That’s not always easy to do, and it can be rather painful sometimes when people act the way humans are prone to do...

My physical recovery from the treatments is slower than I expected, and I now understand what the oncologists were saying. They have taught me about the need to be patient in relation to the results and persistent with trying to swallow and taking in enough liquid and nutrients.

BUT...every day I am getting a little better, a little stronger...a little closer to the goal. Every day I count my blessings.


In 1987 Johnson Oatman wrote a song called “Count Your Blessings” for a group of young people. You have heard it, I am sure.
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

There are many blessings in my life – Let me name just a few:
+ The wonderful people I have met since I have developed cancer that I would never know otherwise.
+ New friendships that will last forever.
+ The Father’s teaching in my life, and a spiritual growth that is different than anything I have ever known.
+ Living through, and experiencing the unconditional love, of faith and commitment of my marriage
+ The faithfulness, friendship and love of the Church which lifted me up and carried me when all my strength was gone.
+ The affirmation of the years of friendship. We have been blessed by so many who have gotten in touch and reached out to help in some way.

What will the future hold in relation to your cancer?
My friends, I will soon be able to share my prognosis with you.
For now, we patiently wait for a M.R.I and an appointment with my doctor.
We expect this to happen before Christmas.
In the meantime, let me leave you with the thought I shared with my family just after we found out I had cancer.
“Listen girls, If the treatments work, I’ll be alright....If they don’t, because of Jesus, I am still going to be alright.”
Into your hands O Lord, I commend my Spirit.