Category Archives: community/support

Your Opinion Please: All clergy, or anyone that wants to share a thought!

24,000 women under the age of 45 will be diagnosed this year with breast cancer.  When women have breast cancer under the age of 40 it is almost always invasive and travels faster.  A woman’s survival, if diagnosed under the age of forty is less than a woman who is post-menopausal.

Community was really important during my breast cancer journey.   I’m working on a book and one chapter is focused entirely on the benefits of  Christ-centered community.  So I’m throwing a question out to all my twittering, blogging and facebook pastor friends.  If a young couple came to you (and I’m focusing more here on young mom’s with small children) and she had been diagnosed with cancer and was going to be going through a long year of treatment, and she had no significant community in her life, what would you tell them and what could your church offer them?

No right answer here….and tell me honestly if your church has nothing to offer.  Super short and super long comments accepted!

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Do I Really Need to Come Up With a Title…..

There’s something nostalgic about going back to the cancer center.  Some people probably run and never turn back.  That isn’t me.  I think God has sort of carved out a little niche for me with cancer and I think I need to be ok with that. 

Last week, when Jeremy was home and could watch the kids I went back to the chemo room in hopes of locating some ladies who always had herceptin infusions on the same day as me.  The difference for them was that they were on herceptin for life because they were metestatic, whereas I was only on it for a year.  And last December, my oncologist decided I was done.  That was that.  I never went back to the chemo room.  So I wanted to go back and say hi to Kim and Ardeth.  Unfortunately, they had changed the days they get infusions.  I know….I worried you when I said “unfortunately,” didn’t I.  I was worried a bit too.  I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to go back a year later to check on someone who is having chemo for life.  But I did it anyway, in hopes they were still doing well.  I did find out they ARE doing well.  But I also got to see two special people who I hadn’t seen in a while as well.  The massage therapist, Karen, who always gave me foot massages (sometimes 2) when I was getting infusions and my favorite nurse Stephanie.  I could tell they were really happy to see me.  They oohed and aahed about my hair and how great I looked and it felt really good.  I bet it feels really good to see someone come back recovered after cancer.

So then today I had my 6 month appointment.  Which went fabulous.  I am doing great.  Not one itty bitty concern.  I’m so thankful. 

So I had a good talk with my oncologist about helping out at the cancer center, and I was excited because she seemed really positive about it.  So I’m hoping to dig in to that a bit more.

And my dear friend Kim, who does web design, has agreed to help me improve on my little wordpress blog.  So I’ll be excited to see that evolve in to a little bit more of a resource for young women going through cancer with a spiritual emphasis.  So watch out for her artistic touch!  She’s very good at what she does!

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Partners in Pink

ribbonFor all you Michiganders who hail from the Kalamazoo area.  I’m happy to announce a new “support group!”   Starting October 7th, there is a new support group for women who have been impacted by breast cancer.  It will meet at the Portage Free Methodist Church the first Wednesday of every month from 6:30-8:00 pm.  Here’s a really cool thing too….there’s free childcare!  As a young woman with breast cancer I totally love that!  Call the church office if you need more info:  (269) 327-5312.  I’ll be there!

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Good Overload

I just got home from my second Willow Creek Leadership Summit.  Once again I feel like someone has removed every living brain cell in my head and I’ve been left with mush.  I will collect myself in the coming days.  I never know weather to cry, dance or take a nap after these two intense days.  Yesterday, after my 8 hour leadership infusuin, I went running.  It may have been my most powerful run yet.  I probably should have (blush)…..oh….ya know.  Something about being inspired makes me feel like I have to get energy out.  Either that or it was sitting all day. 

But really.  How can I sum this up for you.  So much great info, so little time.  Here are my thoughts at the current moment, tomorrow may be different….lol!

1.  There are some people who are doing amazing things where they are.  I don’t know if they’re doing it for Jesus, for themselves or for humanity.  But the way they’re helping people is incredible.  I’ve had to question what I’m doing and who I’m doing it for. 

2.  And back to that whole breast cancer thing.  I can’t help wonder what God has saved me for.  Maybe it was for my kids.  I don’t know.  I don’t have anything profound to say about that other than it moves around in my brain a lot.  I suppose if I could choose to do anything, now that I’m recovered, is email my oncologist at U of M, Sophia Merijver and see if she can pack me away in her suitcase on her next trip to Northern Africa so I could do something for the outrageous number of women who are getting Inflammatory Breast Cancer.  I don’t know what I’d do there, maybe I’d just hug them and cry with them, tell them I’ve been there too.  I’m still working that one out in my mind.  I suppose writing her would be OK, but I might get in the way.  I need a better plan.  I’m taking a class this fall at our local community college to see if I can make it in to nursing school.  I can get a second BA in a year and then midwifery in the next year.  It would be two years full time.  Maybe then she would pack me in her suitcase?

3.  My favorite speaker was a young woman who was cute and young and giggly and girly and super smart.  You gotta love it.  This is where our churches just DON”T GET IT!  Women……crazy……but true……can be great leaders (and they don’t have to look or act like men to do it either)!  Not only that but the world is waiting to see us equally partnering in ministry across the board.  Thank heavens an amazing place like Willow Creek who is changing the face of Christian leadership GETS THIS.  Because unfortunately most churches out there don’t.  (Yes this is my little soap box).  So it wasn’t surprising that one of the most amazing interviews they did was with a young woman named Jessica Jackley who helped start KIVA.  If you haven’t heard of this organization, you should check it out.  You an I can lend as little as $25 to people in third world countries so they can start businesses.  Pretty cool, pretty easy, yet the money goes so far.  She shared how one woman was able to send her daughters to school.  And these aren’t big things, these are small businesses, like buying beads to make necklaces they can cell or making peanut butter. 

So those are some of my thoughts.  I have more, but I can’t remember right now.  It’ll probably come to me later.

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Support Relay for Life

Well,  I’m going to be walking in my first Relay for Life next weekend.   Last year I had a great experience taking Charis and finding the luminaries someone donated on my behalf.  I don’t know if you remember but as we drove down to Schoolcraft, we saw a full rainbow.  It felt like God was giving us a sign of hope for things to come. 

https://clergygirl.wordpress.com/2008/06/29/a-promise/

I remember feeling so overwhelmed as I walked around with Charis that night.  Not wanting for Charis to see me cry, I had to fight tears a lot that night.  I was on the verge of finishing chemo and wondering if it had done it’s job, and I remember feeling so grateful to all the people who have taken the time to help me get better…..even the ones who just walk and raise money once a year for cancer research. 

So this year I’m joining in.  If you want to help me make an impact, you can go to the donation page listed below.  Thanks.

http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLFY09National?px=11083775&pg=personal&fr_id=14518

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I Was Diagnosed With IBC When Pregnant/Nursing, on Facebook

I’ve started a page on facebook specifically for women who were diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer while pregnant or nursing and who were either misdiagnosed, put off treatment, thought they had a plugged duct or mastitis.  I’m doing this so I can connect with other women who went through this experience and hopefully in the very near future I want to start an informational web site for women who have mastitis that won’t go away…and need to know the possibilty is there.  I had never heard of IBC.  I don’t want to “freak out” breast feeding moms but at the same time I know IBC is very fast spreading and information and treatment early is key to survival.  So if you know of someone who was diagnosed with IBC when they were pregnant or nursing, please let them know about this facebook page. 

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Update

Thanks so much for praying for Kristen!  She called today and the spot on her lung has shrunk so that means its NOT a tumor (It was probably leftover from a bad cold she had in the fall)!  I’m so happy for her!  What a huge relief!

Prayer Please!

You have been my prayer warriors!   I need you to pray for my friend Kristen this weekend.  She finished treatment a few months before me and was scheduled for reconstruction this week…..but they’ve found something small on her lungs.  They will be doing a biopsy on it this Monday.  She’s young like me with two young kids.  I’m stunned by this news.  Please, Please, Please pray with me that it will be absolutely NOTHING!

This is how I’m feeling……

cancer-sucks

I Just Wanna Be OK

The only time I have ever cried during treatment was in the seconds before my mastectomies.  As they wheeled me into the operating room I shed a few last minute tears in fear and anticipation. 

Today was the second time.

I arrived at my radiation appointment at 2 pm today.  They had shown me where I needed to go and change and the waiting room where I wait.  When they showed me before, the room was empty.  This time it was full of women.  As I walked in you could hear the conversation pause.  All eyes were on the newbie.  And I was getting those sad looks as if to say….she is way to young for this.

Because I was the youthful one in the bunch and there were limited chairs I decided to sit on the floor.  One of the ladies was called in and came back quickly.  She was extremely happy because she only has three more treatments….which is great.  As the ladies peppered her with questions about her treatment she proceeded to show us the siren red rectangles on her chest from radiation.

I was horrified.  The newbie almost got up and walked out.  I had a few moments of “how can I sneak out of this room without detection” thoughts racing through my head.  Not only that but I would have two of those siren red rectangles on my chest.  I love to know what is ahead of me on this journey….but I don’t know why, but I wanted to cry right there on the spot.

When I got into the radiation room I had to lay on a hard board with my hands above my head for what seemed like forever while they took pictures to know exactly where they beams would hit.  Th painful problem was that I had my mastectomies only a month ago and my muscles do not stretch over my head that well.  Within minutes I had no blood circulation to my arms.  When I asked if I could take a break they told me they would have to start all over again.  After a while they did give me a break but as I started the next time it felt worse.  This time I could tell these extremely nice ladies were getting very frustrated with me.  They wanted to get this process over.  The computers had crashed in the cancer center earlier in the day and they were running behind. 

When they told me I had to hold that position and not move the flood burst.  I laid there with tears streaming down my face.  I could sense them hurrying around me but it still took forever.  AND they didn’t even finish.  I still have to go in tomorrow and finish the picture on the other side. 

As I drove home in tears I realized that the marks on my chest they drew on me come to the middle of my upper chest.  Which means the final shred of dignity is lost.  I was just warming up to my new figure and feeling OK with my new look and now I realize that any remotely v neck shirts will show my siren red sunburn.  Great.

So as I near my house this song comes on the radio.

http://su2c.standup2cancer.org/sutv/lift.php  (click on the picture of Ingred Michaelson)

And I am reminded that I made it through chemo.  I made it through the removal of both breast.  I made it through a cancer diagnosis.  I will always be broken.  But I am never alone.  I have a wonderful community of people around me.

Then I got home and I came in the door and three little munchkins yelled “mommy’s home” and raced to the door to greet me.

I just might go back to radiation tomorrow.

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