Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Haircut

Benjamin never thought he would be giving his wife a hair cut for Easter Sunday. What I did have was getting long and awkward.. Just Sayin!

Prayer and Anticipation

I have completed four cycles of chemo now (1 cycle= 3 separate infusions). I was so nervous about this last cycle, and it is a miracle what God did in me once I made it out the door of my house Wednesday. I was throwing up and barely walking, but as I got into the car with my sister and a good friend I felt The Holy Spirit come over me. I made my way into the chemo room, and began my usual hello's to all the friends I have made there. Thanks to your faithfulness in purchasing bracelets, three people were blessed with a goodie bag, and I was blessed with the company of friends and ability to be alert and conversing about what the Lord has done for me and others.

Yesterday Jesus helped me brave again. After each chemo cycle I will have to start going in to get a "shot of gold", or what before insurance costs $6,000 to help my body make more white blood cells. Yesterday I only had the time to put together one goodie basket for what I knew God would provide the right person to receive it. I exited the elevator on the 3rd floor of the infusion center and approached the front desk as I usually do. I noticed there were several of my friends behind the desk, but before I could say hi a lady stopped me to point out the scarf over my head to her mother. Suddenly I locked eyes with another Cancer patient, and all I could see were her deep blue eyes that appeared weary. I asked what she was here for and how she was.  She said with watery eyes, " It is all just so much, I am running a fever, and I just don't know if I can take it". Suddenly I felt the prodding I have come to recognize on several occasions through this journey. Jesus was asking me to pray over this woman. This request has happened at different times on this journey, and I had become comfortable in my following of the spirit. I had not, however, been tested at a time when so many people congregated around me. Still remembering my prayers to be brave I asked if I could, and then laid my hand on this woman with a fever, and prayed! There was not much to say after this, and she was quickly ushered back by a nurse who was in the foreground waiting. I looked up and around me and quickly became hot and flustered as I realized everyone watching me. I knew I had done the right thing, but still it is nerve racking for sure! Shortly after this my friends,  Bud and Wilma came out from the door after another chemo round. Bud and Wilma are strong Christians, and Wilma is the lady I gave my first goodie bag to. It was a joy and a comfort to see them, and I learned something I had not known before that Wilma also has Ovarian Cancer. (Keep her in your prayers as she had chemo yesterday).

I too was ushered back to the chemo room, and as I have begun to eagerly look forward to and pray about before each trip I wondered who my nurse would be. The tech told me "Allison" will be taking care of you. It almost brought tears to my eyes. I thought I had had every nurse at the chemo center, but I had never had Allison and she shares a name with a dear friend who went to Heaven ten years ago this July. It was God's way of reminding me " He is with me". After I received my shot I looked around the chemo room and it was empty except for the lady who I prayed over just a few minutes earlier. I walked over to her and her daughter, and as I have begun to do asked, " Can I give you something?"

Can I give you all who are still reading something? Worship the Lord God in Heaven alone. Praise Him this weekend that He saved us all by sending His son Jesus to die on the cross, and then raised Him from the dead. What I hope I do in writing to you all is show you that His spirit is very much alive, and He is waiting on You!

Have a Blessed Easter,


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Downtrodden but Not Destroyed

Dear Friends,

The affects of chemo on one's body are great. I find that with each treatment my body becomes weaker, and yet even though I have breakdowns over how I feel and what is left to endure my spirit grows stronger.
Many of you know the anticipated side effects of chemo; continual nausea, loss of appetite, body aches, and pain. Some have wondered why I wear glasses in pictures they see of me after treatment and that is because my eyes burn and my head pounds. I've also begun to have sores in my nose and mouth, but still overall the worst is the sickness that lingers in your stomach and works at defeating one's heart. My husband and I have discussed that as a person who is determined to shine Light on Cancer I don't want the spirit and Light God blesses me with to fool anyone on the rigors endured when battling this disease. My heart has been heavy for others who feel and have felt the same discomfort, and I am glad God has given me a heart of servitude for others who are weary. I believe serving others like Jesus did on Earth helps me look beyond my own plight and suffering, and foster a heart of gratitude despite the trials of this world.
I also have to think about the suffering Jesus anticipated on the cross for our sins as I anticipate more sickness, which makes my plight minimal in comparison.
My Cancer theme verse has ran through my head all night as I think about another round of chemo today.
"9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."2 Cor. 12:9-10.
I don't feel strong, but I know the power of God alone can help me to be strong and will help me through another day.

 Much Love and Peace in Christ,


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I Had Chemo Today and Have Chemo Tomorrow, but I Thundered Up Last Night

Look for the silver Lining

I had no idea my high school friend and I would be blowing up in the "Thundering Up" world today. I was so blessed  by the excitement of last night, and thank God for the opportunities He presents to spread His Light! God, along with my good friend Torrey James were by my side in the chemo room today, and He will be with me again tomorrow as I face what has proven to be my toughest round of the three infusions I receive in one cycle.

I told a story to Torrey today that I recently heard from a friend.  A four year old girl was battling an aggressive Cancer. She explained that her ability to do the things she loved was taken away by a "dragon inside her", but she delighted in the fact that God's angels where with her. I was intrigued by this analogy because of recently reading of the description in the Bible of  Satan as a dragon, and within the same chapter we are reminded that the Light will ultimately overcome. You never know what will happen when you walk towards the Light, and look for life's blessings.

Friday, March 15, 2013


An update for my friends and family; Yesterday the doctor called, they called to tell me my white cell count is low, which is nothing new to these ears. What was different is they become concerned when white counts are around 500. Mine have been around 400, but according to my blood draw from this week I am walking around with them at 300. In addition I started having severe pain in my abdomen on Tuesday evening, which lasted into Wednesday and Thursday, but I must say has dulled considerably. I have an appointment with the doctor today at 11:00. This doesn't mean I expect to walk away with answers, because as I have learned physicians “practice” medicine hence why my chemotherapy involves several clinical trials.

This update may sound as if I am upset, and I will admit things have been tough. There are times I long for the life I once had, but recognize God has given me a much brighter future because of Cancer and so I am prepared to use His strength to get me to where I want to be. I had a good reminder this week when a package that was supposed to come on Friday arrived at my doorstep Wednesday. It was a new “Clinging Cross” that a friend made just for me. It was God’s way of reminding me to continue walking towards the light and cling to Him even when it feels impossible or counter intuitive to life’s circumstances. 

My days seem to turn around when I place my trust in Him. This reminds me of a Bible story, which I think exemplifies trials in this life. Jesus was seen literally walking on water, and He invites his disciple Peter to climb out of the boat and join Him. Peter begins to walk on water himself as he looks to Jesus, but a wind on the water makes him turns his eyes away from Jesus and he begins to sink. I can imagine what Jesus was thinking at that moment and this is my own assumption, however,  I think Jesus would have thought “ What are you doing? I am the son of God, you were just walking on water and some wind blows you, you falter, and your faith is weakened?”. God wants us to trust Him in all of life’s circumstances. Sometimes He is asking us to step out of the boat, and for some that part is easy. The difficult part for many, including myself, comes once we are on the water trusting God and trials of this world come to blow us over and we succumb to their meager authority in comparison to God’s majesty. If this update causes you to worry about me you have missed the point of my disclosure. Instead pray for me, walk towards the light, and be honest with God above who already knows how you feel. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

How I Learned I Had Ovarian Cancer

How did I learn I had  Stage IV Ovarian Cancer? Well, I had pain for many years, and I remember as early as high school (01 graduate) being told I had Ovarian Cysts, which doctors wanted to regulate with birth control. They said it would alleviate the problem, but in college I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and cringe when I remember the pain of having cysts rupture on occasions. Despite the pain, I gritted my teeth and reassured myself this was my normal.

 After I married my husband, Benjamin, in October of 2008, I went to my family doctor, and once again reiterated my concern for the cysts, pain, and my new normal. He made a referral for me to see a very reputable OBGYN, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear it was the same doctor who delivered his children.

I appreciated the referral, I mean come on he delivered a doctor's children, he's gotta be good, right!?! I felt hopeful in his hands, and confident he would provide a solution to the pain and concern I'd carried for years. I met with the highly recommended doctor, and he told me there's really no way to know what is going on around a women's uterus and ovaries without having an exploratory surgery. This is basically true, however, a doctor can determine the difference between a cyst and mass in most cases. 

I was scheduled for surgery  immediately, and with exclusivity of the Dr. came my choice of hospitals, which was certainly impressive. The surgery was outpatient, and I came out with two small incisions. The doctor told my family I had an infection, and I was sent home with some serious antibiotics. On my follow up appointment the doctor walked in the room, and immediately and literally  said " well you're never having kids". 

I really heard nothing else after the doctor said those words, and left the office with  more of his antibiotics, but nothing ever got better. I found a NEW OBGYN who I really liked, and carefully reviewed the surgical notes to help me understand better what the doctor found during the surgery. She told me my insides where messed up pretty bad, and I had "clubbing" in my tubes that likely would prevent children. I told her I was still having pain, but she was adamant that I should not have another surgery until Benjamin and I decided if we would ever "try" for kids, because another surgery could damage everything. 

Fast forward to four years later, I had a big disappointment at work after trying for several promotions, and the heartbreak was exactly what I needed to shake me to demand answers. I researched options and received good recommendations on a SPECIALIST (key word), and when Benjamin and I met with Dr. Parekh, in August 2012, he immediately felt a mass on my ovary within seconds.... and he was concerned.

Dr. Parekh ordered an ultrasound and determined it was a mass, but he did not think it was Cancerous. The plan was to forgo a full hysterectomy for the time being, and remove as much ovary as necessary to eradicate the problem. During the surgery the doctor found more than he bargained for, it was obviously Cancer, and it had spread to my uterus, tubes,  and now we know a metastasized mass. 

My regret in my journey towards diagnosis is looking back I should have questioned the first doctor. Not because of how he treated me after the surgery, but I should've questioned the referral in the first place. The doctor who delivered my physician's children was not a Cancer/Pre-Cancerous specialist. His office was decorated with pictures of all of the babies he had delivered over years, and I'm sure he would have been perfect if I'd been there to have a baby.

Looking back on the doctor's notes from my 1st surgery, it said I had a black cyst on my right ovary, which is where my Oncologist believes the Cancer originated.. So, it's  not certain, but obviously likely I had the Cancer during the exploratory  surgery I underwent surgery four years before my diagnosis. I don't hold any ill will towards the doctor, but do wish he would've been more sensitive and treated me nicer the last time I saw him, but then again, I wish there we a whole lot more people in this world who were a little nicer!!

Ovarian Cancer Awareness-

Teal is not just for Tarah or Tenaciously Teal. It is to remind us that Ovarian Cancer whispers, and is most often found in its' later stages, immediately decreasing a women's chances of survival. According to the Ovarian Cancer Coalition (2014), 70% of women with Ovarian Cancer are not diagnosed until the disease is in an advanced stage, and it's there're 22,000 new cases of Ovarian Cancer annually. Let's raise awareness together, and assist women in finding Gynecological Cancers early and before the disease progresses!

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms:

-Abdominal Bloating
-Indigestion or Nausea
-Feelings of Pressure in the pelvis or lower back
- Increased Abdominal Growth
-Feeling tired or low energy

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Father Writes about His Daughter's Cancer

My dad is the senior pastor of Brookings Church of the Nazarene in Brookings, OR. He has been in the ministry longer than I have been alive, which is almost thirty years now. My dad is many things; an artist, a story teller, a counselor, a preacher, a cartoonist, and most importantly a prayer warrior and man of God. In addition my dad is regular guest writer for the Brookings Curry Costal Pilot in their faith forum. He is a very busy man, but never passes up an opportunity to share his faith and love for God. This was published today and I am proud to say written by my dad.

They were words that I never thought I would read coming from our daughter: "I am a better Christian because of cancer."
It's no secret that our eldest daughter, Tarah, is battling stage 4 Ovarian Cancer. She is currently undergoing chemo therapy. In the age of Facebook, she and her husband Ben, have set up a page to post updates on her progress. As a father, I appreciate being able to read the loving support she receives from so many people there, and for the chance to stay current with her progress. Tarah has openly shared her heart on her page, and even though as her father I am highly prejudice, I am amazed at the strong faith in God she has displayed there.
Frankly, matters of faith have not always been terribly important to Tarah. She herself will tell that she was a fairly rebellious child, that she doubted God's existence, and if He did exist, why He didn't do something about pain and suffering. Over the years Marylynn and I have prayed and wept for Tarah many times. Three years ago I began a daily prayer regimen that include prayers for all our daughters and their spouses. One of my frequent prayers has been that they would grow and mature in their faith.
One day, it occurred to me that the answer to that prayer very well might require some kind of hardship to come into their lives—meaning, things like cancer to come into the lives of the loved ones I have been carefully praying for. In other words, cancer has become part of God's plan for Tarah spiritual growth and maturity. Now you're asking me if I believe that God "caused" the cancer to come into her life. Of course not. There are enough bad things happening in the world for God to be able to use. He doesn't have to create hardship, but what He promises to do is "use" it.
Could Tarah die? (I even hate writing those words) Yes. People die from cancer. Will I blame God? I'll be honest, it's hard for me to be absolute on that point, but I hope not. I don't plan to.
"What's your point then, Pastor Rick," I hear you asking. I guess my point is that when you pray for a loved one keep in mind that part of God's answer may very well be hardship for them. And when hardship does come, as it always does, pray that it will serve the purpose the our loving God intends for it to serve.
Tarah's "Theme Verse" for her cancer battle comes from 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Friday, March 8, 2013

Clinging to The Cross

My Clinging Cross

I can now say "I am halfway done" with the bad chemo! I am so thankful that I have made it this far, and as far as the credit for getting here I bestow on our Heavenly Father.  The picture above is of a clinging cross given to me as a gift before I started chemo. The clinging cross for me is symbolic of a life line during the hours I spend in the chemo bed. It is with me through every prick, sickness, or pain encountered in the infusion center, and reminds me of the pain Jesus knowingly chose to endure so I could be forgiven! 

Today I had the realization that although I know I must cling to God during this time, and I feel that He is with me, I am still learning how to make each moment an eternal moment. I am learning how to enjoy peace in His presence, and not be burdened with the inability to rejoin "the busy". There are times I am obviously   thankful for what Cancer has done for my spiritual life, and other moments I so wish to return to the business that is this world. It is a growing process to become aware of how much Cancer can take away from you, and still a joy and heart awakening to be given the opportunity to be allowed the time to do the most fulfilling thing there is in this world..... spending time with God, ensuring my eternity, and clinging to the Cross.

Here is a poem I wrote  about my Clinging Cross 

I cling to the cross with all of my might
Even when my strength is lost and things don't feel right
He is my companion both by day and by night.
Without His loss for me on that cross 
the Light would not be so bright!

Here is the original poem for the Clinging Cross that we give with Clinging Crosses we give to  Cancer Patients through Tenaciously Teal- A Non Profit I founded to help Cancer fighters!

When my mind is fuzzy
And my eyes are dim with tears,
I need to feel Your presence, Lord,
And know that You are near.
When my heart is racing
And my thoughts have such a sting,
I tightly grasp this little cross
And prayerfully I cling.
It's not a magic piece -
This cross Your father planned,
But when I cling to it
I feel Your nail-scarred hand.©
Poem by Jane Davis

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Love and Cancer

I have been blessed throughout this life, so I can’t complain, however I'm giving myself permission to be sad about my Cancer diagnosis as my family and friends see my health decline, and when I'm fearful about facing the chemo room some days. I also struggle with those reality moments Cancer forces you to endure even though I see how "reality moments"  allows me to have greater appreciation and  perspective for the beauty of life; Hope or a Silver Lining of sorts that God will always paint the darkness with.

My reality is,  I have been battling and living with Stage IV Ovarian Cancer, and receiving the treatment to match the diagnosis. The reality is our body's are susceptible to the hardships we've been told would come with treatment, and  it is difficult to grasp doing three more cycles when physically I feel this crummy. I have been told that the half way point is when you really start to “feel it”, and so I can say I have joined the masses on the “I am halfway there and I am thinking about revolting” train. I am only kidding, I would never just give up, but doesn’t life on this Earth make it easy to want to sometimes?

The reality is I have Cancer, and Benjamin and I have tackled and wrestled with this reality, but I will never forget the moment it really hit us. It came relatively late in this journey considering our first meeting with the Oncologist was 11/30, and that day we were clearly told “you can die from this”. Death is the unspoken awareness that comes with Cancer and due to experience Benjamin and I have a keen awareness about death and Cancer, however,  it was not truly real until Valentine ’s Day of this year.  I had completed my second cycle and had enough energy to  get take out with my sweetheart. As we were pulling out of the parking lot I heard a song on the radio and so I turned it up. It was Adele “Someone Like You”, the song is a break up song, but at that moment all I heard was “I heard that you are settled down, that you found a girl, and your married now, I heard that your dreams came true..” As I heard Adele sing those words my mind immediately thought, “if God doesn’t heal me, I want to be in Heaven and hear that my Benjamin found someone to help him and make him happy”. The song continued and the verse rang out “I wish nothing but the best for you, don’t forget me, I remembered you said sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead”. Quickly I was moved to tears, and realized I wasn’t going to be able to hide them from my sweetheart. As we were driving I realized we were by the cemetery where I had seen a man early that day seated next to his Valentine’s grave in a white lawn chair. I decided in that moment that it was easier to tell Ben about the image I had seen earlier than the real reason I began to cry. Hearing the story of a man sitting by his sweetie’s grave moved us both to tears and into an instant where God allowed us to talk about the reality of Cancer. With tear soaked eyes we made our way off the road and to a place we could look on at the sunset that God had shaped into a pink heart on this evening just for us. #Cherishyourlovedones