Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008

2008 has been a year of struggle, waiting, and rejoicing.

Struggle: This year I struggled with breast cancer, including three surgeries and radiation treatment, struggled with my own selfishness and pride, and struggled to do what I am called to do.

Waiting: This has been a year of waiting for health, waiting for energy, and waiting for the Lord.

Rejoicing: See the photo above of my children, and you will see a huge reason for rejoicing! God has been faithful through the struggle and the waiting, and blessed us beyond measure!

Tonight we will enjoy the fellowship of our family and friends and ring in the new year as we do every year. And I am thankful both that last year is ending, and that the future before us is full of the kindness of our heavenly Father.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Monday, December 29, 2008

More glimpses

Tim: sleeping.

Nikki and Tim playing with Zoe.

Zoe, looking cute as ever.

Ben and Elsa, also looking cute.

Marilyn opening gifts.

Glimpses of Christmas Day

Nikki refilling a plate of goodies.

All the guys playing "El Grande" (Tim, Jack, Matt, Ben, Dave).

Maria, Zoe and Jeni.

Elsa receiving her cast-iron Dutch Oven.

Nikki receiving the elephant that Elsa knit for her.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

Merry Christmas, Gentle Readers! May you enjoy a blessed time with family and friends, and celebrate this season with joy in Christ, the newborn King!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas is coming!

I love this time of year! We have fresh snow, and Ben and Elsa have been here wrapping gifts and playing games with us. Tim and Nikki are on their way into town today, and we have a Christmas party tonight. I am about to do some food prep for the next couple of days, while listening to Christmas music. Have a blessed Christmas, Gentle Readers!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Year-end Family Update

It is entirely possible that my posting may become irregular after today. Tomorrow, the children start arriving, and I can hardly wait!

Ben and Elsa will come in from Bloomington, IN, on the 20th. Ben completed his masters degree last spring at Indiana University, and is now working on his PhD there in classical studies. He's passed his first comp in Latin grammar, and will be doing his Latin translation next spring, followed by the grammar and translation tests for Greek next year. Yes, he will be a student forever. But he is doing well, and we are proud of him! Elsa is helping keep the boat afloat by working at the graduate school of the business college at IU. In the spring it looks like she will trade in her office job for a job with the admissions department, which should be a nice change of pace for her. We are proud of how hard-working and willing to do things Elsa has been. She is a great wife to Ben! They just celebrated their first anniversary on Dec. 15. They continue to enjoy their church, and it warms our hearts to see them serving and participating there!

Tim and Nikki will arrive on the 23rd. Tim is enjoying his job at the Missile Defense Division of Raytheon in Tucson, AZ. And Nikki is doing a great job of settling them into their apartment. They are plugging in to a great church in Tucson, and making friends and settling in. We are pretty proud of both of them for making this bold move to trust God and go where they never dreamed they would go! They just celebrated their third-month anniversary on the 13th of this month.

Marilyn continues in good health, and is a huge help to me around the house. She continues a pretty rigorous schedule of walking, working out at the YMCA, volunteering at the two local elementary school libraries, and at the retirement home in town. In May she will have been living with us for five years, and this past September, she celebrated her 82nd birthday.

Dave continues to be a wonderful husband, and my best friend. He serves as an elder at our church, and continues his work at LANL. It's hard to believe he has been working there for almost 25 years! He is a faithful and diligent husband and elder and scientist and son and father, and is a wonderful chemistry teacher to a group of home-schooled high school students this year. I know I'm biased, but I think he is a pretty special guy.

And me: I've survived a challenging year. Diagnosed with breast cancer in March, I have not only completed three surgeries and 7 weeks of radiation treatments, but I have watched as the Lord has cared for and provided for me all this long, hard year. I knew God was good, but now it is a deeper, more practical knowledge. I continue to rest and recuperate and adjust to my new "normal" as best I can, with the hope that more and more energy will return to me, so that I can return to doing all the things I love, like teaching and quilting.

So, this past year has been a good year, as every year with the Lord is. We expanded our family by adding another daughter-in-love, and saw another Finnegan family unit established. And we walk in trust and amazement of all the Lord does for and in and through us. Many thanks to all of you who have and continue to pray for me. That is a precious gift, and God is a mighty Answerer of prayers!

As I look back over this year, I am overwhelmed by God's goodness. I hope you will take time, Gentle Readers, in the midst of this busy season, to look for His goodness in your life, and celebrate this season with a thankful heart! I know I will.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rain on snow

This afternoon it rained on all of our lovely snow. I always find rain on top of snow a depressing thing, melting, making dirty, and then freezing over. But this evening as it turns cold, there is still enough snow to look lovely in the twilight.

Today has been a less weary day somehow. I accomplished things around the house, attended a short Christmas party with my worldviews students, and walked and talked with a friend before resting in my comfy chair with a good book. When I climb into my chair each day, and recline it with a heating pad under my back and a flannel quilt on top of me, a good book in my hands, and the late afternoon sun reflecting on the clouds through the large windows in my bedroom, I feel so blessed.

Tim called while I was resting and he was driving home from work, and we will get to see them earlier than we thought on Tuesday, which will be great! I am so excited to be gathering all the chicks in for a cozy Christmas!

Tonight was planned to be the chorus concert for the homeschool chorus I directed--the one we had to cancel when I could no longer direct and we lost our accompanist. In order to keep from being melancholy, the four chorus board couples are going out to dinner together tonight. I love these people, and it is a treat to be meeting up with them all! God has been so generous to me by giving me these sweet friends-- I am truly blessed!

On the health front, I do best when I exercise and rest, and try to be patient with the process. I need to remind myself this is part of the recovery process for me, and let my body set the tempo. Thank you to all who have prayed for my rash to go away. Unfortunately, it has not gone away yet, but it is quite improved after my 2 weeks on steroids. I am to continue the steroids for two more weeks, until I see my primary care doc, so we have two more weeks to treat it and pray before I have to have a skin biopsy. So keep those prayers coming!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Rejoicing whether I feel like it or not

OK. Today I am tired. I got around the circuit at Curves twice for the first time in months. And, following two days of snow shoveling, albeit slow shoveling with frequent rests, it wore me out.

And honestly, I am also tired of fighting the mental and spiritual battle to keep my weary brain and heart where they ought to be instead of where they go when left to themselves. I am beginning to understand anew Paul's analogy of fighting the good fight, and running the long race. I exercise, I rest, I fight with guilt I shouldn't have, ignore guilt that is entirely and rightly mine when I shouldn't, and feel irritated when people intrude (or don't intrude, depending upon who they are) upon the chaos in my inner self. *Sigh* There is nothing new under the sun. I bet many of you, Gentle Readers, fight the same fight, and feel bludgeoned or exhausted sometimes.

I am learning that, for myself, the first thing I need to do when I start feeling this way is to take a nap. I am slowly learning that this is the first sign of my body weariness. So I am heading for a nap now. And while I prepare to sleep, and after I wake up, I will tell myself the truth for the millionth time, and try to listen to it. I will try to remember God's blessings to me specifically, and be thankful. And I will rejoice in the constancy of His love for me, whether I feel like it at the moment or not. I hope one day to lay this burden down for good, and hear those precious words, "Well done, good and faithful servant..." But in the meantime, I hope and rejoice.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And if it looked like Christmas before...

You should see our world after the foot of snow we received last night! It is beautiful, and we are all getting our exercise with varying amounts of shoveling! And I heard this is the precursor to the "big storm" that's coming on Wednesday and Thursday. God is good to provide moisture and beauty for us to enjoy. And I have my suspicions that this is all due to Ben and Elsa coming: last time they came for Christmas, we all got snowed-in at my parents's house under the biggest snowfall in a century!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

I love Christmas. And it really is beginning to look like Christmas-- with snow on the ground, and more on its way, the Christmas lights up, and the carols playing! Marilyn got ambitious yesterday and baked a batch of sugar cookies, which we all decorated last night. And the count-down is on: just one week until Ben and Elsa arrive, and 10 days until Tim and Nikki arrive. I am rejoicing in the thought of having all my "chicks" gathered in one place this holiday season!

God has been so good to me in this turbulent year. He has blessed me with two wonderful sons, and two wonderful daughters, an amazing husband, a helpful mother-in-law, and I have beaten a dread disease (at least for now!) And more than that, He sent his son to die in my place. I should never complain about anything!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Seeing our Pilot

A dear friend asked me today if my blog was sounding more upbeat because I was feeling better, or because I wanted other people to *think* I am feeling better. Well, there might be a little of both, but mostly, I am feeling a little better physically, and it is helping me to feel more hopeful. I can at least imagine getting my strength back. And here are some facts to prove it: 1. I have gone to work out at Curves three times this week, the first time I've managed three workouts in a week since early October. Granted, I am not working out long or hard, but I'm there and moving and stretching everything! 2. My mornings are still sometimes a little hard, but nothing like they were. Most of the time I move over to my comfy chair when Dave gets up at 5:30, and continue sleeping there for another hour. That works pretty well. 3. I have gotten a few things done this week. I graded Worldviews book reports, wrapped Christmas gifts, etc. I never got as much done as I wish i could, but there was real progress.

What has made the difference? Physically, increasing my exercise and changing my medication doses have been huge. And mentally/spiritually, fighting to keep my perspective where it belongs, and spending time with friends who will encourage me with that, has been huge. God has been gracious to encourage my heart! I love this wonderful Calvin quote:
Seeing that a Pilot steers the ship in which we sail...there is no reason why our minds should be overwhelmed with fear...
~John Calvin to Guillaume Farel, 20 August, 1553

So, to sum, though I am still not firing on all cylinders, or running at full tilt, I am keeping my eyes on the Pilot of my ship, and I am encouraged.

A few other updates from my last list of prayer requests...
~I have substantially increased my exercise. Thank you for your prayers! I am now walking 1-2 times a day for 30-60 minutes, and going to Curves three times a week. Once I do that and nap, most of the day is gone, but that is OK!
~Thank you for praying in regards to my rash. I believe it is improving, so please keep praying that it will go away and we can skip another biopsy.
~The Lord has been so good to encourage my spirit by His Spirit, and to provide my terrific husband, pastor and friends to help. Thank you all! And please keep praying!
~Please continue to pray that further medication would be unneccesary.
~Please continue to praise God for piloting our ship, and leading us just where we need to go! May we keep our eyes fixed upon Him.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Another music suggestion

Do you all know about NoiseTrade? They are a collective of musicians who are taking an alternate course to meet up with fans. You can pay what you want to download their music, or tell 5 friends about it and download for free (and you all know how I like a bargain!) Well, I am enjoying what I've downloaded so far from David Mead, and have just downloaded Advent Songs by Sojourn. Lovely!

So, if you get a strange e-mail from me suggesting one of these groups/recordings, you will know you have helped me to download some music! And take a look. If I like it, you might also!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

New-fallen snow and a new born

We had our first real snowfall today, and it transformed our normally beautiful world into an even more spectacular place! I took this picture on my afternoon walk. Can you imagine living in such a gorgeous place?

But even more beautiful than this, a new little girl entered the world this evening! Abigail Christine Lawrence was born out in MD, and though she is the first Lawrence baby I won't get to hold within an hour of her birth, they gave her my name in the middle. What an honor! Mother and baby are doing well, and I saw a photo of her on my cell phone, and if I can ever find it again, and download it, I will try to share it. This is baby #5 for the L's, and they forgot their camera this time around. But I'm sure they will take many photos tomorrow! Welcome to the world, Abby!

Monday, December 08, 2008


I have had lots of heavy, reflective posts lately. So how about a light post for a change?

If you don't already know about it, check out Pandora and Music Genome Project. This is basically a free online radio station, where you get to set the parameters of the music on your station or stations. It uses a large database of music, all categorized by stylistic elements. You can further refine it by saying which songs you like, dislike, or only want to hear once a month. You can start your radio station by choosing either an artist or a song you like, and Pandora will choose similar pieces for you. I currently have an Eclectic Mix station I'm listening to that is centered around Fernando Ortega, Nikel Creek, Bebo Norman, Alison Kraus, and Chris Rice. It's delightful-- and the price is right! They even have a bunch of Christmas stations to choose from. The classical Christmas station is fabulous. Check it out!

I ran across this fun post from Tim Challies: How to Encourage a Blogger this Christmas. He gives some excellent suggestions. I am only a baby-blogger, but some of these would encourage me. I love it when people take the time to leave comments (hint, hint...)

And finally, here is one just for our Alien Fiance, my sweet immigrant dil. See how the Bush administration was prepped for the culture exchange on a trip to Canada here.

We are expecting our first real winter storm of the year tonight. I can't wait for snow to fall on my Christmas lights outside. You gotta love a season with lights AND snow! May you all have a cozy day, Gentle Readers, and cherish the gifts of God in the every day!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sabbath Sentiments

Of the Father's Love Begotten

Of the Father’s love begotten,
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see,
Evermore and evermore!

At His Word the worlds were framèd;
He commanded; it was done:
Heaven and earth and depths of ocean
In their threefold order one;
All that grows beneath the shining
Of the moon and burning sun,
Evermore and evermore!

He is found in human fashion,
Death and sorrow here to know,
That the race of Adam’s children
Doomed by law to endless woe,
May not henceforth die and perish
In the dreadful gulf below,
Evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever blessèd,
When the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face,
evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him,
and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing,
Evermore and evermore!

This is He Whom seers in old time
Chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets
Promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected,
Let creation praise its Lord,
Evermore and evermore!

Righteous judge of souls departed,
Righteous King of them that live,
On the Father’s throne exalted
None in might with Thee may strive;
Who at last in vengeance coming
Sinners from Thy face shalt drive,
Evermore and evermore!

Thee let old men, thee let young men,
Thee let boys in chorus sing;
Matrons, virgins, little maidens,
With glad voices answering:
Let their guileless songs re-echo,
And the heart its music bring,
Evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving,
And unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory,
Evermore and evermore!

Original Latin by Prudentius in the latter part of the 4th Century
Translation by John Mason Neale
Edited and extended by Henry W. Baker

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Heating the shot...

Today we are doing busy household things (like cleaning, and installing a new dishwasher) while we listen to Christmas music. I am currently listening to the "World Christmas Music" found here. "A la nanita nana..." What a joy to be able to do normal things!

My friend Juanita sent me an encouraging passage from Spurgeon's Sermons this morning (see below), which is such a timely reminder to me to content myself under my loving Father's hand, and get about that which I can do.

This is counsel for you who are temporarily laid on the shelf.
Some of God's best workers have been laid aside for long periods.
Moses was forty years in the desert, doing nothing but tending
sheep. One greater than Moses, our blessed Saviour, was thirty
years doing - I will not say nothing but certainly doing no public work.

When you are retired or inactive, prepare for the time when God
will again use you. If you are put on the shelf, do not rust;
pray that the Master will polish you, so that when He uses you
again you will be fully ready for the work.

While you are laid aside, I want you to pray for others that are
working. Help them and encourage them. Do not get into that
peevish, miserable frame of mind that grudges and undervalues
other's efforts. Some people, when they cannot do anything, do
not like anybody else to work. Promise that if you cannot help,
you will never hinder. Spend time in prayer, that you may be fit
for the Master's use.

At the siege of Gibralter, when the fleet surrounded it and
determined to storm the old rock, the governor fired red-hot shot
down on the men-of-war. The enemy did not care for the governor's
warm reception. Think how it was done. Here were gunners on the
ramparts firing away and every garrison soldier wanted to join
them. What did those who could not fire a gun do? They heated the
shot. And that is what you must do.

Your pastor is the master gunner, so heat the shot for him with
your earnest prayers. When you see your friends working for God,
if you cannot join them, say, "Never mind. If I can contribute
nothing else, my prayers will heat the shot."

Friday, December 05, 2008

Perplexed, but not in despair

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken."With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
~2 Corinthians 4:7-18

Though Paul was writing about his gospel ministry in particular, these seem like great verses to live by in this journey we call life. I am certainly feeling how clay-like my body is, and those descriptors (hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, struck down) strike pretty close to home sometimes. But the truth is also found in the contrasting words (not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned, not destroyed). These things are true of us who live, not for ourselves, but for Christ-- those who have been purchased by His blood. Putting these truths into practice and living as if they are actually and really and in fact true is the challenge of the Christian life.

I think these verses describe well what I mean when I say I feel "oppressed". I am hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. I am even frustrated at times, and dog-tired. It is, frankly, no fun to be hard pressed or perplexed or persecuted or struck down.

How do we survive it without becoming crushed and despairing and feeling abandoned and being destroyed? We can do it because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us in His presence. We do it because we know that though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles (even when they don't seem so light and momentary to us)are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

One of the things I try to do here on this blog is to process my own feelings as honestly as I can. I think that within the Christian community we are often hesitant to discuss our struggles because it will make us look less holy, or it will cause others to see how wretched we really are. The truth is, the Christian community is made up of wretched people, just like me. I struggle and hurt and Christ succeeds where I fail. My hope is that if you struggle, Gentle Reader, you will see that you are not alone.

But in addition to the honesty I hope to share here, I need to preach the gospel to myself over and over again, every day, in every circumstance. So, I preach it to myself, and I share it with you. Our eyes wander so. Let's encourage one another to keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus.

Today I looked up definitions of the words I discussed briefly yesterday. Here is what I found:
Depression: A mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity.
Oppression: A feeling of being heavily weighed down in mind or body.
If we are looking at ourselves, Gentle Reader, we will all be depressed: we will have a pessimistic sense of our inadequacy, because, well, we are actually inadequate, with little hope for improvement. And it can appear devastating enough to make us despondent. But when we look to Christ, and realize that when God looks at us He sees Christ, we have no fear of inadequacy in Him. Then we may feel hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted or struck down, but we will remember to fix our eyes on Christ, and that in Him we are more than conquerors. I love these verses from Romans chapter 8. May we each live in this reality:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A brief P.S. As I said in my post yesterday, there are sometimes sin issues involved in depression, but there are also, many times, chemical-physical issues that need treatment. I am grateful that we have the opportunity to medically treat many of those chemical-physical issues when they occur, and think we should embrace this blessing of God without hesitation or shame.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Oppression vs. deppression

I have had a lot of talks about my state of mind and soul since posting yesterday. I really appreciate the love and care so many of you have shown! It has been helpful to talk and think through things as I have attempted to do a little soul-searching and figure out what exactly is going on with me.

I do not think I am depressed-- at least not in the classical, clinical way. So everyone, please stop worrying about that (and yes, Mother, I am speaking to YOU!) My pastor reminded me of a good distinction between being depressed and being oppressed. When you are depressed, you turn inward and become self-focused. Sometimes this is due to sin, and sometimes to chemical imbalances, etc. When you are oppressed, outward things are crushing you, and you are struggling to deal with them. I am definitely in the oppressed camp.

As I have thought back over the last several weeks and discussed things with Dave, we realize two things converged that probably made things worse for me. One was that when I renewed my tamoxifen prescription, it was filled in the 20mg dose, instead of the 10mg dose. I had been taking 10mg twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, but the oncologist had encouraged me to try both ways and figure out what worked best for me. In hind-sight, I think taking the full dose at bedtime was making my mornings worse, so I am now returning to twice-a-day doses, and that is already helping some.

The second thing that happened at the same time, was that the endocrinologist suggested I back off of my exercising and rest for a while. That was perfectly good advice to someone with raised cortisol levels, but again in hind-sight it was probably not helpful to me. So back to exercise I go, and after my body gets over the shock, we will see where I stand.

I also need to clarify something that a couple of people have misunderstood from yesterday's post: if exercise is unable to counter-act the effects of the tamoxifen, I am perfectly open to taking drugs to help with this. I would simply like to avoid that if I can, and so am giving myself a month of increased exercise to see what happens. I meet with my doc again on December 30, and if things are not improved, we will discuss this possibility.

In speaking with another dear, wise friend yesterday, I was reminded of something I knew from going through Dave's cancer years ago: normal has shifted. Simple concept, but painful to realize that things may never return to what they were before this cancer journey. My friend reminded me that there are two separate steps involved in dealing with this "new" reality. First, you have to grieve the things lost, for the loss is real. And then, you have to reassess the new "normal", and discover all the things God still has for you to do. So, I may grieve this now-- for there appear to be real losses-- but I will also discover afresh God's plan for me in another season of life.

What a bittersweet thing this world is: full of beauty and blessing, and also full of peril and death and decay. But oh, what a God we serve, who carries us through, holds us, comforts us in our loss, and gives us not only His calling on our lives, but Himself.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The saga continues

Yesterday I went to see my primary care doc, with a short list of items for discussion. He basically told me he was expecting me.

Apparently, he feels the after-math of cancer treatment is the part he plays in cancer treatment. He said he sees maybe 80% of his patients that have survived breast cancer and are on tamoxifen (the drug given to estrogen/progesterone receptive cancer survivorsto keep their cancer from recurring), with symptoms of fatigue, body and joint aches and pains, and depression. Despite my attempt to convince him that I was body-weary, not depressed, he was ready with a three-pronged approach to what he saw as my problem:
1. I need to increase my exercise even when I don't feel like it.
2. I need to get talk therapy from a psychoanalyst to work through my feelings.
3. I need to tke anti-depressant drugs to help realign things due to the tamoxifen.

Well, this wasn't really what I expected somehow. And may I just ask, if 80% of patients on tamoxifen have this problem, why are we jumping to the conclusion that they are depressed and sending them for psychoanalysis, instead of assuming it is a drug issue?

Well, I explained a few things to my dear doc. First, I committed to increasing my exercise. I can do that, and indeed was doing it until my endocrinologist told me to back off and rest. So I can do that again.

Secondly, I explained that I would be a very resistant patient in "talk therapy". He said he thought I'd do great since I do talk therapy with him all the time. I explained that I would certainly be coming from a different worldview than any psychoanalyst, however well-intentioned they may be, and he replied, "So this is a religious issue?" I explained it is not the religion that I'm talking about, but that the view of man the psychoanalyst would have (what man's basic problems are and how to solve them)would be completely different from mine. I told him I couldn't imagine a psychoanalyst that would tell me, for example, "That's sin and you need to repent," and I was quite sure that at times that's what I need to be told.

Thirdly, I told him I do not want to take any more drugs if I can avoid it.

He said he really didn't suggest I try exercise alone. He had found that unless you were doing two of the three approaches, you tended not to be successful. I asked if he would accept pastoral counseling in lieu of psychoanalysis, and he agreed to that. So poor Pastor I come! I will increase my exercise, and make regular appointments with my pastor, and return to see my doc at the end of December. He is skeptical that we can control things without drugs, but is willing to give me a chance to try.

Another issue from my list was the pesky rash that I have had for about 6 months. It is not bothersome, but it won't go away, even after treatment for fungus and treatment with antibiotics. My doc pulled in the dermatologist that shares the office space (2 docs for the price of one!) and they decided we need to deal with it. Neither thinks it is anything associated with the breast cancer. The dermatologist did say there is a possibility that it is related to my auto-immune disease (sarcoidosis). So we are going to try two weeks of a steroid foam, and if it is not gone, they decided I need to have a skin biopsy. I looked at her and said, "You've got to be kidding!" But she wasn't. She explained how simple and minor a skin biopsy is. I didn't tell her that everyone who has performed a biopsy on me in the last 6 months has told me pretty much the same thing. So, I have two weeks of steroids to see if I can avoid that.

If I wasn't depressed before the appointment, I was leaning that way afterwards.

So, my saga continues. This appears to be my new normal for a while, and I had better get about the fight of trusting the Lord even here.

Here are a few specific prayer requests for you prayer warriors. Thank you for joining me in this battle!
~Please pray that the steroid would be effective on the rash. Ask the Lord for mercy, and no need to do a biopsy there.
~Please ask the Lord to provide the strength I need to exercise more, and some sense of recovery and returned energy.
~Please ask the Lord to provide for my spiritual and emotional needs as well as my physical ones.
~Please ask the Lord to be gracious to me in the results of exercise, and for there to be no need for additional medications to manage the ones I've got to take to prevent the breast cancer from returning.
~Praise God with me for his bountiful provision of an excellent doctor, a wonderful husband, a compassionate pastor, and supportive friends. My cup truly overflows.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Here are Dave and Tim getting the tree from the truck and trimming it up. You gotta love Dave's "mountain hat"!

And here the guys are hauling the tree inside.

This is Tim's preferred mode of helping with decorating.

It's a good thing Nikki and Marilyn were serious abut getting things done!

And here is our completed tree. I love the lights, the family memories represented by so many of the ornaments, and the promise of family time, not just here, but here after!