Archive | April, 2011

In His Loving Arms

29 Apr

Sometimes our own words come back to haunt us.

A sentence I wrote in my book has been echoing through my head for the last two weeks, jarring me with a truth I didn’t fully realize when I first wrote it.

“The only thing worse than finding out you have cancer, would be finding out that your child does.”

When I wrote those words, I was thinking of my mom & dad’s reaction to the news of my cancer. Never did I imagine that just a few years later, I would find myself in the parent role.

It started with a suspicious lump. The pediatrician was concerned enough to send us to a specialist. The specialist immediately sent us to the hospital for testing and diagnosing. And of course, waiting.

After a worrisome week and a half, I sat yesterday in a windowless examination room with my child awaiting the results. Earlier in the day, the specialist had told us that as soon as he got the report from the radiologist, he would know for sure if it was cancer. And so we waited.

I’ve been down this road before. I don’t like it.

Finally the specialist returned to our room. He didn’t make eye contact with me at first and my heart dropped. But the news was good. No cancer. Definitely good news.

Awhile back, someone said to me, “I could never believe in a God who lets children get cancer.” She was likely struggling with her own issues; even so, I sure don’t understand why people say stuff like that. I mean, who are we to dictate who God is and what He may do?

We get to choose whether or not we will believe in God, but we don’t get to choose who He is. That has already been established.

Imagine for a moment if God was not good, not loving, not just, not faithful. Would it matter? Our lives would no doubt be miserable. But He would still be Almighty God, right? And we would still be at the mercy of his power, authority, and grace.

How blessed we are that the Bible assures us that God is indeed good, loving, just, and faithful!

If my child ever does get cancer, I am so very thankful that I believe in a wonderful God who would continue to hold us both in His loving hands.

Chasing Bubbles

18 Apr

Dogs really know how to enjoy life, don’t they? Consider our dog Ranger. He likes pretty much everything… bacon-flavored dog treats, squirrels, butterflies. But there is nothing Ranger likes more than chasing bubbles.

In fact, he has his very own one-gallon jug of Miracle Bubbles setting out on the patio. Have you ever seen a bird-dog point at a jug of Miracle Bubbles? Ranger does. That’s how much he enjoys his bubbles.

As soon as the kids get home from school, Ranger grabs the jug’s handle in his mouth, carries it to the back door, and waits for the kids to blow bubbles for him. When they do, Ranger chases the bubbles, popping each one in his mouth until sudsy drool drips from his chin. Absolute happiness.

But a few days ago, something happened that made Ranger forget all about his beloved bubbles.

Our neighbors have a cute little dog. A terrier of some kind, I suppose. He and Ranger have never been officially introduced since a wooden fence separates the two dogs. A few days ago, this little dog started yapping at Ranger. Ranger felt obligated to bark back. The little dog yapped louder. Ranger started digging. As soon as the hole was big enough, Ranger shoved his big snout under the fence. The yapping stopped. And that’s when the yelping started because the little dog had bitten Ranger’s lip with his sharp tiny teeth and wasn’t letting go.

See how quickly things can go bad? One moment we’re out chasing bubbles, and the next moment we’ve got our head stuck under a fence, trapped in the gnawing jaws of pain.

Kind of scary, isn’t it? Well, life can be scary sometimes. We may need to spend some time licking our wounds. But not forever.

Because even my dog knows that the time will come for us to start chasing those bubbles again.

The Goodbye Cancer Garden

10 Apr

Due to increased awareness and earlier detection, more and more “younger” women are now being diagnosed with breast cancer. This is actually a good thing, because, when found early, this awful disease is so much more survivable. However, this also means that many of these “younger” women who are being diagnosed with breast cancer are mothers of young children.

That raises a new issue – what do you tell your children about the cancer? How many details do you include? And when is the best time to do it?

Once treatment starts, it gets pretty hard to keep cancer a secret.

I remember my nine-year-old son being so devastated that I might lose my hair. He couldn’t even begin to comprehend that he might lose his mother.

Now there is a wonderful new children’s picture book available that deals with this difficult issue. It’s called The Goodbye Cancer Garden. Written from the heart, mother and author Janna Matthies penned this sensitive story during her own breast cancer journey. Here’s what it’s about:

One winter day, Mom and Dad tell Janie and Jeffrey that Mom has cancer. Soon the whole family goes to the doctor to ask questions.

“Is Mom better yet?” Jeffrey asks. “Not yet,” the doctor says. “But we’re working very hard to make her better—probably by pumpkin time.”

That gives Janie an idea: to plant a vegetable garden.

As the garden grows, Mom’s treatment progresses—and when it’s all done, there are healthy pumpkins and a recovering Mom!

By far the best picture book addressing the cancer issue that I’ve ever found, The Goodbye Cancer Garden is a story about growing what families need most — a garden of hope.

I Love You

4 Apr

Three simple words. For some people, they just roll off the tongue. But for others, those words seem to get stuck somewhere back behind their tonsils.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, many people did not know what to say. I don’t blame them at all. I had no idea what I wanted or needed them to say either. I mean, what can you say to someone who has just found out they have a potentially fatal disease? What words could we possibly offer to someone who has experienced the shock of a cancer diagnosis, or any disease for that matter? Or how about a divorce? A death?

I remember appreciating the people who came up to me and simply said things like “I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry to hear this is happening to you. I wish it would all go away.” And I would nod and whisper “me too.”

Then there were the people who wrapped their arms around me and said “I love you” over and over again until their words finally penetrated my pain with their comforting presence. I appreciated them too.

The words “I love you” cannot cure cancer.

But those powerful words do have the incredible ability, when spoken sincerely, to heal broken hearts and to provide comfort and hope where there is nothing but fear and pain.

Four and a half years after my diagnosis, I am still hearing those wonderful words — “I love you.” Old “I love yous” echo through my mind. New “I love yous” warm my heart. Each time I hear those precious words, I let out the tight breath I was holding in. The tension leaves my shoulders. A sense of peace and wellness fills my being.

Just three simple words.

I love you.