Archive | January, 2012

The Dark Side

27 Jan

Sometimes I get so tired of always looking on the bright side. It’s exhausting, really. And there are times when the brightest side I can find is still pretty dull. Just once, I would like to go looking on the dark side. You know, forget the rainbow and just go wallowing in a vat of stinky, negative, woe-is-me, pessimistic gloom.  Wouldn’t that be refreshing for a change?

For five years I’ve been trying to look on the bright side. That’s not easy when you have cancer. It takes courage and determination to look beyond the curse in order to find the blessing. Wouldn’t it be easier if the bright side was so gleaming obvious that we didn’t have to go looking so hard for it?

But perhaps if it weren’t for the stark contrast of the dark side, we would miss the bright side altogether.

It seems to me that God’s loving presence feels much closer when I find Him in the shadows of despair and disappointment. His comfort and peace shine way brighter through the darkness of pain and grief. His grace seems richer. Faith grows stronger. Hope dispels the darkness.

And hope is a very good thing. Because as long as we have hope, there will always be a bright side.

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One in a Million

20 Jan

It has been said that cancer therapy is “like beating the dog with a stick to get rid of its fleas.” Which just goes to say that when it comes to cancer, we don’t have it all figured out yet. Not even close. There’s an organization that is determined to change this.  It’s called the Army of Women. And they don’t do pink.

The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation and the Avon Foundation joined forces a few years ago to launch this Army of Women. The focus is on research — a new and different approach.

Instead of conducting laboratory research on rats or mice for whom breast cancer is really not a big concern anyway, scientists believe that the research needs to actually involve women. But it is difficult for scientists to find women volunteers to participate in research studies. That’s where the Army of Women comes in. They have created a partnership between women and scientists. Their goal is to recruit one million women.

All women are invited to participate, whether or not they have a history of breast cancer. (Men are invited to participate as well but only if they have had breast cancer or have an immediate relative with the disease). It’s pretty simple. You can sign up at www.armyofwomen.com and they will send you an email when there is a new research project in need of volunteers. If you are interested in the project, and if you fit the study criteria, you will be instructed on how to proceed. If not, simply delete the email.

There are many different types of research projects. Some just involve filling out a questionnaire. But others (and here’s where it gets a little tricky) might need a sample of saliva, urine, blood, or… breast tissue. (Okay, for those of you who are feeling dizzy at the idea of donating breast tissue all for the good of science, I’m pretty sure these samples just involve authorizing the donation of tissue that has already been removed, such as from a biopsy). As for me, being the big chicken that I am, I have only participated in the questionnaire studies so far. And, like I mentioned earlier, participants always have the option of saying no.

Breast cancer has been around for a long time. That doesn’t mean it has to be a part of our future — or the future of our daughters and granddaughters. In order to find a cure, perhaps it will take an army. An army of women.

Footbology

13 Jan

My husband and teenage sons have been trying to get me to blog about NFL star Tim Tebow. I roll my eyes at this suggestion because my football expertise is, well, let’s say limited.

I did play powder-puff football back in high school. Not because I was interested in powder-puff football, but because I was interested in the varsity football players who were coaching it. During the games, I would run around the field wearing pink lip gloss and trying to avoid the ball.

Even though I am not as football-obsessed as other members of my household, I do like football. And I like Tim Tebow. Last Sunday, I too, jumped up & down and screamed at the TV during the amazing eleven seconds of overtime in the Bronco-Steelers game.

Who doesn’t love a last minute come-back? Aren’t we all encouraged by knowing that even when we are facing a daunting challenge, everything can change for the better in just eleven seconds? Unless, of course, you’re a Steelers fan.

It’s all about the timing.

A few years ago, I became involved in a ladies Bible study (thanks to my good friend, Kamela), and we currently have our brains immersed in a Beth Moore study. (I may know nearly nothing about football, but go ahead and ask me about the Septuagint or eschatology or a guy named Maccabeus). In last week’s lesson, Beth emphasized how our God is a God of timing. The Bible is filled with examples of this.

Sometimes I wish I could get a peek at God’s calendar. It would no doubt have prevented more than a few moments of gut-twisting panic and teeth-clenching worries during the last 5 years. Cancer would have been of no concern if I could have just checked God’s calendar and seen that the day would eventually come in which I would be healthy and well again.

But that’s not how it works, is it? Because it’s about God’s timing. Not mine.

This is a concept that Tim Tebow seems to understand. And that’s what I admire about him. He doesn’t force the timing. He leaves that to God. Whether he’s winning or losing, Tim does what Tim does best. He simply lives his life as a testimony to God’s love and incredible almightiness.

It doesn’t matter if we are playing football or fighting cancer. Whatever we are doing in our lives, it is an opportunity for our testimonies to shine, all to the glory of our God, whose timing is always perfect.

J-Mom

6 Jan

Yesterday my kids and I were hanging out together, enjoying the last few days of Christmas break — going out for lunch, movies, that kind of stuff. As I drove us out of the restaurant parking lot after lunch, my 14-year-old son referred to me as “J-home-dog.” Seriously. I don’t even know what that means. He usually just calls me Mom.

“Did you just call me a J-dog?” I asked him. Glancing in the rearview mirror, I could see his smile. “No,” he said. “I called you J-home-dog.”

Oh. Just when I think I have this parenting of teen boys all figured out, I get called a J-home-dog. Funny thing is – I’m pretty sure it was a compliment…

We had just finished eating lunch at the restaurant where, for the very first time in 5 years, I had actually eaten some lettuce. A lot of lettuce, in fact. Call me a coward if you must, but the truth is that I have lived the past 5 years in fear of accidentally swallowing a leaf of that stuff. You have no idea how scary lettuce can be when your body refuses to digest it.

You see, when Tamoxifen (my cancer treatment drug) is properly metabolized, it destroys the enzyme necessary for digesting chlorophyll-containing plant foods that have participated in the photosynthesis process. Okay, it’s maybe a bit more complicated than that, but the point is that I absolutely could not digest lettuce (or cabbage or green peppers and such) while I was taking Tamoxifen.

It could have been worse. Tamoxifen could have destroyed the enzyme necessary for digesting something of vital importance like, say, chocolate. So I’m not complaining. But after 5 years of strict lettuce restriction, I found myself looking forward to finally eating some of the green stuff. And since I have been off of Tamoxifen for a few months now, I decided that I would be brave and order a salad for lunch.

I’ll admit, I felt nervous taking that first bite. But then I couldn’t resist all those fresh, crisp lettuce leaves. I hardly even bothered with the dressing. I mean, who would have thought that eating a salad after all these years could be so enjoyable? The waitress probably thought I was crazy. But my kids understood. Especially my 14-year-old.

So go ahead and call me the J-mom or J-home-dog or whatever. Because that’s me — the fearless mom who after 5 years of cancer treatment had the courage to order a salad and eat it. Every last fearsome leaf.