The intermittent sensations – not strong enough to call pains – in my bones have increased in number over recent months. I feel them in my ribs, my left arm, my pubic bone, my cheek bones, and one spot on my spine. I'll discuss it with my oncologist during my routine visit next week. But the dull aches in my breasts – even the fake one – started just a couple of weeks ago. My quick prayer out the door as I headed to my mammogram appointment was that anything abnormal would be detected. Short. Concise. Probably nothing like the story I’m about to share.
I wasn’t worried. I’m not really a worrier by nature, despite the fact that I have occasional anxiety…mostly when I first wake up or when doing something labeled fun but isn’t part of my routine. I actually started crying in line to board a cruise ship six weeks ago because it was outside of the norm for me. Guess that means I should either stop going on expeditions entirely or begin doing them a lot more often. If time and money were in abundance, I’d definitely force myself to choose the latter.
I arrived at the hospital for my appointment in plenty of time, filled out my paperwork, and waited for the mammogram tech to call me back. Not long after I sat down an older woman entered the room and glanced at the table of clipboards. Looking down at the different forms she asked aloud what she was to complete. I was the only other person in the room so I got up and handed her what she needed. As I returned to my seat I asked her if all was well, or something to that effect. She smiled sweetly and simply responded, “Well….” and kind of laughed. Something about her seemed familiar. I told her, “I’m sorry. I guess not. But you’re still smiling,”I acknowledged.
Once she sat down I could see her face. I didn’t recognize her features, but strange to say I knew her spirit. “This question may sound out of left field,” I began, “but were, or are, you and your husband missionaries?”
Her face brightened, “Yes!” she exclaimed.
As I peered into her eyes I told her how we had met in that same waiting room a year or two earlier. “You were on furlough and your husband was having tests for prostate cancer,” I recounted.
She remembered part of my story as well and soon we were both called back to change into our gowns. Once seated again I got reacquainted with Sandi who shared with me her journey from the previous year. The day we first met she went on to be diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer. She believed that the timing of her coming home from South Africa where she served on the mission field was God’s divine providence. Her entire story, which I wish I could share here (maybe in a future book?) had God’s fingerprints all over it. She smiled as she said, “I tell people this cancer has been a gift. A true gift.”
We continued chatting without a break between our words when one of the techs approached us and told Sandi, “I’m sorry for the delay, but you were scheduled to have your mammogram test at the other location and are supposed to be there.” “No she’s not!” I interjected and laughed. Sandi and I knew she was right where she was meant to be, so we could run into each other again. Thankfully, they were able to work her in so she didn’t have to leave or wait much longer.
“I’ve often wondered about you,” Sandi shared. “And this morning I nearly prayed that God would let me see you again.” I told her she apparently didn’t need to pray about it because the Lord knew her heart and answered it anyway.
What are the chances? That we’d both be back to the same office, on the same day, at the same time, more than a year later? Especially when she was actually scheduled to go elsewhere?
She gave me her contact information so we could remain in touch. Our oncologist (we discovered we have the same one) had told Sandi about my book, so I promised I’d mail her a copy.
I can’t say I know why God had us meet more than a year ago or again today. Maybe I’ll know in the future. Maybe I won’t. But each encounter convinced me they weren’t chance meetings…no…they were heavenly orchestrated.
Before I left with an "all clear" from the tech Sandi stood and hugged me as she whispered, “I know I love you.”
"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity." ~ Proverbs 17:17
Have you ever heard that what you do on New Year’s (Day or Eve, I’m not sure which) you’ll do the rest of the year? If there’s any truth to that, I’ll be stranded half-dressed out in the cold throughout 2018.
On New Year’s Day I headed to Mass full of hope and good intentions while the children slept. About five miles from home, my vehicle’s engine overheated. This had happened once before back in October while getting the kids from school. And like before, I eventually managed to coast my vehicle to the parking lot that adjoins my neighborhood. Again, I began to walk home. But unlike the brisk fall day’s chill that chided me for not having a jacket, the morning of January 1st was a frigid 17 degrees when I set out for the 2-mile walk. Thankfully, I learned my lesson the first time and had a coat, but I was wearing a dress - with no nylons, no hat, no scarf, no gloves – I may as well been in Nome, Alaska.
I called the house to have my husband pick me up, but he took his sweet time. My brain was too frozen to let anger build beyond the surface, which at this point was like a skating pond, when I discovered he made himself a cup of coffee before leaving to get me. He redeemed himself by building me a nice fire to sit beside once we returned home so my thighs could thaw.
My word for the year is HOPE.
“…hope that is seen is no hope at all.
I was thankful to have received this word just the day before as I prayed prior to the priest’s homily, a.k.a. message. I asked the Lord what my word should be for the year and it flashed in my mind quickly, in big block letters. So HOPE it is.
Somehow, that simple word gave me comfort as I first sat stranded along the side of the country road, with the ignition off, hoping that the engine would cool faster than my body so I could soon venture closer to home. My heart and mind filled with hope, knowing that all would be o.k.
I needed this word at the forefront of my mind when less than a week before I called the doctor’s office to request my biopsy results. To give you a little background, a transvaginal ultrasound revealed some “questionable” results, so my doc recommended a hysterectomy. I didn’t like the recommendation, so we agreed to an endometrial biopsy to hopefully rule out uterine cancer. He said the results would be in “next week” – that was Dec. 21st.
I had peace from the beginning and wasn’t anxious about the wait. I could wait one week for the findings. But when I called the office six days later (close enough to a week) and the woman on the other end of the line informed me that results for that particular biopsy take 3 weeks to receive, and possibly longer due to the holidays, my heart sank. I became despondent as I got off the phone. Three weeks? REALLY? I could wait one, but not three... But why not?
After allowing myself to wallow in my frustration for about thirty minutes, it’s as if the Lord asked me, “Do you really believe in my goodness?” Ugh...I conceded...yes, I do. I knew I needed to place my trust in the Lord with the timing, with the outcome, with my heart in the waiting. I needed HOPE…hope in what I didn’t already have (results) and to wait for it patiently. None of us like to wait, do we? After my resolve to trust and not despair, I immediately felt better and haven’t been concerned with it since.
My wish for 2018 is that my hope (and joy) will continue to grow and flourish as I learn to trust in the Lord with each new day, whatever it brings. Privately, I may also pine after a new car in hopes that I’m never again stranded outside when it’s below twenty degrees.
Happy New Year!
Several weeks ago a friend shared with me that her co-worker had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was scheduled to have a mastectomy. Her office wanted to do something special for her and asked for some gift ideas. I provided a list that I've since massaged and am now sharing it with you ...just in time for Christmas...though barely.
#1 Clay Cross
This list is in no particular order, though I'm leading with a "must have." A dear friend from church gave me this clay cross when she heard of my diagnosis and impending uni-lateral mastectomy last year. Your fingers wrap perfectly around the cross for soothing comfort. I slept with this at night and sometimes still hold it to quell anxiety. You can find it on Amazon. I don't know why or how it works, but me thinks it contains elf magic.
#2 Items Designed to Pamper
All women relate to the mantra "Look Good, Feel Good." Understandably, when you receive a cancer diagnosis, you have every right to sleep, eat and breathe in nothing but jammies and a robe for as long as your heart desires. But there comes a time when you must get groceries. Some fun bath accessories, a dab of nail polish, lip balm/gloss can help you face the world - or at least the UPS delivery person. If you know of someone recently diagnosed with cancer, or any kind of cancer, consider a basket full of small gifts designed to pamper. Toss a scented candle in there while you're at it.
#3 Novelty Socks
Now, if your friend has just indulged in a pedicure with some of the items you gave her in the gift basket, she may not want to cover her freshly lacquered toes with fun, cozy socks. But she will eventually, and probably before the polish chips away to nothing but little squares of paint on each nail. I received several pairs of warm socks and I wore them all. of. the. time. Still do.
#4 A Journal
Now, I need to confess that I'm not a huge journaler, though every other year I tell myself I'm going to start doing it. The point is, many women do, and if you're looking for a great gift idea for someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, consider giving a journal with a nice pen. This way they can record all of their thoughts and perhaps prayer requests and see just how good God is at answering them.
A merry heart does good, like medicine, according to the book of Proverbs, so give the gift of laughter! I adore Chonda Pierce and was thankful to receive this after my diagnosis, but any DVD featuring a comedian can help redirect downcast thoughts that may be brewing and serve as a reminder that there's still a lot of joy to be had in this imperfect world of ours.
"Music has charms to soothe the savage breast." I always thought it soothed the savage beast, but considering the topic I'm happy to be corrected. I fell asleep too many nights to count listening to Collin Raye's CD entitled His Love Remains. I recommend any comforting music, praise songs in particular, that can help ease a troubled heart and mind.
#7 Adult Coloring Book
Adult coloring books with colored pencils and pens are FUN gifts! But beware, if you give them to someone who has children living at home, they may never see your gift again.
My sister-in-law Kym gave me this blanket and I've used it so much I've worn a hole through it! I honestly felt like Linus from Peanuts the way I took this all through the house with me for MONTHS after my surgeries. Who am I kidding? I STILL sleep with it! Give the gift of warmth and security with a plush blanket.
Shortly after my diagnosis I was told to eat more chocolate. Not by my doctor, but by someone who had walked this journey before me so I trusted her and ate my fair share. I have no regrets. Nor any more chocolate. I hope Santa thinks to put some in my stocking this Christmas!
#10 Cute Mug & Beverages
What goes great with chocolate? Anything. I mean, coffee, unless you're trying to sleep at night. Then I grab some Sleepytime Tea. Consider giving a decorative mug full of tea bags and/or a bag of coffee...with chocolate.
#11 Inspirational Book
Of course I must add Joy Is Contagious...Cancer Isn't to this list of gift ideas, and not just because I assembled it and have a chapter in it. But because the stories remind us that even when we're facing something as scary as cancer, God is with us. And as far as gifts go, His son, Jesus, is the greatest gift of all. Additionally, the book goes well with chocolate and coffee while wrapped all snug-like-a-bug-in-a-rug with a blanket. And don't forget the socks.
What would you add to this list?
Funny that the title "Author" appears above this description yet I have no idea what to share about myself in this space! How about my first name is Kim. My last name is Tisor. Tisor rhymes with miser, though I try not to be one.
For more information about me, please visit the author page.