Keep Going

I’m back! Better yet…I’m Home at 181!

I had this false idea when I was going through all of my treatments that once I was done I was going to just rise up like a rocket ship!

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…..Blast off!🚀

That wasn’t exactly how it went. It was much more like learning how to drive stick shift… stop- start…stop…start…JOLT forward..stop…start…STALL STALL STALL! (Side note I will never forget my boyfriend at age 16 teaching me how to drive a stick shift…and to think he still married me!) ANYWAYS, The “get up and go” that I had hoped for when getting back into the gym just

was

not

there.

It wasn’t a state of mind; my body physically just could not do it. This discouraged me…

Lisa Shaw (left) and Me

After my last, reconstruction surgery I had lost mobility in my arm and shoulder blades again. Scar tissue was horrible and the webbing cords and lymphedema were painful. It was then I met an angel on earth…Lisa Shaw who took me and some friends (Lauren and Jacqui) under her wings and brought restorative cancer yoga into our lives.

As yoga instructors, for the nonprofit organization “Be Well Yoga” (Restorative Cancer Yoga); Lisa, Heidi, Mary and Paula “made a way” when I thought there was “no way”. (Cofounders: Lisa & Heidi)

These mighty souls taught me through yoga practice that my perception of getting better wasn’t meeting goals of higher ability BUT RATHER it is about honoring my body for what it can do (or not do) in that very day, and even in that very moment. The only goal was to actually get on the mat and “do” the practice…and of course breatheeeee. 😌

I take this lesson, of gentle awareness for where I’m at in the moment vs being discouraged, into various areas into my life.

I will forever keep my yoga practice with Be Well Yoga. Every yoga class we receive an intention to focus on. The one below is a keeper! Thank you for helping me live out the truth that “Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear a path”.

Be Well Restorative Cancer Yoga is a local non profit organization serving anyone that has or has had cancer. The classes are free/donation based for the cancer thriver and a friend. Please see me or their website at bewelltherapy.net for the class schedule and ways to support them.

In addition, I am happy to announce my return home to 181 Fitness!!! I am so ready to add in this very specialize, knowledgeable, skillful, heart filled program …slowly, deliberately and consistently back into my life. Remembering that much like a stick shift car sometimes 1st gear is best, other times 5th gear—some times 1st the 2nd then 1st again…in honor of where my body is in that particular day.

Waking up for this mornings workout at 181 Fitness was difficult I felt like I was in reverse! 😂! The rap sheet of diagnosis I work through to get my body rehabilitated is a BIG undertaking.

You see, this body I live in has been estimated to be 60-65 years old due to being aggressively chemo infused, radiated; having 5 surgeries; with secondary agranulocytosis, neuropathy, neutropenia, lymphedema, axillary web syndrome and osteopenia. Sprinkle this with a  forever healing broken foot, inability to regulate body temperature, bifocal wearing, overnight menopause and zero immune system…not to mention the ongoing medications that people take after cancer, the nerve damage, pec muscles that have been surgically cut in half, non-moving shoulder blades and a radically radiated surgical site that is slowly opening…

Challenge.

But I am up for the challenge! And so is my extraordinary coach/181 owner Andy!

Andy Mog & Me

Of course as I struggling through the morning telling myself to “suck it up and show up” so many thoughts run through my mind that don’t serve me well. I wonder why stamina and endurance are so difficult to regain even though I’m working so hard. I talk to my coach Andy about this and amongst the skillful and wise (and funny and crap talking) things he has said to me; he said to be thankful that you can do it. It was then that Anne Pursell my fit-fearless (now resting in heaven) breast cancer friend came to mind. And also my friend Lena’s husband, Timo whom went home also a few weeks ago week due to cancer. So I put the negative thoughts behind me and found my inspiration from those above reminding me that it is privilege to struggle and that I need to face challenge straight in the face and KEEP GOING.

Those thoughts that want to defeat me must get behind me and perseverance must fiercely rises up to keep moving me forward. I purpose to filter every thought that comes in my mind and only those that fuel me are permitted to enter.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

And I remember my Mama’s testimony…wherein she grew by following her mantra to “show up and look alert!”

I used to view working out as self seeking and selfish. But it has been revealed to me that working out, as well as resting, is actually worship to God. And over time I have learn to have gratitude, to listen, to love, and to honor my body in a new way.

And to remember self care is sacred.

I keep this photo I took at a beautiful healing yoga retreat that Be Well Yoga sponsored me to be at:

For someone like me that doesn’t value self care or rest it was revelation to me to learn that self care and rest can be worship to God.

Rest is worship. Self care is worship.

Totally contrary to the way I operate.

Life changing perspectives for this go, go, go girl.

So yes, now I choose to be deeply grateful that I CAN struggle through a work out.

I just had to learn to honor my body and what wasn’t a reality for me at the moment. I am learning to be okay with that.

I love this sign that hangs on the wall at 181:

So point being, if you feel stuck…I get it…

Discouraged? Yep, I’ve been there…

Grieving a life change; I understand…

You will find a new normal…one step at a time.

*** Hear this*** RESILIENCE WILL RISE UP WITHIN YOU AND WHAT YOU THOUGHT YOU COULD EVER HANDLE YOU WILL FIND SILENT STRENGTH AND NEW PEACE IN.

Just remember:

    Don’t be discouraged if your “lift off” was more of a jolt and a stall. Keep getting up. KEEP GOING.
    Just show up and look alert.
    Sometimes we find our usefulness when we rest.
    Make a promise to make self care sacred.
    Find joy in the whatever your ability for the day is.
    Find gratitude in the struggle because it means you have air in your lungs to struggle.
    And protect the thoughts that are true and praiseworthy from the battlefield in your mind
    Start today at whatever your ability is at.
    God’s power is made perfect in your weakness. When you are weak HE IS STRONG.
    KEEP GOING

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:8-10

And don’t lose your keys,

Maddy 💛🚘🚀

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Faith: the Jewel that Jingles the Loudest;

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What is the meaning behind my jingle?

This isn’t a fashion post…I can promise you that!                                                                                 I write this to encourage you too have things to help center you in your tough moments…things that help anchor your soul to truth when the waves are crashing in.
While I don’t wear all of this jewelry daily there are a few of my favorite pieces pictured and explained here.

Many people know me by the jingling sound that precedes me from the jewelry I wear.   It’s a long standing joke among my girl friends from college. People close to me know that everything I wear has a meaning.                                                                                                             The meaning of each piece is from someone at a particular time, place or event; or because it is a reminder to me of a promise and understanding that God gave to me.

My CONSIDER IT PURE JOY bracelet is one of my favorite, most precious gifts from my friend Jasmine, that walked close by my side during the challenging parts of my cancer. “Consider it Pure Joy” was the very first of many scriptures laid on my heart as I cried out to God in the first days of my diagnosis. This is why I named my blog maddyconsidersitpurejoy! Uncertain and agonizing confusion was washed away by the clear direction I was given to “CONSIDER IT PURE JOY, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) I am still in process of obtaining that “complete, not lacking anything” part!!! 😉 God was clear that ‘WHEN'(not IF) we have trials in this world (1 Peter 4:12) we are to put on a “garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” (Isaiah 61:3) God doesn’t do these things to us. We live in a broken world. We aren’t praising him FOR the trial, but rather THROUGH it.

I wear a PUZZLE PIECE around my neck. The symbol of a puzzle piece has meant something to me since my teenage years. My wedding was themed with puzzle pieces and today I wear a puzzle piece charm almost daily. Each person I love being a unique puzzle piece in my life where no other piece could possible fit! You can not make or force a piece to fit that simply doesn’t. Therefore, the puzzle pieces of my life are irreplaceable. My husband and kids being my greatest pieces. And God’s love encompassing and holding the entire puzzle together. Stay tuned as I hope to make this a visual into a tattoo (if my husband & middle child will allow it 😉 and those desiring a small puzzle piece tattoo will be invited to come along with me!!)

There is a FEATHER on my wrist, because through my journey with cancer, God has given me so many PEOPLE that have tended to me and my family. People that have provided REFUGE in all manner of creative ways. God allowed me to live his promise in Psalm 91:4 that “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and protection.” His FEATHERS are the PEOPLE that he prompted to walk this road with us.

I wear this SINGLE ANGEL WING as a symbol that we are all one winged angels. But if you put our wings together then we fly. I was introduced to this line by a good friend, Karen who taught me what it meant. She helped teach me that it was okay to receive. And while I don’t believe we are ‘angels’ I do very much believe in the symbolism of human kindness and community. Through Karen, I have recently met the founder and creator of this angel wing necklace (*Lauire with Studio Penny Lane). The heart and spirit of her and her art have become a huge puzzle piece of my story that someday I will share more about.

And of course, my wedding ring. This needs no explanation. My husband; the absolute love of my life after God himself. No other could come close to being my number one.

My Edith ring: she wears the matching ring.

Currently, my friend Julia is making me a necklace that says “Warr;ior” with a semi-colon…Once when my friend, Marlena prayed over me, she prayed a SEMICOLON into my life! WOW!…and I have loved that ever since she prayed it. I have heard a few messages that describe what a “;” means. It means there is something left to be said; to be done; not complete yet. As compared to a “.” period, which indicates ‘the end’.
One thing I definitely know is that there is something left to be said and done. SO I am grateful for Marlena for praying that into my life and into hers.

One of my mantras is that “CANCER DOESN’T GET TO TAKE IT ONLY GETS TO GIVE”…and it has!!! Through God and his promise to turn ALL things to good (for his purpose) for those that love him…Cancer has been turned to “good” and given so much to me and to others. …Perspective, gratitude, deeper rooted understanding of what ‘eternal’ is…and FAITH–just to name a few! We won’t give cancer credit for anything it tried to take. We will thwart its plans and claim it to be something that “God has turned to good”.
“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.” (Romans 8:28)

I would also like to share with you the visual I was given that I hope will help you in whatever your struggle is. I was given a visual of being CLOTHED IN SCRIPTURE-literally like armor- so that no negative thought could penetrate where it didn’t belong. Since my diagnosis I talked about this many times. And carried this visual throughout my battle…my WAR…into every test, scan, lab, surgery, radiation, and chemo. And now…I just carry this visual everyday and in all circumstances. I hope you too will be able to see truth written like armor on you.

Cancer gave me the opportunity to EXERCISE my faith…Until it was STRONG & FIERCE. The gift of faith is my most treasured piece of jewelry. I HOPE THAT THE FAITH, GIFTED TO ME, WOULD BE WHAT YOU SEE FIRST, WHAT ADORNS ME MOST AND WHAT JINGLES LOUDER THAN ANY SILVER OR GOLD!!!

I wear jewelry for many reasons. But  I will never forget when I was bald -striped of even eyebrows and eyelashes-how God showed me I needed nothing to be beautiful. I didn’t need to lose weight, wear make up and surely did not need jewelry around my arms and neck. He made our bodies SO beautiful just as they are. So I do not wear jewelry for beauty. That was something I was (thankfully) released from…yet another realization God GAVE me through my cancer. #CancerDoesntGetToTakeItOnlyGetsToGive

I also wear jewelry that may remind me to pray for a specific someone each day. There are two that have beads (blue from my close & longest friend, Katrina; and the silver from my big sissy, Mia). I use each bead to pray over details of a person’s life.

I think that’s all I will share for now–as we all know how long winded I am!

But Please, if ever you want to know the story behind all of my other jiggling pieces…just ask. I love to share the stories of the people, places, memories and how I might even be wearing that piece as a reminder to pray for YOU!

Faith…the jewel that jingles the loudest;
Jingle on,
Maddy

365 Days: Fact vs Truth


A year ago last week, on May 18, 2015, my entire life changed forever because of one little word; Cancer. Not just MY life changed, but my husbands and children’s and families and friends that love me…it changed all their lives too. And prayerfully I hope it’s changed yours, for the better, as well. In just 365 days I have experienced nearly every single emotion known to man and some I didn’t even know existed. I have walked through agonizing thoughts that I never imagined my mind and heart could conceive and lived through a monumental list of medical experiences I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Through it all, peace has been victorious over fear, awareness victorious over withdrawal, support victorious over need, Spirit victorious over flesh and TRUTH victorious over FACT! “While fact is a reality, there is always a greater reality. Faith is not anchored in the realm of act, but in the realm of truth.” -Author Chris Gore

God has been revealing to me the difference between FACT and TRUTH in a recent Chris Gore book I just read as well as through my daily devotional time in the Bible. Psalm (11) made me think of my cancer but also the struggles that we all face…because the doctors & the world have their “facts” but we have God’s “truth” which is BIGGER than any fact!! Because he is ALL powerful and all things are under his feet! (Psalm 8:6) God is bigger than any event or fact. His power is NEVER diminished by facts!!

God has breathed faith into me that has casted out anxiety and I honestly have been able to walk in trust. I won’t lie, of course I have thoughts on a consistent basis that those who don’t suffer from life threatening things probably don’t face. It would simply be silly for me to say otherwise. Truth be told I can be utterly inundated by thoughts during the most normal of activities and most people are totally unaware what I’m handling inside. But each time those thoughts come I process them through a lens that promises me eternal life with all those I love that accept the gift of salvation. I know these thoughts I face are something I have to manage through God’s filter daily in order to keep it in check and have them be something that by his grace propels me into his BEST versus downing me in indulgent emotions. Also I know that because of this internal stressor I need to reduce other stresses in my life’s to maintain a healthy internal balance. I simply can’t go back to my old non-stop busy life. Stress and cancer don’t mix so I am learning how to not give it fuel!! It’s so much easier said than done–I’m not a quick study in this area.

I know I’m very open about my faith…about Jesus…but how can I not be when I walk through this horrific battle and live through things no human being should ever have to handle and come out unscathed by the disastrous flames of the ‘furnace of affliction’ that continue to burn around me. Not just unscathed…but REFINED. (‘Isaiah 48:10’)
These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:7

 …and all the while, no matter how horrific it gets He provides me with all I needed to consider this a privileged journey. A privileged journey wherein I was able to meet Spirit to spirit with my maker and experience His very real presence. Dwelling in His shelter (Psalm 91:1) and resting in the spacious place He put me in when he pulled me out of deep waters (2 Samuel 22:17). Without this cancer I would still be walking with that shear veil over my eyes. You know the one that masks things just enough to justify the ways we live for the falesies of the world, human approval and judgment of ourselves and others. I don’t want any part of me to live in those spaces again–because that is the REAL deep water to be in! Friends, we all walk through deep waters. It could be our kids, marriages, friendships, workplace, addiction, health and even just the pit of our own ugly humanity. We can not bring ourselves out of it. We just can’t. We need the saving grace of our maker. He has already accomplished your healing in every area of your life when he died on that cross. And THAT is why we PRAISE. Because God SO loved the world he GAVE his ONLY begotten son John 3:16. Sound familiar? This is a perfect, unfailing, never ending love that I experience every single day of my life despite circumstance. How could I not share that?! Okay–so here’s the answers to all the questions I get!! Thank you for being patient.

THE UPDATE: 

Bopsies, port insertion surgery, chemo therapy, double mastectomy with an axillary dissection and lymph node removal, tissue expansion (skin stretching for later reconstruction), radiation and chemo port removal surgery ALL DONE! Praise God! The rehabilitation that continues and some new ones that will be starting are: physical therapy; chiropractic soft tissue work & myofacial release; lymphademia therapy (this is needed because so many lymph nodes were removed); I am still adjusting to some residual pain from radiation and the port removal surgery…my body is incredibly slow with healing due to some of the medication therapies I am on. I’ve started the medication therapy regimen and adjusting to the new normal of them…I don’t feel myself on them but I trust that I will adjust! PET SCANS continue every 3 months but I have a break from MRI’s and such for a while…I lost count of how many scans, CT, MRI, X-RAYS etc. etc that I’ve done…it’s been a lot.

My weekly blood draws are now bi-weekly which is nice considering I only have one are they can draw from due to the surgery…they are down to drawing blood from my hand because there is scar tissue in the veins of my one viable arm from all the draws and tests. I love knowing all the fist names of the phlebotomist and the opportunities God brings me when I get to know the many stories behind the people I encounter. Everyday brings seed planting moments! I hope you see them in your days!

NEXT ON THE TREATMENT SCHEDULE:

is a hysterectomy. Surgery #4 this year. This surgery will be this week on Friday the 27th. PLEASE, KINDLY KEEP THIS INFORMATION AWAY FROM YOUR CHILD’s EARS BECAUSE KIDS JUST FOUND OUT; And do they need to talk about it with other kids that have overheard things (which had happened many time in the last year). Thank you SO much for being protective of them in this way!!! We’ve learned they only need to know when it’s necessary and they certainly only need to hear it from us. So please, I pray you understand when I kindly ask that you don’t tell your kids or ask my kids how I am doing. It has come out in therapy that they actually fear people asking them that. And it makes them worry about me when they wouldn’t even be thinking of me otherwise. Thank you for understanding that 🙂 This surgery is a must because one of the injection medication I take has failed me. This medication controls a hormone production. This hormone is what my cancer feeds off of so it is important my body doesn’t produce it. Because medications can’t control it, a hysterectomy is a must. The concern here is my body doesn’t heal well so I’m asking for prayers for that! The port surgery wound should have taken 1-2 weeks to heal but rather it is has taken me nearly 3 months with constant watch for infection. At any rate, I walk into the next surgery without reservation or fear. I have lived through the real pain of surgery and radiation…so I can do this too because I never do it alone. It’s undoubtably from heaven above that Christian and I walk confidently into every next step of this battle. God never fails us…without question he is our sole sufficiency.

THE KIDS: 

The concern is less us and more for our children. They on the other hand are just in shell shock now and this next surgery will reap havoc on their hearts…so pray against that with me. That God would guard their hearts and reach down and provide them with his indescribable peace.

Christian and I are handling the aftermath of the storm with our girls. There is some PTSD and trauma effects we are walking through with them. There is some paranoid worry that really affects the way our house runs and It is deep enough that counceling was definitely warranted. Our girls are so happy that is masks a lot of their very real need. But it has been coming out more now. We tried psychologists through our insurance but there is only one company our insurance contracts with and they are so saturated with patients we can’t get in consistently, it runs more like a factory of getting them in and out. With the usual 5pm appointments it is a 3.5 hour time endeavor on a school night which was really hard on us all. Also, they were unable to have one therapist council the girls as a family. They would have different therapists so for both girls to go we’d be doing this drive twice a week. While I am EXTREMELY grateful for the psychologist through our insurance, she has helped in different ways, I knew we needed something more for the trauma and ongoing circumstances. We needed a local therapist! We needed ONE therapist that could see both girls together OR separately and that saw our whole family dynamic. And we needed a therapist that could run the entire session around the lens in which we live our life through…GOD!! Our pastors wife, whom I am blessed to call friend, was able to refer us to a PERFECT match. We have been able to see her as a family unit as well as the girls individually. This woman will surely be used to bring healing to our girls. God was so good to answer our prayer! We are unable to use our insurance to see her but there are somethings that just are worth paying privately for. How can we put a price on our children’s wellbeing?
I’d like to again just state the extreme gratitude for the psychologist one of our girls works with…she has been wonderful for so many things and I know she understands the need we have outside of what her company allows her to provide. I’d also really like to thank Mrs. Harway (double thank you to you!), Mrs. Wolfson, Miss Lovick, Nurse Gene, Mrs. Miller, Mrs. Crum, Mr. Tubbs, Mrs. Sherri, Miss Debbie as well as Miss Christa & the team of volunteers in our church kids ministry! And my dear Dawn Trevitt. This above mentioned group of people have given extra grace and extra compassion to little girls struggling far nmore then they show. Thank you for loving my children. There simply is no greater gift to give someone than the peace that their child is loved when they are left in your hands.

CHRISTIAN: 

Last but certainly not least, Christian. Since my diagnosis life had been a whirl wind of changes. FORTUNATELY- having his own Real Estate company has allowed him the necessary flexibility to with me through all the appointments, treatments and just being my constant caregiver; and also being there 100% for the kids daily needs & emotional needs. UNFORTUNATELY though- it means his business now needs to be ramped up again now that he is completely back to work. His business is dominentaly built on referrals so we are asking those around us to please consider referring Christian for any Real Estate needs. He is also looking for additional Real Estate agents to join his team. He is great at training new agents too! His company is Cornerstone Estates & Homes. It is a full service real estate company for buying & selling properties as well as property management & tenant placement (and soon branching into HOA management services). He located upstairs in the 2 story business plaza in the shopping center with Starbucks and Dick’s sporting goods in north Oceanside off College Blvd and the 78 fwy. He is one of the best realtors to work with. When you hire him; you get him! You are not passed off to other agents. He believes whole heartedly in complete privacy, so he would NEVER share private information with me or others. Just ask any of our friends and family that have worked with him! He gives his all to each of his clients and he is EXTREEMLY good at educating people and keeping them in the loop during the transaction process. Being a dual income family it is our vision for his business to grow more and more so that I am able work part time. My career path is just so stressful as I work with patients & families in constant crisis and I need to reduce my caseload greatly, My health and my kids need me home. Please consider liking him on Facebook and writing a review if you’ve worked with him. Check out his website or stop into the office!
Website: http://www.cornerstoneestatesandhomes.com

Facebook: Cornerstone Estates and Homes

Phone: (760) 732-1086
Okay, shameless plug over 😉

Thank you for your continual support of our family. It feels like time has both flown by yet stood still. I pray that my story is used to help shape yours in a positive way. That is MY entire prayer–that my story speaks truth into YOUR story! That IS the entire purpose of this online journal-I pray you’ve received something through these ‘short’ (haha) writings. We are extraordinary blessed to have had the support we have had thank you for not growing weary in your support for us. It is a longer battle than I had ever imagined it would be! But we are going strong!! And your remembering is in your love and prayers does spur us on more than we are able to express. We are well aware that our outward thankfulness will never match the depths of our inward gratitude. All of your love is received and we appreciate your understanding in that we can’t always express gratitude timely or in a manner we would like. But please know we are blessed by every creative and simple form of support we’ve received. It is absolutely wind beneath our wings.

Praise God for each of you.

All my love,

Maddy

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” Psalm 91:1

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” 2 Samuel 22:17

Radiation 

My Radiation Table
Radiation was well underway when I wrote this post… Here is the radiation table & machine. I lay in a mold that was specially made for my body, close my eyes and just go to my happy place. Each time I laid on that table the radiation therapists would gather around me and mark me with a laser grid on my body and move my body here and there, gently tugging and pulling and strapping my feet to get me in just the right place to the exact millimeter every single time! I would settle into my body mold every single day 5 days a week for 6 weeks…I and I would immediately go into a quiet happy sanctuary in my mind. Often times praying for the therapists working with me and many of you reading this very post. It is extremely crazy precise to the millimeter. These people knew what they were doing! It is an art.  They start with one type of radiation for the lymph nodes then put a mesh blanket over me to radiate the chest wall/skin. My radiation therapists were kinds to warm the mesh blanket for me each session 🙂 I had to stay very still!! I  completed 30 sessions with 7 “boost” sessions as well. My skin and fatigue levels did better than most for several weeks. In fact it wasn’t until beginning of week 5 of 6 that I really started feeling the fatigue and having pain from the “burned” skin. I was feeling well up until the skin began to break open and get raw with blisters & open wounds. I will not disclose the details of that here…suffice it to say I had never seen anything like it and there was pain. Much different from surgery pain. Much like a burn keeps burning long after the initial burn. Although radiation burn is very different from heat burn. My skin continued to take on the effects of radiation weeks later as it broke down and ‘blistered’ deeper with weepy wounds and deep scabs. .

I entered into a time wherein all I can do is sit because the location of the open wounds are in places that movement causes a rub and opens them more. I think I have pain mostly because I have three small kids and being still is not an option! I move from sun up to sun down…So I have to either be up and at em’ or simply make the decision to rest so I can mend my burned and blistered skin. It wasn’t until the end of radiation that total 100% relaxing became a must. By day 5 of sitting in my pajamas and watching TV I was a bit stir crazy. I was feeling lazy and idol and guilty for doing more sitting & TV watching in 5 days that I would usually do in 5 months! Being such a social being I do not do well with isolation in the name of “healing”.

AND SO! The lesson of “patience” continues to unfold. I ask myself if I will ever grasp this word to its depths? I seem to know ‘of’ it;
I can define it,

I even have stories of experience with it!

But I have yet to possess it as a virtue or quality.

Forty years people wandered in Israel and yet I can’t make it five days in the mediocrity of healing! I am disturbed by my own Impatience and met with the reality that I AM the ‘entitled generation’ I often speak of.
Lord, forgive me for my whining in my impatient entitlement and grant me patience in this time.

As I think about it from all angles, I am so grateful for this healing; as it forces me to rest and relax. But why must I be “forced” to rest? What has my culture beaten into me so much that I can’t even give myself enough grace to rest! Is it my culture or generation? My full time working mom mentality? What is it?…
Perhaps, I fall prey to my personality of go and do and go and do…go go go, do do do!! I find myself feeling guilty when I rest and realizing how utterly absurd this is as I speak it aloud! My mind gets flooded with all that I should be and could be doing. I am envious of people who can nap. I want to be able to do that.

I considered what could do that would keep me still enough to heal while still being productive…even if I was to read a book at least I’d be productive in learning. Now I giggle as I realize how I condemn myself as I hit play on another Downton Abbey episode…(but for real…how is that the LAST season?!?! That show is incredible…I missed my era I believe.)

Again here is sit realizing the lesson in this season for me is PATIENCE. Errrr…I am inpatient with how long it is taking me to LEARN patience! Ha…and though I draw on humor…it is true that I said that to myself. Foolish little girl I am, to think I would gain this lesson quickly. No I must wait…and wait properly; in and with the Spirit that renews me. “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Needing to feel productive while I “healed” I tried my hand at crocheting. A couple of years ago my friend Jamie Miller taught me how to crochet. With so much time passed since doing it last, I couldn’t remember anything…but few ‘you-tube’ videos later and I had retaught myself after being out of practice. Many beanies, scarfs, bags, slippers, head bands, appliqués and cup cozzies later—my family is covered in items. I even had to make a special email folder for “crochet patterns” —what am I, 80? It’s ok–laugh a little a me now…but come winter you will know who to borrow from 😉 http://www.allfreecrochet.com that’s where the action is at!! Woo hoo! Crack the “granny code” as my friends and I say. Granny’s can rule the world with crochet granny code!

And again, I find myself thanking cancer for yet another lesson and perspective I would not fully own as truth without walking through this hardship. -Hardship is not a bad thing! For, from hardship we gain much; should our eyes be up and open to it. We are our worst enemies at times! As people spend too much time saddened and defeated, depressed and worry by either our past, present or what we ‘think’ our future may or may not hold; Instead of living and walking in the truth that only God knows His plan for us. Plans to prosper and not to harm. Plans to give us a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11.

Being a woman that values words I often have the need to look up definitions. I did not find that a common dictionary had a definition that explained the word “patience” well. I stumbled upon this resource that did give me a fuller definition that not only satisfied my need to know…but gave me a desire to study it further.

I have provided a link if you wish to expand your understanding further. http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/patience/

Many moons ago my Mama gave me the expression that “sometimes you get the experience before the knowledge and other times you get the knowledge before the experience.” I have found this to be true in many situations in my life. This season for me is the experience before the knowledge. Bless you Mama for always pouring truth into me.

The kids did good through radiation. Liv and Eva were always curious to see the burns. I tried minimize what they saw because it was pretty gnarly for them but the “hiding” of things is more scary for them then the honest truth. They needed to know I wasn’t lying. They cringed and cried when they saw my skin but it also made them more comfortable to know they were a part of the truth. We always pray for wisdom of what to reveal & when. Radiation was a season of letting them see the reality of what was going on in a way to ease their anxiety that something was being “hidden” from them. They rejoiced with me as I healed & the skin began to look somewhat normal again. We allowed them to come on the journey of praising God for the incredible way he made our bodies to be resilient and renew and restore.

Radiation was a sweet time with my dear dear dear friend Dawn Trevitt. She left her job for 6 weeks to drive me to radiation and tend to me in the healing weeks. We had hours of countless conversations and learned so much about one another. I cherish this time with her. She spent each day driving me to countless doctor appointments, lab draws, rehab appointments etc etc. She drove me, helped me dress & undress, helped with wound care and made sure my cup was full of water & my diffuser was pumping relaxing oils. #SpoiledRotten. Unable to pull the wool over her eyes she would stay with me at home after radiation and make sure I was resting. In her wisdom she had purchased one of her favorite books for me for my birthday with the intention to read it to me each day after radiation. Many days she was successful at lulling me to sleep while reading to me. She has made me a firm believer that everyone should have a friend that is willing to just read to them. It was awesome… Dawn had a keen way of noting where the stress of my life is and taking upon herself to ease the load. She also has a way with motion sensors lights–just ask her if you ever can’t get one to work. (Hahaha she is gonna kill me for that reference!–Good times! And great dance moves Dawn!) Any of you that know Dawn and know how she has poured into me, know that she is unmatched in the gifts she possesses. She is a rare person that I hold in a precious place in my heart. I love you Dawn and that you leave no stone unturned. #Curly+Moe #AW

We liked to appreciate the egg art in the radiation room!
Thank you again for all the meals through out radiation. You have no idea what a help the meals have been. You all provided more than a meal each time…you eased our stress and allowed our family time and energy to focus on each other in a critical & exhausting time. I wish I could name you all–so many generous friends!! Thank you for that support. And for the texts, cards, gifts & gift cards, financial donations, unannounced visits, grocery shopping trips, driving my kids, play dates, homework help, (Mrs. Lyon deserve the award here in the helping with my kids department!), shipping me organic veggies to juice (Leah De Carra), making me homemade almond milk (Karen Mac Beth). A special recognition to my brother in law and father figure Raymond Winters who helps me in countless ways which he would never want credit for–but I just have to recognize his endless & generous love and support. Melody Gutches for brining me love & laughter and driving me to one of my first radiation appointments, Monica La Dell for constant encouragement and also driving me to several radiation appointments, Sandy & Beto Orozco, Tia Carlota & Tio Hernandez, Matt & Loni Boyd and James & Robin Horvitz you stand all in the gap for us. And Cynthia Bandemer who provided me custom tailored organic meals through her company Culinary Cultivations (www.culinarycultivations.com) and for Kelly Bandemer for funding these meals with very generous donations.  And for my constants in this time of radiation: My Mama who does too much to list; My Sissy Alice & niece Emma for epic sleep overs for my girls & support in many ways, Dawn, Jasmine, Edith, Katrina, Tomika, Stephanie, Melissa, Kiki. And yes my guy!! The love of my life, Christian. So so so many people I could mention, please forgive me for not being able to list you ALL! Even as I type this so many names flood my memory.

So the radiation was a fun time! Every day M-F with a dynamic team of intelligent and committed people. I was in awe of the precision & skill my radiology oncologist (Dr. Hoopes) and my radiation therapists brought each day. I looked forward to seeing them each day because they helped make a dreary repetitive thing something spectacular. I hope that radiation isn’t the end to my friendships with them because I felt fortunate to know them and have them be a part of my healing. img_5087Dr. Hoopes is brilliant, utterly brilliant! Compassionate, available and honest. I was so impressed when he spent abundant time giving me every detail about what, where, why and how of radiation while giving me visual tutorials with my scans to help me really understand what was going on and the science behind it in a way I could grasp. Amazing…and all the extra education is just what I needed to feel that much more comfortable with the whole process. These people left a permanent mark on my heart & I hope they realize what a remarkable thing they do for each person waging the war against cancer both physically and emotionally. Bravo team…you are super stars to me!!

Julie, Joe & Rosie you were the first smiling faces I saw each morning of radiation and I thank you all! It’s amazing to have a compassionate team. Nurse Katie & Nurse Teri you rock! You definitely go the extra mile–which is so rare these days 💛

My radiation therapists Kon, Emanuel “M”, Lisa, Rita, Sue were amazingly patient with extreme precision each radiation session. img_2110-2They were kind, educational, just absolutely stellar at what they do. Top notch team that really cared! And they were willing to let Dawn and I be a little silly too 🙂 and I’ll never stop thanking Lenzy (my oncologist’s lead assistant that I am privileged to call a close friend) for her constant never ending, always there every step of the way, dedication to me. Forever grateful as they are now each a new piece to the puzzle piece of my life.img_5086

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How cute is this certificate they gave me!

“Keep your eyes on me! I am with you, taking care of you in the best possible way. When you are suffering, my care may seem imperfect and in adequate. You seek relief, and I make you wait. Just remember: there are many different ways to wait, and some are much better than others. Beneficial waiting involves looking to me-trusting and loving me.
Thank me for this time of neediness, when you must depend on Me more than usual. Do not waste this opportunity I wishing it away. Trust that I know what I’m doing- that I can bring good out of everything you encounter, everything you endure. Don’t let your past or present suffering contaminate your view of the future. I am the Lord of your future, and I have good things in store for you. I alone know the things I am planning for you to give you a future and a hope. ~Jesus Today by Sarah Young {18}

Together we are strong! Thank you my warriors for never giving up in this long road. I know it takes a lot to stay consistent in your loving support & care for us. Your love takes my breath away!!
See the blessings,

Maddy

Below info is for those of you I talk to that walk a similar journey as I do. These are a few recommended natural creams for those that have radiation on their treatment plan. Everything I use is organic or at least ‘natural’.

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Thank you Nancy Glidden for this cream!

 

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I ordered this organic, xenoestrogen-free cream from my Oncology Nutritionist. But I have seen it on Amazon too.
I also recommend essential oil blends for pain. They really helped me a ton. Thank you Cynthia Bandemer for the many essential oil sprays, creams and bottles you made me! Also for the aloe vera plant that also helped greatly.  Thank you Andrea as well for the essential oil pain roller.

Thank you Brenda Shea for the Miaderm cream!

I was also given some special spongy breathable bandaids that are used for burn victims from a nurse I work with. These were a life saver. They don’t stick to the burned skin.

 

I got these from my Radiation Oncologist. They are cooling gel pads that don’t stick to wounds

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread from Heaven: My Portion of ‘Rejoice and Peace’ for TODAY. 

Port under my skin & port after it was removed

Today my chemo port was removed!! It is gone! I said good bye to my little friend. She did her job and she is needed no more. Allow me just to share that in the days prior I was not so excited about being able to make that statement. I had grown attached to this incredible piece of science that played a role in making my presence here today possible. While at times it was an uncomfortable plastic foreign object beneath my skin with a stiff tube directly into my jugular vein I was still “hesitant” of the letting it go. I wasn’t sure if I could accept that I could really let it go, having PEACE enough to turn a page in this chapter and REJOICE in this day; leaving all “what if’s” behind…giving them no power over me. What if…what if…what if…all lies of the enemy to keep me from gratitude and PEACE. Many may think chemo and all its paraphernalia is horrible…but to me they brought life. God used them as one of many tools in my journey to healing. I have eyes to see the beautiful thing it is to live in a country & culture where such things as PET scans, MRI’s, blood draws, chemotherapy, mastectomies, dissections and radiation are available to save my life. So as odd as it may sound, I started this week off with a hesitant mind in say goodbye to my port. 

Yesterday, Jasmine Parks and I sipped on our favorite green smoothie from Choice Juice (precious Amelia that works there knows just how I like mine made!) Jasmine spoke into me that we only have today AND today is a good day filled with goodness and much to be thankful for. She somehow gave me permission to cast off the “what if’s” and let me just have gladness and excitement in THIS day without what if’s of days to come. God answered my prayer for peace through Jasmine’s words of simple truth. 

My sweet friends, Tomika Tatum & Stephanie Hickson prayer over me this morning. They spoke “REJOICE” over me and so it came to be! 

Then, a family friend Steve Magwood shared a song with us this morning “You have been my God through all of it”…and it was a tune a sang as I awaited the moment the doctor would come into the room to begin this procedure. 

I also shared my feelings with a dear mentor of mine, Dr. Chris Hagan. Chris is a forefather in the field of Speech Pathology and I was blessed to train under him professionally; which is how we met. To this day he helps me with my most complicated traumatic brain injury patients. His expertise in the diagnosis and treatment in the brain injured population is unmatched and he has greatly participated in shaping our field into what it is today. His legacy in this area is one I could share on for pages. His mentoring me multiplied when he later became a spiritual mentor to me. Chris is anointed in many ways; one of which is putting words to my experiences. He has spoken into me more than he will ever know. While I am unwilling to share with you in detail my questions to Chris and the length and depth of his response; I do want to share one thing he said. This particular sentence was key in helping me “understand” some of my experiences/feelings. He wrote, “…holding the tension between hope and fear may not bring a sense of rejoicing. Instead it may bring to you a sense of peace that grows from the acceptance that it is God who is holding the tension in this story that He has written for your life and you have to do nothing but surrender to God’s presence and action within you.” I share what Chris said here because I know that many of you reading this will identify with that truth! 

I left the hospital in peace!!! Because I kept my mind in today and out of the “what if’s” of tomorrow. God gave me what I needed for today. It can be such an exercise to stay in today, can’t it?! In fact, a constant lesson. But we exercise this muscle just as we do any other and it grows stronger and more able. Especially when we settle into “surrender”. 

I needed permission to be glad. I needed prompting to rejoice, I needed reminding that He had been my God through all of it and therefore will continue to be AND that peace is found when I surrender to God’s presence and action within me.  

You see these events are important to me because I asked God to give me peace in this decision to remove my port…and He did through these above events, through the decision of my incredible oncologist, Dr. Laurie Frakes, through my devotional time in reading, through time in prayer and other personal quiet confirmations he provided in this week. And the peace remains as I type these words. 

My memory kept settling in Exodus 16:4 “The LORD told Moses, “Listen very carefully! I’ll cause food to rain down for you from heaven, and the people are to go out and gather each day’s portion on that day. In this way I’ll test them to demonstrate whether or not they’ll live according to my instructions.” (ISV) 

These people were starving in the desert and were asked to have faith that their portion; their manna (food) from heaven, would come DAILY and thus they were commanded not to take more then the day’s needs. They were commanded to take ONLY what they needed for the day and HAVE PEACE AS THEY TRUSTED God’s provision for tomorrow’s portion. 


 They were instructed to only get one days portion at a time! Despite their time in hunger. My portion of REJOICE and PEACE for today has been divinely measured and set forth and I must be both cautious and bold to take part in all I need for today, and to stay in today. Tomorrow’s manna may be filled with nutrients of courage to fight a battle. But today’s manna–ooooohhhhh today’s!!! TODAY’s manna is sweet Rejoicing- Thankful-Praising manna of Peace!!! 

A devine supply for my daily needs. 

Today is a good day. And so today I rejoice in peace. 

May you ask and receive your daily bread…one day at a time. “Give us today our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11 
~Maddy 

Ephesians 4:6 (NKJV): One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

* Manna for the Israelites can be read in the bible book Exodus, Chapter 16. 

Jack Zavada in an online post writes: “Manna was the supernatural food God gave to the Israelites during their 40-year wandering in the desert. The word manna means “What is it?” in Hebrew.

Not long after the Jewish people had escaped Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, they ran out of the food they had brought with them. They began to grumble, recalling the tasty meals they had enjoyed when they were slaves.” He continues, “The Bible describes manna as white like coriander seed and tasting like wafers made with honey.

  
To see his article click: http://angels.about.com/od/MiraclesReligiousTexts/fl/Bible-Miracles-The-Miracle-of-Manna-Bread-Angels-Food-and-Quail.htm

Out of these ashes, Rise.

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1/1/2016 IN SUMMARY

So in summary for those who need the condensed version minus my external processing:
-Chemo 6 rounds, 12 infusions, 4 1/2 months (Completed).
-Nov 10, 2015: Double mastectomy with right axillary (armpit) dissection and left auxiliary biopsy (Completed).
– Salvaged nerve needing to be rehabilitated
-Tissue removal and Armpit Dissection left considerable scar tissue and nerve damage making functional movement of my right arm very difficult…at first I couldn’t move my arm up even an inch; with rehab I could raise it but with pain from back to front and from my waist to my pinky. Currently, I have much better mobility but all the muscles do not fire for accurate movement. I still can’t raise my arm completely.
-Tissue expanders are excruciating. They stretch the little skin that they left from all directions to allow for later reconstruction (after healing from radiation). Radiation will damage a lot of skin (thus much of that skin will be rendered too damaged to reconstruct with -so it will be removed) so we have to stretch the skin a lot to have viable skin to reconstruct with after radiation. It is phase 1 of reconstruction to *over* stretch the skin they left me with. I’ve was in pain 24/7 for 7 weeks. I have permanent neuropathy.
-Narcotic pain meds make me sick and I can’t take other meds due to the status chemo left my body in…so I manage pain naturally as best I can.
-I work with various professionals 6 days a week to rehab my arm, break down scar tissue and heal the nerve. Some of these professionals are private pay due to insurance issues, some are through insurance. I have gained much function back but pain remains consistent. I have minimally 10 appointments a week with different doctors and rehab therapists.
-Radiation has started. It will be 5 days a week for 6 weeks in Poway.
-Other treatments have also started, mostly injections and medications to alter my body’s ability to produce specific things that the cancer likes to feed on. Treatment schedule is pending they don’t have to hold treatments due all the various blood counts not hold up through it, etc.
-Arm rehab will continue during radiation until the pain of radiation has sets in. Then I will have to stop rehab in the arm.
-After radiation I will have one small surgery to remove some hardware needed for chemo (My upper port). So one of 3 ports that I have will finally be removed. The two over my ribs stay in for the next year.
My doctors and team of surgeons are amazing. They did, and are doing more than I could ever ask for. They are incredible people with phenomenal gifts. I keep them laughing…they all schedule me for long appointments due to my endless questions. I adore all of their medical assistants and nurses so much. Some of them are like family to me now. I’m thankful for amazing people on my team. When it comes to my rehabilitation, I owe the majority of my healing to one man…Dr. Anthony Werbalow with Active Mobility. He is by far an expert in his field and a man of great integrity and heart. Please, let me refer you to him for any of your ailments! Without him I am certain I would not have the recovery I have had.

Now!!!!!…….for those of you who like to read through the ramblings of an external processor here are clips from my journal. I hope they give you a glimpse of hope when you find yourself in a place you’ve never walked before. Many of you know I have hesitated to post them. But this journey isn’t about ME! It’s about GOD’s hand through it all. With eyes on him and encouragement from those I seek council from– I now push “publish” and again pray this reaches hearts that yearn to be filled by the ONE that can truly fill them. Remembering that whatever ashes you may find yourself in…You too can rise!

UNEXPECTED PAIN
He is relentless in pursuing me. And because He first loved me (1 John 4:19) my soul wants to have the positive attitude I have been given since May 18th when I was diagnosed. My attitude and spirit are strong by his grace…but through this surgery I have learned just how weak the flesh is…My flesh is. He spares me from mental and emotional despair but this miserable, disheartening physical pain in my upper body and disability of my arm and hand has brought me to my knees. I realized that I was waiting to publish a journal post until I was on the other side of this. But I am all too aware that the other side of this is a long way away. So I was challenged today as I prayed…would I be honest with all of you as I have promised to be? Would I boast in my weakness so that Christ could be revealed as SURELY I know he will be in his timing? (2 Corinth 11:30)

So, here I am. Very uncomfortable and insecure with my post to you. Before you read on I need to disclose that I am all too aware that God has me, he carries me and he will see me through this. It is his promise.

Out of these ashes I will rise.

Anyone close enough to me, and in constant communication with me knows the true day to day struggles I am in and they have stood witness to the “blah” in my tone, lack of positivity in my complaining and inability to have facial affect beyond a grimace and groan. Thank you to those who have been committed to stick close to me through the bad days. May I just recognize my sister Mia and my Mama Beth for spending countless hours tending to me, my kids and my home.

Mia, Mama, Edith Desmarais, Dawn Trevitt, Katrina Vredevelt & Jasmine Parks…Their consistent physical presence, tangible and creative help, encouragement, tolerance and love all shine a light through the dark. And to Kristen “Kiki” Tencer, Melissa Anderson, Tomika Tatum And Stephanie Hickson that stay in imageconstant prayer and (along with those above) text me constantly to just know how I am. Also, my sister Alice that loves me so much and Lenzy, my oncologist’s medical assistant that has become a treasured friend to me. I couldn’t do this without her.

This picture was taken when we celebrated my 37th birthday this year.

Most of all my Husband who literally does everything for me imagethat I can’t do by myself… right down to washing my face and fluffing every pillow. With no complaint, he selflessly is everything to me & my girls constantly and with no end. Keep filling Him to overflowing Lord! I am so grateful for him that I no longer kick him when he’s snoring at night. Poor guy deserves to snore! Thank you also to the amazing men that have supported my husband during this time as well. This picture of Christian & I was taken before my surgery by a talented friend & photographer, Mari Peterson.

 

11/19/2015 NINE DAYS POST SURGERY

With each pain pill I lost all affect in my face and spark in my mind. Boredom of immobility set in. I began to wonder…Will I ever swing a kettle bell or a back squat again? Will I ever be able to do a push up? I feel like my mobility will forever be altered. I couldn’t get myself dressed by myself, so it was probably silly to be mourning my ability to do push-ups…but I had worked hard to be able to have physical fitness in my adult life and being able to do it again would be a statement to this cancer that it WAS allowed to deposit perspective and goodness into my life BUT IT imageWAS NOT ALLOWED to TAKE anything! Not even a single push up!

This was me Dec. 2014 at 181 Fitness.         I want to do this again!
It is so hard to be in your physical body without reprieve from physical suffering. But I’m mustering up prayer. After all, I am to be joyful always; pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances. (1 Thes 5:16-18). Lord forgive me for not being this in this past week…lead me here…it is where I want you to find me. I am praying for any thought that brings me out of my physical body. Out of the pain.

There is such a strong “I don’t want to” resistance within me. “I don’t want the pain, I don’t want to work so hard to fix this, I accepted cancer but I don’t want the physical pain!” I grapple with myself…

The tug and pull between my flesh and my spirit is even less pliable that the scar tissue I had agonizingly developed.

There was a standoff that ensued between my physical body and my emotions and I disconnected emotionally and fell prey to my humanity. Being in my physical body, to the degree that I am, is deafening. The physical pain nearly silenced my ability to feel emotion. The medications rob me of clarity; all the while failing to “manage” anything. Nearly over medicated or under medicated the system of pain management failed to meet my needs. Still now, I appreciate their valiant efforts, but complexities as they were made for the days already endured. Medications were either unavailable to me due to the after math my body was in after chemo or just simply unable to monitor and modulate the several different types of pain successfully.

With the auxiliary (armpit) dissection I woke to deficits I did not expect. Gratitude beyond gratitude for the extra time one of my surgeons spent on saving the main nerve down my arm. I would gladly take the pain and nerve rehab over lifelong numbness and neuropathy. After surgery I learned that one of the surgeons advised to cut the main nerve down my arm while the other refused and continued laboriously to clean it up and save it! Later, in my post op appointment she joked about what a pain the butt I was even when I’m knocked out on her table! Love Her-Great surgeon and great person!!! It was a six hour surgery and my nerve was saved! Handling the nerve in order to save it does cause damage that needs attention. Also, the scar tissue that developed all around the large surgical site literally limits the arms ability to move correctly and without pain. I was taken aback by not having full function of my arm and hand. Dedicating my life’s career to traumatic brain injury rehabilitation I have served on an interdisciplinary team rehabilitating wounded warriors torn apart by bombs, & other TBI suffers, I witnessed all of them having to learn to move again. But now being in therapy vs being a therapist…so different! God is refining me as a cognitive therapist. My patients will surely benefit from this that I experience. I will return to my work a different person after this. It is all for good. I know this…a despite my momentary complaining…I would chose this, if given the choice, knowing it had purpose.

But for now I am 9 days away from surgery and desiring to rise from these ashes. But the embers still burn strong and scorch me as they may; without warning.

11/20/2015 PATIENCE

This morning I sit only to meditate on one command again: Be joyful always; pray continually; Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thes. 5:16-18). Lord, such things can only be granted through heaven itself because this pain leaves no margin! But the command is clear, ALWAYS & ALL. So even though I can’t see around this physical pain I cry out for the hands that hold me (John 10:28, Isaiah 41:13, Psalm 139:10) because this is his will for me.

Oh Lord thank you that you promise to turn all things to good for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:28)

All.
Not some.
All.

–He has walked me through many “words” in this journey. Words that are LIFE to me now; through experience with them. Experience beyond just the knowledge and correct semantic use of them. I have ‘lived’ the deeper meaning to all of these words now.
Faith. Love. Joy. Trust.
…Oh, Trust was the toughest of all…or perhaps I speak to soon? “Patience” was the word given to me in this phase.

Patience.

A word so counter culture, I dare admit that at nearly 37 years of age, I cannot say I have even thought it equal to other virtues worth seeking. I always pushed it off to a later age when I could then put value on it- In this modern age patience is not a virtue that we actually purpose to clothe ourselves with. …Well let me speak for myself; I won’t over generalize.

Truly, how does one live or even attempt to emulate TRUE PATIENCE, unless forced to? I am an admirer to those who have walked further in this than I. With God being the ultimate example of patience to his people in a generation such as this. I’m again grateful for his grace and mercy!

I am open to learn and I am requesting the desire to understand this word in its fullness. (Did I just say that?) I know not what I just requested, yet I know this for sure- I trust God and my God shall supply all my need . . .(Philippians 4:19). I know that I can do all things through Christ who strengths me (Phil. 4:13).

I relinquish a bit of my white knuckle control in pursuit of this word given to me. Then again, I need not look far to see it is already required of me. Up to this point things have been, oh, dare I say manageable, for lack of a better word. Perhaps, better stated God’s grace has been thick! Abundant! Complete! Sustaining! Overflowing! Even through chemo I never felt the physical reliance so strong and heavy. Chemo was more easily managed through tenacity and iron resolve to push through. This physical pain in its various forms, levels & locations is far from easy for me.

–Seeing as though I’m still wading through this process I pause here, as I cannot see fit to publish this journal without resolve that is sure to come. I stand firm as I wait for lessons learned. Albeit the lessons may continue for a long time, these lessons documented here are preliminary at best. And there we have PATIENCE again in the making…
Isn’t it interesting we call the sick a “patient”?
11/20/2015 (PM) POSTURE OF PRAISE

As I seek to find direction I am brought back to a book I read a while ago by Tim Hansel called You Gotta Keep Danicin’. I have come to ponder a few things I’ve read in this book.

I love this that he writes, “One of the great tragedies of our modern civilization is that you and I can live a trivial life and get away with it, one of the greatest advantages of pain and suffering is that it forces us to break through our superficial crusts to discover life on a deeper and more meaningful level.” (pg96) I agree that when you walk through pain and suffering it allows you to see a greater depth of life than we may not otherwise choose to see as we seek all the shiny perishables the world has to offer.

“Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy. God has given us such immense freedom that he will allow us to be as miserable as we want to be.” “…Joy is simple (not to be confused with easy). At any moment in life we have at least two options, and one of them is to choose an attitude of gratitude, a posture of praise, a commitment to joy.” A posture of praise…I LOVE THAT. Thank you Brett & Dana Stewart for gifting me this book.

I will rise; out of these ashes rise!
11/21/2015 TIME TO HONOR MY BODY

A little ER trip 11 days after surgery complicated things a bit. Watching my skin rise beyond normal limits and take shape of bulging golf balls gave me a scare. Hematomas, blood clots, they prove to be sure sign one is doing too much too soon, trying to rehab before due time. These hematomas provided me another opportunity to respect my body and its boundaries, so that I didn’t need a second surgery to remediate the issue. I have struggled for weeks to understand the lesson in this physical pain but I am learning to be a better steward to my body. To respect and honor this temple (1 Corinth 6: 19-20). To *literally* “Be still” (Psalm 46:10). And best of all lessons… PATIENCE.

I realized the pain was refining me. And while discomfort is likely to never fully leave, and full normal function might not be a reality for me; I will work to do whatever I can despite this and accept what I need to as it comes. If I didn’t have the ‘loss’ I’m not sure I’d have such a respect for my body, how it was made and what it is capable of doing to heal. We are a miracle! We ARE truly “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14)

Friends, pain comes. It takes many shapes, forms and spares no one from its experience. But it has purpose. Don’t ever ignore the purpose in the pain. So again, may I remind you to “consider is pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trial of many kinds…” (James 1:2)

11/22/2015 I CRY OUT

I’m growing weary of the pain and discomfort. It has its grip on me. It is so unforgiving.

“Oh, God I need you, oh I need you. Every hour I need you. My one request my righteousness, oh God how I need you.” (Matt Maher)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make you paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

There is nothing, NOTHING that “I” can do to rise above it. I need my Father’s hand. Body broken and entangled in pain. I need rescuing. Not necessarily from the pain itself but from the stand still it has me in.

11/23/2015 ELEPHANTS

My strength in the Lord on my emotional, mental, spiritual health has been secure and stable but it has never been challenged by the physical body like this. Pray Maddy. With boldness and without doubt…He is listening always.

Adam Stadrmiller speaks about audacious prayers and bold willingness in his book Praying for your Elephants.”The boundaries of our prayers lives often have less to do with biblical restrictions and more to do with the limitations we place on them.” “What if your responsibility was simply prayer creation and you left God to the editorial and distribution responsibilities?”

One of my favorite things he writes is on page 45. “We make God small. We assign to Him what we feel is important rather than allowing Him the margin to blow out minds beyond the limits of our understanding.”
This is a simple book that God used to speak something big into me. It reminds me that God’s love and commitment to me is 100% based on who HE is…HIS character; not on mine.      Maddy, pray for your elephants.
Friends, Pray with me. Tell me your elephants and allow me to pray for yours!
Thank you Paula Webb, my dear friend, for gifting me this book.

11/24/2015 WHEN I LOSE MYSELF I FIND YOU
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Just like when the mirror fogs after a shower…the fog of my pain got so thick that I couldn’t see myself in the mirror. But HE cleared the fog in an instant, and when he did I didn’t see me; instead I saw Him. Like the light of dawn piercing through the dark! I could see again. Out of the dark valley and into the mountain tops of mercy. I will rise.

11/25/2015 THINGS CAN ALWAYS BE WORSE

Today I am reminded that things can always get worse! Yes, even I need this reminder… three weeks from surgery, mid tissue expansion and heading into radiation, my family got lice for the first time ever. Talk about ridiculous fun!!! But I will praise him. This world can keep bringing its struggles. Because as far as I’m concerned it only makes me run to his love that never runs out.
But Lord, with that said please let this pass! Lice and germaphobic people in crisis don’t mix! Anyone, anyone? Do you feel me??? image.jpgI am blessed to have my friend, Dawn. I called her at 11:00 at night only to have her and my Mom spend the next 48 hours de-living my house since I couldn’t move. I hope all of you have a friend that would spend hours de-licing your child. All of you know I would be lost with out this woman and all the ways she helps and loves me! One of a kind my sweet friend.

11/26/15 EYELASHES THROUGH HEALING

At the height of my pain I teetered between anger that allowed me concrete stubborn thoughts that “I WILL conquer this body”–and with the swing of the pendulum– thoughts of ugly despair. Though I vacillated between feeling like a bald patch doll and a beautiful bride adorned with the Holy Spirit; I prayed that I could STAND FIRM. There came a moment when I looked closely in the mirror, as we all do, and that I saw something I found marvelous. I mean marvelous! What was it? …Eyelashes imageand eyebrows. Tiny Itty bitty pale eyelashes & flourishing eyebrows. And while it is no secret I love my mascara, this wasn’t the marvel. I was witness to the miracle of how precious and complex our God is and how he has made us. Incredible! Each cell of my body, though they have been split, poisoned and beaten…literally killed, they are still able to regenerate. Dead and now alive! Goodness is sprouting. Sunshine after the rain. Green rising up through the burned land.

Out if these ashes I rise.

The pain has a purpose. My arm, chest, ribs, shoulders, muscles and bones hurts so badly because what was neurotic needed to be removed. Nerves that once were surrounded by that which tried to rob me, were manipulated, moved, and surgically altered. Surgical artistry, precision and trauma. It all happened; and it saved me. And now I must heal and rehabilitate far more than I was prepared for. God created us to heal and it’s beautiful to watch.

11/27/2016 MY NINEVEH

Priscilla Shirer speaks truth for all of us in her book Jonah, Navigating a Life Interrupted. “He has purposefully given you the higher honor of being the one HE deemed suited for a task that has heavenly implications-a task of divine partnership that will yield magnificent results for you and for His kingdom. While these benefits might not be visible at the outset, a supernatural outcome waits on the horizon for anyone who chooses to partner with God.”

Today I was given the readiness for the challenge ahead.
I will rise-I have decided…rather it was decided for me and I have agreed.
Stand up and go…This is my Ninevah (See the book of Jonah in the Bible)…
No other way to do it than to actually actively do it.
Arise and go… (Jonah 1:2)

Out of these ashes I rise.

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To hear the song click here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8YLx2ZdSLJc

Rise

[Chorus]
Yes I will rise
Out of these ashes rise
From this trouble I have found
And this rubble on the ground
I will rise
Cause He Who is in me
Is greater than I will ever be
And I will rise

Sometimes my heart is on the ground
And hope is nowhere to be found
Love is a figment I once knew
And yet I hold on to what I know is true

[Chorus]
Yes I will rise
Out of these ashes rise
From this trouble I have found
And this rubble on the ground
I will rise
Cause He Who is in me
Is greater than I will ever be
And I will rise

Well I keep on coming to this place
That I don’t know quite how to face
So I lay down my life in hopes to die
That somehow I might rise

[Chorus]
Yes I will rise
Out of these ashes rise
From this trouble I have found
And this rubble on the ground
I will rise
Cause He Who is in me
Is greater than I will ever be
And I will rise

Shawn Macdonald Lyrics

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Marching Orders!!! Let’s do this!!

  
Lord,
Thank you for responding to my need to armor up for the battlefield ahead. Not the battle in the physical but that in the mind and spirit. Heading into surgery I do NOT have fear or suffering in “loss”, I know there is physical pain that is ahead and I know that it will pass.

Friends, what I needed and requested from God was a FIRED UP RESOLVE, a gearing up of my spirit to say “Bring it!” An inner fight. Offensive and defensive weapons of truth through the words he left with us. And a partnership reliance in my greatest allie, God himself. If God is for us who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). I asked God for the source to be tapped, and when it was it was like a fire hydrant exploding into the air above! Water rising well beyond ususal heights. I could not concoct or muster up such confidence any more than I could fly. It is not something in my personality or genetic make up, it could not be explained by science or the neurological make up that He gave me. It could only be explained by the truth that He is who He says He is! I asked God to prepare me and He met me with answered prayer. He always comes through. Not in my way and not in my timing…but in His. (For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8) And just as He has been so sweet to do- He did this in many ways; through His word (the bible); through His spirit to spirit interaction within me and through His people.

Many of you were used to equipped me for this in ways you are so beautifully unaware. It may have been a simple touch, a glance, a thoughtful gesture, a gift, a conversation, a prayer, something I witnessed you do that you didn’t know I was privy to, or even a text. For a small few it was time we spent talking where you were transparent and met with me in truth. For some I was blessed to spend time with this week in a few fun ways: in late night messaging, in wooden child sized seats, with u-turns, bleeding fingernails and organizing my beads, a conference room adorned with yarn and even in freezing wind that made for purple lips. (Do I know how to set up girl dates or what!?!?) Precious. Just precious time…You equipped me. Thank you to those of you who answered the invitation to come to our church and join us in prayer. I could tangibly feel your love. Come back next week!!! And know that I too pray for you. You are so very loved by God. As iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)

I am actually SO ready for this surgery and the destorted physical aftermath it will be. I am not sad, nor scared; I do not feel loss or lesser than. I do not feel ugly or ashamed. I am not branded by this life circumstance. It just is what it is…and I AM GOOD! I am ready. He equipped me for that part long ago. The things I needed to be prayed through had little to do with having to have a double mastectomy. By the cocering grace of God that part isn’t really a huge deal for me. There are some moments it is but they are so fleeting and often only because in some strange way the world makes me feel like it’s supposed to be hard for me. But I am set on a rock, a firm foundation and that foundation. (Truely he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:6) God has met me at every turn. He walks before me; I need only to follow. These aren’t words…this is my reality.

Life throws us curve balls. It is messy and everchanging. We live in a lie where “it won’t ever happen to me” but the truth is, the question isn’t whether we will go through hardship, it is when and how. I say this not to create fear!!!! But because we need awareness and mindfulness that we can’t always postpone change to tomorrow. I am so tempted to give disclaimers as to not offend anyone or ruffle feathers. But maybe, just maybe I could ruffle your feathers just enough now….make you a little uncomfortable now –just enough to spare you from a worse discomfort later- so that you make some kind of change today. What is the chamge you need? Ask God to take inventory on your life and to reveal it to you. You may be surprised at what you see. Do you need to change a habit, adopt a good habit, eject from the tornado of false pride or open a blind eye? Or maybe stop and wait on the Lord, have patience in that one desire of your heart, stop perseverating on that one thing you wish was different in your life or maybe start doing that one thing that you know you need to do.

We have no guarantee of tomorrow. Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring Proverbs 27:1. We only get today once. Don’t waste today. Don’t wait for “tomorrow”. Don’t rely on thinking you have many tomorrow’s to come. Love well. Be grateful at the end of the day when your family is all together again. Not a day goes by I don’t thank God at bedtime prayers that he brought my husband, my kids and me all home safety together again.

Love you all 💛

“I want to live like there’s no tomorrow, love like I’m on borrowed time…it’s good to be alive!” – Jason Gray

SURGERY IS SCHEDULED!

  
November 9th I will go in for an injection that will assist the surgeon with finding the lymph nodes during surgery. November 10th at 10:00 am I will be admitted to the hospital with surgery starting at noon. The surgery is a double mastectomy and armpit dissection/lymph node removal. Infection rate is high with this type of surgery so they want to discharge me as soon as I can handle pain medication orally. So we estimate between 1-3 day stay. I’m aiming for 1! I will be at Tri-City hospital but in all honesty I am pretty sure I will not be up for visitors during that time. I tend to get pretty nauseated with all the pain medications. We will post when we are ready for visitors.

This Sunday November 8th at 10:15am you may join me for a service at my regular (amazing) Sunday morning church service and after I will receive prayer from my pastor. I would be honored to have you sit in a church service with me and be there to lay hands on me in prayer and my family before we enter into phase two of this journey. You can always find us on the Right hand side when you walk in; towards the back. Daybreak Community Church: 6515 Ambrosia Lane: CARLSBAD, CA 92011: phone: 760.931.7773 daybreakchurch.org

We are pretty well taken care of with my Mommy and my sister Mia staying with us here at the house. A friend of mine has updated the “Ways to Help” page on this blog if you want to take a look there you can. Mostly the meals coming have been our saving grace. Edith added more dates to the meal train during the rough weeks of surgery and recovery. Once radiation starts Edith will add more dates at that time as well (For info on radiation please see the blog post “Treatment update: when the struggle wants to leave me utterly broken…but it doesn’t get to). We are thankful for each and every meal that has come in!! The stress of no having to cook and clean is HUGE for us right now. Meal Train Link: https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/g0wlze or just Text Edith and let he know when you want to bring a meal (949) 375-3713. Dawn Trevitt has got my kids handled for the most part.

The day and few weeks after surgery I will have Katrina Vredevelt post to this blog the updates so that Christian’s and my mom’s focus can be on me and the kids during that time. As much as our hearts completely want to, it is so hard to answer all the texts and messages when we are in the thick of trying to heal and carry on normal life with the kids. We thank you in advance for honoring that time for Christian and my mom and instead of connecting with us directly please see this blog for updates. Please be understanding if texts cannot be responded to. But we read them!! I will be reading blog comments and responding as soon as I can move! Your words of encouragement clothe me and I am extremely blessed by your thoughts and prayers on us!

Prayer works my people! Prayer works. God honors our prayers for those that believe in Jesus. I am healed by your petition to our God and we thank you for praying for us as you are led to.

Specific prayer requests: Peace of mind and anxiety at bay for all those that will be worrying about me during surgery. My heart hurts knowing you are hurting for me. Ask God for his peace that surpasses all understanding. Pray for the protection of our children as they see Mommy different after the surgery and that they are not fearful or sad as they process my physical pain. Pray God’s hands over the surgeons hands and wisdom over their decisions and PRAY that the doctors only find ONE type of cancer so that I do not have to go through chemo again!!! Pray against infection. Praise and prayer for the renewing of my mind and spirit in him and that my trust will be immeasurable for Him. Pray my mind be under his control completely so that no harmful or fearful thought would penetrate. Pray for the energy and compassion of my husband, mom and sister as they carry the brunt of the heavy load. Pray that God shines on all the medical staff while we are there, that we may have open doors to share our faith with them. Pray as you are led!

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. James 5:13-14

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16

“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”Matthew 18: 19-20

Thank you for being our Army, our fighters, our support! EACH OF YOU have played a special role for us along the way. Your love and support in so many creative and different ways so far has been magnificent.

WE FIGHT STRONG WITH YOUR STRENGTH!

WATCH OUT CANCER!!! WE ARE COMING TO GET YOU!

All our love,

The Diaz Family

My People! 


 My people!! Oh, my people!! You are held up so treasured in every ounce of my being. You came today and offered so much more than your financial support. You offered your hearts as you extended your deep love to me, my husband and my children. Your desire to uphold us and demonstrate love in action was immeasurable.
As the day ended and I had a moment to process the greatness that just happened in our midst, the spirit within me folded like a child ready to fall asleep on her mother’s shoulder. I was able to again submit any fear for the financial status of my family into my loving God’s hands. He has not failed me yet. Not once. I learn more and more how to settle into his command and desire for me not to worry. Worry and fear…they are not from him. The more I fold into him and become entangled in his security, the more my soul finds rest. He used my trainer/owner of 181 Fitness in Vista, Cody Bishop. A man with great vision and even greater desire to truly better the community in a healthy mind and body. Since the day I met Cody I knew he really was the real deal. There are a lot of “personal trainers” our there but Cody’s unwillingness to settle for less than the BEST for his skills, his staffs skills and his clients overall well being is UNMATCHED! Cody knows his stuff and does far more than any personal trainer you will ever meet. He and his staff of trainers know how to start you where your at no matter your level or injuries, teach you accurate form, council in nutrition, care about what’s going on in your life and above all know how to have some SERIOUS fun while working out! There is truly a culture of family at the gym. Some of the people there will be lifelong friends for me. Cody is a man of integrity and heart, as he clearly demonstrated by putting on this fundraiser for me. His assistant Jessie did the heavy lifting in organization and detail and my other trainers, Tony, Gabe and Calista made sure the 181 troops were well fit and trained for the event! Gabe and Tony alone did over 600 push ups each. They were serious about training for this for me!! Thank you to Bill Larson for donating and cooking all of the super yummy food for everyone to enjoy. Your generosity, time and cooking skills touch my heart deeply. Gabe was hugely responsible for getting my body to a place that it could handle chemo. We didn’t know it at the time but without his work with me the months prior I wouldn’t have been a candidate for chemo. Gabe you are wonderful. Cody, Gabe, Tony & Calista thank you in advance for the work you will do with me to get me back in shape when I’m able to come back!

Check out 181’s website: http://www.181fitness.com

The energy in the gym today with the GET YOUR PUSH UP ON event electrified my heart and left me completely overwhelmed. Looking around the room I just had to hold back tears of gratitude for EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU.

I know in the next few days you will continue to give and give and give because your arms will be SCREAMING at you! A lot of sore muscles going on this week.

Thank you to my 181 Fitness family that spent months training to do pushup for me and gathering sponsors from your personal community! Thank you to EVERYONE that did pushup and went to YOUR people soliciting for sponsorship (no one like to as people for money…but YOU did!) And all this precious people that donated to me because of their love for you and desire to help our family. Thank you to those of you that showed up and were compelled to get down on the floor with no training at all. To the KIDS! Precious babe’s out there doing those pushups for us, YOU they stole my heart! And those that came to support me with their presence, your hugs were pure joy for me. No matter what you did you are SPECTACULAR in my eyes!!

We are humbled every day of our lives as we wake up to the reality of our situation knowing GOD’S GOT THIS!

He knows our needs and he is supplying them through his people.

*To my precious long time friend that anonymously donated $10.00 per pushup at a max of 10,000.00!!!! I can only hope that my heart speaks directly to yours because there are no words to adequately express just how I feel. Your genuine desire to help us goes beyond you ability to…many people have the ability to do what you did…but YOU actually did it! Much credit to the person you are and always have been. You have been there at many of my life’s biggest moments and you continue the tradition of being one of my greatest supporters. I love you.

Thank you to all the local stores that donated (stay tuned for a list of them as we should support these local businesses!)… with a special thank you to Sandra owner of Mermaids of Carlsbad Clothing and gift store and Lollies and Jollies toy store; two INCREDIBLE stores located in downtown Carlsbad (300 Carlsbad Village Dr. Ste 105 and 123, Carlsbad). This woman had never met me, yet with hearing my story decided to come along side me and find many ways to help. She donated gift cards to all her stores as well as two opportunities to auction off stays at her Idywil cabin. She went on to make a request from surrounding shops to donate to the auction and continues to think of MANY ways to extend a helping hand to us…thank you will never be enough!!! In fact she has a holiday fundraiser idea brewing in her heart as we speak! This woman didn’t have to do any of this. But she did with a heart WIDE open and she leaves me in utter awe.

Links:

https://m.facebook.com/MermaidsCarlsbad/

https://m.facebook.com/lolliesnjollies

To Sue McLeod! Sue is my long time friend and wife to my pastor of a church we used to attend years ago. Sue has a wonderful business selling “those crazy wrap things!” From itworks. When I asked her to donate to a wrap to the auction she went beyond that and went on foot down the streets of Carlsbad to gather over $1000.00 with of items to have auctioned off for me. Sue spent 3 days going to work collecting items. Including a gorgeous painting her friend painted on our behalf. Sue you have always been a woman that when asked for an inch you give a mile! God’s gift in in you are incredible. For anyone that is interested in trying a wrap Sue will donate a portion of thw cost to my family.
Check it out here:

http://slimwithsue.myitworks.com/contactme

To Edith that just finds a way to have my back in anything I do no matter what kind of busy she has in her life. God’s call to walk this road with me is a hard call but you do it so so well. I wish I could love you half as well as you love me. Thank you for helping with the auction!

Over 13,000 pushup were done to raise money to help with our medical and life expenses!

http://www.181fitness.com/gypo

https://www.gofundme.com/maddy-gypo
So much love and blessings to each of you!

Maddy and my precious family Christian, Liv, Eva and Haven