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Cancer Journey

Cancer Journey/ HEALTH

Tools and Tips for Cancer Caregivers

Thank you Pfizer for sponsoring this post. Join Pfizer’s This Is Living With Cancer™ initiative by sharing your story with #InspirationLives on Facebook and Instagram to support and inspire those who have been affected by cancer, and be sure to check out the LivingWith™ mobile app available via iTunes and Google Play.

As a two-time cancer survivor, I have been the patient. I know what it is to be in deep need of others and their support. I know the importance of caregivers and how they can make a scary, horrible experience into something quite beautiful and bearable.

Being in remission for seven years has also allowed me to be the caregiver. I know what it means to show up and support a loved one while they are in the fight for their life. I know the beauty of bearing burdens and how coming alongside another in their suffering can not only help them, but also can change you and give your life moments deep meaning and beauty.

I know.

I’ve talked a lot about the brave cancer fighters I’ve met and loved. I have the unique opportunity as a survivor myself and, through this blog, to reach and meet many cancer fighters.

What I have not talked about very much is the role of caregiver.

In my fight with stage 3b breast cancer, I had the honor of watching so many precious caregivers come alongside me and show me what deep caring and giving looks like.

I have been given seven precious years to implement what I have learned to help others in their need.

I’ve learned a few things along the way, and I have also found a tool to pass on to you for when you find yourself in the role of caregiver.

LivingWith™ App

Pfizer offers This Is Living With Cancer™, a national awareness program that includes a free mobile app for anyone living with cancer called LivingWith™. It is designed to help manage some of the daily challenges faced by people living with cancer.

As a caregiver, this is a helpful tool for your loved one to utilize. It can give you both direction, clarity and a place to gather and keep all the things!

It can help your confidence that you CAN do this and do it well. It is a helpful tool that may aid you in communication both with your loved one who is fighting cancer and with those who love them because caregiving will take a team.

Keys for a Cancer Caregiver: Community, Communication & a Caring Heart

Three main things you will need when caregiving is Community, Communication & a Caring Heart

The LivingWith app can help. Let me show you.

As you can see, all three things are addressed on the dashboard of the app:

My Circle is the hub of community.

Requests and Health Notes may help with communication.

Well-Being could help you care for your loved one and may even inspire you to do some self-care, too!

Community

The app helps your loved one “assign a Proxy who can manage your account on your behalf if desired. Champions who are the people you rely on the most for daily help, and Supporters receive updates and help where and when they can.”

You can help your loved one schedule and organize support right there in the app and keep everyone up-to-date.

As a caregiver, helping build a team is so important. It allows different people to serve in their unique and gifted ways.

It also keeps one person from being overwhelmed with the caregiving and will help surround the patient with love, which is so very healing.

Communication

Good communication is so important, and sometimes it can be hard as the caregiver to know exactly what is needed and when.

As a caregiver, it informs you in a simple way about how they are doing and gives you a heads up on how to care for them.

It gives you a way to help them communicate with your loved one’s supporters, know how to organize their thoughts and needs and share them with just a touch of a button.

Battling cancer can be overwhelming for both the patient and the caregiver. This app can be a helpful way to simplify the communication process.

Notes

The app helps you keep track of important notes and questions in between appointments. As a caregiver, you are a listener, and you can encourage your loved one to put his or her cares and concerns into list form to ask his or her doctor. This may help him or her release worry.

When you attend doctors’ appointments, keep the app open and take active notes for your loved one. This can be very helpful.

What is said during doctors’ appointments can be filled with many emotions, good and bad. Being present during these precious, life-changing moments with your loved one should not be taken lightly.

Oftentimes, your loved one is going to hear test results that can take his or her breath away . . . again, both in a good and bad way. With cancer, it can go either way.

Knowing that the important things the doctor says are being tracked and gathered in one accessible place may bring peace of mind.

A Caring Heart

Cancer can reveal just how precious life is. As a caregiver, you may find your love and care for the person with cancer almost overwhelming. You want to help your loved one fight and fight well.

The app can keep track of your loved one’s steps, sleep, pain and mood.

I encourage you, as a caregiver, to be mindful of these things for yourself. You want to be your strongest self, and that means taking care of your own basic needs, too.

Make sure you are getting the rest you need. Take walks. Hydrate. Practice self-care and take care of that caring heart of yours.

You will not regret doing your best in caregiving. It may not be a role you imagined playing or even chose to play, but look for the beauty in things that are difficult, for love is why it is so hard in the first place.

It would not be hard if you didn’t care. Take care of your dear, caring heart and keep choosing love!

——

For more information about Pfizer’s This Is Living With Cancer, and to download the free LivingWith mobile app, please visit www.ThisIsLivingWithCancer.com. Patients and their loved ones also can find the initiative on Facebook and Instagram.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Cancer Journey/ HEALTH/ Sponsored

How My Circle of Support Changed My Journey With Breast Cancer

cell phone with cancer app, plant and coffee mug

Thank you Pfizer for sponsoring this post. Join Pfizer’s #InspirationLives initiative by sharing your story with the hashtag on Facebook and Instagram to support and inspire those who have been affected by cancer, and be sure to check out the LivingWith™ mobile app available via iTunes and Google Play!

 

Cancer Diagnosis – A Reason for a Circle of Support

Every person who has been diagnosed with cancer knows exactly where they were when they heard the words “you have cancer.” These 3 little words are so powerful that knees get weak and the wind is knocked right out of you. You lose your breath, your heart pounds, and all of a sudden your whole world becomes a fight to keep breathing.

I’ve heard these words twice in my life.

The first time, I was a young 22-year-old cosmetologist working at a hair salon. I was blow drying my favorite client and was called away for a phone call. It was my dermatologist with biopsy results from a freckle on my stomach that had turned darker and darker. I answered the phone and he said, “I’m sorry to tell you: it tested positive for melanoma. Please make an appointment to come see me right away.”

I had read enough to know that back in 1998, melanoma was very deadly if it was advanced enough to get into the bloodstream. I went back to drying my client’s hair, hoping the dryer was loud enough to block out the sound of my pounding heart. I didn’t tell her the words I had just heard, even though she was my favorite. I needed a moment to take it all in. I needed a moment to breathe.

The second time I heard the words “you have cancer,” I was 34 years old, a wife and a mom of 3 beautiful girls. It felt different: more serious. My doctor called. This time I was at home in my bedroom, my 3 girls and their friends playing downstairs. I wrote about the call in my journal:

The doctor comes on the phone, voice low and serious.

“Amy, I’m sorry to have to tell you that you have invasive ductal carcinoma.”

Silence . . . my breath taken, but my heart beating louder and faster.

“Do you understand what I am saying? That means you have breast cancer.”

I find myself in my closet, the phone still attached to my ear. I am having to concentrate on my breath, and I say the word “OK” 3 times. It is the only thing I can think of to say. My knees feel weird. Is this what they mean by “weak in the knees”?

With the words “you have cancer,” life instantly becomes overwhelming and everything feels different. Life feels out of control. Appointments, doctors, scans, medications, surgeries and staying alive become your new normal. There is a lost sense of stability, and you are faced with your mortality. Your entire life becomes about living, and you fight to just breathe and stay alive.

 

Breast Cancer patient collage

The Importance of Having a Circle of Support

This is a fight that must not be done alone. Some of the most beautiful life moments can happen in this unwanted new normal, and they often involve others.

In my fight, I challenged my 3 young girls to look for treasures in the midst of the hard. We had to find ourselves thankful even when life was spiraling. I knew this would make this new journey bearable, but I don’t think I realized just how much it would change it and not just make it bearable, but beautiful.

Treasures came from above through our circle of support.

We are made for relationships. We are made to give love and receive love. People fighting cancer find themselves doing a lot of the receiving, and that is okay. The key is being willing to. It can be an adjustment if you are used to being the one giving, but, oh, the beauty of receiving love! If you are a cancer fighter, learn how to receive.

My circle of support came around me and taught me so much. I’ve had a front row seat for an extended time to see how it is done. Receiving love and support from others changed my journey and made it a precious one. I now know how to better give support and love others because of how others supported me.

There are treasures to be found even in cancer, in the giving and receiving of love the most beautiful circle is formed. A circle of support.

Living with cancer app on iphone

 

An Easy Way to Reach Out and Form Your Circle of Support

You can form a circle of support through the LivingWith™ app. This app is part of Pfizer’s This is Living with Cancer™ initiative designed to help people manage their lives with cancer and stay connected to their communities. The mobile app is designed to help manage some of the daily challenges faced by people living with cancer and organize certain important information in one place.

I sure wish it was around at the time of my cancer treatment and fight. It would have been helpful to have all of my information in one place.

 

Living with cancer app

Living with cancer app

My favorite part would be using the Circle of Support on the LivingWith™ app to inform and connect with my friends and family.

The app helps you assign a proxy who can manage your account on your behalf if desired: Champions, who are the people you rely on the most for daily help, and Supporters, who receive updates and help where and when they can. You can schedule and organize your help right there in the app, staying in touch with your people and keeping everyone up to date.

coffee mug, succulent and a cell phone with a cancer app opened up on it

How My Loved Ones Supported Me During My Breast Cancer Treatment

Despite not having the app, I still had amazing support.

If you are a cancer fighter, I hope the following stories give you ideas on how to answer your loved ones when they ask “What can I do?” If you are part of a cancer fighter’s circle of support, I hope my stories give you some great ideas of how you can support your loved one.

 

FLOWERS
I had 7 surgeries in 3 years, and my recovery room at the hospital or at home was always brightened by flowers. A favorite I remember was an orchid from my sister-in-law. I also remember a simple sweet violet plant. My husband’s workplace sent a beautiful bouquet of flowers with a grocery store gift card attached to it. I loved all of them. You can never go wrong with flowers!

 

HANDMADE ART
A teacher who taught young people at our church gathered their homemade art and get-well notes and delivered them to me. Teens from the non-profit organization that my husband worked for took the time to write letters and sent them to me. These 2 art deliveries touched my heart so much!

Another amazing piece of art I received was drawn by my teenage nephew and delivered to my hospital room. It was a sketch of a warrior, and he said it was me. That image and his love helped me find my courage. It is to this day a treasured gift.

 

FUN FOR THE KIDS
My girls were 10-, 9- and 7-year-old. Seeing their mom fight cancer was hard on them, but they sure loved getting spoiled and were so well loved. One of their favorite memories was getting to go to an indoor water park called CoCo Keys. This was such a generous, thoughtful gift from a sweet friend.

 

KID DATES
My father-in-law would come on a Saturday, pick my girls up and take them to a movie. I tried so hard to be awake and ‘up’ while my girls were home, so having them gone for a few hours gave me permission to relax the tough girl exterior that I kept while my girls were around and take a nap. They remember those special Grandpa dates to this day.

 

COMFORT ITEMS
A reader of this blog sent me a homemade lap quilt. I could not get over the sweet generosity and the time I know she took to make it. I took it everywhere and it got lots of attention in the chemo room. It was a perfect size and so very beautiful. I felt so covered in love.

Another reader crocheted hats for my cold noggin. A friend knitted 3 hats for my girls and one for me too, we were all pretty cute in our lovely handmade hats!

 

OFFER TO TAKE NOTES AT DOCTOR APPOINTMENTS
I have a dear friend who I knew was wired to be resolute and could keep her emotions in check even when hearing hard things. She is so loving but also tough.

She is the one I asked to come with us to our first oncology appointment. My anxiety was so strong that I had to ask for a bag while we sat in the waiting room just in case I got sick. This was before knowing if cancer had spread, and the unknown was getting the best of me.

My husband and I needed someone to focus and take notes on the hard things that were said while our minds swirled, and her strong presence was what we needed.

 

HELP WITH OVERWHELMING PROJECTS
I remember while healing that the simple act of putting my Christmas decorations away was so overwhelming. I remember my sister and mom packing it all away for me as I sat in my jammies on our couch, so relieved when all the boxes were finally put away.

A sweet group of women offered to come and help me organize and add planters to beautify our front yard for spring. I still have those planters sitting out by our front steps, all these years later, a reminder of love every time I come home.

 

PACKAGES IN THE MAIL
So many sweet packages from loved ones, but as a mom, I especially loved the packages that came for my girls. I so enjoyed seeing my worried girls delight in things. It was healing for us all. One package I vividly remember came from a loving aunt and had teddy bears and candy for my girls.

So many cards were sent and I kept all of them. One from my aunt and uncle had some money tucked inside for groceries.

 

HOUSE CLEANING
Oh goodness, what a gift. My sisters often would come and fold laundry and clean while I slept. My mother-in-law arranged for ongoing house cleaning while I was in treatment. The woman who came regularly to clean my home ended up becoming a mentor to me—talk about a full circle of support and a treasure from cancer! I have such sweet memories of being in her home and soaking in her wisdom.

——

There are many more examples I could give, specifically in the area of FOOD and PRESENCE—both were huge for creating a circle of support around me. Notice I said presence, not presents. Both are great but the former is so, so important.

I will talk about these 2 things extensively and share more stories in an upcoming post!

So what about you?

  • Do you have stories of your own circle of support?
  • Do you have a loved one that you are surrounding with support right now? If so, send them this post and tell them about the app!
  • What are specific ways or ideas you have for showing support?

 

Are you a cancer fighter that needs a circle of support? If so, get the app!

For more information and to download the LivingWith™ mobile app, please visit www.ThisIsLivingWithCancer.com. Patients and their loved ones also can find the initiative on Facebook and Instagram.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Beauty/ Cancer Journey/ HEALTH/ Natural Products

My Every Day Health Decisions As A Cancer Survivor With Tom’s of Maine

My Everyday Health Decisions as A Cancer Survivor

Thank you Tom’s of Maine for sponsoring this post.

I am a cancer survivor. This is the 7th year that I can say those words and every year I grow more and more amazed at what a gift life is. I work hard at not taking it for granted.  Life is so precious!

Because I know life is precious, there are decisions I make every day to help me live a healthy lifestyle.

Whether it’s using my favorite yoga app, switching my deodorant to Tom’s of Maine Natural Deodorant, or taking turmeric capsules, I am passionate about making decisions to live my best life!

I am not in control of what my future holds and whether or not my cancer will ever come back, but I do know it makes a difference in my everyday life to pursue wholeness and health in different areas, and boy does it make a difference in how I feel every day!

 

Here Are 5 Of My Everyday Health Decisions I Make As A Cancer Survivor

Move My Body

I am not an exercise fanatic, but I have learned that it is important to keep my body moving. I’ve read over and over that getting exercise every day is a great way to stay healthy and cut my chances of recurrence.

I keep it pretty low-key and walk or do yoga every day. When the weather is nice, I will walk our neighborhood or around my favorite local lake. When it is cold, I’m a bit of a wimp and use our treadmill instead. Lately, I have been multitasking and answering email while walking on the treadmill–I really like how productive that feels!

I also love how yoga makes me feel. It has been super important to keep my body stretched and flexible, as the ongoing cancer medications I am on cause joint pain. Yoga makes a huge difference and I feel amazing when I am done, especially my back, neck, and joints! I use the Yoga Studio app on my phone and I LOVE it!

My Everyday Health Decisions as A Cancer Survivor

Supplements

I’ve taken several types of supplements throughout my survivor years, but the main ones I will not budge on are a Multi-Vitamin, Vitamin D, Turmeric, Fish Oil & Magnesium.

I take a Multi-Vitamin not to make up for a poor diet (because I eat quite healthy) but just as reassurance that I have covered all bases.

Vitamin D is something that most Americans are low in, and it is the one supplement my Oncologist was adamant that I take.

Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and is a miracle worker for keeping my joint pain to a minimum. Fish Oil is to make sure I get all those good Omega’s, and Magnesium is the calming mineral, which is a great way to keep any of my worries and anxiety at bay.

My Everyday Health Decisions as A Cancer Survivor

Slow Living

If you follow my Instagram & Instastory, you know I am big into slow living. I often snap my favorite slow parts of the day. Life is busy, but it IS possible to slow, even if it means just slowing your mindset.

Stress can be so hard on the body, and if I’m going ‘a mile a minute”, then I miss out on this precious life I have been gifted with. I find a lot of ways to slow down.

I meditate using the Calm App, I journal, pray, read, & listen to calming music. I light my favorite candle. I deep breathe during yoga and work hard at being aware and present in life moments.

I just started a daily journaling habit. It is called Morning Pages, and I simply put on some soothing music and write 3 pages in my journal. It can be absolutely anything, whatever is on my mind from deep thoughts to lists of things I want to get done. The key is not to censor and just write. I’m loving this practice so far!

I also make sure I get plenty of sleep. It is amazing with all that my body went through while fighting cancer–chemo, radiation, and multiple reconstructive surgeries; plus ongoing medications and treatments that I use to keep cancer away–that I still have so much energy. I believe this is largely due to the amount of good rest I get. I use essential oils (hello lavender!) and melatonin to quiet my body down at night, and I sleep like a baby most nights!

My Everyday Health Decisions as A Cancer Survivor with Tom's Of Maine

Natural Products

I have been quite thoughtful about using products that are part of a healthy lifestyle and have ingredients that I can feel good about putting on my body. As a cancer survivor, I am especially aware of this when it comes to products I use every day.

How often do you look at what is inside products you use every day? Is the ingredient list simple and do you know what the ingredients are and what their purpose is? It is important to ask these questions.

Examples of everyday products I use for a healthy lifestyle are Tom’s of Maine Natural Toothpaste, organic coconut oil as a body moisturizer, organic makeup foundation and Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting Natural Deodorant.

Let’s talk natural deodorant for a minute. I’ve made the switch to Tom’s of Maine Natural Deodorant. It is the #1 natural deodorant brand with a number of award-winning products among its deodorant portfolio–which contains 15 deodorants–in some of my favorite scents, including fresh apricot, wild lavender & tea tree.

Tom’s of Maine Natural Deodorant provides odor control in their aluminum-free formulas. That “aluminum free” part is why I love and am passionate about using a natural deodorant as a cancer survivor. I personally prefer not to have any aluminum in my deodorant.

There is controversy when it comes to what aluminum can do to your health, and I choose to stay way away from it.

My Everyday Health Decisions as A Cancer Survivor

A Note About Natural Deodorants

Staying away from aluminum means staying away from antiperspirants because FDA guidelines state that an antiperspirant must include a form of aluminum as an active ingredient.

Deodorants are not antiperspirants and do not provide the same wetness protection as antiperspirants. I’m fine with that and my body has adjusted to it.

If you are switching from a conventional deodorant to a natural deodorant, it will take some time for your body chemistry to adjust.

Trying the deodorant for at least 7 days, including testing out different scents (or unscented), can help you figure out what is the best fit for your body’s unique chemistry.

Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting Natural Deodorant uses the power of nature and fights odor using hops and natural fragrances, along with a blend of oils, organic aloe leaf juice, and other plant-based ingredients. It is free of petrochemicals, artificial fragrances, parabens, and preservatives.

I love and use the tea tree oil scent. I had a hard time deciding between the tea tree oil scent and the apricot scent–both smell so good. I often use tea tree oil in my everyday life for its antimicrobial properties. Bacteria on the skin can cause body odor, so I chose tea tree oil scent. It smells super fresh and clean.

My Everyday Health Decisions as A Cancer Survivor

Nourishment

Last but not least, I focus on nourishing my body every day. I drink lots of water & green tea. I focus on eating plant foods in all colors of the rainbow (especially berries & greens) and snack on nuts & seeds.

I use a visual food journal app called YouAte App, an easy way to keep me on track and visually see how colorful my food is. I stay away from fake foods or overly processed foods & excess sugar, especially when eating at home.

My Everyday Health Decisions as A Cancer Survivor

{FOR YOUR PINNING PLEASURE}

Are you a cancer survivor? What do you do every day for your health and what would you like to add to your health habits? Do you know someone who is a cancer survivor? Consider sharing this post with them.

Have you thought about the ingredients in the products you use every day? Is the ingredient list simple and do you know what the ingredients are and what their purpose is?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Cancer Journey/ HEALTH

Breast Cancer Awareness That I Can Get On Board With

It is October, which means it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As a breast cancer survivor, I am passionate about getting the word out for organizations that not just raise awareness, but also give to research.

I think of my 3 beautiful girls and how their chances of getting breast cancer are higher because of my own history. I think of one of my dearest friends whose has metastatic breast cancer and is actively fighting for her life. I think of countless women who have emailed me telling me their stories after reading my cancer story on this blog. I think of those I knew who are no longer here because of breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Survivor

Yes. Continued research is a MUST.

The type of pink I promote is important, and I take it very personally when I see something as terrible and personal as breast cancer used as a way to raise money for the wrong things and in the wrong way.

Megabus and Breast Cancer Research Foundation Partner Up

Megabus.com is doing it RIGHT in their donation and support efforts for Breast Cancer Research with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), a foundation that I trust.

They have partnered with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in a super fun nationwide contest by encouraging people to share their story, or the story of a loved one affected by breast cancer who deserves a weekend getaway with literally a busload of friends and family.

CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW FUN THAT WOULD BE?

For every contest entry during the month of October, megabus.com will donate a dollar to BCRF, up to $10,000. The contest runs from October 2, 2017- October 31, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. CT.

To participate, you must share a story about how you or a loved one have been affected by breast cancer. You must also tell where you would like to go on your trip, and include a photo.

Official rules can be found here. The winner will be chosen and announced via megabus.com social channels —see their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter—on November 15, 2017.

Megabus Cares

I love that megabus.com chose the Breast Cancer Research Foundation as their cause. I very much appreciate that megabus cares. They know the disease has affected many of its employees and their families, not to mention the thousands of passengers who use the megabus service to connect with loved ones every day. I am thankful they are doing something about breast cancer that matters and will make a difference.

Ride Megabus

In need of a bus? Have a trip coming up? Consider riding megabus!

I just checked fares for a trip to Chicago to see a sweet friend and was delighted with the price. I would love to board a bus (with wi-fi none-the-less!) and a few hours later arrive in Chicago. No worrying about stopping or paying for gas, no driving, no maps! I could write a couple of blog posts or read a novel or watch movies on my Kindle or take a NAP! I’m thinking all of the above!

Megabus.com is the first, affordable, express bus service to offer city center-to-city center travel for as low as $1 and operates service to/from more than 120 major cities in North America. Since its launch in April 2006, megabus.com has served more than 50 million customers. Megabus.com is a subsidiary of Coach USA, one of the largest transpiration companies in North America.

Keep your eye out for a pink megabus! It will be traveling throughout the month of October and be stopping in various cities including Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., New York, Albany, and Boston.

Don’t forget to check out megabus.com and submit your story!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of megabus.com. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

Cancer Journey/ HEALTH/ Spiritual

7 Years Surviving Cancer | A Slow, Steady, Apprehensive Dance of Celebration

7 years.

Thank you, Lord, for 7 years.

 

I feel overwhelmed when I think of all the life lived in 7 years.

So much growth. Many growing pains.

 

You are faithful through it all, by my side, guiding, whispering, present.

You know my thoughts… how I find it confusing to know how to feel about 7 years.

 

So many feelings. I’ve seen my marriage, friendships, and precious girls grow.

An unspeakable gift!

 

I know I’ve gained wisdom, my time with you has not returned void. {Isaiah 55:11}

Yet…I feel less resilient than in my younger years.

 

Life lived can take its toll.

 

I’ve seen much beauty and I’ve seen much pain. I see how often it comes in a pair and does a horrific beautiful dance.

The ashes Lord, the beautiful ashes. I hold tight to your promise of trade. {Isaiah 61:3}

 

Maybe my perceived lack of resilience is evidence and subconscious acknowledgment of my weakness and need for you? For when I am weak, I am strong. {2 Corinthians 12:9-11}

 

Stories swirl when thinking of 7 years. Some stories sting–the beautiful painful.

Luisa.

Ty & Terri

Paul.

You know their names, and there are more.

 

Pieces of my heart, some here, some taken, when I think of them a physical ache comes. Holes in my heart.

These holes really are a longing for you, {Psalm 63:1} for answers, for wholeness– for Heaven. {2 Corinthians 5:2}

 

We long for Heaven, yet, we long to live.

We want years. A God-given desire.

We want Life. {Psalm 84:2}

That is why you gave yours. {John 3:16}

 

7 years is so close to 10.

I’ve never thought beyond the 10…not really.

When told “a 50/50 chance of being alive in 10 years” the apprehension comes and seems to grow when I think of how quickly that number is coming.

 

I can’t make much sense of it, this curious vague apprehension.

 

Is it the knowledge that days are numbered?

If so, this is a good thing, for all of ours are. {Job 14:5}

 

Life is but a breath. A vapor. {James 4:14}

 

Is it that I let quickly pass the glorious thoughts of weddings and grandchildren and wrinkles and gray hair?

Oh the magnificent thought of growing old with my Love and Lovelies! I hold it loosely.

 

My Teagan just turned 18, a legal adult in some states. She blows out candles and I am in awe that I get to see the day, a prayer of mine answered. I watch her fall in what could be love and I recognize weddings are not too far away. Could I really have the privilege?

 

I am cautious in my longings, keeping them in check all these 7 years.

 

I’ve practiced a “come what may” lifestyle, hands open. A learned trust.

So why the apprehension and hesitation if I’m so schooled in trust?

 

I know You are good {Psalm 136:1}

I know you are trustworthy. {Psalm 33:4}

 

Trust with all your heart

 

I also have known and seen suffering and pain, how at any moment the other shoe can drop and along with it hopes and dreams. My human-ness comes and I feel frustrated that celebration can so easily come with a vague “what-if?”

 

I know you know. You are acquainted with grief and familiar with suffering. {Isaiah 53:3}

 

You whisper reminders of your apprehension of the cross, your moments spent in that garden. {Matthew 26:39} I focus my wandering thoughts. I find all the answers I need. It is enough, more than enough.

 

Your arms opened wide spread on a tree carved for me. You’ve got it all and hold it all, the whole of the world right in your hand.

 

I look closer and find myself. My life. My story. My moments.

Closer still and I see my hairs numbered {Luke 12:7} and your thoughts of me so vast it outweighs the all of the grains of sand! {Psalm 139:17,18} You see me. Fully known, fully loved.

 

It frees the apprehension. I breathe easy and feel a lightness, my thoughts once again free to dance, and you along with them, dancing over me, {Zephaniah 3:17} all the while holding me right there in your palm.

 

My joy slows and settles. I lay my head on the shoulder of Father God – just you and me, we dance.

I exhale release the past 7 years, all of it.

The joy. The pain.

 

I release the 10-year mark.

I release the years of life beyond, Lord-willing.

 

Help me to keep releasing the unknown whole. {Proverbs 3:5-6}

Remind me to let go because I am held, then help me to keep dancing, a dance only with and for You.

 

Thank you, Lord, for 7 years.


WE DANCE – Staffany Gretzinger

“You steady me, slow and sweet, we sway–take the lead and I will follow”

“Finally ready now, to close my eyes and just believe that you won’t lead me where you don’t go”

“We dance, just you and me.”

“It’s nice to know, I’m not alone, I’ve found my home here in your arms.”

 

 

Cancer Journey/ HEALTH

Abs, Core & Pelvic Floor -Menopause, Pelvic Floor & A Health Update

I am in the middle of a 30 day Abs, Core & Pelvic Floor program and I am giddy. I have hope for the first time in a long time that broken areas of this body of mine can be fixed!

My abs definitely could use some strengthening, but what intrigued me the most about this program was the hope that it could strengthen my pelvic floor, where I feel most ‘broken.’

Do you have broken areas? Do you have a gap between your abs that now bulges from pregnancy? That is very common and called Diastasis Recti.

Do you wet your pants a little when you laugh, sneeze, cough or jump? Or like me, is it hard to hold it when you gotta go? Strengthening pelvic floor muscles can do wonders, and this program gives much better solutions than the typical advice of “just do your Kegels!”

I’ve had 3 babies. I’m 42. I’ve been in menopause since the age of 36 due to breast cancer treatment. All of these things have weakened my pelvic floor muscles.

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Cancer Journey/ HEALTH

A Bump in the Road on this Journey with Breast Cancer – A Health Update

My Cancer Journey a Health Update

I will start by saying it was just a bump in this journey of breast cancer. I’m ok, no worries my friends!

I get why those who have experienced breast cancer (or any cancer for that matter) often call it a journey. It is.  I can only speak as one who has had breast cancer, and even now, almost 7 years out from diagnosis, it is still a daily part of my life.

The fear of cancer is not a daily part, although it does creep up and sometimes roars when lumps or bumps are found. Even when they are not found, there is a healthy fear that drives this cancer journey and helps one stay alert.

It would be so great to think about cancer as just a bump in the road, a “blip on the screen,” just a year or two of my life story, but that is not how breast cancer works. How I wish for myself and those I love on the same road to be able to put the past behind and never have to think about it again.

But that would be ignorant. Not wise. Life-threatening.

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