Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Angels Among Us: My Personal Angels

In my last post I promised to tell you my angel story.  To give you a little background, since my diagnosis of colorectal cancer while pregnant on  November 1, 2012-- I made a regular habit to pray for the ministering of angels.  Please let me explain exactly what I mean by this.

I found comfort reading many near death experience (NDE) books last year when I was most ill from cancer treatment.  All of these NDE survivors shared a common observation of heaven and its dealings with us which is: Angels are always in our midst--aiding and ministering to us--AND these angels are almost always our closest friends and relatives.   If you think about it, this makes perfect sense.  Who loves you more than your own family?  Who has your best interest at heart if it isn't your own kinsfolk.   Thus, who better for God to send to us when an angel is needed, right?!

Well, I indeed found this to be very true in my own case as well.   I had very many instances during my treatment when I felt my deceased family members watching over me (supporting me, encouraging me, and just being present).  Here are a few examples:

Grandma & Aunt Vonn
January 2013: I delivered my second child 8 weeks premature to begin cancer treatment.  But I had to be admitted a week earlier because of an unexpected infection.  Visitors came daily, mainly because the constant morning ritual to help me heal was a quite painful procedure, so I just needed someone to hold my hand.  Nope, I'm not kidding.  I had someone drive up every morning just to hold my hand for 5 minutes. One morning, my niece popped in for a visit.  Although she usually maintains a very busy schedule, she stayed a while visiting and come to find out, she actually had been in a rush to get to work but felt compelled to wait for the medical staff to leave my room to inform me that she felt a very strong, almost overwhelming presence of two spirit personages in the room with us.  Maybe it's because they had me pumped high on drugs, but I didn't feel a single thing so I was very glad she shared this with me.  My prayer was answered!  Late that same night, I lay their "chained" to my bed by my medical paraphernalia and out of nowhere, a cameo looking headshot image of Aunt Vonn & Grandma popped into my mind.  The moment I asked myself if maybe it was them whose presence my niece had felt, a sensational envelope of peace swept across my whole body like a tidal wave. I instantly knew the Holy Spirit was confirming to me this was indeed true.  Even in death, this loving duo were still some of my biggest fans!
"Peace I give unto, not as the world giveth, give I unto you" (John 14:26) 

2013: Once while having an imaging scan in which I felt particularly claustrophobic.  The nurse put a towel over my eyes to help calm me.  I began to visualize myself in a big, open and field looking a beautiful tree. My hands were stretched out above my head and suddenly I felt warmth in my hands as if they were being held by someone. Almost immediately, I received a knowledge that it was Aunt Vonn there to cheer me on through it. Side Note: Aunt Vonn & Grandma lived for us kids.  They were always at our sports games, musical events, you name it!  Ever cheering us on.  Why would this day be any different, right?!

 April-May 2013: While receiving intense and excruciatingly painful radiation therapy daily for 5 weeks solid, I just had a sense that my brother, Scotty, who died at age 3 of leukemia-- he also having received radiation therapy to his sick little body--that he was just present for it; that he knew from experience what I was going through and he was just there for moral support!

June 2013: For my last pre-op procedure before my big cancer & reconstructive surgery, I sat talking with my husband while waiting on the medical staff when I interrupt him and ask "do you feel that?  Someone is here with us".  It's hard to describe but have you ever had a distinct feeling that someone is in the room with you?  That's what it felt like.  So what do I do?  I yell out with a grin "whoever you are, thanks for being here!"  It wasn't till the next day I knew it was my grandpa.  I just had a warm tingly feeling wash over my entire body.  My mom had the exact same feeling too (separately) that is was her father with me.  Love ya PaPa!!!

Now that you see my history with ministering angels from these people whom I loved so dearly in life, it only makes sense that I keep I keep praying for them!  

My dad died 2 months ago after being ill for decades.  He too, by the way, had felt for the 2 years leading up to his death my brother, Scotty, would come and get him when his life was complete.  

Well, since my dad was ill himself during my cancer treatment, it just seemed fitting that he finally get a chance at being my "angel".  Thus, on my 15 minute drive to the radiology lab for my first CT scan post surgery---I actually pictured dad riding along with me in the car and saying "well missy, let's get going".  It was nice...relaxing.  However, after I arrived I felt nothing...like I was just there...alone!  But I didn't dwell on it too much because I was pre-occupied with paperwork until the nurse swooped me back. 

So we're going through the standard procedures of a CT scan.  My nurse, a middle aged woman whose name I can't recall, very kindly walks me through the procedure like clock work.  But after she left and I was being scanned, I had a very distinct impression (which I often refer to as a God whisper) that dad wasn't supposed to be with me because God had sent me a living angel instead; my nurse.

So, I sat there reflecting...why her? I thought how she had been so warm and smiling from head to toe.   Even though she did this same routine day in and day out, I could tell that I wasn't  just a number or a job to complete but that she really cared.  She was interested in my story and what was going on in my life.   She asked me questions about my life and children while she was prepping me.  She said "you're so young to be going through this; but I can tell you are strong, I can see it in your countenance".  I really had nothing to say to that but the truth "well, this is the path the Lord has for me to take".  She then explained that she is a believer in prayer as well.  She sees many believers who don't care what their doctors say; that they will beat it because the Lord is on their side!  She said one of the resident Doctors will usually respond to them with "and that's the attitude that will help you beat this!"  

So how do you tell a stranger they are the ministering angel you prayed for this morning?   As she walks back in after my scan, I clear my throat and said "since you mentioned you believe in prayer, I wanted you to know that on my way here, I prayed for ministering angels to be with me because I don't like to do these things alone.  God answered my prayer and sent me you!"

I continued as I see a look of shock spreading across her face, "you've been so very kind, helpful, and smiling.  Thank you very, very much.  It means a lot to me".  Her response? "You are going to make me cry!"  You really have no idea how much that means for you to say that to me"  explaining how she has wished over the years she could stay home with her kids instead of working.  But instead of complaining, she prays that He will instead give her the opportunity to minister to the patients who come in.  When I stood up she embraced me and escorted me all the way out of the office.

Wow!  Isn't God a good and wonderful God?!!  Answering both of our prayers at the same time!  This is clearly a learning moment to follow through when God tells you to do or say something. It was truly a precious moment indeed.

Arise & Shine Forth!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Cancer and My Moment of Reckoning

Friday a week ago I had a CT scan (I’ll definately need to post a ministering angel story about this ) and for the first time, some tiny unclassified spots on my liver have started growing in size (3 to be exact).  I should have known when the Doctor calls me back instead of the nurse, there was trouble.  These spots were seen in the very beginning but the Doc said they were too small to identify or biopsy thus he wasn’t going to worry about them as it wouldn’t change the treatment protocol he recommended either.  Let me just say, I’ve had at least 3 prior CT scans prior to this in the last 2 years and there was never any change until now.  

So my Doc said he was very concerned as he described them to me (I can’t remember a thing about their description).  I just had to ask “so are you saying it’s cancer? or could it be something else?" His indirect respone?  "With the type of cancer you’ve had (stage 3 colorectal cancer with 3 positive lypmph nodes), we don’t want to see any changes in your liver".  Reading between the lines, I think I may be facing stage 4 liver (or more) metastisis.  

When I hung up the phone,  I’ll admit, I was a bit emotional when I told my mom and brother what he said.  But I returned home and talked to my twin sister who asked me how I was going to handle this should it be bad (knowing I was very, very emotional and pregnant the 1st go around). Next, I talked to my 12 step sponsor for food addiction (another good story I’ll have to tell later). She has been through cancer herself and is such a beautifully positive person.  She offered me the encouragement I needed.

After both these conversations, I made a conscious decision to do it differently.  My thoughts went something like this “I’ve already done this the anxious, scared, and stressed out way and it was no fun at all!  I feel pretty normal again, have a good deal of my energy back, enjoy outings with my 2 precious daughters and husband (we all pick him up for lunch once a week and enjoy a park picnic).  I’ve been gardening for therapy and have a transformed yard to boot, I get to serve in my church working with the primary children….and by Golly!  I want to keep it this way!!!

Let me just say that this one decision has become one those pivitol moments in my life; a hinge that can swing me in several different directions for better or worse. It has set a tone in my home, for my husband and children in how we are going to deal with this; taking it in stride a day at a time.  We are going to LET GO AND GIVE IT TO GOD (I’m screaming as I type this at the top of my lungs...in my head of course---and smiling) because HE is in control; Of course I will seek his inspiration and I will take action to get treatment, but ultimately HE is the great physician and He will decide if I get to stay or come home to him. And either way, it will be ok because he is mighty to save (a sick body or a wounded heart)!  Can I just say it is so freeing to just let it go!  We are going to live an abundant life and cherish the time we have no matter how short or long. It’s truly amazing how one little medical scan can change your perspective in an instant.  A family picnic on a warm June day is a truly abundant life.  Watching my 4 y/o dance or my 17 m/o sing is an abundant life.  Smiling at strangers (even when they think you are weird) is an abundant life.  I heard about this book several years before cancer was on my radar entitled “One Month to Live”.  Well, it’s still on my bookshelf collecting dust but MAN does it resonate with me…I now KNOW what he’s talking about because I’m trying to live it day by day.

So here’s my plan.   Actually it's not MY plan but God's plan but here's what I'm going to do. I will document my journey beginning today. Maybe not everyday because I've got two beautiful young children to laugh, love, and play with. Nevertheless, I have quite a tale to tell starting almost 2 years ago with me 39, pregnant, with a cancer diagnosis. And so it begins!

Arise & Shine Forth!