Monday, 1 January 2018

December 31st - Wind Down Of 2017

December 31st – Wind Down Of 2017

Every year truly does go faster than the one before.  This is such a time of reflection.  I also see it as an opportunity to reflect on what has happened the past year and what I would like 2018 year to be like.  I read a quote today from Elizabeth Gilbert.   “You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestation of your own blessings.”  What would we like our lives to be like in 2018 and what steps can we take?  This year, I am setting time aside to reflect on the past year and also to look ahead and look forward to 2018.  A couple of nights ago, I was particularly off and could not at first understand why.  I felt unsettled and not at peace.  I am not sure if it was what I had been watching on TV, that I needed time for reflection and prayer, that I had been over reflecting or what.  But, I gave myself the opportunity to figure it out. 

I am grateful for the relationship that I have with God.  I am grateful for the gift of salvation and the knowledge that I am enough.    Yet my heart felt heavy.  But, I quickly came to the source of my restlessness.  One single word summed everything up. 

MORE

I want 2018 to be my blank slate of MORE.  I want to be MORE.  I want to be more tomorrow than I am today.  I want to love more, forgive more, be forgiven more, be more joyful, more real, more encouraging, more hopeful, help more, do more, experience more, heal more, give more, pray more, be more kind, laugh more, be more present in every moment, learn more, be more.....
I have a vision board in my head and ideas in my heart and brain.  I am a visual person and I have to write my ideas and plans down or they stay at ideas.  A few of the things that I want to focus on even more than I do now are:

Self care – Physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I need to carve out times for all of these on a very consistent basis.  I know when I don’t I am not balanced and not overall as well or happy as I could be.   These really over lap so much and when one if off; I am off.

Quiet Time – I need time every day to just be still.  To be in complete silence.  To be aware of God’s prescence and guidance.
    
Faith – There is nothing I treasure more and there just are no words to describe the significance of my personal relationship with God on a daily basis.  I choose to be led by God every day. 

I am so grateful for all of the miracles and blessings that God has given me. Becoming a Grandma to Anne this year is a Joy like no other.  Seeing her development from birth to a 6 month old that is now sitting up is such a gift.  This may be a bit of a late Christmas version brag letter but I am extremely proud of my children.  And, I really feel this year it just really needs to be said.   I am beyond proud of my daughter; Raschelle and the amazing mother she is.  So much love in that girl’s heart.  I have seen her calmly, and lovingly blossom as a wife and mom.  Her husband; Patrick is extremely supportive and has shown me that he is a Good Good Father.  Anne loves him so much.   And, my heart melts when it is her Papa that she wants and can silence her cry and take all her troubles away.   It fills my heart with Joy to see how much she loves them both.  She looks at Raschelle with such adoration and frequently interrupts her and Raschelle isn’t able to get a word in.  I am so thankful that both of my daughters have married great men.  Justine has been up to so much this past year; that it sometimes makes my head spin.  She graduated from Aesthetics, moved back to Red Lake and started up her own business.  Matthew and Justine put a lot on their plates support each other constantly.  Matthew works long hours and is continuing to build their home.  And....they are expecting their first child on June 28th.  They are having a gender reveal in January so that will be another exciting event.  God is blessing our family abundantly!  I have been blessed with very special friends, and  family and I find the relationships and their importance continue to increase.  I find it amazing how God seems to put people in our lives that are exactly what we need in our situations and circumstances.  I very much hope you all know who you are.  If you are reading this then you are one of them.
 
 I need to be aware that God always knows best and will continue to answer my prayers in ways that sometimes I as an earthly being may not understand.  As a believer, I have often struggled with the question of why do bad things happen to good people.  At church today; it was said that our definition of good as earthly beings is sometimes different that God’s.  God’s  definition of good is whatever brings us closer to Jesus.  Good is not defined by our circumstances or our feelings.  I know this is something that I need to pound into my head continuously.  I have received miraculous healing in my circumstances.   God has spoken to me the most when I am in my deepest valleys in life. 
I challenge everyone to think of what they would like their 2018 to be like and to ask God for guidance.    I pray that we all ask for God’s guidance on what to put on our slate for 2018. 

Much Love and Blessings Always,

Bev

Monday, 25 December 2017

December 24, 2017 – Life Perfectly Imperfect

Since August, life has been very good.   My medication was adjusted twice to accommodate my low blood counts.  At this time, I am dealing very well with the medication and my quality of life is good.  I will be having endoscopies every 6 months.  I am continuing with accupunture and osteopath.  I was rear ended for the fifth time in November so dealing with whiplash once again.   Although, I have exhausted almost all sleep remedies; my sleep schedule is all off.  Maybe I need a sleep coach.  Ie – yesterday I was up at 5 am for the day but still couldn’t sleep last night until around 3 am.  So, I am disobeying sleep rules and on my computer at 2 am.   My tumor markers are once again falling which is assurance to me that the treatments are working.  I had an MRI yesterday so praying that the results we receive in a week will be what we want to see – continued healing, no new tumors and even regeneration of my liver.  I have faith that this is what my oncologist is going to tell me.  Hebrews 11:1 provides a definition of faith:  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  “trusting in something  you cannot explicitly prove. “   I am choosing to believe continued healing is happening.  I believe strongly enough that I am going away to Mexico for 2 weeks on January 3rd.
There have been gradual physical improvements in my body.  I am off blood thinners and my hair is thickening and new growth has now covered my bald spots.  My muscle mass has increased but my abdomen has decreased.  Going through adversity teaches you lessons on what is important, what you care about and prioritizing.  A lot of things that concern most people; I just don’t care about. 
Christmas brings me challenges like so many people.  It is so difficult not to get brought into the chaos and to focus on whose party Christmas really is.   At Christmas somehow, I become a crumbling emotional mess and bring them all down.  Christmas 2008 was the most challenging.   Although it was a time in my life that I do not want to revisit I somehow always do.  I have to consciously realize how far we have all come and celebrate.  So Christmas is now extra emotional for me but also extra celebratory.  I have learned that when I am at my lowest; God has been at his strongest, most clearly without a doubt present in my life.  Many things happened that without a doubt were God driven to drive a message home to me.  I know not everyone I have told my story to has understood but we all have the choice to decide for ourselves and make our own opinions.  God has given us free will. 
I know that in the future, my health may again worsen.  But, I am not going to let this fear of not getting what I want from totally trusting God.  God is in control .  There may be things involved that we just don’t understand yet.  And, maybe we never will on earth.  We live life forward and understand it backwards.  I am trusting God and his plan.  Romans 11: 33-34 – “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!  How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways.”  Psalm 56 -3 – “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you” Every morning before I get up; I ask God to guide me to show me how to act and how he wants me to be.  Yesterday, going for my MRI – I had to use my negotiation skills to deal with medical staff.  I prayed to God to guide me to not lose my temper, to treat the staff politely but to be assertive and tactful in my approach.  After discussions with several staff and a radiologist everything was figured out.  Perhaps, the many years of negotiating as a commercial underwriter has allowed me to transfer some of my skills.  Who knew. 
Too often, people put unrealistic expectations on Christmas.  We want the “perfect” Christmas.  Yet, Mary and Joseph did not have the perfect circumstances.  Mary was a virgin and pregnant.  They were not married and Joseph had to have faith and trust that she had not deceived him.  They had to travel to Bethlehem when she was due to give birth.  Travelling while being very pregnant – not ideal.  Giving birth in a stable – not ideal.  Yet, Jesus leaving Heaven to come and save us all and offering us eternity is a gift that we can receive if we ask.  My family has a lot to be grateful for this year.  A few of the Big things that I am especially thankful for are: Anne, my daughters, that they are both married to loving men, my husband, my mother in law, my brothers and sisters, my brother having knee surgery, my extended family, my health, my faith and God’s influence in my life, Pastor Martin, and my dear friends.

May the Peace and Joy of Christmas be in your hearts every day.  Merry Christmas to all.

Love,

Bev

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

August 23, 2017 Blog
There have just been so many changes and life events since I last blogged.  I have had so many miraculous happenings, challenges, life altering events and have had to really trust that God has a plan for me on a daily basis. 
Medically, it still ‘seems’ that the cancer is being controlled.  Like I said, you truly have to have faith, live in the moment and try your very best to live in gratitude.  Some days are definitely more challenging than others. 
On July 11th, my tumor markers rose for the first time since I started treatment.  I really felt like I was kicked in the stomach.  My oncologist wasn’t too worried as I had an MRI on July 4th that showed stability in the disease.  But, still he admitted he would rather have not had this happen but the tumor markers are only one indicator.  Also, we changed my treatment drug which could have contributed to the rise.   So, then of course we question if this treatment was the right decision.  Sorry if I am not telling this in the right order but I have a headache right now and really just wanted to try and write this today.  He also told us that he was leaving Cancercare to move onto other career opportunities which devastated me.  (meltdown)  I am extremely grateful for everything that this oncologist has done for me.  He was an answer to our prayers.  He also ordered an endoscopy which I had done last week which they had to do banding on.  Will be seeing the gastrointestinal specialist next week.  (I had to have the endoscopy due to the damage that the ascites did to my body last summer and caused varices in my intestines.  Will know more next week but wasn’t too happy when I read on the exit brochure the hospital gave me that further endoscopies will be recommended. 
Many times I have been told that healing won’t be happening.  God is still the head of the healing in life I have to always tell myself.  Sometimes, we don’t understand the timelines or the ways but it will always be for our good. 
On August 15th, we had our first meeting with the new oncologist .  Blood work is off and neutrophils and RBC are too low to resume treatment at this point.  I had my blood retested yesterday (August 22nd) and again too low.  Hope to start  back on in a week as long as I pass the  blood test.  This does explain my extreme fatigue, shortness of breath and restless leg syndrome etc.....
I need to be patient with my body and do the best that I can.  I tire easily right now which is a hard thing to accept as I was working so hard at getting back into shape.  I was running 3 miles in July.  Then my blood got hit hard and I hit the wall!  Better than the concrete which I admittingly have had the misfortune of in the past. 
So, I am believing that God has a plan for me and feeling God’s presence around me always.   When I really feel like I have not had a stellar day,  I stop and think of or write down three things that I am grateful for.  Even on my least stellar days, I find this an easy task!  I feel that I am so blessed.  I really do this and it really works!  But, I do ask God for specific prayer requests as well. 
AND.....TODAY I AM GRATEFUL FOR
My daughter Justine.  Today is her 26th birthday.  She has rocked my world and opened my heart and my world.  Love her to the moon and back. 
For the health care that I receive both standard and complementary. 
For Jesus
I ‘think’ that mostly everyone knows about the birth of our grand daughter Anne.  She was born on July 2nd.   Her middle name is Hazel after her grandma Hazie - my daughters second mom.  I have been very happy to be able to spend lots of time hugging and cuddling her.  The meaning of her name is Favour or Grace.  Prayer.  God has favoured me.  Everyone said that being a grandparent would be the best thing ever and I thought it would be too.  But, like so many things you don’t truly know until you experience it.  And, then the love; will be so strong that it is indescribable.  It is such a beautiful thing to experience my daughter Raschelle and her husband Pat fall completely out of the park in love with her.  Anne has everyone smitten.  A baby brings so much love to the world.  A baby is one of God greatest miracles.  Thank you God for Anne! 
Blessings and Prayers
Bev


Saturday, 15 April 2017

                                                   Grateful
To say it has been a crazy, amazing, wonderful, scary, tragic, faith filled hopeful year doesn’t even fully accurately describe what the past year has been.  I have been tested by many situations, given no hope and then been given tremendous hope.  I have been blessed and surrounded by so much love, hope and faith.  At times I have been alone but never truly alone.  I have always always ...felt the presence of God around me. 
When I sit back and think about not only the past year but my entire life; I believe that God has always had a plan.  Too often, I didn’t listen to his plan and had to learn lessons the hard way but God has always led me back.  I have never lost my faith but there have been periods of my life where I absolutely have been a very lazy sinful Christian.  I am still a sinful Christian but every day I try to be a little bit better than I was the day before.   I am more aware of God’s presence and ask God for guidance continuously. 
I am so grateful for the healing that I have received and the time that I have received.  I am grateful that God has placed me in the hands of talented doctors , for wisdom from family and friends, for a loving husband that loves me unconditionally and is continually researching for me and guiding me.  I am grateful for time with friends and the friends that have become even closer to me.  I have been blessed with two daughters who have been my focus in much of my life.  I love Raschelle and Justine so much that it can hurt sometimes.  I am grateful that they have both found great partners to share their lives with. 
I am grateful that not only do I believe in God but I feel that I have a personal relationship with God.  As God knows everything about us, we have no secrets.  We can be our true authentic selves.  He knows all of our deep dark secrets, our fears, our hopes, insecurities, and sins.  Sleep issues are often an issue for me and God is available always to talk to.  God has all the power in our lives and if we really listen; will give us guidance when we seek it.  One sleepless night while on vacation in January I truly felt his push to just quit trying to sleep and get up.  Often he has a better plan for us like watch a sunrise and quiet Bible reading time.  
I have been blessed with the wisdom and guidance aided by so many through God.  Decisions on which treatments to take and if surgery is required have been guided by God.  I am so thankful that I was able to attend my Justine and Matthew’s wedding.  I have been able to spend more time with Justine since September while she is attending school.  I was told in May to adjust my expectations, that there was really no hope for me.  I still have dreams to full fill.  A huge dream of mine is to become a grandma and I was told that this was not really realistic.   WELL.....Most of you now know that Patrick and Raschelle are expecting a little girl in July.  We are all crazy over the top excited.  (sometimes out of control in a needing to rein it in kind of way)  I am so grateful that I got to see her precious little princess feet on the ultra sound and I got to hear her heart beat last Monday.  This grand parent stuff is new to us but we are proud owners of a new pack ‘n’ play so we are ready.  Busy crocheting a blanket and have definitely mastered the art of reverse crocheting.  I actually have a crochet coach/friend Kirsty that follows up with me.  (true story).  Anyway, the whole grandma thing just makes me giddy.  On Wednesday, Raschelle was in a car accident and her and baby are fine.  We are all so grateful that both Raschelle and princess are fine.  A very emotional day for all and we are all so grateful.  I know that Grateful is my word of the blog but there just is know other word out there to describe how I am feeling in this season.
As far as the medical side of all of this; things are continuing to go better than doctors have predicted.  They are surprised that my tumor markers are still continuing to respond.  I had a CT scan of my chest, abdomen and pelvis on March 31st (my dad’s birthday).  I have been having MRI’s throughout the past year but they have only been of my liver.  My oncologist thought it would be a good idea to have kind of a broader picture of things.  The cancer in my liver is diffused and imaging is only a part of the whole thing.  But, they couldn’t find any worsening of anything from the CT in March of 2016 to March of 2017. 
I pray that I continue to be grateful for God’s healing and grace in whatever way it is given to me.  The reality is that I need to be grateful for every day that I continue to respond to treatment positively.  Yes, I have side effects but overall my quality of life is good.  In the midst of my sorrow I have had great joy.  God is my healer and provider.
I have found music is very instrumental in bringing me peace.  There are so many great Christian artists that just bring music to my soul.  The song “Find Me”  is  speaking to me a lot this past while. 
Romans 8 -28:  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  We may not understand his way but we need to trust and believe that his way is the best way for all. 
I am grateful to all of you that have been by me and continue to be.   Above all, I am grateful for Easter.  Because of Easter we all have the Hope Of Eternal Life.   Much Love, Bev.

Friday, 3 February 2017

February 2, 2017 Life Update

We have had a great start to 2017.  Tim and I went to Ixtapa for two weeks and returned on January 20th.  It was blissful!  We were able to do so many things that I thought may not ever again be possible.  Due to the great location of the resort so many things were easy to do without going on any excursions. 
We went biking three times.  We chose to go on a challenging bike ride from Ixtapa to Zihuatanejo one day which is a ridiculous amount of hills.  Going down a hill I nearly ran into a herd of goats.  Yep!  And as I am a train wreck as far as being accident prone it was considered to be quite the blessing that I did not.  When Tim suggested that we consider taking the bus back to Ixtapa I was reminded once again what an amazing man I married.  Best 25 pesos ever spent.  Later, we were told that Ixtapa was the hottest place in the world on that day. 
I also survived roller blading without any medical intervention or band aids.  Yes, another miracle.  Our resort was located 5 minutes away from a bike path which was great for biking, roller blading and skate boarding.  Tim too had no mishaps.  There was lots of wildlife near by including rabbits, donkeys and crocodiles (in a sanctuary) 
I successfully attended the gym without complying with their tennis shoe rule.  I continued with my nutrition health nerd persona and drank the Eco gym’s chlorophyll and exhausted the resort’s stock of green juice.  While many people at these all inclusive resorts seem to be able to handle their liquor; I on the contrary have difficulty keeping track of my own shoes while drinking too much mineral water.  True story. 
We also went Kyacking and on a couple of catamaran rides.  We were entertained by a couple of dolphins and one was about a foot away from me.  My feet behaved themselves above my expectations and I was able to do some beach walking which is one of my favourite things to do.  
Last week I had to go back to the oncologist for a checkup and my blood work showed tumor markers decreasing again.  My oncologist discussed our previous MRI concerns and advised that he spoke to the radiologist and they are confident that what they are seeing on the MRI is not a sign of disease progression.  Of course they would never know 100% unless my liver was removed and analyzed.  My spleen is enlarged about 50% above normal and will remain at this size.  They do not anticipate any growth or decrease in size.  My spleen is holding onto platelets which is part of the cause for the low platelets.  Removal of my spleen is a whole other topic that you only want to look into if absolutely necessary.  My platelets remain low but it is safe to continue treatment.  At this point they don’t expect my platelets to get to a normal level.   They all believe that it is in my best interest to continue with the blood thinners indefinitely.  My case apparently has been unusual and puzzling for the specialists.   My case was difficult to diagnose due to the cancer in my liver being spread  throughout much of my liver.  I have responded better than they anticipated to the treatments.  I am continuing with acupuncture treatments and have also seen an osteopath a few times.  I believe that the acupuncture has helped me with a number of the side affects of the chemotheraphy.  They are modifying the MRI’s from every three months to every 4 months.  
I continue to strive to just “Let Go and Let God”.  I am trying to be the best version of me that I can be.  Some days I do better than others.  I am not able to do everything that I used to but I am able to do so much more than six months ago.  I strive to be a better person, mother daughter and friend and feel that I continue to fall short of my own expectations.  But, every day I try to be a better version of me than yesterday.  I try to understand my varying moods and wellness.   No one knows what the future holds and I try not to get ahead of myself.  Today is good.  I try not to compare myself to others or expect myself to have the same energy as others.  I just need  to be me and accept me which is sometimes difficult.  I expect and want so much more from myself than I am able to deliver most days.  
I believe that I have received devine providence throughout the past year in making decisions on my health.  I have received guidance on health decisions regarding what decision to make and the importance and urgency of the decision.  Repeatedly, I have found that when I ask God to help me make a decision, he quite clearly gives me guidance.  I continue to be blessed with not only physical healing but on how hard to push myself and when I need rest or a time out.  I continue to feel confident of God’s presence and for that I am incredibly blessed.
Joshua 1  - 9  - This is my command – Be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Much Love,

Bev

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

December 20th (and one more thing)
Just wanted to give myself credit for channelling my energy in a positive way while waiting for the dr.  I kind of do a freak out once I am in the examining room and can’t sit still.  Decided to do a mini leg squat work out while waiting for the dr.  Might be sore tomorrow but a proud sore!  Yes, Cancer Care employees – I am proud to be that crazy patient in clinic #3.  (got just a few stares) 
Once a work out nut; always a workout nut.  Need to get my legs stronger so I will be ready to run when my feet give the ok. 

Do as much as you can for as long as you can when you can.  
 December 20th Update
I want to quickly give an update on my dr. appt this afternoon.  We have been blessed with more good news and some that is a bit unclear/speculative.  But, that is the nature of stage 4 breast cancer.
My platelets have remained low but my oncologist is ok for another chemotherapy to start in a week. (this will be the 12th cycle)   All of my liver enzymes have improved or remained the same.  Both my tumor markers have decreased.  Oncologist is continuing  the process of referring me for a newish drug on the market to be combined with an anti hormonal.  We are not in a hurry as the current therapy is working ‘beautifully’.   These were the actual words of my oncologist.  We just want to have all options available and basically have our ducks in line so to speak. 
Oncologist is writing up a letter for me that is ok to travel as we are heading to Ixtapa for 2 weeks.  (and ok for me to have chemotherapy drugs in my carry on)  My insurer is also on board with me travelling and is actually encouraging me and giving me travel tips.  I am so grateful to have a medical team and insurer that are encouraging quality of life and do not want me or expect me to be bedridden 24/7. 
The results of my MRI are a bit vague.   This MRI report was done by a different radiologist and my oncologist wants to contact the original radiologist to figure out what a few of the comments mean.  My oncologist doesn’t think it is anything to worry about as I am clinically doing very well.  Advised he will call if any concern.  He believes that some of the images are regenerative nodules in my liver which is a very good thing and not new tumors.  MRI notes are not clear and we may need to wait until spring to really know for sure what is going on.  The original 6 tumors seem to be history.  My spleen is still enlarged and has increased slightly in size and  I still have portal hypertension in the vessels.  We got a copy of the MRI report and just reading some of it now and much of it I do not understand.  Trying hard to believe that everything is well without really knowing for sure.  A lot of this disease is speculative so all we can do is believe the best if we do not know if what is speculative is for sure bad.  Have to believe all is ok or I will only be living a nightmare twice.  The oncologist advised that it does not make sense for the disease to be progressing at this time with the tumor markers decreasing, liver enzymes to be stable/decreasing and for me to be feeling well.  I am doing my best to believe him asking God for emotional strength and increased faith.
Living each day to the fullest and never taking a second of life on earth for granted.  Believing that God has a pathway for me and is right beside me.  With God all things are possible.  Although days like today are long and draining,  we have as many answers as possible and God has been providing us wisdom and guidance all along.  We are so grateful to all those who have helped us through this storm and continue to help and guide us. 
We are most grateful for Jesus and to celebrate his birth. 
May the peace of God be with you always.  Merry Christmas! 
Much Love,

Bev