Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Shaky Update...

Hello,it’s me.  My fingers are weak and shaky.  I haven’t been around in a while and have to thank my sister Robin and friend Donna for updating all of you.  My breathing is deep and this will be brief.  I cannot thank you enough for your prayers.  They have sustained me at times I thought I wouldn’t see.  Again, i,m overwhelmed. i love you all and look forward to strength to share more. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Hi, Everyone.

Just a quick update.  I was in UCLA for two weeks with another obstructed bowel.  This one was so bad, that they chose to insert a g-tube into my stomach before I could go home.  I've been home since Monday and definitely have to adjust to this new life.  Some days are filled with pain meds, other meds, dressing changes and things that are utterly disturbing to me.  My Mom has been AMAZING.  Nothing grosses her out (unlike me) and she's working around the clock to make sure I'm comfortable.  I'm definitely not up for visitors and just ask for your prayers.  And please, no more gifts!  I know I have OCD when I feel yucky and I still worry about where my Mom will put another cute vintage accessory from one of you thoughtful people.  Prayers only, please.

Feel free to email my sister Robin at or Donna at for further updates should it take me awhile to post another one.

Friday, September 13, 2013

No Couch...

Too happy not to share this with you.  As I've said before, it usually takes me about five days to come out of my chemo funk.  I came out of this one on Wednesday afternoon -- just hours before my prayer warriors came over.  One night earlier, and I probably would have been on lots of meds and couldn't have even sat up.  Today, I'm thrilled to report that this is the BEST I have felt in such a very long time.  Not perfect (tummy still looks like I've had a little too much cheesecake), but I have WELL BEING!!!  I now know again what it feels like!

I was hoping it wasn't going to be short lived as I headed back to the doctor today.  My chemo schedule is either weekly or every other week on Fridays.  When I saw my doctor and he asked me how I was feeling, I said, "best I've felt in a long time."  

He asked a few more questions and said, "Well, you know you're not getting treatment today.  I just wanted to see you."  I immediately did that arm thing where you make a fist, extend your arm out and then pull it back by your side real quickly.  A move that screams, "Yes!!!"  Visualize that one?  

Then he shocked me by saying, "If you're feeling good, just call me next Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday and we'll start up again."  Come again?  I asked him, "Isn't chemo suppose to be regimented so that you stay on your schedule?  I get when I'm feeling yucky, you may choose to give me a break.  But when I'm feeling good?  Really?"  He winked and said, "I want you to enjoy the Jewish New Year." (Knowing full well I'm not Jewish).   I like this guy!

After the nurse drew my blood and got the results, she said, "So are you here for a blood transfusion?  Your numbers are really low."

"Uh, no."  I said.

She checked with the doctor and said that she'll just give me a shot to boost my red blood cell count.  Right about the time she was to give me the shot, Ed and my former UCLA boss (who came by to say hi) came back to see me.  Good, I thought.  They can take my mind off of the big, bad shot.  

Well, let me tell you something.  That shot was the shot of all shots.  The nurse warned me that it would burn going in.  Uh, that was a gross understatement.  I did everything I could not to cry.  It made a tetanus shot feel like a trip to an all-you-can-eat brownie bar.  Next time, I'll opt for the blood transfusion, thank you.

Upon our arrival home, two friends stopped by to deliver a special gift to me.  One of them was Sherry, a pastor's wife, I met when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Remember the story I blogged about of the woman who was told she would never have children?  And then had three of them seventeen years later!  Well, she came by to present me with a hand-made quilt tied with forty knots.

 The corner of the quilt is embroidered and reads, "This prayer quilt is given to Ruthie Marek with love from the Maple Springs Missionary Baptist Church.  The people in the church tied the knots and prayed for you, so each knot represents a prayer offered up to the Lord for you.  Maple Springs, AR 2013."

OK, really?  Not only do I love it, but I LOVE that these women are using their gift to bless others living with cancer.  And you know that stuff is right up my alley.  

Sherry leaned over to me and said, "Isn't it great knowing these women in Arkansas are praying for you?"  

Absolutely.  Can't wait to write that thank-you note.

So that was my day.  A good day!  I was reminded by everyone I live with how good I look.  And I don't mean in that way, but in the way that I'm up and walking and have good color in my face again.  Didn't even have to lay on my couch today.  A good day!

So thank you all for sharing in my good news.  And again, thank you all for your continued prayers.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Anniversary Gift...

Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of God's words of healing to me.  It was at 11:55 pm on September 11th that the Holy Spirit filled my soul with God's promise.  

As I woke up yesterday morning, I thought it would be special to get myself to the little chapel inside of our big church and thank Him for those words.  Just me and God.  And to enjoy the silence that is within that room that offers no distractions.  But it wasn't going to happen.  I came out of my chemo funk yesterday morning, but that didn't mean I hit the ground running.  It just meant that I could talk without gagging.  And eat a couple of mini pretzels.  But I'll take it!

A few hours later, I received a text from my sweet friend and neighbor.  

"Are you OK with me having a friend of a friend with the gift of healing come over and pray for you?"

"Sure," I wrote back.

She had mentioned that they would come by around 7 pm.  So my Mom and sister cleaned up after dinner and removed all of the wonderful items that often sit on our coffee table.  You know the stuff: packets of morphine, anti-nausea and gag medication, stool softener.  TMI?  Doesn't your coffee table hold such items?  No?  Lucky!  

As I lay on the couch, I heard a knock on the door.  My Mom answered it.  The first prayer warrior had arrived.  Within minutes, another knock on the door.  As my Mom let her in and went to close the door, two more arrived.  As she hugged them and went to close the door, three more arrived. It was just like a scene out of a movie -- you know the one when the parents go away for the weekend and the kid invites a few friends over for a party, and within seconds, the whole high school has showed up?  Well, within minutes, I had twelve prayer warriors packed into our family room eagerly awaiting to pray over me.  Two of whom I didn't even know as they were a married couple from England who just arrived at LAX yesterday.  (Just to clarify -- it's not like they were this random couple who, by chance, just happened to show up at our door.  They had recently met my friends while in Africa on a missions trip and just arrived here as missionaries.)

As I saw each face, my tears started to already flow.  The Mom in me was thinking, "It's a school night!  All of you are Moms -- who knows if your kids have even had dinner yet -- but you care enough to come over and pray for me!"  By the time I hugged them, I had already gone through a dozen Kleenex.  

I started off by sharing that this was the two-year anniversary of God's promise of healing to me.  They didn't know that.   Is God's timing amazing?  Yep.

I then read to them the words in Psalm 21 that God had given to me late that night.  I cried even more.

By then, each one had surrounded me as I sat on the couch.  Hands touching my knees, shoulders, top of my head.  As they prayed and thanked God for my healing, I just sobbed.  

These women we call "prayer warriors" are a breed all unto themselves.   They are sold out for God.  They know scripture like they know the path to and from their kids' schools.  They have mighty faith.  They've seen God do mighty things.  They turn out in numbers to pray for God to do the impossible.  Because they know His track record.

For two hours, they prayed, sang, laughed, and cried with me.  The only word that could describe my feelings last night was "overwhelmed."  I WAS OVERWHELMED!!! 

Was I healed instantly?   Nope.  Did I jump up and down on my couch like Tom Cruise and say, "My abdominal bloat is gone!  I feel amazing!"  Nope.  But I can tell you this -- we thanked Him for his healing that, in His time, will be made clear for all to see.

I had told my family this week that if my cancer journey had started out this rough (pretty sick for the past two months), I don't know if my testimony would be what it is.  But as I write this to you right now, I actually do believe that it would be.  Because I know this diagnosis was an answer to prayer.  
"Use me God.  Use me!"  Uh, He is.  Through treatments that have had no side effects to this treatment that is knocking me to the ground five days a week, I am being used.  And I am still grateful.   And I still have peace. 

Just a real note of honesty:  Donna came by to see me earlier this week.  After throwing up and laying back down on the couch, I looked at her and said, "I'm done."  But I knew as I said it, it was frustration.  I've been on our couch for two months.  I don't even remember what it's like to have a sense of real well-being anymore.  To wake up at 6 am, jump in the shower, and go until midnight.  But we all have our seasons.  And this is mine right now.  I say to God, "I know, I know -- in Your perfect timing.  But could you really hurry it up already?"   

So thank you, Lord, for your anniversary gift.
  And for all the gifts you continue to lavish on me.
And to everyone who filled our family room last night, you OVERWHELMED me with your love for me and for our Lord.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


OK, by now I think you know that I only write when I'm inspired.  And though I have a tad more energy than the days before, I must really be inspired to blog again so soon.  Many of you don't know that I posted an update on my blog just a few days ago.  That's because I only had enough oomph to write it.  Didn't have enough oomph to send it.

But yesterday it hit me.  I am overwhelmed.
By you.

Yesterday morning I opened an email from a stranger.  She told me she had been reading some decorating blogs and eventually landed on mine for the first time.  She read a few posts and decided to write to me.  This beautiful stranger told me she was praying for me.  She told her Bible study group about me.  They lifted me up in prayer.

A few hours later, a knock at my front door.  A friend delivering muffins for my family.

A few hours later, my son tells me, "Mom, someone left a gift for you on the front porch."

A few hours later, I listen to my voicemail.  A sweet friend from my daughter's old school leaves me a message telling me she and another friend of mine decided to run to some thrift stores.  They had asked the Lord to direct them to items they thought I would buy for myself.  They each made up "wacky gift baskets" for me.  

I am overwhelmed.

For the last three plus years, this has become "normal" in my life.  Surrounded by kindness.  Thoughtfulness.  Selflessness.  Love.

But it really hit me yesterday.  As I listened to my friend's voicemail message, tears burned my eyes.  I replayed it for my Mom and Donna.  They had tears in their eyes.  I read every email I receive from  friends and strangers who remind me they are praying for me.  My Mom chokes up every time.  She said yesterday, "I never knew there was this much kindness in the world."  Neither did I.

What is amazing to me is that you keep loving on me.  Your love never ends.  It hasn't ended in three years.  No one forgets about me.  Your actions and words continue to remind me that God is love.  He is showing me His love through each and every one of you.

A girl who reads my blog is sending me weekly large puzzle pieces with words on them that read, "Hope you feel joy all the way down to your toes.  The joy of God is your strength!"  I've never met her.


Another girl who reads my blog is on her knees for me in prayer.  She is my prayer warrior in New Mexico.  She emails me the most lovely words I've ever read.  I've never met her either.


My friend who opened her home with me on the spring tour this year took one of my blogs with her to Uganda.  She wanted to read it to the women she was ministering to.   She sent me pictures of the women listening to my words.  One woman even asked her how to spell my name so she could keep me in her prayers.  


One friend of mine often wakes up at 3 a.m.  That's her "Ruthie" time of prayer.


How much time do you have?  I could go on and on.  And on.

I am overwhelmed.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ground Hog Day...

Hi, everyone.

I've received many emails wondering how I'm doing.   So I think it's time for a quick update.

My doctor is "very pleased" with how things are going.  My tumor marker is stable and since being put on a 24-hour feeding infusion, I've gained about seven pounds.  I've always had a love-hate relationship with food, so being fed intravenously is kind of up my alley.   

I titled this post "Ground Hog Day" because for the last month or so, that's been my life.  (Remember the movie in which every day was the same?)  Well, that's what it's been like over here.  

I wake up, feel yucky, my mom tries to entice me to eat, I usually say I can't, I watch lots of tv with our new cat Smeow by my side, usually can't talk to anyone because I have this gag reflex in my mouth for some strange reason, watch my mom bring my kids home from school, listen to everyone having dinner in the kitchen and then fall asleep.  My doctor gave me one week off of chemo and I have another break from it this Friday.  I thought during the break I would want to run to Disneyland.  Yeah, no.  I still stayed on the couch trying to rebound.  Guessing that may happen again next week.

I can get pretty upset about how I'm spending my days.  And believe me, I have.  I allow myself to feel sorry for myself and then I do my best to remember my blessings.  Oh, so many!!!  

If you are so inclined to pray for me, you can ask the Lord to restore my appetite.  A new found love for food and the ability to eat it.  Also, for this "chemo fog" to lift from my brain.  It feels as if I'm depressed.  Not a fun feeling to experience.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tootsie Pop Knees...

Well, have you ever heard of the old saying, "You can never be too rich or too thin?"  Well, I can't vouch for being too rich, but I can vouch for being too thin.  In just five days after starting this new treatment with this new doctor, my abdominal bloat almost completely vanished.  "God is at work!" was my response.  Only a week earlier, I was so distended I could hardly breathe.  Now, the pain pills that accompanied me home from the hospital are tucked away in the drawer and I could enter a bathing suit contest.  Albeit, for blind men, but still.

Unfortunately, after two partially obstructed bowels, too many soft food diets, a few hospitalizations, a brand new chemo regimen that knocked me to the ground, I've eaten very little.  And it shows.  My knees look like two Tootsie Pops with the wrappers off.  I only wish they were that brown as I didn't find the time or energy to tan this summer.  My bum looks like two paper plates taped to my protruding, sharp tailbone.   And now there's no question where my blush goes -- on my cheek bones, of course.  Somebody needs a Big Mac!  Or twelve.

Though I came home on a 24-hour continuous chemo pump (with no side effects), I'm also treated with two big-boy chemos every Thursday -- with big-boy side effects.  The first week, I was terribly sick and the shade of a sand dollar.  Thus the doctor had ordered a daily five-hour hydration drip that would infuse me with anti-nausea meds and fluids.  I slowly turned back into the girl I remembered looking like in the mirror.  Well, minus the eyelashes and the hair, although they are beginning to grow back.  But just in time to fall out again as one of the new big-boy chemos doesn't like hair either.  Oh, well.   

This second week of treatment also proved to be somewhat of a nightmare.  I realized that not only did these drugs take away my physical well being, they take my emotional well being away too.  When this "chemo funk" comes over me, I just want to be put into the trunk of a car with an air hole.  I don't want to think, talk, listen, eat, drink, or be.   (I felt the same way three years ago with my very first treatment).  By day 4 or maybe 6, I can begin feeling the chemo funk fading away.  And to think each week, it starts all over again -- that's a tough one.

So imagine my delight this morning, when I saw my doctor and he told me he wanted to give me the week off.  Already!  I had told him what I had just told you, and he said, "So let's take a break.  Focus on eating, getting out of the house, and enjoying life.  What do you like to do?  Then go antique shopping!"  

So, doctor's orders:  I need to go antique shopping while eating a sandwich.  All with the help of my Tootsie Pop knees!  

I again thank so many of you who have reached out to me over these past two weeks.  Just yesterday, (the beginning of one of my good days), a friend came over and rubbed my feet after not showering for two days (me, not her!) and another friend blessed us with homemade meatballs and sauce.  I was thrilled to be the recipient of their gifts -- caring hands and caring hearts.  

And before I close, a big shout out to my Mom who's been living with us for about two months now.  If it were't for her, I'd be down to 70 pounds by now.  Guaranteed. 

"Here, try a little of this.  Here, just drink a sip of this. Here, I thought you might like this."   She's doing her best to get calories into this resistant body.  Like only a mother can.

And while at the doctor today, he asked me a few questions to go along with all the others.
"Feel any anxiety?" 
"Do you feel peaceful?"  

I have the right prescription for those questions.

"Be still and know that I am God."