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.