Sunday, November 9, 2014

What are you thankful for? For me, an awareness of blessings, contentment and growth by facing cancer with my husband.

Inspired by an Etsy team discussion, “…What are you thankful for?”, I respond:

Attaining 2,629 sales by this point in November 2014 is certainly a significant reason to be thankful that I’ve become a seller with Etsy. “Help” sections along with a willingness to learn and try new things made this possible for me. Encouragement from other sellers makes it enjoyable. Other reasons I am thankful are:

  • Being born into a loving family where creativity, design and entrepreneurship were valued and encouraged by example and opportunities.
  • Involvement with community “families” and teams throughout life such as 4-H, high school dance-line, church youth group, technical design college, adult art classes, Lutheran Women in Mission and book club.
  • Living in and near the country with places to explore nature, swim, bike and hike.
  • Being married to my best friend, a creative, hard-working guy with a good eye for vintage has influenced FreshRetroGallery. My mother-in-law inspired me to design a family tree chart. At the time, it was purely so we could chart our own ancestors—little did I know that many others were searching for an attractive, practical way to record this precious information on a printed piece that serves as a keepsake of handwriting. I am delighted that people love to give these as gifts.
  • Having a son and daughter on the bottom line of my genealogy diagram. Becoming a mother made my dreams come true. Their father and I are honored to be on the next line and it was fun to fill in the poster with their grandparents and up to 3x great-grandparents. Having a grateful heart is just one of the wonderful character traits that have been passed through the six generations that my family tree chart holds.

The rest of this post touches on the journey my husband and I are taking after his diagnosis of lower esophageal cancer. Looking at the big picture, I find blessings related to even this terrible disease and its treatment.

Mayo Clinic interactive museum display
Interactive display at the Mayo Clinic Rochester Museum
Mayo Clinic interactive museum display 2
Attributes of staff and doctors at the Mayo Clinic

Tears of Cancer

Crying feels cleansing to me. It’s a way to release emotions such as stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, loneliness and frustration. I’ve read that it is healthy to cry to avoid being set up for depression. When I learned the shocking diagnosis of cancer, I was struck with the reality of human mortality—the disease’s connection to a possibility of death. Over the first couple weeks after absorbing the news, my sad, tired, worried eyes were frequently rinsed with tears.
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Psalm 56:8 ESV
No snow in this area sign, Minnesota
On our quest to find zucchini bread, Stan’s miracle food, we walked to a bakery in Rochester and happened to see an unusual sign.

Cancer brings out the best in family, friends and acquaintances. 

Blessings of shoulders to lean on, ears to listen, kind words, hugs, cards, visits, phone calls, posts, “likes”, emails, gifts, offers to help, knowledge/experiences to share, prayers and encouragement surrounded us. We made our connection to a specific surgeon at Mayo Clinic through a friend of a friend who shared his own positive experience there just one year ago. While carrying out Stan’s treatment plan, we made new friends with special people dealing with similar cancer who could totally understand and relate to our situation. We were drawn to closer relationships through the necessity of sharing the diagnosis and news of Stan’s cancer treatment plan. This life-changing event brought our family together. It gave us opportunities to befriend others.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34 ESV

Visitors at Saint Mary’s Hospital
Lynne, Liz and Kaye regularly attended the Desk R waiting room while husbands Red, Stan and Alvin “caught some rays” to fight esophageal cancer at Mayo Clinic. Six weeks later, here we are connecting at Saint Mary’s Hospital, Mayo, after two of our men went through a super-major surgery. God bless you, friends—together we shared ice cream on the Mayo patio, hot dogs and live music in the street, sentiments, laughter and wife-experiences of suffering with the men we love.

Christian faith holds me together while facing cancer with my husband. 

As I put it in my Heavenly Father’s hands, trusting that His will be done, my prayers are for courage, grace, wisdom in making health care decisions, physician and medical team’s skill, mercy for a cure, full recovery, patience, comfort, rest and healing. I have hope in the inevitable death Stan and I will face some day and comfort in the loss of loved ones who’ve gone before us.
How do Christians face death? Christians face death as they face life—with their eyes fixed firmly on Jesus. We cling to the promises of His Word, which, when facing death, seem even more wonderful and powerful. One of the most beautiful promises our Lord gave to us is found in John 14:2–3 where He says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” We realize that no matter how our lives may end, there is one thing of which we can be absolutely certain. We shall pass from death to life, from this life to the life beyond, with our Lord. And there we shall rejoin all of our loved ones and others who have gone before us trusting in Christ their Savior. (excerpt from pdf file): Read more on Death and Dying - The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

Other Blessings

Central Park at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota
On the first trip to Mayo Clinic, our daughter Laura gets fresh air and exercise with me while her dad rests. She spent a few days with us before traveling to Milbank, South Dakota to spend time with grandparents and relatives in western Minnesota. The fountain is in Central Park near Mayo’s extended downtown campus which is comprised of about 30 buildings and 5 parking ramps.
Hope Lodge at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota
We stayed 2 weeks at the Brentwood Inn before a room became available for us at Hope Lodge where we made several new friends and learned a card game called “Golf”. (camera credit: Vicki Peterson)
State Park in the hill country of Texas
We met Jim and Betty at Hope Lodge. In the middle of our process, they visited us one evening as they were traveling from Worthington, MN to the State Park in the hill country of Texas where this photo of them was taken. We spent 6 weeks at home in Kansas between the 7-week stay in Minnesota for tests/radiation/chemo and the 2-week stay back there again for tests/surgery/hospitalization. Thanks to all visitors and everyone’s kindness and support during this journey.
Hilton Building at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota
During our second trip, our son Nathan reads a Christian devotion or blog to his dad waiting in the Hilton Building for a test to help the doctor determine that Stan could have surgery. Upon Stan’s discharge after surgery we were told that he might start feeling better in 3 to 6 months. Prayers ascend for Stan and all the wonderful people we met on our cancer journey. Praise be to God for His mercy and loving care.
Despite the awful nature of sharing Stan’s struggle with cancer—body failing and difficulties related to eating, drinking, radiation, chemotherapy, major surgery and recovery—I learn to submit rather than resist. I live with new understanding of the present, moment by moment. I focus on health, emotion, thought, imagination, creativity and living. I get in touch with my soul. I thank my Creator for gifts of medicine and healing. Through His gift of the Holy Spirit, I receive faith by hearing the Word preached in church. I have forgiveness of sins by Jesus’s suffering, death and resurrection. I trust what is true and pure.
I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:23
If your life is touched by cancer, may you be blessed with these words. I encourage you with some of my favorite Bible verses:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. Philippians 4:4-14

No comments:

Post a Comment