About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

More thoughts on preparation

Eric got up in the night to take something for a headache. He deals with stress by getting physically ill. The lights he turned on while up made me come out of a deep sleep, although I didn't completely wake up. But it was enough to turn the brain on. Maybe that was a good thing, because I faintly remember a dream I had during the night where I found more lumps in my left axilla (armpit). In the dream, I was upset because I thought they had taken out all of the lymph nodes, and yet I was finding more lumps. Not fair!

Anyway, as I lay there in my semi-conscious state, I was thinking more about how God set the stage for this phase of my life. As many have reminded me, God knew this trial was coming in my life long before I did. It was no surprise to Him. "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:13-16)

He prepared us financially. Eric had about 2-3 years of serial unemployment. The right job just never came around. He'd work for a company for a few months, then they would restructure and cut the entire U.S. team. Or reorganize and eliminate his position. There was never the feeling of job security or financial stability. That changed in October 2008 when he began working for a French medicinal chemistry company, Prestwick Chemical. Despite these tough economic times, the company is doing well, and business is up. It helps us pay for my medical bills without worry. He likes the people he works with and for, and they like him. They even send a gorgeous bouquet of flowers to me a week ago. Nice!

He prepared us with our house and the things in it. We had been looking for a larger house off and on for many years. After Jean-Marc was born, we were pretty tight in our first house, so the search intensified. We moved into this house around Thanksgiving of 2009. Eric and I also finally got rid of the hammock-like mattress that we had been sleeping on for 11 years. We bought a Cal-King bed. It looked huge to us at first, and took some time to get used to the feel of it. I found out about my cancer right around the time I realized I was used to the feel of the new mattress. We are in a home were we all have space to escape to our own rooms, our own secret places, when we need to. I can rest in a comfortable bed when I'm tired. I imagine as I get into chemo I will appreciate that more and more.

I've already mentioned how He prepared me physically. By placing in my heart for the first time in my adult life the desire to get physically fit and lose weight. I don't need to dwell on that anymore. But I see as I work on rehabilitating myself from surgery, how being fit before the surgery not only helps me get over the surgery. But it also has helped me know the limits of my body and what it can do. My oncologist also said that the desire to exercise will help me during chemo as well.

He prepared me spiritually. I spent years just coming to church on Sunday, listening to the sermon, and going home until the next week. But a few years I really "plugged in." One Sunday when they were mentioning the need for help in the Children's Ministry, I felt the tug on my heart and stepped up. I spent 2 years teaching 1st and 2nd graders on Sunday mornings. During that time, I grew spiritually. Part of the curriculum I was teaching focused on Hebrew
feasts and traditions. Through that and my own study, I began to see how the Old Testament and those traditions and celebrations foretold the coming of Jesus in the New Testament. It really is true that if you draw near to God, He will draw near to you. (James 4:8) When I got pregnant with Jean-Marc, I had to take a break from the Children's Ministry. (Well, other than my own kids.) When the baby was about 6 months old, I began going to the women's daytime bible study. I met so many wonderful ladies, and our study in Isaiah was amazing. God revealed Himself during my private study time, but also through the fellowship and counsel of the women in the study. Last year, I had the opportunity to lead the women's bible study as we went through Kay Smith's book, "Pleasing God." Again, God taught me much about how He wants me to live and interact with others...even my enemies.

He has prepared me with family and friends. Not only do I have a wonderfully supportive biological family, but I have learned through this that I also have a family in Christ. I knew that on an intellectual level, of course. After all, I had gotten to know so many wonderful people through the Children's and Women's ministries. But when you see people coming to your aid through prayer, through fellowship, through meals, it is a light bulb moment. Duh! This is what the body of Christ is all about.

The meals have truly been a blessing to our family. We've had friends not only from church, but scouts and the kids' school bring dinners. My mother in law has been amazed at it all-it is quite a testimony to her. The meals serve the practical purpose of helping me get food on the table to the family. But they also bless me in a way that is hard to describe. We feel supported and cared for in a way that helps us support and care for each other better. Does that make sense? I want to thank everyone who has been a part of the meals. It is wonderful. If anyone wants to help with meals, we will gratefully accept it. You can check out it out at MealBaby and sign up for a day. We even had a friend across the country send us a gift card for a restaurant through that site. Nice!

I know there are other examples of how God has prepared my family and I for this. I need to start writing them down when they come to mind in the random moments of the day. There are so many ways, big and small. It makes me marvel at how God works. As I've said before, this is all to serve a higher purpose (or multiple purposes) of His. I don't know what they are, maybe I never will. But I do recognize and believe with all my heart that He will work all of this out for the good of us all. (Romans 8:28)

My prayer requests for today:
  • As always, healing. I'm down to 3 painkillers a day. Sometimes 4. It depends on how much it hurts. I am on an upward healing path, and that is good. I need it to continue.
  • That Isabelle's birthday celebration be blessed. She is such a sweet girl, and loves to decorate and celebrate everyone else's birthdays. I want hers to be special too. Before cancer, we were thinking about her having a slumber party this year. There's no way I'm up to that, so she's a little disappointed. Hopefully we can have a fun family day today for her.
  • That Eric be able to manage his stress without getting sick or stressing everyone else out. That he be able to draw near to God in this time. I know that this is something that God wants us ALL to do-draw near to Him. It's harder for some people to do that.
  • That we enjoy the last day of my mother in law's visit. I know Jean-Marc especially will miss her when she's gone tomorrow. I hope we can enjoy today without long faces.

1 comment:

  1. Have a wonderful day with your family today. Happy Birthday to Isabelle.

    Allowing people to serve you is as important to them as it is to you. I had to learn that too.

    Lord Bless you All. Praying for safe travels for
    your M-I-L back to her home.