Category Archives: Christian

The Empty Chair at Holidays

We are entering the time of year that joins families far and wide together. We celebrate Thanksgiving and then come Hanukah and Christmas celebrations. It is a blessed and sacred time for many of us.

Remembering my son this season

It is also a time of reflection and sorrow, especially if you, like me, have an empty chair at the table this season. The holidays take on a whole different dimension when we’re celebrating all that is good in the world when it doesn’t necessarily feel like anything is.

…MORE

How do you deal?

Someone on WhatNext lost her mom. She was having a hard time dealing with her death at the same time as beginning treatments for breast cancer. I wrote some suggestions, based on how I have dealt, so far, with the loss of my son.

I hope some of these suggestions will be helpful to you as you deal with your own grief. I realize that everyone deals in their own ways. If none of these work for you, it’s okay. You’ll make your own way.

It’s About Faith

1. I have a VERY strong faith as did he. I know that he is at complete peace, in the arms of Jesus right now. I know that I will see him again when God decides to take me Home.

2. I know that God does not make mistakes. I might not understand His Plan, but I know His Plan is perfect. That is enough for me. (Who knows what horrible things my son may have been spared by dropping dead as he did? I know for sure that he didn’t suffer. He didn’t have to go through battling cancer. He didn’t have to face losing his dad or me.)

Remembering the Good Times

hiking with dad

3. I remember the good times we had together. I smiled all the way through going through 1000s of pictures. It was so fun to see him as a child, teen, and adult, having a great time, acting silly, hugging his wife and/or children…

4. I write. I wake up in the mornings and just write what is on my heart at that moment. I write for my own gratification. It isn’t always for publication. However, I also write sometimes for others to read, publishing blog posts, either on my own site or on LungCancer.net.

5. I am a glass-half-full person. My mind is trained to look for the positives in life. Even as we were driving to the hospital, not sure if our son was going to be alive or dead, I told my husband, “There are two good things if he has passed away: (1) he is at perfect peace now and (2) his ex-wife can no longer use him as her whipping boy. I took comfort in those positives then. I still do.

You Gotta Keep Living

6. I have stayed very busy. I felt like my mind was in chaos and so was my house because I had let it go a lot since I started lung cancer treatments. I can’t do a lot about my chaotic mind, but I can clean. Even my cabinets are more orderly now than they have been in many years. (I have plenty more cleaning to do … so I will be kept occupied for a long time.)

7. I don’t think my son would want or expect me to quit living because he died. I imagine he would be encouraging me to continue living, continue fighting. During the first few frantic days after he died, I thought, “I’m quitting treatments. My reason for living is gone. There’s no need to keep fighting. I’m sick of going through treatments anyway after six straight years of it.” But, when the time came for my next appointment, I was there, getting my treatment.

No Matter What … It Can Always Be Worse

8. Someone else always, always, always has it worse or what you’re going through could always be worse. Knowing that somehow makes me feel better about my own circumstances. My son could have lived, but have been in a vegetative state due to lack of oxygen, he could have been diagnosed with some awful disease like ALS, he could have not met his wife and had 4 very, very happy years prior to dying, something could have happened to one of his children …

Well … these are a few of the ways that I have maintained a semblance of sanity. They are listed only as they came to my mind, not in any particular order of importance.

For 43 years, my son was pretty much my whole life. It is strange to realize that since he was our only child, and the only grandchild for my mom … we have no legacy left. That feels really weird … and changes my perspective completely on accumulating things… Things I always assumed would pass on to my son … can’t be given to him after all. (We do not see his children – the ex-wife made sure of that).

Needless to say, his death has turned our worlds upside down. We’re left with so many changes necessitated by his leaving us. But, life goes on for those of us still here on earth. We can wallow in our sorrow or we can honor his life by continuing to live our own. I choose the latter.

 

There are Worse Things than Cancer

You must think I have lost my mind when I write that there are worse things than cancer. Most of us really haven’t thought so since we or our loved one received that awful diagnosis. And, maybe you’ll argue that I’m wrong, that there really aren’t worse things than cancer. Maybe it is just a matter of perspective.

Where I’m coming from

On November 2, 2018, I received a call that no parent wants to get. My daughter-in-law was calling to tell me that she was following an ambulance to the nearest hospital. My son had suddenly and unexpectedly quit breathing. No warning. Just, one minute he was fine and communicating and the next minute he was on the ground, lifeless.

...MORE

Finally, You’re Coming Back Home

You died on November 2, 2018. The Medical Examiner didn’t release your body for several days. Then, the crematorium has taken forever with you. But, finally, today, they called and said we could pick up your ashes.

It is so crazy. I feel so much better knowing you are “coming home.” You’ll ultimately be put to rest in the National Cemetery, but I am glad to know where you are for now. (And, I’ll know where you are when you are entombed at the cemetery, too, of course.)

I couldn’t explain where I am with all of this if someone offered me $1 million. What difference does it really make where your ashes are? I know, without a single doubt where YOU are – you’re walking on the streets of gold in Heaven – but it has been so uncomfortable for me not knowing where your ashes are … where what remains of you here on earth is.

The days that go by get harder and harder instead of easier. Maybe by picking up your ashes, I will start to settle back down a bit. Not knowing where you (your remains) have been has really been disturbing me.

So, I guess I will go get cleaned up so that Mom, Kim and I can go get your ashes. I don’t expect it to be easy, but I actually think at this point I am going to be more relieved than sad. I guess that’s the blessing of it taking them so darn long to get you back to us.

Going to Israel, Part 1

You know, I have such a short memory that it occurs to me that I should be writing down my experiences as they occur. That way, I can remember this trip of a lifetime!

The Beginning

It all started when my friend Karen, also a lung cancer survivor, wrote on one of her medical updates that she was hoping to go to Israel early next year (2019). I replied to her message, saying I was looking forward to living vicariously through her pictures. (She is a great tour guide, even if you are not along with her! She posts pictures with lots of information accompanying them.)

My journey began when I got an email from Karen inviting me to actually join her for the trip. Upon reading the email, I yelled upstairs to my husband, “Hey! Do you care if I go to Israel?”

In a matter of moments, it was decided I could go! Wow! I never, ever dreamed I would ever go on a trip like this!! I am still not sure I believe it.

Oh Man! Where Do I Start?

Within just a few days, we had talked to our travel agency and paid the deposit. This is becoming real!

Since I have never been out of the country before, I have no passport. So, I called about getting an appointment so I could get that process started. Well. No. If you live in Texas, you need a special birth certificate … and that’s not the one I had, of course.

It takes up to a month to get one from the office in Austin, the only Vital Statistics office in Texas that has the birth certificate I need (long form). Okay. I have time.

But, the online ordering system crashes every time I try to place the order. I call their tech support. They can’t figure out what’s wrong. My case gets escalated.

I never heard back from Tech Support, but decided after a couple of days to try it and see if I could place the order. I was starting to get worried! Fortunately, even though Tech Support failed to inform me that they had corrected the problem (gee, thanks!), the problem was remedied and I was able to place the order.

I settled in to wait. God was on my side. I got my certificate in only a few weeks. Yes!!

Scans Good!

Karen and I bought trip insurance. Since we never know when or if our cancer is going to return with a vengeance, we felt it was prudent to do so. She’d recently had a scan showing that her tumor is stable; I was waiting on mine. I had it last week.

I admit I was holding my breath a little. I didn’t have any reason to think it wouldn’t show that my tumors are stable, the same as they have been for the last five years, but I still can’t quite believe this trip is really going to happen. I keep thinking something is going to cause it not to work out.

I was gratified to learn that my scan shows all is still well. Tumors are stable, no growth, no new tumors. Yes!! I won’t have another scan until the week after we return from our trip, so even if there is growth or spreading between now and then (I have no reason to expect there will be except that I am still expecting something to cause me not to get to go) I won’t know it.

Bible Study at the Passport Office

I’m not quite sure why, but I was nervous about going to the Passport Office. I guess that makes no sense. Well, really, there’s no “guess” to it. It makes no sense. But, I was nervous all the same.

A nice man came in, took my picture, and looked over all of the information I brought (driver’s license, new birth certificate, application), and we started talking about the fact that I am 65 years old and have never been out of the country before. He asked where I was going.

“Israel,” I said. He looked at me, probably noted the cross I wear around my neck, and said, “Your life will never the be same.” When he talked about walking where Jesus did, I got chills up and down my arms!

I’m sure that the Post Office probably wouldn’t condone our visiting for 30 minutes about God’s goodness and His mighty power and about how powerful it is to go to the place where Jesus was born, taught, died, and rose again. But, I left almost floating on air! It was as good as any church service would have been. And, I am even more excited than ever to make the trip.

Now, I just have to wait about 3 weeks for that passport to arrive. Then, I’ll really feel like this trip is going to happen!!

Finding Your Gratitude

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie

Begin your day with gratitude

Sometimes when we are delivered a blow, like learning that we or a loved one has lung cancer, it is hard to find reasons to be grateful. But, I believe that searching for and finding gratitude, even in the face of adversity, is vital.

MORE…

 

My Story

I just got an email from Greg Laurie with Harvest America. The email is entitled, “Stories are Important.” And I agree. They are.

In the email, Greg is inviting us to view a movie of three people whose lives were touched and changed because of a Harvest America crusade. He counsels that every Christian has a story. Some of us have a dramatic story. Others may think their stories are “boring.” But, they’re not. Because, whether you had a conversion like Paul did on the road to Damascus or one more like mine, where, as a young kid, I accepted Christ into my heart and life.

While there was nothing that seems all that dramatic about my conversion – I was not much of sinner at the age of 9 or so – the fact is, I, just like Paul and just like every other Christian, was saved that day from a life in hell, from a life separated from the God who made us.

So, you know, maybe my conversion was more dramatic than I sometimes think of it as being.

Not Perfect, Just Saved … and Forgiven

I haven’t lived a perfect life. Far from it. We are by nature sinners so none of us, except our Saviour Jesus Christ, has ever or will ever live a perfect life. Some come closer than others.

Over my lifetime, I have surely done things for which I am not proud. If I could, I would undo them. Of course, that’s impossible so the best I can do is ask for forgiveness. Ask for it … and accept it.

You see, I do believe God when He says He forgives me when I ask for it. If I continue to dwell on what I did wrong, am I not accepting His forgiveness? If I am forgiven, there is no longer any need at all to think about the sin, other than to keep in mind that I should never commit a similar one again.

Rocking Along

You know, for most of my life, I have just rocked along. I have known and believed with all of my heart that I am saved, a child of my God, forgiven. And always, that has provided a peace that really can’t be explained to anyone who hasn’t known the same “peace that passes understanding.”

It isn’t that my life has been particularly rosy. It has definitely been fraught with plenty of challenges. I have the wrinkles to prove it! But, you know, those challenges have not been enough to weigh me down completely because, not only has God saved me, He has been there for me through every day of my life. If I have a problem or a situation, I can hand it over to Him. Then, I can quit worrying about it. I believe in my heart of hearts, “God has it. He will take care of it.” He is way smarter than I am. He knows the “big picture” when I only see a very small part of it.

Things I Don’t Understand

There are many, many things in this life that I do not understand. I don’t understand war, poverty, biting insects, drug addicts, murderers… I don’t understand mothers who steal their children and turn them away from their loving dads. I don’t understand why everyone can’t just think like I do. Wouldn’t life be easier? (And a whole lot more boring!) Why do good people who love God face difficulties in their lives when horrid, devilish unbelievers have all of the worldly goods and fame and peace they want?

Others who are just as saved as I am don’t agree with me on some things – politics, for one. I can’t understand how they can believe as they do … they can’t understand how I can believe as I do … and yet, God loves us all and we are all His children, provided we have accepted Christ, His Son, as our Saviour.

I have to accept that there are things I will not understand until I die. When I get to Heaven, I can ask questions. I think I WILL ask questions!!

Cancer

My faith has always been there, but it became especially real to me when I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. People imagine that I freaked out at that diagnosis, especially after my first oncologist said I would probably only live about 4 months.

The truth of the matter is that I have that same peace that passes understanding as always. Yes, my days on this earth might be shorter than they would have been otherwise. But, what do I have to look forward to if and when I die? HEAVEN!!!!

Win-Win

I tell everyone … and I totally believe it … I am in a win-win situation. If I live, I am happy! I love being alive. I have so much fun, nearly every day. But, death … leaving this earth … means I transition to Heaven! Heaven! Streets of Gold. Singing. Angels. God! Peace and perfection. Wow. What is there to dread about that?

That’s my story, in a small nutshell. Share yours!

 

 

Looking at the Positives of Having Lung Cancer – Am I Crazy?

Okay, this post is probably going to have a lot of people looking at me and thinking I have gone stark-raving crazy. But, here goes anyway!

What would life without cancer be like?

I participate in a forum whose participants have all kinds of different cancers. Today, a post was made that asked, “Do you get wrapped up in thinking about what might have been if cancer hadn’t come?” The person who asked the question is livid that she has cancer.

…. More

Anxiety…An Unwelcome Visitor

I recently saw a study that found that lung cancer patients who do not have anxiety or depression live longer than those who do.1 I was surprised to find this information because I have always been told that attitude might make your remaining life happier, but it has no impact on how long you live.

…..MORE