Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Cancer is an eye-opening experience.
A co-worker was undergoing cancer treatments at the same time I was. He had to go through chemotherapy- I did not. He missed work, suffered severe side effects from the radiation treatments he endured, lost a lot of weight and was very weak. But he won.
When it was discovered that I had cancer, I discovered how many of the people I worked with every day were survivors. Some came up to me sharing their stories, offering to be there for me as I began writing mine. I learned how much they went through, how difficult it was for them-- or how not easy but, not so difficult--how they felt when they lost their hair, when they examined their body and what was no longer there. How the medicines made them feel and how special it was to have friends that were there for them, not believing them (but not openly calling them on it unless it was needed) when their response to 'how are you' was "fine"..
I discovered how many were caregivers. How they cared for loved ones, friends, and people they didn't even know by joining things like Relay for Life. Offering to help out at cancer centers, offering rides, running errands, or simply sitting with the warrior quietly just to be there.
When I was diagnosed, I had no clue what I was about to go through. I was walking into it totally blind. Of course I had heard of cancer. Of course I knew people fighting, or that were survivors. But they were not me. I had not been there as they took each step...steps that I was about to take. I trusted my surgeon, but maybe I should have asked more questions than what I did. When she told me I simply told her to take care of it. I know she told me stuff about it, what kind it was, how big it was..for what ever reason I don't recall a bit of what she told me. I was still reeling inside from the word..cancer.
I didn't realize that there would be so many questions that would have to be answered. I didn't know I would have to have an MRI or x-rays and blood tests. I had never had any surgery other than a couple root canals so I had no idea what was going to happen there. Seeing it on television and being the one about to be cut on are two totally different things. That needle biopsy hurt..but the surgical biopsy hurt worse. When I went to remove the medical tape after the surgical biopsy I felt as if I were trying to remove several layers of skin, and the bruising made it look as if I actually did. The lumpectomy didn't hurt or bruise nearly as badly.
Radiation treatments were lessons in losing one's modesty. Arrive at Cancer Center, go into dressing room, strip from waist up, don hospital gown, go into waiting area and wait. Follow the person who calls your name, face the monster. Climb onto table, stretch out, bare the body part about to be zapped with radiation. Close your eyes and pretend to be somewhere, anywhere but where you were doing what you were doing. When session is complete do everything you just did in reverse. Repeat until they tell you that you've had enough. Go through each day, feeling just a little bit worse, a little bit more exhausted, a little bit less like yourself and a lot more like the living dead. Wonder just how in the world you are managing to put one foot in front of the other and do what you have to do to get through the day. Dream at night that this never happened.
Then- feel really badly about whining when you hear how much worse it is for others. Feel badly when you see friends without hair because of the chemo. Feel badly when you hear of someone about to lose everything they have because they don't have the money to pay the bills, because they can't work or don't have insurance or don't have something they need.
Then- feel bad because you're alive, you beat it, and someone that you know, or someone that is related to someone you know.....did not.
Then you get angry. Really, honest to goodness, down and dirty angry. When you see the children. When you see the neighbors or co-workers or relatives that are now battling cancer and you are so determined to do something you're not sure what, but you know that you will find a way to battle back. You beat it, you will celebrate more days, more birthdays, you will see your kids grow up, you will walk in the sunshine, play, laugh dance in the rain..and you want that for others. You want to help find a way to put an end to cancer. Some how, some way..
I joined Relay for Life right about the time I finished my radiation treatments. I was told that there would be no way that I could stay all night. I did. I was determined then, and I am determined now. I continue to fight, for those that can and especially for those that can't. Pride is pushed aside, I pester, I beg, I plead, I bribe seeking donations, seeking people to join us. I sell shirts, I sell BBQ tickets, I sell Luminaria..I share the information that I know, I share the ACS web site (www.cancer.org) and phone numbers (1.800.ACS.2345). I do what ever I can to help other members of Relay raise funds. And I Relay. I go help set up and I spend the night. I walk that survivor lap, I cry as I walk the Luminaria laps and I'm walking when the sun comes up. During the night we fight (and at times give in) to sleep. We play games, we eat foods that aren't good for you but are ohhhhhh so good...and we walk. We look at the stars, we fight the chill of the night, wait out storms that pass through and we continue to walk together, alone we walk. Cancer doesn't sleep and that night, neither do we- not really.
I went into cancer blind. I came out on the other side with eyes wide open..and I fight and I will continue to fight. I will fundraise and I will invite others to join us. Together, we can work to help others celebrate surviving, celebrate more birthdays, celebrate one more day.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
I come to You
a lump of clay
shape me, as You will
my sins I know
for I hear Your voice
calling my name, as parent to child
and I know, yes I know
with bowed head
saddened heart I come
humble and ashamed
yet I hear Your voice
feel Your touch upon my heart
I know, even as I grieve Your heart
You forgive me
I come Lord, ready and willing
mold me, shape me, form me
for the use You have in store
I know Your love, I know Your peace
the forgiveness You offer
even in the errors of my way
even in the wrongs
You look at me with love
teach me Your word Lord, fill my heart
with Your song
may Your Spirit within my heart always speak
calling my name when I look to the darkness
calling my name, when I slip and fall
showing me again, Your light
as I come to You
humble and ashamed
seeking Your hand upon my life
mold me Lord, shape me
form me into the vessel that You need
the tool that would follow Your will
that would do as You would have me
You wash away the stains of sin
cleanse this heart, fill this heart
with Your peace, fill this heart with Your love
as You reach out to me
molding this life, shaping this existence
forming this heart
for the things You have planned
I come to You Lord, willing
to be changed by You
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Once upon a time, life was innocent. Growing up on a dead-end, dirt lane- sheltered from the real world we (I) lived in a happily ever after state of mind. There were games to be played, bikes to be ridden, creeks to be waded in. There were hammocks waiting, trees to be climbed and cool, clear water from the well to quench our thirst. Life was good. Life was simple.
The real world can be cruel.
Relationships that don't work as hoped. Jobs that don't last. But the feelings here on the dirt road remain the same. Peace covers the area, healing waits around ever bend in the path. Calm is found along the way, waiting to heal a broken spirit.
Once upon a time I was very naive. I believed in that happily ever after. Nothing worried me, I feared nothing, I was strong and dealt with what ever came. Right up until..IT.. came.
I was caught off guard, blindsided by a diagnoses that I wasn't expecting. My very first mammogram ..my very FIRST mammogram caught it. I had cancer. It was small according to the surgeon. I endured all of the tests and procedures and questions. I was poked and prodded and x-rayed and stuck in that giant metal tube called an MRI and I was strong. I was cut, I was bandaged, I was zapped with radiation. I was embarrassed and I was encouraged. I was strong...while people were watching.
Alone, I cried. In front of people, I was brave, I was capable, I was strong. Alone.. I was afraid and shaking. I wanted someone to hold me and tell me it would be fine. I knew it would. I knew I wasn't alone and that no matter what happened all would be well..but I wanted someone to say those words to me, reassure me. But I would never ask, never seek, never reach for anyone else. I would be strong and no one would know. If they asked how I was, I was fine. Why worry anyone, I was strong, I would be fine so I figured I'd claim it.
At work I struggled to put one foot in front of the other, I was so tired. Weary, so very excruciatingly exhausted. I wanted to craw into bed and pull the cover over my head, pushing away the world. But I had to work. My husband was out of work. Money had to come from somewhere. And it did. We never lost anything, didn't want for anything important. God provided for our needs through the compassion of friends. The same friends that I hoped would see my exhaustion, how I wished that someone else just for one day could put in online applications for my husband, could prepare a meal, could allow me to crawl into bed and sleep for a couple of days. But I was strong..and I made it. I wasn't alone, I knew that, God watched out for us. He knew when my strength was failing and He filled me with just what I needed.
At the cancer center, I would go in, get ready and wait my turn. How many times did I almost doze off as I waited? How many times did I imagine myself somewhere else as I lay on that table with a monster machine shooting rays of radiation into my breast? How many times was that table lowered and I was helped to stand? How many times did I look at the painting on the ceiling and wish I was walking among those flowers? But I was strong.
At home I began to walk. I would leave the house and head for the woods. I would sit at the table down at the pond and watch the water. I would feel the healing calm, the healing peace wash over me. I grew stronger spiritually as I grew weaker physically. Every day there was something new waiting on me. Flowers that were not there the say before. Flowering vines clinging to trees, wildflowers carpeting the field. Butterfly would dance in the air, praying mantis would watch as I passed while all the while the squirrel would bark and the birds call out about my presence in the woods. I was weak, but I was strong.
They got all of my cancer back in Feb. of 2008. I have been cancer free ever since. I am one of those that have been given the one more day. I am one of those that get to celebrate more birthdays. I get to spend time with my family, enjoy good meals, walking along the paths, healthy. I get to hear the teasing of younger brothers and not see the fear in their eyes.
I was in a series of storms, but I was strong. I was strong because I knew who was in control and it wasn't me. I was given an experience so that I could share, I could bring glory to the One who deserves it. And I could be strong for others, sharing what I went through, sharing the fears and procedures and bone tired weariness..and show that it does get better.
Now, I am strong, I work to support Relay for Life. I work in the hopes of helping others be survivors, celebrating more birthdays. I work hoping to help others have one more day to spend with family and friends, laughing singing, dancing or merely walking along a quiet woodland path listening to the squirrel bark and seeing the butterfly dance among the flowers. I support the ACS and Relay for Life..won't you??
Thursday, March 8, 2012
How I praise You Lord
with the songs of my heart
lifting Your name
singing of Your glory
for You are an awesome God
a God of love, of hope
I praise You god
sing hallelujah sing hallelujah
for You have been with me
through the darkest of storms
strengthened me when I grew weak
brought me to Your place of rest
when this body grew weary
how I praise You God
for You have showed me
the beauty of this place
the simple delight of the colors
of the life that moves around me
You have showed me Your love
gifted me with grace
gifted me with a peace of heart
that comes only from You
with grateful heart Lord
I praise You
sing hallelujah, sing hallelujah
to You my Lord
God of love, God of hope
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Quietly with a gentle reminder of what is happening, the lights go down. The light to walk by now, is the light of candles, flickering inside the hundreds of bags lining the track. The Luminaria Ceremony has begun.
What is the luminary? It is simply a paper bag, inside the paper bag is a block of wood with a round cut out. Inside the cut out, a small candle. On the outside of the bag is a name. Above the name are two choices of the words. It will either say "In Memory of..." or it will read, "in honor of" followed of course by the name of the cancer warrior.
The Luminaria Ceremony is a quiet moment. A moment to reflect, to remember, to think of, to honor. Walking around the track reading the name on each and every bag. Some will cry, some will smile at a thought or a memory. That is part of the purpose, to spark that special memory. To show, that the person who lost their personal battle with cancer has not been forgotten. Some names may only have one bag- some may have dozens lining the track. The number of bags not important, what is important is that an individual has not been tucked away in some closest of the mind, forgotten but for something to be brought out on occasion and dusted off and discussed when old friends or relatives get together and discuss 'old times' and the people from 'back then'. It won't of course bring that person physically back, but it will give one a chance to feel a moment of closeness as you remember them.
The Luminaria Ceremony gives you a chance to honor the fighter you know that has battled and won, or who is currently in the battle. It lets them know they are being thought of and cared about.
Circling the track by candle light, you will hear the voices of those around you, most more subdued as they discuss the names. Talk about this person or that as they remember them. They night sky overhead stretching on forever, giving you the feeling that eternity thing must be real for the sky itself seems endless, as endless and the special memories brought about each trip around. Each time you see the name of that special someone again. The night air just beginning to take on a chill, one that reminds you of the place in your heart that at times feels cold without the one that has gone on before you. But the candle flickering, the light shining forth, leads you to a treasure of memories that warms that empty place in your heart.
Seeing something new you stop to look. Circling the Survivor tent are more bags. These bags are different, special in their own right. These bags are not for the cancer warrior, but for their caregiver. The names emblazoned across the bags are the names of those who helped the warrior in their fight. The names of the ones who called and checked on the warrior, the names of the ones who made sure that the warrior was able to get to treatments, to doctors, to the grocery store. These are the names of the people who brought over a meal, who helped clean a house, do a load of laundry, who walked the dog or took children to school or simply to their house for a time to allow the warrior a moment of rest. These are the names of the caregivers, the earthly angels, the ones without wings or halos, but with hearts as big as the whole outdoors. Same paper bags, same block of wood same candles flickering inside creating light, but with an entirely different meaning and set of thoughts. The amount of bags lining the area a heartwarming sight. So many caregivers, so many people ready, able and willing to take care of another who is at their lowest.
The Luminaria Ceremony.............a few solemn laps a few laps where the voices are softer, a few laps where thoughts and memories and love reigns. Walking around a track, lit only by candles of love. Remembering
If you would like to purchase a luminaria for someone, either in memory, or in honor of a cancer warrior.. or a luminaria in honor of caregivers... the cost is $10 each. Contact me- let me know what you want-give me the name of the person-- make out checks to the American Cancer Society-if you're local give me a holler and I can pick it up..if you're not local but wish to purchase one you can mail the check to my po box:
Rebecca S. Revels
po box 371
Stanley, NC 28164
You can include a note telling me the name of the person whether it is in memory or honor of or if its a caregiver..I will photograph the bag on Relay night and make sure you get a copy if you give me an email addy to send it to or if you are on FB I can get it to you there..We can and do take names right up to moments before the ceremony, (our Relay event being May 4, 2012) but the earlier we can get the names and make the bags up the better it is for all concerned..
humbled am I
as I consider Your love
awesome God, marvelous God
who knows my name
knew me before I was born
raised me up from the darkness
in which I was sinking in
humbled am I
as I consider the love
that brought me out of the storm
into Your sanctuary
when I grow weary
You my God, are my rest
when I grow fearful
You hide me away safe within Your love
humbled am I
as I consider what it means
You are all I need
when I am discouraged
when the dark grows deep
You are my light, You lift me up
strengthen and empower
to walk without fear
humbled am I
as I consider the fact
of the love
the pure, undiluted, undying love
that You have for me
so much, that You would give up to death
so much, that he suffered on that cross
for me and for all
to be the way to You
bought and paid for I bow down
humbled am I
washed in Your love
Sunday, March 4, 2012
On Sunday mornings in Sunday School Bible study we first discuss our prayer list. How those that have been on it are doing, if there is anyone to be removed, if there is anyone to add. This morning there were several names added-all because of cancer. A new Believer's dad has been told to get his affairs in order as his time is short. His bones are riddled with cancer. People with liver cancer, colon cancer were on the list of new additions. Remembering families of those who have lost their battle. To cancer. Most of the additions or people discussed were because of cancer.
People who had been going about their daily business, working, going to school, sports or hobbies. Regular every day things that were suddenly very rudely interrupted by cancer. Everything then immediately changed. Life in the every day was forever changed.
Now in the midst of the ordinary there are tests, doctor visits, surgeries, treatments and new things to be learned. The every day ordinary person becomes a cancer warrior. Learning how to deal with everything that comes with having cancer. Those not fighting but caring for the fighter has to learn how to care confidently. Love is never a question, but doing things you had never had to do before competently is a challenge.
Lifestyles change to some degree, thought processes change, eating habits, exercise habits, the very way one perceives things around them changed. Small things make a big difference. You see the beauty in the flowers, in the song of the birds, the dance of a butterfly. You understand how the laugh of a child is special. This is not something you wanted, but you take the challenge and go forward.
An old saying once was "life begins at 40." My cancer was discovered shortly after I turned 50. My life began again right then. Everything I knew changed, turned upside down. I fully understand how someone newly diagnosed feels, how it feels to have to tell family, how it feels to undergo the tests, the surgery, the treatments. I know how it feels to be on a prayer list. My cancer was caught early, but I learned a great deal from it. I have learned more since. It is the things I have faced that are the inspiration and reasons for what I do now. I was once told that it is a noble thing that I am doing. I smiled as I quietly disagreed. There is nothing noble in my greed, for more survivors, for more warriors to fight against the enemy cancer. Together, we are strong. Together, we can help others have more birthdays. Together we can keep families and friends together longer. Together we can learn and share what we learn.
Then prayer lists can be filled with praise rather than requests..
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Hey Grandpa-- What's for supper?? Remember that? Too young to remember Hee Haw?
but this time its..
Hey Relay for Life.. what's for dinner/supper????
A good old fashioned barbecue plate, with barbecue, bun, chips, slaw, baked beans and a dessert
(catered by Kyle Fletchers BBQ)
Berea Baptist Church
2522 Hickory Grove Rd
Mt. Holly, NC 28120
$7.50 a plate
Bonus--there is delivery for 10 or more plates..hungry now?
Relay for Life members (hey.. I'm one of those) have tickets. There will be a limited number of extra plates on site so purchase your ticket(s) now to guarantee that you get fed..
You have until Monday, March 12th to pre-order--so--
contact me via this email or facebook--or if you can't find me call Cindy Forrester-co-chair of the East Gaston Relay for Life @ (704) 860-2939
We are also selling t-shirts, the design on the shirt is the winner of our ahem- design a shirt contest. S,M,L,x-l $10..2x and 3X $12...I have photos of the shirt on FB and available to show via email.. I also have a shirt to show if you see me personally.
There are many more events going on through-out this month..
Our meeting this month is on the 6th at 6:30 at the First Baptist Church in Stanley-all are welcome to attend and be a part of Relay.
Our actual Relay for Life event is May 4-5.. all are welcome.