Surgery and Suffering Well

Once again, I’ve neglected this blog for too long. Life just gets busy and by the end of the day, when I realize I forgot to write, it’s time to rest. Oh well! My last update was a brief recap of the past year. It’s been a year that was not what I had imagined. This past Thursday, I completed my 30th round of WEEKLY chemotherapy. That’s right…30 rounds of chemo. Not just one chemo….3 chemos. Well, 18 rounds of one and 30 of the other two, if we’re being finicky. Let me tell you, that third chemo kicked my butt. It’s called 5FU and really messed with my GI system. There were a number of weeks that I was couch-bound by noon/1pm every day. I was so weak, sick, and miserable I could barely function. Thankfully, I made some really simple changes and helped my GI system to heal and we were so blessed by our church family and other friends with meals for WEEKS. Until that point I had kept my struggles to myself, not wanting to ask for help or admit any semblance of “defeat.”

More recently a dear friend (who I’m named after actually), send me an article titled, “Someone Needs to See You Suffer Well.” Not surprisingly, much of our pastor’s sermons the past few months and my bible study this year has been about suffering and doing it well. Suffering well seems to have been my theme the past 6 months. The Lord has made it clear to me that my suffering, while it has certainly grown and developed me, has been more about OTHERS. Yes, not everything in my life is only about me, not even my cancer—shocker! I have no doubt that there are friends, family, and even strangers who needed to see me suffer well. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t always suffer well, I had bad moments, I lost my temper with my kids, I struggled with depressive tendencies, and once in a while I let self-pity enclose on me. Through that all though, God grew me in grace, patience, kindness, empathy, and so much more. I’m not the same woman I was just 6 months ago and I’m better for it…but only by God’s grace.

“The Plan” was for 12 weeks of chemo, then surgery, then some more chemo.

The reality was 30 weeks of chemo, soon surgery, and then more chemo.

When the plan didn’t go my way, I sought a 2nd opinion and God must’ve chuckled. I was focused on ME, immediate surgery, and less chemo. That second opinion just led to the reality of more chemo and then back to my original surgeon.

Faith-and-Patience-to-Suffer-Well-10.1-600x600

Some of you might read this and think, “She’s delusional. What kind of ‘god’ would allow her to suffer longer? Why would she rejoice in suffering?”

Well, I can tell you that the Christian life is truly about putting others before ourselves. It is looking to the interest of others, encouraging others, spreading the gospel, and loving others. Sometimes others need to see us suffering well to have their hearts opened to the Gospel of Christ. If my cancer journey and all the highs and lows means another person will be encouraged in their walk, or will have their hearts opened to the Gospel, that suffering is so worth it. It’s nothing compare to the suffering Christ endured when he was beaten, whipped, crucified, and separated from His Father. And it’s nothing compared to the glory and peace I know I will experience after this life is over. Its like….exercising! Haha! You know you hate it sometimes and it’s painful while you’re exercising but in the end, you know it makes you healthier and stronger!!! This journey is a spiritual exercise!

However, God is gracious and loving. He has not just left me alone to suffer. He has provided the Holy Spirit for peace and encouragement. Oh and the peace I’ve had these 6 months, even when MY plans were in ruins, is absolutely indescribable. I’ve had no anxiety, no worries, no fear. The encouragement has been nothing short of divinely appointed. My friends, God has brought not one, not two, not three…..but FOUR separate people (two of them complete strangers) to encourage me and assure me very directly during the past 6 months.  I’ve wanted to write about these experiences and now seems to be the time.

The first experience was at the beginning of these 6 months during a very impromptu play date for my kiddos at their friends’ grandmother’s home. Her grandmother and I talked endlessly and I shared my journey with her. She prayed over me and spoke so much truth into me. Then at one moment, she looked at me and said that the Holy Spirit was telling her to tell me I WILL be healed. I struggled to hold back tears. That week was a very growing week and I was looking to God for assurance. I struggled to believe my ears—to trust that God would actually use the Holy Spirit to direct someone and give me such assurance.

Just a few weeks later, I shared my first experience with a dear friend in my Bible Study who is so Spirit filled and she emphatically was in agreement and shared that the Holy Spirit had told her I would be healed too. I was filled with relief…and tears…as I tried to wrap my head around this. I grew up in churches that don’t really acknowledge the power of the Holy Spirit nor His activity in our lives NOW. I grew up thinking that the power of the Holy Spirit was reserved for Biblical times but I am learning now, that the Spirit’s power is just as alive and active as it was in the New Testament.

Fast forward a few months and my husband and I made a very last minute and short trip flying to/from Ohio right before my liver imaging. During all this my husband’s paternal Grandfather entered eternal glory this summer and his maternal Grandfather entered eternal glory in November. So he and I flew to Ohio for Grandpa Moore’s funeral (literally 12 hours after I had chemo….will post about flying after chemo soon). While there, we ate at a BBQ place for dinner. On the back of the menu was the owner’s testimony…a former 15 year crack addict who was redeemed by God, brought up from rock bottom, reconciled with his son, and now owner of this southern BBQ restaurant. In fact, the name of the restaurant is 2 G’s (one G for God and another g for the owner, George) BBQ. At the end of our meal, they were preparing to close and George was standing at the door to the kitchen. My Father-in-Love called out and thanked him for the delicious meal. George walked over and thanked us for coming, we commented on his testimony and he began to share. What an amazing testimony it was!

Y’all, in the middle of sharing his testimony, he stopped, looked directly at me and said, “The Lord wants me to tell you you’re going to be JUST FINE.” Then reiterated that the Spirit was telling him to tell me that. Y’all, yes, I was wearing a beanie but so were others because it was literally FREEZING outside. He didn’t know me, he didn’t know I have stage IV cancer or that I was going to have imaging when I got home. He simply listened to the Spirit speak and obeyed in sharing with me! I sat there in amazement.

If that wasn’t enough, on our long flight home, the gentleman next to me was reading a book titled “How Christianity Changed the World” which can be found in my affiliate link here: https://amzn.to/2Q24h5U  (*I am an amazon affiliate and do get paid if you click on that link and decide to purchase that book.*) This book is on my reading list and I can’t wait to delve into it! Anyhow, I commented on the book and we proceeded to chat for the next 4 hours of the flight. He shared his testimony, another man who’d hit rock bottom with PSTD from Marine service, wife left him, etc. and God pulled him out of his pit and saved him. He was all in for God and will be attending seminary this coming August! I shared my testimony and my cancer journey. Somewhere in the conversations, we were talking about the Holy Spirit and I mentioned what George had said to me and this gentleman basically said: I didn’t want to say anything but as we were taking off, I was praying for everyone around me, including you, and I felt God saying “you’re winning.” Again….I held back tears and just relished in God’s sweet presence and timing. It was no coincidence that we sat next to each other. God’s timing is perfect.

So we came home and I faced my liver MRI with confidence. This MRI would determine if I could have surgery. If the teeny liver metastasis was stable or shrunk, and there were no new mets, we could move forward with surgery. If it had grown or there were more, we’d need to switch chemos and continue on with chemo. God was right and that liver met was determined to be either a benign cyst or a hemangioma as it no longer had the signals of a malignant tumor. GOD IS GOOD. He knew. He knew it would be good. He knew I could move forward with surgery, and he assured me. He didn’t leave me to suffer alone.

This brings us to this week. I met with both my surgeons (oncology and plastic) to have my pre-op appointments. My oncology surgeon was SO PLEASED with the amount of healing I’ve had in my breast. She said it’s absolutely remarkable and is confident she will get clear margins and the surgery will be successful in removing any remaining cancer recurrence (but she did say she wouldn’t be surprised if I had a complete response and there’s no cancer left) in addition to closing me up flat on both sides. My plastic surgeon agreed and was quite confident the surgery will be successful in removing my implants and closing me up flat. I will have a 6-8 week recovery period but we have family coming to help us!

This past Thursday was my last chemo for a while; praise the LORD!!! I will still go in weekly for my Herceptin infusion and IV vitamin C! I will also be discussing other methods to heal my body and keep the cancer at bay while I’m not doing chemo, these options are more IVC, ozone therapy, and of course, continuing my metabolic supplements! I will post again soon to share what we will be doing, to include information on the Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber Therapy I’ll be doing before and after surgery to aid in healing and reduce inflammation, which should recuse the chance of any remaining cancer cells spreading post-surgery!

Phew…..quite a long update! Thank you for taking the time out to read this. I hope the post was a blessing to you! As always, I’m an open book so feel free to ask questions!

I would so appreciate prayers in the following areas:

Continued health before surgery, successful surgery free from complications, protection against lymphedema after surgery, wisdom in alternative treatments during the chemo break, wisdom in what chemo to use post-surgery, peace for my husband and children especially, grace for all of us post-surgery as our “normal” will be disrupted for quite some time.

Blessings!

Cheryse

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