Cancer Survivor

Time Warp

October 18, 2009

Science fiction describes a phenomenon known as “time warp” that somehow forms a time and space continuum which bends, folds, or warps itself together creating a dual state undetected by the average observer. For instance, in one dimension time might rush forward at the rate of a year per second while in another plan time eerily suspends in a virtual standstill. I believe that sorrow, suffering, and a host of other ailments are catalysts that force humans into that “time stands still” reality. It’s the only way to explain how I can be at home convalescing at a snail’s pace while my loved ones race into the future by leaps and bounds. Their dizzying pace leaves a faint blur in their wake. In my best Yoda voice I warn, “Too fast you are going. Have accident, you will.” The Jedi’s, from the imagination of George Lucas, possess the secret of the time warp…jumping back and forth between continuums. One episode you see Yoda blissfully contemplating life on a distant planet and the next he’s traveling at warp speed to destroy the Death Star or save a princess.

But is time warp just a thing of science fiction? What evidence exists to illustrate this “dual state” phenomena? 1) During the holidays, take your kids to visit their grandparents. And you’ll hear Mimi say, “Oh my, just last year you could sit on my lap. Now you can carry me on your back.” To little Susie, last Christmas seems like a decade ago. For Grandma time whirled by, while for Susie time crept ever so slowly. Or 2) Offer to assist your child with homework (preferably math). Like me, you’ll proceed to methodically do the assignment in long hand, taking just a few hours of your time. But then uber-child walks in, pulls out a computer, and hits a series of keys to find the answer in seconds. You remain stuck in an outdated era while they exist in a new fangled generation. Both evidence of this strange time warp.

So last week a dear friend emailed and challenged me to stop being uber-Lenya. After reading my blog about being A-type and a heat seeking missile, she felt I must move more into the “stand still” time warp. To be honest, I thought that I already was moving in slow motion. But in truth, I can’t help but push the envelope…even in illness. But changing time warps is not for amateurs. It takes great stamina and acumen to leave light-speed for chillax mode. The untrained padawan hits a couple of walls and stumbles through some crash landings before getting it just right.

This week I had one of those hiccups. As I told you, my lower digestive track is wacked. There is a narrowing of the incision site. I have colitis. And there is something external to the colon causing pressure. Most of Tuesday night I was up and vomiting profusely. By the AM I had unbearable cramps. By 8AM I could barely lift my head. By the time my dad got me to the doctor’s office, Dr. Ampuero said, “You were just minutes from being admitted to the hospital.” Through my dad’s sage advice and divine intervention things turned just in time. But Wednesday I had another colonoscopy, which confirmed the above diagnosis. This Wednesday I’ll have a CT to determine the identity of the unknown entity pressuring my colon. Today I have blood work. I am fully in the life at the speed of jello time continuum. I don’t plan on flying anytime soon.

Cancer Survivor

Roadblocks and Detours

Road Blocks

Most people know me as a “full speed ahead” personality. I’ve even earned the nick-name “Heat Seeking Missle” when assigned to a task or project. It’s not uncommon for me to ask others if they want my involvement because I’m either engaged or disengaged. You don’t want to stir the A-type unnecessarily. Naturally, the slower pace of recovery and treatment goes against my robust nature. I attribute most of my weepy days as chaffing against my inner stirring. This little lamb struggles when “He makes me to lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2).

Detours and closed doors really frustrate me. I don’t like to be thrown off course. Yesterday, at my fourth chemo session I hit a “slow down dangerous curves ahead” sign. First of all, all my blood work looks fantastic. The Dr. can’t believe how healthy and strong my numbers look. However, I am having some symptoms with my digestive track—urgency and frequency. Let’s just say I have to be acutely aware of bathroom placement throughout my day. While doing a physical exam Dr. Ampuero detected something, larger than a walnut, growing outside my colon wall at the site of the anastomosis. This seems to be creating a narrowing of my colon which explains my symptoms. He ordered a CT scan. But I must wait two weeks as the chemo already compromises my vital organs and the contrast die from the scan would be too taxing. So I’m on a two week detour.

Let me tell you about woman who encountered a detour, Debbie Lascelles who was known by her friends as, “the Texas cream puff.” She knew all the current make-up techniques; could style her hair into the perfect “Texas-Do” and could paint her nails to match any outfit. But there were some things Debbie couldn’t do, like change a flat tire. She had adopted this philosophy of life: “Don’t learn to do something you don’t want to end up doing.” For instance, never ask your husband to teach you how to use the lawnmower unless someday you expect to be trimming the grass. I’ve been told Debbie wouldn’t even screw a new license plate onto her car. Instead, she asked an able-bodied maintenance man working on staff with her at the YWAM base in Tyler, Texas to do the job for her.

She was at the top of her class when graduating from nursing school and was voted the most likely to succeed. Everybody knew Debbie was destined for a prosperous career and would probably marry a doctor. But God interrupted her plans by calling her to the mission field, despite all her previous protests. At thirty-five years old, she and three other like-minded Christians joined Voice Of the Martyrs (VOM) on a mission trip to the Sudan. They were to bring much needed supplies: clothes, medicine, and books to a remote village in the middle of the steamy jungle. The team was also asked to teach their native brothers how to win their enemies to Jesus.

It was a sweltering hot day as they loaded the supply truck. The cream puff was melting. She poured herself into the seat next to another missionary dripping with sweat and fastened her seatbelt for the bumpy ride ahead. They knew that they must travel all day to make their destination before nightfall or they would be lost.

Halfway through the trip a tire blew, and their hearts deflated. The only way to change the tire in that heavy-laden truck was to empty its contents. When the team finally overcame their obstacle, too much time was lost. They’d never reach the village before dark. Disappointed, they decided to turn back.

Rumbling out of the afternoon sky came the sound of airplanes. Their escorts feared the worst, “Those are enemy bombers! Everyone hit the dirt.” Debbie the debutante was now sweaty, dirty, and scared. But to her amazement, the planes roared by without noticing the team or the truck. Like heat-seeking missiles, the bombers remained locked on their target: the very village Debbie had been headed for. The time of detonation? Just before dark. A flat tire had saved their lives.

For Debbie, when God said, “No” His loving hand had placed a roadblock in her path. Has God answered one of your prayers with a deafening, NO? Have you turned back from a desired destination because an obstacle impeded the path? Take time to reflect on the reasons why. Perhaps God was protecting you from a bad decision or attempting to lead you to greener grass. Be sure not to miss supernatural surprises in unexpected places—including the ones you’ve missed.

Cancer Survivor

The Present of Your Presence

October 3, 2009

When it comes to the five love languages my dad speaks “gift-giving” fluently. From pearls to purses and cars to a fur coat, he has showered me with gifts galore. Although I love the things, he includes himself in the package. Every summer he spoiled all four of his kids with a Disneyland extravaganza that included rides, treats, and souvenirs. He was the biggest kid among us riding every ride and eating all the junk! And when his grandchildren were born he continued the tradition. Dad emulates my Heavenly Father “who loved the world so much that He gave…” (John 3:16). Giving reflects God’s heart.

But the best present my father ever gave me was his presence at key times in my life. When divorce shattered my family at the age of eight he traveled from California to Michigan to surprise his kids on their first Christmas without him. Dinner was interrupted by a knock on the door and in walked the skinniest Santa I’d ever seen. He beckoned, “Sit on my lap and tell me what you want.” I thought, “I’m not in the mood for a present.” Just then Santa’s eyes twinkled as he pulled off his white beard. Underneath the disguise I discovered the loving face of my dad!

When I broke my leg downhill skiing in high school, healing included 6 weeks of traction. While I was literally pinned down to the bed, my dad again made the long trip cross country to consult with the doctors. He ensured that I received the best treatment possible. And he didn’t come empty handed. He brought an envelope full of hand signed photos from celebrities including Mac Davis, Buddy Hackett, and Liberace who all wished me a speedy recovery. They decorated my room, drew praise from the hospital staff, and reminded me that I’m not alone.

Ever since my cancer diagnosis last June, dad promised to start every day of my treatment with a phone call. For over 120 days, between 8:00 and 9:00 AM he’s rung me up to talk about everything from politics to my prognosis. But before the calls came the hospital visits. All six day he showed up with a token of his love like flowers, Starbuck, journals, and jammies.

This week Dad once again offers the gift of his presence as he accompanies me to chemo number four. He’s already thinking of distractions like playing cards or cracking jokes. He’ll run out at lunch time to pick up whatever I’m craving. Through his actions I’m reminded of God’s promise to David the psalmist, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

Do you know someone who’s fighting an uphill battle? Are there folks in your neighborhood who are all alone? Can you think of an acquaintance from church who’re convalescing at home? Reflect your heavenly Father by offering them the gift of your presence. And if you show up with a token of your love, all the better.