Tuesday, February 28, 2012

God is the Gardner

Today I went in to see my plastic surgeon – it was exciting to get that first look at my new body when she removed my drain and bandages.  I’m so happy to feel one step closer to being put back together again!  I must say she does amazing work, if anyone needs a good plastic surgeon :).

I have been feeling pretty good overall since surgery – really nothing compared to the others.  When I came out of surgery on Thursday, the nurse gave me something that she said was “stronger than morphine” – hmm, not sure I needed something that strong but at least I know I could never get addicted – wasn’t that fun :).  Friday I felt pretty good and then the next few days have been a bit more challenging with some weird side effects and pain . . . . but I know it is all temporary and I’m sure that in a few days it will all be a distant memory.  I’m thankful to have this week off work to recover and take it easy.  Once again I know I am incredibly blessed to have my job, my family and friends and most of all the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ to put things in perspective.

I was recently reminded of a favorite talk by Hugh B. Brown: “God is the Gardner” - I’d like to share a portion of it.  To those who may feel that your hopes and dreams are being slashed and wonder why God seems to be cutting you down when you are trying so hard to do what’s right and follow Him - I hope you will take courage from this message as I have.

He explains a moment he had while working in his garden and then years later how the same words came flooding back to his memory when he was denied a coveted promotion that he had worked long and hard for – all because of his religion.  Here's a small part of the experience: 

I went out one morning and saw a currant bush. It had grown up over six feet high. It was going all to wood. There were no blossoms and no currants. I was raised on a fruit farm in Salt Lake before we went to Canada, and I knew what ought to happen to that currant bush. So I got some pruning shears and went after it, and I cut it down, and pruned it, and clipped it back until 
there was nothing left but a little clump of stumps.

It was just coming daylight, and I thought I saw on top of each of these little stumps what appeared to be a tear, and I thought the currant bush was crying. I was kind of simpleminded (and I haven’t entirely gotten over it), and I looked at it, and smiled, and said, “What are you crying about?” You know, I thought I heard that currant bush talk. And I thought I heard it say this:

“How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth. I was almost as big as the shade tree and the fruit tree that are inside the fence, and now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me, because I didn’t make what I should have made. How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.”

That’s what I thought I heard the currant bush say, and I thought it so much that I answered. I said,“Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and some day, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down, for caring enough about me to hurt me. Thank you, Mr. Gardener.’ 

I thank God for loving me enough to cut me down.  I know that He lives!

For the full talk, here’s the link:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 Here’s the latest photo and yes, I am winning the hair growth contest with my niece, who was born 10 days after my diagnosis. I also dug out one of my short wigs and found that I could put it back and pull off a short do :).  I wore it to work and my co-worker thought my hair grew overnight - lol!

I’m also pleased to announce that my surgery to remove scar tissue is set for this Thursday, February 23rd!!!  Ok, I know that surgery isn’t necessarily something you celebrate except when it going to help alleviate pain and inconvenience. I was pleasantly surprised when I visited my plastic surgeon a couple of weeks ago and she reviewed my labs, then asked me when I wanted to get it done.  It will be outpatient, with a 1-2 week recovery on this one - minor compared to my other two (seriously, I’m a pro at this now!).  Depending on how this one goes, there may be one more even smaller surgery sometime after May, if not I could be done with surgery :).

My body seems to be going through some leftover effects from chemo: there is pain in my knees and feet – it is an arthritis type of feeling and this week it started in my hands as well.  I feel like an old woman when I get out of bed each morning, but gradually through out the day it gets a little better - acupuncture seems to help as well.  I have been on antibiotics for a sinus infection and perhaps the infection and/or the additional drugs are messing with me.  I really thought I was past all of this but alas, I must go through the process (which is really supposed to take about 6 months to get rid of all the side effects) - hopefully :).  The most challenging part of it all is that I have some sort of mental cloudiness going on again – much like I felt during chemo.  It is causing anxiety for me when driving and I've had a few melt downs over the past couple of weeks -lol.  I am looking forward to the day when I am rich and famous, so that I can hire my own chauffer, maybe even a body guard.  Don’t laugh, it could happen – I am still being considered for that reality show ;).

Last Saturday was the “Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer”.  I spent the weekend in Park City with a group of friends who were doing the Walk with me.  It was a great time and our team came in second for the highest fundraising – I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, considering all the controversy with Susan G. Komen.  I pray that the money we raised will go toward research and assistance for early detection.  I am grateful for so many who donated time, money and resources for us to enjoy a fun weekend together.  It was a really great way to culminate my recovery with other survivors and people who have cheered me on through the whole process.  Here are a couple of video clips from the event :).

I'll end with a few thoughts from my message today at church about the blessings I have received from my experience with cancer.  Below is an excerpt from a talk by Rex and Janet Lee called “Finding Beauty in the Storm”.  As many of you know, Rex Lee was diagnosed with cancer when he was President of BYU and in the talk he contemplates the answer to the question: “Why me?”  This question could be posed in two different ways:
Why was I the one who got cancer? 
Why did I survive, when others, every bit as worthy, every bit as needed by their families, and for whom just as many family and friends prayed just as fervently, are not alive today?

He stated: “The first aspect of this "why me" question seems fairly clear. I got cancer not because I was particularly wicked or because I was particularly righteous. The Savior himself made that clear in his answer to the question about the blind man. The Savior explained, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him" (John 9:3). We believe that what this and other scriptures teach is that the plan under which we are here necessarily assumes that we are on our own as to many matters, and one of those is susceptibility to serious illness or other disasters.

If our Heavenly Father intervened to spare the really good ones from those kinds of experiences, much of the effect of this life's developmental and testing process would be blunted. If it were readily and objectively determinable that living a certain kind of life--either good or evil--in effect immunized a person from many of life's crises, it would be much easier to persuade people to live such a life. So two of the fundamental premises of this existence--the need for independent earthly experiences and the need to be tested--would be frustrated.

He then goes on to say: Why did I survive, when others, every bit as worthy, every bit as needed by their families, and for whom just as many family and friends prayed just as fervently, are not alive today? Far more important than knowing why this recovery happened is taking full advantage of the fact that it has, in fulfillment of the most fervent prayers that I have ever offered.
- Rex E. Lee

I pray that I will.  Thank you for your part in helping make that possible!