The Journey Begins

Today I am feeling grateful for the strength to write and let you know what has been going on since I last posted.

It has been over 20 days that my second journey with cancer has begun. I am aware that this new journey is going to be way more challenging than the first. Since my lungs are involved, breathing is difficult and I am constantly tired. Most of my day is spent just trying to get into a position where I can breathe and then just resting there. Sometimes even moving from one place to another causes me to have coughing fits. So, I am working hard at being still..

This means I am not able to do anything Stampin’ Up! related. I have a box of new products that I couldn’t wait to create with and I have no strength to open them. I haven’t started treatment yet but I pray that I will find the strength to be able to at least do a little stamping during the holidays but for now, I will just wait and see. One day at a time. I am very fortunate that my team leaders have worked so hard at keeping my meetings going and are moving forward with plans for our annual Stamp Camp in October.

Over the past week and a half, we met with several medical professionals and chose the oncologist we felt the most comfortable with. In preparation for treatment the past couple of weeks have been filled with almost daily trips to the hospital for different procedures. An echocardiogram, An MRI, A port insertion and my all time favorite a spinal tap. Out of all these procedures, the one I didn’t want was the spinal tap.

The morning I went in for this procedure I felt peace. My husband and I were listening to praise music in the car and I was reading scriptures. I know tons of people were praying, so I felt good. My husband had told me the night before that Dr. Sherwood (not his real name) would be doing this procedure and that he had done it thousands of times so I could be assured that I was in great hands. We arrived at the hospital and within minutes we were meeting with a nurse to discuss the procedure. As the nurse spoke with us she said, “Dr. Jackson (not his real name), will be coming in soon to have you sign some paper work and answer any questions you might have”. My husband said, “Dr. Jackson, Who is that"?” The nurse went on to say, “Well, he is new. Dr. Sherwood is moving to a different department so they were discussing when would be a good day for this transition and they chose TODAY”. She went on to tell me that Dr. Jackson had just moved to Hawaii and that although this was his FIRST DAY at the hospital, it was not his first time doing this procedure.

A few minutes later in walked a young, tall, handsome doctor with a super deep voice. He walked us through the procedure and I can honestly say, although the procedure wasn’t pleasant, it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. I was thankful that despite the doctor mix up, I still had peace. Dr. Jackson did great and I survived! We actually found the whole situation kind of funny and were able to laugh about it both before and after the proceedure. One of my biggest prayer requests is that my spinal fluid would come out clean and it did. Although we are sending it to Stanford for confirmation, just to be sure.

The MRI was the last procedure on my to do list. I thought it would be a piece of cake compared to everything else I had recently been through. However, I didn’t realize what type of scan an MRI was. I was thinking it was a CT Scan. When I saw how claustrophobic the machine looked I once again had to ask God for peace. I prayed a lot during the procedure, especially that I wouldn’t start to cough. It was tough to stay still for almost an hour but I am thankful to say, I did it!!! Another procedure checked off the list! The results came back and they showed that I have a tiny issue with my right optic nerve. I am currently taking prednisone drops cause a few weeks ago I woke up and had extreeme light sensitivity and pain in my eye. We hope that this won’t be anything major but I do have to follow up with my ophthalmologist and possibly have another MRI in a few months.

After all of the procedures were done we went to see my Oncologist. Although we did get good news about the spinal fluid, we also got new information that complicates my situation a little. I was told that I had two different types of Lymphoma. First, a low grade one that is in my lungs and has probably been there for a long time. Since it wasn’t found (because there were no symptoms) it developed into a second Lymphoma which is this high grade B Cell Lymphoma that is aggressive and quickly spreading in my body. It is believed that low grade Lymphoma is incurable but we are praying that the treatment I will receive will cure both. After all, we believe in miracles and I’m ready to see a Victory!!!

Cindy and Brett at church

Cindy and Brett at church

In the mist of all this I have been surrounded by lots of love and prayers! I am grateful that I had the opportunity to go to a healing service that Jessica, my daughter and Brett, my son in law, invited me to. As he helped me get there, I told him I liked his sweatshirt cause it gave me hope that I will see a Victory! The song See A Victory by Elevation Worship is my theme song right now!!! Maybe when all of this is over, I’ll have to borrow it from him to wear in celebration.

As of today I don’t know if I will have in patient treatments or out patient treatments. We are waiting on one more test result that will determine that. However, I did find out that either way, I will start treatment on Monday. If its outpatient, I’ll be there for most of the day receiving the chemo. If its in patient, I’ll be there for part of the day receiving treatment and the next day I’ll check into the hospital for 4 to 5 days of additional treatment. Ready or not, here we GO!!!

So many of you have been so kind to continually ask, what can you do to help. Right now the main thing I need is prayer. I need prayer for strength as I often feel very weak. I need prayer for my right optic nerve situation to be healed. I need prayer for the correct treatment plan to be selected. I need prayer to stay positive and keep fighting. Thank you so much to so many of you who have already spent countless hours on your knees. I am so grateful for your love and support.

Right now, as I write this, I am feeling good. I’m sitting in a comfortable position, my breathing feels good and I’m not coughing. However, I am not always like this. This morning while eating breakfast I felt awful. It was the start of a new day yet I felt down, discouraged and defeated. I could barely breathe and I was so exhausted. To be honest, I wondered how I would find the strength to make it to the start of treatment.

Then I opened God’s word to Psalm 13 where it says:

1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,

4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.

6 I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.

I can so relate to David in this passage and I can learn a lot from him as well. David wrestled with his thoughts, I do that too. He felt sorrowful and desperate (been there, done that) but then remembered his trust in God’s unfailing love. He remembered to be joyful because of his salvation! He looked at all the good things God had done for him which caused him to rejoice and sing the Lord’s praises!!!

As I close todays post I hope you will be encouraged like I was by reading Psalm 13:5-6.
Whatever situation you are in, remember God loves you with an unfailing love and your can trust Him.

Next, have you accepted Jesus into your heart? God sent his only son Jesus into the world to die on the cross for your sins. When we pray and accept Jesus into our hearts, we receive the gift of eternal life. So, no matter what you are going through know that it is temporary, if you know Jesus, you can rejoice that you will spend eternity in heaven.

Finally, despite how challenging this season may be, what are you thankful for? How has God blessed you? The very fact that you are alive with breath in your lungs can be the first blessing, what about your family or your health. How has God been good to you?

God has been so, so, so good to me. I’ve been married to an incredible man for over 30 years. II have kids that I adore. I have loving family who have not stopped praying for me, I have amazing friends who are always there for me. I love my job and how it allows me to make a difference. I have been blessed to travel the world. I live on the beautiful island of Oahu where I can see the beauty of God’s creation on a daily basis. I have been blessed to witness miracles and I have peace because I know that my life is in God’s hands and I trust Him.

Today I learned that counting my blessings saved me from feeling sorrowful. David taught me three steps to joy. To know that I am loved, to rejoice because of my salvation and when I recall how good God has been to me it will result in praise!

I know I still have a very long journey ahead of me. I don’t know when I will be able to post next or if I will have someone else post and update for me. But what I do know is that I am loved, not only by God but by so many of you who have reached out to me in countless ways! It has meant so much to me and my family! So when I count my blessings, know that you are one of them that I will praise God for as my journey begins.

With love and a grateful heart,

Cindy



In God's Hands

I sat at the kitchen table at my friend Cindy’s house last week and she helped me to assemble these little favors for my upcoming Bunco. I hadn’t been feeling very well but I was still able to drive and was doing my best to stay positive with hopes to get better soon. Also, spending time with Cindy is always good medicine!

These favors were made with products from our Bird Ballad Suite. Here is what they looked like when completed.

Bird House Favors

Bird House Favors

My friend Zeny helped me a lot by designing this card holder box shaped like a bird house. This was the Aloha Prize for the Bunco event that would be happening at my house over the weekend..

Bird Ballad Card Box

Bird Ballad Card Box

When it is opened, it is just the right side for a few cards with envelopes or maybe a treat like microwave popcorn.

Bird Ballad Card Box (open)

Bird Ballad Card Box (open)

Zeny has blessed me so much during this health crisis I’ve been facing. As the date for Bunco drew near it became apparent that I would be too sick to be there. Zeny graciously offered to step in and host it for me.

Bird and Butterfly Swap Cards

Bird and Butterfly Swap Cards

When this event was over on Sunday, I received messages, cards and photos from the ladies telling me how much they missed me. On Monday, when I returned to my house I saw that the Monday night group had written me messages on the back of their Bunco cards and left me a pile of bird and butterfly cards from the swap they had done. What a blessing!

The next morning when I went into the kitchen, I discovered this beautiful arrangement of baby roses that Zeny had left for me. I was so touched by her incredible kindness to me. The flowers really brightened my day.

Flowers from Zeny

Flowers from Zeny

Later that same day, I went to the doctor. My symptoms were back with a vengeance and I knew I needed to be seen. There was yet one procedure they had talked about doing but I had been resisting it. However, I knew that this was necessary because breathing was becoming increasingly more difficult by the minute and something had to be done.

I checked into the hospital on Friday, October 23rd and had a lung surgery where they collapsed a lung and took out tissues that we would hope would provide a diagnosis and it worked, we FINALLY got one!

The next day I was told that I have stage four high grade B Cell Lymphoma. The diagnosis or staging didn’t catch me by surprise. It was actually somewhat of a relief to finally put a name to the symptoms that have been affecting me over the past four months. I mean don’t get me wrong, when someone says, you have cancer, I didn’t do cartwheels and jump for joy, but there was an underlying peace that finally I could move forward with treatment and out of the world of the unknown.

Recovery in the hospital was tough. Especially day two as I was having problems with the drainage tubes poking me and causing me lots of pain. There was also the heaviness in my lungs making me very short of breath any time I moved or stood up.

Although the process was painful I know that God was at work. Let me tell you of a few things I consider to be miraculous that happened when I was in the hospital.

First, prior to surgery, I had been coughing uncontrollably. It was a dry, irritating cough, one that takes my breath away and makes me feel almost as if I’m going to pass out due to lack of oxygen. My surgeon came into see me after surgery and asked how I was doing. We spoke for a little bit and then he noticed something, he said, “Hey, you’re not coughing!!!”. At that moment I thought of how much it would be hurting my side if I had been coughing. He looked up to the ceiling and raised his hands and said, “THANK, WHOMEVER IS WATCHING OVER YOU THAT THE COUGHING HAS STOPPED!!” Well, I know who that “whomever” was and offered up thanksgiving to God for taking my cough away. This was miracle number one.

The second thing that happened was when I was talking to a nurse who had known about all I had been going through. The nurse said,” I’m so sorry you have had to go through so much”. My response to her was, “it’s okay. I know that I am in God’s hands”, I then said, “It’s like what the sticker on the mirror over there says, and its good to be reminded when I get overwhelmed.”

Here is what the sticker on my hospital room mirror said.

In God’s Hands

In God’s Hands

.The nurse said, “Do you know that this is the only room in the entire hospital that has that sticker on the mirror?” That just made me smile as I realized God was there and that I truly was in His hands, that was miracle number two.

The next came in the night, I was really hurting and a nurse came into take care of me. I began to talk to her about how I wasn’t ‘afraid and I told her of the miraculous things God had done in my life in the past, especially when I had been diagnosed with breast cancer. As I shared with her, she was brought to tears and she told me about a struggle she is having in her own life. She really wants to have a baby and has been not been able to conceive. I was glad she was open with me and I felt led to tell her that perhaps the whole reason I was there that night was just to encourage her and pray for her. I reminded her that God is real, that miracles happen and that I would be praying for a miracle to happen in her life. I won’t share her name for privacy reasons but would you please join me in praying for this nurse that God would answer her prayers to have a baby. I consider this divine appointment miracle number three.

The next miracle was so encouraging to me. I had been struggling very badly with pain from the drainage tubes. I was getting nervous about the next morning when they would be removed because moving just one inch was causing me extreme pain. When I woke up I wanted to spend quiet time and listen to worship music. I asked Siri to play praise and worship as I sometimes do. This song came on called Tremble by Bethel worship. Now picture this, I am in this dark room, I am feeling nervous, I am a singer whose lungs are very heavy, I am short of breath, I am hurting and overwhelmed. The song starts and I listen to these two verses:

[Verse 1]
Peace, bring it all to peace
The storms surrounding me
Let it break at Your name

[Verse 2]
Still, call the sea to still
The rage in me to still
Every wave at Your name

Then comes the chorus which says:

[Chorus]
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus, You silence fear
Jesus, Jesus, You make the darkness tremble
Jesus, Jesus

I just felt God’s peace and His presence as I continued to be still and listen to this song, then came verse 3 which says:

[Verse 3]
Breathe, call these bones to live
Call these lungs to sing
Once again, I will praise

Ok, at this point I almost fell out of the bed. I whispered to my husband who had stayed the night, “did you hear that”? This song is taking about lungs that will sing again! I was so encouraged. This song also reminded me that all I needed to do to silence the fear I was feeling was to call on the name of Jesus who I know was with me.

I was reminded that I was in God’s hands and that he would be with me through this procedure I was dreading. Within the hour, the procedure was done, it wasn’t pleasant, there was pain but when it was over, there was a huge amount of peace and relief!

In the midst of hearing this song, I took a screen shot of my phone so I wouldn’t forget this what I consider to be miracle number four!

Miraculous Song of Encouragement

Miraculous Song of Encouragement

Since receiving my diagnosis things have been quiet overwhelming. I can’t drive for 6 weeks and I can’t lift anything heavier than a newspaper for 6 weeksI My friend Cindy has stepped in to coordinate rides for me since I have had daily appointments with several different doctors. In just a few days after being released from the hospital I’ve already had 4 different people pick me up at the hospital to bring me home. I feel so blessed to be surrounded by loving family and friends. We have been talking with different hospitals and oncologists trying to decide which direction we will go for treatment. The good news is although I am stage four, they believe it is treatable and curable. But you know what, it doesn’t matter what they believe because I am confident in God’s plan for my life and I know I am in His Hands.

Although I have peace I have to say that the past few days have been tougher than any I have ever faced before. But I’m ok! I’m hanging in there, continuing to put my hope and trust in God whom I know has a plan for me that is good. If I can ask for a prayer request I’d ask that you would pray for my lungs to get stronger, I still am dealing with severe shortness of breath anytime I sit up or walk but I truly believe that I will get better with every passing day. Today was better than yesterday, I am just focusing on taking life one day at a time!

Thank you so much to all of you who have been praying for me. Especially for my Mother and Father in law who have been waking up and praying for me in the middle of the night. I can feel the prayers of so many who are fighting with me and believing with me for complete healing. I may not understand it, but I trust in God’s plan for my life.

He has that plan for you too! I hope that no matter what you are facing today you will be reminded that you are in God’s hands, He is for you and not against you and there is nothing that is too difficult for Him. Let’s believe together in His miracle working power as we continue to place our lives in His hands!

Trusting In Him,

Cindy



Check You Out!!!

Aloha Friends! I am just “checking in” and hope that this post finds you doing great and having a blessed and beautiful day! Today has been a quiet day of rest for me. I am on a restricted diet because tomorrow I will be going in for a PET Scan once again. The PET scan was ordered because over the weekend some of my symptoms began to resurface! The doctors are still suspecting I may have Lymphoma, so I am hopeful that the scan I’ll have tomorrow will produce some insight.

As I sit here today, I realize how incredibly fortunate I am to be surrounded by a loving family and wonderful friends who are supporting me in this season. The thing that blesses me most is that I know so many are fervently praying for me and I believe that God not only hears our prayers, but he answers them too! It’s not always answered the way we want, or in our timing, but he is faithful and we can trust that He knows best!

It has been an incredible blessing to have the support of my team leaders who have stepped up to help me run so many of our larger group functions such as my monthly downline gathering called Inspiration Night!

Today, I want to share with you the projects my friend Jodi taught us at last months gathering. All of these projects are from the stamp set called Check You Out!

Check You Out Cards

Check You Out Cards

Let’s take a closer look at each card. Did you notice these were all made with our new Scallop Edged Note Cards?

Check You Out Birthday Card

Check You Out Birthday Card

This little worm is so cute. I love his big smile and bow tie.

Check You Out Card

Check You Out Card

Wouldn’t this card be a sweet one to send to your school librarian?

Check You Out Thank You Card

Check You Out Thank You Card

Here is the happy little book work once again. This time the image is stamped on top of a pile of books. These book stamps are individual so you can create a stack of books as high as you want!!

Check You Out Congrats Card

Check You Out Congrats Card

This wise owl is so cute, I love the glasses!!. Since owls are Jodi’s favorite, every time I see one I think of her. This one in particular is great because it totally matches Jodi’’s signature cutesy style.

I am so thankful to Jodi for taking the time to not only share these projects at our meeting but she prepped all the supplies as well. If you want to check out more of her fun creations you can visit her blog its called The Stamping Owl. Today she is featuring a “sneak peek” at her August Back To School class.

Although these cards don’t feature it, one of the sentiments in the stamp set Check You Out says, “just checking on you”. I know that in this season I have been so blessed by so many who continue to call, text, send cards, etc, to ask me how I am doing. There are so many who ask, how can I help, what can I do.

Well, I have one request that comes to my mind at the moment. Tonight at 6:30 pm HST, I will be going to my church to have a special prayer time over me. I would love for you to join by lifting up prayers for my miraculous healing during that time. Prayers would also be appreciated during my early morning scan at 8:30am HST. Don’t worry if you read this post after those times! God knows and will always hear your prayers! Thank you so much!

So for now, I have been working on turing my fears into prayers and my prayers into declarations of faith!

At the end of Psalm 77 in verse 19 it says, Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters, a pathway no one knew was there. This is talking about the Israelites who had left Egypt and were being pursued by Pharaoh and his great army. There were a lot of roads of escape they could have taken that would have made sense. The closest road, the widest road, etc. However they took at path that led them to a dead end. While they were there some of them got discouraged and thought, why are we here!!! However, It was in that place, a place that didn’t make sense, where God performed a great and mighty miracle. He created a path through the sea that no one knew was there. It was only in this place that they had the opportunity to see all of their enemies that had come after them destroyed before their very eyes.

This story was shared to me by my son at the start of this journey. I am thankful that God brought it to my mind again today so that I can be encouraged by being reminded of the miraculous power of God.

Thank you again for checking out today’s post and for your love, support and prayers!

Believing with you for a miracle,

Cindy

See A Victory

My friend Annie recently celebrated a birthday. Annie has always been such a kind and loving friend to me. She is always there to lend an ear, to give honest feedback and to be a source of encouragement. I feel so thankful and blessed to know her and call her my friend.

Annie loves plants and flowers, so for her special day I created a birthday card using a new stamp set called Floral Essence.

Floral Essence Card

Floral Essence Card

The colors that I chose for this card were inspired by the wrapping paper I bought to wrap her birthday gift in. You can see the gift in the photo below, behind the card.

Floral Essence Card

Floral Essence Card

Although the flowers are different, I thought this set coordinated well with the wrapping paper. I just love this color combination!

The sentiment in this set says, “All day are beautiful that begin with you”. This is a beautiful sentiment that reminds the person you are giving the card to how valuable they are to you. By saying this, you are communicating that time spent with them is time that truly makes a difference in how your day will be.

In the season of life I am in right now, I know that it is important for me to begin each day spending quiet time with God. As I read my Bible, I find wisdom, strength, encouragement, direction and peace. Those are things that I’ve really needed in this season as I still am facing an undiagnosed health issue.

Many of you have inquired as to how I am feeling? To be honest, over the past couple of days I’ve been up and down. My faith, trust and confidence in God is strong and I am working hard to keep it that way! However, when any of my symptoms begin to flare up (and over the past two days, this has happened) I sometimes respond with frustration and discouragement. To be honest in a weak moment I sometimes say, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired! Responding like this is definitely my down!!! What can I say, I am a work in progress! It has been a challenging road but I am confident I will learn and grow stronger during this season!

That is why starting my day reading God’s word and meditating on his promises is so important. It truly does make a difference and it reminds me that I don’t have to fear because the battle isn’t mine, it belongs to the Lord. Here is a verse I memorized this week.

The Lord will fight for you, you just need to be still. Exodus 14:14

I don’t know about you but being still has not been something that comes easy to someone like me. I am used to always being on the go. These past few years my life has changed a lot in this area as I’ve learned the importance and value of rest.

My friend Annie is someone who over the years has often lovingly reminded me of the importance of rest. She is a very wise woman. After going through some challenging circumstances, I get it. It is SO important to slow down and take time to rest.

As I end today’s post I want to encourage any of you who are facing a battle in your life right now. It’s normal to react with fear or frustration but don’t allow yourself to stay in that mindset. Remember that you are not alone! As you begin each new day take time to pray and talk to God about your circumstance. Read His word and allow His spirit to give you peace.

This new song by Elevation Worship has really encouraged me this week. I have been listening to it over and over and it has really helped me! The song is called SEE A VICTORY , you can click on the name to listen to it. I pray that if you are facing a battle in your life right now that as you listen to it, you will feel encouraged and can along with me begin to walk in victory and not in defeat because the battle isn’t ours, it belongs to the Lord.