Tuesday, June 2, 2009

365

The rain is dancing against the gigantic picture window as I sit inside the windowseat on MD Anderson’s 5th hospital floor. The text from Sarah just arrived and it said: 365. It's the number of times Jesus tells us in the Bible not to be afraid. He knows I am afraid at MDA this day!

This place is a metroplex of hallmark hurting humble souls. I met some Christians here and God says about them Heb 11:38 - “The world is not worthy of these people.” My daughter Brooke’s college friend who works at MDA told me the story of how she walked into a room to check on a patient not doing well on their chemo. The patient’s reply was: “I’m blessed!” I looked hard into faces I’ve never seen weathered with pain, attached to appliances so foreign. We walked the halls of a house of suffering. 365.

Why is it God always seems to be doing big things in my life when it’s raining. It’s raining in my heart. Tears are storming down my face as I walk out of my last appointment in my stay at MD Anderson’s Breast Cancer Center. 365.

Here’s what happened at MDA…and I must say that this will probably be too long of a post for most. So the punch line is this: I didn’t get the good news I had hoped for---I need to have both chemo and radiation after my June 9th surgery because I have cancer in my lymph nodes.

My hospital stay started with a simple mammogram---except it was anything but normal. Dozens and dozens and dozens of bi-lateral scans reduced me to heaving and sobbing. I knew right away something had to be way wrong when they called me back again, twice. When alone, I slipped to my knees in my dressing room and sang “Jesus Loves Me” to myself.

An hour later, the ultra sound imaging tech showed up and I wasn’t ready for what would happen in that next couple of hours. I watched as the technician took 47 pictures---about every five frames--- she would click on them and they would light up like fire. Not good. She finished and said: “I have to go get the doctor to take a look at this.” In comes Dr. Dryden, dressed like he was going to a wedding. He took all those pictures over again as I tried to lay my head on my Lord’s lap and ask HIM to speak to me as those pictures kept lighting up like a fire in my breast.

The news was terrifying to me in that moment. 365. “We have found another tumor in your breast and in your lymph node and suspect it to be cancer. The size of the lymph node was very suspicious. We need to biopsy it. “Can my husband come back with me?” The answer was no---something about how he might faint on their floor. Actually, I’m the one that usually faints in stress---vaso-vagal syncope.

You’ll do fine. “You’re in good hands with Dr. Dryden.” I replied that I was really in Good Hands with my God.. They weren’t listening. Too busy prepping me for the procedure. All four of them had to walk out of the tiny room and the doctor made me promise I wouldn’t burst out the door and take off. Funny comment. Great idea! I guess he read me right. Could he see the sheer terror in my face when he said that if the biopsy came back cancerous, they would need to take out all 26 lymph nodes. I was alone in the room for a moment. I smoothed out the sheets and invited the beautiful God I so trust and love and adore to hop up and sit real close to my scared self. 365. Take my hand! 365! Say it to me God, one more time. “Don’t Be Afraid.” Cause I am.

The friendly four returned armed with gadgets and needles and draping and stuff. Too much for me to look at. All of a sudden, God brought to my mind: “A bruised reed He will not break; a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.” Isaiah 42:3. The team moved quickly and walked me through every step. Local anesthesia---I would be awake for this. My recent lymph node dissection surgery had not healed fully and they were messing with it. Peace flooded my self---no other way to explain it.

It was over. Armed with my tissue in his hands, my new doctor friend went straight to the pathologist on the other side of the wall to look for cancer. 10 minutes, he said, and I'll be back with the news. It became the longest thirty minutes of my life as I cried out to my good God. I begged for them to let my husband come back and they did. He cried when I told him what I had just been through. I tried to prepare for the worse.

Dr. Dryden burst through the door and I searched his face for an answer. “We’ve got it. It’s benign.” Could you say that one more time? I burst out sobbing.

I’m still sobbing, but this time it’s because of my visit with the next oncologist to go over my case. Even though the cancer in one lymph node is microscopic (that’s the controversy), this ancient doctor firmly believes I need chemotherapy and radiation of the worst kind. It’s a systemic disease and it has metastasized into my lymph node. That means it is in your bloodstream. The chemo that will soon make me sick and drain my white blood cells of life will save my life. The radiation that will destroy my cells will kill the good and the bad cells. It’s toxic. It’s necessary. I’ll lose my hair. I’ll lose some of my good health. I’ll lose my energy. But I will never lose the love of my beautiful God. He’ll be with me every step of my lonely dreaded way. And No One will snatch me out of my hand. John 10:29. I’ll fall forward. I’ll advance His Kingdom not my own.

And I won’t lose the friends that matter to me. I think you’ll stick with me. I met Annette and Kathy in Houston and they both so brought God to me after a very tough biopsy. I’ve lost some things through my life but losing my friends has been harder than most anything I’ve faced. I hope I can do something for you during these next 12 months or so while I undergo chemo and radiation. Maybe you’ll talk with me by phone or text or blog. I’m actually out of cell phone minutes already for this month. Last month our bill was $1,200 and I was flabbergasted---can’t do that anymore. I’m just grateful we don’t have to live in a box on the street. The medical bills stream in every day of our lives now. They say this will topple $1 million plus. And God keeps on providing in ways I never imagined every day.

So, I’ll lift my sobbing head to the Maker of this mountain that I cannot climb. I love that Bebo Norman song. He’ll pull me up. It’s not what I had hoped for. My other friends have clear margins and their lymph nodes are cancer-free. But that’s not the way it happened for me. And my Jesus says: “What’s that to you. You follow Me.” John 21:22. I’m incredibly sad. And, yes, I know there are people and some of you that have been through far worse. But don’t minimize my pain. I’m hurting. I’m scared to put toxicity in my healthy body. I’m so disappointed. But this one thing I know and am convinced of and rest assured---my Jesus loves me so. So, I’ll trust Him in this as I wrestle with Him and embrace my loss of being sick during my son’s special senior year. I’ll fall forward and long to advance His Kingdom, not my own. Somehow, I will welcome this trial as my new friend. Again and again, I’ll wrestle through this. I’ll embrace my loss somehow. I’ll find my beautiful God even when I won’t feel beautiful. And for those of you who will stay with me, I’ll deeply appreciate your love. 365.

I'll be back in Austin on Wednesday for appointments with my surgeon getting ready for my upcoming surgery June 9th. And I'll meet with my medical oncologist to decide the final protocol---chemo and then radiation. And one more appt. with a new dermatologist to see if I have skin cancer for two spots that have changed in all of this.
My Love & Gratitude, Bev

34 comments:

Alana 6/02/2009  

Bev, I am just broken, broken, broken for you. I feel your pain, your fear, your peace, your hope. And I'm carrying them all to God for you. May His blessed peace cover you constantly in the days to come. Love you!

Sheryl 6/02/2009  

bev, i don't want to throw any trite words at you right now. just want you to know that i have read your heartfelt post. i am praying to God on your behalf tonight.

AbbyLane 6/02/2009  

i'm lost for words. completely lost. i have been on my face all night-offering up everything i know how to our sweet God. so much i don't understand. so much i can't even try to understand. i pray our gracious God carves out a place in His heart and holds you there-never letting you out of His presence for a second. and i pray whenever possible your weary and broken spirit will find peace there, right in the middle of such devastation. and your heartbeat to find His, and find the strength for another day.
this girl loves you so. and will be here always.

Jimmy 6/03/2009  

Bev know there are no words to say that can help but I am lifting you up to Our Father. It is hard to understand this why but as I read your words I praise God for you complete trust in Him for all of this. I know also He has given you a strong family who be a great support to you. He is your Strength, peace and our Physician!

Lorrie W illiams 6/03/2009  

Hi friend,

I got the answer to my question on FB, so nevermind that. I am SO sorry to hear this news. My heart hurts for you.

Does your cell phone company charge you minutes when you receive calls? Let me know...I'll call you next time or call you at home.

I know that Jesus loves the way that you are leaning into Him, continuing to cast your cares on Him and pursuing Him in the midst of your fears. You are such an example of dependence, honesty and faith, and you always have been.

I am praying. Let me know what else I can do. I wish I was there...

Lorrie

Profbaugh 6/03/2009  

Bev,

Two things: 1) I'm praying for you and 2) I love you!

~Cheryl

Dedra Herod 6/03/2009  

Siesta Bev,

I just want you to know that this siesta is praying over you. 365. Your siesta's have got you covered up! I love you, D

Teri~Facedown 6/03/2009  

Father God, powerful, gracious, omnipotent, healing, compassionate, and loving Father, speak to Bev today. Whisper to her soul the words only you can to bring peace. Father, thank you for being with her every step of the way. Thank you for giving her fortitude to move forward. Thank you for filling her mind with your Word. Thank you for never leaving. I pray now in Jesus name that you would flood over Bev with the peace that passes all understanding. I pray that she would not only know in her heart that you are with her, but that she would actually feel you--come over her as a cloud by day and fire by night--leading her and covering her. Lord, you LOVE BEV...thank you for being right with her. Pour out your love, and the healing balm of Gilead to soothe her hurting soul--and to heal her body. May your will be done. In Jesus name, amen.

Stephanie Logan 6/03/2009  

Constantly thinking about you and praying for you. Jess and I would love to bring you guys a healthy meal sometime if you are up for it. Love you Bev. 365.

Mary Lou 6/03/2009  

Bev, your post is beautiful, just as your heart is beautiful. Praying and standing in the gap for you and picking up your mat for you 365 times or as many times as you need it. blessings and love and hugs....mary lou

valerie 6/03/2009  

I'm sorry I'm just now reading about what's going on in your life at present.
I've not been on Patty's (Siesta Fiesta) blog for a while now and am trying to catch up.
You are definitely in my prayers and I'm adding you to my favorite blogs so I can keep in touch.
God bless you and heal you.

This is long, but I found a beautiful card the other day at Walgreens and this is what it said:

Jehovah Jireh (Provider) Genesis 22:14
Jehovah-Nissi (Battle Fighter) Exodus 17:15
Jehovah - Shalom (Peace Giver) Judges 6:24
Jehovah - Rophe (Healer) Exodus 15:26
Jehovah - Tsidkenu (Our Righteousness) Jer. 23:6
Jehovah - Shammah (Ever Present One) Ezek. 48:35
Jehovah - M'Kaddesh (Our Sanctifier) Lev. 20:7-8
Jehovah - Rohi (Our Friend) Psalm 23:1

"All that you need - He is"

I thought that was the best card and was so glad the Lord led me to it.

Keeping you in my prayers!
Love,
Valerie (Oklahoma)
P.S. 365! :)

Lisa 6/03/2009  

Bev, I'm lifting you up to the throne of grace at this very moment. Asking God to calm your fears and just wrap you in His loving arms. 365 - He is with you, carrying you.
Blessings ~ Lisa

Kate 6/03/2009  

I am still praying for you...won't stop either!
My favorite quote is this: "Beauty of form affects the mind, but it must not be the mere shell that we admire, but the thought that this shell is only the beautiful case adjusted to the shape and value of a still more beautiful pearl within." -Jane Porter
You are so much more beautiful than you know...you reflect Him, and He is AWESOME!
You are loved!

Toknowhim 6/03/2009  

You are beautiful.... Love to you Bev, and I will keep praying :)

I know you may not get this, but do you have a land line phone where you can receive calls?

Love, Kim

fuzzytop 6/03/2009  

Bev,

I am so so sorry you are having to face with and deal with all these medical things.... I will keep on praying for you.

Much love,
Adrienne

beckyjomama 6/03/2009  

You have not, and WILL not lose THIS friend - ever. I am on my face for you every single day, I cry out to our beautiful God to wrap HIS arms around you when I cannot. I hug my pillow as I pray, wishing it was you. I want so very much to hold you through this fear, but I know HE is holding you and I have to know that is enough.
I love you Bev, so very much.

B 6/03/2009  

You mentioned that you hoped you could do something for us the next 12 months. Well, my dear Bev, you are ministering to us through your faith in God. As you cleave to him we see his sufficiency and lavished grace and we are encouraged to endure our hardships. Your faith is contagious and inspiring... so thank you already.

Deut. 32:10 comes to mind as you trust Jesus.

He found her in the desert, in the howling waste of the wilderness. He encircled her, he cared for her, he guarded her as the pupil of his eye.

Much Love and Many Prayers, Anne

Bobbie 6/03/2009  

Yes, Jesus loves you, the Bible tells you so..such a simple song says so much! You continue to amaze me with your openness about your feelings and I can so see God working through you with a message for all of us, whatever battle we may be facing...stay in the Word, stay close to Him, and let others love you. That's HIS love shining through! Bev, we will all travel this journey with you, on our knees and in your heart. Hope you have a big heart, cause you have LOTS of Siestas praying for you. Keep sharing your feelings, your words, and know that we're here for you.

Praying for God's peace to fill you and His love to surround you at all times.

We'll keep in touch, one way or another.
Blessings, Bobbie

Fran 6/03/2009  

Oh my precious Bev...I echo all that has been said and pray in agreement with everyone. Praying for you daily and simply asking our big God to heal your body and keep peace and His presence over you.

We all love you. We stand in the gap and carry this with you.

You know I'd be there in a heartbeat if I could.

So much love,
Fran

Big Mama 6/03/2009  

Praying for you, Bev. Praying that the God of all comfort will surround you and allow you to feel His presence like never before.

CAROL LIVIN FOR GOD 6/03/2009  

Bev when I read your post this am in Albuq.NM I am sitting at my desk at work and my heart just broke I may never meet you this side of heaven but believe I am carrying you to Our Saviour hang on to Him Keep Your Hope we Love you Iwill pray for the peace that passes all understanding for you
Carol your seista in Albuquerque NM

Amanda 6/03/2009  

Bev, my heart aches for you. I'm so sorry you have to walk through this. We love you, sister!

Dee 6/03/2009  

I am so sorry, Bev. I'll keep praying.
Love,
Deidra

Nate 6/03/2009  

Bev,

I cannot know all that you are going through other than what you write in your blog here. As your brother in Christ I will stand with you and pray and fast (I am giving up chocolate in this case) for you.

God - grant your child, Beverly Brandon, complete healing in her body, the body you made just for her. Comfort her each and every day. Thank you for giving her a husband who is steadfastly by her side. Thank you for giving her a family who loves and supports her. Thank you for being a God who walks with her daily. Amen

Nate

annie's eyes 6/03/2009  

You continue to be in my prayers through it all, Bev. Falling into the arms of God is a fearful thing, but there's no better place to be. I am here for you as best I can. God will not fail you. You minister so much through your suffering. God will not let it be in vain. I love you, dear friend. Annette

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend 6/03/2009  

Bev,

I am thinking of you and hurting with you. I am praying that there will be good news this week and that everyone that is in your path will be an encourager.

You are loved,
Teresa

twinkle 6/03/2009  

My dear beloved Bev. I've cried over this post. Would someone just wake us all up from this nightmare?
I am so sorry about the treatment you will be going through. All throughout these days of knowing cancer had invaded your body, I kept hoping and praying you would escape this poison. Your HAIR, Bev! It is so beautiful! I saw you in San Antonio at the Siesta Fiesta and your hair was striking!

But not as beautiful as your smile and the glow of Jesus that surrounds you. I've got a feeling that you will be the most beautiful woman with your naked head.
Keep that smile, Bev.
Let Christ cover your head with His nail-scarred hand.
Run to Him when you are afraid. He understands. Those disciples in that storm-tossed boat, they were right there WITH Him, and they were still afraid.

My father is a survivor of lymphoma. He will be 86 years old this Christmas Eve. He fought it hard and has been cancer-free for many years. And yes, he lost his hair. But it grew back! And now the cancer is gone. He teaches Sunday School, serves as a deacon (sometimes chairman of the deacons), has served on pastor-search committees, teaches discipleship training classes on Revelation, sings in the church choir, serves at our local food bank (witnesses to those coming for help), and knows more about the bible than anyone else I have ever known. He was this way before cancer...and he is just as faithful and active now, after cancer. He's my hero.

You will get through this, too!

Wrestle all you want with Jesus, but cling to him until you receive his blessing.

We will follow him...all the days of our lives. In sickness and in health. Like brides. Except for the part about "til death do us part." :)

And, Bev, I am praying for your husband. I can't imagine what he is going through right now. He is a heavy burden on my heart and I will pray for him.

Much love and prayers to you.
Deborah

Anonymous 6/03/2009  

Hi Bev,

Even though we do not know each other my heart bleeds as I read your post.

I lost my Mom a year ago to breast cancer. I have been reminded of so much as I have read what you are going through.

It brought me great peace and joy as we walked the road of cancer to be reminded of the things that cancer could not steal from my Mom, nor can it steal from you my precious friend.

It cannot steal your family,the wonderous all perfect love that God has for you and you for HIm. It cannot steal your friends or memories. It cannot steal your peace or your happiness.

It cannot steal God's perfect plan for your life.

Just take today, this moment and live in it. It is too much to look past that.

I would love to be able to write you. My name is Wendy and my email is gogirlwdg@aol.com. I live in Memphis and have been doing Beth's studies for many years. I have been reading your blog for many months as I found you from the Siesta Fiesta Blog. Your blog has been such an encouragemnet to me.

Hold on dear Bev. Be assured He is holding onto you.

Love your Sista in Christ,

Wendy

Shonda 6/04/2009  

I'm praying for you Bev.

365!

Much love,
Shonda

Michelle Bentham 6/04/2009  

I have no words for you, my friend... No words. I cry with you as Tears are a very important part of Spiritual warfare. 365! Don't be afraid. Tears are a sign of surrender if you ask me. Perhaps these are tears of travail... of Giving Birth somehow to something new and miraculous that only God can do... Yes, even through toxic chemicals meant to heal while doing their worst. You are in the fire sweet friend, but the most torturous trials, where the refiner's fire burns the hottest produce not only a more defined image of Himself in us, but also bring forth blessing abundantly.

I once heard a teaching on the refining process for gold. Gold's refining point is the hottest of all metals. But, out of the refining process for gold come four different precious metals. Now... Think of that. You are in one of the most brutal and torturous season's of refining in your life and as you cling to your beautiful God... You are becoming more like Him. How precious you are to Him. How precious and fragile... Pure. His love for you shines through. Look for the blessings, Love and know we are still here praying and loving you just the same.

MB

Vicki 6/04/2009  

Dear Beverly, I have read your post and am so very sad and inspired at the same time. You are in my prayers.

Vicki Cowan

cindie 6/04/2009  

I read your post tonight and although you may need to have chemo and radiation and you might lose your hair... you will be fine...you are the beloved daughter of the King of Kings.
I will pray for you and just know that God has a special plan for your life. You will one day use this for His glory.

connorcolesmom 6/05/2009  

Sweet Bev!
I am just in tears over this for you!
I have been praying and will continue to pray for you!
God brings you to my mind often
I will be here with you during this journey and wish I lived closer so I could wrap my arms around you!!
Praying for God to wrap His peace and love around you!!!
Much love
Kim

Ang baylis 6/06/2009  

Hi, Bev! I have been away for a little while, but had to stop here to see how you are doing. I'm glad you got to have dinner with Annette and Cathy! I'm agreeing with all of the comments I've read here, especially Nate's!! I will join him in fasting (from sweets) for you. I'm also praying for you!
You're right... He Loves You So!
... and listening to the song by Terry MacAlmon, "Even So"!
Love you,
Angie xoxo

Praying for Our Friend Joanne Psalm 131:3 Waiting on God. Hope Now. Hope Always.

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I've met some amazing women through blogging. I would love to hear from you. My personal e-mail is:
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I have another blog where I blog daily as a small group of us read through the New Testament this year. It's called A String of Pearls. We carry each other on mats (when we just can't walk anymore) to Jesus and sweet things like that.

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