Anastrazole

Going through this cancer journey can really do a number on a person. When it is breast cancer for a woman, what it does emotionally to a woman’s sense of sensuality, really hits hard.

First, you are diagnosed with breast cancer. Then a woman needs to make the decision to have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. I can’t imagine having a mastectomy and going through the healing process. A lumpectomy still leaves a scar and I also have scars from the lymph node removal but the breast is still left with a permanent reminder.

As a woman goes through chemotherapy, there is the hair loss. Total hair loss over the entire body. Men love women with long hair. Hair has such power with women. Beautiful long tresses. Thick, full hair. Gone. Eyelashes, eyebrows, gone. All body hair gone. Then the next step is radiation that burns the skin. Everything is tender and sore after the chemotherapy but then to lie in a room where no one but you is there, listening to the machine zero in on the spots in your breast and armpit, leaves one feeling exposed and cold and alone and unfeminine.

Chemotherapy and radiation is done. There is weight gain which has made me feel terrible and I am now on a strict diet. The hair finally starts to grow back. Eyelashes were huge for me. The lashes are not all there yet but they are coming. The eyebrows have come back and the hair on my scalp is doing whatever it wants. I don’t want to put any creams into my hair to control it. Then it will look flat. And I don’t want to go with the spiked look.

My oncologist put me on Anastrazole, an estrogen suppressing medication. But after two weeks of feeling extremely headachy, dizzy, lightheaded, wanting to throw up and having bouts of diarrhea, my doctor agreed to let me get off and see how I do. Another requirement was for me to see a gynecologist to have my remaining ovary removed. I had a hysterectomy at the age of 40 due to complications.

I saw that gynecologist today. We went over my health history and then he talked to me about Anastrazole. He said it is a powerful hormone suppressing medication. He also said that it will dry up my vagina into a little knot and be painful. He said sex will be impossible. After I said, I had no idea, he said I need to talk to my oncologist about these estrogen suppressing drugs and get all the facts before I make the decision to continue or not. We also discussed having my ovary removed. We will go ahead with this.

I left the gynecologist and burst into tears as I was driving home. It feels like I am being punished. First this breast cancer where I am still struggling to feel feminine. Where I am struggling to think I might be attractive. Those are all very real feelings and it takes time to work through all of them. But now this. Urinating will cause pain. The vagina will be in pain and no sex. I didn’t know. I was relying on my oncologist to tell me. I want to be able to make an informed decision. Especially since it will be affecting such an enjoyable part of life. I will be calling for an appointment where I can get the statistics and find out what the percentages are. Right now, I feel like a truck has hit me. I don’t know if I will ever feel like a sensual woman again.

The Second Commandment – You shall have no other Gods

The second commandment in the long form is “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20: 4-6

So what did the people do at the base of the mountain while they were waiting for Moses? They were bored with the waiting so Aaron took their jewelry and made a calf out of gold. Really? I guess they didn’t know about this commandment because when Moses came down from the mountain with the tablets, he threw them down in frustration at these people. I don’t blame him. He is up on some mountain with God, who he can’t really look at. We don’t know how long he is up there and he is without food, water and shelter. I would be ticked too if I came down after listening to God and find these people partying it up with a golden calf.

As I am reading up on the ten commandments, I realize that we cannot just take the commandments at face value. Like this one. Do people think that just because they don’t have some idol or make some idol that they are free and clear? I don’t think so. There is more to this commandment (and all the others) that meet our eyes.

Every time I go to a church, I wonder about the cross that is always at the front of the church. What about all the crosses that are made into jewelry? I, myself, was given a beautiful cross on a necklace and I wear this necklace a lot. But I wonder how much emphasis we are placing on the cross. We all know Jesus died on the cross for us. For me, the cross is a reminder of Jesus being punished and put to death in the most horrific way. To be crucified by the Romans was to be a deterrent to everyone. If you commit a crime, or step out of line, this is how you will pay. I know that if people look at a cross and remember what happened with it, then it is a good reminder. However, when people seem to pray before and kiss the cross, is this crossing the line?

I also wonder about Catholics and their reverence for Mary. There are so many pictures, sculptures, images, etc. of Mary that it is all overwhelming. I know she is a holy woman and what she went through with Jesus is mind boggling. But she was a human woman who obediently served God. I need to ask the Catholics, isn’t Jesus more important than Mary? It feels, to me in my opinion, that Mary is placed over Jesus. That is just wrong. All the rosary beads, which I don’t understand, the figures of the Virgin Mary with pictures, feel like she is being worshipped.

Years ago I was in Rome and was able to tour St. Peter’s Basilica. My ex husband embarrassed me with how he, as a Catholic but not a practicing one, touched everything that was made of gold and cried over all of it. I walked through St. Peter’s thinking, what would Jesus think about all of this? I felt so uncomfortable in this church. The opulence was sickening to me. How many people lived in poverty, while the church was being built and were still expected to tithe to the church to make this church happen? How many people today make do without to tithe to this structure?

Worshipping something other than God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is not just limited to what I have talked about but it also means what about career worshipping, money, sports figures, move actors, singers, material items that your neighbor has and you want. The list could go on.

It isn’t just the face value of the actual commandment, you shall have no other gods before me, it is everything leading up to it as well. We are human with desires, wants, needs and we sin. A lot. It kind of has one think that we can’t measure up. You are wrong. That is why God sent Jesus to us. Jesus died for all our sins. His death was enough. It doesn’t mean that we can go on living recklessly without thought. We still need to try and live with love in our hearts for everyone. But we need to place God in our hearts and love Him with everything we have.

What Does One Do?

It has been one year that Bill and I have been married. One year since we said for better for worse. In sickness and in health. Until death do us part.

It has been a very difficult year for the two of us. One week before our wedding I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then two months later, Bill fell and had two hemorrhages on the brain. He was hospitalized for one and a half weeks. He was told to stay at home for two months and grow a beard. Which he did. It is a beautiful beard.

Through it all, my love has grown deeper for this man. My love for him leaves me breathless. I feel my love for him like a thread that weaves its way around me. All of me. Into my heart and around my soul. I dream about him. I think about him every second of every day. We found each other late in life but Bill is a blessing to me. God has granted us this time together.

And yet. Things are not perfect. I dream too much. I think too much. I think about my past and all the mistakes I made. I think about Bill’s past and all the women he has known. Bill is a handsome man with charisma. Then, stupidly, I think about what if we had met when we were younger? I keep imagining that Bill would have glanced at me, briefly, and walked past me. I imagine I would have fallen head over heels in love with the man. And then been crushed as he walked past me. His blonde hair, his stunning blue eyes would have captured my heart and not let go. Why do I do this to myself?

I tell myself that I am a creative person and I am a writer. That is how I get myself into trouble. My imagination just does not stop going. It is better than the Eveready battery. That is how I am able to write stories. My stupid imagination gets me into trouble so much. So I waste time crying over the past and my mistakes and faults. I see myself as imperfect, not good enough for a man like Bill. I would like to kick my imagination in the butt and out the door. Yet, if it wasn’t for my imagination, I would not be able to come up with the stories I write and God would get less frustrated with me. I think I am giving God a good run.

Head over heels in love. That is me. I look at Bill and wonder what he sees in me. And then I thank God that Bill is in my life and that he loves me. At times I am torn. I finally deserve Bill and then, because of my faults and mistakes, I don’t deserve him.

For better for worse. For richer for poorer. Well, I think Bill and I have pretty much covered those. Until death do us part. But I pray to God that, should I die first, I must watch over Bill. I need to be with him until the end of time. Forever. I want to be able to greet him when he joins me in heaven. I would give my life for Bill, as I would for my children and grandchildren. Such is my love for this wonderful man.

Anastrazole – My last Cancer Steps

I met with my oncologist who has now put me on Anastrazole which is an estrogen suppressing medication. I am supposed to take one pill a day for five years.

There are a number of side effects with this drug. So far, after two weeks of taking this drug, I am feeling fine. However, one of the side effects can be bone density loss. For someone who has osteoporosis, this is a concern for both my oncologist and myself. I could not remember the last time I have had a bone density scan done so my oncologist scheduled me for a scan. Currently, I am trying to set up an injection for Prolia for the osteoporosis.

Yesterday, I went for the scan. This was the easiest test I have had to go through. The technician scanned my back and then the pelvis area and then my left arm. She said that I have good, strong bones. Then she showed me where the points line up, that determines if I have osteopenia or osteoporosis. They have a green area for good, strong bones, a yellow area for osteopenia and a red area for osteoporosis.

My back, pelvis and arm bones all show up in the green area. I almost started to cry. The technician said the radiologist doctor had to examine the scans but I do not have osteopenia or osteoporosis. I tried to give the technician a hug and then bounced out of the examining room with the biggest smile on my face.

I felt free. Whatever I have been doing lately, changing my diet, exercising, the vitamins I am taking and  even through chemotherapy and radiation treatments or maybe just that I am so much in love with my new husband, has made my bones strong and healthy again. One more step towards being healthy.

Thank you God. Thank you Jesus. If you let yourself, Jesus will never let you walk alone, through whatever you are going through. The problem is, you have to have faith and trust and love. I can feel Jesus is just as happy with my news from yesterday.

Work on Third Novel – a Paranormal story

Currently I am working on my third novel, a paranormal. Let me explain about the paranormal part.

I have watched the television shows about real life stories where people move into a haunted or possessed house. I am interested to see how people react to their situation and how they cope. A friend of mine was watching one of these shows with me and he said he would leave a house like that, which is what the people in the television show did. I looked at him and said I would stay and fight. I also don’t think it would be fair to the next family who moves into the house.

Then my mind started weaving a story out of this. About a woman and her daughter who move into a possessed house. This woman loves this house and she decides to stay in the house and fight. After all, God is more powerful than demons. This woman is a Christian woman and she asks the pastor of her church to help fight the good fight. He agrees and asks a friend of his who is an exorcist to help. I also have an angel who decides to help the family.

So while I am writing this novel, I look up books on exorcisms and exorcists. I did find a very good resource written by a Catholic priest, Father Amorth, from Italy who is an exorcist. I thought, at first, I would be frightened reading the material. But I wasn’t. I was fascinated by the information.

First of all, the number of people who are possessed by demons is much greater than I thought. Demons do not always present themselves the way we think, as in the movie The Exorcist. Father Amorth says that people who are possessed can experience continuous bad luck or ill health, especially in connection with stomach problems. He also talks about how people can be cursed by someone and the effects of the curse are very real. He gives many examples of people he has exorcised and he gives many examples of the various symptoms and curses. There are also different levels of possession and he gives examples of those.

Father Amorth also talks about how important it is for priests to be taught how to do proper exorcisms. Apparently, the Catholic church is moving away from having priests involved as exorcists but Father Amorth talks about how much exorcists are needed. He is seeing an increase in the number of people who are possessed by demons and curses.

Father Amorth is concerned with how the devil and demons are pictured in today’s society. He wishes that people would not use the image of a horned devil with a tail and pitchfork. Satan is actually a fallen angel, he argues, so he would not appear as a dragon. However, Satan is deceptive and a liar and will transform himself into these images to frighten people.

Father Amorth also does touch on how to conduct a proper exorcism. He also writes about how some people are easily exorcised while others may take years because of the powerful demon in possession of the person.

Now that I have this information, I am weaving parts of it into my story. Trouble is, I need to write during daylight hours, otherwise I scare myself. The imagination is far more frightening than watching a movie.

If you are interested, you can look up books written by Father Gabriele Amorth. He has written “An Exorcist Tells His Story” and “An Exorcist Explains the Demonic”. Amazon and Barnes and Noble carry these books.

Purgatory?

I am now married to a Catholic man. However, he does not attend a Catholic church. His mother and sisters do regularly attend a Catholic church.

I have been confused by the term purgatory and everything that surrounds it. Also, a friend of mine, who was once a Catholic, said to me that the belief in purgatory means that Catholics do not believe that Jesus’ death was good enough.

I looked up the term purgatory. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Purgatory is “a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” To summarize, in Catholic theology Purgatory is a place that a Christian’s soul goes to after death to be cleansed of the sins that had not been fully satisfied during life. (from gotquestions.org).

This made me stop and take a step back. All along I thought that when Jesus died on the cross, He paid the penalty for all our sins. I had to research this. I was right. Jesus did pay the penalty for ALL our sins. So are the Catholics saying that we still have to suffer for our sins and that Jesus’ suffering was not enough? How can this be?

Apparently, the Catholics look at the passage in 1 Corinthians 3:15 for the evidence of purgatory. It is argued that the Catholics have misinterpreted the passage to be the believer passing through flames when it should be the believer’s works passing through flames. The argument is also that Catholics misunderstand the nature of Christ’s sacrifice. Catholics fail to understand that Jesus’ once for all sacrifice was absolutely and perfectly sufficient for all of us.

I had to look up the history of the Catholic church. Now I am even more confused. The Catholic church is a continuation of the early Christian community established by Jesus. The church considers its bishops to be the successors of Jesus’ apostles. By the end of the 2nd century, bishops began congregating in regional synods to resolve doctrinal and policy issues. The Bishop of Rome was appointed by Jesus and he was the sole successor to Saint Peter. This Bishop ministered to the people in Rome. I know Jesus told Saint Peter that he was building His church on a rock.

Well, doesn’t this make one think? The Roman Catholic Church is a continuation of the early Christians. The Catholics fail to see that when Jesus died, that was good enough. Is this something that the Catholics failed to see later in time? Did they misunderstand what was said in 1 Corinthians?

It just makes me see how we humans can mess things up. I know the disciples messed up things a lot. They were also filled with doubt even though they were with Jesus. Perhaps the Catholics thought that the people would just party it up if they thought Jesus had paid for their sins. I mean, what would keep them living like good Christians and obeying the church if at the end, they would be saved? Perhaps to keep the people in line, the Bishops decided to tell them all about purgatory. Wouldn’t purgatory scare them into submission? And this is how I can wrap my head around all of this.

Now I have a better understanding of purgatory and the beginning history of the Roman Catholic church. I am not a college graduate. I did not have the privilege of attending college although I am applying now, with my husband’s support and encouragement. I am curious by nature. I also wonder about the Catholics veneration(?) of the Virgin Mary but that is for another blog.

 

You shall have no other Gods before me – The First Commandment

You shall have no other Gods before me. The first commandment. This is the commandment that comes before all the others and lays the foundation for the rest of them.

God had just brought the Israelites out of Egypt. God told the Israelites “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2-3). The Israelites were held captive by the Egyptians for centuries. The Egyptians were unsurpassed by the number of gods they worshiped. The Israelites, unfortunately, with these idols in front of them all the time, started to worship these false gods. In those days, it was acceptable to have a number of gods. It was unheard of to worship only one God. Glory to God alone: soli Deo Gloria.

In order to free the Israelites, God had sent ten mighty plagues to defeat all the deities of Egypt. The magicians to the King of Egypt could not keep up to God. He is the one and only true God. He does not want to share us with anyone else. He wants to have a one on one love relationship with each one of us. There is no room for anything else. He demands it and He is well within his rights. We should be thankful and grateful for all He has done for us.

The Bible teaches us that there is one God in three persons. There is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Jesus is God the Son. He is one with the Father. So if God is the only God, why does God speak of other Gods? “There is no other God besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me.” (Isa. 45:21).

From all my readings and what I think is anything that we, as humans, turn to. What is it that we love the most or desire the most? It should be God. But a lot of people have become career oriented, money oriented, material oriented.  A false god can be anything that we focus on to the exclusion of God. Some of my readings have even gone so far to say that even sports, recreation, hobby or personal interest can be a false god. During football season, I see people so focused on the games that they ignore everything else. So I get that.

I see too many career oriented people who are just determined to make it up that ladder to the exclusion of everything else. I was married to such an individual and he is also narcissistic. People who think they are in control of their lives and believe that they are above everyone else will have a serious crushing blow dealt to them. We need to ask ourselves what do we love and what do we desire. For me, my husband, my family, friends and pets are everything to me. Until I can get it through my head that God is above even them, I will be sinning on this commandment. I can logically reason that, yes, God is above them but,…

The other thing we need to realize is that we must trust God above all others. We need to place our worries, concerns, stresses, fear and hopes into God’s hands. He alone will help us through each step of our lives. We may trust our loved ones to help us out when we need them but God sees everything and has a plan for us. We can trust God. He will never let us down.

For further reading on the Ten Commandments, I suggest Written in Stone, The Ten Commandments and Today’s Moral Crisis by Philip Graham Ryken. Websites: the Ten Commandments, bibleinfo.com, what Christians want to know.

Thou Shalt Not Kill – The Sixth Commandment

The sixth Commandment is thou shalt not kill. Easy. Right? You may not, cannot, should not kill. I am informed that the commandment needs to be interpreted as “thou shalt not murder”.

Well, then I came up with the issue of abortion. As a Christian, I believe that abortion is wrong. As soon as life is conceived, it is not ours to take away. God has determined who does or does not get pregnant.  I went so far as to question the issue about rape or if the mother’s life or the baby’s life is in danger. It should be the mother’s natural instinct to protect the life of her child. God determines who lives and who dies. Again God determines who does or does not get pregnant.

I know this is going to raise the hackles of many women who believe they have the right to determine what they want done with their body. However, as a true Christian, it is not a woman’s right to end a life in her body. It was God’s decision to begin life. He alone knows what is best. As a Christian, we need to willingly submit to God’s will. He sees things we have no knowledge about. And as Christians, a lot of us just can’t submit to His will. We think we know better. We think we have it all figured out. But we don’t. We need to take all things to God in prayer. God doesn’t always answer right away but He does answer. He loves us and He has our back.

Then I wondered about defending oneself against attack or against an attack against their family or home. Yes, this is perfectly acceptable against an evil doer, especially when the intention of the evil doer is to harm or murder. The Bible talks about defending oneself against danger and evil doers. Even Jesus talked to the disciples about selling their cloaks to purchase knives. As long as the defense is sensible and solemn.

I also wondered about the end of life and DNR (do not resuscitate). Doctors make mistakes all the time. This is not an easy issue to deal with and I have been told that every case or situation is different and needs to be looked at individually. I know a person should not be given the choice to end a life but there are so many issues to consider. As Christians, we must remember that life is precious. When a decision needs to be made, we must err on the side of protecting life but this is so difficult. When, we as humans are given the power of deciding to end a life, how far is acceptable before it becomes unacceptable? I know, for myself, I have told my family that if something happens to me and there is no hope for my recovery, I would like for them to take away the machines that are keeping me alive. I would wonder if I am present in my human body, at that point?

Another question I have is what about the death penalty. I know that in the Old Testament, God demanded the death penalty for many crimes, such as murder, kidnapping, bestiality, adultery, homosexuality, being a false prophet, prostitution and rape, and several other crimes (I did not know about some of these). Both God and Jesus did show mercy when capital punishment was due. However, the death penalty is acceptable in God’s eyes, especially when murder is committed.

I know I have raised issues with this blog. These are all my opinions, my thoughts. I am a Christian but this has made me seriously think about the meaning of being a Christian. I do not attend a church because, both my husband and myself, have been turned off by churches on the whole. Too many churches have let themselves become so large that I wonder how anyone can connect with others or the pastor. Too many times, it feels like churches do their best to accommodate people and make them feel good. The Bible has been twisted to accommodate what people want.

Yes, Jesus revolutionized a lot of rules from the Old Testament but He was serious about keeping the laws of God.  He did not sway from the laws. He upheld them. Instead of telling someone they were wrong, He loved them and showed them what it meant to submit to the will of God. That is what we need to do. Submit to God’s will. It is not giving in. It is giving your heart to a God of love and compassion and grace. He will never leave you even if you are uncertain.

 

 

Breast Cancer Warrior

The battle is done. I have won! I am marching on, ready to snuggle, cuddle and play with my granddaughter. I am ready to help my children. I am ready to properly ride my horse, take my dog for longer walks and play with my cats. But most of all, I am ready to fully take care of and love my new husband.

I have started a vitamin regimen and I am beginning to eat more healthy. Not that I was not already eating healthy but I intend to really watch the foods I eat. The internal oncologist told me I need to eat hormone free beef. I started yoga and tai chi classes through Levine Cancer Institute. In September, I will begin a survivorship program with the YMCA.

And, I am looking forward to getting my tattoo. I found both these tattoos which I really like on a tattoo website. Now I just have to decide where I want to put the tattoo. On my calf or on my shoulder? I like both tattoos but the ribbon needs to be pink. I also want the word Warrior with the tattoo. I also love the butterflies and I don’t need the zipper idea with the ribbon. I want to keep the tattoo delicate and not large.

The next steps on my warrior crusade against breast cancer is to go on a hormone suppressing medication starting the end of this month. I will need to be on the medication for five years. I have had several women tell me they did not do well on the medication and had to be taken off. I will see. I also have to have my mammogram on the right breast in July. My surgeon will then decide when to have the mammogram done on both breasts. I will also need to have my remaining ovary taken out. My team at Levine Cancer Institute does not want any potential estrogen making organs in my body.

Life after cancer diagnosis? Does one ever truly move on and forget about what one went through? Does one ever truly not worry that it might come back? I know Jesus has said to place your worries with Him and that He will take care of it. I need to be able to trust in that and I do trust in Jesus. But I am only human and there will always be that worry. Especially when all my other mammograms have had irregularities.

Right now, this warrior is moving forward. Eager to see what new things will happen in life. I have this wonderful, fantastic, handsome new husband that I want to share the rest of our lives with. There are so many beautiful things that God has put on this earth for us to appreciate. I want to appreciate as much as He will allow me to.

Coexist

The Coexist image is an image created by Polish, Warsaw-based graphic designer Piotr Młodożeniec in 2000 as an entry in an international art competition sponsored by the Museum on the Seam for Dialogue, Understanding and Coexistence. The original version was one of dozens of works displayed as large outdoor posters in Jerusalem in 2001. (From Wikipedia)

I keep seeing this symbol on a number of vehicles as I am driving around. My first thought was, wouldn’t that be nice, but it is unrealistic. I don’t know why that was my first thought. But I do know that living side by side with people who have different ideologies would be difficult.

Let me see if I can explain how I think this way. I am a Christian. I am not a bible thumping, better than you, Christian. Oh boy. I think I have already smashed the coexist thing. I am a Christian with faults. I have sinned and I keep sinning. So I need to pray a lot and ask for forgiveness. A lot. I try very hard to not look at the skin or outward appearance of a person. I truly value a person for their thoughts and actions. I try very hard to love my neighbor and treat others with respect. I know I fall short of that too often. Most of the time, it is unintentional. My brain has a very short attention span and so many times, I finish one thing and I jump full force into the next item on my list so that I forget that I have left someone or something very abruptly.

As a Christian, we are told to be disciples of God and to spread the good word. We are supposed to tell everyone we meet about Jesus and the love of God. I am not sure how well a Muslim would receive that message. Then I don’t know how a Jewish person would receive the news about Jesus. I already know agnostics and atheists have a low opinion of Christians and how our message is received.

Then my brain went a little further and I questioned how many different religions are there in the world? I googled that and the answer came back with 19 major religions which are divided into 270 groups. Could we fit all those religions into coexist?

If we are to coexist with our different ideologies and religions, how would we be governed? Who would decide the laws and rules of the land? I mean even as Christians there are different groups. We have the Catholics, who started it all. Then the Lutherans broke off from the Catholics because they didn’t agree with their rules. Then we have Protestants, Baptists, Methodists and so on. Right now, there is bickering going on between these groups. We also know how many horrific wars have been fought because of religion. When one sect doesn’t agree with the other, there are battles fought in the most horrible of ways. So I would like to know how it would work to coexist.

Some times, my brain works in strange ways. I will go and coexist with my cats, dogs and horse. At least they know I am the boss. Or do they let me think that?