Showing posts from June, 2017

Thursday's Thoughts (on a Friday)

Years ago, when I fell ill and was hospitalized, cancer appeared to be the culprit. It was a scary thought. Cancer would disrupt everything. My children were young. My husband needed me.

They ran a battery of tests and the night before my results were in, I awoke to beams of soft moonlight stretching across the room. It was late. The house was quiet. I grabbed my bible, lit a lamp, and randomly flipped to this verse:

No matter what happens, I will constantly praise the Lord.
Psalm 34:1

My head snapped to attention. No matter what? Really? What if this was cancer? That was asking a bit much, wasn't it?

As soon as the thought ran through my mind, however, an unexpected inner strength arose. My response came from deep within. It was automatic. It was resolute. It was filled with conviction. Absolutely...No matter what.

A wave of peace covered me as I realized that, no matter what, I would still praise the Lord.

The oncologist phoned the next morning. Surprisingly, I'd somehow escaped …

After All, What's in a Sub Title?

Anger…it’s not an emotion I generally feel.
But lately, while battling cancer, I’ve had moments of anger…indeed, moments of outrage.
Fatigue has plagued me. My bones hurt, my muscles ache, my brain feels like a pincushion. Life before cancer treatments included fulltime work, daily Mass, and volunteering.So far, I’m unable to resume any of that.
These days I’m hanging close to home, requiring hours of rest to battle the relentless agonies.
Typically, I find peace by surrendering my will to God’s. However, one recent day, that didn’t happen. Forget God’s will. I wanted what I wanted.
Anger gained a foothold as I flung bullets of frustration at my dear husband, Joe.
I wanted control. I wanted to drive. I wanted good health. I wanted to do something useful.
Finally, trying to be helpful, Joe suggested I handle some banking for us.
I grabbed the paperwork, the car keys and headed out.
Wrapped in frustration, I exited the neighborhood, glanced at the clock and realized I could make it to the noo…

Let's Shake, Rattle and Roll

"Debra Tomaselli?"
"Yes, that's me." I followed the nurse through long shiny hallways, beyond rooms with pristine medical equipment.  Finally she sat me down in a chair against a wall, facing a room with an MRI machine. She flipped through some papers, and, in medical jargon, explained what we'd be doing that day.

I remember only two things:
1.  I needed to drink a chalky substance.
2.  There'd be a two-hour break mid-day. Something about before-and-after scans.

Let's start with the chalky substance:

The nurse asked questions, checked my vitals, took blood, then disappeared.

Minutes later, she returned, shaking a jug of chalky substance, something I'd have to chug. 

"So," she said, looking to make a little small talk, "Have they started your chemotherapy yet?"

I froze.

What? Chemotherapy? Nobody said...what?

She stopped jiggling the potion and stared at me.

"I don't need chemotherapy..." I said, stammering. "Unl…

Thursday's Thoughts

Years ago, I fell ill. Before I was admitted into the hospital, I randomly flipped open my Bible to this verse.
What I tell you now in the gloom, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ears, proclaim from the housetops.  
Matthew 10:27

Immediately, I knew I'd recover. It said "when" daybreak comes, not "if." And my shouting abroad? That was my writing.
During that illness, I wrote a reflection about how difficult it was to wait for good health to return on God's timetable, not my own. It became my first published piece.
And yes, daybreak did come.  Good health returned, and I kept writing.

Singing In The Rain...Ta Da De Doe Doo!

There's so much I want to do. Goals to set. Ideas to grow. Places to see.

But these days, they are distant dreams. These days, my attempts to function are as successful as trying to carry water in my hands. Maybe I can pool a little functionality here and there, but it's quickly gone.

It's okay, I remind myself. Be still, and know that I am doing God's will.

After all, the Master Planner is at work.

You, too. Wherever you find yourself, whatever your situation, it's the same for you too, you know.

And with that, I believe, all is well.

Click here to listen to Still by Hillsong.
Please take time to listen to the end, Take time to listen with a prayerful heart. If you are facing a storm of your own, this song says it all. It helped me, I hope it helps you, my friend.

Help Me Rhonda....Help Help Me Rhonda

God is always with us, guiding us, leading us and helping us. His voice is a whisper, a still small voice that resides deep within. Sometimes, as in these continuing stories told in my Monday posts, we heed it, and we later find out why.

"No, no, I'll be fine," I said to Rhonda, a fellow parishioner and mom who, years ago, cleaned my house for extra cash. She'd called to set a day to come clean that week, but I suggested we wait, finally admitting that I'd be busy with medical testing ordered by an oncologist.

"Do you have someone to go with you?" she asked. "I'll go with you."

What? No. I didn't need someone to go with me. There was nothing wrong. I just needed some tests. My husband, a traveling salesperson, would be out-of-town, but I was okay with that. I was used to that. My independent nature shuddered at the thought of someone accompanying me. Especially someone, like Rhonda, who I hardly knew.

"Really," I said. "I…

Thursday's Thoughts

I look behind me and You're there, then up ahead and You're there, too-- Your reassuring presence, coming and going... This is too much, too wonderful--I can't take it all in! 
Psalm 139:5,6

8 Ways To Become a Better Patient

1.Choose a doctor you trust. My oncologist is known as the best, but more importantly, he's the best for me. I believe this is the medical team God has chosen for me. I have full confidence in my oncologist and every staff member. We all just click!
2.Be honest. Don't let pride get in the way. After I finished chemo, I wanted to be the poster patient... ...the one they applauded and said, "Look what we did!"  Instead, I was the one still struggling. So, at first, I kept quiet, hoping the problems would disappear. I didn't want to 'complain.'  However, you must provide useful information so your medical team has the tools they need to move forward.

3.Keep a journal. Each day I'd write a few words on the calendar to describe my health.  Over time, I can finally see some vague patterns and be encouraged by the (slow) progress that is taking place. I don't think I'd recognize the progress without this journal.

4. Be an educated patient. I research e…

Goldfish, Angels and Mail....Oh My!

I'll never forget what it was like to sit in an oncologist's waiting room as a patient for the first time. My husband was with me, the kids were in school, our youngest having just started kindergarten.

I remember there was a large fish tank. There were big orange fish with fat round cheeks lumbering alongside graceful angelfish with long, flowing fins. There was a school of tiny blue fish with neon yellow stripes darting from one end of the tank to the other. 

I remember the collection of angel statues housed on the receptionist's desk. There were small porcelain cherubs and several larger, brightly colored angelic figurines.

There was a coffee table covered in magazines. In addition to the usual Sports Illustrated and Good Housekeeping publications, there were lots of Guideposts magazines. I chose one and began reading it.

"Debra." An official looking nurse called my name.  I fumbled with the magazine, glanced at Joe, and we headed her way.

We met the onco…

Thursday's Thoughts

As much as I share my present struggles, I'm keenly aware that we all face obstacles at one time or another. Each of you, my dear readers, is in my prayer for peace and strength.
Stay with God! Take heart. Don't quit. I'll say it again: Stay with God. Psalm 27:14

Hope Hope Hooray!

At long last, enough time has lapsed for my medical team to be confident in the good blood counts that I've had since chemotherapy and the ongoing cancer treatments. They also realize I've been suffering with chronic debilitating symptoms for just as long. And, we've engaged other specialists and additional tests, eliminating the possibility of other causes.

So when last week's brain MRI came back normal, we focused our attention to the one probable cause of my debilitation - side effects of the treatment I'm receiving. The drugs are killing the cancer, which keeps trying to advance, but the crazy side effects are also debilitating me...leaving me incapacitated...ill...drained...

But, as a good friend said, I received the gift of hope.

As I was describing my symptoms, the bone pain, the muscle aches, the head pain, my oncologist looked at me and said..."You've had 3 of four treatments this time, right?" I nodded.  "Just don't come next wee…

Let's Do This!

I guess you're wondering how I became a Brownie leader.

After all, I'm not particularly crafty. I can't control a crowd of kids. And, well, it wasn't on my bucket list.

But sometimes, God opens a door before we even know we need it.

It happened years ago, when the leader of our daughter's third grade troop announced she was retiring. I stepped backwards, hoping another mom would volunteer. While Helen and Carol offered assistance, nobody wanted to assume leadership.
So I was shocked when, weeks later, I woke up one morning convinced I needed to be the leader. Where is this coming from? I wondered.I don’t want to be the leader.
I suppressed the nagging inner voice for weeks, but it wouldn't stop. Something just told me I had to volunteer for the position.
Finally, I told Helen and Carol: “I don't really want to do it, so I hope someone else offers," I said. "But if you’re willing to help, maybe I'll be the leader..." I was swept in and inaugura…

Thursday's Thoughts

I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20