Saturday, January 30, 2010


I am starting to "feel" it.

"Feel" that God is using me.

I take no pride in being used.

At least, I don't want to.

But it does 'feel' good to know that my experiences, my fears, my trembling, are of help to someone else.  

To know that God's faithfulness to me, and to my family, is an encouragement to others.

To know that my words that were poured out in pain and terror may help calm that same pain and terror for another.

That was not my purpose.

Perhaps that is His purpose.  At least part of His purpose in allowing Drenda Howatt to experience breast cancer.

Platitudes, cliches, and acts are melted away in fires.  

The dross is burned.  At least some of it.

There is not time to consider what others may think.

To consider how I will look.

To consider if my words 'sound' right.

It is what it is.  

I am what I am.

That is all ok, because He is who He is.  And His promises are true.  He is true.

I know cancer will always be a part of me.  It will not define me.  But it is now a part of who I am.

I know God has allowed it to shape me.  Shape my thoughts.  Shape my actions.  Shape my character.

I will always have the physical reminders that cancer was there.  


An oddly shaped breast.

The heart reminders will be the helps I can offer others.

And the physical reminders will be the outward sign for me to look for the heart reminders.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

As For Me...

I have shared, perhaps too often, the fears that came with cancer.  

The terror.  

I have never felt anything like it.  So scared.  So anxious.  



I have shared my conflicted heart.  

I have shared about what I know to be true about Christ and the salvation He has given me and the conflict that the terror of death has brought.  "How can I be a Christian and be so scared of death?"

Surely, my relationship with Christ, if true, would shield me from that terror, right?  And if I am not shielded, if I have that terror, what does that mean?  

It meant I went back to Him and asked.

Many times.

In the middle of the night.

In the middle of the meeting.

In the middle of the waiting room.

And the answer continues to come.

I am not alone.

The answer came from Sue Walt.  When I shared my terror with her, and my upset over the conflict, her words were quick and strong and reassuring.  "Drenda, you are not alone."

The answer came from Joyce McElmurry.  Same words, again.  "You are not alone."

I had never heard anyone admit to that fear.  I felt alone.  Ever since my Mom died, twenty years ago, I have wondered if she was scared of death.  I believe death was a physical relief for her, but was she scared?  I don't know.  And I've never had the courage to ask my Dad if he knows.  I wasn't sure I wanted to know the answer.

But now I know I am not alone.  

And today, I was encouraged that there is another who understood.  I was reading Psalm 55, a Psalm written by David.   Do you know what David says to God?  

Psalm 55:4-5
My heart is in anguish within me,
And the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fear and trembling come upon me,
And horror has overwhelmed me.

And yet, even in those terrors, David ends the Psalm by writing "as for me, I trust in You."

My heart has been in anguish within me.
And terrors of death have fallen upon me.

As for me, I will trust in Him.


Tonight I attended my first breast cancer support group.  

There were six other women there.  Two of us were new.  "First-timers".

What is shared in group stays in group. 


That is fair.  Safe.

But it was good to hear the other women's stories during 'check-in' time.  

And to share mine.

Each of the stories brought questions to my mind. 

The biggest question?

Will I need to come to a support group five years out?  


No, I tell myself.  


I won't 'need' to come.

I won't 'need' to come because I will be done with this cancer stuff soon.  


I won't 'need' to come because I will have moved on, away from cancer.  

Away from terror.  

Away from fear.  



But maybe I'll 'want' to come.

Perhaps the women who still come years after their diagnosis are not there because they 'need' to be.

Perhaps they were there for me.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Jerry Day

Today was "Jerry day".

Labs first.  Nothing of note.  Use the hot pad to warm up the arm, and then take the blood.  And no question about which arm to stick.  Of course, I just put out my left arm, so if the wrong arm is not available, all will be well~

Jerry wasn't too late today.  Wonderful.

Because of the joint stiffness and pain I have been experiencing (severe -- I hobble around like a really really old person...) Jerry will switch the medication I am taking for estrogen suppression.  Hopefully that will help.

I have had a few headaches, so Jerry wants another MRI of my brain.  "First available".  That is Saturday, tomorrow, 7:30 a.m.  Oh my goodness.  This time I will take a double dose of sedative in an attempt to have an easier time in the 'machine'.

I have been doing pretty well leaving that sack of fear alone.  But not today.  "Jerry days" are particularly hard.  What will he say?  How am I doing?  Is the blood work normal?  Not to mention the instant panic that arrives upon walking in the door of the Cancer Center.  And when that panic rises in the middle of an intense hot flash, I am really in a mess.  

As Don and I stood at the counter while Jerry's medical assistant, Sconesha, was making calls to schedule my MRI, echo-cardiogram, mammogram, and EKG, I had another "punched in the stomach by cancer" moment.  I had to fight off the tears.  As I heard Sconesha say my name, along with the words "history of breast cancer", "headaches", "another echo", I wanted to scream.  WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT ME?  I AM FINE!  STOP SAYING MY NAME AND THOSE AWFUL THINGS.  STOP IT.  STOP IT.  STOP IT!"

Instead of screaming, I stood there and "patiently" waited for her to finish scheduling my next few weeks.  And willed myself not to cry.

Another "how did this happen" moment.  Another "why me, God" question.  I thought I was done with those reactions and questions.

Perhaps I will never be done asking.

That is o.k.

Because I know He will answer -- maybe not on my timeline, but He will answer.