Archive for the ‘breast cancer’ Category

Joyful In Affliction

God really speaks to us in ways that we least expect Him to. And when He does, He makes sure that it touches the core of our beings. He definitely knows how to get our attention.

I went to Baptist Hospital for my annual mammogram / sonogram check-up. I started having this routine exam since 2003. That’s when I first detected a lump in my right breast. But at that time, it was not much of a big deal. True, I freaked out when I felt that undeniably marble-like firmness around the upper right quadrant of my bosom, but deep inside I found reassurance in knowing that our family had no history of breast cancer.

But that was then. And this is now. Today’s picture has changed so much. Now – is after my own mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 and lost her battle in 2007. Now – is after my father was diagnosed with colon cancer at the very same year my mother passed away. Now – is when my other cousin (father’s side) also discovered he has advanced renal cancer at 50 years old. Now – is when my uncle (mom’s brother) lost his battle to prostate cancer and passed away just two nights ago. Isn’t that something? I went from having no family history of cancer to having multiple kind. Like those unwanted weeds sprouting in the ground, one by one the dreaded big C surfaced from both sides of my family. It’s as if cancer is trying to annihilate my clan!

Last year, I totally failed to do the annual check-up due to my family emergencies. So it’s imperative that I should have it done this year, especially now that we know that I have a higher risk in developing this malignant disease. So, dutifully, I went even if part of me did not want to go through the check-up in fear of finding out something negative. But the sane part – or should I say the wise part of me – thankfully, ruled. Besides, fear is not of God and I’ve reminded myself time and again that because of Jesus’ blood, those generational curses have no longer power over me.

Anyway, back to my appointment. Baptist Hospital was not bad this time. I didn’t have to wait long before they called me in to the “inner chambers”, where I had to change into a hospital gown that they provide, and then lead you into another waiting area where you wait for a few more minutes yet again for your turn. Stepping inside that waiting room reminds me of going into a (hospital) chapel. There’s an air of sobriety, even sadness I would say. Maybe it’s the knowledge that perhaps you’re in the company of somebody whose days are numbered.

But as I went inside this time around, one lady in particular, cheerfully greeted me with, “Come, make yourself comfortable here. There’s coffee and cookies and TV”. I swear, if she wasn’t wearing the same hospital gown as I was, I would have thought that she was a receptionist whose main job is to cheer us up. Her smile was genuine and joy just exuded from her that I was drawn to her. So I sat next to this lady. And then, I noticed that she was wearing a baseball cap, and those tell-tale little growths of hair peeking out from the hat. Right away, I knew that she has cancer and that she’s been having chemotheraphy treatments.

So after the “hi and hellos” were done, I boldly asked “so what are you here for?” With a smile, she replied “an MRI, mammogram and sonogram”. All I could say was “Oh..” Then as if reading my mind, she added “I found out on March that I have Lymphoma. The mass was right here (pointing to her left thigh), but it was taken out. It was huge and infact, before I came here, I was with another doctor and he just placed a drain in the wound”…. So I said, “how are you holding up?” She admitted that it hasn’t been easy but that she is doing well. I told her about my mother too. Strangely I felt a connection to her immediately. I think it’s because in a way, I know what she is going through.

So then she continued to explain that the hospital did a PET scan on her months ago and they detected something in her breast. They think that the cancer must have metastasized but when they did a second PET scan, they couldn’t find anything. So, the MRI results would be a confirmation of what’s really going on inside her body. We talked a little bit more and I found out that she’s a Christian. Ah… that explains her sunny disposition inspite her circumstances.

Unfortunately a hospital staff came in all too soon to summon her in for her MRI. But before she went, she said looking at me with eyes that have no trace of bitterness in them – “my spirit and my mind is ok. It’s going to be a long journey for me. There are days that are challenging but in general, I am doing well in my spirit!” To which I said “I am glad. I pray that everything will be alright. God bless you!” And she said, “God bless you too!” I really wished that I spent more time with her. I would have wanted to pray for / with her, but it was not possible.

Shortly after she left, my turn came and I was ushered into one of the rooms for the mammogram. But for the rest of the day, I kept on thinking about that brief encounter. The woman was radiating with joy, her smile was like a sunshine burstring through the dark clouds. And she’s not faking it, uh-oh. I could see it in her eyes; they were twinkling! When the hospital staff called her, she stood up like an eager little child. What a remarkable woman! To sum her all up… WOW!

God used this woman to remind me that I have a lot of things to be thankful for; my health, for one. Here’s this woman inflicted with a serious disease, yet she found the strength to remain joyful in her affliction and patient in prayer. While here I am, feeling weak and vulnerable and overwhelmed with the curve balls that life has thrown my way. When the going gets tough, I tend to complain and doubt the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. It seems like my problems are minute compared to the hurdles this woman have to overcome. I am so ashamed. I couldn’t help but repent (again!) for my lack of faith. Forgive me Jesus!

And thank you, Lord, for speaking to me through that woman. I am so blessed. I never got her name (sucks, I know), but I pray that she will have a miracle of healing so that she can continue to infect other people with her joy, quiet strength and thankful heart.


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Breast Health

First of all, many thanks to my friend Conni for the information below. This is very important not just to me but to all the women out there.

Are you doing a self-breast exam monthly, and seeing your OBGYN for a check-up yearly? After age 40 you should start getting screened for a mammogram and if you have a history of breast cancer (or any type of cancer for that matter), should be earlier than 40.

Every time a woman gets her period, there are hormonal changes that occur in our body, our breasts swell up and when we don’t get pregnant, of course the body’s immune system does this wonderful thing of getting rid of that dead tissue in our breasts . But when our body doesn’t all get rid of it due to some factors like diet (caffeine, bad fats, etc), stress (that’s why we must exercise), then we get these calcified or dead tissues and some might form into lumps or cysts.
A friend of Conni’s shared with her an interesting story about her friend’s sister, who after years of getting breast biopsies, finally got tired and looked around for any answer–came across SELF BREAST MASSAGES. Every night, she would take warm sesame oil and massage each breasts in a gentle but firm circular motion (preferably clockwise), then outward motion starting from the center–then like the spokes of the wheel. You can use two fingers, and then the palm of your hand. Other studies say that you can do the massages even without the oil, the point here is to encourage blood flow in and out of your lymph nodes. (This is especially important after wearing a bra all day). Anyway, after she started doing this regularly, on her next breast biopsy–the surgeon had to cancel the whole surgery because the breast was clear!

There are several book written about self breast massage for women. I don’t know why I’ve never come across this before. But sometimes, God uses our own predicament to make us hunger for knowledge/wisdom and the find the answer. Isn’t that true most of the time?
Well, hope this information helps me and you.

P.S. Here are some recommended supplement items that doctors say help
turmeric & coq10 (known to reduce cysts in lab studies)
flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil

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Have you ever walked through a situation that you thought you’d never have to walk through? Have you ever been in a circumstance where it seems like there is no way out? Have you ever been confronted with your very own fears? Well, I am in all of these situations right now. I am in a crisis that seems hopeless and helpless and where I am left with no choice but to face my greatest fear: DEATH – that of losing my parents.

These past few months, I have been forced to deal with my parents’ mortality. With both of my parents having cancer, and especially with my mother’s health deterioration – I have been compelled to deal with the fact that I will one day lose them…… and that one day may be drawing closer and closer.

You see, my mother’s health hasn’t improved at all. Her last oral chemo treatment was two weeks ago, but ever since she started that treatment, she had become weaker and weaker. She can hardly move, she has lost her appetite, half of her face has started to swell, her eyes started drooping and her vision has gotten much blurry. Things that use to be menial have become monumental for her. She is in pain, although she refuses to admit that much to me.

The doctor has just about given up as well. My mother has had everything – hormone treatment, mastectomy, radiation and chemo – but all of these have little or no effect at all. And now, I am faced with the ever-painful perennial question: What do I do?

As my husband said in his blog, I am distraught. I don’t know what to do. We have choices and decisions to make – but we need the Lord’s wisdom and provision now more than ever.

I feel like I am in a roller coaster, mostly like the ride going downhill. At times I feel like it’s ok for my Mom to go, knowing that it will end her suffering. But most of the time I struggle to accept that she could go anytime, any day. Call it blind faith or pure foolishness, but I do not ever want to give up the hope that my mother can still be healed. I am still expecting this miracle from God. According to His word, in Matt. 19:26..”with God, all things are possible”. Therefore, I will continue to stand on His word. If Jesus was able to raise Lazarus after being dead for 3 days, then Jesus is able to heal my mother. This is the kind of God that I serve.

Cancer may have ravaged my mother’s physical being, but it cannot touch her spirit. Despite of her physical discomfort (to put it mildly), my mother has remained strong. A friend of mine who recently visited her attests to this. She has observed that though my mom is physically weak but the strength in her eyes is evident, her faith in God is unwavering. My mother has already come to terms with her situation, and is already prepared to face her Maker.

I don’t know if I will ever be prepared enough for the time for either of my parents to go. But deal with this I will. I’m taking it one day at a time. God’s strength more than matches all the pain that I have. He is my refuge and my strength, my ever present help in time of trouble. (Ps. 46:1)

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Despite the advancement of medicines and therapies, cancer remains to be the most evil disease plaguing mankind to this date. I should know, I have two of my most beloved people affected by it – my mother and my father.

Today, I can’t help but wonder why good people, like my parents, get affected with cancer. My heart is aching so much, especially for my mother whose cancer is far more advanced than my father. My father has recovered really well from his colon surgery. My mother, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to get better. Just the other night, I can already hear the hopelessness in her voice. She wants to give up. She is ready to give up.

My mother has just been through another round of chemo. Though this time the drug was taken orally, but the effects remain the same. She is physically weak to the point that she has a hard time moving. On top of that, her skin is getting worse. The lesions has spread from her chest to her arms and neck. She is having sleepless nights. I can only imagine the discomfort she’s feeling all through the day and night – the silent torture of itchiness mixed with the burning sensation on her skin.

Why does she have to go through this suffering? Why is my mother is being punished this way? Has the Lord heard my desperate cries and tearful petitions for my mother, I wonder? Have I done the right decisions regarding her medications? Is there anything else I can do to alleviate her pain? So many questions, and yet, there are no answers.

Each time I speak with my mother, I am at a loss for words. What do you say to a loved one who is terminally ill? Sure, I’ve said a lot. I’ve encouraged, fought and prayed with her. I’ve been gentle with her, but also been rough with her at times. But really, what words can make her feel better and remove her pain away? Is telling her “I love you” enough???

I may not know the answers to all my questions, but I know the ONE who knows. He has the WORD. He is the WORD of LIFE. Lord, just say the WORD and I know, my mother will be healed.

David must have known when he said “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!”… He must have known that all of us, at one time or another will have rough days, weeks, months or even years. This is a declaration of faith. This is the attitude of faith — that despite of everything, the Lord is still God. It is tough for me to rejoice at this moment. But I guess, this is the essence of PRAISE. In good times and in bad, I shall give thanks to Him. After all, PRAISE is my ONLY weapon, and the BATTLE is the Lord’s!

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I am not feeling too good today. I spoke with my Mother last night on the phone and learned that welts have begun to form in the skin around her right breast area, and they’re getting bigger too. In addition, the doctor informed her a couple of days ago that she definitely needs blood transfusion as her CBC count is very low. My mother is currently taking oral chemotherapy medications for her advanced breast cancer. And anemia is one of the side effects of chemotherapy. My mother is already anemic to begin with.

For those who don’t know, this crisis began a year ago when my Mom got diagnosed of breast cancer. By then, her condition was already advanced and that the cancer has already metastasized to her lymph nodes and skin. Doctors even suspect metastasis on her bones as well. After her mastectomy, she still had some of the itchy “rash” area near her armpit which the doctor said should be addressed with her radiation treatment following her surgery. However, this rash-like apprearance spread and did not respond to the radiation. Her arm and chest are now covered with rough bumpy bits – which we confirmed through a skin biopsy as indeed skin metastasis due to her cancer. My mother had 39 days of radiation therapy. But before that was even over, another crisis hit our family. This time, it’s my father.

My dad was admitted to the hospital due to extreme stomach ache and diarrhea, which later led to bleeding. He was taken to the ICU for observation due to his age (76 yrs) and diabetes. After a colonoscopy, it was confirmed that my dad had a mass in the sigmoid area of his colon (just above the anus) and is 90% obstructing his intestines. And to top it all, his cardiologist discovered that he has multiple clogged arteries in his heart and would need a bypass! His conditiona is called coronary artery disease with triple vessel disease/left main (CAD w/TVD/LM). Whew! When it rains, it really does pour, huh? I can go on and on about what happened, but in a nutshell, since the doctor’s couldn’t perform a normal explore-laparoscopy on my dad due to his weak heart, they did a colostomy instead. This was a quicker procedure whereby they just went in, cut his intestines to redirect it to his tummy inorder to bypass the anus. In short, my dad would now have to poop thru the hole in his tummy into a bag. Am I detailed enough??? Anyways, after 24 days and scary hospital bills — my dad was discharged from the hospital! Glory to God for that! During this time, God gave us peace and strength and favor and provision. He didn’t leave us nor forsake us. He is our refuge indeed in times of trouble. I saw God’s hand move over the life of my dad. He accepted the Lord, and that is the best thing that happened! Halleluiah!

But wait, God must really think that we are very strong. Because everything did not end here. Nope! While my dad was recuperating in the hospital, I took my Mom to have a breast sonogram because I was suspecting that the cancer has already spread to her other breast. And true enough, the lab test confirmed that she has a nodule growing in her right breast. My, oh my. Her surgeon is already advising against mastectomy. She also can’t have any more radiation as she’s already reached her toleration level… so that’s why she is taking an oral chemo now… which is what I spoke with her about last night and why I don’t feel so good today.

A feeling of hopelessness is beginning to rise deep within me again. But I refuse to give in. I refuse to get discourgaged. I refuse to get defeated because I know this is what the enemy wants me to feel. This is a time of warfare for me. And I know that praise is my ONLY weapon. The battle belongs to YOU, Lord, and I know I have the victory in Jesus Christ!

It has been extremely difficult for all of us in the family. And my heart goes out to my parents, to my Mom in particular. She’s been through a lot and have been brave through it all. I know that she’s in pain but wouldn’t like to show it to us because she doesn’t want us to worry. But Lord, I know that Your love for my mother far surpasses mine. Afterall, she is Your daughter too. Sometimes, my earthly mind cannot comprehend the things that you are doing. But who am I to question Your ways? I know that you have allowed all these to happen for a higher purpose.

In the meantime, I pray for grace and supernatural strength for all of us, for my parents especially, that they may be able to fix their eyes on Jesus. Give us eyes of faith that we may be able to see things as they are, though they are not-YET! Your word says NOTHING is impossible to those who believe in You..,…. and we believe, Lord. I believe. Our hope is in You! You are the miracle working Father. You are able. What you have said in Your Word, that You will do – that those who call upon Your name shall be saved. For as long as my parents are breathing, I will continue to stand on your Word. And I believe that my parents shall receive that miracle. I thank you now for that miracle. I thank You Father, for causing my parents to rise up in their bed of affliction … to the praise and glory of Your name. In Jesus name!

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