In Sickness and in Health

Battling cancer with love, medicine, and the Giver of both.

Finally… Cont’d

I had wanted to give a few Bible verses with my last post but I forgot.  It was getting too long anyways.  I won’t comment much.  Let them speak to your heart.

Psalm 36:6-9
“O Lord, You preserve man and beast.  How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!  And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.  They drink their fill in the abundance of Your house; and You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.  For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”

Job 12:10
Job recognized in his calamity that it was the Lord, “in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.”

Psalm 66:8-9
“Bless our God, O peoples, and sound His praise abroad, who keeps us in life and does not allow our feet to slip.

I also wanted to say a couple of things about several people who came to mind as I wrote the post:

#1. Recently I was discussing these ideas with my friend, Anne Beachy, who I admire greatly.  I love her insights on this subject.  I was talking to her about not dying until God has accomplished His purposes in me.  Then she posed a question that I’ve never thought of before.  It’s sort of the same idea just from a different angle: “Do we really think that by doing all we can to preserve our bodies, we can live longer than we were intended to?”  But she didn’t stop with that question.  Later she also asked, “Do we think we can treat our bodies any old way we want to and God will keep us alive no matter what?  In other words, does God give us the power to cut our lives short by what we do with our bodies?”  She wasn’t professing to know.  She was simply bringing out the other side of the question and I liked what she had to say.  She called the care of our bodies a stewardship:  “I think seeing it as a stewardship and walking by faith with that stewardship is so important.  We have a responsibility before God to use good common sense.”  That stewardship idea is becoming more and more profound to me the longer I think about it.  Thank-you Anne!

#2. I also had to think of Naomi Schrock, a friend from my church and fellow cancer fighter.  She is a woman who puts me to shame many times by how she embraces life in the midst of her suffering.  She taught our sunday school class recently and told us at the beginning that the reason she’s using a heating pad on her back is because she passed a kidney stone the day before.  WHAT?  And my immediate thought was, “Why didn’t you get someone else to teach?”  Well, she considered it, but she felt that with a little help from a heating pad, she’d be alright.  I found out later she was also recovering from a pinched nerve in her back.  Whew!  While Naomi cares for herself well, I do not see her seeking to preserve her body and health at all costs.  I think she gave that all to God a long time ago.  She gives what she has to offer and it challenges my own heart.  Thanks, Naomi!



Ooh boy!  I’ve never had a blog post as stubborn as this one.

I have two disclaimers before I begin:

#1. Please do not read this in light of my recent clear scan, and think, “Oh, now that Jean’s healed she can rant all she wants.”  No, no…  Most of this was on my mind for a long time now and a lot of it was at least formulated in some way awhile ago.  Besides, my scan showed clear, but that doesn’t mean I’m completely healed now and forever.  My mind is still bombarded with health issues.

#2. The struggle of this post revealed more to me about myself than anything else.  Depressing.  If you come across something that steps on your toes, believe me that it probably stepped on mine first.
I am not writing this to tell you that I’ve discovered the answer to what you should or should not eat, what kind and how much exercise is right for you, or how often you should trim your toenails.  There are plenty of articles to read on that…too many in fact.
In a nutshell… I have been appalled at the fear and anxiety I feel whenever someone starts talking to me about health products or whenever I read an article on health.

And I started asking myself ‘Why?’  If these are good things and things that help people why do I nearly ALWAYS come away from an article/discussion/you-name-it, feeling discouraged?  Why do I find so much anxiety and fear in supplement research?

And along with these personal inquiries I started asking general ‘why’ questions.  Why are people so consumed with their health?  Why is everyone convinced that what THEY do for nutrition or what THEY take for supplements is the best way out there?  And how can they be so sure that what they take is helping them when there are so many more factors that affect well-being than simply what we put into our mouths?

Along with this there came more questions about life and God.  If God created our bodies so complex that only He has the capacity to completely figure us out, then why do I act as if it’s my sole responsibility to figure out how to live healthily?  Why do I panic when I hear of another product?  Why do I feel I have to research it until I’m convinced it’s not something I need to take–or something I do need to take?

I have thought and thought on this subject until my brain is fried.

I have concluded two things.  The first being the most profound.  It took me a good long while to see this.

#1. I’m an idolator.  And I hear you gasping!  Such a strong word.  Yes!  A strong word for a strong case of misplaced loyalty and trust.  My health has been an idol.

And I have not yet dethroned it.

I’ve noticed that I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to preserve my body at all costs.  My cynicism over ‘potions’ and health products seems to deny that fact.  But my anxiety tells me something different.  I honestly cannot hear about a health product without immediately evaluating whether it’s something I ought to be taking.  And I honestly cannot hear about a health product without becoming frustrated and inevitably going on a rant to Josh.

I did that again recently.  I had determined not to talk badly about an older gentleman who wanted to talk to me about vitamin D in the produce aisle at the grocery store.  But I came home and worked myself into a frenzy, saying how ‘ticked off’ I was.  Josh is a good man.  He just calmly asked me why I still get so upset at these things if I don’t believe in them or care about them.  Hmmm… “Well, Honey, I guess it’s because I …I do care about them??”  WHAT?

This morning I sat over my bowl of oatmeal and frozen berries and pondered who I really am.  Why do I eat healthily and then get mad at those who talk about what they do for health?  Is an idolator prone to jealousy?  Why else would I get boiling mad and rant and rave when I think someone else has found something that ‘works’ for them.  I’ve subconsciously believed the lie that if I don’t find that ‘something’ for me, I’m sunk.

#2. Something is fundamentally wrong in the way we talk about health products and healing.  I feel this from broader culture as well as Mennonite culture.  Coming through our discussions I hear philosophies like, “If I could just find that potion, I’d heal myself.”  Or, “If I just knew what caused my cancer, I could avoid it next time.”  We act and talk as if we have the power to heal ourselves and keep ourselves healed.  Where is Jesus?

Healing is a redemptive and direct act of our Creator completely defying the natural trend of our broken world.  We give God way too little credit!

I’ve often heard people talk about health products (friend and stranger alike) but very rarely do I hear Jesus brought up in the same discussion.  This does bother me!  Not that I’m advocating discussions that always talk about Jesus and brown rice in the same breath.  What I do advocate though is that we approach these ideas with the underlying belief that Jesus is our Sustainer and Healer.  That if He’s big enough to create us, He big enough to sustain us.

It’s not a matter of finding the perfect balance between taking care of ourselves and trusting God.  It’s discovering how to make our trust in God the fundamental motivation for the care of our bodies.

I haven’t attained…

And now I come to what I really wanted to say all along:

If you struggle with fear and anxiety over these things, I just want to ask you one thing:
What does it mean to believe in God as your Sustainer, not just your Creator?

I will tell you what has helped me the most in all this anxiety and fear.

It has been to remind myself over and over that I am not going to die until I’ve accomplished the purposes God has for me here on this earth.  Period!

It’s also remembering and reminding myself that God is my Creator and that as that He is the only one who completely understands how my body functions and what it needs.  This relieves me of always having to be figuring out what I need to be doing.

Is this too simplistic?

If we really and honestly believe that God created us and that He has purposes for us in His kingdom here and now, then why do we work ourselves into a frenzy trying to find out exactly how to preserve our bodies so that we can accomplish those purposes?   He’ll bring them about Himself, hands down!

This is an ongoing discussion for me.  I invite your comments and thoughts.  I’m certainly not done learning and growing on this subject.


Sing to the Lord, you saints of His

There is a topic that has been burning a hole through my soul, but I’ve tried and tried to articulate it without success.  I have about 3 and 1/2 pages of attempts and random paragraphs but I really don’t know how to put it together, how to start, and how to write about it in a proper spirit.  And now that I have you thoroughly curious…

It has something to do with my struggles through fear and trust on the issue of health and healing, particularly but not limited to health potions and products.  I hope some day I can write about it.

But for now…

I was reviewing some Scripture that had become a frequent balm for me when I was preparing for the transplant.  I would read it over and over not knowing the outcome of this free fall ahead of me.  Was I gonna live or die?  It had to be one or the other.  I begged for life.  And He has given it!

Psalm 30

“I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths

and did not let my enemies gloat over me.

O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.

O Lord, you brought me up from the grave;

you spared me from going down into the pit.

Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;

weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

When I felt secure, I said, ‘I will never be shaken.’

O Lord, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm;

but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.

To you, O Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy:

‘What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down into the pit?

Will the dust praise you?

Will it proclaim your faithfulness?

Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me;

O Lord, be my help.’

You turned my wailing into dancing;

you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.

O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”

The Lord has been good to me.  Abundantly good to me.  Much better than I ever deserved.  And I want to praise Him as long as I live.





Beginning of the end

Yesterday Jean and I met with Dr. Beitinjaneh for what will probably be the last of our regular appointments. We will still see him periodically, but he will no longer be our main oncologist. Our local oncologist, Dr. Ali is planning to take over routine checkups, prescriptions, blood work, and the like.

We feel kind of like young adults leaving home–excited about moving on but a wee bit nervous about leaving the security of the familiar. I still find it hard to believe that we are at this point. Jean is alive. Her hair is growing. We can go on picnics.

She is alive.

A few pics…

A mighty good man and a mighty brave woman.

Image 1









Somehow this quote from the Apocrypha is fitting:

“Honor the physician with the honor due him,
according to your need of him,
for the Lord created him; for healing comes from the Most High,
and he will receive a gift from the king.
The skill of the physician lifts up his head,
and in the presence of great men he is admired.”



Joy Unspeakable

In my doctor’s words: “Your scan looks beautiful!”
Oh Jesus!  Oh Jesus!!
Immediate joy ricochets through my soul…
…and I dance
…and cry
…and can’t believe how He could be so GOOD!
It is joy unspeakable!
I didn’t realize how much I wanted to live until life was given back to me once again.

Thank-you for all your prayers!


I’d rather be a child

I’ve had several pointed ‘hints’ lately about this poor neglected blog.  And I’m glad, ‘cause I miss it too.

Honestly, I don’t always know what or how to write.  The silence has been partly because things are going well physically.  But seems like there’s a lot been going through my mind and I’ve been struggling to sort it all out even to myself.

First, I guess I’ll start with today.  I sensed God calling me to be like a little child.  I was reminded of it through numerous things I read or heard.  My one glaring fault is worry and fear.  Maybe that’s why I like kids so much.  They’re so care-free.  They don’t think twice about depending completely on their caregivers.  They’re on a free fall and they don’t even know it.  They can spot delights, but rarely do they notice threatening doom.  That’s why they’d never survive on their own.

But me?  I remind myself of a helicopter parent on steroids.  And I’m not even a parent.    But I try to be…to myself.  I try to protect and think of all the possible dangers surrounding me and what I can do about them…

…I’d rather be a child.

I was with my niece, Kelly, this past weekend.  She’s almost three.  If there’s any child I’d like to be it would be her.  She’s fearless, mostly.  I declare she would jump off a cliff if she got half a chance just because of the thrill it would give.  She runs, shrieking with delight, from a dog three times her size.  She runs, but only so he’ll chase her.  Her face is plastered with a huge grin as she enjoys the thrill to the fullest.

She lives life with gusto, full steam ahead.  No worries…

…I’d rather be a child.


PET Scan

August is here and with it comes another PET scan.  I am currently scheduled to have one done this Thursday, the 15th.

The mild itching I have experienced has been off and on.  Most likely nothing.  No obviously swollen lymph nodes.  No other symptoms.  There seems to be no reason for concern.

Regardless…the nails get bitten.  I hate actually receiving the news, whether good or bad.  It’s just too much tension.

Mostly we have peace.