Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The six words that strike fear into every woman's heart

The six words are not "I'm leaving you for another woman." (Although I have heard the words "I'm leaving you for a man," but I got through that with God's help.) The six words that strike fear into every woman's heart are "We saw something on your mammogram."

I heard those six fearful words myself on December 23. (Two days before Christmas - what crummy timing!) My 13 year old son and I were out Christmas shopping that day and when we returned home, there was a message on the answering machine from a nurse at the hospital, requesting that I return her call. I knew that the news would not be good, because they only call if the news is bad. The nurse told me that the mammogram revealed an asymmetrical patch of dense tissue on my left breast above the nipple. I am scheduled for a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound of my left breast on January 15. My GYN told me that these are benign more likely than not. Some comfort.

I cried for the next half hour after I hung up the phone. My son (a/k/a Mr. Insensitive) said, "Are you done being sad now?" :rolleyes My mother died of metastatic breast cancer in 1997, which means I have a 50% risk of getting breast cancer. Because of my family history, I had a baseline mammogram at age 35 and have had a mammogram every year I turned 40 (I am now 48).

I started prayer threads for myself on 2 Christian message boards, and I have other friends praying for me as well. I am trying not to let fear get the best of me. Whatever happens, I pray the Lord uses it for His glory. If I do have cancer and it is caught early enough, I have a very good chance of survival. I feel the power of prayer as my fear seems to be easing.

I'm not writing this blog post for you to feel sorry for me. I would like to urge you, however, if you are a woman over the age of 40 (or know someone who is), make sure that you get an annual mammogram. There is a widget below that you can click on to help contribute to the American Cancer Society.

Thanks for reading! See you again soon!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stressmas, Stressmas time is here

The Christmas season is in full swing now, with only 12 days until Christmas - and I haven't sent out my Christmas cards yet! Or completed my Christmas shopping! Yikes!

Christmas season can certainly be stressful. We have a tendency to overextend ourselves during the season, both financially and with our schedules. There are too many events on our calendars - band concert one night, work Christmas party another night, caroling another night, etc. Our Christmas gift lists seem to get longer every year, and we spend more time and money to buy the perfect gift for each person on our list. We don't seem to have enough time to do what we think needs to be done.

There are other kinds of stress during the Christmas season. Some families are having financial stress. They can't even pay their regular bills, so Christmas presents are out of the question. There are families with loved ones who are sick. And there are families who are missing a loved one, either through death or through absence.

But there is a way out of the stress cycle that the Christmas season can put us in. In A Charlie Brown Christmas, an exasperated Charlie Brown asks if anyone knows what Christmas is all about. Linus Van Pelt then quotes the following from Luke 2: "Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'” Then Linus turns to Charlie Brown and says, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." That young man was wise beyond his years, even if he did have a security blanket.

Christmas is not about fancy trees, lots of presents, fancy decorations, cookies, or good food. Christmas is all about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to earth to save us from our sins. In the grand scheme of things, the most important thing about Christmas (and indeed, all of life) is Jesus. Make some time out of your busy schedule to spend time with Him. Spend time with Him in church, of course, but also in your life. When stress threatens to envelope you, remember these words He said: "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." In the end, it's not important how many presents you buy, or what kind food you serve, or what your Christmas decorations look like. What's most important is that we celebrate that Jesus came down to earth in a frail human form to live among us. The rest of the stuff is just, well, stuff.

That's all for now! Have a great day!