June 26, 2010

Judges 7 talks about a battle Gideon is preparing for. Rather, I should say, a battle that God was preparing Gideon for. Gideon's army consisted of 32, 000 men. The Midian army that they were preparing to go to battle with had at least 135, 000 men. So already, it looked as though Gideon would be the under dog. God came to Gideon and said " You know Gideon, you have far too many men to go into battle with the Midianites. I don't want anyone to say that this battle had been won by their own might. I want you to go to your army and tell them that and if any of them are afraid, they can go home." (Judges 7:2-3, paraphrased) Gideon did this, and 22,000 of his men left. Imagine how Gideon, as well as those 10,000 who remained must have felt when 2/3 of their army went away. From there, God said that Gideon still had too many men. God wanted to sort more of them out. He instructed the men to go to the water to drink. 9700 of the men got down on their knees and placed their mouth in the water to drink. 300 of them scooped the water to their mouths with their hands. Those 300 were the ones God chose to defeat the Midianites. From 32,000, which was already low compared to the Midianites numbers, down to only 300. The Midianites would outnumber them 450 to 1. God was assuring that He would get the glory for this victory in battle and nothing else. God would work His power through Gideon.

God reassured Gideon: "By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand" (Judges 7:7). To further reassure Gideon , God told him to go with his servant to the enemy camp at night to "hear what they say; and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp" (verses 9-11). Verse 12 says that "the Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore."

But Gideon and Purah, his servant, did as God told them to do and went down to the edge of enemy's camp where they overheard two soldiers talking. "I have had a dream," said one. "To my surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian; it came to a tent and struck it so that it fell and overturned, and the tent collapsed." His companion responded, "This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hand God has delivered Midian and the whole camp" (verses 13-14).

When Gideon heard this dream and its interpretation, he worshipped God and then went back to his camp and said  "Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands!" Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside. (verses 15-16)

17 "Watch me," he told them. "Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, 'For the LORD and for Gideon.' "

 19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, "A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!" 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.

 22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords.

The Midianite army essentially turned on each other without realizing it. In the dark and confusion, they killed members of their own army, giving Gideon's army the victory. God took a situation that seemed hopeless and worked through the faith and willingness of Gideon and those 300 men that were not afraid to pursue their enemy. That situation that looked as if it could not yield a victory was just as God wanted it to be. It was actually perfectly set up for a victory.

A few months ago, my dad told me that he felt like God was leading him to pray not only for the cancer cells to be destroyed in my body, but that they would actually be converted so that they in essence would become healthy cells. The healthy cells would then so out number the cancer cells and would help in fighting off the remaining cancer cells. I immediately thought of Gideon's army. This story was brought to mind again and again over the last few weeks. There may come a point in time where my story makes people fearful. Will God still heal? Will He still work? Now is when I need those who will chose to not be fearful to continue to pray, to continue to fight this battle with me. God is at the center of all of this, and His plan is one that will bring Him glory.... not the doctors or the medicine. That has always been my prayer. I have said before that I received an email once that said if you want to know that you are in the center of God's will, go to the center of His word. The very center verse of the Bible, smack dab in the middle is Psalm 118:8 which says "It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man." I have always believed in this verse. I will choose God's promises over my life every single day.

My mom and I went back out to CTCA on Tuesday. We left at about 5:15 pm and got to our hotel just after 11:00 pm central time. I had to be at the hospital to check in at 7:45 the next morning so we tried to get to sleep. After checking in, I went up to have my port accessed. I realized it has been about nine weeks since I last had it accessed, and normally it is recommended to have it flushed every six weeks. With all that had gone on in my recent trips to CTCA, I guess it had just slipped through the cracks. However, this visit to CTCA, I was having a CT scan of my neck to check out the swelling on the left side of my neck. The area is just above my left collar bone and right where I have a scan from having prior lymph nodes removed. My port is just under this area, and the port nurse was a bit leery of accessing my port without knowing what was causing this swelling. So, I was sent back to wait for a tech who could draw my blood work through my arm. When he was ready, I told him, as I always do, that my wrist was the best option. After searching for another vein first, he reluctantly stuck my wrist. Slowly but surely, this gave enough blood for all of the viles needed. From there I headed down for my CT scan. This scan also required an IV and I recommended using my wrist again. They told me that the wrist was usually the last option, I am sure because it is usually painful. After trying twice in my upper arm without success, a doctor was called in and an IV was successfully started in my wrist. The scan proceeded and went really quick. I was told there that my doctor wanted the nurse upstairs to access my port to see if it was functioning okay. So, I went back upstairs and had her try. Thankfully, it worked just fine, and the area in my neck was not affected.

My mom and I got lunch and then went back to take a nap at our hotel. We got back to the hospital at 2:45 for my nursing assessment and appointment with my doctor. The results of the scan showed that the area in my neck showed several lymph nodes that looked slightly larger than the ones on the right side. The biggest measured 9 mm x 9 mm. They look suspicious for cancer, but another scan would help give a more definitive answer. Having said this, my CEA went up from last visit from the 300's to almost 1230. My breast cancer tumor marker also went up to a 95. I have not been on any type of chemotherapy for the last month due to having radiation, so I anticipated that these numbers could be higher than normal, but I did not expect them to be as high as they were. My doctor switched my chemotherapy to one called Ixempra. It is fairly new, and I think I may be one of the first of my doctor's patients to be on this particular medicine. It is given through IV over three hours every three weeks. He wasn't certain of side effects that I would have for sure. I am anticipating losing my hair again (this will be the third time in five years). I have never lost my hair over the summer before, it has always been in the fall so I am not sure how the sun and heat will affect me. The main thing they will watch me for is low white blood cell counts again, so I will have my blood work taken locally every week like I have done in the past. For some reason, my white blood count was low before beginning this new chemo, so I am not sure how fast they will drop. I was given Neulasta to help my body make more white blood cells.

I was given Aloxi, Decadron, and Benedryl by IV prior to the Ixempra to reduce side effects. My chemo was finished by 9:30 pm Wednesday night. We went back to the hotel and I was able to sleep fairly well. I was up at 7:30 am and showered before we went down for breakfast. I was happy to not feel nauseated. We started home at about 9 am central time and make it home around 5 pm eastern.

I have not experienced nausea with this first round of chemo, and haven't needed any anti nausea medication.  I have been tired and achy. My back has been hurting more than it has in the past, so I occasionally take half a pain pill to help with that, especially at night when it's the hardest to get comfortable. I will go locally next week to have my blood work checked. If I do lose my hair, I don't think it will be for a few more weeks. I am scheduled to return to CTCA on July 12 for another MRI of my brain to check the progress of the radiation I had on June 3. I will also get my second round of chemo on that visit. I asked how many rounds of this chemo patients typically get and my doctor said "Until you are better." I am praying that God uses this chemo to do just that.

I started off this entry with Gideon's story because I feel it is very fitting for my situation.  Imagine how Gideon must have felt when God took the army Gideon had and whittled it down to what God saw as just the right amount needed to fight the battle so that God would get the glory. Gideon pressed on and God was faithful. Anyone with a cancer diagnosis can feel like they are the under dog, even with the medicine and doctors. Then feeling like your resources get smaller, the battle seem even larger. But, it is better to have a few with God than a whole army without Him.

In a separate issue, my dog's vet called today to let me know that Annie, my chihuahua has diabetes. (Sigh)

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