11/03/14-04/17/15

In my Assigned Seat

“But the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear

Him, In those who hope in His steadfast love.”

Psalm 147:11

On Monday, November 3, my friends, Annette and Lois, arrived at my home.  They were God’s special provisions for me. Annette offered to drive me to the hospital and Lois insisted that she would stay with me at the hospital. Lois was a provision for Joan, as well. Joan had someone with whom to communicate when I was “not available.” Joan was not able to be here and we have known Lois since she and I were in seventh grade. It was she who invited me to VBS where I heard the Truth of the gospel for the first time and believed! Both she and Annette met very special specific needs and offered to help before I even asked!

After my operation I heard Lois on the phone with Joan and she passed the phone to me.  Neither Joan nor I could believe how coherent I was.  Lois and I were later encouraged to take a walk around the entire floor of the hospital. The nurse took us part of the way and then instructed us to make the circle back.  He was amazed that we were back so fast. I told him that I had run when I was on the opposite side of the floor. Just kidding!

The next day Annette came and got us. The timing was perfect. We had just been escorted outside when she arrived. My email to my HCA colleagues follows.

Thanks so much for praying for me! The Lord has been taking very good care of me! I was told that everything went well and I was able to come home yesterday. His blessings have been incredible!  Dr. Alektiar (a radiation oncologist at MSK and parent of two of my students) came and found me in the waiting room to wish me well and to affirm my confidence in my surgeon.  One of the nurses commented on my calmness going into the operating room and I told him that a lot of people were praying for me and we have a very powerful God. I remember having fun conversation with one of my surgeons before they put me out.  It was so amazing to experience such incredible peace and to know that it was all Him!

He also blessed me with a beautiful private room with a lovely view of the 59th Street Bridge. (Remember: Slow down, you move too fast… Feelin’ groovy!)  The room had a chair that pulled out into a bed for my friend, Lois, another of God’s provisions for me! Everyone took wonderful care of me and they were impressed with what I was able to do for myself, but we know Who enabled me!

My friend, Annette, brought me home and Lois took me to the pharmacy to fill my prescriptions. When I got home I fixed myself something to eat, got comfortable, and did all the prescribed procedures.  I do praise God that I have not needed to take any of the “heavy-duty” pain medicine. 

I miss you all and do hope that my students are learning something. I am so grateful for your prayers! Please remember to pray for the final pathology report.  We know that there were two enlarged lymphs, but the surgeon will call me before my meeting with her next Tuesday. Although I only had one affected last time it still meant six months of incredibly intense chemotherapy.  My surgeon still believes that there is a possibility that I may not need to go through that.  I do want what best glorifies my God, but I will not be disappointed if He says I don’t have to do that again!

The days following surgery were spent resting – in bed and in my faith.  My faith really has found a resting place! It really is enough that He died for me!

I put my iPad to good use by doing lots of ACSI professional development videos. I had been working on my life-time certification and it was good to do something both profitable and meaningful with my time. On Sunday afternoon I was watching one session with Joni Eareckson Tada on overcoming limitations when she shared some of her cancer experience. Soon after, I was contemplating the timing of her message when the phone rang.  It was my surgeon with the final results.  I actually felt sorry for her because it was so much worse than anything she had ever anticipated.  And she is an excellent doctor!  (Both she and my plastic surgeon were my surgeons during my previous cancer experience.) I shared the news with Joan and sent the following email to my “inner circle.”

My surgeon just called a short while ago and we have the pathology results.  Psalm 112:7 is still my central focus as I have gotten news way more difficult than I had ever expected. The bottom line is that I am looking at treatment including both chemo and radiation that will most likely carry me through next summer followed by years of a cancer-preventative drug. My hair will be making its exit! I have been so eager for a new ministry opportunity and have been so aware of wasted time that the most difficult part for me is realizing that I may be out of commission for any such opportunity. My joke of being a “never was” rather than a “has been” doesn’t seem quite so amusing! 

Because my drains are still at such a high level of output I may not be able to have them removed as planned on Tuesday so I may need to postpone my trip to the doctor until Thursday.  Although this seems small I was very eager to get the drains out and get on with life!

I know that I can count on you to pray for me. I know we have a wonderful Father and that He has a purpose in all this, but I do have a number of concerns with regards to finances, employment, and management.  Thank you for your faithfulness!

Since I finally knew with certainty that the hair was not sticking around I got brave and became a brunette – maybe even a red head!  I also told my hairdresser that she could do whatever she wanted with my hairstyle.  She later gave me a bob.  Of course, I should have listened to her suggestion a long time ago!

In spite of the drains I called one of the nurses and got permission to drive. It was a little difficult because the surgery was on the left this time, but, believe it or not, I even went through the drive-through at Wendy’s! What freedom! Drains or no drains the lady had wheels!

My humanity shows in the next excerpt!

Thanks for your special thoughts and prayers. 

Pity Part Alert! As you may know I had to postpone my doctor’s appointment until tomorrow because one of my drains is still producing twice what it should. When I emptied it this morning its output was still way too high! I must confess that I am disappointed. I had a ride into the city yesterday, but I have to take the bus tomorrow. My appointment isn’t until 5:00 so I will need to take a taxi from Port Authority. There is no express bus to 58th street at that time. The thought of then having to leave with the drains still in until next Wednesday when I will again take the bus into the City is draining! (Please forgive the pun!). I had wanted so badly to go to church this week and to enjoy what I can before life is further compromised. 

Sniff, sniff! Well, I am awaiting the arrival of my plumber. I discovered yesterday that I have no hot water. Pray that it is the pilot. I have relit it myself in the past but am thinking it is probably not a great idea to be down on my hands and knees in the closet right now. 

But I survived and the next day, November 13, they did remove one of the drains.  I think that was the night it started to rain when I left the doctor’s office and, in spite of the hour, I managed to hail a cab.  Even the cab driver was surprised that I caught him. He also appreciated it when I reminded him that his meter was not running! That would really have been a bargain if I had never told him!

And again… courage! Drain or no drain I went to church on Sunday! Just wear bulky clothes and try to redirect any incoming hugs! That is the secret!

The following Wednesday, November 19, I checked the final drain and it actually had increased its output! The thing was laughing at me!! My appointment was with the plastic surgeon who would be even more reluctant to remove a drain prematurely because he is an artist! BUT… I presented my case to the nurse, she talked to the doctor, and he agreed to do it! I told him I loved him! Okay… maybe a little too giddy!!

The next day God honored my dream of being back at school on the twentieth!  I set that date as a goal even though I had been told that I should expect to need more recuperation time than that.  I thought that it would be a wonderful time to return.  My seniors were at Disney World from Wednesday to Saturday and my sophomores were in DC (where I would normally have been) on Thursday and Friday so I had only my Geometry 9 and Precalculus 11.  It was especially nice because I had some very special biblical integration activities planned.  What a joy to be back!

The following week was Thanksgiving.  We had a half day of school on Wednesday and snow was expected.  As many of you know, I commute from Newburgh, NY, to Hawthorne, NJ. Joan, Paul, and Chris were coming from Maine to share Thanksgiving with me.  What a blessing I got!  My principal came in on Tuesday afternoon and good naturedly told me that he did not want to see me the next day. I had been making it through all my classes and loving being back, but what a gift to be home and off the roads awaiting my company’s arrival!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We took the easy way out!  After discussions with Joan we agreed that I would order our meal through the local health food store and I would pick it up on Tuesday. She brought pies and we had a wonderful time.  We even took advantage of the Black Friday sales at the Bon Ton.  We shopped with Chris and Paul first and then they took off to do their own thing while Joan and I continued to do her shopping. Praise God that mine was all done and wrapped and ready to go back with her.  Not knowing if I would be beginning treatment during Christmas break, I did not know if I would be able to join them in Maine for Christmas.  They saved me a lot of postage!

They joined me in church on Sunday for the 9:00 AM service and then we went out for brunch.  They left soon afterward.  What a wonderful gift to be together!  And my house was ready for them! WOW!

I met with an oncologist at MSK in Westchester County and she shared her recommendations for the treatment plan – eight chemo treatments, followed by many weeks of radiation. Although my situation is much worse (Stage 3) than last time they cannot use the same potent drug they used last time because it would be too taxing on my heart.  They tell me that except for the cancer I am really quite healthy. The doctor also recommended an oncologist in Carmel, NY, as an option.  That would make treatments so much more manageable!  And it appears that my radiation can be done in Fishkill! When I met with the recommended oncologist in Carmel on December 17, he suggested that we begin treatments on January 9.  I also was able to schedule a port insertion on the same day as the first treatment.

I continued to teach through our half-day on Tuesday, December 23, but left for Maine that afternoon.  Attempting to exercise wisdom, I did not push through to Bangor, but I stayed in Freeport instead.  There was no blizzard with which to contend this year and I arrived in plenty of time to join everyone for the Christmas Eve service.  My niece, Joanna, had come from Virginia and brought a couple of friends including a high school student from China who is living with her this year.  One of my students whose parents had been missionaries in China brought me some Christian materials to give her.  We had a wonderful holiday, but I returned well before New Year’s Eve because I still had things to do in preparation for the start of my treatments.  I also needed to rest!

On Saturday, January 10, I sent the following email to a wider circle of prayer partners.

Thanks so much for your prayers! Yesterday went incredibly well! My friend picked me up at a few minutes before 5AM and, although it was snowing, we were ahead of the worst of it. The surgery went extremely well. Some of you know that I was concerned that he might have to use my jugular vein which would make it more noticeable and less comfortable. The surgeon said he worked really hard to avoid that and was successful in putting the port in the best possible location. He did such a wonderful job that one of the people administering my chemo commented on it and they see these all the time! Everyone at Putnam Hospital was wonderful!! I was in the car before 11:00 and headed to the infusion center at MKMG (Mount Kisco Medical Group). The roads were a little slick, but it had stopped snowing. I was on time for my 11:00 appointment. Unfortunately my chemo drugs were not!

As a few of you know I had come back from my vacation on Monday, December 29, because I never heard from the specialty pharmacy at Aetna and had no cell phone reception in Maine! (Too close to Canada!) I spent a long time on the phone in the days that followed and was told that everything was set to ship! Something (or Someone) told me to check Thursday afternoon and I discovered that the shipment was never sent! They kept me on hold for over 45 minutes and as 4:30 approached I must say that it was the most stressed I have felt! After 4:30 I feared that I wouldn’t be able to reach anyone at MKMG myself. I tried to call on my cell phone, but I cannot get cell reception in my classroom unless I am over by the windows and the school phone’s cord did not reach! Finally they promised that the shipment would arrive between 9 and 12, but that I shouldn’t worry because things always arrive early! After about an hour with them I still was able to reach the marvelous Director of Patient Services at MKMG just to tip her off to the potential confusion. She actually showed up at the infusion center yesterday! Nice touch!

The Infusion Center assured me that if it happens again that they always have the ingredients of my personal cocktail (I make it sound racy, don’t I?) and that’s what they used yesterday. They did celebrate with me when my shipment did finally arrive at 11:45! I am so glad that they hadn’t waited! I was well into my treatment by then. Everything took longer than usual because they were so thorough in their explanations and instructions! I never had any of that during my first experience. That time it was kind of like sit down and give us your arm! 

I sat in a recliner and had a wonderful nap complements of Benadryl! I think that it was going on 4:00 when Annette and I pulled in the driveway. I still would have sent this yesterday, but I was very concerned about “speaking too soon”.

You see … I have experienced NO NAUSEA!! I was a bit tired, but okay! I let myself be lazy! At about 2:00 this afternoon I will give myself the shot that will encourage my blood cells to return to their proper levels. It turns out that the shots I administered to my mom during her final days provided training for what I will do to me! The shot may give me flu-like symptoms, but it may be just an aching back! No big deal, I hope!

My doctors seem to be trying to accommodate my schedule. They wanted to see me this week and to have me come the day before my next treatment for blood work, but we now have an alternative that they are willing to try. I will have to see my surgeon, but hopefully he will give me another 5:30 appointment.

I know that this is a long email and maybe inappropriately so. Please forgive me if it is, but I want my prayer partners to know the way in which their prayers are being answered! So if you hang in there for one more paragraph, then I will share another result of those prayers.

Often when getting into bed at night I find myself singing “Safe in the Arms of Jesus”, but Thursday night I had the most incredible experience. I found myself singing the most wonderful old hymns as I made my preparations for Friday. When I tried to relate the experience to my sister the next day I discovered that I could not remember the words that had blessed me so deeply the night before, but I only remembered singing the doxology right after pulling the bed covers over me. I thought at the time that it must be a work of the Spirit! I had “songs in the night”!

May God bless you all for your faithfulness in praying for me. May God be glorified in and through me!

But then on Sunday…

I awoke at 4AM with incredible pain in my feet, legs, and hands. I believe that it is the promised impact of the injection I had to give myself yesterday. I also have not been able eat much today because of intestinal issues from the chemo. I would really appreciate your prayers. I am hanging in there, but it is very tiring. May God bless you all!

On Monday I was out of school. On Tuesday I wrote the following.

I am trying to come today. I was able to sleep (in two hour intervals) last night for the first time since Sunday at 4AM. I also was able to eat something.  The intense pain in my bones is much better although one of my legs still doesn’t seem to be functioning normally. I honestly do not feel up to everything that I must do today, but please pray that I can still represent my Lord well to my students and colleagues. I am way behind in my work because I have not been able to do anything for days. Thanks for praying. Without those prayers I do not believe I would be able to come today. I read somewhere that some people experience those effects for up to four days. It was new territory for me!

A more whimsical note followed on February 6.

Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” (Hope that is close to what Emily D wrote. I did it from memory. Roberta can correct me! Anybody want to hear Hamlet’s soliloquy or Mark Antony’s funeral speech instead. Not as appropriate, right?) Well, anyway … Blame it on the chemo cocktail….

Thanks, dear sisters, for your prayers and encouragement. I did have my treatment this morning.  It went very smoothly, but my infusion nurse cannot believe that I am still teaching full time! She reminded me that the effect of the treatment is cumulative.  I do remember that! I was on the phone with our Doug Belden (insurance specialist) again this afternoon for about 40 minutes. I have a lot to take care of in my “spare time”.  I have had some answers to prayer today!

Some of you know that I have not been able to receive mail since Monday when the snowplow demolished my mailbox and buried it in the snow bank. (Stop laughing; someone is laughing! But I know who you are!) I called the town highway department on Tuesday morning and they said that they would send an inspector out in the next few days in order to determine if the snowplow actually did the damage. Today I once again received mail because I have a new mailbox and wooden stand for it. I feel as if God was actually trying to bless me by meeting a desire that I had.  A few years ago I had priced new mailboxes, but thought they were quite expensive. Instead I bought a decorative magnetic mailbox cover.  I think I bought it in the Christmas Tree Shop.  Well, once again God in His goodness and His time provided what I had wanted free of charge! And what was Vickie doing? She ignorantly grieved because of the inconvenience, confusion, and potential expense and logistics of replacing it! Inexcusable, wimpy response! I need to sit myself down and give myself a good talking to! I may pass myself tissues, but I am not accepting any excuses. How could I doubt that God would provide for me in this situation? He has been so good and faithful!  One of you has to give me permission to tell our park bench story to rest of you some day! It is pretty unbelievable!

[Here it is! I got permission to tell the park bench story. A different time, but the same God!

For a few years I had wanted a park bench for a certain place in my back yard.  I am not always able to get away in the summer and thought that a nice place of retreat in the yard would be an alternative. When I priced the cost of a bench I could not justify the cost of the purchase.  This continued for several years until one day while driving to school I thought again of the bench and decided to just trust God for it.  (I did the same thing with a need of a laptop several years ago.  I committed the need to the Lord on Sunday morning and got a call from my brother-in-law that afternoon. God had moved him to send me a laptop and so much more!  I would share everything, but he saw it as being able to meet a ministry need and does not want thanks for it. )

 When I went into homeroom that morning my friend, Lynn, came to me and asked if I could use a park bench.  Someone had given her one and she had no use for it. (I had never told anyone except my mother about my desire and she had passed away several months before this.) Lynn even had the students move it from her trunk to mine.  It was much nicer than anything I had ever considered. Opening the box in the trunk, I removed the bench one piece at a time and assembled it, but could not tighten the screws sufficiently.  I finally decided to just trust that God would send someone with greater strength than I.  A short time later the doorbell rang and it was a male friend with the necessary strength!

God definitely loves to give good gifts to His child.  What a privilege to experience His blessing though so undeserved!]

Because of God’s grace and your prayers the care and lessons continued! On February 20 I recorded the following note.

My treatment went smoothly today and I even felt well enough to do a few errands afterward! I had a nice nap during the treatment and was so deeply asleep that the infusion nurses let me sleep for another fifteen minutes or so because there was no one waiting for the chair. When I awoke they came over and removed the tubing from my port and I was on my way!

I did have a chance to discuss the rest of my treatment with my doctor. They are opting to continue the remaining treatments every two weeks instead of going over to three weeks between treatments. The latter schedule would have brought me closer to June and seemed to facilitate the six weeks of radiation beginning after school was over. For some reason I was ready for him to say that they would continue to be two weeks apart.  Maybe the Lord had prepared me for this!  If I could somehow get through my chemo in April and complete my plastic surgery in May, then maybe I could start my radiation the week after school gets out!  My doctor said that he did not see a problem with the pause between chemo and radiation. He also is still thinking that I may be able to do the radiation in Fishkill (Don’t let the name bother you. It comes from the Dutch meaning “fish river”) which is very close to Newburgh! The doctor also said that he thought that the plastic surgeon would remove the port. That would be one less surgery! In the end this schedule may result in my students having a healthier and stronger Miss Garrison for May and the first two weeks in June. In fact, do you realize that my hair may begin to grow again within weeks of the end of chemo? None of you may get to see it, but it may be back for the new school year! It would be fun! (Although these wigs, or “cranial prostheses,” have brought some variety! And you haven’t seen the long red one yet! Are you ready?)

Now for a couple of praises! First of all I found that the last four treatments are a different mix of drugs to which doctors refer as chemo-light. The infusion nurse seemed to think that is not necessarily an accurate description, but it gave me hope that those treatments might take less of a toll on me. Secondly the doctor told me that I could cut the strength of my Neulasta injection in half. That really excites me because that day-after shot I give myself has required a lot of recovery time.  As most of you know, I have been incapacitated for at least twenty-four hours each time due to intense bone pain. I praise God for the encouragement I received!

Your prayers are so precious! I continue to be acutely aware of the Lord’s presence and His love. His peace generally carries me along this path that He has charted for me.  The other day He gave me Jeremiah 17:8. It gave me hope that even in this year of drought He can still produce fruit in my life as I stay rooted and grounded in Him! This reminds me of some of my favorite verses found in Ephesians 3:16-21. I so desire to be filled with His grace and truth (John 1:14). The thought that He can still do something through me when I am in such a desert really encouraged me! As some of you know, Isaiah 51:3 is kind of my “life verse”. It just all seems to dove-tail beautifully. If cancer is God’s tool to accomplish this, then praise Him for my cancer!  Your prayers facilitate all this in some incredible way and I praise Him for you! I am not able to do this without His enablement!

There was one “setback” caused by my own lack of wisdom.  One evening I arrived home to notice that something in the yard had suffered the effects of the weather so I first pushed with my shoulder and then lifted.  I felt something in my chest roll and release!  I called my brother-in-law, the chiropractor, and he reminded me that the ribs are attached in that general vicinity.  That was reassuring and the pain did subside, but when I administered my next Neulasta injection it went right for the place of weakness. It took quite some time for the pain to completely leave the area!  I know that God was reminding me to be wiser and more thoughtful about the physical things I do!  Some of them should not be attempted by a sixty-two year old – never mind the “cancer thing!”

During spring break I was not able to go to Maine because of the effects of the treatment. The effects are cumulative and I had just had a treatment on Good Friday.  I attended the 7:30 AM Easter Sunday Service which proved to be a wise move. As the day wore on my condition worsened. I rested most of the day.  During my week off I did try to get some things done, but had to be careful to limit my expectations of the volume of my accomplishments.

My treatments continued until April 17.  The following describes that final treatment and its aftermath.

I really want to share with you some of the many blessings that God brought my way on Friday. I know that many of you were praying for me and I cannot tell you what a difference that made! I am overwhelmed by His goodness and humbled by His care.

As I believe you all know, I have been feeling the cumulative effects of the treatment lately. The best description that I have come up with is “I am clothed and in my right mind” but I don’t have “both oars in the water”! I continue to praise God for the patience of all of you and that of my students. With the exception of driving to school, I have been reluctant to go very far from home because of my physical limitations. For example, I have had my birthday $10 certificate for the Origins store since February and have been really concerned about driving to the Garden State Plaza. It was expiring soon and I hated to lose the money, but every day after school I could not bring myself to venture to the land of traffic and difficult parking and then to walk through the big mall. I know this sounds ridiculous to those of you who live here, but it is a good example of the toll that this has taken! (By the way, I felt an incredible victory on Thursday when I conquered the situation and used the soon-to-expire certificate! I praised God for the nerve!) With that reminder of my physical condition, I am certain that you will rejoice all the more with me concerning all the good things I experienced on Friday.

On the way to Carmel I stopped and bought a bagel pack for the nurses. They do not have a Panera’s near them and they seemed to really enjoy the bagels the last time I did this. I decided I was having a party and they were invited. When I arrived at the office I was chatting with the receptionist when the receptionist from the infusion center came out to put something in the microwave. I told her I was celebrating my last treatment and had brought them bagels. When I passed her the bag I also gave her a thank you card and note I had written for all of them and copies of my bookmark for each of them. I also gave one to the other receptionist who looked at it and said she would make a copy for her daughter who had just been diagnosed. I told her I had plenty and gave her another one. We continued in conversation about her daughter until one of nurses motioned for me to come into the infusion center. They all thanked me for the bagels and I told them we were having a party! It was a blessing to be able to share my celebration!

The actual treatment went more smoothly than the last several. They have not been able to get a return on my port for several treatments. Sometimes a flap grows over the entrance allowing a flow in but no return. Because of the nature of the drugs in this round they were able to proceed with the treatment in spite of this. Guess what! This time they got a return and it happened right away without having to try the access several times! I praised God. It made it easier for the nurse too. 

I sat there reading Andrew Murray’s Abide in Christ on my iPad which really ministered to my spirit until I got so excited about the fact that the treatment was nearing its end that I could no longer concentrate. When the nurse came to inject one of the last heavy drugs into my port I looked down and said, “Look at that! They all have armor on, going in to kill the cancer. Can’t you hear the marching?” She said that she wished everyone had that attitude. She has heard a lot people look at it as poison. I praise God for the perspective and the joy!

When I was leaving the nurses and receptionists all came and hugged me. They again commented on my attitude, but I assured them that I am nothing but your basic chicken and that I could take no credit. One nurse said, “You’re a vessel.” Yes! I wonder if she was a “sister”.

Generally when I leave Carmel I do not try to do much of anything because you just never know when the nausea, fatigue, and other discomfort may begin. This time I was hungry for pizza. When I got to the Fishkill exit I headed up Route 9 for Wappingers Falls. It isn’t really that far, but after a treatment it always seems inaccessible. What happens if I get there and I cannot get home? But this time I headed to the Galleria. I don’t even know when I was there last! I got one of my favorite parking spots and walked through Macy’s on my way to the food court. As I walked by Penney’s I was reminded of the fun time I had there last spring when I got a dress and a suit jacket for $7.99 each. I walked through the store and quickly found a Liz Claiborne knee-length wool coat which had been $220. It was marked down to $29.97 and I had a $10 off coupon! What fun! $19.97!

I made it to the food court and got the most wonderful piece of pizza! I also got my favorite seat where I had a view of the people – mostly mothers with cute little kids. Pleasant and delicious!

Then I went to DSW for which I had a soon-to-expire $20 reward. I think it was another one of those birthday deals. I found two very expensive pairs of sandals- one was Clarks – comfortable beyond belief! I wound up paying $21.50 for each pair. I did ask about returns in case I felt guilty about the purchase.

I left the mall and stopped at Hobby Lobby to buy more card stock to make more bookmarks. I had a 40% off coupon, but I didn’t need it because all the card stock was on sale for 50% off. I wanted a ribbon stamp for something I am doing and all the stamps were on sale for 50% off. I wanted a pink stamp pad and I found one in the clearance aisle! 

When I got in the car to come home I checked my messages. My phone had lost charge earlier and I had been recharging it.  I discovered that the infusion center had called to tell me that the doctor noticed that my blood work had revealed that one of my counts was so low that he wanted me to take not 3mg, but 6 mg of Neulasta! What? He had told me that I did not need to take it this time at all and one of the nurses told me a few hours before that my counts were all really good! Six mg of Neulasta! That is what had completely incapacitated me after my first treatment! What was interesting though was my response to the news. I didn’t feel the need to call anyone to pray. I felt totally confident in what God was going to do. I figured that He was either going to teach me something or it would become a potential blog post. When I talked to the doctor I reminded him of our previous conversation and told him that the nurse had commented on the blood work. He confessed that one of my counts was just borderline, but he was afraid of infection. I told him that if he really thought I needed to do this then I would find a way to get back to Carmel the next day to get the Neulasta. (I had left it there because I knew that it would be used for someone else, if her shipment did not arrive on time. Remember that happened to me on the first treatment? Neulasta is very expensive; why waste it?)  In the end the doctor said to just call if I have a fever of 100.4! Those kids had better not cough in my direction!

I really praise God for the peace He gave. The entire situation did not “rattle” me as it might have! It could have been the excitement of the pizza and the $20 coat, but I think that God is encouraging me to grow up!

When I got home I had yet another bill from Sloan-Kettering. I had such a good day that I hesitated to open it. Would it make me feel guilty about my purchases? Lately I have come to realize that I can confidently open the bills because regardless of the balance my Father is good for it. Well this time it showed that one of the surgeon’s bills had been over $13,000 but had a remaining balance of … Wait for it… $7.34! I guess I might be able to keep my sandals!

When I checked the messages on my home phone I got one from Mr. Seidman telling me that the committee had decided to give me 5 additional sick days this year. Hopefully I won’t need them, but the show of support and caring meant a great deal.

What a celebration I had! I was beat, but what a day of blessings! I got immediately ready for bed although it was not even nighttime yet! And sleep came easily!

I know that this email is probably way too long and is not the best written piece I have done. I feel as if I should be red-penciling it myself, but I am ready for bed and want this to get to you!

Thanks for your faithfulness and care. When I recently recommended the school to one of my pastors who is assuming the pastorate of a church in Fort Lee, it was not the program about which I spoke, but my colleagues, students, and parents! If you ever want to see what I wrote, then I will be happy to share it. I praise God for each of you!

That last paragraph emphasizes the blessings that God has given me through my colleagues and my students.  There is no way in which I could have continued to teach without their prayers and support.  No one will ever know the number of times a student has slipped me a verse before a treatment or stopped in to pray with me.  It is so wonderful to see God working through them.

The course is not over and I must prayerfully remain in my seat.  I do not want to miss a single lesson as God shows me Who He is and the depth of His love for me.  I can think of a fictitious teacher and must paraphrase what she sang. “Getting to know [Him]; getting to know all about [Him].  When I am with [Him] getting to know what to say.” Hasn’t anyone noticed that in spite of my situation often I’m bright and breezy… because of all the beautiful and new things I’m learning about Him, day by day?  I am reminded of someone else who taught through song, the great Swedish hymn writer, who reminded us “Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here; trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment, I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.”   It is the latter song that came to me after my mother’s initial diagnosis two years ago and it continues to remind me of the love of the One who is “kind beyond all measure” in spite of our “classroom assignment.”

I praise Him for my seat assignment.  It gives me an excellent view of the Great Teacher!

“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.”  Job 42:5

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