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Walking Through Cancer Part 2

Read Part 1 of My Testimony of Walking Through Cancer. Are you going through hard times? Trying to Homeschool, as well? I shared my story and was thrilled to be a part of a series called, “How to Homeschool in the Midst of the Hard Things.” And, here is the rest of the story, as they say.

Your Home For God, cancer-part-2
How To Homeschool in the Midst of the Hard Things

Not Even Aware I’m Walking Through Cancer

I still was not concerned at all. Totally oblivious. Another God-thing, I did get in to see my doctor within a few hours. At first, he prescribed Metamucil, and was going to send me home. Even though I wasn’t concerned, I shot up a quick prayer that he wouldn’t send me home without knowing what was wrong. Hearing from the Lord, I’m sure, my Christian doctor sat back in his chair, and mused out loud, “I think I’ll have you get a CT-scan…there’s nothing over there except your ovaries.” It was expected to wait several days, at least, to get in for a CT-scan. Got took care of that, too. I was able to get in that very afternoon. I called my husband, and uncharacteristically, he decided to go with me. So many God-things, for which I’m very grateful.

Prioritizing the Most Important Things | My Cancer Testimony | Your Home For God
Prioritizing the Most Important Things | My Cancer Testimony | Your Home For God

After the meeting with our doctor the next morning to discuss our options, my husband, whose spiritual gift is serving, took over what was normally my job, and emailed family and friends, and activated our church prayer chain. And, they told others, who told others. Like a switch turned on, I could feel the prayers of God’s people. I had peace and strength. God was holding us up.

Things moved very quickly after that. Two days later, one of the foremost doctors at the University of Minnesota hospitals removed one very large, football-sized tumor. It was contained, and they thought they’d gotten it all.

  • Had God answered our prayers?
  • Was the radiologist wrong about what he’d seen?

There was no way on earth that a radiologist would say he saw multiple tumors, if he wasn’t sure.  No way. The University Hospital wouldn’t keep on staff a radiologist who made wrong diagnoses. There just was no way. He had seen more than one tumor. But, when they did the surgery, there was only one.

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God Answers Prayer

Only God knows for sure. But, we praised the Lord. Our doctor, not a believer, knew the prayers of many were offered on my behalf, saw the power of prayer to a mighty God. She commented on it, incredulously. All she could do was shake her head in amazement.

Was it a miracle?

It really seemed like a miracle. Ovarian cancer is a deadly disease. In 2002, when I was diagnosed, it was highly unlikely that your ovarian cancer would be caught early, and if it was not caught early, it was highly unlikely that you would live. It still is. Only 15% of Ovarian cancers are caught early. Ovarian cancer accounts for just 2.5% of all cancer cases in women, but 5% of cancer deaths because of the disease’s low survival rate.¹

But, if it is caught early and localized (in only one place), as mine turned out to be, you have a 92% 5-year survival rate. The average age for diagnosis is 63, yet I was only 46.

After my surgery, which included a complete hysterectomy, I was in the hospital for 6 days. I began chemo treatments before leaving the hospital, for a total of three, one every three weeks. Then, a brief break.

I don’t know whether it was the hysterectomy, the cancer, the chemo, or a combination of all three, but, exhaustion doesn’t even begin to describe what I experienced. It was unnatural, the weakness and fatigue I felt, and it completely overcame me.

  • I didn’t have the energy to have a 5-minute conversation.
  • My hand shook too much for me to write even my name.  
  • Reading was impossible, because I couldn’t concentrate for one second.
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Start and end your day consistently & calmly with routines!

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Hard Times

I came home with a vertical incision 8-12″ long in my stomach, and a wound vac, that was attached to me, and which weighed about 10 pounds. A box, attached by a cord to my stomach. I wasn’t to lift anything as heavy as my purse, much less the wound vac, which meant that anytime I wanted to go from one room to another, or even from one chair to another(!), to move for any reason whatsoever, someone had to come and carry my wound vac for me. First, I, with no energy, had to get their attention, wherever in the house they were.

It was horrible, and made me feel so helpless. The hysterectomy made my emotions wacko. I’d had major surgery. The first dose of chemo made me nauseous. Feeling fearful, emotional, very sick, and dependent on everyone, and lonely, these were some of the hardest days.

Prioritizing the Most Important Things | My Cancer Testimony | Your Home For God
Prioritizing the Most Important Things | My Cancer Testimony | Your Home For God

Are You Spiritually Ready to Face God

Later, there came a day when a very special thing happened. I want to share this with you, for any of you, who think the worst thing in the world would be to face death. One day, I was standing in my bedroom, and thinking about the fact that I might not make it, just hit me. I faced death head on. It was so real, the prospect of death, that I stood there and wept. But, it wasn’t for myself I cried. It was because I would not be able to raise my kids to adulthood. That was what I cried over.

As I thought about dying, a very, very different experience took over. I was suddenly covered with goosebumps. I stood there in my bedroom, feeling the Presence of Christ as near as I have ever felt Him, and all I could think of was that possibly, and the thought THRILLED MY SOUL(!) I would see Jesus FACE. to. FACE, very, very soon!!! The thought of seeing my Savior face-to-face was, and still is, so amazing, that every time I think of it, I get goosebumps.

Prioritizing the Most Important Things | My Cancer Testimony | Your Home For God
Prioritizing the Most Important Things | My Cancer Testimony | Your Home For God

But, we were so blessed. So very, very blessed.

So many people helped us. Our church was great. Our homeschooling community and association and friends who went to other churches and their friends were all so supportive. Amazing, delicious meals arrived every evening. Thankfully, I didn’t lose my appetite, as so many do. (Maybe not so thankfully, as I needed to lose weight!) Our homeschooling friends also signed up and brought meals, and took our kids to events and activities. People volunteered to drive them to piano lessons, and offered to clean our house. All my homemaking and many parenting duties were taken care of.

Thankfully, after I was able to discontinue use of the wound vac, and got a few weeks out from the hysterectomy, my condition settled down somewhat. Just in time for my hair to fall out. This, however, didn’t bother me that much! I got a free wig through the American Cancer Society, and walked around bald at home (this probably bothered my family more than it bothered me:). My doctor assured me that I didn’t need to feel nauseous, and they gave me medications for it, and sure enough, the second dose, I wasn’t nauseous. I, and many others, prayed that I wouldn’t have problems from the hysterectomy, because I could not take hormone therapy, because it’s cancer-causing, and I didn’t.

God Keeps Me Alive and Healthy, Not Me

It certainly wasn’t, never had been, my desire to have a hysterectomy, but when faced with death or a hysterectomy, it wasn’t even a decision–no one even asked me. There are many things in life that we make a big deal over, but when we’re forced into a corner, we realize that God can take care of us even in the corner, through whatever it is. This was one of those cases. God can take care of your emotions and hormonal issues. It’s no problem for Him. We sometimes think it’s up to us to keep ourselves healthy and alive, but honestly, though we should try to be good stewards of our bodies and health, it’s not my efforts that are keeping me alive and well. It’s God.

I think the drugs made me nervous, and fearful. I was so needy, and couldn’t take care of  anything for myself. I wanted someone in the house, within earshot, all the time. This was not always possible! My husband was working, and my children needed to go outside and not have to think about mom and her cancer every moment! I still remember, though, that it was hard for me to see my daughter running outside down by the lake we lived on, or chasing butterflies, out of earshot. What if something happened? This was before we used cell phones, and fear would raise its ugly head and fill my thoughts.

Prioritizing the Most Important Things | My Cancer Testimony | Your Home For God
Prioritizing the Most Important Things | My Cancer Testimony | Your Home For God

“What if… What if…”

I’d almost hold my breath until she came back inside. I learned much that summer about:

  • Humility
  • Trust
  • Faith

By the end of each 3 weeks, I started to feel good again, and that’s when I’d have to go back for another round of chemo. At the end of the summer, after my last chemo treatment, my energy started to return. I wanted to thank all the people who had helped me so much. With my daughter’s help, we hosted a small tea to thank those special people. I was so grateful.

Prioritizing the Most Important Things | My Cancer Testimony | Your Home For God
Prioritizing the Most Important Things | My Cancer Testimony | Your Home For God

Helping Other Women

We had agreed to participate in a medical study, which began after a short break. Its goal was to see if a person with ovarian cancer that was caught early, has less rate of recurrence of cancer by receiving low doses of chemo once a week for 24 weeks, besides their normal chemo treatments. Not many cases of ovarian cancer are caught early. We–my husband, especially–felt strongly that I should participate in this. It was a chance for us to help other women.

Over this time, my hair grew back, I had reasonable energy, and could go about much of my normal life. I had to go once a week to the same place I’d gone for my regular chemo treatments. It took pretty much a whole day to receive my low-dose chemo treatment. The travel time was one hour, one way, into the city, and the treatments took a couple of hours plus waiting time. We always had a long wait.

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Start and end your day consistently & calmly with routines!

Want to Be Consistent in what’s most important? Get your CHECKLISTS FOR CONSISTENT ROUTINES to help you establish consistency in a Morning Routine and Evening Routine including Bible reading and prayer.

Training Your Children Through Hard Things

Our kids went with me to every single chemo treatment, which was unusual. The world isn’t accustomed to seeing teenagers who are polite, can converse with adults, who smile and are well-behaved, who love each other and their parents and are a joy to be around. Their impact on the medical staff was profound, it seemed.

This experience impacted our children’s lives, too. They are unusually comfortable in hospital settings, and with the sick and infirm. Our daughter went on to organize young people for music ministry in nursing homes and hospitals, blessing the residents for many years. Our son was one of the young people who went and sang and played instruments. He later took a job with a company that makes laser and ultrasound equipment for eye doctors and clinics.

Prioritizing the Most Important Things | My Cancer Testimony | Your Home For God
Prioritizing the Most Important Things | My Cancer Testimony | Your Home For God

I have often said that, God sent me to a mission field that I could not go to any other way than to have cancer. So, He gave me cancer. I’m fine with that. We had a captive audience, whom we saw weekly. We got to know these wonderful nurses who cared for me, very well. Gratitude and love filled our hearts for them. By the end of the 9 months since my first chemo treatment, we felt extremely close to them. Six months of weekly togetherness gave us plenty of time to talk and get to know one another, and share with them about Jesus!

God sent me to a mission field that I could not go to any other way than to have cancer.

Wendy Gunn

Besides this, often, their patients died. I was a success story, and cheered and encouraged them greatly, just by being so healthy! But, I tried to share with them the greatest story ever told, and introduce them to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I didn’t ever get to share the gospel, start to finish, with any of them, but I planted seeds every chance I got, and watered them, every, single, week. We tried to live out our faith before them, and we truly loved them, and prayed for them. I look forward to seeing if any of them will be in heaven when we get there.

Here are just a few of the:

Good Things That Came Out of Having Cancer

  • Our faith was strengthened.
  • People were given the opportunity to serve and bless another member of the Body of Christ.
  • People prayed and saw answers to prayer.
  • We had the opportunity to share Christ with unbelievers, who needed to hear the Gospel.
  • Our family bonds were strengthened.
  • Our children matured and grew in Christ-likeness.
  • I have a powerful testimony, which has opened many doors to witness and tell others about Christ.

It may seem strange to say, but so many good things came about because of my cancer, that, I’m grateful to God for cancer. But, I’m even more grateful for life.

Have a Great Day Making Your Home For God!

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