October 2013Walking Worthy: October 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Favorite Things: Breast Cancer Edition

Last time I shared with you some ways that you can minister to a breast cancer patient. Today I would like to share with you some of my Mom's favorite things.

There were several books my mom read during her battle with breast cancer. These books were her favorite:
How to Help Your Wife (And Yourself) during Diagnosis, Treatment, & Beyond by Marc Silver. Mom, Dad, and I all read this book. One of the biggest things we liked about this book was how this book helped us understand what Mom was going through. The book gives you insight into the mind and heart of a breast cancer patient.
Breast Cancer Treatment Handbook by Judy C. Kneece. This book is written for the patient to help the patient understand all the different types of treatment available. It does not give advice for what treatment to choose, but helps a patient understand all of her options.

Mom's favorite clothes to wear were those that were really comfortable. One of my aunts embroidered several outfits for mom to wear. Mom loved these outfits and often wore them to treatment.
Another important clothing item is comfy PJ's. I bought mom a pair of Carole Hochman PJ's at the Nordstrom Rack.

Here are some other gifts Mom suggests:

I have another aunt who is a quilter. She makes fabulous quilts and quilted garments. She made mom a quilt. Throughout Mom's battle with cancer, you could often find her snuggled up in the recliner with her quilt from Aunt Etta.

Living in New Mexico, Mom's skin has always been dry, but chemo made it even worse. Mom's favorite lotion was Jergen's Ultra Healing Lotion.

Hand Sanitizer
All cancer patients are susceptible to germs. Mom was given some of Gold Bond's Ultimate Healing Hand Sanitizer Moisturizer. Mom carried this with her in her purse. She said it was the best!

Well, that's some of mom's favorite things. Join me next time as I talk about how to show support to your loved one!
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ministering to a Breast Cancer Patient

Many want to spring to action in the wake of a friend or family member having cancer. I strongly remember wanting and needing to do something. I would like to share with you some ways to minister to a cancer patient and their family.

Send a Card of Encouragement
My mom received so many cards from people telling her they loved her and were praying for her. Her cards were a constant reminder that she was not alone. She displayed her cards as a constant reminder of the encouragement held within each card. Do not ever underestimate the power of sending a card of encouragement!
Bring a Meal
Food is always a blessing to a cancer patient and their family. You could coordinate food for the family after surgery or chemotherapy. My mom underwent several surgeries for her type of breast cancer. I flew home to help my dad during every surgery but one. After a long day of surgery, the last thing you want to do it figure out what to eat. Taking a meal is a huge blessing to the entire family.

Things to remember:
Chemo changes your taste buds: Many of my mom’s favorite foods no longer tasted good to her. You never know what a cancer patient might be able to eat. I suggest you visit with a family member and get some suggestions.

Use Disposables: If several families are bringing meals, help the family by bringing your meal in a disposable container.

Use online tools: There are several online tools to help you plan meals for a family. These tools take on all the work of coordinating meals. Some tools I found were Take Them A Meal, Meal Train, and Caring Meals.

Visit the Patient
Often my mom was not well enough to go to church, or participate in family activities. So a personal visit was always encouraging to her. Please, call before you stop by. You never know how a cancer patient might be feeling or if they are presentable for company. So call and let them know you are coming! 

Love on their Family
Cancer affects the entire family. There were so many people who loved on my mom by loving on me. The day after I found out my mom had cancer, a woman set me down and talked to me about my mom’s cancer. She shared with me what was about to happen. She asked me questions. She continually checked up on me and my mom through her battle with cancer. My mom was so worried about me during her battle with cancer. I know it was a huge encouragement to her that someone was loving on me and helping me process everything that was happening.

Another way friends loved on my family was coming to the waiting room when my mom was in surgery. It always felt like Dad and I sat there forever. It's so nerve racking to sit in the waiting room and think about your loved one undergoing surgery.  All you can do is sit there and wait. One of my mom's friends came and sat and visited with my Dad and I during several of my mom's surgeries. She always brightened our day and helped pass the time with us.

Offer to Help
Maybe they need a ride to chemo, or help with their house. Maybe they need someone to go get their medicine or go with them to the grocery store. If the patient is a mom with young children, she might need childcare or a play date during her chemo appointments. Offer your help and keep offering.

When someone close to you tells you they have breast cancer, remember that there are many ways that you can minister to them and their family! Join me next time for some of my mom's favorite gifts and books during her battle with breast cancer.
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Friday, October 4, 2013

The Four Hardest Words

I looked down at my phone. Mom had called for the third time in a row. I knew something was wrong. I paced the sidewalk outside the worship center. I was at church camp for the week. My parents knew that and would only call so many times if something was wrong. My heart raced. My stomach felt sick. The phone started ringing, as I returned my Mom's phone call. Then as soon as my dad answered, my phone died. Someone saw the panic on my face and loaned me their cell phone to call home. As I dialed I looked at someone and said, please go find Greg right now.

My Dad chatted happily. I felt annoyed, I wondered if anything was even wrong, or did he just want to talk? Then he dropped the bomb. Ashlee there is something I need to tell you. Mom has breast cancer. All of my breath left me, tears welled up in my eyes, I looked up to find Greg, he wrapped me in his arms not knowing what I had just been told. Mom got on the phone, we cried together. She said, Ashlee I am so sorry, like it was her fault she had cancer.

I hung up the phone and spoke the four hardest words to Greg: My mom has cancer. My mom I thought. Not her. She is the hardest working woman I know. She is strong. How could MY MOM have cancer. Tears poured out of my eyes as Greg held me. Finally he spoke these words to me: Ashlee how do you think God can use this this week in the life of your girls? I wanted to be angry at him, but I knew He was right. I felt God pulling me close to Him and asking me, Ashlee do you trust me? Ashlee will you walk by faith? Ashlee, am I still good even if I take your mom home with Me? Ashlee will you consider this joy? (James 1:2)

 I blubbered to Greg, I just need to pray. So we knelt down together and I began to pour my heart out to God. I told him how I was scared. I told him how I was angry. I told Him how I needed Him and how I would still trust Him even if He took my mom home to Him. I asked Him to strengthen all of us for the road ahead. I asked Him to help me to consider cancer as joy in my life.

I went back to my bunk that night. Not sure how to share this news. I felt like a semi ran over my heart. Hurt gripped my heart. Not knowing how the girls in my small group would respond. I was terrified to allow them to see me so vulnerable. As we talked about what they were learning and what they were dealing with. One of them asked me "Miss Ashlee, what is God showing you?" I laughed, tears welled in my eyes, and I shared with my girls the awful news I had received a few hours earlier.

In that moment God showed me the great importance of learning how to be vulnerable in the midst of ministry. God showed me that sometimes those I minister to need to see my flaws, my hurts, my struggles. They need to hear me cry out to God on behalf of my mom. That kind of vulnerability is scary to many of us in ministry. We think we need to have it all together, but in fact, it is important to allow others to see all of us, the good, the bad, and the ugly. God continues to show me the importance of being vulnerable in the midst of ministry.

My Mom's journey with breast cancer was only beginning, but God had already showed up in a huge way. He wasn't done with me yet, nor was He done with my mom. Join me this month, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as I share my family's journey in the battle against breast cancer.
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