Shower using fragrance free soap.

No deodorant or perfume.

No food or drink after Midnight….

No drink = no coffee. ugh.

We would leave the house at 5:00 a.m. to arrive for pre-op and then surgery at 6:30 am. I just wanted to get to the hospital so I could go back to sleep. The no coffee thing is a big deal. Tom tells me I’m addicted… and he’s not wrong. I prep my coffee the night before and it is literally the first thing I do in the morning. Push my coffee start button, let the dog out, take my vitamins, pour a cup and then settle in to my chair for the most important hour of my day. More on that later.

From the moment I received my cancer diagnosis on Oct. 31, 2022 I’ve been in GO mode both personally and professionally. I have looked forward to this day, writing day, for months. I have thousands of words and lessons and thoughts I have wanted to process via this blog but just couldn’t, wouldn’t take the time to do so. When I look back on my last blog, Dec. 20, 2022 I remember that I waited to write and now I’ve waited again. A college friend remarked, “I was surprised by your sudden announcement of your diagnosis… and wondered why.” In a world where we have access into thousands of peoples stories it is interesting that we have an expectation of knowing and needing people to know about all the nitty gritty of our lives.

I have learned a gazillion things about the words “Cancer diagnosis”, one being that each persons journey is each persons journey. Although we have a long way to go in understanding how to eradicate cancer there is a great deal we do know which allows for very specific treatment plans for each person. This means that when one receives a diagnosis it is not helpful to google it and think all the things you read from treatment protocol to side effects will be relevant to you or your loved one.

The uniqueness of each persons situation is not limited to the treatment plan but also to how they will share their journey with others. When we returned home from my lumpectomy… Tom said, “Well, we’ve had harder days.” And he was right. Surgery of any kind is nothing to shake a stick at but over the course of our almost 30 years of marriage we have had ring side seats to some pretty significant health challenges with our children, our parents and some extended family. All of those seasons impacted my decisions on how and who to bring into my cancer journey. The words in these series of blogs are not prescriptive but offered as food for thought. You may be walking into or in the middle of a really hard life season and part of the stress you are experiencing may be from feeling a need to keep all people “in the loop.” Let me be the first to tell you… that is not true.

Shut the door

“You don’t have to let them in.” It was a nurses aid that taught me one of the most important lessons on how to navigate difficult life seasons. We were in the middle of determining the cause of illness impacting the mobility, speech, response, over all function of our seven year old son. He was a medical mystery which meant he was a curiosity to all the doctors, medical students, nurses and friends and family. This sweet young aid looked me in my exhausted eyes and said, “Beth, you don’t have to let them in. The only people that need to be here are your doctors. Put a sign on the door indicating this and you will stop being bombarded.” Wow – I had no idea – boundaries??? We began to realize that we not only could limit entrance to the medical staff but also to well meaning, yet energy draining, friends and family. We were realizing that when some people would see first hand the enormity of the situation we were put in the position of offering comfort and assurance to them. Any energy I had was being poured into care for my son and making sure my daughters were taken care of and my relationship with Tom. Period. On more then one occasion I politely thanked our friends for coming to visit but shared that our son needed rest and we wouldn’t be able to visit. The only people we allowed in brought joy, belief and bold prayers. When they left we would all feel restored and rejuvenated.

As much as people thought they would be able to handle the situation, we knew they couldn’t. I am reminded of a time I pressed Tom for information on a situation with members of our church that he pastored years ago. I knew part of the story but not all. Tom has always been so good about not sharing confidential information and was determined to stay his per usual course. I thought it made sense for me to know “the rest of the story” because I already new part of it. Tom understood this and was still hesitant to share not because it would be wrong but because he knew I would not want the knowledge of someone else’s bad choices in my mind. I promised it would not impact me.

But it did. Dang it. It was more than I wanted and my heart and head took on a heaviness that was not necessary. There was absolutely nothing I could do about this situation. Hard lesson learned. I now believe that we are not physically or emotionally designed to carry all the worlds challenges that technology now provides access to sharing. Sharing too much, too soon can be exhausting to both the giver and the receiver. Discernment is critical.

The most important hour.

As I sat down to write my mind swirled with memories, lessons, gratitude, questions that I wanted to put into words. I prayed about where to start and what to share. I sat snuggled in our big over stuffed chair, with my 2nd cup of coffee warming my hands and it became clear. Start with the pre-op. Actually the pre, pre op. The Pre that preceded the diagnosis, the surgery the radiation treatments. The pre ops that have been happening in this very chair, with this favorite coffee mug for months prior to this crazy season. The pre-ops that have occurred in the most important hour of my day.

The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us that the “Word of God is living and active.” Heb 4:12. This means it has the power to impact our very lives each and every day. It is filled with truth, promises, commands, hope. The Word paired with the direction of the Holy Spirit is what God left for us to guide us through each season. If each day brings its own set of challenges then I know I need a fresh look at HIS direction… on a daily basis. My most important hour of the day habit is the one I pray I have passed on to my children and I pray they pass on to theirs. As I look back through my journal that accompanies my time in the word each morning… I clearly see how the Lord we prepping me for the current season I have walked through. I recognize the words he was highlighting in my daily hour with him were faith seeds being planted and taking root… to give a strong structure on the day my life would shift in a matter of seconds and one quick phone call. It was also the pre-op words that provided peace and wisdom when discerning who and when to share my journey.

I knew clearly the order in which we would reveal my diagnosis..

Our Children.

Our siblings.

My “Life Board of Directors.” 3 friends that know everything about me and love me anyway.

10 prayer warriors.

I was also clear on who would not be brought in immediately.

My entire social media community.

My parents. huh? For most of my life my mom and dad would have been the first to receive my news. They have been my rock and foundation through many decisions and challenging seasons.

Interesting isn’t it. The Lord may guide you in ways that may not make sense to the rest of the world. A world that prescribes loudly how you should and should not walk out your personal journey. This is why I know my pre op time is so important. I need to clearly and loudly understand God’s direction in each and every situation.

Below is a glimpse into the lessons I was given in my pre-op season aka the month prior to my first mammogram. I share scripture verses, quotes, items from my to do list. These all live in a journal that sits next to my over stuffed chair that greets me each morning for my most important hour of the day. Maybe you’ll skim my entries, maybe you’ll read each detail or maybe you’ll skip all together. However you decide to proceed I pray that you consider finding some time for pre-op with your Lord each day, the physician of your soul. I also offer my time to anyone desiring direction on where and how to start this practice.

September 15, 2022:

“I have something hard but important to say to you..” Matthew 26:21

“Go out and train everyone you meet far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day. Right up to the end of the age. ” Matthew 28:19-20.

Monday Sept. 19, 2022:

Lord, give me a heart that expects your clear direction and intervention. Journal entry. Colorado Springs, CO.

Wednesday Sept. 21, 2022:

“Jesus was matter of fact: ” Embrace this God life. Really embrace it and nothing will be too much for you. Take this mountain for instance, Just say “Go jump in the lake, no shuffling or hemming and hawing – and it’s good and done. Thats why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life and you’ll get God’s everything.”

“Jesus told them “You’re all going to feel that your world is falling apart and that it’s my fault.” Mark 14:27-28

Sunday Sept. 25, 2022

“Because you love me Lord – I can always live, work in peace. I can trust you will reveal everything I need to know about next steps. I can be present with the people you put in my path. I can unconditionally love those around me.” Journal Entry

Sunday Oct. 2, 2022.

“A persons fear sets a trap for Him but one who trust the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25

Wednesday Oct. 5, 2022.

“The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like yours. Your ways are not like mine. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

Thursday Oct. 6, 2022.

Create template for a Breast Cancer Awareness fundraiser for my team. (Item on my work to-do list)

Friday Oct, 7, 2022.

I don’t have the ability to carry out God’s will except to be where he wants me to be. ( Journal entry)

Saturday Oct. 8, 2022.

“I will praise the Lord who counsels me even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tounge rejoices, my body will rest secure.” Psalm 16

Wednesday Oct. 12, 2022

Wise counsel leads to peace – even when circumstances remain hard. ( Journal Entry)

“You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning. My God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop. With my God – I can scale a wall. ” Psalm 18:28-29

Life doesn’t get easier – we get better, stronger, more trusting in our God who is faithful. ( Journal entry)

Friday Oct. 14, 2022.

Yearly Mammogram. Centerpoint Medical Building, Independence MO

Monday Oct. 17, 2022

“Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence Him. With them alone He shares the secrets of His promises. My eyes are ever looking to the Lord for help, for he alone can rescue me.” Psalm 25:14-15

Wednesday Oct. 19, 2022.

“The steps of a good and righteous man are directed and established by the Lord, and he delights in his way (and blesses his path.) And when he falls, he will not be hurled down, because the Lord is the one who holds his hand and sustains him.

Thursday Oct. 20, 2022.

Notification that a shadow was detected in the image from my mammogram. My doctor would like a closer look. Schedule a second mammogram and ultrasound for Monday Oct. 24.

Friday Oct. 21, 2022.

Celebrate my 52 birthday with friends on our deck. It was a beautiful night and a sweet celebration.

Sunday Oct. 23, 2022.

“I have set the Lord always before me because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefor my heart is glad and my tounge rejoices and my body will rest secure. Psalm 16:8-9

Message my friend to see if she can join me for my second mammogram and ultrasound.

Monday Oct. 24, 2022.

Second Mammogram and Ultrasound.

Hour conversation with Jonah while he discerns next steps after missing a medication dose needed to navigate his epilepsy. Did this while riding my exercise bike. Finished with enough time to shower and travel the 40 minutes to my appointment. It was a day of strong winds and rains both to and from the appointment. So glad my friend was with me.

Appointment confirms the shadow discovered in first mammogram is indeed a mass. Meet with nurse manager to schedule biopsy to determine if it is cancerous.

My sister calls. She is requesting that I make a trip to Texas to help my parents pack for their move. After months of anticipation they will relocate to a senior living center 1 hour from me. Mom has been diagnosed with Alzheimers and a smaller home closer to family is needed. I share the news that I have need of a biopsy and my sister immediately adjusts her work and family life to stay longer to help our parents. It all feels like really bad timing. My sister and I make the decision to not share this information with our parents due to the enormous stress of their current transition season. I would pray about the appropriate time to share.

Tuesday Oct. 25,2022.

Journal Entry: Gratitude list

  • Warm blanket
  • Modest male ultrasound tech
  • Clarity with each step
  • Cindy riding with me. Cindy’s prayer for me in the car while I cried in the parking lot.
  • Lisa’s text that brought light and love.
  • energy to lead business events from 6:30 pm to 10 p.m. the night of my appointment.
  • Toms’ volleyball team wins in 3!
  • Jonah – finds the right meds.

Wed. Oct 26, 2022

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28

“Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it goodbye, you can’t be my disciple. Luke 14:33 MSG

Thursday Oct. 27, 2022

Biopsy – morning

Saturday Oct. 29, 2022

Thoughts from Romans 12 The Message Version:

-Fix my attention on God

  • God brings the best out of you, Develops well formed maturity in you.
  • Love from the center of who you are.
  • Discover beauty in everyone
  • Don’t quit in hard times, pray all the harder.
  • Don’t let evil get the best of you, get the best of evil by doing good.

Sunday Oct. 30, 2022

You make known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11 NIV

I always remember that the Lord is with me. He is here, close by my side, so that nothing can defeat me.” ERV Psalm 16:11

Monday Oct. 31, 2022

Journal Entry: List of God Attributes

  • Creator
  • In Charge
  • Give authority in Heaven and earth
  • Direct my Path
  • Light
  • You give me ALL that I need
  • You support me
  • You give me my share
  • Your word sustains.

” I pray that God will open our minds to see His truth. Then we will know the hope that he has chosen us to have. We will know that the blessings God has promised his holy people are rich and glorious. And we will know that God’s power is very great for us who believe. It is the same as the mighty power He used to raise Christ from death and put him at His right side in the heavenly places. He put Christ OVER ALL the rulers, authorities, powers and kings. He gave him Authority over everything that has power in this world or the next world. God put everything under Christs power and made him head over everything for the church. The church is Christ’s body. It is filled with him. He makes everything complete in every way. ” Eph 1:18- 19.

11:15 a.m. I receive a call that my biopsy has confirmed Ductal Carcinoma- Breast cancer. My doctor is personal friends with the best surgeon in town and he immediately sends a text directly to her personal phone. His message moved me to the top of her list. One week later I would meet with Dr. Mindi Beahm Surgeon to discuss biopsy results, next steps.

11:30 a.m. Move back into a long list of tasks connected with my business. We would finish one of our best production months as a team in my 20 years in business. It would appear that my next months would hold both great joy and challenge in many areas of my life.

Nov. 1, 2022

After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all Grace will himself complete, confirm, strengthen and establish you, (making you what you ought to be) To Him be dominion, power, authority, sovereignty forever and ever Amen.” 1 Peter 5

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God ( set aside self righteous pride) so that He may exalt you ( to a place of honor in His service) at the appropriate time, casting all my cares (all my anxieties, all my worries, and all my concerns, once and for all) on Him, for He cares about me and my family with deepest affection and watches over us very carefully.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

Today we would tell our kids about my diagnosis. This concerned me more than the actual diagnosis. My pre-op time with Jesus confirmed this was where we would start our reveal. It also provided me with the peace needed in each phone call we made to our three children.

My pre-op was critical. It was the hours with Jesus that preceded this season that have made all the difference. It gave me the lens to look through, the faith muscle to lean on and the discernment to know when and how to share, to not share.

On the eve of my last radiation treatment this week I received news that a young mom in our town was not doing well. She had battled aggressive cancer for the last two years. It appeared that her journey on earth would soon come to a close. The same evening we became aware of an active shooter on the campus of Michigan State University – a place near and dear to our families heart. I fell asleep holding the excitement of my cancer treatments ending the next day in one hand and the unknown of a woman’s cancer journey and the lives of thousands of college students in the other. I spent the next morning receiving my last treatment, delivering cookies to the staff, ringing my bell and going out for a celebratory lunch with a friend. I returned home to watch a few moments of the Parade being held for the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl champions, while reading a text that the sweet young mom had indeed ended her cancer battle and was now in the arms of Jesus and that 3 college students were confirmed dead and 5 in critical condition after the rampage of a rouge gunman at MSU. Mountain peaks and valleys – indeed.

Whew. Pre- op. Daily time with Jesus. Listening, learning, crying out, celebrating, questioning.. the one who holds each day in his hand. If you are reading this feeling like you just cant hold it all together – the highs and lows of this life… because you are trying to do it all alone.. Let me confirm…

You’re right.

It may be time for your own personal Pre-op time.

Make an appointment today.

Your Doctor is IN.

Colorado Springs, Sept. 2022. Part of my pre-op month was spent with my oldest daughter after her knee surgery. Another unexpected event that reminded me of a need for a close walk with the Lord.