Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I'm Amazed

Just in the past few days, I have been reminded over-and-over that life is fragile...that it is full of tragedies and sadness. But, as I have seen so many times in my life, I have also been shown that there is something even greater than sickness and death and tragedy and cancer. It's the will of the human spirit to find joy and strength and courage in the midst of it all. And that just amazes me!

We had a wonderful time at our annual Halloween Bunko game last night and that amazing spirit was on display right there in front of me! Our friend, Andrea, was just diagnosed with cancer over a month ago. She has had two rounds of chemotherapy and has already lost her hair. She was there last night and looked fabulous!! She was decked out as an 8os Girl--complete with her "Flashdance"-style torn shirt and electric blue eyeshadow. And the sassiest wig around!

She amazes me!

This comes on the heels of getting another email from my great friend, Debby, with the words "Health Update" in the subject line. It always takes me a few hours to get the courage up to open up those emails, because I'm never really sure if I want to read what it says. Debby (who was one of my very best friends in junior high in Arkansas; she and I cheered together and were in church youth group together) has a very advanced stage of cervical cancer that she has battled for more than three years. And, let me tell you, she has gone through the ringer! She has taken lots of very high dosages of medicine, has lost her hair several times, has gotten good news that it was in remission, only to have it come back stronger again, even had to travel to Houston (she lives outside Austin) once a week to take a new, experimental drug that they hoped would finaly beat it. This last health update was a mixed bag of news; the good news was that her levels were at the same place; they hadn't gotten worse. The bad news was that her cancer had not gone away at all; it's just hanging out.

But Debby is the most unbelievable example of faith and spirit that you could ever imagine! For the last two years she has participated in the Lance Armstrong bike ride for cancer. It's a 100-mile race and she did it last year WHILE on CHEMO!! (This year, she admitted that she'd have to cut back to the 50-mile race, because she just doesn't have the same energy!) Let me tell you--you couldn't get me on a bike ride for 5 miles while in my best physical condition. She is just a ball of energy and determination and positivity. And her faith is amazing; she truly feels like God is there for her in all of the directions her life goes. She's told me she's absolutely "certain"in whatever God wills for her life.

She amazes me!

Then just yesterday I learned two other pieces of news that was hard to take. One my Mom's best friends died after battling breast cancer for years; and then last night at Bunko we found out that one of our Bunko pals, Freddie, had just lost a 16-year-old granddaughter the day before to a heart attack. But there was Freddie...rolling the dice, trying to keep a smile on her face.

I have been through some hard times in my life....times when I really didn't think I'd be able to wake up and face the next day...but I've never dealt with anything as hard as what these friends of mine are growing through right now. So I look to them as amazing examples of what I'd like to be when times like these inevitably come my way (because you know they will).

I want to be amazing like them!

(And, by the way...I have some OUTSTANDING pictures of Andrea and Freddie and all of us all dolled-up from Bunko last night. There is NOTHING like hanging out and laughing with girlfriends and we had a blast. I want to share pictures with all of you, and will probably upload some later on today! But for now I wanted to share what I'm feeling this morning...and hope that it inspires you today to reach out to a friend who may be going through hard times, and to challenge yourself to always be postive and grateful!)


Theresa Tyree said...

Wow! Reading these stories puts into perspective what is really important in life, doesn't it? Having trust in God is a must to get through all of life's trials and tribulations.

Linda said...

thank you for the beautiful post and the reminder on how wonderful life, and people are. I have a friend whose wife was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer throughout her body and given 6 months, max, to live. That was almost 5 years ago, no it's not in remission, she just has spirit, will and faith. Love that. Bless you today sweetie. Hug your kids, your friends, I will do the same. We are surrounded by beautiful people.

~gkw said...

What a touching post.... even if you didn't put pics online of your Halloween Bunko!

Adrienne said...

What a great post!!!!!! Life is INDEED fragile!

Gin said...

Amazing post, cheryl. You always inspire me!

Katrin said...

This is so inspiring! I am so, so, so lucky that all my friends, family and myself are healthy (as can be) and don't have to go through such tragedies. I thank God every night for that! Thanks for reminding of how things could be.

Ms.L said...

Wow...I'm amazed too. And inspired...and in tears and grateful.
Thank you for sharing those stories.
I am taking your challenge my friend:)

maria said...

Very touching post Cheryl...God sure does make all the difference.

Nina Diane said...

good post Cheryl.....reminds us to slow down and live the moments.

Jill@Who Could Ask for Anything More said...

Gosh - it seems like cancer is just everywhere. It touches so many, many lives. And, it's so amazing to read stories of faith and love for the Lord through those trials.

patti_cake said...

Very sobering and yet uplifting stories Cheryl. My prayers go out to all of your friends. Hugs honey.

I can't imagine what people who dont' know God's love do, how they cope. You know?

Cheryl Wray said...

Theresa--I don't see how people without that trust can make it through!

Linda--Wow!! That's a wonderful story!! And we are blessed!

G--LOL I will put out some pics soon!

Adrienne--Amen sister!

Gin--So glad!!

Katrin--When you see a friend struggle through things like this, it really puts things into perspective. Yes, be very thankful!

Cheryl Wray said...

Ms. L--So glad it touched you! We all need to take the challenge! :-)

Maria--Yes He does!

Nina--You're right! We need to always stop and enjoy the "little" things.

Jill--It's crazy, isn't it?It seems like everyone is somehow touched by it.

Patti--Thanks for the hugs. You're a sweetie!

Kimberly said...

Wonderful post...thanks for the reminder that life is precious and you never know when it will end.

Anonymous said...

I pray that neither you nor any of your family members suffer the illnesses that Andrea or Debbie suffer; or experience a loss such as Freddie’s. Should God put you through that test, I am sure you would pass it with flying colors :)
You are already AMAZING in your own way! God has gifted you with words, words that inspire others in many ways; bringing us back to read you and learn of others, other that need to be prayed for and with that, bring us closer to God and each other. That is truly an amazing gift. Thanks for always sharing.

Dawn Bibbs said...

What a great post, Cheryl. I realize how difficult it is to write things like this. But the truth of the matter is, this (diseases & death) are all a part of life. Albeit hard to deal with. But just like everything else we all have to encounter, it is so encouraging and necessary to "vent" our feelings about it.

I've mentioned a few times during my past 2+ years of blogging, that the reason for me even beginning my blog was a way for me to grieve. My SIL passed away in June of 2005 from breast cancer. I'd be lying if I said that my "getting it all out" wasn't thereputic.

Thanks for sharing these stories and your feelings. We're here for you...when you just need to vent :-). Love ya!!!

Cinderella said...

Wow, that is sooo sad. Cancer seems to be everywhere. It's so scary. I had a scare myself with the cervical aspect of it. But everything was alright. Your friends are amazing! And my gosh!!! A heart attack at 16?? Did she have heart problems from birth or was this just out of no where??? That is horrible!!!! It certainly makes you grateful for everyday..rain or shine, bad or's all wonderful.

Kelly said...

wow Debby is an inspiration. I met her in choir in high school.

thanks for the thoughtful post, Cheryl.

Cheryl Wray said...

Kimberly--Thanks! It's really important to remember those lessons, don't you think?

Anon--You are SO sweet for giving me such compliments! I love to write and this blog has become a wonderful way to be reflective and share my feelings with everyone--sometimes they're serious, sometimes just silly. But I really do appreciate your sweet words!

Dawn--I had no idea that you had suffered the loss of your SIL from cancer.I can't imagine how difficult that must have been for you and your family! You are such an inspiring gal too; I'm so glad you started blogging (even if it wasn't for a "good" reason). :-)

Cinderella--From my understanding, her granddaughter had had heart problems for yeras. But her collapse still shocked them all. Just so sad!

Kelly--Yes, Debby is just AWESOME!! She is such a hero to me, for the way she has handled everything.

Susie Q said...

Bless them all and yes, we all need to learn a lesson from this. We will all face loss, devastation of some sort, disappointment and pain. Illness, either ours or that of a loved is HOW we face these things that show who we are. Trust in something higher than ourselves, not always for a miracle but faith and help to be able to live through it.

We just need to savor something from each day. I know you do dear Cheryl. It is a must...learn something every day. Find something to smile about every day. Hug someone every day. Go to sleep counting the blessings we have not what we do NOT have or what went wrong.

Life is too short and this post was touching and sweet and meaningful and wonderful. Thank you dear Cheryl. It is awesome to know you...a kindred spirit who knows what life is...a gift!

Love and hugs,

Wendy G said...

Wow Cheryl, that was one of those post that makes you stop and thank the good Lord for all he does. God is so good, and he walks through those valleys with us if we allow him to. Thanks for reminding me how blessed we all are. Even in the worst of times, God has never, ever left my side.

Loreluca said...

Wowsers, Cheryl! This does put things into perspective, and makes you want to count your blessings... Thank you so much for your kind words and your prayers for my family. We are so very blessed...
Lots of hugs to you and your friends!! I hope your dear childhood friend has better news next time. I'll keep her in my prayers.

Jacquie said...

Cancer is everywhere it seems. I pray your friends keep fighting to kick it's butt!

One of my BFF's came to visit this summer, so when we went home a few weeks later I called her to get together to find out she has been dx with Leukemia. I was crushed. She has been thru 2 rounds of chemo so far with one more to go. Things look good but they want to do another round just to be sure.

I sometimes beleive there is a cure out there for these cancers but as someone once said to me "there is no money in a cure" sad to think that it might possibly be true.

crazy working mom said...

Yup, simply amazing!!! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

We read in the newspaper and we hear on the news, all of these terrible things, about war, people dying, bad people molesting others, attacking mates, whatever the case may be and many of us become jaded. Really jaded.

I try so very hard on a daily basis to not let life get me down. I try to believe that there is truly good in people.

I've had two experiences in my life where I've found that people ARE good! About five years ago I almost died from a very rare form of pneumonia. I was in the hospital for 17 days. People that helped came out of the woodwork. Then, now, my husband and I are going through a really rough patch financially...and I mean ROUGH! Again, people that I barely know and people that I knew only as acquaintances have been there for us in ways you can't even imagine. We've found checks in the mail. Gift cards, money envelopes! Some anonymous, some from people we know. The outpouring of love is phenominal and it's given me a new perspective on how strong people can be and how good most people really are!


Cheryl said...

Thanks for sharing this. I have just found out this week that my most favorite aunt has been diagnosed with cancer of the brain. It has been very hard on us here. Sometimes we just do not realize how wide spread this problem is. God will give us all the strength we need to get through this. God Bless!

Jenster said...

Those people sound like truly incredible people. Very inspirational.

Four years ago my best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her strength, grace, faith and attitude were amazing. I remember thinking if I ever went through anything like that I hoped I would be half as strong as she was. Two years later I was diagnosed with the same disease and I found out just how faithful God is. He can carry us when we don't have the strength to stand. He is simply awesome!

NY KAT said...

It's so sad to hear about people suffering but very inspring to hear how they dealt with it!