Sunday, June 21, 2009

Seasons Change & Happy Father's Day

Thank you so much for the outpouring of love and support this past week.  It took me a few days to get the blog site out to everyone and then of course I've been extra busy at work.  All that to say, I hope to post on a more regular basis starting today and actually respond to your sweet emails and comments.

I promised to share some of my journal entries from my time in treatment, and this week five years ago I was very busy writing.  I will definitely go back and share previous entries, but today I want to share part of the one I wrote on Father's Day-- five years ago-- and also post the email I sent out the night I began treatment.  I will comment more later.  

Most of you are probably aware that today is Father's Day and the First Day of Summer.  My dad, Don Lawson or "Daddy Don", is a very special man.  He is a Godly man, patient, gentle and kind.  He's funny, wise and has always made Jason, Jake (my brothers) and I feel like being our Dad and my Mom's husband were the best "jobs" in the world. He's a caretaker and always has a smile on his face. He's a great friend to all and has never met a stranger.  One of the loves my Dad shared with my Mom, my brothers and I was his love for baseball.  In the Lawson household, Baseball Season was the fifth season.  I can think of many nights we were the last family leaving the little league ballpark, turning the lights out as we made our way to the car.  Our family has shared many a great memory at the ballpark.  Even my summer at M.D. Anderson, my Dad and I enjoyed the College World Series from our luxury box (a.k.a.: my really expensive M.D. Anderson room) and watched Cal State Fullerton take the title.  Yes, Baseball Season may very well be my favorite season and my Dad is my hero.  Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there and Happy Summer to all!

Journal Entry: June 20, 2004  Father's Day

"Good morning Jesus!  Today is going to be a great day.  I'm glad I woke up to the sounds of my Daddy's snoring.  It's comforting knowing he's here and that I'll be spending Father's Day with him.  The boys are going to call later today and tell Dad about building his new gates-- what a great gift idea!  Jason is being so great and I was sad to see him leave yesterday.  Jason, Dad and I watched Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation (a classic) and laughed a lot.  So as for the recap of yesterday:  Lord, you showered me with your love again.  Thank you.  My time here in the hospital has been wonderful.  That's almost weird to write, but I can't imagine being any where else right now receiving care.  I had a wonderful conversation with my RN, Hilda, last night about faith and the Lord, and how He is my healer.  We discussed prayer and how it's the only way.  She could tell that my visitors yesterday were special people and that I was a very loved person.  Indeed, I am.  Thank you Lord for my sweet, faithful friends and family."   

Monday, June 15, 2009

I Lift My Eyes Up

Here is the email I sent out the night I began treatment. When I read it now, I remember being so joyful and feeling such peace.  The joy of the Lord truly was my strength.  Praying that He's your joy and strength today as well.

Looking Back: June 14, 2004
"I Lift My Eyes Up" (Psalm 121)
I lift my eyes up
Up to the mountains,
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from You,
Maker of Heaven,
Creator of the earth.
Oh, how I need you Lord,
You are my only hope
You're my only prayer.
So I will wait for You
To come and rescue me.
Come and give me life.
Hello Precious Ones!
I hope you each know just how much I love you.  So much.  I miss you and can hardly wait to see your pretty faces again.  But until then, I've got some work for you to do.  That's right-- we have a Lord that is listening to your prayers and I need you to keep lifting them up-- look to him.  I can't even describe the peace that I've felt from the moment of my diagnosis until now-- it really does pass all understanding.  It's so wonderful knowing I have a Lord who is in complete control and that he has a perfect plan for my life.  And he promises us all the same.  I pray you cling to this fact everyday.  Live it, believe it-- TRUST HIM.  I'll be honest and say that I probably haven't ever really wanted to completely trust Him with every part of my life, but I sure do now!  It's the greatest joy in my life.  And will be forever and ever.
As I sit and type this e-mail, I am waiting to see Dr. Hagemeister, the Lymphoma Specialist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.  Wow.  Not a place I ever thought I'd be at 23 years old.  But the Lord has blessed me beyond all belief here with wonderful people around ever corner.  It's been test after test-- and as of this morning, I've even been given a new best friend.  My Catheter.  A small device that has been inserted in my left arm, which will be with me thru this entire process.  The chemo will enter my veins thru my little friend and will help me get better-- praise the Lord!  (I'm thinking he/she needs a "name", so let the voting begin!)  I'm sure you will all get to meet him/her.
Thank you for your love-- your support-- your encouragement-- your visits-- the flowers -- the cards-- and for all the lifted prayers.  Thank you most of all for the prayers.  I know the Lord has heard each one of them and He has carried me every step of the way.  And he will continue to carry me through this.  I am so blessed to have such a faithful group of girlfriends that I know will help me walk down this road-- every step of the way.  You are needed and loved. 
I will do my best to keep you updated during this process.  Please feel free to call or e-mail-- I love hearing your voices, even when I can't always call you back right away. And after today's appointment, I should have more answers to what the future looks like and you will know too.  Please pray for "good" test results and a doctor that makes wise decisions. 
I don't want to sign off, but hopefully they will call my name soon.  I love you and I keep each of you in my prayers too. 
Trusting and Resting in Him,
P.S.  I had to save the draft of this e-mail because the doctor called me back and now that I'm actually sending it at 10 p.m., everything has changed.  I am waiting to get into the hospital at MD Anderson right now and will begin chemo treatments tonight and tomorrow.  I will be in the hospital here all week and will be staying here for the next few months.  I promise you will get updates, because I will have new prayer requests and stories for you!  And if you are ever in Houston, you will have to visit me!  And one last thing, the person who finds me the best hat or scarf wins a prize-- and of course, we'll have to take a picture. :)  I love you so much!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Five Years Ago

Hello and welcome to my blog! It has not been my lifelong dream to write a blog, but I have done a great deal of reflecting these past few months and feel like this could be my best platform to share what I have been learning and what the Lord has placed on my heart.

Five years ago this very day, my veins and chemotherapy met for the very first time at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Just a few weeks before that on May 28, 2004, I found out that I had cancer at the age of 23. My actual diagnosis was revealed in the weeks thereafter; Stage 4 large B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Many of you reading this will remember that time vividly, and others of you may be saying, "wow, it's been five years." And still others of you may be hearing my story for the very first time. I often cannot remember what I was doing yesterday, but June 14, 2004 is forever etched in my mind and on my heart. For the past two weeks, I have debated what I would share on this blog and what I truly wanted to come from my time spent writing. I want to make this very clear: I have one purpose in sharing my thoughts and reflections and that is to make God's glory known and to share what He has done in and through my life and what He continues to do five years later.

I have been overwhelmed with emotion going back through my journal and reading the words I wrote five years ago. Though I wasn't the best at writing consistently, what I did write says so much about how the Lord was blessing and protecting me through the hardest of days. Over the course of the next few weeks and months, I am going to share some of my entries with you. Not because I'm such a great writer, but because it's so clear the Lord was using this time of suffering in my life for His greater good. One of the greatest lessons I'm continuously reminded of is that my time on earth is not about me. It's about what the Lord wants to do through me. And I can see how God has bigger plans for my life than I ever could imagine for myself.

Another reason I decided to make my words public is that I've seen a need for young people facing a cancer diagnosis to hear the story of someone else who has gone through something similar. I am now employed by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Houston, but also serve as a volunteer through our First Connection program. This program pairs up someone newly diagnosed with someone at least one year post-treatment with a similar profile. Through First Connection I have had numerous opportunities to speak to young people all over the country battling a blood cancer. Recently I spoke to a girl who just wanted to talk to someone who had actually lived after her diagnosis. The people she knew had all passed away. For her, I represented hope. Hope that better days were ahead. Hope that this was worth fighting through and hope that she would feel good again.

For those not facing a cancer diagnosis, I want this blog to give you hope too. Hope for this life and hope that you will find a greater purpose in whatever you are doing, wherever you are. The past five years have been filled with more blessings than I can count, but I also will be the first to admit that I have experienced some of my darkest days during this time. I have struggled physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally and continue to struggle today. I have experienced some of the best moments of my life and I have made some of the greatest mistakes of my life. But I have hope for this life and that hope is in Jesus.

So with that, I'm going to leave you tonight. I have a lot to share in these next couple of weeks and hope to reconnect with many of you. My first post on this blog is a song I have fallen in love with called "Blessed". If you read the lyrics you will discover that the name of my blog is a line in this song. I do have hope today and I'm grateful for this opportunity to share that hope with you.

With love,