Tag Archives: God

What I wish I knew when I got a cancer diagnosis.

I never would have been able to write this post 6 years ago when I was first diagnosed with a desmoid tumor because I had no idea what I was getting into.  It has been a journey.  I would not change my experience as it has shaped me into who I am today.  If I can help someone else starting out, here is what I now know about being diagnosed with a chronic disease, whether cancer or thyroid (as I’ve used the same advice with my hypothyroidism) or another chronic illness, I needed the same advice for all the Dx’s I have heard.

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What I wish I knew then, that I know now:

This is going to be a scary journey and there will be many moments that you are going to feel very alone.  It is confusing and you will feel inadequate.  Most likely, you will not know what your diagnosis means (for a while – maybe forever) or what to do.  That’s normal.  You will learn what you need to over time.  You will learn from reading, you will learn from googling, you will learn from friends and family in the medical field, you will learn from survivors and support groups and those that can say “me too” – you’ll mostly learn from them.  You’ll learn from your doctors.

The truth is, you are never alone and you are not inadequate.  You have all you need, always.

It will be a lot of new feelings, new information, new experiences.  Take it one day at a time.  One day will be great and one will be so horrible.  Trust the process, the highs and lows, and accept both days.  Accept that you are right where you’re supposed to be at all times.

It is going to take a lot longer than you think.  You will have these crazy ideas that you are going to just solider through and you need things to get back to normal – now.  Not true.  This is going to take a while.  The surgery recovery, the right dose of that medicine, that pain pill, the balance of your body back, the emotional healing.  It is going to take time.  Good news is, you have the rest of your life, sweet child.  The truth is, life is forever changed.  (And that is not always bad.)

The truth is, taking your time actually can make the process shorter.  

Don’t start your treatment until you are ready.  It doesn’t matter if the doctor is the “best rated” most “qualified” or the specialist that your trusted family doctor (that has known you forever) sent you to, if YOU do not feel comfortable, if it does not feel right, wait.  Find another opinion.  Move forward when you know, in your gut, it is right.  Pushing forward too soon just causes a lot of emotional and potentially physical challenges in the future.  Trust that the right doctor will come because they will.

Take the support and love you get from friends, family, co-workers.  It will come gushing at first, when everyone finds out you are experiencing this, and be a bit overwhelming.  Say thanks and take your alone time as you need it, but lean on those people when you start going through treatment and when you get low and when you get scared and when you think you just can’t do it anymore.  Don’t sit alone for one minute and think you are wrong or bad or can’t do this.  Reach out and email, call, text your friends.  Seriously, do it.  They love you and they will make you feel so much better.  Remember, you are not alone.

Create a team.  You need more than your doctor or specialist.  This is a journey.  Mind, body, spirit – all involved.  The sooner you realize how spiritual healing is, the better.  There are so many people who can support your journey.  I wish I knew this from the start (although I may not have engaged the idea at first).  I learned.  Here are some of the players you might want to include.  I did:

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Naturopathic ND’s can make vitamin and supplement recommendations based on deficiencies and symptoms, as well as give diet and lifestyle recommendations.  Different ND’s focus on different things.  I personally go to Dr. Ian Bier in NH  http://www.humannaturenaturalhealth.com/Dr-Bier

Imagery Coach Guided imagery can help prepare you for surgery through visualization and meditation.  It can also help calm nerves, anxiety and help you see the process in a new way.  My life changed with Bob S. at http://www.theinwardeye.com

Nutritionist/Health Coach – If your ND does not help you get your diet right, go to a functional nutritionist.  They will help.  I love Sue R at Roselle Healing in VA:  http://rosellecare.com

Physical Therapist/Personal Trainer – I have used both and they have been invaluable to getting me strong and minimizing/eliminating my pain.  I did not know how to move right in my body post-surgery.  Moving was all new and I over compensated when I ran, sat, walked, drove.  It caused me a lot of pain.  These folks get it right.  It’s hard to find a good one, but make sure you interview and don’t settle.

Life Coach – Sick or well, life coaching has helped my life so much.  My coach has helped me create meaning, drive me towards my dreams and give me focus and guidance instead of living in regret of hang ups or bad habits.  They helped me re-tell my cancer story into a powerful one.  They helped me change jobs when I realized that life was so much more after my diagnosis.  They lead me to heal relationships with friends and family.  They helped me clean up so many bad traits. I highly recommend http://www.handelgroup.com  Life changers.

Acupuncture – If you have pain, acupuncture can work wonders. If you have digestive problems, sleep problems, emotional problems, pretty much any problem, acupuncture works.  My go-to is in Philly and she has been so hard to replace with my move south.   If in Philly, I recommend Kara  at http://www.healingwithease.net

You can find all of the above practitioners close to you.  If you want to know how comment or message me and I’ll share.  I’m a pro at finding doctors.  Seriously, its my job.

Most importantly….

It is all spiritual.  I heard this when I first started this journey, but had no idea what that meant and wasn’t ready to engage religion, which is what I thought spirituality meant.  Through my journey I have found a religion that I believe in.  That might not be the answer to you right now, but I highly recommend accepting that this is spiritual.  It’s all spiritual.  This was a journey for me, I had to start just understanding that what was going on was bigger than me, that I could trust in guidance, that I knew there were connections and ah-ha’s that were happening that did not make sense.  I began to engage the unknown and slowly God began to reveal Himself to me, slowly I began to understand this “greater than me,” and, gratefully, I began to build this powerful relationship.  I started by just praying and praying and praying (having no idea what that meant) and then I started getting answers.  My suggestion – just open up, talk to that “greater than you” feeling you might get (that is called praying) and you’ll begin to get response.  Repeat when you don’t think you are hearing whispers or repeat if you never think you hear anything or have no idea what I am talking about.  You will.

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Mom and I in the hospital after my second surgery in 2008.

 

I wish I’d knew how much cancer was going to grow and change me when I started.  It has been the most challenging days of my life and some of the most brilliant.  I have soared and I have crumpled into a crying ball.  I would not change it because I can’t.  I wish I would have known that when I started – that the big beautiful mess of this journey would be my journey and it would help me find myself and heal beyond anything I knew I needed healing of.

In health and healing,

Sera Fiana

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Patience and Gratitude. Gratitude and Patience.

My life, it seems, has been a series of lessons on patience and gratitude, gratitude and patience the past few years. I don’t always pass with flying colors, actually, I might venture to say I fail a lot more than I pass.  What I am grateful to say, though, it that I keep getting back up and forging forward when I fail.

I stopped writing for a while because healing was not happening as I desired it to.  I gained weight, I was physically exhausted and my emotions were a roller coaster.  I was, and continue to, eat a very clean diet of protein and veggies, I take my load of vitamins, I workout, as my body lets me, I pray, I do deep, dirty, forgiveness and living for love work with my coach, and I felt I physically just continued to spiral downward.

Welcome to this new world of an imbalanced thyroid.

Somewhere between surgery 1, 2 and 3 my thyroid said enough. I’m tired. I can’t keep up. What is going on here?!?

Unfortunately for me, this little butterflied shaped love in my throat regulates my metabolism, energy and hormones! Note to all: you do not want one or any of these to be off.

There have been many times in the last year that I said, I’m done, I can’t do this anymore.  I fail.  Its enough.  There were so many times that I’ve gone into my victim, pity pool of why me.  Haven’t I been through enough health stuff? I have completely changed my diet, my lifestyle, my habits – all of them.  I got really ugly, really mean, really sad, really selfish a lot.  I am so far from perfect or patient.

I have also had days where I have been patient and so very grateful for this journey.  I could see how getting a tumor, having a hernia, and having surgeries for both have majorly shaped who I am today.  I could see that by getting cut so deep I soared so high and found out so much about myself.  I could see that I am in such a better place spiritually and how I have grown so incredibly.  I have hope for all to come.  I can be grateful for my journey and have patience for my body to physically, get there – to where I want it to be.  Sometimes.

I want my actions to equal fair results.  I want my input of healthy choices to equal an output of a toned body, good health, a clear mind, loads of energy and steady emotions.

Somewhere along the line I believed that if I could just control life, life would give me what I wanted.  If I could just control my body, my body would give me what I want (or think I want).  I am so grateful God is in control and not me. His love is teaching me so much about my false control theories in this.

I believe that God will keep giving me lessons until I spiritually evolve, until I’m done with this – and then continue even after that to ensure I’ve got it.  Only because he’s a good, good father that wants his children to get better, grow and evolve.  I want that too.  I want to end this vicious cycle with my challenged health, body hatred and emotional torture for my lineage and that of others.

I am not the first in my family to go through health and body issue challenges like this, but my hope is to change this challenge more than just physically, but spiritually for those little beautiful girls that run around that I get to now call nieces and cousins….and the ones that come after them.

I know God knows that.  In fact, I believe its one of the reasons He sent me here.  He knows that I know and so I feel like He keeps asking me – are you sure, are you sure you want to be the one to end this?  I think He is reminding me, this didn’t stick around for generations and effect millions of women like it is effecting me because it is easy to push through.

And then I have patience, when I remember Him telling me these words.  And gratitude that He would choose me. And then I solider on and do the work I need to do again, just one more day.

I didn’t think I could come back and write until I was where I wanted to be  – healthy, happy, at the weight I desired, without the thyroid or hormone issues, singing from mountain tops.  I thought this blog would always be an incredible story of victory and overcoming – and maybe it is – because sitting here, writing this post, showing up in the imperfect, sharing the real, that is winning, that is victory.  That is doing Gods work and that is absolutely, perfectly, why I am here.

In health and healing,

Sera Fiana

How I am healing…

What an incredible year it has been.  As I come up on a year since I came back to blog, I stop….I reflect. I have so much gratitude and I know I couldn’t do it without God.

This week I had my last session with my physical therapist.  A mixed bag of emotions as I love her.  Love this woman.  She is an angel from God and a healer on earth and she changed the game for me.  She listened, she healed my heart along with my belly.  She was patient and kind and I am so strong and thankful for all of that.

My check list from last year to this week.  So cool!

My check list from last year to this week. So cool!

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Secili, my PT, and I in the “healing room” Praise God for her!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also had a final check-up with my nutritionist and 12 pounds later – we’re on a good path.  Healing my thyroid was a key for me and pretty incredible that it was never caught before.  I’ve also continued a very clean, well-maintained, diet and it works great for me.

Back to running.

Back to feeling good.

Always loving the God who makes it happen.

I didn’t start out this journey as a blog about God and my spirituality and I am surprised by the progression, but what I realize is, I did start this out as a blog about healing.   At first it was for my stomach and now I realize that all healing is spiritual, and all healing, for me and my beliefs, comes from God, and all is miraculous.  What happened in my life in the last year is a miracle.

Amazing. A miracle.  You agree?

What you do know is that I had my reconstruction and fought back from that over the last year.  The 3rd surgery in 5 years.  Across the country.  With a kick-ass doctor.

You also know that shortly after my surgery, my Mother was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and I am walking through that.  Surgery. Chemo. Radiation later.  She’s a healing rockstar.

What I haven’t shared is that in December my Grandfather died and recently, a few weeks ago, my Grandmother died.  Two amazing people who lead both sides of my family.  Two people who left very sudden and unexpected.  Two of the first losses in my life.

My beautiful Grandmother and me about 8 years ago.  Grateful for her and missing her.

My beautiful Grandmother and me about 8 years ago. Grateful for her and missing her.

 

What you need to know is that I survived.  I survived all poised, loved, heart in-tact, free from turning to my pain covers (food, exercise, drama, worry, pity, fear).  I cannot, in no human power, could have gotten through this without falling apart without God. I turn everything over to Him every day – food, worry, fear, indecision, sorrow, life. He leads, he guides, he heals, he lifts, he loves fiercely.

So, a check in on how I’m healing.  I am. He is. We are.  That’s how.

Miracles abound here.

And I am so grateful.

In love and healing,

Sera Fiana

 

Unstoppable Love.

Inspired, encouraged, and feeling so loved by  Jesus Culture’s “Unstoppable Love.”  It is a love song to me from God, I am sure of it….and so I share:

 

Also, loved this quote from Pastor Mark today that I want to remember for all time:

 

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In love and healing,

Sera

In awe.

I am in awe.

Respectful fear and wonder. I hold in my heart.

This year has been, on paper, in theory, one of the most difficult of my life: I had reconstructive surgery, across the country on my stomach and had to rehab my way back for the majority of the year, my beautiful mother was diagnosed and went through treatment for breast cancer, my grandfather died, and my grandmother recently died…and weaved through this story is me learning how be comfortable in love after having a wounded heart (no small feat) and leading my team to excellence while living remotely as I navigated all of this.

I am in awe because of how God led me and continues to lead me through all of this.

It has been one of the most magical, beautiful years of my life because people were courageous, bold and loving enough, obedient enough to encourage me in my way with Christ. To tell me the truth about him and to lead me to my Salvation.

God leads and I follow.
It’s simple.
If I surrender.
I can relax into crisis and difficulty.
I am in awe.
Every day. And I hope I am that way for the rest of my life. I pray for that.

I hope I always rest in the Lord….
Because if it feels this glorious during crisis. I can only imagine what it’s like during triumph.

Thank you to those that pursued and prayed and believed in my relationship with Him. You know who you are.

Thank you God for loving me so fervently, so fiercely, so gently.

In love and healing,
Sera

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Awake.

It’s taken a 2 a.m. wake up call to get me present this week, acknowledge what is real and happening in my world right now and be ready to share.

Laying in bed, wide awake, on a business trip to Philadelphia, cursing not sleeping, brought me the beauty of recognition that I have some things on my mind and heart that I need to acknowledge.  In my desperation to, in this case, just sleep away the reality, my intuition told me that the short-term reprieve that “sleeping it away” might give me will never measure up to the life-long healing sharing and being present will offer…and so I share.

What is keeping me up?:

My Mom, my beautiful Mother, starts chemo today.

I’m scared.

I’m sad.

I’m hopeful.

I’m present.

I’m praying for my Mothers strength and courage and healing.  I’m praying for my family’s presence and love and light.  I’m praying for faithfulness of believing and trusting in His will.  I’m praying for my own courage to stay present through all of this – to not run or sleep or eat or numb, even if its painful and scary.  I am praying for strength and guidance from God.  I am praying for miracles of love.

I pray that through this my Mother can see how much she is loved and admired and beautiful and deserving of receiving.  I pray for peace.  I pray for forgiveness.

I am hopeful and grateful to have an outstanding woman and Mother to pray for and love and honor.

In the midst of these prayers and this presence, I also give light to my 5 year anniversary of surgery to remove my desmoid, tomorrow, which is also the day that I will be getting my first scans post reconstruction. 

What a gift of healing. 

5 years ago I had no idea where this journey was heading.  I had no idea what was happening and I certainly didn’t know that 5 years later, on the eve of my celebration of 5 years clean from this tumor, I would be praying for my Mother’s strength during chemo for breast cancer.  (I’m not even sure the latter part of that sentence is real to me yet.)  What a gift, my journey of healing can be to her, can be to this new process my family embarks on.  I pray I can offer her the wisdom I gained through this journey and the space to create and experience whatever she needs on her own journey.

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God has a plan for us all.  His will is a gift I get to fulfill.

I find strength in God and I find strength in sharing.  My greatest strength this year is being transparent with you…..and me – that I cannot do this alone nor do I want to.  Strength, for me, I am learning, is being vulnerable even when its the scariest choice I (think) I have.  For me, holding in the vulnerable reality of fear and pain and of simply being seen, is even scarier now because I know the behavior isolating and hiding ignites in me – and its not good.  

I ask for prayers, love and light through this week – for my Mother and I as she starts chemo and I go for my scans – for love, strength, healing and miracles – in whatever form God might offer them to us. I pray for you too – for your peace and happiness and love and healing.

In love and healing,

Sera

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Giving Thanks…

Grateful Scrab

I am pretty grateful this year.

I certainly have a lot to be grateful for.  I am not sure I have more to be grateful for this year verses in years past or if its simply because I’ve experienced such significant shifts in my life this year, that my awareness of what I have is tilted up just a notch.  Either way, it feels good to recognize and feel this gratitude.

So, as we roll out of the Thanksgiving weekend…. here’s my list of the top things I’m giving thanks for right now:

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My health – I’m still amazed everyday at how much my body has healed in one year.  I am healthy and healing and so grateful for this amazing body that just takes my beatings and keeps on going.  I am grateful for Dr. Hoxworth and Laura for leading me to Dr. H, for my Mom and Dad and sisters that took care of me during recover from my surgery (and since the day I was born, if I’m honest), for Steve who has been my rock through the entire process, for Secili that is such a gift to my life right now in keeping me focused, strong and faithful in my recovery, and for my love, compassion and desire that God brings to my heart to know that I can get even better and that I am  – everyday.

My Family – I have such a loving, caring, giving, compassionate family that I have taken for granted for way too long.  This year, I sing gratitude for all they are and all they have given me – time, patience, love, support, courage and wisdom.  Grateful.

Steve – This man is amazing and I feel incredibly fortunate that God has brought him into my life.  His patience, compassion, drive and courage makes me a better person everyday.

My home – I love living in VA, from the actual roof over my head, my apartment, to the area I live, with its history and fun places to explore to the people, the community, I’ve had the fortune to meet here and spend my time with….I don’t think Virginia is ever going to get rid of me.  I’m grateful for this home.

God – My gratitude for the patience and guidance and love that God graces me with everyday no matter what I accomplish or don’t accomplish no matter how much I have or have not glorified him in the past.  I am learning about the volumes of gratitude I owe to God (umm, my entire life) and I am grateful for this process.  Without God none of this list would even be possible and I am eternally grateful that I learned that this year.

Friends – I am so grateful for my girlfriends that listen with such open hearts, speak with such wisdom and ignite the passion in my heart.

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And……I’m grateful for you.  I’m grateful you read this and care to share in my life.  You may or may not have noticed that it takes a lot for me to write and speak and get this out, but I’m grateful that when I do…you’re still here, reading.  Thank you for cheering me on even if you never say a word.

In love and healing (and gratitude),

Sera

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