Archives For cancer

A season of loss

Tim Jackson —  August 15, 2011 — 5 Comments

I haven’t written this blog for a couple of weeks.

I’ve been gone.

It’s been a rainy season for me and my family.

“When it rains, it pours,” was a saying my Grandma would often use when things were piling up and we were feeling overwhelmed. You know, like when when the muffler falls off the car, then the hot water heater sprouts a leak and floods half the basement, and the door on the toaster oven breaks and you have to jamb a pencil in the latch to make it work because you just spent what money you had on getting the items needed to get your kids prepared for the new school year.

You know what I mean.

Don’t you?

But those kinds of things aren’t life-changing. Frankly, they’re just plain annoying.

But what about when significant losses begin stacking up one on top of the other? That’s not just annoying. That’s overwhelming. Drowning or suffocating is more like it.

That’s been my summer so far.

My wife fell on April 29th, tearing all three hamstring muscles away from the bone on her right leg. Surgery was require to reattach them. Twelve weeks in a brace and no weight bearing, followed by 42 weeks of extensive physical therapy. Yep, that’s 54 weeks total recovery.

On May 13th my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died 3 weeks later on June 3 at 81 years of age. A shock to all of us since she seemed so healthy just 6 weeks prior to the diagnosis.

Then my dad began to fail. Alzheimer’s had been stealing his life away for the past 7 years. He didn’t know mom or any of us for most of the past 2-3 years. And in spite of the fact that we didn’t tell him about mom’s death, after 60 years of marriage, he somehow just seemed to know that his sole mate had gone home to heaven to await his arrival. And he didn’t waste much time. 8 weeks and one day later he arrived to greet her with a healed body and mind.

Yesterday I snapped at my 20-year-old daughter about something I thought she was negligent about. Her defenses shot up. We both felt the tension tighten. She called me on my “accusational” tone. She was right. And I knew it.

She asked me what was going on with me. I didn’t know, but soon I was reduced to tears. And I still didn’t know why.

Then it hit me: “I’ve got no emotional margins left. I’m depleted.Wrung out. Overloaded.” The losses have piled up around me. I just buried both of my parents within 2 months. My wife has begun a long road to recovery. And I feel buried emotionally.”

The journey through grief is a long one. Especially when it’s compounded by multiple losses. “Personal, painful loss forces a door open into the deep parts of our soul, exposing what which we’d just as soon not admit exists, let alone face”(p. 3). I believe that. I wrote that 20 years ago in a booklet on grief, How Can I Live With My Loss? Now I’m re-living it afresh.

Loss is as common as the air we breathe. But our journey through grief is unique to each of us. I’m on that journey. Maybe you are too. Let me reassure you with words from my Father that I find deeply encouraging and comforting in the middle of turmoil that is so disconcerting:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)

“. . . because God has said,  “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5)

What’s reassuring for me is that I’m never alone on this messy journey of grief after a loss. And neither are you if you’ve put your hope in the God who raises the dead.

I’m sure there will be more to come as I process what God is doing in me because of these losses. For now, knowing He’s always with me is what keeps me going.



A Better Day Coming

Allison Stevens —  June 27, 2011 — 3 Comments

My heart is heavy this morning. One of my best friends has cancer and doesn’t have a hopeful prognosis.  According to her doctors, she’ll be lucky to live out the rest of this year.

Another friend’s father and brother were killed in an auto accident last night. I can only imagine her horror and grief.

This world is ravaged by sin and death. It hurts and I hate it. I feel helpless to stop it. I know I’m not alone; anyone reading this has been affected by tragedy and heartache in some way.

My heart is soothed this morning by what I read in Revelation 21:4:  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

I look forward to that day. I long for it. I hope you, too, find comfort from this promise of God.

Unexpected Journeys

Jeff Olson —  June 16, 2011 — 2 Comments

Unexpected journeys. Little and big…life is full of them. A quick trip to the store turns into a car accident and a long night in the emergency room. The drive home from work turns into into break down on the highway and a long wait for tow truck. A call on the cell phone turns into the news that someone you loved has passed away.

We can negotiate the little journeys of life–mostly. The big journeys, however,  can turn our lives upside down.

I have a friend who just started down one of those big journeys this week. His cancer is back, and he is having a bone marrow transplant. This is an aggressive treatment that requires extensive chemotherapy,  a long stay in the hospital and  several months of isolation to complete. This is not at all how he and his wife expected to spend their summer and fall.

Unexpected journeys…the big ones can certainly rock our worlds. Some of us have a solid faith like my friend. As he enters this journey, I genuinely see in him what David wrote about in Psalm 23:4

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”

Others of us have more of a struggle. We go through times like David wrote about in Psalm 22:1

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?”

God is gracious God who meets us where we are. During those unexpected journeys there are times for both Psalm 22 and Psalm 23.



In a waiting room

Tim Jackson —  June 1, 2011 — 4 Comments

I hate to wait.

Invariably I’m the guy who gets stuck in what I thought was the shortest check out line at the supermarket and then watched as the cashier needs to change the tape in the register, or the 2 items the person in front of me needs “a price check on isle 4!” After what seems like an eternity, I finally get checked out.

Now that’s irritating.

But last week I was sitting in yet another “waiting” room.

I was awaiting the outcome of another serious surgery for my wife. This was her third. A tumor in her abdomen 8 years ago. A thyroid cancer scare just 2 years ago. And now a surgery to reattach all 3 of her hamstring muscles on her right leg that she tore in a fall.

At the same time, I was texting back and forth with my brother on the East Coast regarding my mom’s deteriorating condition after being recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and getting the news what she only had a few weeks to live.

I’m waiting for the outcome of two very serious situations to the two most important women in my life. And yet, while I hate waiting, I had a strange peace. Not strange in a weird way, but in a good way.

I felt hopeful for both situations.

Hopeful that my wife’s surgery would go well, that she (after much physical therapy) will be able to again take long walks on the beach or hikes in the woods that we love and have many plans for.

And, yes, hopeful for my mother whose 81-year journey in this world is coming to an end and celebrating her escorted entrance into the presence of Jesus who she told me last week was the first person she wants to see in heaven.

This morning, the text that God reminded me of was Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 when he spoke about enduring hardships which is what the last several weeks has felt like:

We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

That’s it! The internal peace that has and is sustaining our hearts is because our hope is set on the One who raises the dead! It’s impossible for us to endure on our own. But our hope in Christ empowers us to endure.

The other amazing this is that much of this is because of the incredible support of the prayers of friends and family, coworkers, neighbors, and many whose faces we will never see in this life who have lifted us up during this time.

As much as I hate waiting, I’m grateful that it’s “in the waiting room” that I’ve witnessed first hand a gracious peace that defies description (Phil. 4:7) “in answer to the prayers of many,” and for which I’m eternally grateful.



This morning I was reading 2 Corinthians 1:


When Someone You Love Is Dying

Jeff Olson —  February 17, 2011 — 5 Comments

My 21 year old nephew graduates from college today. It’s a joyous day for him and my family. We are all so proud of him, but it’s also mixed with sadness and heartache. You see, my nephew, who was born with an incurable disease (Duchenne muscular dystrophy) was originally meant to graduate later this Spring, but his doctors don’t think he will live that long. So the college he’s attending has arranged a special graduation ceremony for him so he can experience the joy of receiving a well-earned degree.

Right now, it seems as if death and dying are at every turn. Just this morning cancer took one of our co-workers. Another co-worker’s daughter is in a fight for her young life against cancer.

What do you say to someone you love who is dying? Here are a couple of ideas that I’ve been kicking around.

At one level, it’s important to treat them as normal as possible. You don’t want to deny or minimize what their facing. You certainly don’t want to do something hurtful like ignore them or say nothing.  But one of the last things people who are terminally ill need is over-sympathy. Yes, you want to let them know that you are thinking about them and praying for them. You want them to know that you are genuinely interested in how they are doing. But for the most part,  I’ve found that it is best to go on with life as normal as possible. It helps to make the time they have left more meaningful and prevents them from giving up prematurely.

If you don’t know what to say to them, be honest and say that you don’t know what to say. And remember, just simply saying, “I love you” goes a long way in touching their heart.