Thursday, December 30, 2010
It seems to me that having a serious medical issue (like cancer) is just one of a number of struggles people have. Telling people you have cancer evokes a certain amount of shock and sympathy in today’s culture, but it isn’t necessarily a more “important” struggle than the others. People struggle with loneliness, financial difficulty, strained relationships with a spouse or family member, the loss of a job, separation from a loved one in the military, and the list goes on. It’s easy to think about people who are struggling in those ways, but never really contemplate what it is like to be in their shoes walking through their struggles. Every person has his or her own battles that they are fighting day in and day out, and to a certain degree those battles go unnoticed by those around them. Part of what I have been learning through my struggle with cancer is that I need to be more aware of the struggles of those around me and show them the same compassion and love that others have shown me.
But in the end, the support and encouragement of others can only go so far. Everyone needs an ultimate, permanent solution for their struggles. You can ignore or distract yourself from your struggle for a time, but eventually you will come back to realizing that your struggle still remains unsolved. I know this may sound simplistic in a way, but I believe there is a single solution for every struggle people face. It is trusting and hoping in the God who is made heaven and earth (Psalm 121:2), who loves us and has freed us by His blood (Revelation 1:2), whose faithfulness reaches the clouds (Psalm 108:4), who provides for all our needs (Philippians 4:19), who never leaves or forsakes us (Joshua 1:5), and who powerfully holds onto us no matter what happens (Romans 8:35-39).
The band Third Day has a beautiful song called, “Cry Out to Jesus,” that portrays this truth very powerfully as it points to Jesus as the ultimate hope for all those who are hopeless in the struggles of life. You can watch the video for “Cry Out to Jesus” below.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
These six years have been very full and wonderful. We have lived in three states (Missouri, California and Georgia), five apartments, two houses, moved across the country twice, had three kids, and over ten jobs between the two of us. God has blessed us tremendously.
Some of the words I would use to describe Matt as I have known him these past six years are: patient, servant-hearted, joyful, wise, kind, encouraging, and thoughtful. The best way that a husband can love his wife is by imitating Christ’s love and Matt has done that.
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Monday, December 20, 2010
While Erin experienced a certain amount of nausea and fatigue for a couple days following her previous two chemotherapy treatments, it was significantly less severe than what she has been dealing with for the past five days. She got her treatment on Wednesday afternoon and was in bed by 6:30pm Wednesday evening. She remained in bed all day Thursday, Friday, and most of Saturday. She made some improvement Sunday, finding the energy to care for Samuel and to help get the kids dressed for church and preparing lunch. But by the late afternoon she was more than ready to go back to bed. Today she is stronger still, but is continuing to navigate the delicate balance between doing the things she wants to do and allowing herself the rest she needs to recover fully.
Please pray for Erin's continued physical recovery from this treatment, as well as for her personal endurance as she seeks to trust in God's sustaining care for her in the days, weeks, and months to come.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
For the rest of this post I’ll keep a play-by-play diary of my chemotherapy treatment…
I am in the waiting room getting ready to go back for my blood tests to see if my counts are good enough to get my chemo today…
Action in the waiting room…a lady is having a seizure and the nurses are giving her some oxygen.
The lady who was having a seizure is doing much better now. Thank the Lord.
I was just talking to another patient in the waiting room and told her I live in Pooler and have three young children. She said, “Oh, I read about you in the newspaper last week!” Another man overheard the conversation and said, “Hey, young lady…that was you on the TV last night, wasn‘t it?” By this point several people in the waiting room were looking at me and talking about seeing me on TV. It's kind of embarrassing, but I guess it's also a good conversation starter…
Waiting, waiting, waiting. It has been an hour and I still have not gone back. This could be a LONG day!
I finally got back to see my doctor. He walked in and said, “So, you’re like a rock start now aren’t you?” Oh boy…
I am finally back in the chemo room. I am about to get my new drug, Epirubicin. This drug is so toxic that it will give me third degree burns if any of the fluid leaks out of the IV onto my skin! Most people who get this drug avoid this risk by getting a port (basically, a semi-permanent internal IV connection that a surgeon installs). My doctors said I have good enough veins that I might not have to have the port. I guess we’ll see how today goes. I also have to take a medication along with this new drug that costs $100 per pill…yikes! Good thing the Chick-fil-a night was a success!
Matt and I brought our Christmas card project to chemotherapy today, so we’re putting stamps and address labels on the envelopes. It’s a little tricky with an IV in my right arm, but I’m managing okay…
Well, the "poison" is all in and I‘m getting topped off with one more bag of saline solution. The nurse that helped administer my chemo drugs turned out to be a member of Providence Presbyterian Church (which belongs to the same denomination as our church), so we had a good time talking about friends we had in common, etc.
[Matt] We finally got home from chemo at about 5pm. After helping me give the kids dinner and baths, Erin was pretty exhausted and starting to feel nauseated. She ended up taking some nausea medicine and going to bed for the night at about 6:45pm. Compared to her previous chemo treatments, those side effects seemed to come on pretty quickly this time.
While Erin’s cancer treatments aren’t nearly as severe as those some other people must deal with, it is still a serious disease that has effected her body and her life in countless ways and it will continue to do that for years to come. As a husband, it is hard to watch all of it unfold. But it is times like this when theology (what you believe about God) gets practical. I believe God is sovereign over all, so now I have to trust that He is in complete control of my wife’s cancer. I believe God has unlimited power, so now I have to trust that He is fully able to heal Erin completely. And I believe God is faithful and good to His people, so now I have to trust that these hard days are not in vain because He is faithfully working for her good. I’m not sure how all the pieces fit together…and at times I wish the pieces were different…but I must believe that God is fulfilling His perfect purposes in all of it.
“I believe; help my unbelief!”
Praise the Lord! The Chick-fil-a night was a huge success! In just three hours we raised enough money to cover all of my chemotherapy costs! Thank you to all of you who took time out of your evening to come support me and my family. I am so thankful that I was able to be there for the whole evening to meet and catch up with all of you. I was excited to have the support of “celebrity servers” like Jamie Dean (from Lady and Sons), Mike Lamb (Mayor of Pooler), and Alice Massimi (WSAV), but I was just as excited to see my friends and all those who had never met me before!
What a treat to meet Jamie Dean (Paula Dean's son)! Thanks for the cookbooks, Jamie!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
This past Sunday the pastor of our church, John Fender, preached a very clear and encouraging sermon on this subject based on Hebrews 11:23-31. In his sermon, he suggests that God puts these obstacles in our lives to strengthen "the flabby muscles of our faith." As hard as it is to admit it, we need these obstacles to reveal the weak areas of our faith and to strengthen our confidence in God alone.
For obvious reasons, this sermon was a great reminder that Erin's cancer is not outside of God's control and should not cause us to question God's goodness. Beyond the medical explanations, we know that God is ultimately in control of all things and in His perfect wisdom He has allowed this obstacle to come into her life as an opportunity for her faith to be strengthened and, Lord willing, for the faith of many others to be strengthened as well. That reality doesn't mean the day-to-day struggles of chemotherapy and surgery are fun or easy. But it does mean those struggles are not purposeless. They are all a part of God's work in our lives to draw us ever closer to Him by faith.
You can watch a video of the sermon below.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.
I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me.
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!
My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts—
the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves.
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
I have been meditating on Psalm 57 for the past week. The author of the psalm is crying out to God in the midst of sorrow and trials. God responds by pouring out his steadfast love and faithfulness. The psalm ends with singing and rejoicing. This is how my heart feels so often. I will cry out to God in my suffering…He hears me and responds with a gentle whisper: "Be still and know that I am God."
He burns the chariots with fire.
I enjoy listening to Keith and Kristyn Getty. As I have read these Psalms I was reminded of their song, "Still, My Soul Be Still."
Still my soul be still, and do not fear though winds of change may rage tomorrow.
God is at your side, no longer dread the fires of unexpected sorrow.
God You are my God, and I will trust in You and not be shaken.
Lord of peace renew a steadfast spirit within me to rest in You alone.
Still my soul be still, do not be moved by lesser lights and fleeting shadows.
Hold onto His ways with shield of faith against temptations flaming arrows.
Still my soul be still, do not forsake the Truth you learned in the beginning.
Wait upon the Lord and hope will rise as stars appear when day is dimming.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Having a child is supposed to be one of the happiest times of your life but for one Pooler Mom, it's turned into one of the most challenging. Just days after giving birth to her son, Samuel, Erin Fray was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Estrogen Positive Breast Cancer. “I was on cloud nine, having given birth, and he (the doctor) walked into the office looking concerned and he told me that I have breast cancer," recalls Erin Fray.
Fray says she had noticed the lump several months ago, but didn’t think anything of it. Her mind was on her bundle of joy. Now all of a sudden Erin was facing cancer. Surprised and also scared, Erin's husband Matt says it's been challenging. "Going from the high of having a new baby to the low of there is this disease, and then the complication of how do we deal with both of them at the same time," explains Matt.
The Frays' answer to dealing with it all -- faith. "God giving us grace, causing us not to be overwhelmed, giving us patience and understanding," says Matt. Needed especially on the days following Erin's chemotherapy. "The days when I am laying in bed, thinking when is this ever going to be over, I can rest in the fact that I am in God's hands and he is not going to let go of me," says Erin. Even with her deep belief in God, Erin says it’s been difficult... not able to nurse Samuel... there is also a chance Erin may not be able to have any more children.
But for now Erin is focusing on the battle before her. About a third of the way into her chemotherapy treatments, Erin still has a long road to recovery ahead of her. "The plan right now is, I will finish up chemo, and then I will have surgery. Then depending on what kind of surgery I have and what they find in the surgery, I will have radiation," says Erin.
With her family, faith, and the community at her side, Erin believes she can win the battle.
To help the Frays handle some of the medical expenses, the Chick-fil-A on Pooler Parkway is holding a benefit for them on Tuesday the 14th. The event starts at five and goes until eight.To learn more about Erin's journey, you can check out her blog at www.erinfray.blogspot.com.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Last week, Anne Hart, a reporter from the Savannah Morning News, contacted me to ask if she could interview me for a "personality profile" article. I was surprised by the request and pretty nervous for what would be my first "media interview." But I quickly realized that this was not about me - it was simply another way God was using me to point people to Him. So Matt and I (and several others) prayed that God would give me the wisdom and grace to speak clearly about how cancer, though a difficult circumstance, is an opportunity to realize our "idols" (independence, control, body image, etc.) and turn towards the God who alone provides for our every need in Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:19).
The article was published in today's Savannah Morning News. I just read the article for the first time and am happy to say that the article turned out even better than I expected. Anne did a great job of communicating how God has been proving Himself faithful to me, as well as how He has been using my cancer to point people to God and His Word. I am also thankful for the "public" opportunity to praise my family, friends, church, and Pooler MOPS for their incredible help and support during this time. God has been caring for me through you - so thank you for being a part of that!
You can read the article online here.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
|Yes, that's Hudson with an apron and necklaces...what a manly man!|
|Samuel enjoyed his first Thanksgiving...maybe next year he can enjoy some turkey.|
|My sweet seven week-old boy!|
|Hudson the gymnast...the kid can hang on like that for at least 30 seconds!|
|We thought the kids might get excited learning the story of Jesus' birth by dressing up like the characters!|
|Lydia and Hudson decorating our Christmas tree.|
|Lydia and Hudson decorating our Christmas tree.|
|It was a huge help and encouragement to have my two sisters in town this week!|
Friday, December 3, 2010
Thank you so much, Nicole!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
A few days ago I woke up and was not wearing a hat and all of the sudden Lydia came running into the room. This was the first time Lydia saw my head with NO hair at all. She looked at me for a minute and didn't say anything. I was worried at first that she was going to be upset. But then all of a sudden she got really excited and ran out of the room. She went and got the book and opened to the page where the mom had no hat or hair. She looked at me with the book and said, “Mommy you look just like the mommy in the book!” It is neat to see just how perceptive Lydia is and to see how God is being gracious to help my 3 year-old understand and accept what is happening to me.