One Leap At A Time

None of us, if we can help it, ever want to leap from one place to another place unless we are sure we can reach the other side. Why is that? We don’t trust ourselves? Fear? The unknown? We don’t trust the One who might be asking us to do it? Yes, sometimes we might physically not be able to make it. But I would venture to say that most of the time, it is for other reasons mentioned above.

These last few weeks, I have had to leap even when I didn’t want to, and I have to say, I didn’t know where I was going to land. I knew I would land, so that is a good thing. But what it would look like on the other side, of what felt like an abyss, was very unknown. I was watching myself go from one leap to another without much choice about whether or not I wanted to leap.

God talks to us about sitting beside the still waters and rest for our soul. I am seeking to stay by still waters, and certainly taking rest for my soul. Can you remember a time when you were going to try and cross a wide stream? You might have leaped from rock to rock to make it across. I have done that many times, and even missed a time or two to be refreshed in a cool stream. But now I have made a leap to the middle of the stream of this skin cancer journey and reached a point where I have to stand on the Rock. Just like the first leap, God will be with me in the next leap to the other side of the stream, with a final procedure complete on October 21st. I have chosen this time to use sedation for the procedure, since my stress or anxiety level was a bit high with my blood pressure. It seems like a wise choice.

So what are the honest, challenging and irritating things I deal with? Here are a few:

  • I have had nights where sleep doesn’t come easy, if at all; nerves come alive and the face and nose tingle, and drip.
  • Not having the freedom to sleep as I like creates its own set of circumstances.
  • The nostril on the surgery side is being pushed on from the graft and so breathing is sometimes hard when I try to sleep.
  • See myself a few times of day with the unknown still to come.
  • I still have some draining, even as of today.
  • I tire of the time it takes to do all that I have to do for the best results in the end.
  • It takes me a good 45 minutes just to wash my face and do what I have to do with my face and ear. And that is just my face.

It is frustrating, but I know it is necessary in order give my face and nose the best chance to heal well. At times it seems discouraging to see how healing is coming, and then, poof, I will have to begin this all over again after the 21st. But then… I will have made it through and final healing can begin!

And then… begins another journey… what my heart, will and emotions does with the rest of the journey. Do I grieve when I see a scar running down my face because skin cancer took a portion of my nose? Yes, I do. Would I have preferred other choices? Yes. I would have, and who wouldn’t? Am I thankful for the cancer to be gone? Yes I am. Can I look at it as an opportunity to see many more days I have been given to share how God walked with me through this journey?  Yes I can. Why? Because I don’t believe it is a wasted “something” that happened to me. It has a purpose, and that is for me to encourage someone else in the process of something that is hard to go through. Maybe this will be an encouragement to them. It always good to know you don’t walk the road alone.

You say, “It isn’t that simple!” Well, it is if you believe it. I kind of appreciated having good skin too. Always took care of it and will continue to do so with more diligence. I already have an arm that has burn and graft scars. I didn’t really want to add my face to the mix. But just like those circumstances of burning my arm weren’t a choice, this isn’t either. So…I keep walkin’. I thank God I don’t walk alone. I never have and that is my comfort. I have to give credit to my hubby who has stood by me during this whole process, cheering me on when I would get frustrated. A blessing…

I share this photo with you because as I do, it helps me see the changes, and reminds me that this IS me now. I won’t always look this way, I won’t always have the scar looking like it does, but I will bear the scars none the less. We all have them, whether we wear them on the outside or the inside. I will just have more to show off on the outside, as I talk about what God kept me from. I have quite a story on my arm, and He even shared the reason why it all happened, and that was in 1973! This will be no different. I trust that, because I trust God.

Will I just go off into the wild and happy yonder October 21st, or even after a year when the scars are no longer quite so visible? Nope, I don’t think so. This experience will always be with me, a thorn in my side so to speak, so that, I tell the story that might not have gotten told otherwise. You see, I have walked with Him for many years. I have seen God bring strangers into my life just to bless me, so it is my goal that God will allow me to be that for someone else.

Until next time…

~JoAnn

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Staying the Course

 

 

Well my friends, a lot of the people have followed my last update this last week on Facebook, but since many of you are my cyber friends, I thought I would give you an update since I last posted.

I had my Mohs surgery on Thursday, two weeks ago, and found some more difficult steps had to be taken.  Mohs surgery is when they remove a layer of skin one at a time until they get a clean margin. After three rounds of removal from the right side of my nose, they finally got all the cancer.  However, it has left me with a large crater looking spot on my nose; deep and quite large. My options are not such that I could close the site with stitches, or stretch skin over that spot.  So this means a cosmetic surgeon will be needed for repairing the spot.  As most would know, it isn’t so great to think about the procedure or how this may look on my face. After this news, and seeing it, my emotions were all over the place and I could come up with all kinds of scenarios regarding its outcome.

  • I will now have areas of healing spots, where the flap was taken from (incision) my cheek, and the area of the repair of the top of the nose, and they took cartilage from my ear in order to support a nostril that was almost gone now.
  • I have to look like this with a flap on the side of my nose for three weeks.
  • I’m not a great healer and tend to get scar tissue easily, so how will this heal?
  • How long will the healing process take where I feel like I want to go out in public? So far, not even…
  • How will the outcome actually look?
  • How will I feel about “being seen” afterwards. I had a hard time with the little patch that started this whole thing.
  • I had to do what I did under local anesthetic and will have to do the next procedure of cosmetic repair in the same way.  Not. Fun.

I had all kinds of thoughts going through my mind.  Not withstanding was, the very things I was praying WOULD NOT happen, actually happened.  Thanks for that God.  But as soon as that thought came to mind, the Holy Spirit seemed to speak God’s message to my spirit…”So…do you really trust me?  In this too?? You say you do, so…”  Ok…Yep.  Buck it up buttercup. It is a scary thing. My surgeon said this isn’t life threatening. Ok. That’s something to be thankful for. So I said, “Ok Doc coming from you who has never had to have this done. For me,  however, it IS life altering. This kind of experience makes you rethink a lot of things. I believe there is a purpose for everything that happens in our lives. It can teach, correct, bring us back if we have taken some detours, allow us to share our story to help another, and many other blessings if we allow ourselves to see it.  So, if I believe that, then I have to trust His purpose for me in this also. It’s an all or nothing thing. I either believe Him in all circumstances, or I don’t believe. I believe God’s promises are bigger than anything I face. For this reason, I have decided to share my experience in words and pictures. There is always someone else that needs to hear that they too, can make it through a challeging time. I want to make it count for something. It has also brought me to a place of examining my priorities, asking God what He has next for me, getting myself into a position of pouring into my own soul and spirit, so that, I can be ready to do the same for others that God places in my path.

I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that there are times when I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see, but I realize I have to trust God with what I see and its outcome. It’s all or nothing for me.  I either believe in Him, or I don’t. I do… so I trust. He has a plan which is certainly not mine, but He knows the end of this from the beginning in this also. So a new JoAnn emerges with a stronger countenance and purpose. I stand at the edge of a huge ocean ready to put my foot in the water in faith, my spear in hand ready for the darts of enemy, and the Word is in my mouth to speak out boldly.

The week of October 21st, will be the second part of the surgical cosmetic repair, and I would ask if you think of it, remember me that day. I really don’t want to go back in that chair again, but I have to. I also will look forward to have this extra off my face. Please pray for skilled hands, and good healing for me. This upcoming Tuesday, I have a one week follow up appointment and I hope the skin tape comes off and that will be another step to feeling better. It’s a journey for me dealing with something so public as my face… not in a vain way, but just because of what it looks like. See??? God still has some work to do in me. 🙂 I leave you with this vulnerable photo of today, six days post surgery. I can’t wear makeup, have my hair around my face or ear, so hair pins and a hat work. My cauliflower ear is still visible but much better then even two days ago.

I am thankful for each of you who visit the blog.  Always a joy to hear that it encourages others.  My hope is that being transparent about my struggles will bring hope to you.

Until next time,

~JoAnn