November, 2014

The Most Tragic Thing: Concern Over The Right of Death

On Nov. 1st, a 29-year-old brain cancer woman in Oregon, where euthanasia is legal, took her life as she had announced on YOU-TUBE several weeks ago. After she passed away following her desire that she wanted to die with dignity before cancer would take away everything, numerous headlines, which were praising her act as brave caught my eye and concerned me.

I know enough how dreadful cancer is. Not only cancer’s merciless progression but also the treatments such as surgeries, radiations, and chemo are so harmful that I can’t blame anyone even if she/he becomes frozen by the fear.
For the young beautiful newly married woman, the diagnoses with 6 months to live must have been so devastating.

Yet, is it courageous to choose death? She said her choice was different from a suicide, but how was it different? If you choose to die for someone else like a soldier, I understand it is profoundly courageous and honorable, but it appeared that she chose to kill herself because she lost hope; I can sympathize her but can’t find the courage.

Among many articles regarding her death was an article about a man, who was diagnosed with the same type of brain cancer as her and given the same months to live but has survived 13 years. He said that he didn’t give up fighting and received the strength from his family, friends, and church. There are a quite a few people who beat the prognoses and survive for a long time, but if you cut your life, there is no chance for a miracle to happen.

Another brain cancer woman also tried to change the mind of the 29 year old woman, saying that cancer has transformed her into a much more humble, appreciative and sensitive person to other’s pains: We look at cancer as a curse, but depending on our heart condition, it can transform to be a blessing.

Joni Tada, a Christian, who became quadriplegic at age 17 and has had a ministry of sending wheelchairs all over the world, also tried to plea with the 29 year old woman to change the euthanasia decision. Joni’s plea reminded her that not everyone would go to Heaven.

“”There’s only one Person who has transformed the landscape of life-after-death, and that is Jesus, the One who conquered the grave, opening the path to life eternal. Three grams of phenobarbital in the veins will only provide a temporary reprieve. It is not the answer for the most important passage of her life.”

“Please, Brittany, open your heart to the only One who can do something about your pain and your death. Life is the most irreplaceable and fundamental condition of the human experience, and I implore you to take a long, hard look at the consequences of your decision, which is so fatal, and worst of all, so final.”

If you open your eyes after death, and find out you are in the dark place without joy, love, and God, that is the worst nightmare you never ever want to have.

It is God’s job to decide when to be born and when to die. It’s not ours. Our job is to fulfill our purpose we were given and produce the fruits, as many as possible, through Christ until the end of our life on the earth. With Jesus, we can bear pains or afflictions even if we think it’s impossible. With Jesus, we can see hope even after death. Because there is God who promised to walk with us even through the valley of the shadow of death, we must not kill ourselves even if we wish so! Until the last breath we take, we have to live focusing on the hope Jesus gave us, and with thanks for God who loves us abundantly.

My Hero; Lauren Hill

Someone who read the previous post told me about Lauren Hill, another terminal brain cancer woman, but who chose to live instead of die. So I googled her and found this video. http://bcove.me/6em3knme

She was diagnosed with a very rare type of brain cancer, DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma), 49 days after her 18th birthday last year.

Prom Queen
DIPG usually occurs in children.  It grows its roots like tentacles at the base of the brain stem weaving around the nerves. It is inoperable and nobody has survived from this.  Lauren was given a maximum 2 years to live.

How come such a horrible thing happened to her, who is so young, beautiful on the outside and inside?

Often I don’t understand what God is doing.  Yet, at least it is clear that she has been sending an incredibly inspiring message of life, courage, and faith to the world. She has been informing us of this unfamiliar cancer and the need for research.  She is “a grain of wheat” that falls and dies to produce many grains.  She is my hero!

stretching

‘I never gave up for a second even when I got a terminal diagnosis; never thought about sitting back and not living life anymore,’

said she.

I wanted to know where she gets the strength from, and then, yes, she was praying. She was searching for the purpose of her life.

[One January night, I was having a meltdown, “ she begins. “I asked God if I could do anything. I didn’t know what He sent me here for. I wanted to know what He sent me here for. Whatever you sent me here for, I’m ready to do.”] (from the article)

God answered her and she made up her mind to speak out about DIPG using every single opportunity she got for children who couldn’t speak so that someday the cure would be invented.

“What keeps me going is remembering why I’m here.”

She, who loves and continues to play the basketball, is focusing on Jesus instead of seeing the stormy water of brain cancer. God has been giving her strength and power, and then people who watched and listened to her responded.

Her dream, praying in the first collage basketball game, which was scheduled on November 15th originally, was moved up two weeks to November 2nd after a MRI in September revealed that she might not be able to pass this December.  10,000 game tickets, whose benefit will be donated to a research institution, were sold out in just a few minutes on the first day of the sale—Amazing!

The game was over giving her glorious opportunities to score four points and the victory for her team.  Receiving a stand ovation, she said to the 10,000 person crowd, ” I ‘ve never had such a wonderful day in my life,” her voice choking.  God anointed her head with oil and her cup overflowed.

tears

Cancer has been taking away her abilities to hear, see, run, dribble the ball, and her precious time mercilessly. Yet she hasn’t surrendered.

Steroids have puffed up her face, and her figure.

Nevertheless, she is shining!

She is living every minute meaningfully.

Lauren, you are so beautiful to me full-bloomed cherry blossoms!  I guess “why” questions are no longer necessary.

Tshirt

The T-shirts says,
  PLAY FOR 22 (Lauren’s number)            
 “Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9″

Choice

The word “choice” has an interesting insight, which I haven’t found in Japan’s culture. When someone says, “ It is your choice,” it indicates our will, putting the responsibility of the action on us. It is not passive but active.
Free will is a gift from God. God wants us to be free to choose, and to be responsible for the actions we choose– I think.
Depending on which choice we choose, the consequence differs. God guides and leads us, but He never forces us to His way.

When I encounter troubles, I always have various choices for my response:

I can keep asking “Why” questions, which usually don’t lead to any solutions.
I can become nostalgic wishing to go back to the past, regretting what I didn’t do or I did.
I can give up saying, “ It’s too late” or “ It’s over.”
I can blame someone else and get angry.
I can pity myself and be envious or jealous of others who look happier than me.
I can pile up uncertain concerns of the future.
I can give up on God throwing away the faith.
Or,
Like King David, who wrote,
“O God my rock,” I cry,
 ‘Why have you forgotten me?
 Why must I wander around in grief,
 oppressed by my enemies?’
Their taunts break my bones.

They scoff, ‘Where is this God of yours?’
Why am I discouraged?
 Why is my heart so sad?

I will put my hope in God!
 I will praise him again—
 my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:9-11)
and like Lauren, who keeps going, remembering her purpose of life in spite of terminal brain cancer, I can chose to be faithful to God trusting in Him.
It is my choice to give in to self-distractions or to follow Jesus.
No matter how the circumstance will change, there is still a way to have hope and strength by my choice.
The Bible, which tells me so, is leading me quietly like the light of a light house. I should never lose it!

Image of Death

Come Onto Me

A circulating email sent me this picture. The sculpture with the tile of “ Come Unto Me” is displayed at Spilsbury Mortuary in Saint George, UT.
An old woman on the left dies; on the other side, Jesus is waiting for her. If we admit our sin, and follow Jesus as the savior, who is inviting us, we are forgiven and able to receive a new body that will never get sick and die. —-The Bible tells so.

God gives us a new body He wants for us, which is different from the earthly body.

“Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.
51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55
O death, where is your victory?
 O death, where is your sting?”
57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”–1 Corinthian 15:42-58

Death is not the end, but the beginning of the glorious eternal life!
What a great hope it is!  Oh, I love Jesus and Heavenly Father!

Crossing Fingers for Good Result of CT

I will go to take a CT scan again tomorrow.
It has been about three months since the last CT, which showed a mild improvement.
Except the peripheral neuropathy, I feel like my condition has been the same and the liver enzyme levels, which were high for a while, are now within the normal range. I anticipate a good result, but if not, I am thinking of using T-DM1 again.

Usually it takes a week to get back the results. Since next Thursday is Thanksgiving, I am going to ask for the result on Wednesday.

Lauren, who has a few weeks to live, said, “ I’m not afraid. Send it now. I’m ready.”
She must be with God, who gives power and strength. I’m not brave enough to say the same as her, but at least I will wait for the result thinking that my life is also in God’s hands, and He will be with me regardless of the results.

From Diagnostic Center

I was supposed to have a CT last Friday, but because I ran a fever, I
rescheduled it for today.
Sunday, I went to see a doctor at the urgent care.
He told me that the lungs were clean and clear so it would be ok to
have a CT today. Yet, sitting in the waiting room in the diagnostic
image center, I am wondering if he knew that my cancer is in the lymph
nodes. Lymph nodes swell because of not only cancer but also other
illnesses.
I don’t want a vague result, and wind up hearing that this could
be because of a cold.
I should ‘ve asked that question. It’s too late. I am always so
slow and miss the targets. Oh well, I have to depend on God again asking for the best result.

Bloody Urine after Scan

I have taken many CT scans, but I have never had such an experience.
In the procedure of a CT, a contrast medicine is injected. I was told to drink a lot of water to flush out the medicine, and I think I drank about four battles of water.
Yet perhaps it wasn’t enough. Wednesday morning as I went to the bathroom, I felt a hot burning sensation.
As I emailed the oncologist informing about it, a phone call from the hospital came soon telling me to drink a lot of water and go to the urgent care.
I made a 6:30 pm appointment. Yet by then I felt better and also got exhausted cooking ahead for Thanksgiving. So I cancelled it, which was a big mistake.
By the morning of Thanksgiving I had all the symptoms of UTI (urinary tract infection) and I felt miserable. I went to have a urine test as the first thing in the morning.
The result came back right away showing exceeding white and red blood cells in the urine. Yet it was the holiday. I had to wait until Friday to get an antibiotic.
One of the side effects of the contrast medicine is damaging kidneys. I have had UTI many times since my diagnoses of cancer, but this one is the worst. Hopefully the antibiotic is working, and next time when I take a CT, I must really drink lots of water.