Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cancer survivors get involved with cancer-related activities.

Staci Wright

Helping kids regain their self image

Staci Wright Staci Wright

Staci Wright was in the eighth grade when she began having terrible headaches. The 13-year-old girl had been healthy, happy, and active all her life, playing soccer since kindergarten. But life changed overnight when she was diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in her skull.

The treatment was 10 months of chemotherapy, along with 5 weeks of radiation. "For me, the hardest part of the cancer battle was that my pain was hurting my whole family," she recalls. "It put so much stress on my parents and older brother. Luckily my sister was too young to really realize what was going on."

During it all, she tried to stay positive and upbeat, doing her best to live life as a normal kid. The support of her family and friends helped her get through many painful times during the year. But even so, there were days when she felt overwhelmed.

"Sometimes it felt like I was all by myself in this battle," she says. "I realized others couldn't fathom what I was going through, and so there were times when I just wanted to be left alone."

Hair loss from chemotherapy isn't easy for any patient. But for a teenage girl, it can be devastating. Staci felt sad and depressed with losing her hair and didn't want to go to school. "I had a really hard time with my hair loss. But there was nothing I could do about it except move on to more important things, like surviving," she says. Unfortunately Katie's radiation killed all the hair cells on a patch of skin on the back of her head, causing her hair loss to be permanent.

Fortunately her mother, Debbie, learned of a hair system that stays in place, made of real hair attached to material that looks like a scalp. Staci loved her new hair but was concerned about the other kids she met at the children's hospital who were still dealing with baldness. "It's tough for people my age to lose their hair," she says. "They lose their self-esteem with it."

Life is something
that can’t be
taken for granted.

That's when Staci and Debbie decided to do something to help these kids. They established the Angel Hair Foundation Exit Disclaimer, a non-profit organization that purchases hair systems for kids and teens. Through hard work and getting the word out, the foundation is thriving and helping kids with cancer everywhere feel better about losing their hair.

Staci is now doing well, playing soccer, hanging out with her friends, and attending the University of Oregon. She believes she'll always have insecurities about her permanent hair loss but trusts that she'll know how to deal with them when they arise. She's excited about what life has to bring to her and plans to become a dietician. More important, she knows that true friends will love her no matter what her hair looks like.

"To me, life is something that can't be taken for granted. I can't be that little shy girl that doesn't push the limit every once in a while," she says. "I often think about how cancer affected my life, about how I developed as a person through this experience. Cancer made me realize what is important in life and made me the more mature person I am today. (From "National Cancer Institute")

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cancer Helps Us Understand The Whys Of Life

Cancer Helps Us Understand The Whys Of Life

Why Chaos,
Why Death,
INTRO: Human suffering is real; we all experience it. When it touches us or those we love, it is no longer an abstract idea to leave to the theologians but a grim and perplexing reality: How can we explain human suffering in a universe created by a good and omnipotent God?
 Paul’s response;
Paul had responded to the question of God’s fairness. But he didn’t answer the question directly. His response to his readers was to inquire— Why are you even asking? Paul’s response was a stinging rebuke: “Who are, you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it,‘Why did you make me like this?’”(Romans 9:20).
But don’t we have the right to ask God: “Why did you make me so I would get cancer or suffer a stroke? Why wasn’t I a clay pot with a different design?” Paul refused to directly answer“Why?” He defended God’s wisdom and justice. Paul wrote: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33).
We would be vain and na├»ve to think that we could understand and explain what the most knowledgeable and godly have found perplexing. Yet the Scriptures do make several helpful truths, which must be accepted even if not totally understood. The first truth is…..
I. God Permits Suffering
First, the Bible affirms that God has chosen to permit suffering. God is the designer of a plan that allowed for sin and suffering. Though God does not approve of sin and its consequences (suffering), nor is He responsible for it, it is here by His permission. In His omniscience (His full knowledge of everything), He knew that the plan He chose, even though it allowed for sin and suffering, ultimately would bring about the greatest good and glory. Nowhere does the Bible suggest that God was overcome by the power of sin; that suffering was forced into His universe against His will. No. He is the sovereign who "works all things after the counsel of His will" (Eph. 1:11).
Yet, at the same time, the Bible makes it very clear that all human suffering is the result of the Fall. Our suffering is directly related to the curse that came upon the earth as the result of sin. With sin came corruption, suffering and death (see Gen. 2:17; 3:17; Rom. 5:12; 8:20-22). The 2ndtruth is….
II. Christians Suffer.
We come to the reality that we often find the most troubling. God has not chosen to spare even His children from the consequences of living in a fallen world. Living godly lives does enable the believer to avoid some of the unnecessary suffering that others bring upon themselves by ignoring God's moral and spiritual laws. Yes Christians do get sick and die. Christians are robbed and raped. They have accidents. They lose loved ones in fires, earthquakes and hurricanes. And it seems at times that believers suffer more than the wicked. (See the testimony of Asaph in Psalm 73.)
In addition to the natural calamities of life, believers suffer persecution because of Jesus Christ. The New Testament does not proclaim the health and wealth "gospel" that is so popular in 20th-century evangelicalism. The sooner we accept the reality that we are living in a fallen world with its suffering, the sooner we will be able to get on with living effectively for the Lord.
 The 3rd truth is…
III. God Turns It To Our Good
The third biblical truth laid out for us in the Bible is this: whatever calamity befalls us, God has our eternal good in view. God may not have a specific lesson to teach us every time we suffer, but He does have a good purpose in view. In Romans 8:28 we read: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." We quote this verse in times of suffering and rightly so. God has designed all of life (including suffering) to conform us to the image of His Son. Nothing that we suffer in this life can prevent this process from reaching its divinely purposed outcome.
So, first, it helps us to remember, as we ponder the mystery of pain and evil, that God did not create them. Though suffering isn’t good, God can use it to accomplish good.
He does this by fulfilling His promise in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Notice that the verse doesn’t say God causes evil and suffering, just that he promises to cause good to emerge. And notice that the verse doesn’t say we all will see immediately or even in this life how God has caused good to emerge from a bad circumstance. Remember, we only see things dimly in this world. And notice that God doesn’t make this promise to everyone. He makes the solemn pledge that he will take the bad circumstances that befall us and cause good to emerge if we’re committed to following Him.
The Old Testament gives us a great example in the story of Joseph, who went through terrible suffering, being sold into slavery by his brothers, unfairly accused of a crime and falsely imprisoned. Finally, after a dozen years, he was put in a role of great authority where he could save the lives of his family and many others.
This is what he said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” And if you’re committed to God, He promises that He can and will take whatever pain you’re experiencing and draw something good from it.
He can and He will. God can use our suffering to draw us to Himself, to mold and sharpen our character, to influence others for Him – He can draw something good from our pain in a myriad of ways…if we trust and follow Him.
The word of God is the only answer we have to understanding certain facts that we find in scripture.           1. Expect suffering. Realize that in a fallen world suffering is the abnormal
           normality (see 1 Pet. 2:12-14).
2. Realize that God in control; nothing can happen unless He allows it. We should be humble before Him (see Ex. 4:11; Job 40:2; Provide. 6:4; Isa. 45:7; Jer. 49:19; Amos 3:6; Rom. 9:20-23).
3. Understand that though God is sovereign and man is responsible for his actions, suffering is a product of the Fall (see II Sam. 12:11; 16:21,22;Acts 4:27,28; Rev. 13:2,7,8).
4. Accept the reality that God allows suffering for good and necessary reasons: to prepare us to comfort others (see II Cor. 1:4-6); to teach us to trust in Him and not in ourselves (see 1:9; 4:7,16, 18; 12:1-10); to turn our hearts toward heaven (see 5:1-4); to develop maturity (see James 1:1-12); to discipline us for sinful behavior (see I Cor. 11:30); and to judge wickedness (see Ps. 37:12,13).
When this biblical understanding of suffering grips us, it will bring trusting obedience and confident hope in the faithfulness of God. As Dorothy Love once put it, "Our trust is completely in our blessed Lord." "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38,39).

Conclusion: So when tragedy strikes, as it will; when suffering comes, as it will; when you’re wrestling with pain, as you will – and when you make the choice to run into His arms, here’s what you’re going to discover: you’ll find peace to deal with the present, you’ll find courage to deal with your future, and you’ll find the incredible promise of eternal life in heaven