An Examination

This past weekend I enjoyed visiting my lovely sister-in-law and brother-in-law. The visit included attending Sunday service with them at the historical Anglican church they attend. I appreciated the incredible woodwork, the pipe organ and the beautiful stained glass windows. While a “traditional”  Anglican type of service is not really my thing, I did enjoy the messages that were shared as well as the humour of the speakers and the friendly and welcoming attitude of the congregation.

Part of the service was the Eucharist or Holy Communion. I was invited to take part even though I wasn’t a member of that particular congregation or denomination. I appreciated that they made it available to all who are members of the Body of Christ – which, in truth, is The Church of God.

Before a person eats the bread and drinks the wine, which represent the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus Christ, he/she is asked to take some time to “examine themselves”. It’s like doing a circle check of your car or airplane to make sure all is in good order before using it. In the case of Communion, we are asked to do a “circle check” of our hearts and minds. We need to check if we are in a right relationship with God or is there something hindering, blocking or interfering with that relationship? Have we been participating in sinful behaviour? Have we been holding on to “stinkin’ thinkin'” – thoughts of anger, bitterness, jealousy and unforgiveness? Have we been critical and judgmental?

1Co 11:26 For “as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you show” the Lord’s death until He shall come.

1Co 11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup.

While we are very quick to point out the faults of others, we don’t like to take too close a look at ourselves. As a woman, I liken examining our “souls” to those annoying Pap smears, breast exams and mammograms. They’re not pleasant but they are necessary for maintaining a healthy body. They help you to find out if there is a problem, hopefully before it has become a huge problem and one that may be too late to deal with successfully.

Examining our “inner” selves helps us to become aware of any negative spiritual lumps or bumps in our lives that may be interfering with our faith walk and our relationship with God and with others. It then provides the opportunity to seek help in dealing with those negative issues before they become “malignant” problems in our lives.

So before I took part in Holy Communion, I performed a self-examination. As I examined my heart and mind, I realized that I had often allowed thoughts of anger, bitterness and jealousy to occupy my mind in the last year. And I know that I struggle with being critical and judgmental. So I asked God to forgive me – yet again – and to help me become more like Jesus in walking in love. And then I prayed for God to bless my enemies and those who had “despitefully used” me in the past year.

Mat 5:44,45 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you, so that you may become sons of your Father in Heaven. 

Mar 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive it so that also your Father in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

As I prayed for forgiveness for myself and for my enemies, I was able to let go of all those negative thoughts and emotions, along with the guilt of having them.

Ask God to help you to examine yourself, then if you don’t like what you find, ask Him for forgiveness, for which He is gracious and merciful to give. That is why Jesus gave up his body and blood for us. Receive and accept that forgiveness and then move forward in the freedom. Then walk in love with your enemies and those who despitefully use you.

Blessings

 

 

Seeing Red

Red is my second most favourite colour. I love the cheerful energy that the colour red exudes. While I don’t think that I would enjoy an entire wall painted red, I do love to accent and accessorize my home with brights spots of red. I have a large painting on the wall behind my couch which has Fall leaves of deep red. I painted a mural of birch trees on another wall with a background of red Fall leaves. I have a large, fun red clock and a red hurricane lantern in my living room. And I have just finished painting all my tired looking kitchen cabinets with red chalk paint.

There is one place that I DO NOT want to see red – ever – and that is in my urine!

You are probably wondering why I am talking about urine in a Christian blog???!!!

Well, the month of May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month in Canada and I am a bladder cancer survivor.

My journey began with a routine urine test during my annual check-up. The test showed microscopic blood in the urine. My Dr. was not particularly concerned about it until I told him that I had some cysts on one kidney. I was then sent for a CT scan of my kidneys. The urologist said that while I did have “a few” small cysts on my kidney, he didn’t feel that they were anything to be concerned about at that time.

Over the next few months I began noticing a pink tinge in my urine but wasn’t that worried about it because of the assurances given to me by the doctors. As time went on, the pink turned to red, and then finally I began passing blood clots in my urine. One night I woke up with pain in my bladder and when I went to the bathroom, I passed a large clump of tissue.

During this time, my marriage had ended, I had moved to another city and didn’t have a regular family Dr. and the Dr. at the walk-in clinic wouldn’t take me on – even though he told me that I needed someone “right away”!

I finally managed to find a Dr. who was willing to take me as a patient and he immediately set up an appointment with a urologist. I had another CT scan – again focused on my kidney. When I went to talk to the urologist about the CT results, I was prepared for him to tell me that my kidney was cystic. I was NOT prepared for him to tell me that my kidney was basically dead, useless and had to be removed. That was shock enough, but then he went on to show me that he had found “shadows” on my bladder – which could just be blood clots from the kidney – but he wanted to do a bladder scan just to make sure.

The bladder scan showed an interesting growth that looked like pink coral growing on the inside of the bladder wall. That was exactly what the clump of tissue looked like that I had passed in my urine earlier on. And then the REALLY BIG SHOCK came when I was diagnosed with bladder cancer!

As a woman, I knew about the risks of breast, ovarian, cervical and uterine cancer and had regular check-ups for those. But I had never heard of bladder cancer and NEVER expected to be diagnosed with it!

I had surgery to remove my kidney as well as the tumour from my bladder. The tumour was classed as non-invasive but had a high level of recurrence. I had several weeks of immunotherapy treatment involving instilling a weakened strain of tubercullin bacteria into my bladder which left me feeling like I had a bladder infection for a day after each treatment.

I thank God that I didn’t require the complete removal of my bladder, nor did I need chemotherapy or radiation!

Then I went through a regimen of bladder scopes (a camera is inserted into your bladder) every 3 months for a year. On what would have been my year-end scope, another small tumour was found. It was immediately removed and the area cauterized (some ouchies!) and the series of scopes every 3 months started all over again. After another year of clear results, I went to having scopes every 6 months. Once again another small tumour was found (DRATS!), removed and cauterized. Another year of going every 6 months. When I had been clear for a year, the scopes went to just once a year.

I am VERY BLESSED to say that I have been cancer free for the past 3 years! PRAISE GOD!

The following information comes from the Bladder Cancer Canada website:

Bladder cancer is the 5th most common cancer in Canada, 4th most common among men and 12th most common among women. An estimated 8,300 Canadians are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year.

Because of an 80% recurrence rate, bladder cancer is the most expensive cancer to treat on a per-patient basis. Yet, at 20th out of the 24 most common cancers, research funding into this disease lags almost all other cancers.

Smoking is a common risk factor, as is age and occupational exposure to specific chemicals.

The most common symptom is blood in the urine (hematuria), occurring in more than 80% of bladder cancer cases. Other symptoms may include bladder spasms and increased frequency and urgency of urination.

Bladder Cancer Canada has a tagline which reads, “If you see RED see your doctor!”

So, if you are “seeing red” when you pee – GO SEE YOUR DOCTOR!! It may just be a bladder infection, but it may also be a symptom of bladder cancer – SO DON’T PUT IT OFF!!

(Note: you may have to get insistent with your Dr. if antibiotics are not clearing up the blood in your urine – ask for a CT scan or a bladder scope.)

An excellent source of information and support is the Bladder Cancer Canada website.

https://bladdercancercanada.org/en/

 

Please pass on this important message. I pray that you or your loved ones will never have to experience this or any other kind of cancer. In Jesus’ name.

Blessings