Cancer battle for life – and update

Cancer battle for life – and update

Cancer battle On the Path blog by Cheryl Schatz

This is my first post on my new personal blog that I am calling “On the Path”. This blog will be where I can post my personal updates and reflections on life. I have chosen to create a personal blog because I didn’t want my ministry blogs to get bogged down with personal updates on my fight against cancer.

Update on my treatments

I posted on my ministry blogs at Women in Ministry and The Giving about my diagnoses with cancer in July 2013. I was successfully treated against breast cancer in 1995 and God gave me excellent health for eighteen years. In May I went to the doctor with a painful thickening and after falling through the cracks in our health care system, and being treated as “normal” rather than “urgent”, it wasn’t until July that I was diagnosed with an aggressive stage three breast cancer that had spread to my skin. Since I first posted about my personal health battle, I have gone through three treatments of chemo and my health has been up and down with side effects from the chemo and other medication. After my first treatment I had to be rushed to emergency with a reaction that caused low blood pressure, abdominal pain and my body went into shock. Blood tests showed that I had ten times the amount of lipase in my blood as was normal. Whatever caused this reaction, I did not have it happen again after the next two treatments and for that I am thankful to God. It was a scary experience and I thought I was going to die.

I have also struggled with white blood cells being especially low. My doctor put me on shots to force my body to produce white blood cells to bring my immune system back to normal, but I had a strong reaction to the shots and along with severe pain in my spine, the shots caused my liver enzymes to sky rocket showing that there was a possibility of liver damage. At times the roller coaster ride between treatments and side effects has seemed more than I could take, but God has walked alongside me and kept me in His peace. It is a peace that is far greater than I could have imagined. God is there even in the fight for life because of cancer.

With my last chemo treatment, I only qualified for 3/4 of the normal dose as my white blood cells were not back to normal enough for the full dose.  Even though it was not a full dose this time, I have experienced extreme exhaustion. Even after sleeping most of the day and sleeping more than 12 hours at night, I still woke up feeling exhausted. That was one of the hardest side effects to tolerate as it made me feel like I was never going to be normal again.

But God has been gracious to me once again and after several days in bed I am doing much better. While the chemo has been very hard on my body, it has also been very hard on the cancer. After three treatments, the cancer can no longer be felt, and all of the metastises to the skin has disappeared!  Of course what one feels and sees is not all there is of cancer, so the treatment goes on, but the sensitivity of this cancer to the chemo to shrink and destroy it has been so encouraging. My doctor told me that very aggressive cancer responds better to chemotherapy than less aggressive cancer responds to the chemo.

I am still in a fight for my life, but it is a battle that is going well right now.  I do have some battle scars, but in the light of eternity, they don’t mean very much. I have lost all of my hair on my head but my amazing extended family blessed me with prepaying for a wig that is pretty much exactly the colour of hair that I used to have.  I have also felt the prayers of many people on my behalf and it has had a profound effect on my life. It seems that when one is struggling in a huge battle like this, and fighting for one’s life, other Christians are there to take up the fight alongside the one who has been kicked to the ground.  More than ever before I feel the love of God’s family.

I am going to try to post here more often because I want this blog to be not just about my cancer battle, but to be about life, faith and the things I have learned from God.

If you would like to follow my journey, feel free to subscribe on the right side bar and notification of new posts will come to your email box.


25 thoughts on “Cancer battle for life – and update

  1. cheryl you are in my thoughts and prayers. May God continue to give you peace and restore your body to wholeness.

  2. I appreciate the fact that you need use your energy and time wisely so “On the Path” blog is a great idea. It will help us to pray for you more effectively and it will give you an outlet where you can share what our Lord is teaching you while on this path.
    Your journey has been such a difficult one and yet you have been a great encouragement through your writings and life example.

    I trust that through your faith in Him, God will shield you by His power (1 Peter 1:5)
    I pray that God will help you at this time to set your hope on His grace, which will be granted to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at His coming (1 Peter 1:13)
    ‘Grace and peace be yours in abundance” Richard and Cheryl (1 Peter 1:3)

    May God grant you peace and courage as He carries you graciously in his loving arms in the days ahead.


  3. I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve commented Cheryl, but you have been (and still are!) in my prayers. I am SO HAPPY that your cancer’s responding to the chemo! 🙂 I’m sorry it’s been rough on you, but at the same time, I’m so glad that it’s also rough on your cancer as you said. Keep hanging in there! *HUGS*

  4. We do not know why we are asked to endure pain and sickness. What we do know is that God will stand by your side and see you through. May you feel God’s presence as He brings you back to health.
    The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.
    Psalm 145:13
    love and hugs

  5. Tillie,
    I agree that we cannot fully know why we are asked to endure pain and sickness on this earth. My Mom has gone through so much pain herself having survived cancer three times. One lady told her that she must be special in that God has entrusted suffering to her. Suffering does not seem to be a trust, but for reasons known to God now, and to us eventually in eternity, we will know all of God’s purposes and I believe we will see Him as perfect in all of His ways.

  6. Rose,
    I just noticed that I missed answering your comment from back in October. Thank you for the HUGS and I too am happy that this aggressive cancer has been knocked down by an aggressive chemo.

  7. Tillie,
    I also noticed that your comment this time went to my spam box, not sure why the blog is picking up some comments as spam. I will try to keep an eye on the blog spam box to rescue any comments that get deposited there in error.

  8. Cheryl,

    You are in our minds and hearts more than you can know. Blessings on your unique, open, honest, and encouraging journey. We’re on the path with you.

  9. I’ve been following your previous blog, I just wanted to say I pray for you and hope it get’s better. I admire your strength, good luck and god bless.

  10. Pastor Paul, thanks for being On the path with me as I take this difficult journey. It really helps to know that there are people out there who care.

  11. Prayers for your struggles. I just came across your ministry via sound witness, and I was led there because I’d stumbled into Ron L. Dart’s radio program (but solid info from sound witness pulled me out). May your struggles continue your faithfulness & fruitfulness! May your pain bring deep hope. Only when I have been in anguish over my head did I find real hope. It was pain that taught me to understand how this life is but a vapor, and the Christ Himself wants us to share His glory – to continually bring Him alone glory. What a joy ahead dear child of the King.

  12. Holly,
    Such good thoughts you posted! I agree with you that our own pain and anguish teaches us that we are but a breath. It also pushes us more towards our Lord and maturity than any other thing on this earth. I don’t enjoy saying this because I don’t like pain and suffering, but I have grown more in the last 6 1/2 years than I would have imagined, and these years have been filled with pain of all kinds of sorts. When I look back from this vantage point, I can see that these pains had to be. The events that brought the pain were necessary and they took me in a different direction. God has been faithful to entrust me with pain and suffering and I praise Him for keeping me through it all.

  13. How are you Cheryl doing in this new set of treatments?
    I think of your courage and strength and continue to pray that our Lord God will grant you renewed health and strength as you continue in the work He has given you to do.
    Your right, there are many different types of pain; and at times one wonders if they can take any more , however, then were reminded that we are not alone, and that God is always with us and knows what we are going through. The fight is to rest in Him while in
    the fight. Be Blessed

  14. Diane,

    Thank you for those thoughts! You brought up an important point in that we need to rest in God. He does the work, and on our path with God, we are called often to rest in his provision. It isn’t always easy to do that. But resting in Him is important.

  15. Cheryl – hope you are doing well! you are in our thoughts and prayers. I wish the best for you and your family.. you are an inspiration!



  16. Hi Cheryl… it is very encouraging to see your faith remaining strong through your physical and emotional trial… I am curious if you have ever considered other more holistic treatments for cancer? It pains me to hear that most of your suffering is because of side effects of chemical poisoning (chemotherapy)… I pray that God will grant you wisdom to take the best course of treatment, and trust Him for healing throughout. If you want some resources for natural cures for cancer, you can email me. Blessings and prayers for you!

  17. Wil,
    I see that I missed answering your question and didn’t notice it until another comment came through months later. I am sorry about that.

    I am doing much better. I look back to April and see so many improvements. God has been good to me and even though the road has been somewhat rocky, I can see the hand of God in the directing of events so I have learned to be content in all that He allows in my life as I work to control my own impatience. My own self says “I want to be better….NOW!” but God has a purpose and a plan so I wait to be fully well. My biggest obstacle is the effects on my brain from chemo. I can now multi-task but my brain is still a ways from being fully back. I pray that God will grant me a full recovery so that I can honor Him with service for many years in a way that will not bring Him shame for my inabilities. I trust in His help!

  18. Benjamin, thanks for popping in to my On the Path blog. Welcome!

    Thank you for your encouraging words, that really touches me! As far as holistic treatment I have tried a tea that (apparently) had been helpful in cases where people were hopeless and were sent home to die and it helped them. I had to stop taking it as the hospital pharmacist phoned me and said that the product had estrogen producing ingredients and I was not allowed to take this kind of medicine or herbs. The cancer I had was growing from my estrogen.

    The cancer was also extremely fast growing and by the time that I was able to get chemotherapy the cancer had attached itself to the chest wall and had come out in multiple places on the skin. It was a very dire situation that needed immediate attention and I felt very strongly that I must submit to the wisdom of the Internist in charge of my health. He put me on some of the strongest chemo drugs they have for this kind of cancer and it was so hard on me that after it peeled off the skin of my heels and left me in so much pain that I could hardly walk, I was put on 3/4 dose after that to limit the damage the chemo was doing to my good cells. But the amazing thing was that the chemo did even more damage to the cancer and the destruction was amazing to see. It was a visible sign that all of us saw and I am grateful to God for the encouragement He gave me as I endured the side effects. I feel that it was worth it in my case because I have life. I was considered at high risk of recurrence and I survived the year and gaining strength and endurance. I just cannot be sad about what I went through when the gift of life that I received was a result. I honestly do not think that I would have lived to the end of last year without this treatment. At the early stage of my diagnosis I had two ultrasound measurements taken a week apart and the technician commented how you could see the growth in just a week’s time. So I am a very blessed person to be given more time on this earth and I have learned and benefited from the trials I went through. The lessons learned from the valley of the deep shadow cannot be learned from the mountain top and I was granted the gift of suffering for a short time. The Lord sifts out suffering from between his fingers and when it is through one can see the character of God a bit clearer. He becomes a treasure that seems sweeter on the other end. I cannot explain it, nor should I try. I just know that He is the Faithful One who is greater than any trial, including cancer. Whether I live or whether I die, I belong to the Lord and that has become so much stronger to me after this year.

    I will email you to receive what you think might be an adjunct treatment for cancer. I appreciate the offer.

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