Sunday, February 26, 2012

Cancer Only Sucks on Days that End in "Y"...BUT...

While doing some G2 on Amazon for possible book titles for Vicki Schreiner's cancer journy book that I'm publishing, I came across one that made me laugh out loud: Cancer Only Sucks on Days that End in "Y" by Scott Finestone.  Too true but also totally off base for Vicki's book, titled, Please Pray: A Testimony to the Power of Prayer

Please Pray is a gritty and gripping view into life as a mother of a kindergartner enduring a second cancer journey in three years.  No doubt that there were many days for Vicki and for Ryan that seemed endless with pain, fear and mind numbing fatigue.  But as Vicki shares in these 440 pages of CaringBridge journal entiries, she and Ryan experienced miracle after miracle in response to their walk in faith and the prayers of their family, friends, classmates, teachers and pastors.  Day after day they felt the tangible presence of Jesus, walking along side them, providing strength, hope and peace...and ultimately healing. 

Ryan is now a vibrant cancer-free 3rd grader and is excited to share "his book" with everyone.  I would love for you to read it too because I know it will help you grow in strength and faith and hope and peace, just as I did during the two years of editing, design, layout and publishing this wonderful book.  I am so proud of Vicki for her willingness to share this very, very personal story with others so that they might be encouraged and grow from her experience.  And I am so excited to see how God will use this in ways we can't even imagine.

You can preview the entire book and purchase it from my publishing website, Pressed In Press (the new and improved, i.e. trademarkable, name for Splendor Books).  It's also available in the Resurrection Christian School offices, for those of you in the Loveland area. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sharing the Journey: Sharing Your Story

Today I have the privilege of speaking at Poudre Valley Hospital's Sharing the Journey cancer support group.  I'll be sharing my cancer journey story and doing a mini-workshop about ways that we can each share our story with others.  I continue to see such value in our life stories and hope to encourage others to share their stories, their lives with loved ones and friends.

I'm experimenting with how I can post this presentation.  You should be able to click here to download and view a pdf copy of this presentation.  I'd love to hear your feedback and your stories.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Radiation Rhema: HOT off the press

Hot, hot, hot!  I'm so excited to announce that the book I started when I began radiation treatment in August is now, literally, hot off the press. 

The reason I'm so excited is that I believe the scriptures that God gave me for this book are absolutely powerful and potentially life changing.  That's because each verse in this book declares God's sovereignty and power, His love for each of us and His peace and strength in the midst of trials. 

As I memorized these verses, day after day of radiation...for 35 days, I gained such rock solid strength.  As I share this book with others who have also been through the fire, they too recognize the power and truth these verses hold.  As Hugh says for all of my books: "Have the Kleenex ready."

I'd love for you to thumb through this book (by visiting and clicking the "Preview" button) and would be honored if you would purchase a copy for yourself or a friend.  This makes a beautiful and thoughtful gift for anyone going through a fiery time, cancer or otherwise.  I'll be happy to sign your copy or write a personal note to you or whoever you're giving it to.  It's been humbling and such a privilege to be fulfilling the first orders for this and to be praying for each person receiving it.  

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

Philippians 4:4-8

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Song of Praise

Tomorrow is the anniversary of my biopsy that diagnosed breast cancer. In so many ways it seems like ages ago, and in other ways just days ago.  I wrote about that period on my page on the Faith Walkers website ( 

God has been so faithful and His Word has proven life giving and true.  Yesterday and today I revised Samuel 22 (David’s Song of Praise) to be my own. Be encouraged. Through God, WE ARE VICTORIOUS!

Love you,

P.S. My new hair is curly and a different color than before (grayer and a duller sable brown).  Time will tell if it stays curly or goes back to its old self.  I think I'm my old self (in a good way).

2nd Samuel 22
Carolyne's Song of Praise

1 Carolyne sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered her from cancer and the fear of cancer. 2 She said:

"You O LORD are my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

3 my God, you are my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation.
You are my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—
from disease and distress you save me.

4 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise,

and I am saved from my enemies, from cancer, from fear, from anxiety.

5 "The waves of death swirled about me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.

6 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.

7 In my distress I called to the LORD;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears.

8 "The earth trembled and quaked,
the foundations of the heavens shook;
they trembled because he was angry.

9 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.

10 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.

11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.

12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.

13 Out of the brightness of his presence
bolts of lightning blazed forth.

14 The LORD thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.

15 He shot arrows and scattered the enemies, each and every cancer cell,
bolts of lightning and routed them.

16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the LORD,
at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

17 "He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.

18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, Satan,
from disease that was too strong for me.

19 Satan tried to confront me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support and He makes me a victor in all things.

20 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

21 "The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.

22 For I have kept the ways of the LORD;
I have not done evil by turning from my God.

23 All his laws are before me;
I have not turned away from his decrees.

24 I have been blameless before him
and have kept myself from sin.

25 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to my cleanness in his sight, thanks to the covering, cleansing blood of Jesus.

26 "To the faithful you show yourself faithful, O Lord,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless,

27 to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.

28 You save the humble,
but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.

29 You are my lamp, O LORD;
the LORD turns my darkness into light.

30 With your help I can advance against a troop in any battle;
with my God I can scale a wall, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

31 "As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield
for all who take refuge in him.

32 For who is God besides the LORD ?
And who is the Rock except our God?

33 It is you O God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect.

34 You make my feet like the feet of a deer;
you enable me to stand on the heights.

35 You train my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze and uphold all who are hurting.

36 You give me your shield of victory;
you stoop down to make me great.

37 You broaden the path beneath me,
so that my ankles do not turn.

38 "I pursued my enemies -- cancer and fear -- and crushed them;
I did not turn back till they were destroyed.

39 I crushed them completely, and they could not rise;
they fell beneath my feet.

40 You armed me with strength for battle;
you made my adversaries bow at my feet, you made cancer my slave.

41 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
and I destroyed my foes.

42 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—
to the LORD, but he did not answer. In His presence they are powerless.

43 I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth;
I pounded and trampled them like mud in the streets.

44 "You have delivered me from the attacks of Satan;
you have preserved me as a light to the world.
People I did not know are encouraged by me, and drawn to you,

45 and foreigners come curiously to me;
as soon as they hear me, they soften to you, O Lord.

46 They do not lose heart;
they come trembling from their strongholds, seeking you, O Lord, God of Carolyne, Creator of the Universe.

47 "The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock!
Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!
48 He is the God who avenges me,
who puts Satan under me and cancer behind me,
49 who sets me free from anxiety.
You exalted me above my trial;
from deadly disease you rescued me.

50 Therefore I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations;
I will sing praises to your name.

51 He gives his daughters great victories;
he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed,
to Carolyne and her descendants forever."

Monday, October 12, 2009

"It is finished."

At 1:41 this afternoon, I walked out of the surgeon's office port-free and cancer-free. Jesus said, "It is finished." I just said, "Yahoooooo!"

Detecting that I'm cancer-free is medically a matter of faith at this point, though I'm quite certain of it. But there's absolutely no question that I am port-free. Unlike the procedure to put it in, I was awake for its removal. I can't tell you exactly what it looked like because they hung a curtain between my face and my chest, supposedly so I wouldn't contaminate the site with my breath or a sneeze. More likely it was there so I wouldn't throw up or strangle the surgeon if I watched.

The same surgeon who put it in almost seven months ago, took it out today, using the original 1-inch incision, a few inches below my right collar bone. After numbing up the area, he tugged and jimmied out the purple walnut sized rubber port along with the 7-inch long tube that had been inserted in a vein going into the main artery of my heart. Just like at the dentist, the numbing needles hurt as much or more than the real work they're doing; but from the sounds and sensations of him working, I could tell it didn't just pop out on its own.

I haven't bled to death, so I guess he was right that the vein closes in on itself when the tube is pulled out. I'm not sure what the lovely red body tissue is on the tray. I didn't ask to take it home, nor do I plan to use the port in a Cancer Journey Shadow Box, like one patient reportedly made. Instead, I'll just preserve the memory through this beautiful photo I'm sharing with you.

I'll keep the dressing on for a week and by then the stitches should have dissolved. It feels a little tender and itchy but nice to not feel the tube going up over my collar bone and the tightness and lump of the port coming out of my chest. I'm glad to have had it (way easier to get the chemo through it and to have blood samples taken from it)...but very glad to have it no more.

(This photo shows how the port looked in me: the purple area on the left is it, sticking up from underneath my skin and the dot on my collar bone is where the tube came up and over it. Both felt weird to touch.)

I finished radiation last Tuesday the 6th -- also a major "Yahoooooo!" because it marked the end of my daily treatment routine and back to a normal "my life" routine. Here's a photo taken in the changing room where I went everyday to don a lovely blue and white cotton hospital gown. When I own my own radiation oncology firm, I will supply my clients with colorful polar fleece gowns in a variety of colors and styles, and none with open backs and tricky ties.

The radiology clinic staff did provide some nice touches though. Not only were they kind and fun to be with each day, but they always had jigsaw puzzles in the waiting room, an assortment of cookies to munch on and a "Happy Day" cake to celebrate my last day of radiation.

The radiation itself proved to be quite painless and unobtrusive, except for the time it took out of each day. I didn't feel particularly tired and was able to get back to normal work and activities throughout the seven weeks of treatment. My dad drove out from Iowa ("Thank you, Dad!!!") to drive with Hannah and I to a soccer tournament in Vail two weekends ago but I was fine doing all of the driving (3 hours each way) and again this weekend when Hannah and I and our friend Vivian drove to Estes Park for a women's retreat. I even started an exercise program for cancer patients at the hospital and am doing fine with that. There's no question which breast got the radiation as my entire left breast and underarm was bright red, like a bad sunburn. A week after my last radiation, it's now starting to peel and get less red and should return to normal pretty quickly.

The book I've been working on throughout radiation -- Radiation Rhema -- is coming together beautifully. It will have 36 days worth of verses and photos, telling the truth about God's love, light, peace and healing power. I hope to finish it in the next few weeks. Stay tuned here for links to it in my on-line bookstore.
Our new Faith Walkers site (http://www.faithwalkers2.c0m/) is also going well. We've heard of women in China, Singapore and across the U.S. being encouraged by it, which really encourages us too! Feel free to share it with anyone you know facing cancer. And if you can donate to Jana Johnson's Koman Foundation 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk funds, I would be personally grateful: donate here.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for
and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children-
with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.
Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will.
Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the LORD, O my soul.
Psalm 103

Friday, August 28, 2009

Radiation Rhema

The good news now that my energy is that my energy is back. The bad news? My energy is back, and I have eight months of pent up ideas and creativity that's been back burnered all through surgery and chemo, and now I feel like going 100 miles an hour to get back into the creative side of my life.

Two projects that I want to tell you about:

  1. Faith Walkers: a new website I developed with six other wonderful women -- five who have been walking the cancer journey recently and one who loves us all and wants to support us by walking in the Denver Breast Cancer 3-Day (60 Mile) Walk this weekend. Jana's idea was to wear a t-shirt that says "Faith Walkers" on the front and "Ask me about Carolyne...Sarah....Lynda...Vivian...Charlene" on the back. Then she's handing out business sized cards with words of encouragement and our photos and the Faith Walkers website address ( On the website we share more of our stories about our healing journeys. It's still a work in progress but well worth the time to read these gals' stories -- amazing! Mine isn't fully finished but I'll keep plugging away at it now that the main site is finished. This was my first full website to build and launch and learned a lot in the process. If you'd like to support me vicariously, please donate to Jana's walk fund raising; she had to raise $2,300 to walk and at the last minute a business that was going to sponsor that entirely backed out, leaving her with the entire amount to raise by the end of September.

  2. Radiation Rhema: my first book project other than a few dabbles since December. I am asking God for daily words (scriptures), personal to me from Him (that's what rhema means) for each day I'm having radiation treatment. I'm trying to memorize each one (there will be 30 all together) and recite them throughout the day. Originally I'd thought I'd have all this time during my radiation treatments to memorize and recite...but now that I've had 7 treatments, each one lasting less than 2 minutes...I see that's not going to happen. The book already has 17 days of verses, each with a photo from this summer -- and as always, God orchestrates the perfect photo illustration for each verse. It's so energizing for me to be working on this and I can't wait for it to be ready to publish and share with you and with others going through cancer treatment.

Radiation is going fine so far. The whole process is so different than chemo. It takes more time to put make up on and drive to my appointment than the actual appointment takes (3 minutes to take my put on a hospital gown, 3 minutes to get my tattoos aligned to laser guides, 2 minutes of radiation zapping and 3 minutes to get dressed again). It's all very private too compared with chemo where I was in a room with ten or twelve others going through hours of treatment. With radiation, it's just me and a few nice nurses and just like an x-ray, they leave the room when I'm being zapped.

I haven't felt tired or had skin "sun" burns yet but sounds like that may kick in after 2 or 3 weeks of treatment (I have treatments every weekday at 12:45, for 30 treatments all together...done around the first of October).

My feet are still pretty numb, not any better or worse. I has an EMG test today by Dennis' (no my) neurologist and it showed I do have sensory neuropathy (which was obvious), but not motor neuropathy. That's good because it should get better as the effects of chemo fade (chemo has killed off the blood vessels that feed the nerves and as they rejuvenate, my nerves will too).

My hair is growing fast. In just three weeks it's more than a quarter inch long. Very soft. Seems to be darker but with more gray. At first I was sad to see my totally bald and tanned head go away, but it's interesting to see what's coming. My eyelashes never fell out during chemo, even grew longer which was weird...but started falling out along with my eyebrows when my hair started coming back. I was bummed because it definitely gave me more of a sick/chemo look. But then I realized that new eyelashes and brows were starting to grow back in. There's a verse about a time for every season.

School started two weeks ago, with a nice visit from Mom and Dean. Hannah and Hugh (and their parents) are back in the school routine, though I really miss my summer leisurely mornings on the deck.

I still get to enjoy my fun lunches with my B&B Club (Boobs and Books) girl friends. Here are some shots from Monday.

Radiation Rhema Verses 1 & 2:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Let your gentleness be evident to all.

The Lord is near.

Do not be anxious about anything,

but in everything, by prayer and petition,

with thanksgiving,

present your requests to God.

And the peace of God,

which transcends all understanding,

will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tatoos and Scars

No offense to those of you with cool tattoos, but personally, I've just never wanted one, even with my new Biker Babe scarf look. Didn't really want any more scars either.

But now I have both -- four new scars and four new tattoos. No photo sharing, just suffice it to say that my breast, chest and armpit have about 7 inches of scars from the lumpectomy done in January, the "re-do" done in February and the port implantation done in March...and now four freckle-sized black tattoo dots -- two on my cleavage and one on both sides of my rib cage. It took about two minutes to tattoo me but it hurt enough that I recommitted myself to a tattoo-free lifestyle.

The tattoos will be used to align the radiation machine so that it zaps exactly where it's supposed to and not where it's not. I'll start radiation after school starts -- Monday through Friday for six weeks, but only 15 minutes each time. The primary side effects I should expect are sunburned skin all over my breast, tenderness and tiredness (though my friends who've been through chemo and radiation tell me the fatigue from radiation is nothing compared with chemo...hope that's true for me).

Here are my scars and tattoos, all covered up, hidden from the world. Even my swim suit covers them, except the one under my arm pit.

Hidden or not, my scarves, bald head and thin eye brows signal to others that underneath these clothes are scars that tell a story. Women often ask me if I'm going through chemo and share a story about their victory over cancer or compliment me on how radiant I look. It's always an opportunity for me to share something encouraging about my journey and to acknowledge that Jesus is the reason I'm glowing and healthy and joyful.

As Stacy shared in Intercessory Prayer last week, it was Jesus' scars that God used to reach Thomas and others after his resurrection. It was his excruciating pain and suffering that bought our salvation, our rebirth.

We all have scars -- physical, emotional, relational. In spite of the pain that came with them, God uses them...if we allow Him to. My hope is that my scars will cause you to seek Him for yourself. And with God's grace, your scars will also become testimonies of healing and strength and peace.

Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve,
was not with the disciples when Jesus came.
So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!"

But he said to them,
"Unless I see the nail marks in his hands
and put my finger where the nails were,
and put my hand into his side,
I will not believe it."

A week later his disciples were in the house again,
and Thomas was with them.
Though the doors were locked,
Jesus came and stood among them and said,
"Peace be with you!"

Then he said to Thomas,
"Put your finger here; see my hands.
Reach out your hand and put it into my side.
Stop doubting and believe."

Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

Then Jesus told him,
"Because you have seen me, you have believed;
blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples,
which are not recorded in this book.
But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 20:24-31