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Hope

Guest Post

Hope in Our Stories {Guest Post by Joan Gallagher}

hope markers by Joan Gallagher

Melissa sat with downcast eyes as she stirred her coffee. Her beautiful brown hair hung loosely as if she hadn’t the inclination to do much with it that day. She considered herself blessed with a good marriage and beautiful family. Her life was full of activity as she ran from one event after another with her children and enjoyed a busy church life. I admired the Christian “Super Woman” I saw sitting before me. So why so downcast?

Her next words would be the catalyst to light a passion in my heart to know and share what God says about who we are:

“I am thankful to be a mom and a wife, it’s the place God called me to be at this time. But my kids will be out of the house soon so what then? I’m an ordinary mom with no special talents. I didn’t go to college so I’m not sure if I would be able to even get a job. And honestly, if people really knew my past…” her voice trailed off.

Unknowingly, Melissa had let the false words that she had an inconsequential life infiltrate her heart. At best she was a good mom and wife, and at her worst, well she had dark secrets that kept her paralyzed in fear of someone finding out.

I did my best that day to encourage her about how much she means to God and how loved she is by many. She feigned a smile as we parted that day. When I walked away I felt grieved for her, and disappointed in myself that I couldn’t better support her. As I prayed for her, God reminded me that Melissa was not the only woman I knew with a similar story: feelings of being inconsequential in a success driven world with too much “ugly” in her past to truly be used by God. I finally was able to admit that’s me too. Sure, I worked in positions of leadership and had success in several different vocations but I felt ill-equipped and, well, like a charlatan – if people really knew me, they would turn away.

This confession was the inspiration for my book Hope-Markers and stirred a passion for women to see themselves as God sees them:

Sunset Woman

I was on a quest to know God’s true purpose for us and what I found rocked my world. The strange part, at this point I had been a believer for several decades and even mentored others in their walk with God. But He showed me that I had not truly embraced this truth for myself and it was time. Why? Because He loves me and wants me to share this message with others. I went to conferences, I talked with friends, women I had mentored, and those who had mentored me and found this feeling of being inconsequential, (and there are endless reasons why women feel this way) was deeply hidden in many women’s hearts and they were too fearful to tell anyone.

Hope-Markers is the culmination of all that God has taught me over the last few years. I’m still walking the journey with Him, and that’s okay. He loves me and my story matters to Him, and so does yours.

What are Hope-Markers? They are people and events that have an impact in our lives. They either inspire us to be all that God has called us to be or they serve as warnings to what God doesn’t want for his beloved daughters. One of the greatest gifts God gives us is each other. He desires to have us journey with each other in expectation of all He has for us.

Below are a few quotes that give you an idea of all you will find in Hope-Markers. My prayer is that it will help you embrace your story to live out the celebrated life God has for you so you can then be a part of the journey of another fellow journey-woman. The book includes a study guide so grab a few friends, some good coffee and dig in. The book will be available on Amazon on December 1. Please visit my website: www.joangallagher.net I would love to know your story, I know it is beautiful.

hopemarkers

joangallaghernowo.com

My Battle with Breast Cancer, You Asked - Answers

Answers to Your Cancer Questions

The other day I asked if you had any questions for me regarding my cancer, and several of you actually had questions.  Believe it or not, I always cringe when I hit the publish button on one of the "do you have any questions" posts.  I don't cringe because it is a bad post, but I cringe because I fear that no one will have a question.  Silly, yes, but very true.

So here are the answers to your questions.

Do you still feel sometimes like this is not happening? (from Debby)

Yes, I feel like that a lot.  When I was newly diagnosed, I prayed that God would give me the strength to get through this, and I believe that is exactly why I feel the way I do. 

Do you have a bucket list, even one you might have had before you found out about the cancer? Are you the "I've re-thought my priorities" kind of person now or are you "I'm not doing anything differently just because I have cancer" kind of person?  (from Denny144)

You know, I've never had a bucket list.  There are things I would love to do before die, but I've never really sat down and made a list.  When I first found out about the cancer, I told McD that I want to take my Dad to New York so we can watch a Yankees game together.   He told me that we would do that, but after I kick this cancer. 

I think I am a "I'm not doing anything differently just because I have cancer" kind of person.  I have cancer, but cancer doesn't have me. 

How do you keep your spirits up?  (from Carolyn)

I've never been one to be down.  If I start worrying about something, then I immediately pray about it.  I try to give my worries to God and let him deal with them.  It isn't always easy to do, but that is what the Bible tells us to do, so I try my hardest.

How do you pray about this?  (from Carolyn)

To tell you the truth, I am not really sure how to answer this one because prayer is such a private thing for me.  I've prayed for strength, courage, healing, and patience.  I've asked God to use me through this battle to help, encourage, and bring awareness to others.  I've asked that a cure be found.  I've thanked God for giving me this battle and not our kids, or other family members.  And, I've thanked him for the strength, courage, feverless days, and patience he has given me.  I also thank him every. single. day. for such a wonderful husband.  I don't even want to think about going through this without him. 

What's something new you learned about yourself in this ordeal?  (from Carolyn)  

I am stronger than I thought.

Are you able to receive your treatments close to home? (from Kimela)

Yes.  We live out in the middle of nowhere, so it takes us about 20 to 25 minutes to get to the clinic.  My doctor from the big city comes here once a week, or I would be traveling to get my treatments. 

Are you planning to celebrate the end of chemo?  (from BB)

Several people have mentioned that we need to have a big party, but that would involve me being the center of attention and I am not a big fan of that.  I'm sure we will have to do something!

Is it worse/better than you anticipated?  (from BB) 

There is a little bit of both.  For some reason I had it in my head that chemo would be a breeze for me, and the first treatment almost did me in.  The second treatment went a lot more like I thought it should, thanks to the shot they gave me.  The hair cut is better than I anticipated.  Oh, and the tastes.  My tastes are a lot worse than I anticipated.  But it is such a minor thing that I feel ridiculous complaining.

Your surgery was going to be done in two stages…and I wondered about that…as to why they would not do it all at once?  (from Monie)

When I told the Wonderful Wizard of Boggs that I wanted to remove both breasts he gave me options, then he let me decide.  I chose having two surgeries.  The second surgery will be when they do the right mastectomy, and start the reconstruction process.   I will have the same amount of surgeries doing it this way, and no pain on the right side until the next surgery.

Did your chemo start immediately after you got your port?   (from Connie) 

My port was put in on Monday, and that Thursday I received my first chemo treatment.

Did it HURT?? (from Connie)

I had heard that there was a freezing spray that they can use to numb the area before using your port, so that might have been the first thing out of my mouth the day of my first treatment.  They used the spray and it didn't hurt.  I felt it, don't get me wrong, but I mainly just felt the pressure.  When I was admitted to the hospital they used my port, but when I asked for freezing spray they looked at me like I was crazy.  They didn't use the spray, and it was just a week after getting the port so it hurt a little.  The nurse assured me that it gets better with time.   I suggest using the freezing spray.

What kind of cancer is your … her2 positive? hormone positive?  (from Connie)

My cancer is IDC (invasive ductal carcinoma).  It is HER2 +, and hormone positive (ER/PR+)

Do you know the things that cancer cannot do ?  (from Kathy/Swampwitch)

Yes, I do…

Cancer is so limited . . .
It cannot cripple Love
It cannot shatter Hope
It cannot corrode Faith
It cannot destroy Peace
It cannot kill Friendship
It cannot suppress Memories
It cannot silence Courage
It cannot invade the Soul
It cannot steal eternal Life
It cannot conquer the Spirit.

Do you know how much you are loved ?  (from Kathy/Swampwitch)

Honestly, I had no idea until all of this happened.  The outpouring of love and support has  been overwhelming, humbling even.  I cannot thank everyone enough for their love, support, and prayers.