Love as fragile as a Rose

Love as fragile as a Rose;
It’s beauty fully appreciated
When received as a single flower,
Or in a gorgeously adorned bouquet

You smell its fragrance
Only because you long to
As you inch closer to sniff,
Hands steering clear of its protective thorns

It is most appealing and vibrant
When freshly plucked, it shines
With rich, radiant rosiness,
Or its pure, graceful pearly white.

As time passes, alone it darkens.
The petals you see blacken
Slowly withers away, beauty fades.
But peel the outer layers away, reveals the beauty within

If you treasure the rose, love it.
To keep the love alive, nurture it.
Prune the rose, cut the stem diagonally.
Plant it within nutrient-enriched soil,

to see it thrive and flourish.

Though the thorns may bleed you
If you hastily approach, no caution.
But if you tenderly strip away the defenses of thorns,
Take the time to get closer and discover what lies beneath,
What joys, pleasures, sensations new experience brings
And you will forget the initial pricks and thorns,
As you enjoy a rose garden full of love.

Written by the much younger Mrs Dew 🙂

When we allow our Health Challenges to Define us

Since I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous #Leukemia #CML when I was 17 years old, over a decade ago, I remember my life seemed to revolve around hospital appointments, blood tests, scans, bone marrow aspirations. I had to consciously plan my day so that I have at least one full meal and ensure a bottle of water and chemotherapy (#gleevec) tablets are packed in my bag.

Where before I was an over-achieving student, my body now slowed me down. You know those all nighters spent cramming for an exam, or writing that paper, or preparing a presentation? From then on, I would be plagued by constant fatigue, flu/cough and struggling with chemo side effects like vomiting and diarrhea.

To everyone else, I maintained my bubbly, cheerful, friendly, energetic persona but now I was coming late to class, begging lecturers for extensions on deadlines and so forth. And my once forbearing and diplomatic persona was not so lenient anymore.

I wasn’t the typical #cancer patient. I wasn’t deathly pale (though I was far lighter skinned compared to before my diagnosis and chemo treatment) and sported a full head of raven black hair. Plus I didn’t have to go to the hospital for chemo treatments when mine was concealed conveniently in my bag to take “on-the-go”. I looked just like every other student. I remember one lecturer going so far as to say I was using my illness as an excuse. Hmm. I will chalk that one up to ignorance. Then came another mid-semester drop out. Each time it got harder and harder to return back to my studies.

I am sure you can relate to how such physical and health limitations begin to define us in such a permanent way. We don’t even realize when it becomes a part of who we are. I had gotten admitted to medical school just after I was hospitalized the first time I was diagnosed. I got to defer admission to medical school, but after my health took a hit my first year there, my doctor didn’t allow me to resume.

I relocated closer to my parents and would still pursue my dreams of being an emergency/disaster response doctor for several years to come in one pre-med course after another. Each time, I would transfer over to what I thought was a less intensive course.

I had to look for another degree to graduate with. It took me 9 years from when I graduated high school to obtain my college (university) degree. I had to leave behind my career dream a long time ago. I graduated with a management degree in Human Resource Management

Now, even in #remission, I’m afraid to push myself so I don’t break down. I can’t seem to find something to be passionate about, due to this deep-seated fear that it will not work out. I keep expecting one bad break after another and when good things happen, I am beyond grateful.

One thing I am free from however is living life as a if I am a ticking time bomb. This “tip-toe” kind of living when one believes they are living on borrowed time. When I got diagnosed, I was acutely aware that my cousin suffered from #leukemia for several years before dying at age 18. For so long I went through life one day at a time. I couldn’t even picture myself graduating, not to talk of getting married.

When I finally graduated university, after several interruptions and relocations, it was a huge breakthrough and victory God gave me as this wonderful man blindsided me with a ring on my finger. I didn’t even know where to begin wedding planning because I never spent a moment browsing social media for my dream wedding gown or wedding gown receptions. Time to take a leap of faith.

I have had amazing breakthroughs (miracle conception, pregnancy & journey into motherhood) since getting married and mentally am working through and moving beyond all that now. But I wanted to write down and attempt to capture how totally hopeless life can seem, or how one’s diagnosis can colour everything about one’s life if they choose not to actively take charge of their diagnosis and more importantly their emotional and mental state of mind.

Instead of letting our health challenges define us, or be the boss of us, why don’t we take charge? Arm ourselves with information, seek help, get proactive in selecting a team to help you overcome. It is said what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. But even if it purportedly will kill you, will it hurt to go down with a fight and a champion’s smile on your face? Better yet, why not be determined to beat the odds and be part of the 0.01% that do survive?! Never underestimate the potent value of just a little Faith

Are you struggling with any issue, not something as ominous as cancer but issues like asthma, body image issues, eating disorders, a bad wrist/back, anything that serves as a limitation? Are you so nervous to talk with people that it is really affecting your mannerisms and happiness? Even if you have technically or physically gotten over an illness, are there still lingering issues affecting other areas of your life? Please I would love to hear your own story and where you are at the moment in your journey.

P.s. about The coffee pictures in this post … 😀 Maybe I just want you to remember that cup of coffee you left sitting on your table and come sit and read my thoughts. Come have a little chat with me

May God comfort the weary soul

If words could adequately describe
My bone-weary, battle-bruised exhaustion,
Eyes tingling and heavy from shedding an ocean of tears;
Head cobwebbed from a night of constant interrupted sleep;
Body weighed down from physical exhaustion,
Heart crushed and aching,
Soul quietly fading

All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he is the Father of tender mercy and the God of endless comfort.

He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 TPT

The day barely begun, already I have been through the emotional rollercoaster and back. I swore I will respect myself today. No more begging and groveling, no more chasing barefeet and bare-soul. God, I asked him for some mercy but Your Word says You are the Father of tender mercy. Wrap my battered soul in Your arms of endless comfort. Gone are the days I could spend wallowing in shame, regret and self-abasement. As a mother of a suckling babe, please help me to be stronger, a warrior in this area of weakness.

Almost instantly you send me your answer, as she raises her adorable doe-eyes to mine, lips smack in satiated satisfaction, she flashes her one-cheeked dimpled smile and utters her good morning in her own language “aaeesh ba ba ba ba…”.

You are a God who answers prayer. Your answer was already lying within my arms as I wrestled the emotions within. Help me to forgive and to love the way You love me. Unconditionally. With patience, kindness, and perseverant endurance.

Today Lord, I chose to turn to you instead of wrapping myself in my present circumstances or lack thereof. Help me Lord to do so even as I am tempted to fall into old habits.

Thank You Lord for your many blessings. The cool breeze sweeping through the room, bringing comfort to my weary head. Thank you God for the divine gift of motherhood and the seemingly bottomless reservoir of strength you provided along with it. With the challenges of keeping charge of an active little gymnast, you have provided the grace and strength. With all I have been through and all that I am going through, I know that You are God.

Thank You for the promises in your Word: I choose to trust that You will work all things out for my good. Thank you for the plans you have for me to prosper me and not to harm me. Thank you that though I walk through the waters, you will not allow me to drown. Even amongst the blazing fires of suffering and trials, you will not allow me to burn.

Thank you for the gifts you deposited in me. I know the present trial is to push me to reach within myself and tap into dormant gifts and use them to shine for your Glory and to testify to your mercy, comfort and unending goodness. Free me of this fear-mindset that has held me back for far too long. I choose to walk in confidence and boldness of the calling you have set before me. Thank you that You are my strength in the areas of my weakness. Amen

Head faintly throbbing,
Eyes still tingling and heavy,
Ears ringing with squeals and baby babbles,
Stirrings of hope rising in this tired soul
Sunlight streams through the netted windows
Filling my world with a warm, comforting golden hue,
Reaching down into the reservoirs of strength,
I rise up to face the day

If troubles weigh us down, that just means that we will receive even more comfort to pass on to you for your deliverance! For the comfort pouring into us empowers us to bring comfort to you. And with this comfort upholding you, you can endure victoriously the same suffering that we experience. Now our hope for you is unshakable, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings you will also share in God’s comforting strength.
2 Corinthians 1:6‭-‬7 TPT

Teen dealing with life change: CML, Processing and 2nd Opinion

I just did not know how to process this abrupt halt to life as I knew it. I had worked so hard over the past 2 years for this IB Diploma, accepted by European and UK universities. I had handed in all my papers, research papers, clocked in my CAS 150hours outside of school time, finished two years worth of coursework. And I was supposed to stay home, play sick while I was supposed to prepare for final exams?

The only place I could go to was the Beijing Teaching hospital and I had to wear a mask to protect my fragile immune system. Thankfully I didn’t have long to mope about at home, bolting myself behind my bedroom doors so I can have the freedom to mope and regret this new life turn. To those at home, I tried to maintain my cheerful attitude but couldn’t help to snap out at being treated so vulnerably.

I tried my best to reach out to a few of my closest friends to share the real reason why they aren’t seeing me in classes. Also my friends in my previous school whom I am bonded with more closely had come to visit me in hospital to meet a brave and smiling face. I didn’t know when I was initiated into the world of dark humour as a phone call to a friend who had relocated to Hong Kong proved. I had tried to crack jokes and shine a positive light on things when her laughter suddenly turned to sobs. Oops…my jokes might have gone too far. 

My close friends started to see me as this strong warrior where inside I was falling apart. The world as I knew it had changed. I mean everything was exactly the same, but just the thought that my future was snatched away from me without a single heads up…..

At the age of 17, I could still rest in the safe comfort of my parents doing all the worrying and researching and finding out my available treatment options. It was through my experience, I realised how blessed I was. My dad found favour with his bosses who pulled strings to get me immediate medical attention worldwide. Even in those moments of silent tears, heart wrenching sobs and shouting into my pillow or wadded up towel “WHY GOD??? WHY ME??? WHY NOW?? WHAT DID I DO WRONG?? ARE YOU PUNISHING ME FOR BEING BAD???”

I listened to Christian songs, I clung unto with dear life to verses my parents shared with me to encourage me: 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord , “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

 

 That means, God did not give me CML to punish me, no matter go through, we shouldn’t see it as bad karma or universe hates us, or there is no God. God is good, and God is love. Many times, I would struggle with how if God is good, bad things can happen to a girl who tried her whole childhood to be on her best behaviour, loved God and wasn’t afraid to tell her friends about God and even risked social exclusion. I would cry and cry in my room, the only place I could honestly deal with my situation, and after each time, it was as if invisible arms cradled me close and soaked away all my tears and negative feelings weighing me down. I would feel comforted, and the truth of God’s word would be revealed to my mind, reach deep down into my soul. I was assured, over and over again throughout each consecutive year that anything that happens to us, God will work it out for our good in the end:

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose.

ROMANS 8:28 AMP

I listened to Lynda Randle’s song “God on the mountain” over and over, repeating those words with every shred of faith I had accumulated over the years of my childhood “For the God of the mountain is still God in the valley, when things go wrong, He’ll make them right. And the God of the good times is still God in the bad times, the God of the day is still God in the night.”
Insert YouTube clip

So many Christian songs ministered to me and I played certain tapes from my childhood Kid’s praise and Sunday School sing a long over and over again. There were countless times I felt no one understood, it felt like the end of my life as I knew it. More scientific research on the internet brought more hopelessness as the only cure to this CML (Chronic Myelogenous Leukaemia) was a bone marrow transplant, then again, one might not always survive it with a 50% chance of graft Vs host infection.

When my parents shared with me that my dad’s NGO had arranged a short term trip for the whole family to travel to Thailand for a second opinion, hope rose within me like a sleeping giant. Perhaps these Chinese doctors were wrong….perhaps what I have isn’t as terminal as CML. Even if I did have it, between my parents and two siblings, I should be able to get a genetically matched donor for bone marrow cure right? 

Five suitcases packed, we traveled to Bangkok, Thailand. After meeting a highly recommended doctor in my field, I went through another series of tests and confirmed the initial CML diagnosis. Each member of my family were also tested as potential donors. 

In between waiting for test results, we explored the city around us,and I took comfort in similar cuisine to my motherland of Malaysia, explored night markets and got some beautiful fabrics for wrap skirts. Watched movies back at our room, and tried to browse the net in the internet cafe next door. Parents insisting on a healthier diet, my initial protests aside, I settled in to enjoy their tropical fruit, fruit juices…their fruit selection so similar to my motherland of Malaysia:

The results back, but none of my parents and brothers were a close enough match to be a good donor for a bone marrow transplant.