School talk

Today I spoke at my daughters elementary school. It was terry fox day and also hero day. The school graciously allowed me to speak about my journey through cancer, my hero and just encourage the kids to be kind to one another because we all go through difficult times. Here is my speech:

” Hello school! My name is Tiffany Haensel and I am a mom and auntie to 2 wonderful students that attend this school. I am also a cancer survivor…or patient, I’m not really sure what I am yet, but I’ve been going through cancer treatments for this whole last year. I’m sure you’ve all heard about cancer. Maybe you’ve even had someone you know who’s gone through cancer. Well I’m not going to talk to you too much specifically about cancer but I do want to talk to you about something very important and tell you about my cancer story. Cancer, just like many other things in life is very hard to go through and it can leave people feeling really sad or mad. What I want you to understand is that every single person here either has gone through something difficult, you are going through something difficult or you will be going through something difficult in the future. And I want you all to know that there are ways for you to be able to make it through that hard time. It will not last forever. Another thing I want you guys to think about, especially now that we know everybody goes through difficult times, is instead of being mean or leaving someone out who’s maybe not acting kindly to you, think about the fact that they might be going through something really hard and that’s why they’re angry or sad. That person needs a friend and someone to stand up for them more now than ever. That’s a real hero. Having A friend can help someone through just about anything. 

So now let me talk to you about my journey this past year and my friend. I found out that I had cancer in November last year. It not only was a cancerous lump but the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are little bean shaped bits of tissue located all around our bodies and they help fight off infections and viruses. Now lymph nodes are all connected through our entire body. It goes from here to here to here and all around. so when cancer gets into SOME lymph nodes, it can very quickly spread into a persons whole body and that will often cause people to die. You can imagine that that was kind of scary for me and my family. So once the dr’s knew this they started me on a medicine called chemotherapy which was to shrink the cancer. But good medicine can also come without some nasty side effects. I was so sick in my stomach that I had to lay in bed all day every day because moving made me want to throw up, I was so weak I could hardly get out of bed, my head hurt so bad I could barely open my eyes, my chest  felt like it was burning inside every time I ate, but I had to eat a lot otherwise I felt more sick, I was very achy all over my body just like when you have the flu and on top of all of that I lost all of my beautiful long blonde hair, my eyelashes and eyebrows. Not very often could I play with my kids, make them food, help them get ready in the morning, walk them to the bus or take them to their sports. Their mom was pretty much gone for a couple of months. Now that was a difficult time. After that I had to have surgery to take out the cancer. I had so much pain sometimes I had to get my husband to help me roll over in bed and get up because I couldn’t do it on my own. I had tubes coming out of my side that I had to bandage up and try not to hit or rub. My kids couldn’t wrestle with me anymore or really even hug me. After that I had radiation which burns the cancer. I had 3rd degree burns across my chest, up my neck and under my arm. It was kind of like if you got burned by touching the hot stove but it was a very large area that was burned, blistered and peeling. I had to put cream and bandages on it every morning and night and be so careful to not get an infection because I didn’t have very many good cells left in my body to fight off an infection. I had to sit in my room by myself every day for a while to let the wounds heal because I couldn’t wear anything that would be touching it. I know what it’s like to go through difficult times. But the word that I have used over and over this year is that I felt blessed. How in the world can someone feel blessed going through something like that where they could die?! But I did. You have to focus on the good stuff when you’re going through a hard time. If you look hard enough, there is always something to be grateful for. Blessings to me were things that gave me joy and that I felt grateful for. I felt very blessed to have such a good family who was willing to sacrifice what they wanted in order to help me, I didn’t have as bad symptoms as I could have, I was able to see alot of good in people as they brought my family meals, paid for me to have wigs so I didn’t have to bald all the time, and helped me with taking care of my kids. And you know how I was talking about friends being so helpful. Well I was very lucky because I had alot of friends. My family was there for me, my friends were there for me and I also had a best friend whose also my hero. his name is Jesus and He was there for me. He’s a supernatural friend and part of what I believe in. We all have different beliefs and mine is in Jesus and God. If you have a good friend or faith in a higher power that’s huge for getting through a tough time. My Faith is what has kept me going. So when I was sad, I asked God to help me and he made me happy, when I was scared, I asked Him to help me and he gave me peace. He may not choose to heal me but I know that His plan is the best plan, AND so far I know that the cancer has shrunk! In fact I may not even have cancer right now! We’re not sure yet, but it could be all gone. Many many things to be thankful for during such a hard time.

So I want you to always remember, when hard times come, they won’t last forever, there’s always something to be thankful for, and there’s always someone or something to go to for help. Either your faith, or a friend, or family or any one of the staff that works here, would love to help because they care about you. They wouldn’t be working here if they didn’t. And also remember, if You’re not going through a hard time right now, somebody else probably is and a real hero comes along side and helps out that person. So, go be a hero today! take care, and thank you for letting me come and talk to you today.“

How I’m doing after 10 months of cancer treatments

I thought I’d share today a post that I put on my Facebook account a couple weeks ago just to share how I’ve been doing lately in my cancer journey.

“I was feeling discouraged last week because even if I make it through this next year, I will never be my “normal” again. I ended up with swelling in my fingers/hands (lymphedema) because I did too much when I first got home and it’s kind of painful because the fluid is resting on my joints.  The Radiation oncologist told me I’ll have to watch that arm for the rest of my life and be careful to not lift heavy things or have anything tight in that arm, be careful with flying, shaving my armpit (it’s numb) or doing anything where I could gets cuts on that hand/arm for risk of infection, which means I’ll probably always have to wear a glove when I do a lot of things, I’ll have to ask for help instead of moving furniture on my own, and I might not be able to scuba dive or sky dive or do a lot of things I would like to do. I also might have to wear a compression glove abscess sleeve forevermore to prevent any further swelling. Not enjoyable, but this week I’m feeling like if I had to go through all of that but I was still alive in 50 years, than it would all be worth it:)

other than that thankfully be energy is decent because I have one child starting grade 1 today and going into ballet and Awana and another starting hockey and ball sports and doing preschool at home… so besides doing normal housewife duties and trying to work a bit I’ll be kept quite busy which will be good to keep my mind off of the “high risk” of seeing this cancer again this year. We will only know if it’s still there if it grows, and because it’s so aggressive, if nothing shows on CT scans in the next year, then it’s most likely gone and treatment worked. It’s good to be busy and have a giant trust in the Lord that His plan is the best plan.”

why Canning is so great!

I’m sure I’m behind the times on how great canning is but I have a new found love for it!! I’ve always loved the thought of my pantry being full of jars of homemade goods right from my own garden but I wasn’t able to have my own garden until just last year. This year I didn’t have a lot of success because I was in Saskatchewan for most of the summer being tended to for my cancer treatment issues. But…when I got home I was so excited to see a bunch of rhubarb had grown!! And I’m so pleased to say that I now have Jars of strawberry rhubarb fruit in my pantry “ready to go”. And that’s actually the point of writing this, is to say how awesome canning is for on the go mamas (or people in general;) Taking a jar of fruit  along in the car for hungry kids (or moms) is so much easier than trying to cut up fresh fruit in the am and keep it from getting squished and juices going all of the car on the drive and it’s so much healthier than having packaged food.  And, if you happen to leave it in the car overnight, it’s still good the next day! The other great thing is you can just grab your rhubarb and eat it anytime of the year unlike fresh fruit that has to be in season or taking fruit out of the freezer that you have to let thaw to make your smoothie or pie.

Oh canning… such a sense of accomplishment and happiness to see all those jars so neatly lined up and have the taste of summer in the middle of winter.

Our ancestors knew a thing or 2 about food. Even though they did it out of necessity, it is still a great idea for today and very tasty. I like to do it now because it makes me feel like a pioneer woman, and because it tastes good and is portable but also because I love to learn about ways to live in the wilderness just incase I need to!

What I need to learn now is how to distinguish between the good foods to eat and preserve in the forest and the poisonous ones. I can tell blueberries, strawberries, and chokecherries but what about mushrooms, or other berries and leaves that I don’t even know about. Something to study up on…

First blog on pioneer life

I don’t know that the Bible has anything to say about pioneer life or living off the land being what a person should do, but I do know that God gives us certain passions and I have a passion for the pioneer life! I love all things old. I love antiques, I love figuring out how to make meals from scratch (soon hopefully over a wood burning stove at our someday trappers cabin) and I love picking the ingredients right out of my backyard. I love horses and wagons, I love country schools and churches, I love dreaming about having an old time farm with chickens, pigs and a couple cows and I especially love being out in the countryside where there are no telephone poles, satellite towers, tv’s, or buildings. There’s just the sound of chirping birds and rustling leaves, the feel of the sun on my face and the wind through my hair (or lack of lately😜), the taste of sweet berries picked right off the bush, the sight of trees swaying and animals scurrying and the smell of the trees and water (that might be my favourite, especially in the wee hours of the morning when the dew is just coming off the grass and the sun is just beginning to peek out) 

ahh, there’s just something about nature and living back in the day. When people had time for each other, time to make their kids a play barn, a crib for their doll or a pair of mitts, when people got together for potlucks and barn dances and everyone helped out their neighbours. When Stores were closed on Sunday, and everyone went to church. When everyone was poor so keeping up with the Jones’ wasn’t a big deal, and people made what they had. Entertainment was enjoying time spent with neighbours instead of watching TV, travelling or running to the next activity. I may have an idealistic view of what it was like but I like trying to re-create that kind of lifestyle in our chaotic world today. (Minus the lack of immunizations and education as well as death by accidents because you had to have your children helping you when they were 6 years old or you may not have food to put on your families table!) ahh, yes, the good ol’ days! I’m so grateful to live in the era that I do now where I can have plumbing and electricity if I want to but I can also go out into the great outdoors and enjoy the peaceful quiet life as well. I can chop out ice from the creek and cut up firewood if I want or I can have heated water in an insulated gas warmed house if I feel tired and lazy. We are living in great times and I think we need to remember that when it seems like the world is going downhill so fast. we need to be grateful for what we have and not be so focussed on the evils that are going on around us. Bad things have always been present and even though I have an idealistic view of what it was like in the pioneer days, I know there was evil then as well just like there was in the Bible times and now. Staying focussed on eternity while living out our passions AND while living in this world of darkness is the key to living a good life! As much as I would love to run away and live in the woods just with my family so I could keep us safe and live life the way I want to, that’s not what God has called us as Christians to do. We are to be lights in the world, shining Jesus love to all we encounter. So while I live my life of pioneer passion I will not live a life of seclusion. Pioneer life CAN be done in this world while living for Jesus!

A few words about condemnation

Most of us judge people for some reason, even if we don’t mean to. I’ve come to realize that I do this as well. But something else I realized is that Everyone has different struggles and just because I don’t struggle with whatever I/m judging them for does not make me a better Christian. I struggle with a lot of things and I wouldn’t want someone judging me for those. We’re all on a journey and none of us have “arrived”.

there are a lot of things that I think we as Christians, decide in our hearts are worse sins than others though. And That’s just not right. All sin is equal and deserving of punishment. Who do we think we are that we can say that someone who struggles with alcoholism, gossiping, extramarital affairs or yes, even something like murder (just to name a few) is worse than we are? Take King David or Saul/ Paul in the Bible for examples. We’ve created some kind of heirarchy of sins in our minds/hearts that never existed to God. Why? Just to make ourselves feel better because we don’t do THAT sin? 

We all need a reminder sometimes of who Jesus came to love and save and it wasn’t just you or me. It wasn’t just for the REALLY bad people.  It was everyone, who ever did ANY sin. So let’s love people despite their obvious flaws!!

The reason for my passion

I just want to take a moment to tell you why I’m so passionate about living for Jesus. I’ve mentioned before that I feel very blessed. There are a lot of reasons for that but the biggest one is that I’m so grateful for The plan of Salvation. I believe in the Bible and the Bible teaches that if we accept that Jesus is God’s son who died for our sins, that we will have eternal life. (The famous John 3:16) Jesus has the power to forgive sins and He forgave mine when I asked Him to. I am living my life for Him because I am SO grateful!! The Bible says that everyone has sinned and that the penalty for sin is death (Eternal death which is Hell) but the gift of God is eternal life (Heaven) through Jesus. We just have to accept the gift! My sins are forgiven because I asked and I’m going to Heaven when I die because of that. Not because I’m a good person. You can never be good enough. Perfection is the only way and the only person who has ever been perfect was Jesus. Take the gift people!

The other reason I feel so blessed is because I am absolutely amazed and baffled that the God of the universe, the God who created everything, wants to have a relationship with ME, a mere peasant in the grande scheme of things. (And it’s not that I’m so special-He desires that relationship with everyone!) 

The other incredible thing to me is The fact that He designed a way to talk with me by giving me His Holy Spirit when I became a christian. That’s why I say “I felt like God said to me…” It’s not an audible voice, but it’s a feeling of His presence saying something to me. That is crazy amazing to me. So Not only do I now have peace and joy amidst a life threatening illness-gifts He gave me through His Holy Spirit- but I also have a hope that is greater than anything. I have the hope of knowing where I am going when I die because of His death and resurrection and my receiving that gift from Him. The hope that I have does not come from knowing God will heal me in this life. the hope that I have is knowing I’m walking this life with God present and loving me through every difficult situation as well as knowing when this life ends for me I will be in heaven with God. Can I get a whoop whoop?!! Now that is hope my friends! And there ain’t nothing anybody can do to take that from me! So… I am living life abundantly, peacefully, joyfully and with great hope that whether I live or die God is with me. Death is not scary but exciting! How can a person not be passionate about something so incredible?! It’s called “good news” for a reason. It’s the most amazing news!

I try not to be “preachy” because I know people don’t like that But please try not to  be annoyed or angry at someone who “preaches” to you. If this is what you believed, would you not want to tell people about it?! 

Live life abundantly and for eternity and you’ll have a blessed life no matter what comes along!

Thoughts about life

(Originally written around March/2018)

I wanted to share a bit of what’s been in my heart lately:

I don’t know why God grants miracles/blessings to some at certain times and not to others. I don’t know why he gives us what we need/want sometimes and other times lets us struggle. but I can say with confidence that I have experienced both and I can also say with confidence that God is a good and loving God so there must be a good and loving reason. When my kids were babies/toddlers, I struggled. I cried out to God every day for help but I often felt like I was drowning and defeated. God gave me little glimpses of himself and I knew he was always there with me but I wanted to be rescued and for some reason he didn’t rescue me. I was meant to go through that difficult time. 

And for some reason The Lord has chosen to give me a huge blessing at this time of my life. The Father gives his children good gifts and I have been given some of the best. And I didn’t even ask for them! I can’t describe how blessed I feel that God would choose to give me such peace, joy and strength right now. It is supernatural and God given because anyone who knows me knows that I would normally be an overwhelmed, stressed, crying mess right now. But Jesus has chosen to give me a glimpse of what it looks like to walk in fullness with Him. What it’s suppose to be like when your circumstances don’t dictate how you feel. 

That doesn’t mean life is perfect when we follow Him, it just means when the storm hits, He’s the anchor to have. He’s the only one that knows what wave is coming next, so I want Him to be guiding the boat! It’s a crazy feeling, and not easily understood but I’m so grateful for where I am right now. Right where I’m suppose to be.