Journal entry by Susan Gallagher

Here is Today’s Jesus Calling devotion. It is continually affirming my journey. May you all be blessed today and always, in remembrance of the great sacrifice Christ bore for us and the promise of everlasting life. 
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Journal entry by Susan Gallagher

This Lent has been an amazing experience. I can honestly say that my faith in God has grown so much!!

The attached photo is of the 3 markers I wore for the 4 weeks of Radiation. The top one was on my chest. When I wore certain things you could see it. I went to school one day and one of the kids asked about my”sticker”, and I immediately stated (automatic response) that it was “my cross”, that because I had it it meant that I love Jesus. A teaching moment. The questions stopped, and a seed was planted in my heart.

     3 stickers, 3 crosses, 3 “trust” markers for radiation to attack an unwanted and evil disease. During Lent... 

     The stickers are gone and with the end of that part of the journey comes hope. The hope for tumor shrinkage; for pain free and deep breaths and hope for my voice to return. My breathing is near perfect and little by little my voice is returning. 

     I am two weeks into the oral chemo Ibrance and the shot companion Faslodex. Praise God for no side effects. My neuropathy seems heightened and the shots aren’t fun but in the grand scheme of things, I am doing great! 
     Romans 8:6 says: The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. In my Lenten Journal of last year I wrote; “ Be constant in prayer- at all times but especially when you are struggling.  During trials, you need close communication with God more than ever. Your ability to concentrate may be hampered by stress and fatigue. Ask the Holy Spirit to control your mind: to think through you and pray through you. Just let the prayers flow out of your current situation. As you stay in communication with God, He helps you to be steadfast and  patient in suffering.”

     I have had a miracle filled Holy Week. God spoke to my dear sister in Christ friend during a Mass we attended at Marytown. During the Our Father, as she said, “thy will be done“ she heard, ”she’s gonna be okay” .... Amazing!!! I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing... with an affirmation like that? Who wouldn’t!!

     God bless you all for your selfless prayers and encouraging words. Wishing you and your families an amazing Easter. 

Journal entry by Susan Gallagher

Wow, that was fast! Thank you all for your prayers which kept my focus on God’s plan for me. Joshua 29:11 says “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.”  I held on to these words each time I laid on the radiation table.  I know He’s not finished with me yet.                                                                

     Today was my last radiation treatment and I admitted to my therapists that I felt like I was somewhat losing my daily “safety net”.  I remember feeling the same way before, the difference being that radiation was the end in my treatment protocol last time. I know that in two weeks I will start a new oral medication  and get a shot that will supposedly not take away my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. (Very good news) My “new normal” will be living with metastatic breast cancer.
     Today’s Jesus Calling starts out by saying   LET ME HELP YOU through this day. 😊 The challenges you face are far too great for you to handle alone. (Amen) You are keenly aware of your helplessness in the scheme of events you face.This awareness opens up a choice:  to doggedly go it alone or to walk with ME in humble steps of dependence. Actually, this choice is continually before you, but difficulties highlight the decision-making process. So, consider it all joy whenever you are enveloped in various trials. These are gifts from ME, reminding you to rely on ME alone.
     James 1: 2-3 says 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.

     I will continue to trust God and be aware of his amazing grace towards me.  I realize that every trial that I have faced, God has tested me spiritually (to prove me genuine), and as long as i continue to endure patiently and never give up HE will remain steadfast in my life. “ We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.” Rom 5:3

     When a doctor tells you something is wrong with you, your life immediately changes. Fear of what lies ahead can crush your spirit and you stumble along, desperate for God to strengthen you. During this time of uncertainty God has given me an opportunity to share my faith and give glory to Him. He has sent many angels and signs to me and through the prayerful support of family and friends my spirit has soared and I sensed in deep silence and through many tears that God is ALWAYS near.

Journal entry by Susan Gallagher

I want to thank you all for praying so hard for me. I know in my heart that is why I am doing so well. Saturday morning I realized that the pain I was suffering with while breathing was finally gone. I have prayed every day during radiation that I would lose the pain and gain back my singing voice. I am so grateful for little victories. 
     Yesterday was Treatment #15 and I can honestly say that I can feel a difference. I have tone in my voice, finally; (it doesn’t last long yet, especially if I am talking a lot,) My esophagus feels like there is a large lump of pills stuck in it and it won’t go down (know matter how much water I drink) I know this will improve along with my random coughing fits. 
     My physical therapy has been amazing. My range of motion is improving in my right arm and I can finally lift both arms above my head with no pain. The therapist said the stiffness in the right arm has a way to go but we will get there. When I am there I am so grateful for the help I am getting to gain total body strength that I have lost over the years. I am praising God in my heart for the stretches that used to be so painful and now feel so good. 
      I couldn’t take it any more and Monday after radiation my car turned left to go to school instead of turning right to go home. In the afternoon we have extended care so the numbers are lower than if I went in the morning. I was cautioned by my wonderful boss to stay away because there had been so much illness in the building. It was the very best medicine for my aching heart. The children hugged me endlessly, the staff welcomed my with open arms. It was a long overdue healing fest!!! (Hand sanitizer before entering the building and again when I got back into the car.)
     On Tuesday morning, I received a text from a dear friend that I have known since childhood. Angie (Angela = angel) said that God had placed it on her heart to help us with our finances. She wanted to help Tom and I somehow with our never ending pile of medical bills. I was humbled beyond words and saw such relief in Tom’s eyes when I told him. I am unable to teach right now because I have no voice, I left school on January 9. We have had medical bill piles for both Tom and I for almost 15 years. She started a Go Fund Me page which I have attached to my CaringBridge. In talking to Angie about how grateful we were because of our situation, she said to me “The Lord knew that and wanted me to help you both!! I'm glad I listened to Him!! Praise God!!”
✝️✝️❤️❤️✝️✝️  Praise God, indeed. 
     I am very excited about turning over the calendar today to a new month. February, my toughest month of the year is behind me and the best is yet to come. St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness, and spring are right around the corner!  I thank you again for coming here to catch up on my progress, care about me and to say hello. It means so much to me, you are precious in His sight and mine. God bless!

Journal entry by Susan Gallagher

What a great week!! I hit the halfway mark in my radiation therapy on Wednesday. I also found out that there was no change in the mass size (no shrinkage yet or growth). Not to worry, all things good take a little time. 
     I had the meeting necessary to complete the attack with my oncologist as well this week. I went supported by my two closest friends who were my extra eyes and ears. I learned that I will begin my next phase of oncology 2 weeks after I finish radiation therapy. I was beyond euphoric to learn that I would be able to keep my hair, eyelashes and eyebrows this time. Yippee!!!! I would also not need a mediport because I would be getting a shot in my bum once a month and take an oral medication 3 weeks on 1 week off. 
     The specialty drugs must be approved by the insurance company. Once that happens, i will be on my way to a healthier me. I am set to begin on March 21st; the first day of spring. ( insert “of course, it does” here!)
      I started physical therapy yesterday. I am extending my arms over my head daily for periods of 16- 30 minutes during radiation.  It is very difficult for me to move my arms back when treatment is completed. 19 lymph nodes were taken from my right arm the first time around making my arm very weak. My shoulders are very tender and my range of motion needs improvement. All these issues are “fixable” with faith and perseverance.  Faith in my God, my therapists, my doctors and most importantly me; and faith and perseverance to walk away from this the very best version of me that I can be.

Journal entry by Susan Gallagher

I have had so many amazing things happen since Ash Wednesday, I truthfully have not known where to begin in sharing all of this. I must start somewhere so here goes....
     Every Lent for the past 20 some years I have chosen a mission for myself. I have read books about Mary Magdalen, (my fave), written daily affirmation letters, bible studies, etc. This weekend it occurred to me that I had never chosen any of these missions but rather, God had placed them on my heart and I obeyed. Last year was somewhat unusual. I was encouraged to Journal my way through Lent.  During my daily devotional time I began writing down Scripture passages. devotional segments and thoughts about what I was experiencing at that time. All the while, in the back of my mind I was seriously wondering why. For what purpose was I doing this? I just kept persevering. I wrote all the way until Palm Sunday where we celebrated Tommy's 30th birthday and Easter week in Texas.
     This past Saturday was the first time I had thought of that journal since last Lent. I had not been nudged with a "mission idea" from God this year other than this cancer mission.  I found the journal and began reading immediately.  My words brought great tears to my eyes; what I had written on the paper were chosen for me by God and absolutely PERFECT!! I will be taking pictures of select passages to affirm this but I have the answer why. I was truly going to need it this Lent!!!

     Jesus Calling has been spot on, especially yesterday!!! Another picture I will share. Yesterday marked the 12th anniversary of the great loss of a student of mine so many years ago. His journey started at the age of 5 and God took him to his heavenly home 5 years later.  This special boy taught me so much about faith during his life here on earth as he does now that he is in heaven.  He was a huge fan of music. His mom and I had a conversation on Thursday about having the ability to learn so much about his journey and faith due to his choice favorite songs. Yesterday morning God put it in  my heart to ask for others to send me their "fight' song or inspirational song that got them through a tough time.  As the favored songs were sent to me I compiled a playlist that I am currently listening to !! It wasn't until his mom added his "anthem" to my list that I knew that the idea came from Aidan :-)  GOD IS GOOD!!!

     I want to thank everyone who has mailed a card, sent a text, brought flowers, supplied us with a nourishing meal, sent an amazingly thoughtful gift and most of all took time from your busy life and said a healing prayer for me; a strength and/or a peace prayer for my family and I.  We feel the power and appreciate the "on your knees" moments your prayers have provided us. 

     May God bless us one and all!!!

Journal entry by Susan Gallagher

Six down, 14 to go!  
This afternoon, after treatment I looked through the mail and found an envelope addressed to me that looked like it might be junk mail. I opened it anyway. The opening sentence had me in tears. 

Dear Susan Gallagher,
Your Group Health Plan (through Tom`s union) is offering you a special service called Case Management. This service is provided at no extra cost to you.

I currently have a general physician (with an awesome physicians assistant that I love) a pulmonary specialist, gastroenterologist,  endocrinologist, cardiac specialist, surgeon,  plastic surgeon,  oncologist and radiation oncologist. I have always been the messenger; supplying the info each time I visited one of them. I had to set up the faxes to and from doctors in need of test results, etc. 

I have great peace tonight after signing a consent form accepting the service permitting a case manager to work with all of my doctors, assessing my needs and ensuring pertinent information is shared and that high quality care that is needed is provided cost efficiently!! 


Journal entry by Susan Gallagher

And Welcome Lent 2018 with Ash Wednesday.

This has always been a spiritual time of year for me. This is my 5th time in my life I have relied on my faith through anguish and uncertainty. (During Lent)
     13 years ago (yesterday) I was admitted into Good Samaritan hospital with severe ulcerative colitis/Crohn’s disease symptoms. I had lost a total of 60 pounds at a very rapid rate from the complications of the horrible disease. I was eventually given a Remicade infusion and began to slowly turn the corner. After my two week hospital stay, it was decided that I would have the infusions every 8 weeks to maintain remission.  When I got home on March 1, I had severe muscle atrophy and was falling constantly. After weeks of physical therapy I regained my strength and could walk, lift and carry things as before. Easter Sunday was my first time “out” . My mission was to walk down the aisle and receive Communion. I remember how shaky I was and how happy I was to make it up there and how humbling it was thinking how far I had come in 40 days!!

Fast forward 4 years when I was diagnosed with breast cancer on Feb 23.
I realized on that day that my life would never be the same and that I had to give it to God and let go. I was amazed at how many times things just “happened to work out”, the right person showed up at the right time and as these “blessings “ occurred my fears turned into great faith. I had my drain tubes removed and got to shower for the first time on Good Friday that year. I went to church again on Easter Sunday drain tube, bandage and cancer free. It occurred to me weeks later as a new journey started that my experience with the Remicade infusions prepared me for chemotherapy. No such thing as coincidences. 

Both of my my parents passed away in February. Being in Texas with them for their hospice care was faith empowering both times. Miracles happened so many times, we were never afraid. Both experiences changed my understanding and fear of death; and for that I will always be grateful. Before my father died we were able to hear him tell us about what was behind the Beautiful full moon 🌕. He said “Beyond the moon is the stars and galaxies and beyond that is heaven. And when I get there, I’m gonna get all my parts back!!” He was missing several fingertips and unfortunately lost both of his legs in order to die. Easter for both of those years was about resurrection and new life and the fulfillment of everlasting life. 

Today I had my fifth radiation treatment making me 1/4 of the way through this part of my treatment. I am learning to give God 100% of my trust and reading daily affirmations during devotional time is quite humbling. For the next 40 days I will be sharing in detail the signs (outside of reading) that are being sent me through Him who gives me great strength. I believe good will come from this and that once again while looking back, I will be giving God all of the glory. 

I thank you for taking the time to learn a little about my faith journey. You visiting here means the world to me. All prayers and positive thoughts give me great strength and allow me some peace in this uncertainty. I will never be able to express my gratitude for lifting me up at this time. May your Lenten journey provide you the  insight into what really matters in life. God bless you.

Journal entry by Susan Gallagher

 Hi Mom,  I made the font a little bigger so you can read it! 
     It was 5 years ago (yesterday)  that God took you home. Not a day goes by that I am not thinking of or talking to you. Yesterday started with "you" at my bird feeder; (my female cardinal friend) you turned and looked at me, as if to say, " you're going to be just fine!" In the afternoon, my friend Susan, drove me to Radiation, a nurse, Susan, helped get me a prescription refill and at the pharmacy; Suzanne filled my prescription. Oh, and during my treatment the therapist put music on and it just happened to be “the Greatest hits from '76!” Every song made me think of the Tastee Treets! [Hmmmm.] {thank you, God!}
     I have a little friend from my class who sends me a text [“joke of the day”] each day. Yesterday it was him and his grandma ( who was visiting from St. Louis) asking "Why can't you give Elsa a baloon?" Because she would " Let it Go!"  The thought of you, saying to me, "Let it Go, and give it to God" makes my heart smile. (thank you, Cara)
     PD sent me a video (that I didn't know existed) of me surprising you in Texas. I had driven down with Tommy and didn't tell you I was coming. It was the first time you had seen me after my double mastectomy. (and being bald)  It is a treasure to me. He found it and sent it to me on Dad's birthday. I now have your sense of humor, your shock of seeing me, our amazing hug and tears to comfort me through this new battle I am in. What a miracle! 
     In th Jesus Calling, it affirms me that I am really just beginning my journey of intimacy with Jesus. It is not an easy road, but  it is a delightful and privileged way: a treasure hunt.  "I am the Treasure and the Glory of my presence glisten and shimmer(the beautiful snow right now) along the way."  Hardships are part of the journey too. I dispense  them out ever so carefully, in just the right dosage, with a tenderness you can hardly imagine . Do not recoil from afflictions, since they are among my favored gifts. "Trust me and don't be afraid, for I am your Strength and Song!"
     I have a multitude of prayers strengthening me and for that I am grateful and prepared for whatever lies ahead. Thank you, visitors and well wishers for blessing me with your time and heart. I treasure that you are all walking with me.

Journal entry by Susan Gallagher

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. ~ Philippians 4:13

I thought my yearly January asthma issues were starting up again. I thought I might have another upper respiratory infection/bronchitis thing going on. I thought I had laryngitis. In the back of my mind I feared that cancer had returned.

I am/was a 9 year breast cancer survivor until last Thursday Jan 25, when I heard the words “it’s cancer” again. It turns out that there is a small mass hanging out with a couple of enlarged lymph nodes that are interfering with my breathing and a nerve that is connected to my vocal cords. Friday (which is my Dad’s birthday) I will have a PET scan done to determine what type of treatments  will be best suited to first, shrink the mass (to help my current breathing and voice dilemma) and then kill it. It will also show if this ugly disease is hiding anywhere else.

As before, I am confident that God has a plan in all of this. I trust Him with everything inch of my being. Here is Today’s devotional reading from Jesus Calling by Sara Young. It doesn’t get any better than that!
Susan’s Story

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