As women from The Father’s House head out on the 2016 Freedom Challenge, Callie Carson will be sharing with us some of her mother’s words written on Caring Bridge during her cancer journey last year. We continue to remember and celebrate the life and legacy of Cathey Anderson.
BY CALLIE CARSON & CATHEY ANDERSON
From Callie: August 3, 2016. Today is Cathey Anderson’s 64th birthday. If she were still here on earth with us, she would be lifting her hands praising the Lord at the top of some mountain in the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming. Or better yet, she would most likely be carrying another woman’s pack and encouraging each of her teammates, telling them that they are strong; they are worthy; they are a light in the world; and they can do this!
I chose this journal from last August for all of you to read because my mom became so keenly aware of her need for community, family, and friends at this point in time. It was after this journal update that she invited the women closest to her to come pray over her each and every day in her home. She asked her friends and family to carry her to the King when she was unable to do so. She pictured herself as the sick man on the mat that needed his friends to carry him to Jesus to be healed. That sick man could not get to Christ on his own. He physically needed his people to pick him up and carry him to the feet of the Savior.
It was in the last days of her life that my mom, broken and beat up, called upon her people and allowed the light of Christ in them to be her strength.
May I encourage all of you to read this and build your shelter of people who will carry you to the Lord whenever you need. And may you, if possible surround a friend when they are in need and carry them to the Lord of Lords.
Your Light in the Darkness
August 26, 2015
I think I’m going to wipe August 4 off of my calendar. OR, be grateful for August 4 depending on my perspective! Mark keeps telling me it’s time for an update, so here goes. (Sorry, could be a tad bit long)
THE BACK STORY:
It was August 4, 2014 that I had my first bout of pancreatic cancer pain. It’s what drove me to the doctor for tests. This year on August 4, 2015, I started running fevers. These fevers eventually drove me to the hospital on Aug. 10, 2015.
Let’s go to July 16, 2015. We stepped out in faith and joined “The Freedom Climb: The Alps.” This trek took 28 women from the USA, Africa, Canada, Australia, and Europe from Chamonix to St. Nicklaus. We trekked for over 100 miles with significant elevation gain and loss each day. It was breathtaking, strenuous, and exhilarating. I was able to hike 6 out of the 8 days. We let two guys come with us as a Ground Ops team in case any of the ladies had to come off the mountain. Fortunately, Mark was one of those guys so he was able to be with me when I needed the 2 days to rest. The US team alone was able to raise $250,000 to continue funding Freedom Climb projects globally. We are so grateful and immensely thankful! And, so are the projects we fund!
At the end of the trek, I traveled with a group of 6 other gals to Moldova to visit a “vulnerable girls camp” funded by The Freedom Climb. There just aren’t words to express the amazement at what these camps can do for these girls. They teach them of their value and worth and allow them to be safe and loved upon. As camp ended, so many of the girls wept and many made decisions to follow Christ. Words fall inadequately short to describe the joy in knowing how The Freedom Climb is making a difference in the lives of these girls.
We got home on August 1, and I was feeling fit, filled, and fabulous. In fact, on Sunday and Monday I declared, “There’s no way I have cancer! I just feel too good!” Oh, my, my, how quickly things can change. On August 4, I started running a fever and having chills. When you have cancer, if your fever goes over 100.5 there’s this rule that you have to go to the hospital and get your blood checked to make sure you don’t have bad stuff crawling around in your blood. So, on August 6, Mark and I trotted off to UCSD ER to get things checked out. Blood looked good but the white blood cells were a little elevated. The attending physician asked if I’d like a CT scan. Let me think……..let me think. No. Because if they found anything I’d be tied to the bed and our son was getting married on August 8! There was NO way I was missing that wedding! They sent me home with antibiotics which got me through the wedding, albeit, still having fevers and chills.
August 10—Fevers continue, so I drive myself back to UCSD ER. I tell Mark to stay home. While he has a strong respect for the purpose of hospitals, it’s just not his favorite place to be. And I was certain they wouldn’t find anything of consequence. Oh my, my, how wrong we can be! They did the CT scan and found that my gallbladder, yes my gallbladder, had a stone blocking the duct and that little virtually useless organ had filled to the point of bursting. It was inflamed, infected and very angry! In someone without pancreatic cancer they could just pluck out that little organ with a simple procedure. With my tumor so close to the source of the problem, well, that was a different story.
After much deliberation with several specialists, the only alternative was to stick a needle in and drain the beast. OK. I want you to hear me on this. There’s pain; and then there’s P.A.I.N!!! Writhing like a worm on wet pavement, I was begging for relief…….and more relief………and more relief which, of course, they obliged me until I was comfortable. I knew we may have a problem when I opened my eyes and saw Maren, Mark, and Callie standing at the foot of my bed. The looks on their faces spoke a thousand words. And, then Callie started sobbing……….Uh-oh. Momma may not be looking so good.
On Saturday, August 15, I was released, came home with a drain and a bag coming out of my side, had a shower, and slept in my own bed.
The struggle was only just beginning……………..
First off, for those of you who have struggled with depression, anxiety and/or fear, I am so, so sorry. There was no way to know the depth of anguish that you’ve experienced. This was a whole new world of enlightenment for me. I am grateful to have deeper insight into what those of you may go through. At Church on Sunday, I asked for prayer from a woman who has been faithful in prayer for me. I did not know that she’d had a significant period of depression. As I poured out my heart, she voiced things I had felt. What reassurance to know I wasn’t crazy, weird, or unspiritual! I would implore you on this………use your battles and struggles to help others.
Next, what I didn’t realize at the time was how traumatic those 5 days in the hospital had been. I just wasn’t expecting it nor was I prepared for what had happened. Because of the pain meds, my mind was foggy and dull. My prayers seemed to go no further than my nose and scripture bounced around on the page. My frustration heightened as it seemed that the intimacy I love so much with our Lord was gone. I searched for the Lord, but I couldn’t seem to find Him. Darkness began to set in and anxiety and depression began to consume me. It was last weekend that I began to realize what was happening to me. He opened my eyes and in some very pointed, perfect, and personal ways He spoke directly to my despair.
But, there was one thing I was certain of and became desperate for. I needed my family and friends to carry me. In my extreme weakness, I needed them to pick up a corner of my “mat” and lay me at the feet of the King of Kings. I needed them to come into my home each day and pray over me. I needed them, and need them still, as the journey out of this valley continues. The battle is far from over. And, as each friend and loved one prays, the darkness lifts and the Light begins to shine in. I’ve cried a million tears and I know the Lord holds each one in His hand because He DOES love me so much. He has manifested Himself through my precious friends and loved ones. Oh, Lord. I could not do this alone. We’ve even been blessed with a friend who keeps meals in our refrigerator. How cool is that!
I don’t believe He gave me this cancer or defunct gall bladder or shrunken emaciated body. Honestly, my skin hangs off my bones and my belly is all bloated! I’ve seen people in Africa who look just like this! But He walks with me closely. God created community for a purpose. We need it. I love the quote, “Don’t wait for the storm to come before you start building your storm shelter.” Surround yourself with people who would “carry your mat” when you need their help. I just can’t imagine doing this without them.
For now, I cling to this: Psalm 94:18-19: When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.”
My friends, I’m still processing and working through this. I wish I could say that I had it all figured out. I wish I could say the anxiety and fear are gone, but it’s a daily struggle. I’m tired, beaten up, broken, and bent out of shape! But, don’t we all know that it’s in the struggles that we gain the most? Can I hear a resounding AMEN! Please pray with me for a miracle of healing that He alone may receive all glory and honor. We’re pretty much at that point. Oh, and I’d truly love to get this drain out of my side! Not the constant companion I’d imagined J
Love and so much gratitude to each of you,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cathey Anderson is a lover of Jesus and all things outdoors. She was the visionary and founder of The Freedom Climb (now known as the Freedom Challenge), which raises awareness and funds for the fight against human trafficking and sexually exploited women and children. She has 4 adult children and 6 grandchildren. She passed away and met her Savior face to face on December 22, 2015 after a long battle against pancreatic cancer. She will forever be remembered for the smile on her face and shine in her eyes. She was an encourager, adventurer, hiker, farmer, teacher, mother, daughter, grandmother, friend. An extraordinary woman who will never be forgotten.
Callie Carson is Cathey’s youngest daughter. She is also a lover of Jesus and the outdoors. She loves hiking and fitness and empowers women to see their strength, value, worth, and beauty. She is often surrounded by 3 handsome men, her husband, Kirk, and 2 sons, Caleb and Connor.