You've heard me talk about her.... or mention little things here and there. So it's time for you both to meet. Now, keep in mind.... she's not fully grown yet, so I'm not clear on who she'll eventually be... but I'll give you as much as I know right now. OK? Let's begin at the beginning....
On the morning of February 23rd of this year, God took me into scripture, as He has many other mornings. But that morning was different. It was the morning of the day I was to have my biopsy, and on top of that, my ex had just bailed on taking me to it, which absolutely crushed me (and later that day I found out that the reconciliation I thought we had wasn't to be. But I digress.....). So I wasn't in the best of places that morning. ANYWAY, here is where He took me:
Acts 9:36-42 36 Now in Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity, which she continually did.37 And it came about at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room.38 And since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, entreating him, "Do not delay to come to us."39 And Peter arose and went with them. And when he had come, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him weeping, and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them.40 But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, "Tabitha, arise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive.42 And it became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. (NAS)
Initially, I thought it was for me (I even nick-named myself "Dorc" for a short while )... that I was being resurrected into a new life, a new Mo. And in truth I was. That day was defining for me, and my life shifted forever in a new direction from that day forward. But He has since shown me that it's also part of a MUCH bigger picture.
What happened for me when I began this journey through breast cancer was that I ran into a drought of information and support in the Stillwater area. As far as how to seek treatment, what to seek, who to seek it from, it was piece-meal at best, and non-existent for the norm. And somehow I knew I wanted to remedy that when I was through with my treatments. Well, again, God had a much bigger plan.
Here is who Dorcas is as I've been shown so far: initially she will be a ministry of information. Lists of oncologists, surgeons, cancer centers, support organizations, network organizations, treatment options, pertinent questions to be asking, etc. It will also consist of education - doctors, civic organizations, schools, churches, etc., targeting early detection, but also including referral/resource information, and also early warnings. Between my biopsy and seeing a doctor for the first time, I took myself off my hormone therapy because just what I read so far indicated that hormones feed tumors, and I didn't want to feed anymore than I had to. But I started having hot flashes, so I contacted my primary physician's office. I explained what I'd done and asked if there was a natural remedy I could try to off-set the hot flashes. I was told very stridently by his nurse to not take myself off any meds and wait for a doctor to see me and make that decision (which I ignorantly did). When I did finally see my awesome oncologist, she was livid when told what had happened. Sooooo.... education of even the doctors is an area that Dorcas will tread lightly into.
But ultimately, here is but a glimpse of who I believe ABBA intends for Dorcas to be. With Acts 9:41 as the foundation scripture for all she will do, she will be a nurturing ministry for women whose lives are touched by cancer. To begin with it'll focus primarily on breast cancer, because that's obviously the type of cancer I have knowledge and experience with. But it's my hope that as she grows, more and more women from other walks of cancer will step forward to come alongside and minister from their experiences. I want and believe Dorcas' primary function will be to love women all the way through every aspect of their journey with cancer. I envision a volunteer base which will offer assistance and loving companionship whether a women needs someone to take her to doctor visits, or chemo/radiation treatments, someone to check on her after treatments and bring soup or tea or whatever, to check on her blood counts, or just to let her know she's not alone. I picture workshops of all kinds - art therapy, journalling, make-up, wig styling, food prep and recipe ideas that compensate for the myriad of side effects, tea parties, hat parties, celebrations of end of treatments. I can see support groups, hats and scarves and wigs. I see a gift gallery - supplied not only by area artists willing to help support, but also by the women themselves. And I even see one-on-one counselling available someday. A surprising number of marriages endure a lot of stress, some ending in divorce, because of the identity issues associated with breast cancer especially. You take away the two primary "attractions" for men - a woman's hair and breasts - and it's not hard to envision potential problems for both the women and their mates.
But the latest revelation of what Dorcas can do has me very excited. Here's a link that's fun just to see, but it provided the new vision for what can happen (http://www.showusyourbra.org/) - namely, provide breast prostheses and mastectomy bras for uninsured and underinsured women who have had mastectomies. Because I have been so fortunate and blessed to have awesome insurance throughout my journey, I haven't really stopped to wonder what would've happened without it. And while I was also blessed that I could choose lumpectomy as an alternative, I am very aware of the multitude of identity issues very commonly associated with breast surgery and cancer. And it's pretty much a given that prostheses and bras are not provided unless insurance or personal funds pay for them. NO woman should have to endure that because of a lack of funds or availability. So I am very excited about contacting this organization and seeing what information they will be willing to share. I just recently learned that the American Cancer Society will also provide a bra and prosthesis, so this may be a partnering venture - or it may not be a part of Dorcas at all if that need is being totally met. We'll just see...
Obviously my first goal is to apply for non-profit status (as a 501(c) entity). I'm about half-way through the paperwork maze of state application and corporate bylaws. That way the legalities are in place to apply for grants and receive donations. I have (through many divine appointments!) already established contacts willing to assist in various ways (Susan G. Komen OKC office, the former head of the art therapy at the Troy & Dollie Smith Cancer Center at Integris (and who besides being a breast cancer survivor herself, has also been involved in many other support resources for cancer), State Senator Judy Eason McIntyre, American Cancer Society/Tulsa office, representative Sue Miller, my oncologist and her nurses, former survivors, potential volunteers, and a wealth of information that pours out from various sources each time I get to talk about her.
One other divine appointment I just have to share. Through an incredible artist friend, Elizabeth (http://elizabethcreates.blogspot.com/ and http://Elizajean.Etsy.com/) who has encouraged and supported me in so many ways through my journey (and my life!) I got to "meet" another mixed media artist, Monica (Girl gone thread wild blog). Because of her generous heart she has initiated a project where artists can create art dolls which will then be donated to Dorcas Project, Inc. to be given to each of the women served. Monica initially sent me a collection of blank dolls which I am looking forward to embellishing and finishing out as a joint-project to kick-start this part of the project. And by the way, that same friend Elizabeth also sent me a collection of blank dolls complete with fibers and Fimo faces! So Dorcas already has her first gifts to offer the women waiting. Thank you so much, Elizabeth and Monica!
So. There's a rough glimpse of her. Please feel free to send any thoughts, suggestions, experiences, ANYTHING! Together we can do what Peter did - we can give women our hands and raise them up and present them alive. All because of love. And I'll keep pictures and updates going as I can.