Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Merry Christmas

Wow, it's been way too long since I have posted on here!

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.  We were able to celebrate this Christmas yet we also had a rough time with missing my Mom.


Santa forgot to bring something for Chris this year.  Sarah seems to think it's because he has been naughty.  She even prayed for him the other night saying she doesn't know why Daddy didn't get anything for Christmas.  UGH!  Maybe Daddy should have told Santa what he wanted too.  :)

We celebrated the completion of all my treatment for breast cancer and I praise God that I am a SURVIVOR!  I was so thrilled to be done with all my treatments!  My girl power group met me for my last treatment and Abby took a picture of me as I came out.


I also took a picture with my radiation techs.  They were so very wonderful and I am so very thankful for their kindness and encouragement.   I am very thankful for the strength and courage the Lord gave me to get through all of my treatments.  The kids planned a mini-surprise party for me with the help of our friends Max and Susan that included pink balloons, a big sign, party horns and Celebration cranked in background :)  May 10th, my date of diagnosis, seems like such a long time ago and it feels like the time has flown by.

Mom's birthday would have been this coming Friday the 30th - she would have been 67.  For her birthday, I would take her down to the Heidelberg bakery in Indy to celebrate and eat some extremely yummy German food.  So in her honor, we are going to go and have lunch and celebrate as a family.  I have gone down to this bakery since I was a little girl.  It holds some very fond memories and I know that this visit will be most difficult.  Here's a picture from last year:


I getting back to feeling somewhat normal.  I am working with my nutritionist to build my cells and immune system back up.  My hair is continuing to grow and I had my first hair cut last week just to even it all out.

I am looking forward to the new year and have SO very many reasons to be thankful.

I am signing off so that I can go to bed and try to sleep.  I hope to post more soon.

Love,
Tammy

Monday, November 7, 2011

Radiating...

As of today, I have had 13 radiation treatments and they seem to be going well.  I thought my total count was 30 since I thought I remember them telling me 6 weeks of radiation.  But I discovered today that my final number of treatments hasn't been confirmed yet.  I will have 28 treatments like what I am currently doing which is 5 different angles.  (which the appointments only last 10-15 minutes - which is nice compared to the 4-4 1/2 hrs for a chemo treatment)  Then they will do 6-8 treatments specifically targeted on my surgery site.  I will confirm with my doctor on Wednesday so that I can get a final date set so I can start my "correct" countdown and look for the light at the end of the tunnel!  It was nice to talk with a survivor yesterday, she said that there will come a day that my daily thoughts will NOT include cancer.  I am looking forward to that!

I'm excited that my hair starting to grow back and so far it's coming in very dark with some light patches - that are either blond or grey.  Now I am getting anxious to see what my hair will be like even though I have enjoyed not having to worry about hair for over 3 months now :).

One of my recent devotions in the Jesus Calling devotional said, "Don't let your well-being depend on your circumstances."  Then it went on to say it is possible to be content in any and every situation and to put more energy into trusting Jesus and enjoying His Presence.  Wow, that was something that spoke very loudly to me.  Lately, I have been letting my circumstances and my completely out of control to-do lists (work and home) get the best of me.  This really helped remind me that if I trust Him - I can do all things through Him because he will give me the strength.  So today, I picked out the big rocks on my lists. (thank you special events team - I really miss you girls!)  I was able to cross most of those items off my list today and it was a huge relief.... even though my lists are still long... I accomplished some things.  AND discovered the "sticky note" feature in Windows 7 today!

The grief for mom has been so crazy - one minute I am fine and then it just hits me like a brick wall.  I have this huge knot in my stomach that just aches and my thoughts start to spin out of control.  Chris has been so good when this happens, he talks me through things and reminds me that we did everything we could do.  But my mind sure doesn't go to those thoughts.  Sometimes when I put it out of my mind it feels better, but then I feel guilty for trying not to think about it.  There is just this raw empty spot in my heart right now that aches terribly for my Mom.  I know that this first year will be hard with the holidays and her birthday at the end of December.

I am so thankful for friends and family that love me unconditionally and have supported me tremendously.  We  have meals being delivered again and we are so thankful and humbled by this support.

I want to end on a fun note - Sarah finally lost her first tooth last night.  Her bottom two permanent teeth have almost grown all the way in and no teeth had fallen out yet.  So the tooth fairy will make a stop tonight :)

Love,
Tammy


Psalm 18:32
It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.


Psalm 62:5-8 
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; 
   my hope comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
   he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God[a];
   he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, O people;
   pour out your hearts to him,
   for God is our refuge.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thankful for each new day

Sunrise the morning of Mom's funeral
This is a picture of the beautiful sunrise I saw on the way to my Mom's funeral.  It just reminds me that His mercies are new every morning!  It has been a little over a month now since she passed and I still cannot believe she is gone.  Dad and I both are struggling with the "what ifs" and I know that we shouldn't even go there.  Sometimes I just cannot get past the thought that her death was my fault because I didn't get her to the doctor.  But I also know with all my heart that God is completely in control - which includes complete control of when my Mom's last day on earth would be.  Grief can be all consuming and overwhelming.  I am just thankful that I have hope that comes only from Christ and I know that I will see my Mom again.

Well this last round of chemo decided to get tough with me, but each day continues to get better.  I am just very ready to get back to feeling "normal" if there is such a thing for me!

Love,
Tammy

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

Friday, September 23, 2011

Chemo treatments are DONE!!!!!!

Last cycle! 
Cycle #3

Cycle #2 and Adam's fist for "Fight Like a Girl"

I love looking at these pictures for 3 of 4 of my chemo cycles.  I don't think we took a picture for my very first chemo cycle because I cannot find one :)

I am so glad to say that I am ALL DONE with my chemo!  My veins were a little difficult and agitated today but they they let me complete the treatment.  The nurses presented me a certificate today and gave me a standing ovation.  I just love them to pieces!  The nurses in oncology and infusion are rock stars!  I so admire all nurses.  I have several friends who are nurses and I just cannot thank you enough for what you do.

The shirt I have on today was my Mom's fight like a girl shirt.  I wore it in her honor and memory.  I also wore her wedding rings today.  I know she was with me all day.  Oh how I miss her so very much.

I am thankful to be done with this phase of my journey.  So thankful for so many things that I have experienced along the way.  God is truly growing my strength and faith more than I can ever have imagined.  This road has truly been a difficult one for me but I know with all my heart that God has a hold of my heart and He has a perfect plan for my life.  I hope that I can shine for Him through this journey and be able to share His love and hope.

I will be fighting through the side effects the next several days but them I will be able to get my body back on track again.  I am looking forward to hitting it hard with my wonderful nutritionist and friend, Dr. Noreen Ziegler.  She has helped me so much over the past 3 years.  I know that is why I was able to make it through the chemo treatments as well as I have.

Today is the first day of Fall.  Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year, and today was a beautiful day.

Tomorrow is my hubby's birthday.  I am so thankful for him and everything he has done for me.  I love you honey!  I hope we will enjoy our weekend with some good family time.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
Love,
Tammy

"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect."  Psalm 18:32

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Getting ready for my LAST chemo!

I just cannot believe that my last chemo is in 2 days.  It seems like the last 10 weeks have gone by fast.  Friday will be bittersweet for me.  I am so thankful that I will be done but I so wish my Mom could celebrate with me here on earth.  But I will still trust that these difficult trials are part of God's perfect plan for my life.  I know that I will see my Mom again one day and I am so thankful she is in God's loving arms.  My grief has been heavy and felt unbearable at times.  I have gone through so many emotions and broke down so many times.  I just keep thinking that it's a dream and I will wake up and she will be here.  I keep thinking that she is going to walk through the door or call me.  There are days when guilt and regret set in and take over my thoughts.  I plan to try to take it a day at a time and know that God will be right by my side every step of the way.  So many of you have helped me so much as you have gone through this grief and can talk me through difficult thoughts.  A good friend also gave me a good book - "Experiencing Grief" by H. Norman Wright.  I would highly recommend this book.  (Thanks Ang!)  Sarah shared a dream she had about Oma (that's what my kids call my Mom).  She said she was playing in her room and Oma came in.  She said she asked Oma if she had come down from Heaven and Oma shook her head yes and then gave Sarah a big hug.  What a wonderful dream!

I am so thankful for wonderful family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and our church family.  Everyone has reached out to us in so very many ways and we are so grateful for all of the support.  The meals from our neighborhood, church and friends have been amazing and so very helpful.  I have met some awesome ladies that are walking through their journey with breast cancer at the same time and gained some new friends.  I have had the opportunity to talk with a couple of survivors as well which has been encouraging.  My Dad and I were close but this has drawn us together even closer.  I love you Dad!!

I am excited to think about what my hair will look like when it grows back... and just excited to think that I will have hair again.  I have enjoyed wearing all of my head wraps, scarves and wig.  I am thankful for all of the scarves and hand-made knitted items I have received.

My radiation will begin on October 17th and treatments will be 5 days a week for 6 weeks.  I should be done by the week of Thanksgiving.  We have so much to be thankful for and I hope everyone knows how much we appreciate everything.

Love,
Tammy


Show me your ways, LORD,
   teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
   for you are God my Savior,
   and my hope is in you all day long.

Psalm 25:4-5 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Resting in the peace from Jesus my Savior

I prayed that going into today, that God would fill me with His loving peace to help with my Mom's funeral.  I felt that peace when I woke up this morning.  And as we were driving to the funeral home, the sunrise was beautiful!!  There were sunbeams shooting through the clouds and wonderful colors of blues and pinks.  Thank you God for this day.

God tells me in His word that He will not give me more than I can handle.  I really, really struggled with that the past couple of weeks.  My Mom was taken by ambulance to the emergency room on the evening of August 22nd with what we thought was an episode with her COPD.  They had to intubate her on the way in the ambulance to try to help her.  It turned out to be a massive heart attack.  I spent all last week with her in ICU.  Throughout the week, we learned more and more about how very serious her situation had become.  She had several blockages in the heart that could not be repaired due to the arteries in her legs being almost completely blocked.  The doctor was able to go in through her wrist to get pictures of her heart and I was just shocked.  The echo-cardiogram had shown her heart was only function at 2 of 6 cylinders.  But to see the actual blockages and lack of arteries surrounding her heart was so upsetting.  This doctor was absolutely fantastic and I felt that I could fully trust his guidance and recommendations.  He was not able to put in a stint because of the blockages in her legs.  If something would go wrong with the procedure the only way to save the patient is through the leg.  We consulted with a heart surgeon but I knew that she wouldn't be a good candidate for that due to her weakness and the condition of her heart.  That night on my way home, I just cried and cried.  I was talking and praying out loud to God telling him that this was just not fair and I wasn't ready to lose my Mom now - I needed her here for me.  I was also wrestling with tremendous guilt of thinking that I had missed so many signs over the years and that I should have done something different.  When I was almost home, I turned a corner and looked up and saw a rainbow.  What a wonderful reminder of God's promises!! 

That next day after the heart catheter procedures, Mom was alert for most of the day and was able to mouth some words and write some words on paper to me.  I spent the whole day talking to her, swabbing her poor dry mouth from the ventilator, putting cold wash rags on her head, rubbing her arms and holding her hand.  I feel SO very blessed to have had this day with her.  She wanted the tube out of her mouth so bad so she could talk but I explained we couldn't do that because it was stabilizing her breathing.  She had wrote that she wanted to see the kids, see my Dad, and that she loved me.  The next day, we tried taking the ventilator out to see if she could breathe with just a BPAP machine.  She was not able to tolerate that at all so they had to put the tube back in.  I was so very disappointed.  I was hoping she was strong enough.

Her poor body was so weak, all week the doctors and nurses tried to balance fluids in her body.  Which with a patient with congestive heart failure, that is difficult since your kidneys need fluid but your lungs do not.  She was not ever as alert again as she was that Wednesday.  She did stabilize enough to allow me and my family to get away to a state park for a day with some very dear friends.  All of her stats and tests were all very positive that day which gave me such a peace to enjoy our time.  My family stayed with her during the day and would send me updates.  What a blessing that day was!!!  Sunday, she seemed really restless and wasn't very alert.  She acknowledged us but she couldn't keep her eyes open or squeeze our hands.  It broke my heart to go home and leave her that afternoon. 

Monday, I was scheduled for my third round of chemo and had come up with a game plan for the week with the loving help of family and friends.  I knew I would have to be careful being around the germs at the hospital so my good friend had the idea that we could use skype to help me see her when my blood counts would be dropping.  I received a call early from the ICU doctor.  This was his first time seeing her and my first time talking with him.  He said they were having troubles stabilizing her breathing on the ventilator.  It had started during the night and the respiratory therapist had been in there an hour and they still were not having any improvement.  I told him that I planned on coming up after my chemo treatment.  He said that he anticipated that we would have to make some decisions today.  I just felt sick.  We arrived at chemo and I couldn't believe how far behind they were running.  All I could think of was that we needed to get this done so I could get up to the hospital.  They were running an hour behind!!  Which has never been the case.  My veins were also not cooperating at all so it took forever before she could get an IV in.  She was taping down my IV and my cell phone rang and Chris answered for me.  When he came back in the room, he kneeled down in front of me and took my hand.... I just knew.  I asked if she was gone and he said yes.  Thank you God for your absolutely perfect timing that morning.  I didn't have to leave with my treatment unfinished or even started at all.  Plus, I didn't have to be the one to tell the doctor to stop the CPR in progress even though I knew that would be the answer.  The nurses at chemo was FABULOUS (which they always have been anyway)!!   They wrapped up my arm, gave me big hugs and sent us off to the hospital. 

When we arrived at ICU, my Mom's nurse met me and talked with me before we went in the room.  A wonderful dear friend who has lost her Mom and knows this pain had already arrived at the hospital and was with my aunt.  What a blessing to have her with us during this time.  I was so much in shock.  But when we started thinking about the morning, again I could see God's hands around me.  I didn't have to make a decision to turn off machines and I didn't have to see her struggle that morning.  I am a very, very visual person and can not let go of things easily.

We all said our goodbyes and I had called to make arrangements to meet with the funeral director that afternoon.  But before I left, I called in lunch and cookies for everyone at the ICU.  They were all so very caring for not only my Mom but me and my aunt.  My aunt was able to sit with me there every day all day (which was another huge blessing) and before they would leave the room, they would ask us if there was anything they could get for us.  They also had a genuine concern for my health and would keep a close eye on me.  The first day nurse that took care of my Mom was so so very compassionate and was exactly what I needed.  I told her that I wish my Mom would have told me she was having problems.  But she told me that my Mom probably did not want to worry me about her with everything that I was going through.  I had never thought about it that way because I have always taken care of her.  Then when the kids came up to see her for the first time, my Sarah loves to asks tons and tons of questions.  This nurse stood there for what seemed like forever and answered every single question she asked.  She even got a tube of water out for Sarah to see how the suction wand worked.  She did not leave the room until Sarah stopped asking questions.  That was just so very sweet and amazing for her to take that time with us.  I could just go on and on about the staff there.  Even the front desk always greeted me with a smile and hello every time I walked by.  Thank you God for such wonderful staff!!!


Today was very surreal for me.  I felt God's peace radiating through my body and it was just what I needed.  I was so humbled today by all of the love and support we received from so very many people.  I was so very proud of my kids because they both wanted to help by being pallbearers.  That was when I broke down the most.  The beautiful service by our wonderful pastor and loving support from his wife.  The meal provided by my sweet friends with the help of my church family from when I was a little girl.  Care packages for me and the kids, notes, books, hand made cake balls :), and even a beautiful scarf to wear on my head.  I so appreciate all of the hugs and conversations that I had today with everyone that came through the line. 

I am so very heartbroken to have lost my Mom at a time when I needed her the very most.  But I know that God's timing is perfect and I will trust in Him.  I hope you will all trust God with as I continue through this journey.  Everyone has offered to help us in so many ways and Chris and I have decided that we are going to start reaching out more for help.

I will have rescheduled my third chemo treatment for tomorrow morning.  I know that Mom will be watching over me!  Ich liebe dich Mutti!!    

Love and hugs to you all!
Tammy

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23

 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Update from appointment with surgeon today

This coming Monday will be 10 weeks since my surgery.  I still have bruising and swelling.  This last week I have had some pain associated with the swelling.  I had developed a hematoma by my post-op appointment at the end of June.  But now I could also feel fluid in the swelling.  They said it would take up to 6-8 weeks for the hematoma to heal and I figure the chemo has slowed the healing process for my body.


I called my surgeon's nurse yesterday to ask if what I was experiencing was normal.  She recommended I come in for an appointment.  I had my appointment this morning.  I'm so very glad I went!  My surgeon was able to drain 33 cc of fluid from my surgery site.  She said it was good that I came and if I had waited another week it would have probably ruptured (which is common I guess). I just love her and her nurse and all the staff there. She even apologized again for all of the bruising. They strongly encouraged me to be sure to call with ANY questions any time and never to hesitate to contact them.  

I have to admit that my mind started wandering while I was driving to the appointment.  I wondered if there could possibly be infection or if they may have to do another surgery.  They had mentioned that sometimes women have to have another surgery to remove hematomas.  My skin was also peeling at the incision site and my oncologist had mentioned that could be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer which is the most aggressive kind. (The peeling was from the pressure of the fluid stretching my skin.)  But as I started to think all of these crazy out of control thoughts, I just stopped myself and said I'm not going to let my mind go there because I know that God is in complete control no matter what and I am going to trust in Him!  

I had also been wanting to get some childrens books that talk about cancer.  This gave me a chance to meet up with the social worker at the hospital and get several books to go through with the kids. 

The last thing I wanted to do before I left was stop in the store at the hospital.  I had some issues with the wig that was shipped to me.  It wasn't the same wig I had tried on in the store and it just didn't feel right when I wore it.  I was able to exchange it for the original wig that I tried on originally and loved. They also gave me this gel headband thing to wear under the wig to help with comfort. 

We received another wonderful meal tonight and I was able to end my evening by going out for ice cream to celebrate Sarah getting her ears pierced tonight.  She had picked several of her good friends to go with us for support.  We had a great time with this adventure!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.
Love,
Tammy

The LORD is the everlasting God,
   the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
   and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
   and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
   and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint. 
Isaiah 40:28-31
 


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Keeping Busy!

So very glad to be half way done with my treatments!!  Thankfully, I did not have the migraines with this round of chemo.  The doctor switched one of the anti-nausea drugs they give me before chemo since she thought that may have caused the migraines last time.  This time around was just the extreme fatigue and body aches. One night I couldn't even hold myself up to eat at the table.  I also got the "labor pains" again this round from the Neulasta injection that boosts my white blood cells.  It took me a good full week to finally feel back to normal.  I have a hard time getting through the week following chemo.  I keep trying to push myself like I have the flu or something and that just doesn't work. It's so hard to be down and out for 7 days or more.  And when I am in the thick of it, I just cannot imagine going through it two more times.  But I have to continue to look at the long term goal and know that when I am so low that the Lord is there with me too - holding me tight in His hands and guiding me every step of the way.

The kids birthdays were several months ago and we didn't get their birthday parties done this summer.  So we had a joint birthday party this past Saturday.  My sweet kids have been so very patient with all of this.  I was so thankful to have energy all day Saturday and have wonderful friends that helped me plan and help with the party.  I just feel like they are growing up so fast.  And I know looking at the big picture I am not missing anything, but I feel like the last 3 1/2 months have just flown by and I have not been there for them like I should have been.  We are playing catch up on all of our doctor, dentist and eye appointments and spent all day running yesterday.  The kids started school today as a 5th grader and 2nd grader. I still cannot believe it!

My next treatment will be Monday, August 29th.  They allowed me to adjust my 3rd treatment by a couple of days to be able to keep our camping reservations that we had made back before my diagnosis.

I am still so humbled by the outpouring of support we are receiving.  Even the phone calls and cards I receive from people we have never even met.  Thank you all again for everything.

Love,
Tammy

Show me your ways, O LORD,
   teach me your paths;
guide me in your truth and teach me,
   for you are God my Savior,
   and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 25:4-5 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tomorrow is my second treatment

As I mentioned in my last post, my hair started to fall out last Thursday.  And all throughout the weekend it just continued to get worse.  Handfuls of hair coming out along with hair all over everything.  Since we had went wig, head wrap and scarf shopping on Saturday (they are shipping the wig to me), I decided to have Chris shave my head Monday night.  The gal at the store recommended using the 1/4 inch on the clippers.  I was so ready to do this because I couldn't stand the way everything was with my hair.  It really wasn't my hair anymore since it was dry had died off and was falling out.  Sarah started to get upset at the beginning.  So I tried to reassure her that everything was going to be okay.  I had her hold my hand as we got started.  She did warm up as we went along and helped clean up the piles of hair. It felt so good to get this done.  Seeing myself with this really short hair was a bit weird but thankfully it didn't bother me like I thought it might.  And I know it will be different when I am completely bald.  More hair falls out every day so that will be coming soon.

Before

After...

I will post more pictures later.  I cannot figure out how to rotate the pictures here in the blog - so I apologize in advance for the turn of your head to view them :)  


I feel good about going in tomorrow morning for my second treatment.  I truly have a peace from the Lord knowing this is still His perfect plan for me.  After tomorrow's treatment, I will be half way done!!!  WOO HOO!!   I cannot wait to say that tomorrow!  I am also very thankful for meds that I have now to help with the extreme side effect, for a wonderful oncologist and rock star nurses that work long hours without hardly a lunch time to assist with patients getting chemo and other infusions.

Well, I had better try to get some sleep.  That will be a little hard to do since I have been taking steroids today to gear up for the treatment tomorrow. Maybe I should just work out or something... or not :)

Thank you all so much for everything!
Love,
Tammy

head wrapin' today :)



Trust in the LORD with all your heart
   and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
   and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, July 29, 2011

Goodbye hair..

What a perfect verse shared with me today:  "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:7

My hair started coming out in handfuls yesterday morning.  It was very weird.  I had a moment of shock because it was so much but only because my mind is thinking... hey, this isn't normal.  But I am in a new normal now and losing my hair will be part of it.  I am actually okay with it so far.  I am not looking forward to looking at myself in the mirror and seeing myself bald but thankfully my hair WILL grow back!  This is still all part of God's perfect plan for me.  

Last Saturday, the first day that I had no pain and was finally feeling better, I asked Chris if he felt like we did the right thing.  He responded immediately and said yes.  That was all I needed to hear.  It was just so hard last week to think that I was going to have to do that 3 more times.  


My next treatment is a week from today.  It seems like the time is flying by but I also feel like I lost all last week.  But thankfully I now have some meds to counteract the meds for next round.  And we will continue to look at the end result of all this treatment - to make sure there are not cancer cells anywhere else.


I am so very excited to be going shopping tomorrow morning and use my gift certificate for wigs and head wraps.  


Thanks so much for all of your love, support and prayers.  Life is hard but God is good - all the time!!!!!


Love,
Tammy

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33



Friday, July 22, 2011

Finally some relief

I will have to say that the past 7 days have been so long and hard.  I have had so much pain that it has been unbearable.  I would only get an hour of relief here or there.  I felt like I was doing something wrong.  We tried everything and just felt lost.  Yesterday was the worst day by far.  I had so much pain that I couldn't eat much at all.  I couldn't eat, sleep, rest, or get any relief.  I was so thankful Chris was up and down with me all through the nights.  Even through all this darkness, we still had support which just means so much.  Thanks SO much for all of the meals, rides to appointments, ice cream runs, prayers, emails, calls, texts, cards, pulling the weeds from my flower bed, my Mom helping with the kids, laundry and dishes, a very generous package from neighborhood friends full of many gift cards for food, shopping, free hair cut, head wrap and some good shampoo and conditioner, and a friend sitting with me to pray and encourage me in my lowest time.   

We met with Dr. Kakani today and she recommended I stay for some IV fluids to help hydrate my body.  She also called in prescriptions for a migraine medicine and a mouth wash for my sore mouth and tongue.  As I sat there for over 2 hours for fluids my migraine got worse.  I had also developed a low grade fever.  Dr. Kakani came back to check on me and said she was concerned for meningitis for me.  She told me to watch for the signs over the weekend and to call with any questions or concerns.  I left feeling scared, discouraged and hoping to find some relief from the migraines. 

As we left, I was actually feeling hungry which I thought was a good sign.  I came home and took the migraine meds and noticed a difference within 20 minutes.  Thank you Lord!!  Chris and I were able to eat a good meal this evening and watch a movie together on the couch.  I actually felt a little back to normal this evening. 

I am praying that I will continue to feel relief.  I have thought several times that I cannot do this anymore.  And I can't - but I can rely on a God that is far bigger than this and He will see me through.  Christ knows pain and suffering and will not leave me through this process.  I need to be sure to seek Him and lean on Him. 

Thanks again for your prayers.
Love,
Tammy

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's been a good day and the first treatment is now behind me!

We were so very relieved after my first chemo treatment today.  I did not have any bad reactions to the medicine.  I did fine through both of the anti nausea meds.  Then they got ready to start the 1st chemo drug.  With this drug, they have to monitor your blood pressure.  When we first arrived my BP was 128/71 which was good.  But when they were ready to start the med it was 150 over something and my heart rate was 120... so I think I was a bit anxious.  AND Chris's hand may have been a little numb from me squeezing pretty hard.  I took headphones so I could listen to music and I just cranked my Casting Crowns which gave me so much comfort. I even got up to walk around and take a restroom break.  They also had two baskets full of knitted hats donated from a St. Mary's church group.  She said to please take one - so I picked a pink and white one.  I was so very thankful that I made it through both chemo drugs without any troubles.  We were there for 4 1/2 hours but thankfully it didn't seem like that long at all.  I have felt pretty loopy since we left but at least now I have something to blame it on!  

I received several cards in the mail today.  It's so fun to get mail and messages!  When I opened one of the cards I just started to cry and cry.  Chris was a bit worried.  It was a card from Chris's family that had a very generous gift certificate for the store at the Carmel hospital.  This store carries all kinds of scarves, head wraps, wigs and a whole bunch of cool girlie things. I was just so overwhelmed with joy and relief.  Now, I don't have to worry about cost or where to find something here in town.  The ladies that run this store are fantastic.  They can guide me on styles and fit me for a wig.  What a HUGE blessing this was for me today. 


The kids are staying all night with good friends tonight so I have plenty of time to rest.  They were super excited too which is so fun to see.

Thanks again today for all of your messages and calls to check in on me.  I love watching and learning this process.  It will give me great ideas to pass along and help others.

I want to leave you with this - I have a daily devotional book that was given to me (Thank you Aunt Katie & Uncle Marco!) and today for July 15th it read:

"Do not worry about tomorrow!  This is not a suggestion, but a command.  I divided time into days and nights, so that you would have manageable portions of life to handle.  My grace is sufficient for you, but its sufficiency is for only one day at a time.  When you worry about the future, you heap day upon day of troubles onto your flimsy frame.  You stagger under this heavy load, which I never intended you to carry.

Throw off this oppressive burden with one quick thrust of trust.  Anxious thoughts meander about and crisscross in your brain, but trusting Me brings you directly into My Presence.  As you thus affirm your faith, shackles of worry fall off instantly.  Enjoy My Presence continually by trusting Me at all times."

This is just a huge reminder to me of how God's timing is ALWAYS perfect!!  This is exactly what I needed today!

Love,
Tammy

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Starting tomorrow

What an amazing roller coaster my mind has been on the last week.  After hearing cancer free (Praise the Lord!) last Friday, I just struggled with doing chemo therapy as "preventative" medicine.  I just could not embrace that AT ALL.  I went to pick up my prescription meds on Sunday and even drove up to stop and the drive thru window at the pharmacy and ... then.... I just kept on driving. I didn't stop to pick them up because I told myself I wasn't going to do the treatment. (Please laugh with me here!)  Remember, I was alone - so there wasn't anyone else in the car to talk me through that :)  And just so you know, I did pick my meds later this week. 

Last night, I had a girls night out with a "Girl Power" group that was formed as a support group for me.  We went and had pedicures, relaxed and enjoyed an awesome dinner and even a smoothie as a bonus!  At the end of the evening we sat down and they shared Bible verses with me that each had prepared just for me.  Everyone had a different verse and they all meant so much to me.  We focused on fear and how we are not to fear this world and respond in worldly ways.  We focused on peace - only the peace that can come from the Lord.  I was reminded that it is okay to feel down, weak and struggling but I can rejoice in Hope and know that I am surrounded by God's loving hands.  It helped me change my whole train of thought.  So when I woke up today, I decided that instead of trying to find peace in going through the chemo treatments, I would rest in Jesus my Savior and find my peace in Him.  I thought I had to be totally fine with doing the treatments but realized I just need to trust in Jesus 100% and THAT is what I CAN do. 

I have been eating extremely healthy these last couple of weeks.  It's been hard work to get all fresh foods and prepare them but boy has it made a difference AND it tastes good too!  We have meals scheduled out for the next several months from church, neighborhood and friends - just amazing!!  A sweet friend from work knitted me a couple of hats and crocheted me a wrap.  Good friends stopped by tonight with a soup and bread to have on hand (I have already had a piece of the bread and it's yummy!) for nausea and lemon drops to have while getting the treatments to help with the taste in my mouth.  I also received a hand made pink quilt that is so super soft and has really cool patches - one with a pink ribbon and very encouraging cards. Another friend also left a card and a beautiful necklace in my mailbox.  I also have another fun event scheduled for next week to look forward to.  I have a wonderful boss that has been so kind to talk me through this whole situation and has been extremely supportive.  I have had numerous texts, emails, messages, cards and letters in the mail, phone calls and hugs today.  Thank you, thank you, thank you dear Lord for all of these wonderful people you have placed in life.  I am truly amazed at all of the miracles through this journey.

We have to arrive for my treatment at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning.  They say it will last about 3 1/2 hours and could be longer if they would have to slow things down.  We will plan to do a brief update tomorrow to keep you all up-to-date. 

Love and hugs,
Tammy

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you.  Don't be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:10

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." John 14:27

Friday, July 8, 2011

Good news!!!!!

We arrived for the blood draw today and then had to wait for the appointment with the doctor.  I know the doctors usually run a little behind on appointments but we were just ready to hear the results of the scan.  She was running a little over 30 minutes behind.  It felt like we waited in the room for forever!!  When she came in, she had someone with her.  (When we went to hear the results of the biopsy, the doctor came in with a nurse.  This nurse then helped set up several appointments to take care of the diagnosis they just gave me of breast cancer.)  So when Dr. Kakani came in with someone, my heart just sank. (I later found out that Chris was thinking the same thing!)  But this was only a med student making rounds with her.  The first results she shared were from the blood work.  We could see on the screen in big red letters "abnormal".  This was the reading for the cancer marker.  I guess everyone has it in their blood.  The normal range is 37 or below.  Mine was 38.1 - which she said did not concern her because of having had cancer and recent surgery.  So that made us feel better.  And then she said that the PET scan results were clear!!!  Praise the Lord for this good news.  I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders when she told us that.  She also told us that I was CANCER FREE.  I just really loved hearing those words!!  Then she explained the chemo a little more again and prescribed some anti-nausea and steroid meds to take while going through chemo.  And then she waited through all of our questions before she walked us back to the chemo training.  I love that she doesn't make us feel rushed to ask questions.

I will have to say it was a little weird walking into where they administer the chemo therapy.  All kinds of different smells.  A nurse went over the drugs and all of the side effects.  Which all just seem so horrible to hear.  And in my head I am thinking... okay they told me I was cancer free and I am going to do what???   My mind was screaming - NO!  But these are also all what 'could' happen.  So I am just going into this thinking that my body is going to be strong (they keep telling me that because of my age, good health and weight that I shouldn't have too much problem).  There are only 4 cycles that will take a total of 9 weeks.  They did confirm that I would lose all of my hair everywhere - including my eyebrows... that is weird to think about.  The first treatment will take a little longer than all the rest (3-3 1/2 hrs).  They will also be giving me another drugs along with the chemo to help combat several symptoms.  Thankfully, Chris can be in the room with me.  They said they will keep a very close watch on me as will Dr. Kakani.  They want to know if I experience anything at all out of the ordinary. 

Chris and I left and went through Frozen Custard drive through and got large twist cones to celebrate!!

I am going to trust my Heavenly Father to help me endure through this round of treatment.  It's not going to be easy at all.  I cannot do it alone but "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me!!" (Philippians 4:13)

Thanks again for everything - I feel like I say thank you so much but yet it feels like I cannot say it enough.

Love,
Tammy
 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pet scan.....check!

I made it through the pet scan today.  It wasn't bad at all.  They do the pet scans in a trailer outside of the building.  They first had me sit down and they did a radioactive tracer injection through a vein in my arm.  This tracer will go to any higher active tissues in my body and show any cancer.  Then I had to relax while kicked back in a recliner for 45 minutes to allow the injection to go through my whole body.  I thought the time would go by slow but it actually gave me time to pray and the time went by really fast.  Then they took me in for the scan.  This time I was face up (MRI was face down) and had to put my arms over my head.  It wasn't loud at all.  And when my head had passed outside of the loop of the camera the technician came in and told me my head was out and I could open my eyes.  That really helped a lot because then my mind didn't get the best of me.  My arms felt like they were falling asleep!  She showed me the timer on the machine so I could actually see how much time was left.  Once it was finished she had me stay there for a minute while check checked the scan.  She then asked if I would be around any young children.  I told her the ages of my kids and she said that is nothing to worry about.  When I asked her why, she said it was because I was still radioactive and they didn't want my cuddling with any young children!! :)  Before I left I asked if the results would be ready for my appointment tomorrow and she said yes.  Then I wondered, did she see something?? 

Before we left the imaging center, I asked if to see if Dawn was working.  She was working so I got a chance to say hello and thank her again for being so wonderful at the very beginning of my journey. She is the one that did my mammogram and ultrasound and offered to be with me at my biopsy. I really wanted to thank her for all she does and give her a big hug. 

Now that the scan is over anxiety has set in for the results.  But we will know the results tomorrow.  I know God already knows the results but it hit me hard thinking "what if" the scan shows cancer somewhere else in my body. I am trying really hard to only focus on God's plan and not the what ifs. I am praying hard for a clean scan as a baseline to move forward. I am looking forward to meeting with the doctor and attending the chemo training class tomorrow.

Thank you so very much for all of your prayers, cards, phone calls, messages, hugs and support this week.
Love,
Tammy

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

First treatment scheduled

Here's a much needed new family picture.  I got my hair cut on Friday and haven't had it this short since 3rd grade.  I thought it would be a good transition to losing my hair.  I really love it and like that fact that it doesn't take long to fix.

This week, I have my pet scan on Thursday and an appointment with Dr. Kakani on Friday along with more blood work and a chemo teaching class.  My first treatment will be on Friday, July 15th. The current plan is to have 4 cycles (treatments) three weeks apart.  After I am finished with the chemo treatments we will take a short break and then do radiation.  Then after the radiation they want me to do the Tamoxifen for 5 years.  A good friend of ours sat down with me tonight to help explain cancer treatment in detail.  He has been researching cancer for many years and his company is in the stages of developing a targeted chemo therapy.  He helped me understand so much more and feel more at ease with the treatment.  Even though my chemo therapy will not be targeted only at any cancer cells, it does not get absorbed by every cell in my body as I had thought.  It does attack any rapid growing cells which is what cancer is but also your hair, intestine, and white & red blood cells are rapid growing cells.  My prayer is that I can bounce back strong after each chemo cycle and not have extreme symptoms.  It has been hard to hear of all the symptoms that "may" happen because it makes my mind wander.  But to steal this from John Piper... "I believe in God's power to heal - by miracle and by medicine."  I found this in an awesome article entitled "Don't Waste Your Cancer"  If you are interested in the article  here's a link: Pastor John Piper article  It's a very good read and gives me a whole different perspective on being diagnosed and fighting cancer.

I feel so very thankful and blessed to have so many people supporting me and my family.  I have been so humbled by the response from everyone.  So many of you have asked how you can help.  It's so hard to ask for help sometimes.  I will try to be better at letting you know.  I will also try harder to update the blog more frequently.

My cure rate may only be 90% but I am 100% certain that Christ will be with me every step of the way and I am part of His perfect plan!

Love to you all,
Tammy   

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Treatment

I was having a really down couple of days when I wrote my last post.  Thanks so much for letting me be transparent. I had lost sight of knowing and resting in God's perfect plan for my life.  I was struggling with treatment options and all of the fear and uncertainty.  I have had so much to think about but the meetings this week have helped me refocus a bit. 

We had a couple of good meetings this week.  Monday was our first consultation with my local oncologist, Dr. Kakani.  We really liked her.  She went through my history and pathology report to understand everything.  She said she was also going to call my surgeon to discuss things to be sure she has all the information.  She also ordered blood to be drawn and tested and a pet scan for next week.  That made total logical sense to us.  That is what I thought an oncologist would do - get a baseline on me after surgery and before we do any treatment to see where I am at.  Because I wondered - what if it was somewhere else??  She also wanted to wait 4 weeks from surgery to allow my incisions to heal from surgery before starting the  chemo.  I asked her about alternative forms of treatments.  She said that chemo is they only thing they have now to work with.  She said we want to get as high of a cure rate as possible.  I asked her about diet and nutrition.  She said all of that would be fine.  I just wish oncology doctor's offices would educate people more on that for during and after treatment. 

She had wondered about taking all of the rest of they lymph nodes from under my arm.  She was going to discuss this with Dr. Kennedy.  They set up my pet scan for next week and then a follow-up appointment with her the next day.  And I have to say that the lady that drew my blood there was absolutely fantastic!!!  She took 4 vials and I hardly felt anything and it went really fast. 

Yesterday's meeting was my post-op appointment with my surgeon.  There is still some swelling but everything is healing well.  When I asked my surgeon about alternatives to chemo, she said that the have good data on chemo and we don't want to focus on a 5 year survival rate but a 50 year survival rate. We talked about not doing the surgery of taking out all the lymph nodes under my arm.  She said that she doesn't want to do things because they have always done them a certain way.  She wants to do what is best for me and my case.  She will talk with Dr. Kakani and the new radiologist that will be coming in August to determine what is best for me and extreme long term survival. 

I stopped in the shop at the hospital to briefly look at wigs and head wraps.  I still feel in denial that I am going to lose my hair.  I just cannot believe it.  They gave me a packet of information to look through and the side effects just make my stomach turn.  But I know that I can trust God's plan in this and He will hold me tight through all of this along with my family and friends.  I also know that my sweet Adam is good with picking out clothes and glasses that look good on me.  So I plan to have him assist me in the head gear process. :)

I am currently doing natural alternatives to fight the cancer in my body.  I have also made a lot of diet changes.  I truly wish that I could only do these alternatives and decline on the chemo.  But I am too worried about human error on my part in doing these steps. I am so very, very thankful for the support from Noreen and Pat! 

I am so thankful for all of the cards, notes, messages, calls, hugs, meals that we have received this week. 

I'm tired so I am going to bed now.  As Sarah prayed tonight, "Dear Lord, please take away all the cancer in Mommy's body and make her better."  In Jesus name Amen!

Love,
Tammy

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Next step??

On our way to go camping Friday, I called to make the appointment with the oncologist in Indy.  My first choice doctor did not have an appointment until July 5th.  I didn't think it would be good to wait that long.  So I took the next available doctor who had an appointment on Monday at 9:30 a.m.  I thought meeting with an oncologist meant double checking to make sure the cancer wasn't anywhere else in my body before we determined treatment options.  Since my surgeon's team was meeting on Tuesday to discuss my case, I thought it would be beneficial to meet with an oncologist to have all my bases covered.

We had such a wonderful weekend camping with great friends.  Plenty of relaxation time, good times out on the boat, watching the kids go tubing for the first time, trying to save a nest of baby birds that had made the trip in the hitch of one of the campers without their mommy (and for those who know me well - please know that I made it my extra special mission to try to save these poor little things!), songs around the camp fire, absolutely beautiful weather (even though they said there was a 60% chance of storms), and eating, eating and more eating!!  Chris had woke up Sunday morning with an eye infection so we drove straight from the camp site back to town with a stop at urgent care.  He couldn't even open his eyes and had extreme pain.  So that left me with the task of unloading the van from camping :)  But that also meant that I would be driving to the appointment the next morning.

On Monday morning, I was a bit anxious thinking about driving 1 1/2 hours through the severe storms to get to the hospital.  We actually kind of followed the storm and didn't get into the extreme heavy rain until we reached Carmel and were only about 10 minutes from the hospital.  We thankfully made it right on time.  We sat and waiting for about 30 minutes before they called my name.  They took us back to an exam room.  We waiting close to another 20 minutes before the doctor (oncologist) came in.  He said he talked with my surgeon this morning but mentioned another name.  When I asked who he was referring to, he said he meant to say Dr. Kennedy.  He said he needed a minute to look through all of my chart.  He said the size of the mass in the lymph node was 6 mm - which is small.  Based upon the lymph node involvement and my age, he said that he would not recommend more surgery but he recommends aggressive chemo therapy, followed by intense radiation and then followed by hormone therapy.  He said that he wanted to run a print out and go over it with me. 

As we talked, his cell phone rang several times and he kept checking it.  Then he said excuse me and took a couple of calls.  He apologized but it was so very distracting and Chris and I really struggled with the interruptions.  He said they would come get us and take us to a consultation room to talk.  But then he came back into the room and had the paperwork.  He had plugged my stats into a computer program to generate a flow chart of what my treatment should be based upon my age, breast cancer and lymph node involvement.  He said that there were a couple of options for the chemo therapy.  The minute he said chemo therapy, he was saying things that I did NOT want to hear and did NOT want to accept as a form of treatment.  So I told him that I wasn't comfortable with the chemo because it would destroy the good cells in my body.  But he said that we need to be sure there are not any little seeds that had been planted anywhere else in my body that would appear in the years to come.  He said that one option would be TC (two drugs) for 4 cycles - this would provide an 88% cure rate.  The other option was the AC-T (3 drugs) that would provide a 90% cure rate but he was concerned about the "A" drug causing heart damage for me since I was so young.  And he didn't want to kill me with the chemo.  He recommend the best option would be the TC every 3 weeks for 4 cycles.  He recommended doing Thursdays for treatment.  He said he would give me several other drugs to help me tolerate the treatment and be able to function at work on Friday - then rest all weekend and go back to work on Monday.  All I could think was that I don't want the chemo in my body at all.  I want to keep my good cells so they can continue to fight for me.  Why would I want to kill my good cells?  He said my side effects would/could be sickness, weakness, extreme tiredness, loss of my monthly cycles and that I would feel totally out of it.  Um... no thank you - is all I could hear in my head.  He said that he would be at the team meeting the next day and would recommend chemo as the next step.  He said to just email him on Tuesday afternoon for an update and set up a time to meet for the first treatment next week.  NEXT WEEK?  Oh my.  I just couldn't believe it.  I asked if I would lose my hair and he said yes.  He said it would be a shock to me since I have probably worn my hair long for some time but that I would look good... how would he know anyway I thought..??  Then he said that my hair would grow back curly.  I really don't want to lose my hair either.  So my mind was just swirling away with so many thoughts.  As we left, he told me to email him on Tuesday afternoon, and he would let me know what the final decision the team determined.  Chris and I left to go to lunch and head home and I was just in shock again.  I couldn't believe that I have to consider chemo.

After I thought more and more, I decided to call my surgeon's nurse and let her know that I would prefer my surgeon to let me know the results of the team meeting instead of following up with the oncologist.  I told her I felt that we didn't have a very good meeting with the oncologist and I would prefer to have Dr. Kennedy pass along the results because we have 100% confidence in her. 

So on Tuesday, I went back to work.  It felt odd walking into the building.  It just felt that I was a different person or something.  I can't really describe the feeling.  It was nice to be back in the office.  I just adore the people I work with and they have rallied around me and been so very supportive.  I had several flower arrangements waiting for me on my desk along with some chocolate :)  I was really hoping to be positive on my first day back at work but I was really struggling.  I was still very unsettled from the meeting the day before and I was trying to accept the fact that I may need to have chemo.  Dr. Kennedy called right after lunch to give me the team's decision.  She said that the general feeling of the committee was that there was no benefit to do more surgery but the correct next step would be chemo.  She said that since the results from the surgery were more serious, we needed to step up treatment and respond more aggressively.  She then asked why we felt our meeting didn't go well the day before.  I explained that some of it was that he was saying things that I didn't want to hear but the biggest thing was him taking the couple of phone calls during our meeting.  She said there has been much debate among many doctors on how accessible they are.  She chooses to wait and return calls later, while he is always available to patients and other doctors.  She said both methods take much heat from all directions.  She said it's very important to feel absolutely comfortable with my doctors.  She said there is no limit to the opinions we seek and we should find a doctor that is compatible with my personality. 


I told her that since we had discussed having my treatment local, that I would like to consult with a local oncologist.  She said that her nurse would call and set up the appointment for me.  That appointment is set for Monday morning at 8:45 a.m.  I had also received a call on Tuesday from radiation oncologist office.  They wanted to know if I would like to have a consultation meeting with them now or after chemo.  She said it was totally up to me and the didn't want to overwhelm me.  So I told her I would really like to meet before.  So she said she would add an appointment to meet them right after my consultation with the oncologist.  I also have a post-op meeting with Dr. Kennedy on Tuesday to go over my final path report in detail and to check to be sure my incisions are healing. 

I want to be sure I understand everything before I make my final decision on treatment.  I have a whole list of questions for the doctor and also our good friend who researches cancer treatment.  I guess I want to know for sure that there is something else in my body to put such strong things in that will destroy my good cells too.  And I guess the oncologist doesn't determine if there is other cancer in my body, they just treat me for what was found.  If there was a targeted chemo therapy that only attacked my cancer cells but still made me sick, I would do it.  I won't bore you with my list of questions, but I am hoping Monday and Tuesday will provide me with the answers I need to feel confident in my next step. 

To be honest, I am really struggling right now.  Thanks again for your prayers.  I really, really appreciate them.  I am praying that God will help me to see clear what my next step should be - even if it is not what I would want. 

Love,
Tammy

"but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Isaiah 40:31 
 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pathology report from surgery

My doctor called me with the pathology results from my surgery last night.  

Unfortunately, they did find cancer in 1 of the 3 sentinel lymph nodes.  So they have diagnosed me with Stage 2 breast cancer.  But they were able to get a clear margin around the tumor which is good.  The tumor was only 2 cm and she said it was smaller than originally measured on one of the films.  She said her next step is to present my case to her team next Tuesday.  Together as a team, they will determine what the next best step would be for me.  So this may mean doing another surgery to remove the remaining lymph nodes in the hollow of my arm pit.  Or she said, it may mean that treatment will be sufficient.  She said that she was very optimistic that the other lymph nodes would be clear.  With my age, she said that her focus is for very long-term survival.  So if we need to go back in for another surgery, then that is what we will do to strive for the very long-term survival.  They will call me today to set up an appointment with a medical oncologist.  She also said that after I met with this oncologist, they would help me to find treatment her locally so that I would not have to drive to Indy for any treatment. 

I will be honest to say that I really struggled with this news.  Not what I had hoped to hear and it brought back so much fear and worry that I had experienced with the first diagnosis.  I also feel like there is more uncertainty again.  Our good friend who studies cancer and cancer research told Chris that the cancer being in the lymph node is not necessarily a bad thing. He said that is the body's natural defense against the cancer. I thought that it meant that it was spreading through my whole body. He said that the body detects the cancer and takes it to the lymph nodes as a defense mechanism.  I would like to talk with him more to understand this process. 

Adam was very quiet and Sarah was very upset with the news.  I laid in bed and talked with her and prayed with her to try to help with all her worries.  She thought that this meant I was going to die really soon.  She said she didn't want me to go and that she would always love me no matter what.  It just broke my heart and I told her she needed to trust God with me and know that He is in control and He is with us.  She and I read through the Matthew 6 passages on worry this morning.  Adam asked some detailed questions this morning.  He wanted to know if the cancer was a lump in my armpit and wanted to know if you could feel it. 

I don’t know God’s plan for me with this struggle yet but I know I need to trust Him every step of the way.  Even though this path will be difficult and it's not what I would have chosen, I know in my heart that the Lord has a perfect plan through this entire journey.  

Thank you all so much for your support and prayers.  I am so overwhelmed by all the support and know that we will need it in the weeks to come. 

Love,
Tammy

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The day after surgery.

Yesterday (as I remember it :)) - we left the house at 4:30 a.m. and made good time getting to the hospital.  We checked in at registration a couple of minutes before 6:00 a.m.  We were only there for about 5 minutes and then they walked us over to radiology to check in for my first procedure.  They said my procedure wasn't scheduled until 6:30 a.m., so we would be waiting awhile.  They didn't call us back until 6:50 a.m.  (The cool thing is that Chris was able to stay with me through all the pre-op procedures)  This was the dye procedure to "light up" my sentinel lymph nodes for the surgeon.  After she inserted the dye, she said she would have to take some pictures.  I would need to lay still for 5 minutes for each picture.  I had an anxious moment thinking back to the MRI.  I asked how the pictures would work.  It was only a square that came down around my chest and it was open so it was no problem at all for me.  They the walked us over for the wire localization.  The radiology doctor that performed this was a Purdue grad - so it was fun to chat with her.  She explained that she would be inserting two wires.  She said that Dr. Kennedy also wanted to remove another spot about 2 cm from the tumor site.  They said it looks like a calcification but they want to remove it all to be sure.  That was the first we had heard of that.  This doctor said that they would have me sitting for this procedure because it common for patients to faint. She said to be sure to tell them if I started to feel funny at any time.  Thankfully, I never felt funny at all.  Then we waited while they got me a wheelchair to take me over to surgery.

We arrived there at 9:00 a.m. The nurse checked my temperature and my blood pressure and my blood pressure was a little elevated... imagine that! :)  The hooked up my IV and started me on some fluids.  She said things would move quickly because they wanted to have me to the operating room by 9:30 a.m.  Then she left and a Chaplin stopped by and asked if we wanted to pray and he prayed with us.  Then we kept waiting and waiting.  This wait was the hardest wait of the day.  Finally the anesthesiologist came in at 10:05 a.m.  He said they were running behind.  He went over everything and said he didn't anticipate any complications.  He said he would be with me the entire time watching over me and making sure things were alright.  That helped ease a little of my anxiety.  He said they should be coming soon to get me.  They finally came at 10:20 to take me into surgery.  All of the waiting and saying goodbye to Chris got me tearing up.  This nurse was also a Purdue grad.  She wheeled my bed to the door of the operating room and then asked if I could walk in. I thought that was kind of funny.  So I walked in and sat down on the table.  There were two small tables sticking out of the operating table for me to put my arms out on.  Then I could feel the tears keep coming.  I told them I was sorry and I wasn't sure why I couldn't stop the tears.  Then the anesthesiologist came in and said hello and said he was there to stay with me.  He said he just put something in my IV to help me relax.  Then I remember them putting an oxygen mask on and telling me to relax and take a deep breath ...and that's all I remember.  I didn't even get to see my surgeon.

Then I remember hearing something and it was a nurse talking to me telling me I was in recovery.  I couldn't believe I was in recovery.  Then she started asking me about my pain level and where it was on a scale from 1 to 10.  I think I said it was about a 7 and I told her my throat was hurting pretty bad from the breathing tube during surgery.  She got me some ice chips and asked if I had anyone waiting for me that I would like to come back.  So she went and got Chris and I was glad to see him.  Then I started to feel really hot and felt extremely nauseous. They put a cold wash rag on my head and put a tiny moist cloth on my nose to breathe for aromatherapy.  It helped, I was so glad I didn't get sick.  But I felt so tired.  I couldn't keep my eyes open.  What felt like 5 minutes to me - Chris said was over an hour that I slept.  She asked if I wanted any crackers or teddy grahams.  Once I ate a little it and had some apple juice I was feeling much better.  Then once I was able to get up on my own and go the restroom, they said I could get dressed and go. We walked in the door last night a little after 5:00 p.m. 

Thanks so much for all of your prayers.  I am feeling a little more tired and sore than I thought today.  I didn't elevate myself enough last night and woke up with some pretty intense swelling and pain.  As I was trying to refill my ice pack, I felt like I was going to pass out and then I felt nauseous again.  But it went away and I slept in the recliner the rest of the morning.  My mom hung out with me all day and we even took an afternoon nap. 

Adam has a baseball game starting right now - 5:30 - wish I could be there to cheer him on!!  

We will post more once we hear the pathology results.

I need to go get some more rest.  Thank again so much for your love, support and prayers.
Love,
Tammy