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!!!!!


“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.

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!


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,

"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.


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.

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,