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.

"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.


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!

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