Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year in Review (aka our Christmas Letter)

For those that can't read the tiny little is what the letter says I wanted to put the original on here as well:
Merry Christmas!! I hope this letter finds you well. I don’t typically write a Christmas letter. I think it’s a great idea, and I’ve started one several years, but just never finished. This year, however, has been an interesting one, and I thought I would recap it for those of you who made it on the Christmas card list, haha!
As 2011 rang in this year it didn’t take long for us to know it wasn’t going to be our average year of the usual things. Nate started off with an ER visit that turned into extended stay accommodations at Parkview Whitley, our local hospital. He was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, and had severe inflammation and blockage in his small intestine.  After his stay he came home and was off work for about 6 weeks in which time he went through numerous test, and drugs to try and combat the pain and bowel issues he was having. He continued with drugs and diet changes through September, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
January also brought the celebration of Parker’s 9th birthday; we can hardly believe he is so old. He is doing very well in school and just made the “A” honor roll for the first trimester of 4th grade. He’s getting to the age of wanting his own independence a little more, and becoming a little stinkier. He once again participated in the Dekalb Baron’s summer basketball camp under direction of his Uncle Jon, and for the first time went to the Columbia City Eagles basketball camp this October. He’s getting pretty good, but we may have a conflict with which team he likes more!
In March we celebrated Maxwell’s 4th birthday, and my… um, 29 again birthday. Max is growing like a weed I can hardly keep up with pants and shoes. He is all boy and ornery as ever. He began his 2nd year of pre-school this year, and thankfully is very good at school, and enjoys it very much.
April brought an addition to the family. After a fun family vacation to Kalahari in Wisconsin Dells and a day trip to Chicago Legoland we became members of the dog owner’s club. We bought a 6 week old golden retriever and named him Bentley. He went from fitting into a 6x6 in. tile on our kitchen floor to being a 57lb 9 month old. He’s defiantly Nate’s baby, but after a few rough days in the beginning he has become a part of the family.
May was warm and wonderful. We spent a lot of time playing outside, but because of all the snow we had over the winter the kids had an extra-long school year and didn’t get out until the 9th of June.
In June we decided to get passes to our city pool, we spent quite a few days through-out the month pool side and the kids enjoyed it very much. Towards the last week of June I found a lump in my breast and so began a new journey for our family.
In July we celebrated Caedence’s 6th birthday. She began 1st grade this year and although she is very smart she enjoys the social time at school rather than the academics. She has lost 4 teeth in the last few months and has become a lot more girlie over the last year doing her hair and painting her nails are beginning to trump playing with toys on some days. We also celebrated Nate’s 33rd birthday, as you can see he keeps getting older  J, and I became an Auntie on my side of the family for the first time as my brother and wife had their first baby on July 26th(It’s also Caedy’s b-day). As July progressed with more Dr. appts. for me we learned on July 22nd that I had breast cancer.  July 27th I had a complete mastectomy.
August brought a month of healing and more Dr. appts. we were unexpectedly taken care of and blessed by family and friends far and wide. Our niece, Marissa, graciously gave up her last month of summer to come and stay with us and help as I recovered. Towards the end of the month I had another surgery for a port so that I could begin chemotherapy. As all this was going on Nate started to feel the pains of blockage and inflammation again.
September brought us to Hannah’s birthday just a few days after she began life as a 2nd grader she turned 8 years old. She is the instigator of the bunch but is turning into a good little athlete and loves all sports. Although they don’t recognize 2nd grade with an official honor roll Hannah also is getting all A’s in school so far this year, and despite a few academic struggles in first grade is doing really well at keeping up with her grade level. We had a small fundraiser thanks to a family friend on Sept. 4th and September 7th was my first scheduled chemotherapy infusion, although, Nate apparently didn’t like all the attention I was getting so he decided another trip to the hospital ER would make him stand out a little more. However this time we didn’t go to one, but 3 hospitals before he landed at Parkview Main in Ft. Wayne for a 2 week stay on Sept. 6th. This time we had a few more opinions than that of the GI doctor he acquired during his January visit, and Nate ended up have a bowel resection on Sept. 13th. He was released from the hospital Sept. 20th one day before my 2nd scheduled chemo treatment. Although Marissa had left and headed back to Arizona we were again taken care of by the grace of God.
October brought more healing and more chemo, and another blessing in the form of a young lady named Lisa who is for lack of a better term our on-call nanny. She has been great with our kids whenever we need her. We were also able to get away over night with the kids, thanks to Lisa’s help for a one night stay at Kalahari. It wasn’t our typical family get-a-way, but the kids enjoyed it and deserved it as they have really endured a lot. Our awesome neighbors put on an amazing fundraising event for us, and although we would have rather done it a little differently Nate and I tried to enjoy the time off we had together while he healed.
Nate was finally able to go back to work the second week in November after a total of 10 weeks off, and I continued on with chemo. We’ve had a few little hiccups along the way with my treatment, but for the most part it has been going as expected, side effects and all. We were also able to host our very first Thanksgiving at home with my parents visiting from Colorado, and my siblings.
So far December has been rather uneventful considering all the other things that have happened this year, but among other things we’ve learned to expect the unexpected, grown, and been blessed beyond what we could have ever imagined. Our families, and friends have stood beside, behind and in front of us through-out this year and we wouldn’t have made it as well as we have without that support.
God has brought us to a place that had we known about we would have said we’d never make it through, but He’s given us the strength and encouragement we needed to do so. Although every day is a new day to get through we are taking them one at a time, and know that there is a bigger plan. We can only pray that we are glorifying Him as we walk through this journey. We continue to be grateful for everything we have been given, and as we enter this season we remember He gave His only son because he loved us and would only bring us to this place because he loves us.
As we move into next year I will continue chemo and then radiation around Feb. At some point we will talk about reconstruction which will be another surgery and recovery, but probably more towards the fall of next year.
Much love and many blessings to each and every one of you! If you have prayed for us, brought us a meal, brought us groceries,  made a donation, watched our kids, cleaned our house, walked our dog, given us a care package or anything else we just want to take a moment to thank you. We know we will never be able to repay all the people in our lives who have stepped up, but we plan to pay it forward whenever we have the chance. We love you and are so grateful for you all.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

God Bless Us...Everyone!

Merry Christmas everyone. I know New Year's is the time to reflect and think about the year that has past, but tonight as I set the presents out, most of them so generously given to us by strangers, I can't help but think about the last year. God set us on a path at the beginning of this year that we thought was hard, but after a little while we learned to cope. Later in the year God threw us another curve ball, this one a littler harder to deal with and a little harder to just "cope" with, as we were still dealing with the first stumbling block of Nate's Crohn's Disease we began to try and deal with cancer. As each of those first days progressed we we're given a new aspect of this disease to deal with, and even with love and support pouring in I didn't think this was something I could do. I was right (I love to saying that, but not in this case)!!
Each and everyday has been an challenge some good and some bad... although its technically Christmas Day already during the day today I have been very emotional. I woke up not feeling well, and trying to deal with that just made me feel worse. I finally got the energy to get up and get going and all I could do was cry most of the day. I'm sure it is due to the hormonal changes happening in my body, but it is not how I had planned on feeling on Christmas Eve, and so it goes, it is not how I had planned on spending a better part of 2011, but its also not my plan I should focus on. So as I get ready to go to sleep, probably to be woken up in a few hours by excited kids who can't wait to begin ripping paper off gifts I am thankful, thankful for the gift that God has given us, thankful for the strangers who have given to us so unselfishly, and thankful for the lessons I've learned this year, the blessings I've received and the people who have surrounded us with love and support. Merry Christmas, and God Bless You All!!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

God just hears a melody

On my way home yesterday from breakfast with two ladies who are also fighting breast cancer I heard the Amy Grant song Better than a Hallelujah. I've always liked Amy Grant, but don't listen to her music regularly other than what is on the radio, and I've heard this song many times before, but never really paid attention to the lyrics. As I was rethinking the conversations from breakfast filled with comparisons of struggles and triumphs the chorus to this song really stuck in my head. I'm grateful for a God who hears praise even in the midst of our messes and miseries especially since over the last several months I haven't been as initially praising as I should be. Better than a Hallelujah sometimes....

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Roller Coaster Ride

There are some days when I look in the mirror and think ... is this real? I remember in my BC( before cancer) life that I would see someone bald from cancer, usually on tv, and wonder what that must be like. I could never even imagine it. Today as I sit here in my infusion room alone I still am having a hard time grasping the fact that YES, this is my life! I still have trouble looking toward the future, and being on the survivor side of this disease, and when days like today come up, where my liver still isn't functioning right, and my drug dose has been reduced to try and control that issue I just stare at the ceiling and wonder ... is this real? Will it ever seem real? Is it better that it doesn't seem that way?

It has been an emotional week for me I'm not sure why although I'm only counting today and yesterday I tend lately to just have a day or an hour that is a little tougher. With the holidays upon us I've begun to let the devil take hold of my brain and thinking more about what if this is my last holiday with my kids, and what have I done to make a difference in someone else's life in the last 32 years? As I sit here I can here a man talking as he gets his treatment about life, and all the experiences he's had in the last week and the last 70 or so years. I wonder if I will be able to be in that position in 40 years? I keep hearing stories of this disease taking lives I don't want to be one of those statistics for the next 32 year old, mother of 4 who has to sit in this chair.

Monday, November 21, 2011

More Taxol Troubles

Well, last week I wasn't able to have a treatment as most of you already know... I was very discouraged to say the least because 1. I had driven almost an hour for treatment, 2. because my liver isn't functioning right which could cause permanent damage and mean more problems, and 3. because my doctor said if it doesn't change we'll have to try something different. I feel like "something different" isn't good enough. When I was diagnosed with cancer the doctors all met and discussed the best plan of action, and so we set forth with plan in mind. Now if I have to change that I feel like its the second best, and for me second best isn't good enough when it comes to dealing with cancer.
So as I am facing tomorrow's uncertainty of if treatment will continue as planned I feel a little anxious. Hoping we don't have to change drugs, and hoping my liver was just having a bad week and things are back to normal.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Well today was treatment 2 of 12 of Taxol and 6 of 16 of total chemo. Last week I had a pretty bad day after chemo. I've been having a lot of anxiety about my treatments each time because each one has been different. So last week as I went into doing a new drug I was nauseated before I even made it to the cancer center and then had a reaction, very typical, to it so we had to stop and restart, and I was dosed up with lots of steroids and benadryl, and ended up sleeping through almost the entire treatment for a total of about 18 hours. Once I started having the allergic reaction last week they gave me an extra steroid to try an help that and it seemed to work. So this week I didn't know what to expect, and going in I again had some anxiety. My doctor also told me before treatment if I had the same reaction that she would switch my taxol. It isn't actually the taxol that cause the allergic reaction its the drug that carries it into my body so they can switch to a different carrier, however, that requires I go back to going every 2-3 weeks instead of weekly which would stretch my treatment out considerably and that didn't sound appealing at all since it would mean I would still being doing treatments next summer instead of being done in the spring. Thankfully we were able to get it right this time by just starting with the IV steroid and a little less benadryl. I made it through without needing a nap until the ride home and am awake now which was not even a possibility last week. So I'm very thankful for that. I will get to continue going weekly and I'm hopeful each treatment will be easier.
I'm still worried about dealing with anxiety. I have always been a little anxious when I go into situations where I can't control what is going to happen or an unaware of all the details, but it obviously is to the extreme for me right now with making me literally sick. I hope that as this chemo goes on that will get easier. I still struggle with feeling like we don't deserve all the blessings that are being bestowed upon us despite the cancer, and sometimes even feel guilty about accepting them sometime, however, this week I've been given the opportunity to help others. I'm sad to say this week I've learned of 2 people that have been diagnosed with breast cancer, but I'm very happy to be able to encourage them, and understand them as they begin this walk, and even help out a little with talking to the people who are walking this walk with them. I still have days I don't always feel ready, but there are good days too, and I pray I can take full advantage of those days!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Just an update on how things are going. I started my new chemo this past week. The treatment itself was a lot harder then the other treatments. I had a lot of nausea and anxiety going into it, and then had a reaction from the drug itself so that was no fun. However, since all of that happened I had a lot of other drugs along with the chemo that made me very exhausted, and I sleep through most of my treatment, all the way home, and pretty much until 8am the next morning. When I woke up I actually felt decent. Got out of bed, took a shower, and just kinda hung out around the house for the day, each day this week I had a little more energy, but did a lot more so at this point in the week I am completely exhausted. My legs feel like jello even though I didn't do a whole lot today. All in all the chemo is better, and the side effects are minimal, its still chemo, and now weekly so I'm not looking forward to that, but 1 down 11 to go. We're still being amazingly blessed along the way, and tomorrow are leaving town to take a break from all the stress of everything else for a night, that.. that will be another post for another day..lots of anxiety lately about that and several other things.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

3 months

Today marks 3 months by date that I found out I had cancer. I've been in bed since Tuesday recovering from my 4th chemo treatment, and my neighbor along with the help of family, friends, and this community are putting on a fundraiser for our family. Its a big day to say the least. I'm sad, my legs are weak, barely strong enough to last for a short shower, and I'm still nauseated from chemo. I want to be up with my kids, although currently they are all talking, singing, and yelling at the same time literally. I keep having dreams about the future distant and not so. Waking up worrying about Kindergarten round-up that isn't until March, and then upset because I'm missing a good majority of the last year of being a stay at home Mom with a kid at home. Thinking about my daughter's 2nd grade program next week, and the promise of taking her shopping to get a new outfit, this weekend, not happening. Just a lot of randomness. Its a lot of what I think about daily but some days its worse then others. Today I feel like a burden, so many people coming out to support us and me not even able to get the strength to show up. Day 5 of needing people to wait on me, and feeling a bit helpless.
I told Nate tonight that I just don't understand why all these people want to help us. We are so undeserving, What have we done for God to place all these people in our lives to love on and pray for us? Neither of us have the answer, nor may we ever, but we both fully intend to pay it forward once we are better. It is the least, the very least that we can do. I just hope we can get better soon because we have a lot of work ahead of us!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Regular Sunday

We had a normal Sunday today. We got up, 45 minutes before we had to leave for church, and I rushed everyone around to get ready and out the door. We made it! This is a big accomplishment considering we haven't been to church as a family since early August. I can tell you I didn't sleep the entire night before. I had horrible dreams and the anxiety mounted all night long. I felt ready on a spiritual level to get back, but emotionally I was a wreck. Worrying about if people who didn't know what was going on would stare, and if people who did know what was going on would stare, my legs were shaky my heart was racing as I walked up to the door with the girls. I made it though, we went in sat through service saw a few friends, and came home. Nate watched football I got all the laundry and a few odds and ends caught up for the week, and made a trip to Walmart. Then I came home and MADE dinner for our family, not even just thawing out something frozen I actually put together a meal, a meal like no other, the Sunday evening meal that would make any Mom proud.... hot dogs, Velveeta shells and cheese, and green beans :) but I didn't stop there OH NO, I even got dessert... we topped off dinner with root beer floats!!! Then we got the kids ready for school tomorrow, and put them to bed. It was a very non-eventful day honestly, but it was a regular Sunday, and we haven't had one of those in a long time, it felt great!
Tomorrow should be just another manic Monday, and then Tuesday I have my last of the first 4 chemo treatments. This is kind of a mile marker because the first 4 treatments are said to be the hardest, and let me tell you the last one was horrible, and my oncologist said the next will probably be worse. After this one I have a week off and then I begin my weekly chemo treatments. I am NOT looking forward to my treatment this week. The thought of it makes me very emotional. In fact even the last time I began feeling nauseated on the way to chemo before we even made it to Goshen, and this time I anticipate it to be no different. Its so hard to get through one chemo, and finally start to feel better, then have to do it all over again knowing not only will it be as bad as the last time, but worse.  I guess no one ever said this would be easy....thank goodness for "A Regular Sunday".

Friday, October 7, 2011

I just wanna complain for a minute

Thankfully no one told me that with each treatment I'd feel worse. I honestly thought they'd all be about the same as far as side effects go. Boy was I wrong! I've spent over half the night and morning in the bathroom, taken tons of anti nausea meds, my fingers are tingling, my skin hurts to the touch, my bones ache, Laying on one side for too long hurts, but flipping to the other hurts my port. I'm hungry, but feel sick. I'm cold, I'm hot, my eyes burn, I'm tired but can't sleep, I want to get out of this bed for more then a trip to the bathroom, but my heart starts racing, my legs feel like jello, and it takes way too much energy! Its dark in my room, but the sun hurts my eyes, and all the while my cat is just laying here staring at me wondering why the heck does she look like a Katy Perry song!

ok I'm done... just had to get that out! 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sweet innocence

It's been a pretty overwhelming day today. Just taking in all the fall in the air, and enjoying God's beauty. Of course there is the ever important fall sport of football which I could really care less about, but with boys in the house inevitable its on our TV for at least one game a day on the weekends. Today was no different, Nate relaxed on the couch with the kids off and on, and the football games began, but being that its October there was a lot of pink on the field. Pink shoes, towels, ribbons and shirts all over the stadium. One of my kids innocently said, "look, Mom they are wearing pink for you" they really have no idea that there are so many other women out there fighting this fight, but in a way I'm glad they think that everyone is wearing pink just for me because then they can see how much support we have been shown without knowing even half the people who have supported us, and someday when they run into someone else who has no hair and is a little flat chested hopefully they will show them as much support as others have shown us.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

When he tells me I'm beautiful
What do I say
When he tells me I'm beautiful
and I don't feel that way

When he tells me I'm beautiful
my eyes start to fill
When he tells me I'm beautiful
beautiful still

When he tells me I'm beautiful
I love him even more
When he tells me I'm beautiful
it brings me up from the floor

When he tells me I'm beautiful
I feel like I can fight like a girl
When he tells me I'm beautiful
beautiful still

When he tells me I'm beautiful
what do I say
When he tells me I'm beautiful
and he loves me any way

Saturday, September 24, 2011

too much

Nothing in the world can prepare you for a morning like this... even the previous days of hair loss can not prepare you for how my day started today. As I do each morning I woke up and got prepared to take my shower. In the last few days I have started to loose my hair, but this morning as I let the hot water run over my body and wet my hair I could feel clumps of hair running down my back and then to my legs as it journeyed towards the drain. The emotion is uncontrollable as my eyes are heavy and hot with tears even under the hot shower I could still feel them pouring out. As I anticipated this day I knew it would be a long one, but even after arriving its still too much to bare. My head hurts from the throbbing of a headache and from each strand that is coming out. My heart aches for all that I'm going through, and that is yet to come. And as I wait for the hair still left on my head to dry my body is shaking knowing that this will be the last time for a while I will have hair. As with the rest of this journey I fear rejection and a different sense of womanhood. How my children and husband will look and feel about me/ Its too much for one day, just too much..

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Treatment 2

Day 2 of treatment two so far has been similar to Day 2 of treatment 1, but last night was horrible. I was weak, and terribly nauseated couldn't sleep even though I had been given a drug that helps with sleeping and nausea. This morning I woke up crampy and still a bit nauseous, however after breakfast I did what I do every morning... I ran my fingers through my hair, not a good idea. I didn't get a clump of hair in return, but several strands each time I did it. I noticed last night that my "hair hurt" as we call it around here. You know when you wear your hair up all day and then take it down and it just hurts where you've had it up. I know this won't apply to most of the men in my life seeing as they have the look I'm about to attain, but Nate claims he gets the sensation too when his hair is growing out longer then he usual wears it.

All in all my treatment yesterday went ok we did have to slow down my drip considerably from the last time as my headache came on much sooner. For those that have medical knowledge the first treatment I was at 900ml, they backed it off to 700ml at the end last time, she started at 700ml this time backed it off to 500ml and then finally backed it down to 250ml with a saline dilute running simultaneously. It took considerably longer, which is ok. I had time to visit with my Grandma, but I hope its not an indication of things to come seeing as each time has gotten worse faster. I also acquired 3 more scripts to help with side effects. Between Nate and I we could probably start a small pharmacy, and I will admit that the pharmacist knows me by first name without looking at my script already. Not a goal I ever thought I'd achieve, but it didn't come in handy when Nate's doc wrote an illegal prescription the other night. Nothing horrible he just used one script pad when he should have used two. Luckily with a quick phone call and some understanding we got it filled. Look for some new pictures in the next update.

Nate's still in pain, but by my side, hopefully getting some good healing. I'm so happy he is home even if he doesn't feel the greatest its very comforting.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Weeks End

When I posted on Sunday that it was the start of a long week I had no idea how long it would actually be. Nate came through his surgery with flying colors. The doctor did it in about half the time he had scheduled for it. They took less of the colon and small bowel then they thought they would have to and he didn't have to have a bag attached on the outside. The surgeon also said that as for his Crohn's he looked everything over, and his bowels look really good and its not progressed at all. HOWEVER, after surgery things did not go as planned. Nate was in extreme pain so much so that on top of his personal pain pump he also had a continuous drip of pain meds too. He was so sedated with those that he couldn't even speak more than a couple words at a time and most of those didn't make sense. It was no fun seeing him lay there like that it was physically exhausting trying to encourage and help him sit up, breath and eat ice chips and very emotionally exhausting as well. Thursday and Friday brought back more of my Nate, walking the entire hospital and no less then 2 electronic devices in front of him at once trying to get back to work. Still physically exhausted from surgery, but getting to the things he should be doing after surgery. There is chance he'll come home tomorrow, but if not then Monday. The only thing left for him to prove at the hospital is that he can manage the pain with pills like he would at home rather then the pain pump. I'm anxious to get him home because I've gained about 20lbs eating at the hospital the food is so good there, and because it will be a lot easier for me to rest once he is here. I don't know how I made it through this week I've neglected myself as far as resting like I need, but I'd do it all over again for him, in a heartbeat. We're on the road to recovery with Nate...hopefully soon it will be my turn!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The other side of the waiting room

As I sit lay here in the waiting room watching the surgery progression scroll by on the screen... I can't even think clearly. I thought hey, this is a good time to post on the blog... now I think hey what the heck can I write about as they are most likely making their first incisions on my husband. I don't know how he was so strong in waiting "here" for me 8 weeks ago almost to the day. How calm and level headed he was, when I couldn't even hold it together as they wheeled me down for surgery. He was in good spirits right before, and completely passed out on the way down, just mumbling a "thanks you guys" as they wheeled him away. My stomach is making so much noise I have already checked a couple of times to see if its actually my cell phone, that is laying on me, vibrating.

In all honestly I hate the idea of surgery because you just never know, but I am very glad that Nate is getting it, and hope that it helps him a great deal with the pain and suffering he has been dealt with this disease. I hope that it goes as expected and he can recovery quickly.

So as I sit her with my family and my husband's wedding ring attached to my pink bracelet I will try to be strong, if only as half as strong as he has been for me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another long week ahead

We're about to embark on another long week this week. Nate will be having his surgery on Tuesday morning, and so it goes from there on out. I hope that he gets through his surgery as well as I did mine. Its a much more extensive surgery, and recovery time is a substantially longer then what I endured. We both think its crazy that neither of us have ever had a surgery before now, and in the same year within a couple months we'll both have laid on an operating table. Nate's surgeon seems hopeful that although his pain was bad he is still in better form then others who go into this, and is optimistic it will be without complication, but we know there are still risks and problems that can arise.

Trying to focus on the good, I can't help but think about the last 11 years I've spent with this man 9 years as his wife, and better half of course :). I feel like we've loved each other, and appreciated most things about each other, and tried to respect each other in the best ways we know how. But Cancer & Crohn's have brought us to a different place in our marriage. A place we never imagined we'd be, and yet I feel like although the hardships and trials are still among us we wouldn't trade what are marriage is right now for anything less. I may not know how I will use cancer as a tool once I'm in a good place with it, but I can tell you I have absolutely ever confidence that I will be able to share with anyone how this has strengthened our relationship. I, now, more than ever look forward to the next 50 years with my husband, and pray that God will bless that beyond measure.

I don't want to waste one more minute not making our marriage everything it can be. I hope we have daily opportunities over the next 50 years to do so. I love you Nate, and  for richer or poorer, happy or mad, sick or healthy will continue to do so all the days of my life.

Its taken me a little while to be able to listen to this but it is the perfect song..

Friday, September 9, 2011

There is a rumbly in my tummy

This stinks! As if I expected anything different. I guess I expected it to be more manageable. Nauseous, stomach cramps, back ache, head ache, you name it I'm feeling it. Before I couldn't really see how people could give up on treatment knowing it was going to make them better, but now I see... how can you go from feeling good, to bad then starting to feel better knowing you have to do it all again?

On top of all that crud, I miss my husband. I want him here beside me, I want to go see him, I want him to hold me...I just want him, and I feel like he is a million miles away, and yet just out of my reach. I still can't even comprehend why God would give us all of this at once. Put our kids and families through all of this at once, not even giving us a chance to fend for ourselves. I don't know if its a test of a gift. I haven't come to the point yet that I can say, yes, I am going to use this situation to my advantage. Everyday I wake up and just want to scream, "WHY", but someone has taken my voice and I can't, I just can't!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Day 1

Very sleepy tonight but I wanted to at least post and say we made it through chemo round one I'm exhausted from the last 24 hours. Nate will have surgery next Tuesday and be in the hospital for the next 2 weeks at least. More info after I sleep! Good News PET scan was clear of any other cancer!!

Broken Angel..

Its 12:05am on Wednesday morning as I begin this post. Earlier I spent the whole day taking Nate to 3 different hospitals to have him admitted in Ft. Wayne at the last hospital we went to and possibly facing surgery. In about 8 hours I will begin my day and start my first chemo treatment. In the past post when I've said I'm overwhelmed I am now beginning to think I didn't really know what that meant until today.
On our way to the Ft. Wayne today as I was driving down US 30 all of the sudden I felt something fall on me. I looked up to see that my little guardian angel that hangs on my visor had broken in half. Somehow symbolizing the day and the last several weeks for our family. It made me lose some hope, and think out loud to Nate.. you know its a bad day when your guardian angel breaks in half and falls on your head. I'm so exhausted I can barely move my fingers across the keyboard in the right directions. I feel defeated and even more weak then before. How can I do all of this? Why all at once? Who is going to be strong now for me AND Nate? My babies are being taken care of, but I feel like they have had to learn things that they shouldn't have, and that isn't going to change anytime soon enough. Life as we knew it is getting a radical overhaul.
I need to sleep now, but I will have more to post soon. For now just pray because I can not end this post with anything I see good about today.

Monday, September 5, 2011


After a long weekend, I finally have time to sit and take it all in.

Thursday I had my PET scan... that wasn't too bad, but emotional thinking about what the results may be. I came home to Nate in the same place I had left him 4 hours previous, the fetal position on the couch in pain.

Friday was planned to be our date night to celebrate our anniversary, but Nate still wasn't feeling well still so we did the next best thing rented a movie, and sent the kids to Grandma's.

My little girl turned 8 on Saturday. I hate that each year from here on out her birthday will be a reminder of when I started chemo, but I hope that when she turns 18 I can celebrate being cancer free for almost 10 years.

Sunday was our fundraiser. I'm not sure how many people actually came for the ski show or the fundraiser, but there was a nice turn out either way, and we raised over 1,000 dollars to help with our medical cost. We still have some t-shirts left if anyone would like one. The kids had a great time, and we are so grateful to everyone who contributed to making that happen.

Today we spent time at the lake with friends, and I got my hair cut and colored thanks to their generosity and caring for us. We had a good time laughing and hanging out.

Now as I sit her tonight and listen to Nate sleeping, and his stomach making noise its all taking its toll. Nate's been having issues with his Crohn's since Wednesday evening, unfortunately even with more rest then he usual gets its not seeming to get better, but only worse. I feel horrible for him, and am scared to death that he isn't going to feel better this week as I begin chemo. I am scared that our kids are going to essentially have to grow up fast this year with our illnesses coinciding. I feel like I'm losing all control. I don't understand why God would give us all this at once, its getting harder to feel like everything will be ok knowing so many things are happening at once. I'm not this strong, and I hate to admit it but its so so hard to rely on God when I can't see him clearly. I feel like I can't breath already and now someone is putting a bag over my head.

Dear God, I hope that the one set of footprints is yours because I can't stand up anymore.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


 My Brother-in-law and Sister-in-law do some awesome mission work in Arizona, and along with running their own mission there they also have a shirt printing business called Little Blue Bird Studios which helps the kids on the Apache Reservation learn work ethics and figure out some long term goals for their life. Below is a little video on Apache Youth Ministries (AYM).

So Little Blue Bird Studio has decided to help out our cause and make some t-shirts on behalf of the breast cancer fight that I am fighting and so many others have and will have.
Below are designs and colors you can choose.
"Fight like a girl"
 "Someone I love needs a cure" 

V-Neck Color Choices

If you would like to purchase a t-shirt please email size, style, design, and color to:
 $15.00 plus $5.00 shipping for up to 10 shirts.
There is also a long sleeve T (not pictured) that can be purchased for $18.00
or Hoodie in black for $30.00
Mail Payment to:
Little Bluebird Studio
PO Box 1613
Whiteriver, AZ   85941

Hoodie in both designs available on black only
Men's T both designs available on black

Thanks for your support.

Monday, August 29, 2011

pieces of paper

That is all a book is...pieces of paper bound together. I'll admit I'm not a big reader, but there are on occasion books I'll pick up and read. I mentioned in an early post that I had gotten a few books from people for support and encouragement, and I fully intend to read them all. Any bit of hope I can get I'll take it, but today's gift of a book seems to be "emotional stage appropriate" Its called, What Cancer Cannot Do. Last Thursday at my chemo education appt. I got a huge binder filled with pages of what Cancer (chemo) is going to do. Its so overwhelming when I talk to people about it I can only remember half of what it says. But today has been a good day. I got to chat with a friend I haven't seen in a while, and she brought us dinner for tonight which always lightens the burdens of the day, and her Mom sent me this new book. This afternoon Nate took the kids to their 6 month dental check up and I have quiet house to myself. So I turned my favorite direct tv music channel for a little mild modern country, so far a great line up of Taylor Swift, Rascel Flatts, and Carrie Underwood, and I began to read this book... I got to the 6th page and read the most appropriate verse for my right now.
" Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own" Matt 6:14
The chapter was even amazing it seemed to summarize what I've been feeling the last couple of weeks. Talking about how once you have cancer most of our life worries seem so trivial, and more of our worries fall to what is important in life. Living each day as if its our last. I know if you've ever been to church or seen any type of motivational speaker you've probably heard this said, and we always walk away thinking its a great idea, but I've go bills and kids and work and relationships. And yes, it all matters, but I guess from this new perspective what matters are what bills do I have to have and what can I live without, have I told my kids I loved them today or sat down and played with them, did I work hard today or just show up, and in my relationship do we fight because we love each other or do we fight because we can't forgive.

The chapter ends with this "Psalm 90:12 tells us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. In may ways cancer is a wake up call that tells  us we must stop worrying about a future that we cannot control and a past that is already behind us. It is a reminder to start thinking about what really matters. It is a mandate to boot ourselves out of the recliner of sorrow and self-pity, grab a hold of healing and get back to work. It is a mandate to love each day because no matter what it brings, God gives us this day and he will be with us in it."

I hope that even though most of you haven't had cancer to give you this perspective you will take it and do it  anyway. Thanks Tiff and Connie. You are both a blessing.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Information Station

What a long day. I'm not sure I would say that I gained what some would call a "wealth" of knowledge, but I gained some information today. Still trying to process it.
Let's start at the very beginning, its a very good place to start.... sing with me everyone. As I drove to Goshen this morning I had gotten a CD from a friend with some uplifting songs, and I finally had the chance to listen to it today. They were all great songs, and I listened to the CD about 3 times through-out the day, but there was one that kind of reminded me of how I've kinda been living lately
Thank you to my friend Michelle for the CD it is doing its job! Can we say "new blog theme song"!!! Please Listen!

After I got to Goshen and wondered around Walmart a bit, I got to have lunch with my friend at South Side Soda Shop, it was good food, and great conversation. I miss my friends a lot lately and so it was a good opportunity to take my mind of the upcoming appts. Finally the inevitable was upon me, and I had to make my way to the cancer center, but it was nice to be greeted with a warm hug from my Grandma when I got there. My first appt. was an ECHO where they looked, listened and measured my heart. Nothing to hard to do, besides laying on my side, but the lady that did it made me as comfortable as she could. Next was chemo education, of course this was an easy appt, but this is where all the overwhelming information comes in. Hair loss, nausea, what not to eat, when to call, places to avoid, how long, how much, how come....and so on and so on and so on. And then... they scheduled the first treatment, which they did not schedule next week. First chemo Sept. 7th, 9:00-11:30am. In a way I'm kinda glad its not next week as they had told us because Nate and I's wedding anniversary is next week, and Hannah's birthday so I won't have to miss out on those things, but in a way I was kinda preparing myself for next week so I'm a little disappointed I have to wait longer to get this show on the road.

Finally the end of my day had arrived, and I got to end it in the best way. I got to go to a good part of the hospital where I again was greeted with a warm hug from my friend who I haven't seen in a while, and then the best part.... I got to hold a brand new...I'm talking hours old...Baby! She was sweet and smelled so good, and I was excited to get to meet her, and see another friend.

And last but not least not only is it clean sheet day, but its brand new sheet day which makes me very happy!
Thank you friends and family for the warm hugs, and good conversation, and for standing beside me when times are tough!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Post-Op...once again

I have been told that writing while on vicodin may not be a good idea, and that if I start typing about butterflies and rainbows, that maybe I should put a disclaimer up first, haha! So here it is!

I just wanted to share a little about my day yesterday. As I posted previously we got to the hospital, and went to Day Surgery at 8:45am, we talked with my PA for little bit, about some small little issues I've been having, and what was going to be happening and then she showed us a port that looked like the one they would place in me... this is what it looks like
And actually I'm a little puffy where they put it but you can hardly see the bump at all. Its a little bigger then the size of a quarter. My surgeon that did my mastectomy did the port surgery also yesterday, and he was great again. I was completely awake the entire time, despite the medicine they gave me to make me a little loopy and we had a full conversation while he was working. Besides our first meeting on the day I was diagnosed he always seems so full of happiness, which eases my mind especially in situations like yesterday. The actual surgery part took only about 20-25 minutes, and I was wheeled out of the hospital about 12:30. Once I got home, I was feeling a little more pain then I really wanted so a couple of Vicodin later I was able to rest and be pretty pain free. This morning I'm feeling some pain again, but its not horrible, and my trusty pain meds are going to be helpful once I eat. Today I'm just taking it easy, but hope to be feeling good for my appts, on Thursday.

Also, I wanted to say a special thanks to S.T. for coming up and saying a prayer and sharing some nerve lightening conversation with me before my surgery. My MIL was also amazing yesterday driving me back and forth and keeping me calm while we waited, and also feeding me afterwards. Its amazing what the power of a prayer and love can do.  Love to you both!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

and so it begins....

Port surgery tomorrow... around 10:15.  Hospital check in 8:45, O.R. scheduled for 45 min, recovery time hopefully just an hour or less. Pretty scared to go back to the same place where my last surgery took place, and to be only consciously sedated this time around. I'm glad to have family, friends and prayer warriors surrounding me. And so the fight against this cancer shall begin....

Friday, August 19, 2011

Appointment Update

Well, I just couldn't wait any longer for the Cancer Center to call me yesterday so I decided after I posted that I would wait until 3pm and then call them. Lucky me, they had been talking about me all day, oh boy! Never fail when our family, Nate specifically in this situation, tries to plan around things we always seem to overbook. Nate had an option of going out of town next week or the week after, and as we had been told chemo would start 4 weeks out we planned that being the first full week in Sept. so the really important appts. shouldn't be until Nate got back. WRONG! After talking to the nurse and schedulers yesterday I will be getting my port placed Monday morning, and have my echo scan and chemo education appts. on Thursday possibly also my PET scan depending on how quickly they can get the insurance per-cert. that is needed. They also told me that chemo would start the last week in August. Everything is a week earlier than expected! who wants to be my stand-in husband next week?!? I feel like by the end of the week-end a little break-down may make an appearance.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Frustration... it should be a stage.

So we were suppose to hear from the Cancer Center, by Monday at the latest Tuesday about my next appts. We STILL have NOT. I was told if I hadn't heard something by Tuesday to give them a call Wednesday. I did just that, and the nurse said she'd get back with me sometime during the day on Wednesday. Its now Thursday morning, and I'm still waiting.....
I really hope to hear something, anything today. I'm getting more and more anxious about it the longer I wait. I feel like they have forgotten about me and in the mean time the cancer could be growing or getting worse.

As I sit here anxiously I will tell you something that gave me a little peace of mind yesterday. I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, but let me start by saying I don't believe it when people say that someone that has died is watching over us. I don't believe this because as heaven is talked about in the Bible it says once we get there, and I'm paraphrasing, we will be made new, we won't suffer or feel pain. I think that if we could see what was going on with our friends and loved ones on earth that we would suffer with empathy and hurt for them. So that being said, I feel like when people tend to believe that their loved ones are watching over them it is actually God, giving us a boost through-out our times of trouble. God knows every hair on our head, you don't think he knows what was special between you and someone that has passed away? Of course he does!

So the last time I saw my Grandpa and he was able to have a conversation with me at length before he died of cancer, he told me so much that I wish I would have had a tape recorder to remember it all. Something I do remember though was once diagnosed he began reading. My grandfather was a man of God, and had a wealth of knowledge about the Bible and religion, but at this time he began reading... reading ever thing he could get his hands on about heaven and God. I know that it gave him peace to do this, but I didn't think too much about it until now. In the last 2 days I've gotten a couple different books from people in my life, then last night Nate's Grandparents came to visit. In conversation with them they began to tell us how they are planning a move to the active living area of Greencroft Senior Center, they told us they sold their old cars and got a new one... it happened to be an HHR, the same kind of car my Grandpa drove before he died. I didn't think too much of it, lots of people drive those, and the one my Grandpa had was bright burnt orange you don't see too many of those around...well wouldn't you know it we walked them out and their HHR was the same color. At this point I had been kinda in shock...not only because of the car, but because early in the evening at dinner Parker, our oldest, had said he wanted to run a race at the local park. I had told him I didn't know anything about it, and he told me to check out this website well I hadn't had the chance yet, but if you know my son at all as soon as dinner was over he had it pulled up and ready for me to see. So in the middle of our visit with Grandpa Bob and Grandma Jo, Parker pulls me out of the room pretty rapidly and excited, like something was wrong. I came into the computer room to see my Grandpa Shank staring me in the face from the computer screen. On this website a race was ran and an honorary award in his name had been given.
Now like I said before I don't believe that this is my Grandpa giving me signs from heaven that he's watching down on me. I do believe that God is trying to give me a boost to fight the fight, and even though my Grandpa's battle ended 3-months after his diagnosis, and he knew it was terminal, he never gave up hope in God. In fact he wanted to get to as many people he could to tell them how great God was ... here is something I read at his funeral it is a conversation between him and his friend Pastor John Rohr.

Following is a summary of a phone conversation with Richard Shank on Wednesday, June 10, 2009. Richard had just discovered one week earlier that he is suffering from an aggressive form of cancer that is already affecting his mobility and could conceivably affect his brain in the near future.
Pastor John Rohr

Two days after I met with you and your dad, I discovered that I have cancer, a particularly aggressive form of cancer that is traveling up my spine. When I drove home from breakfast with you two weeks ago, that was the last time I drove a car. Since then, my mobility has lessened to the point that I will not be able to walk in the very near future.
The doctor told me that the cancer will then spread to the brain, rendering me unable to function in a thinking capacity. I am currently on pain medication, but I am careful in its use, because it is already affecting my retention of thoughts and words when I am in conversation. I want to remain lucid as long as possible because I still have so much to say to my loved ones and friends.
I am not afraid to die.
Naturally, there will be sadness when that day comes. I have worked with enough families as a chaplain to know the grief that many experience when a loved one dies. Yet I also know with the utmost assurance that when the day of my funeral arrives, I will be the lucky one, for I will be in heaven, in perfect fellowship with my Lord.
While I do not want to leave my family, I look forward to that day when I will walk the streets of heaven. Not because of someone's image of golden streets.  That is not what I find attractive about heaven, but the warmth and joy of being fully in the presence of God and singing his praises. I believe that we don't have a clue to how glorious heaven is. When we reach that place of (being with) God, we will be so amazed by the reality of eternity, that we will be, forever singing the praises of God's kingdom.
That's why I want to go through these radiation treatments. I still have so much I want to say to my family and my friends and anyone else who will listen. Short of going out and stopping traffic, I want to tell as many people as I can what I have learned about what is truly important in life.
I remember several years ago talking to Ken Harrison, a local golfer who had won many awards in that sport. He had just discovered he was full of cancer, and he said to me, "Dick, do you see all those trophies?  They are nothing but junk to me now. Worthless pieces of treasure that are absolutely helpless in addressing my current predicament."
That's what is on my mind now as well.
I want to help people consider the things that are filling their lives, and to tell them that most of those things, that they think they cannot live without, are worth nothing to them in light of eternity.
This is where I still have something to offer those who will listen.
You see, I have lived what one could call a successful life in the world's terms. But none of that means anything to me today. The only thing that I care about is to be at the center of God's will. Everything else is secondary to being in the presence of God.
I can honestly say that these last few years have been the most meaningful time of my life. I cannot count the number of times I have ministered to the dying, holding them in my arms as they died, never knowing my name.
Now I find myself in the same state of being, and I bear this responsibility to share what is in my heart. “God so loved me, in spite of myself, that he gave his only Son, and that believing in him, I may have 
eternal life. 

So today I will keep going on my Grandpa's strength, and know that God has a plan for us all. Thank you Grandpa for being so strong in your faith and giving me a little peace today, and thank you to those who continue to send cards, Bible verses, encouraging words, and prayers lifting me up so God can have His way with me.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Stage 2

I think I was in 7th or 8th grade when we had a unit on Death & Dying. In this learning unit I distinctly remember 2 things. There was a field trip to a funeral home to which my Mom would not let me go because it was a funeral home in direct competition with my Grandfather's funeral home, and she said I didn't need to go because I basically grew up in the funeral business, and if I had any questions or wanted to see anything I could ask my Grandpa. The second thing I remember was learning the 5 stages of grieving: 
  • 1. Denial and Isolation
  • 2. Anger
  • 3. Bargaining
  • 4. Depression
  • 5. Acceptance 
In retrospect it never dawned on me that these 5 stages were not only meant for the "death & dying unit". Looking at these now I see that I'm right on track, and tonight was no exception. As I was sitting in our church service I was overwhelmed with anger. Something I haven't really felt until now. I couldn't sit there for long, pretty much as soon as Nate came and sat down from being on stage I had to leave. I got up and walked out the back door (Nate was right there behind me) and crying all the way. I just feel so mad!! Mad that we're in the prime of our lives, our children are still so needing, and there is just so much life going on right now. I can accept that I have cancer, but I just wish it wasn't happening right now. Even almost every doctor we've met has the same statements, "you're so young" or "because of your age we're going to..." I know, I know... God has a plan, right? Well today I'm going to be mad at God for his plan, he's big enough he can take it. Tomorrow is a new day, maybe he and I can work things out then, but for today I'm just angry!                                                                                                                                

Friday, August 12, 2011

The higher you go, the harder you fall.

Its funny how the title quote works. "The higher you go, the harder you fall" really in all aspects of life sick or healthy, rich or poor. I feel like today is one of those days. I was really happy yesterday learning there isn't going to be surgery in the near future, and I even did some shopping, but today after taking in all the upcoming appts. to be had as I stood in the bathroom straitening my hair I just lost it. All in about the last 12 hours things have started to just hit... more appts., Nate finally was able to get out of the house for work today, and is planning a business trip before chemo starts, and then I thought about losing my hair and how I want some family pictures taken before that happens, and the thought of planning all that led to thinking about I have wedding pictures that need finishing edits, and the kids start back to school Tuesday. Life is moving at a pretty steady pace, and all the sudden I have headed to the on ramp of the emotional expressway.
Nate's been working from home since surgery, and now I feel so overwhelmed when he goes anywhere, like he's my security blanket in case anything gets too overwhelming I can wrap up in him and everything will be fine. I feel like that's so horrible, kinda like a lifetime movie I saw recently where the mother made sure she knew every step her 30 year old daughter was taking and when she didn't like what was happening she'd freak out take some anxiety drugs and fake an illness or injury to manipulate her daughter into not doing anything but being with her. I don't know how the movie ended, but I'm sure it wasn't good. Thankfully I'm not that evil, but I can see how the character felt so scared and alone when the thought of her daughter having other things to occupy her time was so overwhelming. I know its not healthy to rely on him so much and honestly I've never been that type of person. I'm the wife that if I want the furniture moved or something put together. I just do it. I don't wait for my husband to help. In the past I've asked Nate if that is something he doesn't like about me, that I'm so independent, and he's always said no, but now I'm the complete opposite and feel like I am suffocating him.
I know that God is the one who gives me strength to get through each day, but it sure helps when I have Nate's strong arms to lift me up. Today I want to hide and cry, tomorrow is a new day!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The doctor is in...

Got a call from my surgeon's assistant today. She said that the surgeon and pathologist both agreed they were comfortable with what had been done, and they don't think another surgery is necessary. Great words to hear, "no more surgery", but the emotions are a little different knowing that the dirty little cancer is still inside me. They are pretty confident that with chemo and radiation that microscopic piece of no good cancer will die a painful death, but as the oncologist said it would give us a little more peace of mind to know there was none there to start.
So next up.. PET scan, ECHO scan, chemo education, meeting with mind and body counselor, and dietitian, and finally about 1-1/2 to 2 weeks before chemo I will get a port inserted near the collar bone under my skin for chemo and blood draws to be easier. Then in about 4 weeks chemo begins.
Right now I'm ready for the fight, I want to get this started and kick some cancer butt, however, I know that once I'm in it, things will get a harder and I probably won't feel exactly like I do now, but I wanted to state for the record so I could be reminded when that time comes!
So today I am grateful for a ready-to-fight attitude, and no surgery. Tomorrow is another day and I will face it when I get there.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sentence of the day!

A new friend sent me a book today, I flipped it open and the first thing I read was this:

"I know God won't give me more than I can handle, I just wish he didn't trust me so much"
- Mother Teresa

Yep, that pretty much sums up my last 2 weeks!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

On the front porch swing

After having my drains removed last night I knew I wanted to get out of bed today at least for a little bit. So I woke up took a shower, put some real clothes on and.....went back to bed. Yep, thats right. I've had a headache since last night (still do) and with taking a shower and getting dressed I was pretty pooped. So I rested took some of my headache meds until around 4, and finally decided headache or not I was going to venture out. I made it! So I sat on the front porch for a couple hours, then decided I couldn't sit anymore I gently swept the porch and picked up a few random kid droppings, and now I am pooped again. My chest right in the middle feels like someone has piled a few bricks on it every time I take a breath. I feel pretty defeated right now... maybe I pushed I really didn't do much, but I keep thinking about the fact that the Dr. typically sends people home the day of the surgery with no restrictions other than driving, and lifting. Otherwise its life as normal. How come I can't feel "normal" after 12 days?
Some days the emotions are good, like today, and then all the sudden BAM! I feel like I'm flying down the emotional highway. All because someone walked by the house.
As a women I've always noticed if my husband glaces at another women, intentionally or not. Now that I've had my surgery and lost one of the things that attracts my husband to me its amplified times a million. Of course I know in my head he isn't looking at women because he is necessarily attracted to them, it could have been just because they walked by or came over or we're watching TV, but I'm jealous that something that I once had has been stolen from me, and that my husband can no longer be attracted to me in that way. I know there are many other things that he is attracted to, but lets face it the vast majority of men, are sexual driven. I'm not going to get real personal here, but my husband is no exception, and to feel like I'm unable to please him kills me.
So sitting on the porch today was nice, I enjoyed the fresh air and the sunshine, but seeing people out and about doing there thing was hard, it frustrates me, it hurts me, it makes me sad. I want it back, I want my normal back!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A pain in the drain!

PTL!! My awesome neighbor who happens to be a PA in Ft. Wayne came over and took out my remaining two drains. (No, worries we got permission from my PA in Goshen) And to top it off she did an amazing job and I barely even felt it. I just had to write about what a good night I will have because of her kindness. I've had so much anxiety over these stupid drains this is going to make everything a little brighter! Thank you again so much Jenny you really did make my day!

On a side note, please say a prayer for Jenny as her husband will be deployed to Afghanistan in Oct. and between training and deployment there isn't much time left for their family to spend together they have 2 kids under age 5, he will be gone for a little over a year. Fighting for our country. Another ribbon another important cause!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

No pain, no gain

Today started off with lots of pain, and ended the same. Thankful I had two of my best friends to keep me company and keep my mind off of it for the better part of the day. Its amazing what friends can do to your day. Once the chaos had been settled with the 8 kids in the house they both came upstairs and laid in my bed to have a little tear shed with me. I haven't seen them since before my surgery so it was an emotional greeting to say the least. We were able to talk the day away, literally until their kids were more than ready to head home. It makes me remember something I learned when I was around 8 or 9 that I think has been one of the only lessons I took from my brownie troop at that time, and I've posted before, but a song about friendship the lyrics are:
Make new friends, but keep the old
One is silver and the other gold.

These two particular friends have both come into my life at different times, and when I think about that song I think yeah silver and gold are worth different things, but in regards to my friends silver and gold are both shiny and worth so much more when held on to, in my eyes priceless. So even though there was pain today there was time for friends, and reflection, laughter and encouragement. And now, is time for sleep. Thank you friends for your love and support. Its worth more than you know. I love you!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What is strong and brave?

Over the last 11 days since I received my diagnosis I've been called strong, brave and even an inspiration. I appreciate those comments whole heartedly, but I'm curious what people who say this mean. Mostly because I feel like the cowardly lion, or a small child who wants to run and hide not be brave. And sometimes I'm so emotional I can't even carry my own weight I do not feel strong.
Today was a long day with all the appts. that were scheduled, a very emotional day I wanted to cower in the corner and cry mostly. Not be brave or strong. We learned more about my cancer, we learned first and foremost they did not get it all in surgery they missed as defined by the pathologist a "tiny focal" area that depending on tomorrow's case meeting with all my doctors may require another surgery. We also learned that I have a very rare type of cancer called pagents disease, which besides the lumps has several other symptoms that I was not knowingly experiencing. We learned that it will take a total of 53 treatments beginning six weeks after my last surgery 20 Chemo over a span of around 5 months and 33 radiation treatments, Mon-Fri. for 15 minutes every day until the 33 are complete, and then I will take a pill for the next 5 years as continued treatment. Once that is finished in 6 months or so I can go in for reconstruction surgery.
I was able to get 2 of the 4 drains that I have in my sides removed, which I can still feel the pain from, it was incredibly painful and at the same time I was so glad to have at least some of them out. They were my #1 drains which started clear up by my collar bone and went out the sides of me. The other drains my #2 drains are said to be under my incisions near where the bottom of my breast was...I'm told those aren't as painful but still not enjoyable to have removed.

So when I think about strong and brave I do not see myself, but I'm glad others seem to think so my evil plan is working.
The road ahead is long, and frankly scary as hell from what I imagine hell to be. Its kinda lonely, and dark, but I've got a match and I feel like there are people with lanterns along the way, its just going to take me one step at a time and to find them, and to realize at the end of the night the "son" has never failed to rise again. Its just sometimes easier said then done. So thank you friends and family for your encouragement. Please Please don't let it stop because I'm still searching for you all one step at a time.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Some answers

6 days post-op and the waiting was just too much. Nate and I called the PA today at the surgeon's office to see if they had the pathology report. To our surprise they did, and Candace the PA for Dr. Henry seemed to be very forth coming with all the results. They found NO CANCER in the left breast or lymph node they took from the left side. PTL! On the right side however, where we already knew the cancer was they took out a total of 17 lymph nodes and found cancer in 2. It was described to us in this way... My body in this case my breast and the blood stream closest to it (in the arm pit essentially) is the high way and the cancer was in my breast, and got on the high way (into 2 lymph nodes). Which means it could possibly be somewhere else they don't know how far down the highway it got. They did tell us regardless the treatment wouldn't change. The next step most likely after recovery will be another surgery to place a port under the skin and to begin chemo. We meet tomorrow with the radiation doc for his/her recommendation at 10 am, then with a Naturopathic doc at 1, the surgeon's PA for post-op exam at 2, and the oncologist who will confirm chemo and/or radiation treatments at 2:30.

During our talk with Candace she said the pathology report said I was a grade 3 and in her best educated guess my cancer is Stage 2 which could change depending on just how fast the cancer was driving down that highway. If its in other places then it could change to a higher stage, and if its not as bad it could change to lower stage. Of course our prayers are for it to just be in the lymph node and no where else, but the reality we must face is it could be somewhere else. The chemo and radiation will be very aggressive and hopefully take care of that. More scans and test will be done along the way to see how I'm progressing.

So looking at the bright side of things Praise God for no cancer on the left side. Today I'm thankful for clean sheets on my bed (and lots of other things that got done), a nutter butter blizzard, and continued prayers on my behalf.

Monday, August 1, 2011

And I survived

When I was younger in the front seat I stood
looking through the glass peering over the hood
no child restraint or safety seat I wanted to stand
happy and free.
And I survived

A little bit older not much wiser in years
I swam at the city pool
not with Mom just my peers
And I survived

We'd play out all day from morning to night
drank from the hose and riding our bikes
no helmet no water bottles we didn't need much
just the sidewalk, our friends some dirt and dust
And I survived

As I grew more things I thought that I knew
I wanted to go tell that girl a thing or two
I didn't look both ways on that one way street
In the blink of an eye that car swept me off my feet
And I survived

Heartaches and Heartbreaks soon came to pass
Each time feeling something like shattered glass
And I survived

Then he came along and swept me off my feet
a house and a baby we were almost complete
then came 2, 3 and #4
all with little pain meds, but nothing more
And I survived

Our days were longer and the nights not so much
but life was a blessing we have been blessed with so much
Then on that hot afternoon in July
the words I couldn't imagine were floating right by

The Doctor said no worries we've got great care
but most likely you, in time, will lose your hair
not to mention your breast, and I couldn't stand up
I leaned over to cry on his strong chest

This journey has only begun
such a long road to travel
but prayers to the great One
by his believers have unraveled
He holds me now as I can't stand on my own
and my family in Him stands strong in my home.

The story has not ended, no not everything has been said.
I want it to finish with three words you have read

Happy highs and Lousy Lows

Yesterday was a great day. Although I didn't sleep at all, I had a total of 7 people come to visit. It made me happy to see everyone and I even had some comic relief with our cousin Denise and her husband.

Soon enough though everyone went home, and I had taken my last pain pill at 1pm, the house was dark and the tears were hot. As I began to rethink the events of the day the kid came home, that was good, but my oldest daughter (7) and youngest son (4), who are two peas in a pod were curious, and rightfully so. Hannah couldn't find the words to describe so she said I looked "young". Maxwell wanted to see where they "cut" me. I let him. He later told Nate that "the doctors cut off Mommy's boobies and made them black" referring to the incision site. He and Caedence both were curious to see the drains and where they went in, and what was coming out. I didn't really want them to see those, but inevitably I couldn't keep them hidden forever.
As I was reviewing all of this in my head, laying alone in my bed, the tears began to flow hot and heavy. The thoughts of no longer having breast began to sink in a little, and the fears of how the kids will react to the hair loss when the time comes for that.
Also, around the same time I had started to feel some discomfort. I tried taking one of my milder pain pills but it just gives me hives so it wasn't helping, and I was and am still feeling strange sensations where my breast once were. Sometimes vibrations, sometimes like a drip of water is running down my chest, and worst of all last night was a cold knife like sensation across the incision site. My arms are beginning to get some feeling back too and its like the feeling when your foot falls asleep and its just starting to wake up, when you feel as if you want to jump out of your skin when it touches anything.

As I began to feel each new thing I was thinking back to Wednesday and how I felt like a 5 year old when I was wheeled into the operating room. How big and scary it was, and how there were so many people with masks on as they began to call out my name, birth date, and what surgery I was about to have. It was all like a scary nightmare I'm glad the anesthesia worked quickly once I got in there.
All of these feelings combined were too much I just had to cry and cry, but today is a new day. I've got a new bottle of the pain pills that work and am about to get a shower, one of the high-lights of my day. I look forward to the encouraging words I will receive today, and sounds of laughter from my children.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

make-up and contacts

Putting on a brave face for my kids as they return home today. I know they will be able to see the physical difference by just looking at me so I wanted to look as otherwise normal as possible. I'm so worried about them worrying. I think as each new person has visited that I haven't seen since the surgery I cry at least once, so I know my emotions can come out at anytime so I just want to seem as fine as I can when my kids get home. Obviously Mommy being in bed all day everyday isn't normal, and when I saw them last I hid all of my drains and chest. Today I put on some make up put my contacts in and did my hair to the best of my ability. I hope they can get past this I will do everything in my power to make this time for them as normal as possible.

I'm still so sleepy today. I haven't taken anything for pain yet today, but am having a little. Since this whole surgery in itself is new to me I didn't realize I'd still be so tired after so many days.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The days are running together...

Today I woke up hungry a new feeling that I haven't had for the last week or so. My sweet husband got me some watermelon and sprite for breakfast, the new breakfast of champion's in this house. It tasted good sweet and crisp. It was shower time so once again my sweet husband got me undressed and helped me into the shower, where he slowly washed my hair, and my skin. The smell of clean is refreshing and the sleepy feeling I have from the nausea meds made me unknowingly rest my head so far down as he massaged I ended up laying on his chest. Once clean and dry he carefully changed my bandages and dressed me. His step-dad was waiting to visit so we visited with him for a while, and then I chatted on the phone with my Mom. Now as I lay here, still sleepy my chest throbs with tightness, I can sometime feel a cold or wet sensation where my breast once were. I still have not had the courage to look at myself in front of a mirror without clothes. I keep thinking that I should have done that by now, and the longer I wait the harder it will be. I can already see the flatness of what was once full, and dread my first public appearance in which I anticipate a lot of emotion.
As we have started this journey it makes us so aware that the people we pass daily could be going through something. As I prepared for my surgery with a trip to walmart I keep seeing people walk by me doing their normal life things thinking... "don't they know, don't I look sick, can't they tell?" of course not, of course they have no idea, but I will. I will make myself more open to seeing the hurt and pain in peoples eyes to make myself more aware and ask how someones day is with meaning and real curiosity rather then just trying to make conversation.

Thank you again to those who have continued to be a support to our family as we walk this road. I can not thank you all personally there are so many, but please know I am reading every comment, email and facebook post daily and they really are keeping me going as I lay here recovering.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A day not soon forgotten

6:00am - go up got ready to go to the hospital
7:00am - left for Goshen
8:00am - arrived at the hospital and went to day surgery
8:15am - undressed, gowned and being prepped for surgery
8:45am - Family friend from ROCC came up to pray with us
9:15am - nuclear medicine injected into both left and right breast to light up suspicious lymph nodes.
9:30am - wheeled down for surgery
9:34am - anesthetic administered
9:56 am - surgery started
3:00 pm - surgery complete and taken to recovery
4:00pm -wheeled to my room for the 24 hours.

The ride to the hospital was long and pretty quite. Once we arrived to the hospital the questions began to roll in... name, birth date, allergies, do you have to use the restroom, I was waiting on which door are you parked closest to so you can run out of here the fastest? Once they were able to get my IV started things began to move pretty rapidly. I think I saw every second on the clock tick by as people trickled in doing their thing. Shortly after our friend from our church in goshen came up and prayed with us two nurses came and one at a time injected a dose of nuclear medicine under each areola first the left and then the right and massaged each. The pain was extremely intense. About 15 minutes after that I kissed Nate goodbye and cried as they rolled me down the long hallway. The operating room was intense. I've seen them on TV but never actually been in one. They wheeled me in asked me to transfer beds, the anesthesiologist injected some medicine I looked at the clock and that's the last thing I remember. The next thing I knew I was semi awake, and surrounded by nurses who were asking me more questions. The first thing I remembered was I forgot to add my Grandpa to the list of people Nate was suppose to call. One of the nurses (a lady who knew us from our Goshen church) was there throughout the whole process updating Nate and my family and I asked her if she could please tell Nate to call my Grandpa, she said he was already in the waiting room, and that my best friend Carrie was there, as long as she could be, but had to leave to catch a flight. Ironically later I found out that the Dr.'s assistant had missed the surgery because she had just found out her best friend had breast cancer, and had jumped in her car to go be with her as she begins her battle. After a couple short conversations with the recovery nurses I was taken to my room which I don't remember and had several visitors as I was in and out of consciousness. The night was long, filled with nausea and vomiting, pain and trying to get comfortable. My roommate with up crying or snoring all night and I just couldn't handle listening to her so I had the TV on all night. I was up about every hour going to the bathroom. The nurses were helpful even as busy as they seemed.
The ride home yesterday was long and painful, but the journey ahead is going to be longer. Before leaving the hospital I was scheduled 6 or 7 appts. for the next 2 weeks. I'm still overwhelmed with emotions of not knowing exactly how bad this is, and also with all the love and support of everyone around us. My family is being taken care of and I'm so grateful for that, but I'm still in a fog and of course a lot of pain.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Today I'm scared. I couldn't sleep, and all I can think about everything and nothing at the same time. Here goes everything....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

From one Wednesday to the next

After speaking with the Dr. this morning we decided to go ahead with surgery tomorrow morning. He has me scheduled to go in at 9:30am for a bilateral mastectomy. Last Wednesday at that time in the morning I was preparing myself to leave for my biopsy which also was my very first semi-surgical procedure. So not only will this be the first time I've been admitted to the hospital for something other then giving natural birth to my children, but it will be the first time EVER that I have had surgery. I have cried so much over the last 5 days, that I don't know where the tears can possibly come from and yet they still flow hot and heavy.

The reality of this is tomorrow afternoon I will no longer have breast, and yet I can not even imagine what that will be like. I don't know how I will feel either emotional or physically. I don't know what it will look like, and lately all I can say is "I don't know".

I am so grateful for the support, and yet feel so unworthy. My family, friends, and churches have all rallied around me, offered prayer and support, encouraging and comforting words and Bible verses. A person couldn't possibly feel more loved, and alone at the same time.

The details of tomorrow are as follows I will be admitted to day surgery at Goshen Hospital at 8 am, and be prepped for surgery around 8:30. The doctor said the surgery will be around 3 to 4 hours long, and I may leave that evening, but I may be staying one night depending on how I do.

Thank you all again for your support it is much needed and appreciated now and in the weeks and months to come.