Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Going Home!!!

We finally sold our house after 9 long months on the market it sold in one afternoon with an unscheduled showing and a less then show quality cleaning. I'm so happy to be headed back home to Goshen! Nate has been all over getting showing scheduled for us, and we looked at 8 or 9 houses today! We found one we really like, however, there are already offers on it and its bank owned. We went in with our highest and best and now all we can do is pray that God provides for us as he always does. After this long year of cancer and crohn's and reconstruction in 2 days I'm so thrilled that things are coming together with getting us back to our family and our home town!

Speaking of surgery, it is coming up. Thursday they will admit me to the hospital at 5:45am and will begin reconstruction at 7:45. Its a 6-8 hour surgery and I'll be in the hospital for at least 2 days. I'm nervous and exciting, but thankfully the house stuff has my mind in other places.

Keep us in your prayers especially Nate as he bares the weight of the household for the next couple weeks!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

And we have a date....

I got the phone call today!! I will be beginning phase one of reconstruction with surgery on Oct. 4th. I'm pretty excited, and scared at the same time. I can not wait to get this finished and be done with cancer. I know that I will always have reminders, but to me this feels like the final chapter of the the story. We decided last Friday to go ahead with expanders and implants. While it isn't what I had initially wanted after talking with the surgeon's assistant she defused some ideas that I had in my head, and put me more at ease about having the surgery. Also, if you've kept up with our journey you know that this was the choice that Nate had liked best. Although 4 doctors had told me my body, age, and all other factors were perfect for the surgery I wanted I decided that #1 I wanted to honor my husbands request and to follow biblically what I know to be true (Eph 5:22 - Wives follow the lead of your husbands, as you follow the Lord). While we both understand that resentment may play a factor in either case I pray that I won't feel that way and that his decision will be best for both of us. And #2 I am just so over thinking about this I want to get on with it!!

So here we go, on with the show! Praying I can get through surgery with ease and quick recovery, and that my emotional state from the last surgery does not haunt me this time around. I will be having surgery in Ft. Wayne this time around so I hope that helps!

Monday, September 10, 2012

More Milestones

A few more year marking dates have passed in the last week. One of the highlights was celebrating Hannah's 9th birthday. Last year I tried to make it memorable in the sense that she would remember her birthday and not what we were going through, and to tell you the truth I don't even think she remembers what we did, haha!
On the 6th was the 1 year anniversary of Nate's hospitalization. I will tell you I was kinda emotional the night before. Thinking about taking him to the hospital the year before, and how much pain he was in, and then trying to tell our family over the phone what was going on, then off to another hospital and another before finally having him admitted. I vividly remember the drive home by myself that night just wondering how the heck we would make it through. I remember pulling into the driveway and going inside where my Mother-in-law was waiting for an update. It was all I could do to get myself to the couch and cry since the next day I would be headed in the opposite direction as my husband to endure my first round of chemo. My neighbor was kind enough to drive me there, but essentially I walked into those doors alone. Never in a million years would I have ever imagined doing that. It was nice to see several smiling faces waiting for me on the other side though, and I think we may have overwhelmed the staff a little by all the visitors I had on that first day. My friend Rachel was sweet enough to drive me home and then we went to see Nate. Although I was sleepy I was so glad to be in his arms. That is the moment this photo was taken...

This week will mark the 1 year anniversary of Nate's surgery, and Friday we will be headed back to Ft. Wayne to meet with my new plastic surgeon.

One last milestone we celebrated was 10 years of marriage on August 31st. I can't believe how much more in love with this man I am today then I thought I was back then. I wrote him a poem to sum up our last 10 years, and I can't wait to celebrate the next 10 with him.

10 years ago we stood on this day
He said, "I do" and I said, "hooray"
We started a family and life got busy
So much sometimes it made us both dizzy
Each child a blessing
each change kept us guessing
Sleepless nights
brought some bickering fights
Then came the cancer and crohns last year
it had us wondering what to do, oh dear
Surrounded by family and friends we knew
our love would survive as our trials grew
With new perspective and lease on life
I am so happy to be his wife!
I love you with all of my heart and more
Heres to 10 years and another new door!

Happy Anniversary Nate!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Still Undecided

Haven't posted in a while so I thought I'd fill ya in on whats been going on. We're still undecided about which surgery for reconstruction I will be having, but we are meeting with a new plastic surgeon as Dr. S wasn't in our network for insurance. I will be seeing "Dr. Joe" Mlakar either Aug. 27th or Sept. 14 for a consultation and hope to schedule surgery soon after.
This week we are about to embark on a new milestone for this Momma, all my kids will be starting school on Tuesday and I will be home alone for 6+ hours a day. I find myself sometimes wishing this had all been last year so they would all have had school to concentrate on instead of Nate and I being sick, and other times I wonder what the heck I will do with myself and how did we get here so fast. It seems like we just moved to CC not that long ago and Max was just about to turn 2 and I still had 3 kids at home. I am excited about this new adventure for them and me. I haven't made many plans as to what I will do over the next year other then workout and Nate wants me to relax, but I'm sure my days will be filling up quickly.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Another anniversary

Its been a year and a day since being diagnosed with BC. Looking back on that day it was probably one of the longest days of my life. I am glad to be here and celebrate one year. Its not a celebration of getting cancer, but a celebration of a new lease on life. A celebration of living through the last year, and being stronger because of it. A prayer to never have to go through it again, and a prayer that I can help someone because of it. I'm going to have more trials in my life no doubt, my kids are getting older as am I, but I hope that because of where the last year has taken me I can remember that there is a purpose, and a plan and that I can be hopeful even when things seem hopeless.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A year in my life...

One year ago today I was making an appt. to go have the lump I found the night before checked out. I can't believe how slow and how fast this year has gone. Yesterday thinking about that night I brushed my hand across my chest, and all the things I've gone through since then got me pretty emotional. I'm guessing when the year anniversary comes next month since my diagnosis that too will be an emotional day. Just when I start to think I'm good on the emotions they come again. The feelings are still fresh thinking about the tests, the surgery, the chemo, etc. Everyday when I look in the mirror and can't figure out what to do with this new hair  or try to pick a shirt out that looks right is a reminder of each day that has passed.
I am grateful for this journey, I hope that I can use it to glorify our Lord as he has planned for me. There are days when I wish it hadn't been, but I feel like those are a normal part of the process. Over the last year I have gained much more then I ever would have, if I had just kept going on with life as before. I appreciate each day of life, no I am not happy all the time, but I do find something each day to be thankful for even on my down days. I'm grateful for my support system, as Nate said in the beginning, "we'll find out who's in and who isn't"  and we did, and we were surprised by some. I feel like I want to change the world for the better. I want to do something big that will make a difference to a lot of people, but will settle for one person at a time. I've found courage over this last year that I didn't know was there. I'm ready to tell people about it, to show people the good that has come out of this year, and to encourage others not just with cancer, but life!
I'm ready to put this struggles behind me, although there are still more to overcome, and get on with this new opportunity I've been given.

I've been changed... for the better, but I am still human. I have down days, I still get mad at the kids and yell, I still obsess about some things that aren't always important, I'm still anal about having my house clean, I still worry when I should let go and let God, I still complain, I still eat things I shouldn't, and I still have some road rage :), but mostly instead of driving myself crazy I want to embrace those things as a part of who I am and how I can continue to grow myself, and to always remember life can change in the blink of an eye so don't get too comfortable.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Please excuse my chest its under reconstruction...

Its been a while since my last post... Nate and I met with the plastic surgeon on the 29th of May and discussed our options as far as reconstruction go. I was happy to learn that the tram flap option that I had been planning for was an option available to me. The Doctor also gave us the option of doing the expanders followed by implants. This is the option Nate would like me to do. At this point I think we're kind of at a stand still agreeing to disagree. We'll have to make a decision in the next several weeks as we meet with the Dr. again in August to let him know what we have decided.
The surgery that I would like to have involves cutting the fat from my stomach and a muscle from each side of my "six pack" (which has never existed), and then moving that up to form breast by attaching the vessels and muscle. It would leave me with a football shaped scare on my breast, and a scare on my stomach similar to what a c-section scare looks like. Recovery time, 3-5 days in the hospital, 6-8 weeks before I'm back to doing everyday activities, and 6 months before I'm back to feeling like myself... which I have vague memories of at this point anyhow.
The other surgery would involve 1 surgery to insert expanders under my skin at my breast area taking skin from my back under my shoulder blade area to cover the scares that are already there from my mastectomy  then I would have saline pumped into the expanders weekly for however, long it takes until I get to the size I like, then they wait 8-10 more weeks to make sure the skin is stretched well, then another surgery to take the expanders out, and put the implants in. . Recovery time 1 day in the hospital after intially placing the expanders, and then day surgery to place the implants. Each with a week to 10 days recovery.
After each of those surgery I would take about 8 weeks to recover, then I would go into the office and have the nipple formed, and after that heals they would then tattoo it to be a darker shade and more realistic looking. The doctor also said with both surgeries there would be some tweaking along the way as I healed to make them look as normal as possible.
Its a lot to think about, even after hearing all that I'm still interested in the first surgical option, but we shall see.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hooray for Strength

I did it!! I was able to stand up in front of 2 classes and tell them about my journey with breast cancer. I didn't even shed a tear. I came close with a few of their questions, but made it through. What a great experience to be able to share about the challenges God has given me, and to know that I made it through. I hope that the kids were able to get something out of my story. They were awesome, very attentive, respectful, and had great questions. Something I would definitely do again... and may get that chance!!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Telling the story

Over the last 30 minutes or so I have been looking over my blog gathering dates and info from the last year. A friend of mine from high school has asked me to speak to his health class. I will be headed out this afternoon to Illinois to speak to 8th graders tomorrow about my battle with breast cancer. I'm looking forward to this new experience. It will be the first time I stand up and in front of anyone and tell my story out loud (other than friends/family). They are young, but I don't think its ever to early to know about the effects cancer can have on a person and everyone surrounding them. Wish me luck you will all be a part of my story!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I'm freeeeeee

I got my port out on Tuesday! This was such a great feeling. Although I was very nervous and hesitant about being sliced open in the Dr.'s office it went well. I love my surgeon Dr. Henry he is awesome. He cut me on the same scar as when he placed the port so I won't have an additional scar. I also had a check up with the PA in radiation, and my skin is healing very nicely. She said, she would see me in 3 months. I have an appt. with my oncologist later this month so it will be 3 months from then I will see both of them again. I am not dealing well with this Tamoxifen, I've been nauseated, had some pain in my belly button, my ovaries are throbbing constantly and its making my emotions run wild. Dr. Suh says there aren't a lot of alternatives if I can't tolerate the tamoxifen, and I know the alternative to not being on it could be worse then all of these symptoms, but it has not been a fun few weeks so far. Also, yesterday I called and made my consultation appt. with the plastic surgeon, only to be informed they don't accept our insurance. It made me cry (see more hormones) because this particular  Dr. is one who my breast surgeon recommended, and one I have heard great things about from others. I plan on seeing him for at least a consult, regardless, but I may be on the look out for someone else. I couldn't get in until the end of May so I have some time to do some more research... I guess!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Checking Up

Tuesday I went to see Dr. Suh and see what the next steps were for me. I knew mostly what she would tell me, but there were some things we needed to discuss. So for the next 5 years as planned I will be taking a drug called Tamoxifen, it basically keeps my estrogen levels down, causes hot flashes and some other side effects that aren't exactly thrilling, but its what thus far is the next best step. Dr. Suh also urged me to discuss with Nate about having the heredity test done to see if I have the cancer gene. Initially I was very much against this I do not want to worry about my kids possibly having this gene, and I figure by the time they would be near the age of getting cancer there is going to be huge strides in medicinal treatments or even a cure. However, if I get the test I will know if I am at a greater risk for ovarian cancer, and then it would be recommended that I have a hysterectomy to lessen that risk. It is a lot to consider, and I have a month in which to decide. The last great news of the day was I got to schedule my port removal!!! Yeah! So on April 10th I will be port free!! My skin was checked out also at another appt. on Tuesday and it still looks pretty bad from the radiation, but it is healing slowly.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Radiation Week 6

Monday Mar. 19th - It's official! I'm done with regular radiation treatments today! Tomorrow I start my 5 treatment boost. 1 giant step more headed in the right direction. Almost there! Had breakfast with my friend Tera from high school she has been battling ovarian cancer since 1996 when we were juniors. It returned in 2004 for her after surgery in 96 and she struggles with it every day. So glad I got to see her.

Tuesday Mar. 20th - today was my first boost treatment. It took a while and my body it turned in such a way that its a bit uncomfortable but the actual treatment only last about 2 minutes. There were 4-5 people in the room today making sure everything is set up correctly. I feel like as they talk over me about what to move, where to move it, and all their numbers I'm in the OR and should be sleeping.

Wednesday Mar. 21st - same as yesterday with less people in the room, the set up time took about the same amount of time. Got to have breakfast with my Grandma and Bob & Jo stopped in to say hello before my appt. Also took Max to Kindergarten round up when I got home. Next year no more kiddos at home during the day.

Thursday Mar. 22nd - It was a long day I had a double treatment today so I can finish off this week and be done. one treatment at 7:40 and one at 2:30 there has to be at least 6 hours in between. I spent the day hanging out in Goshen visiting as many people as I could fit in my schedule it was nice to see them all. I came home feeling very tired today, but its Max's 5th birthday so of course we had to celebrate!

Friday Mar. 23rd - Its a very bittersweet emotional day so far. I finished my radiation!!! I'm so glad to be moving on from this, but a little anxious about not being near my doctors, nurses, and therapist regularly. This journey has been long. It was one that I wouldn't have chosen, but one that I was chosen for at first I didn't want to accept it, but once I did I was shown so many blessings God has brought to me through this. Saying that I am finished seems a little wrong, because I feel as if things are just beginning. This has forever changed my life and those around me I can only pray that things will never be the same, but so much better!

Thank you, thank you to everyone who has walked this with me. You will never truly know how much you are appreciated there are not enough words on this earth to express how grateful I am for each and every one of you.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Radiation Week 5

Monday Mar. 12th - Nothing new and exciting today same ol' same ol' 9 days left! I'm counting down!

Tuesday Mar. 13th - Same today as yesterday scheduled my appt. to feet the new bolus block for my boost treatments.

Wednesday Mar 14th - Its my birthday and I got to start if off with the doc. saying he wanted me to take time off because my skin is so bad. It hasn't broken open but it easily could. Not sure what I want to do. I don't want to take time off, but if I keep going and have to take more time off that won't be good either. I just want to be DONE!!!

Thursday Mar 15th - Doc was more then happy to let me finish my treatment after we chatted today. My skin is looking pretty bad, but he said actually its better to keep going rather then stopping, although its not horrible  to stop I'm glad he isn't making me. Also went to the "Pink Sisters" support group at church tonight, got a little emotional talking about the kids, but I don't think its something I'll be going to again or often, it just doesn't seem like talking about my cancer time after time is something I need or want to do. I was glad to support my friend Laura though while I was there, and its always nice to be in the company of her and Renee that keep me on my toes that is for sure!

Friday Mar. 16th - Normal treatment in and out, got to stop in and say hey to Nicole today it was nice to see her I miss the infusion room nursing staff a lot, but not chemo! One more week!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Radiation Week 4

Monday Mar. 5th - nothing new and exciting today, normal treatment. I was suppose to have an appt. with a lady who was going to teach me the Wii exercise program, but she forgot so it got cancelled.

Tuesday Mar. 6th - Had my normal treatment today and then got all marked up for my 5 boost treatments to my scare at the end of my regular 28 treatments. I feel kinda like a dot to dot page, there are a lot of stickers and markers on me. Had a CT scan so they know where they'll be doing the boost, and so they can make another kind of bolus device for me that sits on my scare. It was a great day today, and the sun came up a lot sooner during my trip to Goshen then usual. I also got my first haircut today. Just a trim around the neck and ears.

Wednesday Mar. 7th - another regular treatment today in and out. I had a photo shoot today, this time I was the model instead of the photographer, there is a local photographer who does photos for a non for profit organization called Shoots for the Cure. It was kinda neat to be on the other side, although I'm not a fan of myself in pictures. She did a great job. I went all day without wearing my hat today, even to the grocery store.

Thursday Mar. 8th - Saw Dr. Doctor today, just a check up as per my usual Thursday routine, along with new scans. No adjustments today. My armpit is getting pretty sore, and darkening in color, but they said that is normal and ok as long as its not breaking open. Dr. Doctor confirmed today that as long as m skin is doing ok we can double up one session during one of my boost (last 5 treatments) so I don't have to come back one extra Monday, yah!!!! That means after tomorrow, again provided my skin is holding out, that I have 2 more 5 day weeks of treatment left and I'm DONE!!!!

Friday Mar. 9th -  It's Friday!! Today I had my normal treatment, and as I was getting ready to leave they called me back to the room. I had to be checked out as far as measurements for the plan they are making for my boost treatments.They actually have to put an attachment onto the radiation machine, and then put this big blue wax looking block on my chest that has been milled out to fit me properly so that the radiation is hitting me correctly in all the right areas. Interesting to say the least. But again its Friday and that means 10 more days of driving to Goshen for treatment, and 11 more treatments to go!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Radiation Week 3

Monday Feb. 27th - uneventful driving today, thank goodness. Treatment went as normal, it was very cold today, until I left I felt like my skin was burning like crazy!! My shirt was irritating as well as the seat belt. I have used the Aquaphor lotion that they gave me, but its so thick that it is kind of painful to rub on myself. I got to have breakfast with my friend Rachel again, and it was a great start to the week.

Tuesday Feb. 28th - not much new today, drive was fine saw my first deer today so thankful I haven't come across any and all I saw today was their little fluffy tails as they were already across the road, the sun also seems to be coming up a lot sooner. Not much burning today after my appt. so that is good. I'm having some crazy trouble swallowing though. The radiation therapist was telling me a little about the machine today, and how it has adjustable settings she told me my settings were 6,10 and 15. Not sure what that all means, but it was interesting when she was telling me.

Wednesday Feb. 29th - Its leap day, and it was beautiful and 69 degrees! Normal treatment today. I tend to just try and relax as I lie there on the table, but its still so hard. Today after treatment I went up to the day surgery floor where I had my mastectomy, as I got in the elevator I could feel my heart beating faster. I was going up to visit a friend from our Goshen church who's sister had just been taken back to have a bi-lat.  mastectomy. Just a hug and a note of encouragement was all the longer I really stayed, but I felt like I needed to go. I was reading a little of her story tonight on caring bridge and all those emotions are still so fresh, all I could do was cry as I read. I don't know if I'll ever get to a place where I can read or talk about this journey and it not be emotional.

Thursday Mar. 1st - What a turn around from yesterday I think maybe I was too happy about the sun and warmth because today I'm very down. My appt. took quite a while today. I had to have films taken as per my usual Thursday treatment and see the doc. They had to adjust my markings today, they said its pretty common because a lot of people are pretty tense in the beginning and once they relax their tissues relaxes so the markings they use to line me up everyday had to be changed, just by 5mm though, but because of that I had to lay there extra long... do you know what a mind that has been tainted by cancer does when its laying in a quite treatment room along for too long? Yep, it starts to think, and a thinking mind in that situation is never good. After I was done I met with Dr. Doctor and he said I'm nice and medium-rare now so they won't use the bolus on me anymore to enhance the radiation. I swear he talks to me like I'm an idiot sometimes telling me today all the things I'm experiencing are from the radiation, DUH as if I didn't know that! I am having some issues with feeling weak and jello like, so he suggested I take a Wii class... yep I said Wii like Nintendo gaming system Wii, they actually have someone at the cancer center who will teach me how to use one of the Wii games so that I can rebuild some of the muscle strength. So that will be Monday and sometime in the next week or so I'll have an appt. for them to make a "device" as he called it for them to be able to give me my 5 boost treatments after the first 28 treatments are finished. Apparently its some kind of form they have to make that I will be fitted to so they can position me for the boost treatments to my scarred area. Today has been a long day so far I hope tomorrow is better.

Friday March 2nd - Yeah its Friday, I started off the day with this quote "Hip Hip Hooray Celebrating the Dr. Suess way 1/2 way through radiation today!" I'm officially half way done today 17 treatments down 16 to go! Still having kind of a down day today, but I get to see lots of family members this weekend. My treatment went fine today, and I was able too get through it a little faster without the bolus since they didn't have to come in and move it half way through the treatment. Tuesday of next week I will go in and have the new device made for the boost at the end of my first 28 treatments. (on a side note since I don't usually do Saturday post, today is Saturday and I began my first menstrual cycle since chemo ended. It worries me a little because of the increased hormone production knowing that my cancer was estrogen positive. Sorry if that is TMI for any men reading this)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Radiation Week 2

Monday Feb. 20th - All went well today. I started this week at my new appt. time 7:40 AM. Its very early, but I'm trying to do my best at getting to Goshen and getting back so that Nate is able to head to work as early as possible. Today I was even back early enough to take Max to school. I feel like anxiety is kicking in this week just with the daily appts. Last night I felt a little nauseated and again on the way to Goshen this morning, along with some emotional distress. I feel like its too early for this to be kicking in seeing as I still have 5 weeks to go. Hopefully it will get better as the week goes on. I'm also very tired today I didn't have the energy to go exercise like I had planned.

Tuesday Feb. 21st - Left the house this morning with very normal morning weather conditions 25 minutes into my trip I was wondering what anyone was doing out on the road. It started snowing so badly that I could barely see anything. Thankfully I made it to my treatment and had a very slow ride home. My marking on my chest is covered by a clear round sticker and that was replaced today, treatment was normal although I felt out of position the numbers were all lined up correctly. When they placed the bulos (a flabby, wet, rubbery material, that is used to 'fool' the radiation beam so it will deposit the maximum dose on the skin surface instead of a fraction of an inch deeper, as it would otherwise) I could feel the "sunburn" feeling. I still have a little bit of a nauseated feeling today and also in my throat it feels like I have heart burn or acid re flux unfortunately its from the radiation that they are doing to my throat. Doc was in a meeting today so I didn't see him as planned since he will be gone on Thursday I will see one of the other physicians tomorrow. Very tired again today.

Wednesday Feb. 22nd - More snow on the way to and from Goshen, but not a drop in sight here in Columbia City so crazy!  Treatment was fine today, my therapist Katie told me since the Doc wasn't in to see me and I was just going to see one of his associates I could sneak out without seeing anyone so I did, stopped and talked to the nurse a bit about my sore throat its worse today when I swallow or cough it feels like my throat and chest are on fire, and eating food is similar to swallowing pebbles. I'm gonna try the honey for a few days and if that doesn't help the nurse said they could prescribe me something. I've also had an issue with burping a lot after treatment. She said it could be do to my diaphragm getting some radiation to it.

Thursday Feb. 23rd - Milestone Day, 1/3 of the way done with treatments 11 down 22 to go!! I had scans done today, and it was another eventful driving day as it was very foggy across all the counties and the roads were icy once I got to Warsaw. The kids have no school today due to the fog so hopefully I can make it through the day without being too grouchy as I'm very tired again today. My throat and chest feel like fire when I cough today swallowing is ok so far this morning, but I am coughing more. One more day left in this week!!

Friday Feb. 24th - Treatment as normal today, I was finally pushed in to see the on call physician since Dr. Doctor is out this week, this guy was a little strange not only because he had a plaid tie with striped collared shirt on, but because he basically just read off my chart the whole time he was with me. My throat is feeling pretty crappy today. and I'm tired again today. After my treatment I got to have breakfast with me sweet friend Nicky. 12 down, 21 to go!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Radiation Week 1 (plus 2 days)

Thursday Feb. 9th - Day 1 of radiation. Today was a longer appt. because we were unsure of if we wanted to go down this path. Dr. Doctor of course assured us it was the right thing to do and was gracious in answering our questions, and was glad we asked. Treatment was the longest it will be today. Laying on a hard table with my hands above my head for between 30-40 min. They took x-rays, and measurements to make sure they were hitting the right area's. So far feeling, a little itchy in the evening.

Friday Feb. 10th - Got the kids up for the first time since the beginning of the school year, got them on the bus and left for my appt. In and out, it took about 20 minutes in total and they had to take a couple x-rays again just to make sure they are still shooting the right area. No pain, but a lot of fatigue later in the day. My appts will be at 8 am for the next week and then we'll move to 7:40.

Monday Feb. 13th - Today there were more measurements. Its a little un-nerving that they have to measure every time so far, and then today they say once your measurements match up a couple days in a row we will only measure once a week. Yikes! As I lay on the table today I tried to listen to the sounds, and this is what I came up with its like being on an airplane. As I lay in the room I hear the rushing sound of air similar to a fan, or as you are waiting to taxi down the runway, then a ding sometimes 2 that sounds distinctly like the seat belt sign from the captain. Then when the radiation turns on it sounds like a buzz of an open door, and then you hear what sounds like the release of hydraulics. Its good, I can imagine I'm getting ready to take off to some place tropical! I also got to have a coffee date with my friend Rachel today, and that was good!

Tuesday Feb. 14th - Happy Valentines Day! I had to get out a little early this morning as their was a fresh blanket of snow covering the ground... and roads! Travel wasn't too bad but it took me a full hour to get to Goshen. They did not take any measurements or extra scans today so I was in and out in no time. My skin is starting to feel warm when I leave and somewhat itchy through-out the day. Starting to have a little cough afterwards on the ride home, but its soon gone. Shoveled the drive when I got home, but now I have zero energy.

Wednesday Feb. 15th - no measurement scans again today I guess they feel pretty confident they are shooting the area. The last two days during the first round of beams my throat has felt like when you have a really bad cold and you wake up all mucussy and gross in the back of your throat. I'm pretty sure its because of the radiation because it happens almost immediately after they are done with that section. Today I've had a random cough most of the day, and I was a little nauseated today on the drive home. Tomorrow I am suppose to have my Thursday check in with the Doc. I walked 2 miles tonight at the Y, feelin' it!

Thursday Feb. 16th - nothing much different today. We did some measurement scans and luckily they didn't have to move me at all so they must be doing something right. I met with the Doc. after radiation he was pretty much in and out. Nothing much to say. The muscle in my breast is a little sore just on the radiation side, and I noticed tonight that I am a little pink and sun burnt feeling exactly a week after my first treatment. Again today I noticed the mucussy feeling down the back of my throat almost at the exact moment that I was being zapped. Took Bentley on a walk tonight and tomorrow I plan to check out Anytime Fitness weighed in today at 70 Kg.yikes! Only down 1 Kg in 2 weeks! I was pretty exhausted today, but I think if I try and keep working out my energy level might get better.

Friday Feb. 17th - Woohooo I made it week one done! Today wasn't bad the pinkness had gone away by this morning, but of course was back again this afternoon. Although I'm starting to feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog day I made it through the first week. I told my therapist today how I knew exactly when the were doing the treatment to my throat because of the mucussy feeling and she said she'd never heard that from any other patients. Yippee I'm special in another great and fun way. It was a long day and I'm completely exhausted. I did go to Anytime Fitness today and worked out for about 45min or so, then got a call for a showing on the house so I had to speed clean. Got my workout in and then some. See the Doc next week on Tuesday. Hoping my skin stays decent through-out the weekend.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Comfort to Consequence

After a long week and a half of thinking, I went in to radiation today not sure if I would come out radiated or not. With each phase of treatment, there was not many questions. Of course we had concerns with surgery and chemotherapy, and we knew there could be side effects, but we did not question the treatment. We did what we thought needed to be done. After receiving the radiation education and talking to as many people as would listen, I just wasn't sure it was for me, I had questions, lots of questions as noted in the last post.
So today we went in armed with our questions and prayers of making the right decision. Ready to walk away or ready to get started we were not yet set on.

However, I did consider lots of things on the way to Goshen such as: All this time we've been praying for my Doctors, that they would make the best choices possible in the way of my care. It seemed sort of hypocritical to question them now. I was showering this morning listening to music, a random play list and the only song I could remember was Because He lives, and the verse "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives all fear is gone, because I knooooooow he holds the future...". I was also sent a verse by a friend this week that knew I was facing this decision, yet she sent it to me regarding a completely different matter Psalm 56:11 In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.  I also wrestled with the thought this week that no matter what I do God knows when I will take my last breath. Whether I decided to do radiation or not it will not prolong or end my life any sooner then God has already planned.

So after all of that and a good 20 minutes of quizzing the Dr. we decided to go ahead and proceed with radiation. I will tell you there was not an overwhelming sense of calmness once that decision was made. I felt fine about the decision, but once we made it I had a short 20 minutes to prepare myself that I was actually going to do it, and as I lay on the table being prepared to have my first treatment lots of things were going through my mind. Starring at the beautiful fake tulip tree over the lights above me I began to think about how much burden this will cause for everyone involved on my end. People to take care of Max when needed, Nate to rearrange his schedule for the next 6 weeks so that I can go and be treated every morning, our bank account, and how much gas we will be purchasing along with any other cost to get there, and then the side effects I've been warned about that will effect me daily. Skin pain, and fatigue and how Max may not understand all of that, and just think of it as another day that Mommy wants to lay on the couch. You are probably wondering how long I was laying there about now... (about 40 min).

Once I was done, I got dressed, got my husband, and left. As I got in the car and started the engine this was the first thing I heard:

You must...
You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through

Well forgive me
Forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do
On my own

I know I'm not strong enough to be
everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up, I'm not strong enough

Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be
Strong enough, strong enough 
For the both of us

This is a song that I have listened to several times through-out this journey, but even today it took on new meaning. So now as I begin phase 3 of my battle against this disease I ask for your continued prayers for my mind to be at ease about the things I cannot change, peace in knowing things will and are being taken care, and travel safety as I drive each morning during the week to get my treatments.
1 down 32 to go!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Burning Bush

Tonight I'm praying for a burning bush, No..... not the kind you plant, the kind that is in the Bible. Not literally, but something that is a very clear sign to me on my next stage of treatment. So here is what I am struggling with, the pros and cons of radiation:
It will help prevent my cancer from returning 
It increases my chance of survival
My doctors are strongly recommending it            
It could cause a secondary cancer (in a study done 9% of people got a second cancer 8% was caused by radiation, and more than half of those were breast and prostate cancer survivors)
It could cause heart damage/failure
It will damage at least 20% of my lung

Some other things I was told by my doctor were that I am not a typical candidate for radiation. They usually recommend it for patients who's tumor was larger then 5cm and had 4 or more lymph nodes affected. My largest tumor was 2cm and only 2 of my lymph nodes were affected, but because of my age they are recommending that I go through with the treatment. The above mentioned study also speaks to those who are young when having their initial cancer are at greater risk of developing a second cancer with radiation. I will also be at much greater risk for skin cancer in the area that radiation will be given which is from my neck down to almost the bottom of my rib cage, and from the middle of my chest all the way to my side on the right side. Its a big area, in which most would be covered during times when I'm in the sun, but there is still quite a bit exposed that I would need to worry about. With boating and swimming being a big part of our lifestyle in the summer months it would be something I would continuously have to worry about. 
Radiation methods have changed and improved a lot since the study I read was done, but at this time it has been long enough to determine long term effects with the newer methods. Obviously I'm not going to base my decision off this one study, but it is one of the best I found regarding statistics.

So anyhow I will stop boring you all with facts and statistics I just need to get this out of my head. Up until now I hadn't questioned my treatment plan, but now that I'm moving on to the next stages, and I've been given some education on radiation and time to think I feel so unsure of what to do. It scares me to make these kind of decisions not knowing what the outcome could be either way. Its not like deciding brown shoes or black its a whole other ball game and it feels like the weight of the world.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Doctor, doctor give me the news....

So I met with my radiation oncologist on Tuesday afternoon. I had met him one time right after my surgery, but don't really remember much of what he said other than radiation will follow chemo for 33 treatments. He again echoed the same, but filled me in a bit more on the process. Next Monday I will go in for SIM scan for the doctor to locate exactly where they will be giving my radiation. I will also be tattooed, but I'm not sure if that will happen Monday or right before I start radiation. I should be able to start a week from my scan so that would put my start date Feb. 6th, however Dr. Doctor isn't as anxious as I to get started so I may have to wait another day or so to begin. (Side note: Dr. Doctor isn't actually my radiation oncologist name, but a little joke we have because my Dr. has his MD and his PHD, he is very smart)

We have been so blessed with help thus far for the kids, and while we haven't had any lack of offers radiation makes things a little tricky being that its every day . So the plan for now is for me to get up and go very early every morning that is possible. Nate gets the kids on the bus usually so nothing will change there, but my hope is that he can get Max off to school on M,W, & F, and that I will be back in time to pick him up at 11:15. On Tuesday and Thursdays as his work schedule allows Nate will stay at home until I am back around 9:00-9:30 each morning or take Max to our wonderful babysitter Lisa who has been helping out through chemo, and she will watch him until I get home. Right now 1 week off of chemo I have a lot of ambition and more energy then I've had in months. Although I'm still not up to par, the difference is there. I've been told by my NP that I will feel the effects of radiation through fatigue. Also, while the actual treatment is not painful  the side effects will be far more so then chemo with the burning of my skin and sore throat, enough to which I've been told I will probably only want to eat soft foods once it begins. So I hope that I can endure this all well and get through each day as upbeat, and energetic as possible. I'm so ready for this all to be over, and begin a normal life once again.

On an unrelated note: We've only had one showing for our house so far, and while a bit discouraging I am still very excited at the thought of getting back to Goshen, family & friends. It has given me something to plan and look forward to as well as concentrate on beside cancer and treatments.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Phase One- COMPLETE!!!

CHEMO IS FINISHED!!! I am so happy to be able to type those words!! My last treatment of chemo ended today. Although I'm trying not to get ahead of myself because I still have 6 long weeks of daily radiation to get through and then a few other minor things to do after that, but that is less than half the time if took for chemo so I'm hoping it will feel like it goes quickly!
Some other positive news that we talked about today besides it being my last treatment was that my cancer came back hormone positive there are some other big words to describe that, but basically what it means is that my cancer grew and survived on estrogen. This is good because it means that by forcing my body to suppress the production of estrogen it increases my chances greatly of the cancer not coming back. The chemo has already pushed me into menopause, but because I'm done my body may revert back to normal so once radiation is done I will start taking a pill (tamoxifen) for 5 years daily so that it will suppress those hormones, and my oncologist is considering a 2-year monthly injection that will suppress my ovaries which is basically like having a non-surgical hysterectomy. That isn't the greatest news since for the last 4 years I've been wanting to have another baby, but I know that birthing a child isn't the only way for us to grow our family, although through-out the last 5 months God has given me a peace about not being able to give birth ever again.

On another note, about 2 weeks ago we made the decision to put our house on the market and move back to the Goshen area. Although, Columbia City has been extremely supportive through-out the last several months, since even before my diagnosis my heart has ached to be back closer to family, and as soon as I found the lump on my breast and knew that it was abnormal I told Nate, that if it was cancer I wanted to move back. Nate has been gracious, supportive, and loving and finally honored my request despite his own wants so as soon as our house is sold we're headed home it will be a bitter-sweet ending to this journey, and my prayer is that we are honoring God through-out the entire process.

As we move forward I would ask that you pray specifically for me as I travel to and from Goshen daily beginning in February and for the family that will buy our house, that they will be as blessed in this home as we were. Also for our family as we prepare the house for each showing that it is not stressful, and once sold that the transition for the kids is smooth.
Everyone that is done with treatment gets to ring this bell!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year...

Happy New Year! At this time last year I never imagined that this year would bring me hoping for a new year full of hair, energy, and a cancer free bill of health. As I lay here in bed rounding out the first day of the new year (which was a great one) I can't help but hope this year is full of amazing new things. I WILL finish my treatments,  I WILL have hair again, and I will also send my baby off to kindergarten and become a Mommy with no kids at home. I am sure there are a lot of other things I will do, but those 3 are the ones that are in the forefront of my mind right now.

If I was able to do anything I want this year it would be to start the new year cancer-free, but since that will have to wait I am choosing to start it out healthier- no dieting, but eating better, trying to exercise when I have the energy, and also trying to take the gifts God has given us through the last several months and use them to our benefit and his glory. Gifts such as family time, a strong marriage, and being more aware of how I can help others who are walking this road of cancer. I don't know in what capacity that will be, but I hope that my eyes have been washed clean so that I can see it clearly.

This last year has brought us to our knees and my prayer is that in the year to come we will stay on our knees!