Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My New Years Resolution

I heard this song the other day on a commercial and for the first time I listened closely to its message. I couldn't have found a better way to explain how I feel about my future and how I want to live the rest of my life. This is my New Years life resolution.

I Hope You Dance
by Lee Ann Womack

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake
But it's worth making
Don't let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me that you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a wheel in constant motion, always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
I hope you dance
(Where those years have gone)

(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

Happy New Years everyone. I am hoping for a much better year and counting all of the blessings that 2009 did bring despite this battle with cancer. May you all learn to dance in 2010!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Big Picture

I am starting to see the big picture. I am starting see why the events in my past have taken place. Including decisions that were made years ago as well as friends that were made in my youth. Everything has happened for a reason. God has gone before me and prepared the necessary steps that needed to happen for me to take this journey and ultimately be healed. It is amazing to see it all unfold and be revealed before my eyes....

There was a reason why the Pathologist in my first biopsy made the mistake reading the results. Had he not, my surgeon would not have felt obligated to do a second biopsy and I would have been left with cancer cells in my sinuses.

There was a reason I decided to join Facebook before I was diagnosed. It allowed me to reconnect with a special friend from high school. This friend happens to be a Maxofacial Surgeon. He specializes in cases like mine. Yesterday, I was able to have a long conversation with him about the surgery. He was able to calm a lot of my fears, answer a lot of questions and confirm that surgery is the BEST option to get rid of the cancer once and for all. He also was able to go into detail the options I will have for reconstruction of my teeth as well as my eye if it were to be removed during surgery. Reconnecting with him and becoming friends with him years ago was no coincidence.

There was a reason why we chose the location to build our home in Chaska almost 6 years ago. We were the 5th house built so we had no idea what the neighbors would be like. Little did we know what a tremendous support system these neighbors would become 6 years later on during my battle with cancer. They have become some of our dearest friends and they have gone out of their way to show us love and support. They have supplied us with meals when I was feeling down and out.

There is a reason why God has chosen to not complete the healing process yet. It hasn't been until recently that I have started to truly experience the power of God's love. I am also the most vulnerable I have ever been throughout this journey forcing me to finally give it all to God. There is nothing I can do or control at this point. The rest is left up to him.

There are so many more reasons yet to be discovered and I am excited for them to continue to be revealed. But one thing I know for sure, the way things have happened, especially in this past month, needed to happen in order for me to be healed.

Today, I received a gift left on my doorstep. It was a book titled "If I could be sick for you for Just One Day" written by Kathy Cramer. It was another demonstration of love from our friends in the neighborhood. Each page was signed with a written of message of love, hope and encouragement. I wanted to share it with you. It has a very special message that someone battling an illness needs to hear. The book reads,

I wish I could be sick for you for just one day. I would let you go outside and run and play!
I would swallow the pills that don't want to stay down. You could stick your head out the window and ride all over town.
I would shake and chill the way you do. You could go sail on a sailboat - be a part of the crew!
I would feel the pain you endure. You could go out for a big dinner..order dessert for sure.
I would dream the dreams that can be scary and dark. You could fish on a lake and walk through the park.
I would do your wishing to feel better soon. You could stay up late and sleep until noon.
I would look through the cards that were sent by friends. You could eat popcorn and candy until a movie begins.
I would walk your path with heavy tired steps. You could drink lemonade and sit out on the deck.
I would feel the faith that you hold in your heart. You could walk through the market, smell the flowers on a cart.
I would eat the food that doesn't taste right. You could ride a rollercoaster and squeal with delight.
I would look out your window and wonder why. You could visit all your friends just to say "Hi!"
I would hold your anger that comes and goes. You could walk barefoot in new grass and wiggle your toes.
I would do your wondering of what is to be. You could read a book under a big shady tree.
I would listen to the footsteps and come and go. You could sit by the fire or play in the snow.
I would lie in your bed for that day and night. You could sit and watch a sunset, blazing and bright.
I wish I could sick for you for just one day. But since I can' your side I will stay.

I am signing off for awhile so that I can focus on spending time with my family during Christmas. I want to enjoy the time I have with them without thinking about the surgery. I need a break from it all. So look for an update next week.

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. During this holiday season, my prayer is that you will feel the love of God and enjoy the time you have with your family and friends. I feel blessed to have you in my life.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Surgery Details

Surgery will take place either on January 13th or 14th. The following are the details...

Surgery will be long and hard. It will take 12+ hours and involve two surgeons. I will be in the hospital for up to 10 days. An incision will be made under my eye and down my nose to my upper lip. The bone under my eye and above the maxilliary sinus will be removed. They will then remove all of the cancer cells that are left. They will biopsy under my eye to determine if there is cancer there. If the biopsy is positive, they will then remove my eye. I will also lose all of the teeth on the upper right side of my mouth. The surgery will cut off blood flow to these teeth causing them to die. To repair my face, the fibula bone in one of my legs will be used and/or tissue from my abdomen or upper leg. If they repair my mouth with bone, I will be able to have teeth implants put back in down the road. If they repair it with tissue, I will no longer have teeth there. If they remove my eye, I will be able to have a prosthetic eye put in the future. I will also require a tracheotomy to help with breathing due to the fact that my mouth and face will be extremely swollen. I will be breathing through the trach throughout my hospital stay. The hope will be that it gets removed before I leave the hospital. I will also have a feeding tube inserted into my nose to keep me fed for up to 3 weeks. After healing is done, I will need to meet with some Speech Pathologists to get my speech, swallowing and eating back. Overall, recovery will take up to 4 weeks after I leave the hospital.

My surgeon anticipates I am curable at this point. I will not require any further treatment. The only thing that may throw a wrench into this is if they find more cancer deeper into the tissue or muscle. But, the surgeon said they have yet to see this on the scans. He also said that most of his patients have said that recovery is much easier than chemo and radiation. And since I am young and healthy, he is confident I will handle the surgery well.

How do I feel? I AM SCARED OUT OF MY MIND!!!! I am not happy about getting a tracheotomy and loosing my teeth. I am very anxious about the possibility of waking up and realizing my eye is gone and having no family members around me to process the loss. I am afraid about how I am going to look. No teeth? No eye? Scars on face. Scars on my neck. Scars on my legs. All of this just for a few cancer cells. But if I want to be cured, I have no choice but to have the surgery. Oh what it would be like to have choices again.

Where is God in all of this? Why is he subjecting me to such an ordeal? I don't know why. Sometimes this all feels like a dream. Throughout this past year up until now, there were many times that I asked God to show himself to me his love. And the other day, it finally hit me...he has been using my friends and family to show me his love. He has been there all of this time. Just in a different way than I expected. In past blogs, I have written countless examples of how people have demonstrated how much they care for me and are supporting me. From an anonymous group of women who sent me a variety of hats to wear on my bald head to cards sent in the mail with words of encouragement. But these past few days, I have never before felt so loved by those around me and I am feeling Gods arms around me because of it. It is because of this I feel somewhat at peace and have the strength to get through this.

Tonight, we were visited by a group of our friends in the neighborhood to sing us Christmas carols by candlelight. Our house was their only stop. I know it was because they wanted us to feel the spirit of Christmas despite what we are going through. And to show us love, God's love. It was so special for us and it brought tears to our eyes.

I have also been receiving anonymous gifts left at our door. The other day, I received a necklace with the word "survivor" on it. It is beautiful. And the card it was in said, Sue, you are a survivor. Not only are we receiving a plethora of Christmas cards, but cards sent to us from friends and family reminding us that we are still in their prayers. I have been told numerous stories of cancer survivors that went through the same surgery I am about to undergo. They are now living a normal and healthy life.

Thank you God for showing me your love this past week. As I look back, I see you have been there the entire time. Thank you for blessing me with so many wonderful friends, family and strangers that have gone out of their way to show me love.

Please continue to pray: for wisdom for the doctors, for peace before and after the surgery, for protection of my eye, for pain control, for a speedy recovery and for the cancer to stay contained until the surgery. And especially to be healed!

Thank you all!


Friday, December 18, 2009

Believe, Expect, Hope

These past few days I have been spending a lot of time in the word, reading many messages of encouragement and support from family and friends and listening to powerful messages from some of my favorite speakers. I am learning a lot about myself and my faith. But mostly I am learning a lot about how I handle difficult circumstances. I tend to face them with a negative attitude and hopelessness. And I lose faith. The following is a list of verses and quotes that I have received these past few days that I am holding close to my heart:

- Isaiah 40:31 (The Message) "Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying "God has lost track of me. He doesn't care what happens to me?" Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening? God doesn't come and go. God lasts. He's creator of what you can't see or imagine. He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. But those who WAIT upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don't get tired, they walk and don't lag behind."

- Waiting upon the Lord means to EXPECT, look for and hope on the Lord.

- We should live like a child with confident expectancy. We should EXPECT God to do great things in our lives.

- If God didn't give me what I wanted, he has something better planned.

- John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest."

- John 9:3 "neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

- Make your mind up on what your going to believe what God is going to do and don't get off of it. Be consistent in your believing - this is the key to victory.

- Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

- The promise God gave me WILL manifest itself.

- Negative attitudes don't mix with faith, only hope does.

- Before my life is going to change, my attitude has got to change.

- God is NOT limited. God wants to do more for you than you can imagine.

- Something good is going to happen.

- Psalms 103:3-4 "God forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, God redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion."

- 2 Corinthians 4:7-13 "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. It is written: "I believed, therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also BELIEVE and therefore speak."

- Am I agreeing with Satan by being hopeless or am I agreeing with God by being hopeful?

- You don't always see God coming, but you know when he has been there.

- Exodus 14:13-14 "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord with bring you today...The Lord will fight for you you need only to be still."

The messages these quotes and scriptures have given me is to BELIEVE God will heal me, EXPECT God to do good things and never give up HOPE. It is a battle for me, but I am working really hard to focus on these three things. Like the character on Saturday Night Live, Stuart Smalley, who repeats to himself while looking in the mirror, "I am good enough, I am smart enough, and doggone it, people like me" I need to repeat to myself over and over again these quotes and verses to get it in my head that something good is going to happen! That God came to give me life, not to condemn me! And doggone it, God loves me!

With my new attitude, I am working hard to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our home. Yes, I will not be as joyful as I could be, but I refuse to let this news put a damper on our celebrations. I will value the time I will get to spend with my family and the time I have before things get hard again.

I anticipate my appointment on Monday with my surgeon will calm some of the anxiety I am having about the surgery. I will learn more about what to expect during and after the surgery. The one thing I want to hear from him, more than anything, is that this will be the last step towards my recovery. That I will be cured and no more treatment will be necessary.

Please continue to pray for wisdom for the doctors, peace before and after the surgery, for healing and for protection of my eye.

With much love and thanks and many blessings to all of you during this holiday season,


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Only Believe

We started a tradition in our family a few years ago called Elf on the Shelf. Many of you may have seen the cute boxes in stores containing a little elf and a book with a story about the elf on the shelf. Our elf, named Buttons, visits our house every December. He magically appears somewhere in the house and becomes Santa's eyes and ears until Christmas time. Every night he flies home to Santa to give his report and then reappears again in the morning in a new location in the house. Mackenzie and Kendall are so excited every morning to discover where Buttons is hiding next. They talk to him and tell him what they want for Christmas. The fun part about it all is that they believe. They believe this elf is real. They believe Santa is real. Their belief never waivers. I think their belief in Buttons and Santa has transferred into believing that God is real. There is no doubt in their mind that either one exists.

I often wish my belief and faith were like Mackenzie and Kendall's faith. Never waivering, never doubting. I especially wish I had their faith right now. Mine has been shaken beyond belief. I have been begging God to help me believe that this will end. That I will be healed. I am trying so hard but it just isn't coming to me. Instead, I am filled with fear that this will never end. That the rest of my life, however long it may be, will be spent battling cancer. I am afraid the more time that passes between now and the surgery will give the cancer the ability to move into my eye and grow to other places in my body. I am afraid of the surgery...that I will not survive it. I am afraid of the pain. I am afraid of waking up and realizing my eye is gone and having no one to help me process the loss.

Last night, I was sitting in bed. I had finished reading my Bible and devotional book and Kendall came into the room. She saw that I had my Bible in hand so she immediately ran into her room to grab her Bible. She came sprinting back into the room and plopped in bed with me. She grabbed my book and turned to a page that immediately caught my attention. The title of the page was "Only Believe". I grabbed the book and started reading. It was based on this verse: Matthew 9:28 "Jesus asked, Do you believe that I am able to do this?" That verse made my jaw drop. It was like God was asking me if I believe he can cure me....if he can get me through this. I wanted to find out the context of the verse and to whom God was asking this question. So I turned to Matthew 9:27 and read the following: "As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, "Have mercy on us Son of David!" When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him and he asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" "Yes Lord, they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you"; and their sight was restored." My jaw dropped again...this verse was perfect for me and how ironic it had to do with healing and eye sight. I want to have a faith like these blind men.

I have been walking around the house like a zombie. I break down crying not only because of the biopsy results, but because I feel like the joy of Christmas has been stripped away. Oh how I was looking forward to celebrating the holidays cancer free. But it will be different this year. Unfortunately not a lot of celebrating will be happening. Vacations will need to be postponed and we will have to decline attending several upcoming parties. When will life resume for us again?

Please continue to pray....especially for the protection of my eye and the upcoming surgery. I am looking to God, family and friends for strength right now because I feel like I don't have any. It already has been a long year. So I cling to each and every encouraging message you leave on this blog. Please let me know you are here. It means more to me than you will ever know and gives me the strength I am looking for. I have never before been so desperate for any word of encouragement or hope. I feel that God is using all of you to give me the hope and strength I need to get through this.

With much love and thanks,

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cancer not gone

Well, the results were not what we were hoping for. The cancer is still there. Next They will remove the cancer from my sinuses. It will be a long and hard surgery requiring my face to be reconstructed. They cannot guarantee if they will be able to save my eye. It all depends on whether or not the cancer has entered into the fatty area of the eye or not. The eye will be removed if it has. I will be meeting with my doctor and a plastic surgeon who will be in on the surgery in the next couple of weeks. Surgery dates has yet to be determined.

I am so devastated and cannot contain my emotions right now. I feel very let down and that the hope the first biopsy gave me has been completely stripped away. I am beginning to wonder if this is every going to end. Am I going to survive this?

Please pray. Pray for wisdom for the doctors. Pray for protection of my eye. Pray that I will be able to find strength to get through this. Pray that this will be the last and final step towards a cure.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No Results Yet

Biopsy went well. Very sore and puffy today. Thank goodness for pain meds. No results yet. Hopefully will know by tomorrow or Monday. I will let you all know as soon as I know.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Second Biopsy Tomorrow

I woke up this morning in a panic as I started to think about the biopsy tomorrow. It came way too fast. What happened to these last four weeks? I am not sure how I feel about it. I sometimes feel that everything is going to be OK. But then the "what ifs" start to enter into my mind and I get scared at the possibility that they may find that the cancer is still there. Oh how I wish it was simple to let go and let God. This is NOT easy.

I spent some time reading my Bible this morning. Immediately I turned to the verse in Psalms that God gave to me when I was first diagnosed. In this Psalms, David was remembering the miracles of long ago that God performed in his life bringing him hope as he faced his current struggles. When I was diagnosed, it was a reminder of how God miraculously saved Mackenzie's life. Remembering the power God demonstrated during her birth and time spent in the NICU gave me hope. How ironic that I happened to turn directly to this Psalms again as I am approaching the end of my treatment. Then, I turned directly to a verse in Leviticus. It is a verse that talks about God's compassion as never failing and how it is new every morning. Another encouragement that God will again show his compassion to me tomorrow morning while I go through the biopsy. I am doing the best I can today to cling to this encouragement God gave me this morning. I am trying not to second guess it, which can be easy to do. Was it a mere coincidence that I happened to turn directly to these passages?

My biopsy is scheduled for 7:40 am. The first surgery of the day. Please pray for peace before surgery, wisdom for my doctor and a speedy recovery. And most of all pray for a negative biopsy!!! I am assuming my doctor will have a Pathologist in the operating room with him once again so we should get quick results. Let's hope the Pathologist doesn't make a mistake this time. I will update all of you as soon as I can.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What I am Thankful For...

I am thankful for a wonderful husband who has stood by my side through sickness and health.
I am thankful for the hugs and kisses my sweet girls gave to me when I was feeling sick.
I am thankful for the hours my parents and in-laws spent traveling back and forth to care for me and my family this past year.
I am thankful for the time my sister spent laying in bed with me when I needed some company.
I am thankful for my Dad's experience with cancer that gave him an understanding that I desperately needed.
I am thankful for the cancer survivors that gave me courage and strength.
I am thankful for the anonymous group of women who sent me a variety of hats to wear on my bald head.
I am thankful for hats.
I am thankful for the ladies who made meals for me and my family while I was going through chemo and radiation.
I am thankful for food and the ability to eat.
I am thankful for the many flowers, gifts and cards that I received over these past months.
I am thankful for the doctors and nurses who had the wisdom to give me the best care possible.
I am thankful for eye sight.
I am thankful for a neighborhood filled with great friends.
I am thankful for great friends.
I am thankful for the capacity to love and show love.
I am thankful for the girls' teachers that were so supportive during the school year.
I am thankful for the many prayers that were said on my behalf.
I am thankful for the power of prayer.
I am thankful for God and his healing.
I am thankful the cancer is gone.

So many things to be thankful for this year! I have been blessed.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Time for change

For the past 8 months I have been carrying around a lot of stress and fear. This was all I knew since being diagnosed with cancer. Now that treatment is over, and I have been declared cancer free for now, it has been hard to let the stress and fear go. My body is still tense. Fear still occupies my thoughts. It is time for a new way of thinking and I am finding it hard to get there despite the good news. I feel a need to purge these feelings out of my body. Like a drug addict, I need go through rid of all the feelings I have been keeping inside of me for a long time. It is time to relax and enjoy life again. I am trying to figure out how to do it, but have not yet succeeded.

I am working hard to place all of my trust in God to keep me cancer free. To completely understand that he gave me the gift of life again and that I can revel in that joy. To not be afraid that the cancer will come back. That is a fear I will probably have for quite some time until over time the tests continue to come back negative. I think I am now entering the hardest part of living with this disease.

I am excited to be able to celebrate the holidays! And it will be a big celebration with new meaning. I will cherish this time of year more than I ever have. I will be more thankful on Thanksgiving. And I will value the true meaning of Christmas. This weekend we are going to take a trip to Chicago as a family. We are going to spend much needed time enjoying each other and having fun together without the stress of cancer. Something that we have not been able to do for quite some time.

If you can, please continue to keep me in your prayers. I have always struggled with fear and I don't want to let the fear of the cancer coming back occupy my mind. I want to live with confidence that I will be OK. This is going to be a big challenge. And please pray that the biopsy in 4 weeks will come back clean again.

There is power in prayer. I am living proof. THANK YOU!!!!


Friday, November 13, 2009

A miracle has happened!

Today, God showed himself to me again. I received a miracle. My Surgical Oncologist called today to inform me that the initial pathology reports were wrong. The cells they found were NOT cancerous. Further testing showed NO cancer. There were seven biopsies done in my sinuses and they were all cancer free! I was shocked! I could not believe it. I am still in a state of disbelief. No surgery as of now. The doctor wants to biopsy again in 4 weeks to be sure, but as of now I am cancer free. This makes me a little nervous, but this is where I just have to trust God and lay all of my worries at his feet.

These past couple of days have been extremely tough for me. I was so angry and could not understand what God was trying to do. I was so afraid for the surgery and the possibility of loosing my eye. I was more scared than I was before chemo and radiation. I had so many emotions going on at the same time that I could not communicate to my loved ones how I felt. It was so overwhelming. I cried and cried. We prayed and prayed especially for the protection of my eye.

This morning I woke up to find my right eye dialated. It was very scary. I thought for sure it was the end of the road for my eye. That the cancer had finally found its way in. They had me immediately go to an Opthomologist to have it checked out. After a thorough examination the doctor determined that the patch they had placed behind my ear to prevent nausea after surgery caused the dialation. I guess it is very common. And she also determined that my eye had no damage from radiation. It was a good as could be.

As soon as we got home and we pulled into the garage, my dad came out with the phone. My doctor was needing to talk to me. He said he had more good news! No cancer!

Yes, this has been a crazy couple of weeks. A lot of ups and downs. I thank all of you for riding this rollercoaster with me. I thank you for all of your prayers, support and love. In four weeks, I hope to give you all good news again. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I have...

I have anger.
I have hopelessness.
I have fear.
I have questions.
I have disappointment.
I have a hard road ahead.
I still have cancer.


Surgery will be the next step and it is not going to be an easy one. It will be a procedure that will take all day. Incisions will be made in my face to remove the cancer. Massive reconstruction will be done to repair it. I will be in Intensive Care for 3 days with my entire stay lasting up to 10 days. If the cancer is still in the orbit of my eye, they will have to take out my eye. I will know more on Friday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Biopsy Tomorrow

It has been a long week and a half. Waiting for the biopsy tomorrow has been agonizing. I think the anticipation for the biopsy has been worse than my anticipation was for my scans. I have received good news - the scans were negative. There is hope the cancer is gone. I am scared that tomorrow this good news and hope will be stripped away. I have had a taste of what it is like to be able to move on with my life. I will be devastated if my life will be put on hold again. I just want this all to be over.

My surgery is scheduled for 1:50 tomorrow. Please pray that surgery will go smoothly and that I will be able to handle whatever news the biopsy might bring. I will share the news with you as soon as I can!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I had my appointment with the Oncologist on Monday. It sounds like a lot is weighing on the results of my biopsy taking place on November 11th. It may have been too soon to say cancer free.

I am scared again and I hate all of this waiting. I am hoping and praying the negative scans were accurate.

This is the last hurdle we need to get over. If the biopsy is negative then we should be in the clear. The Surgical Oncologist will also attempt to fix my right ear during surgery as well. Hoping whatever he will do will be painless and help my hearing.

Please don't stop praying yet!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Good things come to those to wait

So my day did not start off very well. I had called the triage nurse at my oncology clinic to let her know that I was anxiously awaiting a phone call from the doctors to let me know the results of my scans. Bless her heart, she decided to read the results herself. Bad news....the cancer was still there. I immediately lost it. I felt like the rug had been pulled from under me feet. My dreams of celebrating were shattered and all the hope I had was false. I was scared to death. I laid in bed all day crying. My family was also devastated by the news. I was SO angry at God. I was given so many messages of hope. I believed in those messages. Now, I felt like I had nothing more to believe in. I could not do it more treatment. No more pain. No more suffering. Yet, I had an inner voice keep telling me...wait for the doctors to call.

I received a phone call at 3:30 today from the nurse who had spoken to my Surgical Oncologist. She also sat in on the tumor conference that was held today to discuss my case. Good news...the scans were negative. The tumor was still there but it had shrunk and it was not cancerous. A tremendous weight was lifted off my shoulders. Tears started flowing not only on my face but the faces of my family. Prayers have been answered. Thank you Lord!!!

To be on the safe side, the doctor wants to biopsy the tumor. If there is anything that needs to be removed at the time will be removed. But I feel confident that all will be good.

I can't thank you all enough for the prayers, the support and the encouragement. God used each an every one of you to help me get through this. I felt so was God's love shown through each of you. I will continue to keep you all updated on my upcoming surgery that will take place on the November 11th and on the progress I am continuing to make.

Now it's time to celebrate!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tomorrow is the day

I don't have much to say...I have gone into survival mode this week. I am pretty quiet and have been keeping to myself a lot. This is my way of dealing with the fear and the stress of the upcoming scans and the results. My body has been aching and is extremely tense.

Tomorrow is the day of the scans. Friday I will get the results. I hope to be able to give you all good news. Stay tuned....

Please pray.

Much love,

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My name is Sue, and I am afraid.

So I have been working on not being afraid this past week. Unfortunately, I am not doing so well. I am still scared out of my mind about the results of my upcoming scans. I don't sleep well at night and during the day I have moments where my mind is consumed with thoughts of what ifs. So it isn't as easy as I thought would be.

Today, a dear childhood friend sent me an encouraging note, commenting on my last blog about being afraid and in it was a completely different perspective on fear. This is what she said:

"I woke up in the night last night thinking about what you wrote and that fear is not from the Lord. While you are correct, I got to thinking who in their right mind wouldn't be worried given the circumstances? So in my mind I twisted it around a bit and thought of fear as just an intense desire to want to live! I believe that valuing life and your time here on earth is very Godly and that is from the Lord. So instead of looking at it as fear that the cancer may be back, look at your emotions as a true gift from the Lord that He has given you to fight this thing because He knows your will to LIVE!"

Isn't this a great perspective?! Instead of feeling like I have failed to trust in God and not be afraid, my friend made me feel normal and that it was OK for me to have fear.

When I was diagnosed with cancer, many things I read or heard indicated that I needed to think positively, to believe that I will be cured....that a positive attitude can attribute to the success of your treatment. Studies have showed... Do you know how much pressure this puts on a cancer patient? Anytime I started to feel afraid or have negative thoughts, I was scared I was preventing myself from healing. That I wasn't mentally strong enough.

I do have a will to live...more than anything. To live for my kids, for my husband. My time on earth is not over in my mind. I have so many more things I need to accomplish. And this is why I am afraid.

But I am also scared because it has truly been wonderful feeling close to normal again. Well, somewhat close to normal. I am not quite there yet. But I can somewhat function as a mom and a wife again and participate in life. To hear that the cancer is still there and that I will require further treatment causes me to be feeling of being "somewhat normal" will be taken away and I will have to go down a long road of healing...again.

And yes, I am afraid of the process of dying and dying itself. A fear that I have been trying to face head on.

So there...I am afraid and that is OK! Thanks to my childhood friend for reminding me of this.

I am officially off of my pain meds, IV fluids and no longer require the use of my feeding tube. Now I am attempting to wean myself off of some more medications. I am managing the edema in my face. The therapist has done wonders. Things are going relatively well. So now we wait...scans are a week from today.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Two weeks from today...

Two weeks from today I will be getting the scans to determine if the cancer has been successfully treated. My feelings on this....scared, crazed, fearful, hopeful, excited. Yes, my emotions have been all over the place. Just ask my family. I have been so crabby and isolated...obviously not handling it very well. The stress of it is getting to me.

The last couple of days I have been challenged by friends, family and God to not be afraid and to trust that God will not forsake me. "Fear not" was the message in my devotions today. It reminded me how many times "fear not" has been written in the Bible - hundreds. God does not want us to live in fear. So I am trying really hard to be brave through the weeks leading up to the scans. It is so hard for me because I am naturally a fearful person. One of the reasons I think I got face my fears head on. Fear of cancer, fear of death and the list goes on. I hope and pray that some day I can not live in fear but live with confidence knowing that God has my back no matter what will happen.

In the meantime, I continue to battle a few side effects. I went to my Surgical ENT Oncologist on Monday to have him look at my ear. It seems that there is quite a bit of inflammation, scarring and fluid in, around and behind my ear drum causing the pain and hearing loss. This is a result of a combination of the radiation and an infection. To help drain the fluid, the doctor attempted to slice open my ear drum. Needless to say, this was extremely painful. The ear drum was so thick that he was unsuccessful and unable to make a big enough slice to drain the fluid. So I am now on ear drops and an antibiotic. He is hoping this will take care of the issue. But as of today, I am still experiencing the same pain and hearing loss and some bleeding from the procedure. I am hoping that this will get better in the next few days.

The edema in my face still exists. I continue to do my massages and get treated by the therapist. It doesn't really seem to be working yet. My eye is a constant waterfall. I can't leave home without Kleenex. I am hoping this is not a side effect that is permanent. It is a real pain in the butt!

On a lighter note...I should be done with my pain medication by Friday. I am no longer using my feeding tube. I am going to stop IV fluids by the end of this week! And I am significantly cutting back on most of my medications. I have been out and about going places I have not been to for months. The other day, Jason and I went to the mall to do some shopping. Jason could not believe how excited I was to see the mall as it came in sight. I was able to go out for lunch with Jason yesterday and out to dinner with my family the other night. It is so fun to eat out again. Yes, all this activity does exhaust me and I am in bed early every night. And I do not leave home without the hand sanitizer...I am applying it to my hands virtually every minute. I am making progress!

Prayers are needed for protection against the swine flu. It has now affected Mackenzie's school and I am so afraid that she will get infected. With both of our immune systems being compromised we cannot afford to get it. I wish the immunization shots would hurry up and become available. And please continue to pray for my side effects and for positive scan results.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Am I ready?

Yesterday I attended the funeral for my friend's husband. It was a beautiful memorial honoring his life and his accomplishments. I was so happy to be able to attend and be a support to my friend and her family. But at the same time, it was very hard for me to be there. When battling a life threatening illness, it is hard to face death. I often think about my own funeral. I think about the songs I want to be played. I think about who I want to speak. And I think about who will attend.

Among the speakers at the memorial was a Pastor that married my friend and her husband 13 years ago. He delivered a message that really hit me hard. At the end of the message, he asked everyone if they would be ready to die if it were to come today, tomorrow or in 5 years. I felt like he was speaking directly to me. Am I prepared to die? Do I have anyone in my life that I need to ask for forgiveness? Have I passed onto my girls everything I want them to know about being a confident woman with a passion for God? Have I loved Jason with all of my heart? Am I right with God? I think I was crying more than my friend was. In fact, she was amazingly strong. I was shocked when she got up on stage to deliver the Eulogy. She did it without breaking down. In addition to talking about her husband and what kind of man he was, she delivered a message of encouragement to those that are suffering or experiencing loss. In the midst of her own suffering she felt compelled to let us know that there is hope through God. In her message she shared the most comforting quote I have ever heard that she just happened to have written on her Facebook page the day her husband died.

"Be assured that regardless of where you are or what you are doing or what you are going all things, in all ways, God is doing the most loving thing concerning you." - Roy Lessin

These past couple of weeks I have felt like I am finally on the mends. My strength is coming back. I am now on the lowest dose of pain medication and should be pain med free (other than Tylenol) in a week or so. I am barely using my feeding tube. Eating is going great. It still hurts, but I have learned what goes down the best. The sore on my tongue is still there but shrinking. Because of the progress I am making, and should my scans show no more cancer, I will be able to get my port and feeding tube removed soon. The only things that have been hard to deal with lately are the edema in my face. I visited with an Edema Therapist and she gave me some massages to do to get rid of the edema. They don't seem to be working very well. In fact, I feel as if the fluid is just shifting to different areas of my face. Sleeping at night has been difficult as well. I get an extremely dry mouth that gets pretty painful. I wake up every hour to rinse with a special mouthwash or to get a drink of water. Also, I found out yesterday that my ear drum has scarred over causing some hearing loss. I have an appointment on Monday with my ENT to see if I there is anything that can be done.

My scans...they are now looming over me like a dark shadow. I am feeling a lot anxiety about the results. I will not be weaning myself off of Ativan (anti-anxiety med) anytime soon. I am so scared to hear the news that the cancer is still there. I often wonder how I am going to handle this kind of news. It has been so wonderful (words cannot express) getting my old self back. To have to face further treatment or surgery will be so discouraging to me. It will be a time of needing much support and prayer from my friends and family.

Please pray for peace for the next couple of weeks as I await for the date of my scans. And please pray that if this cancer is gone that I will be able to remain strong.

In the meantime I just need to remind myself that no matter how scared or anxious I am feeling that God is doing the most loving thing concerning me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Second Chances

This week two people gave me a very special gift: a feeling of being beautiful again. I have been struggling with not feeling good about myself. I know...I am being vain once again. But it is nice to feel pretty once in awhile. My hair is still not growing back in some places, my face is swollen due to the edema, hair is growing in funny places, my eyebrow and eyelashes are still gone and so on and so on. I continue to hide under my hats and I am very aware at the stares I get when I out in public.

The other day I got a really special message from a wonderful friend of mine. I don't know what inspired her to write this but it could not have had better is what she wrote (by the way she is a teacher):

"Sappy Alert!! I was in a meeting today and we were discussing the upcoming contest that the kids are going to be having soon. They must write an essay entitled, "Beauty is..." and will be judged on explaining something that isn't exactly your typical version of beauty (no flowers or sunsets). As they were explaining I immediately thought of the most beautiful things I have seen in the last year and I almost started crying in the meeting. Oddly enough, I thought of your bald head and how to me, it is BEAUTIFUL because it reminds me of how amazing and brave you are. I thought of the days your face was a little red from radiation and to me it was a reminder of your amazing character and all you have been through. I've always called you Cute Sue and described you as my unbelievably cute friend but now you are what I think of when I hear the word beautiful. You're just as cute as you always have been but so much more as well. I told you it was going to be sappy but I just want you to know how impressed and amazed I am at your strength and honesty and courage. I miss you so much and hate that I can't run down and see you. Hope you're enjoying fall. Love ya."

Not only did this message make me feel beautiful on the outside, but on the inside as well. This past week I have been working on weaning myself off of the pain meds. As a result, I have been so crabby and short with my family leaving me to feel ugly on the inside as well. I haven't gotten so mad at myself because I made a promise that if I make it through this that never again will I be impatient or lose my temper with my kids or Jason. This is only one of many things that I want to change about myself after going through this ordeal. I have hated a lot about myself for quite some time. So when I find myself falling back into old habits, I feel ugly on the inside. I know I have a lot of changes going on with my body, but it should be no excuse.

So the second thing that happened this past week was something awesome Jason did for me. One day, Jason came home with several big boxes wrapped. He handed them to me with a big smile. I was so surprised. With the help of a wonderful friend, he purchased several new outfits for me to wear. I loved each and every one of them. They have added a new spring in my step and have helped me to feel better about myself. He somehow knew that it is exactly what I needed at the time. Throughout this whole ordeal, Jason has been so great about letting me know how beautiful I still am to him. He can look past the ugliness I see and still find me attractive. How? I don't know but it must be that unconditional love he has shown me for the past 10 years. I feel so lucky to have him in my life. He is my rock!

On a side note, this week we received terrible news that a close friend of our family, lost her husband. We have grown up together and our families have been spent a lot of time together over the years. I remember going to her wedding like it was yesterday. It has really made me think a lot about why God chooses to allow some people to live and allow some people to go. Should I make it through this, what is it that makes me so special to have the opportunity to live my life. Why is it that God choses to take my friend's husband at such and early cousin, my uncles, my daughter, Aubrey. All of whom had much more of a life to live. I will feel honored to have been given a second chance to live if that is what God chooses for me. And I hope that I will live it honorably and according to God's will. I hope that I will be able to make the changes in my life that needed to be changed including the patience for my family. God please give me that second chance.

Friday, September 25, 2009

It is Fall and I will enjoy it!

I think one of the hardest things I have found while fighting cancer is finding a balance between enjoying life and taking time to heal. When diagnosed with cancer, you want to seize the moment and take advantage of every opportunity you have to spend time with your loved ones. Although my prognosis is good, I still have that feeling that these days could be my last days and I don't want to miss out on any opportunities I have to play with the girls, be in love with my husband and tell my family how much I appreciate them. At the same time, I am exhausted. All I want to do is spend time in my bed resting, trying to heal. The doctors and other cancer patients told me to sleep when I feel like sleeping and to take advantage of the time I do have to lay in bed and allow my body to heal. So I do this with reluctance...because what if I am missing out on valuable time I have if these days are my last days? I don't want to be wondering what if and regretting any decisions I make. Because every decision I do make nowadays seems to be more important than ever.

This week has been a good week. I did get out of bed more often to join the activities going on downstairs. I attempted to go for several walks. Things are getting better. The sores in my mouth are starting to go away. I am able to eat more of a variety of food. I am able to drink pop again and loving it! I think I have overdosed on Diet Dr. Pepper. I need my appetite to come back so that I actually want to eat now. Unfortunately, when one thing gets better, another problem arises. I now am developing lymphodema in my face and neck. The radiation kills a lot of the lymph nodes in the face causing the nodes to collect fluid. I now have to go to therapy to learn to massage the fluid out of the nodes and into the working nodes. If nothing is done, it will not go away and it can get painful. So many things can happen as a result of radiation - it can do so much damage and so much good at the same time. The doctors are also making attempt #2 on weaning me off of the pain meds. They will do it much slower this time so that my body does not have the reaction it did last time. If I can get down on my pain meds, I will be more alert, have more energy and get my appetite back.

My biggest fear right now is being exposed to influenza and the swine flu. My family has been given the flu shot. Now we wait anxiously for the swine flu shot to become available. Both my daughter and I are consider high risk so as you can imagine I am paranoid. I am praying that our family and the school will be protected and that that the swine flu will just stay away. I am scared to venture outside of the house, but I know I can't stay inside all fall. I will feel better once we get the shot knowing it will protect us.

I pray that all of you will enjoy the beautiful fall colors that are starting to show on the trees. I am so excited for this time of year. It is my favorite and I am looking forward to enjoying this season as much as I can. I will not stay in bed and let this season pass me by.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

You've Changed Me For the Better

The other day, I had the honor to spend sometime with a mom of one of my best friend's from high school. I have so many fond memories of her way back when I would often hang out at their house. The reason I spent sometime with her was because ten years ago she was diagnosed with a very similar cancer to mine. Little did I know 20 years ago that would I be sitting in my family room discussing our battles with cancer.

My friend, who also has been an huge encouragement to me, has been asking me to call her mom for quite sometime. I just wasn't quite ready up until now. I was desperate to speak to someone who has been through the chemo and the radiation treatments exactly like I have been. I am so thankful that I did because I finally feel completely understood...someone knew how I felt. Someone knew how frustrating the recovery can be. Someone knew how horrible the side effects are. But the one thing that impacted me the most was that my friend's mom has had a harder road than I have had to face. She is a two time survivor of her cancer. And despite the side effects she is battling, she has such a positive attitude and always has a smile on her face. Her faith is unshaken. She is rock solid. She BELIEVES more than anything that God will heal her. She is a true inspiration to me and taught me many lessons on handling cancer with grace. I am so thankful to have her in my life.

In fact, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the many people that have reached out to me these past months. I never realized how blessed I was with friendship. Many of you have taught me a huge lesson on reaching out to others that are hurting and suffering. I have learned so much about myself through all of you and all that you have done for me. I am amazed at the human capacity to love others and show kindness. And because of this, my life has changed for the better. I hope to someday, tell each and every one of you in person how much you have impacted my life and to thank you with a big hug for all of the love and kindness you have shown to me. I am honored to have each and everyone of you in my life. I pray that I will never take for granted your friendships.

One of the verses that my friend's mom shared with me during our visit is Jeremiah 30:17 "I will give you back your health and heal your wounds said the Lord." This verse has been on mind since our visit. I have to believe this will be true.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Rough week

This has been a tough week for me. I am struggling with exhaustion, nausea and pain. The doctors are trying to find a good balance of the medications they are giving me to not only prevent withdrawl but also to keep me comfortable. I spent the day at the hospital on Monday getting IV meds and fluids because I was so sick. My body is really going through a lot of changes. The areas that were exposed to the radiation (my face, head, neck) are achy and painful to the touch. My mouth is definitely starting to heal, but the new skin that is reappearing is very tender and sensitive making it difficult to eat.

Needless to say I am so frustrated. I definitely took a lot of steps back in my recovery process. I want so badly to feel good again. I see no end in sight.

That is it for now. I am sorry I have nothing positive to say. I look forward to the day that the words on my blog are rejoicing and happy.

Please continue to pray for my recovery and that it will start to go faster. I am not sure how much longer I can take this.


Monday, September 14, 2009

God's Sense of Humor

I am not going to say much, but I thought you all would get a kick out of this story. These past couple of days I have been having a hard time with nausea, vomitting, exhaustion etc... I took several steps backwards in my progress towards recovery. It was very frustrating for me. As a result, I have been questioning God a lot lately asking why he doesn't prove his existence to me - face to face. I didn't want to see his existence through people, objects or even the birds (remember the blue birds?) At one point I said to Jason...I don't want a @#$*! bird to feel God's presence...I need more than that. I need more!
So after feeling really sick for 3 days, I finally went to the doctor today. I was able to get a lot of good medications to help with the nausea and other symptoms I was experiencing. When I came home, the first thing I saw was not just one blue bird but 5 blue birds sitting on our deck. It was the entire blue bird family that lived in Kendall's birdhouse. They were sitting in a circle on the the clothes that my mom laid out to dry in the air. I did worry about them disposing on my clothes, but I just laughed and said to God, "very funny." At the same time, I had tears in my eyes. Although I did not want him to use birds anymore, the way he used them this time was amazing!

Here's to better days ahead...hopefully.

Thought this story would bring a smile to your face!

Friday, September 11, 2009

I need strength and peace and much much more.

Isaiah 40:31 "Those who wait for the Lord shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired."

When I woke up this morning I was feeling tired, weak, achy, and chilled. I am not sure what my body is going through right now, but it is really keeping me down and out. Needless to say, I also had a horrible night of sleep due to the drainage and dry mouth. I needed someone or something to give me strength to get through this day. The first thing I did was turn to God's word and my devotional book. The verse above was what I found. Yet, it had not fulfilled the longing that I had inside of me for peace and strength. I am worried that I am getting numb to what God is trying to tell me. That my faith is waivering. Trust, believe, wait...yeah, yeah, yeah I have done all of that and I feel it has gotten me no where. The second thing I did was to call my parents. I knew I could count on them for some encouragement and prayer. It felt good to cry and tell them how I feel and spend some time praying. But even my parents were unable to truly give me the strength and peace I looking for.

I am tapped out. I can no longer find the strength inside of me to get through this. I have trusted, prayed and believed as much as possible that things would get better soon. I am starting to think it just isn't going to happen. I feel so alone, from God, from my family, from everyone who has never been through radiation treatments. As the verse above says, I have waited on the Lord, and waited, and waited, and waited. I am still waiting to have my strength renewed so that I may walk and run without growing weary. Lord, how long does it take? How long are you going to make me wait?

Yet, no matter how discouraged I get, I am still drawn to God. I can't imagine going through this without him. I just need something...what it is I don't know. I think a miracle. What I wouldn't give to talk to someone who has walked in my shoes....who has experienced everything I have gone through. The only person I can think of is God...his persecution, his feelings of abandonment, his pain and his suffering. He knows and why can't he intervene on my behalf and make things better?

I really hate writing with such anger and negativity. I hate being this way. I hate myself for having these feelings. Cancer is an experience that strips you from all security leaving you feeling very alone...desperate for answers as to why it has happened to you. It definitely tests your faith and the relationships you have with your spouse, kids, family and friends. You are faced with the possibility of death causing you to be overwhelmed with fear. There is no joy in cancer.

Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement. Although they don't always give me the peace I am looking helps me to know how many people are praying. Your support also puts a smile on my face or allows me to cry it out. Now is the time I need your prayer the most. This is the hardest part for me. Not the chemo or the radiation treatments. The recovery has been the hardest.

Much love,

Monday, September 7, 2009


Remember that rollercoaster I was talking about? I am still on it....and currently I am on the downhill. These past few days have been tough for me. Several things have happened these past few days that have been discouraging causing me to have a lot of fear and no hope. I am so afraid this is never going to end...will I ever beat this? Will I ever get better? Will these side effects ever go away? Right now I am having hard time believing that life will ever get back to normal.

I am again missing out on activities I enjoy doing or spending time with friends and family. I was unable to go to the neighbor's campfire this weekend because I was too tired. And today, I attempted to do another activity that I look forward to every year....the apple orchard. I was so excited to go. Unfortunately, just as we were about to board the wagon to head out to the orchards I started to feel horrible. I had to go sit down and I tried so hard to overcome feelings of passing out and nausea. It didn't happen. So I had to go and sit in the car until everyone came back from the orchards. I was so disappointed and frustrated. I am so SICK AND TIRED OF FEELING LIKE THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please pray for me.......

Friday, September 4, 2009

To go to the fair, or not to go to the fair - what is the answer?

I am overwhelmed by the amount of responses I received on Facebook when I posted the question "To go to the fair, or not to go to the fair". So many of you responded with encouragement and support telling me to go. It just reminded me of the many people that have been praying for me, even for the simple things like going to the fair.

Well, did I go? I woke up in the morning ready to go. I was feeling energized and thought I could do it. But after I got the girls ready to go with some resistance from Kendall, I was exhausted. I then started second guessing my decision. Anxiety started welling up inside of me and I was scared to go. But after remembering the words of encouragement from everyone, I decided to buck up and go. And I am so glad I did.

The day was beautiful. The weather could not have been more perfect. I am so glad we had a wheelchair because it allowed me to experience the whole fair without getting too exhausted. The girls enjoyed hitching rides as well. I am not sure Jason enjoyed pushing the wheelchair, but he didn't complain. At one point, I had Kendall in my lap and Mackenzie holding my hand and I just started crying. I was so thankful for the time I was given to spend time with my family doing something I look forward to every year. After missing so many things this Summer, I did not take for granted the opportunity I had to go to the fair.

My senses were heightened and I saw everything with a new perspective. I also noticed that I was not in a hurry like I normally am. I just relaxed and enjoyed every moment. I think it was one of the best times I ever had at the fair with the kids. Of course, there were many things I did not get to do because we had kids along. The day was mostly about the kids and making sure they had fun. But that was OK with me. I didn't care what we did...except I had one thing I had to do before we left. Whac-a-mole.

Whac-a-mole has become a tradition for me at the fair. I hate to brag..I am pretty good and typically win a prize every time. But this time, playing Whac-a-mole had more meaning to me. If I were to win, it meant that the chemo, radiation, drugs and all of the poison in my body as not robbed me of my reflexes and mental capacity to process what I needed to do. On the first try, I won. I was so proud of myself. I selected a monkey that Kendall has adoringly taken in to be a part of her stuffed animal collection.

I know many of you prayed for me to have the ability to eat a corn dog. I started out slow...I had a bite of Kendall's corn dog. And it was a success. I decided to wait until I was hungry to get my own. But then I was sidetracked by the mini donuts, cheese curds, corn on the cob and cotton candy. All of which tasted better than ever. I was so worried that there would be nothing at the fair I could eat. I even packed some yogurt and ensure just in case I needed some nourishment that was not available at the fair. But it was not touched the entire time. And had I not filled up on all of the other food items I came across, a corn dog would have been consumed.

So prayers were answered!!! The Fair was success and I had a great time. I thank all of you who were praying for me!!! Now on to my next goal....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The end of summer

Summer is coming to an end. Today, we attended the open houses for both Kendall and Mackenzie's classes. It is such an exciting time and the atmosphere at the schools are fun. Mackenzie is so excited to see her friends again. Kendall is so excited to start Kindergarten. She was so proud walking with her backpack filled with school supplies. I hope that I will be able to participate as a volunteer in each of their classes as much as I can this school year. It may not happen anytime soon, but I am hoping it can happen later on in the year.

Well, tomorrow is the day we are supposed to head to the State Fair. I am not sure if it is going to happen or not. I am having some anxiety about going. It is hard to leave the comfort of my home. I am worried that if I start to feel sick or really tired that it will be difficult for me to handle. I am not placing to much pressure on myself to eat a corn dog. I just really want to go and experience the Fair. I am giving myself some extra IV fluids tonight to help with my energy level tomorrow. I am going to have to wait and see how I feel in the morning. Based on how I feel today...I am not sure if it is going to happen. I have been feeling really tired today.

Things are getting better bit by bit. But I still have days when I struggle to get out of bed. I am starting to eat a little more. The other day I was able to drink a can of pop for the first time in a long time. I was so excited and started to cry. It was an amazing accomplishment for me. These are the little things that one can take for granted as I have my whole life. I will never again take for granted being able to eat and drink whatever I want. I can't wait to get there again.

I still have about 5 more weeks to heal completely. Although, that can all depends on the individual. They weren't kidding when they said the recovery period is long. The doctors have scheduled my final scans for October 29. However, I think I need to reschedule the scans because this is the same day as the Hannah Montana concert. We bought tickets to take the girls to do something special as a family. When I have a PET scan, I am radioactive for a short period so I would not be able to go to the concert. So I am going to try to reschedule to scans. Otherwise, Jason will have to face the thousands of screaming girls alone.

As of today, these are my prayer requests: 1) Quick healing through this recovery process. This includes healing of sores in my mouth and the mucus/drainage to go away. 2) Getting my appetite back and being able to eat anything by mouth again. 3) To have some normalcy before my scans. 4) To be CANCER FREE!!!

Thanks to all of you that have been so dedicated to praying for me. I thank God for you every day.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Rollercoaster Ride

For the first time in my life, I am on a rollercoaster ride that I wish I could get off. I am so ready for some normalcy in my life with no more ups and downs. It has been a long road (since April) and it is time for it to be over. These last couple of days I have been an emotional wreck. I am so frustrated with the recovery process. It is definitely testing my patience. I don't think it could go any slower. At the same time, I am struggling with my appearance. I know I shouldn't concern myself with the way I look and it is probably vain. But I just want to feel feminine again. My hair is growing back, but not in the places where it was exposed to the radiation. So I look like I have a marine haircut or Vanilla Ice (Yes, flashback to the 80's). My right eye is swollen, has no eyelashes and my eyebrows are just about gone. Make up doesn't seem to help. I am tired of wearing hats...but they are the only thing that I can wear to somewhat cover up my ugliness. I am constantly clearing out the mucus in my nose and throat so I am sure I don't sound so pretty either. I can't wear the clothes I really want to wear because of my feeding tube and IV port. I have been forcing myself to take little walks up and down the street so that I can start regaining my strength. I was hoping that a little exercise will do me some good. But I feel so uncomfortable with the way I look that I quickly want to run back inside the house and hide under the covers in my bed. I am quickly beginning to understand what it is like to be the one people stare at. I feel like a monster.

I am hoping this is all temporary. Please be temporary. Let this be all over soon.

Psalm 6 - "From Psalms for Praying, An Invitation to Wholeness"
O my Beloved, though I have turned from You, continue to enfold me with your love; Be gracious to me, Heart of my heart, for I am sad and weary. Surround me with your healing Light, that my body, mind and soul might heal. How long must I wait, O Lord? I open the door of my heart to You, my Beloved, Enter in and imbue me with your steadfast Love. I shall remember You all my days; I shall sing praises to You throughout the nights. I am tired of so many fears; I cry myself to sleep at night, while grief and feelings of guilt bedim my eyes with tears. All my doubts, my fears, are creating walls so that I know no love. Depart from me, you enemies of wholeness, for the Beloved is aware of my cry; Love has heard my prayer, and hastens to answer my call. Though my fears are running for cover, yet they shall be forgiven by Love; Illusions that lived in the ego can now turn to the Light; I will know peace as I return Home.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thank God for Facebook

Thank God for Facebook.  It has been a source of many things for me while going through this journey.  Facebook has provided me with entertainment:  I am obsessed with the Facebook games.  My latest obsession is Farmville.  I have been working hard every day to build by farm to plant crops thus earning money to buy more necessities to make my farm a success.  Facebook has provided me with communication: It has allowed me to keep updated on what all of my friends are doing in their lives.  It has also given me an opportunity to have conversations with many of my friends through instant messaging.  Facebook has provided me with a source of encouragement.  A day does not go by when I open up my Facebook profile and I find that someone has left an encouraging message.  Theses messages are a source of comfort and help me get through my day.  And I am amazed at how many people from my past have gone out of their way to make sure I know they are thinking of me. It is amazing.

Well, I can finally say things are progressing.  Not necessarily as fast as I want them to.  But I am starting to see changes which is something I needed to see happen allowing me to feel that I am heading towards living a somewhat normal life again.  I am on my feet more and more and being able to spend more time with those around me...especially the girls.  Yesterday, I was able to go to the dentist with Mackenzie.  She had chipped her two front teeth in a minor biking accident.  It was good for me to be able to go with her to be a source of comfort while she was getting them fixed.  And I must say she was such a trouper.  After getting home from the appointment I sat outside watching Mackenzie ride her bike while playing a few rounds of go fish with Kendall.  It was wonderful.  I even had a chance to visit with a couple of my good friends in the neighborhood I have not seen for a long time.

After my appointments on Monday, we determined that it was time to start weaning myself off of the pain medications.  I am not in as much pain as I used to be.  I am so excited to, some day, be done with these meds so that I can be clear headed again and be able to drive my car!  I had a visit with my Surgical Oncologist and he was able to clear out my sinuses and right ear to give me some temporary relief from the mucus and drainage.  It is still there, but not as severe.  He prescribed a steroid nasal spray that is helping with the inflammation. However, I can't wait for the day until I can wake up in the morning and not have to clean out my mouth and nose from what drained during the night.  

I am still working hard on eating more and more.  The goal is to start cutting down on the tube feedings.  My mouth is still tender so it will be a slow process.  I am still holding out for a miracle that by next week I will be eating better.  I so desperately want to go to the State Fair and have theat footlong corndog!!!  I don't know if it is going to happen, but I am going to cross my fingers.

Although my energy level is picking up a bit, I do find myself taking naps during the day.  I get tired very easily.  So it is no surprise after my busy day yesterday, I am pooped out today.  Luckily a dear friend had the girls over for a playdate today so I am able to catch up on some of my rest.

As for my mental state...I am still working hard on BELIEVING.  I am given messages all around me from things I am reading or from encouragement from friends to BELIEVE that I can be healed.  I still have moments where I freak out and think this may not be over and I might have a long road ahead of me.  But I try not to stay in these moments of negative thinking too long.  I know God is telling me to believe.  To believe in his power to heal and his love for me.  These messages to believe are overwhelmingly and almost in my face.   Is someone trying to tell me something?  I am blessed to have a few people in my life that have felt the Holy Spirit telling them that I will be healed and come out of this just fine.  I certainly hope they are right.  But the nice thing is, when I have my freak out moments, I go to these specific people for a source of comfort.  

So would it be wrong to ask you all to pray for my mouth to be completely healed by next week so I can go to the State Fair and enjoy some of the great good it has to offer?   Well, if it feels funny to pray for that, please continue to pray for healing...complete healing.  And pray that the progress of my healing continues to pick up pace and that the side effects will end soon.

Blessings to you all,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Short and but not sweet

Hi everyone.  This blog is going to be short but not sweet.  I really don't know what more to say right now other than I am still living in misery. I wake up every morning in tears.  The first think I do before the day starts is clean out my mouth  and nose from all of the mucus that gets built up overnight.  It is pretty gross.  I continue to fight nausea from all the mucus that drains in my stomach.  And I am still pretty tired.  

I had several doctor appointments this week and each one confirmed that I have a long way to go before I start to feel normal again.  I can't help but break down and cry when I hear them say this. Everyone tells me that someday I will look back on this and feel great again.  But it is hard to keep hearing this over and over when you see very little changes taking place.  

My Radiology Oncologist suggested we do a MRI to make sure the cancer has stayed put and has not spread.  It is pretty routine, but it scared me to death.  It is not something I wanted to face anytime soon.  Will they be able to tell if the cancer is gone?  I am not sure.   

I know that I have asked you over and over again to keep praying, but that is all I need from friends and family right now.  Prayers are what are going to get me through this and the increase the odds of healing.  So again, I will ask you to pray.  


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Sometimes I say that if this cancer doesn't kill me something else will.  Well, Sunday morning I made a mistake that did nearly take my life.  

Sunday morning, I had a wonderful time visiting with my high school girlfriends, some that I have not seen for quite some time.  They were all together for our 20 year reunion that took place on Saturday.  So not only did I enjoy seeing them, but listening to the fun stories about what took place at the reunion.  

After they left, I was home alone. My parents took the girls out of the house to give us some space and Jason was out at the PGA tournament with his Dad.  I decided to take a nap and give myself some IV fluids.  I give myself IV fluids every day to keep hydrated.  As I was getting the IV fluids ready I forgot to do one step of the process which was take the air out of the tubing by priming it with the fluid.  I hooked myself up and started infusing.  Just as it started I realized what I had done and before it was too late, all of the air in the tubing had been infused in my blood.  I panicked...I knew what the implications were should a large quantity air enter my blood stream.  I immediately called my Dad and he told me to call 911.  There was no way to get a hold of Jason because the PGA did not allow cell phones on the tournament grounds. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, I called my Dad back.  I did not want to be alone and I wanted him to be on the phone with me...I did not want to die alone.  I was so scared.  Once the ambulance drivers arrived they calmed my fears, a little, by letting me know that if anything were to happen it would have happened already.   However, the doctors wanted them to take me to HCMC where they have one of those chambers that can get rid of air in the blood system.  Often this chamber is used for scuba divers.  I arrived at the ER and shortly after my Dad arrived.  It was good to have someone there with me.  The doctors confirmed what the ambulance drivers said that if anything would have happened, it would have happened by now.  But I was still at risk for a stroke within 12-14 hours after so they wanted to keep me overnight for observation.  They also did an ultrasound of my heart to make sure there were no air bubbles.  If there were, they would have immediately placed me in the chamber.  Luckily there were not.  They placed me on a neurological trauma ward where throughout the night they would perform neurological tests to make sure I was not having any side effects of the air.  They also consistently gave me oxygen which helps to diffuse the air in my blood.  Throughout all of this, I was having a hard time keeping calm.  It was just too much handle on top of everything else that am dealing with.  Luckily, I was sent home Monday morning and told I should be in the clear. 

So I guess maybe it isn't my time quite yet.  God helped me pull through something very serious.  Maybe this is a sign that God isn't ready to take me home quite yet and that I will also survive this cancer?  I certainly hope so.

These past few days have been rough for me.  This recovery process is so long and difficult.  Changes are few and very minor so it is hard to recognize the progress.   My patience is wearing thin and I am having a hard time trying to be chipper and positive.  I do spend the majority of time in my bed - the one place I feel comforted and a place for me to hide away.  I watch too much TV and spend a lot of time on Facebook and play Farkle, Bejeweled, Bubbletown and all of the addicting games on Facebook.  I shop online for school clothes for the girls.  I am too afraid to shop for seems overconfident.   I often ask my kids to cuddle with me in bed, but I have to bribe them with the Disney channel to do so.  They would rather be outside riding their bikes.  However, they are good cuddlers when I can get them to agree to climb in bed with me.  So I get pretty lonely up in my bedroom because everyone is so busy with every day life.  Jason tries to pop in as much as he can, but if I had my choice I would have him laying by my side all day playing cribbage and watching HGTV.  Although he hates HGTV.  It is so had not being able to participate in everything going on around me.  I was so disappointed I could not go to my reunion.  (By the way, my classmates wanted to let me know they were thinking of me and presented me with a book including written messages of encouragement.  I was so touched) I am thinking the State Fair is not going to happen as well.  I was hoping to get to the cabin over Labor Day weekend, but I am not sure that will happen as well.  

Am I getting depressed? I don't think so.  My doctor said it is common for patients at this point to get depressed.  But I am very down.  My biggest fear is that once I start to feel myself again, it will just start all over again.  I will have the scans and surgery will be required.  I just so desire to have some time to feel normal and enjoy life before the scans are completed and if this cancer is gone and I require further treatment.  Don't go down that road...I know I know. Believe the cancer IS gone.   The only thing that will help my spirits to rise is relief...relief from the inflammation, the mucus pouring out of my nose, mouth and ear.  The ability to eat whatever I want.  It will take a miracle for this to happen overnight so I will have to be patient...again.

Please pray for me.  I am needing it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mushroom and me

Yesterday, we had a very special member of our family move on to bigger and better things. Mushroom, the butterfly, finally came out of his Chrysalis.  It was a really special moment for us to witness such a miracle.   Once Mushroom came out, we put him on the table on our deck and we sat around watching him prepare to spread his wings and fly.  Jason was the only one that lasted long enough to actually seem him take flight.  The rest of us got impatient and went about our business.  Luckily, Jason captured the moment on film.

As for myself, I finally feel like I have turned the corner in my recovery process.  My mouth sores are starting to heal and my energy level is starting to come back.  I still feel pretty miserable, but at least I am not getting any worse.  The most frustrating thing for me is having to be patient.  It is hard to wait for things to get better.  I wish there was a button I could push to fast forward 2-3 weeks.  It has been far too long feeling sick and down under.  I am ready to feel "normal" again.  Although, will I truly ever feel that way again?  

I am also trying to keep my fears in check.  Sometimes I start to freak out wondering if the cancer is still there.   After all I have been through, it is hard to imagine to have to back down that road again or to have to endure a very complicated surgery to have the rest of the cancer removed.   I don't know how to not be afraid.  It is easier said than done.  But I am hoping as I get better, the more busier I will become therefore the more distracted I will be, preventing me from thinking negative thoughts.  Right now, I have too much time on my hands as I lay in bed trying to recover causing to me to think to much.  

I read an amazing verse today that has given me a good perspective on having patience while going through this suffering:

1 Peter 2:19-20 "For one is regarded favorably, if as in the sight of God, he endures the pain of unjust suffering.  After all what kind of glory is there in it if, when you do wrong and are punished for it, you take it patiently?  But if you bear patiently with suffering when you do right and that is undeserved, it is acceptable and pleasing to God."  

Please continue to pray for a quick recovery and for the cancer to be gone!  Also, please pray for peace of mind so that I will not get overwhelmed by fear.

Thank you all for your prayers.  I can't believe how many of you continue to send me encouragement through cards, gifts and messages on my blog.  It helps me to keep going!!!

With much love,

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fingers Crossed

I wish I could say things are slowly getting better, but they are not.  They are slowly getting worse.  I guess this is typical for patients in the immediate weeks following radiation therapy.  After my appointment on Monday, I got a reality check which was tough to swallow.  (no pun intended)  I had high aspirations for my recovery and thought I would be feeling a lot better by now and that eating would start getting easier.  Unfortunately, it is quite the opposite.  The weeks after finishing radiation are the worst for the patient.  The pain, nausea, mouth sores etc...hit their peak.   And it is true!  I am completely miserable.  I spend a lot of time sleeping and trying to keep on top of the pain.  Constantly pill popping, mouth swishing, tube feeding, IV dripping, nose irrigating, nasal clearing and more.  It really takes its toll mentally.  Just when you think you are finished it just gets worse.  Throughout my treatment I heard from many different doctors and nurses what to expect during recovery.   Of course, I clung to the most positive expectations for recovery, but I don't think they were the most realistic ones.   So you could say that I am a little frustrated.   Patients also tend to go through deep depression.  I can understand why...after going through a very difficult treatment, it is hard to face a very difficult recovery.  

So I am sorry to report nothing exciting about my recovery.  Although, to be honest, I am keeping my fingers crossed behind my back secretly hoping that my recovery will go a lot quicker than what they told me.   I am still looking towards my goal of chowing down at the State Fair.  I will be the one in the wheelchair (due to lack of energy) visiting every booth possible.  

Please do pray for a quick recovery and for mental strength.  It is hard to not be anxious not only about getting better but about whether or not the cancer is still there.   Thank you!!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

A reminder of what it means...

On Wednesday, after my last and final radiation therapy session, I was once again reminded what it means to be held, what it means to be loved.  As we pulled into our driveway, there were my friends anxiously awaiting for our arrival.  Our house was decorated with balloons and with one large sign saying "You Reached The Finish Line."  Immediately the tears started  

flowing and I couldn't believe that these people would go out of their way to help celebrate this milestone in my life.  Words cannot explain how I felt other than I simply felt loved and held.   It was a special time for me to give each and every one of them a hug and to thank them for the endless words of encouragement and the support they have given to me and my family these past months.  But the surprise did not end there.  A huge basket with a multitude of gifts were sitting on my front step.  Each of them carefully selected to reflect the things that I missed during treatment, things I am looking forward to the most once I am through recovery or things that were had special meaning .   The basket included a Diet Coke, marshmallows for the fire pit, fireworks, books from our book club,  a beautiful plate with a birds nest on it...the list could go on.  There are few times in my life that I can tell you about that I have been deeply impacted by the act of love from others.  This is one of those times.

So these past couple of days I wish I could tell you that I have been on the fast road to recovery. Unfortunately, I am not.  Nausea has set in again and I am fighting trying to keep things in my stomach.  It is hard to be patient and not get anxious about the healing process.  Of course, I wish I could go out and eat a steak tomorrow, but that is just not going to happen.  But it could not come soon enough.

I placed some pictures of the celebration on this blog, but I also posted a picture of what it was like for me during radiation therapy...mask and all.  Thought you might be interested in seeing it.   

Please continue to pray for quick healing and that I will have the patience to get through this. Again, again and again, thank you all for everything you have done for me!!! I feel so blessed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mixed Emotions

I have been very emotional this morning....experiencing all types of emotions as I approach the end of my therapy.   Part of me is on a high knowing after today I only have one day left of radiation and that yesterday was my last day of chemotherapy.  I had a big smile walking out of the infusion center after it was completed.  Yet, I was scared to look back knowing that there is a chance I might be back.  This is the core of what I am struggling with today...knowing that there is no guarantee this cancer will be gone after all treatment has been completed.  Fear is starting to overcome me and I wonder if this will truly ever be done.  I want to celebrate..jump for joy that I have made it through the hardest thing I have ever had to go through in my life.  But because of the fear I cannot.  Plus, the side effects from the radiation will take some time to go away so it will still be difficult to truly celebrate for awhile.  I look forward to the day I can eat, drink, exercise and feel normal again.  I pray this day will come soon.  I also pray that I can feel peace and hope as I wait to heal and then get the results of the treatment in a few months.

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no foe can withstand]." Psalm (91:1)

I have been spending a lot of time thinking of the things I hope to accomplish when I feel better in the next month or so.  Most of these things are very simple, but they sound heavenly to me.  Here is my list:

1.  Drinking a big Diet Coke with a lime (I normally do not drink soda, but for some reason this sounds so good)
2.  Munching on chips and salsa
3.  Going to Wildfire with Jason and ordering the Macadamia nut crusted Halibut
4.  Going to a movie in public
5.  Taking the girls to buy their school supplies and school clothes
6.  Eating a footlong corn dog plus more at the State Fair (gotta put some weight back on...what a great place to do it!)
7.  Waking up in the morning and feeling great
8.  Having a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper
9.  Going to church again
10.  Going on a family trip before Summer is over
11.  Hanging with my girlfriends
12.  Taking care of the girls and Jason, being a family again
13.  Roasting marshmallows by our fire pit
14.  Being free of IV ports and feeding tubes
15. Having a nightstand free from medications
16.  Driving - I haven't driven a car in a long time.  Too many narcotics.
17.  Going to the mall

This list could go on and on.  

PS - Yesterday, Mushroom the caterpillar changed into a chrysalis.  I was at chemotherapy and missed the transformation.  I knew it was about to happen as he was in the J formation in the morning.