Thursday, April 30, 2009

Top Things

Now that the nausea has subsided and I am able to emerge from my bedroom and participate in the world again, I have been able to spend some time contemplating on my experience thus far.  The following is a list of things I have thought long and hard about for the past couple of weeks and I thought I would share them with you.

1.  I now read each and every word of a hallmark card clinging for encouragement and hope.  I used to just see who signed it.
2.  Nurses who use Lanacane to numb my arm before placing an IV should receive a bonus pay.
3.  I can no longer stand the smell of hand sanitizer or saline flushes.
4.  I wish I had child like faith...a faith without doubts knowing God will provide and get me through this.  Just like a child knows Santa will bring presents on Christmas Eve.
5.  My life has more purpose than I thought it did...especially through this battle.
6.  I think I have seen just about every rerun of the O.C. and 90210.  Time to move on.
7.  Back scratches are great stress relievers.
8.  I have a special place in my heart for the drug companies who have come up with the drugs for nausea and heartburn!  They are lifesavers.
9.  I love to listen to the sounds outside...the birds chirping (especially the Robin), the frogs croaking and the kids playing.  
10.  The little things that used to bother me, just don't bother me anymore.  I hope that I can keep this mindset after this is all over.
11.  The best words of encouragement I received today was a verse in Isaiah 26:3-4 "People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don't quit.  Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing."  I am not sure what version of the Bible this is, but I loved it!
12.  No matter where you are in life, you will have an impact on those you encounter, those you speak to and those you show kindness to.  
13.  Cuddling in bed with my kids has new meaning in life.
14.  Having my husband physically by my side is the best calming medicine anyone could prescribe.  Even better than Ativan.
15.  I have the best in-laws in the world!
16.  God hand selected the neighborhood we live in - filled with so many wonderful friends that care deeply about us.
17.  I am so thankful for my friends - I am amazed by the love shown from friends in ages past and new friends.
18.  I took my family (Mom, Dad and Sister) for granted in the past.  Never again!
19.  Is is so important to always say "I Love You" because you never know when it will be the last.
20.  I never shared enough of myself with others.  I have more to give to others than I thought I did.  From now on, it is my commitment to share this journey with each and everyone of you.
21.  Prayer is powerful!  And when I am just tired of praying, it is comforting to know that there are others taking over for me.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I don't know what is worse

Dare I say - I think I am making a comeback?  These past couple of days I have been in a deep abyss and now I am slowly emerging again.  The nausea is starting to subside and I have been able to eat again!  Of course, I still have a selective pallatte...I often send my family to go and get food that sounds really good at the time.  And there is a time frame in that it needs to arrive or it will no longer sound good again.  Yesterday, my father-in-law so willingly drove to Taco Bell and ordered two bean burritos to go.  They were delicious!  Yes, it is almost like I am pregnant again.  I was so sick during my pregnancies, but nothing compared to this.  

Yesterday, I had a visit to the Oncologist for a follow up appointment.  It was good to go outside again and get some fresh air.  The bumpy ride down to the appointment through the construction zone wasn't the most pleasant, but I managed.  Based on the lab work drawn, it looks like my kidneys have survived the chemo and so far so good.  

Now that the chemo is over, I am going through a ton of emotions about whether or not it is working.  Because there are no true visible signs of whether or not the tumor is working, you just have to hope it is.  This is where faith comes in.  Sitting and waiting makes you feel helpless...wanting to do more than just rest and recover until the next round.  New fears are coming mind...what if I went through all of that and nothing worked? What if the tumor is bigger?  My body is going through so many changes from the chemo that it is hard to know if it is normal or if it is not.  Is the cancer spreading, or does my body just need to heal for a little time now?  Hard to keep the fears in check.  And course, why does there have to be a new panendemic swine flu scare while my immune system is compromised?

At the doctor yesterday, I received a shot that boosts my white blood count.  This will prevent it from dropping too low when the counts start to drop.  After a couple of hours, I started having a bad reaction to the shot, and ended up going to the Emergency Room at 11:00 at night.  My lymph nodes started to swell and arms were in pain.  Apparently, several people who have healthy bone marrow do not need as strong as a dose as I received and end up overproducing white blood cells.  Too bad I did not know this before going to the ER...I would have avoided a lot of the tests that were performed to rule out everything from blood clots to spleen damage.  Lesson learned, we will do a lower dose of a shot next time.

My biggest challenge I need to overcome right now is staying positive.  Not letting my fears get the best of me.  Also, I get very overwhelmed when I think of the road to come.  Radiation/Chemo Therapy is going to be even tougher and they are going to have to drag me kicking and screaming to those appointments. I have a little secret wish that I have between me and God...I pray that the tumor will almost be gone after this first round of chemo.  This would mean less evasive procedures to get rid of it.  This would be my miracle.

Thank you again to all of you that have brought meals, gifts, flowers, hats etc....My family has never eaten so well.  Recipes will need to be gathered by the time all of this is said and done.  God has blessed us with each and every one of you and for that we are grateful!

On a parting note...I read this the other day and thought it was so powerful.  When reading the Bible, we never hear Jesus being negative or speaking negatively.  You and I should follow his example.  Say about your whatever situation you are in what you believe Jesus would say, and you will open the door for the miracle-working power of God.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rough Days

These past couple of days have been tough mentally and physically.  The nausea is getting the best of me and fatigue has set in.  I have never been more weak in my entire life.  Needless to say I am down in the dumps.  I am feeling alone and out of touch with my family and friends.  I lay in bed longing to participate in the activities going on around me, but I do not have the strength.   I am longing for the day when things will get better....

When I am in need of encouragement, I pull out my laptop and read the many messages sent from family and friends.   They uplift me and give me hope for better days.  The other day, my next door neighbor reminded me of a hymn that talks about God's faithfulness and his promise of new mercies every morning.   All that I needeth, his hand will provideth.  Never before has that song had more meaning to me.  Lord God, please have mercy on me.  Please give me the strength to get through this.    I long for the day to be able to laugh and experience joy again.  To play with my kids without feeling sick.  To be close to my husband.  To be a part of life again.  

"He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might he increases strength causing it to multiply and making it to abound."  Isaiah 40:29

I will cling hard to this promise and hope for a better day tomorrow.  I have finished the first round of chemo...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

There is no place like home

When I was diagnosed with cancer, a robin that has built its nest underneath our deck, year after year, had reappeared.   She was quite plump and ready to lay her eggs again and she chose the same spot under our deck to do so.  This robin has become a symbol of hope for me that I will be OK and, like that robin, I will be there for my kids year after year.  The best part of waking up this morning in my own bed was looking out my window and seeing the robin again.  A renewed sense of hope that I desperately needed after being in the hospital.  It was wonderful to come home to my family and the comfort of my own home.  But it is a little nerve wrecking at the same time.  I can feel my body getting weaker and weaker which means my white blood count is starting to drop.  I am susceptible to germs and I just hope and pray that I will not get sick.  There is one advantage to having a husband that sells medical supplies - Jason has hand cleanser and hospital soap displayed all over the house for everyone to stay germ free.

Two more days of being on Chemotherapy.  I have a new companion that goes with me everywhere I go - a black bag containing a pump that is injecting me with the chemo until Sunday night.   Once the chemo has been completed, I will have about a 2 1/2 week break before the second round begins.  I have already thought about how tough it is going to be to start all over again.  But, I just need to take it one day at a time.  Next week, I will be going to the Oncology clinic to set a shot of white blood cells to begin boosting my system again.   

I had so many wonderful surprises coming home yesterday.  After sending Jason on a Dairy Queen run, I sorted through a bundle of cards and gifts from so many wonderful friends and family members and people I don't even know.  I am positively overwhelmed with how quickly my story has spread and the number of people that are praying.  It was also nice to come home and see how well my kids have been cared for and how well my family has been fed.  Thanks to all of you that have been sending food and arranging playdates for the girls.  

Today, my agenda will include attempting to take a shower, spending some time with the girls and sleep.  And not to mention staying on top of my nausea.  My bedside table is filled with prescription bottles for heartburn and nausea.   The nausea that I am experiencing is mostly from the type of chemo they gave me the first couple of days.  They were among the most aggressive forms of chemo available and it will take awhile for the side effects to go away.  So I am hoping I have turned the corner and that the nausea will go away soon.  

I am anticipating the day my hair will fall out.  But I am well prepared with cute hats and scarves to cover the bald head.  A dear friend, who works at one of my favorite stores, did some personal shopping for me and purchased a bunch of cute hats and scarves.  It was like Christmastime all over again.  

Thank you from the bottom of heart to all of you!  I feel surrounded by so much love and support.  A true gift from God!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday - well kind of

Today I am 38 years old.  I never thought I would be spending my birthday in the hospital getting chemotherapy.  It will definitely be a birthday I will never forget...and I vow next year I will make it even more memorable by celebrating being in remission. 

Today, I started out feeling very lonely and I was not feeling well.  The nurse last night forgot to give me an anti-nausea medication so I was sitting with a bucket in hand prepared for the worst.  Luckily, my nurse Chris, whom I have had since checking in got me what I needed and I have been feeling much better since.  I also spent a little time in God's word and a devotional book that my friend Tracy gave me.  I read a great passage in John 6:27-29.  The passage said, "What are we to do to carry out what god requires?  Jesus replied, This is the work that God asks of you; that you believe in the One Whom He has sent that you cleave to, trust, rely on, and have faith in his Messenger".   There have many times that I have struggled with my belief in God.  I get too focused on doing good rather than having faith...believing that God is real, especially when times get rough.  My first reaction when faced with troubles is to ask God what I did wrong.  To ask why me?   Rather, I should immediately have faith, cleave to, trust and rely on God just as the passage said to do so.  And this is the very reason why I think God puts things in our lives, like cancer, to teach us to cling immediately to our faith and to learn about God and his love for us. If you really think about it, if God did not exist, where would anyone find the hope and peace so much needed while going through a life threatening illness?  Where else do you get the hope and strength you need to get through it all?  There is no other source that I know of that has the power to heal me.  So I am choosing to believe in God, the healer.   After receiving this gentle nudge from God, I started to feel hope again.  And everything else seemed to follow in line.

I have been able to keep food down and managed to be able to eat a birthday cupcake.  I had visitors today including my mom, dad and sister and now I am anxiously waiting for Jason to arrive.  Visitors definitely cheer up my day and their presence help me to get through it all.  I was also so fortunately to receive some flowers and cards from family and friends.  They are now aligning my windowsill overlooking the Mississippi.

This morning, my Oncologist stopped by and tried to encourage me to go home and finish up my chemotherapy there.  At first I was hesitant and unwilling to leave.  There is just something comforting about being among doctors and nurses that can address your every need and be there immediately when you need help.  I was afraid that being at home would cause more anxiety.  But after listening to her reasoning, it made more and more sense.  She said that the nausea is under control and at home we will able to better manage the anti-nausea medication when needed rather than wait for a nurse to get it.  She also said that my blood count will be dropping dramatically in the next couple of days and it would be more safe for me to be at home when this happens.  I would not be exposed to all of the germs in the hospital.  The chemotherapy I am getting now is easy to dispense at home with the help of home medical care.  Nothing that we aren't too familiar with after Mackenzie's health care.  So it looks like as of now, I will be heading home tomorrow.  And it couldn't be better timing since I now have another new roommate.    

Thank you for all of the birthday wishes and words of encouragement.  It brightened my day, more than you will know.  I will definitely continue to keep you updated!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It has been a lonely day.  Jason wasn't able to spend as much time with me today at the hospital.  I spent a lot of time trying to catch up on the sleep I did not get overnight and listening to my roommate anxiously trying to get out of the hospital.  As soon as she left, I asked if I could take her spot by the window.  I now have a beautiful view to look outside at the mighty Mississippi.  I also had a pleasant surprise visit from Jason and the girls.  It was so good to get their hugs and kisses.  Mackenzie made me a birthday hat to wear on my birthday tomorrow and Kendall made me a card with our saying on it:  "I love you all the way to God".  Because that is how far love can go. 

I am starting to feel the chemo take affect.  My stomach has been upset and I am really tired.  It is hard for me to be up and about for very long.  It gets frustrating and I am hoping it won't get any worse.  Being on the oncology floor has made cancer so real to me.  It broke my heart listening to the pain my roommate was in.  It sounded like she was terminal and coming into the hospital to get relieve from the pain they were not able to give her at home.  I overheard the doctors ask her if she would like intervention should anything happen to her heart or should she stop breathing.  She  Her heart was so heavy from battling cancer over many years.  I could tell she was giving up.  I wanted so badly to shout, NO, do not give up.  You have so much to live for and grandchildren to love.  But I am sure it does get to a point when enough is enough.

I hope I don't get to this point.  I want so badly to be there for my kids.  I have been pretty confident up until now that I would beat this thing, but being here has dampened my spirits.  It gives me a glimpse of what might happen, but I hope it doesn't.

After having a minor panic attack after Jason and the girls left, I reached for my computer and read a very encouraging e-mail from my Uncle Bob.  He shared a blessing with me that brought tears to my eyes.  This blessing is my hope and my dream after all this is over.  Here it is:

May Your life be blessed for years to come
because you have met God in new and exciting ways.
May you and Jason tell the story of God's goodness
to your childrens' children.
May others look upon your life as a miracle of God
who desires the very best for his children.
May your life be as the flowers that bloom in the spring
when winter subsides.
May you praise God into your old age for his awesome
deeds of righteousness in answer to your prayers.
May you sense the presence of God and
May his tender mercies accompany you
both now and forevermore.

Please God heal me and answer the prayers of the many people that are praying, including me.

Chemo - Middle of the Night Reflections

Every time you venture out in the life of faith, you will find something in your common-sense circumstances that flatly contradicts your faith.  Common sense is not, and faith is not common sense; they stand in the relation of the natural and the spiritual.  Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him?  Can you venture out heroically on Jesus Christ's statements when the facts of your common sense shout - It's a lie?"  On the mount it is easy to say - "Oh yes, I believe God can do it"; but you have to come down into the demon- possessed valley and meet with facts that laugh ironically at the whole of your mount-of-transfiguration belief.  Every time my program of belief is clear to my own mind, I come across something that contradicts it.  Let me say I believe God will supply all my needs, and then let me run dry, with no outlook, and see whether I will sink back to something lower.

Faith must be tested, because it can be turned into a personal possession only through conflict.  What is your faith up against just now?  'Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me.'  The final thing is confidence in Jesus.  Believe steadfastly on Him and all you come up against will develop your faith.  May God keep us in fighting trim!  Faith is unutterable trust in God, trust which never dreams that He will not stand by us." - Oswald Chambers

This is a passage My Aunt sent me to reflect on during my battle with cancer.  It took me at least 3-4 times to read it and completely understand what it is saying.  And after finally grasping what it meant, I realized this was one the true reasons that I am going through cancer.  My faith is being tested to the point that I will always have unutterable trust in God to take care of me no matter what situation I am in.  To let go of the control and give it all to him.  To Let go and Let God as many of you have reminded me.  I need that constant reminder.  I have found myself getting anxiety attacks quite frequently since I learned about my diagnosis.  And these anxiety attacks happen when I am scared, and when I know I am losing control.  In fact, I was having a lot of anxiety way before my diagnosis.  I was going through a period in my life where I was not giving everything to God.  I was trying to control the outcome of everything in my life.  I think the more and more I can understand what Oswald Chambers has said, the anxiety attacks will start to go away.  Oh how I can't wait until that day when I will have complete peace and understanding so that I can just let it all go.  It will be tough, but I think I can do it.

Last night after Jason left (he stayed at watched Amerian Idol with me) I started to feel very alone in my battle.  They started another chemo drug and without Jason's support there with me I started to get very anxious.  They had to give me another drug to calm me down.  I haven't gotten much much on my mind.  I think I slept about 2 hours.  It is now 5:00 am and I should be getting ready to get up for a run with Heather and Kelly.  Oh, how I miss that.  I am starting to feel little weaker.  But I am not going to let that stop me from getting a couple of laps around the Oncology unit.  I am determined to keep my strength up as much as possible.  

I think my roommate will be leaving today.  It has been so difficult to have a roommate that has advanced stages of cancer and is agony and in pain.  It does not sound good.  I felt like asking the nurses if it was the best decision to stick me, a younger woman, who is starting chemo for the first time with a woman who seems to have been battling cancer for quite some time.  This has done quite a number on my mental status.  Afraid that I might be there some day, in agony and pain. However, because I don't want to be a demanding patient and because God just put it on my heart to pray for her things got a little better.  The Doctors have gotten her pain under control.  I think she slept much better than I did.  I have a beautiful view from my room overlooking the Mississippi River, but I can't see it because my bed is on the other side of the room and we are separated by a curtain.  I am hoping if my roommate leaves I can claim the other side.  It would be so nice to see some sunshine as I heard I will be missing some very nice warm days over the next three days.

Last night we got a little angel sent to us in the form of a nurse.  Jason knew her from college so it was nice to have a familiar face around especially after Jason went home.  She was wonderful helping me get through my anxiety attack.  The staff on the Oncology floor are amazing people!  I asked my nurse what it was the drew her to work on the Oncology floor.  She said she has tried other areas of specialities, but keeps coming back here. She loves working with the patients as they are a source of inspiration.

Yesterday I got a chance to add some artwork made by Mackenzie and Kendall and pictures up on the wall.  They are constant reminders of what it is that I need to accomplish here.  And that is get better so I can see them grow old and eventually watch them get married and meet my grandchildren.  I know in my heart that it will happen.  It is just going to be a long process.

Prayer Requests:  Please pray the chemo side affects will continue to be subtle.  I am guessing by the end of the day today I may start experiencing them a little more.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for your messages and words of encouragement.  What amazes me is that some of you have been quoting scripture that have always been a source of comfort to me.  Especially the on about God's power made perfect in weakness.  This was a verse that was with me all along through our journey with Mackenzie.  And it was first verse I opened to in my Bible when I learned my diagnosis. So when I read your notes with scriptures that confirm the ones I am reading it gives me hope and strength! Please keep them coming!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

First Day - Chemo

The activities have begun.  I am now in the hospital getting ready for Chemo.  It probably won't start until this afternoon.  First, they need to start some IV fluids to flush my system as the chemo can be extremely hard on the kidneys.  Yesterday, the port went in.  The surgery went fine, but I had a hard time coming out of it and had an allergic reaction to one of anti-nausea medications they gave me.  I ended up staying a little longer than anticipated.  Once I got home, I went straight to bed.

This morning I woke up with a lot of anxiety and found myself trying to keep busy with the girls and packing.  It helped to keep my mind off of things.  I am so anxious about the side effects of Chemo.  I am so afraid of what is going to happen to my body.  What is not helping my state of mind right now is the fact that I have a roommate in hospital and she is agony.  It is so hard to listen to it and it is scaring me to death!   I keep looking at Jason saying I can't do this...

Please pray that things will go smoothly and that I will not experience bad side affects.  I am hoping they can keep it under control.  This is my number one prayer request right now.  

A special thank you to those of you that have signed up to bring meals to my family and have taken the girls for playdates.  The love that has been shown to us is overwhelming.  I feel so blessed to have wonderful friends and a great neighborhood!   

And thank you for leaving me such kind and encouraging messages on my blog.  They uplift me and keep me strong!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Savoring Every Moment

It is amazing how priorities change and your view on life changes when you are faced with a life threatening illness.  My senses have been heightened to a new level and I am seeing things through a different point of view ever since I was diagnosed with cancer.   I am savoring every moment I can before life changes next week.

The team meeting finally took place today and the doctors discussed what the best course of treatment would be for myself and many others battling head and neck cancer.  I was told the meeting would be done around 2:00 and it was quite evident they were right on schedule as we started to receive a flood of phone calls beginning around 2:30.  First, a nurse called to schedule the procedure to insert an IV port that will be used for chemotherapy.  This will take place on Monday morning.  If all goes well, I will be able to go home.  Second, another nurse called and said that the doctors agreed that a couple of rounds of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor would be done first.  This would then be followed up with surgery and then a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.   Third, another nurse called to schedule the chemotherapy.  I will be checking in Tuesday morning for a 5 day stay in the hospital for an intense chemotherapy treatment.  The remaining phone calls were the hospital to begin pre-admission procedures for Monday's procedure and the hospital stay.   And I can't forget our phone calls to the insurance company to let them know that I will be admitted into the hospital.

Wow, I was eager to get the ball rolling, but I didn't realize it would happen this fast.  Reality is now setting in and I am scared for what my body is about to endure.  I have been walking around the last couple of days with the mindset that this is similar to will be treated and then be gone after awhile.  However, after speaking with the Oncologist's nurse, I had a wake up call.  This is not a cold, this is CANCER.  This is a life threatening illness.  

The chemotherapy I will be receiving is among the most aggressive treatment out there.  It will be intense.  The one advantage I have is that I am young and healthy so I should tolerate it well. I often say to Jason, I feel like I am in a dream and cannot wake up.  It is so hard to realize this is happening to me.   Life will not be the same for the next few months nor will it every be again.  

I will be doing a lot of shopping this weekend.  I refuse to wear a wig once my hair falls out so I will be stocking up on the cutest hats I can find.  I will also be shopping for some jammies to wear in the hospital as I refuse to wear the open back gowns they have ample supply of in the hospital.  I will also be downloading a lot of movies, TV shows and music for entertainment while receiving Chemotherapy in the hospital.  So much to do in such little time.  I feel like I am "nesting" as many mothers to be do before having the baby.  In my case, I am just trying to get organized so that things don't fall apart while I am out of commission.  My list of "to dos" is growing and growing.  I am sure I will not get to all of them.  This is when I have to realize I just have to let go and let God.  Which is one of the reasons I know I am going through this.  I am the biggest control freak and going through this experience has made me realize I am SO not in control.

Many of you have asked how you can help. It is so hard to know what we are going to need help with.  This will be a learning experience for us all and we will know more once we are in the trenches of it all.  I know for sure meals will be a tremendous help to my family. If you are interested in helping with meals...a website has been set up to coordinate meals while I am going through Chemotherapy.  The website is called  To sign up click on the link included on this blog. This website is awesome and will coordinate everything.  I have also typed a list of those of you that have offered to take the girls for a playdate and this list will be given to our parents.  As far as visitors at the hospital...I am not sure what the protocol will be or whether or not I will be up for having visitors.  But we will definitely let you know.

As far as prayer biggest fear right now is the side effects from the Chemo.  Please pray that it will not be as harsh as I am anticipating it to be.  And most importantly, pray the chemo will have a great impact on the tumor and that it will shrink to a reasonable size for surgery.  I am so afraid to go through chemo and then get the news that it is not working.  I am trying not to think about that, but it is hard not go there sometimes.   If you could keep Jason, Mackenzie and Kendall in your prayers as well that would be great.  This is going to be so hard on them and they are going to need all the support they can get.

Thank you all for everything.  We are completely overwhelmed by the love and support we have received from family and friends!  My hope is continue updating all of you while in the hospital.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

There is hope!

These past couple of days have been a whirlwind.  I already feel like our car is on automatic pilot to and from the University Hospital.  

Last night, I had the PET scan.  This is a test where they inject you with a radioactive glucose that attaches itself to any cancer cell in the body.  I was quite alarmed when the tech brought out metal canisters obviously used to contain the radiation.  Inside the canister was the glucose. I think I may glow in the dark by the time this is all over.  Once the glucose was injected, I was told to go and sit for one hour.  I was not allowed to talk, read or do anything because any use of my brain or body would burn up the glucose.  I then proceeded to have an anxiety attack which I am sure burned quite a bit of the glucose.  So I am not sure if telling me to not read or talk was the best way to keep me calm.  It might have kept my mind off of things.  After the hour was over, I was then placed inside a large machine similar to an MRI or CT Scan to take pictures of the entire body.  Luckily, Jason was able to sit at my head for the first half of the test which helped to calm my nerves.  The area you are placed in is very confined so it is hard to relax and keep from becoming claustrophobic.  

The purpose of the PET scan enables doctors to see exactly where the tumor is and whether or not the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.   We were told that the results would be given at my appointment with the Oncologist the next morning.  Needless to say, I did not get much sleep last night as I had much anxiety about whether or not the cancer had spread. I felt this was the pivotal point that would determine whether or not I had a chance to beat this thing.

So this morning, back to the hospital we went to meet with the Oncologist that will be administering the chemo therapy.  When I first met with her, I was a bit nervous with her demeanor.  But after the elephant in the room was acknowledged - THE CANCER HAS NOT SPREAD - everyone seemed to calm down and relax.  THANK YOU GOD!  I was so relieved and now have so much hope!  The cancer has entered into the orbit of my eye, so more than likely we will start with chemo therapy to reduce the tumor.  Although, we still need to wait until the team of doctors meet on Friday.  The Oncologist reviewed the types of chemo that will be administered and all of the side effects.  It is going to be intensive and aggressive.  Yes, it is not going to pretty, nor will I be.  Yet, I felt an unbelievable calmness and immediately said, "Let's get the ball rolling.  When can we start?"  I am ready to face it and beat it.  So she said that once we can get an IV port inserted, the chemo can begin.  It will be administered in the hospital.   Our hope is that it will begin next week.  Not the birthday present I was hoping for, but who cares...I can celebrate the next 50 birthdays.

While this experience has been awful and so emotional, I am already beginning to see why this has happening.  I am for once in my life, truly feeling the power God.  He is with me every step of the way.  I have felt the impact of all of your prayers!  Believe me, they are working!  I received two prayer shawls from two churches, neither of which we attend.  I have one on me most of the time I am at home.  And the girls have taken to the other shawl.  Especially, Kendall. They seem to really appreciate what it represents and it seems to give them comfort during this time.  Kendall has been having such a hard time watching mommy be so emotional and tired.  I am worried for her as I know things will get much worse.  But she is enjoying the time she is getting with her grandparents.  And she jumps in bed with me for cuddle time as much as she can.  Mackenzie, on the other hand, is my rock and inspiration.  She continues to be the happy little girl she is and doesn't forget to remind me that God is listening.  I think of everything she has gone through and continues to go through and it gives me hope that I can do it too!  I had a great conversation with my Dad the other day.  He has been a source of strength and comfort during this time.  He considers going through cancer a privilege because he knows first hand what an amazing experience it is to feel God's presence during what is the most difficult time of your life.  It is something that no one will ever know and understand unless they are a cancer survivor or a survivor of a life threatening illness.  I am only beginning to understand what he was talking about.  And I know in my heart, my faith will be unbreakable after this is all over.

Jason also has been so amazing throughout this experience.  Our marriage and love for each other has never been stronger.  I am so thankful to have him by my side each step of the way.   I have never felt so loved by so many people.  It is so wonderful to hear from people not only from my everyday life, but from life long ago.  

As soon as we hear from the doctors on Friday, I will let you know what will be happening. Thank you again for all of your prayers!  Please keep them coming!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Where do I begin? We received so much information this morning that I am completely overwhelmed with what I am about to go through. Tomorrow I am going to receive a PET scan to determine if the cancer has spread. It will also enable the doctors to determine whether or not the tumor has spread into the orbit of my eye. Whether or not it has spread into the orbit will determine the course of treatment. As of now, it looks like they will do a a couple of rounds of chemo to try and shrink the tumor. This may start as early as next week and will involve a hospital stay for up to 5 days for each treatment. Prior to surgery I may have a permanent IV port and feeding tube put in place for the chemo treatments. This will all be determined when we meet with the oncologist on Wednesday. If they have success shrinking the tumor, then they will do surgery to remove the tumor and repair the structure of my face. The surgery sounds quite complicated and long so the more they can get the tumor to shrink the better. They will either use a prosthesis or take a bone from my leg to repair my face. And then after surgery, they will do chemo again or radiation or a combination of both.

I was very impressed with my doctor. He is very young, but seems very knowledgable about cancers of the head and neck. He will also be collaborating with a team of doctors to determine the best course of treament. This meeting will take place on Friday and they will let us know in the afternoon whether or not chemo or surgery will take place first. The doctor seemed confident that this tumor is treatable and that the outcome will be a positive one.

If the results of the PET scan are positive and the cancer has not spread I will feel very relieved and more confident that I can beat this. I pray that the tumor has stayed put!

While I am glad the process has started, I am very scared about what is to come. Can I handle this? Am I strong enough? It will be hard to not be physically strong and not be able to go for my morning runs. And forget about vanity. I will be losing my hair, I will be scarred on my face from surgery and have facial burns from radiation. But that doesn't matter - I just want to live! I want to see my kids grow old and see my grandchildren! I want to grow old with Jason!

I am trying to have hope, but have moments of being afraid of disappointment. I have been trying to start my days in God's word for encouragement and strength. The other day he reminded me of the miracle he performed with the birth of our daugther Mackenzie and that he can do the same for me!

I thank each and every one of you for your words of encouragement and especially for your prayers. Please keep them coming! And we will be taking advantage of the offers from those of you that have volunteered to take the girls for the day or bring meals! We will let you know what we will need when the plans for treatment have become more final.

Please pray for healing and for strength! And pray that I will be strong through the chemo treatments!

I will continue to keep you updated!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Only The Beginning

I have started this blog to share with my dear friends and family the journey I am about face.  I think this will be the best way to keep everyone updated.  

Little did I know that I would be diagnosed with cancer when I went to the ENT last week.  I was just seeking some relief for the the chronic sinus congestion and allergies I have had for quite sometime.  After a CT Scan, MRI and surgery I was diagnosed with cancer in my right sinus cavity.  It was so difficult to hear the doctor say "You Have Cancer."   What?  This can't be!  Why God why?  Haven't we been through enough in our lives?   It has been a struggle to make sense of all of this.  And I am still processing it all.  I go through moments of freaking out, worried that God will take me away from my kids and my husband leaving them with no mother or wife.  This has been so hard on Jason.  I have never seen him so emotional.  The girls aren't quite understanding what is going on, but I anticipate reality setting in when they see what may happen.  We are now waiting, and it has been a LONG wait, for the next step.  We will be meeting with some specialists at the University to determine the best way to beat this thing.  It might involve extensive surgery removing the cancer which is in the bones of the sinuses.  A prosthesis will be needed to repair the structure of my face.  And depending on whether or not the cancer has spread there will be radiation treatments or chemo.  We will know more next week.  I am trying to mentally prepare myself for what I will be learning next week.  My only hope is that it will be done quickly.  I am so tired of waiting.  The good news that we are holding onto is that the type of cancer I have tends to stay local and does not spread.  Although, this has been growing for quite some time so who knows what the outcome will be.  I do know that the MRI report said my brain is normal and it doesn't show any signs of cancer.   I just hope and pray that it has stayed put.

We have been so blessed by so many wonderful friends and family members that are already praying for healing and that are offering support in many ways.  Thank you!  The biggest support has been my Dad.  He went through cancer 20 years ago so it has been wonderful to get his perspective on all of this.  

While I am still trying to find a reason for all of this...I know one thing...God is making me face three of my biggest fears:  1) dying 2) cancer 3) leaving my kids motherless.  And I know that through all of this, I will learn what it means to be held, and to be loved.  Thus the reason for the name of my blog site and the music you are listening to. 

Please pray for healing!  Pray for wisdom for the doctors and pray for strength for both me and Jason.