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.