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.