Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Choosing Priorities


Snapshot_20140128_1
I remember this time last year. Deep in the white stuff, and sick of winter already, I was scanning the internet looking for images of the brightest flowers I could find. Well, here we are again…only this time it seems like we are so frozen that it will take a year to thaw out, and it’s not even February yet!
CIMG2460
Sasha and Jeff on the trail last March 2013
One positive thing about this time of year at our house, is that the inside of the house is much brighter than in the rest of the seasons…I so want to get some more indoor plants…if only I could find the kind that I can’t kill….Should I at least try…sacrifice some tender young plants in the attempt to finally develop a green thumb?
CIMG2853
Buddy on the trail summer 2013
I am wanting so badly to go outside, the dogs and I, but it is just too cold. The winter sun shines deceptively, but it is barely above zero as I write this.
I worry about the drain in energy that is to come as the next few months progress with treatment…The doc warns that it (the energy drain) will be cumulative with each one. If all goes well, I will be finished with the chemo in May…Just in time to get out there and soak up some fresh air…Though I will still be dealing with the after effects for months to come…(They say about a year from start of treatment).
I am told that I must prioritize what is most important to spend my energy on…I do not believe I have ever been told that before…It makes me think, really makes me think.
As wives and moms, we become skilled at multi- tasking; going through the lists of things to do each day, knowing that we may or may not be able to fill that list by the end of the day, so we do what needs done first…and then we do what we enjoy if we get the time…Well, so there-in lies my conundrum!
I am learning that this cancer journey is just as much, if not more of a mental challenge than it is a physical one lately…You see, although the body has so many needs, and so many new rules to follow…my mind just wants to focus on the important things in life…things that make me happy, and joyful, things that before now only seemed pleasant and good…now they are as important to me as breathing…Things like walking the dogs with my husband, feeding the birds, talking with a friend over coffee, going to a restaurant with my family…Watching my grandkids playing outside…All these things remind me of what life is all about!
So, I don’t want to spend my energy on vacuuming the floors, or putting everything away neatly as soon as things get a bit messy, etc.…I want to spend the little energy I have on living….cuddling with my husband and dogs, talking on the phone with my kids, and maybe taking a short walk in the sunshine.(As soon as it is warmer).
I will get some green plants and place them throughout the house…and not worry about their eventual, possible deaths…Yes, I will choose to focus on life more now!
Priorities can change and sometimes they just need to.
I guess the best way to describe the way I feel right now is in the words of a dear friend: “Whether we walk barefoot through the water, or hang our feet over the dock…or just sit and watch from the truck…It’s the presence of Jesus that makes it good.”
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Prov. 17:22
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2 –4
So, tell me…If you were asked to choose, what would you do today?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

One down, five to go.

Snapshot_20140124Snapshot_20140124_3
I get my therapy at my oncologist’s office. It is quiet and homey. The doc is always walking around in his stocking feet and there is soft classical music playing in the background.
He caught me eavesdropping on him as he was working on his transcriptions in the office across from the room Jeff and I were in. Each patient has their own private room.
Pam was my nurse. She is a very wise and motherly woman. The doc warned her that I was well read, and she took everything in stride assuming that I already knew about things.
I thanked her for helping me to sift through all the overwhelming information that I had overloading my poor brain. She gave me all the info I needed for my own situation, and she took excellent care of me.
She warned me about today. (the day after)That I might feel as if I were coming down with the flu. And she told me my worst day would likely be the third day…Monday, (daughter Sarah will be with me all day while Jeff works.) But she assured me that after that I should be feeling better for a while until the blood counts drop (on the 7th day-Friday). That is when I will be most susceptible to infection and have lowest energy…So now I will know how to schedule visits and things with family and friends.
The doc told me that working out on the treadmill will be good, but not to expect to be able to do it at the level I do now. He said to prioritize what is important and not to waste energy on things that are not, as I will not have a reserve.
I learned the truth of that advise this morning when I awoke with some energy from all the steroids I took yesterday, and did ten minutes on the treadmill and found myself to be shaky and nauseated. I had allowed my stomach to be empty (except for lots of fluids)…So I took the anti-nausea med and it worked…Then I made an egg, cheese, and spinach omelet for breakfast, took a shower and that was it for me today!
Jeff has been taking excellent care of me and Buddy and Sasha are constantly by my side.
I’m so glad that I took the time to collect some information and prepare ahead of time this comfortable little nest here in my cozy bedroom with everything close at hand.
And today in the mail I received the perfect little message from a dear blogging friend, Chelle…I put it on the lampshade next to my bed, a little card that reads:
Be strong and courageous; Do not be afraid or terrified, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut. 31:6
~Amen to that!~

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I'm 'Ported'!


I'm home and resting. Thank you for your prayers!
I am in a bit of pain, but it is beginning to ease as the evening progresses.
This room was equipped with everything that I needed, but I am glad to have closed the door on that one until it's time to have the port removed next year. I have all day tomorrow to rest until Friday.
Thank you for your inspiring and supportive comments on my last post...The sentiments and scriptures were exactly what I needed to hear!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Gearing Up!

 

The past two weeks have been rather uneventful. Aside from two visits back to the surgeon to have a seroma drained, there has not been much happening around here.
But, with the peace and quiet came time to think...and with that came quite a few rough hours. I am not alone, even when it seems like I am. Jesus sits quietly nearby, allowing me this time to ask questions, voice fears, and sometimes just cry. But before too long I sense His nearness as He reminds me that it is only but a season...This year of grace is not only a fight for my life, but it is a time of deep gratitude and learning...Learning how to believe like a child again...Laugh, love and yes, sometimes cry like a child again...unhindered by my own sense of being capable...Because I am not...at least not without His strength, and His grace.

Sasha hugging my teddy bear

Buddy wrapped up in my blanket


And so here I am once again standing before a door....reaching for the knob, knowing that I must go into this room...for a little while.
I am not alone...My Father knows what I have need of and He will supply it in due time...and in abundance.
Prayers are needed as I spend the next couple of days going through more tests, and having an outpatient surgical procedure done to place the port into my artery so that I can safely get the infusions.
 (This Wednesday)
Prescriptions are being filled for premeds, and also for a shot that will be given the day after each treatment to help boost my white cells. Most people say this shot can be the worst part of treatment...(Although it is not chemo) It can cause severe bone pain. I will be depending on more medication to help control that. I want to get the shot at the hospital where I receive my treatments, but we may have to go elsewhere for it (Insurance will decide). I do not want to go into any clinics because of the exposure to illnesses while my immune system is not strong...Please pray this will be worked out very soon as I will be starting chemo Friday morning.
We will need to travel 50 miles to the hospital for treatment. And then again the following day for this shot. (unless I get it nearby).
Another thing I have not been saying much about lately....
Just because my life literally depends upon my leaving my home now, the anxiety issue did not just suddenly go away...It is still very difficult. I am still dealing with the severe anxiety every time I have an appointment. Even though once I arrive at my destination I am perfectly fine, and even enjoy talking with the doctors, nurses, and receptionists that are on staff there! They are some of the warmest and friendliest people I have met. I guess you have to be to work in that field. .
I have been praying for years about the anxiety...and I am asking for you to pray with me now.
On a lighter note...
I am also going wig shopping again after my tests tomorrow. I have a free one waiting for me at a local salon, and a bunch of stuff to choose from (including yet another wig!) at the American Cancer Society in the city where I get treatment....I hope to find time to be able to go there before the hair comes out (Actually, I am shaving it before it does!) You have to take control wherever you can when it comes to this disease. They tell me that will happen before the second treatment...sometime between 14-21 days...the average is day 17 after the first treatment...So I will have to get ready.
I am all geared up and ready to go!

Here are a couple of good battle scriptures to get me started...




 The spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, because the Lord has chosen me. He has commissioned me to encourage the poor, to help the brokenhearted, to decree the release of captives, and the freeing of prisoners,  to announce the year when the Lord will show his favor, the day when our God will seek vengeance, to console all who mourn (Isaiah 61:1-2).

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he likewise shared in their humanity, so that through death he could destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil),  and set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death. For surely his concern is not for angels, but he is concerned for Abraham’s descendants.  Therefore he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. For since he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:14-18).

We could learn a lot from this dog!
~Blessings & Love~
and remember, we are...
~NEVER FORSAKEN~

Friday, January 17, 2014

Thanks for praying!


Thanks everyone for praying for Naomi, she is at home and resting now.

As for me, I return to the surgeon's office on Monday for a check up. I am still supposed to start chemo on Friday the 24th, but I have not received my schedule yet. The office was supposed to call this week.
I still need to have a port put in before I can have the infusions.

I have been having more pain around the surgical site as the nerves are coming back to life! I have heard it could go on for at least a year or more.
There is also phantom pain because the nerves do not know yet that that part of my body is gone...They remember the route, and act like it's still the same...Weird!

I had a hard day emotionally today and asked God to send an angel with a message of hope.
When Jeff came home from work we went to get something for dinner, and we saw the most amazing sunset ever! I wish I had my camera...Though I knew that a picture would not have done it justice...and then I realized...That sunset was my message! So I just drank it all in, smiled and silently thanked the Lord for the beautiful sight that was spread out before my eyes.

The heavens do declare His glory...And so do I!

~In His grace~

Thursday, January 9, 2014

GOOD NEWS!


We met with the oncologist today. He said my cancer is not a bad case at all, in fact the chemo regimen I will be on is milder than many breast cancer regimens...no radiation or hormone therapy is needed...and no cancer spread!
I will need 6 treatments of chemo...one every 3 weeks for 18 weeks (4.5 months) and one year of an immune therapy drug (Herceptin).
This is less than the standard of 6 months of chemo!
Doc said that my chance for this cancer coming back is less than 5%...If I did no chemo it would be 20-30%.

He told me not to worry, his patients usually only complain about fatigue, and that the other side effects are controlled by meds given before treatments.

He also looked me straight in the eye and said that we will cure this, and that I did not do anything to cause the cancer.
He's a very warm and compassionate person whom Jeff and I both liked right away. He's been doing this for over 30 years.
His wife is a breast cancer survivor too!

Thanks for your prayers, my dear friends... :loveblow:


  :Smiley10-1: God is so good! I am feeling so much better since this good report!

~ Blessings & Love ~
and remember, we are...
~NEVER FORSAKEN~

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Me, (the Clay) & ‘Rooms’

Snapshot_20140108_2Snapshot_20140108
I still have my hair…I am just practicing how to wear a head covering in preparation for the hair loss that will likely result from the upcoming chemo treatments.
We have also stocked up on a virtual arsenal of products that should help to counter or at least ease some of the possible side effects of chemo. I am overwhelmed by the amount of helpful websites and videos made by cancer patients who are generous enough to share their personal experiences, and share some tips and tricks of the trade , so to speak, on how they managed whatever side effects came up for them…Everyone is different regardless whether or not they are receiving the exact same chemo drugs. In fact…you can talk to 100 different people, and you’ll get 100 different stories!
The breastcancer.org website has even compiled a nice shopping list consisting of many products that have been tried and true by literally thousands of patients.
It is unfortunate that this disease is so common, yet it means that there are many resources available as there is also lots of information and treatment options as well.
I believe that by trying to look my best during the process, I can pull some good from a difficult situation. I hope this will help me keep up my moral so that I will remain optimistic through this next few months.
Snapshot_20140108_7Snapshot_20140107
The first photo is me wearing my wig. The second one is my real hair.                                       

Wednesday, January 08, 2014
I have described this cancer journey as if I am entering into a series of rooms..
When we first met with the surgeon to discuss the next step in surgery, he asked me if I was sure about my decisions. I told him I cannot walk back through that door and change things. That the only choice was to continue moving forward.
It is scary when you enter into a new room in your life. It’s scarier yet when you hear the door close behind you. Knowing it will not open again.
It helps to visualize that God has already gone before you into that room. He has stocked it full of whatever supplies you will need while in there…And once you are ready; you will find another door that opens for you. And another room awaiting.
Psalm 139 tells us that God has written out each day of our lives before we have even lived one of them.
Also, that same Psalm says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made! Praise our Wonderful Creator for making us thus…and last, but not least:
In Romans 9:20 Our Creator asks:
Who are you, the clay, to question me, THE POTTER!
I think we are all being formed and re-shaped each day. Whether it is physically, emotionally, spiritually, or mentally…or a combination of these…maybe even all of the above.
Obviously I am being re-shaped and molded quite literally in the physical sense these days; but there is also quite a change going on in every other way as well!
angels-falling-broken-feathers[1]
Google image
This remolding is not always comfortable. It requires the hardened (set in stone) parts of us to be broken first.
I have to believe that I will end up better than I was to begin with.
The road may be long…But the journey will not be walked in darkness…

Thy Word is a lamp onto my feet, and a light onto my path. Ps.119:105

~Blessings & Love~
and remember, we are...
~NEVER FORSAKEN~

Monday, January 6, 2014

Your comments make my day!

I tried to reply to your comments today, but it disappeared into cyber space somewhere!

So I will just (try) to put it here.
Your comments are all read by me, and they are so very appreciated as are your prayers.

This journey is sometimes a roller coaster ride, and sometimes I find myself sitting idle waiting for the engine to start up again...Don't know which is harder.
Right now, it is waiting for the oncologist appointment, which will be followed by more tests and scans before treatments begin.
Please continue to pray as I undergo these and especially for good results!
So far all bad news is coupled with something good like: The cancer is poorly differentiated (bad)...But, that means it will respond better to the treatments than normal cancer cells.
Of course, my underlying question will always remain...What caused this in the first place. This is key since after treatment it will be imperative that it does not come back!

I remain held within the Father's hand...like a wounded bird, heart racing as he gently touches the wounds as they heal...My spirit calms.

I don't believe God led me through this so far with the intention for anything but a complete and total healing...even now as I write this, I believe it is gone.
Praising the Lord for this and more!

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

(Is. 53:4-5)

Again, I thank you, my dear friends for your comments in the last post...They made me smile and sometimes laugh....
Alex: It's good to know there is a fellow "Monkey-Foot" out there...I don't think I would like to have a tail though!

~Blessings & Love~
and remember, we are...
~NEVER FORSAKEN~

Thursday, January 2, 2014

G-R-A-C-E

Getting Rest And Care Everyday



1 Corinthians 1:4-8

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Last year the blogging community received a very special New Years gift from God by receiving a special word for the year…Does anyone remember this?
My word last year was ‘joy’. That word manifested itself in many ways throughout the year, confirming God’s plan and will for my life at the time.
This year, I wondered whether or not I would get another word for the year, or was it only a one time thing. I thought about the word ‘joy’,  and even considered what other word or words would compliment that word…I even expected a word like ‘strength’ to be the one for this year…especially since the scripture “The joy of the Lord is my strength” kept coming to mind especially as of late!
So…Is my word for 2014 ‘strength’?
Although strength is what I will need a lot of, and strength will be given just as Jesus promises: “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
The word for me this year is GRACE!
Why grace?
Have you ever went into a panic because you realize that you forgot to pay an important bill, and perhaps there will be not only a late fee applied, but also the interest will go up really high…like most credit cards will do? And then you call them and find out that you have a grace period in order to get the bill paid without penalty…Well, this year I have been given a grace period so to speak in order to get my body back into a healthy state again. And although it will take the Lord’s strength in order to do this, I am being told by my awesome Creator and loving, but fierce Father that I must learn how to quit depending upon my own puny strength and trust in His strong arms to hold me steady and carry me through this…my year of grace.
This grace has already played out quite a bit this past week…Can you believe it has been a whole week since surgery? I am in awe of how God has made our bodies to be able to withstand so much and to heal so quickly!

I am almost pain free…I only take some Advil throughout the day…(not to exceed the safe dosage). For me this is big because I have always hated narcotics…although they certainly do have their place in medicine, and after surgery they were helpful for a couple days…But, again I am so happy to no longer need them!…(Honestly, I don’t understand why so many people want to break the law in order to have those things!) I am not referring to those whom actually need the relief from severe pain that they can only get from a drug like that.

To update my last post, the lymph node that was questionable did turn out to have a very small lesion on it…so small that my surgeon and oncologist both agree that no further surgery to remove more nodes is necessary…That is a good report.
Now, we will let the chemo do it’s job to make sure that if there are any undetected cancer cells anywhere in my body, they will be killed off quickly and permanently. The cancer was also HER2+…meaning the cells produced too much of a certain protein making them grow faster than normal cancer cells…so there will be a targeted therapy delivered specifically to block that protein. This therapy is relatively new, and being called a miracle cure for breast cancer! It used to be a very bad report if your pathology showed the HER2+…but now it means we know exactly what makes the thing tick, and how to stop it.
I bought a wig. I am doing as much research and preparation as possible for this next leg of the journey. Please pray that side effects will be few and tolerable…at least.
My spirit feels strong…my body is healing, and I have fallen in love with my dear husband all over again! I call him my angel knight in shining armor! It is amazing how much we are both gleaning from this experience already! God is so present here with us, and so many friends and coworkers are calling or visiting in order to tell us how much they are talking to God about this…And here’s a couple of funny/neat things we’ve learned so far:
My husband is a good cook! My girls and I always had a sneaking suspicion that he could cook…and now, after thirty years of marriage…The cat is out of the bag, so to speak!
I have always been teased about my “monkey feet”..But, boy did that ever come in handy when, after my husband helped with with a bath, I was able to pull open a low drawer in the bathroom vanity, and retrieve something (small) from it using my toes…We both laughed so hard I thought I would pop my stitches!
Who would have ever predicted that my husband would ever have a conversation with the secretaries at work about wigs. One of the ladies in the office has a mother who is involved with the local cancer center and is making the preparation for a consultation for a wig. Even though I already went to the same salon and was fitted  for one that I already purchased, I can get another one…which I will need especially for the summer months. I have also been practicing how to tie scarves for head coverings…I never knew there were so many different and lovely ways to tie a head covering!
I have even been learning about things like using make up to brighten the skin and even draw on 3D eyebrows…Now is a good time to exercise my artistic creativity. My girls all made me promise that I would not allow their father to draw on my eyebrows…(they remember a certain childhood haircut that they all received from him once long ago.)
So this is the start along a narrow and bumpy path on a street named ‘GRACE’. But I have a wonderful traveling companion, and a guide who is buckling me safely into the seat that He has prepared for me upon this chariot of fire!
I will try to remember not to dwell upon the bumps in the road too much…but to anticipate the destination to the next phase of God’s will for my life here on planet earth…you are all welcomed to follow along with me…God will probably use this to teach us some new things about our faith, and His glory and grace…especially His grace.

~BLESSINGS & LOVE~
& remember, we are...
~NEVER FORSAKEN~

So do not fear,  for I am with you;      do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen  you and help  you;      I will uphold ...