Wednesday, July 22, 2015

An Update. Good bye Chemo!

Costa Rican Sunset with the quote "She stood in the storm, When the wind did not blow her away, she adjusted her sails.
My daughter sent me this quote and I love it!  That's how this journey has been for me - and indeed it has been a journey!  I did find an image with my ocean view, however.  I believe during this time, I have had to adjust my sails - a lot.  It's been hard.  It's been easy.  It's been full of pain.  It's been full of laughter.  It's been a crying time.  It's been a rejoicing time.  Whatever it has been, I'm ever grateful for my God, my family, friends and you - you who are reading this.  You know, lately the words, "Life is so good," has been coming out of my mouth more times than I can count.  And, indeed, as I adjust my sails, I see the truth in that statement:  Life is good!

An Update
I was emailing a friend of mine and decided to paste part of the email here.  Here's what's going on. The second mass did not show up at all on the MRI.  Praise God!

1.  chemotherapy - done!
2.  Five weeks of recovery - that's now until August 17 - 27 or so. 
3.  Surgery - lumpectomy and biopsy of my lymph nodes because the cancer spread to one node.  This should happen between August 17 - 27.  I'm really thinking it will be the week of August 17. 
4.  Three weeks recovery from surgery.
5.  Six - seven weeks daily radiation.
Then I'm finished with treatment.  Because I'm triple negative, there's no other treatment for me afterwards.  My prognosis depends highly on the pathological report of the tumor after surgery.

So, there we go!  Hopefully will be done by November and back to being a university student teacher supervisor by January!  I hope.  I hope. 

Good bye Chemo!
Yup!  That's right.  My last chemotherapy was July 16th!  Yea!   Of course this week I still have the fatigue, some pain in my legs and no strength at all to walk like I was.  In fact, all month fatigue has been my constant companion.  Pain has been beaten down by mega doses of B12.  I intend to conquer the fatigue as well.  Soon.  For now, I sleep when I need to, sew when I can, and live life to the fullest on my good days. 

And life is indeed good!

tinkerbell pixie dust flying
 Tinkerbell. Faith Trust &

My daughter sent me this one as well!  Gotta love Tinkerbell!

For today, that is my truth!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Life is Precious. A Sacrifice of Praise No Longer! Update.

Hello There Everybody!
Life is Precious
I hope you all are doing well and enjoying your Fourth of July weekend!  Life is indeed precious, isn't it?  It can sound like a cliché, until we are faced with difficult situations.  Cancer.  Divorce.  Blood tests.  Financial burdens.  Transitions.  Caring for ill parents.  Missing our children.  Discovering who our friends really are just when we need friends the most.  Unexpected and terrible results on medical test.  Doubt.  Hurt. Past Hurts.  Oh my!  The list can go on and on.  But, my dear loved ones, life is STILL precious. 

Yesterday as we left for chemo, I saw a little boy walking and I said, "Oh little boy, I'm sure you may not appreciate walking right now, but it's such a wonderful gift!  Enjoy it!  Before cancer, I didn't appreciate walking, yet now that is doesn't come easy, I do! 

A Sacrifice of Praise No Longer!
Just two weeks ago, I had worked up to two walks a day, each one was an hour long!  During these times, I prayed, worshipped, and listened to Job over and over again.  I realized that I spent - and spend - much of my day worshipping God.  My so called "prayer time" seemed so short - and simple.  I asked God about this and guess what?  He told me I am called to praise Him.  He told me to just praise Him and the prayers would take care of themselves. 

Lessons Learned from this conversation? Well, read on, Baby!

Praise God
1)  I've not been called as a prayer warrior, but am I ever grateful to those with that precious calling.  My calling is to praise God - in all circumstances.  So I begun to do so.  And guess what?  I feel lighter!  It's wonderful!  And it no longer feels like a sacrifice to praise Him!  Figuring out my calling - or part of it - is why.  Let me encourage you to spend real time with God and realize your calling.  Then live it out.  It's fabulous and peaceful.  Sure, I still pray.  My journals are one of the biggest way I pray.  I pray throughout the day, short simple conversations.  But, oh my gosh!  I love to praise God - even now - all the more now!

2) God will lift up prayer warriors on my behalf.  As it became too hot to walk outside, I took to the mall to walk.  My son lovingly teases me that I am now a "mall walker"!  Yup, I am!  Anyway, I digress.  My husband and I were walking and ran into a couple we know.  We run into each other about once or twice a year.  She works with my husband and he and my husband share a love for cars.  We had a short conversation and then went our separate ways.  As mentioned in a previous post ("Ugly"), it's pretty obvious I'm fighting cancer.  

When she and Ray ran into each other at work, he shared my story.  Yup, you guessed it, she told him the Lord had placed me on her heart for the last few months!  She didn't know why, but He did.  I hadn't seen her in at least a year, but she was praying for me.  God will lift up prayer warriors on my behalf.  Amen!

I am now understanding the phrase "sacrifice of praise."  I'm learning to praise Him in the storm, as well as in the sunshine.  And in doing so, He makes my yoke easy and my burden light.  For this I praise Him! 

Matthew 11: 28-29
I personally know many of you who are reading this.  You are facing difficulties - great trials in your life.  I do pray for you.  I also praise God for you.  He will see you through.  Seek Him with all your heart - you'll find Him, He'll answer you. 

Well, a few weeks ago, an ultrasound found a "mass" near the first tumor.  Eeesh!  Did I ever freak out!  But, then, after a day I realized God is in control.  I decided to name the first tumor "Thing 1" and the second mass "Thing 2".  Remember them?  
thing 1 and thing 2

Well, I got calls from both my surgeon and oncologist.  After their meeting with the tumor board, where they viewed and compared the CD images from April and June, they are in agreement that the radiologist is perhaps being a bit too cautious due to my cancer diagnosis - and I'm grateful for his caution.  They also said it is highly unlikely for a new malignancy to occur during chemotherapy.  So, I am going for an MRI next Wednesday.  It's in God's hands. 

The fabulous news is that Thing 1 has shrunk by 70% - awesome!  Also, the lymph node that previously showed as cancerous appears to be clear!  (Maybe I should call it "Thing 3?)   Overall, great news!  God is good all the time, all the time God is good!

Love you all!

And, for today, that is my truth!

Hello There! Miracles. Ugly. Focus.

Hello There!

It's good to be back.  This fighting cancer is really no joke.  I have had terrible, horrible, bad days, bad days, good days and awesome days.  On the former, it's an accomplishment to care for myself with the assistance of friends and family.  On the later, I just want to be out living life to the fullest!

However, it's good to be back.  I can make no promises, but I can say I have missed blogging, have missed sharing what's on my heart.  I am discouraged that many of you cannot get through to comment.  I believe comments are just as important as the blog itself.  You see, we are all here to love and encourage each other.  I'm working on this.   

For today's entry, it is about six weeks old.  I began it, but hadn't quite finished it.  I've included pertinent updates in red font.  Hopefully, you'll enjoy reading.  The "Ugly" section was hard to write, but it's my reality. 

Enjoy the ride!

Yup, I call it a miracle.  You see, I am on my fourth infusion of Taxol and several events have/have not taken place.  Check this out!

1.  The nurses told me that the little bit of brave hair that has dared to grow in spite of chemo would fall out by the third infusion.  Well, those little hair follicles are hanging in there.  Awesome!

2.  The Taxol greatly exasperated my fibromyalgia pain in my legs.  Infusion number three just about did me in - truly painful.  From Saturday afternoon to Tuesday evening the pain was crippling...mind numbing......awful.  

So much so that I bought a cane. 
So much so that Dad gave me a wheelchair. 
So much so that I cancelled or didn't make plans for last Saturday through Tuesday.

Last Thursday my oncologist suggested that instead of raising the Gabapentin dosage, to try Advil.  Guess what?  I'm 80% better!  I'm able to walk 25 minutes twice a day!  I should've gone ahead and made plans for Monday.  There's still whispers of pain, but they are quiet whispers that are easily silenced. 

3.  The fatique is still there.  Love me my afternoon naps. 

I'm just finished my 10th treatment!  Yea!  Only two more to go.  Since this last post, my little hair follicles are hanging in there.  I even still have a eyelash or two!

The Taxol is definitely doing a number on me.  It's tough.  It's painful.  But, I am learning the true meaning, for me at least of a sacrifice of praise.  And I am learning that when I offer sacrifices of praise the yoke is easy and the burden is light.  More on that soon.

I was able to get up to an hour of walking twice a day for several weeks!  It became a beautiful time of worship, listening to God's Word on my phone, and prayer.  Yes, "became"...past tense.  I am now able to take short walks in my home.  However, I am determined to start over with walking.

Fatigue has become my companion - as has praise, hope, joy, and the peace that passes all understanding. 

Hmmmm.......I believe I'm growing up!  :)

New Insights on Ugly
I am having a hard time with how I look - hairless, no eyelashes and fading eyebrows.  I know, I'm fighting cancer, how I look shouldn't matter.  The truth is that it does matter to me - it really does.  Call me vain, call me shallow - it matters.  I miss my long, curly hair, my long, flirty eyelashes. 

When my sister-in-law visited with her beautiful hairless head (from chemo) and no eyelashes, I marveled at her beauty.  There was no hair or eyelashes to detract from her natural beauty.  Her eyes shone with laughter and joy.  Her smile was even more radiant.  She truly shone with beauty.

However, when I look in the mirror, I feel, well, like a freak.  I feel like Cancer Girl.  I don't see the same beauty I truly saw in my sister-in-law. 

I'm working on this.  Every time I look in the mirror, I tell myself I'm beautiful, then I turn away before I can say, "Liar!".   I'm working on this.

UPDATE:  July 2, 2015

I've realized now that, yes, I do look different.  I look like someone fighting for their life.  War is not pretty.  But, how I look is not the issue:  the issue was that it was easier to focus on these changes than on the fact that I am fighting for my life.  How easy it is to focus on the shallow things of this earth rather than the real issues.  Lord,  I pray, keep me focused!

There's several activities I can no longer do, or they take for stinking ever to accomplish.  My wonderful PCP had a great idea - simple- but wonderful!  Aren't those the best ideas?  She suggested I focus on what I CAN do.  Love it!  She is a wise lady.  So I am and life is richer for it!

Take care my dear friends!

And, for today, this is my truth!