Thursday, April 30, 2020

Cancer Treatment Update: Lupron Injections

It has been over a year since I LAST GAVE AN UPDATE on my cancer journey, so I thought it was about time to give another one.

A few months after my most recent mastectomy (which was in January 2019), I started having some gynecologic issues and I was concerned about it being a new cancer. In May 2019, I ended up having a uterine biopsy that was, thankfully, benign. Several months later, the issues continued, so my doctor performed a D&C which also showed no problems. After further testing, it was finally determined my ovaries were still producing a small amount of hormonal activity.

That's when my Oncologist stepped in and decided I needed to be given Lupron injections along with the Arimidex/Anastrozole I was already taking. Without the shots, the Arimidex would not be effective, and the chance of my cancer returning would be much higher.

So, in March 2020, I was given my first Lupron shot. I've had 2 so far, and will continue getting them at least once per month until the doctor says I don't need them anymore. It might be a year or more, but won't be forever.

The side effects of this new med have not been bad. The joints in my knuckles are sore again (which is actually a good thing, because it shows the meds are working!), I have been more fatigued, have had an increased amount of hot flashes, and have also had some headaches. But, nothing has been unbearable, and I'm so thankful.

A lot has changed in this past year, both personally and within our world.
But one thing is sure - God doesn't change.
He is always good.
He is always there to give strength when needed.
What a blessing.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

HHMRH Top 10 Posts of 2019

This year, I have combined blog posts from this main blog as well as the photos/posts on our Facebook ministry page HE HOLDS MY RIGHT HAND MINISTRIES.  So, out of all the posts for 2019, here are the top 10 . . .

#10 - December 4 This young lady has got such a good heart with so much love to share. She is kind, loves animals, loves to draw and share her pictures with others, loves to give hugs, loves to help wherever she can, and she smiles when I tell her, "Thank you for being such a big helper." Most of all, she loves Jesus, and it definitely shows. She is precious, and I thank God for giving her to us as our daughter.

#9 - August 6Snapped this photo of my nephew while we were visiting family in Kentucky.

#8 - October 20David was the guest preacher this morning at Trimble Bible Church near Robinson, IL. He spoke about why God might say "No" to our prayers, and gave several suggestions on how we can respond when God does say "No." One response comes directly from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 - "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

#7 - November 18: Nine months ago, while I was helping my mom pack her things to move in with us, I lost a favorite necklace. It was given to me by my husband on my "golden" birthday - when I turned 24 on the 24th. I was sad when I lost it, of course, and prayed for it to be found. Well, today, 9 months later, my mom found the necklace in the top drawer of her dresser! I was certain it was lost forever, but today I was given a special blessing from God. So, I hope this encourages you, if you are waiting for an answer to a prayer (whatever it may be), don't lose heart. God does hear your prayers, but sometimes it takes awhile to see results.
#6 - December 1: There are many different ways to celebrate the birth of Christ, and using the Advent season is one way to help us do that. Our Pastor, Steve Willis, spoke about Advent at church this morning. He also wrote a blog post about it. Here is a quote from his blog: "Today is the first Sunday in Advent. Advent is the time in our calendar when we prepare to celebrate the Birth of Christ. It is unclear when Advent was first developed, but it has been a part of church traditions for centuries. Of course, the biblical basis for the celebration centers on the many scriptures that foretell the coming of the Messiah. For followers of Christ, the Advent season is not only a time when we look back on what has taken place, but we look forward to the return of Christ we know will someday happen."

#5 - June 22: A sweet moment captured between brother and sister, when our son left to work at camp for the summer.

#4 - November 7:  This photo was taken 3 weeks ago today while I was sitting in a hospital waiting room. (David needed to have a prostate biopsy, and it was done in the Operating Room rather than a clinic, due to possible complications.) Today, we found out the results of the biopsy and are so thankful it is negative!! But, we hope this photo and verse will remind you today that our God is with you WHEREVER you go! Through the uncertain days, through times of waiting, through news that is good, and news that is hard, He is always faithful to help you through.
#3 - August 23:  Photo taken at the home of David's parents in Northern IL.

#2 - October 25:  God's promises are always reliable. Hold onto this as you persevere through trials of this world.  (Photo taken at a horse barn in Jasper County, IL.)

 #1 - January 20, 2019

As always, thank you for reading and/or following along. Remember to always count your blessings, and consider making it your goal to grow closer to the Lord in 2020.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

HHMRH MINISTRIES is Sharing Encouragement on Facebook

Writing full blog posts hasn't been a huge priority for me lately, due to various reasons that I might share with you eventually. I'm not sure when I will come off of my blog-writing hiatus. However, I do still believe Christian encouragement is awesome and ESSENTIAL. So, that's why I have been posting encouraging thoughts regularly on our Facebook page:  HE HOLDS MY RIGHT HAND MINISTRIES. 

Instead of writing full blog posts, I have been adding new photos several times each week, attaching a Bible verse to them, and sometimes saying a few words about them. I have been enjoying this creative outlet, and it seems to be working out better for me at this time. I do hope to write some full blog posts again in the near future. But, until I do, feel free to head over to our Facebook page and follow along there. Just hit the LIKE button.

Most of the photos I take myself, but some have also come from online source, or from my brother, Daniel. He's a great photographer, by the way, and you can follow him at: SURE SHOTS 16.

Here is a sampling of some of the photos/verses I have posted recently.  You are welcome to share them freely for the purpose of encouraging others, but not for commercial use.

Photo taken of our kids, when JJ left for the Summer to work at Youth Haven Bible Camp.

Taken at the camp in Kentucky.

Near Natural Bridge State Park in Kentucky

Taken in August at the home of David's parents in Northern, IL

Some of Mom Stankus's pretty flowers.

Photo taken by my brother, Daniel, at the camp in Kentucky.

Taken at a horse barn in Jasper County, IL

Taken a few miles down the road from us in rural Southeastern IL

Sunday, June 23, 2019

HHMRH 10-Year Blogging Anniversary

Wow! Ten years of blogging here! Over these past 10 years, several topics have been covered on HE HOLDS MY RIGHT HAND; so, I decided to share two of the top posts for each topic. I hope you enjoy reminiscing with me by taking a look at the following links. As always, thanks for reading, and I would love to hear from you.

























Sunday, May 26, 2019

Incredibly GRATEFUL for 50 Years on This Earth

I have friends who don't like the idea getting older, and dread the big milestone numbers like 40, 50, 60, and so on. They consider themselves as being "middle aged" or "over the hill" or "senior citizens," and it's all said with a negative tone. They don't like being reminded that their life didn't turn out the way they thought it would. They regret the things they did, or didn't do; and they feel sad. They are still looking for their "purpose."

The way I see it, life is a journey. It is full of good times and hard times . . . and its ALL good. Why? Because I truly believe God has each one of us here on this earth for a reason - and understanding that reason (or purpose) is not as complicated as you might think. The important thing is to accept how everything you experience in life - good or bad - can be used to help you learn, to grow, to encourage others, and (most importantly) to point others to Christ. Basically, the idea is glorifying God in everything you do. That is a purpose you can be proud of. 

I am incredibly grateful God has granted me 50 years on this earth. I am grateful I survived cancer (twice!), and I'm looking forward to the gift of more years, and of more service to Him.

Take a quick walk with me down memory lane as I share a few of my birthday photos from past years. . . .

Vicky - Age 1

Age 3

Age 9

Age 15

Age 22

Age 25

Age 30

Age 35

Age 40

Age 45

Age 50

Enjoy the life God has granted you. Quit worrying about all the things you did or didn't do, and concentrate on finding joy in the life you're living now. 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

GRATEFUL for Minimal Side Effects from New Meds

About a month ago, I started taking Arimidex in its generic form. I was concerned about the side effects I might have, but I'm happy to report I am doing very well on it so far. I have had:

  • some mild fatigue
  • occasional difficulty sleeping through the nights
  • mild joint pain, kind of like arthritis

Over all, the side effects have not been unbearable. It is definitely harder to open jars now, and my knees hurt when I'm bending down; but, over all, the side effects have not been unbearable, and I am giving thanks with a GRATEFUL heart. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for me.

NOTE:  The plaque above was given to me by my sister-in-law. At the time she bought it, she didn't realize how well it was going to coincide with my theme of GRATEFULNESS for this year, but God knew about it in advance. It is hanging on the wall in my kitchen to help remind me daily to give thanks and be GRATEFUL in all circumstances.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

God Uses Stress to Draw Us Closer to Him

I would never say I am "happy" about stressful situations that pop up in my life. No one is happy about stress. But, I am always grateful for how God uses these situations to draw me closer to Himself.

Life has been crazy busy for me ever since my surgery in January; not really anything earth shattering; its just been one thing after another that has come up. Sometimes it has been a good kind of busy, and sometimes not. Regardless, the busyness and stress these past few months has been distracting me. It has made it harder for me to take the time I need for sitting and "de-compressing" in God's presence.

Last Monday, I shared those thoughts in an e-mail to David's mom, as we often keep in touch about things going on in our lives. Then, a few days later, God used one of my recent stress factors (i.e. car troubles), to get me alone with Him. You see, David's car was no longer safe for him to be driving to work and he had been using my van. So, my mom graciously allowed me to use her car to go to a scheduled checkup with my surgeon. Mom's car did not have a working radio or CD player. So, since I was alone in the car, I was able to use my travel time to pray and sing praise songs to my Lord. It ended up being refreshing for me to have that alone time with Him - because the Joy of the Lord is my strength.

  • for being able to share my heart with David's mom, and my mom as well. They are both great listeners.
  • for the use of my mom's car when my car was unavailable.
  • for the lack of music in mom's car. 
  • that my mom was willing and able to stay home with EL while I went to the appointment.
  • that I was able to have some alone time with God.
  • for stressful situations that remind me of my need for God.
  • for the strength God gives me when I need it most. 

Oh, and, I'm also grateful that David was able to find a good deal on a "new" car that will also provide much better gas mileage as he drives an hour to work each day.

God is good ALL the time.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Mack Brock: COVERED

Mack Brock has been a  worship leader for 15 years, and his greatest passion is to lead people into a heightened awareness of the presence of God. 

I'm excited to announce that Mack's newest album, "Covered," will be released on March 22nd, and it can be pre-ordered here from Amazon or iTunes:

NOTE:  When you pre-order the EP album, you will also get the digital single of "I Am Loved." 
Watch and listen to the lyric video here, especially if you are feeling un-loved. This is a reassuring worship song that reminds us how we are welcomed by God just as we are. We can go to Him and He will accept us with open arms, because we are loved by Him:

Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this product information. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I will receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

I'm Beginning Arimidex Tonight

Yesterday's appointment with my Oncologist went well (once we finally got to see him, that is. We ended up waiting 2 hours past my appointment time before he walked into the room!)

The doc quickly went over my lab results. There were 3 of them:  Estradiol, LH, and FSH. Two of them showed I am post-menopausal. The third one showed inconclusive, but the doc said that one was the least reliable of the three. So, based on the lab results and all the other evidence, he said he is 98% sure I am post-menopausal. If not completely, then I'm almost there. So, he felt comfortable prescribing the generic version of Arimidex for me, and I will begin taking it tonight at bed time.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I was concerned I was going to need another surgery to have my ovaries removed in order to force me into menopause (if I already wasn't). But, now, that doesn't need to happen. I am extremely GRATEFUL about that.

The side effects of the med do not thrill me - things like increased risk of osteoporosis, increased risk of high cholesterol, increased risk of blood clots, bone pain, hot flashes, fatigue, mood changes, nausea, etc. - but the risks of NOT taking it are a little more bothersome to me. So, I am going to give it a try. Some women have very little problem with it; so hopefully that will be the case with me. 

I will see my doc again in 3 months to discuss how I'm doing. I appreciate your prayers, and will update you when I can.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Not Done with All Treatments Yet

If you've been looking for a new post from me, I'm sorry I haven't been posting much lately. Between my recent surgery and also getting Mom moved in and settled, life has been extremely busy. (Yes, if you haven't already heard, Mom had decided it was time for a change, so the family worked together to make it possible for her to move in with us.)

Things are finally beginning to slow down for now, so I wanted to take this lull time to update you with my recent visit to see my Oncologist. 

On February 20th, after my second checkup with my surgeon, I had a consultation with my Oncologist. I received some GREAT NEWS from him, which is, I will not need any chemotherapy or radiation to treat my cancer this time around! He said the left-side mastectomy surgery was all that was needed for this one. So, we are very grateful for that bit of news.

However, it has been recommended that I begin taking a daily medication called Arimidex. 

At first, the doc said I would not need any meds; but, as David and I began to ask questions, and we all discussed my case further, the doc ended up changing his mind.

It was decided, the most recent cancer (left side) is not really a concern anymore, because it was non-invasive. But, the previous cancer (right side) WAS invasive. So, that is the one we still need to be concerned about. That is the one that has a potential to return - to metastasize - to another part of the body. It could still come back into the small amount of tissue that remains after surgery, or come back in the lungs, or in the bones, or somewhere else. So, that is the one we need to continue addressing.

Then, it was decided we needed to know for certain if I am past the menopause stage, because Arimidex is most effective in post-menopausal women. So, labs were drawn to help determine this. At this point, the results are inconclusive, and I'm not exactly sure why. I have another consultation coming up this Tuesday to discuss it more, and we will determine the next step in the process.

Of course, I was hoping for no further treatments at all, but I know it could be a lot worse.

  • I don't need chemo or radiation.
  • For an involved husband who asks a lot of questions.
  • For good doctors.
  • For modern medicine.
  • For family and friends who care about me and will continue to pray me through.