Saturday, June 22, 2013

CANCER JOURNEY #25: I Made it to the Chemo Finish Line

Wednesday was my last chemo treatment. My husband and I spent 16 days at the cancer clinic over the past 6 months while I was getting my treatments. There are some things I will kind of miss about this place (such as meeting new people or spending the day with my husband), but I will NOT miss getting chemotherapy and the side effects it produces. I'm ready for that part of my life to be nothing but a memory.

My Oncologist said the chemo reduced my chances of recurrence down to 20%. While I still don't like having ANY possible chance of recurrence, at least the 20% is better than it was without the chemo. If I remember right, he said there was almost a 100% chance of recurrence within two years if I didn't have the chemo. So, I'll take that 20%.

In a couple of weeks, I will go back for a checkup to see if my blood cells are returning to normal. Then, if all is well, I will begin taking TAMOXIFEN. This is a medication I will take for the next 10 years to block the estrogen in my body, also helping to combat any recurrence. This medication will reduce my percentage down to a 10% recurrence, which is even better!

In the meantime, I am waiting to get scheduled for the removal of this awful arm port. The nurses tried to access it again for this last treatment and were not able to get it through. Its time for it to come out.

On Thursday, some of my friends got together and helped me celebrate the finish of chemo. It was a special celebration I will always have fond memories of.  This was probably the longest 6 months of my life, but I finally made it to the finish line. The journey is not over, but I have at least finished this big part of the race. And, Lord willing, I won't ever have to run this race again. Thank you to EVERYONE who gave me encouragement and helped to cheer me on.

Monday, June 17, 2013

CANCER JOURNEY #24: Sometimes I Can't Explain How I Feel - And Its Okay

Romans 8:6 - And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for [us] with groanings too deep for words. (NASB)

As I am nearing the end of my treatments (This coming Wednesday is my last one - yay!), I am so glad to see an end in sight! These past few treatments have been rough on me, both physically and emotionally. Physically - I have become so much weaker with fatigue and swelling all over my body, the palms of my hands are riddled with neuropathy, and my arm port is still uncomfortable. Emotionally - I have shed tears for unknown reasons. There are days when I am so overwhelmed with various thoughts, feelings and emotions that I don't know how to explain what I'm feeling to anyone, or to even know where to begin with a prayer.

A couple of weeks ago, the Lord knew I needed some encouragement, and that's when my dad e-mailed an old Dallas Holm song called, "Here We Are." Unknowingly to him at the time, the words spoke to me because, during those times when I don't have any words to say, I can at least sit quietly in the Lord's presence and KNOW He is there to help me through these difficult times. God understands my heart, and I know the Holy Spirit is present within to lovingly intercede for me when needed. I don't have to "worry" about finding the right words to say. Instead, I can just praise the Lord for all He has done for me, and for all He has brought me and my family through thus far.

Here is the Dallas Holm song. Click on the title to be taken to You Tube, or you can just read the words below...

Sung by: Dallas Holm

Here we are in your presence
Lifting holy hands to You
Here we are praising Jesus
For the things He's brought us through.

I don't have the words to tell You how I feel,
I just don't know what I can say
I'm not worthy to speak Your Holy Name,
Yet You tell me You love me just the same.

Here we are in Your presence
Lifting holy hands to You
Here we are praising Jesus
For the things He's brought us through.

I never thought that it could be this way,
And I never thought I'd be the one,
But You found me dying in my sin.
And You looked at me with love that took me in.

Here we are in Your presence
Lifting holy hands to You
Here we are praising Jesus
For the things He's brought us through.
For the things He's brought us through.

Dad and Me
Cancer Survivors

I love you, Dad. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

CANCER JOURNEY #23: Many Blessings This Week

This week has had its challenges, but it has also had its share of many wonderful blessings...
First of all, at this week's chemo treatment, my arm port was still a bit swollen and sore. However, I had a good nurse who seemed more experienced with arm ports, and she was able to access the port! My husband and I were very pleased. The port worked well and there were no problems. So, it looks like I get to keep the port until treatments are finished which, if everything goes as planned, will be in two more weeks!!! I'm glad this new port was not inserted for no reason. Thanks for the prayers!
The day after treatments are my best and most energetic days. I'm not sure why, but that's how it has worked out so far, and I am so glad for at least one really good day per week. It was especially helpful this week because, on Wednesday night, we had to prepare our daughter for a sleep-deprived EEG on Thursday morning. We believe she has had at least two seizures in the past few months, so her Pediatrician referred us to a Neurologist in St. Louis.
We  went through this same sort of thing with her about 5 years ago, and she did not fall asleep during the EEG testing, so we were pretty sure it would not happen this time either. However, as she relaxed and listened to the soft music with the lights down low, she did end up dozing off. We are thankful for that, and hope the testing revealed what the doctors need to know. (The results will not be back until early next week; but, if the EEG is clean, then we will only need to do a wait and see approach).  
By Thursday afternoon and evening, my energy level began dropping again. Today, I had trouble getting out of bed and have spent most of the day on the couch. I am stiff, swollen, and weak; and the chemo-induced neuropathy has continued to increase in my hands, feet, and now my face. I am drinking a lot of fluids today (a hard thing for me to do) to try and flush the toxic chemicals from my system quicker. In the meantime, my kitty is laying next to me on the couch, keeping me company. What a blessing and comfort she has been.
I am continually grateful for the love of family and friends who are helping our family through this. I have such a hard time asking for help, but many have provided snacks, meals, prayers, childcare, written encouragement, and meaningful gifts. Thankyou from the bottom of my heart! You have blessed my life, and I pray the Lord will bless you greatly in return.  
1Th 5:11 So then, go on comforting and building up one another, as you have been doing. (BBE)
Say Hi to Aggie...

Saturday, June 1, 2013

CANCER JOURNEY #22: Three More chemo Treatments to Go

I wish my blog posts could be more creative lately, or at least more encouraging to those reading it; but, I guess I'm in a place where my creative juices are kind of on hold. I don't know what else to do other than just give an update to those who are interested in reading about this cancer journey I am on. It's a journey I didn't ask for, but one I am trying to get through to the best of my ability (with the help of God and my family, of course, because I certainly don't know WHAT I would do without them!) So, for those of you who are following me, here's an update on this past week...

Last Friday (the 24th) was my birthday. The morning started out rough, as I was feeling rather weak from chemo the previous Tuesday, and was also experiencing discomfort in my arm port. The swelling and hardening around the port had become worse (or at least not much better), so I made an appointment to see my surgeon later that afternoon. My husband and I were concerned about a blood clot forming. Thankfully, after viewing good blood flow on a Doppler, the surgeon said there was no clot. (Big sigh of relief!) He said it's normal swelling due to the trauma of surgery, and that there was some scar tissue growing around the port. He was confident the port could be accessed at my next treatment. He did, however, put me on an antibiotic as a precaution to ward off any infection.

Friday evening, I was feeling better and my family and I went to Cracker Barrel for my birthday dinner, and then to the park. It was a nice way to end the day. (I had a picture I was going to insert here but there seems to be a glitch somewhere that is not allowing me to do that. Sorry...)

Tuesday was my next chemo day. Once again, the port was not accessible due to swelling (sigh). The Oncologist informed us that we may end up not being able to use it at all. If its not any better this coming Tuesday, then we'll just have to get it removed. Thankfully, I do have at least one good vein in my left wrist that the nurses have been able to use.

My blood work showed an increase in White Blood Cells, but my Hemoglobin is still in the anemic range, thus causing me to be weak and easily fatigued. I can still function, for the most part, but can only do little bits at a time before I need to sit down again.

The Neuropathy in my fingers has gotten worse and moved down into my entire hand, as well as on the tips of my toes. The doc asked if I wanted to take a week off from chemo. I said no - let's just get 'em done. As long as I'm not dropping things or having trouble walking, I want to keep pressing on. The doc was okay with that decision.

So, now I'm down to just 3 more chemo treatments. I can see the finish line, and I really want to sprint quickly to the end (or maybe just fly there with much less effort); but, as the saying goes, "Slow and steady wins the race." So, I guess I'll have to remain patient and be like that little turtle in the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. Slowly and steadily I'll make it to the finish line.